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How to Deal with Secret Sexual Struggles

By: Kristen Clark

My heart was pounding. My hands were sweating. I knew I needed to be honest about my struggle but it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. Especially to my parents. However, as scared as I was of being honest, I couldn’t bear the weight of my secret any longer.

As a teen, I had been really struggling with my thought life for a while and lust seemed to be my constant companion. These sinful thoughts and imaginations also lead me down the path of regular masturbation. I tried to stop many times, but couldn’t seem to break the pattern in my life. I knew my thoughts and actions weren’t holy, pure, or honoring to God, but nothing I did seemed to work.

That’s when I heard something that turned my world upside. I share the full story in my new book, Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart, but in a nutshell, here’s what happened next.

I was at a conference and heard the speaker talk about the powerful act of bringing secret sins into the light.

Exposing secrets had a way of breaking the bondage they had over us. I wanted that! I knew what I needed to do.

Choosing to bring my secret sexual struggle into the light was the turning point for me. God gave me the courage to be open and honest with my parents and ask for their help. From that point on, everything changed. My struggle was no longer mine alone to bear. I had support, prayer, encouragement, and accountability. The next few months and years looked very different for me. I didn’t walk perfectly, but I walked in victory much more consistently.

If you’re currently wrestling with a secret sexual struggle, I understand the weight and burden it can be. Whether it’s pornography, masturbation, erotica, sexting, lustful thoughts, or something else, you don’t have to fight this battle alone.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God’s good plan for His church is that we would bear one another’s burdens by walking with each other through the hard stuff.

Jesus wants victory and freedom for you! And through Him, this is possible.

Romans 6:13-14 says, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

I want to share with you 4 specific ways you can deal with your secret sexual struggles right now. These 4 things are pulled directly from chapter 11 of my new book which is titled, “Real Talk: Porn, Erotica and Masturbation.” To get the full version, I hope you will grab a copy of Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart and dig into this entire chapter on your own. I truly believe it could be life-changing for you.

1. Pursue Genuine Repentance.

For each of us, the first step toward victory from lustful sin is to recognize that we have sinned against God and are in need of His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our God is full of grace and forgiveness, willing to receive and forgive any who seek Him.

2. Bring Secret Sins Into the Light.

Sin thrives in darkness. There is something powerfully freeing about bringing secret sins into the light. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” God promises to give us mercy if we expose our sin. Whether it’s porn, masturbation, erotica, or something else—if you truly desire freedom, you must expose it.

3. Seek Ongoing Discipleship from a Godly Woman.

After bringing your struggle into the light, don’t revert back into your own private world again. Breaking sinful habits is hard. Don’t fight your battles alone. Find a godly woman in your life and ask her to disciple you in God’s truth. Depending on what your specific struggle is (i.e. porn, masturbation, erotica, etc.), consider reading a biblically grounded book together on the topic. You could also pray together regularly. She could provide an “open door” of accountability where you text or call her any time you’re tempted toward your struggle.

4. Make Radical Changes.

Depending on the frequency and severity of your struggle, you may need to employ some radical changes in your life to avoid sexual compromise. For example, if you struggle with pornography, consider only using your computer or phone in public places, installing a strong internet accountability filter, and/or taking a break from technology for a while. If you struggle with erotica, be intentional to throw away any tempting books/movies, delete erotic content from your media devices, and avoid getting on technology when you’re alone. If you struggle with masturbation, evaluate where your temptation strikes the hardest. Maybe it’s in your bedroom, shower, or when you’re tired. Come up with a plan of action on how you’re going to handle this temptation.

Being honest about your secret sexual struggle may be the hardest to do, but it is the first step toward breaking its grip on you.

I pray you will take these 4 steps seriously and begin your journey toward freedom today! As one author so beautifully reminds us, “To rightly embrace our sexuality we must bring it under the dominion of the One who created it. When we do, we’re not fighting against our sexuality; we’re fighting for it. We’re rescuing our sexuality from being ruined by lust. We’re exalting our God-given identity as sexual creatures by refusing to be trapped in the never-ending dissatisfaction of lust.”

I’d love to hear from you below!

  • Which of the 4 steps stood out to you the most and why?
  • Have you ever brought a secret sexual sin into the light? What happened?

PS If you enjoy listening to audiobooks, we’re giving away our new audiobook for FREE if you pre-order Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart by April 29th! You only have a few days left! To learn more, click here.

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17 Responses to How to Deal with Secret Sexual Struggles

  1. Ellie says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t login, and Disqus never sends me the renewal email. So I have to post this way.

    Anyway, Kristen, that was really good as usual, but the difference is that this one hit me square between the eyes. Hard.
    I struggle with masturbation and just recently discovered erotica. I found that both, especially the first, was good when I felt lonely and depressed. Erotica took it into high gear. I am extremely alone and have lost three friends in less than a year.
    Talking about this is very humbling and humiliating. I am deathly scared to post thinking it might not be appropriate, but Kristen posted this, so it must be ok to talk about what one is dealing with.
    I have read worldly articles claiming that the first one is good for discovering and that one could never have a healthy relationship unless they participate in that first. Also stated that there should be no guilt involved and I need to be happy with me. From this post, I would guess that to be backwards thinking.

    This got way longer than I wanted, but I so hope I can find true love and healing.

    • Sara Barratt says:

      Hey Ellie, Thank you so much for sharing your struggles so honestly here. I’m sure that was a hard thing to do. You’re not the only girl struggling like this and please know that there is true love and healing possible. In Jesus, first and foremost. It’s absolutely okay to share what you’re struggling with–in fact it’s good! That’s how you find healing. I just stopped to pray for you, sister. You’re a priceless daughter of God. Lean into Him and keep seeking truth. <3

      Much love, Sara

  2. Je says:

    Wow ! Kristen praise God for your humility and boldness to share. Talking with my mom has helped where I struggle. We have been reading a book called, The Broken Image by Leanne Payne and though it was written for struggling men, the principals have been helpful. Many times I’d get angry with myself for still struggling. But asking God for forgiveness, also forgiving myself, making up my mind that I only will be a slave to righteousness, and talking with my mom from time to time has brought progress about. I’m thankful for you Kristen for being such a godly example. I’m so excited for my copy of your new book! I believe it will help me further conquer this counterfeit of who God made me to be. I’m ready for Him to be all that satisfies me. I’m seeing life through fresh eyes. I pray others will be delivered as well in Jesus name and that they’d be able to forgive all that were involved in their struggle.

  3. Adaiah Early says:

    Thank you Kristen for posting this. I have been reading GirlDefined for several years and you’re recent posts on this subject was the catalyst for change in this area of my life. I struggle with masturbation. By the power of Christ over sin, I’m breaking the hold it had over be. The verse in Romans that says “we are no longer slaves to sin” is my battle cry. When I feel tempted, I can boldly and confidently say “By the healing power of Christ, no!”

    I found an empathetic accountability partner in my mom. She’s helping me treat this like an addiction and in the power of Christ, we’re counting the weeks I’ve been “clean”.

    Thank you for being willing to talk about the hard stuff. May the Spirit continue to lead you sister.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Thank you Kristen! I am thankful you women talk about these things. “Pursuing Genuine Repentance” is the one that stood out to me the most, because it is where I have the hardest time in relationship to God. I think He is tired of me coming to Him every time I give into my lustful thinking and masturbation, but I know that is not true, so striving to keep going back to Him, confessing, asking for forgiveness, repenting, praising, and then asking Him to help me overcome is so hard, yet so important and FREEING!!!!

    And I have brought my secret struggle of masturbation into the light. I was able to talk about it with an older godly woman who had struggled with it herself, but before I told her I didn’t know she had. She and I would talk on a weekly basis, she would always point me back to scripture, she would pray for me, and things started getting better, until I let my guard down things started going downhill again. She still helped me and encouraged me. I am doing much better now!!! I don’t give in quite as often. And I also told my parents, made some drastic changes, I moved my bedroom upstairs where there were more people around so I wouldn’t give in. But also, it wasn’t just behavior change it was a heart change. God has been working in me! Praise the Lord! We can change the outside as much as we want, but it is the inside that is going to bring the true genuine repentance and change in the heart and mind! So I am doing great right now!!! Bringing it into the light was the first hard step, but so worth it!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I so appreciate this post, do you have any suggestions if there is no one you can go to for accountability? I so want it but the women I’ve asked really weren’t interested in it.

  6. Angela says:

    Thanks for being so honest, Kristen. Your recent posts have helped me tremendously. I look forward to read your new book!

  7. The Girl Behind the Piano says:

    I struggled with masturbation ever since I was a little girl. I can’t pinpoint the time that I started, but I do know that once I started, I couldn’t stop. Almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I was masturbating. When I was about twelve, I got saved. But even after I got saved, I was still struggling. I told myself that as long as I ask God to forgive me after masturbating, everything will be fine. I tried to stop many times, but it never worked because deep down in my heart, I didn’t want to stop. Finally, one day I repented of my sin and asked God to help me to stop. Through His strength (and only His strength), I was able to stop completely. It was a serious struggle every day after that, and I did fail a few times after that day, but I continually asked for God’s help to resist the temptation. After a few years, I wasn’t masturbating anymore, and God truly changed my heart so that I had no desire to masturbate. But, even though I wasn’t masturbating anymore, I still had a burden on my heart. Nobody knew that I was struggling with this sin. There were several times that I felt like sharing it with someone, but I never did. Then one day I was reading a book that the Holy Spirit used to convict me of hiding this secret sin from my parents. I decided to tell my dad, even though every part of me didn’t want to because of fear of his disappointment. After I told him, I literally felt a weight lifted off of me, and my heart felt like it was empty of the sin that I held in for so long. My dad also extended love and grace to me because he knows that he struggles with sin just as much as I do. Sharing my hidden sin was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I share this story so that those that are struggling know there’s hope. God will help you if you just sincerely ask Him to help you. And if there’s anybody reading this who is hiding some past sexual sin, share it with someone. Don’t let fear keep you from being free.

  8. redeemedchild says:

    Thank you for tackling subjects that are so relevant in our culture today that hardly anyone wants to discuss from a Biblical Worldview. Praise God for His power through your ministry. Thank you for writing and speaking about true Biblical Womanhood and how to honor God with our lives. I am so blessed and encouraged by both of you and I will be praying for you both. Thank you for being honest.

  9. sequoia says:

    Thank you for being honest with us about your struggles. I’ve been struggling with masturbation for about a year. I’m incredibly ashamed of it, and wish I had never started. I feel impure and dirty, spiritually dead. It helps to know I’m not the only woman with this problem. Please pray for me. I want my heart to change.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi sequoia! I will pray for you! You don’t have to feel shame over it, that is the way Satan wants you to feel. You are not impure. You can become spiritually alive! Go to God with a humble heart, confess to Him, ask for forgiveness, repent, and ask Him to help you overcome. In Hebrews 4:16 it says, “Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” God will meet you right where you are at, and He will come and give you help in your time of need. All you need to do is ask for it and go to Him humbly. And if you ask God to change your heart, He will! The Holy Spirit is the only One who can truly change us, we can try, but it is the Holy Spirit who does the work. But we have to let Him! We have to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do the work in our heart.

      Listen to the song “Change My Heart, Oh God” on YouTube if you can. It is a song I like to pray and sing out to God!

      Hope this helped! Know you aren’t alone. I have struggled with this for over 10 years. Run to Jesus, He is waiting for you…

      In Christ –

  10. Madi says:

    How is masturbation itself a sin? If we a re born with it and babies masturbate in the womb, wouldn’t that make it natural? Also, there are an increase in hormones as we age and masturbation is healthy. it increases good hormone production and it helps you become familiar with oneself. I never realized how important it was until i became sexually active. By expressing myself by myself, i was better able to express any discomfort or fear i faced in the bedroom. It also helped me become more aware of my partner and how they like to be pleased. It is a shame that you guys focus so much on shaming behaviors that can be beneficial.

    • Suzanne says:

      Masturbation becomes a sin because it is a self-focused and self-centered act, when God actually made us to serve one another, and in this case, sexual activity with your spouse. So masturbation is about self, and intimacy with your spouse is about serving your spouse making it about two like God created, instead of one. And, it can become an idol in our life, if we let it. For example, when I am tired or lonely or whatever it may be, I sometimes run to masturbation for my comfort and temporary “satisfaction” instead of to Jesus. Jesus truly is the only One who can satisfy and comfort us in our time of need. So if we are letting it come before Jesus Christ, then that is an idol, which is sin. Hope this helps!

      • Dave Smith says:

        That’s just silly. Masturbation is healthy and useful.

      • Madi says:

        Yea, everyone masturbates. It’s healthy for the mind, body and soul. Even mutual masturbation has its benefits. This shame taught about it is unnecessary. It’s a way to discover yourself which in turn spices up bedroom activity. Masturbation can be very beneficial.

  11. Haley says:

    Masturbation is healthy, not sinful, or anything to be ashamed of.

  12. bo says:

    i’ve struggled with masturbation since i was about 5 or 6 but didn’t know that what i was doing was sinful. i don’t even know how i began doing it. later on, probably when i was 13-14, i began to question if what i was doing was a sin, but since i wasn’t a born again believer at the time, i didn’t care about honoring God, so i didn’t pursue knowing the truth about masturbation. i felt guilty and shameful but at the same time i did not feel convicted by my sin so i continued in it. the summer going into my freshman year of high school i was TRULY saved at the age of 14. i still masturbated even though my conscious told me this had to be wrong. when i was about 15 i confessed this sin to God and asked Him to help me fight this temptation. i’ve won so many battles but have slipped up so many times too. now i am 16 and know the next step to take is to tell someone but i don’t know how! should i tell my best friend who is also a christian? or do i tell an older godly mentor? do i tell my mom or both of my parents? how do i even start the conversation? i have felt convicted to tell someone for awhile now but i’m so scared! no one knows this has been a struggle of mine so it’s kinda scary putting my story out here.. help!

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