Does Celibacy Exclude Masturbation?

Like me, my friend Matthew[1] 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?[2]

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:
    • Loneliness?
    • Boredom?
    • 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!)

For more on this topic, I recommend the two Your Other Brothers podcast episodes devoted to it; see Part 1 and Part 2 at their website.

Grace and peace to you today . . .


[1] Name changed to protect privacy.

[2] 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.”

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7 Comments

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  1. I’m both SSA since I can remember, and a married man too, for 30+ years.

    This discussion is an issue that plagues me intermittently these days, and I tend to agree with what you say. I believe I know where I prefer to stand… that is to be celibate towards all other guys, and all women other than my wife. This would exclude even sex with myself.

    I prefer that the urge and desire to masturbate was gone all together. And taking heed of Proverbs 4:14,15 greatly reduces the frequency. Greatly.

    At first, for years, I would rationalize masturbation as a way to curb the desire to wander out of martial sex. That was a lie, I still strayed away from my wife secretly anyway.

    Once baptized, I would no longer see other guys, that was over. I cut all ties.

    But self-sex would take it’s place with a vengeance. As a new believer, I became a mess of guilt, shame, and fear that sparked a severe spiritual battle in me. This took years, but I was lead through it to a place of peace and forgiveness. I felt God’s grace upon me.

    Now, I’m not tempted at all by other women, even (straight) porn has no effect. I am teased occasionally by my wife, but she over the years has proclaimed she is not interested in sex any longer.

    I’ve gotten past the days when I would be ignited into lust merely by spending time near attractive guys at work, or elsewhere. Now I can talk myself down.

    But there are still a few ways I can stumble… First, if my wife were to allow me to begin to think we’d be intimate. Of course, she won’t be, then I self-satisfy, maybe even after smouldering a day or so.

    Secondly, if I were to stumble into images of guys that excite me so much that I break my rule and search for porn on my phone. Then I’m trapped into self pleasure. I fight hard against this one!

    Lastly, and this is the one that caused me to reply here… the other 2 are rare, but this is almost weekly. I have this rationalization that I am addicted to the chemical responses in my brain, and self-sex allows me to quickly and easily relax and sleep when I would otherwise not.

    In this case, the act is not for the purpose of fantasy pleasure, although I realize that’s part of the chemical release process… but the act is as void of lust as possible, in fact it’s almost void of pleasure too, and is for the sole purpose of “self-medicating.”

    Like I said, I understand this is a rationalization in order to justify the act. I’d rather not at all. I even had used sleep aids on the days my sleep patterns are jumbled, in an effort to avoid this.

    But, there it is… what are your thoughts or feelings? I’m a big boy, I can take it. I’m just BS’ing myself, I know.

    Can’t wait to get past this too!

    Grace, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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.

      Proverbs 4:14–15

      Michael, thanks so much for your thoughts. I especially rejoice with you over this:

      I’ve gotten past the days when I would be ignited into lust merely by spending time near attractive guys at work, or elsewhere. Now I can talk myself down.

      I hear what you’re saying and know this experience firsthand: “Self-sex allows me to quickly and easily relax and sleep when I would otherwise not.” I’ve heard arguments for and against masturbation that’s divorced from lust. On the whole, I agree with those who say that the sin isn’t the masturbation but rather the lust that almost inevitably accompanies it. On the other hand, those who contend that any form of sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong and who point out that it’s nearly impossible to masturbate without lustful thoughts are pretty dang convincing. For now, I’ll say that, because I personally can’t masturbate without lusting, it’s a moot issue for me: When I masturbate, I lust; therefore, when I masturbate, I’ve sinned and must repent.

      There’s something a movement called NoFap organized around abstaining from porn, sex, and masturbation; I don’t yet know enough about it to be able to endorse it wholeheartedly, but I intend to investigate further.

      Thanks again for sharing with me and with my readers, Michael!

      Grace and peace,
      Aaron

       

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaron, thanks for your Grace in replying… I totally agree, my rationalization of “lustless” self sex is just me kidding myself. I’m not endorsing it. I do not think it’s okay. With me, or with God. I’m still being manipulated by the enemy. I wanted to “air it out in public” in hopes the light would kill it.

    “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
    Ephesians 5:11‭-‬14

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I have always lived a chaste, celibate lifestyle, I admit to being a complete failure in this area…you gave me food for thought this morning and for that I thank you. I’ve never had anyone to talk this over with as it seems like a taboo subject with many Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dave,

      If you ever want to talk over this subject or anything else with someone, please feel free to contact me directly. We all need support, accountability, understanding, and love.

      In Christ,
      Aaron

      Like

    • Joseph Bowman 20 July 2019 — 1:12 pm

      Ditto for me Dave. And like you, I’ve always felt I had no one to talk to.

      I recently installed the NOMO app on my phone (which, I might say is ALMOST completely useless, but I digress). I have an accountability partner. I am currently 32 days “sober” from masturbation… and as a 50-year-old man, I have NEVER in my life since the age of 12 had 32 days free from masturbation. Ever.

      I’m glad Aaron mentioned this… this can be a conversation starter.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Joseph Bowman 20 July 2019 — 1:13 pm

    It looks like the YOB podcasts don’t exist anymore. The hyperlinks lead nowhere.

    Like

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