Masturbation is self-sexual stimulation of the genitals for sexual arousal or the sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys or combination of these.
It seems to me that there must be a better approach. Reliable studies consistently find that 95% of men and over 30% of women masturbate on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe that God would build into us such a powerful, God-given and gifted drive like the one for sex and make it so that 95% of men and over 30% of women consistently repeat the Cycle again and again. It would seem there is no chance to stop the cycle of guilt and shame.
Knowing that so many people masturbate is helpful because many Christians wonder if they are the only ones who struggle here. Be at peace; we are not alone. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:10: “There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” So, if this is a temptation for you, take heart, the world is filled with Christians who struggle here as well and there is hope for victory.
The drive for sex is deeply ingrained in the genetic and chemical fabric of the brain. Telling some one to “just stop it” is like telling some one who is hard-wired with chemical-clinical depression to “just stop it.” It can’t be done. Fortunately, anti-depressants can bring relief. Some Christian counselors will say that masturbation provides relief and others consider masturbation to be the way God designed for people to obtain sexual release when they are not married.
I want to be careful to approach the subject with the utmost prayer and care. I would like to relate that I decided early on not to take the easy way out and give a non-answer that brings little satisfaction to anyone. Developing a practical theology regarding masturbation is quite complex and worthy of more than just a passing surrender to the Cycle of sin, guilt, shame, repentance, confession, forgiveness—and now everything is all right—until a day or two later and the vicious cycle commences once more.
I postulate that how we manage masturbation hinges on how we define “lust”.
I postulate that saying “Stop It” doesn’t work well. The key to a workable solution is self control.
I believe that there is no direct Biblical reference to masturbation. Nevertheless, some turn to two passages that they claim teach otherwise. Dr. Ray Bohlin of Probe Ministries described these two suppositions:
The Bible never explicitly mentions masturbation or states whether or not masturbation is a sin. The Scripture most frequently pointed to in regards to masturbation is the story of Onan in Genesis 38:9-10. Some interpret this passage as saying that “spilling your seed” on the ground is a sin referring to masturbation. However, that is not at all what the passage is saying. God condemned Onan not for “spilling his seed” but because Onan refused to fulfill his duty to provide an heir for his brother. The passage is not about masturbation, but rather about fulfilling a family duty (to provide an heir for his dead brother). [In essence, Onan’s maneuver was an early form of birth control—all be it not a very effective one—Roger]
A second passage sometimes used as evidence for masturbation’s being a sin is Matthew 5:27-30. Jesus spoke against having lustful thoughts and then says, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” While there are parallels between this passage and masturbation, it is unlikely that masturbation was what Jesus was alluding to.
While many passages mention the sins of sexual impurity and sexual immorality, and encourage us to avoid such behavior, the Bible never mentions masturbation in the lists. Ephesians 5:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 14:23; and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 are a few relevant passages. This fact in no way negates the possibility of masturbation being a sin; however, to declare it so from these passages and others like them is to argue from silence—a dangerous thing to assume.
Certainly, sexual immorality is to be stringently avoided. It is of some note that Paul defines sexual immorality as occurring in the context of two or more people.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
A careful reading of this passage describes sexual impurity as an activity that includes and takes place in the context of others: “and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.” Impure sexual activity can certainly occur without others involved. Think Pornography. However, the primary place where sexual immorality occurs is with others.
All that being said—and much more can be said—let me share some thoughts to consider as guidelines in developing a practical and workable plan.
First, carefully consider the definition of lust as enunciated by Jesus in Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his hseart.”
Masturbation may not be specifically condemned in Scripture but lust is clearly condemned.
So if you find yourself engulf in masturbation addiction and you don’t know what to do about it, here are some general tips that have helped others in their journey towards restoration and healing.
- Face the facts
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There are many ways that we humans sin and fall short—lying, greed, stealing, adultery, taking the Lord’s name in vain, and many other selfish acts. All sins are equally serious before our Holy God.
If there is some sexual sin in your life, the first step toward improvement is to understand and admit what you have done.
- Spiritual Salvation
The single biggest factor in combating such an addiction is to come under the authority of Jesus Christ. You are involved in a spiritual battle. “The Scripture contains no promise of help in overcoming temptation for those who are unsaved.” If you are not yet a Christian, we strongly urge you to confess your sin and totally surrender your life to Him. Accept His gift of eternal salvation for your soul. After accepting Christ, some are totally delivered from their addictions.
- Admit your weakness, seek God’s help
All humans are selfish and sinful; it is our nature. Addiction to pornography and other sexual sins are particularly potent in their effect, similar to a seductive and powerful drug. Once it has a hold on you, it is very difficult to resist. In fact, it is virtually impossible to overcome on your own. You must have God’s help.
God cannot work with you if you are still trying to overcome sin on your own; it is a form of pridefulness. You are, in effect, saying to God “I can take care of this myself.” Consider these verses:
“The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God…” (Psalm 10:4). “Pride goes before destruction…” (Proverbs 16:18). “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
- Prayer power
Prayer is conversation with our Creator. It is a child’s communion with his Father. The Bible emphasizes that it should have a very high priority in our lives. Continual prayer is very important to your recovery. If there was ever a time in your life when you need to pray, it is now. It is the Christian’s greatest weapon against the sin nature and the dangers and temptations of this world. “Anything of value in the kingdom of God is initiated in and dependent on prayer.” Rely on God, and learn to think as He does. This will bring a revolution of good in your life.
- Reading and memorizing Scripture
Memorizing scripture is an often overlooked weapon that should be in every Christian’s arsenal. Memorize James 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 and quote them when you are tempted.
Open your Bible at Psalm 51 and make it your own prayer.
The following passages are also helpful in dealing with lust and sexual immorality:
Matthew 5:27-30 | 1 Peter 2:11 | Romans 8:13 | Romans 6:12 | 1 Corinthians 6:13 | Galatians 5:17 | Philippians 4:8 | 2 Timothy 2:22 | Psalm 101:2,3 | Proverbs 6:25-29 | Proverbs 5:18-20 | Proverbs 8:13 | Job 31:1-4 | Matthew 5:8 | Romans 8:6 | 1 Corinthians 6:9 | 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 | 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 | James 1:15; 4:3 | 1 John 2:16
Not only should Scripture memory be a regular part of your life as a Christian, reading the Bible regularly should as well. Read the Bible daily, without fail. We offer two plans that assist you in reading through the entire Bible
Although it is healthy to be ashamed of the sins you are involved in, don’t let that shame become one of Satan’s weapons to keep you trapped. Secrecy is often a Christian’s biggest enemy, while confession can bring freedom and release from the bondage of an overwhelming sense of shame. If no one knows of your personal moral failures, there is no one to be accountable to, or to help lift you up in prayer or encourage you. Don’t let your pride destroy you (Prov. 29:23; Mark 7:21; 2 Chr, 32:26). In an accountability relationship, you choose a confidant that you can be honest and open with about your addiction. Confess your sin (James 5:16). Be sure to choose someone of the same sex. Preferably, select a discrete person that has some spiritual maturity in their walk with Christ, and who has a helpful, non-condemning spirit.
Here’s how to pray, each and every day…
- Confess all known sin
Read: Psalm 51 | Mark 7:20-23 | 1 John 1:7-10
- Renounce conformity to the world
Read: Romans 12:2, 6:13-14
- Ardently seek an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He will give you a richer, more meaningful life.
Read: John 10:10, 15:5-12 | Ephesians 3:14-19 | Philippians 3:10-14
- Offer your body as a “living sacrifice” to God
See: Romans 12:1-2 | 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- Worship God
Read: John 4:23-24 | Philippians 3:3
Thank and praise God. Thank Him for his grace and mercy, praise Him, and keep seeking His mercy. Thank God for answered prayer.
Remember that God loves you, no matter what kind of sin and selfishness you have immersed yourself in, no matter what your destruction your sin has produced. Confess your sin, and admit the gravity of it. Understand that it is impossible to overcome sin totally on your own. Depend on God’s help, and seek the support of others. Saturate your mind with God’s Word. Pray often. Create barriers to reduce your exposure to temptation. Confess your sin to another Christian (preferably of the same sex), and ask them to pray regularly for you and hold you accountable. Continue to read and learn about your addiction. Seek professional help, especially if the problem is severe and your life has been shattered. Get to work on rebuilding your life, now.