Masturbation is one of the most debated issues today. Some people claim that masturbation is not wrong since the Bible does not forbid it. Others hold different opinions based on religious or psychological perspectives. Masturbation is described as a process of self-stimulation where an individual stimulates his or her sex organs to gain sexual gratification. It is a very common practice among men and women nowadays. After masturbation, an individual receives a particular gratification and gets sexually satisfied. This paper will provide a detailed discussion of the religious stand on the issue based on the Bible, as well as the psychological perspective.
Masturbation from the Religious Perspective
It is believed that God created sex to ensure that there is propagation between man and woman. Also, it may be viewed as a way of promoting bondage between man and woman. Moreover, sexual activity in the marriage is one of the ways of promoting fulfillment as well as satisfaction in a couple. The Bible states that God is pleased when sex is done in a “selfless way rather than when it is done for selfish purposes.” (“Ephesians 5:22-33 New International Version) For this reason, the issue of masturbation has to be considered from a broad perspective. In answering the question of what the Bible says about masturbation, what was the main intention of sex according to God should be determined. The scriptures do not touch upon the issue directly, but there are various cases that indicate the wrongfulness of the act. As mentioned above, it is a form of self-gratification of sexual desires. However, the Bible clearly indicates that sex should be for sexual gratification between married people. Thus, it is clear that it should not aim at satisfying selfish desires but rather mutual gratification. Therefore, masturbation is a sin in the face of God and calls for repentance and strong faith for one to overcome it.
Although the Bible does not directly mention that masturbation is wrong, many examples from the text indicate that masturbation is one of the sexual acts that do not glorify God. It also provides different descriptions of the appropriate or inappropriate use of the gift of sex. There is one specific example provided in the Bible to for a better understanding of why God condemns masturbation. Namely, in Genesis (38:8-10), the Bible speaks of Onan, who was instructed by Judah to have sex with his brother’s wife and produce offsprings. However, Onan did not do as instructed; he had sex with his brother’s wife but instead of producing offsprings, he used Coitus Interrupts. Onan was killed because of his reluctance to act as per God’s instructions to produce offspring. The act of Onan can be related to masturbation since propagation is not possible; and, as noted above, God’s main intention for sex is procreation. Thus, as evident from the example, sexual acts that do not lead to procreation are against God’s will. Thus, it can be concluded that the Bible is against the acts of masturbation since it contravenes the God’s intended purpose of sex.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the Bible strongly condemns that acts of adultery. It is also a fact that masturbation is an act that results from lust. According to the Bible, anyone who sees a woman or a man and feels lust has committed adultery. The same indicates that men who practice masturbation commit adultery, which is a grave sin condemned by the Bible. Thus, masturbation can also be described as a heinous act that is only equitable to adultery or any other form of sexual sin (Miller, 2013). According to Galatians (5:22-23), self-control is one of the most important virtues that one should observe. It is notable that masturbation results from the lack of self-control. Since self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, it can be deduced that the Holy Spirit does not guide people who conduct masturbation.
Moreover, according to the Bible, anything that does not please God is evil, thus sinful (1 Cor. 10:31). Thus, looking at the issue from the religious perspective and based on the examples from the Bible, it can be stated that everything that people do should please God. It is also believed that human bodies belong to God. However, from a religious perspective, sinful acts and thoughts make them impure, which alienates people from God. From the point of view of a religious person, if one is aware that the act is not pleasing to God, he should refrain from doing it.
Moreover, masturbation requires sexual fantasies. In other words, it involves some kind of pornography. The Bible condemns pornography at all costs. It is a sinful act to get involved in such activity and practice such thoughts. The Bible teaches that people should not only please God by treating their bodies in the right way but also by pure mind and thoughts. People commit wrongs when evil thoughts dominate their minds. Therefore, if looking from this perspective, by practicing masturbation humans commit sin in the fantasies they create. The same confirms that masturbation is a heinous act and should be avoided at all costs. Moreover, it is evident that even if the Bible does not directly condemn masturbation, it is wrong to practice it, from the religious point of view. Based on the aspects related to this act, it is considered a sin since it is related to various other sinful activities condemned by the Holy Scriptures.
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The topic has been marked by dubious attitude from the psychologists. Various experts and schools of thought provide contradictory views on the issue. Some hold the opinion that masturbation is a harmful act of sexual pleasure that that has been reported to have adverse effects on healthy relationships (Shelton, 2014). This approach also insists that due to self-stimulation to reach climax, the doer of the act has a psychological anomaly. Such individuals train their brains as well as physiological organs to reach orgasm after a certain trigger of either pressure, mental satisfaction or otherwise (Hertlein, 2009). Another approach maintains that masturbation is a healthy act that can train an individual to hold longer before getting to the climax. The two schools of thought present compelling theories and evidence to support their views.
However, despite the divergent views, psychologists agree on the fact that even infants as they explore their bodies have been known to use the technique to seek self-pleasure. Thus, Sigmund Freud, who is widely known due to his contribution to the field of psychology and childhood psychological formation, provides a view on this issue with his theory of personality development (Shelton, 2014). His psychosexual analysis has received wide support from other psychologists. The theory reflects the true standing of human psychosexual stages. In fact, they contend that masturbation is a universally recognized healthy and so to speak normative human behavior. It is considered that with time, this self-pleasuring technique becomes a better way to seek self-pleasure and reach to peaks of sexual satisfaction (Hertlein, 2009). Sexual counselors have also been known to use the technique to treat patients who suffer from premature ejaculation, and they have reported the great success of the treatment.
However, masturbation has also been reported by the American Psychiatric Association to play a role in the development of paraphilia. Paraphilia can be defined as sexually arousing fantasies that if not treated lead to impairment of occupational, social or other human relations areas (Shelton, 2014). If not treated, this human psychosocial behavior can lead to serious social problems such as pedophilia, which is engaging in a sexual act with a child. Another deviation related to the negative psychological consequences of masturbation is frotteurism. It involves rubbing against and finding pleasure in a non-consenting individual and, in most cases, a stranger (Hertlein, 2009). Exhibitionism involves exposing someone’s genitalia to strangers and, finally, masturbation. Transvestic fetishism is finding sexual arousal and pleasure in cross-dressing. While these are serious social problems, they have a psychological origin and can only be developed and maintained through coaching and counseling the individuals on how to engage in masturbation. Traditionally, this group of sexually impaired individuals has been ignored in psychology and sex therapy sessions due to the difficulties in identifying such persons. The issue is aggravated by the fact that self-reporting is a rare thing and comes with guilt, shame and even negative interpersonal relations with those close to them (Shelton, 2014). Also, it raises an ethical question of creating those. However, it should be also noted that, when an individual comes out or is known to suffer from the psychological disorder, masturbation can be successfully applied to treat their shaming conditions (Hertlein, 2009). For example, the more an individual masturbates to a paraphilic fantasy, the further he or she transfers the anomaly to the core of their brain. It causes the risk of almost permanent impairment when it comes to normal sexual functioning with another person (Hertlein, 2009). The actual problem lies in the fact that once this fantasy has been deeply engraved in the brain, it is almost impossible to erase it successfully.
At the same time, sex therapists agree with psychologists on the fact that masturbation can be used to strengthen sexual glands, notably the sphincter muscle that is widely recognized for the role it plays in sexual climax technique (Shelton, 2014). The muscle contractions play a pivotal role, especially in males. If well-trained through masturbation, and psychologists agree, it also trains the brain how long to last before the climax. When trained, the technique can help to improve sex experience with a partner. In other words, masturbation can be used as a means of treating and addressing premature ejaculation.
From the other side, another school of that holds the view that masturbation plays a negative role in the development of an individual and especially males. The experts state that it affects the physical development of a person since some part of the male semen is absorbed by the body to aid in the development of a young male (Shelton, 2014) and plays a vital role in the individual’s physical strength. With repeated masturbation, the rate of semen absorption is reduced and instead of contributing to the strength of the sexual member, it forms a weak, thin organ. Consequently, when an individual becomes aware of his predicament, it becomes a basis for the development of personality problems such as weak personality, strength reduction and a decrease in desire to engage in sexual intercourse (Shelton, 2014). As a result, such a person becomes shy and unconfident. Thus, one faces difficulties in maintaining a healthy relationship and engaging in healthy intercourse with their partners (Shelton, 2014).
Therefore, the topic has a dubious psychological approach, and each of the controversial positions provides strong arguments in support of their theories. At this point, it is difficult to determine a uniform position of the psychological discipline on the issue as it is regarded both as a positive and negative phenomenon and has merits and demerits.
From my experience, I have met people who have been practicing masturbation. Although they found it enjoyable when they started, they later understood that it was a bad habit, and, moreover, it was addictive. Some of them have tried to stop doing it since they have understood the problem of becoming addictive. However, I think that this addiction can be curbed only after the realization of a wide range of consequences related. From the personal point of view, I feel that masturbation is very wrong. It has adverse psychological impacts and, at some moment, an individual may even lose attraction to the opposite sex due to constantly practiced self-satisfaction. Also, the practice of masturbation can cause other deviations and affect sub-consciousness. Moreover, masturbation is against the God’s teaching. I perceive it as a sin that affects the body and the mind. It is against the God’s purpose of creating man and woman to replicate. Those who are already addicted need spiritual intervention as well as psychological counseling.
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From the research conducted, it is obvious that the issue of masturbation is a controversial topic. Different approaches provide various arguments to support their stands. Nevertheless, there is a connection between the psychological behavior of a person and his or her self-realization in the society. Most societies treat the act as taboo and, for this reason; a person engaging in it often develops a feeling of betraying their values or those of their families or cultures. With the repeated action, the feeling of remorse and shame gets stronger and penetrates into sub-consciousness with a person falling a victim of doubt and suspicion. At this point, it would be difficult to say if indeed it is a positive or negative phenomenon. According to what has been discussed, it has both merits and demerits. However, personally I believe that this act is dangerous and wrong.