EMAIL ADVICE: Battling masturbation as a teen girl
This is an "Email Advice" post...
I often receive emails that ask for my advice. When it feels that the things the Lord gives me to say in response to these requests could be helpful for others, I post the question (anonymously) and my responses here. May God use them for His glory and the equipping of His people.
I’ll start by saying I really enjoy listening to your podcast in the mornings before school, they always get my head in the right headspace. I’m a 15-year-old girl who quite unexpectedly discovered masturbation a couple of months ago. It’s been pretty off and on since then, but as of now, I’ve been free of it for about 20 days and I’m trying very hard to keep it that way, especially in this season of Advent and Christmas.
But recently I’ve been finding that to be quite the hard task. This is a pretty embarrassing thing for me to talk about and I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t felt called to reach out after hearing one of your recent podcasts where you shared your email.
I don’t want to talk to my parents about it because I don’t think I’m at the point where I may have a problem, but I don’t know what to do. Any advice is appreciated.
Hello there, and thank you for writing.
I’d like to start by setting things in their bigger context.
God is real. He is King of all of creation and has revealed Himself through the Bible and through His Son, Jesus. His claim on everything is absolute and His will over everything is absolute. That includes your life and mine and how we go about living them.
Those are realities that we could ponder until the end of our lives and never reach the bottom of the subject. I say all of that in a feeble attempt to make as tangible as possible what is true behind the scenes of everything. If we don’t start there, we have no standard from which to judge things.
With those massive things as our context, let me say a few things about the battle you’re fighting.
1) Sexual desires and temptations are normal at your stage of life. In fact, you’re experiencing the dawn of a particular type of temptation you’ll battle your entire lifetime, though in varied forms as you age and mature. I say that to help you understand that you are not the only one experiencing what you are. Masturbation is a part of that and again, is a normal temptation.
2) But “normal” doesn’t mean “acceptable.” It’s normal for people to eat too much, eat the wrong things, and put on excessive amounts of weight. But we all know that’s not “acceptable” in terms of health risks and overall well-being.
3) Understand that though you feel you are at the beginning stages of this, if you don’t learn how to effectively kill the temptation now, in the Power of the Holy Spirit, it will grow. It will overshadow your life. It will dominate you for years. So take it seriously now and do the work to kill it.
4) You’ll gain more traction over the temptation when you learn to bounce away from it quickly. Don’t make it into some huge setback through how you think about it, because it’s not. Recognize it for what it is, a nuisance that the devil is throwing at you to keep you distracted from your relationship with God. When the desire arises, say to yourself, “This pesky mosquito is buzzing in my ear again.” Slap it quickly, and move on to something more profitable and redemptive. Speaking of such…
5) Turn the temptation into a prayer — that God will draw you closer to Himself in that moment. That He will bless and keep and strengthen your future husband, in that moment. That He will conform you into the image of His beloved Son, because you are His beloved daughter.
6) When you do fail and give in to the temptation, don’t allow the enemy to drag you down in the mud and muck of guilt. As soon as you are aware of your sin, confess it fully, including any and all of the compromises you made leading up to it. Set your mind on the promises of God to forgive you when you humbly confess (1 John 1:9). Then move on with confidence, knowing that Jesus is providing you a new start and ready to empower you for the next attack. One of the key teachers in the Reformation of years past, Martin Luther, once said that we should only focus on our guilt long enough for it to take us to the cross. Once it has done that, it’s done its God-given work and we should get rid of it.
7) Regarding your parents… you know your relationship with them better than I do, but if they are Christ-followers my instinct is to encourage you at least tell your mother about your struggle. She should be able to help you stay accountable, encourage you in the right direction, and pray for you (which is one of the most powerful weapons you have on your side of this battle).
I hope this is helpful. Let me know how my advice resonates with you.
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