Christian Views on Masturbation

Always a fun topic, but Rachel Held Evans recently gathered brief thoughts from some experts on the idea. Go check out the whole post.

I really liked this post because of the direction that the conversation was taking, regardless of how you conclude on this particular issue. The church has been in bondage to a lot of rules and shame passed down about sex, but we are seeing more recently that Christians are asking the hard questions not just about what they can and cannot do but about how their sexuality fits in as part of their human experience and faith journey.

Masturbation Kills Kittens

Not that far off from how people used to talk about it.

The responses have a few important things in common:

1. It isn’t an obvious either/or question. We need to avoid the two legal-based extremes of “anything goes” or “here’s the list of rules to follow.”

2. Similarly, some who thought it was not inherently wrong in and of itself still pointed out that there are many ways in which it can become wrong (like most other things).

3. Our culture has different pressures than others (e.g. marrying later), including those prior Western cultures when this moral statement was largely being made, and that does need to be taken into consideration. Many counter this by saying we need to marry young so there are less years of waiting, but that carries many dangers with it.

4. We also know more of the biological factors than we used to.

5. Masturbation and porn are not the same thing, although they are clearly related and masturbation can on its own become harmful without porn. Almost all Christians are in agreement that porn is a problem for a variety of reasons.

6. Sexuality is designed to be relational, not strictly for pleasure. Whether masturbation violates this principle is debatable (Beck’s point about it actually reducing lust vs Broadway’s perspective, for example).

I think this moves the conversation in the right direction, especially point number 6 which gets to the heart of a theology of sexuality (the others are important for remembering that not all contexts are the same so a once-for-all-time rule may not work).

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.