Masturbation is a confusing, controversial subject for Christians. Recently, seven different Christian writers were invited to weigh in on the subject. The responses were all over the map. Some spoke against it and some thought it was OK.
Our problem right now is that we can no longer dismiss masturbation as a somewhat harmless activity.
Richard Beck—a noted academic, author and blogger—was the only writer in the group to inject the red hot word “lust” into his thoughtful perspective. Admittedly, healthy sexuality—the focus of the discussion—is hard to reconcile with lust.
Beck brought the subjects of masturbation and lust together in a new way. Here is his take:
Masturbation can actually be useful—that as a “quick physiological outlet” it could actually function as a helpful “tool to combat lust.” It can act as a way to “manage our sex drive.” “Masturbate, clear your head, and move on with your day.”
Can masturbation really help as a “tool to combat lust?”
Masturbation, using porn, and illicit sex are all ways that lust reveals itself. Such “acting out” is not helpful. Instead, these ugly actions occur when one has initially allowed lust to flourish in one’s heart.
Arguing that masturbation is less harmful than other outcomes is short-sighted and does not square with the no-holds-barred way that lust is currently waging war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).
Our problem right now is that we can no longer dismiss masturbation as a somewhat harmless activity. Instead, coupled with internet pornography, masturbation is being revealed as a powerfully destructive force and public health issue all by itself. Even secular health experts, who are neutral on the moral issues, are sounding the alarm.
It really comes down to whether or not it is possible to overcome lust.
If we can’t overcome lust—if we are stuck with it—masturbation may seem like the least damaging way to cope. Masturbation could then even be considered as a “tool to combat” or at least manage lust.
Such an approach may have worked when pornography and “irresistible” temptations were less ubiquitous. Now, increasingly nasty temptations of the most enticing quality push themselves on us from every direction. Lusting and acting out quickly rope those who do not know how to defend themselves into a vicious cycle of sin.
Since it is becoming increasingly less possible to reign in lust—to tame it and live with it—we have no choice but to overcome it. This is a good thing. God never intended for us to live with lust. He does not want us to rationalize, manage or accommodate sin.
He expects for us to gain victory over it… to put it to death (Colossians 3:5).
When we are obedient in doing this, it opens the door to a life that is pleasing to Him.