Last updated on March 27, 2023
I’m an Orthodox Christian who is 17 years old. I used to be addicted to masturbating, but I weened myself off of it. I did it to porn here and there, but I stopped myself from doing it. A few months ago I began to take a break from masturbating to prove to God that I can do it. I was successful the first two times, taking a three-week hiatus each time. Recently I promised I wouldn’t do it for a few weeks, but I keep failing. I fail, I feel very guilty, and I promise not to do it again, but I end up failing. I’ve failed about four times, and I feel as if God will punish me. Can I regain His forgiveness in any way?
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 considered a sin?” Make sure you take your Bible and read them for yourself. What I hope you learn 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.
I’ve noticed that people often will go overboard in trying to remove what they think is 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).
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. There are two ways the excess semen is released when a guy is not married and able to have sex: masturbation and wet dreams. Technically a wet dream is just when a guy masturbates in his sleep.
The reason you are failing is that you tried to give up all ejaculations and then found that your body conspires against you. It has to have relief because the seminal vesicles can only store so much semen. Promising God to not allow your body to do what it is designed to do is similar to promising not to eat or not to use the toilet. You can only keep the promise for a limited time. And besides, God never asks men to make such a promise.
The cure for this is to accept the fact that you ejaculate. Stay away from pornography, but when you need relief, there is nothing wrong with masturbating. If you want to try avoiding masturbating, there is a trick for changing your sleeping habit when you feel the urge to ejaculate getting strong. On those nights, sleep in the nude and once you have had a wet dream, go back to your normal sleepwear.
The only sin you are committing is making promises. “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment” (James 5:12). God doesn’t need your promises. He wants you to do as He commands.