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Is Masturbation Okay?

This article is in response to a question by a reader (Shirley Anne). She asked about what the Bible says about masturbation. The answer to this question might be disappointing to some folks but the Bible does not speak about masturbation explicitly. What the Bible does speak on is sexuality and what God intended sex to be. We are first going to dive into what God’s purpose’s were for creating sex. Then we will contrast that to masturbation.

God’s Purpose for Sex

Sex is God-given and all of us can thank him for that. Let’s briefly talk about sex from God’s perspective.

1)Procreation is the first command God gives to humanity. Genesis 1:27-28 says:

God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!” –NET

Photo Credit: sexualweakness.com

2)Pleasure is also an essential aspect of sex. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says this:

A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise a wife to her husband. It is not the wife who has the rights to her own body, but the husband. In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights to his own body, but the wife. Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then resume your relationship, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. -NET

One thing that cannot be overlooked here is that this is not self-gratification it is selfless-gratification. Remember this when we contrast masturbation to Biblical sex.

3) Intimacy is another of God’s purposes for sex. Genesis 2:24,25 says:

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed. -NET

This may not seem like a significant passage but it speaks volumes in the area of intimacy. God clearly gives us an example of what a man and a woman do. They leave their homes to create a new one. They unite with each other. This unity is connected with being “naked”. What is important is the phrase “they were not ashamed”. If I walked out of my bedroom naked and saw someone I barely knew I would be utterly ashamed. They would probably be distraught but that is beside the point. Being naked gives the implication of sex and them being unashamed shows the intimacy involved in that action.

Those are some of God’s purposes for creating sex. Let’s now contrast Biblical sex to the act of masturbation.

Biblical Sex Compared to Masturbation

Merriam-Webster defines masturbation as:

erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies

With masturbation defined we can move on to comparing it to Biblical sex. I will be leaving out the discussion of Biblical procreation because that is not the aim of masturbation. What I want to invest time in is looking at pleasure and intimacy. I will be drawing from an article titled “Does the Bible Say that Masturbation is a Sin?“. The article points out many effects of masturbation but I will be focusing on two of them: psychic effects and emotional deprivation. We will begin with the psychic effects of masturbation. The article says:

1. Psychic effects. Masturbation has a tendency to isolate its captives psychologically and socially. In masturbation, the person is focused on self-alone even though he or she usually is fantasizing about someone else at the same time.

This points out two troubling things about masturbation: #1 It is only self-gratifying. #2 It usually involves fantasizing about someone else.

Self-gratification was never God’s intension with sex or sexuality. Sex is meant to be selfless. This was the point that I made when we discussed 1 Cor. 7:3-5. Verses 3-5 say:

A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise a wife to her husband. It is not the wife who has the rights to her own body, but the husband. In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights to his own body, but the wife.

Masturbation is not only inconsistent with selfless-gratification; it undermines God’s purposes in sex. Being focused on self takes away from one’s ability to give themselves to another. It stifles selflessness in sex and creates selfishness instead. Along with masturbation being selfish it also leads to sin through the common fantasizing associated with it.

Jesus said these words in Matthew 5:27-28:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -NET

When masturbation involves fantasizing or pornography it blatantly violates Jesus’ command against adultery. One could argue that people can masturbate without fantasizing but I have never met a person who said, “I masturbate but I do not fantasize about anyone else,” and I went to a Bible college where things like this were regular topics of discussion among the guys. Masturbation and fantasizing may not be intrinsically united but they are definitely connected to each other.  Masturbation undermines selfless-gratification but it also hinders intimacy. As I mentioned earlier, intimacy is another of God’s purposes in creating sex. “Does the Bible Say that Masturbation is a Sin” says this:

2. Emotional deprivation. It is impossible for the one who is practicing this habit to experience the full extent of sex emotions. Therefore, in short-circuiting the emotions one can easily be removed from the world of reality.

“Emotional deprivation” can cause major problems, especially within relationships. Any loving relationship involves intimacy. Marital sex is essential to creating intimacy. God wants us to be intimate with our wife or husband but masturbation limits that.

Photo Credit: goodwomenproject.com

I think most of us understand that intimacy is connected to emotion. Of course, I do not think intimacy is purely emotional but without emotion how could anyone have an intimate relationship? I would argue they can’t.  If that is the case then we see how masturbation can deprive us from intimacy.

When we engage in this act of masturbation, we are chasing sexual gratification without being emotionally involved. When we continue in that we eventually teach ourselves that sexual gratification can be totally separated from emotion and intimacy. That ruins marriages/relationships and destroys the person engaged in masturbation because it makes them “less than human”. Having emotions is definitional to being human. If we become emotionless then we essentially take our humanity away from ourselves. Sex was created to promote intimacy but masturbation destroys intimacy.

So, to answer the question, “Is masturbation okay?” I would have to answer no.

If you are caught up in masturbation, which the stats would suggest you probably are, I would encourage you to talk to a pastor and get a group that will keep you accountable. Those steps will enable you to have a healthy view of sexuality and a more vibrant relationship with your spouse.

Thanks for Reading,

Travis

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About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on January 13, 2012, in Christianity, Culture, Life, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. This is the way I see it, and I’m going to be blunt about it and about my experiences.

    Without ejaculation at all, after several days, I notice a boost in energy, a natural boost perhaps. I can sleep merely 3-4 hours a night and wake up the next day, hop out of bed upon waking and walk around without losing a step. How is such a change drastic? I think there’s a lot of energy at motion here.

    With a man’s testes being full of sperm and a primal urge to mate with a female to unload said sperm, isn’t the said man’s energy going to increase so that he can instinctively find a mate?

    Just my observations from a biological standpoint.

    A couple of years ago, I used to masturbate before bed because it made me tired, sleepy, relaxed. When I stopped, my levels of energy were unreal.

    • Hey CKS,

      I appreciate you reading and commenting. I don’t think I see the conclusion you are driving at? Are you suggesting that masturbation is a good thing because it can give you energy and help you sleep?

      I could have gone into physical side effects, such as premature ejaculation, but I think comparing masturbation and it’s purposes to God’s purposes in sex is a much better way to go in talking about masturbation.

      Thanks again,

      Travis

    • I appreciated your observations, CKS. I also discovered the benefits of conserving primal energy from a physiological standpoint. That natural boost can be channeled into constructive activities and being a better man. It’s great to face the day with a fully charged battery instead of dragging around feeling washed out. Some might call it frustration. I call it motivation. I waste a lot less sperm now by focusing on the practical biological results than I ever did struggling with urges from a religious guilt perspective.

  2. I could not have summed up this difficult question better myself, Travis. Being more or less addicted to lust and masturbation until a few years ago, I can tell you how much of a mental bondage it had in my life. Because my struggles with it crept into my marriage I can tell you that masturbation with or without looking at porn leads to selfishness, isolation and shallow intimacy. I have noticed such a change in the way I relate to my wife after going through the process of fighting temptation both mentally, physically and spiritually. Having rid myself of masturbation completely now, I can honestly say my wife and I enjoy much deeper intimacy both during sex and outside of the bedroom. I think she feels so much more comfortable with me and closer to me. She doesn’t feel like she is excluded and I feel like I’m able to let her be a more charished part of my life (I’m becoming less selfish). It’s a win-win.

    Here’s my equations:
    Selfish masturbation = Suckiness
    Selfless waiting = Awesomeness

    God blesses us when we wait for His perfect plan. His plan is a Bigillian times better than our selfish distractions and temporary fulfillments. That’s all. Thanks for the post, Travis.

  3. 1. Why would someone who has a spouse masturbate (unless s/he is deprived).
    2. I don’t subscribe to your religious views on sex, even if you think it is in the Bible, simply because they don’t work for me. Do read my blog about abstinence on faithbond777.wordpress.com

    • 1. People don’t need to be “deprived” of sex to masturbate. When it comes to masturbation typically it revolves around fantasizing about another person. This is done through pornography and imagination. When we fantasize we separate ourselves from reality. The fantasy becomes more satisfying than the reality. So, even people having sex on a regular basis can still feel the need to masturbate because the reality is not enough for them.

      2. I do not believe they are my “religious views on sex”. God’s view of sex is really what matters. And I am sorry that it “doesn’t work for you” but does that mean it is untrue? The answer is no. Truth matters and God is the one that speaks it. God created you and I so we both are commanded to bend to his will and not our own. Hopefully, that will work for you.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Travis

  4. Are you kidding?!

  5. I masturbate but I felt guilty because the priest told me it is a sin and it will deprive me from the honest love emotions but I still masturbate and I can’t stop it I think it became a habbit also another site said it wont affect sex after marriage but it said it would make it better
    please help me tell me how to stop as I am still a teenager and I don’t want to damage my marriage or hurt my partner thanks in advance

    • There are many different thoughts about it but it comes down to a couple of things. #1 masturbation often includes a component of lust. As we know Jesus taught that lust is sinful. #2 It will hurt your marital sexual relationship on many levels. What you are doing when you masturbate is satisfying your sexual needs selfishly. So, if it has become a habit how do you know that wont continue into the marriage? Don’t you see the trouble that could cause?

      Travis

  6. Reblogged this on Another Christian Blog and commented:

    I have been getting asked this question on Periscope so here is my answer on in #Masturbation OK.

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