By Joshua Harris
Editor’s Note: On the October 26, 2003 “FamilyLife Today” web-only audio Dennis Rainey mentions that Joshua Harris’ book Not Even a Hint gives practical ideas for dealing with masturbation. Following is an excerpt from that book.
Masturbation is built on a self-centered view of sex. This wrong attitude says that sex is solely about you and your pleasure. Your body. Your genitals. Your orgasm. This is the natural tendency of sin. It isolates us from others and makes pleasure self-focused. When our lustful desires are given free rein, sex is pushed into a corner and made a completely self-centered, isolated experience that reinforces a self-centered view of life.
Overcoming lustful masturbation begins with renewed thinking about sex. But you can also take some practical steps to change your habits. Here are a few ideas:
- Identify the specific times of day and locations in which you’re tempted to masturbate. Prepare yourself for those moments and places in advance by praying and asking for God’s help.
- Memorize key Scriptures. First Thessalonians 4:3-6 and Romans 6:12-14 are great.
- Meditate on Scripture as you fall asleep.
- Sleep with your bedroom door open.
- Get out of bed in the morning as soon as your alarm goes off. Lying in bed and allowing your mind to wander is a recipe for failure.
- In moments of temptation, redirect your attention and do something else. Get out of your room, go for a walk, or call a friend.
- Be disciplined about your time in the bathroom and any reading material you keep there.
- Review the lust triggers you’ve identified. If possible, get even more specific about what leads to masturbation and avoid those sources—TV, movies, or magazines—that inflame your desire.
- Don’t play the “I’ll touch myself but won’t climax” game. Flee temptation by not touching yourself at all.
- Share your struggle with someone else. Sharing your struggle with a parent or trusted Christian friend is one of the best ways to overcome masturbation.
- Fill your time with activities that put your focus on serving and caring for others.
- Focus on the gospel. Consistently read Scripture and books that remind you of Christ’s sacrifice for your sins. You cannot successfully battle any sin apart from an awareness of God’s grace.
- Don’t make masturbation the sole focus of your spiritual life. Ask God to show you other ways He wants you to grow besides this issue. Does He want you to grow in humility, in servanthood, in gentleness, in giving? Study and pray about these areas.
God is after your heart. That’s what He cares about. He wants your undivided passion. As your mind is renewed by His Word and as you put away wrong thinking, lust’s power will steadily weaken in your life. Set realistic expectations. Complete change will take time and effort.
Remember that God isn’t impressed by vows (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). He wants you to humbly depend on Him and draw your strength from Him. What if you fail? Take God at His word and believe that the sacrifice of His Son is enough to forgive the sin of lustful masturbation. The Cross is more than enough to cover all your sin. And remember who receives your prayers. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The one who understands your weakness is the one who perfectly obeyed God’s law and who died in your place for your sins. Christ’s perfect record has been transferred to us; His spotless righteousness clothes us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Adapted from Not Even a Hint © 2003 by Joshua Harris. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.