WHAT ABOUT MASTURBATION?
To some, this is rather an embarrassing subject. People don't talk a lot about it. Words of similar meaning are often thrown around as insults, but when it comes to discussing it at a personal level, that's a different story. In fact, if somebody came up behind you now, you might even quickly press any button on your browser to get you out of this page, hoping that haven't seen the title of this one.
WHAT IS MASTURBATION?
Masturbation is the term used to describe the massaging of one's own male or female sex organs to a level of sexual excitement. Often this goes to a climax (called orgasm) where, in the male case, a quantity of semen is released.
You may have heard the statement "90% of people have masturbated and the other 10% are liars." This is probably not exactly true but I think we can safely assume that most young people experiment with their own sexuality in this way at some stage. Though this is not necessary for normal development, it does happen. It seems to be more frequently an issue with males, though I've been told it is increasing in popularity with women.
The feelings produced are of course very exciting, powerful, and if you are lonely, even comforting. This doesn't last long though as after the climax there is often a sense of guilt or defeat depending on the personal standards involved.
IS IT O.K. OR IS IT NOT?
Naturally, the first place we must look is in the Bible and there we discover no direct teaching about masturbation. Plenty about sex but nothing about masturbation. We have no right to make up our own laws, so it is important to examine this area of sexuality under the principles for godly living which we do find in the Bible. Perhaps the fact that the Bible does not specifically mention masturbation shows that God isn't quite so concerned about this area as some people are.
1. We can safely say that masturbation is unwise when it is done in groups or with another of the same sex. This sort of behaviour can help lead to homosexual activity. I believe that sexuality was intended to be a private affair between two marriage partners not a game to be played with other friends.
2. It is usually associated with wrong thoughts. A number of young men have confided with me on this topic. One told me that he came home and went into the toilet to masturbate in front of pornographic pictures. Another masturbated while watching sex on videos. Many lie in bed, with pornographic thoughts. The Bible is quite clear. Bad thinking is out. Sooner or later it results in bad behaviour.
3. It is harmful if it is a habit that we can't break. When feeling lonely or insecure, some people find that the temptation to masturbate has tremendous power over them. With many Christian young people this is an area that holds them back in spiritual growth. They masturbate, regret, feel guilty, confess to God, determine never to do it again and a day or two later, they do it again. The process is repeated but this time they feel even more defeated. They think God must be sick of them by now. They don't feel good enough for him. They may even give up their faith.
It is clear that God intends us to be living by the Holy Spirit's power, not the power of a lustful habit. One of the results of the Holy Spirit being in control is self control. Learning to live by His power is a vital key to Christian living.
4. It is unloving when a married man cheats his wife of all that sexual energy by masturbating. A husband is required by God to meet the sexual needs of his wife. Self control in this area can be important in marraiges too.
5. It is wrong when a person doubts that what they are doing is O.K. the Bible teaches, the "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." In areas where the Bible doesn't give guide lines, and where people disagree, we have the freedom and responsibility to sort out before God what is right and wrong for us. Then we should choose the right way, trusting God that it is acceptable to Him.
MASTURBATION IS NOT GOOD SEX
Sure, it doesn't make you go blind as some people used to claim. It won't make you sterile. It does give an exciting feeling and can bring release of sexual energy but I don't think those are good enough reasons to masturbate.
Think about it. Sex was designed to be a giving experience. It doesn't make sense to make love to yourself or your hand. This can lead to selfishness and personality problems. It results in frustration and disappointment because the physical side of sex on it's own is not and never can be fulfilling. It is like telling your body a good gift is on it's way and never giving it.
The mind and body are connected, and masturbation for personal pleasure can keep up a sexually active state rather than the more settled rhythm of a single person under control.
As Christians, we should aim for "the best" in sexuality. This honours God. While we are single, "the best" involves self control. It seems to me that if masturbation is not sex as it was designed to be, then apart for providing samples for medical tests and perhaps for helping self control in extreme situations, it is better to learn to live without it.
You however, must come to a personal conviction as to what is or isn't appropriate in this situation. Maturing as a Christian involves learning how to confidently live in the freedom God has given you.
BEYOND GUILT TO FREEDOM
Satan is called the accuser. He wins a victory when you feel guilty and defeated. God doesn't want any Christian to be bogged down with guilt about masturbating. Here are some suggestions to help you break free of masturbation as a habit.
1. Build on your relationship with God - remember, He understands our weaknesses and is willing to strengthen us in these areas. Spend some time most days reading the Bible and talking to God. It is knowing him that makes life meaningful; not living by laws and regulations.
2. Remove all sexually orientated material from your mental diet. Train your mind to think about good things. The suggestions in chapter six may help.
3. Memorize key verses from the Bible. You can do this by writing them down on cards and practicing in those spare minutes of the day. You can also tape verses with gaps in time between so you can listen to them and test yourself. Bible memory helps renew the mind.
4. You may need to spend time talking with a person of the same sex who is a bit older and more mature than you someone you can trust to keep a secret.
5. Appreciate the beauty of your body but avoid unnecessary fondling of your sex organs.
6. Allow others to show you healthy non-sexual affection. This helps you to feel secure and loved.
7. You may have to change some of your routines in life initially. For example, getting out of bed as soon as you wake can be helpful in avoiding temptation.
8. If you do fail the standards you have chosen, don't be defeated. God is on your side if you have put your trust in Him. Confess your sin. If you are sincere, God promises to be faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness. (That includes repeated sins). Don't proudly play God and punish yourself by feeling bad. Accept is forgiveness. Failure should remind us of how weak we are without God's power and cause us to rely more on him.
9. Allow yourself some grace. God is gracious, patient and compassionate. Sometimes it takes time to break such a habit. Often there are other areas of maturity to grow into at the same time. Your maturing to freedom may take a few weeks.
It is important to remind ourselves frequently that God's grace (kindness that we don't deserve) is greater than any sin. If you truly know Jesus, God won't love or accept you more on the good days than on those occasions when you might fail. That is because He loves and accepts you totally and you can't improve on that. Isn't that amazing?
If knowing this makes you want to take His kindness for granted and misbehave, that probably means that you don't really know Him.
If it makes you want to love and obey Him more, that is a sign that you do know Him.
10. If the overpowering temptation persist after you have considered it dead with Jesus when He died, you may need to ask a discerning Christian to pray with you. Pray that God will break down a stronghold that enemy spiritual powers may have gained over this area of your life. Claim the freedom that Jesus achieved for us when He destroyed the work of the devil by dying on the cross.
Finally, here is a prayer I suggest for someone who fails in their chosen standards of sexuality.
I thank you for my sexuality. It is a good gift. I'm sorry that I have used it unwisely in a way I feel does not honour you. Please forgive me as you promised you would. Please draw me into a closer relationship with you so that the raised up life of Jesus will enable me to overcome my weakness in this area. Enable me to accept your forgiveness and see myself as clean, just like you now see me. Thank you for caring, for understanding and for not giving up on me. I say this in the authority of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Note: If you have no interest in the topics dealt with in the next two chapters, please go forward to Chapter 16.
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