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Friday Rant: Will I Die If I Don’t Masturbate?

by Paul R. on May 13th, 2016 in Men, Students

will-die-if-masturbatea[Note: Every Friday we post a new rant from one of our writers, edited only for typos and spelling. This new series is not for those easily offended or for those who only like to play nice. So read this before you start posting your comments.]

Yes, you will. You’ll also die if you do.

Next question?

Alright, I don’t think that’s what you mean when you ask this question.

There are two main themes that come up when people ask questions about masturbation.

Is it a sin and is it possible to survive without it?

If someone asks me about whether masturbation is a sin I usually answer like this: Why does it matter if it is or not? If it is, are you going to be able to stop doing it? If it’s not, then what’s the problem?

Saying that masturbation is a sin does no good in getting you to break free. You’re going to do it one way or another.

Usually when we get past the legality or morality of masturbating we can get to the crux of the matter.

People don’t usually care about whether masturbation is a sin, they just want someone to tell them whether they can do it or not.

Go for it I say. If it’s the shame you’re afraid of then let go of it. Just don’t feel it. Loosen your grip. How useful has shame been in breaking free? I bet it hasn’t helped at all. Is it the physical act of masturbating that you feel so bad about or is it the fact that you think you’re not meant to do it?

Believe me, if you make a decision to just say no I’m not going to feel like crap about this anymore or I’m not going to mentally beat myself up, you’ll feel much more peace. You’ll be able to simply dismiss triggers without believing you have any choice.

But you won’t die. Either way.

That response though can usually get an angry response. Even from the people asking it.

Listen, I’m not suggesting that it’s good one way or another but you don’t need to keep asking the question. Do you feel free? Does it help you be more present? Are you more attuned to God, your community, and yourself? If it makes you feel like garbage, then that’s what you really need to know. Not whether it’s technically a sin. Also, before anyone goes there, I’m not saying the opposite is true either. That anything that we do that feels good, must therefore be healthy.

So what’s the alternative?

Maybe it’s actually realizing that there are bigger issues at hand and we need to get over ourselves a little. I’m not belittling porn and masturbation addiction. It is a huge problem. Especially in the church. I spent more than my fair share of late-night porn and masturbation binges contributing to the statistics. I also help guys work through the reasons they feel they need it everyday.

But the reason it is a massive problem in the church is not because it is “right” or “wrong.” It’s because we place so much shame on it as if it’s the worst thing you could ever do.

That’s why it’s a problem.

That’s why marriages fall apart. There is no openness about this stuff. We’ve been told that if we look at porn and masturbate we are evil or committing adultery or promoting trafficking.

Geez. No wonder no one wants to own up to it. Why would you?

Porn and masturbation are not the problem. You are. Or rather the pain that you are carrying in which you think porn and masturbation will successfully medicate is. If we can learn to quit calling it simply a sin and really deal with our wounds in a healthy and honest way, then porn and masturbation will gradually start to lose their strength.

You don’t really want to know whether you will die without masturbation! You want permission to do it.

So go ahead. Or don’t masturbate … your choice.

Also, quit asking if masturbation is a sin. It doesn’t matter.

Guilt does not work. Courage and curiosity to seek out why we desire it will.

Let’s start asking those questions.



  • Diggity

    This totally confuses me. I get that you are trying to take my focus away from the sin itself – and I really appreciate that perspective, and understand that you would like our Focus instead to be upon Jesus, more upon the truth behind our feelings, etc
    ….. but I struggle with a few things in this blog:
    1) there are no scriptural references to back up your perspective, so this all feels like one man’s personal “feelings”….as opposed to the truth. I’m not necessarily saying it is not the truth, but rather saying I’m unable to decipher whether this is scripturelally sound or whether it is a single man’s opinion.
    2) it also sounds as if you are being awfully cavalier about a topic that literally has driven people either insane, or far away from God, and even worse to kill others if not themselves. And I know that once again you of all people know how serious both the porn industry and things like masturbation really is…. so with anyone else I might say they are indeed being cavalier, whereas with you, you are obviously trying to make a point, but I am not sure if I really see it.
    It’s not like you would say to someone ” you know, I’m not really sure if you kill someone that it’s a sin, so go ahead and do it and lets see what happens”. Once again….thats what it FEELS LIKE you’re saying.. .and even tho it aint fair to compare masturbation with death….the bible clearly states that it don’t matter how big or small a sin is….if it’s wrong, then it’s wrong and it will separate us from our Maker no matter how “large” the infraction is.

    With all that said….i have to sleep on this for a few days before I can figure out the truth behind it and how I shud potentially be applying it to my life.

    Appreciate all that you do….and for giving us the chance to shed some light on this topic!

    • padutchrunner

      I agree. The problem with omitting an examination of Scripture when attempting to answer questions such as these is that you may end up with advice that is not universally applicable. I can see how this blog would be tremendously helpful to certain people due to the nature of their struggle. However, I can see how this could be dreadful advice to certain other folks.

      • David Shay

        That is a good point about not having scripture to back it up. Yep! It could some across as opinion backed on something other than Christ. Agreed. Good call.

    • David Shay

      The discussion here is truly about getting away from legalism ando its trappings. Romans 8:2 talks about how Jesus is the Law of the Spirit that has set us free from the Law of sin and death. What is happening here is that people can get so caught up in being right or wrong… this breads the mentality that eventually we can “right” ourselves into heaven. This is also known as religion… a system that people use to replace the sacrifice of Jesus to get into heaven. Shoot Jesus could have stood up for himself with Pilot. In doing so, Barabus would have gotten what he deserved… Jesus takes the hit for what Barabus and we deserve. So if Barabus gets set free for killing, steeling and rebellion… why would Jesus condemn us for masturbation? Shoot Jesus and Barabus didn’t even have a relationship together.
      Roman 7 talks about how the Law in and of itself can stir up passions that, as natural as they are, simply lead to sin.
      So I believe the discussion here still isn’t relating to permission from Christ but of relation to Christ. Jesus welcomed sinners of all kinds because when he did, lives changed naturally and permanently. Where as with the law of sin… it like changes people when everyone is looking (when was the last time you drove faster than the speed limit only to slow down when seeing a cop on the side of the road). When people don’t agree with the law they are less likely to follow it.
      Scripture also says that He loved us first and the we love in response. Love is powerful because God made away for us to reconnect with him. Jesus did come in fulfilment of the law… still not to create a system to get into heaven. I hope this helps.

    • Paul Robinson

      Thanks for your thoughts Diggity.

      It is my opinion but is my opinion from working with people who are addicted to porn on a daily basis and my own experience. You raise a really interesting point where you seem to saying that feelings are opposed to truth.

      If a kid is afraid of someone, it doesn’t matter if the truth is that the person is no danger to them. For the kid, it is true that the person is dangerous.
      Or when we’re afraid of the dark. The truth may be that there is no danger in the dark but that doesn’t remove the fear for the person which is truth.

      As far as Scriptural references, well it’s a rant so it’s not necessarily supposed to lol but I think of Jesus on the cross who’s truth was that God had abandoned him. He believed that. But had God really abandoned him…Well maybe, depending on what you believe but Jesus seems to demonstrate that our feelings have some legitimacy in deciding truth.

  • Stuart

    Thank you so much, Paul.
    MY GOD, how I wish I’d read this when I was 15 (40 years ago). Being molested as a kid and then so much sexual
    addiction brought so many, too too many, years of guilt, shame and anguish over this issue.
    These day I keep coming back to:
    How much priority did Jesus give to addressing masturbation (or sexual issues in general)? And how much guilt and
    torture do I feel over it?
    OK, now how much priority did Jesus give to loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and strenth? And how
    much guilt and torture do I feel when I don’t? . . .

    • Paul Robinson

      Glad it helped you Stuart. You make an amazing point about how much guilt and torture we feel over it.

  • Mark

    I agree that a lot of the perception that masturbation is some unforgivable evil is really hurtful to those struggling to manage it. It closes the conversation before it could begin. That perception creates this great shame in a lot of people who masturbate but may want to get away from it. I can speak from experience that the time I am most tempted to masturbate is when I am burdened with great shame. Then masturbating makes me feel shameful, thus putting me back into a place where I feel tempted to masturbate, which makes me feel shameful… (just put this on repeat for my lifetime.)

    It seems one of our responses to this shame, (without having to admit we masturbate,) is to rationalize it by someone else justifying it for us. We don’t want to own up to our own actions that are making us feel shameful. That would be courageous in a way that is beyond most of us. We’d rather someone told us something about masturbation that would allow us to ignore our shame. Sadly, that never works for long and it’s a false hope to cling to.

    I do know when I’m in my weakness and in my shame, and after I have masturbated in that feeling, I have had some of my best prayers with God. Sometimes masturbating has taken me to the edge to admit to God the shame I feel, to ask for forgiveness, and to feel God’s love for me. It’s an ironic blessing. Not that that happens every time, but sometimes the things that take me away from God can make me realize His presence all the more.

    I’ll admit I’m not hugely knowledgeable about the Bible, but I have heard that masturbation is not really addressed in it. I’m curious if the reason may be because it’s not what is important, but rather that it’s the result of some deeper wound in us that makes it so tempting. Like how you were saying in your blog.

    So is masturbating a sin? Well, does it separate you from God?

    If yes, perhaps it can remind you to seek Him in that place of shame and guilt. He has been very encouraging and helpful to me in that place. Continuing to bathe in the shame of it will never free us from that sexual temptation.

    If no, then I don’t know. Maybe it can be healthy and can act as a stress reliever. But don’t let those words justify it for you. Let’s try and embrace what we do and seek God with what you do. If it’s a problem, God may reveal that to us. If not, praise the lord all the same.

    I think the best place to be is one where we don’t need masturbation to get what it gives us. When we can fully bring God’s grace and enjoyment into our own lives. That day when we can allow Jesus to take our shame away, and never have to look back. Whether our journey into God’s grace is with or without masturbation, I don’t think it really matters as long as we’re willing to go on that journey; and maybe make some sacrifices along the way.

    I’m not there yet, but I hope to get there someday.

    (Also, apologies for going on my own Friday Rant. I hope this didn’t overstay its welcome and that I stayed on topic with the blog, which I very much appreciated. Thank you for writing it Paul.)

    • padutchrunner

      We sin anytime we do something that is out of keeping with God’s design. God’s design for sex would seem to be something integral with our personal identities which God implanted in every one of us. Some of us are male, and some of us are female, and none of us form a complete sexual expression in isolation. The fact that male and female are required to form a complete expression, and the fact that this expression cannot be accomplished in isolation, is an important clue. I think it means that any sexual expression attempted in isolation is very likely sinful, i.e., violative of God’s intended purposes. I think a decent test to determine the sinfulness of something is to ask the old cliche — what would Jesus do? Can you imagine Jesus retreating to a private corner to masturbate? I certainly can’t. Ok, so masturbation is sinful. Does that mean that we are left in the bad spot that this article describes — are we left trapped in profound shame, unable to look deeper into the source of that shame? This post is obviously not directed at the simple masturbator, but at the compulsive masturbator who is driven by something far deeper than the simple desire for sexual release. I don’t think everyone who masturbates has these deeper issues, but certainly, there are many for whom these deeper problems are very real. Those with deeper issues will likely need to address those issues before they stand a chance at resisting the urge to masturbate. The real flaw in the article is that it fails to do two things: define “sin” in a more wholistic fashion and instead indulges in a negative stereotypical view of sin driven by legalism; labels masturbation as a “sin” using this negative, legalistic idea of sin. Much more can/should be said. My overall impression is that the church really needs to work on its understanding of the theological basics like sin, faith, grace, sanctification, etc.

      • Paul Robinson

        Here is my definition of sin. Sin is anything that disrupts the shalom we have with God.

        And I actually didn’t label masturbation as a sin or not. I was deliberate in that. In fact the whole point of the article was that knowing whether it is a sin does not stop someone from masturbating so we need to ask different questiosn.

        • padutchrunner

          You are absolutely correct — labeling an activity as “sinful” does not prevent us from engaging in that activity. Oh, were it so! We would have this sin problem figured out! This does not mean we are at liberty to remove the label, or shuffle the labels around. We know we can’t change the labels because sin is an objective reality. Not even God can bend the rules about sin, or let it “slide.” That’s why the crucifixion was necessary. The only way to deliver us from the natural consequences of our sin — eternal separation from God and all of His goodness — was for the second person of the Godhead to undertake the radical measure of humbling Himself, taking on a new nature as a human being, and suffer all of the indignities of a persecuted life with the end result being torture and a horribly painful death by execution on a Roman cross. That’s what sin is. It is not a subjective “feeling” or a vague sense of a lacking of shalom. It is a grave reality involving objective standards that even God can’t fudge. No amount of psychology can account for these harsh spiritual realities.

  • Jason Ebrahim

    What scriptures do you need? We all know the scriptures. It’s a matter of trusting in God’s way for a better life. Sometimes we think our way is the way to go. Don’t let your mind look for a loop whole to justify masterbation or porn. We need to renew our mind daily and again allow, obey and trust God that His way is better for us.

    You know when Jesus said “And you shall KNOW the Truth and the truth shall set you free”? The key phrase is knowing the Truth. The only way to be set free is developing that personal relationship with our Lord Jesus, one day at a time. Getting to know Him is essential to our freedom. Not focusing on the legalities of masterbation or porn. Focus on our Lord Jesus.

  • Jonathan Schubert

    Porn is adultery. Don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who could masturbate while not thinking about sex outside of marriage. Maybe there is a legalistic escape here in saying its ok as long as your thinking about your spouse. Also Paul says that doing something you believe might be sinful is itself sinful. And yes identifying your sins and confessing them WITH YOUR MOUTH to the Lord is extremely important for obvious scriptural reasons. So getting yourself to say masturbation is a sin is admitting you have a problem. Worked for me. Also, from my perspective, you talk about shame but you are describing conviction.
    Mat 5:28
    Rom 14:23
    1 John 1:9

    • Paul Robinson

      Shame is often so deeply seeded that we don’t or can’t see the effects it has on us. I’m glad that saying that masturbation is a sin helped you find freedom but that is very rare. Our addictions can’t be simply categorized as sin since this doesn’t do justice to the pain and wounds we carry. Which are of course an effect of sin i.e. the absence of shalom between us and God.

      • padutchrunner

        It is true that our pain and wounds are caused by our separation from God. However, the distance between us and God will not be bridged by embracing or becoming agnostic toward behaviors that are themselves sin. I like that you are eschewing the legalistic vision of sin which fails to grasp the deeper spiritual truths regarding the nature of sin and our relationship to God, but I think it is possible to step too far toward the idea that we need to address “what really matters.” Really, the only way to address these matters in a Christian manner remains Jesus Christ — no matter how much psychological insight we have into human behavior and addiction — perhaps that is where things are breaking down here.

        • Paul Robinson

          Or we don’t have to see Jesus and Psychology as mutually exclusive.

          The stats on Christians who are addicted to porn are massive. Even Pastors. So belief in Jesus is not the problem.

          • padutchrunner

            Jesus and Psychology are not mutually exclusive; however, we must recognize that psychology has developed from a secular, naturalistic worldview. This may not matter so much when we are trying to treat illnesses like depression, which may or may not have a spiritual component. In the context of addiction, however, particularly where the subject of addiction, like sexuality, has a grave moral dimension, it makes all the difference. We need to exercise a very refined degree of discernment to determine to what degree modern psychological categories are applicable to sexual morality and “addiction.” We all know there are psychologists who have no problem recommending the use of pornography to couples with sexual intimacy problems, for example — their science is impeccable, but how is their advice consistent with a Christian worldview?

      • Currently in Recovery

        I don’t know of any bible verse that says that masturbation itself is a sin. However, scripture DOES say that LUSTING is a sin. Do you know anyone who doesn’t lust while they masturbate? According to Jesus, people DO commit adultery when they look at porn… Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” There are other articles on this site that contradict some of the content of this article.

        I get that you try to get the attention of others by attempting to shock them with words and such (that tends to be the trend on this site). I admire the courage you guys have to boldly go where many don’t… But I can see some addicts (new to recovery) using parts of this article to justify acting out through masturbation. They SHOULD care if it’s a sin. Sin separates us from God. I think we’ve heard that so often that we forget what that truly means. We’re all guilty of sin and we should search our hearts for things that separate us from God. In this article, you offer beneficial questions we should ask ourselves…but there’s harmful suggestions that struggling addicts will eat up…

        There’s a difference between guilt and shame. I think guilt is a good thing. I think guilt is a part of repentance.

        You’re probably thinking, “She’s missed my point completely.” Maybe I misunderstood your intentions. I don’t think people are going to read this article the way you want them to…

        • I was an addict for many years and I knew that what I was doing was sin. I may interpret sin slightly different than you do but it didn’t motivate me one bit knowing that. Maybe for a while it sort of helped me think that I should take some action to control it for a while, but ultimately it always came back to me looking at porn and masturbating.

          What did help me though was realizing why I did it and not because I was simply a sinner. Realizing that I was medicating things from my life (and this includes sin- anything that removes me from peace with God, whether it was my own fault or not) helped remove so much shame and I actually got to the point where whether I looked at porn or not became less and less of my focus.

          And what happened was that I slowly but gradually stopped looking at porn.

          I went from years and years of trying to control it by labeling it and beating myself up to letting go of the need to stop, because I was already accepted. And it worked.

          This has been my experience and I see guys every day who continue to beat themselves up every time they look at porn and it gets them nowhere. Something has to change.

          I appreciate your thoughts a lot. I’m not concerned whether it’s a sin or not though because ultimately that’s not the thing that is going to set you free. It wasn’t for me and it hasn’t been for the guys I’ve seen gain freedom.

          The thing I would say to anyone dealing with an addiction to porn. Ok, you know it’s a sin. Have you stopped sinning then? There has to be more to it.

  • Alice Neaves

    Thanks Paul! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to wrestle with the ‘morality of masturbation’ and my thinking is definitely in transition at the moment. This blog is really speaking what’s tumbling around in my mind at the moment. We need to remove the shame of masturbation, I really think so many Christians are not actually addicted to masturbation but slaves to their shame. Say bye to the shame, and the struggle will certainly loosen it’s grip.

    • padutchrunner

      Shame is a natural internal reaction that we need to experience when we do something that is not completely in line with the will of God — whether it’s something that’s maybe just a slight bit “out of kilter” like masturbation, or something that is clearly a sin, like stealing. Without shame, and without some form of “internal messaging” to convict us of things in our lives that need to be adjusted and changed, where is the motivation to change, or at least motivation to change BEFORE the problem gets completely out of control, before we receive unpleasant “external” messaging from employers, spouses, etc.?

      • Paul Robinson

        I think you might be confusing shame with guilt. Shame tells us that we are essentially worthless and unlovable and we won’t be accepted. We need to let go of this as the first step to freedom. We medicate because we feel a deep shame about who we are.

        • padutchrunner

          You deleted my post. I hope that means it “upset” you in a good, Godly, way. I’ll be praying for you.

          • Paul Robinson

            I’m not sure what you posted but I haven’t deleted any posts. Someone else may have. Feel free to type it again. I appreciate the prayers though 🙂

          • padutchrunner

            I posted a response within a few hours of your reply. It was neat, because I heard a sermon by Ravi Z. on the same day as your post which made me think about our exchange here and added some great insight about the healthfulness of shame.

          • padutchrunner

            Found it. It was categorized as “pending’ for some reason. (And I think I’ve discovered the problem — my post contained a link to Ravi’s sermon. I guess posts with links require moderation. I’ll “edit” the link.) Here it is:

            Interesting timing for your response! I listened to a Ravi Z. speech this morning while driving. He has some fascinating insights into shame, basically in line with what I am saying. Ravi also discusses the meaning of porn in the context of modern society. http: fwdslash fwdslash rzim dot org/let-my-people-think-broadcasts/secularism-and-the-illusion-of-neutrality-part-1-of-2/
            If you tell men to “let go” of their shame, you are essentially telling them to deny their spiritual nature as creatures imbued with the Imago Dei. Shame is essential, because it is a signal from the essence of our being, the part of us that if honestly examined would acknowledge that, as sinful human beings, we are not as we were created to be, telling us that something is very, very wrong, and that the only answer is the blood of Christ and the Spirit of Christ in us.

    • Paul Robinson

      That’s so true Alice. But it’s incredibly difficult for so many. It goes against nearly every fiber of our being. But the question I keep asking the guys I work with, is how’s holding onto all that shame working out for you? There’s almost a guilt for not feeling shame about masturbation.

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