We could choose to write a blog that lists pros and cons of masturbation. There are many possible pros, but we would limit our discussion to the really important ones for people of Godly character, and then further on in this series. For this part. we are going to focus on some of the more widespread opposition that has been expressed to masturbation over the course of history, and discuss some gotchas, or valid reasons why one shouldn’t masturbate, or limit one’s use of masturbation.
In the course of our study and research we discovered something called “the great masturbation panic”, a discourse by Alan Hunt in the Journal of the History of Sexuality published 1998. Hunt (in a very short online preview of his scholarly work) and Psychology Today in several online articles characterise this by telling us there was no substantive historical concern about masturbation until the early 18th century when certain publications labelled masturbation as “onanism” were produced; this despite the fact that most theologians of that era outside the Roman Catholic Church would have been as dismissive of equating the Genesis story of Onan with masturbation as they are today. A wide range of medical problems were then alleged to be caused by masturbation, and it wasn’t that long before this became a key charge of the medical establishment of the day. PT suggests this was because the power brokers of that era saw masturbation as symbolic of individuals’ ability to have private expressions of sexuality, which was a threat to the established social order.
Masturbation was also alleged to cause mental illness and it became a reason for incarceration in lunatic asylums. The masturbation panic was even cited as a key reason to oppose allowing women to ride bicycles or horses. Almost laughable are the attempts to invent foods to suppress libido: Graham crackers and Kellogg cornflakes being among them, whilst potassium nitrate, potassium bromide and liquorice were thought to have anaphrodisiacal properties. What however is much more serious is the actual physical punishments advocated for people who masturbated. The Puritans prescribed capital punishment for masturbators in the colony of New Haven, Connecticut. Medical literature and leading campaigners such as Kellogg advocated for and described physical means of genital mutilation or modification, which was almost considered to be mainstream in the era (a century ago).
Whilst there undoubtedly was a masturbation panic, we do not agree with a writer in the Daily Telegraph (UK) who equated this historical treatment of masturbation with the widespread concern over the use of pornography today. Whilst masturbation is healthy for Christians to undertake under the right circumstances, pornography is not healthy as it can be considered adulterous in nature and is clearly addressed in the Bible.
So here we now turn to a list of actual cons of masturbation. These have nothing to do with any of the falsehoods mentioned above. They are simply physical considerations that Christians should undertake before partaking of masturbation, in order to obtain the most benefit from a session (physical and spiritual). Here we are:
- Masturbation is to be a holy act undertaken in reverence of and worship to God.
- Masturbation must, therefore, not involve any sin. The most common type of sin used in conjunction with masturbation being sexual lust, such as when pornography is involved. It is also sexually sinful to share a masturbation session with anyone who is not your marriage partner. Masturbation is to be undertaken only in private or with your husband/wife.
- We do not recommend masturbating if you are experiencing any pain in the pelvic area. For example if you suffer from haemorrhoids, or have chafed skin between your legs, or have a heat or sweat rash on the skin in your crotch, then this can make masturbation uncomfortable and much less pleasurable.
- We totally and unequivocally proscribe any sexual activity that involves anal contact of any type. We believe that the anus is not designed or intended for sexual activity of any form.
- Masturbation should only involve a gentle touch or action. This is especially important for males who are prone to injure their penis through excessively vigorous hand thrusting or gripping. For neither male or female should activity be undertaken that produces excessive friction and causes chafing or inflammation.
- Masturbation should not be undertaken at any time as a substitute for any type of intimate relationship, especially with a husband or wife.
- If masturbation is being undertaken by a marriage partner, it should not have a detrimental impact on normal marital sexual relations. We recommend full communication between husband and wife over the use of masturbation within the marital relationship.
- Guys should be careful about inserting their penis into anything (including any male sex toy) and girls about any type of sex toy they may wish to insert into their vagina. We believe only women should use sex toys and then only the passive type and of an appropriate size. Insert gently to avoid to avoid any risk of injury and ensure any toys are clean before use. Use lube if needed with any toy.
- Masturbation can be more difficult and/or less enjoyable if you are tired, or if you need to go to the toilet. Just sleep if you are tired, and take a toilet break before starting a session.
- Masturbation for Christians must not be an addictive behaviour. Whilst the Bible doesn’t specifically mention addiction, as a psychological disorder it can be harmful to one’s overall spiritual wellbeing. Generally an addictive behaviour is characterised by a lust for physical pleasure. Lust is mentioned in the Bible as a sinful behaviour, and is often misused as a substitute for spiritual intimacy, with the substitution being part of the sinfulness. If there is likely to be an addictive component to masturbation then we encourage believers to seek God in a personal way for solutions to the problem, which may involve application of spiritual disciplines such as prayer and fasting, and counsel from experienced ministry leaders.
- Frequency of masturbation is mainly an issue if it is an addictive behaviour or if excessive masturbation is causing friction injuries or the like. For some people masturbation is an occasional behaviour; for others it is more regular. The matter of the appropriate frequency for each Christian believer is a matter of conscience between them and God. We are familiar with situations where people are masturbating regularly several times per day and this seems to be satisfactory as long as there is no sin involved.