Thursday, January 17, 2008
Is Masturbation a Sin?
Although masturbation per se is not condemned in the Bible, many of the activities associated with it are. It is not an exaggeration to say that most masturbation is accompanied by ungodly thinking, and the pressure to masturbate can be reduced significantly if people were stricter about what they allowed themselves to be exposed to. It may be legal for a young adult to see “R” rated movies with nearly naked actors and actresses and steamy dialogue, but really, does it help them live godly lives or does it produce sexual longing and pressure that makes life more difficult?
Too often, in our society, we want the “freedom” but not the consequences freedom often brings. Men want the freedom “just to look” at the girls in Playboy, but it does not work that way. God designed men to be visually stimulated, and the person who looks will eventually feel more pressure for sexual release. Women want the freedom to read romance novels or watch soap operas, but the graphic portrayals of love placed in their minds can produce a pressure to masturbate that would not ordinarily be there. A lot of the desire to masturbate would disappear if both men and women took an aggressive stand about what they allowed themselves to be exposed to.
Masturbation can be a very selfish act, and it is possible to be sexually addicted to it. If you are aware that you are addicted to masturbation, you should seek help. Furthermore, masturbating while looking at pornography is wrong. The Bible is very clear that the Christian is to control his or her thoughts:
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.
Since arousal is usually accompanied by erotic thoughts, the Christian who controls his or her mind will discover that he or she has much less “need” to masturbate. Also, it can be very harmful for a married person to masturbate. There are people in troubled marriages who regularly masturbate to avoid the difficult task of rekindling love in their marriage. This is a shame, and wrong in the eyes of God. Couples in happy marriages testify that they have “rough times,” some that last for weeks or months, and it is in part the desire to be sexually fulfilled that causes them to reconcile. The sexual pressure that builds when a person has not had sexual intercourse for a while helps keep the marriage fresh and exciting. Sex represents perhaps the most powerful dependency of a man on a woman, and his intense desire for her and his excitement about her are dulled by masturbation. When a couple has not had sex for a while due to her period, sickness, or separation, there is a build up of sexual pressure. It is both passionate and powerful to release that pressure in the intimate grasp of your spouse. That pent-up sexual energy is released with a vigor and passion that speaks of your love for your spouse in ways that words could never express. Masturbation releases sexual pressure, and can thus harm marriages by robbing the spouse of being intensely desired and needed.
It is important for the health of a marriage that a couple not only love each other, but that they also need each other. Husbands and wives should need one another for sexual fulfillment. One reason that masturbation, adultery, and prostitutes all tend to destroy marriages is that they strike at the fundamental level of need in a marriage. We live in a society that stresses independence and an “I don’t need anybody” attitude. We have that attitude because we have been hurt in the past by people we needed, and we do not want to be hurt in the future. However, that strategy never works because God made us to need and be needed. Our “independence” is not working.  Divorce rates are at about 50% nationwide, and many couples that are not officially divorced are struggling and unhappy. We are so independent that when problems arise it is easier to let the marriage go than work and strive to keep it going. Two people who need each other do not run to get a divorce every time there is trouble. Yes, “needing” makes us vulnerable to being hurt, but isn’t marriage about vulnerability? Furthermore, the feeling of being needed is one of the most empowering feelings a human can have. When a spouse knows he or she is needed for sexual fulfillment, it strengthens and empowers the marriage. Independence is lost, but the marriage wins.
In conclusion, masturbation, like any sexual activity, must be treated with great honesty before God. It is difficult to specifically condemn masturbation when the Bible does not. Nevertheless, we see that in our sexually free society it has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves, especially in marriage.