Home > Miscellaneous > Being Less Dirty or Being Pure?

Being Less Dirty or Being Pure?

Well, I was listening to a conversation the other night that I’ve heard many times before in my life and have talked about many times before to others, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about it because of it’s specific nature. I feel like some of the principles in the discussion may be applicable to other issues and thus a blog post has been born. If you clicked the twitter link, you may have an idea as to what this is regarding…

Masturbation! The basic topic of conversation that I wanted to comment on was masturbating without lusting. The premise is that while lusting after a person, wanting them sexually and engaging in active (or habitually passive) cogitations about this person, is sinful according to the Bible, it doesn’t speak specifically to the act of masturbation. The idea is that if one can masturbate while keeping one’s mind and soul clear and without lust, then there is nothing sinful about masturbation. It’s an intriguing idea, especially for hormonal young men who at times are full of mind-numbingly strong desires to get their gun off.

The most common argument against this lust-free masturbation is that it is impossible(or nearly so) for guys to get an erection and masturbate to ejaculation without thinking about a woman. Certainly that’s probably true for some men, but even if others can masturbate without lusting I think there’s a strong argument that the mere act of masturbation, regardless of what one is thinking about, is sinful and misses the mark of God’s ideal for our lives.

Please do not think that I’m condemning masturbators from my high horse. I have no right to ride such a horse, nor would I ever want to.* I’m merely expressing thoughts on a recently relevant topic.

I find Jesus’ words about lust in his sermon on the mount to be, at the least, interesting. In Matthew 5:27 Jesus says:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Jesus here is saying that even if one doesn’t have sex with a woman and having a direct negative effect on her, it is still sinful to look at her with lust. In the same context of his discussion of private acts that are sexually sinful, Jesus talks about the right hand potentially being a tool of sin for someone. I don’t know about you, but when someone talks about the use of the right hand immediately after talking about sexual desire for a woman, what the hell comes to your mind? It seems like Jesus was talking about the sinfulness of masturbation. I can’t say this with certainty. Perhaps Jesus was indeed referencing something else or maybe he was only talking about masturbation done in the context of lust. At any rate, I thought it was worth mentioning.

Additionally, no doubt God looks at the heart, but Jesus also talks about evil things that people do coming out of the heart. What we do with our physical bodies is actually important because it is with our bodies that we live out our spiritual lives. Is an act justified because one’s mind is in a pure place? What if I had sex with a girl while both of our minds were at a pure place and we were praying for the world and were totally focused on God and how awesome His love is? No one would say that our minds being pure would justify anything.

My main reason for thinking masturbating without lust is sinful is derived from how I conceptualize what God’s ideal is for a healthy and beautiful sexual relationship. In the beginning God created Adam. Then He created Eve from Adam that Adam might not be alone and would have a partner. God created both out of one flesh, and though they were two, they were from one flesh and God’s design was that in their relationship they would be one flesh. Paul mentions in 1st Corinthians 6:16 that the process, or at least a very significant part of the process, of becoming one flesh is having a sexual relationship. God’s ideal for marriage is a man and a woman having a monogamous and committed relationship with one another. His ideal for sex is that all sexual acts are to occur within and only within this monogamous and eternally committed relationship.

Deviations from God’s ideal are what we would call sin. The majority of people who trust Scripture agree that having sexual partners before marriage is a sin. They agree that having sexual partners outside of your marriage partner is a sin. They agree that sexual acts other than actual intercourse is a sin. They agree that homosexual relationships are sinful. They agree that looking at porn is sinful. They even agree that thinking about a person sexually who is not your spouse is sinful. All of these are sins because they stray from God’s ideal. Doesn’t it then seem to follow that someone performing a sexual act on themselves also diverges from God’s perfect intention of sexual acts only occurring within a marriage context? I believe so. If you disagree, please help me understand why. It’s an issue I just don’t see the other side of very well.

Is masturbating without looking at porn or lusting better than masturbating while lusting? Absolutely. I do think it is less destructive. To some extent, sin is sin, but different sins have differential effects. But just because something is less bad than something else doesn’t mean it should be done. I’ve known people to counsel others to masturbate without lusting regularly to avoid lusting. It makes some sense to substitute a bad habit for a worse habit, but is that really what we want to strive for? It’s like telling someone who is considering suicide about the comparative benefits of cutting. Do we want to move toward death less slowly? As followers of Jesus, inhabited by his Spirit, imputed his righteousness, given his purity, adopted as his brother, and inheritors and progenitors of the kingdom of God, do we want to focus on being less dirty or pursuing perfect purity? I guess I’ve always been of the mind that we should move toward life and leave death at our backs.


*I don’t really like horses. I’m sure their fine animals, but I would much rather use an alternative like an ATV or dirt bike, both of which sit quite low to the ground.

Categories: Miscellaneous
  1. October 24, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I don’t know if I totally agree with you. But first, the question needs to be asked; do you believe nocturnal emissions to be sinful?

  2. October 24, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I don’t know if I totally agree with you. But first, the question needs to be asked; do you see nocturnal emissions as sin?

    • October 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      Disagreement is normal. I just appreciate you having an interest in my thoughts. 🙂 In response to your question, absolutely not.

  3. October 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I’m just typing so I can tell you blog to notify me for comments.

  4. October 27, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Because it’s done without lust?

    • October 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      because it’s involuntary. I fell asleep once when cuddling with a girl, and I punched her in the face. do you think it was sinful to punch her in the face when I was sleeping? my answer to that would be absolutely not. if I was awake it’s a totally different story. I don’t think that rubbing your hand all over your dick and involuntarily ejaculating at night are the same thing.

      • October 28, 2010 at 12:49 am

        Ha. I wrote that on the interstate using speech to text and some typing. It didn’t come out with my intended tone. What I mean is, I think there is a big difference between a voluntary physical act and an involuntary one. I think that masturbation is a sexual act, both when done with someone else and when done alone. I don’t think one does a sexual act without desire, and if its not that the desire is inappropriately directed toward a person, then it is inappropriately directed toward something else. Maybe its physical pleasure, maybe an orgasm, maybe a release. Regardless, I think the essential difference is whether one thinks masturbation is a sexual act. I don’t think the position that masturbation without lust is a pure act that fills God with joy and pride in his son or daughter is completely untenable. But its not what I think is true. Do you have more to explain regarding the nocturnal emission stuff and how that relates? Or other things I haven’t thought of? I would love to hear them and figure out more, perhaps, the why’s and where’s of our disagreement.

  5. Chris Schasse
    January 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I agree with your view, but would argue from a different angle. I see masturbating without lust the same as getting drunk without doing anything stupid. I don’t believe drinking is a sin, or getting drunk for that matter, but I think the sinful actions I do when I drink IS a sin.

    With that said, I don’t believe getting drunk habitually is a good way to live. And I don’t think getting drunk occasionally, even if you don’t sin, is a good idea.

    These two may not seem to relate very much, but in my mind they do. I get drunk to relieve stress. I get drunk to ease pain. I get drunk to dissolve my fears, worries and problems. I get drunk to fall asleep.

    And I masturbate for these same reasons – with or without lust. I see both getting drunk and masturbating as unhealthy escape mechanisms.

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