Sunday, April 28, 2013

Journal Entry: Discovering, Then Struggling, With Masturbation and Fantasies

WARNING: Explicit Content

Notice: the original post that was here has been removed in order to protect the privacy of the author for the time being. It may yet one day return, but not until he's settled with a job and a good reputation in a community somewhere :)

In the meantime, a couple of observations have been excerpted out of the original article that may still be of interest.

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Being an excerpt of a longer Journal entry I wrote that turned into a private confession to my future wife, this is written in the first person, and it's far too hard to edit it to change that aspect of it. Here's what I hope you get out of it, whether young or old, male or female, sexually active or not: some perspective you may not have thought of:
* how we try to justify lusts
* what's so insidiously wrong about porn
* the importance of not making the struggle for purity primarily about bettering yourself but about depending on Christ for your deliverance
* perhaps you'll get something out of this that I can't even anticipate. I hope you do.

                        At first, I suppose I came up with imaginary people for my fantasies. But at a certain point, I realized that real people are much more exciting than imaginary ones. And there is a kernel of truth in this. The truth is that sex is unsatisfying, divorced from a real relationship with a real woman. That goes for masturbation, and porn, and also to an extent, frivolous relationships with fornicators and adulteresses. In the end, it’s not the sex that brings the lasting pleasure, but the joy of a healthy, godly relationship with a real woman, and not a fantasy, that enables sex to be satisfying and pleasurable. I’m glad that it’s only taken the foolishness of masturbation, and infrequent bouts with pornography, to really hit home this realization to me. Admittedly, I came to it much earlier than just recently, and it’s been the times when I have fallen into sin that have reinforced what I already know. You just feel empty and unsatisfied afterwards. And on top of it, when it comes to porn especially, you feel guilt over abusing a woman’s body—you may not have corrupted her with your own flesh, but you degraded her in your mind, and your viewership of the video online has the twofold effect of paying the producers of the video if there are ads in place, and by creating demand, which encourages another generation of perverted men to seduce foolish young girls into a life that they think will be fun, but in the end is dishonoring, as they are used and abused, in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be violent or filthy to be abusive and disgusting. 

It’s an instructive lesson that not even a half year after masturbating for the first time, I was already trying to stop it, or at least stop the fantasies about girls I knew. I can’t recall which came first, but I tried swearing off masturbation, and I tried sanitizing my ‘experiences’ by mentally creating a ‘generic’ (is this even possible to do?) woman in my head, that didn’t resemble anyone I knew in real life. Taking it to the next level, I would imagine that I was having sex with my wife, since sex within marriage isn’t sinful. And that’s been my retreat; when I do masturbate, I usually try to frame the fantasy as being about me and my future wife. The question is, since I don’t know what she looks like, is it really justifiable to say that I’m imagining making love to my wife? And isn’t the image that I create a composite of faces and bodies that I have seen in my real life experiences, I’ve just blended the features so that I don’t recognize them in anyone I meet during my day-to-day existence? That’s the nagging thought that has bothered me. If sex within marriage is pure, does it necessarily follow that fantasizing about sex within marriage is pure as well? At the very least, even if I’ve managed to find a way to not sin as I think longingly about the consummation of my sexual desires, it’s undeniable that the time spent on either fantasizing or masturbation is a severe drain. So nonetheless, I do pray that God will help me to feel the urge less, or be able to resist the urge to masturbate, or fantasize, more than before. I want it to be okay to think about my imaginary future wife (carnally), but the only reason I want this is because I can’t imagine going more than a few months without giving in to the crushing weight of natural desire, inevitably.

                        The reason I think this is because I’ve tried it. Like I said before, I tried to stop. Initially, I actually tried to deal with it by swearing an oath to God that I wouldn’t do it. Naturally, when I failed, I felt massive guilt and shame. I have to imagine that it was after this that I discovered the passage in the Gospels where Jesus says, “do not swear by heaven for it is God’s throne, nor by earth for it is His footstool. Simply let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’ be no.” And so I realized (at least by that point in time) that swearing was a foolish thing to do.  The promise doesn’t make you any more or less likely to follow through on it. Promising just makes it worse when you fail, by increasing others’ disappointment in you. So don’t make foolish promises. Decide what you intend to do, and say what you will or will not do, but do not make rash promises to engender drastic changes in your character and habits, when you are far from having even begun practicing how to change your behavior. I have no doubt that God often, if not always, specifically refuses to help men or women who make exorbitant promises without the proper attitude of heart necessary to actually bring it about (repentance, faith in God’s power to strengthen you). So in this sense, the Star Wars quote does make sense: “Do or do not, there is no ‘try’” ~ Yoda. Of course you must try in order to do, but the message here is not to not try, it is to not make promises, like “I’ll try,” without putting your heart into doing what you say you will. The emphasis is on action rather than words. I.e. “put your money where your mouth is,” or rather, “put your effort where your goal is.” It does no good to make a plan if you don’t follow it. Okay, enough about that. In summary, that’s why I no longer swear or promise to God to try to change; instead I’ve realized that it’s not by my power, but by HIS, that I will succeed, so rather than make Him promises, I plead with Him for help to fulfill the goals I have for myself—but primarily the goals He has for me. Despite this, I have on occasion tried to take breaks and go “cold turkey” from masturbation. It works for a spell. My ‘record’ was from New Year’s in 2011, and I lasted 74 days or so. But when the fast is broken, like when most fasts are broken, there is a lot of ‘non-fasting’ going on. I don’t go steady, I oscillate between periods of discipline and (shorter) periods of above-normal (that is, above what I suppose is normal for the ‘average’ male in America) sexual activity. For a guy to come more than once in a 24 hour period, unlike for females (from what I understand), it takes a huge amount of time, and so masturbation (and on occasion, porn) kills hours upon hours and destroys productivity. Now, I would love to say that I have left porn behind me. It has been ‘rare’ for me, engaging in an evening, or two, of sexual gluttony only once every semester since Freshman year of college. As with video games, my addiction isn’t one that causes me to go back every day, but one that, when I find myself “sucked in,” I stay there for hours and hours, maybe 6 on average. (On the one hand, this periodic overdose of stimulation may have been what’s disgusted me enough to refrain for so long in between ‘relapses’) 

So I’m worried. Because to be able to tell if I’ve abandoned pornography, I’d have to go more than 8 months before I could tell that a pattern was emerging. Due to it being ‘few and far between’ (though still unacceptable. I know that watching porn less than other men doesn’t make me better, so I’m not trying to make myself look better by comparing myself, when I remark about the frequency of my interactions), it takes a large amount of time to determine whether or not something is changing, positively or negatively. Disappointingly, over the last two semesters, I actually engaged in it maybe 3 or 4 times per semester, on average. There were a few times when I spent two or three nights in a row surfing the internet for videos. So that’s disheartening. On a hopeful note, I don’t feel any desire to go look at porn whenever I’m away from the computer. Every time I’ve dabbled in it, it’s been due to a trifecta of boredom, lots of “spare time,” and a high speed internet access. I neglect the voice that says, it’s not worth it, and think, I’ll be good. It’s easy to go from an arousing image seen spontaneously on a random, totally-unrelated-to-porn site, and after a short time, find yourself searching for amateur porn, because you prefer the chemistry between people who know each other, over the mechanical ‘standard’ of hardcore “professional” porn. There’s that kernel of truth again. It tells you that it’s not the act but the relationship that makes it wonderful. With this in mind, maybe I can find the strength to resist the desire when I’m bored, alone, with time to kill and internet access, by recognizing and remembering that I know already that there’s better things out there, and that like someone who gives up a monster cheeseburger for a homemade burrito, I’ll reject pornography in favor of working for my future marriage by taming my lusts in the here and now. I will nonetheless need prayer, in order that I may be filled with the strength I need to flee these temptations.

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That's the end of the Journal entry.

You may notice that several parts of my entry above make reference to the Chaos Theory of Impropriety that I invented and described in my last article, as well as the one before it, entitled 'What Is Lust?' This is clearly something that I've noticed over a longer period of time, but only just this morning put into words.

I hope this entry can serve to educate young women and to encourage young men.

~ Rak Chazak

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