Adolescence 3 / Young Adulthood
So we have spent the last couple of articles talking about the adolescent phase of human sexuality and how that is an important phase of sexual development for young people as they need the development of not just their physical bodies, but also their sexual organs, or reproductive systems. In singleness, of course, the reproductive aspect of these systems is not being utilised. However, in marriage, the reproductive aspect is also not being utilised, and it then becomes a question of the other purposes of a person’s sexual organs outside of reproduction, and how this can be realised in singleness while maintaining sexual purity and a personal Christian faith.
In a marriage the sharing of each other’s physical bodies is an act of physical and spiritual intimacy that also involves God. In singleness, aside from the involvement of God in one’s everyday life, essentially one is sharing one’s body with oneself. In other words, the act of masturbation for a single person is a means of sexual expression and fulfilment because they don’t have another person in their life to share that physical intimacy with. Religious legalists and conservatives often charge that masturbation is purely a selfish act of physical pleasure and cannot be compared in any way with the act of sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife in holy matrimony. It is true that masturbation cannot be the same as sexual intercourse because it only involves one person, but in that act, the person is learning how to be intimate with his or her self. In the act of sexual intercourse between two people, each of these people is learning about what makes the other person tick at the time when they are sharing their bodies together in bed, and that is what constitutes physical intimacy between two marriage partners. Sexual intercourse between two marriage partners can also be a selfish act of physical pleasure for both of those people. So while masturbation could be purely about physical pleasure in a selfish way, it can also be a time where that person who is masturbating is learning how to be sexually fulfilled in the time of singleness and be prepared for being sexually fulfilled in a future marriage.
We’ve entitled this part both about adolescence and young adulthood because today’s focus is on the development of sexual maturity for a young person that will usually parallel the development of physical maturity. At the beginning of their adolescence they will have only the immature knowledge that their bodies need this physical pleasure through touching themselves and that will be about all they will be focusing on to start with. For the larger percentage who do not have a Christian faith, masturbation will end up having a sinful focus as it becomes consumed in sexual lust, adultery and pornography. However, for a godly teenage girl or boy, staying focused on the principles of their faith will eventually see masturbation become more about an awareness of sexual fulfilment of their physical bodies, in particular their sexual organs. It is important that this becomes a key focus of masturbation for singles as they need to be focused on something during masturbation and it absolutely cannot be another person because that would bring sexual sin (idolatry or adultery) into the situation. Sexual fulfilment is a Godly blessing for Christians to be able to achieve and when a single Christian young woman or young man is achieving sexual fulfilment in a godly way, which may encompass other activities apart from masturbation, they are worshipping their creator. Masturbation is an act of sexual fulfilment for a single person because it is a recognition that their sexual organs are designed, amongst other things, to produce pleasure when physically touched or caressed, which eventually leads to an orgasm. In the act of masturbation, the goal is not solely the achievement of that pleasure, but the recognition that the pleasure is the reward received for achieving the orgasm, which is the primary means of sexual fulfilment for a single person. It is important for a Christian single person to focus masturbation in the context of achieving this sexual fulfilment on the assumption that it is a legitimate godly desire of their personal life and that it is an expression of their sexuality that is wholly in accordance with the way they were created by God and are expressing their love for Him in acts of worship.