If you go to any group of Christians, especially Christian men, and especially Christian teenagers, and bring up the topic of masturbation, what do you think the number one question is that people are asking and dying to have answered?
Is masturbation a sin?
Go to any Christian internet forum for teenagers or one that talks about sexual issues, and you’ll find people asking and attempting to answer that question. Read any book that addresses masturbation, and that question and the author’s answer will probably take up a significant number of pages. Listen to a youth pastor’s message on the topic, and he’ll try very hard to satisfy the curious minds of his young listeners.
Everyone wants to know about masturbation, because almost everyone does it.
But I’m not going to try to answer that question here. Not yet. Not in this post. Whenever anyone makes a statement that is supposed to answer that deadly question, whether for it or against it or somewhere in between, it starts an argument.
One person disagrees and jumps to a conclusion, somebody else makes a faulty assumption, one person comes back with a counter-argument, and another just sits there, refusing to say anything, quietly stewing inside.
Someone puffs himself up and moves on in pride, thinking he knows right from wrong, refusing to consider any truth that might exist in the answer.
And some other guy just laughs at it all and thinks Christians are crazy.
Instead, I want to say something that might stir people on an even deeper level:
God is more concerned with his people loving each other than he is with sin.
This is why when someone sins against us, we must forgive that person — and forgive them again and again, as many times as they sin. This is why Jesus protected the woman who was caught in adultery and was about to be stoned. This is why we are instructed to warn sinners in the church once, and then again, before they face removal from the fellowship.
Sin happens. Jesus can deal with the sin. Let him do it.
But our goal, our calling, our duty is to love. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Even when it comes to masturbation — knowing whether or not jacking off is a sin is not as important as our loving each other. Division among us is not a sign of love.
One man thinks masturbation is fine, while another thinks it’s a sin. They are divided. And they try to prove themselves right. And they collect followers. And then there is division in the church, each side trying to prove the other is wrong. This is not a fruit of the Spirit. This is a fruit of our carnal nature, whether masturbation is a sin or not.
So, I think it would be a wise idea to bring unity here before we even try to touch the question of masturbation as a sin. Let’s find some common ground on this issue and seek to build each other up in love and brotherhood.
And what better way to do this than with a list? Here we go!
Eleven Things All Christians Can Agree on about Masturbation
1. Almost everyone masturbates or has masturbated.
I say almost, because I know there are guys out there who have never done it before. For whatever reason, they just never felt the need or saw a reason to dive into their pants. I had a friend who once confessed to me rather shyly that he hadn’t masturbated at all until he was nineteen. He never figured it out until he was in college; after having a rough day, his roommate told him he was probably “sexually frustrated” and needed to jack off. A light bulb went on in his head, and he tried it. My friend said that he was fine after that.
There are also some guys who have actually stopped masturbating. They’re still young and healthy and certainly able to, but they get all their needs met in other ways, or they have no trouble completely abstaining.
And I don’t think this is as rare as we might think.
We’ve all heard the saying that “98% percent of men admit to masturbating, and the other 2% are lying.” But I don’t think that is true. There are actually men who have never done it or don’t do it anymore, and they’re not lying. It’s fine.
We need to respect them and not think of them as some weird subspecies of man.
And, for crying out loud, please stop quoting that statistic!
2. Masturbation feels good.
It feels very good! Some people even prefer it to sex (not that I condone that preference). Sexual pleasure, orgasm, even the simple act of having our body exposed and out from under our clothing can be among the strongest yet simplest pleasures in life.
3. Masturbation is not a new thing.
Men have been jerking their dicks, I would assume, for as long as they’ve had them. There’s no reason to think otherwise. Ancient Egyptians believed the Nile River was filled with their gods’ semen from masturbating. We might think that men in the Victorian Era didn’t masturbate since it was considered such a shameful thing back then. But why would a society fight so vigilantly against it if there weren’t hordes of people doing it? Mark Twain was very open about the act himself, recognizing that many men were addicted to it — even back in his day, long before Internet porn.
4. Masturbation is hard to come to terms with, especially in adolescence.
I used to think this was primarily a Christian struggle and that non-Christians don’t really struggle with masturbation — they just did it, and it was fine for them. But I’ve heard of non-Christians struggling a lot with masturbation. Am I doing it too much? Am I doing it too little? Am I normal? Did I start too late/early? There are a lot of questions people have about this issue that often go unanswered, and they often have to figure them out for themselves.
5. Masturbation is not talked about enough in the church and with family.
So many young people are struggling greatly with masturbation, and for some of them it brings a tremendous amount of fear, concern, shame, confusion, and insecurity. Where are these kids’ parents? Where are the church leaders, the mentors who are supposed to be lovingly, gently guiding the lost, hurting, and confused masses toward the Truth? Why do Christian parents, mentors, and church leaders so often seem to think it’s okay to let their kids and teenagers continue to wallow around in fear, shame, ignorance, and confusion, susceptible to temptation and attack? This is not responsible parenting or leadership on this issue.
6. Masturbation doesn’t stop when you reach a certain age or get married.
It doesn’t stop when you take a position as a pastor, teacher, church leader, worship leader, or Christian blogger, either. It keeps going and going and going and . . .
7. Masturbation fulfills a legitimate craving.
We’re humans. We want sex. We can’t always get sex. So, we masturbate. It’s not always driven by porn or addiction. Having a libido is normal and healthy, but there’s not always an outlet for release when we crave it the most, except through masturbation. We might have moral reservations about it, but we can agree that there is a legitimate, understandable reason for guys to masturbate.
8. Masturbation is not a shocking thing.
I remember the first time I admitted to my youth pastor that I struggled with masturbation. I was so nervous! My face was red and I couldn’t make eye-contact with him at all. But he was very nonchalant about it. He said that he had struggled with it, too, in his own life. There’s no reason to think it’s strange or shocking that a guy masturbates. Therefore, there’s no reason to think it’s awful or shocking when a guy admits to jacking off.
9. Too much masturbation is not good.
It can become an object of dependency, which is never healthy. It can take up a lot of time, too, that would be better spent on other pursuits. How much masturbation is “too much” is a matter of opinion, but obviously multiple times a day is far beyond the limit of what’s “normal.”
10. Masturbation should never replace sex in a marriage.
Even those who support masturbation or view it as a neutral issue can admit that sex is vital to a healthy marriage and that it should never be neglected so that either the husband or the wife can masturbate alone. If each spouse is looking out for the greater good of the other and of the marriage relationship itself, masturbation should take a back seat to sex.
11. Shaming someone for masturbating is not helpful.
We all understand the urge. We have no business pointing our fingers at anyone. Jesus took our shame upon himself on the cross. Let’s not take any of that shame and put it on another person.
What else can we all agree on about masturbation, whether we as Christians believe it’s a sin or not? Let’s please not turn the comments section into a battle arena! Thank you!
* Photo courtesy Roadsidepictures, Creative Commons.