Masturbation is a normal and healthy part of life, but some Christian preachers say it's caused by demonic forces.

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This is part of our Taboo Series.

Masturbation is both super and natural, but there is nothing supernatural about it. Not even in a good way. Your desire to pleasure yourself is not caused by angels or demons, but simply by your own wonderful physiology. But Christian preachers such as Vlad Saychuk, speaking at a National Deliverance Training Conference hosted by the notorious Greg Locke, would have you believe otherwise.

As silly as it seems, there are plenty of people who believe this stuff. People who are now questioning their own perfectly normal feelings and actions. Demons, for some people, are very real. And this kind of nonsense will hurt the young people who hear it the most.

By literally demonizing the common and healthy act of masturbating, they are creating shame. They are creating a problem that they promise can be cured. But the thing is, it’s an unattainable cure. Repent and slay the demon that is causing this sin against God! But eventually, you’ll give in to the urge and wallow in a pool of shame, for which you come running back to the church begging for forgiveness. It makes for a nefarious catch-22.

As a former stripper, I feel comfortable calling myself a subject matter expert on the topic of masturbation. I encountered many people, both entertainers and patrons, who were subjected to this kind of shame. The strip club is a hypersexual environment, but also an anonymous one. So I was a first-hand witness to the damage this kind of extreme sex shaming can do.

I can’t think of a better place to discuss blowing your own horn than the strip club.

I encountered odd many ideas around masturbation, not just from customers, but dancers as well. Weird ideas like if you masturbate you won’t be able to orgasm during sex. Or that masturbating will make you gay because you are having homosexual sex with yourself. The most common thing may have been that God or Jesus is always watching. Believing that a deity is watching you play with yourself, sets the stage for demon inspiration.

But masturbation is a totally normal activity. And yet so many people find themselves working through the unnecessary guilt and shame around it. I spent a good portion of my career trying to help unpack the damage that these ideas caused. Coming to a point of acceptance that it is okay and even good to play with yourself can be even harder if you are taught to believe that your urge is some sort of divine evil.

Masturbation relieves stress and can help with anxiety and depression. It can help you learn to be a better lover and improve your sex life. When you get to know yourself intimately—what works and what doesn’t—it allows you to be more intimate with your partner. And I can tell you, many men come to the strip club struggling to attain that kind of intimacy with their wives.

They struggle to be open and honest about their desires and often seek that outlet in the strip club. While many people might dismiss the ridiculous idea of demons, the shame, and guilt associated with masturbation lingers. And it can ruin marriages, relationships, and self-acceptance.

There is nothing wrong and shameful in the act itself. Taking care of yourself is important, and masturbation is a normal and healthy part of life.

So go ahead and exercise that demon.

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I'm a former adult entertainer and author of Dirty Money: Memoirs of a Stripper and Expose Yourself: How to Take Risks Question Everything and Find Yourself- Humor and Insights from my life as a Stripper....