Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Did You Tell Me I'm Worthless If I Don't Wait?

The following is an email exchange between a young woman I've never met, who did NOT hear a Positively Waiting message, but felt the need to express her frustration at "abstinence educators."

My name is [withheld to protect her privacy]. I'm a twenty year old design student at [an art school in New York]. Several years ago a pair of twenty-somethings came into my eleventh grade health class and told me I was worth waiting for. Their presentation consisted mainly of interactive activities; on of which involved giving a student a length of scotch tape and sticking it to the arms of several other students, by the time it got to the third or fourth student it didn't stick very well. 

The point of the activity was to show us that the more sexual partners we had the less 'sticky' our love would be. Like I said, I was in eleventh grade, I was at that age where I absorbed information then went on with my day. I didn't dwell, I simply accepted the idea of 'I'm worth waiting for.'

I'm now in college, sex is all around me, and though I am not personally participating in it, I can't deny that it's a major part of my life now. As I have also said, I'm a designer, I go to art school. This means that I am inevitably part of a community that celebrates sexuality. I have been taught by this community that sex is not something to be ashamed of, and it certainly is in no way connected to one's self worth. I was taught that human sexuality was a sort of gift, weather you believe it was granted to you by a divine being or by evolution, and that as long as sex is consensual and open (ie, informing partners of any std/sti) it is a healthy human activity.

This is where the conflicted feelings come in. Recently I've begun to think about that eleventh grade presentation and the 'I'm worth waiting for' slogan. I'm twenty years old, I'm still a virgin, but most of my friends are not. I'd like to believe that this doesn't matter. I'd like to think that the fact that my friends who have had multiple partners are just...my friends. I don't want to look at my best friend and think that he's somehow less worthy because he's had sex with six people and hopes to get a few more in before he settles down. But that's what you've told me to do. You taught me that sex is directly linked to self-worth, that's what you're saying with 'I'm worth waiting for'. You've told me that the people I love are soiled and corrupted because they engaged in a consensual physical activity.

I'm not trying to attack you, I'm really not. I'm just honestly conflicted. This idea was put into my head when I was sixteen. I was sheltered, naive, and the world was a really scary place. I was, in short, young and impressionable. Years later I was chucked into the real world. One full of student loans, politics, apartment rental, and adult sexual relationships, and I'm hung up on this idea that denying myself a basic human desire is the only way I can feel good about myself. It doesn't feel good though. It feels lonely. I just want to feel the warmth and weight of another body against mine without being told that it's wrong. 

I'm not attacking you, I just want to know why you did this to me. Why you did this to countless other teenagers that weren't yet sure of their stances and opinions. Why you come into a place they trust and tell them that their natural desires are a shameful thing.

Why did you have to tell me that I'm worthless if I don't wait?

Dear [Conflicted]
I'm very honored to be the one you reached out to discuss these conflicted feelings with, and I'm glad you decided to ask the hard questions, instead of just rejecting the message.

I'm not a twenty-something.  My reasoning doesn't come from what I "hope" will happen -- it comes from the life I've lived.  I was sexually active as a young adult, then sexually self-controlled for 10+ years and then married a man I did not have sex with until our wedding day. While I know better than most about the benefits of sexual self-control before marriage, I fully understand that loneliness of not being sexually active and the way it changes how you see people.

First, I want to address how you see yourself: the truth is you are no really more "valuable" than anyone else because you are a virgin -- you are valuable because you are YOU.  There is no one else like you --never has been never will be.  You are completely irreplaceable as a person.  Your gifts, talent and abilities are unique in all creation.  That's what makes you worth waiting for, worth fighting for.  Not your virginity.  If you lost your virginity YOUR VALUE WOULDN'T CHANGE.  

That's the point of being "worth waiting for."  The person who has the privilege of getting to know you in an intimate way should not see you as just "parts," but someone whose body soul and spirit deserves protection and respect.  The truth is in our culture (and more so in the art world) sex has become separated (in practice, anyway) from the spiritual and emotional aspects and devolved into just a "sport."

Second, seeing others as "worthless" or "soiled" because they are engaging in sex with multiple partners, devalues THEM on the same basis.  They are not worth LESS because they are not virgins.  Their value as a human is the same and doesn't change because of what they do.  No one's value is dependent on what they have, what they do or how they look.  Each person has value for who they ARE. 

Your conflict isn't really virgin=valuable, non-virgin=less value. Its about a standard of behavior.  It's about handling the conflicts around you according to your personal standards.  I'll give you an example: you see people lie and cheat.  Do you consider them "worthless and soiled" because of it?  Or do you reject that behavior as a conflict with your personal standards?  Just because they do it, doesn't make it right for you.  If you don't lie and cheat just to get ahead, but you just try to do your best, then you ARE rejecting that behavior.  Not the person, just the behavior.

It is the same with sex.  Casual (even consensual) sex is a form of using someone to meet your needs.  Neither partner intends to meet their emotional, spiritual and physical needs.  Even if they're agreeing "I use you, you use me" -- it's still using someone.

For me, there came a time when I didn't want to be used and I wanted to have more than a physical relationship -- that meant I had to stop using other people.  It was very very hard to break those habits: not just the physical ones but the mental ones.  I wanted the feel of warm bodies like you, but I also was in the habit of giving myself permission to use people if it suited me.  

The faces and bodies of every single person I had sex with are still with me... as are the permanent physical consequences that are inevitable with multiple partners.  That means when I am intimate with the Love of My Life, even years separating me from my former lovers, their faces still show up uninvited.  My husband and I both have to "manage" those realities -- we do better than most people, but it's not something I would choose if I had to do it over.

The FACTS are the facts -- virgins who marry virgins have the lowest divorce rates and self-report the best and most uninhibited sex lives.  People who have multiple partners are more likely to cheat because they have no practice at resisting temptation and divorce because they have no practice at self-sacrifice.

Your single years are supposed to be training for the lifetime relationship to come.  What kind of wife do you want to be?  Forget what everyone else is doing, decide for yourself.  Do you want to be fully committed and bonded?  Do you want to be faithful when you are tempted?  Do you want to be truthful?  Do you want to be unselfish?  All of that takes years of practice! 

If that is what you want, then keep your tape's "stickum" as free of other bonds so it can really stick when the time comes.  Control your passion and don't let it control you, so you'll know how to face temptation and win.  Be conscientious about what you do and you won't have to lie.  Don't use people now, if you want to have an unselfish relationship later.

Sexual activity is a BEHAVIOR. It's a glorious total person experience in the context of two people committed to be faithful to each other for a lifetime.  "Pretending" its just like tennis doesn't change the fact that it has spiritual and emotional components.  I hope you will stop seeing your non-virgin friends as soiled and worthless, and choose to see them as people whose behavior you reject because of your personal standards.  

When I was the only non-sexually active person in the crowd, I remember I had to keep asking myself, "Will that behavior get me what I want or take me where I want to go?"  I knew I wanted a deep fulfilling relationship with someone willing to die for me.  And it was obvious he wouldn't be willing to die for me if he wasn't even willing to wait for me.

I challenge you to do this... talk to your sexually active friends about what they WANT in a relationship.  Then find out if that's what they HAVE.  My guess is, your generation is doing the same thing my generation did and getting the same results.  My generation is the one who came up with the "Free Love" concept -- and now we know its the reason for high divorce, epidemic STDs and non-marital pregnancy rates, poor bonding between partners and children, and the breakdown of society. 

I hope this helps.  You seem genuinely conflicted and without support -- I remember exactly how that felt!  Please don't abandon your standards of behavior just to feel the warmth of another body against yours... the only one you cheat is yourself.

All the best,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jim's Famous Talk on BSP

Now before I get into the controversy over masturbation, I would like to address people between the ages of 12 and 20. Can I just lovingly tell you, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!
Masturbation is a common part of adolescent development.  Now, just because I’m saying its common doesn’t mean there aren’t issues or potential dangers associated with it. I’m definitely not saying, go ahead, masturbate all you want, but I am saying it is a very common part of adolescent behavior and it needs to be addressed in that light.  Not as, “this is the most heinous sin you can possibly commit and the reason you feel this much guilt is because there’s a special place in hell for masturbators.”
The reason I bring this up is that I’ve found through talking with a lot of young people is that the guilt associated with this is way, way disproportionate in regards to what it is.  Give yourself a break, learn to forgive yourself, and praise God for any victory no matter how small.  If you’re used to masturbating 4 times a day and you do it twice instead of 4 times, praise God for that.  Got it down to 4 times a week from once a day?  Praise God for that.
Now obviously, I’m speaking from a male perspective and I am not trying to say women don’t get sexually frustrated as well, they certainly do.  But the mechanics of the sexual response system in women is very different from in men.  It takes a lot more mental stimulation prior to masturbation for women, generally speaking.  This is because a woman needs the mental stimulation in order to even GET aroused and this is not so with men.
Males can have as many as 7 to 10 erections a night while they’re sleeping and never even know it.  So while women requires the fantasy or mental stimulation before masturbation to have a physiological response, men only need the mental aspect of masturbation to complete the act, not to get aroused.
There are a wide variety of church teaching and opinion on masturbation.  Respected leaders in the church disagree: their opinions run all the way from, “there is absolutely nothing wrong with it whatsoever,” to “it’s better to be a murderer than a masturbator.”  So it’s worth talking it and understanding where everyone is coming from, and what the bible does and does NOT say.  Then I’ll tell you my own thoughts based on my own experiences and in talking to 1000s of youth about this topic.
Dr Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, made a lot of Christians very angry when he wrote:
"It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It is a normal part of adolescence which involves no one else. It does not cause disease. It does not produce babies, and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible. I'm not telling you to masturbate, and I hope you won't feel the need for it.  But if you do, it is my opinion that you should not struggle with guilt over it. Why do I tell you this? Because I deal with so many Christian young people who are torn apart with guilt over masturbation; they want to stop and just can't. I would like to help you avoid that agony."
A lot of people in the church who hold a different view got very angry with him for minimizing the potential problems masturbation can lead to.   But an equally unbalanced view is the one held by a conservative Virginian pastor named Dennis Rupert.
"Fantasizing in your mind makes you want to enact your fantasies -- worse sin, big trouble.  I've counseled individuals who began with a habit of masturbation and so-called 'soft pornography.'  But they couldn't stop there.  They ended up in practices of child molestation, rape, bestiality, time with prostitutes, cross-dressing, public exposure, and jail time."
What does the WORLD say?
There was a point in time where it was accepted teaching that masturbation led directly to other sexual perversions.  In fact during the Victorian era, preachers told their congregations “masturbation leads to blindness.”  What’s interesting is they based that opinion on information coming out of medical schools!
The very first woman to graduate from an American medical school, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, blamed masturbation for domestic violence.  She thought giving into those impulses affected other forms of self-control.
A London gynecologist and surgeon named Isaac Baker-Brown thought that masturbation was the cause of nervous disorders like epilepsy.  He wrote a book called: On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy and Hysteria in Females (1866).
In 1868, Henry Maudsley, an English psychiatrist, coined the term "masturbatory insanity" on the theory that masturbation damaged the brain.
So that’s the “anti-masturbation” crowd.
On the other end of the spectrum are people who advocate masturbation as a “necessary” part of human sexuality.  Which leads inevitably to the grand wacko of them all Alfred Kinsey.
Kinsey released his reports on Human Sexuality in the 1950’s.  His findings claimed to represent 18,000 surveys, the largest database of its time.
According to his “scientific research”
  • children are sexual from birth and can enjoy orgasm beginning at 2 months
  • 95% of American men were engaged in some form of illegal sexual conduct: prostitution, adultery, pedophilia, homosexuality
  • most married people had had premarital sex,
  • adultery was common in America
The Kinsey reports were widely accepted as “fact” and had a dramatic impact on social behavior and social policy.  Awkward that in the last 10 years, Kinsey “scientific research” has been totally discredited.
In Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, Dr. Judith Reisman and her colleagues attacked the foundations of the two Kinsey reports.  They began asking questions about “The Children of Table 34” which was the database for the conclusion that “children are sexual from birth and can enjoy orgasm beginning at 2 months.”
They discovered the major source of Kinsey’s “research” came from pedophiles, serial rapists, and a former Nazi who kept detailed records of his sexual experiments in death camps in Poland.
So if you see the movie on his life or you read anything that paints Kinsey as some great truth-teller and researcher, you should know it’s a lie.  Alfred Kinsey was a sexual psychopath and a sexual addict that basically masturbated himself to death.
Technically speaking, Alfred Kinsey died of pneumonia, but it was aggravated by a massive infection in his testicles caused by years of masochistic masturbation.  Evidently, to develop this type of infection through your own behavior you’d have to masturbate about 100 times a day.
So that’s the whole spectrum of WORLD opinion.  Now let’s talk about what the bible says --- or doesn’t say for that matter
Biblical Truth
To begin with, the bible does not specifically address masturbation as an issue.  It never says, “Thou shalt not masturbate or thou will go blind and insane.”  But even though it’s not spelled out in black and white --- it doesn’t mean the bible doesn’t address the topic indirectly, because it certainly does.
Masturbation is a 19th century word, so it’s not in the bible.  However, many passages in both the Old and the New Testament condemn “all forms of sexual sin.”  Paul and Peter both use implore believers to develop self-control.  The words they use in the Greek, convey the concept of unrestrained self-indulgence, or uncontrolled sexual excess. 
God admonishes His people to be in control of their passions, whether it’s passion for food, passion for money or the passion for sexual fulfillment.  He expects us to learn to be the master of all our passions.  And that really is the key.
Self-control is something we have to LEARN.  Children have to be taught to control their tempers and selfishness.  Practically every little kid at some point smacks someone who makes them mad, or screams in frustration when their turn with a toy is over.  So even though it’s typical toddler behavior, if you’re still doing it when you’re 15, that’s a problem.
You can find many passages in scripture that exhort you to be self-controlled.  This is just one more behavior that a mature believer should also be in control of.
So let’s talk about what the bible does NOT say about masturbation. There is a story in the bible which is frequently used to condemn masturbation.  It can be found in Genesis 38:8-10
The situation was this: The brother of a man named Onan died without having any children.  The father of the brothers told Onan it was his duty to marry his brother’s wife Tamar to provide his dead brother an heir.  The first child of Onan and Tamar would be the legal heir of his deceased brother, and then any other children they had after that would be his own heirs.
But Onan didn’t want to raise any children who would not be his own heirs.  So the bible says:
“Whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground.  This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother.  But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.”
Please don’t let anyone quote you this passage to you and say it’s referring to masturbation.  Onan was not masturbating.  He was definitely having sex.  God took Onan’s life because of his selfish refusal to fulfill his obligation and for disobeying his father.
So that should at least relieve your fear that if you masturbate you will be struck by lightning.  Although it should encourage you to pay close attention to anything you father tells you to do!
The bible has no verses referring to masturbation, but the bible does repeatedly warn against sexual sin:
  • (Romans 13:12) … we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.
  • (2 Timothy 2:22) Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.
  • (1 Corinthians 6:18)So run away from sexual sin.  Every other sin people do is outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies. 
In each of these passages, the writer is referring to a different negative consequence.
The first warning in Romans is talking about how damaging sexual sin is to our witness.  If we are going to draw others to eternal life in Christ, it means our lives have to be different from non-believers.  There are few things that do as much harm to Christianity as believers who get caught in sexual sin.
The warning in 2 Timothy is against staying immature and impulsive.  It’s basically admonishing you to stop acting like a little kid and giving into “I want, what I want, when I want it.”  Getting older doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll act more mature.  It requires effort!
The third is a warning about the physical, emotional and relational consequences you can bring on yourself when you try to circumvent God’s plan for sexual activity.  In this case, Paul is talking about how you can condition yourself to be unable to enjoy sex as a gift from God for married people.
Mark Gungor is a pastor who knew a man who married a famous supermodel.  They came to him for help with their sex life.  Evidently, before marriage, the husband had become so accustomed to masturbating while looking at pictures of beautiful women that he had to place a magazine next to her on the bed in order to have sex.  Even on their honeymoon, the “real” thing did not satisfy him the same way his fantasy did.  Needless to say, his wife was unbelievably hurt by this behavior.
God is not against sex!  It’s really important you believe that.  The Word of God argues that sexual gratification outside of marriage works against your happiness, by depriving you of the physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy it was designed to provide.  In the final analysis, the aspect which makes this a sin comes from the lustful thoughts that accompany masturbation, not the act of masturbation itself.
Now, I don’t go around giving formal talks on this issue all the time.  But I have spoken with 1000’s of young people who have asked me questions following our other talks on sexual self-control.  Inevitably, some guy will come up to me and say, “I can keep my mind completely clear or clean and continue to masturbate.”
If that’s you, buddy, I am not going to argue with you.  I’m probably not going to believe you either, but I’m definitely not going to argue with you.  If you’re convinced that’s possible, God bless you --- but frankly, I’d like to test your DNA to see if you’re really human.
If you are one of 99.9999999% of the rest of the population who ARE fantasizing about SOMEthing or someone while engaging in this act, I want to talk to you.
For men and women both, there is a mental or fantasy aspect to masturbation.  When you are stimulating yourself sexually on the physical side, there IS going to be something in your mind driving it.  Beautiful sunsets and landscapes aren’t going to do it.
You’re either looking at a picture of someone naked, you’re reliving in your mind a past sexual experience, or you’re imagining someone you saw who was who excited you, and fantasizing about what it would be like to have sex with that person.
Just for the record --- despite what porn-driven culture tells you --- the male/female fantasies are not the same.
Males who think the female sexual response system is just like theirs (automatic and operating at maximum capacity 24/7), are going to be really disappointed when they are with a Real Girl.  Because the truth is, females have to CHOOSE be become aroused.  It takes effort.  Women don’t think about sex all the time.  They can go for days without thinking about it.
Females are equally as misinformed about the male sexual response system.  And not understanding it can lead to frustration as well.  God has wired up males to be easily stimulated by what they see, and to a lesser degree, what they hear or smell.  All day every day in our culture, guys are assaulted by images of half-dressed female bodies.  Those images cause him to have sexual thoughts pop into his head.
But they’re not romantic thoughts.  They’re parts or specific sex acts --- graphic and visceral.  Hundreds of them during the day, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
Now when he was really young, every guy learns that if he focuses or lingers on any particular thought, something embarrassing will happen.  So, even though he can’t keep those thoughts from showing up, he CAN keep them moving along.  What that means is he has to take a portion of his mental energy, all day, every day, and brush those thoughts to the side.  Force himself to think about something else.
My wife says there’s only one thing in Girl World that comes close to what this is like for a guy. She says you girls should think about a time when you had to pee (really bad), but when you get to the bathroom, there’s about 6 other girls in line.  So you’re standing there, waiting and every few seconds someone comes out and turns on the faucet.
There’s a thing you have to do in your head so you don’t pee in your pants, right?  That’s what it’s like, all day every day for a guy.  He feels like he has to go to the bathroom all the time, and everywhere he goes he hears running water --- a hundred times a day.
Most guys aren’t dogs, ladies.  They really do want to treat you with respect.  But when you wear your shirt cut really low, or your pants really tight, he’s not thinking about what a wonderful girl you are.  He’s thinking about your chest or your butt.  He can’t help it.
What’s really sad, is most men think women know this.  They think girls who wear tight clothes WANT guys to think about their chest or their butt.  They think if you’re dressed provocatively, then you’re advertising that you’re available for sex --- either in fantasy or actuality.  And the guy can rationalize that he’s not using you because you INVITED him to think about you as a sex object.  Most girls are horrified to find out that a guy can fantasize about having sex with someone he doesn’t even like, just because she’s hot.
The male sexual response is so automatic and involuntary that it’s really hard for guys to relate to the fact that the female sexual response system requires a relationship in order for her parts to work.  It’s not automatic!
Guys, when a woman fantasizes, she’s thinking of a whole person.  Someone she has a relationship with, real or imagined.  Someone who relates to her, romances her, interacts with her.  This person cares about her feelings and ALL her needs.  Having sex with someone she doesn’t even like is disgusting.
I know for some of you, that’s a surprise.
Culturally you’re taught the opposite.  Virtually all music videos and TV shows marketed to teens include some soft-porn imagery implying all it takes for either sex is a HOT body.
It does produce a physical reaction and the urge to act on it. If you’re repeatedly exposed to this kind of imagery, it will impact you --- and not in a positive way.  But worst of all, is they try to get you to believe watching porn will improve your sex life.  It’s a lie and I can prove it to you.
Mathematical Proof Sex Does Not Lead to The Best Sex Possible
First, how many of you would like to have the Best Sex Possible?
How many of you would agree that the Best Sex Possible (BSP) would be when BOTH partners are satisfied?  OK, we can turn that into a formula: 
BSP = Happy Man + Happy Woman
Now follow me:  When women were asked,
“If you knew your man had just been viewing pornography and now wanted to use you for sex while fantasizing about those women, how many of you would be turned on by that?”
The answer was ZERO.
OK, so we add that to our formula:
Man + Porn = an unhappy woman
Therefore, porn does not lead to Best Sex Possible (BSP), because
BSP = Happy Man + Happy Woman,
When the same women were asked,
“If you knew your man was committed to you as his only sexual partner, and treated you like you were the only woman in the world, how many of you would be turned on by that?”
The answer was ALL.
PORN = increased chance of  BSP, since: BSP = Happy Man + Happy Woman
There you go: Mathematical proof that porn will not improve your sex life!  (Haha)
And by porn, I don’t even mean full blown playboy nudity.  It can be something as innocuous as the Victoria Secrets catalogue, bikini-clad models on a calendar, or girls who are showing just enough skin to be titillating.
But the point of what is going on in your mind DOES matter.
(Matthew 5:27-28)
You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus is warning against thinking about sexual sin.  He’s saying the spiritual consequences are equally as devastating as if you had physically sinned, because there is a very natural progression to certain things.
For instance, I started smoking marijuana in high school.  It was part of my life that took effort to get free from.  But it wasn’t like I was walking down the street one day and a joint magically flew through the air and landed in my hand and all of a sudden I was smoking pot.  I’d heard about marijuana.  I thought about what it would be like to smoke marijuana.  I talked to people I knew who were smoking it.  And then I tried it.
Now I won’t say it’s that way in ALL things, but many things, even good things.  For instance, I heard harmonica music.  I thought about what it would be like to play one.  I talked to people who played.  And then I bought one and tried it.
It was that way with sex as well… heard about sex, thought about what it would be like, talked to people who were doing it, tried it myself.  Heard about it, thought about it, talked about it, did it.
That’s really my issue with masturbation.
If the goal is to get to your marriage with having saved all or many of your sexual treasures for marriage (which hopefully that is the goal for all of you), then filling your mind with sexual thoughts, thinking about sex A LOT… is not going to help you reach that goal.
The more you fill your mind with sexual thoughts and/or images, the more you’re going to want to have sex.  Real sex.  With an actual partner.  Heard about it, thought about it, talked about it, did it.
See, I’d like to get away from masturbation being this terrible sin everyone needs to feel guilty for and turn it around to something that just isn’t effective.
It’s a tactic that doesn’t work.
It is not going to provide you with the release that you’re looking for, because ultimately, masturbation does not satisfy, and it never will.  It doesn’t ultimately satisfy for one simple reason.  God designed sex to be shared only within a marriage with a person of the opposite sex.  Not only that, but He designed it to be 3 fold.
Just like man is spirit, soul, and body.  Sex is meant to be experienced on a physical level, an emotion level, and a spiritual level.  Masturbation ONLY satisfies on a physical level.  And even that, only temporarily, and not very well.  You’re not being satisfied emotionally or spiritually.
Say you’re all tensed up with sexual energy that you don’t know what to do with.  So you rationalize, an orgasm is a good way to relieve tension.  So you masturbate to release all that sexual tension… which it does… for about 10 seconds.
But afterwards, you’re still left with the mental images floating through your mind!  They don’t magically vanish the second you have your orgasm.  In fact, now those images are even more powerful because your brain’s now associates them with the rush of chemicals that stimulated the pleasure-center of your brain.  You’ve just created a neural pathway that your brain wants to relive.
OK, so your mind still has these sexual thoughts floating around after you’re done masturbating… which lead to what?  Increased sexual tension.  So, then your brain wants you to masturbate again to decrease that sexual tension.  But then you’ll have even more images than you started with, doing what?  Increase sexual tension.
See, it doesn’t really solve the problem —- because masturbation really isn’t the problem.  Masturbation is a symptom of a deeper issue SELFISHNESS.
The root of the problem is selfishness.
I want…what I want…when I want it.  I don’t want to have to worry about someone else’s needs.  If that means using the image of someone’s body to satisfy myself, (whether it’s someone you don’t know, or using the memory of someone you had sex with in the past), I am going to use that person.  Because I want what I want when I want it.
It’s basically selfish.  When someone goes to a prostitute, they pay to use her body to meet their needs.  When you look at porn, or fantasize about some girl who wears her pants really tight, you’re doing the same thing in your mind.  Ultimately, if what you want is the BEST SEX POSSIBLE, then it will require more than just satisfying yourself. 
But that’s what so addictive about any sin.  It gets easier the more you do it.  The more you practice using people mentally, the easier it will be to use people in real life.
So what’s the answer?  I have no flippin’ idea!!
That’s not true.  I do have some practical advice.
First, I want to address anyone here who is not a Christian.  It is possible, through sheer force of your will, to white-knuckle you way to any behavior.  You can grit your teeth and coerce yourself into correcting what you’re doing.  It takes a lot of practice and determination, but it can be done.
However, I said a little while ago that sex is physical, emotional and spiritual.  You can physically change your behavior, but the emotional and spiritual consequences will remain.  To renew your mind and spirit, will take the power of the Holy Spirit.  You need a supernatural healing from God.
(Ephesians 4:22-23)
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  
As long as your mind and spirit are virtual slaves to sexual desire, it WILL have a negative impact on you physically, emotionally and relationally.
But if you ARE a Christian, start with prayer.  Ask God to help you put your selfishness aside.  I can’t emphasize this enough: Masturbation is a symptom of selfishness.  You won’t magically become UNselfish just because you put a wedding band on.
Selfishness can be expressed in lots of ways besides masturbation.  Some people are selfish with their time.  Others with their energy, money or words.  
Masturbation is just one more form if it.  So GET REAL.  Accept that the drive to masturbate is NOT going to magically vanish just because you get married.  Most of the studies I’ve looked at say as many as 50% of men and 40% of women continue to masturbate after marriage.
The rationale behind self-gratification vs. having sex with your spouse is:
“I don’t want to be bothered with meeting my spouse’s needs.  I don’t want to work that hard right now.  So I’ll just handle this need [so to speak] on my own.”
You might rationalize that it’s only once in a while, or “Everyone does it, Jim Kropf said so.”  But I’m telling you, it won’t benefit you in the long run.  It’s just too easy to translate that kind of “quick fix” behavior into other areas of your life.  Before long, it’s too much trouble to have to listen to your partner’s point of view, or care about their expectations.  That’s one way couples end up drifting apart: they start meeting their own needs, instead of each other’s.
As I said, masturbation as a tactic doesn’t work.
If what you really want is to save those wonderful sexual experiences for the person you marry… if you want a relationship that’s completely open, transparent and mutually satisfying --- then masturbation isn’t going to help you get it.  In fact, you’re basically STEALING FROM YOURSELF.
There are also a lot of things you can channel your sexual energy into.  When you become aware of the desire --- don’t wait until it’s insistent --- but as soon as you are aware of it, try doing something for someone else.  Something that won’t benefit you at all. It’s excellent training in unselfishness.
But you can also take up a sport, work out, learn a musical instrument, paint, sculpt or sing.  Burn calories and use your brain circuitry!  Try anything that gets your mind off sexual things and channels your passion into something creative.  An added bonus will be how much better you feel about yourself as your talents and skills expand.
Obviously, there are some logistical problems even with these suggestions.  You’re not going to pull out your new trumpet at 11 at night when everyone in your house is asleep.  So here is one suggestion from my wife that I found incredibly useful:  when you find your head filled with sexual thoughts about someone, pray for that person.
  • Pray that God will bring someone into their life who will meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Pray for protection against being used or having their heart broken.
  • Pray for their goals and dreams.
Not only is it likely to have a positive impact on their life, but I have found it’s virtually impossible to lust after someone and pray for them at the same time.
No matter where you are on the spectrum --- from masturbation has taken over your life to you’re taking cold showers 3 times a day --- the most important thing for you to leave here with today is: This is a learned skill.  You have to learn how to redirect your thoughts and actions away from yourself.
Not being very good at a new skill is normal!  Everyone starts at the same spot.  Redirecting your thoughts and focusing on something new doesn’t just happen overnight. 
So don’t measure your progress by the number of times you FAIL.  Instead, give yourself credit for every baby step you take toward developing the habit of self-LESS-ness.  It’s one of the signs that you are leaving adolescence behind you (thinking about others more than yourself.)
Too often, people with the immature “I want what I want when I want it” approach to life, end up with unintended consequences. Which I think I can illustrate with a story.

You Get What You Pay For
An ambitious farmer who wanted to increase the amount and quality of his corn crops, heard about a very expensive, but really remarkable, new corn seed.  He made a big investment and produced a corn crop that was so abundant his neighbors were astonished.
It was his most profitable year ever.  Some of the neighbors asked him to sell them a portion of his amazing new seed.  But the farmer was afraid that he would lose his competitive advantage, so he refused.
The second year the seed from his bountiful harvest didn’t produce as good a crop.  The farmer made a profit, but nothing like he had the previous year.  The third-year his crop was even more mediocre.
It wasn’t long before his “competitive advantage” had disappeared completely.
That’s when the farmer realized that the “amazing corn” he’d invested in 3 years before, had been pollinated by the inferior corn from the neighboring fields.
If that farmer had looked beyond what would give him an immediate profit, if he had sold some of his good seed to his neighbors, all of them could have had great crops for several years.  But his short-sightedness meant he only got one good year out of his investment.  He basically stole from himself.
How in the world does that story have anything to do with masturbation?  Think about it this way, by gratifying your immediate needs through masturbation you believe it “takes the edge off” and it doesn’t hurt anyone.
But the long-term effects you can’t predict now, are how much more difficult it will be for you to be happy and satisfied with a REAL person.  The more accustomed your body, soul and spirit become to gratification by fantasy, the less likely and less skilled you will be when you have the gift of sex in marriage. In God’s plan, the Best Sex Possible would be you and your spouse mutually satisfied… but to achieve that pay-off requires that you learn to be UNselfish.
I recommend you start keeping a record of things you do for other people that don’t benefit you.  If you start now, by the time you’re ready to get married, you’ll be really good at it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Do you wish you had kept that baby?"

It's unimaginable that there is someone who hasn't seen "Its A Wonderful Life," the story of a man who is given the gift of seeing what the world would be like if he had never been born. There have been other movies with similar themes, Frequency, the Back to the Future series, and the Terminator trilogy.  Each has a twist that deals with changing the past and its impact on the future.

For someone who has an abortion decision in the past, like me, it's either something you deliberately choose NOT to think about, or something you can't help BUT think about.

I'm sometimes asked about that decision and the consequences after I give a presentation on sexual self-control.  Young people are very empathetic, and often protective of me.  Because the pain and regret are so real in my story, they want to try to put it into perspective.  One of the questions that comes up the most often is, "Do you wish you had kept that baby?"

I think the first reason teens ask is because getting rid of your own baby seems so horrible that they want to make sure I'm sorry I did it.  In their world, there's a balance that comes if you really didn't mean it.  In Real Life it doesn't apply, but in the protected world of a modern teen, it seems fair afterwards if you wish you had another option.

Another reason for asking seems to be that they are trying to figure out if I'm really horrible and uncaring. If they heard me say, casually or emphatically, "No.  I'm glad I did it," then they can label and judge me.

As in, "I think it should be legal, but I would never do it."

But the most important reason to ask the question seems to be the need for reassurance.  They need to know that "if I had known then what I know now," I would have chosen differently.  I would have been smarter, more courageous.

I'm not sure the answer I give satisfies.

I have always said the same thing, "It's an impossible choice.  That decision and what it cost me are why I am here.  It's like asking me to choose between my son and you.  I care desperately that you make good choices.  If I had become a mom, you wouldn't matter to me at all."

I know many people with an abortion decision in their past. Most of them would give anything to go back in time to change it.  There have been times in my life when I would too.

But I am torn because I have been given a great gift: the mommy place in my heart has been filled with OTHER PEOPLE's children.  Thousands of teens, who are probably sulky, moody and difficult at home, but in my heart they are champions winning against all odds.  I think they know, no matter what, I will never stop believing in them.

"Do you wish you had kept that baby?"... impossible for me to choose.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Winning Gold for Just Showing Up

I have two gal pals who had a little tiff.  One of the girls kept calling an ex, her "fiance" even though there was no date, no ring, no actual wedding plans... it was just talk.

This irritated my other friend.  She thought it was ridiculous to elevate the status of this former relationship.  As if having an ex-fiance makes you look less like a loser than just having ex-boyfriends.

What you call someone/something matters, doesn't it?

I have a little confession to make.  Around age 16, I was in a "serious" relationship with a boy.  It was serious to us anyway.  We talked about marriage a lot -- in the I-promise-I-will-always-feel-this-way-about-you fantasy stuff you believe before you enter Real Life.

Anyway, I got it in my head that we needed wedding bands.   In the World of Me, we were already "married in our hearts," therefore we needed wedding bands.

So we bought them, real wedding bands.  And engraved them.  I don't remember what I put in his, but I remember I insisted mine should be engraved "my kitten" even though it was a pet name he hated.

I worked in a doctor's office in those days and I remember the doctor's wife pointing at my "wedding" ring one day and demanding in a supercilious voice, "What is THAT?"

My explanation that "we were already married in our hearts" HORRIFIED her. She even talked to the doctor about calling my mother (who knew nothing about it).  At the time, I thought she was an old-fashioned, nosy, judgmental snob.  What business was it of hers anyway?

Fast forward to 2012.  People want to redefine marriage to mean whatever, just like I did back in 1976... and it turns out I'm the old-fashioned, nosy, judgmental snob.

For those of us who are in it, marriage is the hardest, most wonderful thing you'll ever do.  Choosing to be faithful to someone who has the ability to drive you crazy while simultaneously being your best friend, closest confidant and center of your universe -- is a complicated push-me-away pull-me-close dance that very few master.  And even fewer have built up the stamina to endure.

It's costly -- not just financially, but emotionally, and physically too.  It costs all your selfishness and self-absorption.  It costs time and freedom and getting your own way.  And its absolutely worth every sacrifice.  But engaging in that struggle and winning (meaning staying married when it gets hard or boring), can be as hard as winning Olympic Gold.  

Imagine you are an Olympic athlete who sacrificed everything, trained your butt off, disciplined every area of your life, always keeping that Gold Medal victory in mind.  You push your body, heart and soul to win that moment of triumph...

... and then you find out your out-of-shape, lazy, good-for-nothing brother-in-law was given a Gold Medal for showing up.

That's what I did when I wore a wedding band as a teenager.  And I think people who want "committed relationships" to be given the same level of privilege as marriage are doing too.  It's like you get Olympic Gold just for showing up.

CA state law requires grades to K-12 to teach "respect for marriage and committed relationships."