Wrapping up the mini-series on the four weak areas for women.
Stress-relief has to be the most popular argument I have seen on behalf of lust. Typically, I have seen it used for masturbation. I don’t hear from many women who take the time to look up pornography when stressed. Take this comment, for example, left on a post I authored entitled, “How Do I Kick a Masturbation Addiction.”
“I feel sorry for all of you who read this article and actually feel guilt for a practice that does not hurt anyone else. I understand why you would want to refrain from masturbation in a marriage because it fires up your sex life, but especially to advise a single girl against the practice is beyond me…. Masturbation can be very fulfilling contrary to what this article states and has many health benefits including increased blood flow and circulation, stress relief, and pain relief. I’m sorry to hear such restricted close minded views here…. I respect your faith, I just think it’s awful to take a woman’s sexuality away from her because you think it’s dirty. God bless.”
First off, let me be clear on one thing (well, maybe a few). The idea that something would be OK in singleness and then not be OK in marriage is ridiculous. In fact, the stating of that would seem to indicate that it has the potential to ‘hurt’ someone else (read: husband).
Second, “masturbation can be very fulfilling”– true. The article never stated otherwise. I’ve never stated otherwise. I struggled with masturbation longer than I struggled with pornography, and let’s be real here: I loved it.
Sorry, if that’s too much information, but I’m not going to lie about that. Sex is very fulfilling. Sin is fulfilling as well. Eating chocolate is fulfilling too. It doesn’t mean it’s good, God-honoring, or right. Our measure for that should always be our hearts compared to the word of God, not our logic compared to who we think God is.
Thirdly, the ‘health benefits’ of masturbation listed in this comment are not exclusive to masturbation. Massage creates increased blood flow and circulation. Walking creates increased blood flow and circulation. Stretching creates increased blood flow and circulation. A hot shower increases blood flow.
As for pain relief, masturbation ‘relieves’ pain by releasing hormones called endorphins, which act as an analgesic (pain killer) like morphine. Coincidentally, you can also release these hormones through exercise and, my favorite, eating spicy foods. So next time, instead of masturbating, hit up a local Chinese restaurant and throw in some extra Asian Chilis.
In all seriousness, I’ll come back and tackle these in greater depth in a later post. What I want to address right now is the idea of masturbation as stress-relief.
Masturbation Relieves Stress: Truth
It does not, however, remove stress.
Technically, masturbation is one way to release a hormones that help us relieve stress. Let’s be clear though, “stress” in this case is usually bodily stress like muscle tension. In other words, it makes us feel good. It helps us relax.
It does absolutely nothing to remove stressors from our lives. In fact, it just turns around and adds to them. Now, on top of whatever was stressing us out to begin with, we have to deal with the fact that we wasted time, and now feel guilty.
We know that is how this cycle is going to work, yet we keep getting ourselves back into it.
Here are our options: We can either learn to break the cycle, or we can stop getting ourselves so stressed out.
I would love to be able to do the latter, honestly. I really wish that somehow I could master the euphoric life of a surrendered Christian who doesn’t have a care in the world and truly trusts God with tomorrow and everything happening today. But, I’m not there yet. I doubt any of us are.
On any given day, we have to do lists that demand our time. People that demand our time. Things that demand our attention, and as much as we want to practice the principle of casting all of our cares upon Jesus, fixing our eyes on things above, and giving no thought to tomorrow, the fact is that’s hard. We can get stressed out about being stressed out.
I am naturally a high-energy intense person (I’m sure that shocks you). I love staying busy, am psycho about details, and just don’t know how to sit down and breathe. On a normal day, I am usually fine and tackle my tasks with ease, and delegate others. Then, there are days– those days. From dawn to dusk, nothing works right, and by bed time I feel like I have the entire weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m tired, irritated, have a headache, and am frustrated. Since I didn’t manage to keep myself from getting stressed out, in that moment, I have a choice.
One of my options is masturbation, but far better choices exist. The best of these is to simply pause and actually decompress. Maybe, for you, that is through prayer. For me, it’s actually through writing– journals, e-mails to friends, etc. Find a way to actually unpack what is going on. Process whatever is weighing on you, don’t ignore it, or numb it by turning to things like masturbation.
If you are dealing with physical tension then go get a massage, take a warm bath, or go for a walk. While you are at it figure out what is causing that tension. As Christians, we aren’t supposed to live lives of stress, numbed by a daily shot (or two, or three) of masturbation. We have to learn to handle life properly, and in a way that doesn’t enslave us to our bodies, which is exactly what masturbation for stress relief will do.
Turning to lust in any form for stress relief doesn’t fix our problems; it takes our eyes off the One who can.