Throughout my life, I have received bewilderment and backhanded praise in my efforts to attempt to remain abstinent for my wife and my Lord. The pressure began in middle school, and has continued far into my adult life. I fully expect to be rejecting offers until I am dead, regardless if I’m married or not, unfortunately. The question I usually receive is, “How do you do it?” The answer can be overly simplified to self-control with God’s favor. However, I know that answer will not satisfy most readers, so let me go into detail.
Early in my life – I’d say middle school – I began to notice the infatuation with, and outright hunger for, sex in young men. I cannot fully blame them, as the adults in their lives and in their movies, cartoons, and TV shows loved to hint at the power of sex and attraction. Going back to watch old movies and shows revealed just how perverse creators really were. As I began to notice the triggers, I noticed those falling prey to them.
Far before I noticed these triggers, I was growing up in a divorced family, and going to Christian churches weekly. The combination of these two major factors influenced me to commit to the standing that I wouldn’t fall in love with someone who couldn’t love me for a lifetime. Divorce was and is ugly, and I never want to experience it in my marriage. Where the experience of divorce wasn’t enough to hinder curiosity, words like adultery, fornication, sin, and abomination reinforced my decision. I decided I would never have sex until I was married, nor would I fall in love with someone who couldn’t love me until they died – a tall order.
The problem with ambitious goals is not knowing how to deal with the journey to their completion. When I made my commitment, to the Lord and to myself, I expected to find the woman of my dreams early in life. I expected to be walking across the stage, receiving my bachelor’s degree, with my wife cheering in the crowd. I never wanted to be single after college. I wanted us to build and grow together from the start of true adulthood.
Life has a way of exposing your weaknesses, and though I actively searched for my wife, I couldn’t find her. This inability led to depression, confusion, loneliness, frustration, and ultimately rebellion. I often found myself consumed with yearning for a woman that didn’t have a presence in my life. My patience was being tested.
It also didn’t help that I was exploring the idea of sex. You can’t say you want to wait until marriage but then try to view aspects of it outside of marriage. My experience was only by viewed websites, but I wanted to know why people were so addicted. Now some people would say that pornography, and the activities associated with them, helped stave off my desire for sex, but that isn’t the case. Pornography grew my appetite. I no longer wanted to just see it, but I wanted to feel it. I didn’t just want the thought of it, but I wanted the actions.
By the time I reached 24, I had given up on the idea of finding true love. I had walked across the stage single, and all around me it seemed like most were only concerned about sex. I couldn’t blame them. I started to envy them. They could bask in sin with a smile on their face while I sat there waiting for someone who started to feel nonexistent.
This mindset led to me losing my virginity. I forsook all conviction and just went for it. It wasn’t until after I had lost my purity that I felt the overwhelming fear and disappointment. I was afraid of how God viewed me, I was afraid of who I was becoming, and I was disappointed in my weakness. Over the next few years, I spent a lot of time in personal reflection and depression. It was a dark period in my life, but it was also a time I began to understand what was truly important.
One thing I would suggest to anyone seeking to abstain is to not be your own enemy. You must be careful about how you think, act, listen, watch, touch, and speak. I can say I want to remain abstinent, but if all I think about is sex, and I do not stop myself from thinking about sex, I am my worst enemy. The devil, or temptation (for the nonreligious), loves an unoccupied mind. With hormones fluctuating, you cannot let your mind wander. If you find yourself thinking about sex, affection, romance, or intimacy, stop yourself. Remind yourself than you cannot think of such things until you’re married, and focus elsewhere. Set a goal, do a workout, watch a kid’s show, or listen to music. You occupy your mind. Don’t let it be occupied.
I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done. Nothing about this topic is easy. You have to commit and recommit yourself to this path daily. If you feel you are too weak, get someone to hold you accountable. Not the type of people who give up on you when you struggle, but people who will demand you stick to your word. However, before you obtain an accountability partner, you have to establish a greater desire in yourself to want to abstain from sex. No one can understand the intensity you feel better than you and therefore no one should hold you accountable more than you.
This is why is it important to pay attention to how you act. If you know you get easily aroused while drinking, like me, watch how much you drink. Pay attention to how your mind works, how your hormones work, and how they work together to make you lustful. Again, don’t be your own enemy.
Music can be a lure. You know exactly what songs encourage you to think about sex. What’s that one song that puts you in the mood? Some of you already have the chorus or melody in your head as you read this. Turn the music off. If you’re dedicated to abstinence, remove those songs from your apps, playlists, and wherever else you have music stored. If you’ve read my other blog “That One Time I Removed R&B from my Phone”, you know I’ve done this before, and it honestly did wonders. I don’t even have to listen to those songs anymore. They’re stored for after marriage.
Do you have a favorite movie about love? Stop watching it. It makes you think about romance and intimacy, and that’ll find its way towards sex. If we’re going to commit to this, you have to be honest with yourself. I know for a fact that watching romantic comedies will take me there. I know that many R-rated shows will have pointless sex scenes. When at home, I skip these scenes; at the movies, I turn my head away. I love films, but I can’t watch those scenes or that’ll arouse me. You have to watch out your mind. Turn the TV show or movie off.
In order to understand how I denied some women sex, you have to understand how my mind works. My God, my wife, and my children come first, even though the latter two have not come into my life yet. I have to be concerned about them. I had to know what kind of husband and father I’d be long before I received the titles. Marriage has to become a priority if you want to stop having sex outside of it. I treat today as if it’s tomorrow. How would I feel if my kids learned I did this? How would I feel if my wife knew I was entertaining a woman I had no future with? These ideals stopped me from making some of the worst decisions in my life.
You cannot afford to be shortsighted with your body, mind, and soul. Each sexual encounter can devastate you if you’re not careful. You can come in contact with an STD. You can become too numb to sex, and require too much for most people to satisfy your sexual appetite. You can become addicted to the wrong person’s presence. You can also condemn yourself to damnation, if you care about such things.
Some think I have abstained because women don’t want me. That is untrue. I have not abstained from sex by lack of options. I’ve had women naked on a bed before. I’ve had women ready to rip my clothes off. I’ve had many inappropriate conversations. I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be, which is why I know so much about myself. Even now, I am still capable of surprising myself. Never get too comfortable with your progress. Always hunger to do better.
You can’t entertain every conversation. You can’t speak certain inappropriate comments. You can’t be at the wrong person’s house late at night or even stay long enough for your temptation to flare up. You can’t go gyrating on people in clubs. The longest relationships are not usually started through lust. Don’t be fooled. You cannot place yourself in situations that’ll have you contemplating sex.
This is something I’ve learned over the years. This is why I don’t visit strip clubs or dance clubs. You know how those outfits will look. You know how those drinks will feel. You know what music they’ll be playing. Your mind is not a playground. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste. I’ve found that a mind is also a terrible thing to use. You have to know your triggers. You have to discipline yourself constantly.
More than anything I’ve said in this list, you have to want to remain abstinent. All the advice in the world can’t help a person who doesn’t want to use it. Your downfall or success is determined by you. How disciplined do you want to be? How many more times do you want to be used? Using others for sex is a myth. You’re both being used to destroy each other. People talk about flashbacks and hormones, but forget that the mind is the producer of both. Take control of your mind. Let no one else have it.
One of the last, and most important, things you have to have is God’s favor, or luck for the nonreligious people. It’s not going to be perfect. You might get caught slipping. If you haven’t, I applaud you. Sometimes you just end up being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes you just miss the offer of sex on the table. I know I’ve missed plenty. Sometimes you’ve had bad timing. Appreciate these moments instead of being angry about lacking sex. Stay humble.
Resisting the temptation of sex is not easy. If it was, we wouldn’t have so much infidelity and fornication in the world. It takes discipline and passion for marriage. For my Christians, when you are weak, remember that God is strong in your stead. You have the option to lean on Him. Pray about it, confess it, and take your hands off of it. Let God handle getting you married and keeping you abstinent.
I wish all of you the best of favor going forward. It is a hard task ahead, but it is a task that is accomplishable. I’ve been at it for years. Some people can’t even go weeks without sex. Don’t be so controlled by hormones and lustful thoughts. You take control of you. You’re stronger than you think. You’re more resilient that a hot night.