Christians & Masturbation: The Bible Alone Problem

Godwin Delali Adadzie - Masturbation

\"Godwin

I stumbled upon Evangelical blogger and author Rachel Held Evans\’ blog post entitled Christians & Masturbation: Seven Perspectives, and I thought it would be great to respond to some of the views raised by the various contributors of that interesting post.

The question that was posed by Rachel to seven Christian adults is:

Is masturbation an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians?
I shall highlight some of the responses here and then give my thoughts.

Response from Abigail Rine (Teacher of Literature and Gender Studies at George Fox University):

I do not see the Bible as giving any sort of indictment against masturbation, although a puritanical narrative of sexuality is often imposed upon the Bible to make it seem that way. I think that masturbation can absolutely be a healthy part of both married and unmarried sexuality.

Response from Anna Broadway (Author of Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity):

Whether or not masturbation can be part of healthy sexuality depends on how we define the second part of the question: healthy sexuality. Based on my reading of the Bible, I believe sex is one of the many ways God created humans to bear the image of our maker in the world.

Response from Richard Beck (Professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Abilene Christian University):

In short, I don\’t think the physical act of masturbation should be moralized. The real issue in this conversation, the big elephant in the room, is Jesus\’ prohibition against lust (cf. Matt. 5.27-28). Masturbation per se might not be a sin but what about the attendant lust? Can you masturbate to the point of orgasm without lust being a part of that experience?

Response from Dianna Anderson:

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I might scratch \”acceptable\” from there and change it to \”important.\”

I think, when thinking about this question, the first thing we need to do is separate masturbation from pornography. Masturbation is not de facto coupled with pornography, and therefore is not in itself problematic. A lot of Christians leap quickly from one to the other, and it\’s important to make a distinction. Pornography is a completely separate beast of a question.

Response from Matthew Lee Anderson (Author of Earthen Vessels: Why our Bodies Matter to our Faith):

In the auto-eroticism of masturbation, we pursue a particular sort of satisfaction or a particular experience of pleasure.  But it is through the mutual self-giving in love that our humanity is established (whether in sex or beyond), rather than the abstract experience of pleasure or the fulfillment of a craving or felt need.  However enjoyable it might be, masturbation fails to fulfill this form of human sexuality, and as such is corrosive to the integrity of our persons and our intimacy of the Spirit.

Response from Jenell Williams Paris (Professor of anthropology at Messiah College in Grantham, PA):

Christianity is often reduced to a moral system that encourages (or harangues) people toward being good instead of bad.  But like life in general, sex seems to defy our attempts to be good; in both masturbation and in sexual partnership, unruly, wild, and unpredictable parts of ourselves often emerge.  If cared for, acknowledged, and brought into the light, the wildness of sex still doesn’t submit to domestication, but it can offer practice in humility, humor, and groundedness.  When we ignore it, trying to be more angel than human, what is repressed often returns in distorted and harmful forms.

Response from Tara Owens (Spiritual Director, Speaker and Author with Anam Cara Ministries):

I know “yes” or “no” would be easier answers to this question, but I don’t believe that our sexuality was created by God simply to be treated mechanistically. I believe sexuality is a gift and a grace that is given to us by God, and it can produce some of the most radically beautiful and loving acts as well as some of the most horrible and hateful. As the first line of the Didache says, “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways.”

Again the above quotes are just samples of the entire blog post available here. I am at least happy to see someone quote the Didache. I thought it was only for us Catholics lol.

Now from some of the views expressed by these Christian men and women of good will, I generally see ONE ISSUE HERE. THE PROBLEM OF SOLA SCRIPTURA (Scripture alone) that is the assertion held by most non-Catholic Christians that the Bible alone is the sole rule for the Christian faith. This assertion has demonstrated again how problematic it practically is with the issues of FAITH AND MORAL. Now most of them admit that the Bible never addressed masturbation, and this has left them to their own interpretations. Some believe masturbation is healthy for the believing Christian, others also think otherwise.

My personal belief on this is masturbation is wrong and at best spiritually unhealthy. Would you be doing that with a clear conscience in the presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? It is true most males (and surprisingly females too) struggle with (or do they enjoy it?) this.

I don\’t know how masturbation can be compatible with Jesus\’ view of morality here:

\”You have heard that it was said, \’You shall not commit adultery.\’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.\” (Matthew 5:27-30)

Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2352:

By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. \”Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.\” \”The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.\” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of \”the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.\”

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects\’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

Originally posted on HubBlogs with GADEL.

© 2013. Godwin Delali Adadzie. All Rights Reserved.

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4 thoughts on “Christians & Masturbation: The Bible Alone Problem”

  1. I surely agree, and know that this is an excellent case of going beyond Sacred Scripture and looking into Sacred Tradition to see the fuller picture.

    “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.”
    I think that this last paragraph is hugely important. There are some who are instantly delivered from a habit such as this or perhaps alcoholism, or a dozen other hindrances to our walk with God, and many of us struggle with one or more of these all of our lives. While objectively masturbation is serious sin, I am very glad that the Catechism also presents the realistic observation that one can be fighting such a habit and still be in the state of grace. That is not to say we should sit back and just accept it as a part of our lives, but rather to say that AS we are learning to give this or other habits that are sometimes so deeply ingrained in us to God, our slipping and falling may not be a personal mortal sin, even though it is objectively. Nevertheless it is to be clearly confessed before God and a good priest of God who can counsel each person individually on their path to holiness and help them form a “game plan,” whether it means putting the computer in the living room, praying more, attending daily Mass, or any number of other ways to fight the battle. And even then, for some of us, the battle does still exist. I am just glad we serve a very merciful God. But that mercy is never an invitation to sin. Great post.

  2. Surprisingly females, too? Oh, boy, you know nothing. Women do masturbate. Have you ever heard of toys, vibrators and all kind of sexual devices? Girls, even little girls, do masturbate. Sometimes without knowing it is wrong or sinful, Sometimes concious of acting in a sinful manner.
    You seem unable to realize that women are sexual beings too and they struggle to keep chastity. Many catholic women do not engage in hook-up culture, but they suffer from being unable to avoid masturbation…
    The fight Against sin is not a male exclusively matter.

  3. The response of Richard Beck of Abelene Christian University said it right, combining the existence of lust which Jesus warned about. Thjose who wish to judge oneself as noy guilty search ways for their justification. Lust in all forms is out of Christian morality

  4. Pingback: Christians & Masturbation: The Bible Alone Problem - CATHOLIC FEAST - Every day is a Celebration

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