An essay on why the ACT of masturbation is wrong
Many years ago, as a younger man, I attended my first recovery meetings. I had, like many men, never discussed in detail my addictive patterns in a real and honest manner, but God had thrust me into a discipleship-centered environment where questions and answers were readily available. Having attended my first meeting and deciding that I would continue in recovery, I went into the second meeting with a question on mind, one that I had regularly struggled with: “Is masturbation wrong?”
Masturbation is a somewhat distasteful topic, but a necessary and important one in the ministry of sexual addiction. But, as many know, there are quite a variety of answers to this particular question, especially in the church. In my case, I had grown up hearing that masturbation was an appropriate act if I thought about healthy things. I needed to know: was there a healthy way to masturbate or was it wrong in general?
Masturbation (according to Meriam-Webster):
Erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies
Here is my answer: the act of masturbation is wrong.
It is an act of self-sex, perverting God’s design for my sexuality. God designed my sexuality for a specific purpose. Spiritually, it is the demonstration of the unity between Jesus and the church (Eph. 5:31-32). Relationally, it is the one flesh union between me and my spouse. So, how does masturbation fit into this picture since there is no second party involved? Isn’t masturbation just a physical act?
In sex, during the build-up and upon orgasm, my body releases various chemicals that bond me to what I am engaging with. In the case of marital sex, this bonding is with my spouse, which is God’s intended purpose for my sexuality. When I masturbate, the exact same chemical processes still occur, however the bond is with myself. As such, it is an act of sex with self. It is not possible to relegate masturbation to a mere physical act that is only sinful if I engage in fantasy. It is a sexual perversion, for it perverts God’s design of my sexuality. As such, it is sin.
Galatians 5:19 – 21 (Emphasis Added)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Since the act of masturbation is wrong, not merely the often-associated lust, there is no room for any form of healthy masturbation. Whether my sexual focus is my spouse, or even if I strive to think of nothing, the wrongness does not change. When one steals, it the wrongness of the act, not the motive, that matters. In the same manner, motives or thoughts during masturbation do not matter. He has designed our sexuality as a sacred act, to be used only in marriage.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 – 5
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;
Perhaps this seems odd, since it is my body after all. But God continuously lays many commands in regard to my being, and how I am to properly operate it. The 10 Commandments are commands against my natural desires. And later, as Jesus both taught and demonstrated the life we are to live, He laid the ultimate demand: that I love God with all my soul, mind and heart (Matt 22:37). So, it is quite consistent with Scripture to recognize that I am called to live a life in disciplined submission to God, which includes my physical functions.
God’s commands that I stop the act of masturbation, but also provides me the ability to stop (1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 4:13, Philippians 1:6). This is not an impossible task, but a very realistic one that any can accomplish.
Written by Samuel Beecher | May 20th, 2018
Sexual perversion always has consequences. If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I invite you attend our open and free Tuesday night meeting or contact us to setup an appointment. We’d love to talk with you and answer any questions you have.