Like me, my friend Matthew is a celibate gay/SSA Christian. He texted me the other day and asked me this:
Very, very personal question: Does your vow [of celibacy] also exclude masturbation? If not, how do you deal with the lust aspect?
I do believe that true celibacy excludes masturbation. Jason DeRouchie, professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary, has written far more convincingly than I ever could in support of that position. See “If Your Right Hand Causes You to Sin: Ten Biblical Reflections on Masturbation” from Desiring God. On days when these biblical reflections don’t convince me, then I must ask myself—Is it worth the risk? In other words, even if I can “justify” masturbation intellectually as some sort of sexual release for the celibate, isn’t it better to “play it safe” and avoid something that could be a sin?
Now, having said that, do I live up to my own standards?
I must admit that I do not.
But when I do, it’s by following these strategies whenever temptation strikes:
- Go immediately to the Word before the temptation strengthens. I have the Olive Tree app installed on my phone so I can pull it out of my pocket at a moment’s notice and I usually have the desktop version open at all times on my PC.
- Exert the physical energy in another way, such as going for a run.
- Examine the temptation for what it really is: a need to fill a void in my life. Reflect on what the underlying cause is:
- Lust? Usually precipitated by exposure to enticing images on TV or the internet—one doesn’t need to go looking for such things for them to happen anyway, but it’s always best to heed the instruction of Proverbs 4:14–15:
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
- Pray or journal about that underlying cause. If lonely, what am I going to ask God to do about it? (His solution is always better than taking matters into my own hands!) If bored, what am I going to ask God to do about it? (His solution is always better than taking matters into my own hands!) If lustful, what am I going to ask God to do about it? (His solution is always better than taking matters into my own hands!)
Grace and peace to you today . . .
 Name changed to protect privacy.
 This is rather like Peter Kreeft’s defense of Christianity as a whole: “If Christianity is true and I believe, I lose nothing and gain everything, gain Heaven. But if it’s true and I don’t believe, I gain nothing but lose everything; I lose Heaven. And if it isn’t true, I gain nothing and lose nothing, whether I believe or not.”