Am I Missing Out?

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is not a new buzzword but rather an age-old insecurity. When it comes to sexuality, it can be a strong force for some very damaging decisions. This blog is for those who are wondering, “What’s the point in waiting to have sex?” or “Why stop if I’ve already started?” My hope is to give you some clarity as to why it matters, even though it may seem every message says it doesn’t.

This is a feeling I relate to in a real way. Let me give a little context to my story: my childhood experience was very rare compared to most. Sexuality was something I wasn’t introduced to until later on. As a kid, I came across pornography a few times but never spent time watching it. I went to a public school my entire life, but I didn’t know what masturbation was until 10th grade. I have to admit when I first found out about masturbation, I was humiliated I didn’t know. I found out one day at track practice when the seniors told me all about it. At the time, my innocence felt a lot more like naive ignorance than a blessing.

As I continued on through high school and into my college years, I was able to keep abstaining from sex. I was twenty-two years old and a virgin when I married my wife, Caitlin, in 2006. Throughout my life, I never felt like I was missing out, and I have to give credit to God for guarding my desire for purity. Even though I didn’t experience this feeling when I was young, as a youth pastor I now come across questions often about missing out and feeling the need for “practice.” I wanted to share some perspective from my story by addressing these thoughts.

As a side note, righteousness comes from Jesus, not doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. I don’t share my story to act as if I had it figured out but rather to be an inspiration for what is possible. My heart is not that my story would cause condemnation for those who haven’t had this experience, but that it would ignite hope and that Holy Spirit would help bring truth as you read.

 

Question #1: I feel like everyone is having a great time, and I am concerned I’m missing out on something that is really awesome by not having sex, am I?

My answer to this comes from the married side of life as well as many people I have counseled in this area. I can’t count how many people I have talked to who were hurt because of their sexual experiences. Some felt pressured to please and others gave themselves to someone who didn’t follow through with their commitment.

I will tell you this: I have talked with person after person who battled shame because of their sexual experiences. I have yet to meet a person that could truthfully say sex has no meaning and is just a fun activity with no strings attached. Those that have engaged in porn or premarital sex seem to always have a significant healing process to go through. The cost on the soul is immeasurable.

On the contrary, sex has always been an expression of love for me so that is the only context I know it in. To my brain and spirit, it is only for deep intimacy, not just for instant pleasure. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good quickie, but even that in the context of marriage speaks of love, passion, and sacrifice. I have never once thought to myself, “I knew I should have had more sex before I committed to one woman forever.” Oftentimes at the conclusion of our intimate moments, I thank God that He saved me and she is the only one I have experienced this with!

 

Question #2: What if I don’t know what I am doing? Shouldn’t I get some practice before marriage?

This is a very interesting question to me because the very nature of practice in this area requires giving yourself away to people. Let me be upfront about something, I had absolutely no idea how to have sex on my wedding night. As a matter of fact, we never even had sex on our honeymoon for various reasons I’m sure we will share in a future blog.

Our first few years of marriage were filled with awkward sexual moments that didn’t turn out how either of us would have liked. We often would start to get frisky and end frustrated with nothing happening. Even with these moments, I wouldn’t want to learn with anyone else. Who better to be awkward with than my best friend whom I am in love with? I am safe with her, covered by her and discovering with her. These moments have bonded us, and we have learned together. As a matter of fact, we are still learning. Besides, if I really meant, “Till death do us part,” I have a lot of years to learn how to have great sex, and let me tell you, it really doesn’t take that long 🙂 .

There is so much more to say on this topic, so feel free to send any questions or insight our way. We would love to help you process as you struggle with your innocence, restored purity, or desire for the unknown.

 

COLE  ZICK CURRENTLY LEADS THE YOUTH MINISTRY AT CAPITAL CHRISTIAN CENTER WITH HIS WIFE CAITLIN IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. IN 2014, THEY LAUNCHED THE MY CITY CONFERENCE, A YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT CONFERENCE FOCUSED ON UNITY IN THE SACRAMENTO REGION. THEY ARE ALSO A PART OF THE NEXTGEN CITY PASTORS STRATEGY TEAM THAT LAUNCHED A REGION-WIDE NETWORK FOR YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT PASTORS. THEY HAVE A DEEP DESIRE TO SEE THE CHURCH THRIVING AND WORKING TOGETHER TO BE EFFECTIVE. AS A COUPLE, THEY HAVE MADE SEXUALITY A KEY FOCUS OF THEIR MINISTRY AS THEY SHARE THEIR STORY VERY OPENLY AND VULNERABLY HOPING TO SEE OTHERS FIND FREEDOM THROUGH IT. THEY CREATED FOUR CHILDREN IN FIVE YEARS, WHICH GIVES INSIGHT INTO THEIR LOVE FOR CHAOS. 

Should Girls Ask Guys on Dates?

Ladies, I’ve been there. You sit next to a cute guy and start up a conversation. You notice he has perfect teeth and he’s funny. This is going well. You start talking about what you did over the weekend and you say, “Just hung out with the girls. Yep, no boyfriend though… because I don’t have one, because I’m definitely single.” He nods his head and tells you about his own weekend. “That sounds fun,” you comment, and then reiterate just to make sure, “Yep, there’s not a boyfriend in sight. I am on the market. Available… Next Saturday actually.” He doesn’t seem to be picking up the cues.

What does a girl have to do to get a date? These kind of interactions bring us to the question:

“Should girls ask guys on dates?” 

We’ve gotten this question a few times, so we’re going to look at some ideas that might help answer it.

First of all, there’s a difference between initiation and pursuit. We believe God’s innate design is for a man to pursue a woman. God has placed it in a man to be the pursuer and to win the heart of the woman he is attracted to. Sometimes brokenness or past experiences can throw us off this track, but it is in our design. A relationship where the woman is doing all the pursuing will ultimately be unsatisfying for both parties. Men are designed to set their eyes on something valuable and fight for it. Women are designed to respond to the man who is willing to risk it all for her.

What we’ve seen though, is that many times girls will put the entire weight of initiating and pursuing on men’s shoulders, when this isn’t necessarily how it has to be.

Ladies, if you see a man you’re attracted to who has traits you admire, it’s okay to initiate some contact and put yourself in his world. Don’t be afraid to show that you’re interested. We have a few suggestions for this below, but just be your open and friendly self. It’s okay to be authentic to how you’re feeling and show that you like him. If he’s interested, he will start to show it as well and eventually start to pursue you. If he doesn’t, he may just not be interested, and that’s okay. You don’t want a man who’s not interested in you.

So here are few ideas from our team to help break the ice or make the first move. You can use all, some, or none of them, but the idea is to do whatever feels most like you and maybe gets you a little out of your comfort zone:

1. Say hello.

If you pass him, smile at him and say hello rather than looking away. This may not seem like ground-breaking advice for some people, but for those of us who would rather pretend we don’t see that super attractive man passing us in the hallway, this is a big step.

2. Initiate some conversation.

Ask him a question or give him a compliment to break the ice, start going out of your way a little to talk to him, and see what happens. You might even forget how to talk the first couple times (yep, I’ve been there), but it’s okay, you’ll figure out how to make sentences again in no time.

3. Invite him to a group hang-out.

Tell him he can bring friends as well. It’s always good to see how people interact in group settings.

4. Ask about relationships and his view on them.

This will at least get you on the subject of dating, and you can get a general idea of where he’s at.

5. Invite him out for coffee.

Coffee does not have to be a big deal. It can be an easy way to get to know someone without the pressure of a full on “date.”

6. Ask a friend to set you up.

If there is someone in your life who knows both of you, ask them to help you get connected.

7. Help him get in contact with you.

You can send him a friend request on Facebook, maybe throw a few “likes” or comments on his page, or for the really bold among us, you can slide in a gentle suggestion like: “Here’s my number, if you ever want to use it.”

The main thing we want to say is that no matter where you’re at, you don’t have to feel powerless in your dating life. Being a lady does not mean you have to sit and wait until a handsome gentleman notices you. If you feel stuck, you don’t have to be. If you want to get things moving a little more in your dating life, there are steps you can take. If you try some and they don’t work out, give yourself a high-five for being brave and taking a risk. As always, talk to God about the best steps to take in your dating life. He knows where you’re at and what you need, and He’s always thinking of your best.

For more information, check out some of our other blogposts on dating:

Date A Man Long Enough

For Her Eyes Only

19 Lies Churched Kids Believe About Dating

 


Talking to Your Kids About Sex FAQ

The Sex Talk

Talking about sex with your kids can be intimidating. It’s an important topic, and it’s difficult to know how they’re going to respond. We believe it can be a great experience for you and your kids, and the beginning of an ongoing conversation about sexuality and purity that equips them for the rest of their lives. Here are three questions with answers from our team to help you talk about sex with your kids.


 

 1. AT WHAT AGE SHOULD WE START TO TALK TO OUR KIDS ABOUT SEX?

 

Whoever talks to you about a subject for the first time is who you view as the expert. So when it comes to sex, whoever talks to your kids first about it is who they will see as the expert, even if it’s a movie or a kid on the playground. A lot of times in our culture we wait and end up being the second or third message they hear. If you weren’t the first voice to talk to your kids, don’t worry, it’s okay. It’s still important that you talk to them and make yourself available to them as a safe place to ask questions and talk about anything they’ve seen or heard, and what they’re curious about.

A study done by Simon Lajeunesse found that most boys first start to seek out pornography around the age of 10  because that is the point they are most sexually curious¹. That being said, it’s a good idea to be talking to them by then. We actually recommend that you start to introduce the subject much earlier than that. It also helps to make it an ongoing subject of conversation, not just something you have a big talk about one time.

So if you have young kids or if your kids are older and you haven’t talked to them yet, we want to help you approach the question of how to talk about sex in your home.

 

2. HOW DO WE TALK ABOUT SEX IN OUR HOME?

 

One of the ways to do that is to celebrate the family unit and God’s original design for children to be born into a family in the safety of covenant between two people. We realize there are single parents out there who are doing a great job raising their kids. Among all the mixed signals about family that we’re getting from culture today, our desire is simply that God’s design for family would be clearly defined for our kids.

Another thing to help them with is understanding the body and the differences between boys and girls. This is a good way to start things off and can help introduce the topic without going into details that are unnecessary for the younger ages. Kids are naturally curious, and it makes sense they would have questions about boy and girl bodies. The differences between the two should be celebrated because being created “male and female” is all part of God’s grand design for us.

What’s really important is that you’re the one answering questions for your kids. They don’t need to know everything right away. They’re just looking for a few core pieces about their sexuality so when a message comes to them, it has somewhere to land. A tool that’s helpful when answering questions is to ask your kids, “What do you mean by that?” Many times we might jump to something as parents when our child’s real question is actually much simpler than what we’re thinking. Talk to them appropriately. Don’t stir their curiosity by talking above their level. Keep things age-appropriate.

The Story of Me and the other books in the God’s Design for Sex series by Stan and Brenna Jones are great resources. This series has four books that are all age-specific. It explains the basics of life, how sex happens, and it also glorifies masculinity and femininity.

 

3. WHAT IF A PARENT KNOWS THEIR CHILD IS ALREADY STRUGGLING?

 

It’s difficult finding out you have a child struggling in this area. It can be scary and overwhelming, but when you respond, you have to decide if you’re going to be a voice of hope or a voice of shame for your kids. They’re going to talk to someone about this stuff, if they don’t feel safe talking to you, then they’re going to find someone else.

If you find out your kid is struggling, make sure you build relationship and rapport with them first, and then slowly introduce questions to find out what’s going on in their world. You don’t have to ask specifics, just ask them how they’re doing and create a safe place for them to share. You’ve probably heard it said that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. It’s the same for our kids. Let them know you care first. Let them know there’s a way out and that they’re not horrible for wanting to look at porn or find out more about sex. It’s normal to be curious about these things. Don’t demand a ton of information from them right off the bat. Come alongside them and ask, “How can I help you with this?”

Depending on how involved the child is, it may be wise to bring in a counselor. If you decide this is the route to go, make sure you find a counselor who knows how to connect with kids. You can offer to go with them, or ask if they want to bring a friend. Give them options and give them hope that there’s a way out.

It’s great to give your children good resources that empower them to get information on this topic themselves. We have great resources from our team as well as others we recommend. We have the 40 Day Journey to Purity for guys and girls, as well as books, curriculum, podcasts, blogposts, and all sorts of other information. It’s okay and perfectly normal for your kids to want to know more about this subject. It’s in God’s design for all of us, so of course your kids are wondering about it when they start to reach a certain age. Keep the lines of communication open and continue to be a safe place for them, free of shame, so that when they have questions or concerns, you’re the first person they want to come to.

1. University of Montreal. “Are the effects of pornography negligible?.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091201111202.htm (accessed March 31, 2016).

Want to Get More Resources On Parenting Sexuality?



Looking For Love FAQ

Question


How do I start to value myself and stop having sex with people to feel loved?

 

The Team’s Answer

 

This is a very real, valuable question. We’re going to cover a couple different things to answer it. The first one is recognizing what’s in your God spot. Where are you getting your identity? The way God designed family is for all of us to first learn we are worthy of love from our parents. He wanted all of us to first experience unconditional love from them. He wanted them to be the first ones to pass identity on to us. We realize that not everyone was given the gift of being born into a loving family, and we want to you to know that you can still learn these things, and God desires to come through and redeem everything that may have been missing or stolen from you in your childhood.

When you grow up, God eventually becomes your source instead of your parents. He wants to become your source for identity, direction, protection, comfort, unconditional love, healing, etc. When you put something else in this spot that belongs to God, you start getting yourself into trouble. You might start feeling anxious or insecure. Girls are often asking, “Am I beautiful? Am I desirable?” Guys are usually asking, “Do I have what it takes?” You have to go to God and ask Him these questions. If you don’t, you’ll look for men or women to validate you instead of God.

If God is your source of security, even when you start feeling insecure, you’re safe. God comes in and says, “Hey, do you remember who you are?” He reminds you of what He says about you. Other people can affirm you or compliment you, but that shouldn’t give you your identity. What people say to you should only be a reflection of what God’s already said to you. 

Having healthy relationships with people starts with having a healthy relationship with God and letting Him meet your needs for identity, direction, protection, unconditional love, comfort, and security. When there is a missing piece in your relationship with God, you will always seek man to fill it. Any time you violate your conscience, you have a need wanting to be met. If you’re sleeping around with guys, it might not be that you just have a really high sex drive. If you keep looking at porn, it might not be just because you’re bored. You might be using these things to medicate your pain or exhaustion. Figure out what your need is, and go get it met in a healthy way.


When all your needs are met, purity becomes a fair fight.


The second thing we’re going to talk about is self-awareness. Self awareness is the ability to know what’s going on inside of you at all times. Seventy percent of what’s going on in your brain, you’re not actually aware of. Self-awareness is taking what’s going on in your subconscious realm and bringing it to your conscious realm.

Here are a couple things you can do to learn to be self-aware:

1. Write questions on your mirror like, “How are you today? How do you feel?”

2. Put reminders in your phone that say: “How’s your heart? What do you need today? How did you do today?”

If you wake up in the morning and realize you’re judging yourself in the mirror, you can recognize those feelings and think, “Oh man, I’m feeling insecure. I better not leave the house feeling insecure or ugly.” Then, instead of violating your conscience, you can fix what’s going on inside of you early on. You can even get help from someone else if you need to.

These are a just couple basic steps to help you become self-aware and understand your feelings. Feelings don’t actually have any moral value. Following them is not always going to lead you down the path God is asking you to walk. What you feel is just a sign of how you’re really doing. When a feeling comes up, evaluate: “Is this a good feeling? Am I feeling overwhelmed? Why?” Feelings are critical on our journey of self awareness. Catching them early and working things out helps keep us free.

Keeping God in your God spot and practicing self-awareness are two major tools to help you value yourself and keep from violating your conscience. Remember, in Christ, you are a new creation. Old habits and patterns do not dictate your life anymore. Learn to be aware of what’s going inside of you and get the questions of your heart answered by the Father who loves you and created you. His answer is always loving and it’s the one that really matters.


Top Health Questions & The Body: FOR WOMEN ONLY

Female Anatomy

1. What is a hymen?

While some women are born with absent or incomplete hymens, in general, a hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. The most common hymen in women is shaped like a half moon which allows menstrual blood to flow out. Some women have hymens that cover the majority of the vaginal opening whereas others’ are smaller. Every woman will be different.

 

2. How do I know if my hymen has been broken? If it is, am I still pure?

The hymen — a thin membrane fold at the entrance to the vagina — can be torn by things other than sex or masturbation. Examples would include sports and tampon insertion. The tearing is not always painful, but often does result in a bit of bleeding. As an aside, virginity means not having had sexual intercourse; it does not mean having an intact hymen.

A torn hymen isn’t likely to heal. Having a torn hymen does not make you impure, sexually or otherwise, in itself. Typically, you would be able to tell visually if your hymen was broken if you observed yourself in a mirror. The best way to find out is to visit a gynecologist or your family doctor and ask them if it seems intact.

 

3. Why do some women have small breasts, while others, even their own mothers, have large breasts?

The Doctor says:

Breast growth in girls begins about two years prior to menarche (the start of menstrual periods) and may continue up to four more years, which is to say women’s breast generally grow for about six years. A 2010 Australian twin study found that bra size was fifty-six percent a matter of heredity (genetic). However, not everything in life is genetic, and genes are about predisposition and not destiny. So, a woman’s mother’s breast size says something about her own, but not everything.

Other things during her life may change a woman’s breast size. Since adipose (fat) makes up a good part of the breasts, significant weight loss or gain will also affect breast size in the same direction. Pregnancy, for obvious reasons related to hormonal changes and milk production, will usually enlarge a woman’s breasts. About twenty percent of women will have breast growth after menopause, and the main reason for this is weight gain.

Genes, weight, age, pregnancies, menopause and other factors all play roles in breast size. So the answer to your question about why some women have smaller breasts than their mothers is that they are not their mothers.

 

How it All Works

1. What is puberty?
Puberty is the period of life when a person’s sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children.


2. When does it start?

The time when puberty begins varies greatly among individuals; however, puberty usually occurs in females from 10 to 14 yrs old.

 

3. What happens during puberty?

For females, the growth of pubic hair is first followed by the growth of hair in the armpits. A minority of girls, however, begin to develop pubic hair prior to breast development. The onset of menstruation usually happens later than the other physical changes and usually occurs around two and a half years after the onset of puberty.

 

4. Can you explain my period to me?

Simply, menstruation, or your period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It is a sign that she is able to have children.

Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, shed it’s lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina. This usually lasts 3-5 days. *www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menstruation.html.

The length of the cycle differs for each woman, the average being 28 days — starting from the day you first start your period, to the last day before you start your next.

 

5. When am I ovulating? How do I know?

Once a month, in the middle of your cycle (ie: Day 14 of a 28 day cycle), your body releases an egg from your ovaries. It flows down your fallopian tubes into your uterus. The egg will either be fertilized by sperm, or dissolve if fertilization does not take place. [1] The release of the egg is called ovulation. Some women say they can feel the egg “pop,” a slight twinge of pain in the lower abdomen. Most are unaware of it happening. It is at this point, when the egg is available, that you are fertile (you are able to get pregnant). There must be at least one healthy sperm waiting, available to fertilize the egg within 12-24 hours of the egg being released from the ovary if the woman is to conceive. [2]

Many women experienced a heightened libido at this time of the month. (This means they desire sex when they are ovulating.) If you experience a “time of the month” where you are extra affectionate, cuddly, and desire sex, there is nothing wrong with you. You are probably just ovulating.

[1] www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/anatomyvideos/000094.htm
[2] www.americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant-window/

 

3 Things Everyone Should Know About STD’s
No fear-mongering here. Just a few things everyone should know to stay safe and stay healthy. Care for your body; it’s the only one you have.

1.  Can I have an STD and not know it?

Yes. Unfortunately, some of the most common STDs have no symptoms in many women, or the symptoms may appear to be from another common cause such as a bladder infection. According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of STDs in this country every year, and at least 50% of those are in teens or young adults. For two of them, HIV and herpes, there is no cure. Another, HPV, can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer. So it is important to know if you have an STD. The best way to do that is to be tested by a medical professional.

 

2. What are the 7 Most Severe STDs?

Something can be life-altering and heartbreaking without being lethal. Bacterial infections are very treatable when caught early, but can cause greater problems the longer they are left untreated. This is particularly true for syphilis — which can infect and damage the brain with time — but is also true for Gonorrhea and chlamydia (pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, urethral blockage, etc.). Viral infections are often incurable, but may have successful treatments to keep controlled. I think the top 3 here are in order, the rest vary.

– HIV/AIDS
– Hepatitis B/C, though C is harder to acquire sexually than B
– Syphilis
– Gonorrhea (also includes pelvic inflammatory disease)
– Chlamydia (also includes LGV and pelvic inflammatory disease)
– Human papillomavirus (can lead to cervical cancer)
– Herpes Simplex.

 

3. Is it ok to perform oral sex when I have a cold sore or fever blister?

No, it is not a good idea to have oral sex when you have a cold sore. Historically, viral sores on the lips (cold sores or herpes labialis) were HSV type 1, and sores on the genitals were HSV type 2. Both are types of herpes viruses. However, things are less clear now, and either can be found in either location, though it is still more common for the distinctions mentioned above to hold true.[1]

In either case, cold sore viruses can be transmitted to genitals by oral sex. Not the best of gifts.

[1] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000606.htm

 

Medical Mysteries

Think you’re the only one? The Doctor addresses some common questions women have about their bodies.

1. Sometimes there is pressure in my crotch and it makes it uncomfortable to sit. It usually occurs the day after I have a wet dream. Is this similar to male ejaculation but with women?

Thanks for your courage in asking up. The answer is yes. A wet dream (nocturnal emission, as discussed here regarding men) does involve ejaculation, which simply refers to the discharge of fluid, and that’s what the “wet” part is about. In guys it is semen, and in women it is other normal fluids. Not every woman has wet dreams; and for those that do, the orgasm that comes with it can be dry. The uncomfortable crotch can come from engorgement of the pelvic blood vessels as well as the after effects of the event on the tissues involved – things can get a little swollen and sore for a short time. It’s not anything to be concerned about, unless you have pain that does not go away, and then a visit to your doctor might be a good idea.

 

2. Does sex hurt the first time?
For men, often not. For women, it usually does, for a short while. This is because a woman’s labia and vagina has some stretching to do, which has generally not occurred to that degree before having sexual intercourse. The same can be true for men and their foreskins, but usually not to the same extent, again, usually.

As husband and wife tenderly grow together in their sexual oneness, these pains often resolve quickly. However, there are also problems of a medical or psychological nature that can be present that would cause pain that is not so mild and doesn’t fade away with further intercourse. Should that occur, it’s time to see your gynecologist or family doctor.

 

3. Will his penis fit in me? Will I be too small? Should I do anything to stretch myself?

The vaginal opening is made from muscles that contract or relax. When a woman gets aroused, the vagina actually increases in size, both in length and in width, to be able to accept an erect penis. Remember, you are made to be able to have a baby — the baby’s head, which is bigger than a penis, comes through that opening. However, there are women who are smaller and will experience pain the first few times.

When you first have sex, it can feel tight, so use lots of lubrication. But if you can relax and enjoy your arousal, it will not feel as tight. Over time, it won’t bother you at all. There is no need to stretch yourself beforehand.

It is always a good idea to have a gynecological checkup before you get married and have sex for the first time. If you still have questions about whether you are too small, your doctor can physically examine you and set your mind at ease.

 

4. Is there anything a doctor can do if sex is difficult and/or painful for a couple?

Yes, there are things a doctor can do. Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia, can have many causes other than just vaginal tightness, and the physician can perform a detailed history and careful physical exam to sort things out. Her gynecologist can get her set up with a dilation program to comfortably stretch out the vagina, if that turns out to be the main issue. In the mean time, using ample water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y Jelly), pre-dosing with anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), gentle but plentiful foreplay, great communication, and lots of patience will help.

If you’re constantly trying new approaches and still have pain, consult your doctor to find out if there’s something happening that you’re not aware of. If you have issues such as sexual guilt, shame or trauma, it could be helpful for you to find healing in order to solve the problem of painful intercourse.

 

5. What is a pap smear for? When do I need one?

The Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. Cells scraped from the opening of the cervix are examined under a microscope. You can read more about Pap smears here, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The Doctor shares: Cervical cancer usually does not show up as nodules or hard spots or things one can feel, thus the need for regular pap smears once a woman becomes sexually active – precisely to identify pre-cancerous or cancerous changes early on that cannot be felt.

 

6. My gynecologist recommended that I should get vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus. I am not sure about the nature of HPV, only that it is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. Does the vaccination make sense when two virgins marry and remain faithful to each other?

Excellent question. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is for girls 11-12 years old (but effective for ages 9 through 26) to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. It is given to boys and men ages 9 through 26 as well. Why give this vaccine to children we raise – or adults who have committed – to abstain from intercourse until marriage? Three main reasons: (1) our children/we cannot account for the past of their/our spouses, (2) the chance of sexual violence against our children/us, and (3) despite the best upbringing, our children/we might make bad choices (though we neither predict nor wish that).

If you are already married and both you and your husband came to the bridal chamber as virgins, the only reasons for the HPV vaccine would be protection from the virus in case of sexual  violence (rape) or infidelity. Having put all the cards on the table, the final choice of whether or not to get the vaccine is your own.

Check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s page on HPV.

 

7. I’ve heard it said that all men have a high sex drive. Is the sex drive of a woman more or less the same?

Your question is a good one, on many levels. Men do standardly have stronger sexual drives than women. Men have the higher testosterone levels propelling stronger impulses for sex and aggression, the latter of which is properly directed toward the protection of wife and family. However, the degree of sex drive varies among men – it occurs across a spectrum from stronger to weaker. It also varies with advancing age. Dudes are not equally “in the mood.”

Women, likewise, have varying strengths of sexual drives across a spectrum – some more robust and others not. Though women as a whole average lower sex drives than men as a whole, that is not the full story. A man with a relatively weak sex drive can be the spouse of a wife with a relatively strong sex drive, thus leaving the man feeling behind the power curve.

Libido is not all about hormones, either. Something as simple as being sleep deprived or not feeling well (like the proverbial headache) can quench the flames of desire with little trouble. Medications can interfere. Past traumas, painful intercourse, and/or negative views of sex can hinder as well. The more satisfied a woman (or man, for that matter) is with her (or his) life, marriage, family, communication, and so forth, the less inhibited the desire for sex. Conversely, when relationships and financial matters are severely challenged, it is hard to feel very animated about sex.

Much goes into the makeup of a sex drive at any given time, but the short answer to your question is that not all women are alike.

 

8. Can you become pregnant if you hymen hasn’t broken?


Yes. Pregnancy is not really related to having an intact hymen, so a broken hymen will not hinder your ability to become pregnant.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003157.htm

 

9. I have never had an orgasm during intercourse. Is this normal?


Anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm) can have several causes: medications (certain antidepressants, antihistamines, or blood pressure meds), medical problems, hormonal issues, emotional/relational factors, past trauma, psychological components, and more. The treatment options vary with the underlying causes, but treatments do exist.

Our team would add that there is also the common problem of husbands rushing intercourse and not adequately engaging their wife in enough communication and foreplay (hugging, cuddling, talking, touching, and so forth) for a woman to be ready for sex. This alone, can make it difficult for a woman to achieve orgasm; she’s simply not primed for it. This can generally be corrected by communicating with your husband, guiding him in what you want and need in the bedroom, focusing on foreplay. You may want to consult a sex therapist for insight if the problem persists.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001953.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anorgasmia/DS01051

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003157.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/painful-intercourse/DS01044

 

 10. What are your thoughts on Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery?

Labia come in various sizes and proportions that are still normal even if not just the way you want them to appear. Part of the problem is the false standards of body image promoted in the media. Even medical publications and web sites can unintentionally give girls and women a false impression, especially if what is being displayed is not quite the same as what you perceive on yourself.

Another concern is young women rushing to cosmetic surgery to “fix” what is likely just fine in the first place. Anatomy changes with the years, often for the better. The risks – what can go wrong and how it might affect sexual function – with what is formally known as Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS) is just not that well worked out yet. [1] FGCS is rarely required and should not be approached lightly.

So if your labia minora do stand out more than most, you are still normal, there is probably nothing wrong with you, and it is not likely to cause problems. It is a natural variation. On the other hand, if your labia often hurt, are easily infected, interfere with urination or menstrual function, are too frequently injured, or pose other recurring problems for you, a visit to a gynecologist is in order.

A final encouragement for you– The man who will marry and love you will also accept you as his own standard of womanly beauty: his wife. The proportions of your labia will not likely be much of a concern to him, despite what you may fear. Likewise, your future husband is probably sweating it out about some genital imperfection of his own that you just won’t care about. Be kind to yourself.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21696338

 


Top Health Questions & The Body: FOR GUYS ONLY

Urban legends, unexplained phenomena, and locker-room bravado debunked

 

Men, we know you have questions when it comes to health and your body. We’re here to help you to fill in the gaps.

Doubting your physical prowess or your ability to please your wife? Wondering why your body does what it does? It’s our responsibility to steward our bodies. Even if you don’t want to talk about this…you need to.



THE MALE BODY

1. WHAT IS PUBERTY?

Puberty is the period of life when a person’s sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children. Along with the physical changes described below, boys may experience emotional changes and begin to “notice” the opposite sex. Simply put, when you go through puberty, you are physically beginning the change from boyhood into manhood.

 

2. WHEN DOES IT START?  

The time when puberty begins varies greatly among individuals; however, puberty usually occurs from 12 to 16 yrs old in males.

 

3. WHAT HAPPENS?

In males, an increase in the size of the testicles is the first change observed at the onset of puberty. Enlargement of the testicles begins at an approximate average age of 11 and a half years in boys and lasts for about six months. After enlargement of the testicles, the penis also increases in size. Enlargement of the testicles and penis almost always occurs before the development of pubic hair. The next stage is the growth of pubic hair and hair in the armpits. Next, the voice becomes deeper and muscles increase in size. The last step is usually the development of facial hair.

 

4. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE “AROUSAL” FOR MEN?

Very simply, arousal for men will typically start visually, and their brains and bodies almost always agree. This means that as soon as an appealing image registers in the brain, the body is turned on immediately. Exposure to the erotic stimuli activates the parts of their brain related to getting an erection.

When a man is stimulated in this way, his body reacts; blood flow to the genitals increases. The penis, which is full of spongy tissue, fills with blood and becomes hard. This is called an erection.

 

5. WHAT IS A WET DREAM?

A wet dream is a nocturnal emission, more commonly called a wet dream. It is involuntary, a spontaneous orgasm that can result in ejaculation. It’s very common in teen years, and can continue to some extent later in life. It is not wrong/sinful. This occurs with males and females and is common for both. You can read more about this in our article: Top Dreams & Fantasy FAQ.

 

6. WHAT IS “BLUE BALLS”?

Blue balls is a slang term referring to the unsatisfied and prolonged sexual arousal in males. It’s nothing to be concerned about; it’s nothing more than an uncomfortable sensation and no damage will occur if the male does not ejaculate. If ejaculation does not occur, discomfort resolves within an hour. Some ways to relieve this are: lying down, a hot bath, cold compression on the area, gently massaging the area, or lifting a heavy object.


 


PENIS ENVY & UNDERSTANDING

The world is full of ideas and ideals regarding the figurehead (no pun intended) of manhood. Here, the Doc gives it to us straight about the penis.

1. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE PENIS SIZE? 

Young men are often concerned about penis length or girth, but should not be. The average length of a penis is 3.5 inches or 9 cm. Some are longer and some are shorter, and that is generally fine. The average length of an erect penis is around 5 to 6 inches or 12.5 to 15 cm.[1][2][3] Erections have been called the great equalizer, since their average length is about 5 inches in most men.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528816/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8709382

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11223678

 

2. WHAT IS NORMAL WHEN IT COMES TO SHAPE?

Just like people, penises come in many shapes and sizes. If you’re concerned if your member will measure up, think of it this way: if it works, you’re okay! However, there can be a real, medical condition, that some men face: curvature of the penis.

Our Doctor says:

When it comes to this curvature question, two main issues come into play. One is congenital or acquired anatomic problems in young men, and the other is Peyronie’s disease, usually in men over forty years of age. In congenital or acquired bending of the penis — the latter often from trauma causing penile fracture, aka broken penis (no, I am not kidding . . . cringe) — there is a defect in one of the two tube-like membranes (tunica albuginea) covering spongy tissues in the penis (corpora cavernosa) that engorge with blood during erections. Since one side’s tube is smaller than, less elastic than, or otherwise tethered compared with the other side, erections curve/bend. Peyronie’s disease causes curving/bending of the penis through development of scar plaques on the tunica albuginea.

When is it time to seek medical advice? The Mayo Clinic says to consult a physician if erections hurt or if the bend is enough to interfere with sex. One might add significant psychological concern to this list, especially for those who do not have painful erections but don’t plan to have sex until marriage, and therefore won’t know yet if the curve would interfere with intercourse.

For congenital or acquired penile curving that is severe enough in younger men, surgical correction can be quite effective. For Peyronie’s disease Medline plus lists possible medical treatments (steroid injections, the medicine Potaba, radiation therapy, shock wave lithotripsy as with kidney stones, Verapamil injections, and Vitamin E) though none of these work very well. But surgery can be done, including penile implants, with better results.

Overall, however, men who have it tend to carry an exaggerated sense of the degree of their penis curving. For most young men who perceive abnormal bending, most won’t need to do anything.

 

3. DOES HAVING A LOT OF SEX INCREASE YOUR PENIS SIZE AT ALL?

Two answers: no and not worth talking about. Think about it. How many old married guys out there brag about how much larger their unit is now than when they first got married? Right, not many at all. And you know they would be telling us all, since guys brag about anything. Overall, the answer is no, sex does not increase your size.

4. WILL MY SIZE AND/OR SHAPE MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO PLEASING MY WIFE SEXUALLY?

Regardless of erection size (length or girth), a man can generally still sexually satisfy his wife, assuming he actually listens to her about what satisfies her rather than running on his assumptions. Our sex therapist Heath Wise put it this way:“The size of your penis is not what makes for great sex. I have clients who cannot get an erection who say they have the best sex they have ever had because they are focused on connection and intimacy with their partner, rather than mechanics and body parts.[6] The average non-erect penis is approximately 3-3.5 inches long and an average erect penis is 5-5.7 inches long. A woman’s vagina only has nerve endings in the bottom third. An average erect penis is long enough!”

The point is that the odds are overwhelming that you’ve already got what it takes physically for good intercourse, but what makes sex in your married life great depends on a lot more than anatomy.

As for the shape, there are many different curvatures and shapes that are completely normal and don’t affect stimulation during sex in any negative way. There are diseases or acquired bending (broken penis) that are defects that can cause curving or bending but don’t affect your health. Recognize that everyone is different and your future spouse will let you know what they need when the time comes.

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8709382

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11223678

[6] http://www.moralrevolution.com/dating-and-sex/the-sex-therapist/2011/08/penis-size

 

5. I HAVE HEARD THAT SEX UNCIRCUMCISED IS MORE PLEASURABLE FOR THE MAN AND THE WOMAN, THAN IF A MAN IS CIRCUMCISED. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS AND IS IT TRUE?

Our Sex Therapist Answers:

This has been a topic that has been debated for years. Unfortunately there has not been much well designed research on the topic and the results were confusing. But in the last years there have been studies that were done to see if circumcision had an effect on HIV transmission in adult males in several African countries where the HIV rates are high. So they circumcised adult men and asked them about sexual satisfaction along with studying transmission rates of HIV as well as other infections. What they found was that there was some loss of sensitivity to the glans of the penis when the man was circumcised. The circumcised men took longer to have an ejaculation which was thought to be from decreased sensitivity. However, the men and the women who were their partners said that they either liked it when it took longer or it did not matter.

But the longer ejaculation time was not the only positive effect. Both the men and the women said that they either liked sex more due to the circumcision or it did not affect them one way or the other. Whether it was due to better hygiene after a circumcision or it was due to other unknown variables, there did seem to be an increase in frequency after the circumcision.

So there was not a negative effect on sexual satisfaction – it either had no effect or it was a positive effect both in the men and in their women partners. And just as an aside, circumcision made an astounding difference in HIV transmission rates – about 40% lower with circumcision. Circumcision has been found to protect against not just HIV transmission but also other infections and cancers. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999 came out against routine circumcision of infant males and many insurance companies stopped paying for it after that. However, the Academy has convened a panel to revisit that stance due to the new information about the protective effect of circumcision.


 

MEDICAL MYSTERIES

You may feel like you’re the only one, but you’re not. Here are quick answers to some of your unanswered questions.

1. IS IT NORMAL FOR GUYS TO HAVE FREQUENT ERECTIONS, EVEN WHEN NOTHING SEXUAL IS HAPPENING?

Our Sex Therapist answers:

You are very normal, especially if you are a young male. Your body is just doing what it was made to do. It can be embarrassing at times for sure. As you get older, your body will settle down and you will have more control over them. But the good news is that your body is doing what it was wired to do!

 2. WHAT CAN’T I GET AN ERECTION WITHOUT ANY STIMULATION OR AROUSAL? (IE. MORNING ERECTION)

Often due to changing levels of testosterone in the body, fluctuating hormones can cause this to occur. According to some scientists, a morning erection can simply be a leftover from a series of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) episodes that occur like clockwork during the night for all healthy human males—most frequently in REM periods of sleep. Scientists have determined that the average 13- to 79-year-old penis is erect for about 90 minutes each night, or 20 percent of overall sleep time. With your brain cycling between the four sleep stages, your “sleep-related erections” appear at 85-minute intervals lasting, on average, 25 minutes. Needless to say, this is normal and common.

 

3. WHY DO I EJACULATE (OCCASIONALLY) WHEN I EXCERCISE?

Exercise ejaculation occurs during intense physical exercise. It is more commonly associated with weight lifting, but other strenuous exercises – particularly those that engage the core muscles – can also cause the release of semen. A very intense abdominal and core workout puts a lot of pressure and squeezing on the prostate gland, which, in some cases, expels some semen. Mostly it is related to a general release of testosterone.

 

 4. WHY DO I GET AN ERECTION SIMPLY WHEN I FEEL LOVED AND CLOSE WITH SOMEONE?

This is a natural response since the body will respond to a chemical stimulant and release in the brain. As you feel loved and are close to someone, the chemicals in your brain respond which releases testosterone in the body. There’s nothing abnormal about this, especially while you’re younger and the body is learning how to respond to things. If you are trying to refrain from this, try thinking about different things when you’re feeling this way. If this is an issue among people you are not attracted to, think about how much you respect them, cherish them and honor them the same way you would a sibling or parent. Learn to train your brain and see what works for you.

 

 5. I SEEM TO BE HAVING ERECTILE ISSUES? WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? 

The Doctor answers:

Erectile dysfunction (ED), can be embarrassing, frustrating, and discouraging. It is also quite treatable. The first thing to do is go to your doctor for an exam and some lab work. This will likely include looking at levels for testosterone, thyroid, chemistries, and so forth. The causes of ED can be as simple as newlywed anxiety or more physiological. Certain medications, alcohol, and tobacco can get in the way. If the issue is more psychological and persistent, a good sex therapist can be of help. If physiological, proper diagnosis leads to the right treatment.

One last thought from our Sex Therapist: We are seeing an increase in erectile dysfunction in young men who have looked at a lot of porn. If this is true for you, then getting free from porn would be an important first step. After that, learning to be truly sexually intimate can begin to happen.

 

6. WHEN I GET AN ERECTION MY FORESKIN DOESNT RETRACT OVER THE HEAD OF MY PENIS BECAUSE THE BAND WITHIN MY FORESKIN IS TOO TIGHT. IS CIRCUMCISION NORMALLY THE ANSWER, OR IS THERE ANY OTHER PROCEDURE TO CURE IT?

This condition is called phimosis (Greek for “muzzled”), and you are not alone. Circumcision has commonly been used as the most reliable and effective treatment, but there are several alternatives that can be tried first. These include application of topical steroids over 4 to 6 weeks, simple dilation (either by repeated manual stretching or using tools designed for that purpose), or a minor surgical procedure for cutting the constricting band itself but leaving the foreskin (preputioplasty). A urologist can get you started with your treatment options.

 

7. IS IT HARMFUL TO NOT EJACULATE? CAN IT MAKE YOU STERILE?

No, this is not harmful nor can it make you sterile. Seminal fluid and sperm are from two different places. Semen back up does not destroy sperm.

8. IS IT OK TO PERFORM ORAL SEX WHEN I HAVE A COLD SORE OR FEVER BLISTER?

No, it is not a good idea to have oral sex when you have a cold sore. Historically, viral sores on the lips (cold sores or herpes labialis) were HSV type 1, and sores on the genitals were HSV type 2. Both are types of herpes viruses. However, things are less clear now, and either can be found in either location, though it is still more common for the distinctions mentioned above to hold true.[1]

In either case, cold sore viruses can be transmitted to genitals by oral sex. Not the best of gifts.

[1] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000606.htm

 

9. CAN I HAVE AN STD AND NOT KNOW IT? 

Yes. Unfortunately. According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of STDs in this country every year, and at least 50% of those are in teens or young adults. For two of them, HIV and herpes, there is no cure. Another, HPV, can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer (in women). So it is important to know if you have an STD. The best way to do that is to be tested by a medical professional.


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Top Dreams & Fantasy FAQ


Dreaming About My Husband: Is it Really a Good Idea?

QUESTION


I am wondering if it’s not so good to imagine my husband, our honeymoon night and stuff like that. It just stirs me more to live for purity with the future in mind.

 

TEAM’S ANSWER

 

This is something that I think a lot of girls think about and something that plenty of us struggle with. We as women tend to be more futuristic about who we will marry. We are exposed to so many “fairytale” stories and movies, that we long for our very own story as well.

I think that having vision for the future is definitely important and it provokes us to make choices that will ultimately get us to where we are going. When in a season of being single, envisioning your spouse can give you hope and strength to endure. A quote we hear from one of the pastors in our culture is vision gives pain a purpose. Being single may or may not be painful but any process to get what we deeply desire isn’t always easy. Having vision keeps you hopeful. Check out the link below and read how Webster’s dictionary defines “vision“. One definition is this: “The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision.”

On the contrary, there are ways in our thinking where we can easily slip into fantasy. We begin to create situations and scenarios in our mind that conjure up emotion and even sexual fantasy. This can be dangerous for us to do. It can become a place of comfort that we resort to, to escape reality. This can become one way in which we awaken love before it’s time. Like I mentioned before; dreaming about the future is a beautiful thing and keeps your desires in front of you. However, consider that it may not be very beneficial for you to be stirring up feelings you cannot currently fulfill.

Here are some questions you can be asking yourself:

Do I find myself fantasizing about the future and have trouble focusing on the now?
Am I longing for my spouse so much that I feel anxious?
Do I stir up myself sexually thinking about being with my future spouse?
What can I focus on now that will get me to where I envision?
What does it look like to embrace my season of “singleness”?


It is so important to dream and have vision for your future.
A man without vision perishes. On the flip side you don’t want the future to consume your thoughts so much that you cannot embrace what’s in front of you. Consider Nehemiah, he chose to focus on the “wall” in front of him and built that “wall” even when criticism and opposition came. Nehemiah had vision and God strengthened him to be faithful with what he had before him.

It is an incredible thing to long for God’s best and have an idea of who he will be. The truth is God does have the best for you. It will be wonderful. Use this time you have now to picture the kind of woman you want to be and be proactive in going after those things. Some examples could be:

Growing in your spiritual walk
Writing out a dream list: I want to be known as a woman who…
Discovering what your love languages are; how you best receive and give love

 

Here are some great resources for you. We encourage you to check these out:

1. “The Stirring” is a young adults church in our city and the pastor rocks messages on being single, dating, marriage and sex. These podcasts are my absolute favorite. The series is called Under the Chuppah

2. “Captivating By Stasi Elderedge, a book on unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul. Read the following excerpt by clicking on the link.

3. “The Five Love languages (Singles Edition) By Gary Chapman. It is important as singles to know how we emotionally and physically best receive love. This book will equip you in your relationships to love the way your wired and how to love the one your with well.

4. Moral Revolution will enable you to keep hope and vision for the man of your dreams alive, while giving you tools to managing your desires, navigating your heart and equipping you to be the woman he desires.

5. The Naked Truth About Sexuality will give you perspective on why’s and how’s of the waiting process, helping you understand and celebrate God’s design for sex and marriage.

You have the Spirit of the living God inside of you. You have what it takes to manage your thoughts. We are super excited for the journey God is taking you on. You will be rocking your purity and dreaming about your future, while keeping your heart alive by monitoring your thoughts. We speak blessing over your life and much grace for the process.


Managing Your Thought Life

QUESTION



I want to know, is it normal to fantasize sexually about my future wife?
If not, what steps do I need to take to stop?

 

TEAM’S ANSWER

 

It is perfectly “normal” to have sexual thoughts come on your radar about your future wife. In fact, we’d sort of be worried if they didn’t! It’s all a part of having a normal, healthy sex drive. It’s normal for thoughts to enter our heads about any and all kinds of things; however, it’s what we DO with those thoughts that make all the difference in the world.

 

We will say this: fantasizing is not a good or healthy idea when you’re single, dating, or engaged because it doesn’t keep you in the reality of where you are at in your relationship status. There is reason it’s called a fantasy. If you aren’t connected with the reality of where you are and what you have decided your personal boundaries to be, then it becomes a “tease” to your heart and mind. Why entertain thoughts you aren’t allowed to act on until you are married? It only makes it more difficult to maintain purity if you are constantly imagining things in your mind.

 

Another thing to think about is – whether you are single, dating, or engaged – you are practicing staying pure for when you are married. Believe it or not, we need to fight for our purity even more when we’re married because we have now entered into covenant with another person and with God, to love and honor that person. The truth of the matter is there will always be other men and women to “look at,” but what you practice when you’re single; you’ll practice when you’re married. If you haven’t learned to manage your sexual thought life and/or appetite when you’re single, it won’t be any easier when you’re married. Trust us.

 

Managing your thought life really comes down to you and your choices. What are you choosing to think about? What do you do when a sexual thought comes up?

 

The main thing when it comes to managing your thought life, whether you’re single, dating or engaged is this: you want to honor the woman in your life, or your thoughts. Always. Honor, love, and respect within a relationship are huge.

 

Are you honoring this woman’s purity and your commitment to stay pure in the natural if you aren’t doing it in your thought life as well? Fantasizing usually involves desiring, connecting, taking pleasure in, and sharing intimacy with the other person involved. We aren’t meant to do that outside of covenant with anyone but our husbands or wives. You might just want to ask yourself the question: Am I honoring her purity with this thought?

 

Thank you for asking this tough question and for being honest and real. We also appreciate that you desire to love, honor, and respect your future wife. We bless you in your future marriage!


Pornography & Chick Flicks

Question


 

Are chick flicks and romantic comedies a pseudo-source for meeting emotional needs for a woman, in the same way that pornography is a pseudo-source for meeting the need for intimacy for a man? And do romantic comedies create unfair emotional expectations?

 

Sex Therapist’s Answer

 

It is true that chick flicks and romantic comedies can be a source of false intimacy for a woman, and they can create false expectations in a woman that a man can never meet. They can be an escape from the pain of a difficult relationship. If she is managing negative feelings by watching these movies then that would be a problem. But that would not be true for every woman who watches one of those movies.

Romantic comedies reveal the longing of a woman’s heart for intimacy and connection with a partner who will cherish and care for her. Those are good things. What she has to be careful of is expectations, rather than longings. The longings are legitimate, but the expectations are not. A person who views pornography can also be looking for intimacy, but as you say, it is a false intimacy. But pornography is different in several ways. The obvious way is that it is usually more graphically visual. This has its own set of problems. It objectifies women and men. Chick flicks and romantic comedies usually do not do this.

Pornography is not usually about connecting in any way, even though it is sexual. Pornography use can make a person less available emotionally. It is addictive. Even though a woman can manage negative feelings by watching these movies, I do not know of women who are addicted to them and having to enter rehab. There are relationship addictions however, which are sexual addictions, but that is not from watching movies. I think your questions are good ones along with the comparisons. But I think you are taking the comparison too far.

Team Note: You must pay attention to your heart. Your job is to steward your heart. There are some things that are acceptable in one season and not acceptable in another. Knowing your heart will allow you to fulfill what it’s deepest longing is. If you’re looking to be known, need physical touch, need hope, need entertainment, etc. you can clearly get what you’re needing without being misguided. 


Understanding Addictions

What is an addiction?

An addiction is a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Compulsive describes a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.
Addictions are characterized by tolerance and physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. This means that if you find yourself needing to push through for a “higher high” or a “bigger buzz” or, in the case of sex, you find yourself searching for something more taboo to turn you on, you may be struggling with an addiction. The simplest way to discover if you have an addiction is this: try stopping. Your reaction to going without something will show you the depth of your dependence on it.


How are addictions formed?

We all know that addictions are destructive, so why do so many still turn to them for relief? It’s quite simple. Pain has a voice. It says, “Do whatever you have to do to make this stop NOW.” It’s a voice we are wired to pay attention to; after all, it’s natural to protect ourselves. An addiction is a way to help ease or avoid discomfort.

Addictions often begin as coping mechanisms; an addiction meets a need in a person’s life, if only for a moment (ex: the escape of drugs, the comfort of binge eating, the release of an orgasm). They help ease discomfort or offer an escape to an unbearable emotional, mental, or physical experience. This could include abuse, trauma, loneliness, insecurity, high levels of emotional stress, or pain.

Addictions abuse our God-given design. Our bodies were created with the ability to experience intense pleasure and release. When we misuse our body’s pleasure functions by constantly pushing them into overdrive, we build up a tolerance to our “drug of choice,” be it a chemical substance, risky behavior, an unhealthy sexual relationship, etc. This tolerance means that what used to do it for us, doesn’t do it anymore.; we have to go further, push harder, to get the high we’re looking for. This is how people fall deeper and deeper into addictions.

 

 Is it possible to be totally free from addiction? What are the signs of freedom?

Yes, it is possible to be free from addictions! One sign of victory is an empowered lifestyle; you have the ability to choose your actions, and are no longer chemically or psychologically drawn to something against your will. A sober person (one who is not acting out, but is still drawn to their addictive behaviors) may still feel a strong pull toward their addiction, but can refrain from giving in. A free person will have control of their life and know how to, and choose to, get their needs met in a healthy way so that the old behavior is longer attractive. A sober person is often still learning to make good decisions, but experiences a lot of difficulty in doing so.


A free person is a whole person. He or she has healthy relationships, consistently gets their needs met in healthy ways, and learns how to process their negative experiences in such a way that there is no need to turn to an addiction to meet them.

 

Is it normal to have slip ups or relapses during recovery? How should I handle a relapse?

When people try to get free from an addiction, they often try to ditch the unwanted behavior without understanding how they got addicted in the first place. As we mentioned above, many addictions are formed because of unmet needs. If a person begins their recovery but doesn’t find a way to meet their underlying needs (physical, emotional, spiritual), they are at risk of relapse. Even those who understand what they need may need time to learn how to get their needs met in a healthy way. Because of this, we should understand that “slip ups” are common, and should by no means define the success of recovery.


Many people often look at an addiction as a light switch that is either on or off. They feel successful if they’re on the wagon, but if they fall off, they’re a miserable failure.We find this to be particularly true when dealing with a sexual addiction, such as porn or masturbation. Instead of this black-and-white approach to recovery, it is wise to bring more compassion into your point of view. Consider the recovery process to be more like learning to walk again after a car crash: Each step forward is a success and one that should be celebrated. If you or a loved one relapses during the recovery process, the journey is not over. Rather than feeling defeated, take the opportunity to learn from the situation. Discover what triggered or caused the relapse. Examine what need went unmet.

 

Why do I keep relapsing?

While relapse may be expected during recovery, it is not normal to live in a cycle of relapse indefinitely. Remember this: freedom is possible. If you feel stuck here, there is still hope for you, or your loved one.


According to our sex therapist, if someone is unable to maintain sobriety there is usually one of 4 things going on.

1. An inadequate first step: In the recovery community, the first step is to realize they are powerless over their addiction, and that their life has become unmanageable. This realization leads to surrender.

2. There are still secrets maintained.

3. There is not enough structure to support the change.

4. There is unresolved trauma in their background. These are places a therapist should go with their client when they are unable to maintain sobriety when they really want to.

Dr. Heath explains:

“An inadequate first step means that they are still managing their addiction rather than believing that they cannot, that they need to work the program instead of thinking they are a special case or thinking that they know better. Adding structure can be anything from going to a therapy group instead of a support group or in addition to a support group, going to individual therapy with a therapist who is trained to work with sexual addiction, going to an intensive outpatient program – there are excellent ones, or going inpatient to a treatment facility.”

Addiction recovery is not usually a quick-fix. Our sex therapists explains to clients clients that they can expect two years if they are committed to therapy. That is a lot of time, effort and expense, but it is worth it:

“If you have an addiction, in order for your brain to change and heal, it takes intentional focus and repetitive action over time. There is a physical reason that recovery is not fast – your brain has to rewire itself consistent with health instead of sickness. But if someone is relapsing again and again, then they are not rewiring their brain because they are reinforcing the old.”

That being said, we have seen many cases where God’s supernatural intervention has delivered people instantly from addictions, healed them physically so they never experienced withdrawal or relapse, or given them grace for a much quicker recovery. Your story is yours; be expectant that God will work a miracle in your life, the way He wants to.

 

How do I move toward my future dreams of having a ministry while I am recovering from a sexual addiction?

Those who are in the recovery process often feel awkwardness, tension, or condemnation when it comes to trying to build toward their future dreams, particularly when they involve ministry. They don’t want to be hypocritical or put others at risk, but they also don’t want to remain stagnant, or hold themselves back from doing what they love. While we encourage each individual to begin walking toward their goals, it is important to realize that moving too quickly may hinder recovery.


Our sex therapist explains:

“You absolutely need to have a vision of where you are going, which would include your dreams of ministry, but sometimes people get into early recovery and start wanting to minister to others before they have enough time in recovery to build a stable, healthy base from which to do that. Ministry just gets substituted for the addiction and becomes the addiction instead. Cross addictions are the norm – you don’t want to substitute, you want to get well. So the focus needs to be on recovery because that is where you will build the character and faithfulness that others will trust. If you have a history of untrustworthiness then it takes time to consistently be trustworthy before others will begin to believe the new story.”

It is also important to address the feelings you may have of awkwardness, unworthiness, or condemnation. Shame is the driving force behind addiction; it keeps it hidden and powerful. It is critically important that you get rid of it. Oftentimes, we hold ourselves back from ministry in an unhealthy way, because we judge ourselves, believing that we aren’t trustworthy, that we don’t deserve the ministry. But the truth is, what Jesus has forgiven, we have no right to hold over ourselves.

The sex therapist continues:

“Let me ask you a question. If someone else with your history began to do ministry after their recovery, could you trust them? Why or why not? If you could, then you need to have the same grace for yourself that you extend to them. If you could not, then what are you believing? Because they/you had an addiction to porn (for example), do you think that they/you are now not worthy to be in ministry? Can God really restore someone? How full is God’s restoration? Does He really make all things new?”

“It is so tempting to want to hide your addiction and just move on. In reality, people can judge you and have negative reactions when they know about it. But don’t take on their stuff! They do not understand the nature of an addiction. It is ultimately good for you to live in the light. You have done behaviors that you wish you had not done. But that is not who you are! Yes, you did them, accept that, but now [that you are recovering] you are acting more consistently with who you are. And every time you choose to live consistently with who you are, that is a kingdom decision! You have made many that no one knows about. Night after night you have chosen to stay in recovery – many people do not understand what that means, how difficult that actually is. But you have done it and are continuing to do it.”

“There might really be some places of ministry that would not be wise, for example, working with teens, if that would be triggering for you. But that is a wisdom issue not an issue of being worthy of ministry. Having a difficulty that you have overcome can actually make it easier to minister to a lot of people. When we have struggled ourselves, it gives us much more compassion and humility when dealing with other people. Some of the most authentic people that I know are people who are in recovery from an addiction. Authentic people inspire trust in others – people are drawn to them. You, more than most, can understand the heart of God and His love for people who mess up and do things they never thought they would do.”