Note: This is part one of a two-part blog mini-series by Pastor Brad Bigney on masturbation. Be sure to read tomorrow’s post: Masturbation: So What’s the Way Out? This brief series is part of the BCC’s desire to address real-life issues with grace and truth from God’s Word.
When thinking about a biblical view of masturbation, we first need to acknowledge that there is no Bible verse that says masturbation is a sin. However, there are several biblical principles that can guide us in assessing a biblical view of masturbation.
Sex and our sexuality were not created by God primarily for our own pleasure.
God created sex and sexuality as a wonderful gift that is to be given to our life partner… this gift bonds us together in a special and intimate way. It is something God meant for us to experience in relationship to another human being. When we use it individually, we have twisted something wonderful and there are some dangers that then enter in.
In 1 Corinthians 7:3, Paul says, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his body, but the wife does.” Our bodies and our sexuality are not our own to use for our own pleasure, so, for the married person, masturbation deprives your spouse of something they are supposed to receive from you.
Similarly, Proverbs 5:18-20 tells us, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth… may her breasts satisfy you at all times, may you be captivated by her love…” Masturbation leads the married person to find satisfaction somewhere other than your spouse… and can often lead your affections away so that you’re captivated by something or someone other than her.
Masturbation plays into the sin of selfishness.
We are all prone to selfishness by nature and masturbation seems to fan that flame. It also tends to isolate us. We withdraw and focus on ourselves. “What would be good for me? What really excites me?” All of this thinking breeds an attitude that is contrary to biblical love. Biblical love involves giving for the needs of another expecting nothing in return. Love is giving not getting.
The activity of autoeroticism by nature is a ‘getting’ activity rather than a giving activity. We begin to think we don’t need another human relationship in that area. Yet this gift was intended to be some of the ‘glue’ that would knit us to another person rather than ourselves. Masturbation runs counter to that and feeds selfish isolationism. We read in 1 Corinthians13:5, “Love does not seek its own.” Masturbation seeks it’s own. Romans 15:2-3 says, “Each of us should please his neighbor [your spouse is your closest neighbor] for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself.”
Philippians 2:3-4 drives this home. “Let nothing be done from selfish ambition… let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Masturbation can be used as an escape or a refuge other than God.
Any of the good things that God has given us (food, drink, sex, work) can become sinful if used as a place of refuge instead of turning to God. Masturbation often gets used in that way, especially with young people. It’s quick, easy, and gives fast gratification. That in itself should send off some danger signals. Habits may be forming so they will want to run there when things don’t go their way or they’re feeling down or bored and just want immediate gratification.
Psalm 73:25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 16:11 teaches, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” While Psalm 91:2 notes, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’” Masturbation can easily and insidiously become a substitute for a relationship with God and others.
Masturbation flies in the face of the self-control that we are commanded to develop as Christians.
Fighting in this area is an excellent opportunity to trust God and ask for His grace rather than feed the desires of the flesh. I know it is hard. It can still be a struggle for a married person. In all honesty, sometimes you don’t want the “hassle” of having to “perform” or make it good for someone else and you just want quick relief. If you allow masturbation to be a regular practice, you may find sexual relations with your spouse less satisfying and more frustrating.
There are plenty of Scriptures that show our need for self-control. Consider: Proverbs 25:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6; and 2 Timothy 1:7.
Masturbation often lights a flame that can never get enough.
If you open the door and allow free reign in this area it seems that you need more and more to get the same level of satisfaction you did before. You will feel the need to move on to other things (pornography, fantasy) in order to get the same level of pleasure. Rather than satisfying it stirs a thirst for more, and leaves you feeling very empty.
Jeremiah 2:13 says, “But my people have committed two great sins; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living water and have dug for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Masturbation is a broken cistern that cannot hold water. To stay satisfied it demands more; more of the same and then variety, something new. You end up in a state of perpetual agitation with very little satisfaction.
Masturbation often brings guilt and distraction that hinders your walk with God.
Peter teaches, “I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Very often when this area of physical lust is stirred up it wars against the spiritual side. We feel dirty and think we can’t draw near to God.
Romans 13:14 explains, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Often masturbation causes us to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it… leading up to it… what we’ll do next time, etc.
Based on scriptural principles of biblical love and self-control, as well as the foundation of God’s original design for sexual pleasure to be shared between husband and wife, it seems prudent to personally resist the temptation to masturbate (see tomorrow’s post), and it seems important for us to teach our children the dangers of giving over to this temptation.
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How would you develop a biblical perspective on masturbation?