Why do married men masturbate?

Married couple quarrels in bed. Depressed man sitting on the edge of the bed, focus on man

Jay Dee, a blogger who writes on his blog sexwithinmarrage.com, wrote a post entitled “Why do married men masturbate?” This is one of many blogs that I wish to respond to, as the Lord grants me the time. As believers our first and foremost responsibility is to bring honor and glory to God with our lives, but how we do that is sometimes where we disagree.

In my efforts to bring God glory, I am on a mission to set men free from the secular based tyranny of feminism on one side, and the religious based tyranny of Christian asceticism on the other side.

Feminism attacks masculinity (especially male sexuality) from the perspective that man’s physical, visual and polygynous sexual nature is somehow shallow. They attack men for looking at, or enjoying the view of beautiful women and accuse them of “objectifying woman”.

Asceticism is the belief that one must severely discipline his body, and avoid all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

Christianity had its own form of asceticism begin while the Apostles were still preaching and Paul actually referenced it and attacked it (Colossians 2:18-23). Just think “monks in a monastery” and you will understand what asceticism when taken to its fullest extent.

The unfortunate truth is, there is still much Asceticism in the Church today, throughout almost every Christian denomination. Many good preachers and teachers, believing they are fighting for holiness and purity put the men in their churches under the yoke of bondage to asceticism.

I have written many positive affirmations on this site from a Biblical viewpoint, about man’s physical, visual and polygynous sexual nature. I encourage you to check them out.

With all that said as a background, I must call my brother in Christ to task on his false teaching that solo masturbation without one’s wife present is adultery. Jay Dee’s full post can be found at http://sexwithinmarriage.com/why-do-married-men-masturbate/

We see the same facts, but we interpret them very differently

Jay Dee starts out with facts about who masturbates. I will list just a few and add my response:

“In 1996 a Promise Keepers survey at a stadium event revealed that over 50% of the attending men were involved with pornography in the last week.  You can bet that number is lower than reality as most people wouldn’t admit it.  Plus, this is only in the last week.”

While Jay Dee would tell these men this was wicked, I would first ask these men what they were calling “pornography”. We must understand there is good and bad pornography, even Jay Dee on his site talks about “Christian Porn”. He simply narrowly defines it as husband and wife taking pictures of themselves, and they are the only ones that see them.

I would define “Christian Porn” in a broader sense as any imagery NOT containing group sex, bestiality, rape, underage minors, homosexuality or any kind abusive sexual behavior. What that means is, any picture of a naked woman by herself or any pictures of heterosexual sex between a man and a woman are completely acceptable by Biblical standards.

If you are thinking this is where lust comes in, you might not know what Biblical lust is. Lust is NOT simply being sexually aroused by someone of the opposite sex, it is the thought and intent to possess the person sexually outside of marriage.

I would first try to find out – how many of these men at Promise Keepers were looking at bad porn(as I have defined it above), and I am willing to bet I would shave that 50% number down quite a bit. But even for those men who were truly looking at bad porn, imagery that would violate God’s laws regarding sexuality, I would show them there is a better way, there is a way to enjoy their God given male sexuality without sin.

I would show them they can look at Christian porn, porn that stays within the boundaries of God’s design and laws for how we can enjoy our sexuality.

By the way here is a Christian site that does offer “Christian pornography” that stays within the bounds of God’s law – http://restoringchristiansexuality.com/christian-porn-galleries/

“29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group)”

So that means we need to convince the 71% percent of those who oppose viewing sexually explicit behavior to realize that sex, within God’s boundaries, is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with a married man or woman being turned on sexually by the site of someone of the opposite sex, it is what you do with that arousal that becomes sin or not. Are you thinking of looking up that person so you can find them and have sex with them? If not there is no lust, there is no sin here.

“61% of married Christian men masturbate”

Ok I would venture to guess that about 31% percent lied about not masturbating, and there might be actually 10% of married men who either are married to very sexually active women (women who want sex more than they do), or they are torturing themselves day in and day out, battling their sexual nature as designed by God, because someone like Jay Dee told them it was a sin.

Jay Dee quotes Matthew and gives his interpretation:

Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If you are masturbating and thinking about someone other than your wife, this is adultery.  Plain and simple.”

Sorry Jay Dee, but “looks lustfully” has nothing to do with sexual arousal or fantasy, it has to do with sexual covetousness as Paul states in Romans:

“for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7

So you, I or any other Christian man can enjoy the sight of, the image of, or the memory of any woman, married or single, and we can even masturbate to their beauty as long as we are not thinking of or scheming to try and actually possess them sexually outside of marriage.

Jay Dee then quotes Ephesians and give his interpretation:

Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Now, the standing that masturbating is sexual immorality is weak, so I’m not going to argue that one here.  But I will argue that a lot of spouses are masturbating out of greed.  They are taking what they want where they can get it instead of where God designed your sexual energy to be focused at (a man’s wife).”

Masturbation is not sexual immorality, and neither this passage, nor any other passage of Scripture says so. “The hint of sexual immorality” does not mean that no program we ever watch on TV, or any book we read can feature an unmarried couple that lives together, or has sex outside of marriage. The “hint” is regarding our own lives as Christians, we ourselves, cannot have a hint of sexual immorality in our own lives, whether that is sex outside of marriage, or adultery or any other kind of sexual sin.

Jay Dee does give us a “hint” of his own, where he is headed with his post when he says “God designed your sexual energy to be focused at (a man’s wife)”. I will respond to this when he fully reveals his thinking later.

Jay Dee continues:

1 Timothy 1:18-19 – Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

Here Paul tells Timothy to hold on to the faith and a good conscience.  As we saw earlier from the stats, most men who are masturbating do not have a clear conscious about it.”

I realize most men do not have a clear conscious about masturbating and do you know why? It is because they have been taught by their parents, their pastors and many others in our culture that this is somehow deviant or bad behavior. This is one of the main missions I have on this site, to help men rid themselves of the heavy burden of guilt that is put on them for masturbating, not by God, but by the traditions of men.

The last verse in this section Jay Dee quotes comes from I Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;

And a call to control yourself, to not be overtaken by passionate lusts.”

Again – masturbation is not sexual immorality. Lust is coveting something (thinking about to actually possess something) that God did not intend for us to have. God did not intend for us to have sex with a woman outside of marriage, so if we are having thoughts of how we can convince a woman, married or single, to have sex with us, without us first being married to her – then we have lusted. This is the “passionate lust” the Apostle Paul is speaking of.

But then Jay Dee comes to his true reason that he actually believes masturbation (apart from doing it with your spouse) is sin:

“But, I think the largest argument is not an explicit verse, but rather the overriding message of the Bible with regard to marriage and sexuality.  100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse.”

Really??? What Bible verse did you get that from? “100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse”?

It is interesting that he uses the term “sexual energy” because that encompasses the visual, the thoughts as well as the physical. Every jealous woman in America is applauding his “100%” percent rule, but that does not make it any more correct than when he uttered the statement.

I agree that 100% of any sexual touching or talking (oral sex, sexual kissing, manual sex and intercourse, phone sex, web cam sex) is to be only with a woman that we are married to. But we as men are no more disallowed from enjoying the view, and being aroused by the sight other beautiful women than we are of enjoying the sight of food or the smell of food that sits on another man’s plate. As long as we don’t try to sneak a bite of his food, or plot how to take it when he is not looking, we have not sinned.

Jay Dee then applies his principle of 100% sexual energy:

“That means when you are unmarried, you are not expending sexual energy.  Otherwise, by doing so, you are cheating on your future spouse.  We call this fornication.  When you are married, you focus all your energy on your spouse.  If you don’t, we call this adultery.  So, if one is married and masturbating alone, focusing his sexual energy on something other than his spouse (porn or an idealistic version of his wife, or just focusing on his own pleasure), then I’m going to call that adultery, and the Bible is very clear on that.”

Jay Dee is actually putting a huge yoke of bondage on young men, or married men (especially with those whose wives are sick or have very low sex drives) by saying “when you are unmarried, you are not expending sexual energy”. Apparently Jay Dee does not remember being a teenage boy or young man in college. Jay Dee has literally declared war on male sexuality with that statement.

God did not give men their sexual nature, only for them to completely suppress it until they are married. Again while his intentions may be good, Jay Dee’s teaching here is utterly false.

Men need to channel their sexuality and it is true they cannot experience their sexuality to its fullest with physical sexual contact with a woman, until they are married to that woman. God gives us this rule for many reasons, one of the biggest being for our own protection, and the protection of women.

But God did give young men the wonderful tool of masturbation. They can freely, and without any guilt whatsoever, enjoy the view of beautiful women and they can masturbate to those beautiful thoughts without feeling ONE BIT SINFUL.

Jay Dee in the end of his post, reveals why he has taken such a strong stand on masturbation:

“Now, I say this in all love, having struggled with all this before.  I have a 15 year history with porn addiction, from teenage years through most of my marriage.  There were times I could not perform sexually because I had already masturbated too many times that day.  There were times I avoided sexual encounters because I was worried my wife would realized I was being sexually active without her.  And at all times I was hiding something from my wife.”

Jay Dee has pulled what I call a “Billy Sunday”. What happens to many good Christian men is, because they used to abuse something that is not sinful in and of itself, they have to convince themselves that not just the abuse of it, but the thing itself is entirely sinful and of no use.

Billy Sunday was a famous Baptist preacher, who before he got saved, was baseball player. He was a horrible drunk and it almost ruined his life. So when he got saved, he was convinced that alcohol itself was the devils drink. He almost single handedly brought about prohibition by going throughout the country preaching against the evils of alcohol.

Now I fully believe alcohol can be abused, and if you think you might have a tendency to get drunk, or someone in your household has trouble with it, then you ought not to have it there. But if you know how to use it properly and in measure, God does not call alcohol a sin, only the abuse of it.

It is the same way with masturbation, since Jay Dee truly did abuse masturbation, where it caused him to have erectile dysfunction while performing his sexual duties with his wife,  and it caused him to sometimes avoid sex with his wife, he was sinning by masturbating TOO MUCH.  His erectile dysfunction may have been caused by his fear of his wife knowing about his masturbation, or because masturbating too much actually causes ED in many men, it makes no difference, the point is, his masturbation caused issues in his sex life with his wife.

What is this “hiding something from his wife”? What Scripture passage says a husband cannot hide anything from his wife? Some men have to hide money from their wives, even in separate bank accounts, so their wives won’t blow it all. Other men because of the secrecy of the work they do cannot share things with their wives.

Unless a husband is hiding something sinful, a man does not have to tell his wife everything he does. Certainly if a man is having an affair with another woman, that he ought to come clean and confess this “actual sin” to his wife. I am not advocating for hiding sin. But a man looking at beautiful women, or even keeping a collection of images of beautiful women and keeping it from his wife is not a sin.

Jay Dee ends by answering the main question:

“So, to answer the question, why do married men masturbate?  I think there are three reasons:

  1. Ignorance – They don’t realize what effect it might be having on their marriage

  2. Selfishness – They know but don’t care, they are just chasing an orgasm

  3. Addiction – Some are addicted, and they need help.  Loving, but firm, help.

My answer to why married men masturbate would follow more in line with Scripture, the sexual design of men by God, and biology:

  1. It is ignorant for a man NOT to masturbate, especially if he is a young man, because it will help him to learn about his body, keep him from ACTUALLY sinning(have sexual touch or relations with a woman)
  2. It is no more selfish for man to masturbate, then it is for him to eat food, it is part of the bodily design that God has given him.
  3. Yes just as someone can become addicted to food, they can become addicted to masturbation, apparently as Jay Dee was in his former life. But food is not sinful in and of itself, and neither is masturbation.
  4. Men masturbate because their sexual nature is much more physically based than a woman’s nature typically is (although there is nothing wrong with a woman masturbating either). His body needs that sexual release, else he can become cranky and frustrated, or he may fall into sin by having ACTUAL sex with a girl because he has not used the natural release valve God gave him – masturbation.

A word to Christian wives reading this post

You may have come hear, because you either caught your husband masturbating(for instance at his computer) or he admitted to you that he does – perhaps even feeling guilty about it. You can take the truths I have shown here, as well as the many articles on why masturbation can actually be healthy and good for a man(or a woman), and you can grow together and help him to not feel guilty.  Your marriage can grow stronger and closer as a result.

This will also require you to sacrifice your pride as a woman, the romantic ideals that you have been raised with that your husband should “only have eyes for you”. You will have to ask God to rid you of your jealousy (a problem that many women in the Bible faced). It will require you to fully accept your husband’s sexuality as God designed it, not as you would have it.

Your other option is to force your husband to war against his God given sexuality in a futile attempt to meet your jealous demands. But this war against his God given sexuality, will never be over, and you and he will continually find yourselves frustrated in in attempt to battle something God never intended for you to battle.

Christian wives – the choice is yours.

Conclusion

Jay Dee, like so many other Christian Ascetics we see online, in print, or in pulpits across America, is a good Christian man with good intentions. However as you can see in his post, he offers not ONE shred of Biblical support for his belief that masturbation is wrong because “100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse.”

How to overcome the guilt associated with Masturbation

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I have had many Christian men ask me about this question and I decided it was time to take on the “guilt” side of masturbation. For some it was a parent scolding them and for others it was a Sunday school teacher or Pastor telling them that masturbation was a heinous sin the eyes of God. Perhaps it was the stories told of a man named Onan in the Bible who was killed for masturbating.

Guilt is not a bad thing, if we are feeling it for actual sin. But often times as believers, we are made to feel guilty for things that are not sins. Christian teachers add things to God’s law, and then try and heap guilt on other believers for doing things that God has given us the freedom in Christ to do.

I am not saying all these teachers have nefarious motives. Many of them are guided by good intentions, and they genuinely believe they are serving God by teaching men to not only fight against sexual sin, but to also suppress their God-given, male sexuality.

The way to fight guilt about masturbation, is the same solution to most every problem in the Christian life. We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts, memorize his Word, and mediate upon it. Below I list 8 Biblical principles, and the Scriptures upon which they are founded. If you will just mediate upon these passages, I promise that the guilt of masturbation will eventually fade from your mind, and will become only a bad memory. You can finally have that peace that passes all understanding.

Open Bible, with textured granite background.

God recognizes masturbation as a normal bodily function

In Leviticus 15, God recognizes three distinct bodily functions. The first is a man having an emission of semen, separate and distinct from having sex with a woman. The second emission of semen is during sex with a woman. The third discharge, is the blood a woman has when she menstruates. What is interesting here is God never says any of these bodily functions are sin, because if they were a sacrifice would have to be made. Instead they were only “unclean” until evening. This had to do with disease prevention, and nothing to do with sin. If God though a man having an emission of semen was sinful, then he would have demanded a sacrifice for it.

Open Bible, with textured granite background.

Onan was not killed for masturbating

First of all, the context of Genesis 38:6-10 is not even of masturbation, but of “pulling out”. This is when a man is about to ejaculate while having sexual intercourse, he pulls out to let his semen fall on the ground.

For centuries, and even to this day, some Church teachers have wrongly taught that God struck down Onan for masturbating. This could not be further from the truth. The truth of the matter is, he was struck down for not fulfilling his duty of Leveratite marriage to raise up an heir for his brother’s estate, and especially for the deceptive way in which he did it. He would enjoy his brother’s wife sexually, but instead of doing his duty and ejaculating inside her to give her a child, he would pull out. This was the heinousness of his crime and the reason God struck him dead.

Open Bible, with textured granite background.

Masturbation is NOT selfishness

Ephesians 5:29(HCSB)

A common tactic of anti-masturbation Church teachers is to claim that masturbation is an act of selfishness. First let us point out that the Scriptures never teach that masturbation is a selfish activity. As stated in Biblical truth #1, God even acknowledges masturbation as normal bodily function, in the same vein as sexual intercourse and women having periods. If masturbation was a sin, he would have stated it was in Leviticus 15, instead of comparing it to activities we know are not sin, such as sexual intercourse and a woman menstruating.

Put another way, if masturbation is a selfish activity, then so is having sex with one’s wife, and so is a woman having her period. Masturbation is no more selfish than it is to eat or drink, or to have a bowel movement. These are all natural bodily functions. Is it selfish to enjoy our favorite meal? Is it selfish to sit in a bath tub and enjoy a hot bath? Is selfish to take a vacation day and relax? Is it selfishness to read our favorite book or watch our favorite movie? No! Selfishness is not taking care one’s own body, or experiencing various pleasures that God allows, selfishness is when we ONLY think of our needs and wants, and not the needs and wants of anyone else around us.

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Masturbation is not the cause of Lust, Masturbation is the cure for Lust

1 Corinthians 10:13(HCSB)

Masturbation is not the temptation! This a lie that Satan wants us to believe, and many Church leaders throughout the centuries after the Apostles died, fell for this lie and many other lies. The temptation is to have premarital sex, or adulterous sex, or homosexual sex, the temptation is to commit sexual immorality.

Masturbation is actually the “way of escape” that God has given us to relieve our minds of the temptation to sin. Take for instance if a young collage age man is feeling tempted about having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. If he masturbates just before he goes on this date, his temptation to have pre-marital sex with be greatly lessened.

If a man is being denied sexually by his wife, and perhaps he is tempted by a woman at his work, masturbating can relieve this temptation.

Satan wants us to take away the gift of masturbation that God has given us, so that we will be more tempted to commit actual sexual sins.

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Sexual arousal and Sexual Fantasy are not Lust

Matthew 5:27-28(HSCB)

A common tactic used by many Church teachers is, if they will admit that the Bible never condemns masturbation specifically, they will say it condemns it implicitly because they say being sexually aroused by someone of the opposite sex you are not married to is lust, and this usually precedes, or comes during masturbation (sexual thoughts of another person). I actually agree that masturbation without any fantasy at all is very difficult, and can actually be very frustrating.

But the entire premise is wrong. Jesus never condemned sexual arousal or sexual fantasy in Matthew 5:27-28, what he condemned is the desire to possess another man’s wife. Literally he condemning sexual covetousness – which is the strong desire and the fantasizing about actually taking possession of a woman outside of marriage.

A man simply being aroused by the site of a beautiful woman is not Lust. Even if that man imagines what it would be like to have sex with that woman, still no lust has occurred. It is when he begins to plot, to think about how he could lure that woman into having sex with him outside of marriage, then he has lusted, then he has truly coveted her. And if he does not catch and confess his covetous thoughts, they may lead him to the physical act of adultery, instead of just the mental act of adultery.

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Is it not wrong for a young man to look upon, and sexually desire single young women

Job 31:1(KJV)

Can anyone seriously say with a straight face that they think Job was saying he never looked at any young ladies, or never thought any young ladies were pretty? That is not what he is talking about at all in Job 31. What Job is talking about is lusting after young women, and lusting in this case is a man thinking about, plotting, how to get young virgins into bed with him outside of marriage.

This builds upon Biblical truth #5, but more specifically targets young men, whether they be teenagers or young college students. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a young man sexually desiring, or getting sexual pleasure from looking at the young woman around him. There is nothing wrong with masturbating to thoughts about them either. In fact as we talked about in Biblical Truth #4, masturbation may keep you from having premarital sex with that young woman you are dating.

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Masturbation glorifies God

I Corinthians 10:31(HCSB)

“How does masturbating glorify God?” This is another question that might arise in your mind, or one that has been presented to you by a Christian who opposes masturbation. The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10 that even our eating and drinking has the capacity to glorify God. These are normal bodily functions that God has given us not only for survival, but also for our enjoyment. Therefore we honor God in any bodily function we perform, and even in the enjoyment of our body as long it does not violate God’s commands or his principles for Holy living. It also glorifies God by helping to keep us from real sexual sin (Biblical Truth #4)

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Do not submit to unbiblical rules and teachings that forbid masturbation

Colossians 2:18 & 21-23(HCSB)

Asceticism is the idea that by avoiding all things that give us pleasure in this world, we can attain a higher state of spirituality. This false teaching is not unique to Christianity and is found in many other faiths. Monks are good examples of those who follow ascetic teachings, denying themselves all forms of pleasure thinking it will bring them closer to God.

Asceticism had already crept into the Church while the Apostles were still alive and writing God’s Word. This is exactly what Paul was fighting against in Colossians 2. Unfortunately, not long after the Apostles died Asceticism poured into the churches. Eventually you had church teachers even teaching that it was a sin for a married couple to take pleasure in sex. Sex was seen only as a necessary evil for producing children and it was common for early church leaders to have married couples take vows of celibacy, lest they indulge in this “worldly pleasure”.

While modern Church teachers today no longer condemn taking pleasure from sex within marriage, they still continue to repress the normal sexuality with which God has designed us all. Some of these Christian teachers actually teach young teenage boys that it is a sin for them to become aroused by the site of beautiful young girls around them. Still others teach that if a man is engaged to his girlfriend, he must confess every sexual thought or fantasy he has about her until they are actually married.

Modern Christian teachers still condemn masturbation, teaching unbiblical doctrines that ever emission of semen a man has must be with his wife during sex. However we can clearly see from Leviticus 15 that God acknowledges men having emissions of semen – WITHOUT their wives present, masturbation. He never condemns it and puts in the same category the natural bodily functions of having sexual intercourse with your wife, or a woman having a bloody discharge from her period.

Conclusion

Don’t let anyone steal your joy, or take away the “escape” or the pleasure that God has given you through his wonderful gift of masturbation. Always return to these 8 Biblical truths – and enjoy the freedom, not to sexually sin, but to enjoy what God has given you.

Just remember – Christian teachers not too many centuries ago were telling married couples that they could not even enjoy sexual intercourse together!