Would God Be Pleased If We Pleasured Ourselves?

Kenneth Rosario writing a review for a popular-with-youth movie of 2019, Chhichhore (starring Sushant Singh Rajput) wrote these lines: “It’s no secret that Bollywood loves to romanticise college years. Those days of youthful complacency, crude jokes about sex and masturbation, first love, cultural or sports competition that mean the world to you, barely attending lectures and confiding in alcoholism” (The Hindu, September 7, 2019).

Notice here that masturbation—also called ‘self’-love’ in some quarters—is included in what can be done without guilt to enjoy one’s college life.

Swara Bhaskar, a Bollywood actress who was part of a masturbation scene is a Hindi film told a newspaper this: “It’s the first time Hindi cinema is owning up to the fact that women are pleasuring themselves” (The Guardian, 8 June 2018).

Will God be pleased if we ‘pleasure ourselves’?

A woman’s nakedness belongs to her husband alone. A man despises a woman if he watches her naked. Noah’s youngest son sinned by watching his father naked and not doing anything about it. A man willingly watching another man’s nakedness itself is wrong!

Talking about the passions of the body, Paul writes, “It is better to marry rather than burn with passion.” Notice, Paul does not write, “It is better to masturbate rather than burn with passion” (1 Cor 7:9). So the Bible nowhere positively advocates the use of masturbation as a means of relieving sexual tension. Not at all.

There are things that go along with masturbation the Bible condemns. For example, many young people view pornography while masturbating. This is wrong. A woman’s nakedness belongs to her husband alone (Lev 18 KJV). A man despises a woman if he watches her naked (Lam 1:8). Noah’s youngest son sinned by watching his father naked and not doing anything about it (Gen. 9:22). A man willingly watching another man’s nakedness itself is wrong!

Again, masturbation is usually accompanied by filthy thoughts. Enjoying the filthy thoughts is sin—the Bible makes clear (Matt 5:28/Job 31:1).

Masturbation can become an obsession. It is possible to be addicted to that habit. Paul says to the Corinthian church, “You may say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’. But I reply, ‘Not everything is good for you’.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything, I must not become a slave to anything” (1 Cor 7:12). This passage is talking about sexual sins (vv. 9 following). Though Paul is not talking about masturbation here (or anywhere) the Scriptural principle that we must become slaves of any habit is clear (that will apply to even addictions like coffee or cola or chocolates also, by the way!)

Masturbation can be called “lazy” sex. It is easier for a man to look at porn and masturbate than for him to woo his wife, have unhurried romance-laced, long conversations with her before she is all-eager to have sex with him. Since this is so, many men settle for the easier option of masturbation in private, even after they get married. This is sinful as there are several scriptures in the Bible against laziness. Take for example the book of Proverbs. Laziness is attacked throughout that book (6:9–11; 10:5; 20:4; 21:25; 26:14).

Prophet Ezekiel connects a man’s “righteousness” and sense of “justice” with his refusal to have sex with his wife when she has her menstrual period (Ezek 18:5–6). Is not having sex with one’s spouse during her period a moral issue or is just a ceremonial issue?

I have often wondered why the Bible, in the Old Testament (Lev 18:19), tells men not to have sexual relationship with their wives when they have the menstrual period. Prophet Ezekiel connects a man’s “righteousness” and sense of “justice” with his refusal to have sex with his wife when she has her menstrual period (Ezek 18:5–6). Is not having sex with one’s spouse during her period a moral issue or is just a ceremonial issue? Or, was this law given keeping in mind matters relating to hygiene (sex between couples during the time a woman has periods may lead to infection)?   Prophet Ezekiel seems to clearly connect holiness with abstinence during one’s wife’s menstrual period. Why? One day, this thought—a thought I never had before—came to me: “It is actually easier for a woman to have penetrative sex during her periods because her vagina is adequately lubricated with her own menstrual blood. But if God in Ezekiel and Leviticus forbids that, it must be for a very good reason, for our God is not a sadist but he wants the married couple to fully enjoy sexual pleasure inside of marriage (see Proverbs 5:18–20). I think (though I cannot be dogmatic about it) it is for the reason that God wants men to adequately arouse their wives with long, loving conversations coupled with non-sexual touching. In the absence of these, penetrative sex can be a painful affair for the wives. But during women’s periods, there is already a vaginal lubrication. God, however, wants a vaginal lubrication in the wife’s body that is totally caused by a husband’s loving actions (rather than via a natural physiological phenomenon like a menstrual period) during penetrative sex! Hence he imposed the Old Testament ban on sex during a woman’s menstrual periods so that it will serve as a monthly reminder to husband that he must sufficiently spend time with his wife, make her feel loved before he attempts to enter her during a sexual intercourse! What was God’s message here? Sex between husband and wife should not happen mechanically but in an atmosphere of love and selflessness. So, I believe, these menstrual-period-sex-ban Bible verses are, in a way, gently calling for a masturbation-ban as well. Why? Masturbation may involve sex in which loving, long conversations with one’s spouse are totally missing and God hates that (as do wives who speak the truth)!

Therefore my personal advice to you is to practice self-control (which is, by the way, a fruit of the spirit): both in private places and in public places. Self-control in sex is a great virtue to have, even after you get married. Wondering why? The woman you marry may not jump in the bed with you every time you want her to (this is a married man speaking)!

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