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Masturbation: The Secret That Ruins Great Sex

The M Word

As Heard on GrowthtracRadio

Masturbation: probably not the topic of Sunday’s sermon

Chances are, your dad never talked to you about it while you were growing up. But it’s a painful issue for many Christian men out there.
Single men, in particular, wonder what they should do until they get married. They may even ask, “Isn’t it better to masturbate and satisfy my natural desires in this way rather than some — clearer’ form of sexual sin?”

One of the challenges to answering these questions is that the secular world has been busy normalizing masturbation and dispelling negative consequences (though it really isn’t true that you will go blind). Many of us who have gone to counselors, even pastors, about our own masturbation habits have been told, “Don’t worry about that! That’s normal.” It is true that the experience of masturbating is very common. Even babies touch themselves and find the experience pleasurable. Many adolescents stumble across the experience again when it has become orgasmic and find it both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. That is not sin, but normal curiosity.

The main challenge to answering these questions men ask is that the Bible never mentions the word masturbation. In the absence of a clear command, we should be careful that we don’t heap undo condemnation where God intended it. But, there are some things that we should keep in mind.

While the Bible is not clear about masturbation, it is clear about lustful fantasy. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus teaches that thinking about another woman lustfully is adultery. If you’re looking to justify masturbation, you’re going to have to ask yourself what you think about when you do it. Bringing yourself to orgasm while thinking about anyone to whom you are not married is, according to Jesus, adultery. Thinking about some sexual scenario and achieving an orgasm to those thoughts conditions you to what sex could be like. This is dangerous in that it sets up unrealistic expectations for what sex with your wife ? or future wife ? should be like.

Don’t be self-righteous and think, “Well, I masturbate, but I only think about my wife. That isn’t adultery.” Do you think about actual past experiences, or do you project into the future: “Wouldn’t it be great if she would only?”? Thinking in this way only sets up unrealistic expectations and dishonors your wife. Maybe in masturbating you’re trying to correct frequency or sexual practice issues you have in your marriage. You may even find that when you masturbate you are angry with your wife because she isn’t available in certain ways. Unhealed anger about these issues fuels vulnerability to all forms of sexual sin. Masturbating may even deprive your wife of your sexual ability to her.

Another point to ponder is that for many, masturbating leads to a certain form of “tolerance.” The tolerance effect simply means that the more you do something the more you will eventually need to do it to achieve the same affect. An alcoholic knows, for example, that when he first starts drinking, one drink may be enough to get him drunk. After weeks, months or even years, a lot more alcohol will be needed to do so. This is because God has built into our bodies the amazing ability to adjust to whatever we put in it. Our bodies will eventually return to a state of normal. If we put something foreign into it consistently enough, however, the body will adjust what it considers to be normal to a higher level.

Sexual thinking causes a chemical reaction in the brain. That is what gives us the bodily response to achieve sexual intercourse and the pleasurable feeling that goes with it. Fantasizing about sex and achieving orgasm through masturbation creates this chemical reaction. If we masturbate enough, our bodies will adjust, and we will need to do it more to achieve the same effect. I have known men, in extreme cases, who started masturbating once a month or so when they were adolescents and by the time they came to me were masturbating multiple times per day. They are addicted to the brain chemicals created when they stimulate themselves in this way.

Masturbation and the tolerance effect

The tolerance effect can also mean that the sexual fantasy involved in masturbating will need to become more exciting, more provocative, and/or more dangerous. You may have found that your own sexual fantasies have become more elaborate involving new types of sexual activity or a constantly changing supply of imaginary sexual partners. You may not even realize it, but your fantasy life may have become sinful in nature.

The friction of using your own hand or some other aid to achieve masturbation may also condition you to that level of stimulation. Believe it or not, this kind of conditioning may make it less likely that you will be stimulated by vaginal intercourse. Men who get into this kind of pattern may start experiencing sexual frustrations when they are being sexual with their wives.

If you understand the effect sexual fantasy and activity has on the brain, you can also understand that many of us have used the pleasurable feelings of sex to escape unpleasant feelings. You may have noticed that the times when you have most felt like masturbating are those times when you are lonely, tired, angry, frightened or stressed out. When we use masturbation or any other form of sexual activity to achieve this kind of escape, we are depriving ourselves of more fulfilling and Christ-centered answers to those feelings.

Sometimes, the very sexual fantasies we use to masturbate may create imagined situations in which we are getting comfort, touch, love and nurture from imaginary others. Outside of the brain chemistry effect, these imagined relationships may give us a false sense of comfort for our feelings. In either case, we are not truly looking for ultimately satisfying answers to our problems.

If you are seeking to end a struggle with chronic and addictive masturbation, remember that you are not alone. Your struggle is something that many men have faced. Nothing separates us from the love of Christ. Find fellowship with other men with whom you can be honest about your feelings. Take a risk to be vulnerable. If you’re married, work on your emotional and spiritual intimacy with your wife. You don’t need to be explicit with her about your fantasies or masturbation habit, but you do need to tell her how you’re feeling, how much you love her, and how much you need her.

We must come to realize that God intended sex for the one-flesh union of a man and woman in marriage. Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:31-32 that this union is like the relationship of Christ to the church. Ultimately, this means that any sexual activity between a husband and wife that is selfish is not Christ-like in nature. Lust is selfish. Marital sex is not for the purpose of satisfying selfish desires. If that is all we are doing, we will never be satisfied. Masturbation, likewise, is never ultimately satisfying because it falls short of the incredibly satisfying nature of a spiritual union with a wife. With any of God’s laws, He is not trying to spoil our fun, just trying to point us to something more fulfilling.

Like the relationship of Christ to the church, are you willing to die for your wife? If so, will you honor her and her body? So much of our Christian journey presents us with a paradox. We surrender our life to Christ and receive eternal life. If you surrender your selfish sexual desires to Christ and seek to give to your wife, you will experience sexual fulfillment as He intended.

Copyright © Dr. Mark Laaser, used with permission.

Read more at faithfulandtrueministries.com

  • David

    Thank you so much, I am now married and I had that doubt, but now i do understand so I will quit this practice

    Thank you !

  • Erik

    Notice the references only to the bible and none to medical literature. Don’t think about Jesus when you are having sex with your wife. That is just weird.

  • Twanda

    i think if you chose to not masterbate for your own reasons… that’s fine! But, I don’t feel it’s horrible that my husband masterbates and I will NEVER believe that it’s a sin!! It’s normal and natural.

  • a different opinion

    As a Christian married man, a Pastoral Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor, these assertions (especially the physical and psychological dangers) are patently absurd. Masturbation, in perspective, is a part of a normal and holy Christian experience for both the single and married person. Sex (all of it, including masturbation) is a TOOL that God gives us to comfort our partner and ourselves. If God didn’t want us to self stim, He would not have made our arms long enough! When we get to heaven, I have this deep feeling that God will be shaking Her head and saying: “It wasn’t about sex, it was about LOVE.’

    • Honest

      Wow, YOU’RE a pastor? God help us all. You think God is a woman? And your explanation for why God “gave” us masturbation is because of the length of our arms? …remember when your parents denied you use of the family car because “if God wanted you to drive, he wouldn’t have given us legs to walk.” Meanwhile, Henry Ford (a Christian) created the Model T Ford and the assembly line process which he got from God in a dream, making it possible to create affordable cars for the middle class using the same process world wide today and is also used for manufacturing everything else in mass production as well. Give me a scripture that defends masturbation and then we can talk. Until then, you need to repent for masturbation and stop preaching lies to alleviate your guilt. I admit my guilt in this area because despite my sin, I love my Father God and know it’s a sin. I keep an honest relationship with my parents based on this same premise as well. I will pray for you.

    • My Name is Top Secret

      If YOU’RE a pastor, I PRAY for your congregation…

  • Grafted Believer

    In reality, when a wife fails to render to her husband due benevolence, she is the cause of him masturbating. When a wife uses sex as a bargaining tool or method of manipulation, she is helping Satan destroy her marriage. Sadly, this behavior is very common within Christianity, and is mainly due to the philosophical positions that originated within Roman Catholicism, and that is sex is ONLY for procreation. Ironically, this is the same religion that forces its priests to be abstinent, which poses a dilemma since one of its sacraments is ordination while another is marriage.

    Sex is to be done regularly and as often as possible for the purpose of reflecting the spiritual oneness and unity between the Father and the Son. The end through the means of genital intercourse is to be one in mind and heart with each other. The only times the husband and wife need to abstain is when the wife is menstruating (7 days) or recovering from childbirth (7 days for a male child or 14 days for a female child). The time of common sense is when at least one is ill. The time of mutual consent is during fasting and prayer.

    Hopefully, what I shared will help whoever reads this.

    • SAM

      Please do not put this entirely on the shoulders of a wife. There are more women that you know who suffer in silence with husbands who use sex as a bargaining tool. Sadly, men who lack desire is more common in Christian marriages than you know. Wives stay silent out of respect for their husbands – unfortunately, it is does not work the other way around.

    • Teresa Rincon

      I have read that couples who practice Natural Family Planning (the birth control method advocated by the Catholic church) have significantly lower divorce rates than the general population. http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/193/36/

  • http://www.abicana.com/shop2.htm Knut Holt

    Generally this is not thrue, but if the man or women prefere to masturbate instead of having sex togeather, it can have a bad impact on a relationship.

  • JD Slater

    I don’t get why masturbation is such a big deal. My wife and I both masturbate, together, over webcams when separated, and alone. Sometimes multiple times a day, Together, we both learn what the other likes; Alone, we learn new things we like; When separated, just a way to have a ‘private moment’ together.

    • smueller@growthtrac.com

      The key here is the word “together” with your spouse. Everything is allowed in the marriage bed, but you have to ask yourself if what you are doing is mutually beneficial. If it causes harm, shame, or for you to deny your spouse because you have already self-soothed, then it is a practice that needs to stop. Also, when masturbating where are thoughts traveling too? Is it your spouse only? Or, is it a past partner or images in front of a computer? If you are thinking of anything other than your spouse or looking at images of other men or women then “yes” you have crossed the line into adultery. Also, ask yourself… “What impact is this going to have on my marriage? Anything done in hiding and alone is secretive and potentially harmful to the marriage.

  • David

    All your arguments against masturbation can be used and are used
    by many (ie brethren that sex even in marriage (outside of procreation purposes)
    is wrong. It is either right or wrong … make up your mind.

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