A Can of Worms

October 17, 2017  - By Ashley Chestnut

Hope for the Woman Battling Sexual Addiction

In the Light

This summer, I led a Bible study for the young singles in our church, and sexual discipleship was one of the topics in this series. It was also the week I had the most anxiety about teaching.

In a conversation with a friend, I relayed my nerves about this particular week and said that I felt like I’d be opening a can of worms by talking about oral sex, masturbation, pornography, and same-sex attraction with our ladies. His response: “Good! It’s a can of worms that needs to be opened!”

And he’s right.

1 John 1:7 states, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

If you notice, John predicates fellowship on light. We cannot have true community as God designed it if we are not living in the light, and you are not walking in the light if you are keeping your sin struggles to yourself.

I totally get why you’d want to stay in the shadows, though. It’s ridiculously scary to even think of telling another person about your baggage. You risk their shock, their judgment, and their rejection. You wonder if they will ever be able to look at you and not think about your particular scarlet letter.

But you will not know freedom if you stay in darkness, for you cannot fight darkness from a position of darkness. You fight darkness by interjecting light. And walking in the light starts with taking that first step into the light. It starts with confession to God first but also to other Christ-followers.

A Daily Battle

I recently received a text message from a girl who is battling sexual addiction and who, after multiple attempts, has not yet reached 30 days sobriety. Back in March, she reached out to another girl and me to confess her sin and to invite us to journey with her in her pursuit of holiness. She’s beginning to walk in the light.

As I’m writing this, she’s on day 25 of sobriety, and in her text message, she wrote, “I am so thrilled to be here in this moment. Addiction is powerful, but I can say with confidence that God is greater by far. My story has been transformed from guilt and shame to a trophy of God’s grace.”

This sweet friend would tell you that this is the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life, for it requires resisting what her body wants. It involves re-learning how to respond to temptation. It means doing the hard work of dealing with things in her life rather than using masturbation to escape and to cope. And it necessitates being real with others about things that feel embarrassing to even mention.

Her willingness to do all of this clearly demonstrates that God is working in her - she couldn’t do any of this if that were not the case. And it is has been so encouraging to see how He is changing her and empowering her to walk in freedom. God is doing this work in her, and He can do it in you too. 

Hope In Christ

Christ came not only to set us free from the penalty of sin; He also came to set us free from the power of sin. There is no sin you are incapable of, but there is also no sin that God cannot free you from.

For those of you reading this who struggle with masturbation, pornography, or oral sex, you are not alone, but the enemy wants you to feel alone.

Isolation, guilt, shame – these are his tactics for leading us to withdraw from God and from others. If we confess our sins, God faithfully forgives us (1 Jn. 1:9), but like Adam and Eve in the Garden, our inclination is to hide from God when we sin. We don’t want to face Him, and we definitely don’t want others to know.

Honestly, my anxiety about teaching on the topic of sexual discipleship had nothing to do with what I would say. What I was nervous about was the volume of the response. I know girls in our ministry struggle with all sorts of sexual sin, and by broaching the subject first, I open the door for them to talk about their sin – with their small group leader, with me, or with others in their life. That’s my prayer, at least – that they’ll step into the light. And it’s my prayer that you will open the can of worms in your own life and invite God and others to help you address the mess that’s there.

Your friend,

Ashley Chestnut

This blog post was written by Ashley Chestnut, Associate Singles Minister at the Church at Brook Hills. We understand that the topic of pornography and sexual stronghold is a deep subject to address and have prayed that this post would open hearts and eyes to see the freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

If you are currently in the depths of sexual sin, know that you are not alone and there is hope and it is in Christ alone.

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  1. katiescarlett93@gmail.com says:

    I’m struggling to understand how masturbation and oral sex are sinful. Nowhere in the bible does it say that they are wrong. If you use masturbation as a way to fantasize about things that aren’t appropriate then sure, but to do it purely for the release of tension and anxiety and stress which is what our amazing bodies were made to be able to help us with isn’t wrong.

    If you have a partner who loves you and cherishes you and this is a part of your sexual relationship that is edifying and fulfilling to you both then why should it be considered sin?

    In 1 Corinthians 7:5 it says, "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." This verse indicates that each sexual activity should be mutually agreed upon.

    Masturbation and Oral Sex are not deviant ways of living, they’re facts of life and our God given experience to share in love with another person and to also maintain a healthy mind and soul to relieve stress, anxiety and even uplift in times of depression. This isn’t a bad thing.

    • achesnut@brookhills.org says:

      Thank you for bringing this up! It’s an important question.

      First of all, the words "masturbation" and "oral sex" do not appear in the Bible. So when things do not explicitly appear in Scripture, we look at the Bible’s principles.

      So let’s talk first about the Bible’s principle – God’s design – for sex. In essence, it’s heterosexual, relational, covenantal, fruitful, selfless, and spiritual. It has to meet ALL 6 of those benchmarks for it to align with His design.

      With masturbation, it is essentially a personal homosexual act. So it’s not heterosexual. It’s not relational. It’s not covenantal. It’s not fruitful. It’s not selfless. And it’s not spiritual. It means none of the benchmarks. I do need to clarify that there’s a difference between self-stimulation and mutual stimulation (that’s done with your spouse). Self-stimulation is what I’m referring to here.

      With oral sex, there’s a difference between oral sex as a single and oral sex that is done in the context of marriage. For a single, it is a sin because it’s not covenantal, fruitful, selfless, or spiritual (and it may or may not be heterosexual).

      So masturbation is a sin – no matter the motivation. I work with several female sex addicts, and for many, using masturbation is a way to cope is what is a core part of their addiction. That’s not an appropriate, healthy, or God-honoring way to deal with stress, anxiety, etc.

      If you have more questions about this, I recommend listening to Dr. David Platt’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 6 ("The Cross and Christian Sexuality: Parts 1 & 2"), which can be found on http://www.radical.net

      This sermon specifically addresses the benchmarks I listed above and how masturbation, in particular, doesn’t meet them. There’s also a good article on masturbation on Desiring God called "If Your Right Hand Causes You to Sin: 10 Biblical Reflections on Masturbation" by Jason DeRouchie. Edward Welch has a good booklet on masturbation that can be ordered off of http://www.ccef.org

      For oral sex, I recommend listening to a podcast and transcript by Dr. John Piper on "Is Oral Sex Okay?" It’s on http://www.desiringgod.org

  2. Ashlee says:

    Thank you for this. I have struggled with masturbation my entire life, even before being saved. Last year God chastised me for this sin and I was a year sober until I let my guard down during a difficult time in my walk with Him, which resulted in a relapse. Since then, I have fought to keep the victory over this sin. It has been a constant battle. I am currently three weeks sober. Maybe longer. The hardest part is the temptation and not giving in. I haven’t told anyone because I have a hard time being vulnerable and this let’s people see the ugly in me which I so desperately try to hide. I feel like a terrible person and I don’t want someone to think worse of me because I have this one sin I keep tripping over. I don’t like failure. In the past two years God has healed a lot of wounds I had.. But being vulnerable is still one of the hardest things for me. I tend to keep a rough outer shell over my heart because if I pick up even the slightest difference in someone’s tone or body language, I am instantly hurt. Anyway, I guess this is me sharing what I have struggled with, with someone who doesn’t know me. I probably won’t ever share this to anyone that knows me simply because in my mind, they will forever view me differently.

    Thank you. I am so thankful someone has addressed this and talked about it to women. Men aren’t the only ones who struggle with this. More group leaders and pastors need to address this in such a way that others can see how it is a sin.

  3. Brightstar0217@gmail.com says:

    Thanks Ashlee for sharing your struggles with masturbation. I struggle with this too and want to be free. I always feel guilty, condemned and ashamed afterwards. How did you become sober? Did you go to a group or read a certain book? If anyone has tips it will be appreciated 😊

    • Ashlee says:

      Hi Rachael, I didn’t attend any group or even read any books. Basically I prayed and asked God to help me because I could not do it myself and that is when he chastised me for it. I do not like being chastised whatsoever but it yields peaceable fruit. It is what needed to be done. That is how I got victory over that spirit, but when I let my guard down to their, i fell. Since then I have asked God to forgive me and I have been very diligent at trying not to relapse. I did notice that when I am watching movies, especially ones that tend to have any sort of romance (I try hot to watch anything rated PG-13 bit even pg or family approved videos can have kissing scenes) would make the temptation harder. I think that for me, there is also list involved. So I am trying to just focus on praying and my daily walk with the Lord. The less I feed my flesh(give into things that don’t please me, rather than Gkd and what he wants me to do), the less I give into it. And, saying scripture in my mind when the thought about it comes, helps as well. Hope this helps! I’ll be praying for you!❤❤

  4. Nicole Bradshaw says:

    This article really took me by surprise, I was expecting something completely different. I could not disagree more and it seems like at this point it’s more about nitpicking scripture and is honestly borderline over the top. It’s laughable that, "K" was told that masturbation is "a personal homosexual act." Seriously? Is this what Christianity has become? This right here is why people hate both Christians and the church itself. Nowhere in the Bible does it directly discuss this, but once again those who need to twist scripture to fit their argument, will do so. It’s that old archaic puritanical mindset, which doesn’t come from God’s word, but from a bunch of religious zealots scaring everyone into thinking everything they do is wrong and "bad" in the eyes of God.

  5. Lika says:

    No way can masturbation be sinful. There is an example of it in the bible, by a woman described as holy, the Shulammite.

    Chap 1:8 “fairest among women,”
    Chap 4:7 ‘You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.’
    Chap 5:2 “flawless”
    Chap 5:9 “O fairest among women”

    In chapter 5 she clearly has been masturbating herself, her hand is dripping with myrrh – which is referring to sex fluids, in this case, her own.

    Song of Solomon, Chapter 5.
    Vs 2.
    I slept, but my heart was awake.
    Listen! my beloved is knocking.

    Vs 5.
    I arose to open to my beloved,
    and my hands dripped with myrrh,
    my fingers with liquid myrrh,
    upon the handles of the bolt.

    • Hi, friend! We do not believe the passage you highlighted is referring to masturbation. Many commentaries argue that these verses indicate a literal oil, as anointed on the door/latch as a reminder to the woman that her love had been waiting for her, or that she had anointed herself with myrrh as a sign of welcome/repentance for making him wait so long at the door (and eventually leave.) Both were culturally appropriate customs of the times and fit the context of the passage.

      Here is a wonderful article from Phylicia Masonheimer on why and how masturbation is a sin, and how we can abstain from it in our fight for holiness. I’d highly suggest reading it! 🙂 https://phyliciamasonheimer.com/sex-questions-sin-christianity/


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