Yes, you read the title right. Some of you are frequently saying, “Kristin, why do you even need a personal journal? You already tell us everything! You are so transparent!” Well, I don’t tell you everything. But over the last few months, I have felt God stirring me to share my struggle in this specific area, because I am finally far enough a way from it that I can talk about it. I can’t tell you how many years it has been since I’ve lapsed into this destructive and damaging behavior, because I haven’t been keeping track, but it has been a while. Am I mortified to share about this publicly? Of course, but God told me to, so I’m pushing through that.
But The Bible Doesn’t Say…
I will be the first one to admit that the Bible doesn’t specifically say that masturbation (aka self-gratification) is a sin. It doesn’t, and if you see people using the verse below to say that, you should humbly challenge them.
“And Judah said to Onan, ‘God in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.’ But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.” Genesis 38:8-10
The point of this verse isn’t that “emitting” on the ground will get you killed. That is lazy Bible teaching. In this situation Onan’s heart was against God’s will from the very beginning, and his defiance against the Lord shows how rebellious his heart was. This post isn’t about an open act of rebellion against God (although sin is rebellion against God in nature). This post is about an addictive behavior that causes guilt, shame, and can damage our relationship with God.
A “Natural” Curiosity
My husband and I have been talking about this topic a lot because we have kids, and we are trying to decide what age is appropriate to introduce more in depth facts about human physiology to them. My husband was shocked when I told him I wasn’t even aware I had a vagina until my mom told me when she was explaining God’s plan for reproduction. Listen, girl parts are not self activating like boy parts are. I just didn’t know. But once I found out I kept hearing things like, “It is natural to explore your body,” from peers, teachers in my health class, magazines, and television. If you think your kids won’t pick up on these clues from the world, you’re probably wrong. I wish someone had taken me aside and said, “This behavior is going to follow you into your marriage and cause you guilt for years.” But my parents didn’t know about it, and I sure wasn’t going to tell them!
There isn’t anything natural about awaking your sexual urges before you are married. I have heard every argument justifying masturbation, but if you look at these verses, I believe you will see that it is not part of God’s plan for His children.
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:28 (this verse also applies to women looking at men with lust)
“Now, flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” -2 Timothy 2:22
“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” -Romans 13:13-14
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” -1 Corinthians 6:19
There is a process in sexual activity called arousal. In marriage arousal is great because it sets you and your spouse up to enter into a specific form of worship that God created for married people: sex. However in masturbation, fornication (sex outside of marriage), and adultery (sex outside of your marriage), arousal takes you closer and closer to sin in the form of lust. When you draw closer to sin, you get farther and farther away from God. The Bible teaches against lust, and specifically youthful lusts. In fact, in 2 Timothy 2:22 we see that is placed in opposition to righteousness, faith, love and peace. That would mean that lust results in unrighteousness, doubt, hatred, and discord. When we fall into the sin of lust, we are inviting all of these things into our lives, and that isn’t God’s plan. God doesn’t want those awful things for us. He loves us!
But I Don’t Feel Guilty
I hope that isn’t the case, because that means you are quenching the Holy Spirit. That means that you have pushed God and the Holy Spirit so far away that you don’t feel conviction from sin. God’s Word says that lust is wrong. Ask yourself this question: Can I masturbate without lust in my heart?
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” -1 Thessalonians 5:19-24
I Can’t Stop
Sexual sin is very addictive. Many people that struggle with masturbation feel hopeless. Even if they want to stop, they don’t feel they can. I had the same struggle. I would go for months or a year without falling, and then fall again and feel horrible. Finally, God told me through His Word that I needed to be blameless if I wanted to take our relationship to the next level, and I wanted to be used by Him to further His kingdom. We all should want our “body to be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God made that desire paramount in my heart, and when I was tempted, I would turn to Him. There are certain places where I was more tempted than others due to past behavior, so I avoided being in those places for any prolonged period of time. I have never viewed pornography, but I started to have pornographic dreams and images popping into my head at all times of the day. I believe that this was an intense type of spiritual warfare because the enemies of God didn’t want me to be free from the bondage that masturbation created in my life. God encouraged me through these verses that if I trusted and followed His instructions, He would deliver me from this addiction.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13
“For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” -Romans 8:5
There is victory for you, whatever sin you struggle with, in Christ Jesus! Turn to Him and allow Him to help you. Avoid places or things that trigger your sinful behavior. Find an accountability buddy that can help you by encouraging you when you are tempted and ask you the hard questions that will prompt you to stay pure.
A Slippery Slope
One sexual sin leads to another. Listen, I am not saying that if you masturbate that you will for sure end up having sex outside of marriage. However, when you are indulging yourself with a steady diet of sin for your flesh, your appetite for sin grows. When you give into one type of sin, it is much easier to keep going and to start justifying other sin, whether that is viewing pornography, or having an affair. For me, the habit of masturbation eventually gave way to premarital sex. When you have an addiction you are always looking for the next escape from reality, the next release. Instead of dealing with your problems in a healthy, Christ-centered way, you avoid them.
Masturbation Within Marriage
I found this quote many years ago and it has stuck with me ever since I first read it. It is only within the last several years however, that I understood how true it is.
“Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.” -C. S. Lewis
If you are married, masturbation is pointless. That is what C. S. Lewis means in this quote. God has brought you and your spouse together, and in your self-gratification you are exercising a kind of selfishness that is against God’s will. At one point during the first year of our marriage, my husband and I went three months without having sex because of our struggles to give up masturbation and for my husband, pornography as well. Looking back all I can think is, “How stupid!” Within marriage, God has given us the gift of physical intimacy, and the enemy keeps us distracted and addicted to unedifying sexual behaviors in order to drive a wedge between us. Marriage is a beautiful constitution that glorifies and honors God. That ticks Satan off because he doesn’t want God to be gloried, and he doesn’t want to see us enjoying the gifts God has given us. Do not let masturbation drive a wedge between you and your spouse any longer. Confess to each other and embrace God’s plan for your sex life as a married couple.
I know that some couples are separated for long periods of time, and I trust that God will direct them in their sexual behavior while they are apart. For obvious reasons, when my husband and I are away from each other we choose to abstain from all sexual activity until we can be together again.
This is by no means an in depth guide to achieving victory over addiction to masturbation. If you have any questions or comments that you want to make anonymously, feel free to do so below, or to email me by clicking on the email icon in the sidebar under the website name.
Dear Lord, thank You that You have a plan full of love, grace, and victory for all of Your children. Please help us to resist temptation and to be blameless before You.
In Jesus’ name,
I hope this post will reach at least one person who feels alone in their struggles against this behavior, and that they will finally have victory in Him.