Masturbation—What is the right & wrong view?
Is it addiction? How can I get past it? By McKrae Game
For many men and women, masturbation is an area that brings deep shame, which often drives an addictive cycle of medicating emotional wounds and confused feelings of God’s believed disappointment.
Masturbation- What does scripture say on the subject?
There is no explicit reference to masturbation in the Bible, although there are scriptures that are used in discussions about this subject. Considering that this is something that has been around nearly as long as man (as hieroglyphics depicting masturbation have been found), prohibition would have been included in scripture if that were God’s intent. We do know that the Lord cares for our well being, does not want us to hinder our witness or compromise our mental well being, and does not want us to be in bondage to anything or anyone. Scripture speaks of sexual purity and immorality, but in every reference to sexuality it speaks of sex with another person or lust of the eyes/mind. It does not speak of self-stimulation.
Scriptures are often used in the discussion about masturbation:
Genesis 38:9-10 …he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death …
It is a misinterpretation of this scripture to believe that this is a reference to masturbation, as you would need to ignore the context to come away or hold this belief.
1 Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Since scripture does not speak for or against masturbation in any way, we are left to decide for ourselves if it is okay for us. It is a leap to say that sex with one’s self is wrong – we just don’t know. Scripture speaks clearly about our thoughts and actions toward others. No one can make this decision for us, neither should we attempt to determine for others what their position should be. The question you should ask yourself is—Does it master me or do I master it?
Matthew 5:27-28 …Anyone that looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We must come to the realization that things we dwell on visually or mentally are important. While I am not saying that it is sinful to look at an attractive person, we must have boundaries regarding what we will look at and what we will think about. We must agree that lustful thoughts or pornographic images are not appropriate for a Christian and are harmful to us and to our walk.
If we allow ourselves to partake in masturbation, our thoughts matter to God. We should not allow our minds to be filled with pornographic images. If we cannot masturbate without such images, one must question the “need” for masturbation but instead look at this action as immoral and against one’s desire for walking away from homosexuality or other sexual immorality. Instead, one must control ones thoughts while choosing to masturbate or else refrain from self-gratification completely.
How do psychological patterns keep us in a form of repetitive addiction?
Chemical dependency related to sexual addiction: the sexual addict has worn a rut in the path via sex and has not developed other areas of release. “Brain cookies” have been identified by the mind and body as a release and can be addictive. The Endorphin release can serve as a drug and can cause the body to crave the same regular release or the release during a mental breakdown caused by stress.
o It is important to develop different areas of interest that provide release.
o If we are free of dependency on sex (including habitual masturbation) we can have our mind free for other thoughts and other interests.
Shame plays a part in the repetitive pattern of masturbation.
If we allow others, ourselves, or demonic voices to speak shame over us after a “release” or “fall” (which ever you choose to view it as) then we are deepening our mental bondage. Many have religious beliefs (not scriptural) around this issue that serve to shame them.
What are the downfalls to masturbation?
o It can take time and energy away from other more positive interests that you need or desire to develop.
o The act of masturbation with homosexual (or other immoral) fantasy and/or use of pornography reinforces the struggle.
o The more you fantasize on a behavior the more you will want to act out the fantasy.
Is it okay to masturbate if married?
If you are married it can take away from the marriage and your sexual intimacy. For the married man or woman, masturbation should be an area of agreement. If a spouse disagrees on the other spouse engaging in masturbation for relief, when his or her spouse is not available, then one should respect their wishes and abstain. A married man or woman should never use masturbation as a way to avoid physical contact. Sexual intercourse with your spouse is biblically mandated and is very important to the emotional health of the marriage. 1 Cor 7:5, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Remember that scripture tells us that our body is not our own. First it is God’s but next is that it is our spouse’s (1 Cor 7:4). We should not be “relieving ourselves” to the point that there is nothing left (desire or stimuli) for our spouse. If your spouse is not available due to separation of some type, illness, monthly menstrual cycle, or lack of desire, then masturbation can be agreed upon by the couple as an acceptable form of release.
We are responders to pain more than pleasure.
If we are utilizing masturbation as a relief from stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, boredom, etc., then it is often times being utilized as a form of self-medication and can become habitual and compulsive.
We must decide for ourselves if we are in bondage.
Only you can make this decision. We don’t have a scripture we can point to; we have our conscience, prayer, and accountability, but only you can decide what is right for you. For some, masturbation is not okay for any reason. For a single man or woman who has been masturbating his or her whole life and is trying to overcome pornography and sexually acting out with others, masturbation may be utilized as a relief to keep him or her from getting into deeper trouble. To go cold turkey on all things most likely is not practical and could lead to destruction if he or she has no outlet for relief.
Where else can we get endorphin releases from, other than sex?
Physical exertion is one of the best/ healthiest ways to get a release. This exertion also gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment. Make the decision to be physically active every day.
Masturbation is the lesser of evils.
It is certainly better to masturbate, than to act out with another individual or to allow yourself into risky or even illegal behaviors. However, I suggest not looking at it as a reward, but if needed, an outlet to prevent a build up into worsening behaviors.
I suggest having accountability partners (APs), with other godly men or women (your gender) that are further ahead in life than you. If married, your spouse should be your primary AP, and should approve of your other APs. Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
If you and a friend are both early on in your attempt to walk away from homosexuality, you being each other’s (primary) accountability and close/intimate friends has risks. There is a danger of emotional attachment and the two of you acting out sexually. Do NOT trust yourself to believe you are above falling in this way (I Cor 10:12). The exception is if you are both free from acting out homosexually for a period of four to five years and are both in other AP relationships.
Helpful hints if wishing to lessen masturbation’s hold on you:
o Don’t count the number of days since your last fall. This will only serve to shame you in the case of a fall or will lead to a false sense of pride.
o Start by trying to cut back. If you are choosing to masturbate or are falling to masturbation, attempt to cut back. To deny one’s self is a mark of Christian maturity.
o We must develop new pathways of release. There are many different ways to develop this: Art, exercise, relationships, etc. We must retrain our brain.
o Decide that you are in control of your body; that your body or your instincts are not in control of you. The root word of discipline is disciple.
o A daily quiet time, spending meaningful time with Christ and reading His word is the greatest way to retrain your brain and give your mind a good washing.
o Do not allow yourselves to look at or listen to anything that will arouse you.
o If needed have a filter on your computer and your phone or get rid of them.
o Get rid of any paid television channels.
o Do not wear anything that will stimulate you.
o Confess and avoid past areas and places of vulnerability and failure that have caused you to act out in risky behaviors and/or situations. This could be (but is not limited to) masturbation in your car, exposing yourself to others, parks, bathrooms, online chatting, pornography, etc.
o Utilize accountability partners. Tell them when you feel vulnerable. Have a signal like “V” for vulnerable or “N” for needy that you can text them to let them know you are in trouble.
o Train your conscience to tell on yourself. Utilize confession: James 5:13-16, “Therefore, confess your sins one to another, so that you may be healed…”
I have known many that have decided that masturbation can have no place in their life. This has worked for them. To do this they often have had to stop watching television, avoid places where they may be stimulated, etc. It is possible but takes a great level of commitment. I urge you that if you take this as your position, to not become grief stricken to the point of self shame if you have a “fall” to masturbation. Choose to pick yourself up and move on. Speak to your APs, journal, pray, and move forward feeling good about yourself. Legalism is not the answer to finding freedom. Developing new healthy habits of meeting your legitimate emotional and physical needs is a must to finding freedom. We cannot live our lives based on our feelings and emotions and find freedom. We will find it by a daily dependence on God and His love for us. He’s not focused on these things and we shouldn’t either.