The Desire Series

Warning - Porn and Masturbation Are Not Safe Sex

Jessica Harris

I am a Christian woman who spent years using hardcore pornography. I was addicted.

When I was in college, that was simply unheard of. Women didn’t struggle with this.

The dean of women at the school sat across from me and said those words one day. “Women just don’t have this problem.”



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But they do. I did. And maybe you do too.

Hooking up with total strangers is dangerous. But what about pornography and masturbation?

They don’t involve other people and it is not technically sex, so where’s the risk? It’s not hurting anyone.

If you’re a woman thinking those thoughts, you’re not alone.

But If you watch porn regularly and wonder what’s wrong with you because you struggle with “guy” issues, you’re also not alone.

For years, pornography and masturbation have been treated as male problems. People assumed women struggled with romance and fantasy, not porn and masturbation.

That’s simply not the case.

Women struggling with porn and masturbation have only recently become part of the discussion around sexually addictive behavior. People are realizing women can look to the same things as men to satisfy their sexual desire.

The question is, should we?

Are sexual acts, conducted alone, like pornography, masturbation and even sexting, healthy and safe expressions of our sexuality?

When you watch porn there’s no risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancy or even a broken heart. So it seems like a safe alternative to the safest sex.

But compare pornography and masturbation to God’s intent for sex, and the problem becomes much clearer.

The Bible speaks far more highly of sex than we tend to. It’s not about satisfying physical impulses or seeking satisfaction.

Instead, sex is intended as a beautiful expression of trust, commitment, intimacy and love.

Pornography versus Sex

Imagine God’s design for sex as a beautiful picture. Pornography vandalises that picture. Porn takes the most intimate act two people can engage in and reduces it to entertainment. Pornography is not sex.

If our sense of what is real and what is worth aspiring to can be influenced by the airbrushed models on magazine covers, it can certainly be influenced by pornography.

So what does porn do?

  • Instead of connection, pornography drives isolation.
  • Instead of a sacrificial love, it rewards aggression and violence.
  • It paints unrealistic pictures of sex in our minds that leads to unfair expectations when we’re in actual relationships.
  • Instead of giving us freedom with our sexuality, porn chains us to it, causing dependency and addiction.

I have received emails from married women saying they started using pornography before marriage and now their husbands can’t excite them. In order to be intimate with their husbands, they have to watch pornography first. That’s not freedom nor is it good sex.

So if you think watching pornography is not technically sex, you are correct. But that doesn’t make it safe, healthy or good for us.

If you’d like to stop watching porn, consider downloading an accountability software or filter for your phone or computer to help make it harder to access.

Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You are popular examples of this kind of software.

What About Sexting?

Sexting is the term used to describe sending explicit messages or photographs to friends, lovers or complete strangers. It may seem safer than other ways of expressing our sexual desires, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Experts suggest that sexting is essentially the new pornography. Roxanne Stone of the Barna Research Group refers to sexting as Porn 2.0.

I sent my first pictures when I was in college. I hated it, but felt I had no choice. I was only 17 at the time, so what I did was technically illegal. If I had known then how that decision would follow me, I would never have done it.

Here’s the thing about pictures: they never go away. Once you put them out there, you cannot guarantee control over who sees them or what they do with them.

To this day, those pictures remain the biggest regret of my life.

I’ve talked to many young women who feel a sense of loss after they share sexual photos with others. What they thought would bring acceptance has left them feeling used and alone.

Their bodies have been reduced to pixels on a screen.

If you’re in a relationship, even a committed one, and your partner is requesting you send explicit photos or texts, think twice. Once you send it, you can never bring it back, and no relationship is worth compromising your boundaries.

What’s the Problem With Masturbation?

Even Christian experts disagree on this. To be clear, there is nothing dirty about our bodies. We know on a purely anatomical level that as women, we are created with the ability to enjoy sexual pleasure.

So any discouragement from masturbation isn’t about treating sex as dirty or believing it’s wrong for women to be aroused.

Instead of just labeling masturbation as “wrong”, let’s think about some underlying issues that cause us to masturbate.

Little girls can discover masturbation completely by accident, without any prior sexual knowledge. For many of these girls, it’s a self-soothing touch, much like twirling their hair when they are tired.

As we grow older though, we become more aware of what’s going on and begin to understand arousal and release as sexual.

For some women, masturbation is accompanied by fantasy, pornography or erotica. It’s a way to be immersed in the sexual experience. In these cases, the fundamental issue isn’t the act of masturbating but the lust that accompanies it.

Likewise, some women masturbate because they feel it’s their right. If God isn’t giving them a proper source of sexual satisfaction, they will take care of it themselves.

The issue here is do we trust God’s good intentions for us?

Pause here and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you believe God is trustworthy?
  2. Do you agree with His design for sex?
  3. Do you think He is the expert on what you need?

Have you considered how masturbation trains your body for intimacy?

I believe sex is good, and it’s a way women bond to their husbands. So if I masturbate and train my body to respond best to me, I have robbed him of an opportunity to fulfill me in the way only he was meant to.

If you struggle with pornography, sexting or masturbation, look deeper for underlying issues you may need to address. Perhaps there’s unresolved pain in your life from past traumas, or you’re using these things to avoid facing some present reality. Maybe it’s become something you do in place of having sex - like a trade off.

Where do you go from here?

  • If any of these things are a struggle for you, take time to think about what need they are trying to fill in your life.
  • Who could you talk to about your struggles?
  • Would accountability software help you resist the temptation to watch pornography? Try one of these.

Jessica Harris an international speaker, blogger and author of Beggar’s Daughter and Love Done Right: Reflections. To discover more resources for women struggling with sexual sin, visit Jessica’s website: www.beggarsdaughter.com.

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