masturbation-staying-pureI remember the first time my dad told me about porn and masturbation. We took a “man’s trip” over the weekend and did “manly” things like fire-building and four-wheeling. We listened through Dr. James Dobson’s Preparing For Adolescence and I learned not to look at pornography and (probably) not to masturbate.

So of course I went home and did both of those things.

I say “probably” about masturbation because Dobson didn’t seem to take much issue with it, so I spent a decent amount of my time trying to reconcile the guilt that came after the comedown with the hope that he was right – maybe God didn’t take much issue with it, either.

I’ve put a good amount of thought into what I might say about masturbation here, and though I’d rather write up an academic theology on it,


1) I’ve never really understood how people have done that anyway (no, Onans sin was not jacking off), and

2) I know that motive, and it’s self-protection.

So this isn’t going to be a blog about neural pathways and brain-training, although Carl Thomas recently wrote a little bit about that, and I believe it’s helpful to understand.

Is masturbation helping me stay pure? (Tweet This!) Here, right or wrong, I’ve got some personal wrestlings, and in an effort toward exemplifying the vulnerability that we always encourage, I have some confessions:

1) I’ve swung to both sides of the pendulum.
I have lived through seasons of my struggle believing that masturbation was undeniably wrong. It was almost always coupled with pornography or fantasy, and the depth of condemnation that came from my addiction threatened to crush me. Like it was the opposite of helping maintain or promote purity.

I’ve also swung to the opposite end of the spectrum where pornography was not present, and I believed that I was able to masturbate lust-free, where sexual fantasy did not intrude, and I was not guilt-ridden by it. That maybe it was helping me stay pure, or could be, in and of itself.

2) I’ve gone back and forth on what I believe about masturbation… even while working with XXXChurch.
I’m not comfortable writing this, to be honest. I’m about as terrified as I was whenever I’d do a Q&A with Craig and Jeff on our Porn Kills Tour and hope the inevitable M-Word question would get passed off to someone else. Was I willing to tell someone that the act of masturbation is inherently wrong? What if I believed someone when they told me that they could masturbate with a clear mind? But even if they could, would it qualify as “purity?” And was this a God-fearing internal wrestling, or my subversive drifting toward a sinful position that would better suit my wants and whims?

3) I don’t have years of masturbation-sobriety under my belt.
I’m writing this as a man who has advocated for transparency while not always being entirely transparent. As a man with a deep theology of community and not always in it. As a married man who has not always been entirely faithful, at least in regard to the places my mind has gone, and the directions my eyes have lingered.

Recognizing the hypocrisy above, and having established that masturbation involving pornography, lust-driven fantasy, and addiction is opposed to God’s design for purity, I will say that as a married man, I think there are times when masturbation focused toward your spouse is mutually permissible and, perhaps, can prove pure. For example: perhaps a spouse travels for work and technologies like, say, the telephone, picture message, or FaceTime/Skype, would allow couples the opportunity for sexual intimacy that – while not intercourse – is consensual and “together,” though technically masturbatory.

I travel. There have been instances in which temptation has come, and rather than giving into those lusts, I have had the opportunity to redirect them towards my wife and involve her in an act that deals with those desires in a way that is open and which serves the purpose of maintaining my purity. That keeps me from looking at other women, from keeping secrets from her. Having excluded the clear contradictions above, this is one way in which masturbation has been helpful.

The fear in saying that, obviously, is creating opportunity for license in different circumstances, and in those whose convictions do not allow for the same. I would say that the vast majority of what we talk about when we talk about masturbation is accompanied by what is clearly impure. I would even say that the majority of my experiences with masturbation have been impure.

But am I willing to say that masturbation is, definitively, only, always and forever wrong?

I still don’t know. (Tweet This!)

Let the conversation continue.


X3Pure 3o Day Workshop

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