Sexual arousal different from stomach arousal?


#1

Short version:
I’m single and trying to regain the purity I had before being introduced to pornography; I understand all the logic and theology, except perhaps this: Why can’t I simply not become sexually aroused? Why won’t God give me a “sexual arousal” switch that I can turn to the ‘off’ position until I get married, or am in a position to find a spouse? It seems like evidence that God is not really there. What good or use is there for sexual arousal in such a circumstance?

Longer (slightly rambling) version:
I’m single and trying to regain the purity I had before being introduced to pornography; I understand all the logic and theology, except perhaps this: Why can’t I simply not become sexually aroused? Looks like a design flaw to me. Women have the advantage of having their genitals tucked away; mine’s right out there, so I can’t ever “forget” about sex. It’s like a curse to be male, not a blessing. (I suppose regular menstruation reminds women of the call to be mothers, but hormone pills can stop periods – and perhaps cause cancer – which it seems fairly common for women to use, to lessen or cease menstruation.)

Is sexual arousal fundamentally different from stomach arousal? When I’m hungry, I need to eat. Period. It’s difficult to think about anything else, and I can distract myself sometimes, but if I don’t eat, I’ll die.

Clearly, sexual arousal is different: Nocturnal emissions are not necessary (contrary to popular myth): The body breaks down and reabsorbs the semen (which remain inactive and immobile until after ejaculation, by the way). So the male body has no ‘need’ to ejaculate. (Recent research regarding prostate cancer and stored fluids have not convinced me that such fluid storage causes cancer – as far as I’m aware, they’ve only just begun such research.) But why is God bothering me with sexual arousal when I have no means to act on it?

I’m in graduate school and don’t have the time to attend social events, so I don’t think I’ll even be able to begin looking for a wife (life partner) until after I finish my education and get a job. (I may have to move across the country for a job, so I can’t start dating in Philadelphia and then move to Nashville, for example …) So I cannot even use my sexual arousal as an impetus to strike up conversation with women (I’m very shy).

So, in short, it looks like I experience sexual arousal for no reason whatsoever, except perhaps that I have tricked my body into thinking its married through regular internet pornography use (which I’ve quit yesterday, prior to Confession) – I suspect it may be like being accustomed to eating at regular intervals, the body may become accustomed to sex at regular intervals. And I realize that I’ll be going through pornography withdrawal for some time …

But how do you deal with sexual arousal when you’re not married (and especially when you can’t even look for a spouse)? Priests struggle with masturbation also, which to me lends credence to the idea that it’s better for priests to be allowed to marry.

Sometimes I’m able to distract myself (“shake off”) sexual arousal, but it doesn’t seem like a solution. Imagine you’re in a fortress and the enemy is besieging you – you can hide in the closet until he goes away for the time being, but that’s not really conquering your enemy. Why won’t God give me a “sexual arousal” switch that I can turn to the ‘off’ position until I get married? It seems like evidence that God is not really there. What good or use is there for sexual arousal in such a circumstance?


#2

M:
I suggest that every post start with an M or and F, so the OP can put advice in context.


#3

[quote="ethereality, post:1, topic:229052"]
Why won't God give me a "sexual arousal" switch that I can turn to the 'off' position until I get married? It seems like evidence that God is not really there. What good or use is there for sexual arousal in such a circumstance?

[/quote]

If you could "switch off" a temptation for sin, we'd all be saints. Christ himself was tempted by the Devil, and that was certainly not a disproof of God's existence.

Sin is an act of the will - temptation is not. It is possible to be tempted and not sin. Still better is to remove all sources of temptation once you recognize a particular weakness. If girls are your temptation, try and arrange your life in a way that does not give this temptation much oxygen to fan the flames.

But this leads to a bigger question: why shouldn't God allow you to be tempted? Why is that your right?


#4

I’m single and trying to regain the purity I had before being introduced to pornography; I understand all the logic and theology, except perhaps this: Why can’t I simply not become sexually aroused? Looks like a design flaw to me. Women have the advantage of having their genitals tucked away; mine’s right out there, so I can’t ever “forget” about sex. It’s like a curse to be male, not a blessing. (I suppose regular menstruation reminds women of the call to be mothers, but hormone pills can stop periods – and perhaps cause cancer – which it seems fairly common for women to use, to lessen or cease menstruation.)

Your sexuality is a part of who you are. To completely switch it off would be like switching yourself off. It is good for you to have desires to give yourself to another person (as do we all have such desires) but you must know that you are a very sexual being and your hormones are at an all time high when you are young. That is because you are more likely to produce offspring when you are young. It is normal to get aroused all the time and to constantly think about the marital act when we are young, really and truly. (trust me, I would know).

But why is God bothering me with sexual arousal when I have no means to act on it?

God is not doing anything to you. Your body is responding sexually, as God made you.

Is sexual arousal fundamentally different from stomach arousal? When I’m hungry, I need to eat. Period. It’s difficult to think about anything else, and I can distract myself sometimes, but if I don’t eat, I’ll die.

What you call “stomach arousal” can very easily be a plethora of different things. You could be hungry or your stomach could be full of acid, etc. Stomach arousal is a blanket term that says nothing. Sexual arousal however is very distinguishable from any other bodily reaction. Your body responds sexually by saying “I want to reproduce!” and increasing heart rate, enlarging chest and lips, etc.

If you do not eat, surely you will die. If you do not have sex, you will not die (from not having sex). No one needs to have sex. It’s a necessity and something that is to be shared between 2 people in the marital act.

But how do you deal with sexual arousal when you’re not married (and especially when you can’t even look for a spouse)? Priests struggle with masturbation also, which to me lends credence to the idea that it’s better for priests to be allowed to marry.

Priests struggling with masturbation says nothing about the efficacy of the discipline of celibacy. When you are aroused, try to think about how good, enjoyable and gracious it would be to enjoy the marital act in marriage with your spouse. Turn your carnal lust into a good thing. Do not think of the sex/pleasure itself, but think of how good it would be to share yourself fully with another human being an express your love for them like God does for us every day.

Sometimes I’m able to distract myself (“shake off”) sexual arousal, but it doesn’t seem like a solution. Imagine you’re in a fortress and the enemy is besieging you – you can hide in the closet until he goes away for the time being, but that’s not really conquering your enemy. Why won’t God give me a “sexual arousal” switch that I can turn to the ‘off’ position until I get married? It seems like evidence that God is not really there. What good or use is there for sexual arousal in such a circumstance?

If you think rationally for a minute, it doesn’t make any sense to say that being tempted to sin is proof for God’s non-existence. If God did not test us through the harshest of ways and in the most desolate of times, how would we ever have the chance to show that we love Him? God calls for actions, not just words.

Also, here’s some advice: Stay away from pornography. If thinking about sex a lot bothers you, what sense does it make to contribute to your hyper-sexualization by indulging in impurity? Also, if you think women are lucky because their “genitals are tucked away” you are not in the slightest bit correct. I don’t need to be a woman to know that not having prominent genitals doesn’t somehow negate your sexuality and it doesn’t make you any more or less likely to think about sex.


#5

So if I have kids, then I can lock them outside in the cold and leave them there, saying “show me that you love me”?

A world filled with disease, starvation and depravity is not evidence that a loving Father is in control of it. And yet you say God is sovereign, so what good are these evil things doing that justifies their existence?

That’s my answer to the question, “What right do you have to not be tempted in this way?” – What good is it doing to be so tempted? I don’t see anything useful being accomplished; it’s only meaningless suffering. So Pope John Paul II writes in one of his letters that we can use suffering for the benefit of others (others we can only hope to meet after death) by spiritually uniting it with Jesus on the cross, but that seems conjecture and imagination.


#6

[quote="ethereality, post:5, topic:229052"]

That's my answer to the question, "What right do you have to not be tempted in this way?" -- What good is it doing to be so tempted? I don't see anything useful being accomplished; it's only meaningless suffering. So Pope John Paul II writes in one of his letters that we can use suffering for the benefit of others (others we can only hope to meet after death) by spiritually uniting it with Jesus on the cross, but that seems conjecture and imagination.

[/quote]

it is meaningless suffering because you have chosen to see if that way. When Christ told the apostles to take up their crosses and die unto themselves, was that meaningless too?

This is Augustine regarding suffering:

This being so, when the good and the wicked suffer alike, the identity of their suffering does not mean that there is no difference between them. Though the sufferings are the same, the sufferers remain different. Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment. The fire which makes gold shine makes chaff smoke, the same flail breaks up the straw, and clears the grain; and oil is not mistaken for lees because both are forced out by the same press. In the same way, the violence which assails good men to test them, to cleans and purify them, effects in the wicked their condemnation, ruin and annihilation. Thus the wicked, under pressure of affliction, execrate God and blaspheme; the good, in the same affliction, offer up prayers and praises. This shows that what matters is the nature of the sufferer, not the nature of the sufferings. Stir a cesspit and a foul stench arises, stir a perfume, and a delightful fragrance ascends. But the movement is identical.

So, it's your choice how you will receive suffering.


#7

[quote="ChiRho, post:3, topic:229052"]
But this leads to a bigger question: why shouldn't God allow you to be tempted? Why is that your right?

[/quote]

In all fairness, he didn't use the word "right". He is justifiably frustrated by his struggles to overcome temptation, and struggles to find any good in the situation. This needs understanding and empathy, not condescension.

To the OP: True, we have no off-switch for our sexuality. Those of us who have weight issues have no off-switch for the appetite, either. Nor do we have steam gauges on the back of our hands to apprise us of the health states of our human bodies.

The reason being that your body is not a set of systems to be managed, or something like a "vehicle" for your mind. Our body is US: our "self". The Greek word "soma" used in the New Testament can refer to the anatomical body or to a "person.". Even in modern English, we refer to a human being as "some*body*".

Because the body is "us", we cannot shut off parts of it's functioning. If we could, that would mean that mind and body were separate. Every part of you body lives every moment of your life. That includes that nagging sex drive.

You did "good" in giving up porn. Porn does not help the mind deal with sexual wants, it inflames them. Stay away from it.

No doubt God will help you to find the answer to your difficulty. In the meantime, it counts toward your penance.

God Bless you and ICXC NIKA!


#8

[quote="ethereality, post:5, topic:229052"]
So if I have kids, then I can lock them outside in the cold and leave them there, saying "show me that you love me"?

[/quote]

You locking your children outside in the cold is your fault. God does not create tragedies like killing your mother and father and then say "show me how you love me". He uses situations that occur naturally to give people the opportunity to show them that they love Him. If God is good in His entirety, then He is not capable of doing wrong.

A world filled with disease, starvation and depravity is not evidence that a loving Father is in control of it. And yet you say God is sovereign, so what good are these evil things doing that justifies their existence?

I think you're stirring your own thread off course, but I will continue to answer anyways.

The only reason why God would allow evil to take place is to bring about good. Disease brings people together and it gives them the opportunity to join together and depend on the Lord for strength. In the midst of a virulent tempest, God can very easily spare the life of one young child so that people might believe, etc. You say that maladies are not evidence that God is in control of the world, but that is not true. If the ultimate force of good can make the evil one, who digs his claws deep into the bowels of this earth, tremble in overwhelming fear, then certainly He must have dominion over this world. Simply because it is not His will to stop a storm from happening does not mean that he is not in control. All it means is that it is not His will to stop it. Like our Lord said, it will rain on the just and the unjust.

That's my answer to the question, "What right do you have to not be tempted in this way?" -- What good is it doing to be so tempted? I don't see anything useful being accomplished; it's only meaningless suffering. So Pope John Paul II writes in one of his letters that we can use suffering for the benefit of others (others we can only hope to meet after death) by spiritually uniting it with Jesus on the cross, but that seems conjecture and imagination.

Like I said before, God uses certain situations to bring about an opportunity to show love. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Simply having sexual thoughts does not mean that you have to lust. When you lust, you are choosing not to restrain yourself and you are giving into your bodily desires. You can offer up your temptations to God so that He may strengthen you in your desires.

Also, please do not also forget that our Lord willingly died on a cross and received the most brutal form of physical, mental and spiritual torture imaginable just so you wouldn't have to be eternally dead in the flames of Hell. He suffered greatly beyond anything you or anyone else could even fathom just so we would have life. That doesn't sound like a harsh God to me. It sounds like a God who loves us so much that He would die for us. It might also comfort you to know that God has not abandoned you in your suffering, as He too suffers ETERNALLY for the sins of the past, present and future.

Jesus' Suffering and Crucifixion from a Medical Point of View


#9

[quote="GEddie, post:7, topic:229052"]
In all fairness, he didn't use the word "right". He is justifiably frustrated by his struggles to overcome temptation, and struggles to find any good in the situation.

[/quote]

I understand that, but the implication of saying one someone doesn't deserve something (a sense I get from reading the OP) is that they have a right not to have something (suffering) happen to them. My point is: who are we to argue with God? There is virtue to be found in suffering, but only if we rid ourself of the notion that a loving God would not allow us to be tempted, especially when God Himself allowed Himself to be tempted.


#10

[quote="ChiRho, post:3, topic:229052"]
I understand that, but the implication of saying one someone doesn't deserve something (a sense I get from reading the OP) is that they have a right not to have something (suffering) happen to them. My point is: who are we to argue with God?

[/quote]

In other words, "Shut up and be humble."

I wish I had MX$1 for every time I heard someone say that, or a variation of it, to somebody.

You have, of course, every "right" to say it. But it really does no good. Not when when someone is struggling against a primal urge.

Hey, at least he's fighting sin. He deserves our approval not our condescension.

ICXC NIKA


#11

Fighting sin does not justify blaming God for your problems. It's understandable that you would want to blame God, yes, but it's not justifiable. I too have been fighting sins of impurity. Anyone who has seen my posts around here can see that. I have not blamed God for my problems, as it will not make them go away and I know that it is not God's will that I have no temptations. It's great that he's made the choice to give up his sins, but he needs to also realize that the temptation will not go away. Even Jesus suffered temptation while He was on this earth and He was, is and always will be GOD IN THE FLESH!


#12

[quote="GEddie, post:10, topic:229052"]
In other words, "Shut up and be humble."

[/quote]

perhaps you would respond to Augustine in the same way, or Job. The way you phrased it is intentionally coarse, but what is the alternative? Maybe you can think of a better way.

You have, of course, every "right" to say it. But it really does no good. Not when when someone is struggling against a primal urge.

Hey, at least he's fighting sin. He deserves our approval not our condescension.

So if you disagree with someone's statements that the the existence of temptation is somehow evidence for God's nonexistence, and then provide historical and personal experience for putting temptation and sin in perspective, you are suddenly being condescending in a bad way?

I've never voiced my disapproval for his decisions. To the contrary, I am glad he has chosen to give up certain sins. But this does not mean advice and warning cannot be given. Do you really expect people to be so thin-skinned they can only hear words of affirmation and receive pats on the back?


#13

[quote="ethereality, post:5, topic:229052"]
So if I have kids, then I can lock them outside in the cold and leave them there, saying "show me that you love me"?

A world filled with disease, starvation and depravity is not evidence that a loving Father is in control of it. And yet you say God is sovereign, so what good are these evil things doing that justifies their existence?

That's my answer to the question, "What right do you have to not be tempted in this way?" -- What good is it doing to be so tempted? I don't see anything useful being accomplished; it's only meaningless suffering. So Pope John Paul II writes in one of his letters that we can use suffering for the benefit of others (others we can only hope to meet after death) by spiritually uniting it with Jesus on the cross, but that seems conjecture and imagination.

[/quote]

M

I think to class masturbation as a Sin is Harsh for the single person:eek: when a person murders, fornicates, Adulterates, steals etc. Their conscience tells them it is wrong. But when they masturbate there is no conscience telling them this is wrong. Lust should be classed as haveing to much sex like gluttony is haveing to much food. Using the scripture in the old testament about wasting your seed is a weak argument because when a woman masturbates where is seed wasted.
I would have thought masturbation was a gift from God so you would have no excuse to fornicate or commit adultery.
If masturbation is a Sin why do it!! you might as-well sin proper and go off and fornicate or commit adultery because there are plenty of loose people around:rolleyes:

So you say to yourself OK its a Sin i will stop it.:(. So you don't think about sex. you avoid all sexual material. but you are still plagued with your body getting aroused for no reason. worst of all when you dream you start haveing vivid dreams of having sex. If your lucky you will get a nocturnal emission. But worst of all you wake up highly aroused feeling frustrated:mad:

what has God got against a ''Orgasm'' that he created?:confused: why does he want priests and bishops not to have a orgasm?:confused: If a virgin masturbates they are still a virgin afterwards. If Jesus who is God never experienced an orgasm which he gave to the human race how can he sympathise for us?


#14

[quote="shaky, post:13, topic:229052"]
M

I think to class masturbation as a Sin is Harsh for the single person:eek: when a person murders, fornicates, Adulterates, steals etc. Their conscience tells them it is wrong. But when they masturbate there is no conscience telling them this is wrong. Lust should be classed as haveing to much sex like gluttony is haveing to much food. Using the scripture in the old testament about wasting your seed is a weak argument because when a woman masturbates where is seed wasted.
I would have thought masturbation was a gift from God so you would have no excuse to fornicate or commit adultery.
If masturbation is a Sin why do it!! you might as-well sin proper and go off and fornicate or commit adultery because there are plenty of loose people around:rolleyes:
?

[/quote]

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28


#15

[quote="ChiRho, post:6, topic:229052"]
it is meaningless suffering because you have chosen to see if that way. When Christ told the apostles to take up their crosses and die unto themselves, was that meaningless too?

This is Augustine regarding suffering:

This being so, when the good and the wicked suffer alike, the identity of their suffering does not mean that there is no difference between them. Though the sufferings are the same, the sufferers remain different. Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment. The fire which makes gold shine makes chaff smoke, the same flail breaks up the straw, and clears the grain; and oil is not mistaken for lees because both are forced out by the same press. In the same way, the violence which assails good men to test them, to cleans and purify them, effects in the wicked their condemnation, ruin and annihilation. Thus the wicked, under pressure of affliction, execrate God and blaspheme; the good, in the same affliction, offer up prayers and praises. This shows that what matters is the nature of the sufferer, not the nature of the sufferings. Stir a cesspit and a foul stench arises, stir a perfume, and a delightful fragrance ascends. But the movement is identical.

So, it's your choice how you will receive suffering.

[/quote]

What's your source for St. Augustine here?

I've bolded the most important bit. It seems to me that God is responsible for my nature -- I certainly didn't create it; I can only attempt to mold what I've been given. If I am good, I can only make myself evil, and only God can keep me good; if I am evil, only God can make me good. So ultimately, God is to blame for the evil in the world, not those who do it. So God is again tormenting me, and St. Augustine does not address the matter directly, only to say that it does occur. (I am stepping beyond the topic of this thread -- sexual torment -- to comment on my life in general, although it certainly applies in the case of sexual torment.)


#16

[quote="ethereality, post:15, topic:229052"]
What's your source for St. Augustine here?

[/quote]

This is from book 1 chapter 8 page 14 in the Penguin Classic's publishing.

[quote="ethereality, post:15, topic:229052"]
I've bolded the most important bit. It seems to me that God is responsible for my nature -- I certainly didn't create it; I can only attempt to mold what I've been given. If I am good, I can only make myself evil, and only God can keep me good; if I am evil, only God can make me good. So ultimately, God is to blame for the evil in the world, not those who do it. So God is again tormenting me, and St. Augustine does not address the matter directly, only to say that it does occur. (I am stepping beyond the topic of this thread -- sexual torment -- to comment on my life in general, although it certainly applies in the case of sexual torment.)

[/quote]

You've misinterpreted this egregiously enough -- by "nature" what Augustine meant is "how the person is" i.e. how they choose to sin or not, not "how they are by default and cannot be altered" -- that it can't really be covered in this thread, but I would recommend reading Confessions if you want Augustine's direct addressing of the matter. Sin is an act of the will, God does not control your will, and evil is the absence of good. It would be impossible for God to do that which is not good, since his actions are inherently good.

Allowing evil (what God does, which Augustine addresses in the quote and elsewhere) and committing evil (what man does in defiance of God) are two different things.


#17

shaky,

I’m glad to hear of your conversion to the Catholic faith – it is one with an abundance of food for thought, certainly not “watered down” as Protestant faiths may appear by comparison, but it can be for that very reason a difficult one to follow, a confusing and frustrating one especially when you “don’t get it.”

You might appreciate reading some introductory works regarding the theology of the body by Christopher West, Good News About Sex and Marriage and Theology of the Body For Beginners. The short answer to your question is that seeking sexual pleasure as an end in itself is disordered (not what God intended), which we know by considering the natural order, how the male ejaculation is the emission of seed, as you know. God gave us taste to accompany eating food to nourish our bodies; he gives us sexual pleasure to accompany marriage to nourish our societies.

Those are a few “topic sentences” to pique your interest in those books by Christopher West, at any rate, if you haven’t yet read them.


#18

ChiRho, I've already read Confessions, translation by Rex Warner. Of what collection is book 1 a part? That is, I don't think you've given me the title of the book from which you've quoted.

And one's nature is precisely that which cannot be changed. An orange is different from an apple because of its nature. From a dictionary:

the basic or inherent features of something, esp. when seen as characteristic of it : helping them to realize the nature of their problems | there are a lot of other documents of that nature.

So my nature is being made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this phrase mean? Apparently a popular interpretation is that it refers to one's intellect, not to whether one is inherently good or bad, since St. Paul writes that some are made by God as "vessels for (or of) destruction", i.e. the damned. He refers to Pharaoh from the Exodus story as an example of one whose heart God hardened for such a purpose.

So I was sardonically wondering whether God intends for me to be one of the saved or one of the damned, and wonder about how I can possibly have free will when everything seems to contingently exist -- has it been authoritatively taught that I do, in fact, have free will? I suppose so, otherwise the damned might have a valid argument in their defense ...


#19

[quote="ethereality, post:18, topic:229052"]
ChiRho, I've already read Confessions, translation by Rex Warner. Of what collection is book 1 a part? That is, I don't think you've given me the title of the book from which you've quoted.

And one's nature is precisely that which cannot be changed. An orange is different from an apple because of its nature. From a dictionary: So my nature is being made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this phrase mean? Apparently a popular interpretation is that it refers to one's intellect, not to whether one is inherently good or bad, since St. Paul writes that some are made by God as "vessels for (or of) destruction", i.e. the damned. He refers to Pharaoh from the Exodus story as an example of one whose heart God hardened for such a purpose.

So I was sardonically wondering whether God intends for me to be one of the saved or one of the damned, and wonder about how I can possibly have free will when everything seems to contingently exist -- has it been authoritatively taught that I do, in fact, have free will? I suppose so, otherwise the damned might have a valid argument in their defense ...

[/quote]

My apologies, this is from City of God, not from Confessions. My recommendation to read Confessions was only tangentially related, sorry for the confusion.

Furthermore, I am well aware of what the dictionary definition of "natural" is. However, if you will read Augustine's writing regarding Free Will, coupled with this specific chapter of the book, it is clear that he is not using "natural" in this sense. That's why I made that distinction in my last post.


#20

In terms of practical strategies to deal with arousal when it occurs, the time-honoured cold shower still has an effect - you could also try going for a run. If taking a cold shower or gong for a run isn’t practical, try changing position or changing location, or distract yourself in some way and try to think of something else. (Counting backwards from 1000 sometimes works.)


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