Have you ever had something in your closet or dresser that’s exceeded its expected lifespan of usefulness but yet you refuse to throw it out?
- Maybe it’s underwear that’s a little too thin and stretched out.
- Maybe it’s an ill-fitted sweatshirt or sweatpants that have a few stains too.
- Maybe it’s a pair of old slippers or sneakers?
For me, it was a long-sleeved Metallica concert t-shirt that I had purchased from a street vendor after a concert years ago.
I loved that shirt. Sure, it didn’t fit very well, had a hole or two plus a variety of stains, and the fabric was soft and worn. But it was one of my absolute favorite things to wear around the house much to my wife’s chagrin.
Because it was comfortable.
About 5 years ago, that shirt mysteriously disappeared. I think my wife trashed it, but she claims not, so we are still doing some marital counseling about that traumatic event… kidding. Regardless, when it comes to shirts, pants, shoes, or even underwear, there’s nothing wrong with clinging on to something that provides a little extra comfort level.
But when it comes to dealing with the topics of sex, porn, or masturbation, comfort is often not a good thing. In fact, it’s usually the very opposite.
- We don’t have talks with our children at a young enough age about sex and porn because it’s uncomfortable.
- We don’t talk to our friends about our secret sexual struggles because it’s uncomfortable.
- We don’t entertain honest conversations with our spouses about our lackluster sex lives because, again, that would be uncomfortable.
- And we don’t tackle these issues in church outside some secret small group because to do so would be unbelievably uncomfortable.
Discomfort is not fun and so, rather than ripping open the packaging for that brand-new shirt that screams I’m ready for a change, we slip into the old concert t-shirt yet again, avoiding the whole awkward and uncomfortable scenario.
But, if we want to see some real change in how society as a whole, and how we, as individuals, approach sex, sexuality, and sexual integrity, we need to lose the concert shirt and try on something new.
We need to ignore the starchy stiffness of the moment that seems abrasive at first, and break in those conversations as part of regular life, so we are all better equipped for the honest questions that will inevitably come and the cries for help that will finally make their way to our ears.
The alternative to doing this?
Staying comfortable and stuck in our complacency.
Here are 3 simple reasons you should think about throwing out that comfortable cloak you’ve wrapped around the topics of sex, porn, and masturbation next time there is an opportunity for healthy dialogue:
- You allow for growth moments.
- If you don’t push yourself in the gym, you won’t get stronger.
- If you don’t deal with emotional discomfort, you won’t increase resilience.
- If you don’t act in faith, you’ll never see God move in your life.
It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, but growth only occurs when there is some tearing and stretching of your physical and/or metaphorical muscle fibers.
And when it comes to growing in a healthy understanding of sex, sexuality, and sexual integrity, this is especially true. You need to jump into these conversations and lose the need for comfort so you can fully pursue honesty and grace.
- You clear the path for increased trust and connection.
Intimacy and connection can only exist where there is trust. And trust can only exist when there is perceived safety. This is why communities like Live Free, Live Free Wives, and Small Groups Online exist – because we offer our members safety.
The truth is your kids, your friends, and even your spouse will not feel 100% safe with you if they know there are certain topics that are simply off limits. You can’t promise someone complete love, grace, and trust if you aren’t willing to get a little dirty when the situation requires it.
Parents, this is especially important for you when it comes to your kids and talking about sex, porn, and the like. You know the best thing you can do to help them when it comes to their sexual integrity?
Be that safe place they can come to no matter what the topic. And yes, that will mean some initial discomfort for the both of you.
- You signal a willingness to hear and help rather than delivering the clear message that you want OUT as quickly as possible.
I talk about this one in my book When Shame Gets Real.
Right or wrong, good or bad… the hard reality is that as long as we continue to treat sex, porn, and masturbation like taboo matters only fit for the most private of conversations, we will struggle to convince those struggling in these areas that we are not a place for them to turn to for help.
Recognize when we remain silent on these matters, we send a message that those topics aren’t welcomed for conversation, so “just keep it to yourself.” And almost nothing is harder for a person struggling with sexual shame than when they feel that their real world concerns are of absolutely no concern to you.
But when you welcome these opportunities to engage, the exact opposite message is delivered and, consequently, happily received.
So, sure, keep holding on to that old underwear or t-shirt if it brings some comfort to your life. But when it comes to engaging in conversations surrounding sex, porn, and masturbation – lose the need for comfort and get ready for some real work.
It won’t necessarily be fun, but it will be helpful and impactful.
And if you need some help pushing those comfort zones and navigating the realities of sexual shame, check out my book When Shame Gets Real: A new way to talk about sex, porn and masturbation. In fact, you can download the first chapter for free by clicking here.