Like men, women struggle with pornography and masturbation. But unlike men, women feel alone in confronting these sins. Sermons and statistics tend to focus on men in addressing the issue of pornography and masturbation. This article from Desiring God, though dated, explicitly states its intended audience is male. Not much has changed in the decades since it was written, and Christian women are still nervous (and often ashamed) to raise the topic, even among their Christian friends.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household that was tight-lipped about sex. Sure, I was given the obligatory abstinence talk, and I remember my mom questioning me about how far I had gone with my high school boyfriend. But most of what I was taught about the morality of sex came veiled in allusion, and I could sense my parents were just as uncomfortable about the topic as I was.

I don’t blame my parents: who wants to talk to their kids about sex, let alone masturbation? Particularly if that child is a girl. Even as I write this, there’s that familiar seat-squirming discomfort. My parents will certainly read this, and the topic of sex can still be one of mutual embarrassment, even in my 30s.

Yet I press on, because as Christians we need to be marked by our maturity in the ways in which we address the culture around us. Silence on these matters will only ensure future generations are educated by the world instead of the Word. And the world has no squeamishness on issues of sex.

Purpose vs. Consequence

What is God’s purpose for sex? Let me make myself clear that by purpose, I do not mean consequence. Biologically, I never had any misunderstanding as to the result of procreative sex. Sex outside of marriage was dangerous because it could lead to an unwanted pregnancy. As to the purpose of sex? As a teenager, I only knew it was supposed to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. Why? I’d mentally shrug: because the Bible says so?

All sorts of misunderstandings arise when sex is divorced from the primary purpose of procreation. Does anything go within the context of marriage? Are all sexual acts permissible with one’s spouse? Many Christians fall into the trap of believing that sex’s primary purpose is the intimacy and mutual fulfillment of the marriage bed. Yes, marital intimacy is a purpose of sex, but is it God’s primary purpose (Genesis 1:27-28, Malachi 2:15, Psalm 127:3)? Should we divorce sexuality from procreation? From worship?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV

Masturbation as the Worship of Self

Who do we worship in the act of sex? If the primary focus of sex within marriage is the pleasure of our spouse, are we not worshipping that person instead of allowing our bodies to be used as tools of the Creator? Likewise, if the primary focus of masturbation is our own satisfaction then are we not worshipping the self? When we seek to deny God the right to bring forth His image bearers into the world, we are abusing our sexuality−using it to satisfy our own desire apart from God.

Any sexual act that seeks as its first priority to serve the self or our spouse rather than God is pagan in its very nature, the worship of the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:24-32). In the heat of passion, do we forget that we serve the God of creation, the Bringer of Life, the Knitter of our inmost being? The womb is His domain (Psalm 139:13), these bodies His tools. Let us remember this truth in every aspect of our lives−particularly in our sexuality−as it is through these means that God has chosen to continue His act of creation.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2, ESV

Encouragement for Women

  • If you are struggling with pornography or masturbation, find a trusted Christian friend or family member as a confidant and allow her to hold you accountable. Screen accountability programs like Covenant Eyes are great tools for dealing with temptation.
  • Be mindful of entertainment. Popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones are simply not appropriate for Christians. Don’t be fooled. Pornography with a storyline is still pornography.
  • Mothers: talk to your daughters about sex directly. Let’s encourage the next generation to be mature in understanding God’s plan and purpose for sex so they are equipped to face the lies of this world.    
  • As Christian women let us come together in our struggle against sexual temptation and seek the purity of a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:11). Remember that all things, including the defeat of sexual sin, are possible through God (Mark 10:27).

Recommended Reading: The Christian Case Against Contraception by Bryan C. Hodge

Until next time, salutations & selah.

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