Masturbation is built on a self-centered view of sex. This wrong attitude says that sex is solely about you and your pleasure. Your body. Your genitals. Your orgasm. This is the natural tendency of sin. It isolates us from others and makes pleasure self-focused. When our lustful desires are given free rein, sex is pushed into a corner and made a completely self-centered, isolated experience that reinforces a self-centered view of life.
The answer to this question isn’t lacking for opinions. Some people would say that masturbation is normal and amoral, while others believe masturbation is always wrong—i.e. a real moral issue.
How might we assess these various opinions?
First, as Christians we certainly wouldn’t align with the view that masturbation is amoral. We may concede that it’s normal, but that doesn’t put it outside the question of right and wrong. Obviously, when lust enters the picture we’re dealing with a real moral issue.
Some would argue that masturbation is permissible for the pubescent or pre-married individual as long as they don’t lust after another person. In fact, some believe it’s okay for a man to masturbate, in particular (and not to be crude) in order to release a sperm buildup, assuming he doesn’t lust in the process. Obviously, there are innocent acts of masturbation for children who are in the self-discovery stage. As parents we don’t want our children to think there’s anything wrong with figuring out their anatomy or having a simple case of the curiosities. But that’s mere child’s play. And probably shouldn’t even be labeled masturbation. It has nothing to do with lust because the kids I’m referring to haven’t even reached puberty.
Then there are those who have reached puberty and still masturbate—even regularly. Is this wise? I don’t think so. It’s a little like playing with fire. Just because our body feels the need for a certain type of release doesn’t mean we should cave in to our desires. As humans we have many desires in life, and nothing will erode our discipline quicker than constantly giving in to our desires. I’d rather offer my advice on the side of caution versus give a free pass in the name of some sexual release.
While I can understand how a pre-pubescent child may have innocently masturbated and even continued to do so without lusting into puberty, my fear is that if he continues with this behavior it’ll only be a matter of time before he begins connecting his lusts to masturbation. When this connection feels like the perfect match, he may end up with some real challenges.
With these thoughts in mind, let me offer a few warnings.
First, realize that masturbation exhibits a lack of self-control. According to the Bible, self-control is a virtue, and is even described as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Many people are controlled by their next episode of masturbation. Christ doesn’t want us mastered by anything but Him!
Secondly, masturbation can cultivate a self-centered and pleasure-seeking appetite that warps one’s view of biblical sex. That’s a frightening thought and should cause us to reserve all forms of sexual pleasure for marital love.
Thought to Ponder
Masturbation ultimately weakens the will, warps the mind, and wrecks one’s emotions.
This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).
One-Minute Apologist Video: Bobby Conway, “Is Masturbation a Sin?”