The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I have problems with masturbating. I do it once a day, and I am fourteen.  I need some help on stopping, but I would really rather not let any parents in on this since it is such a frowned upon issue.  I know it is wrong, but I do it on a regular basis.  

I also know that some most religions first considered masturbating a sin because you are wasting sperm cells which are life.  Would it still be a sin since we now know that you create new sperm for your entire life? How is sperm wasted in masturbation any more of a sin then the sperm that is never used to the day you die?  It is also realized that women support a main part of the life process, and sperm is not the entire life.  

I do not question our Catholic believes, but I have no one to discuss this with.  Is masturbation a lust?  If so, all my arguments are put to rest.  I will try the technique of reading a page of the Bible every time masturbation pops in my mind.  I need help, I know this for sure.


Answer

The Roman Catholics take two passages to conclude that masturbation is wrong. First, they look at the sin of Onan, whom God killed.

"But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him. And Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother." But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother's wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also" (Genesis 38:7-10).

In ancient days, if a married man died without children, his brother was expected to marry his brother's widow. The first born child of that union would be considered his brothers when inheritance was determined.

Another ancient law that should be considered is that the first born son of family received a double portion of the inheritance. They did this because the first born son typically became responsible for the family and so would have more financial obligations. For if a man had three sons, his estate would be divided four ways. The first born would get two parts and each of the other two sons would get one part each.

Judah had three sons, so when Er, his first born, died, Onan saw his prospective inheritance from Judah rise from 1/4 of the estate to 2/3 of the estate because Onan was then the eldest son. However, if he had a son by Er's widow, his inheritance would drop back to 1/4. Judah was a very rich man, so we are not talking about small sums of money. To put it in perspective. If Judah was a millionaire, then at Er's death, Onan stood to inherit $666,667. If Onan had a child born to Er's widow, his inheritance would drop to $250,000.

So Onan thought he would be clever. He had sex with his new wife, but he pulled out before he ejaculated to avoid getting her pregnant. He wasn't masturbating, he was practicing a form of birth control called "withdrawal." God knew his purpose in doing this was due to greed and so he was killed. In other words, it is a mistake to assume that God killed him simply because he spilled semen on the ground. If God did kill people for spilling semen, we wouldn't have to be concerned about the world's population today.

The second passage is about the blessing of children.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

The argument goes that men should not prevent God from blessing them. Therefore, every act of sex ought to have the potential of bringing about children. This has been extended over the years to say that every ejaculation ought to be restricted to only for married couples where children can be produced. It is for this reason the Roman Catholic church opposes all forms of contraception (expect the rhythm method).

If sex was only for producing children, the Roman Catholic church might have a point, but several verses including Proverbs 5:18-19, tells us that sex is also for the pleasure of the husband and wife. We also note that God blesses us with food, shelter, and clothing, but we understand that man is expected to control his production of these things. Just because God bless men with food, it doesn't follow that the only food we can collect is that which grows in the wild. God blesses men with wives, but a man is expected to limit himself to just one wife. Sex is a blessing from God, but it is to be limited to only married couples.

You mention the argument that sperm is life and that it should not be wasted. First, the Bible states that life is in the blood, not in semen (Genesis 9:4). Sperm has the potential to create life when it joins with an egg, but even then only one sperm cell unites with one egg. The other half million sperm cells in an ejaculation are "wasted." Therefore, waste is not the issue here.

What needs to be done is examine the Bible for whether masturbation is right or wrong. Rather than repeat the evidence here, I will ask you to read, "Is masturbation unacceptable?" What I hope you 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.

For teenagers there is an extra problem, one that you are facing. Because your brain is in the midst of rewiring itself for adult thinking, it is extremely easy for a teenager to become obsessed with certain thoughts or actions. Since orgasm releases strong feelings of pleasure, it is very easy for a teenager to become obsessed with it. I've know some who are so obsessed, that they have literally rubbed their penises raw. At least you have not gone that far.

Masturbation isn't lust, but people pursuing lust often use masturbation as a reward, if you will, for their lusts. For example, looking at pornography is to lust after other people's bodies. People use that lust to get themselves sexually excited so that they can climax in masturbation. The lust and pornography is what is wrong, the masturbation was just the means used to gratify the desire.

Let me illustrate it this way. Sexual intercourse can be used rightly or wrongly. Inside marriage it is a God given gift. Outside of marriage it is a sin. Sex itself isn't a sin, it is how it is being used that is sinful. Money can be used rightly or wrongly. It can be used to feed your family or to do good for your fellow men. But it can also be used wrongly when it is coveted, horded, or spent on evil things. Money itself isn't a sin, but how it is used or put in priority in your life that becomes the sin.

One of the things people tend to do attack problems at the wrong point. For example, they may see greed as a problem, so they decide to get rid of all their money to combat greed. The problem is they never address the real problem -- the greed -- and so are surprised when they discover their problem hasn't gone away or has gotten worse.

"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).

People tend to make rules to solve issues. The problem is that the rules tend to focus on the physical results instead of addressing the spiritual causes. Then when they can't follow their own self-imposed rules, they beat themselves up and say it is too hard to follow God, never realizing that God never made the rule in the first place.

You're going that direction. There is no rule saying "do not masturbate." Consider for a moment if there was, what happens to you if you had a wet dream? People who have wet dreams essentially masturbate in their sleep. If it was a sin to masturbate, then it would be a sin to have a wet dream, yet that is something instinctively built into us by God and over which we have no direct control. That cannot be. Adding a rule where God has made none will only lead to trouble.

Instead, you should examine your motivates for wanting to masturbate. Is it simple release of sexual tension, or are you using it to think about sexual sin? If it is the latter, then that is what needs to be addressed and you are likely to find that your desire to masturbate so often will decrease.