Masturbation is a touchy subject, one that is privately searched in our Internet browser, like the activity of masturbation itself. I have searched the internet for this topic of masturbation. As a Christian, I feel ashamed and guilty for indulging in this activity. Yet, when the drive becomes strong at night, I wonder why the Bible has not directly talk about masturbation.
The first question that came to my mind was whether masturbation is a sin. Someone once told me that masturbation is necessary to balance the hormones in our body. We are sexual beings after all with sexual drives. It seems strange why God would disallow us to express this sexual desire when it is ingrained in us. I thought sexual desire is akin to hunger. Not masturbating due to a sexual drive is like depriving ourselves to food.
Yet, on further retrospect, I lean more on saying no to masturbation, though I find reason for it in the thick of having my flesh’s desire fulfilled. If it is okay and right, why do I feel such shame and guilt? I knew how to masturbate since I was very young, I could not tell how old I was. But it started after I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. At that time, I just knew how to masturbate and I thought I was the strangest person in the world.
The reason I wrote this article was because when I searched for masturbation in Google, I realized that the world is leaning towards masturbation. In fact, a few Ted Talks mentioned that masturbation is treated as a right of an individual and a norm. It is necessary to understand how our body works. It gives pleasure and reduces stress. How can masturbation be bad? But what makes sense to a human mind might not be what God has in mind. Feeling something is right does not make it right.
If we read the Bible, there are many Scriptures pointing to masturbation is a sin. God is clear with His stand with masturbation. There are no grey areas of masturbation not being a sin outside of marriage in Scripture. With the Sword of the Word, ‘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’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The Word is the Truth, and knowing the Truth set us free.
Masturbation comes from an area of lust, the fantasy of having sex with someone in the private attic of our mind. But God knows and sees what we do. By fixating on a person, we fantasize how this person would fulfill our sexual desire. In other words, we control what the person would do to gratify ourselves. We treat this person like a sexual object, for the purpose of achieving our high. It is a very dishonourable and unloving way to see a person. We need to remember that this person is precious in the sight of God, worthy and valuable, certainly not an object to satisfy our flesh’s desire.
Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look upon a girl. I know full well that the Almighty God sends calamity on those who do” (Job 31:1-3). Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).” Adultery starts from our heart, which fuels the action of masturbation.
The older definition of masturbation is “self-abuse”, though no longer carried by modern dictionaries. The Bible confirms this in the verse 1 Corinthians 6:18 that says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).” When we masturbate, we sin against our own body.
Also, masturbation is a sin because it dishonours the marriage God intended. God created sex to be the consummation of love between a husband and wife, not to be enjoyed by an individual for his or her sole pleasure. In fact, God says that He will judge the adulterer and sexually immoral (Hebrews 13:4). I once heard Philip Mantofa sharing how a man was tortured by evil minions for his masturbation in his experiential trip to hell.
Indeed, masturbation is a hard habit to kick on our own strength. I felt so ashamed of myself because I have had several relapses. Each time when I chose to masturbate, I felt the desire got stronger and my appetite got larger to attain the same level of sexual gratification. But masturbation only temporarily fills the void. It leaves us asking for more.
I come to a point on thinking whether I should ask God for forgiveness, as I have fallen so many times and the thought that I would be masturbating anyway in the future. The truth is that my heart was not convicted with the graveness of masturbation. But as a ministry worker myself (gasp!), I find myself a hypocrite of giving so-called spiritual advices but indulging in this secret sin myself. Who am I to give any advice when I do this?
Also, I did become disgruntled with God for such high standards of moral living that He has set. Yet, God only disciplines His children, as a Father would to His child (Hebrews 12:6). ‘And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world’ (1 John 5:3-4). God’s design for sex in a marriage is good! Sex in marriage is fueled by love. Sex with ourselves is fueled by lust. And to break off a bad habit, though painful, is a good process in us in the long run. I believe that sex in marriage, without the self-centeredness and lustful thoughts that fueled masturbation, is deep and satisfying. God created sex to be enjoyed by two individuals in marriage.
While I think this temptation is particularly strong for me, the Scripture is clear about temptation. Scripture says, ‘No temptation has seized us except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13) In the thick of our temptations, God is there with us. For me, the practical step is to removed all objects that fueled my temptation. It is different for different people. In fact, the Bible says cut your hands that is an instrument of sin instead of having our whole body fall into hell. We need to depart from all instruments that cause the temptation. Another strategy is to quickly jump out of bed and dive right into the Bible when my temptation comes. ‘Flee from sexual temptation and the devil will flee from you.’
Also, prayer is key. I realize the root cause of my masturbation is the feeling of being unloved. I masturbate for comfort, an anecdote for my bouts of loneliness. And this loneliness is fueled from a lie I believed since I was young, that I was unlovable. For some of us, we could have other forms of void. And we try to fill this void with other forms of things. It could be clubbing, video games and food. But the truth is this void can only be filled by God. Sex in marriage is enjoyed through the giving of each other to each other. It comes from a place of overflow between two individuals who have been filled to fullness with the love of God. I also need to pray for God to give me a holy reverence and fear of Him. Scripture says, ‘Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’ (2 Corinthians 7:1). My sin is also caused by not seeing masturbation as a grave sin. But sin is serious! It costs Jesus His life! Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the lies and feelings that trigger the temptation to masturbate.
Also, I need to be humble before God. Jesus was tempted at all points like I was, yet He did not sin. ‘For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:15-16). For me, that would be immediately asking God for help when the desire comes in! Boldly ask for help to obtain mercy and grace.
The other reason I am writing this article is because light kills darkness. Revealing a secret sin strangles its power. However, if I do find myself relapsing, I will reveal this to a group of mature and intimate sisters-in-Christ to keep myself accountable. Scripture says, ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). I might feel guilty and ashamed but asking God for forgiveness in sincerity puts me in a right place with God. By the Blood of Jesus, I make the powerful and effective prayer of a righteous man.
If we continue on this journey saying ‘no’ to what is sinful, we will win this! Victory is in our hands, not because of our best efforts, but because of God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). Trust that God’s mercy will help you overcome this! We must receive this deliverance in faith. ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who call you is faithful and He will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Finally, masturbation is not a freedom to express our sexuality, but a bondage to sexual sin. Why? If this desire to masturbate overtakes us to the point we have to indulge in it, then we are actually under the control of this sin. We are enslaved to this sin. But the good news is that Jesus Christ came to set us free from all bondages! ‘In freedom, Christ has made us free – completely liberated us; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery – which you have once put off’ (Galatians 5:1 AMP). It takes us being willing and humble to submit to God. It takes saying yes to God, over and over, when we face the temptation. God is faithful. He will take us through this. But we need to be faithful to come to Him. God is with us. We can overcome.
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