General Identity

One Teaspoon

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Somewhere between the ages of 10 to 13, a boy’s pituitary gland wakes up and testosterone fills his veins. Puberty hits and not only does his body increase in size, muscle mass, and body hair, his sexual organs awake. Semen ejaculates through his penis and the entire demeanor of what was a young boy is now rushing into manhood. ( Jesus experienced the same growing up. Luke 2:52 tells us he grew in wisdom and stature (physical growth) and in favor with God and man. Nothing of his physical growth was a sin, nor is ours.)

Studies have shown that on average, guys produce around one teaspoon of semen each time they have an ejaculation. This occurs in one or all of three different ways:  nocturnal emissions (aka wet dreams), masturbation, or sexual intercourse. In each ejaculation, one teaspoon of semen contains about 275,000,000 sperm.  You read right!  Millions upon millions of sperm.  The very sperm God uses to impregnate a woman. It takes just one of those 275 million or so sperm to get a woman pregnant.

Sometimes, we who follow Jesus get embarrassed or worse yet, stick our heads in the sand when it comes to talking about sex. True, the Enemy has perverted sex such that we think it’s a curse to have a body that wants sexual satisfaction. Newsflash!  Sex is NOT a sin. Sex is a gift from God and it is to be used and celebrated in ways He designed it.

Misuse of sex distorts our understanding of how God uses sex to not just pro-create the planet with more babies but is an expression of oneness between a man and woman in a covenantal union.  

Let’s talk about a malady many guys face: masturbation. Search “masturbation” on YouTube and you’ll get ten pro-masturbation videos to every one that discourages it. Most psychology and psychiatry schools of thought think there is nothing wrong with it. And yet, untethered self-sex pushes a guy towards increasing selfish and abusive sexual acts. 

Cedric had his first wet dream when he was about 13. He woke up in the middle of the night with wet shorts and a wet spot on his sheets. Not exactly sure what happened, he quickly cleaned up and kept it all a secret. Growing up, like a lot of guys, Cedric’s dad never had “the talk” with him, and as a result, a lot of confusion swirled around his head. Most of his education came from the middle school locker room. 

A lot of boys his age, even from church, wrestled with similar sexual confusions. Confusions that led to weird and crazy assumptions about sex and manhood. Cedric caught his first look at porn when he was around 11. That, coupled with his first wet dream seemed to spark a world of increasing fantasies. Gradually, he figured out he could arouse himself. Masturbation became his closed-door release. Several things triggered him locking the bedroom or bathroom door: middle school bullying, feeling inadequate in sports, unsure of what his changing body was doing, and hating math class. Younger siblings picking on him and his ever-increasing crop of zits added to the stress of being a teenager. Cedric’s underlying struggle was with understanding his emerging manhood.  No older man was walking with him on his journey into what appeared to be a frightening future. Even the church was silent on matters of sex and purity. 

By the time Cedric was 17, he was a stealth masturbating machine.  Twice, if not more per week, Cedric used porn to arouse sexually, coming up with creative ways to ejaculate solo.  By the time he graduated from high school, he had masturbated somewhere around 400 times. Adding that up, he spent over half a gallon of semen on himself.  Whenever he dated a girl, sometime during the night out, he turned from the nice and quiet Cedric into a bit of a sexual deviant; getting as much from the girl as he could. 

College was no better. His porn use became an addiction. Sometimes he masturbated several times a day. He treated girls like objects and ultimately lost his virginity by having sex with a girl he met in a campus ministry group. Bible-carrying Cedric was out of control, sexually. Yet, he seemed to wear the nice Jesus-loving-guy mask fairly well. No one was the wiser except the girls he flirted with; and he had a way of keeping them silent.

This secret sexual life went on post-college. By then, he’d slept with several good “church” girls.  

Spiritually, Cedric was far from Jesus.  Sure, he was faithful to small group and church, but his conversation with Jesus was nihl. 

Cedric assumed this was how his life would be.  Deep down he knew he couldn’t keep up this sexual foray. Life had to change. His masturbation and sexual promiscuity was far from the heart of God.

Then, out of nowhere, his house of cards came tumbling down. Police arrested Cedric for rape.  One of his recent overnight dates that he thought was consensual became a trap. Cedric admitted to having sex with her while being drunk. 

Suddenly, in a crisis, Cedric decided he needed Jesus.  His young adult pastor met him at the county jail. Cedric was found guilty. He was sentenced to 5 years in State prison.  Cedric would be 29 when he was released.  

Lying in his jail cell bed Cedric reflected on when he was 11 and saw his first porn. He thought about his out-of-control teenage years and how his insecurities got the best of him.  

“If only I would have listened to God when I was younger.” 

Not that he played the victim. Cedric knew enough about taking responsibility for his actions.  Yet he also wished,

“If only I would have had someone older to mentor me through those tough years.”

Through the State’s corrections department, Cedric was matched with a mentor. His mentor was an authentic Jesus follower.  Many visits over the next five years helped Cedric find true hope in Christ.  They worked on his true identity in Christ, and what true manhood looks like. They also worked on his release plan and his relapse plan. He learned the hard way but five years in prison became an incubator for lessons he should have learned ten years prior. 

The day came when Cedric was released from prison.  His mentor picked him up. Life turned a huge corner that day.

You might think this story could never happen to you. This is unrealistic. Think twice.  This is the story of more young men than you realize.  Not all ended up in jail, but many lost sight of their true gift of sexuality partially because older men didn’t invest in their young lives.  

Two challenges come out of this:

1. Men, we need to rise up and mentor young men who wrestle like Cedric. Granted, your sexual journey may be filled with landmines of shame and guilt. Stupid choices you made. However, if in your journey, you’ve found healing from lessons learned, then the Lord can use you to come alongside a younger man, perhaps in his late teens or 20s, even 30s who could benefit from healthy, godly accountability.

2. Young men, if portions of Cedric’s story sounds eerily familiar, break the silence. Stop spending those teaspoons of semen on yourself or on women you aren’t married to.  Find a mentor you can trust.  Get the secret out of the closet and start the journey toward godly, Christ-focused manhood identity, and sexuality. 

You will reap huge blessings if you do.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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