Sex addiction, pornography and masturbation bind the lives of many. What does the Bible say about this?
Below, we will discuss sex addiction. The idea is to discuss the most important elements such as images, pornography, and masturbation. Through them we will try to study what this addiction is like, and what life is like for people who fill their time with thinking about these things and who are directed by these thoughts. Also, there is a spiritual aspect to this topic that we will consider.
Daydreams are very ordinary for most people. It is certainly true that almost everyone has them, but a person addicted to sex is different in that daydreams or fantasies play a big part in their normal lives. They see fantasies and images connected to sex all the time, either based on old experiences or on future hopes. Sex addicts can think and dream about having sex with persons they have met, with porn magazine lovers, or with actors in porn films, all of which lead to the same gratification. They do not always even need pornographic material, but they can form these images in quite ordinary situations, in which other people do not see anything provocative. Very minor events can spark their imagination, often leading to masturbation. In addition, the sexual interest of some people can be directed only at certain parts of the body, such as breasts and legs, and these people especially dream of touching these parts. There are many variations.
The next passage describes this situation. It shows how images and daydreams lead the life of a person addicted in sex. He or she is searching for a perfect image and experience to get satisfaction that he or she probably experienced when younger. In addition, there is a powerful addiction, which is more and more difficult to satisfy. Things that formerly gave pleasure, do not offer a similar experience any more. As a result of this, the person is often also dissatisfied with the sex life in their marriage. When no quantity of satisfaction is enough for him or her, it will naturally make an impact on the relationship between the spouses:
My new interest enabled that I was able to cause myself physical pleasure whenever I wanted. Now, I had the situation perfectly under control. In my imagination, I chose a girl or girls. As I was in the upper level of comprehensive school, I thought more about girls than school work, and I fixed my attention also to female teachers. They were, actually, closer to the pornographic magazines, as comes to both their age and body. Even though I had some clumsy experimentations with sex already as a young boy, I must say honestly that they were a disappointment compared to my fantasy world. Especially when the commonly accepted porn magazines began to be more and more daring.
(…) At the age of sixteen, I met a girl who became my wife. She had all those physical characteristics I had learnt to admire. (…) Even though we enjoyed love-making almost every day when I was sixteen, my appetite was more and more difficult to satisfy. After having been married for a few years, I began to be addicted to very common spontaneous and exciting experiences appearing in porn magazines. When my desires were not satisfied, I turned to films in addition to magazines. My mind was so full of these images that even then, as I had sex with my wife, I had images of other women in my thoughts.
After some time, I could be found looking at porn in places, in which it was possible to rent a private room, I looked at pictures and took part in sex acts I could never experience at home. I began to feel dissatisfaction at home, I pressed my wife either to grow sexually with me or to accept that I would leave her. (…) The images impressed on my mind in my childhood were so powerful that I searched out old magazines and paid a top price for some issues, just to get the same experiences as a child. In addition to demanding huge sexual performances from my wife, I had also hundreds of men’s magazine lovers to satisfy me and I also regularly visited a video store to maintain my interest. But nothing, nothing could satisfy me sexually. (1)
Pornography, which is especially the problem of men, is the second main factor in the life of a sex addict. This can mean porn magazines, films or material on the Internet that is used to seek for satisfaction. By them people seek for satisfaction. Also the man in the story above described how he had hundreds of lovers from porn magazines and how he rented films, another activity often found in people who are sex addicts. They spend their time and perhaps also their money on pornographic material so that they will get a momentary relief. The next quotation is a good example of this:
Some time ago, I tried to help a woman whose husband was addicted to porn. I asked the woman to chart the behavior of her husband so that we could define his problems more closely. The woman brought to me a telephone bill of over a thousand Finnish marks. We realised that the man made 20–30 calls to a porn telephone every evening. The man also had a lot of porn magazines and films. The man was an addict and his addiction had destroyed the marriage of this couple. (2)
One problem with pornography is that it does not bring us long-lasting satisfaction. These magazines or films offer a kind of promise that you will find the erotic picture you have always been looking and longing for, but the satisfaction does not last for long. As time goes by, many experience the same as alcoholics and drug addicts: they need more and more powerful stimulation in order to experience the same result as before, because the amount of pleasure diminishes.
Also, the man in the story before described how he got old magazines in order to get the same experiences as he had when he was younger. This proves how we can get used to things, and thus they will no longer feel the same. Instead, the tolerance and addiction can grow and grow, but we will feel more empty all the time. This happens with almost everything that we experience daily: we do not feel the same as before. Therefore, the sex of older people who have practiced it for decades is usually not as passionate as when they were younger:
This man wrote, “I am disabled by my emotional life. I have been disabled by my addiction to porn. It paralyses my spiritual life, it distorts my view of the world, it warps my relations with people, it causes damage in my emotional life, it leaves me empty and destroys all possibility that God could use me, and I can’t stop. (…) Lust wears me out and doesn’t satisfy me anymore. Porn only adds up to the problem. It promises everything, but doesn’t give anything and it seems that I can’t stop. (3)
Is masturbation a sin? Masturbation, which means stimulating of one’s genitals, is a very common phenomenon in the life of many people. It has been estimated that more than 80% of people practice it during their life, boys little more often than girls. It is also one activity of sex addicts. The person may be addicted to masturbation in the same way as to pornography, and the person may use it to get into the right mood. Usually, what we look at and read will affect our behavior, and therefore, pornographic material can drive us to masturbation:
My whole masturbation problem comes basically from what I put into my mind. I used to look at television programs having loose morals, and in some cases programs of cable television showing naked people. These kinds of scenes are so shocking that they stay in my mind. They welled out in my mind again and gave me the spiritual fuel I needed to begin masturbating.” (4)
Masturbation is also a behavior that becomes addictive, and addicts may find it very difficult to break free. It can be as strong an addiction as that of an alcoholic or drug addict. Their need to masturbate may be so strong and the pressure so intolerable that they cannot keep themselves in check. They can think right after masturbation that they will never do it again, and perhaps not feel the need to do so for a few days, but little by little, lust creeps back into them and begins to control their thoughts again. As a result of this, they give in. Often, this is caused by frustration, depression, and restlessness. These can lead to masturbation in order to feel a momentary relief from these negative feelings:
I have tried everything, such as concentrating more on my studies. But after a few hours, the pressure comes again, and I give in to get rid of that feeling. I realized that I’m especially liable to given in to the temptation after a test, when I’m fully exhausted and glad that it’s over, or as I told you before, when I get stuck with some problem in my homework and am frustrated.
(…) All these pressures from the outside and internal feelings cause a tension I try to ease with masturbation. In my life, masturbation always begins with depression, never with happiness. But up until now, I have dealt with this problem only superficially. (5)
What about masturbation in the light of the Word? Is it a sin and what does the Bible teach us about it?
There seems to be no specific mention of masturbation found in the Bible. We do find, though, many mentions in the Bible about purity of mind, the will of God, and preventing lust from ruling our minds. Since people almost unavoidably see pictures in their mind when masturbating they are clearly lust, which is the initial stage before the act itself. Many feel judged and dirty after masturbation because of these images. They emphasize our deficiency and imperfection, and make us feel that we cannot or do not want to control our own thoughts:
- (Matt 5:28) But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
- (James 1:14,15) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
- (Rom 6:12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
- (Luke 8:14) And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Sexual relationships. Sexuality itself is not a bad thing. On the contrary, even in the book of Genesis we learn that, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18) and that a married couple experiences closeness. The sexual relationship between a husband and a wife is a good thing and they are obligated to fulfill the sexual needs of each other. It is good to see this matter in the right light and to understand that the free expression of oneself in the marriage bed is not wrong, but it should be one part of the relationship:
- (1 Cor 7:1-5) Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband.
4 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife.
5 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
- (Hebr 13:4) Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Instead, in the lives of some sex addicts, they often go to wrong places because of their lust; they resort to sex outside the marriage. Some people may seek sex companions on the Internet, or pay for sex, or participate in sexual experiments between unmarried persons, which they often justify by saying, “There can’t be anything wrong if we love each other.” Through these, they try to fulfill their life and seek fast pleasure, concentrating only on the moment. The Prodigal Son in Jesus’ allegory, who lived wildly, is a good example of this kind of an attitude:
- (Luke 15:11-14) And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided to them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
But it is good to recognize that our actions are important. If we choose an indecent way of life and concentrate on superficial and generally only short-term pleasures, we certainly are not acting wisely. Jesus said very clearly that, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26), and therefore, it is worthwhile to think about how we are investing our life: are we living for only this moment or for the future? If we study these matters in the right light, thinking about eternity, the pleasure we take from these activities is short-lived and insignificant. It is no reward for losing the gift of eternal life offered by God. Therefore, you should understand the verses below and think about things from a long-term perspective:
- (Rev 21:5-7) And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
NEW LIFE. When a sexual sin, as any other sin, separates us from God, the next question is: how can we be forgiven for our sins and get a new life from God? What does the Bible teach about receiving eternal life and do people like us who have lived deep in sin, immorality, homosexuality, or other sins have any hope?
We need only turn to God and confess our sins to Him. Admit to Him that we have walked far away from Him, and tell Him that now we want to turn to Him so that His will would come true in our life. The Bible teaches us that if we do this, we will get God’s forgiveness for all our sins. This applies to all sinners -- prostitutes, criminals, pornographers -- EVERYONE. We receive forgiveness for our sins through Jesus Christ. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives us and adopts us saying, “My dear child.” So allow this good to come true in your life so that you do not regret your wrong choices later:
- (Luke 15:13,17-20) And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you,
19 And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.“
- (Isa 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
- (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- (Acts 13:38) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins
To accept Jesus and receive forgiveness, you can pray:
Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.
under grace. Nowadays, there are many people who are not very careful about the way they live. They think that under grace, they can do almost anything they wish. They may think, “God will forgive me if I repent later,” but they do not even want to think about changing their ways of life. They pay no attention to what Paul wrote, “Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived…” (1 Cor 6:9,10). In the same way, Jesus said the following about disobedience and its opposite:
- (Matt 7:23) And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
- (John 14:15) If you love me, keep my commandments.
But what about a person who wants to fulfill the will of God and give up sinning but who is struggling with his or her sexuality and sometimes yields to the temptation of masturbation, for example? Does the Bible have anything to say about this? How can these people be freed?
Our answers are found in the grace of God. If you personally have received Jesus Christ into your life and want to follow Him, you are pardoned, under grace and the object of God’s love. This will be true even if you have fallen. Our falls and imperfection cannot prevent us from being under grace and saved all the time, as the next verses indicate. It is also good to understand that the same God, who has given us His mercy, is mighty to free us from all wrong addictions and sins:
- (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- (Rom 5:1,2) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
- (Phil 1:7) Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.
- (1 Peter 2:10) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
- (1 Peter 5:12) By Silvanus, a faithful brother to you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand.
1. Bill Hybels, Kristityt seksihullussa kulttuurissa (Christians in a Sex Crazed Culture), p. 98-100
2. Same, p. 105
3. Same, p. 104
4. Nuoret kysyvät – käytännöllisiä vastauksia, p. 200, Jehovah’s witnesses
5. Ingrid and Walter Trobish, Se tuntuu niin ihanalta (Mein schönes Gefuhl), p. 21, 77
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!