Masturbation is probably more taboo to talk about then sex. It is an area that many churches would like to take a black or white stance on, but the Bible does not address masturbation. God calls us to live in the tension of being created sexual from the time of birth and knowing that God created sex as a way to join husband and wife together to make them into One. He does not give us clear guidance and honestly what may be good and right for one person, may not be for another.
The one passage that people like to quote from the Bible about masturbation is Genesis 38:9. According to Jewish law, in order to carry on the family line, Onan was supposed to have sex with his dead brother’s wife. Because he was greedy, whenever he had sex with her, he would pull out and then spill his seed on the ground, so God struck him dead. Onan was not masturbating at all, it was probably more similar to natural family planning. Now I don’t think God had anything against NFP – He was angry with Onan because of his disobedience.
So there is no passage in the Bible that specifically addresses masturbation, but there are plenty of biblical principles that impact our decisions about masturbation.
God is first
Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other God’s before me” – not even our sexuality or masturbation.
We mess this up all the time. We put everything ahead of God – our reputation, our comfort, our kids, even our own self importance by trying to follow the rules. God wants you to fall head over heels in love with Him. He wants to be on your mind constantly, like your first crush. He wants to be what you reach for first when you are feeling empty, or broken, or unsure. He wants worshiping Him to be like the thrill of climbing a snow capped mountain. It is about a lot more that following the rules, it is about putting Him first in your life.
If we are having a bad day, we should be reaching for God or relationship with God’s people – not a sexual release. Sex cannot make you into the man or woman that you want to be – God does. Sex cannot make you whole again, God does. Fall in love with God, not what God has given you.
Do not lust
Mathew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So be careful with your eyes and with your mind. Viewing pornography is lust. Reading novels that create a figment in your imagination of some ideal man that does not exist is lust. Using another person to create arousal, regardless of whether they know about it or not, is lust. Lust is a slippery slope. We must daily make conscious choices to avoid lust, and we are going to mess up.Thankfully we serve a God filled with grace, and He gives us a new day every morning – don’t give up. Lust is a big deal. I suspect that if lust did not happen, masturbation would not get out of hand like it does.
The 10 commandments states, “do not covet your neighbor’s wife.” Covet means crave, desire or thirst for. Notice it does not say, “do not covet.” So if anyone is to be pictured during masturbation, it should be your spouse. If you are not married, then you should not have anyone in your mind’s eye.
Nothing is supposed to control us
1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” Masturbation must not control us. If we spend our time thinking about our next release, then it is controlling us. If we do it even when we know it upsets our spouse, then it controls us. If we hide it, then it controls us. If masturbation becomes so important to us that we begin to feel it is taking a hold on us, or if you have struggled with it controlling you in the past, then it may be safer to stay clear of it.
The last verse we are going to look at is, 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
If we love the Lord and put Him first, then everything that we do ought to glorify Him. We honor who He made us to be – sexual beings from birth. We don’t deny what our bodies are capable of, or feel repulsed by it, and we look forward to a time when the joy of sex can be shared with our spouse. We take care of our bodies and celebrate the physical changes that come with maturity. When we are married, we thank God for the connection to our spouse through sex. When we are glorifying God, there is no hiddenness or shame – no hiding behind a fig leaf, afraid to be discovered.
Messages from culture or the world can make things feel shameful, when that is not necessarily God’s intent. It is kind of like, if you grew up with the message that all positions besides missionary are perverted, then you may hide or feel ashamed enjoying anything else. We must sort out cultural messages about our body and sex and determine what is biblical because there is a huge difference.
So the Bible actually says a lot about choices that intersect with masturbation. Whether you are talking about masturbation in singleness, or in marriage, the same principles apply. God wants us to love Him above everything else – even our marriage, our kids, or our own self sufficiency. We must guard ourselves against lust, by taking control of our eyes and our minds. Nothing should control us or master us. We need to turn to God for everything that we need. And our lives should glorify God. When we are applying these principle and are in community with God, everything else tends to fall into place.
Next week we will look at masturbation in singleness.