I am not a psychologist, medical doctor, theologian or pastor. However, I have walked in the Lord Jesus Christ since 1975, earned a B.S. in General Science, an A.S. in Chemistry, and I am an author in numerous Christian articles and books on doctrines. However, I will tackle this subject because it came up last year and there exists a vacuum in most Christian Churches to examine this human activity.
Because of the nature of this exegesis, I must use direct language. There is no intent to be offensive.
This subject is somewhat dark, in the sense that pastors, teachers and theologians pass by the topic, in the hope that the individual Christian will figure it out on their own. It’s the same problem with sex education and American parents; they don’t know what to say, so they hope their children figure it out. Because of this, sex education was appropriated by the public schools and now they teach about: abortion and 24 hour pills, condoms, same sex unions, transitional sex, sex experimentation and so on
A man in his 80’s was seeking guidance from a brother in Christ, who belongs to a type of holiness church. That brother came to me and inquired, explaining to me that he didn’t know what to tell the older man – who was in very poor health, had cancer and was going to be deceased in weeks.
My first approach was very intellectual and I reported in a small brief, expounding upon the potential reasons why someone this old may engage in the behavior. I looked at: physiological and psychological causes; prescription drugs; and spiritual possibilities. I told the inquiring brother that he had to follow the path that had no logical reasons – it would be an open portal. What he needed to do is discuss that pathway with the dying man. Eventually they both had peace with their conversation and a solution was found.
What I found here was an inability to be frank with the inquirer – by the counselor. This is because the nature of the problem was private, embarrassing, and carried a stigma in society.
Let’s cut to the chase; and get rid of the urban legends and piety deformation that one is guaranteed to become a homosexual or go to hell, or the secular psychological rationale that it is perfectly healthy. Each position is overly simplistic, one sided, and sexist in its attitudes. Their judgments come before they have delved into the Greek and Latin, or the Bible and physiology.
- Masturbation will NOT make one blind, but Viagra may – temporarily. https://www.christianpost.com/news/will-viagra-make-you-blind-19306, https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/news/20050401/rare-reports-of-vision-loss-with-viagra#1
- It is a common activity in toddlers, but is viewed as natural discovery and therefore juvenile.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994165/ – clinical studies demonstrate that children as early as several months old to 4 years of age masturbate. Though the reasons are not clearly understood, it is generally believed that toddlers do so because of blood chemistry, hormonal changes and associations with wet nursing and therefore emotional comfort. The response should decline with age in an adolescent below 10 years of age, but if it continues as a routine or daily activity, it suggests, sexual molestation or a psychological and emotional fear or lack of affection.
- http://www.circleofmoms.com/ – has multiple queries from mothers on their toddlers playing with their privates.
- Women engage in this, as do men.
- This endeavor is NOT a sin-onto-death [1Jn.5:16], but could lead to greater perversion and greater sin, as inconsequential or cavalier base jesting would, if not controlled. An example would be; casual base comments can lead to fouls mouths, and blasphemy. The definition of a “Sin unto death” is as the words mean; a sin so perverse and routine – a sin well understood not to do – a sin that carries the judgment penalty of condemnation and spiritual death. Masturbation by a 14-year old does not meet this criteria, but habitual routine activity in an adult male or female suggests a break with God’s intended purposes and desire to ignore his wishes.
- Masturbation is a very common weakness in men and women.
- It is driven by natural bodily hormonal secretion, but may be induced by eroticism, loneliness, or a psychopathy.
- There is not one verse in scripture that defines this activity as sinful, except a couched reference to it, by way of an insulting rebuke.
This activity is sometimes called Onanism form the Biblical character Onan in, Genesis 38. However, Onan’s activity is categorized as “coitus interruptus,” and involves the spilling of the male seed [semen] on the ground [no different than using a condom]. In this case, Onan was to mate, by law of oral traditions [later by Mosaic Law, Deut.25:5] with his dead brother’s wife, in order to perpetuate his brothers line. Though there was no Law of Moses yet, the Bible implies that the tradition was probably handed down from God to Noah, to Shem, to Semites [Shemites] to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, who taught it to his sons. Onan’s seed given to Tamar would establish an heir for Er. This heir would help his sister-in-law’s [Tamar, see Ruth 4:12; 1Chron.2:4; Mt.1:3] future livelihood, and continue the family line of her dead husband. But Onan didn’t want to lay with Tamar, because a male child by Tamar would be able to claim the right of the first son, and therefore remove Onan from his potential lead position, before Jacob and the Clan. The oldest son always received the double portion of inheritance and clan leadership. So instead of simply refusing, Onan lay with Tamar, but prevented his semen from impregnating her. This is patently NOT masturbation. Note that the real sin started when Judah took a Canaanite wife. It is inferred, that Judah married without the blessing of Jacob. This was forbidden. Note that it was only after Judah’s Canaanite wife had died that Judah unsuspectingly lay with his widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar. Thus the sin of adultery and incest was avoided, by the death of Jacob’s Canaanite spouse, The double offspring of which followed the pattern of twins born to Jacob’s mother and father, Isaac – Jacob and Esau. Legalism? Maybe so, but the story depicts what God had desired versus Judah’s unwillingness to comply.
DEFINITION AND ETYMOLOGY:
Though coined in 1603, the word is taken from the Latin word for hand, ‘manus,’ from which we receive our word for manual – an extension of the Latin, ‘manualis’ – as in, manual labor, or completed by hand, with the following related words or phrases; servant at hand (secretary), emancipate, manacle, manage, mandate, manifest and manipulate, to name a few. Even the Spanish derogatory idiom, “little hand” comes from the Latin, ‘manus’ [hand]. Written by hand is ‘masturbari’ in Latin and so conjectures to, ‘manustuprare,’ which in English means, defile by hand. This is important to keep in mind as we will use this etymological reasoning when we look at the Konia Greek of the New Testament. [SEE: Dictionary of Word Origins, by J. Ayto, 1991]OTHER
It could be considered a sin of unseemliness [inappropriateness], but then that sort of behavior is public – not private. The only topical heading to place masturbation under is excess indulgence. One can be excessive with food, and that leads to surfeiting – an obvious sin, and one can consume alcoholic beverages to excess, and that leads to drunkenness, which is an abomination before God [Prov 23:20-21]. One can indulge his ego and that leads to arrogance. One can indulge him or herself in most anything, but at some point – if excessively – it becomes a need dominated by selfish desire, where God never enters the picture. It is at this point that any activity, or item, becomes an idol. It is looked to for security, comfort and success and is a self-centered venture, with no consideration for any other individual’s needs, emotions, or sensibilities.Pastors and teachers will stir up a storm over some teen’s masturbation reflex, but seldom have indignation at a thoroughly obese, lazy or careless teen. A drunken teen will be thought of as, “well he had to try it” and so counselors will tell him gently to reconsider his action. The same can be said for teen sex with a stern warning to avoid this before marriage, and yet, the Bible has direct condemnation for fornication and drunkenness.Remember, by the Bible’s own definition, sexual sin involves, two or more engaged in a sexual act, specifically not permitted by God. Those acts are; homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, bestiality, fornication, and adultery. Masturbation is none of these sins. It stems from a natural desire to do what God has willed, that of marriage and procreation.
WHAT THE STEP-BROTHER OF JESUS THOUGHT OF MASTURBATION:
Therefore, we have a statement about the hypocrite intruders that uses a term associated with masturbation, and brings to the mind, a pictorial of their behavior. As we look at the Jude’s statement, keep in mind what I related previously concerning the Latin etymology of the word, masturbation – defiled by hand.“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings” [Jude 7, 8 NIV].The KJV and the NIV translations use couched language to soften the literal Greek. James uses graphic language that most modern translators would be embarrassed to pen.Where the KJV uses “defiles flesh,” and the NIV uses, “pollute their bodies,” the original literal Greek is written, “with flesh in hand” – a biting sarcasm and grievous insult. The Greek words ‘enupnion -monon’ are compounds translated as, “dreaming ones.” What Jude is saying is that these interlopers, or false brethren, have no sense of reality and act like animals. While seeking their pleasure, they can’t enjoy their sadism, because they are simultaneously blaming heaven for lack of satisfaction.If I was to use a gesture that I thought was permissible, but was later told that the gesture was used by despicable people in a reprobate way, I would not want anyone seeing me imitating a reprobate’s outward behavior.
CONCLUSION: The main points are these:
- Has your mind’s eye a physical view of these people? If so, remember that Jude the step-brother of Jesus Christ is invoking the idea of flesh I hand, and argues similarities with the most deluded sexual sociopaths ever. This form of deprivation is quite common in prisons as attested to by prison guards.
- It wasn’t that the false teachers and promoters of lust and perversion were actually running around in the church with speedos on or stark naked, but their twisted teachings within the church was described as if they were naked – holding their flesh [privates] in their one hand – looking for some fresh meat [victims for rape], while the other hand was gesturing a symbol at the powers of heaven. They are then seen as totally defiled; conforming to the Latin meaning of masturbation, to defile with hand.
- “Likewise indeed also, these dreaming [ones] flesh on one hand defile lordship, on the other [hand], despise and glories [and] rail at [them – the holy ones of heaven]” [Jude 8]. Lit. Gk., Interlinear Greek-English N.T., epigraphers, Nestle and Marshall]
- Jude describes the interlopers of his time – those that have infiltrated the Church – by use of an Old Testament story found in Genesis 19. So infamous was the five cities that God overthrew that after 4,000 years, the term to sodomize, leaves a picture in the mind, indelibly. When evening had come, the Sodomites ran in gangs – looking for men to rape, loot, and torture as pleasure for their sick minds. The contemporary roving gangs of rapists in the Middle East, and in Europe, set up a proper image for their activity.
- “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities” [Jude 7, 8 KJV].
- Some topics in the word of God are not said explicitly, but are stated implicitly. And so it is with this topic. Jude the half-brother of Jesus, wrote his epistle concerning men who had joined the church as fakes and abusers – men of craft and deceit – men of debauchery. Jude uses similes and metaphors through which he obviates these men’s sins and agendas. He associates himself with James – his kinsman brother, and also step-brother of Christ. See: Mt.13:55; Mk.6:3; Jude 1:1; Ac.1:14, 12:2; Gal.1:19, etc. That is the internal evidence of direct kinship with Jesus Christ. However, we are told by Hegesippus [circa 180AD] through Eusebius [260-339AD] about Jude’s humility, is now found in his grandchildren – a direct result of being, “…the Lord’s brother according to the flesh.” What Jude learned from Joseph his father, and from Jesus his brother, Jude releases in his epistle. [Cite: NICNT, XII. 12, pg. 381, authorship, Book. of Jude]
- It is noteworthy that if a teen girl admits to masturbation, the whole event is swept under the table. However, if a young male admits he is having urges to masturbate, the leaders believed he will become a homosexual or a womanizer. Both predictions are untrue, since they are diametrically and logically opposed. What he desires is to mate with a female not a male. That is perfectly natural and desired by God under a marriage compact. It’s in the genes that produce the hormones.
- Note that homosexuals are described by Jesus as “effeminates” [Gr. ‘malakos’ – soft to the touch, Mt.11:8; Lk.7:25; 1Cor.6:9], because those men are infatuated to excess with soft dainty things, fluffy cloths, and scented oils. Ask yourself; “If a young man like contact sports, fixes tractors, wears beat up clothing, and can clean manure from a barn; is he a candidate for an effeminate [homosexual], because he admits he may have a problem with masturbation?” The obvious answer is NO!
- If masturbation doesn’t fit sex, or youthful lust, or public unseemliness, what could unchecked masturbation – in teens or adults – lead to? Under what category might we place it, since it is not a specific sin specified by the Bible?
- It could be classified under the Biblical phrase, “Flee youthful lusts…” [2Tim.2:22]. However, this verse must be interpreted in light of its context, which follows from verse one and is finished by chapter’s end. The youthful lusts Paul is referring to is: laziness, indifference, arguments and unfettered speech. These are the obvious excesses of youth – hence, lusts! In this modern age we may use more specific definitions like, stupidity, arrogance, carelessness, slothfulness, fist fights, and lack of empathy. None of this is sexual in meaning. However, we all know that “idleness is the devils workshop” – a universal mantra found in all parts of the world with no specific author.
- To reiterate, masturbation is not sex! It is not homosexuality!
- Definition of Masturbation: [Coined 1603 AD] -“erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies” [Webster’s College Dictionary]
- Masturbation is acceptable in small children, because it is emotionally and psychologically tied to nursing, comfort and safety. All pleasure satisfies via the release of natural chemical endorphins. If the infant or toddler feels unsafe or in need of encouragement of care, they will get those endorphins through “petting,” later thumb sucking, and use of soft blankets, pillows and stuffed toys. It becomes a crutch of safety and assurance. However, as one grows, the petting behavior stops and is replaced by verbally reported desires, or by proximity of parents or older siblings, places of known safety, and verbal and physical actions by the care giver that stimulate a feeling of safety. Teens generally understand the household as a safety net, but gain assurance via contemporary friendships that transmit a sense of well-being and therefore pleasure.
- Occasional activity of masturbation can happen in teens and adults, because of weakness to hormonal cycles or visual displays.
- Consistent activity is a measure of lack of control that needs to be confessed to Christ. Why it continues unabated, may be a deep rooted desire beyond that of expectation of marriage.
- This sin is not a sin unto death, but is as common as occasional bad speech, occasional loss of temper, or inconsistent reliability. It’s a temptation in maturity that becomes sin because of excess. We all do silly things that are wrong, but if left unconfessed, it can lead to more of the same on a regular basis. If this state is ignored, it can lead to more outward and serious displays of the flesh until, sin is fully bloomed [Jms.1:13-15].
- It’s really nobody’s business to find out if this occurs, except the individual’s and God’s. Certainly, training is necessary with proper explanation. To reiterate, the body belongs to the individual, not the civil or church society. It is one of the first freedoms of choice God gives to a soul. The decision to effect proper management such as body grooming, clothing appearance, domicile cleanliness and deportment, lays within the decision making of the individual with other activities such as covering other’s sins, personal responsibilities of using corporate or personal tools, being his brother’s keeper etc.
- If not treated as an excess of pleasure, it can become routine and fully matured sin. Then the Devil will gain a foot hold.
- Paul’s advice stands as the best surety of relief. Though written to the [young] widows, the advice is equally useful for men: “…It is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry than to burn with passion” [1Cor.7:8-9].
My advice concerning Masturbation is that it is expected to happen as a prepubescent activity of discovery – as one matures sexually and as the hormones turn on. The adolescent should be told that it is his body to control properly, so that his body would be a domain for the Spirit of God. The youth should be made aware that their desire to mate is natural and expected by God, but that they must control that urge and speak to God about it. He will guide them to the right decisions.
It is one of the first adult privacies of personal decision making a youth must consider in serving Christ. It is not helpful for a parent or pastor to scream Hell, Fire and Brimstone at a youth – whether a boy or girl because of masturbation. It does not help to say or imply that they are evil sinners or that they are failing God.
It doesn’t help God or children, adolescents or older teens, to take this up as a damnable sin. If you know about it the youth must have confided in you.
Approaching masturbation from a self-righteous position is not from God, but from the excessive stupidity of medieval Roman Catholicism that believed choir youths with good voices aught to be castrated unto God, or that all virgins should stay that way for the rest of their lives, even when God had said; “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it” [Gen.9:7].
Apparently, the work of mating and rearing children hadn’t been exercised fruitfully by the Adamic culture, since giants propagated quickly, by using the “daughters of men” [Gen.6:1-2]. The tropical Polynesian atmosphere upon the earth at that time, and the hard work of tilling the soil, gave way to dreaming men who idled away familiar relations by resting. Apparently, the Adamic men were the first to try “Shakerism.”
Christians are not called to be monks. This sanctimonious effort that lead to the “ever virginity” of Mary – an abomination of doctrine – ignores the Bible when it clearly states Joseph “knew her” [had sexual relations with Mary] AFTER which Jesus was born. The scripture teaches that many of the half brothers and sisters of Jesus are mentioned in the Gospels. Joseph was probably around 30 or 40 years of age and Mary around 15-18 years of age. It took great control by Joseph – a man of character – to wait till after the baby was born, to consummate his marriage.
I do not agree with special Christian schools or groups that humiliate teens into submission. It is because of this perceived embarrassment that Christian students will eventually be swayed by desire and Devil into molesting younger children or engaging in fornication before marriage.
This occurs because the natural cycle of discovery, desire, experimentation, and control that leads to hope and expectation for proper marriage, is thwarted by well-meaning church leaders. The leaders are more interested in doctrinal traditions and superstitions than with the wisdom found in the Word of God.
Many holiness churches, teach that Masturbation is as a sin unto death, or place an undo amount of concern on this part of life. Notably the stress is usually placed upon the boys and rarely upon the girls. Common sense tells one that the very people that load others with condemnation – are themselves – unable to control the very thing they demand others to subscribe to [Mt.23:7].
I have great doubt when some saint of the Lord tells me that he never masturbated. If women make that claim, they need to look in the mirror. It’s like someone telling me that they have finally learned never to sin, but 1Jn.1:9 tells a different story. Its following verse gives recourse to the maturing youth to counsel with God privately, and so develop an appreciation for control and expectation of what will be his, or hers, at the proper time of marriage.
I would counsel Christian pastors, teachers and leaders to bring this subject up openly with teens, and specifically in single gender groups, and allow for questions. The topic will naturally move to the more important review of choosing a partner, how to treat one’s partner, and the responsibility of children. If the youth are secularized to some extent, I would add discussions on fornication before marriage, unwanted pregnancies, as well as, the reality of expectation to pay for new life, venereal diseases, and the temptation of abortions. Control of one’s body can save a lot of wasted time, money, embarrassment, sickness and sin.