Masturbation Part 2

There was a lot of discussion on my previous blog about masturbation. Some of the questions that were raised were:

Is it possible to masturbate without lust?

What about the fact that a lot of masturbation is pornography based?

What if I’m addicted to masturbation?

I’m going to address these questions one at a time, however, I am not an expert. This is my personal opinion based on my personal experiences and relationship with God. I don’t expect everyone to agree and at the end of the day, we all choose for ourselves. I also want to clarify that this particular discussion around masturbation is geared at single/unmarried people and not related to masturbation within the context marriage – that is another discussion for another time. My motivation for writing about this is to help people like myself who were raised with legalistic views of the topic and need permission to talk about the subject and fresh ideas about how to express their sexuality.

Masturbation and lust are not synonymous.

Just as it is possible to have a wet dream or nocturnal emission (females have them too) without lust, it is possible to masturbate without lust. I’ve masturbated with my thoughts focused on men, I’ve masturbated with my thoughts focused on my body and physical sensations, and I’ve masturbated with my thoughts focused on God. Now, I’m not saying that every time we focus on male or female anatomy during masturbation it is always lustful, but for argument’s sake, let’s talk about the other options of focusing on one’s own body and on God.

It was my husband (when we were dating) who first suggested to me that people can masturbate and worship God at the same time. He asked how can we honour God with the sexuality He’s given us in our singleness? This got me wondering is it possible to do so in a way beyond just being chaste? I’m not talking about fantasising about having sex with God, I am talking about masturbating before God. He is the one who created us as sexual beings. He sees and knows everything right? So whether we are masturbating with pornography, having sex with a person or masturbating on our own, He is right there with us, loving and accepting us exactly where we are at. So why not turn our hearts toward him in gratitude for our sexuality, and enjoy sexual expression in his presence?

It is possible to masturbate to worship music, masturbate with prayer and masturbate with our thoughts on God’s love for us. My husband and I have both individually masturbated to worship music. For me personally, I have always been aware of God’s presence while I masturbate. Whether I’m feeling irrational guilt and shame (that don’t come from God but rather taint my experience of him) or I’m feeling God’s love and acceptance of me and my sexuality, His love is a constant that we all need to focus on it more. It is also possible to masturbate with lust and still know that God is there and that he still loves you and, in fact, the more you are aware of his love for you, the more likely you are to let go of the lust that entangles.

It is not necessary to kick God out of the bedroom (not that anyone could). Instead we need to recognise that God is actually in the bedroom while we express our sexuality. Let’s re-contextualise our experience of God during masturbation and/or sex by including him. Invite Him to teach us about our bodies. Thank Him for orgasms. If you struggle to orgasm, ask Him to help you. Receive His love, acceptance and forgiveness for all the things we’ve done that we perceive as sexually impure, and ask Him to teach us more about healthy sexual expression in His presence.

During masturbation we become quite attentive to our bodies. I want to talk about the second question “What about the fact that a lot of masturbation is pornography based?” in the context of focusing on our bodies. When we are focused on pictures of naked men or women, we lose some of the connection to the feelings and sensations in our bodies, our hearts and our minds by relying on external material to stimulate us, rather than listening internally. I am not discussing the morality of using porn, I’m talking about the effects of relying on porn.

If you are a regular pornography user, ask yourself this: “Can I masturbate without porn?” If the answer is no or that it has become difficult to masturbate to the point of orgasm without porn, then I suggest a re-invention of your sexuality. Approach it like an adventure: it is time for me to re-discover my body. I don’t want to just rely on external materials to bring me to a climax, I want to be able to do this to myself. This requires listening to one’s body: tuning into physical sensation.

Here is my best attempt at instructions:

  1. Don’t be in a rush
  2. Take some very deep breaths, deep into your loins
  3. Focus on the air circulating throughout the body
  4. Breathe out all that is distracting and hindering you
  5. Breathe in thoughts of love like: “I am loved. God loves me.”
  6. Concentrate on your sex organs and welcome the stimulation that comes from simply sensing internally
  7. Move your body in ways that sexually stimulate you without touching your sexual organs e.g. tighten muscles, raise/lower or extend/retract pelvis, etc
  8. Delay manual stimulation for as long as you can by focusing your thoughts on the sensations in your body and on emotions of nurturing your sexuality
  9. If you feel turned-off by thoughts of nurturing your sexuality, ask yourself why and really listen to the answer. Are there religious lies that stop you? Do you see all forms of sexual arousal as ungodly?
  10. Ask God to change the way you think about your sexuality and to help re-invigorate your sexual expression without always needing pornography and without attaching guilt to all forms of masturbation

Now we turn to the final question: what if I’m addicted to masturbation? In my opinion there are healthier things to consider first. We need to be addressing things like:

  1. How do I feel about God when I masturbate? Since God sees everything I do sexually, am I comfortable with my sexuality before God?
  2. If shame/guilt feelings arise it is important to prayerfully ask God whether they are produced by healthy behaviour or unhealthy behaviour. I can’t tell you exactly where to draw the line on what is healthy or unhealthy, but to be more specific I don’t believe we need to feel guilty for all forms of masturbation. So if guilt feelings arise in this area, we need to ask God for help to remove it. If guilt feelings are produced by behaviours or thoughts we consider unhealthy then we need God’s help to re-invent our sexuality in ways that we believe are healthy.
  3. What are my thoughts about others when I masturbate? Let’s be honest: we’ve probably all had some unhealthy thoughts toward other people during masturbation. The best solution I can think of is focusing more on our own bodies and on God than on other people (while we are still single).
  4. How do I feel about myself when I masturbate: am I nurturing my sexuality or abusing it?
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself for the things you have done that you perceive as “wrong.” Let God’s grace into every area of your sexuality and turn your attention more to what you can do that is healthy, and less to what you have done that may not have been so healthy.


Is Masturbation a Sin?

Have you ever heard anyone tell you to let your conscience be your guide? Back in the days when I used to let my conscience be my guide, I felt guilty about everything. I thought that picking my nose was a sin–and yes, most of the time I ate the fruit I picked! My first attempt at shaving my legs made me feel so guilty that I reverted back to not shaving them, until I saw someone staring at my hairy legs on a bus one time and decided: enough was enough! I debated dying my hair for a really long time before having it done. I was never comfortable with the lengths I saw females go to, to make themselves “beautiful.” I worried about the sins of vanity and pride. I also believed it was a sin to be overweight, and I felt very ugly in my own skin. But I strangely suspected that there was something holier about being plain and ugly than about being beautiful and … well … sexual.

If I were to let my conscience be my guide, I would have a miserable life in which I avoided doing anything that might have the slightest appearance of being “wrong.” But when I was in high school, one of my teachers told me about a “seared conscience.” He said there were kids out there who were able to commit murder without feeling any remorse whatsoever, because they had a seared conscience. It was then that I realised that no one’s conscience can be trusted. No two consciences are the same. I might feel like it’s sinful for me to shave my legs because God put hair there on purpose, but most women in western society would never think twice about shaving their legs because it is socially accepted. The Bible tells us that our hearts–which I believe includes our consciences–are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).

In a similar way, when I started masturbating at age 22, I felt sick with disgust. I was convinced I would never do it again after that fateful first time (in another country–might I add), but I was already addicted. We really can, as human beings, hate the things we love and love the things we hate. I spent the next five years feeling guilty every time I gave into the desire to masturbate, which was about once a month. Sometimes I cried afterward and I prayed and begged God to make me stop. My conscience told me it was a sin.

But interestingly, the Bible never once ever addresses masturbation. You would think that if masturbation was a sin, then Leviticus 18 would have something to say about it in its extensive list against certain sexual behaviours. But it says nothing whatsoever about touching one’s own sex organs, sexual arousal, wet dreams, erections, orgasms or masturbation. Similarly in the New Testament when Paul addresses sex and marriage, he says nothing about touching oneself or getting off and he certainly doesn’t say it’s wrong. If anything, he says that those who burn with passion should get married. I can make a stronger biblical case against wearing make-up, jewellery and cutting hair than I can against masturbation.

There are a lot of mixed opinions about masturbation. I’ve heard some people label it “self-gratification,” and declare it a sin because we should be seeking God for our needs, not trying to satisfy the lusts of our flesh. But when you think about this argument logically, is it self-gratification to eat food? Who is going to determine whether the food is a gift from God, or whether it was the selfish indulgence of the consumer?

Other people say that masturbation is healthy for the body. But then again, sex is also healthy for the body. Some say that masturbation takes away the temptation to have pre-marital or extra-marital sex, while others testify that once they started masturbating, sex was the next logical step. At the end of the day, all I can do is open up the discussion by talking about my own experience in this area. You will have to decide for yourself whether you find this practise healthy or unhealthy.

My experience is that after five years of feeling ashamed of myself every time I succumbed to the feelings in my vagina that demanded my attention, I decided not to trust my feelings anymore. After talking with a pastor and a naturopath, I concluded that it was healthy for me to masturbate, since I was not having sex, and my body was horny. In deciding not to trust my feelings, I learned how to retrain those feelings. This might be called desensitisation, but one can’t assume that desensitisation is always a negative thing. Our ears become desensitised to certain sounds so that we do not become distracted every time a bird sings or a car drives past the window.

In order to retrain my feelings around masturbation, I decided to deliberately masturbate much more regularly and to self-soothe if I experienced any guilty or negative feelings afterward. There were times I bawled my eyes out after masturbation, called myself a slutty whore and prayed that I would just stop experiencing all sexual arousal. My feelings were often extreme because I had learned to feel wrong about all things sexual. I needed to learn to tell myself that everything was okay. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a slut or not because God still loves me. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and I refuse to continue feeling guilty. God made me sexually female. He gave me my sexual organs. In fact he gave me a clitoris on purpose and the only function a clitoris has is sexual pleasure! If my body can orgasm in my sleep–and it can and has–then how can it possibly be a sin to enjoy climaxing?