Ask The Preacher's Wife: What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?
You’re really trying to get me put out of the church, aren’t you?
My Lawd, I couldn’t even find a suitable thumbnail image for this post. As a matter of fact, my hands are sweating as I type, because I KNOW for a fact that a church mother is about to slide into my DM’s when this gets published.
Give me strength Father!
First, shame is a way in which the enemy keeps us in bondage. Jesus came to give us freedom in Him. Therefore, shame has GOT TO GO! Release it.
I’ve said this in the past, and I’ll say it again; the church has not done a good job discussing sex and sexuality with the body of believers. Because of the lack of education within the body of Christ, believers are often subject to learning about these topics from the world. When the world is involved with explaining things that are sacred or having to do with Christ, it will definitely be distorted.
The world is not solely to blame for this misinformation. The faith community has also been complicit in disseminating out-of-context biblical information in an attempt to push political and personal agendas.
I mean seriously…a man steeped in patriarchy and sexism, will sho nuff preach an out-of-context word from Timothy to attempt to explain why a woman should not preach.
We can definitely have a conversation about that on another day!
However, the most overused (and out of context) scripture used to discuss masturbation comes from Genesis 38.
Long story short, Judah and Shua conceived Er, Onan and Shelah. Daddy Judah chose Tamar for his firstborn son, Er, but Er was wicked and put to death.
Keep up because this gets juicy.
So, as was the custom in that time, Daddy Judah told Onan, Er’s brother, to be a good brother-in-law and ensure the family legacy by impregnating Tamar. Onan wasn’t feeling it, and so, every time he went to have sex with Tamar, he “spilled his semen on the ground” so Tamar would not get pregnant. His actions were displeasing to God, and God put him to death.
Imagine a 13-year old hearing this story as a warning against masturbation! Chile, basically this translates to, “God is out here killing people who masturbate!”
Note: The truth of the matter is this, Onan was supposed to impregnate Tamar, as it was the custom at the time. However, he refused to ejaculate inside of her in order for Tamar to conceive. Onan was NOT masturbating. Onan disobeyed God’s command and was punished for his disobedience.
Let us also not forget cultural taboos that attribute blindness, developmental delays, and homosexuality to masturbation (Rolling My Eyes).
So, I’m not surprised when Christians, including Erica Campbell, struggle with explaining sex, and topics pertaining to sex like masturbation, which often leave the body of believers even more confused.
God’s Plan For Humanity
God created us to be sexual beings. However, in God’s original plan, God created us to experience sex within the context of marriage.
Historically and culturally, marriage happened as soon as puberty occurred, which is around the early teenage years for males and females. Therefore, God’s design for sex to occur in marriage, at around the same time when sexual desires arise, makes sense.
However, when sin entered the world, God’s original plan for humanity was disrupted, and sex was distorted.
In the blog post “Ask The Preacher’s Wife: Is Watching Pornography Wrong?”, The Preacher, stopped by to address the “sin problem” and its impact on our understanding of sex and sexuality. He said the following:
“Sex was created by God (Genesis 1:28), and the stated purpose was to "Be fruitful and multiply." Reading in between the lines we also can gather that pleasure was attached to the creation of sex as well, and God's original design for covenant relationships is discovered in the next chapter. "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they became one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." (Genesis 2:24) There was no shame because there was no sin.
Sin comes into the picture in Genesis 3, turns the world upside down, and Satan takes his place as the prince of this world. Satan's desire was to be God (Isaiah 14:13), and because of this everything that God does, Satan wants to do, but with the opposite intent.
God is good; Satan is evil. God is love; Satan is hate. God is the truth; Satan is the father of lies. God created sex to be enjoyed in the covenant of marriage, so Satan takes sex, perverts it, and encourages humanity to do whatever we feel like doing.”
With the entrance of sin into the world, combined with a version of theology steeped in conservatism and white supremacy, the body of Christ lives in a state of fear of sex and sexuality, and remain in bondage for lack of a safe space to discuss these topics.
In the words of The Preacher “Are y’all still with me?”
Good. Let’s continue!
What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?
You read that correctly. The Preacher has informed me that in his understanding of the scriptures, there are no references to masturbation. However, even though masturbation is not mentioned, we are not provided with a free pass to do whatever we want.
The bible does discuss lust and sexual immorality, which comes from the sin problem and Satan’s perversion of what God intended to be beautiful.
Because of this perversion, our culture has become over-sexualized and we have created entire markets, such as the pornography industry, to exploit women (and other marginalized groups of people), and create a false sense of love, attraction, and desire. Furthermore, we have been forced into a sense of guilt and shame from that conservative and white washed theology, which I mentioned earlier.
Note: Some of y’all saw the picture of the peach and automatically thought of something sexual. Point proven!
I mean, we are so misinformed, we allow children to use pet names for their genitals, because the anatomically correct names have become perverted and makes us uncomfortable.
Note: As a social worker, with several years experience in child welfare, for legal reasons, I urge parents to teach their children the correct names for their genitals. No, it’s not a “pony” and a “cookie”. It is a penis and a vagina. Oh and by the way, chromosomal and hormonal abnormalities can cause a penis and vagina to appear, debunking the notion of a solely binary sex and gender categorization.
Along with societal shame and stigma, natural body functions are discouraged and deemed “inappropriate”, leaving young children with internalized guilt and shame.
From a developmental perspective, young children will begin self-exploration of their genitalia at around age 4 or 5. Young children often find the actions soothing. There is no connection to sex or procreation, because the body has not yet reached puberty.
However, professionally, I’ve encountered parents who are horrified with the thought that their child is “masturbating”, and will punish and withhold privileges to extinguish the behavior. These actions only create guilt and shame, which lead to issues around intimacy, autonomy, and healthy sexuality in adolescence and adulthood.
What Does All Of This Mean?
So far, we understand the following:
God’s plan for humanity
The influence of sin
The influence of cultural taboos and white supremacy
A basic understanding of natural body functioning and human development
With this understanding, here is the issue with masturbation from a biblical perspective.
Because of misplaced desire and false feelings about love, pleasure, and sex as a result of sin, masturbation often co-occurs with lustful thoughts initiated by viewing or fantasizing about sexually explicit (or non-explicit) images of someone who is not our spouse.
This is where we can begin to shape our understanding of Christian behavior.
The bible provides us with a blueprint for Christian living empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit allows us to fight those temptations, which are presented in our lives; including lust.
While the bible is silent on the act of masturbation, it is not silent on lust, which can lead to masturbation. Sin occurs when the act is inspired by lustful thoughts, images, or videos.
There you have it! I pray that this response has provided some context, and given clarity on an issue that so many Christians struggle to understand.
*Going to rest my mind, because y’all and these questions have my blood pressure raised.
Peace and Blessings,