I have come across several forums in recent times that held discussions on masturbation. It broke my heart to read many of the comments, as I’m sure it broke the heart of God as well to see so many condemning themselves on this matter. Because of this, I wanted to share my personal experiences, and what I feel in my heart has come from the heart of God for us.
John 1:12 ESV “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”
Before I was married and before I became saved, my body lusted for sexual intimacy. After all, we all long after human touch. So I gave in to the desires of the flesh with others. I also engaged in live pornography, among other things. All this without realizing what it was doing to my soul. I had no idea the extent of the sin that I was engaging in. And it seemed everyone I knew was living the same lie.
But when I got saved, the Holy Spirit began to pull at my heart. I began reading about why it was important to repent from fornication and abstain from sexual intimacy with others. Initially I tried to rationalize why it might not be so, but through the conviction and revelation of the Holy Spirit I knew that God was serious about not committing sexual sin. And I knew I had to stop and cleanse my heart. I needed the Holy Spirit with me, and I wanted to do everything I could to stay close to God. But how?
While I made the decision to stop fornicating, my body did not immediately shut off. I pleasured myself through masturbation whenever I felt the need. However, I wanted to be as holy and righteous as I possibly could. I wanted to focus on the things of the spirit and not the flesh. I wanted to become a new creation in Christ and not give any room for the enemy to attack.
Because of that, I began to pray deeply every day. I prayed all throughout the day as often as possible. I engaged in the Word of God more than anything else, by reading the bible and devotionals. I engaged deeply in praise and worship. I spent most of my time at church. I prayed for God to help me control my body. And while those urges remained, as is our biological nature, they became much more easily managed. God began to help my body calm down.
James 4:8, ESV: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”
The less I engaged in masturbation and any thoughts related to the opposite sex, the less I felt the need to have this release. I used to have dreams almost every night that were sexual in nature, but I noticed that even those began to disappear as well. God was cleansing my heart, mind and soul! I was better able to withstand the feelings I felt in my body. I was able to fight those urges much better than I ever had before.
But again, the feelings did not leave me completely. Why? Because it’s a healthy part of our creation. God did not make us be without intimacy. But what He desires is that we want to be spiritually intimate with Him above all, first and foremost. He wants us to love Him more than we love ourselves and more than we love others. We have to love and want a relationship with Him first. Once we learn how to love God, then we will learn how to better love ourselves and love others. Without God as our first love, we cannot live or love righteously.
Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
God created us and He knows the desires of the heart as well as those of the flesh. Therefore, He weighs each heart individually, knowing its condition. This is what the Lord cares for the most. He knows everything we are going to do before we even do it, as each day of our lives has already been written. Even with freewill, the Lord has already seen it all. And there is nothing new under the sun.
The bible does not discuss masturbation and I believe there is a very good reason why. However, there are scriptures that do reference the actions of intimacy and lust, as well as those things that separate the unrighteous from the righteous. Let’s look into these verses to see if there is something that we can be taught about this matter.
Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
While the example is given for men because it was much more common at that time, it is also implied for women as well that sexual intimacy with someone of the same sex/gender is “an abomination.” Looking into the meaning of abomination online, the most common terms found were “sinful, loathsome, and disgust.”
Matthew 5:28 ESV “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
This verse tells us that those who lust after another person, someone who does not belong to them such as your spouse, that this is already a form of adultery. The meaning of adultery according to Merriam-Webster online is voluntary sexual activity between a married person and someone other than the spouse. Therefore, according to the bible if anyone should lust after someone who is not their spouse, they have already committed adultery.
This is especially crucial as a single person as well. When we are single, most times we do not know who our spouse will be (unless the Lord reveals it to you beforehand, but most times that is not the case as the Lord loves to give us surprises and gifts, blessings of the heart!) Because of that, we have to be especially mindful not to lust after others. But even so, this still does not turn off our bodies to intimacy.
This is where the dangers of pornography comes in. Let me better explain to you why pornography is sinful: because the person watching is lusting after someone that is not their spouse, and in addition to this, the person watching is seeking pleasure off the sin and eternal death of the person committing the sin. How can we be ok watching someone losing eternity right in front of our eyes? We have to have a heart for others – the Lord does not desire that anyone should perish, and we must want the same.
On that same note, while our bodies are ours, they are/will also belong to our spouse, and in addition to this our bodies are vessels of the Holy Spirit. So if we are lusting after someone else, married or single, we are committing adultery and we are gratifying the flesh before the spirit (Galatians 5:16). We should not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Verses 29-31 go on to describe those things that grieve the Holy Spirit. Verse 31 is similar to those aspects written about in the book of Romans.
The book of Romans gives us a clear understanding of what God sees as unrighteous,
Romans 1:19-21 and 28-32 “19 For what can be known about God is plain to them. 20…so they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
Although none of these scriptures discuss masturbation as no scripture in the bible does, we must still keep in mind those verses surrounded around sexual intimacy and lust, along with those things are righteous versus unrighteous, or holy versus unholy. The Bible explicitly lays out the sin of adultery, homosexuality and fornication. The Bible also discusses the importance of intimacy with your spouse. But again, there is no verse about masturbation, and I believe it is because God has already given us enough instruction about sexual sin to show us which are the paths to sin and death.
From what we have read we have learned what God considers unrighteous, those aspects that we should steer clear of in order to keep our hearts cleansed from sin. But again, God knows that we are mere humans and none of us is perfect. This is why He weighs the condition of the heart. Those who are unrighteous have no desire to be made right in the sight of the Lord; they have no desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him. As a child of God, that is not who we are.
Let’s look at some of those in the Bible who God considered righteous, although they failed at times. There were many who were after the heart of God yet tripped as they held the cross, such as Moses, King David, and Tamar.
In the story of Moses, he was raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter but aware that he was Hebrew. One day, as a young adult he saw one of the Egyptians mistreating a Hebrew slave. He became enraged and beat the Egyptian to death. After realizing someone had witnessed his sin, Moses ran off into the desert for 40 years. However, even though he failed, God was still able and willing to use Moses for a greater purpose because He weighed his heart and knew that Moses loved God dearly and would obey His commands.
In the story of King David, we learn that David walked onto the roof and from there he saw a woman bathing. He began to lust after her. It turns out the woman was the wife of one of his soldiers. Not only did he have intimacy with a woman that belonged to someone else, but he impregnated her and later placed her husband on the frontlines of war in order to have him killed. But God weighed his heart. King David is famous for having a heart after God. So even through his errors, God was still able to use David for a greater purpose.
In the story of Tamar, she had married Judah’s sons. The first passed away, and by Jewish law Tamar would be wed to the next remaining son. When this happened, he passed away as well. Because of that, Judah did not want Tamar to marry his youngest son, calling her cursed. But still by law, if that were the case then Judah would have to marry Tamar, but he refused. So Tamar devised a plan to dress up as a prostitute and loiter in an area that Judah had often frequented. Tamar seduced Judah and had him leave his seal, cord and staff with her until he could return with her payment. However, Tamar slipped off and disappeared. Later, when Judah learned Tamar was pregnant, he wanted to have her killed, but her life was spared because she was able to prove that it was Judah who had impregnated her, by producing his seal, cord and staff as proof of their rendezvous. She stated her purpose for doing so was the make sure that Judah lived up to his lawful and spiritual honors to marry her. Judah then declared that she was more righteous than him. In this way, Tamar was still used for a greater purpose.
What each of these stories have in common is a heart after God and a desire for righteousness.
God knows each of us much more deeply than we know ourselves. For this reason, God weighs the heart to see if we have a heart that is after Him, or a heart that is self-serving and after the sins of the world. God knows those who love Him and honor Him. He knows those whose hearts are filled with repentance. He knows who He has chosen for a greater purpose even before you knew that you were called and chosen. We, as actively serving Christians, are children of God. We might fall or fail, but the Lord weighs our hearts and when we repent sincerely He is merciful and forgives.
However, this does not mean that His grace should be taken advantage of. We cannot give in to sin knowing that God will forgive, because then our hearts would not truly be remorseful or repentant. If we live with the idea that we could commit sin after sin, then we are not honoring God or His commands, we would not be loving Him wholeheartedly and that would mean that we are not seeking righteousness.
But failing to be perfect does not make us unrighteous. It makes us the humans that God knows we are.
Going back to masturbation, I do not believe that masturbation itself is sin, but you can make it sinful by the desires of your heart. If you are lusting after someone who is not your spouse, and you have those images in your mind or are watching pornography, then you are committing adultery and therefore committing sin. If you are married and you are masturbating without your spouse’s knowledge and agreement, you are also committing adultery because your body no longer belongs to you, and if you are going to abstain from one another (as is done in masturbation) then you must both be in agreement (1 Corinthians 7:5).
God knows that our healthy bodies are going to desire intimacy with a partner. He created us that way. God wants us to be one with the person He ordains us to marry. Songs of Solomon is proof of that. But God does not want us to condemn ourselves in the meantime. Condemnation is of the enemy, but freedom is found in Christ. The moment you gave your heart to God, you became free from condemnation and sin. Our bodily functions are a part of how God created us, and He knows this full well. He knows that it is perfectly natural to have these feelings, and we’re supposed to.
Can these feelings be controlled? Yes, to an extent.
I believe God would rather us take care of ourselves WITHOUT LUSTFUL DESIRES, than to have us commit sin with someone else or give into the eternal death of pornography. What is most important is that you are doing everything you can to draw closer to the Lord. Continue to read His word and pray, praise and worship. Pray for God to subdue your feelings and help you to keep them under control. God is faithful to answer. And if those hormonal urges don’t go away, it is not a death sentence, it does not mean that you are cursed or going to hell. It means that you are human. And you are still a child of God.
Our greatest weapon is the Word of God and the gift of Worship. Seeking intimacy with the Lord above all else is the most important thing you could do to help control those urges. God will weigh your heart and He already knows who loves Him and who desires to honor Him. If you feel conviction, continue to pray through it. And at the same time, bind and rebuke anything that tries to come against you. Remember, guilt is of the enemy and makes us feels condemned. But conviction is from God and gives us peace and mercy while we strive to be more like Him.
God loves you and there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love.
Romans 8:31-39 (NLT) “Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love”
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God bless you!
Father God, we thank You for never leaving or forsaking us. We thank You for the blessing of prayer and the gift of worship. We thank You that You lend Your ear to us and hear our prayers. We ask that You would fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to maintain control over the flesh. We thank You that You have blessed us with the gift of desiring intimacy with whom You have ordained to be our spouse. If I find myself in the waiting period to receive the gift of marriage, I ask that You would help me to seek more of You, to immerse myself in communion with You, in Your Word, in praise and worship.
Help me to keep my eyes on You, Lord. And when my body is behaving as You have created it to be, I ask that You would help me to overcome by keeping my mind and heart cleansed of lust and sin, that I may remain righteous in Your sight. I also ask that You would forgive me for any sins known or unknown, Lord, past, present and future. I thank You for Your forgiveness through my repentance. I thank You for Your grace, which is that unmerited favor You give to us freely. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that makes us righteous. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You, Lord. Thank You Father God for everything You do, we love You for everything You are. We give You all the honor, glory and praise, in Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.
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