Christianity --Youth Issues/Self Gratification/Masturbation

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Question
I am a 30 years old struggling with masturbation. I know that the Bible does not specifically speak about this subject. I have read some literature that addresses this, but would like more information. I am not dating anyone at this time. I have never had sex, but really want to experience the pleasure of sex. I want my first time with a man to be with my husband. I guess I feel like masturbating is a safe way to experience sex without sinning. I hear guys do it all the time and that it is "normal" for them, but if a girl does it, then it is wrong. If it is normal and okay for guys to do it, then why is not normal and okay for girls to do it also? Is it really wrong and a sin to practice self gratification? Please help me to understand this topic.

Answer
Marie-

Whoever told you that a girl doing it is wrong and for a guy normal, has no clue.  More boys (stats say 90-92% of guys do it, the others lied on the survey) do it than girls (about 50% +), but that doesn't make it wrong.  Is it wrong?  Well, if it is, it's wrong for both.  If it's not, then make your own determination.

Is it a sin?  Yes and no.  Some people consider it "sex with one's self".  It is probably far preferable that you masturbate than have casual sex, however.  I've never really decided completely if it's a sin or not.  What IS a sin, however, is that lust usually accompanies it.  But then again, masturbation STOPS the lust, so how could it be a sin?

For you, I wouldn't worry about it so much - it can become a bad habit, and it can even become an addiction.  If it DOES become an addiction, and you're doing it several times a day, then you may cause physical damage to your genitals, and certainly suffer from other psychological disorders (e.g., OCD).  If it is an addiction, then you need to see a sexual therapist.  If you're masturbating once or twice a week or month, you don't need to see anyone, and rest assured that you're not alone.

I have included below an essay about masturbation that I wrote several years ago.  It's still relevant, and I hope it helps clear up your misunderstandings and questions.

Please take the time to rate my answer.

Blessings,
Carl


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Is Masturbation a sin?

Masturbation is not mentioned specifically in the Bible.

Because of that, we don’t really know whether it is a sin or not.  Many people say yes.  Many say no.  It’s one of those issues that is difficult to determine, and you have to make up your own mind.

Some of the emotions that can along with masturbation ARE sins, e.g., lust (coveting someone other than your husband) which will normally occur when you masturbate.  (See Matthew 5:27-28) Masturbation is normally done for selfish pleasure – if all you are focused on is yourself, then how can you be honoring God?  God gave us sex for both pleasure (within marriage) and to procreate the race.  Masturbation does one, not the other.  

But where does lust begin and end?  Is masturbation the beginning of lust or does it end lust?   Steve Gerali, a nationally known speaker and author, in his book, “The Struggle” (about masturbation mostly from a male perspective) says this:
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“If we’re honest we’d have to agree that the sexual thoughts, desires, arousal and even lust precede the need to masturbate. Once orgasm occurs, all of that is gone. Masturbation is the end of lust, not the beginning of lust. Masturbation isn’t lust nor does it feed lust. It ends lustful episodes. … there are many godly men and women who believe that because masturbation follows the lust and shuts down the process,  it becomes the way out that many people pray for. For these people, this deliverance from lust makes masturbation a gift from God.”
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You have to understand that God created sex, and that sex is good.  Therefore, how can sexual thoughts necessarily be bad? They’re not.  Sexual desire and physical attraction for the opposite sex are not bad, particularly if they’re towards a spouse or future spouse.  But if thoughts of sex become all you think about, then those thoughts can be lust and be considered a sin.  By the same logic, if all you think about is the next time you can masturbate or the next time you can eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or the next time you can play Nintendo, then you may have a problem.  You also have to know that masturbation is far from the best sex you’ll ever have – I don’t think it’s what God created sex for.  God gave us these crazy desires. Maybe He’d rather us lean on Him for strength to avoid this behavior than to grab a magazine and head for our rooms.

Let’s look at the physiological, spiritual, and emotional consequences of masturbation.  Pam Stenzel, a nationally known educator in the area of teenage sexuality, specifically abstinence education, says in her book, “Sex Has a Price Tag,”:
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10 Plus 7 Dangers Of Masturbation
1. Sex happens in the brain first. The arousal response is the most easily trained response in a human being. What we do to prepare the body for sex¬ual response and arousal becomes what we need in order to be aroused. In other words, masturbation trains your body to respond a specific way to specific stimuli.

2. Because of 1, masturbation often becomes addictive.

3. Addictive behaviors are difficult to change.

4. Because of 3. masturbation tends to control the person rather than the person controlling the masturbation. (In other words, it's a habit that's hard to break.)

5. Once the brain has trained a person's sexual response through masturbation or other self-stimulation, the body will continue to require the same activ¬ity for sexual response even after a sexual partnership (that is, marriage) has begun.

6. The chemicals released in the brain during sexual stimulation are extreme¬ly powerful, and the repeated use of self-stimulation can damage one's ability to respond appropriately to marriage intimacy. (Refer back to 5).

7. It's easier to say no to something before it becomes a habit.

8. Human beings can say no. Masturbation is often encouraged as a way to deal with sexual feelings and drives that cannot be controlled.

9. Contrary to popular belief, the desire to masturbate does not stop after marriage. It is not a cure for temporarily dealing with sexual pressure before marriage.

10. The most common problems for which married men seek counseling today are pornography and masturbation.

11. The same experts who declare that masturbation aren’t addictive, go on to claim that guys and girls who masturbate -are powerless to stop doing so.  So which is it?

12. Saying yes to masturbation (sometimes referred to as "having sex with oneself") in order to say no to having sex with someone else, does not make masturbation a good and positive thing. In other words, something that is "less wrong" is not necessarily right. Something that is less dangerous is not necessarily safe.  And something that is "less false" is not necessarily true.

13, Masturbation takes the mystery of sex and the wonder of "becoming one flesh" with another person and reduces it to something it was never intended to be - a solo activity consisting of a simple biological arousal/release activity rather than something that embraces body, soul, and spirit.

14. Masturbation will not make your hands fall off, your face turn blue, or your brain insane.  But that doesn’t mean you should do it, does it?

15, Hebrews '13;4 says, "Marriage is to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." The word fornicators/fornication, pornea, means any sexual behavior, thought, or deed, outside of the sacramental act between a husband and wife. Self-stimulation, or masturbation falls into this category'.  It defiles the marriage bed.

16, Cultivating the self discipline that’s required to say no to masturbation now, before becoming one flesh: with a lifelong mate, will develop the strength of character necessary to continue keeping a marriage pure.

17. And one more thing – God forgives freely.  Never forget that.  At the same time, never use that to justify behavior that goes against God’s desire and will for your life.
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I agree with Pam on every item but 15 – I’m not so sure that God intended for masturbation to fall into the same category as fornicators.

As to Items 1 & 5-6: A sexual addiction counselor, Dr. Douglass Weiss, agrees. In a presentation he describes how sex and the brain interact:

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“In the center of the brain is the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN). In your brain, when you have a sexual release, your brain experiences a release of chemicals called endorphins and encephalins. This is the highest rush in the human body. It is the same area cocaine affects; this is why cocaine is so addicting.

Because you get the highest reward for this behavior, you want to do it again. Now, here's where it's unique. When you get the reward, whatever you're looking at—it doesn't have to be real—whatever you're looking at [at sexual release] you are bonding to whatever that [object] is. So, if you have a sexual fantasy, you'll start bonding to a fantasy world.

God designed it so that you would bond with one person. [To men:] In a very short period of time, no matter what your wife looks like, you bond to her. She becomes your desire. And when you think about intimacy and sexuality, you think about her. If you [masturbate] and you reward yourself for going to fantasy world, then the fantasy is going to be what you desire. You're going to see women as objects, not people. That's not God's design. God wants you to see someone as His child. As a person.

Your brain doesn't know the difference, between this [object] being appropriate or inappropriate. It just knows it got the rewards. Now, if it gets good stuff [chemical rewards] attached to bad things, what will it want to do? Bad things. [Protect] your brain. This is a holy place. If you start [masturbating] and you go over into fantasy or pornography, you are going to damage your life. It affects your own sexuality."

From: Douglass Weiss, Ph.D., Good Enough To Wait (Fort Worth: Discovery Press Video).
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Will masturbation keep you out of heaven?  Well, no more than any other sin, and it, like any other sin can be forgiven. Masturbation among males is very common – 92% of males masturbate at one time or another, even after marriage or during a sexual relationship (and some people say the other 8 % lied when taking the survey).  The female percentage is 55%.  So, don’t feel alone, by any means.  (But just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean you have to.)

Ask yourself why you do it, and what you get from it.  Certainly if you masturbate INSTEAD of intercourse outside of marriage, that would be preferable, but, as Pam says, something that is “less wrong” is not necessarily right.  

If you become obsessed with it and do it several times a week or even several times a day, and view pornography while doing it, then you may have a serious addiction that can be every bit as powerful and dangerous a disease as alcoholism or drug addiction.  If you do it only once in a while, it’s not going to hurt you.  And yes, it DOES feel good, and wrong, all at the same time.  Much like any other sin.

How do you stop?  Pray, pray, pray – turn your thoughts to something else.  Read your Bible, take a cold shower.  How do you stop other sins?  Gluttony, envy, pride, you name it.  Sin is sin, and ANYthing that takes you away from a closer relationship with God is sin.

Will you ever stop sinning?  Nope, you’re human.  Don’t beat yourself up over it (no pun intended).  Just try to focus on something else.  If masturbation becomes an addiction, then start worrying.  If it’s only once in a while, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Proverbs 6:25 - Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.

Ephesians 4:19 - Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

Colossians 3:5 - Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  

Christianity --Youth Issues

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Carl F.

Expertise

I can answer questions from teens & young adults concerning their faith walk and on social issues which affect their lives. I can answer questions on sex, homosexuality, or drugs, and anything else that might be troubling you. After 30 years in youth ministry, nothing shocks me, and I promise to give straight answers to any and all questions. I can also answer questions from youth workers on problems they`re having with programming or with their groups.

Experience

I have been involved in youth and young adult ministries as a volunteer for over 35 years. I am currently a volunteer youth minister in a suburban UM church - I have a small group of 7th and 8th graders.

Organizations
United Methodist Church, Chrysalis, Walk to Emmaus, Cursillo

Education/Credentials
Several training seminars, 9 years at National Youth Workers Convention, 1 year at Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry

Awards and Honors
Certified lay speaker for UM Church

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