The act of masturbation is a very controversial topic in Christianity. Most people are divided into one of two groups. They either fall on the ‘masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy’ side of the dichotomy, or the ‘masturbation is a sin’ side.
It needs to first be stated that the Bible never specifically addressed masturbation and many high-ranking Christian figures disagree on the moral and spiritual implications of self-stimulation. One could argue that labelling it as a ‘sin’, would not be of any benefit.
The Bible refers to the meaning, and purpose, of sexuality. There are two seminal points made in the Bible that can help us to further investigate this topic. The first is that the Bible states that “… a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This is taken from Genesis 2:24. The second pivotal point conveyed is very much the same as the previous extract, with a little extra to help us out, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
This extract hails from Ephesians 5:31-32. This could lead us to believe that sex, and therefore masturbation, is not supposed to be ‘all about me’, instead it is supposed to function as a relationship between two people.
Remember, the Bible is open to interpretation and the passages above can be interpreted in a huge amount of ways. For example, it could be interpreted as by becoming ‘one flesh’ the woman has become an extension of the man and therefore he no longer has to take care of his own desires, if you catch my meaning. It is so important to avoid piling guilt onto teenagers when they are at such an impressionable and delicate age.
Often, the desire to masturbate at this age is too much to resist, so it could be argued that the best method to approach this problem, is to educate them that masturbation is not compatible with the purpose of sex, to produce children. Some say that masturbation shouldn’t be stopped, but it also shouldn’t be encouraged, as God created men and women so that they could experience sexual fulfillment together.
Masturbation, it seems, can become pretty addictive and if we are to abide by the words of Jesus, in Matthew 5:28, it could be argued that anything that is addictive can be a serious breach of one’s mental and spiritual ‘purity’. On the other hand, some Bible verses seem to sway towards the more positive side of the argument regarding self-fulfilment. A prime example of this is Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This verse seems to suggest that the ‘temptations’ facing all of us are common and that God has provided humans with a ‘method to endure these’.
The Bible refers to the fact that committing sins are wrong, but nowhere does it state that masturbation is a sin. In John 8:34, it is written that “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
This is acknowledged as referring to sins as being negative, no-one disputes that. However, it again needs to be said that ‘masturbation’ is never mentioned and is therefore never classified as a sin. One could argue that verses such as Matthew 5:30, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell…” could possibly refer to the act of masturbation, but then it could also be maintained that this is purely subjective.
The rocky foundations that masturbation is a sin have been discussed. It has been acknowledged that the topic of masturbation has split the church into a dichotomy. It could be suggested that if you are concerned about this topic, or are concerned about your teenager or child, a soft, caring approach to the subject would be most beneficial. If it is your belief that masturbation is wrong, that is fine, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Conversely, if you believe that masturbation is healthy and normal, this is also fine.
The Bible can be interpreted as you, or your church denomination, believe. Remember, that teenagers are going through a lot of changes in their bodies and need your help and support to guide them through these. One approach, if you fall into the against camp, could be to talk about the scientific, and Biblical, reason for sexual intercourse and desires, with the opinion that sex happens for a reason and should be with another person. Whatever approach, or standpoint, you take you can ensure that your children feel safe enough to discuss this sensitive topic with you. This can help tremendously.