Last week a college freshman came up to me after a chastity workshop to “talk.” I could tell she was nervous. She waited until the room cleared and pulled me aside to chat. She started:
“Mary, I need to talk to you about … she looked down mumbled …“you know, what you talked about in your talk.”
There was a long awkward pause as she picked at her chipped fingernail polish and said:
“The M word.”
“You mean, Masturbation?” I said gently.
The M Word
Some of you may be shocked to see the word bolded in a Catholic blog. But there it is, staring at you. I want to say it clearly without reserve because it’s there, and we women need to talk about it.
Here are four myths about Masturbation you need to know:
Myth 1: It’s only a guy issue.
There are many ministries focused on pornography that are geared toward men, and they’re doing great work. Statistics show that the average male is exposed to pornography by age 10. People, however, have the misconception that pornography is only a “guy” issue, which is not.
It is also important to differentiate pornography from masturbation. Many women struggle with masturbation without being hooked on pornography.
Let’s face it, the over sexualized culture has affected us too!
Many girls are exposed to sexual images, movies, and messages at an earlier age. Scandal, 50 Shades of Gray and countless magazine articles are now encouraging women to explore their bodies.
Some girls fall into masturbation by accident through innocent self-exploration as a child. Other girls get exposed to it through sexual experiences that occur in and outside of a dating relationship.
Regardless of how it starts, it’s not only a guy issue.
Myth 2: It doesn’t hurt anyone.
A recent magazine article referred to masturbation as “self-love”— wow, so masturbation is about love? Let’s be honest. What you do alone in a dark room is not about love; It’s about pleasure, and it voids the sexual act of it’s true meaning.
I used to think the Church was prudish about sexuality and the pleasure that comes with it, but that is not true. God created the sexual act, and it is a profound gift from Him. The Church holds this act so highly in marriage because it points us to the very profound “mystery” of Christ’s spousal love for the Church (Eph 5:22-33).
One blog is not enough time to explain the mind-blowing mystery of sexuality. So, here’s a 3 minute video by Jason Evert on A Love that Lasts to get you started.
The Bottom line: Sex is made to be a total, free, faithful, and fruitful self-gift between a husband and wife to make visible the covenant vows expressed at the altar. When we invert that, and make it about ourselves, Sex becomes about lust not love. Masturbation causes us to misuse the gift, and is a sin—it empties it of its meaning.
Myth 3: It’s too shameful to talk about.
Many women feel ashamed to admit they struggle with masturbation. But here is the good news: There is no shame in Jesus Christ! (Rom. 10:11). Okay, do a celebratory dance right now. Remember, if you struggle, you are not alone.
I knew a group of teenage girls who were courageous enough to share with each other that they struggled with masturbation and formed a support group. They even had a secret nickname. It was a beautiful witness to the power of fellowship and accountability.
Myth 4: I’m powerless. It will always be a part of my life.
Sometimes we can think we are powerless to break the cycle. You fall, feel horrible, go to confession, feel better, and then it happens again.
I struggled with masturbation throughout college. I was stuck in a pattern and felt ashamed. Many of the girls I knew in college were sexually active and didn’t think it was a big deal. Enslaved in the cycle, I didn’t know there was another way.
Then I heard a female speaker who shared her addiction to pornography and masturbation and said she was free. I was shocked! I didn’t know you could be a habitual masturbator and then be free. Through prayer, fasting, accountability, and behavior changes; she was now free!
Freedom is possible… And now I too am an example of that.
The New M word.
If you are like me and have this secret “M word” in your closet, there is another M word to remember: Mercy. Christ comes and his love is stronger than death itself (Song of Songs 8:6). Do not believe the myths. Just turn to sisterhood, accountability, and grace. The freedom of Christ awaits you.
Involved in ministry for more than 15 years, Mary Bielski has spoken to over 100,000 teens, young adults around the nation at high school and college retreats and conferences, including Steubenville Youth Conferences, Life Teen Inspiration, LA Congress, NCCC, and parish and diocesan rallies. Using funny stories and engaging analogies, Mary draws her audience to the beauty of our Catholic faith, a deeper love for Christ, the Eucharist, and the call to holiness. For more information about Mary and her ministry go to www.marybielski.com.