I was texting a friend tonight who also struggles with masturbation. He was telling me about this video game he was playing that he’s been grossly invested in in the past couple weeks.
His character fell in love with another character and he said he was surprised when a seemingly innocent conversation option led to a graphic sex scene. He said it was really awkward and “bad bad bad.” To which, knowing the struggle, I gathered that it was fuel for his fantasies.
I tried to call him a while later about something else and he sent me to voicemail. Sadly, my thought was, “He’s either in the middle of playing that game, he’s asleep, or he’s masturbating.” Because, after him telling me about the sex in the game, I assumed about him what would very likely happen if it were me.
Often, when I consume the sex thrown at me in entertainment and advertising, I give myself the excuse to masturbate. “Well, I didn’t see that coming so now that it’s in my brain I’m going to have to get it out.” And of course in order to “get it out” I rationalize that the only way to truly do that is by getting off. Getting it out of my system. Like it’s some sort of food I’ve digested and the only way to pass it is by having an orgasm.
And in some ways this becomes a truth, even though it’s twisted. It is possible to consume sexual material and develop a hunger for it…a need for it. Ask anyone with a porn-addiction and they will tell you the same. But food’s main purpose is to nourish, and sexual material does nothing of the sort. It leaves you wanting, longing, itching for relief from the loneliness and the lack in the places you wish were being filled. It’s more like a drug.
But when it comes down to it, when you shine the light on it, it’s not that either because it’s not an actual substance. It’s a thought. An image. It doesn’t actually have tangible physical properties. Which means you don’t have to physically expel the material! It doesn’t require digestion like food. It doesn’t have to run through your veins like a drug. It absolutely can pass into your mind and back out with only a mental response instead of a physical one.
So basically my excuse to masturbate when I’ve viewed something that got me going is not really an excuse because I can change the channel, I can think of something else, or even rebuke the thought in Jesus’ name when it comes back later. And I don’t mean being aroused because that can happen really fast and is usually a natural response to viewing sexual material. But just because we were aroused doesn’t mean the material has to stay in our heads until we can satisfy that arousal. Because, again, it’s a thought. It has no physical substance and therefore needs no physical processing, only mental.
On the flip-side, when you look at a sexual relationship the way God designed it there is no lack. There is an actual physical person requiring an actual physical response. You physically consume one another while mentally processing real experiences instead of mere ideas. Seems a whole lot more satisfying and…well…natural, I guess.
I know that porn has always been around, but I try to imagine what it would be like to live back before TV and internet and billboards infiltrated every facet of our lives. Back when sexual material was something you had to go specific places to seek out instead of something you had to go to specific places to retreat from. I probably would still have masturbated. As I’ve mentioned before, my imagination is fantastic. But perhaps I’d have one less excuse.
(P.S. For my more literal readers…by “the places you wish were being filled” I mean need for relationship and also the vagina. In case that was too metaphorical for you I thought I’d spell it out. Again, Relationship and the Vagina. You’re welcome.)