This is the true story how I gave up masturbation for Jesus when I was 13-years-old. Before getting into the thick of it, a little bit about me. My mother was the church organist/choir director at the Baptist church we attended. Dad was a deacon. And I took a certain amount of pride in regurgitating memorized Bible verses in my Sunday School class.
Simply stated, I was hip deep in Jesus.
If I were to go back in time and offer a suggestion to the church elders concerning the Sunday School curriculum, I’d say “You should talk a bit about masturbation. There needs to some sort of discussion about the act before a kid starts humping his mattress after watching Charlie’s Angels.” (I’m old. Here’s an update for the younger readers: There needs to some sort of discussion about the act before a kid starts humping his mattress after watching Niki Minaj on that YouTube video.)
The thing is the church I went to believed it covered all the masturbation education in these two verses from the New Testament:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Mathew 5: 27–28
See? Even thinking about having sex with someone out of wedlock is as bad as doing the act. And you know where that will get you? HELL. And that’s HELL for eternity, as against to being on the New Jersey turnpike driving into NYC on a Monday morning.
I know what you’re thinking. “Andy, did you try to masturbate without thinking about sex?” Of course I did. Because that seemed like a way to work around the system. If I could wank without thinking about sex, then it meant a potential lifetime of sin-free wanking.
(Did I mention I’m writing this because I was telling my new girlfriend about all the times I didn’t have sex when I was younger due to my buzzkill Christian faith? She found it very hard to believe. But I digress.)
I was not able to wank without thinking about sex.
And that bothered me.
I had this dream — it was a sex anxiety dream — about being reincarnated as a shark for being a chronic masturbator. I didn’t know why Jesus would reincarnate me into a shark for masturbating. One, where is the poetry in that punishment? Aren’t punishments supposed to rhyme with the crime? Where’s the connection between self-love and a Great White? Two, is being a shark really a punishment? I’ve seen Shark Week a gaggle of times. Sharks are a very successful species. Three, Isn’t Jesus all about sending people to HELL? Did the Messiah get tired of doing it, and said to himself Let’s change things up a bit?
I was confused, frustrated, and horny. And then I went on a ski trip with my church’s youth group.
Camp Rumney is up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It offered all the wholesome fun Christians would want — skiing, sledding, and all the hot cocoa your inner Jesus desires. Of course, since I have a minor disability skiing was not for me. (I tried skiing once as an adult and realized it wasn’t as simple as letting gravity have its way with you. I lack “normal” muscle tone. Even when I’m thin, I’m skinny-fat.) I kept myself occupied with sledding, AND DEFINITELY NOT THINKING ABOUT HOT JESUS GIRLS IN SKI SUITS.
Throughout our stay we were psychologically assaulted with Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Even as a young Christian I thought they were over seasoning with Jesus. It was like putting salt on bacon. Bacon was already salty. I didn’t need more Jesus/salt on my bacon/ski trip, thank you very much.
The last night, however, changed my mind. It turned out I needed Jesus/salt everywhere. I needed salt on bacon. I needed salt on salted fish. And I needed salt on salt. I definitely needed salt for my penis.
You know what I mean.
The last night was the kicker. They put on quite a show. There was preaching and singing. Bible verses recited. The power of Jesus filled the auditorium. The preacher-man asked us if we had anything we wanted to give to Christ. Was there something in our lives that was standing in the way of walking with the LORD? If so, then come on up and give it to Christ.
That’s when 13-year-old me decided to give Jesus my chronic wanking. If a mustard seed of faith could move a mountain, well, my Savior and I can keep my hands off my privates. At that moment I felt, no I knew, that Jesus and I would form a team that could beat it. We would go hand in hand into the future and beat it together. That was the power of Christ.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to proclaim to the crowd what we were giving up. In retrospect, I’m sure I wasn’t the only lost soul up there who needed to be saved from healthy sexual behavior.
After the official sacrificing to Jesus was done, we returned to our seats. I was sitting next to my sister. She had no idea what I was doing up there. She was the “bad” child in our dysfunctional nuclear family. If anyone had anything to give up, she’d be the one doing it.
I may have been naive. I may have been incredibly socially awkward. However, I wasn’t going to tell her about sacrificing wanking to Jesus. That was a deal just between Jesus and me.
When you think about it, if the faithful were serious about masturbation they’d have support groups meeting daily in church basements. The pious would debate on how different sins are weighed in the eyes of God (i.e., saying Happy Holidays versus watching MSNBC). However, it’s clear any sin will get you a first class ticket to HELL — For the wages of sin is death… — Romans 6:23.
These masturbation support groups would operate like Alcoholics Anonymous. There would be cookies and coffee. Members would say something like, “My name is Andy, and I regularly wank myself.” And if you know anything about AA, then you know there are chips. Been sober for a year? You get a one year chip. Dry for 20? You get a twenty-year chip. Wanking chips would need shorter time spans. I would need some recognition for not going full wank between the hours of 6am-12 noon.
Once again I digress.
13-year-old me got home late from Christian camp. It allowed me to go quickly to bed without too much temptation. This was a good sign. I only had to keep this up for six or seven more decades. The next day was school. Fantastic. My plan was to get up quickly, and get myself ready for the meat grinder known as middle school. This was easier said than done.
I’m sure you’ve figured this out, gentle reader. I hadn’t wanked for a few days. Being at Christian camp and sleeping dormitory style with a bunch of dudes inhibited wanking. I was already on Day 3 of forced self-celibacy.
It’s been said before, but it needs to be restated here and now — young people today don’t understand how difficult it was to see titties in the 1980s. You couldn’t just fire up your smartphone, laptop, or iPad and surf sin. No. If you wanted to see breasts, you had to work for it. And even then you had to deal with non-naked tittie visual stimulation.
My porn stash at the time consisted of Sears’ advertisements from the Sunday newspapers. Oh, how I waited for the Sunday newspaper. Once it arrived, I grabbed the inserts and brought them to my lair. The underwear models made my days, my evenings, and oftentimes afternoon heavenly .
Not only did I have copious amounts of Sears’ ads. I also had the real thing — pictures of naked titties. Don’t get me wrong, the Sunday newspaper brought me joy. But there were no bare breasts. I don’t remember where I got the two pins featuring women with bare breasts. They were probably from a friend who had an older brother who graduated from porn-pins one could wear on a prized Members’ Only Jacket to porn movies on VHS tapes.
That morning I decided to get rid of my porn-pins. Better to do it quickly. If they loitered around in the draw by my nightstand, they’d be too much temptation.
My forced self-celibacy lasted approximately 15 after waking up on that Monday. You see, while throwing away the porn-pins I looked at the naked titties. And I was done. The Power of Christ was powerless in the face of The Power of Half-Naked Women.
Jesus didn’t have a prayer against millions of years of evolution and sex drive.
And that’s my story of self-love and the flacid power of Christ.