By Malebo Moloto
“I’m not ashamed of the things I dream,
I find myself flirting with the verge of obscene,
Into the unknown, I will be bold,
I’m going to places I can be out of control.
And I don’t want to explain tonight, all the things I’ve tried to hide,
I shut myself from the world so I can draw the blinds and I’ll teach myself to fly.
I love myself, it’s not a sin, I can’t control what’s happening.
Cause I just discovered imagination is taking over, another day without a lover,
The more I come to understand the touch of my hand…”
The touch of my hand….that what Britney Spears coons over a beat! Masturbation!! Masturbation!! Masturbation!!! What is it about that word that makes me giggle like a school girl? Most people aren’t willing to even say the word, much less have a discussion about it. But today, we are going to talk about this taboo topic no matter how much we are embarrassed, giggly or outright grossed out. Let’s talk about it and open the platform for healthy dialogue on a topic that everyone, yes everyone, wants to know about.
I’m hoping that in our conversation will lead to us having a clearer understanding of the role, or lack thereof, of masturbation in the life of Christian. I hope that Scripture will not be used out of context or become victim to personal interpretation, but that it will be a definitive and powerful source of truth. Now the Bible does not discuss masturbation, as in nowhere in the Bible is the word mentioned or even forbidden, so the natural starting point would be to define what masturbation really is. In laymen terms, it’s the act of pleasuring yourself sexually either with “the touch of your hand” or other…um, electronic methods (stay with me, I’m giggling as I write this too) and other ways that lead to sexual release in any way. Now worldly wisdom tells us that masturbation is a healthy way of life, as a single guy or girl, and even in marriage. It is encouraged as a way of self-exploration, self-love, self-knowledge, if you will.
For me, the term “healthy sexuality” presupposes that we have a good idea of what our sexuality is and does, and I would argue that, for the most part, both our culture and church have fairly distorted models of what sexuality is supposed to look like. Part of the reason that we struggle with the question of masturbation is because we have trouble living in the tension of our desires. It’s easier to fall back into the black and white rules that we’re often offered as answers to our struggles instead of doing the hard work of encountering our desires and longing for relationship with God.
For the most part, we’ve been given two sets of rules to follow when it comes to our sexuality: it’s either we respond to it like an appetite, like hunger, we feed it; or to avoid it completely or as something to be expressed only in covenanted conjugal relationships.
This false dichotomy and both of these paradigms tend to end up in dysfunction. We either find ourselves at the mercy of our “needs” which leads to a low grade despair, or divorced from the life and pleasure that sexuality brings, living in a kind of discontented numbness.
What I’m getting at is that sexuality is not wrong, desire and sex where all created by God and it’s a beautiful thing. When thinking of masturbation, we have to think about it in terms of lust, since the word itself is not found in the Bible. Lust is a strong desire, and in this case, a strong sexual desire. It’s a strong overwhelming desire for something or someone. It is self-indulgent as it seeks just to please self. Now since the Bible doesn’t mention that masturbation is a sin, that doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast rule to completely say it is not wrong.
In my opinion (since that’s what this is), I am more interested in what gets someone to masturbate, more than the actual act. What’s of significance is what causes people to masturbate because we cannot simply provide a “yes” “no” answer without exploring the root of the issue.
For the manifestation in the physical, your thought life would have already taken you down the rabbit hole till it manifests itself physically.
Now, there is a school of thought that says masturbation can be done with a pure heart and mind and I respectfully disagree. Scripture tells us that, “you have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who has looked a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus here tells us that before you even commit the act, by letting it take root in your mind, you have committed the sin. Therefore, it starts in our thought life, that is where it takes root and that leads to sin.
Also, masturbation is self-centred, as it seeks only to please self.
The issue is also the nature of masturbation. It’s all secretive and shameful and leaves people feeling guilt, even to the point of not being able to be in the presence of the Father because you have condemned yourself. The issue is that, for some people it can become a crutch in order to avoid healthy interactions and relationships with people, a way to shield them from being hurt.
For some people it is because they are lonely, bored etc. It is not as simple as saying it is about fulfilling desire and that there are no consequences because for a lot of people masturbation is an escape. It’s a way of dealing, without dealing……it comes down to wholeness.
The issue with masturbation or any other “thing” for that matter, is that it comes down to what is missing and what you think this “thing” will fill, what way do you think it will make you feel whole or complete.
So, I think that it goes beyond the act, because by already thinking it, you have already committed it. It goes to being pure in thought, heart and motive. We must make sure that our thought life aligns with the word of God and that we take hold of every thought that exalts itself above Him and make it submit to the word of God.
President George Q. Cannon, a former counsellor in the First Presidency of the Church, said:
“If a man be pure in thought, he will be correspondingly pure in action; but if he allows his mind to roam in unrestricted freedom through the various avenues of evil or to dwell unchecked upon the contemplation of forbidden indulgences, it will not be long before his feet tread those paths and his hand plucks the tempting but deceitful fruit.”
So may take on it is that masturbation is the manifestation of a sinful thought life.
What say you?