Christians can Masturbate too

“If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water, and be unclean until the evening” (Lev 15:16 NRSV).

The internet is filled with Christians asking about masturbation and whether or not it is sinful.  These poor Christians are tormented, torn between the need to relieve their natural, God-given sexual urge, and their perception of Christian purity.  And there is no age or marital status limit of those who are asking the questions.  These dear people are tormented because, for one reason – and it’s a biggie for Christians – the bible doesn’t seem to say anything about masturbation.  But if the bible doesn’t say anything about an issue, then surely that is because, in God’s sight, it is not an issue?  God doesn’t condemn or punish anyone unless he first states that it is sin.  What sort of God would punish a person when he hasn’t even told them not to do it?  Just take a look at the catalogue of sins in Leviticus chapter 18 and 20.  Some of those sinful sexual practices are so “out there” that they would never even enter our minds; and yet masturbation, which is probably the most commonly practiced sexual act in the world, is not on that list.  They say “no news is good news”; surely, this is good news then?  If God hates masturbation he would have told us so.

However, there is a verse (see above) which does seem to be about masturbation – what else would an emission of semen be?  It isn’t sex with a woman because that is mentioned separately in verse 18.  It could be a “wet dream” or nocturnal emission, which is described in Deuteronomy 23:10; but I believe it refers to male masturbation, or that masturbation is included in the meaning.  And that is good news because it is here shown that it is not sinful.  If masturbation was sin there would have been an accompanying punishment – but there is none of this in connection with it.  The man, however, is regarded as ceremonially or ritually unclean and the God-given remedy is ritual washing.  But when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, it was also to fulfil the law.  Therefore, as New Testament believers i.e. Christians, even the requirement to ritually wash after ejaculation is ended, and therefore we can masturbate whenever we like.  And God doesn’t mind.

What constitutes adultery in the heart?

Unfortunately, most Christians insist that masturbation is sinful because they have a wrong understanding of what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:27-28. The KJV translates it: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.  This translation is not wrong, it is just not stated clearly enough.  In the light of the passages below, you can see that they all agree.  But as it stands, the passage in the KJV has been left open to it being misinterpreted.

But, thank God, sanity is beginning to prevail, and modern bible versions are starting to remedy the situation by translating this passage more clearly and realistically.  For example:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’.  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (ESV).
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’.  But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart” (GNB).
  • “You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; [Ex 20:14; Deut 5:18] but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (The Amplified Bible 2015).  The 1987 edition has “….looks at a woman with evil intent for her.
  • “You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.” But I tell you if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts” (CEV).
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You must not be guilty of adultery.’ But I tell you that if anyone looks at a woman and wants to sin sexually with her, in his mind he has already done that sin with the woman” (NCV).

So Jesus didn’t mean that when a man sees a woman and gets some kind of sexual arousal or imagines her naked or finds her sexually attractive that he has sinned seriously and needs to repent.  Indeed, a woman doesn’t even have to be naked to have an effect on a man – she is simply “hot” in his eyes.  If it were true, then every man would be repenting every time he saw a woman who had any kind of effect on him.  Such an idea that men commit adultery simply by “appreciating” a woman, or giving her a second look, or even ogling her and getting sexually aroused, is ludicrous and unfair; and God would be a capricious and cruel prankster because he designed males to respond this way.  Men are not dirty, not perverts, not sleazy or creepy, when they get a reaction of some sort when they see a woman who appeals to them.  This reaction is inbuilt; it is God’s design (Ps 139:13-16).  And, while women are not quite as prone to this response to the opposite sex (I’m told), in my experience they’re not really so different to us in their responses to one who appeals to them.  It is this initial reaction, the first impression, the automatic response, which is more often than not the catalyst for an enduring relationship and marriage.  It is called “sex appeal”; and normal, mature adults understand this.

But when a man sees a woman and determines to seduce her if he can, he is committing adultery in his heart.  Even if he tries and fails, the adultery has still been committed.  If he sees a woman in a photograph or movie, or sees one in a crowd and lusts after her – even though she is thus unavailable to him but he would have sex with her if he could – or if he imagines himself having sex with her and is filled with lust for her – then he is guilty of adultery.  It is the intention that determines whether or not his action or response is sin. 

But if he sees a woman and is aroused by her to the point that he wants to masturbate without wishing he could “possess” her; that it is simply the sight of her and her feminine characteristics that turns him on without him wishing for her – then he has not sinned.  God designed a man to be aroused at the sight of a woman if she catches his eye.  So it is OK to masturbate if he feels the need. 

And yes, even married couples can masturbate, provided this doesn’t replace or hinder their sexual relationship.  There are many reasons why they would masturbate, not least of which is that they just like it.  There is more about this under the heading, “Some helpful Christian websites”, below.

However, some clarifying thoughts need to be added here.  Peter urges us “to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul” (1 Pet 2:11) so our behaviours need to be controlled and modified by this.  While, I suppose, it is possible to include masturbation in this verse, even if it is, I don’t believe that it is a “hanging offence”; Peter is more concerned about biblically explicitly identified sins such as adultery, fornication, and sexualised worship etc.  This is clear as he expresses his concern about our public behaviour: “Let your conduct among unbelievers be so good that, although they malign you as wrongdoers, reflection on your good deeds will lead them to give glory to God…” (1 Pet 2:12 REB); and he specifies other outward actions in this passage.  So it’s unlikely that masturbation is intended or targeted by Peter because, apart from any other reason, it is generally practiced in private.  All the verses that prudish or cautious Christians bring against masturbation are umbrella verses and almost anything can be covered by them; but they are arguments from silence – masturbation just isn’t mentioned anywhere in the bible.  And God doesn’t punish people for things he hasn’t told us are sinful.  Christians have enough to cope with as citizens of heaven passing through this hostile world without having to worry about vague references to unspecified sins.  The only danger with masturbation is excess – but this would perhaps make it more akin to gluttony than sex; and is unhealthy more than it is sinful.

A fascinating statistic

“You’ve probably heard the old adage that men sit around all day thinking about sex. The popular myth says it’s once every seven seconds, to be exact. If you take the number of seconds in an hour (3,600) and divide it by 7, that works out to roughly 514 sex thoughts—just in an hour! Seems like a lot.

So how often do people really think about sex? Though the “once every seven seconds” notion seems impossible to prove or disprove, researchers have actually taken a stab at it multiple times.

In 2011, a research team based out of Ohio State University conducted a study to keep track of how often a sample of 283 college students thought about sex, food, and sleep throughout a week. The test subjects were given clickers to press every time each of these things came to mind. On average, the men reported thinking about sex 19 times a day, while the women reported thinking about it 10 times a day.

The figures, published in the Journal of Sex Research, suggest that men think about sex nearly twice as much as women. But, the researchers also found that there is actually “no significant interaction between the sex of the participant and the type of cognition reported.” So, while men did think about sex more often, they also thought about food and sleep more often than women as well”.

How Often Do Men and Women Think About Sex? Here’s the Science. (menshealth.com)

Men are opportunists when it comes to sex

No matter what a man’s circumstances, he will virtually drop everything for any kind of sexual activity.  This is not to say that men are weak in character and led by their penis.  It doesn’t mean that a man loses self-control every time he sees a woman who is attractive to him.  Men can be noble or base, just as women can be.  But a man is ready for sexual activity at a moment’s notice, or even at the hint of the prospect of it.  It’s in the design.

The pop singer, Boy George, commented in the first of his two autobiographies: “Homosexuals are certainly lust-driven creatures.  For most of us, sex is the ultimate fix.  We need it just to feel we exist.  A lot of our sex is casual and impersonal”.  Well, it must be said that heterosexual men are pretty much the same, although I would say that not all men, especially Christian men, regard sex so casually or impersonally; both gay and straight men are still men and therefore the sex drive is the same – it is only the “object” (forgive me for being impersonal) of desire that is different.  But thank God that he changes hearts and brings our desires into conformity with his own through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and reading and meditation on the bible to show us how he wants us to live.

God did not mandate celibacy

Even though Paul doesn’t mention masturbation, there is some understanding of it which we can glean from 1 Corinthians 7:1-7.  In this passage Paul recognises that humans are sexual beings and consequently they need to release their sexual tension frequently.  He urges husbands and wives to make sure they help their spouse in this – and to make sure they do, he tells them that their body does not belong to them but to their spouse.  This obliges each to consider the other and not to withhold sex from their partner.  He tells them: “Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:5 NRSV).  This tells us that people cannot go very long without sexual release.

But what about single people – what are they supposed to do?  If we want to keep within God’s will and still have a means of releasing the sexual tension that inexorably builds up, the options available to the world are not options for Christians.  There is only one option that God has not forbidden and that option is masturbation.

And yet, so many Christians believe that it is sinful, dirty, and a host of other pejorative epithets, all of which are lies.  Why would God give instructions for married couples to be so concerned for their partner’s sexual purity that they must have frequent sex, and yet expect single Christians to be celibate?  Is not this bizarre – or at least a tad inconsistent?  How cruel for singles. 

Indeed, those who expect singles to not masturbate even use this passage to justify their contention.  Christians must marry, they say, to allay the lack of self-control.  But the passage isn’t referring to masturbation – God doesn’t want his people to commit adultery or consort with prostitutes or sleep with unmarried people, etc.; he is not forbidding masturbation.  Why would he do that?  If it wasn’t a sin in the Old Testament, as I showed, how did it become sin in the New Testament?  No, to forbid masturbation to unmarried people is wrong – more sinful than the supposed sin of masturbation. 

Furthermore, Paul says he would like Christians to be as he is – single and celibate.  If not, they should marry, and they can marry without sin.  However, he assures them/us that he is not commanding Christians to be single.  He recognises that celibacy is a gift, and therefore few have that ability.  Celibacy is not mandated but marriage is encouraged.  But there are many Christians who, for one reason or another, are not married even though they desperately want to be.  Youth are too young to marry or too preoccupied with establishing a career, and others go the grave having never experienced marriage and sex.  For such dear people, masturbation is a lifeline.

Some helpful Christian websites

There are some helpful Christian websites which present and promote a healthy view of all things sexual.  I’ve listed a couple here for you to get started.  I don’t know of many myself; I only found these in my own personal search for answers. 

The Marriage Bed

This is a good site for obtaining answers to a wide range of all issues of a sexual nature and there is a forum in which you can ask your own questions; but pertaining to this article, there is a good section on masturbation, including an informative survey.  In particular, there is a testimony of a Southern Baptist pastor which is very instructive – see Pastor’s Views – The Marriage Bed

The section on masturbation discusses masturbation for both singles and married couples.  Upon opening the site, type “masturbation” in the “search” box.

Website address: – The Marriage Bed

Christian Nymphos

This is a website for women run by a group of evangelical Christian wives.  Their goal is to help Christian wives attain a healthy and exciting sex life with their husbands.  The variety of subjects is wide and spicy, and there are questions and answers also; however, men are not invited to participate in this section.  There is a section on masturbation and women which is liberating, and anyone with questions will be helped by referring to it.  The following is an introductory article on masturbation.

“*If you and your husband do not participate in masturbation, then this article may not be for you.  I’m writing this for those of you out there who do engage in masturbation in your marriage.

I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’ve noticed something.  I’ve been doing lots of little quickies with myself.  In my marriage, we engage in mutual masturbation, and my husband also knows that I help myself sometimes, especially when my drive is in overload and his isn’t.  When I masturbate it doesn’t take anything away from him.  Most of the time it just gets me keyed up for later (with him) so it’s all good.

I used to spend more time at it though.  I’d shower or take a bath and lie down on my bed and think about fantasies involving my husband and slowly work myself into it.  I can’t remember the last time I did that though!  Recently it’s been more like 30 seconds of rubbing, BAM, and then I’m finished and ready to go do something else.

I think I’m in that lucky percentage of women who can orgasm easily, and maybe that’s why I tend to have “drive-by” sessions anymore.  I just do it to take the edge off for that particular moment, so that I can go on about my day and get my ‘to do’ list done.  Some days I don’t do it at all while other days it happens multiple times.

So…  I’m wondering how many of you can relate to this?  I’m interested in knowing whether you ladies tend to spend more time at this, or do you have quickies like me?  Leave any responses in the comment box below!”  Masturbation | Christian Nymphos

Website address: Christian Nymphos | Married Sex: Spicy, the way God intended it to be!

God did not mandate celibacy

Even though Paul doesn’t mention masturbation, there is some understanding of it which we can glean from 1 Corinthians 7:1-7.  In this passage Paul recognises that humans are sexual beings and consequently they need to release their sexual tension frequently.  He urges husbands and wives to make sure they help their spouse in this – and to make sure they do, he tells them that their body does not belong to them but to their spouse.  This obliges each to consider the other and not to withhold sex from their partner.  He tells them: “Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:5 NRSV).  This tells us that people cannot go very long without sexual release.

But what about single people – what are they supposed to do?  If we want to keep within God’s will and still have a means of releasing the sexual tension that inexorably builds up, the options available to the world are not options for Christians.  There is only one option that God has not forbidden and that option is masturbation.

And yet, so many Christians believe that it is sinful, dirty, and a host of other epithets, all of which are lies.  Why would God give instructions for married couples to be so concerned for their partner’s sexual purity that they must have frequent sex, and yet expect single Christians to be celibate?  Is not this bizarre – or at least a tad inconsistent?  How cruel for singles. 

Indeed, those who expect singles to not masturbate even use this passage to justify their contention.  Christians must marry, they say, to allay the lack of self-control.  But the passage isn’t saying that – God doesn’t want his people to commit adultery or consort with prostitutes or sleep with unmarried people, etc.; he is not forbidding masturbation.  Why would he do that?  If it wasn’t a sin in the Old Testament, as I showed, how did it become sin in the New Testament?  No, to forbid masturbation to unmarried people is wrong – more sinful than the supposed sin of masturbation. 

Furthermore, Paul says he would like Christians to be as he is – single and celibate.  If not, they should marry, and they can marry without sin.  And he assures them/us that he is not commanding Christians to be single.  He recognises that celibacy is a gift, and therefore few have that ability.  Celibacy is not mandated but marriage is encouraged.  But there are many Christians who, for one reason or another, are not married even though they desperately want to be.  Youth are too young to marry or too preoccupied with establishing a career, and others go the grave having never experienced marriage and sex.  For such dear people, masturbation is a lifeline.

References

“Take it Like a Man: The Autobiography of Boy George” (pages 474-480).  First published 1995 by Sidgwick and Jackson, an imprint of MacMillan General Books, Cabaye Place London SW 109PG and Basingstoke.  Copyright Cometmarket Ltd., 1995.

“The Scripture quotations contained herein are made from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition copyright 1993 and 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.”  “Published by Catholic Bible Press, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee 37214.