Sexual urges are a normal part of adolescent development. As a young person, you have heard people say, "Sex is for marriage.” And that’s true. But what is someone supposed to do to cope with sexual urges until they get married?
Society generally thinks looking at sexual pictures and movies and then masturbating is an appropriate way to manage sexual urges. But as a young person who wants to wait for marriage to have sex, or if you are struggling with your sexual urges now, how can you deal with your feelings? Some people may think that looking at pornography is an OK option. Porn is a common way to manage sexual urges. Unfortunately, there can be consequences to this behavior. But is it?
What is pornography?
One definition explains pornography as the print or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or sexual activity. Its purpose is intended to stimulate sexual feelings. Access to pornography shapes a child’s expectations of relationships. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pornography as the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or written descriptions of sexual acts) intended to cause sexual excitement.
Studies indicate that the average child views porn for the first time at eight years old! Viewing explicit sexual material at such a young age can have a profound impact on development if it becomes a habit. The sex acts shown in pornography are not a depiction of reality, and can distort a viewer’s idea of what normal sexual behavior is really like. The more it is watched, the more harmful it becomes. Research has found that porn viewing can be associated with:
- Hypersexualization - focus on extremely sexual art or pictures, particularly in the media.
- Emotional disturbances - low-self esteem, attachment issues, depressive symptoms)
- Sexism. Dictionaries point to exaggerated pictures or cartoons of oversexed men and women—and even children.
- Sexting or sending nudies - sending sexually focused texts or photos electronically.
- Worsening of sexual disorders - sexual attraction to children, addiction to porn, etc.
- Increased sexual aggression as an offender of sexual violence like rape or sexual behaviors without consent.
- Online sexual victimization – being forced to act out sexually online or watch others having sex.
- Worsens relationship with God – brings shame and inappropriate guilt, which may distant one from God.
What You Can Do:
Interest in sex and sexual urges are a normal part of adolescent development. Research has identified what can protect youth from porn use and manage those urges.
- Make a personal commitment to Christ.
Commit to talk with God and read the Bible daily. Attend church regularly. Decide what personal values to live by. Studies show that youth who lived their faith viewed less pornography or avoided it all together.
- Remember your body is the temple of God.
“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:18-19) NKJV
- Commit to waiting until marriage to explore or engage in sex.
Holding bsiblical sexual values decrease pornography use.
- Talk with a trusted friend or counselor about your struggle.
Having a safe spiritual person to talk to about it can help reduce the powerful urges from pornography or fantasizing about sexual acts. Confide in a trusted guardian or religious advisor to hold you accountable or to answer questions. James 5:16 calls us to “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Healing comes with recognizing and confessing our weaknesses/sins to God and also a trusted mentor.
- Be in bed only to sleep. This will help with any sleep problems and sexual urges while in bed.
- Get involved in meaningful activities. Keep busy, help others, spend time with a hobby or sports, be physically active to release sexual tension.
- Let God guide your thoughts. Follow the counsel of Philippians 4:8, “whatsoever things are true, and of virtue…think about those things.”
- Avoid situations that cause sexual stimulation. This includes certain movies, tv shows, social media, and making out with a boy/girlfriend. Once sexual urges are activated, they are difficult to manage.
- When sexual urges intensify, leave that environment or include others in the activity. Hang out with friends and go out for a date in groups.
- Submit your urges to God daily. Consciously let go and let God take control of your urges when you feel you can’t do it on your own. He promises He will help you. See Ephesians 6:10-18.
- Sign the Youth Alive Pledge. Making a commitment to say no to pornography use will strengthen your resolve. Place the signed pledge in a visible place where you can be reminded of it daily.
Impact of Faith:
God created us as sexual beings. Sex helps to increase intimacy between spouses and populates the earth. Still, God commands that sexual expression be limited to marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Sexuality is not mentioned in the Bible as sinful or dirty. You shouldn’t feel guilty for having sexual desires but should pray and work with God to subdue those desires until you are married. Dealing with sexual desires has been a struggle throughout the history of humanity. If you have done something sexually immoral, ask for forgiveness and let God show you what you can do differently to prevent it from happening again.
God has given you the power of self-control, but you don’t have to do this on your own. Like an athlete who must prepare his/her body for a game or race, so you should prepare your spirit in your youth for the temptations you will face in life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Learning to manage your sexual urges now and developing that discipline will help you manage temptations throughout your life. Focusing on Him and developing intimacy with Him will help you feel less alone in this struggle.
Resources: Gateway to Wholeness – an excellent program developed to help overcome problems associated with pornography use. https://gatewaytowholeness.com/
Aghamiri, F.S., Leutz, J.M., & Hills, K. (2022). Pornography addiction and its impacts on intimate female partner wellbeing-a systematic narrative synthesis. Journal of Addictive Diseases [J Addict Dis] Jan 08, 2022, pp. 1-9.
Gasso, A. & Brush-Granados-A. (2021). Psychological and forensic challenge regarding youth consumption of pornography: A narrative review. Adolescents, 1(2), 108-122. https://doi.org/10.3390/adolescents1020009
Gibbons, Iesha. (2021). Addressing Problematic Pornography Use in Adolescent/Young Adult Males: A Literature Review and Recommendations for Family Therapists. The American Journal of Family Therapy 49,(1) ISSN: 0192-6187 Online ISSN: 1521-0383
Hardy, S.A., Hurst, J.L., Price, J., & Denton, M. (2019). The socialization of attitudes about sex and their role in adolescent pornography use. Journal of Adolescence, 72, 70-82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolecence.2019.02.007