Much debate has surrounded the topic of masturbation in Christian circles. Often the debate asks Is masturbation wrong? and much energy is spent trying prove whether it should be on the approved or not approved list.
I’m realizing that a better question to ask regarding masturbation is that of Love. Debates about its sinfulness seems to bring more separation then unity, which would seem to indicate that love is not at the core of these debates, rather pride and the illusion of wisdom.
How does masturbation fulfil the commandments to love God and others as ourselves?
If it does not fulfil these commands and impairs love then it is not okay to continue to practice it, regardless of how natural it might be. However, if it fulfils these commands and enhances love, should the free cultivation of that love be hindered?
The questions we ask shape the answers we receive. If we ask questions about sin, guilt, shame, lust, escapism, and the like, all relevant questions, the answers we receive will be framed in these contexts.
What would be different if we asked:
- How does masturbation increase your awareness of God?
- How does masturbation help you to experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of God and the life He offers? Does the joy of His presence linger afterwards?
- How does masturbation help you to celebrate the love and life given to you, delighting in the joy of being fearfully and wonderfully made?
- How does masturbation prepare you to love others?
- What if masturbation had the potential to be a spiritual experience, and not just a tension release?
- What if, instead of isolating an individual, masturbation cultivated one’s sense of connection with Self, others, and God?
- What if masturbation was received as a gift, with great thankfulness?
- What if masturbation was received as a pure pleasure, bringing joy, instead of a guilty pleasure?
For many these questions are unthinkable or unnecessary to even consider. The point here is not to prescribe or prohibit masturbation, rather to challenge the assumptions we make regarding it. Instead of assuming it is inherently sinful or just a natural impulse to be accepted uncritically, what if masturbation was evaluated on its ability to reflect love?
Our answers will certainly be different from each other and even different during different seasons of life. Still, the one standard that remains throughout it all, for each person regardless of life stage, is love.