Masturbation and Sexual Desire

Sexual Desires

Sexual desires are an important part of God’s plan for men and women. But Satan always tries to derail God’s plans and use them to destroy people rather than bless them. This is especially true in this area. In this article we want to understand what the Bible tells us about purity and how this should or should not be expressed in our lives especially as it relates to the subject of masturbation.

Sexual desires usually begin in puberty. The age of puberty can vary substantially but normally takes place during a person’s early teens. Girls can face this up to several years earlier than boys. In the best of all worlds, this doesn’t need to create a serious problem. Children should be taught enough about themselves that they understand what is happening to them. Parents should teach them about the Biblical standard of purity so they have a reason to avoid experimentation.

However, this world leaves a lot to be desired. Parents don’t always do their part. Peers sometimes share knowledge that children could handle better once they are more mature. Occasionally they stumble into discoveries that lead to a regular practice of masturbation or other moral failures. Unfortunately, the more that sexual desires are gratified through masturbation and immorality, the stronger they grow. They can become almost uncontrollable, as many people can testify.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul speaks to this. The first sixteen verses of this chapter speak about marriage and sexual desire within marriage. However, Paul realized that there were cases where a man or woman was married, and then their partner died. He advised such people to remain unmarried. But he also knew that sexual desires could be very strong, especially for those who were accustomed to regularly experiencing this release. Because of this, he gave permission for remarriage. The way he worded this is interesting and tells us something about sexual desire. He said, in verse 9, that if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:9)

While he doesn’t explicitly name masturbation in this passage, he seems to be referring to it when he speaks of having self-control. The term, burn with passion, is very descriptive of what many people face. For instance, one girl called our phone team begging for help and prayer. She felt that she just couldn’t give up her immoral relationship. Yet she realized that it was wrong, so she wondered about getting release from her desires by masturbation. When the advisor tried to help her see that this really wasn’t an answer, she almost cried. “Why does God torture me like this?” she asked. In other words, why does God give her these strong desires, then tell her it is wrong to fulfill them.

The problem is that a misused sexual desire grows exponentially in strength, and she was “burning with passion” because she had let her desires gain control of her. It was part of the reaping for the life she was living.

The hippies in the 1960s and 70s had a story that explained this problem.

One day a young man was walking through the jungle and found a baby monkey. It was cute and friendly, so he took it with him and taught it to ride on his shoulder. He would feed it bananas and they became good friends. The young man enjoyed the relationship and the monkey did too.

But the monkey kept growing as time went on. It became bigger and heavier. Finally, one day the young man decided that he would like to eat a banana himself. So, he peeled it and took a bite. But the monkey squealed angrily and reached down and took the banana from the young man. After that the monkey was in control and what had been a pleasure to the young man became bondage. Soon the monkey was demanding more and even more bananas as the young man stumbled miserably down the jungle trails.

Lust and Passion

Desire by itself is not sin. But James 1:15 tells us that “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” A desire can very easily lead to sin. Like other God-given desires, sexual desires can get out of control.

We call such an out-of-control sexual desire lust. The Bible uses the word lust many times. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus said, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” At this point the natural desire has intensified to the point of becoming a sin. It controls your thoughts as you look at a woman walking past or sitting across the table. It has become a “burning passion.” (This is also true of women lusting after men, and people lusting after someone of the same sex.)

Lust can easily lead to masturbation and makes it sinful. By then the person is burning with passion and there is no stopping them.

Many innocent things beyond our control can stir up our natural desires. If it stops at that and we keep our desires under control, the desire can drain harmlessly away. But if we allow our thoughts to get out of control or start fantasizing about a picture or a person that we have seen, then we are letting lust control us. Watching porn or reading explicit literature will do the same.

Unfortunately, lust and passion can get a terrible grip on us. Like the story of the monkey illustrates, what we once did for pleasure ends up becoming an uncontrollable bondage.

Sexual Desire and Marriage

God has given us marriage as a legitimate outlet for sexual desire. But even within marriage, sexual desire can be misused.  For instance, I Corinthians 7 makes it clear that each marriage partner is responsible to consider the desire of their partner, not just their own.  The man who initiates marital intimacy primarily to please himself is selfish.  But the man who is concerned about pleasing his wife fulfills the truth being taught in this passage.

This passage also makes it clear that married people should not feel guilty about their intimate relationships. In fact, it clearly tells them not to defraud each other. If a husband and wife heed these verses, both of them will have little reason to struggle with the temptation of masturbation.

Sexual Desire and Being Single

The last part of 1 Corinthians 7 speaks to unmarried people. Paul makes it clear that marriage is not wrong. He also states that a person who stays single will be able to serve God in a way that married people often can’t. Service in the work of the Lord is possible within either reality.

The Christian who stays single is married to God, in a sense. He can use all his energies to serve God. In fact, because he is not using his sex drive for its normal purpose, he will have more energy to devote to God’s work. Masturbation, on the other hand, will deplete this strength. It will divert his thoughts from pleasing God to pleasing himself. Lust will fill his thoughts, and he will find himself in spiritual bondage, burning with passion, and overwhelmed with lust and guilt.

The Bible has no passage that says, “Thou shalt not masturbate.” But the Christian single needs to dedicate his (or her) life to God and not steal the “strength of their youth” from God for selfish gratification.

“Be an example of the believers… in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Freedom!

Today, people tend to look at sexual gratification as being a right rather than a privilege. The idea that self-gratification is a sin is resisted by much of society. This is the concept that leads to promoting the LGBT agenda, transgender practices, acceptance of divorce and remarriage, recreational sex, and masturbation.

In reality, however, the need to allow God to control our desires is very important in the Christian life. Almost all God-given desires are wrong if they aren’t controlled. Most of them are too much for us to handle on our own. The help of friends and family is necessary and very beneficial, but even more than that, we need God’s help. When we give the control of our lives over to Him, we can enjoy freedom from sin and the peace of living in His will.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10)

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17 Comments

  1. Ive been a follower of Crist for almost 20 years now. My wife of 15 years cheated on me a year ago, i turned to God, back to God and recommited my life to Him its been awesome, God is good. Ive tried to move past this, i love my wife and told her i forgive her but she wont give up her relationship with her “friend”, againts my will we are getting a divorce, i dont want to but i can see she doesnt want to be married to me anymore, shes made that very clear. A few times we’ve had sex, i have a very strong sexual desire and tell myself it ok because she is still my wife, i feel i should stop since we are getting a divorce, but its really difficult for me. Im searching for help to fill my desire for intimacy, not just sex, but tender touching, holding hands, ect. Im a really touchy feely guy, im Praying God fulfills that desire, but im struggleling hard.

    • I’m a 29 year old single Christian woman. Always thought that I would be married by now. I’m still hoping God will come through even though I know he didn’t promise me that. But I’ve seen him bring my friends wonderful companions. I can’t seem to meet men that are on the same page with me about premarital sex. Most of the men who attend church are already married. I want a man who truly loves and fears Jesus, but I also want us to be physically attracted to each other. I meet plenty of guys who meet the physical attraction, but not the spiritual needs. It’s extremely frustrating. And I do agree with the other person who is tired of the “Sunday School response.” This is why I stopped asking people at church (especially married people) about how to help my situation. It only made me angrier when I received dismissive and insensitive replies. God in his grace has given me other single Christian female friends who understand my desires and frustrations completely. So it gives me comfort to know that I’m not alone. The sexual desire is becoming even harder to deal with as well as the loneliness. I just wanted to comment to let others know you’re not alone.

      • What is True Love? The Truth About Real Love According To The Bible. True Love. Man desires a woman like a rose. As soon as a man embraces a woman he damages her petals. For a man, the greatest and true attraction of a woman is her chastity.
        A man’s heart is stirred, not his body. Woman, do you want to be desired by a man’s body or his heart? It is chastity that attracts his heart. If a woman uses her body to attract, she only arouses a man physically. Woman, do you want to enchant a man with your body or your heart ?
        ​A chaste woman attracts a man with her heart. A restrained woman’s beauty is her charm, wisdom and beauty. A man can really love only a chaste woman.
        So, woman, if you want to have a serious relationship, you should want to be loved and not used.
        ​You need to make chastity your greatest attraction – it is a gift and not a possession.
        If you have lost your purity, you can regain it like St Mary Magdalene. It is called Magdalene’s virginity.The same principles of purity also apply to men.

  2. You do the same thing that everybody else does. You give the same Sunday School answers with no real solution. You make it sound like it’s so easy. You just say no to sexual urges like it’s so simple, and it’s not.I have been looking for the answer for years on how I am supposed to handle being single, a Christian, and being someone with a very high sex drive for the longest time. But every time I asked the question, how am I supposed to deal with being single and a Christian and having a high sexual drive, I get the same Sunday school answers. It’s always pray, read your Bible more keep busy. Stuff like that. I’m tired of it. I want some REAL answers, and you’ve done the same thing everybody else is done, give me nothing. I’m not trying to be rude or disrespectful oh, I’m just frustrated as heck. So if you don’t know the answer, then say so. But don’t lead people on like your going to give them answer and then don’t.

    We all know what the Bible says about lust and premarital sex and stuff like that. We don’t need to hear that again. Just answer the question if you have an answer that isn’t the same dry useless unhelpful answer. Don’t give the Sunday School basic lesson with no real help for anybody. That’s the problem with church. A lot of talk, and they don’t say anything.

    • @Mark, Thanks for sharing your frustration. I’m sorry that you didn’t find this post helpful. I think that what you are missing is a personal relationship with Christ. Many people try to obey the “laws” of the Bible in hopes of avoiding hell and getting to heaven. That isn’t the point, and even if you were able to coerce yourself into living in victory, it wouldn’t be enough. What Jesus wants is for you to serve Him because you love him, because you don’t want to disappoint him. Invite Him to control your life. Spend time in reading the gospels and invite Him to speak to you through them. Not as a way to get to heaven, but as a way to build up a relationship. Tell Him how you feel. Give your whole heart to Him. Then look for some friends who are doing the same thing and spend time fellowshipping with them. Tell them your struggles. They probably have had similar ones. Hold each other accountable. But don’t do it as a way to buy your entrance into heaven. You’ll never do that, because eternal life is a gift from God, one that you will never deserve. If you’d like to take this further, leave a note here and I’ll send you an email address we can use. Or call the toll free number in the heading.

      • LB You just said everything Mark said you would say. You never gave him a clear answer. What Mark was saying is he has basically done all those things and he is still burning with desire. So now he is in a catch 22. I also agree with him. I’m love my God with everything. And yes he does keep the desire down to a minimum most of the time. Paul made it sound like here let me run down to the marriage Store and get a wife to fix this issue. It’s not 2000 years ago. We can’t go buy a wife basically like they did back then. So now he is left in sin. So all I’m saying is maybe think before giving a fellow brother a canned answer. Love you much.

        • I don’t think God ever promised to take away our sinful desires. Instead, He promised to give us grace and strength to deal with them. Do you have any idea how I agonize over these questions at times? I know as well as anyone how real these battles are and I do not give out canned answers. But finally, life is life and the only way to deal with life is by taking God’s directions.

    • I’m a Christian woman who made the decision to wait on God for a Christian husband. When I made the decision, working in a Christian bookstore almost 22 years ago, little did I realiz the torture ahead for my emotions. It has been hell at times having these desires and not having the answer God promised when I made the decision to wait for Him to give me His choice. I LOVE the Lord and have a close relationship with Him, read the Bible every day, focus on Him, listen to Christian sermons daily, attend church, run on treadmill, sing on praise team at church, serve Him in various ways, however I TOTALLY relate to this post from the guy, people who are married have no business or compassion towards those who are told to not have sex and just get your mind off of it. You try going 22 years with no sex, then and only then do you have the right to give me or anyone else advice. God help you to have mercy on others.Hod bless you, but you just don’t understand us. Forgive me for my frustrations.

      • I get these replies a lot. GOD PROMISED ME…. God doesn’t make promises like that. At least not very often. Normally those “promises” come from our own desires and dreams. We persuade ourselves that God has promised something we want very badly. What God does promise is strength for each day. He doesn’t demand anything from us that it isn’t possible to fulfill.

    • Funny I also came here for wisdom. I’m sorry writer but it doesn’t help. I’m 34, I could nearly boast I have had good sexual controlthese number of years. I never understood the craze for sexual desire, until now the feeling is insane. Most of these essays show we don’t understand these things or that we are too scared to put out there what is not factually written in the bible.
      I’m not lusting after anyone, I am not in any relationship, but i feel really lonely and want to gratify myself so i can focus properly on life. Ever wonder why the bible asks married couple never to deny one another except for a moment? Because it’s not easy to burn. Burning is extremely distracting, but praying, studying will neget remove those desires…It’s an energy that ought to be harnessed that needs to be dissipated somewhere if not in marriage…It’s not as simply as these essays.

      • There is no magic formula to give victory. Only the desire for a relationship with Christ can outweigh the desires for sexual pleasure. Other things can help: Christian fellowship, Bible study, accountability groups, etc. But finally it boils down to walking with Jesus.

    • Hey Mark. I see your point but what “answer” do you want? Being single as a Christian is tough and there’s no way around that. The author is giving you a biblical answer and we’re just going to have to accept that, if we are striving to defeat our flesh.

      There is no “solution” other than to fight via hobbies, exercise, prayer and /or work.

      I’m single + I am saving myself for marriage. I sometimes want to give up but I just continue to fight the good fight. I’m in my late 20’s btw so I can relate.

      We need to stop expecting some miraculous feel good answer because sexual desire is part of humanity .

  3. HI. You’ve been through a lot my friend. Trust what scripture says and not your feelings. God forgives when you ask Him and turn away from sin. That theme runs through the Bible from beginning to end. Jesus clearly said, “whoever comes to me I will in no wise turn away.” Your are not outside of Gods’ grace.

    He also said, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” It seems to me that you believe and that you’ve repented. Have you been baptized? If not, then do it. Start your relationship with God anew, find a church family, and enjoy forgiveness.

    Don’t know if I can sneak my email in here, but feel free to write me if you want to chat. It’s pescatenkara@gmail. You don’t have to do this alone. My name is Brett by the way.

  4. It’s never too late to turn to God and his love as long as we are alive here on earth

  5. I lived in sexual sin, most all of my life. I had called on the Lord in my 20’s because I had a drug overdose that ended up making me no-polar. I then thought it would be better to get married so I wouldn’t be fornicating. My wife was very sweet. I then discovered later that she had been lying to me about her former lovers, who turned out to be close past friends of mine. I went totally out of my mind.. It caused a nervous breakdown, and verbal abuse. I became so angry, that I became PTSD. I lost all feelings for her. Eventually we broke up and I began committing adultery. And porn.. We finally got back together, but I have no feelings. Now I am older, and realize that I am not justified in the way I acted and had left God. I had been in sin so long..
    Now I’m 66yrs old and becoming mentally ill. I know I am facing hell. I feel like God has had enough, and has finally cut me off. I cannot sense His Holy Spirit, tho I try and try to call out, in repentance. It has made me mad. I know not what to do. I pray and ask for prayer for God’s mercy. I do not deserve it, but I want to know and believe in Jesus as Savior. Satan has really messed me up now. I know I have caused a lot of pain (I went and asked forgiveness). I want to stop the hardness of my heart, and my pride. I feel God is so angry. Would you please pray for my deliverance?

    • Hi, Thanks for sharing. I want to assure you that God loves. He is not angry with you and He wants to renew his relationship with you. But it sounds to me like you should consider seeing a Christian counsellor to give you some help. Or call our toll-free line at 1-855-367-8788 and talk with one of our Phone Team. They would be happy to talk with you and pray for you. God bless you in your journey.

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