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Masturbation: Is It Wrong?

Masturbation: Is It Wrong?

Yes . . . and no. Guidelines for sorting out a complicated question.
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Because my job is to talk to women about sex, there are few questions that I haven't heard and haven't answered. However, there is one common question that I don't like to answer. It involves the "M" word—masturbation.

One of the reasons I dread this question is because there is no clear answer. I could take the easy road and just say, "If in doubt, don't do it." The fact is that many Christian women masturbate and feel horribly guilty about it. I've met women who feel more shame about masturbation than they do about having an adulterous affair. Yet the Bible is silent on the issue of masturbation and says a whole lot about adultery.

Masturbation is a complicated issue that doesn't lend to a clear black and white answer. I want to be realistic about the struggle without giving freedom that God perhaps hasn't given.

Let's start with the basics

At a purely biological level, masturbation isn't that much different than other things we do with our bodies—like picking our noses. Toddlers do both. They are wired to touch their bodies everywhere and repeat touching where they find pleasure. Little boys and girls quickly discover that their "private parts" feel really good to touch. As children grow, wise parents gently teach that touching some places of our bodies isn't appropriate to do in public. And they teach their kids not to pick their noses in public either.

But why does picking your nose have an embarrassing but non-moral stigma, while masturbation has become laden with tremendous guilt and shame? While there is nothing inherently wrong with touching yourself to experience pleasure, masturbation becomes a moral issue because it involves sexuality. Sexuality has intrinsic moral implications. Does that mean that masturbation is always immoral? I don't think so. Here are a few questions that can help you evaluate the issue given your personal circumstances.

Most women only masturbate when they are thinking about or looking at something sexual.

1) What are you thinking about?

While masturbation itself isn't immoral, the sexual fantasies that usually go with it may be. Most women only masturbate when they are thinking about or looking at something sexual. Sexual fantasies about someone you are not married to are, as Jesus stated, "adultery of the heart."

"But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman [or man] with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

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Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She co-founded Authentic Intimacy (www.authenticintimacy.com) and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

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July 21, 2014  12:48pm

We Christians sometimes scare others away from masturbating by using the "lust" word. I starting masturbating in high school. I do it usually before I go to bed. It helps me unwind and I fall asleep right afterwards. I don't watch porn. I don't lust or fantasize. I simply feel the pleasure and climax. To me, it's no different than getting a massage or exercising. And I can tell you more of us masturbate than you think. A few weeks ago at lunch with a bunch of girlfriends we discussed this and all but one admitted to doing it often.

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June 27, 2014  1:56pm

Thank you for this article. I admit to having my bouts with masturbation. Alot of it stems from my husband and I's lackluster sex life. To be frank and this isnt meant to be crude... He can not last longer than 3mins. Which leaves me resentful, frustrated, angry, and distant. I am in no way saying I need to reach my climax every time, but considering we go months without it happening you hopefully can understand my discontent and frustration here. Yes we have tried numerous things to fix this issue, but to no avail. So I resort to masturbation. And even that isnt nearly as satisfying as experiencing it with my hubby. I do not lust after other men nor use porn, I think back to a time where he and I had an amazing, loving, satisfying romp. I do not feel bad not guilty of masturbating if I do when its in that context, and it always is. I think more Christians need to shaming those who they dont agree with in certain behaviors. Id also like to ask if anyone has any suggestions to help us

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Jack Flores

May 28, 2014  1:24pm

Clearly masturbation was not what God had in mind when He created man and woman, united them in marriage, and then instructed them to be fruitful and multiply. God's ideal in regard to sexuality is the loving relationship that exists in marriage between husband and wife. Anything else, including masturbation, falls far short of God's ideal.

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