Masturbation in Singleness

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 will tell you that she loves the Lord and that no matter how long it takes, she intends to wait until she is married. She will also tell you that she knows she has been fortunate because honestly, it has been easier for her than many others to stay pure. As a kid, she did not accidentally stumble upon the pleasures that her body is capable of. She has not had a boyfriend that got her heart pounding, tested the waters, or pushed the limits. Amazingly, she was never exposed to movies, books or pornography that whet her appetite and curiosity enough to take things into her own hands. And no one has taken what was not theirs to take, and then left her with the challenges and confusion of a body that knows arousal and pleasure even against one’s soul. She looks forward to marriage and to thoroughly enjoying sex, but 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 a journey of purity… it might just be a little harder.

I have to admit, I don’t have all the answers to the challenges of living in singleness.

I do know that God made us sexual beings from birth.

I also know that 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 and so I thought this week I would simply share some actual examples of real life situations, my thoughts and what might have been helpful in those situations.

wisdom in singleness

Teenage boy struggling with wet dreams

A man shared that when he was a young teenager, he began having wet dreams. No one had ever talked to him about wet dreams or masturbation, and he was filled with shame and confusion. He felt in a sense that he had lost control over his body because without warning he could wake in a sticky mess. In order to prevent embarrassment when he slept over at camp or a friend’s, he would masturbate the night before. It did not take long to figure out that masturbation felt really good. As he became interested in girls at school, he began to use images of girls in his mind when he masturbated. Having a release helped clear his head so that 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 he was “normal.”

What a difference a little communication would have made. Years of guilt and fear could have been avoided. This young man could have been encouraged about how amazing God made his body and that some day he could share this with his wife. When he first began masturbating, he did not lust, his body simply responded to physical touch that felt good. He could have been challenged to keep his eyes pure, respect girls, and to not lust and use them for his own gain.  He could have been encouraged to pray or reach out to a friend to talk when he felt restless, lonely, or unsure. He could also have been warned about masturbation gaining control and encouraged to pray for discernment. An open healthy conversation with a parent about masturbation could have opened up communication lines to help with future hard issues. Can you imagine what a difference some healthy conversations would have made?

Woman discovered her body at a young age

A woman shared that as a young girl in gym class, she discovered the pleasure that her body held while climbing a rope. It awakened in her a knowledge of what her body was capable of 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, “how only ‘those girls’ did it.” Suddenly she was filled with shame and felt dirty. For a time, she avoided touching herself, but when 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.

It is not unusual for a young girl to discover her body at a young age, quite by accident. Many times, it is in no way associated with lust, but is simply physical touch that feels good. Societal messages that girls don’t enjoy sex or masturbate has filled women with shame that rolls all the way into marriage. That shame can make it harder to step into the freedom that God extends causing wives  to struggle to enjoy manual stimulation or mutual masturbation in the marriage bed. 

Conversations with girls are probably harder than with boys, because with boys, at least you usually know what is happening. Most girls are never talked to about masturbation unless they are caught in the act, and then it is simply disgust. Can you imagine what a difference it would make in a woman’s life if she was told as a girl what an amazing body God gave her, and how she was going to have so much enjoyment with her future husband? Could we have conversations with 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?  Even a conversation about how nothing should control us and praying to God for discernment about whether things are out of balance would be huge. We have to look for opportunities for healthy conversations with our daughters. 

Divorced Woman 

A woman shared that she had been married for over 10 years and then went through a divorce. While she was 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, she simply focused on the pleasure of touch. She felt guilty about masturbating, and wanted to follow God, but really was not sure if what she was doing was wrong.

Honestly, for an older woman that desires to marry in the future, one of the ways to keep her body healthy, is 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? Is she dependent 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.

It is important not to shame young kids for the bodies God gave them. It is equally important as children age to have conversations that address lust and control – how to respect others, discern truth and then share practical ways to help navigate this world. We need to be compassionate about the challenges of living a pure life in this sexualized world, but we also need to 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 open up communication lines. Masturbation holds power that it should not hold when it is hidden and covered in shame. We need to step up to talk about masturbation in healthy ways – encouraging healthy conversations with others, sharing practical advice, and extending grace. 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?

Comments 9

  1. I had my first wet dream in the 3d grade. I was 7 or 8 years old. I was almost asleep and felt this painful yet pleasurable feeling in my groin. I reached down and felt this sticky mess. My mother was a Pentecostal Christian and had a very Victorian stance on sex. Anything to do with my penis was off limits and sinful. I learned very quickly that a little friction on the sheets would make it happen. I would get some TP and clean it up so I did not make my pants messy and get the bed sheets wet. I never told anyone about it, but felt quite a lot of guilt and shame. When I was about 14 my mother gave me a book on sex. She made me sit down and read it even though I wanted to go play ball with my friends. I read that the way babies are conceived is that the penis from the husband goes inside the vagina of the wife and deposits semen that fertilizes an egg. I was absolutely shocked. Surely there must be another way. That would be so sinful according to the way I was brought up. But it began to answer the question of what was happening with my wet dreams and my solo sex. The pressure was building up and needed to be relieved. If not relieved, then wet dreams that created a mess. I do not know what adult I would have talked to at that time. My buddies would joke about the mess in our pants, but never in a healthy way. I have never talked to anyone about it, and I skip the discussion if it comes up. I cannot handle the topic to this day. The only time I can discuss it is in these blogs. So, thank you for bringing up the subject.

    • Mike, thanks for sharing your experiences as a boy. It sure seems like there ought to be a better way, right? God created our bodies, and it is a good creation.

  2. I have masturbated since I was a teenager. I played pull-down pants when I was little and my penis got hard.

    I’m not single now, but when I was, I masturbated all of the time. Felt shame and guilt about it.

  3. Thanks, Ruth, for taking on this subject when few in the church will. You have affirmed my own conclusions. Let’s just say I’m a mature woman with a great desire for marriage. I was never taught that God made my body beautiful, that He created it for pleasure, that marital oneness is one of God’s greatest joys. I was not awakened until recently. I became increasingly curious as to whether my post menopausal, post hysterectomy body would respond to sex. Yes! This led me to relish my God-given sexuality, to explore and enhance my femininity, to want to become all God created me to be. I’ve had to discover and discern only through medical writings that it’s good for an older woman who wants to be married to masturbate, to keep everything in working order, blood circulating. Having asked God about this, I’m satisfied that I’ve found the medical benefits for myself.
    Have I always had pure thoughts and actions? NO. But He’s led me to keep my focus on Him, keep desiring a balanced life. He’s granted me peace and helped me know who I am. When I do masturbate, I always thank God that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, that He has shown me this wonderful ability and that I can enjoy my body with Him watching, and thus glorify Him! And I pray that one day I will be united with a husband. Now I hold this desire loosely, as God knows whats best for my sanctification. I seek to walk in His ways and to bring honor to His name.

    • Anonymous
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your experiences. May God Bless you as you seek to be all that He has created you to be.
      Ruth

  4. As a young girl I was molested and afterwards began masturbating. I always felt so much shame around it, I felt guilty for enjoying something that I internally felt was so bad. As I grew into an adult it was more like an addiction. I found that it really interfered with having a pleasurable sex life with my husband. I did not grow up in a Christian home, but became one as an adult, and wanted to have a God honoring marriage and sex life. I found masterbation (by myself, alone, not including my husband) kept me from enjoying sex without stimulation myself.

    To help, when I would feel a desire to do it, I would make myself busy with something or go for a walk or a run. Exercise is a great way to help as it also releases other chemicals in your body that are positive and uplifting.

  5. For the record, as men age, use it or lose it also applies. If a man becomes single after being married, I personally believe masturbation can be a tool to keep his equipment healthy and functioning, in addition to helping him stay pure in a sexualized world. Of course there needs to be boundaries and self control involved, also care taken so he doesn’t train his body to only respond to a kind of stimulation that intercourse can’t provide.

    I appreciate you tackling this sensitive subject and especially your scriptural analysis. I have not thought of some of your points, and it gave me some things to ponder.

    In your discussion about experiences and from the experiences shared by others, the one thing I have noticed is that usually when children discover the pleasurable parts of their bodies on their own, there is no guilt or shame unless or until the guilt is introduced by others in some way. I think the lack of natural innate shame is an important indication that this natural and normal discovery is not sinful in and of itself – and is not something they should be made to feel shame and guilt for doing.

    However, because sexual desire is a powerful emotion, masturbation can become an unhealthy act or lead to other sexual activity that is sinful, if a child is uneducated about sex and the guidelines surrounding it. So we have to help our children understand that while their sexual feelings and desires are inherently good, normal, and God given, they are also something that should be understood, respected and acted upon responsibly, wisely and only within the boundaries God gave us.

    As parents, we are responsible for teaching our children about sex, including masturbation, and we need to do it in a way so that sex and sexuality does not become equated with guilt or shame. There are many positive and beneficial reasons that can be taught for staying within God’s boundaries and practicing self control. Instead of focusing on and teaching only about the “thou shall nots”, or avoiding “sexual sins”, we need to focus way more on the positive aspects and purposes of sex and and help our children realize their sexuality is a gift fork God, one that can bring joy when used appropriately or great sorrow when misused.

    The people I have come across in my life that have healthy attitudes about sex and their own sexuality, are NOT those that never masturbated as children, or those who did masturbate and were shamed for it. Instead the people with healthy attitudes that I know were taught that experimenting with masturbation as a child was a natural normal part of discovering their Devine gift of sexuality. They we’re taught about this gift starting at a very early age in a positive and comfortable way with frequent and open age appropriate conversations – not just one big “talk”,

    At the same time and in the same positive way during those conversations, they we’re taught God’s boundaries and guidelines concerning the purposes and uses of this gift. They were never shamed or quilted during their process of learning about their bodies, instead they were taught about the importance and benefits of self control and self mastery. Their sexual education consisted of continual lovingly given guidance and frequent age appropriate discussions in which they were continually provided information about sex and their own sexuality. These discussions were sometimes formal, but more often occured when opportunities arose for natural discussions because of something they read or were watching , etc. Their parents used real life experiences to point out the consequences of misused sexual activity. They were also quick to point out those, including themselves, who were experiencing the joys of sex within marriage, following God’s guidelines. The kids were encouraged to ask questions and to talk about sex, including their feelings about it anytime. Their parents were open, honest, and most importantly unashamed and not embarrassed when discussing sex. Sexuality was not a big hidden mysterious taboo during their childhood. They learned to view sex as a natural normal part of life, a part that had rules and guidelines, a part that could bring pleasure and joy when the rules were followed, or pain and misery when they were not.

    • CM,
      Thanks for your insight. I totally agree with all that you shared about the health of aging men, and the importance of constant healthy conversations with kids.
      Ruth

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