My boyfriend and I were talking about the topic of masturbation, and that the world says it's totally natural and even good, but the church says it's not. Does scripture directly deal with this issue?
If you look up masturbation on-line, you will find very different opinions. Some think that all masturbation is just fine; others think that the more the better; still others think it is pure evil. But, let’s be very careful about how we sift this topic through the filter of Scripture and collectively agree to “not lean on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:6). In other words, let’s not formulate our view of masturbation based on what we feel about it, or what we hope God thinks about it, or what may be convenient to reinforce our already chosen behaviors. Let’s stick to what Scripture teaches us, period. What we do with what Scripture says is up to us and between us and God. As Romans 14:12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.”
Most people agree that Scripture says nothing directly about masturbation. I concur. But Scripture also does not say anything about many other topics, including chewing gum, driving cars, drinking gasoline, or mowing yards. But it does give us plenty of principles with which we can determine whether we engage in these behaviors and if so, how we engage in them.
Since Scripture does not explicitly say “thou shall not masturbate”, I cannot say that it is always, without exception, a sin. But I think this is the wrong perspective anyway. Many of our choices reveal deeper core sins in our lives, including pride, lust, or greed. So, could masturbation be a symptom of a deeper sin in our life? Certainly. Do you look at porn in any form (internet, TV, print) while masturbating? Psalm 101:3 "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes." Do you mentally process images of women in your mind while masturbating? Matthew 5:28 "If a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart." If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then you have a lust issue. This could not be any clearer.
On the other hand, could someone masturbate in purity and integrity before God? Possibly. Is it physically possible to masturbate without lusting or looking at porn? Some guys claim that they can do this routinely. Others claim it is impossible. I think it is possible, but highly unlikely. If you think you can pull this off, I encourage you to study your motives and thoughts before, during, and after masturbation carefully. Here are some motives perhaps you have heard or used yourself.
“It helps relieve stress”
“It releases pressure”
“It helps me with the pain that builds”
“It keeps my lust in check”
I’m sure some of the great men of the Bible made these same arguments, especially the last one. David and Solomon both thought that by getting a few more wives and concubines to satisfy them, their sex drive would be under control. They came to find out that it only increased. So, they got more wives and concubines to help curtail the sex drive. And their drive and lust continued to increased. So, they got more wives and….see the pattern? Have you lived it? You start with some soft TV porn (fitness shows, MTV spring break footage, swimsuit pageants, music videos), then you want more. So, you move to internet porn. But eventually that doesn’t do it for you (see David and Solomon’s old wives). So, you look for some hard core porn to bring on the endorphins you crave. Eventually, you need even more. Carry this out and men find yourself at a strip club, with a prostitute, in an extra marital affair, and even worse, committing rape. Left to our own, this is where our sin can and does go.
I have made these arguments in my own life. I have doubted God’s ability to relieve my stress (Do not be anxious for anything, but in prayer and supplication make your requests known to God, Phil 4:6). I have doubted God’s ability to help me release pressure/pain (ever had a wet dream for no reason?). I have tried to rationalize that it helps decrease lust (see David and Solomon above who also believed this lie). Then 11 years ago, I realized that I was kidding myself if I thought I could masturbate without lusting, especially with the images I had already filled my head with. So, I simply stopped. Stopped porn. Stopped masturbating. This was not my doing, but the power of the Spirit of Christ in me. I could not conquer this on my own and have talked to dozens of guys who have tried to beat this on their own through behavior modification. This is a fruitless effort. It is only through Christ that we have any hope of winning this battle. Don’t just know about this power. Many have starved to death knowing about food. Ask God to reveal this power to you. It’s already part of you, as a follower of Christ. Just claim it.
Let the words of God captured by Paul in 1 Cor. 10:31 sink in…”Whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER (emphasis mine) you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This means driving your car, mowing your yard, studying for your tests – they all need to be done for the glory of God. If you choose to masturbate, can you glorify God in it? The answer better be yes. Motive (read, heart) is everything for God. Is your heart ready to battle for purity, integrity, and character? Is your heart ready to battle for the women in your life? I sure hope so, otherwise we are nothing but disarmed soldiers, enslaved to our own lusts and pride, unable to survive the attacks of the enemy. And that is not becoming of the warrior God calls us to be.