First trap: you experience it for the first time for various reasons – out of simple curiosity or a brutal discovery of your sexuality, through reading, television, solitude, emotional compensation or by being led along by friends….
But the physical pleasure which goes with it, leads very quickly to a repetition and then multiplication of the initial act. The habit rapidly settles in and this is where the danger lies because the deeper you get in, the more difficult it is to get out. Difficult but not impossible.
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“Know that you are free in facing this problem. You can get out of it.” Such were the words of a father to his 16-year-old son that helped him tremendously. First of all, the distinction must be made between the spontaneous sexual movement during the state of semi-sleep and real masturbation which implies a conscious and deliberate act.
- Second trap: It is readily reported that masturbation is addictive, that masturbating is normal and soothing, that it is even a useful experience to acquire a good balance between the physical and the psychic. But in fact, what people experience is quite the contrary. Every time I use my body in a way which does not correspond to the aim for which it was created, I do something which is not good for my psychology and my soul. And even when this act brings immediate physical pleasure, it leaves you feeling sad because it makes you a prisoner within yourself and isolates you from others. Little by little, as the imagination starts to lead you along a false road, you find yourself in a downward spiral, trapped in a guilt complex which makes openness to other people and to real love very difficult. This guilt also weakens your will-power by making you doubt that there is any hope for the situation. Now this is the very element needed to break free from this spiral – There is Hope. You can get out of the rut.
- The first step is to believe that you are master of your sexuality; maybe not of your imagination but certainly of your actions. From this point onwards a whole new re-education process can begin, starting with the need of forgiveness. (Forgiveness strengthens the will and instills hope.) Then gradually, you can take little steps to protect your eyes and heart (see Q.32) and develop a healthy way of life. The giving of oneself in the service of others is also important. Thus, this re-education process will become a way of life making us more steadfast, confident of ourselves and ready to love.
I began to masturbate during my teens and very soon it became an obsessive and insatiable pleasure. I knew it was morally wrong but could not resist the pleasure for more than three days at a time. My guilt drove me to all sorts of efforts to kick the habit but nothing worked. Even marriage didn’t change the situation much.
Some years later, after having met the Lord in a way that changed my life, thoughts about breaking the vice came back. But once again all my efforts were in vain. At the time I was also receiving psychotherapy treatment where I was encouraged to live out my sexuality as it was, without worrying too much about it. But in my heart I felt that all this was directing me towards a type of pleasure which left me feeling solitary, drew me away from others, from God and led me to a kind of self-complacency which left me unsatisfied.
I implored the Lord to help me. It seemed to me that God replied that I was not a slave. I asked him then to show me by freeing me for several months. And indeed, without any particular effort, I was freed from masturbation for 6 months. I was extremely happy. But the habit gradually settled back in and I found myself in the same situation as before.
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I had forgotten that 6 months of liberation was given as a sign for me that my weakness was not a bondage. As soon as I remembered this, I realized that I could therefore kick the habit with the help of God. The next time I was tempted, I began to pray. It was a struggle… And the Lord delivered me.
I have been giving thanks to God for some ten years now. Not only did he liberate me from masturbation but through it all, he helped me progress in love.