Song of Songs 8:4 – “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
I have a single friend in her thirties, that by the grace of God, has never been awakened.She loves the Lord and no matter how long it takes, she intends to wait until she marries. Fortunate circumstances in her life have made waiting easier for her than many others. As a kid, she never stumbled upon the pleasures that her body can experience and learned to masturbate. Boyfriends never made her heart pound, tested the waters, or pushed the limits. Amazingly, she was never exposed to movies, books or pornography that whet her appetite enough to take things into her own hands. And no one has taken what was not theirs to take. She looks forward to marriage and thoroughly enjoying sex. Her body has not been awakened and so it just makes life…simpler.
Honestly, most of us are not that fortunate.
Many kids accidentally discover the pleasure their body holds and begin a life of self-comfort at a young age. Media screams sexuality – from music, to movies, to magazines, to books, to live streaming video of pornography – it is everywhere. Dating provides all kinds of challenges as limits are pushed and hormones surge. 30% of women and 20% of men experience some kind of sexual abuse. And so in some way, shape, or form, many of us are awakened before marriage – whether we want to be or not. Just because we have been awakened, does not mean that we cannot begin living with sexual integrity. It might just take more determination.
I have to admit, I don’t have all the answers to the challenges of living in singleness.
But God made us sexual beings from birth.
And God’s design for sex is to knit husband and wife into One in marriage.
We went through some biblical principals that impact our decisions about masturbation last week. This week I want to share some actual examples of real life situations, my thoughts and what might have help in those situations.
Teenage boy struggling with wet dreams
A man shared that when he was a young teenager, he started having wet dreams. Because no one ever talked to him about wet dreams or masturbation, he felt confused and filled with shame. In a sense, he felt like he had lost control over his body. Without warning he would wake in a sticky mess. When he slept over at a friend’s, he would masturbate the night before, to prevent embarrassment. It did not take long to figure out that masturbation felt really good. As he became interested in girls at school, he started visualizing girls when he masturbated. Having a release helped clear his head so he could focus on other things again. By luck, as an older teen he attended a church conference that addressed masturbation and wet dreams. He was completely relieved to learn that wet dreams and masturbation were “normal.”
What a difference a little communication would have made to avoid years of guilt and fear. Conversations could have taught how amazing God made his body for him to one day share with his wife. When he first began masturbating, he did not lust. His body simply responded to physical touch that felt good. What if he had been challenged to keep his eyes pure, and respect girls, and avoid lust?. When he felt restless, lonely, or unsure, he could pray or reach out to a friend to talk. Warnings about masturbation gaining control would help him discern his choices. An open healthy conversation with a parent about masturbation could have opened up communication lines to help with future struggles. Can you imagine what a difference some healthy conversations would have made?
Woman discovered her body at a young age
A woman shared as a young girl she discovered the pleasure her body held while climbing a rope in gym class. It awakened her body and at night when she was lonely or bored she would touch herself. She never really thought much about it until she overheard a couple of girls talking at school. “Only ‘those girls’ did it.” Suddenly she was filled with shame and felt dirty. For a time, she avoided touching herself, until she became a teenager and started reading romance novels. The story lines once again awoke her body. What her body felt was amazing, but it left her feeling guilty and dirty afterwards. This was her secret, never to be shared with anyone else.
Young girls discover their bodies quite by accident. Many times, without and connection to lust. A child simply discovers a physical touch that feels good. Societal messages that girls don’t enjoy sex or masturbate fills women with shame that rolls all the way into marriage. That shame can make it harder to step into the freedom that God extends. Wives struggle to enjoy manual stimulation or mutual masturbation in the marriage bed.
Most parents never talk to girls about masturbation unless they catch them in the act. Can you imagine what a difference it would make our parents told us what an amazing body God gave us. That God wants us to eventually enjoy our bodies with our future husband. Could we warn daughters as they begin reading romance novels about how it might awaken a body and why? Could we warn them about lust or setting up false expectations for a husband? . We need to look for opportunities for healthy conversations with our daughters.
A woman shared that she divorced after 10 years of marriage. While married she had an active sex life and really enjoyed sex. She knew her own body and how to make it purr. After she got divorced she was lonely. She yearned to get remarried, but had been waiting years for the right man. Her body missed sex and masturbation had become a regular way to comfort herself and even to fall asleep at night. She did not picture others during masturbation, but focused on the pleasure of touch. She felt guilty about masturbating, and wanted to follow God.
Older women that desire to marry in the future, can keep their body healthy, through masturbation. Stimulation of the vagina keeps the tissue supple and regular orgasms encourage circulation. But God never intended that we become dependent on masturbation to sleep or to curb loneliness. It is important for this woman to wrestle with whether things are out of balance and to ask God for discernment. Is she reaching for masturbation when she should be praying or calling a friend for company? Does she depend on masturbation to sleep? Is what she doing honoring to Him? Does she feel like she needs to hide from God? Prayer and discernment with God will provide the answers that she is looking for.
There are no easy answers for masturbation in singleness.
We cannot shame young kids for the bodies God gave them. As children age we need to have conversations that address lust and control. They need to respect others, discern truth and learn practical ways to navigate this world. Offer compassion about the challenges of living a pure life in this sexualized world and communicate that our God given sexuality is a good thing.
Singles need to hear that within marriage, sex is powerful and it is good. We need to step up to talk about masturbation in healthy ways – encouraging healthy conversations with others, sharing practical advice, and extending grace. Masturbation holds power that it should not hold when it is hidden and covered in shame. Most of all, we need to bring God into the equation. God will give us discernment and answers for our particular situation if we ask. He will give us strength when we need it, and He will extend grace when we need it.
In a respectful way, would you be willing to share examples of discernment around the area of masturbation in singleness so that others might learn from your experiences? How could you have lived in the tension in a Godly way? What messages from parents, the church or friends would have helped?