Masturbation and Homosexuality
1-4. (a) What is masturbation? (b) Why does the fact that a practice is common not necessarily make it right? (c) Why should we be interested in God’s view on this matter?
ISN’T it remarkable how the bodies of boys and girls develop during adolescence so that they can either father children or give birth to them? Along with this physical transformation of your body, there is usually a change in your attitude toward the opposite sex. An attraction grows, and often boys develop a keen interest in girls, and girls in boys. But, at the same time, you may have a certain wonderment and curiosity about your own rapidly changing body. How should you satisfy this curiosity? Should you experiment with your sex organs? Is there anything wrong with rubbing them in some way until the excitement is climaxed?
2 This practice is called masturbation. It is very common. One authority on the subject says: “Every serious statistical study that we have shows clearly that . . . at least ninety-five per cent of boys and young men between thirteen and twenty-five years of age pass through periods of habitual masturbation of varying lengths.” As for girls, this source says that “forty to fifty per cent are found to actually masturbate.” Some people say that these figures prove “normalcy” and that the “absence of masturbation in a healthy youth is a matter of concern.”
3 Now, what do you think? Do you agree that, because in today’s world masturbation is a very common thing, this makes it a natural, normal function of the body? Lying and stealing are also common today. Yet you wouldn’t say this makes them natural and proper, would you? The “common” cold is quite universal, but this certainly doesn’t mean that you want it, does it? Then what about the claim that masturbation is harmless?
4 From a physical standpoint, the majority of doctors say that occasional masturbation is harmless. Like most psychiatrists, they say that damage comes only if the practicer has feelings of guilt that cause mental and emotional disturbance, these, in turn, producing physical upset. But doctors and psychiatrists are imperfect humans, subject to error, and their views change. There is, though, a source of counsel that young people can turn to that is stable and free from error or misjudgment. That is God’s Word. And if we want, not just longer life, but everlasting life in God’s favor, we should seek his wisdom and counsel. He can do for us and for our happiness what men could never do.
VIEW OF A HIGHER SOURCE
5, 6. (a) How does the counsel at Colossians 3:5 relate to masturbation? (b) Why does the Bible associate this practice with “covetousness” and “greediness”?
5 The real question, then, is, not how much physical harm could result from masturbation, but whether spiritual harm results. True, the words “masturbation” and “self-abuse” do not appear in the Bible. But what do you understand from the inspired counsel of the apostle Paul at Colossians 3:5? To those not wanting to lose God’s approval, he says: “Deaden [Do not excite], therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness.” Unlike fornication, masturbation is something a person may do by himself or herself. But does that keep it from being unclean? Or is it also a giving in to, and being dominated by, “sexual appetite”?
6 Then, too, the apostle writes of those who “gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:19) In his letter to the Colossians, quoted in the previous paragraph, Paul mentioned “covetousness,” and in this text, “greediness.” Really, masturbation expresses both of these undesirable qualities. How? Well, it is an expression of desiring something that does not rightly belong to one. God has provided marriage as the arrangement in which to satisfy sexual desires. But the person who practices masturbation is, in effect, trying to obtain that satisfaction without paying the price. The price is the assuming and shouldering of the responsibilities that go along with marriage. In this connection note that, when the apostle counseled persons who were ‘inflamed with passion,’ he did not tell them to seek relief through masturbation, but through God’s provision of marriage.—1 Corinthians 7:2, 9.
7, 8. (a) If masturbation becomes a habit, how can it affect one’s prospects of a happy marriage? (b) Why would it be a mistake to view masturbation as a means to avoid serious violation of God’s law?
7 Actually, masturbation may endanger your future happiness in marriage. If a person is used to satisfying his or her passions through masturbation, this develops the habit of thinking only of one’s own pleasure and satisfaction. But in marriage there is need, especially on the part of the man, to show concern for the other person’s pleasure and satisfaction as well. Otherwise, marital relations deteriorate and there is distress and disillusionment. This very situation—husbands thinking of their own satisfaction and disregarding their wives’ needs—is one of the greatest problems in marriage. Much of it stems from a premarital masturbation habit.
8 “But,” some persons might ask, “what if one is too young to make marriage advisable? While postponing marriage, would not masturbation protect one against some worse violation of God’s law, such as fornication or homosexuality?” It might seem so. But is that sound reasoning? No. Masturbation weakens a healthy conscience and love for what is right, the very things that can protect one against such practices. Like drug addiction, masturbation can become something that one resorts to every time he or she feels tension of any kind and lacks the will to face up to and overcome the problems causing such tension. So it can produce a vicious cycle, eventually making a person its slave. But God says we should control our bodies, not let them control us.
9-13. (a) How does masturbation sometimes make one vulnerable to homosexual practices? Is anyone born a homosexual? (b) How does God view such practices? (c) Is it possible to break free from them? (Romans 1:24-27; Leviticus 18:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
9 Weakly giving in to sexual desires by masturbation will certainly not give you strength when faced with a situation tempting you to commit fornication—or even homosexuality. Just the opposite, it cultivates wrong thinking and wrong desire. In fact, masturbation can lead into homosexuality. In such instances the person, not satisfied with his lonely sexual activity, seeks a partner for mutual sex play.
10 This happens much more frequently than you may realize. Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned. And often a person gets started when very young by playing with another’s sexual parts, and then engaging in homosexual acts. One young man relates:
11 “When I was young, I had very little parental guidance. I was allowed to go my own way, and do my ‘own thing.’ It was when I was only about eight years old that my older cousins introduced me to homosexual acts. I found these pleasurable, and so continued the practice with them and later with others. Soon it was almost a daily activity. At first I had no realization of doing anything wrong. My parents had not given me any instruction regarding moral conduct, and I never confided in them.
12 “We then lived in a Central American country. Later we moved to New York city, where I finished high school. I also continued homosexual practices. The schools and city are filled with homosexuals, so there were plenty of opportunities. As I grew older I realized that what I was doing was unnatural, and was not right. But I continued because I wanted to. These sex acts had become very enticing to me.”
13 The youth was “hooked” on the practices, and it was only after great effort that he was able to overcome them. What motivated him to change? It was a desire to please Jehovah God. When he understood that God views homosexual acts as “unnatural,” and that He totally disapproves of them, the young man fought these practices until he had conquered them. God’s Word is very clear on this matter, saying: “Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion . . . will possess the kingdom of God.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, The New English Bible.
OVERCOMING WITH SELF-CONTROL
14-16. (a) What can be done to keep sexual desires subdued? (Philippians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) (b) If you feel sexual passion building up, what can you do to get relief? (Psalm 1:1, 2; 63:6, 7)
14 What you think about has a lot to do with the way you feel and the things you do. So what do you really want? Do you want to feel disturbed by sexual desire most of the time, habitually masturbating, and perhaps even slipping into homosexual practices? This can happen if you let your mind dwell on sexual matters. But if you want to keep such sexual urge from cutting into your enjoyment of life and your really accomplishing worthwhile things, then exercise self-control and turn your mind to other matters.
15 When pictures, reading matter or other things containing sexually stimulating material come your way, do not weakly give in. If you let your mind dwell on such things or engage in conversation that revolves around them, you will pay the consequences in feeling upset and in the building up of pressure within yourself. That is because the longer you look at or talk about such things the deeper your heart becomes involved. And your heart is a major factor in moving you to act.
16 But what if, under even ordinary circumstances, you feel passion building up within you? How can you find relief? Not by resorting to masturbation, but by getting your mind, heart and body onto another track. You can do some work, engage in physical exercise, play a game or go for a walk. It is good to find someone to talk to who has your respect, even call someone like that on the phone if necessary. Reading—even aloud—the Bible or publications explaining the Bible is one of the finest helps. And, above all, take the problem to your heavenly Father, Jehovah God, in prayer.
17-20. (a) How might adjustments in one’s habits in relation to sleep, eating and hygiene be helpful? (b) Even if a person is having a hard struggle to do what is right, why should he not feel that his situation is hopeless? (Psalm 103:13, 14)
17 There are, of course, many additional things of a simple and sensible nature that one can do to help to avoid or reduce sexual tension. Being with others—provided, of course, that they are wholesome persons—is a protection. If you sleep in a room alone and you find that you seem to feel special stress in this direction at night, you may be able to arrange matters to share a room with another member of your family. Also, you may find it helpful to sleep on your side rather than on your back or face down.
18 Another thing that may be helpful is to see to it that your clothing does not unnecessarily cause friction with the sexual organs. Before retiring, try to see that what you read or talk about has a calming effect rather than the opposite. So, too, with any eating that you do at this time. Some have even found that if they limit the amount of food and drink they consume before retiring they sleep more soundly and are not so inclined to be aroused sexually. And especially important is good masculine or feminine hygiene. Lack of cleanliness can produce irritation of the genital organs and pull one’s attention in that direction. You can inquire of your parents for information on such matters of personal hygiene.
19 Proper hygiene calls for certain handling of the sex organs, and one might feel that this would be a temptation to misuse them. But because your motive is right—with the aim of avoiding sexual tension—you may well find that such care will instead help you to take a more healthful view toward these organs. You will appreciate that they were never meant to ‘take you over’ and rule your whole life.
20 If you are now fighting the practice of masturbation, remember: You are certainly not the first or the only one who has faced this problem. Even though you find yourself having a hard struggle to break a masturbation habit, never feel that Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ have given up on you. If you sincerely keep working to overcome it, they will kindly and patiently help you to build up the needed strength so that you come off victorious.
[Blurb on page 39]
Are homosexuals born that way, or is their behavior learned?
[Picture on page 41]
Does what you read matter?