So, I enjoy fasting — like actually really enjoy it. Maybe that’s a bit masochistic. I could point to other aspects of my being that tend toward masochism (or perhaps it’s just the uber-melancholic in me?). But I’ll spare y’all.
Some may really struggle with fasting. But I’ve come to adore this practice. Integral to my faith and growth throughout adulthood.
I remember my first-ever fast in college, spurred by my conviction from an awful pornography binge. I connected with God so deeply in those ensuing two days, fasting from all food.
In the years since, post-pornography binge or not, I’ve also fasted from coffee and social media. When I feel the tummy rumbles or the racing thoughts — I return to my first Love. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable. It’s intimate.
Time to be real now: in some recent months of hardship, I’ve grown quite dependent on masturbation. More than I’ve been in a long time. I’ve had little to no self-control or say in the matter; if I’ve felt like masturbating, I’ve masturbated. Daily, nightly.
I don’t want to dive too deep (or at all) into the theology of masturbation. I’ve already written and podcasted and podcasted some more about the issue in abundance, and you’re welcome to believe what you do about masturbation, whether Scripture even addresses it or not.
I tend to believe about masturbation what many might believe about, say, alcohol: moderation, moderation, moderation.
As believers, we can all agree that it’s never a good thing when something that isn’t Jesus controls your life. And masturbation has the ability to do just that.
Masturbation takes me out of the present. It launches me into a fantasy world where male connection and masculine fulfillment require no effort, no vulnerability. No strain.
In masturbation, I create a false world and a false life full of false relationships that make it all the more difficult to engage in real relationships with this real world, real life.
Real relationships with other men. And a real relationship with God himself.
And so, as we entered Lent a few days ago, I wondered whether to fast from something in this season. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical household, and it’s been dare I say fun to step out in new ways with my faith practices as an adult.
Because, yeah. I love fasting.
I’ve actually not fasted for Lent in several years. Until this Lent, that is.
This Lent, I’m giving up masturbation. And I realize that might sound really wrong or off or like I clearly didn’t grow up in a liturgical tradition and have no idea how this Lent thing even works.
But regardless. I’m doing it. I’m not masturbating for the next few weeks.
It may not quite be a “fast” by technical, theological terms. But it’s a necessary refocusing. For this Lenten season and maybe, hopefully, beyond.
I hate being reliant on things more than Jesus. Seeking and valuing and idolizing things more than him. Dependence on anything other than Jesus … is the worst.
I hate seeking writing notoriety more than Jesus.
I hate valuing Your Other Brothers more than Jesus.
I hate idolizing intimate male friendships more than Jesus.
And I hate this dependence on masturbation more than Jesus.
I don’t like feeling dependent on masturbation to sleep each night. Dependent on masturbation to escape my relational hardships. Dependent on masturbation to catch my breath, ease my heart, provide release, lose myself, take me to another world, an easier world, a world that isn’t real.
I do think masturbation can be a useful tool for some to escape temptation and manage stress. But I don’t want to lose myself in masturbation, over and over. A slave to an act that needs to be done and redone, again and again, without ceasing.
I want to lose myself in Jesus without ceasing. I want to experience his view of myself as a man and as a man among other men.
I don’t want to see myself through some distorted lens of masculinity and masculine “connection” while masturbating more than I should, if at all.
Hard and awkward and exhausting though it is, I want to connect more intentionally with fellow men, fellow Jesus-followers. Engaging with the real world. Real problems, real hurts, real miscommunications, and real joys.
I want to step out beyond myself and not retreat inward with masturbation.
I want to lay down masturbation this Lent, because I don’t want to stay in this all too familiar posture. This literal physical posture.
I want to shift my focus outward. I want to regain this self-control: a fruit of the Spirit that’s grown rotten over the last year.
I want to grow, and I want to let go. Let go of anything that derails me from Jesus.
And when I feel the proverbial tummy-rumbles … I will remember where my help comes from. I will feel it my body, and I will store it in my soul.
Are you partaking in a fast this Lenten season? How do you reckon with masturbation?