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Monday, April 09, 2007

Is masturbation a sin?

Question: Is masturbation a sin?

Answer: This is a question that has puzzled Christians for centuries. The short answer is that nowhere in the Bible is masturbation referred to as a sin. In fact, the word is not even in the Bible. Having said that, I feel that excessive masturbation coupled with pornographic fantasies is an addiction that needs to be broken. Here is an excellent article that deals with every Scripture related to this issue.

The article is a bit long, but very thorough. I don't agree with everything the author says on his website, however, I feel that the author does a good job answering tough questions from a Biblical perspective. Since the author has researched this more thoroughly than I have, I'll defer to him on this matter.

7 comments:

Pete said...

Wow! An extremely relevant post for today's church. Certainly masturbation has been sensationalized into a horrible sin that eats away the soul of the perpetrator. It's sad that today's young people aren't getting the truth about this kind of stuff. The next young men's bible study that we are starting will deal directly with these issues.
I'm glad that the author of the article wasn't blinded by Christian culture taboos, but I do have a few problems with his argument.
1. His whole method is to first shoot down any possible parallels between scripture and masturbation being sin and then he makes leaps and bounds in order to draw parallels that possibly say that it is okay. The logic is certainly tilted here.
2. There is a gigantic fallacy that people must either masturbate or "pressure their partner". The author does not acknowledge that there are differences between needs and desires. Sex is never a need! Therefore, since it is a desire, there is no reason that one cannot abstain from this desire when it isn't appropriate to fulfill it.
3. The author writes that having too much sexual energy built up can cause "premature ejaculation". However, I'm sure that it's not news to anyone that there in such cases, most individuals will have a fairly short refractory period and be ready to engage in intercourse again.
4. The author states that masturbation helps to keep a man from lusting after other women so it is okay to do it. This is a fallacy. Murdering my grandpa ( hypothetical ) in order to get an inheritance will keep me from having to steal. Does that make it okay? What a shoddy support for masturbation.
5. There is a large amount of support saying that it makes one a better spouse to occasionally masturbate with the prefix- " Isn't it more loving to...". Perhaps I'm wrong here, but isn't it more loving to occasionally sacrifice for one another? Is it not more loving for a man to go without or for a woman to do so without necessarily being "in the mood"? After all, should a man not listen to his wife when she feels the need to talk about her day simply because he is not "in the mood"? Of course he should and, moreover, he should do so happily and without even a tinge of making the wife feel guilty for putting him through such a thing. Why is there all of this support for a woman witholding simply because she "isn't in the mood"? Shame on any woman who makes her husband feel guilty for desiring her! Underneath the covenant of wedding vows, two people promise, before God and man, to become one in spirit and in flesh. When one partner wants for something, the other partner has promised to take pleasure in providing it. There is no "unless you don't feel like it" clause in marriage vows! Of course, this has it's limits and a man is to respect his wife and sacrifice for her wants as well and sometimes that means just going to sleep. The man will not explode! Shame on any man who makes his wife feel guilty for not always being "in the mood" when he is!
Finally, my conclusion is that there is no reason why one should ever need to masturabate and the reason that most people do so is because they refuse to control themself and show discipline. The very fact that these people cannot say "no" to their sexual desires should raise a red flag.
Probably 99% of the masturbation that happens is unnecessary and being done through sinful means. I will certainly not condemn those who have done so for medical purposes ( artificial insemenation, injury related pressure relief...etc.), but I think that it leads to sin the vast majority of the time and we should being trying to abstain from the practice of masturbation as a whole. IT IS NOT, however, some sin that we need to hide away and never talk about because it is so horrible. It's time for Christians to start growing up when it comes to sex!
Pete

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Pete,

I agree with the bulk of your sentiment on this one. I put a link to the article because it is the most thorough article on the issue that I have read that actually looks to Scripture and not to culture. I find it very interesting that even Dr. Dobson underplays masturbation as a serious sin that God is concerned about.

Having said that, I can certainly see where you are coming from and I have a hard time seeing very many cases where masturbation is justified since it is so often coupled with fantasizing. I agree with Pastor Sean when he says that the sexual drive is an appetite that one can say no to.

toby said...

pete,

i'm with you that the article is slanted towards saying masturbation is okay, and even good in some instances. i have some thoughts that i would like to share about the article and about your comments.

it's true that sex is not a need if you're defining need as something someone requires in order to survive. however, the drive for sex is wired into every man and the desire is not going to go away. if you follow that definition of need, then you could say that people don't need love, it's just something that we do for each other. no, people need love (esp. women needing romantic love) in a way that is similar to a man needing sex; we're designed to want to experience and enjoy it (love and/or sex).

in your fourth point you are assuming that masturbation is a sin. if there's one legitimate point of the article, it's that the simple act masturbation (that is, when not coupled with lustful fantasizing, pornography, or addition) is not ever declared by the bible to be a sin. so when you say that it's like killing your grandpa so that you don't have to steal, you're implying that masturbation is a sin, which it isn't.

as far as masturbation within marriage, i think someone could make a good argument either way.

if i understand your argument correctly, you say that marriage should be more about sacrifice (from both parties) than a man "stooping" to the level of meeting his own sexual needs. i agree with that; i believe this is the best way to do things and and there is biblical support for mutual submission and not withholding physical attention from each other.

but on the other hand, if we agree that masturbation in and of itself is not a sin, then if it is something that both people in the relationship are comfortable with, i don't see why there should be a problem with the man occasionally masturbating if he can do so without falling into any of the closely related sins (which i agree with you, is quite difficult to do, but is possible). in any case, the couple should talk about it with the underlying principle being that each partner wants the best for the other. if there is a special case where a man with a very high sex drive is joined to a woman with a very low sex drive, this could be a great solution.


i disagree with you when you say that there is never a reason to masturbate. men have a sexual drive that will leave them physically hurting in some cases if the desire remains unfulfilled. but i'm with you on the main point of your closing: people (prob. mostly men) should use more self-control with regard to masturbation because in a vast majority of cases it is coupled with activities that are sin and can easily become addicting.

Pete said...

Toby,
I've been waiting for your thoughts because I know that we've both read the same book and even talked about some of the problems we had with it.
I like your thoughts and I'll only briefly defend mine for the sake of clarification.
I am indeed referring to need as something required for survival. I don't think that a woman needs romantic love any more than a man needs sex. I know of a certain man who went several decades without sex and his wife who went the same amount of time without romantic love. Both of them would tell you that while those were desires in their life they could have lived the rest of their life without them. As far as love goes, yes we do need it to truly live, but God provides that freely and plentifully. Every "need" that we have, God provides. Luckily for us, he provides quite a bit of our desires too. But's that all my opinion.
In my fourth point ( geez, it sounds like I created a doctrine ), I was not trying to prove that masturbation is a sin by assuming that it was in the first place. I was pointing out how the author had assumed that it was okay in order to provide for that support. i.e. Masturbation is okay and helps to keep from lusting therefore it is good.
I realize that I said "never", but I did go on to clarify that there are some times that it is medically a need for the body to release pressure or such. However, the male body has a system for getting rid of built up sexual energy on its own and it doesn't need our help. So in special situations that I'm not going to get into right now, it may be needed, but for everyday living the body will get rid of the excess on its own.
Pete

toby said...

pete,

good to hear back from you. i was wondering what you'd say.

i was considering mentioning the natural body process used to relieve built up sexual tension, but i wasn't sure how to word it at the time and so i omitted it. you did a nice job of explaining it without too much detail for those not interested. and it's true that most people probably don't get to that point where it's actually hurting before they give in to the desire; so they could do better with a little more self-control (me included).

and yes, i'm very particular about the words never and always. i take things literally and i also tend to think in terms of probability, in which absolutes basically do not exist.

good clarification on your fourth point. i agree: just because it's not a sin, doesn't mean it's necessarily a good thing to do. NT writer(s) describe sin in other general terms: as anything that offends your conscious and anything that would cause another believer to stumble. also, why do something that so easily is addicting and leads so quickly to other sins? point taken.

i'm glad someone brought the topic up for discussion...

Pete said...

Yeah, I winced when I went back and reread what I had said and saw the "never", because I feel the same way about certain words and their mathematical meanings. That was my bad and I'm glad you called me on it, but other than that, I'm never wrong:)
Pete

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