Today, we’re going to broach a very sensitive topic but an important topic and a controversial topic, the topic of masturbation. Within the greater body of Christ there is a spectrum of opinion on the subject. The reason for this is because, as we’ll soon see, the Bible is actually silent on the subject, at least to some degree. Learn more in this Little Lessons series with Bible teacher David Servant.
- Is Masturbation a Sin According to the Bible?
- What About the Story of Onan?
- Sexual Desire and Masturbation
- The Biblical Solution to Strong Sexual Desire
- Do You Have a Hyper Sex Drive?
- How to Deal With Your Sexual Desire
- Are There Different Degrees of Lust?
- Is It Wrong to Masturbate Before Marriage?
Masturbation. Is It a Sin According to the Bible?
Today, we’re going to broach a very sensitive topic but an important topic and a controversial topic, the topic of masturbation. Within the greater body of Christ there is a spectrum of opinion of the subject. The reason that there is, is because, as we’ll soon see, the Bible is actually silent on the subject, at least to some degree.
Now, the reason that I decided to broach the subject is because our most popular Little Lesson video that we produced, and we’ve been doing this for, I guess, about a year now, is one that is titled Will God Keep Forgiving Me if I Keep Repeating the Same Sin? That video has received, as I’m talking to you right now, 41,000 views. On average, our videos receive hundreds of views. So this one in particular, 41,000 views. Now, YouTube will actually reveal to us some of the demographics of our viewers.
We have learned that for the most part, the large majority of folks who have searched for and viewed that particular video are young men in the ranges of 18 to 25 or 26. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what they’re struggling with. Mostly young, unmarried men who have reached the age of puberty. This is widespread. Christian young men struggle because they want to do what’s pleasing to God and they know that God has things to say about sex and their body being the temple of the Holy Spirit and so forth.
So a lot of them are looking for answers. It brings them, in their searches, to our most popular YouTube video, If I Keep Committing the Same Sin, Will God Keep On Forgiving Me? Now, if you’ve seen that video, you know that, of course, I make it very plain that God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness are unlimited. If we confess our sins he’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You can’t out-sin the mercy of God. Of course, we have to confess and ask for his forgiveness. But he never would say no. God gives grace to the humble and I’m so glad for that and I’m sure you are too.
But a lot of young men are struggling and looking for answers and so forth. So I’m going to spend a few of our Little Lessons talking about this subject of masturbation. The very first thing, most important question I think to ask is, what does the Bible say? The plain fact of the matter, it’s almost shocking. It certainly is surprising on one level. The Bible never mentions masturbation. You never find the word masturbation. You never find a synonym for the word masturbation. The Bible’s essentially silent on the actual physical act of masturbation.
The reason I said that’s surprising is because the Bible is so clear on so many levels when it comes to revealing God’s thoughts and God’s will concerning human sexuality. I mean, let’s face it, God enumerates in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, specific sexual sins. The one I think that everybody would think of first would be, of course, the sin of adultery. Well, that’s one of the 10 commandments. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” What is adultery? Adultery is sex by one or two people who are married and are having sex with someone to whom they’re not married. So they’re cheating on a spouse. Everyone in their conscience, of course, knows that’s wrong and every culture knows that’s wrong. But that’s in the Bible, Old and New Testaments.
God specifically says sex is something that’s to be enjoyed between a husband and a wife, two people who are committed to each other in a lifetime marriage covenant. Why is that? Because God loves us, that’s why. Because he knows what’s best for us and he’s reserved something strictly to marriage. Because he loves us. He knows that’s good for us. Everything outside of that has potentially bad consequences and always carries some bad consequences that are totally inescapable. Adulterers suffer, always, to some degree. God doesn’t want us to suffer that way so he gives us this commandment. All right. That’s one of the things that God had to say about sex.
Similarly to adultery would be fornication. In the same kind of category, sex between unmarried people. Again, God wants people to enjoy sex within the covenant of marriage. It’s special. It’s intimate. It’s vulnerable and it’s something that is so special it’s reserved for one special person. All right? Again, because God loves us. Well, what other sexual sins does God mention in Scripture? Oh, my goodness. He mentions incest. Old and New Testaments list it as wrong. In the Old Testament, he spells it out very specific what constitutes an incestuous relationship.
Prostitution, of course, a form of adultery or fornication. That’s condemned in Scripture. Homosexuality, sex between two people of the same sex is strongly condemned in the Old and New Testaments. I know people would love to change that today but the Bible’s … The Bible’s the Bible. It’s been around for thousands of years and so it’s too late to change that now. So God condemns that. Oh, here’s one you’d never think would even have to be mentioned in the Scripture. Having a sexual relationship, a human being having a sexual relationship with an animal. I mean, when did that enter anyone’s mind? How could anyone be tempted in that regard? Who would ever do such a thing?
But apparently there are folks that are tempted and do such things. God catches them. He spells it out in Scripture. Whoever does this, God condemns. There’s actually a word for this. It’s bestiality, having sex with an animal. So what I’m saying here is that all these things are condemned, clearly, in Scripture. But masturbation, never mentioned. Lust is mentioned. Yes, I know some viewers are thinking that. We’ll get to that in our next Little Lesson, because we’re out of time for this one.
But nobody can deny that the Bible is silent on the sin, if it is a sin, of masturbation. We’ll get into this more deeply in our next Little Lesson so I hope you join us. I know at least a few viewers are saying, “Oh, no. I know of a case in the Old Testament where God killed somebody for masturbating.” Oh, I’m glad you thought of that because we’re going to cover that the very first thing in our next Little Lesson.
What About the Story of Onan?
What does the Bible say about masturbation? This is actually a second look, part two, on the topic of masturbation. So if you missed the previous Little Lesson, you might want to look up that one first because this is a continuation. We’re building on some things that we covered in that first Little Lesson. The main point that I made last time is when we’re asking the question, “What does the Bible have to say about masturbation?” the Bible has nothing to say about masturbation. The word isn’t found in Scripture, there’s not a synonym that’s found for it in Scripture, and I pointed out that that’s a little bit surprising in light of all that Scripture does have to say about human sexuality and what is pleasing and not pleasing to God. I mean, he tells people don’t have sex with animals. You wonder why he ever had to cover that. Well, if he covers that, if masturbation was so grievous in God’s eyes, then you’d think that he’d cover that. So that’s just a little food for thought.
Now, some viewers are going to say, “Oh, but wait a second. There’s this guy that masturbated in the Old Testament, and God killed him.” So we’re going to read that story, just a couple of verses. We won’t go into every single detail about it, but it’s found in Genesis chapter 38. This is something that happened even before the law of Moses was given. Let me just read it to you, and then we’ll talk about it as we go here. Genesis 38:7, “But Er,” that’s the guy’s name, E-R, “Judah’s firstborn.” We have heard of Judah. He’s in the lineage of Jesus, and his firstborn son was named Er. “Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life.” Well, I think to myself, “Wow, he must have been pretty evil for the Lord to take his life.” There are a lot of people I can think of and wonder why God doesn’t take their life, but maybe they’re not quite as evil as Er was.
So anyway, there’s Er. Now he’s dead. “Then Judah said to Onan,” which is another one of his sons, not his firstborn but his other son, “‘Go in to your brother’s wife,'” that would be the widow of Er, “‘and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her and raise up offspring for your brother.'” Judah says to a surviving son, “Have sex with your sister-in-law, who’s now a widow, so she can have children. They’ll be raised up, and they’ll be children that will belong to your brother.” Now, this was something that was actually stipulated in the law of Moses. I have actually run into at least one tribe in Africa, not a Christian tribe, that actually practiced this. It’s kind of like the practical solution. What do you do for young widows? This is what they do.
The story continues, “Onan,” that’s the one who’s been ordered by his dad to go have sex with his sister-in-law. “Onan knew that the offspring,” or the children, “would not be his, so when he went into his brother’s wife,” so he had sex with her, “he wasted his seed on the ground in order to not give offspring to his brother.” He understood enough about sex to understand the mechanics of it and how to practice birth control in something that’s called coitus interruptus. I’m not joking. That’s actually what it’s called. He doesn’t inseminate his sister-in-law and spills his seed on the ground. Verse number 10, “But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life also.” Bam. First, we’ve got Er, Judah’s firstborn dying because the Lord was displeased with him. Then we’ve got another one of Judah’s sons dying because the Lord takes his life.
Specifically, we know what he did that was so displeasing to the Lord. This is where some folks claim, “There it is. You see, that’s masturbation. He spilled his seed on the ground. He didn’t inseminate his sister-in-law.” Well, can I just ask you for a moment to consider the fact that that is not masturbation. That is something maybe in some small way similar to masturbation, but masturbation is solo sex. This was sex with a woman. He just pulled out prematurely and didn’t inseminate her. What was so displeasing about God was not the spilling of his seed. It was the fact that he was unwilling to honor his deceased brother and raise up children for his brother. Again, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around everything in this story, personally, myself. Maybe you’ve got it figured out and you can write to me and help me understand all this, but it’s a stretch to say that we know that masturbation is wrong because of the sin of Onan.
I remember one time years ago when I was a young Christian, I was in a Christian bookstore and I saw a tract, a little pamphlet that they were selling there. The title of it was something like The Sin of Onanism: A Very Common Sin in the Body of Christ. I looked at that and said, “The sin of Onanism?” I picked up the track and read it. It referenced this story. Suddenly, I realized that Onanism is a synonym for masturbation. Therefore, it’s wrong. This is the proof that the physical act of masturbation is wrong. I can’t remember what my reaction was at that time, but nevertheless, I don’t buy into it now because I know that’s not what we’re reading about here. Show me a story in the Bible where it says so-and-so masturbated and God killed them because it displeased him. You’re not going to find that anywhere in the Bible. It’s just not mentioned.
I guess I’m saying all that to say this. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not quite as wrong as some people have portrayed it to be seeing as how God never mentioned it in the Bible. Now, again, I know someone’s saying, “What about lust?” Okay. I’m going to get there in the next Little Lesson, but anyone who says that the Bible teaches that masturbation is wrong, you need to ask them, “Just give me the chapter and verse on that because my Bible, I haven’t found that yet.” I only have just a few seconds left, and we’ll continue more. Can we also acknowledge that God is the inventor, the Creator, the one who dreamed up the idea of sex? It’s desirable to people because God made it desirable to people. I’m not giving excuses for sin here. No, no, no. I’m just trying to look at a bigger picture than sometimes what I hear portrayed by people who are really good at making other people feel guilty. We’re going to talk about those people too, I think, before we’re all done here.
Sexual Desire and Masturbation
Sexual desire and masturbation. What does the Bible have to say? Today we’re going to continue the very sensitive subject of sexual desire and masturbation. This is a continuation of two previous Little Lessons and if you didn’t see those, you might wanna stop this one and go back and look at those because we’re building on some principles. I finished out our previous Little Lesson reminding all of us that sex was God’s idea and so it is not in any way inherently evil. Sex is inherently good and it’s one way that God shows us his love. I mean, it was his idea to bundle all those very sensitive nerves in the human body, both male and female, and God was thinking about pleasure, enjoyment, fun and I hope most viewers would agree with me on that. I know there will be some theologians who will say, “Well now, sex is only for procreation and if you’re not going to have children you shouldn’t be having sex because that’s why God designed it because it results in children.”
Okay, great, great. What do you say to that? Well you say that’s stupid, right? Because after people get old enough where they can’t have children any longer, they get to menopause, they can still have sex and it can still be pleasurable and enjoyable and fun, right? So anyone who says that God created sex just for procreation, just so you have kids, that’s wrong. I just proved it’s wrong and you just have to think about it for two seconds. You have a wrong idea of God if those are the kind of things you think. I mean, come on. God loves us and sex is just one of many ways that God has expressed his love for us. He wants us thinking about him and how good he is, alright? So we’ll be drawn to him and then serve him and love him because look how good he’s been to me. Through all these different ways, one of which is sex. Now of course we know that God set the boundaries: sex is for people that are married, in a covenant marriage ’til death do they part because it’s so special.
It’s reserved just for that and God also knows that it’s only good in that context for a couple of reasons. You can probably figure them out. I’m sure that you probably have already figured that out. Alright so I just think it’s good for us to acknowledge that sex is good and that the sexual desire that you feel is from God and so it can’t be bad, okay? Now he does say, “I’m setting parameters” but the question is, has he set the parameters and said, “No masturbation?” Well he said no adultery, he said no fornication, he said no incest and no prostitution, no lust, no bestiality (having sex with animals). We talked about that. But he never said no masturbation, alright? Nobody can deny this. Nobody who’s honest can deny this.
So let’s just look at sexual desire in this Little Lesson and let’s go to a famous part of scripture that I think is just beautifully frank and honest on this subject. Paul writing to the Corinthians answering questions that they had about sex, okay? He openly talks about it. I love Paul’s honesty in this regard. 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7, Verse 1. He starts off by saying, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” So I think there’s an emphasis on the word there, “it is.” Like he’s answering what things they wrote about. So, “Paul, we’re writing to you a question. Is it good for a man not to touch a woman? Just don’t be touching women?” Paul said, “That’s good. That’s right. That’s good, it’s good for a man not to touch them because you don’t want to do anything that would lead to immorality, okay? And immorality always starts in the mind and then it leads to a progression of sexual activity and it can ultimately wind up in adultery or fornication.”
Just like Jesus taught. You look at a woman to lust for her, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart so Jesus’ trying to get those impure, immoral thoughts out of our minds so that it won’t lead to the next step. That’s what he’s trying to prevent and that’s kind of what Paul’s saying here. Look at the next verse, he says “But because of immoralities,” that is because of the kind of sexual sins that people commit, “Each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband.” Paul’s not saying to squelch the desire or exercise self-control or get your act together or take a cold shower, you know, all these things that we have heard over the years of what we should do. Paul says, “Get married.” The solution to immorality is marriage because God came up with the idea of sex but he said, “It’s for married people” and if so you have a sexual desire then you’ve got to get married. You’ve got to get married.
The trouble is that in our day people aren’t getting married until years after they reach puberty and so they’re going for years with the same sexual desires that married folks have but no marriage, no way to express or whatever you want to call it, release those desires, act on those desires. Back I think in more ancient times, more primitive societies everyone might have figured this out about people who have sexual desire, it’s about time for them to get married. Not happening in modern times and modern nations. In fact, the age of puberty has been going down to where, particularly with girls I believe to where at one time they didn’t reach puberty until their late teens now it’s early teens and so forth. I don’t think anyone has that figured out yet. Some people speculate that it’s the hormones that are in our food supplies and so forth. But again, I don’t know.
This just exacerbates the problem. We’ve got all these people with sexual desire, God given, good sexual desire and it’s akin to having any other desire that’s okay, that’s good, that God gave us. Like the desire to eat and taste foods. Can you imagine telling people, “Well you can’t eat between the ages of 13 and 26. You know? Or the desire to relieve oneself and go to the bathroom? This is all a bodily function and they say, “I have to go relieve myself,” because it doesn’t feel good but it’ll feel good after I relieve myself. Okay? In a sense this is in that same category, okay? So all I’ve been trying to do in these first three Little Lessons is to just maybe take somewhat of a weight off of all these unmarried folks who are struggling and feeling terrible and yielding to masturbation and just heaping condemnation on themselves.
I haven’t said everything that I want to say yet, but it might help first of all just to realize that you’re okay. You’re okay, you’re normal and God is the one who gave you that desire and so now what’s the solution? Paul just said the solution is marriage. That’s what Paul said. He didn’t say take a cold shower. He said, “Get married.”
Okay well we’ve only gotten through two verses of 1 Corinthians 7 so I guess we’ll pick up here in our next Little Lesson.
The Biblical Solution to Strong Sexual Desire
What is the solution to strong sexual desire? We’ve been talking about sex, sexual desire and masturbation, illicit sex and so forth, looking what the Bible has to say. This is the fourth Little Lesson in this series, so if you haven’t seen the first three you might want to go back and check out those other ones before you watch this one.
But on our last lesson we started reading through 1 Corinthians, the first few verses of chapter 7, where Paul addresses the subject of sex. A common theme throughout this entire section is Paul’s undeniable acknowledgment that sex is good and that sex is God given and that because of sexual desire and because of the pitfalls of people that don’t properly vent their sexual desire and the sins that are waiting out there, Christians ought to get married. We read that last time. He said, in verse number two of 1 Corinthians 7, “But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband.”
This is Paul’s remedy for the problem of immorality. Again, he never mentions masturbation in any list as being an immorality. But because of immoralities, and Paul does list them in 1 Corinthians. In fact, it all starts off by addressing a man who’s living in an incestuous relationship with his stepmother. Then Paul lists, “Don’t you know, adulterers and fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God.” See, so he’s already gotten into some specifics.
But now he’s saying because of the immoralities, because of the fact that there’s potential for immorality out there with people who are unmarried, because they don’t have a way to express, vent, act on their sexual desire, the solution is marriage. Okay, now you say, “Well I’m not married, where does that leave me?” That leaves you in need of marriage, if you have that sexual desire.
We’ve read these verses over the years within Christian circles. I think they don’t have the same impact upon us as they would if we were reading them for the very first time with a really open mind, so I’m asking you to open your mind and try to pretend like you’re reading this for the very first time. Listen to these words, what Paul writes, because even within marriage he sees that there are potential dangers there because of God given sexual desire. Just because you’re married to somebody doesn’t mean that there isn’t temptation to express your sexual desire and act on it outside of marriage. That’s what the sin of adultery is.
Paul says, verse number three, “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” You need to be making sure that your marriage is not a sexless marriage. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself and setting your spouse up for temptation that could lead to immorality. This is a commandment. “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” What a great duty.
It gets even stronger if you can kind of open your mind as if you’ve never heard this before. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does, and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Oh my goodness, whoever would have thought of such an idea as that? Can you believe that’s in the Bible? Husbands, your wife’s body, she doesn’t have authority over that, you do. Vice versa, wives, your husband doesn’t have the authority over his own body, you do. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you’re saying this, I never would have thought anyone would ever say this. It’s said right in our Bibles. It’s over the top. Oh my goodness. You hardly even know how to paraphrase this, it’s just so over the top. Can you imagine anyone saying this?
Verse five, “Stop depriving one another.” He’s addressing those sexless marriages where one or the other is not cooperating. One or the other saying, “This is my body, I think I’ll decide to stop having sex.” Well it’s not your body, it’s your spouse’s body, you can’t decide that. If they want it, they got it. It’s theirs. Can you believe anyone saying this? I mean, it’s almost shocking.
“Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” Only if you can both agree and say, “Let’s forgo our sexual relationship for a limited, limited time, so we can spend more time in prayer.” Oh my goodness. “And then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”
Now, there are some folks who said, “Well, there you go now David, you’ve been saying that masturbation is never listed in scripture as a sin, but right there, what is the temptation that Satan is tempting these people who are in a sexless marriage? Well, it can only be masturbation.” Au contraire monsieur, there’s plenty else to do besides masturbate in a sexless marriage, and I think everyone would agree that masturbation, solo sex is nowhere close to mutual, consensual sex. It’s just nowhere close. It’s a cheap substitute, but nowhere close. For anyone to say, “Well that verse right there proves that masturbation is wrong”, well actually it doesn’t. If that’s what Paul was talking about, why didn’t he just say it? Why didn’t he say it anywhere in the New Testament, in all of the epistles he wrote? If there’s a place to write about masturbation, Paul has it here, and he has it in previous chapters too when he addresses sexual sins.
I want to talk to the single people, all those people, those 41,000 young men who have viewed our most popular little lesson video, Will God Forgive Me if I Keep Repeating the Same Sin, and I think I know what they’re struggling with. Can you see how this chapter, these words so affirm the reality of sexual desire and that the remedy, the release, the solution to sexual frustration is marriage? Of course, you just can’t marry anybody over night, it could take some time, but that’s the solution.
Paul didn’t say, “Well just suck it up buddy,” or, “Take a cold shower.” I remember trying that. I’d love to ask those guys that say to take a cold shower, “How’s that working for you?” Oh my goodness. God bless these preachers.
I hope that I’m at least making some struggling, single people feel a little bit better about themselves. We still have questions and answers to give.
Do You Have a Hyper Sex Drive?
Do you have a hyper sex drive? If so, what do you do?
This is the fifth Little Lesson that we’ve been talking about sexual desire, masturbation, and related subjects all about human sexuality and in the context of God’s original design and the context of how that’s revealed in the Bible and of course in our experience.
Before I reached puberty, I don’t recall having any sexual desire and I think probably you’d say that this was your experiencing as well. So this is a biological thing that’s not something to be ashamed of, but something to be acknowledged and embraced and appreciated. Oh, I’m so glad God gave me sexual desire. And I’m glad that he came up with the idea of sex and put the nerves in my body in the places that he did and everything else involved in that.
And the mysteries that are involved just are mind blowing when you think about it. Again, I don’t understand a whole lot about women, I’m trying to understand them the best I can. I’m married to a beautiful woman. But men are clearly visually sexually aroused. And that’s a problem. That’s why Scripture tells women to dress modestly because you don’t want to cause a brother or anyone to stumble, to be tempted to look at you lustfully. So you don’t want to lead them on in any way. And that’s because, again, men are aroused sexually by what they see.
And just think about that for just a little while, what an incredible mystery that is. What would be so attractive about the female form? Think of all the beautiful things there are to see that God has made, all the variations of form and color and size and shape and so forth. There’s just almost innumerable variations on themes of form in the world. Who can explain, who can understand why men would get so excited about the female form? It’s one more proof that God exists and sex in general is one more proof that God’s a loving God.
In these Little Lessons, I’ve been trying to help Christians, in particularly the struggling single Christians who have the same sexual desire as married people, but have no outlet to act upon or express it. And that is a motivator to try get you interested in marriage because the only way you’re going to get sex is if you get married, so you’ve got to get married. “Well, I’m kind of a lunky, clunky, socially dopey person.” Well, you have to fix that, right? Because you’ll have a hard time getting married if you’re real shy around the opposite sex and you can’t make yourself attractive. Right? Right.
So this whole thing of marriage and sex is a real motivator for people to learn and hopefully mature and grow and improve themselves and make themselves attractive on every level, not just the physical level, but on every level because marriage is a merging of two different people and just because you got married doesn’t mean your problems are over. It starts a whole new set of problems as you have to adjust to life with somebody else. All right?
We’ve been looking at 1 Corinthians 7 in our previous four or so Little Lessons and just emphasizing what that chapter emphasizes repeatedly, acknowledging the God given sexual desire that’s so strong. And I asked at the outset of this Little Lesson, do you have a hyper sex drive and if so, what do you do about it? And I’m asking that question a little bit tongue in cheek, because over the years, back when I was pastoring, but even since no longer pastoring every once in a while I have people ask me questions and look for counseling and so forth. Many times I’ve had men come to me and say, “Man, my sex drive is just off the charts and I don’t know what to do about it.” Even married and unmarried men. God bless them.
And I said, “You say you have a hyper sex drive that’s off the charts, well, will you describe to me in more specific detail what that looks like?” And then when they tell me, it’s always so much fun to tell them, “Oh, you don’t have a hyper sex drive. You have a normal sex drive.” And they’re often relieved to know that they’re not cursed with something beyond everybody else.
But that’s how it is and boy, again I don’t know much about women, but I know a lot about men. And just think about it, men and women, think about the crazy things that sex drives people to do. As I’m recording this, there’s a high-profile business leader who’s worth billions of dollars and who’s been married 25 years and he’s divorcing her for this younger babe. He looks like any older man who divorces his wife to marry a babe, lacking certain character traits that would be desirable. He knows everybody’s looking at him and saying, “You’re dumping your wife for this babe.” And yet, in full view of the whole world, looking like really a fool, going through with it. Why? Because of sexual desire.
I shouldn’t just pick on that guy because that’s been repeated by lots of people, including pastors and ministers who, out of control because of the sexual desire, really take a risk and ultimately become the ultimate losers. Lose their families, lose all respect within their field, lose their vocation because they can no longer serve in ministry because of their sexual antics. They pay that kind of price for sex.
I’m only saying that to show you, this is an incredibly strong desire and it’s supposed to be a desire that cements married couples together and it’s supposed to pull unmarried couples together to get married. It’s all in the divine plan of God. All right? And there’s more to it than that, but I’m just trying to encourage single people and everybody who thinks, “Oh, I’ve got this hyper sex drive.” Chances are, you’re like everybody else. Or most people. But many men that I’ve met who think that they’re off the charts are right in the median if they were to do their research. Okay?
All right, so the solution is stop depriving one another. As Paul said, there shouldn’t be such a thing as a sexless marriage. And you don’t even own your own body, it belongs to your spouse. These strong things that we’ve been reading that Paul says. And now, goodness, how time has flown, we’re out of time.
So we’ll pick up here at our next Little Lessons. We’re going to get through 1 Corinthians 7, down to the ninth verse. I love that ninth verse, oh my goodness. The truth will set you free.
How to Deal With Your Sexual Desire
How do you deal with sexual desire? We’re continuing in a series of lessons on sexual desire and specifically masturbation and looking at what the scripture says. I’ve actually lost track. We’re trying our best to get through 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, where the recurring theme is what to do with sexual desire.
And in marriage, what to do is to regularly have sex. Paul makes that very clear. Stop depriving one or the other. Except if by an agreement for a limited period of time so that you can devote yourself more fully to prayer. But then come back together again, have sex soon after that prayer is over. Lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control. And this is the thing that if married people who are just abstaining temporarily from the sex due to an agreement to pray if there’s potential problems and pitfalls for married people, how much more does that exist for unmarried people? Because after they prayed, there’s nobody waiting for them that they can come together again, lest Satan tempt them due to their lack of self control.
And so I’m not advocating promiscuous sex by single people. Oh my goodness. No, because the scripture condemns adultery and fornication and so forth. And Jesus condemned lust. But what Paul says here is the solution to that sexual desire unfulfilled is marriage. That’s where it’s supposed to be.
Let’s start in verse number six of this section. So Paul had already said stop depriving one another. And then he says in verse six, but this I say by way of concession and not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God. One in this manner and another in that.
So Paul had a gift, a gift of, we would call it, celibacy. Although he may have been married previously. We don’t know that for certain, but he was a member of the Sanhedrin. And some people say in order to be a member you had to be married and so forth. I don’t know. But the point is he wasn’t married from his conversion onwards apparently. Or at some point in time.
So he says I wish everyone was like me, but everyone has their own gift from God. And one in this manner of man. So in order to remain celibate, sexual desire is such a strong and normal thing that in order to remain celibate, that is to not desire marriage and sex within marriage, you have to have a gift from God. And that, once again, affirms the theme that we’ve seen throughout this entire section that sexual desire is God given, normal and the solution to unfulfilled sexual desire is marriage. And even in marriage it needs to be guarded. There needs to be regular sexual relationship in marriage. And you can only go sexless limited amounts of time because you agree on that. If you don’t agree, then Paul already said your body’s not your own. It belongs to your spouse. You don’t have any say so in this matter.
So in verse number eight, Paul says “but I say to the unmarried,” okay, here we go all you unmarried folks, “and to the widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.” Stay single, that’s good. And he elaborates on that in other places about how when you’re not married, you can be totally devoted to the Lord. You’re not trying to please your spouse, you’ve got one person you’re trying to please, Jesus. But Paul has also admitted you have to have a gift to be single because the normal thing is marriage for most people. I think statistically that’s pretty obvious.
Now listen to this last verse. This is the one I was referring to when I said the truth will set you free. “But if they,” who’s they? The unmarried and the widows. “if they do not have self control, let them marry for it is better to marry than to,” what does he say? Does he say “it is better to marry than to masturbate because that’s a sin?” He doesn’t say that. He says “it’s better to marry than to burn with passion.” And so the unmarried person with the same sexual desire as the married person and no release, no way to act upon that sexual desire. And can I just add here I, again, I don’t fully understand women, but for men, sexual desire is a ever increasing thing until they have the release. And so it’s better for them to marry than to burn with passion.
Listen to the strength of those words. He didn’t just say to have some little struggles with sexual desire. No, no, no. It’s much bigger and stronger than that. It’s better to marry than it is to burn with passion. And that’s a wonderful way of clearly, honestly describing normal sexual desire, burning with passion. I want this very badly. And the solution is get married, get married.
I just have to point out again one more time that if there was ever a time for Paul to condemn masturbation, the physical act of masturbation, this would be the place where he would have done it. But I don’t know, I see in all of this section a clear, honest understanding of God-given sexual desire of everyone who’s reached the age of puberty and an honest admission that the solution is marriage.
Now you could say well, the implication here is that because marriage is what he recommends then he is then by default condemning masturbation. And I suppose that that is a potentially valid argument. I only wish that if that’s what Paul was actually trying to apply, that he would have taken the opportunity to make himself clear in that regard.
Now in our next Little Lesson, we’re going to examine lust, because it’s commonly associated with masturbation, what to do about that. Because clearly Jesus condemns lust. But we’re going to talk about lust, what actually makes lust a wrong thing? Why is it damaging? Because God loves us.
Are There Different Degrees of Lust?
Are there different degrees of lust? I hope that opening line got your curiosity going. Perhaps this is something you’ve never thought about before. We’ve been talking about human sexuality, sexual sin, gradually working our way towards some more conclusive thoughts about masturbation as we work our way through relevant passages in Scripture. We’ve looked at verses in Genesis about Onan, who spilled his seed, and we’ve looked at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7. If you missed the first six Little Lessons, you missed an awful lot. So it might be best just to stop right now and go back and watch those ones first. But in any case, if you’re interested in lust, that’s what we’re going to talk about here, because we know that Jesus condemned lust. Right?
But what is lust? That’s a great question. Obviously an elicit sexual desire. But it’s not, for example, for a man to look at a woman. That’s not lust, right? I mean we have to talk to women all the time, and just because we were looking at them doesn’t mean we’re lusting after them, so it has to be more than looking. Of course, women can lust after men too, so it can’t just be looking. Well, how about admiring the attractiveness? Well, I don’t know. By my definition anyways, you’re not into lust yet. I think that Jesus actually helps define lust in Matthew 5:27-28. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
I think there’s a lot to unpack from that, but I think one of the things to unpack from that is that Jesus is helping us to understand exactly what lust is. He’s equating it with adultery, or you of course could say I guess fornication as well. But you’re crossing a line mentally, and it’s a line of, “Is it sexual imagery within one’s mind?” So it’s beyond just looking at a face, or the form of somebody, or admiring their attractiveness or the beauty, but mentally undressing them and imagining having a sexual relationship with that person. Well, there’s no doubt. No one watching is going to disagree with me that that constitutes lust. Now you might work backwards from there and say, well, how much in between the things that I’ve described, just admiring beauty, and then imagining a sexual relationship, “Where in between does it actually become lust?”
I think it becomes lust at some point in time prior to actually imagining the sexual act. I think it could become lust at any kind of an imagination that would arouse one sexually. Again, I don’t understand women so much, but I understand men. Okay? So you could lust after a woman who has some clothes on, if she’s dressed provocatively. Okay? Anyways, we’re trying to arrive at what is lust? It also helps to think about how God is a loving God. His commandments are all motivated by his love for us, so what’s he trying to do? If he condemns lust, what’s the goal he has in mind? He loves us, so he doesn’t want us to damage ourselves, or damage others by something that we do. That helps to understand where admiring beauty could turn into lust.
Again, I think we could debate this. Okay? But it’s something worth pondering I think. But what I want to talk about is, “Are there different degrees of lust?” Some Christians say, “Well, all sin is the same in God’s eyes.” I’ve never agreed with that because it’s not in the Bible. The Bible never says that. All sin is grievous in God’s eyes, but surely some sins are more grievous than other sins. Under the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses, some sins were worthy of greater punishment. Some things were capital offenses, and some things were more minor offenses. So all sin is not the same in God’s eyes. All right? Some try to make Jesus say that. I mean his comments about, “Whoever looks at a woman with lust for her has committed adultery.” They’re saying, “Lust is the same in God’s eyes as committing the sin of adultery.” No, it’s not. That’s not what Jesus is saying. That’s really a stretch there. Okay?
That’s like saying, “It’s just as bad to think about stealing from someone as it is to steal from them.” No. Okay. I pulled something up from The Word of God, and we can say, “These are the words of Jesus because Jesus inspired the whole Bible. He’s God, and he’s the one who gave the Law of Moses. It’s his idea,” and so forth. “He’s God, and he’s one with the Father, one with the Holy Spirit.” Listen to this from Deuteronomy 22:22. “If a man is found lying with a married woman,” so it doesn’t even say, “If he’s married or not,” but, “If he’s found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die. The man who laid with the woman, and the woman, thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” This is classic adultery. At least one of the parties is married, and they’re consensual, and so bam, they both deserve capital punishment.
Here’s the next category. “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man,” so she’s promised, “and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death.” So this is borderline fornication, adultery. She’s actually not married, but she’s engaged to be married, so she is promised. It kind of leans toward the adultery side. And he said, “You shall stone them to death. The girl because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s wife.” The scripture is already calling her “the neighbor’s wife” because she is engaged, and she’s going to be a full-fledged wife. “And thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”
But then there’s a caveat. “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her, and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl. There is no sin in the girl worthy of death. For just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so as in this case, when he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.” Now, actually we don’t even know if she cried out or not. She may well have not cried out, and it could have been a consensual thing. She could have been worthy of death, but we’re giving her the benefit of the doubt because it didn’t happen in the city where nearby people could have heard her cries. She’s out in the field, and nearby people might not have heard her cries. We’re assuming she cried out, so we’re going to show her mercy. Only the guy dies.
Okay. The last, but not least, “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin who is not engaged,” so now this is the third category, “and seizes her, and lies with her, and they are discovered,” guess what? There’s no death involved in this. Okay? It doesn’t matter whether it’s in a field, or in the city. “Then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father 50 shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her. He cannot divorce her all his days.” We’re out of time, but isn’t that astounding? In every case we’ve read about illicit sexual relationship always, of course, preceded by lust. You don’t have one without the other. Okay? But the first lust that resulted in adultery, or semi-adultery, results in the death penalty.
The third lust that’s not adultery, but it’s more in the fornication category, because this girl’s not married, and she’s not engaged to be married, so the penalty is you’ve got to take her as your wife. She’s got to be your wife. That does raise some questions, obviously, but I want you to see that God’s not looking at everything exactly the same. This I think will help set us up for understanding a little bit better Jesus’s words in Matthew 5, about, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'” The subject is adultery. Married people involved.
Is It Wrong to Masturbate Before Marriage?
Is it okay to masturbate before marriage? We know that, of course Jesus condemns lust. We’ve talked about what lust actually is.
We’ve covered the fact that sex was designed by God and for three reasons at least. For procreation, for pleasure and as a motivation for people to want to get married because God has to get people to get together, so he has to make them attractive to each other and sex is part of the marriage package, right? Right. It’s not everything in marriage but it is a part of marriage.
And we’ve seen from scripture that it’s God given, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s something to actually embrace because it’s from God, it’s a sign of His love for us, and it’s a very, very strong desire. That has come off loud and clear and Paul gave the solution in 1 Corinthians, chapter seven. To sexual frustration the solution is marriage. It’s better to marry than it is to burn with passion. We’ve talked over and over again about how the Bible is silent on masturbation. You can’t find the word, you can’t find a synonym, you can’t find a phrase that’s equivalent to it. You can’t read stories about so-and-so who was pleasuring himself or any other slang term you might think of for masturbation. So now we’re kind of winding this down and we’re going to come to Matthew, chapter five where Jesus clearly condemned lust and try to unpack those few verses there because the strongest argument against masturbation, of course, is that it’s so often accompanied by lust or whatever you want to call it, imagining a sexual encounter with another person.
Solo sex is far, far, far inferior to mutual, consensual, covenant marriage sex, okay? And, you know, at least mostly I would say, for men, I don’t know much about women, but masturbation usually is accompanied by fantasizing and lust. So the strongest argument against masturbation, of course, is the fact that lust accompanies it. We know that Jesus strongly condemned lust in Matthew, chapter five.
However, one little caveat I’m going to add to all this, just to provoke everyone’s thinking and I’m not going to make the final decision for our viewers here, but, you know, I have to ask the question, didn’t God know that? I mean, didn’t God know that masturbation would generally be accompanied by imagery that one imagines in his or her mind? Didn’t He know that? So if He knew that, of course He knew that, why do we find the Bible so silent on the subject of masturbation?
And so I’m trying to provoke our thinking to be thinking about these things a little bit more deeply than they’re often thought about. So we come to Matthew, chapter five, and verse number 27 where Jesus is elaborating on the law of Moses and on six occasions he says, “You have heard it said, but I say to you,” and sometimes he accurately quotes what was said in the law of Moses. Other times it’s not an accurate quote because it becomes very clear he’s not really, certainly not correcting the law of Moses with he himself gave. He’s correcting the Pharisees twisting of the law, and so forth. But in this case, he accurately quotes it, “You have heard it was said, you shall not commit adultery.” What is adultery? Adultery is sex with a person who’s married. It could be two married people who are not married to each other having sex. One married person, one non-married person having sex. Either case, it involves a married person and we saw how that was condemned in the law of Moses. It was capital punishment for adultery. And capital punishment for adultery that involves a girl who’s engaged, not even, actually, officially married yet.
Yet, finding a case of what would be more in the fornication category where a man actually rapes a woman that, against her will, and there’s not capital punishment for that. There is marriage, you know, that’s the penalty. You’ve got to marry this girl and you can’t divorce her all your days and you’ve got to pay her father 50 shekels. We’ve read that in our previous Little Lesson, okay?
So, Jesus is talking about you shall not commit adultery and Jesus knows that there is a little bit of a difference here because he gave the law of Moses, right? Right! Some things are more grievous to God. Sex, adultery is much more grievous to God than fornication. Both are grievous to God, but the greater sin is the adultery and that’s what one of the ten commandments addresses and when it comes to fornication, the penalty was get married.
Adultery the penalty was stoning to death. So, we’re talking about adultery here in Matthew five. But I say to you, that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her, has already committed, not fornication, already committed adultery with her in his heart. So this is actually still in the category of the more grievous sin of adultery and the lust that precedes adultery and, yes, the lust that proceeds fornication is related. Of course it’s similar but it’s not the same, okay? You got that? That’s important.
I mean, God knows. God knows the struggles that single people have. He’s the one that gave them their sexual desire. The solution is marriage and that’s one of the reasons he gave them that desire, to motivate them to get married and so forth. And they’re much more susceptible to many temptations and the solution, again, is always listed in Scripture as marriage, okay?
So Jesus is obviously saying God’s not just displeased when you commit adultery, God’s displeased when you start thinking and planning adultery and if you want to avoid the terrible sin of adultery, which, the New Testament gives no adulterer will inherit eternal life, than here’s the helpful hint from Heaven, nip it at the bud, recognize that adultery starts with lust, adulterous lust. Recognize when you find yourself being tempted to think the wrong thoughts about that married woman that you’re looking at, saying, “Whoa! She’s off limits for me!” No, no, don’t go there with your mind. Nip that in the bud because if I don’t, if I begin to act on this and I start flirting with this gal and then I start holding her hand and then I invite her … one thing leads to another and ultimately, it’ll take me straight to hell, okay?
That’s what Jesus goes on to say because he says if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, throw it from you. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. He’s trying to keep people out of hell by what he’s saying here and the next one’s the same thing. If the right hand makes you stumble, cut it off so the message is whatever would be causing you to stumble into adultery, get rid of it.
And, of course, he would have similar advice to the single guy who sees the single woman who’s not engaged, back to Deuteronomy 22 which we read in a previous Little Lesson, and he had the same advice, okay? But it is slightly different because, you know, if you have sex with her, well now you’re supposed to marry her.
Lust and masturbation, my final word. This will be the final Little Lesson on this subject, and I hope that I’ve provoked some thinking. I’m sure that there’s going to be folks who are going to disagree as well as agree. Some people are going to say, “Way to go.” Some people are going to say, “You’re a heretic.” I’m used to that, so I love you all.
We want to look, finally, now, once again, at Matthew 5:27-30 where Jesus talked about lust. It was clear. He condemned lust. He starts by saying, “You have heard that it was said. You shall not commit adultery.” That’s an accurate quote from the Ten Commandments. Obviously, Jesus is not going to disagree with that at all, but he says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
We’ve talked about the fact that the subject here is adultery, specifically although it’d have some application to fornication, but there is some variation. Oftentimes, I think people read more into these things than what Jesus actually intended. Some people say, “Well, Jesus was raising the bar. Under the Old Covenant, only God was concerned about the physical act, but under the New Covenant, God wants us to be pure inwardly in our thoughts and mind.
Well, I don’t buy that for a second. First of all, it’s not taught anywhere in the New Testament, but secondly, Jesus was ministering under the Old Covenant under the law of Moses. He never says, “I’m raising the bar.” In fact, he says what would have been true even before the Ten Commandments were given. Anyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart. That didn’t just start becoming true when Jesus said that. It would be foolish to think that before Jesus said that, people who lusted weren’t committing adultery in their hearts. Right? Right.
Jesus is just opening up his disciples’ minds to understand that God’s concerned about a higher purity and has always been concerned about a higher purity than just what we physically do. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable on your side, and God doesn’t want His people mentally undressing and imagine sexual activities with people to who they are not married. No. Obviously, married people could dream about those things about each other, because nothing wrong with that, because it’s okay that they do those things so it must be okay that they think about those things. But you’re not supposed to be doing that with people you’re not in a covenant relationship with.
If you’re married, don’t be thinking about anybody else, but just your spouse. If you’re unmarried, you don’t want to be thinking about other people in a sexual way, and avoid that as much as you possibly can. The trouble is, of course, I’ve talked about this over and over again. People in our society go for years after the age of puberty with strong, strong, strong sexual desire, and they’re blasted with sexual images all the time, and I just want to tell you that God understands your situation. He’s the one that gave you that sexual drive. Men, He’s the one that made you to be aroused sexually by what you see.
The advice that we get from Jesus here is, whatever it is that’s causing you to stumble, avoid it. Avoid the stimuli. Don’t get on the path that could lead to the ultimate sin, and the main thing Jesus is trying to do here is to try to help us avoid adultery. Don’t ever get on the adultery path by imagining it. Don’t be looking at some married woman and thinking, “Oh, I’d love to take her to bed.” No. Get rid of those thoughts instantly, as fast as you can.
I think it was Martin Luther who said, “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a mess in your hair.” Right? There’s a difference between being tempted to lust and lusting. Lusting is a meditation, it’s an awareness, it’s a continual. It doesn’t just last for a fleeting second. You’re wanting to do it, and you’re consciously deciding to keep meditating on the wrong thing.
Some folks take these words of Jesus and say, “Well, Jesus is saying that lust is just as bad as adultery.” Well, he didn’t say that, and that’s not even logical. That would be like saying to think about stealing is just as wrong as stealing. To think about murdering is just as wrong as murdering. No, no. God doesn’t want us thinking about stealing, God doesn’t want us thinking about murdering, because those things can ultimately, if you allow them in your brains, can lead to stealing, and lead to murder just like lust could lead to adultery. All right? So nip it at it’s bud. This is good advice from a God who loves our people, loves all of His people.
Get rid of the temptation, get rid of the stumbling blocks as best you can, and within the spectrum of Christian thought, and I saved this for the end because it’s the most radical idea, and I’m not saying that I agree with this idea at all. Yet, I’m trying my best to help people to see all of Scripture, to understand that God’s the one who gave the sexual desire. It’s a motivator to get married, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If the choice is masturbation or adultery, which would be the lesser evil? All right. I think that’s obvious, right? Right.
I have a friend, actually, a precious Brother in Christ who’s a Missionary, single guy. We’ve had some frank discussions. He’s honest, transparent, and so forth. He’s never been able to go too long without masturbating. He says, “I just figure better to get up, commit a little sin than commit a big sin.” Well, I would love to tell him, wave the magic wand for him and so forth, but who am I? I’m a married guy. This is like an academic question if the problem for me is not a problem for me, and who am I? All these folks who are wagging their fingers at single people, they’re all married.
I want to ask them, “How’d that work for you when you were single? Did you practice what you preach? Did those cold showers take away your sexual desire as you’re recommending us now?” You know what I mean? I just think that there is some grace here, and I encourage single Christians, avoid lust, try to nip it as, but avoid temptation, don’t stay away from the stimuli that’s just been out there in our culture bombarding you. Try to do your best. It’s next to impossible. Try to stay away from masturbation as best you can. Way to go, but that’s about the best I can do for you.
Again, I started this little series because 41,000 people have watched a video that we did that the title is “Will God Forgive Me if I Keep Committing the Same Sin?” And it’s mostly young men, by the demographic indications, that are watching that video. They struggle, and struggle, and struggle, and struggle. God gave them that desire, and it’s strong for men. Now, women are extremely attractive. Women are visually aroused and so forth, and they’re bombarded. Oh, my goodness. God has compassion on them.
Men, stay away from pornography. Married, unmarried, doesn’t make any difference. Stay away from that stuff. Don’t let your eyes meditate on stuff that’s going to lead you down a path. All right? If you mess up, well, there’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus, and there’s somebody for you, a husband or a wife. All right? So don’t give up on that either.