The hidden habit: masturbation

It won’t keep you from having children, make hair grow on your palms, or drain off all your energy. And, it won’t make you crazy!

Ninety-eight percent of men and over one-third of women are or have struggled with this hidden habit, yet very few are willing to discuss it. It’s masturbation.

Occasional masturbation is a part of exploring and experimenting with newly developing sexual drives for young teens.

Research has shown that occasional masturbation causes no ill effects—physically or mentally.

It won’t keep you from having children, make hair grow on your palms, or drain off all your energy. And, it won’t make you crazy! (The mentally ill often masturbate more, because they are mentally ill. They are not mentally ill because they often masturbate.)

Masturbation has become a much larger issue in modern society. Two hundred years ago, a fourteen-year old boy and a twelve-year-old girl could support themselves by farming. In modern society, couples are delaying marriage for educational and financial reasons, and so the age at which people marry has been dramatically delayed.

At the same time, the age of sexual maturity has dropped this century from age eighteen down to around thirteen for girls and fifteen for boys. Masturbation was never an issue when one married before sexual maturity. Today, the time from sexual maturity to marriage has increased to ten or more years.

So, masturbation becomes one way to deal with these trends.

However, there is much confusion, guilt, and insecurity when masturbation becomes a regular practice. As a habit, it often creates feelings of guilt, shame, and sometimes worthlessness. It causes some people to become withdrawn and insecure.

Masturbation, however, loses its humiliating and guilt-producing feelings, when we can discuss our feelings with a trusted adult or counselor. Hidden fears, desires, and temptations cause us the most problems.

Here are some danger signs that masturbation is becoming a problem:

1. Masturbation becomes a substitute for healthy friendships or emotional intimacy with others. If you’re becoming withdrawn from others or feel you don’t need others because of it, you probably need to discuss the problem with a trusted adult or a professional counselor.

2. Masturbation becomes a substitute for intercourse in marriage. Sex is designed to communicate love and intimacy with your spouse. Stimulating yourself doesn’t. In fact, it’s really not sexual stimulation at all, but simply self-stimulation. Licensed marriage counselors are trained to deal with this issue.

3. Masturbation becomes an uncontrollable habit. (Check out Breaking Habits Before They Break You.) If you find yourself masturbating in public places, it’s definitely time for some professional help.

For people of faith, there are additional questions.

What does God say about masturbation? Is it a sin? Unfortunately, the Bible says absolutely nothing about self-stimulation. (It would be much easier to deal with the issue if there was a verse that said, “Thou shalt not” or “Verily, verily, it’s okay.”) So, why doesn’t God say anything about it? Possibly because it was not an issue in ancient times for reasons we’ve already discussed. Possibly because God really doesn’t care whether you occasionally masturbate or not. God’s Word does have a lot to say about our thought life and our moral behavior, so do check that out.

In conclusion, masturbation is not physically or mentally damaging, but if it’s causing sufficient anxiety in your life, do talk to a trained professional. Most of all, remember you’re not alone in this hidden habit.

Excerpted from The Why Files
© Copyright 1987 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.
Photo: Felipe Pelaquin


Author and speaker

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