Hi! I am a young, Kenyan man, aged 21, and an undergraduate student. I have been a slave to masturbation since I was the age of 13. I was introduced to it when I overheard some friends talking about it in upper primary class. At times I have very seriously tried to quit the habit, but I still find myself doing it again. Though born again, I really compromise in this act. To be honest I really enjoy the pleasure in it and after doing it I feel so guilty over the whole thing. I have made solemn promises unto God not to do it, more times than I can count, and I think my heavenly Father is sick and tired of hearing of my promises. As I write this email, I feel I must confess that just an hour back in broad daylight I had engaged in masturbation. Please, I need you to touch my hand and help me run the race successfully. Any form of help will be highly appreciated. Though I'm burning with bodily desires which is our normal biological function, I really want to keep my body pure since it's the Lord's own temple. Be blessed of the Lord even unto ministering to me.
I'm glad you wrote, and I hope I will be able to help you sort through this problem. As with any topic, we need first to go through the Bible to understand what it teaches about masturbation. Since this has been discussed before, I want you to go through "Is masturbation unacceptable?" Make sure you take your Bible and read them for yourself. I especially want you to read the verses in your own native language so that you have a firm understanding of what God has taught on this topic.
What I hope you have learned is that masturbation is not directly condemned or accepted. However, many things associated with masturbation, such as the use of pornography to get yourself sexually aroused is condemned. For a large number of men, it is near impossible to separate the idea of masturbation and lustful thoughts.
Masturbation is discovered by most teenage boys at some point in their development. It is stated that nearly all men will experiment with masturbation at some point. But during adolescence, it is very easy to fall into compulsive behavior. You will see this in teenagers who almost always eat the same foods, have to have things laid out in a special way, or become overly concerned about looks or weight. Generally, a teenager grows out of this as they get into adulthood, but in some cases habits established in teenage years are carried into adulthood. Almost always these habits revolve around something that gives pleasure in some form. Even secular governments realize this. They restrict teenagers from using tobacco products, alcohol, and other drugs because they understand that addictions established during adolescence is particularly hard to break.
Ejaculating obviously creates a strong sense of pleasure. But some get so caught up in it that they attempt to masturbate multiple times a day. I've talked to young men who have literally rubbed their penis raw but continue anyway. Even if we argue that masturbation itself is neither right or wrong, this compulsive behavior is a danger because it leaves them open for temptation to sin by Satan. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (I Corinthians 6:12). Now don't misread this verse. Paul is not saying that everything is permissible. What he is saying is that in class of things that God says is lawful, everything allowed might not always be helpful in all situations. Let me given an extreme example. Sex between a husband and wife is lawful (Hebrews 13:4), but that doesn't mean a husband and wife should do it on a stage with others watching. In particular something lawful becomes a problem when it becomes a compulsion that runs your life -- "I will not be brought under the power of any." An example of this is overeating or gluttony. "Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them" (I Corinthians 6:13). We have to eat and there is nothing wrong with eating, but when it becomes a compulsion to overindulge, then it becomes a danger.
Another point we need to discuss, is that sin doesn't bring satisfaction. For example, we get thirsty and some people will grab an alcoholic drink to quench that thirst. The problem is that alcohol is a drying agent. It extracts water from the tissues. Thus, shortly after drinking a beverage containing alcohol, the person is left feeling thirsty -- often more thirsty than before. But because alcohol gives them a pleasant buzz, they don't even think to get a glass of water, they reach for more alcohol. Almost every sin is of the same nature. Because it is an imitation, it doesn't satisfy but because the person thinks it might help they go further into the sin. That is why Jude describes false teachers who lead others into sin as, "They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots" (Jude 12).
Finally, another characteristic of sin is that a part of the "fun" comes from thinking you are getting away with something that you know is wrong. "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (Proverbs 9:17). This is what leads the adulterer to marry his mistress, but then a few years later is off committing adultery again. A part of the excitement and pleasure from his sin was the sneaking behind his wife's back. Thus when the sin becomes commonplace, he seeks new avenues to bring the excitement back. You are caught in this trap. Masturbating is no longer exciting enough, so you are now adding excitement by doing it in places where you might get caught.
So, let's see if we can get you back on track. First off, I've noticed that people in desperation often will go overboard in trying to remove sin from their life. This is not to say that a little bit of sin is acceptable in anyone's life, but we do have a tendency to impose extreme rules upon ourselves -- rules that we cannot meet because they are man-made in origin. Then when we cannot keep our man-made rules, we decide we are a failure and give up. That is why Solomon warns, "Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?" (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Paul puts it this way, "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). I believe this is why you have failed in the past. You imposed on yourself rules that are not based on what God said. You tried to give up all ejaculations, and then found that your body conspired against you. So you became depressed and swung to the other extreme -- which is why Solomon also warned, "Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all" (Ecclesiastes 7:17-18).
A basic fact is that the male body constantly produces semen. After a point that semen has to go somewhere. To handle this, God designed the seminal vesicles to produce an increasing sense of sexual desire in you until the semen is released. It is not that much different from the urge to urinate when your bladder gets full, it just operates more slowly. Because you have been masturbating so much, you haven't allowed yourself to manage the sexual desire. So I'm going to give you a series of tasks:
- Drop the use of all pornography. At first you will feel like you can't ejaculate without thoughts of pornography. That is fine if you can't. We want to break the habit of masturbating anyway. But eventually the sexual desire will build up to the point you feel like you can't ignore it. You will find it much easier in that state to be able to ejaculate without thinking much of anything at all.
- Then for a week or more, instead of masturbating daily, I want you to cut it to every other day. Prove to yourself that you can control the urges and to give yourself encouragement you can always tell yourself that you will take care of the urge tomorrow.
- When that becomes easier, try stretching it to every third day.
- Continue to try to stretch the time between ejaculations. The goal is not to never ejaculate, but to keep control over the impulse to do it and to keep control over your thoughts.
What will eventually happen is that you will stretch the time long enough that your body will take over on its own. You will start experiencing wet dreams where you ejaculate in your sleep (Deuteronomy 23:10). Your body will then cycle on its own without your intervention and you will experience a wet dream periodically. Some men don't like this lack of control and many Christians find the dreams that accompany wet dreams to be disturbing even though they know they are just dreams. As a result, some keep track of their body's sexual urge and when they know a wet dream is likely that night, they use masturbation to eliminate the excess semen. Because the sexual urge is so high, it is easy to do this without lustful thoughts. If a man can do this without thoughts of sinful action, then I cannot argue that such an arrangement is wrong.
I hope this helps. If you have further questions, you are welcome to write again.