The following is an excerpt from our book True Intimacy.
For the next month we will be posting a chapter a day for your reading (and marital) pleasure. However, if you would like to purchase an electronic or printed copy for yourself or someone else we would greatly appreciate your support! To go to the web page for more information click here.
The woman of folly is boisterous, She is naïve and knows nothing. She sits at the doorway of her house, on a seat by the high places of the city. Calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight; “Whoever is naïve, let him turn in here,” And to him who lacks understanding she says “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. Proverbs 9:13-18
Our God, creator of the universe, has made such an amazing masterpiece in the human body. The more I learn about the science of sex and the human body, the more profoundly amazed I become with its creator! Something that really amazes me is our hormones. (Yes ladies, those things we blame for our monthly grumpies – our hormones.) The way that He created them to ever so carefully balance with one another and run just about everything in our bodies, it’s truly the work of a genius! Particularly fascinating to me is the way God created us for sexual intimacy. He created this cute little molecule called “oxytocin”. Pronounced “oxy -toe-sin”, and is commonly referred to as the bonding hormone. Every time we touch, even non-sexually, oxytocin floods into our bloodstream, the more we touch, the more oxytocin is released. Just imagine how much oxytocin is involved when you spend 30+ minutes touching someone with the most intimate parts of your naked body! Am I blushing? Woo! Anyway! The more oxytocin that is produced the tighter, stronger, and more intimate the bond becomes between those two people. Now imagine, if you will, that each time a couple has sex they are literally pouring oxytocin super glue (remember proskollao from Day 11?) between themselves; connecting physically, spiritually, and emotionally to one another … permanently. The more “oxy-glue” there is between them, the tighter, stronger, and more intimate their bond.
In his book “Sex on the Brain“, Dr. Amen explains some fascinating sex research. In a study of married couples, the husbands were treated medically for impotence problems. As the husbands’ sexual health improved, the wives also experienced marked health benefits, although they themselves were not being medicated.7 God created us to work in a way that as husband and wife we are so completely connected with one another that when one of us experiences improvement in our sexual health the other spouse improves as well! “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8 – proskollao) It’s just AMAZING!
However, on the flip-side of healing and health there can also be damage and destruction. If we have committed, or are committing, sexual immorality we are not only damaging ourselves but also our spouses (whether they know about it or not). Sexual immorality may be sweet at the time but ALWAYS leads to disaster – eventually. Things done in secret can be “delicious” at the time, but usually end up bitter. Proverbs 20:17 says “Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” Adultery, pre-marital sex, pornography and self-pleasuring may be sweet in the moment, but in the end it turns to gravel, injuring your mouth and lying in your stomach like lead. You can say “I’ve done nothing wrong” but in your heart, you know the truth. (Proverbs 30:20)
OK, confession time for me, I was the woman folly; naïve and without knowledge. From the time I was in upper elementary school I would self-pleasure. It started out as simple exploration of my body, but very quickly became more. My curiosity became my personal shame. I didn’t know that it could harm me in ANY way, and to my knowledge, no one ever told me otherwise. Some people say there should be no shame, and originally I agreed with them… because I was doing it and didn’t want to feel guilty anymore. But now, because of my life experiences, I heartily disagree. There’s a reason we feel dirty and ashamed afterward, because God planned and created something so
much better for us, SEX with our HUSBANDS! Now, self-pleasuring is a heavily debated subject, so, agree with me or not it’s completely up to you, but here’s my take on it.
When I was in high school I was on the dance team. We would do the same routine over and over and over until we could perform that dance without ever really thinking about what we were doing. We were training our bodies, our muscles, to perform a series of precise movements without any or little conscious thought. (That’s called “muscle memory”.) I will never forget one particular dance routine we did. We all were supposed to jump and do a split in the air where we touch our toes (AKA a “toe touch”). Every time I practiced that routine I was lazy and did a fake toe touch. I would leave one leg on the ground and kick the other leg into the air, no jumping. And every time I told myself, “this is just practice it doesn’t really matter if I don’t do the routine full-out. I’ll do the REAL toe touch when we perform.” After dancing that routine the wrong way at least 3 times a day for over 2 weeks, guess what happened the night of the performance? Yup. I TOTALLY screwed it up. And not just by doing the fake toe touch either, that might not have been that bad. Oh no! Halfway through the fake toe touch my brain kicked back in and I suddenly remembered “THIS IS THE TOE TOUCH! DO IT THIS TIME!”, but it was too late and I nearly fell on my face in front of the whole school! I had so completely trained my body to do the wrong thing in practice, that when it came time to perform it, even though my brain told my body what to do, my body still did what it had done over and over in practice.
Self-pleasuring trains your body to respond to a specific stimulus. When I would self-pleasure, I could achieve sexual release within probably a minute flat. But when Christian would do it for me it took FOREVER… if I ever “got there” at all. I can stand here and say from a lot of personal experience that when I “practiced” one way over and over again by myself, and then went out to “perform” with my husband, my body just couldn’t respond to him as quickly or sometimes at all because it was confused! My brain was in there yelling “THIS IS IT! DO IT!” but my body just couldn’t because through years of “practicing” by myself, I had trained it not to.
This was a big problem for Christian and me. While I had suspicions about his porn and masturbation issues, and they bothered me a little, I had no idea how dramatically it all was affecting us and just how much it really bothered me! I cannot begin to tell you how HUGE of a break-through this was for BOTH of us! We had both wondered why we weren’t having very much sex… duh… we had BOTH been having sex with ourselves! God created in all of us a sexual appetite. By feeding that sexual appetite with the “junk food” of sexual immorality we ruined our appetite (and ability) for the real thing! Once we stopped self-pleasuring, WOW!!! It’s all I can say! I strongly believe that God created sex, partially, to “oxy-glue” a husband and a wife together for life. And let me tell you from experience the oxytocin “buzz” and bond that you get from pleasuring only each other and not yourselves is amazing! So. Agree with me or not I highly recommend that you, at least during the rest of this fast, fight the temptation to “practice” by yourself. By abstaining from ALL sexual contact from each other and yourselves, you should be able to, at least somewhat, reset your muscle memory so that your new “first time” together can be even MORE amazing than you EVER thought possible!
In 1 Corinthians Paul gives us some hope and confidence to withstand the temptation. He says in chapter 10 verse 13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” We will be tempted. Paul doesn’t say if he says “When you are tempted“. But God promises us that He will provide a way out of those temptations. He gives us an emergency exit, every time. All we have to do is make the choice to take it.
Super glue is great, isn’t it? There is nothing better to bond and hold two things together. The problem is what if those two things are taken apart from each other? It usually isn’t a pretty picture. It may be possible to take the two pieces apart, but usually there are small bits of one piece still stuck to the other piece, and vice versa. It is impossible to remove them all.
The oxytocin that is produced when you have sex with multiple partners creates a bond like super glue. You take a little bit of every person you have had sex with along with you, and they take a little bit of you along with them. Those little bits taint future relationships for everyone involved.
By touching ourselves instead of each other, we deprive ourselves and our spouses of that extra oxytocin. We also deprive ourselves and our spouses of the more intimate bond that it creates between a husband and wife. Oxytocin can create euphoria between a husband and wife before, during, and after love-making. When we “take matters into our own hands”, we screw that up! Our bodies get confused and don’t know what to do. I believe that eventually, our bodies don’t produce as much of the hormone during lovemaking, so we lose some of the euphoria. I also feel that self pleasuring produces so little oxytocin, that we feel dirty and gross afterwards.
Towards the end of our second thirty-day fast (which actually came out to around 47 days), I wrote a letter to Tamar. Here is a section of that letter.
To start, I owe you a HUGE apology. I never realized how much my masturbating was affecting me. I didn’t realize how much it was affecting how I felt (both physically AND mentally), and how much it was hurting our relationship. If the last few weeks are any indication of how I feel without masturbation, I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day even more! I didn’t think it was affecting me that much! Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed sex with you, and I still desired you, but I didn’t feel any urgency. If we didn’t have sex, it was not that big of a deal. I could either wait until the next night, or take care of things myself. I am REALLY starting to feel the urgency now!
As you can see, I didn’t know how badly I was hurting our marriage by masturbating. I thought I was helping it! I had trained my body to one type of stimulation, just as Tamar had. I got myself so accustomed to masturbation, that when it came down to the real thing, I wasn’t able to perform very long. My solution? Masturbate more!
If I knew we were going to have sex that night, I would masturbate in the afternoon. I would do it so I would last longer during sex. Sometimes it would work, sometimes, not so much. Now don’t get me wrong here. I didn’t only do it just so I could enjoy sex longer, I wanted to satisfy Tamar too. I would feel like a failure as a lover if I didn’t last very long. The problem was; I was stuck in a vicious cycle. I would masturbate to last longer during sex, but my muscle memory was working against me.
In doing research for this book, I have learned that there are experts that recommend masturbation to improve your sex life. Some also recommend having an affair. And these people are considered experts. EXPERTS! I can tell you from personal experience; IT DOESN’T WORK!!! It’s counterproductive. When you do have sex with your spouse and makes it more difficult to reach that euphoria state that makes you want to stand up and shout “HALLELUJAH!”