Sometimes people will contact me for counseling, and most often they are looking for guidance for overcoming some sort of sinful addiction. The most common addiction I’m asked about is masturbation. While many people think masturbation is natural, everyone does it, and there’s no harm in it, this mentality is entirely false. Masturbation is addictive, it is destructive, and left unaddressed it leads inevitably to devastating consequences both naturally and spiritually. Further, it is impossible to be a Christian and continue to practice sin. Therefore anyone who is serious about honoring God and loving Him with all of their heart, soul, mind, body, and strength cannot continue down any sinful path that leads away from God. So for those of you who desire to be Christians by definition, but continue to struggle in this area, here is a list of steps you can take to overcome the sinful addiction of masturbation:
- Acknowledge that masturbation is a sin. This is a really important place to begin because there are many people who suffer from this addiction and yet they refuse to acknowledge that masturbation is sinful. Masturbation falls under the umbrella of sexual immorality, a topic the Bible constantly admonishes us to avoid with all diligence, which means masturbation should be avoided. Sin is a choice, and it is an offensive choice to God because it essentially says, “God I love this sin more than I love you, so I’m going to disobey you to indulge in this sin.” None of us really want to be in this position because to reject God to embrace sin, is to reject life and love, to embrace death and destruction.
- Ask God for forgiveness. Apologize for training yourself to habitually sin and systemically relinquish your self-control to your sinful nature in the first place. Let God know that you want to change and that you can’t do it alone. Ask God for help and prove to Him that you are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to change, and He will help you.
- Work backwards from where you are. Remember what steps you took to get this place of idolizing pleasure, and start ridding yourself of those things. If there are videos you are watching, magazines you’re looking at, toys you’ve bought etc. you must get rid of all those sinful things IMMEDIATELY. If your computer is a problem get rid of it, or if you can’t do that only use it when someone is with you so that you won’t be tempted to use it for the wrong stuff. Block all immoral content too so you won’t happen upon anything inappropriate while you’re on it. If there are people you surround yourself with that keep your mind focused on sexual things, then you need to move away from them. Also don’t settle for little things thinking, “Oh that’s not that bad…” You can’t afford to take any chances here. Even commercials today are incredibly racy! I’ve actually had to take a break from regular TV and either do something else or watch cartoons so that I wouldn’t keep filling myself with lustful imagery. The more you train yourself to do what is right, feed yourself and surround yourself with things that are pure, the easier it will be to fight the urges to pleasure yourself.
- Master your thought life. This step is one of the most critical. If you backtrack sin all the way to the beginning you will discover it began with an impure thought. Impure thoughts pop into all of our minds at random moments but what’s important is what we do when we recognize a thought is impure. It is your responsibility to immediately and consistently cast that impure thought out of your mind and replace it with a good, pure thought. Train yourself to do this, and continue to do it until it becomes second nature, instead of it being second nature to entertain impure thoughts. The latter allows those thoughts to fester and the sinful nature feeds off that sin until it grows stronger and stronger and before you know it you will be overcome by sinful urges and fall right back into the sinfulness that is destroying you from the inside. You must keep in mind that you are at war. This is not a game, and the stakes are high. The Bible says the sexually immoral have no place in the kingdom of heaven, and you certainly don’t want to sacrifice your eternity with God over carnal pleasure. So do whatever it takes to purify your thought life and keep it pure every single day.
- Surround yourself with positivity. stay around family members and close Christian friends that you trust and keep your mind on positive things. If you belong to a good church make sure you attend regularly, and if not make it a priority to find one. I recently spoke with a man who is struggling with this and it is destroying his marriage. One step he put in place to overcome his habit is to have a sponsor. He has a close brother in Christ that he connects with daily to report that he’s been successful, or to get support when he’s tempted so that he doesn’t continue to masturbate. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
- Find a positive physical replacement. There was a man who was addicted to masturbation but was able to break that addiction. One part of his solution was to replace that time he spent alone focused on sinfulness, with working out at the gym. Working out everyday overrode his drive to masturbate. You need to find something that will do the same for you. Whether it’s running, doing push-ups, playing basketball, chopping down a rotten tree… Whatever it is, burn off your energy in a wholesome positive way. And if you find there are certain times (day or night) where you are at your weakest state, make sure you plan something positive during those times so that you aren’t tempted to sin.
- Confess victory daily. (literally say out loud) every day going forward that you WILL break this sinful addiction, and thank God every day for giving you the strength to be victorious and you WILL. If you believe it, and you stay faithful to God, you can make it happen.
If you’re serious about breaking a masturbation addiction, you have questions or you’re struggling you can always contact me. I’ll do my best to help get you on the path to regain total self-control. Masturbation is possible to overcome. I know you can do it, but you have to know you can do it too. Start with one day, and once you conquer that goal, you can move on to two days, and continue from there. I will keep you in prayer as well, and support you as best as I can.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you would learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5