Studies show that most teenagers masturbate. "It is beyond question that the majority of teenage boys masturbate at least occasionally," note Brenna and Stan Jones in their book How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex (NavPress). The same can be said for girls. In fact, experts believe adolescents are far more likely to masturbate than to become sexually involved. Yet, while many Christian parents have made their peace with talking to their kids about sex and virginity, they often don't know how to address the more widespread phenomenon of masturbation.
Christian parents should be aware that the Bible has remarkably little to say about masturbation. Some point to Genesis:38:9-10 where Onan is struck down by God because he "spilled his semen on the ground." But in this instance, Onan was not masturbating but practicing a form of birth control known as coitus interruptus. His selfish and deliberate refusal to provide a family for his widowed sister-in-law was considered "wicked in the Lord's sight."
In his classic parenting book Preparing for Adolescence (Tyndale), Dr. James Dobson said, "It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It's a normal part of adolescence—and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible." To those kids who do masturbate, Dobson says, "You should not struggle with guilt over it."
If you learn your child is masturbating, don't panic. Instead, use the opportunity to open a discussion about sex and sexual desire. Being careful not to make him or her feel guilty or more embarrassed, explain to your child that we all have sexual feelings—sometimes intense—and those feelings are a sign that your son or daughter is nearing adulthood.1