“I’m confused. I went to two Christian counsellors and they told me that as long as I wasn’t looking at porn, masturbation was okay. Then I came to your conference and multiple speakers said it wasn’t in God’s will for me. Can you help me understand?”
This meeting was with a man who, like so many, felt shame over masturbation, but had been told it was okay and didn’t know why it wasn’t mentioned in the Bible.
How can you say God has an opinion on it when the Bible doesn’t say the word?
God’s Word is not a book full of do’s and don’ts. God is not a dictator primarily interested in us following His every rule.
What God is, is love. He is interested in relationship with us. He is interested in knowing us and having us know Him.
Married couples will tell you that after decades of marriage, they’re still finding things about each other. Learning about the character and the makeup of the one you’re in relationship with is fun and grows the intimacy you get to experience.
Proverbs 25:2 says:
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
God’s Word is a constant revealing of God’s character. Instead of giving us 613 rules to follow and things to put on our to-do (or not-to-do) list, He wrote the Bible to reveal His character to those who genuinely want to know Him.
Jesus constantly says, “He who has ears, let them hear.” He spoke in parables because it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but He allows us to have glory by searching that out. He hides truths in His word that He wants us to discover - and it’s all to increase our knowledge of, and intimacy with, Jesus, the lover of our souls.
Therefore, knowing the truth about masturbation is intended to increase our intimacy with Jesus.
As widespread as porn use is in our world, masturbation is a FAR more common occurrence. People rarely watch porn without masturbation, but many will masturbate without porn. Couple this reality with the fact that knowing His opinion on the matter is meant to increase our love for Him and you can start to see why it’s so damaging for pastors and counsellors to encourage Christians to engage in it without a Biblical foundation.
Some will say, “The Bible doesn’t mention it, therefore it might be okay.” However, the Bible doesn’t mention it, so it’s also possible that it might not be okay!
If the Bible is complete, don’t you think the answer is in there? He might just be giving us a chance to “search out a matter,” so that we can share in the glory He has for us.
To justify masturbation by saying that the Bible doesn’t mention it is to suggest that the Bible is incomplete and that you have more thoughts on the matter than God does.
Careful with this!
Why doesn’t the Bible mention masturbation?
God begins revealing His character to us right from the start. In Genesis 1, He says “Let us make man, in our image.”
Those are both plural words. We are starting to ‘search out a matter’ here. God the Father is taking action here with His Son and His Spirit. He could have said, “Hey Jesus, hey, Spirit. Go keep busy. I’m going to make some people on my own over here.”
He doesn’t do that. Why? He’s in intimate relationship with them. Everything He does from here on out, He does with those He’s in intimate relationship with.
This continues with mankind. He says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing, but with me you can do all things.”
He’s bringing us into an intimate relationship with Him because that is a part of His character that He’s revealing. He wants us to live in the same way, with the same character, that He does.
1 Peter 1:16:
“Be holy, because I am holy.”
Therefore, God’s desire for us has to be that everything we do is done with those we’re in intimate relationships with (spouses, friends, or God Himself).
Moving onto talk about sex, we see this trend continue. Every time God talks about sex positively in the Bible, it’s in the context of a husband and wife in marriage. Since masturbation is a solo sexual act, how could it be in line with God’s will for us? It’s done apart from those we’re intimate with.
There are countless examples in Scripture to point to, but to save time, here’s just one more: Paul writes for couples to always please each other sexually in marriage (1 Corinthians 7). He says that they should only take a time out from sex for a time of prayer and fasting, but not for too long, or else they’ll give into sexual temptation. Since prayer and fasting are so powerful, he could have said, “In order to keep it going, just masturbate when sexual urges come so that you don’t have to stop praying and fasting!” Instead, he is showing that it is MORE important that couples only get satisfaction from each other (not from themselves) than it is that they continue to pray and fast!
When we have a Biblical foundation for masturbation, it makes us more sure of how to respond when tempting thoughts come.
God doesn’t need to mention that masturbation is not in line with His will because we know what God’s will IS for sex, so He doesn’t need to outline all of the activites that don’t fit within those guidelines. That would be wasting ink. He wants us to search out some matters for ourselves and He gave us His Spirit to help us do that.
Here’s good news!
God's not mad at you if you've masturbated. He is simply longing to fill the hole in your heart or trump the lie in your mind that leads you to masturbation.
He's calling you higher.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, God says we should learn to control our bodies in a way that is holy and honourable to Him in the midst of sexual temptation. When urges to masturbate come, inviting God into those moments brings honour to Him.
Masturbation looks to solve a longing of the heart, whether it’s comfort, escape from pain, excitement, or a number of other desires. At times, it also looks to solve pressure we feel physically. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter in those times, we get to experience His presence and guidance in our lives. Instead of gritting our teeth to try to resist temptation, let's bring God into the moment of temptation so that He can be the One who satisfies our every longing. This increases our love relationship with Him and sets us up for increased passion for God and knowledge of His nearness to us.
Recommending or engaging in masturbation hinders our intimacy with Jesus and teaches us to hide, feel shame, and engage in a selfish sexual act. Instead, God has designed sex to be selfless and our urges to lead us into living honourably and holy with Him.
Pray this prayer when temptation comes:
“God, I know I am alive to know you and glorify you above all else. I will glorify you in this moment. Thank you that you love me and you are with me. I am satisfied in your love. In the light of your love for me, everything in this world seems so temporary and dim. I will glorify your name.”
He will answer!
Our Pure Victory Podcast episode, "Masturbation: Helpful or Harmful?" covers fascinating scientific and emotional effects caused by masturbation. Listen HERE.
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