If there’s one topic that freaks Christians out the most, it’s masturbation.
When you tune into the discussion, it can get alarmingly serious.
There are believers who stand on either side of the fence on this topic, but overwhelmingly within the Church, masturbation is considered off-limits.
In a world of passionate forbiddance, I’d like to stand up and ask…
What if masturbation could heal us?
What if there are people and situations being overlooked in the debate?
What if masturbation is more of a grey area that we ever anticipated?
Masturbation Addiction Is Legit
First of all, let’s acknowledge masturbation can be a serious struggle. It can become a compulsive, damaging addiction. That’s real. For some, masturbation accompanies porn use or voyeurism. It can have real consequences, and for some people, it must remain off-limits.
Further to this, within the Christian belief system, there are clear instructions regarding sexual behaviours. Followers of Jesus are called to avoid sexual activity outside of marriage, including lustful thoughts.
These realities make traversing through ‘What If?’ territory mighty uncomfortable. But we needn’t fear exploring alternative positions. Our God is big, gracious, and sovereign enough to guide us through the grey and uncomfortable.
With this in mind, let’s explore some ways masturbation might be able to heal.
You’ve probably heard that porn is like a drug. It affects your brain in the same way heroin or cocaine can. Both behavior and substance can become addictive, and users may become dependent, requiring heavier doses to experience the chemical ‘rush’. With both sexual behaviors and drug use, withdrawals are a common struggle when beginning the recovery journey. The suffering associated with withdrawals often leads to relapse.
The solution for heroin or other opioid addicts is Methadone. It is a prescription drug which eases withdrawal symptoms to make the transition to sobriety possible in those first few weeks or months. It is a controlled and safer substance, but is still addictive in itself and carries risk. It has been used successfully to treat recovering addicts and is a method accepted within society.
The sex or porn addict on the other hand, is expected to make a full recovery by going ‘cold turkey’ overnight. Assuming they are unmarried, the addict is encouraged to remove every sexual outlet in their life. Why do we expect success if we know other addictions are so difficult to recover from without a pseudo-drug or at least a gradual weaning process?
What if instead of eliminating absolutely everything sexual, which like a starvation diet, encourages relapse or bingeing, the addict could work on individual struggles one at a time? Masturbation may be the final frontier to conquer. What if it helped them to truly find freedom?
Perhaps masturbation could be Methadone for the recovering sex addict.
Sexual Dysfunction and Therapy
As well as those struggling with compulsive sexual behaviours, it is necessary to consider another group of people. Unfortunately, often forgotten in the Christian conversation on self-stimulation, are men and women with sexual dysfunction.
When masturbation is unequivocally demonised, people with legitimate medical issues get shamed. Consider the person who has been terribly abused. In their marriage, any sexual touch causes physical inability to have intercourse. Vaginismus is a common issue for women, which causes a great deal of distress and pain. There are many factors contributing to issues such as this, and many more ways it manifests.
It is wise to invest in sexual therapy or counselling for these issues. Often, therapists will suggest gradual masturbation as part of the healing process. Doing this can overcome physical sexual limitations as well as empowering a victim to reclaim pleasure or sexuality. It may be the only way for a couple to participate in intercourse, which is a sacred and holy part of marriage.
When someone stands out the front of Church and condemns masturbation without considering there may be exceptions or complexities, more people get shamed. This may become a barrier to both their personal healing, and relationship with God. We must not forget these people.
Masturbation may be what God uses to heal them.
Don’t Do It Alone
If you’re burning with rage, or are already scheduling in a handy little marathon, hold up. This is not a free for all. Let’s talk accountability.
How would you feel about allowing masturbation in your life…under supervision? I don’t mean your accountability partner needs to watch you do the deed. But, in your ongoing accountability journey, take two simple steps. Firstly, determine your personal boundaries. Within a Christian worldview, perhaps masturbation could be helpful if it’s private, safe, not compulsive, not being used to withhold marital intimacy or bury emotion, is free from lustful thoughts or is part of a therapeutic program (I know, makes it difficult doesn’t it?). Next, commit to being open with your accountability partner about when you do masturbate, and why.
Whether you feel convicted to pursue a life with or without masturbation, accountability is key. Orgasms are powerful. Once you start experiencing them, you’ll think having sex with anything and everything is a great idea. Both lifestyles open themselves to bingeing or relapsing. You need someone to keep you on track.
What if allowing masturbation and removing the shame could actually break the cycle of addiction?
I see the dangers of masturbation. I see its affiliation with pornography and lust. I see the chemical reactions that cause compulsion. I’ve seen the damage it can do to sexual intimacy. I’ve seen the slippery slope. And yet, I can’t shake the thought that ‘cold turkey’ recovery is kind of ludicrous.
I can’t shake the thought there could be healing that comes from masturbation, that it could somehow have a place that is accountable, pure and not compulsive. Could it be a blessing to recovery? Could it be Methadone for the recovering addict? Could it be used to redeem sexual wounds of the past and present?
Yet, I see how apt humans are at abusing what is given to us. Our sinful natures propel us to exploit even what is pure, let alone things that sit in the grey area. Is there a way this could actually work in reality? Perhaps it is simply an idealistic theory.
I can’t tell you if masturbation is entirely wrong or not. So, join me in mulling this ‘What If’ over in your mind. Continue to walk in integrity and stick to your convictions if you know masturbation needs to remain out of bounds for you. Don’t use this blog as an excuse, but consider it rather as a safe place to muse, pray and discuss how we might release each other from shame and that which enslaves…which is sometimes masturbation.
And, let me know if you figure it all out.