Will God punish us for masturbating
Dealing with masturbation
Consultant Jörg Schori
Jörg Schori is a coach, couple and family therapist, pastor and advisor. Read his advisory text on the healthy handling of masturbation.
Question from a studentI've been dealing with masturbation for four years. In the beginning it was just a crazy experience for me. But for the years that followed, I felt very guilty. I am a believer and try to find support in Jesus Christ. I want to live a life of purity, but it doesn't work. After a prayer I feel free, but the case comes back soon afterwards. Is masturbation a sin? Where is it mentioned in the Bible? Please give me some tips. I want to get out of there.
I thank you for your open letter. First of all, I have to tell you: You are not alone with this problem. If you ask pastors about the problems adolescents have when they come to the conversation, self-esteem problems and masturbation are the most frequently mentioned causes. I find it very brave that you have entrusted me with your problem. You suffer badly from your misery and are brave to fight. Before I give you some tips, first some information:
Is it a sin to masturbate?
Christians disagree on this issue. Some say yes, others are very insecure and prefer to remain silent. The fact is, the Bible doesn't mention masturbation. Sometimes the story of Onan is brought into play on the subject of masturbation (Genesis chapter 38, verses 1-10). Please read this text. You will find that it has nothing to do with masturbation at all. Onan, the son of Judah, had not "masturbated", but rather he broke the then valid command of God and did not care for offspring in the marriage-in-law. God punished that. Correctly, one should speak of interrupted sexual intercourse in Onan's offense and not of masturbation. The Bible mentions many sins in the area of sexuality, from adultery to homosexuality, but not a word about masturbation. The Bible is silent on this. This gives us the freedom to think about masturbation without feeling guilty or moral prejudice.
Masturbation as part of a maturation process
The male and female sexual organs develop between 10-15. The whole body is changing. Boys experience their first erection and first ejaculation. The girls had their first menstrual period. Sexual interest in the opposite sex increases. Boys' eyes in particular react very strongly to female curves in person and to photos. The first experiences with masturbation confuse you. Something completely new begins. How can you deal with this new one? The awakening sexuality can be compared to a beautiful but (still) wild animal that intrudes into your life. Now you have a choice:
- Do you allow yourself to be frightened and controlled by him?
- Are you pushing it into a cage to make it even wilder and more unpredictable?
- Are you going to tame it, to deliver it to your service?
Your challenge is to learn self-discipline in dealing with your sexuality:
- Self-discipline in thought
- Self-discipline with the eyes (dealing with pornography, how do I look at girls)
- Self-discipline in dealing with your penis
For you, masturbation is more of an "escape program". It's about learning to deal with your desires and fantasies. It's about learning to say yes and no to your desire for sexual satisfaction. This learning is a process that takes years. For some, more, for others less. This learning does not necessarily end with marriage (depending on the stage of life, see “Masturbation in adulthood”). Maturity, the ability to say yes and no, is a very important goal of being a Christian. Read Proverbs chapter 2, verses 1-11, Ephesians chapter 4, verses 11-16, 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 23.
Seen in this light, "practicing" with one's own sexuality is a great opportunity to grow in one's inner being. The challenge is not easy. But if you accept it, you will become strong.
Masturbation as a symptom of too much stress
Masturbation can also be related to other problems. Maybe with you too. Could it be that you are frustrated and lonely? Maybe you are under a lot of pressure at home or at school. Are there unresolved conflicts with friends, parents or others? Do you have severe problems with your faith, with the church, or with yourself? Some teenagers often masturbate because they want to escape from an unbearable situation. Masturbation then becomes a sham solution. It only brings a brief feeling of happiness and then strong feelings of guilt. If you notice this in yourself, it is more about relieving this external pressure than tinkering with the symptom of masturbation. Talk to one or two people you trust about how you can relieve your internal and / or external tension.
Masturbation as an addiction
In the case of people who are at risk of addiction or who are internally injured, masturbation can also develop into addiction. It is not easy to distinguish between the process of learning to deal with one's own sexuality and addiction. Often teenagers who are not yet free to say yes and no to masturbation, who are still in the middle of the process, find themselves addicted. But actually they are well on their way to learning. Addictive masturbation usually takes place daily or several times a day and can hardly be influenced by will. It runs parallel to a strong feeling of inadequacy or rejection (feelings of inferiority, self-worth problems, sexually abused, etc.)
From the word of God it can be deduced that addictive behavior is wrong and that salvation is possible (1 Timothy chapter 3, verse 3; 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 26; 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 11, 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 4-6). In these cases it is biblically correct to admit this, to confess the guilt, and to seek forgiveness (1 John chapter 1, verses 7-9). However, it is just as urgent as admitting addictive behavior to tackle the injuries and personality problems that underlie the addiction structure with pastoral care.
Sense of masturbation
To put it a bit sharply, I want to express it like this:
- Masturbation is the God-given way to learn sexual discipline. Learning to say yes or no to satisfy one's own sexual desires
- Masturbation as an opportunity to relieve sexual pressure in special situations or as a single
There is also a report by Dirk, who is over twenty years old. He is a Christian and works for a free church in Hesse:
I can't quite understand why I'm still solo. I'm popular in our community, valued as a co-worker, and it shouldn't be my appearance either. Why is everything so difficult sometimes? About sex: Living my own sexuality is very important to me because it contributes significantly to a fulfilled life. I can understand that masturbation is viewed negatively in pious circles. But the Bible gives me great freedom. In the Old Testament, the body and sexuality are part of the dignity of every person - even those who live alone. And there is no mention of masturbation in the New Testament sin registers. Not an optimal solution, but a help.
Sometimes my imagination gives me problems. Conversations and prayer with a member of the congregation help here. In a partnership, I look forward to the variety of eroticism. Developing together would be more important to me than sex.
Masturbation in adulthood
Adults who satisfy themselves addictively need pastoral care. This is usually due to strong feelings of inferiority, developmental disorders or disabilities (see “Masturbation as an addiction”).
Punctual masturbation belongs to the realm of the normal. Nevertheless, it is advisable to then ask yourself: why am I satisfying myself now? What am I missing? What internal tensions do I suffer from? How can I relieve these tensions?
For spouses, the rule seems to be good to me: Talk to your partner about your dealings with masturbation. Create a space of openness and honesty for each other and before God.
The mid-life phase is known as the second puberty. The sexual vigor, especially of men, is on the wane. Adjusting to this is not always easy. Some men react to this with masturbation, with or without porn consumption, in order to stop the "decay" of male potency. But this soon turns out to be a wrong path. The way out is aging and saying goodbye to sexual youth. The same thing can happen again in old age, when the potency decreases even further.
Masturbation also becomes an issue:
- after the death of the partner,
- if the spouse is ill for a long time, making conjugal sexuality impossible
- in the event of a separation
- during pregnancy
I advise singles over 25 to develop a similar relationship to their own sexuality as Dirk in the above testimony. It is good to talk to a friend from time to time about dealing with your own sexuality. The conscience of individual singles may call for complete abstinence. For one it can be God's speaking because he leads differently, for another it is speaking of a too moral conscience. With this kind of need of conscience, it seems to me to be a good idea to seek the advice and prayer of pastors.
Dangers of undisciplined masturbation
- Escape from the real problems in the nice short feeling
- Escape from the development of one's own personality and getting stuck in the rather selfish autosexuality
- Partnering up becomes more difficult because it makes masturbation easier
- the associated imaginations reduce the chances of adjusting to reality.
- Masturbation cannot replace human community and a sense of achievement in other areas.
My recommendation (first of all for young people):
1. Stop fighting against masturbation! Often times, masturbation becomes even more powerful if you constantly fight it and think about how to eradicate it. Set intermediate goals! Don't say: “Never again”, that would be unrealistic, rather say: “Not today” or “Today yes”.
Maybe you can set specific intermediate goals: Allow yourself to masturbate so and so many times a week. Make this agreement in the knowledge that Jesus is there and is with you, even while you are satisfying yourself or just saying no to it. Take him into dealing with your sexuality. If you have achieved your goals or if you can't do it at all, ask yourself and Jesus again what the next steps are. Train until you are satisfied with yourself and at peace before God. The training goal can look different for the individual. Some want to drive towards zero as much as possible. The other is satisfied if he satisfies himself once or twice every month. Enjoy successes.
Of course, the Lord may supernaturally help you and give you willpower to abstain completely from masturbation. In my experience, however, this is anything but the rule for teenagers and twenties. This type of help is more likely to be experienced in adulthood.
2. No masturbation with pornographic templates. This type of masturbation is more likely to lead to negative behavior bonds or to (legitimate) feelings of guilt and steer your thoughts in the wrong direction. Your imagination is strong enough as it is.
3. If you have unresolved inner tension or feel that your way of self-gratification has nothing to do with a learning process: Find a devout friend or pastor with whom you can openly discuss your problems! Check out the question: What drives me to masturbate? Is it relevant magazines or unresolved conflicts? Is it images and sexual fantasies that accompany you all the time? Continuous tension with people? Or just boredom? Talk about possible triggers for masturbation and seek solutions with the counselor.
4. God can and wants to free us from addictive masturbation. It can also heal internal injuries or give you a perspective for your life. God can do infinitely more to us than we can ever ask or even imagine. So mighty is the power with which he works in us (Ephesians chapter 3, verse 20).
5. Entrust your life entirely to Jesus Christ! Put your body and yourself entirely at the disposal of God (Romans chapter 6, verse 13), once and over and over again.
6. Visit the youth events of your congregation and spend a lot of time with believing friends! Get involved in the youth work of your community and try to make yourself useful with your gifts. There are many tasks that have not yet been completed. Maybe they are already waiting for you.
7. Your thoughts and actions must no longer be occupied by masturbation. That paralyzes and hinders development. It is now important that you break away from it and set new goals. This also includes clarifying the vocational training and your further path. There are many challenges, tasks and hardships in this world. Serve God and people with your uniqueness, make yourself useful. It takes some time to explore the unfamiliar terrain. But I am sure you will do it. With this I wish you God's help.
On the subject:
Perceptual disorder: We need a “reset” for our thinking when it comes to sex
This book polarizes: «Liebeslust» - to enjoy sexuality outrageously and genuinely
Open and outrageous: Understand sexuality better and talk about it boldly
Author: Jörg Schori
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