Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

My job is to write, speak, and address people’s questions about sexuality from a biblical perspective. Questions about masturbation are among the most frequently asked. In this blog, Is It OK to Masturbate, I addressed the larger question of masturbation, but here, I will address it specifically within the parameters of marriage.

The definition of masturbation is “Stimulating one’s own genitals for sexual pleasure” (Oxford Dictionary). Using this definition, masturbation has several different possible applications, some good and some destructive within marriage.

What Is the Purpose of Sex in Marriage?

Craig Groeschel said, “If you don’t know the purpose of something, all you can do is misuse it.” Before you understand the good and bad of masturbation, it is vitally important for you to grasp the purpose of sex within your marriage. Even if you were raised in church and have a Christian marriage, your understanding of sex within your marriage is likely skewed and lacking depth. Unfortunately, there has been far too little teaching to help couples understand why God gave them the gift of sexuality and what a healthy sex life in marriage looks like.

Married sex is meant to be more than just an approved outlet for your sexual desires. It is a journey of growing in intimacy, learning to love with sacrificial love, and celebrating the covenant vows you have made with your spouse.

When you go into marriage with the expectation that your spouse can and must meet all of your sexual desires and longings, everything about your sex life, including the use of masturbation, is likely to have the wrong focus.

While understanding God’s heart for your sexual relationship is a bit complicated, it can be boiled down to this statement: Married sexuality is a journey of intimacy, of the two learning to become one flesh. There are situations in which the use of self-stimulation (masturbation) can foster this journey of intimacy and other situations in which masturbation sabotages intimacy.

Let’s look at examples of both:

When Self-Stimulation Fosters Intimacy:

1. Learning your body’s sexual response

Kayla grew up in a legalistic religious home in which sexuality was never discussed. Tragically, her first exposure to sex was through an older neighbor who molested her. Kayla never shared what happened with her parents. Her adolescent and young adult years were shrouded with sexual curiosity and shame.

When Kayla married Mark, she couldn’t connect with the idea that sexual pleasure is a good thing in God’s eyes. She endured every sexual encounter for the sake of her husband and because that is “what good wives are supposed to do.” Five years into her marriage, she reached out for help.

Kaya’s healing will require her to address the sexual trauma from her past and for her to learn to experience sexual pleasure without shame or obligation. For Kayla and Mark to have a healthy sex life, Kayla needs to learn how to enjoy sexual touch. A woman like Kayla, who has learned about sex in an exploitative scenario, may feel safest exploring her own body. The purpose is not ultimately for solo pleasure but for her to be free to experience sexual pleasure with her husband. Masturbation can be a step in that journey.

2. Engaging in “outercourse”

When Christian couples get married, they usually think of sex in terms of one activity: vaginal intercourse. Other sexual activities like fondling seem only to serve the purpose of getting to the goal of intercourse.

God designed the gift of sex to include intercourse, but not exclusively. There is an entire journey of enjoyment for a married couple, as poetically alluded to in the Song of Solomon. This couple lingered in touch, engaged all of their senses, and fantasized about each other’s naked bodies.

Throughout marriage, there will be stages in which intercourse isn’t possible and is ill-advised because of medical or emotional roadblocks. (Examples include when intercourse causes physical pain, the husband experiences erectile dysfunction, the wife is postpartum, the husband has undergone treatment for prostate cancer, or one person is addressing sexual trauma in therapy.) Instead of shutting down your sex life, get creative in exploring what sexual intimacy can look like apart from intercourse. This may include manual stimulation of one or both spouses. The key is that the couple experiences this together, even if one is unable to engage sexually. They are working on the journey of oneness and shared experience of their sexuality.

3. Extended absences

Jeff is in the army and has been deployed for twelve months overseas. Jeff and Amy have been married for four years, have a thriving sexual relationship, and worry about the physical absence. Technology allows them to talk every day, but how will they stay sexually connected and address the temptations of their surroundings? Together, they decide that they will think of each other and self-stimulate.

Not every couple is courageous enough to have conversations like this. Most in Jeff and Amy’s situation will silently hope and assume that the other is managing loneliness and temptation well. Whether an absence is due to a deployment, work travel, or a prolonged stay in a hospital, the sexual desires that have awakened in marriage can be difficult to manage.

Some couples do not feel the freedom to engage in masturbation in this situation. The Bible tells us that “each one should learn to control their own body” (I Thessalonians 4:4).  Sex is not a need, per se, but I Corinthians 7:1-5 indicates that a healthy sexual relationship in marriage can help with resisting sexual temptation for both the husband and wife. If a couple chooses to engage in masturbation for this purpose and feels able to do so in a way that bonds them and honors their marriage until they can physically rejoin one another, it is important that they talk about it and that their focus is solely on one another.

When Self-Stimulation Sabotages Intimacy:

1. Avoiding the hard work of intimacy

Since the age of 11, Chase has experienced an ongoing battle with pornography. He couldn’t wait to get married, to finally experience sex without shame and guilt. The wedding night was not what he had hoped. Abby, his new bride, complained of pain every time they had sex. Chase tried to listen and be patient but was devastated when every attempt at intercourse ended with tears and conflict.

Three months later, Chase stopped pursuing Abby sexually and reverted to masturbation. He knew looking at pornography would be wrong, so he self-stimulated thinking of a storehouse of images in his mind. One day, Abby caught him in the act. Although she felt disgusted by Chase’s masturbation, she also reluctantly accepted it with some relief that he wouldn’t be constantly asking her for sex.

In this situation, both Chase and Abby are accepting masturbation as a shortcut to working on intimacy. It’s a cop-out that they both will one day deeply regret. The journey of learning to love sexually can be an arduous one. Yes, in the moment, it is far easier to take care of your own “needs,” but this is a distortion and misuse of the gift of sex.

This misuse of masturbation can also occur when you learn to rely only on your own touch rather than your spouse’s. While there is nothing wrong with a woman stimulating herself during sexual play and orgasm, she also wants to be teaching her husband and learning to respond to his touch. Sexual intimacy is a journey. It will take time to learn your own body and how to please your spouse sexually. While self-stimulation can be a step in that journey, it also can become a deterrent. This is why it is so important to ask, “Is this act building or taking away from our intimacy?”

We live in a culture that constantly tells you that your body exists for your own enjoyment. What you do sexually is your choice and no one else’s business. God’s Word says something different. If you are a Christian, Jesus bought you with a price, and your body belongs to the Lord (see I Corinthians 6:19-20). If you are a Christian married person, your body belongs to the Lord and your spouse (I Corinthians 7:4). Now, there are two others that you must consult regarding your sexual choices: the Lord and your spouse.

Even if you are using masturbation for one of the valid purposes expressed above, you will undermine sexual intimacy in your marriage if you do so without your spouse’s knowledge and agreement to this approach in limited marital circumstances. The goal is oneness and reflecting godly qualities through your intimacy: not having your own secret journey but forging a shared journey of sexual intimacy.

The sexual journey is one full of challenges and learning. Every couple has barriers to address that can interfere with intimacy. At times, masturbation can be a purposeful stepping stone in addressing sexual shame, physical limitations, and separation. However, the end goal of your sex life is learning to love your spouse sexually and enjoy pleasure together. Beware of the danger of neglecting this journey of oneness with a focus on personal pleasure and self-fulfillment.

Source link

Subscribe Below To Our Weekly Newsletter of our Latest Videos and Receive a Discount Code For A FREE eBook from our eBook store: