In last month’s article, I opened up the topic of masturbation. In that writing, I talked about how I found the issue confusing and why. I explored the Scripture and what the Bible says about masturbation and fantasy. I looked at some of the questions that come to mind concerning this topic, namely, “Is masturbation a sin?” and “Can a person masturbate without fantasy?” If you’re joining the conversation now, I recommend that you go back and read the first article in this series.
I ended last month’s article with a statement about where I find myself now with the issue of masturbation. In a nutshell, I said that I have found that masturbation is something that is really not good for me, and that it is too connected with fantasy and other addictive behaviors that I no longer want in my life. I went on to say that in my next article (the one you are reading now) I would go into more detail about why I think this is so.
I’d like to say a few words about biology. For the most part, what we hear from doctors is that, biologically speaking, there is nothing wrong with masturbation. Many say it is a normal and healthy. From the purely biological point of view, they may be correct. I’ve heard from several men that masturbation has been prescribed by their doctors in order to counter the possibility of infections. Rather than delving further into the biological aspects here, I’d like to look at some of the psychological impacts.
My experiences with masturbation fit into what I define as addiction. I do not believe that everyone who has masturbated has an addiction problem. But for many, masturbation has been used as a means of escape from stress, loneliness, or other problems in life. In my own case, I have used it primarily to avoid pain. In such instances, I have created more problems for myself than solutions!
Masturbation trains us to think about ourselves. We use it to meet our own needs, rather than trusting that God may have another avenue to provide for us. When we feel responsible for meeting all of our own needs, including the sexual ones, we train ourselves to believe that we don’t need anyone else in our lives. This independence is very American but not necessarily Christian!
Through masturbation, we often cope with non-sexual problems in life in a sexual way. This is a stepping stone towards addiction. As we turn to self gratification as a means of escape, when we feel lonely or tired or we are in conflict with someone, we begin to find that every time conflict or pain arises in our lives, we feel sexual. We then seek out the release that comes from orgasm, rather than trying to address the real needs that are driving us to masturbation in the first place.
What am I reinforcing?
Another problem is that masturbation often reinforces thoughts and behaviors that we are trying to eliminate from our lives. This is particularly true when sexual fantasy accompanies masturbation. Fantasy, by its very definition, is not reality. Whomever or whatever we choose to fantasize about separates us further from reality. This preference for fantasy over reality is a form of idolatry. As Christian men and women, we are admonished through the Scripture to turn away from lust and idols. If that is our goal, obviously sexual fantasy is not a good idea. The more we practice the fantasies, the more the patterns become ingrained within us. We engage in the very behaviors we seek to leave behind, even if only in our minds.
Also with fantasy and the use of pornography, our expectations of sex are being shaped. Most of us, of either gender, do not possess the physical attributes of models, actors, or performers in the adult industry. Many of the sexual acts performed in pornography are degrading to either or both partners. A real life partner may be unwilling to participate in such acts. We bring a lot of baggage along with those expectations of sex!
For those who are married, masturbation can prove to be problematic in building a mature sexual relationship. After reading last month’s article, a married woman told me some of her history with masturbation. She didn’t have a problem with sexual fantasy while masturbating, but when she and her husband came together sexually, she often found her interest level decreased and the experience to be less than satisfying. When practicing masturbation, there was little reason for her to be sexual with her husband. When she stopped engaging in this behavior, her sexual relationship became more satisfying. I imagine this is true for men as well.
For most, orgasm can be achieved more quickly alone. If we are repeatedly pleasuring ourselves, what do we have to offer our spouse who may need more time to reach orgasm? Sex is a gift within marriage and can be an amazing way for spouses to connect with each other.
In closing, I would like to thank you for thinking through this topic with me. This is an uncomfortable issue, to say the least. While sitting in the privacy of my own office, I got embarrassed a number of times while writing! I am certain that there is much more to say about masturbation, but I will leave it here for now.
Lord, continue to teach me more about Your intent for my sexuality. Help me to submit my will to Yours. Help me to make good and healthy choices, motivated by my love for You, rather than my love of me.
In the spring of 1995, the conflict Roger felt between his faith and his sexuality, as well as an addiction to pornography, led him to WGA. His personal journey has provided him unique insights into sexuality and the pain of adversity, which he shares through his testimony, facilitation of small groups, writing and public speaking.
Roger began working with WGA in October of 1996 as the Assistant office Manager. Since that time, he has worn many hats and served in several different positions, including Assistant Program Director and Operations Director. In April of 2007, Roger assumed the position of Executive Director.
Roger attended West Texas A&M University, where he studied Music Business. Much of his training has been “on the job,” where he was mentored by the ministry’s Founder, Mary Heathman, and the Program Director, Scott Kingry. He holds a BA from West Texas A&M University.
Roger, his wife Jill, and their daughter Julia and son William, attend Celebration Community Church where Jill serves as Senior Pastor.
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