Beth Ann Baus
The Problem with Masturbation, Even in Marriage
Masturbation feeds a self-centered desire and is typically something done in private. Because masturbation is essentially having sex with yourself, we must remember that sex wasn’t intended to be a private pursuit (1 Cor 7:2). God created sex to be a beautiful expression of love from one committed spouse to the other, as a reflection of the intimacy that God wants to have with the church. It was not designed to be a solo act.
I would also direct you to (Ephesians 5:11-12), “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.”
Here’s another example of the self-centered nature behind masturbation. You’ve had a stressful day or you’ve been faced with temptation (1 Cor 7:5), and you decide to engage in self-gratification. What happens next? Your spouse wants to enjoy you, but you can’t respond to your spouse because you’ve already pleased yourself.
Ask yourself, “Am I honoring God with this activity? Am I loving my spouse with this activity? Who am I putting first, me or my spouse?”
What Lies Does the enemy Tell Us about Masturbation?
First lie is that masturbation can keep you from other sins. For instance, those who either use no visual stimuli or use imagery of their spouse, claim that regular masturbation keeps them from looking at pornography or going outside their marriage bed with another person.
The argument has also been made that regular self-gratification, done out of boredom, keeps the person from engaging in all sorts of other sinful activities, from over-eating to excessive alcohol consumption, or even the sin of being idle. To these lies, I say, what about self-control?
Where masturbation is an act of instant, self-gratification, self-control is an act of obedience to our Holy God and a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)–an act that requires restraint, thought, intentionality, and delayed gratification.
(Proverbs 25:28) says, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”
If the only way you can avoid other sin is by engaging in masturbation, I encourage you to find a safe person you can open up to about this, and ask for help finding more godly ways to cope with temptation. We cannot justify one sin by using it to avoid another.
Another lie is that exploring your body and learning how to best bring yourself to orgasm would benefit your spouse and increase the pleasure in your marriage bed? Let’s consider (1 Corinthians 7:3-4), “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
So, ask yourself these questions, “Doesn’t it make more sense to explore each other’s bodies? Why do that alone? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to do that together as a married couple? Wouldn’t that vulnerability and selflessness only breed deeper intimacy?”
An argument that has been made in light of (1 Corinthians 7:3-4) is that if a husband and wife have authority over each other’s bodies, and they agree that masturbation is okay in their marriage, then why would it be sinful? Let’s assume there is no use of pornography or inappropriate mental imagery involved (Matt 5:28); the stimulation coming solely from touch and thoughts or imagery of the spouse.
If you question whether or not this act would be sinful, perhaps another question to ask is, is this wise? The reality is that we can train our bodies to respond to certain stimuli. After extended use of pornography people often find that they are only excited by erotic images and they struggle to respond to their spouse.
This can easily happen with masturbation as well. You can train your body to reach climax only after self-stimulation, which will ultimately leave your spouse disappointed and leave you returning to yourself for gratification. To argue that there is no sin or risk of sin in this scenario is feeding a selfish desire.
The bottom line is, we should find our sexual satisfaction in–and only in–our spouse.