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Masturbation and Pornography: Wrong or Not?

Warning! Some of the material in this discussion is a little more graphic than the normal "G Rated" material seen on this site.

In the following e-mail exchanges, the e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


... I would like to see your views on masturbation.
Q
2/25/01<

Ugh! This is a real difficult one. I would say it is not the act itself that is so much of a problem; it can be a simple release of sexual tensions. But where the problem comes in is with the thoughts and "visual aids" that generally accompany the act. Moreover, if a guy has sexual thoughts about woman, then when he is with her, it could make it more difficult to control himself. OTOH, it could be argued that if a guy masturbates before going out with a woman, then his sex drive won't be as "raging," and he might be less likely to try something.

The use pornography brings in a whole list of potential problems, such lusting after women who are not mates or even potential mates, the looking upon the "nakedness" of someone who is not a spouse, and on a practical level, the raising of a guy's "standards" above what he is most likely to find in the real world. No woman in real life is going to look as good as the made up, brushed up women in a skin magazine.


Brother Gary:

In your recent e-mail exchange over masturbation, I must respectively disagree with you.<

I prefaced my remarks with "Ugh" for a reason. I know no matter what I said it would probably get me into "trouble." I am sure you are not the only one disagrees with my comments.

Before getting to your specific comments, let me say that this is an issue where I have found people who are married tend to have a more "strict" view than those who are single. It seems to me that married people, especially ones who have been married for a long time, tend to forget how frustrating being single can be, especially for people who have been single for a long time.

>You said, "I would say it is not the act itself that is so much of a problem; it can be a simple release of sexual tensions." I must disagree, as the gift of sex was given to men and women as part of God's divine purpose for marriage. It is reserved for the couple who are now one flesh, and do not own their own bodies. If sexual relations were given by God as a gift to married people, then any sex which occurs outside of the marriage relationship - even masturbation - is an intrusion into that relationship. In effect, the man becomes a self-adulterer. If done habitually, it can even form a barrier between husband-wife relationships - even if one is not yet married.<

For someone who is married, yes masturbation would be a problem. And I do see how it could cause problems for someone who is not currently married when they get married if it has become an obsession that one cannot stop. But this is not necessarily the case. Moreover, there are many people who never will get married, or at least not for a long time. And dealing with sexual frustrations for years can be difficult.

>Secondly, you are quite correct when you say "where the problem comes in is with the thoughts and 'visual aids' that generally accompany the act." I have worked with several porno addicts and it is a vicious cycle. One can begin from either stimuli - masturbation or pornography - but then the one quickly feeds the other. A chronic masturbator needs increasingly more erotic porno for stimulation, and the increased pornography causes and increase in masturbation. It is an ugly cycle with no good results.<

Yes, porn can definitely become an addiction, with all the problems thereof. And I masturbation could also, but again, not necessarily.

>I must disagree with your assessment of pre-date masturbation as well. Some studies have shown that rather than relief of sexual tension, masturbation actually increases sexual fantasy and desire. <

It could go either way, as I indicated in my response.

>Most rapists and pedophiles are habitual masturbators. <

But not all people who masturbate are rapist or pedophiles. Like a lot of things, one act can lead to another, but not necessarily. For instance, most heroin addicts started using marijuana, but not all users of marijuana become heroin addicts.

>Of course, Christ said in Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Masturbation requires one to fantasize and to lust, therefore sin is involved.<

But note, Jesus specifically says "committed adultery" not "committed fornication." A single person cannot commit adultery with another single person. So this verse would say a single person should not lust after another person's wife. But I don't think the natural desires that a single might feel for another single is being referred to in this article. And such desires can be the source of masturbation without it being an addictive lust.

> Believers are also admonished to "not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." Romans 6:13. Self-stimulation hardly seems to be using one's members as instruments of righteousness.<

If one begins with the assumption that masturbation is a sin, then yes this would apply. But if the act itself is not, then this verse would not apply. And it should be noted that nowhere does the Bible actually mention masturbation, so it can be problematic to dogmatically assert that it is a sin without specific Scriptural evidence.

>And I believe fantasizing about a magazine model certainly qualifies in reference to 1 Corinthians 6:15, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!"<

I agree that the use of porn is a problem.

>There are too many negatives and avenues for sin surrounding masturbation to give it any credence. As it is said, "when in doubt, leave it out!"<

That is of course an option. But it can also lead to unnecessary guilt to the single struggling over this issue. I say unnecessary, as again, the Bible does not specifically say that it is a sin. But the single does need to be aware of the potential problems, as you have so elegantly detailed.

>One more point: I could tell you were single when you said. "No woman in real life is going to look as good as the made up, brushed up women in a skin magazine." Not so. My bride of years, soon to hit her 45th birthday, is still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, bar none. The same can be said by every married man if he keeps his marriage bed undefiled (Heb 13:4).<

You are correct that I am single. And I am thrilled to hear that you are still so attracted to your wife after many years of marriage. But my comments were directed towards the single who is still "looking," not the person who has already found the love of his life.

I'm not trying to take you to task, brother, just passing on some insights I have had as one who has dealt with such matters.

God Bless
Soli Deo Gloria
Chris
I Tim. 1:12
3/5/01

No problem. As I said, I am sure there are many different views on this subject. So, unless you object, I will post the above as a follow-up so people can see the different perspectives.

For follow-ups to this discussion, see Masturbation and Pornography - Follow-ups.

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