Why Do People Masturbate?

Many Kenyan google searchers have been asking much about masturbation, such as “Is masturbation an abomination?”. Some have even wondered what God thinks about the practice. Such kind of concern is a good sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart. In this scenario, the individual’s conscience is aware of sin and is likely prodding them against masturbation. These feelings must, therefore, never be ignored. First, however, we must start by finding out why people masturbate.

What is Masturbation, and Why Do People Do it? 

Before we jump into why people masturbate, we need first to understand what masturbation is. Masturbation is self-sexual-stimulation or self-sex. It involves getting sexual pleasure in a manner opposed to God’s plan for sex, which is that sex occurs between a man and a woman in a marriage set up (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Additionally, people are likely to masturbate when committing other sinful practices such as reading or watching pornographic writing, pictures, movies, erotic phone conversations, or sexting. This practice will usually motivate a receiving over a giving mentality during sex, certainly harming future marriage relationships. Masturbation is mainly viewed as a momentary impactful stress reliever for many people, but is it wise and does it truly satisfy? 

So, why do people masturbate? As mentioned, most men and women masturbate to relieve stress, especially those in their teenage and young adult years. Some consider it a way to control their sexual appetite while waiting for marriage. Other people do it because of relationship struggles. Having been hurt by others, they resort to comforting themselves through masturbation. Another reason people masturbate could be past sexual abuse; they take refuge in masturbation when overwhelmed with old heart wounds. There may be other reasons, but these are the general reasons most people masturbate. It is worth noting that all these reasons for masturbating are without God in the picture; they are self-centred. Hence, sin leads people to masturbate at the bottom line.

It is essential to consider what drives such behaviour since it helps us understand our impulses better. I, for one, started masturbating in primary school out of pressure from friends. I succumbed to the pressure because I wanted to be accepted by my peers. We may have many internal and external demands in life, but generally, we all desire acceptance, love, comfort and relief. Masturbation may give relief to these desires but only temporarily. Sin always promises immediate comfort to our desires, but in reality, it just hurts us and, more importantly, God. Moreover, as we will later learn, masturbation is a form of idolatry, as mentioned in Colossians 3:5, which we must put to death.  

Does Masturbation Really Satisfy? 

After considering why people masturbate, we may want to ask ourselves if masturbation truly satisfies the deep longings that most people who do it have. Masturbation, being the idol it is, only leaves people empty, ashamed and guilty. Idols of the heart are things that we value in our lives in place of God. They will usually tend to make impressive promises of satisfaction only to disappoint, yet they still entice. 1 Corinthians 6:18 implores us to flee from sexual immorality since when we give in to it, we sin against our own bodies. “What then should we do,” you may ask?. Instead of finding refuge in futile idols like masturbation, how about running to the Lord? For the Christians, preach the Gospel to yourself and remind yourself who and whose you are. You are fully known and deeply loved by God (1 John 3:1, Romans 5:8), which is a superior promise to the temporal pleasure of masturbation.

Consider the following truths of the superior promise of God’s love and remind yourself of these things whenever you feel the urge to find refuge in lesser things such as masturbation. 

  1. Christ gave his life for your sake (John 3:16) – God loves you so much that he willingly let his son come to earth to die so that you may be saved (1 John 3:1). If God did this, then he must genuinely desire your good (Romans 8:32). Take your burdens and urges to him and fight the temporal “promises” of masturbation with a superior blessing of the love of Christ.
  2. “God’s love is so great that it helps you overcome fear (1 John 4:18)-  When you understand how much God loves you, you have nothing to fear because the most remarkable being in the universe is for you. Such love is so wonderful that it can overpower the enjoyment of masturbation.” 
  3. “God’s love is a shield surrounding you, keeping you safe (Psalm 5:11-12)– God’s love is so much more than the warm fuzzy feeling we often associate with the word love. His love is a powerful force, protecting and comforting us. Being in God’s love is a position of joy and safety. 
  4. God will not let you down because his love cannot fail (Psalm 36:5-7)– Others may hurt you or let you down, but God will never let you down because his love never fails. 
  5. God loved you even when you were rebelling against him (Romans 5:8)– We all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and sin is like saying “I hate you” to God. But even when we say “I hate you,” God says, “I love you (Romans 5:8).” Experiencing God’s love overwhelms the “promises” of the rebellion of masturbation. 

God’s love helps fill our desires for acceptance, love, comfort and relief that masturbation falsely promises to satisfy. Lest we feel that we can continue to masturbate and experience God’s love, we must remember that we will not even see the Lord without holiness (Hebrews 12:14). God requires us to walk in holiness as his new creation (1 Peter 1:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17). He desires that we avoid all forms of unrighteousness (Romans 1:29) because sins like masturbation are unpleasing to God and hinder our enjoyment of experiencing his love (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Having learnt of the deceit and vainness of masturbation, may our hearts be rightly drawn to the One who truly satisfies. May our gaze stay on God as we get to know him more through the study of his Word. 

To read more on the topic of masturbation click here.

Resources: 

  1. God’s Love for you
  2. The Quick Reference Guide to Counseling Teenagers by Clark, Chap, and Clinton
  3. The Quick Reference Guide to Counseling Teenagers by Clinton and Landberg 

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