Christians usually take pride in their opposition to the sexual objectification and exploitation of women… but most Christians are completely unaware that they have been practicing and promoting the very thing they claim to oppose. Rather than recognizing the ways they are doing so, they have often codified sexual objectification into their rules and expectations for Christian thinking and conduct.
Here are five ways Christians sexually objectify women… and they just might surprise you:
Exactly why do we require women to cover this or that body part? Because those body parts are “sexual,” Right? That perception is sexually objectifying. Women are not a collection of “parts”—some sexual and some not—they are whole persons. As soon as we legislate that one body part must be treated “sexually,” we are sexually objectifying the whole woman.
#2 — The “Men Are Visual” Myth
Contrary to what we’ve all been told, God did NOT make men as primarily “visual” in their sexual interest and arousal (see this article). What we observe in men today is entirely conditioned behavior. It is our culture’s expectation that every man will treat the simple sight of a woman’s body as a sexual event and respond sexually, so that’s what they do. This false yet pervasive conditioning has normalized the sexual objectification of women, weaving it into our cultural fabric and, sadly, into Christian teaching and practice. The widespread adoption of visual stimulus for sexual arousal has paved a highway for the porn industry to explode, and has resulted in rampant sexual bondage even among those who desire to live a life pleasing to God.
#3 — Every Man’s Battle
Because the church so completely embraced #2 above, a new book and strategy invaded the Christian world a few years back… claiming that it could help men overcome sexual bondage. The core strategy from Every Man’s Battle tells men that they must constantly guard against any sight—in person or just an image—which might trigger lust. When it happens, they are instructed to “bounce their eyes” away from the sight so as to keep their heart pure. This means that every woman or image they see must be evaluated for its impact on that man sexually! If a man is sexually evaluating every woman he sees, he is most definitely sexually objectifying them.
#4 — A Wife’s “Sexy” Lingerie
Every wife longs to feel beautiful, attractive, and desirable to her husband. So, the use of seductive lingerie might seem like a good idea—and a lot of fun—to capitalize on the conditioned “visual” response in her husband as a part of sex play. However, I would suggest that by doing so, she is sexually objectifying her own body and serving to further reinforce the visual response in her husband to certain body parts of a woman. Much better and healthier would be to cultivate a relationally-based sexual arousal and fulfillment… which will serve to keep the couple’s sex life vibrant into their twilight years (see The Renewed View of the Body).
Of all the places where the God-given usage for breasts can be most openly expressed and observed, the church should be at the top of the list. Instead, however, churches often build “Cry rooms” so that nursing mothers can feed their babies without risking the exposure of their breasts to the men and boys in attendance. The church is treating breasts as if the perpetuation of their sexual objectification is more important than allowing the God-designed beauty of their maternal purpose to be seen. The inescapable message to men and women is that breasts are to be treated sexually… even when a mother is nursing.
If the church really wishes to impact society for truth and stand against the sexual objectification of women, then the people of God first need to take a hard look at their own core beliefs about the meaning of our physical embodiment as humans… male and female… in God’s image. We need to root out ways that we have embraced the false sexualized and pornographic view of the body, and start treating the human body with dignity and in harmony with truth.
— David Martin
Referenced in the image above:
Is Women’s Modesty the New Legalism Among Christians?
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A Delicate Issue…
This is going to be a hard blog post to write… but as hard as it might be, it is even more needful.
Gender is a core aspect of our individual identity as human persons. We must get it right! Each and every one of us needs to know and understand our own gender in order to have an accurate view of ourselves! But gender has been anything but clear in our culture lately.
And with the public declaration of Bruce Jenner that we should now call him/her “Caitlyn Jenner,” the question of gender right out there for us all to see.
How is gender determined anyway? And how does the answer to that question inform our effort to answer the question in the title of this post?
We can’t determine answers to the gender-assignment question until we define gender itself. But here’s where the culture has gone astray. So let me define it directly:
Throughout all the natural world and for every sort of gendered creature…
Gender is determined by one thing and one thing alone… Reproductive Function.
That statement is scientifically incontrovertible. Any attempt to define it some other way—just for humans—is simply unscientific… and wrong.
We never refer to dogs as “gay” or cats as “trans-gender.” Why? Because we don’t query them for their “preferences” or “feelings” when we determine their gender… we look to their physical attributes and discern their reproductive function. And we are not wrong.
Bruce Jenner—when born—was announced to the world with “It’s a BOY!”
Did the doctors make a mistake that day? Should they have instead declared (as Bruce does now), “It’s a GIRL… albeit with a penis and scrotum!”
No, when Bruce was born, he was a boy. They got is right. And they got it right because the only factor utilized for making a gender declaration that day was the very clear evidence of his future reproductive function; he had a penis… he was a boy.
“What If I Don’t FEEL Like a Boy?”
Sugar and spice and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.
What if a little boy is not made of “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”? What if that boy is more “nice” like “sugar and spice”? What then?
The old nursery rhyme notwithstanding, these things are still not the determiner of gender.
Sometimes a man doesn’t feel like a typical man. Sometimes a woman doesn’t feel like a typical woman.
That’s a reality. I acknowledge that! But what does it mean?
I want to offer an answer to that question that I’ve never heard the church or anyone else offer. Yet, I suggest it is rooted firmly in the Scriptures.
The Image of God
It goes all the way back to “The Beginning.” Genesis 1:26-27… “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
There we see not only the sum total of valid gender labels, but we also see that God created both genders “in His Own Image” and “likeness.” Evidently, being “like God” wasn’t something that one gender alone was sufficient to portray, so God created two genders.
This means that both men and women received many of their qualities from their “likeness” to God. It then follows that what we might call “masculine” is derived from our likeness to God. Likewise, all that we might call “feminine” finds its source in God as well.
But you know what? The bible never defines the measures of “masculinity” nor “femininity.” We are all simply declared to be “in His image and likeness.” We might suggest that a particular attribute is “typical” of men, or “typical” of women, but no attribute is absolute. We’ve all known sensitive and nurturing men, and we’ve all known strong and assertive women.
Every last one of us is invested with an array of attributes drawn from the character of God Himself. So when a man is sensitive, he’s still like God. When a woman is strong, she’s still like God. Gender is unaffected.
Gender by Stereotype??
We, as a culture, have largely laid aside the real measure of gender, preferring instead to point to things that are stereotypically (but subjectively) “male” or “female.”
Why have we done this? Why have we resorted to stereotypes to define gender? Could it not be that by labeling feelings and preferences and other attributes as “male” or “female” we have created a climate that feeds the sort of confusion of gender that we see expressed in our world today?
Shouldn’t we rather stick with what the doctors said on the day of our birth, and simply accept whatever mixture of the divine likeness that God decided to implant in that little baby’s being?
I suggest to you that within the ranks of males we need men who are sensitive, nurturing, and who possess other feminine-labeled attributes. Among the ranks of females we need women who are physically strong, mentally assertive, and who possess other masculine-labeled attributes. Thankfully, that’s exactly what God has done within the human race!
The Answer to Gender Confusion
So… back to the question raised in the title of this blog post… “Is Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner Now a Woman?”
The answer is a very obvious “No.” Bruce has never been a woman. He’s not a woman now, and he never will be a woman. Even his DNA will tell the entire world that he’s a man.
But Bruce most likely is not your stereotypical guy… evidently, he’s always identified with the attributes/feelings/preferences that we have culturally—and in some measure, arbitrarily—assigned to the female gender.
Honestly… THAT’S OK!!
I can and will accept and even celebrate any man who is so wired! I will personally support him in his unique rendition of God’s likeness, especially in this culture of stereotype-based gender assignment!
That’s the right way to treat someone who’s wired differently than I am… it is NOT right to redefine his gender!
I really feel bad that Bruce has now fallen victim to the notion that his gender identity is based upon his feelings. I grieve that any man or woman feels so divergent from our culture’s definition of their assigned gender that they would believe that the only solution to their internal conflict is to identify with the opposite gender… or one of the dozens of other gender labels that have been invented lately.
Male and Female He Created Them.
There are only two genders. That’s the final word from our Creator.
And He established no master list of “masculine” or “feminine” attributes… for they all reflect God’s likeness. There are simply too many attributes “like God” to be contained in a single gender. God mixes and matches them uniquely in every single person.
Let’s celebrate the God-given and creative diversity found in our unique sets of attributes… independent of gender.
And let’s keep calling men “men”, and women “women.”
— Pastor David Martin
For an outstanding statement from a woman who didn’t fit the stereotypes…
Read: I Wished I Had Been Born a Boy
We at MCAG recently received a fabulous testimony from a young man who’s life has been transformed by the truth we share at MCAG. Because of the very personal nature of some of his story, he has requested to share his story anonymously. Praise God for the life change and healing that has come to this young man and his wife!
A Word of Thanks to MCAG
To all the pastors and the team at MCAG, I want to say thank you. It was just over a year ago that I discovered your site, and what I learned there opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing the human body. So I want to say thank you for having the courage to speak the truth even when it is difficult and can get you ostracized. Thank you for the time spent diligently explaining and expounding the Word of God. The culture, and all too often the church, seem to think that those who speak of the goodness of the body are hiding some secret perversion, though the truth is precisely the opposite. But you spoke truth in spite of what what people might think, and for that I am so thankful. By God’s grace I will also spread the same truth, because it is a message that our churches and our culture desperately need to hear.
Freedom from Porn’s Allure
To all who may be visiting this site, I want to share a bit of how it has helped me. What this site says about being free from the allure of porn has proven true for me. I wanted to wait a year before writing this because everything else I’ve tried in my battle against pornography had worn off after a year (or less), leaving me feeling like more of a failure. But something really is different this time. But I also want to say the impact of this site has actually gone way beyond freedom from allure of pornography. Here is my story. (This is extremely personal, so it needs to stay anonymous.)
I’m in my late 20’s, and have been married to a lovely, intelligent and compassionate woman for the better part of a decade. We had both been raised in good Christian homes. Of course, like most of our generation, we grew up believing that our bodies and sexuality were somehow shameful. Bodies needed to be covered, and conversations about sexuality were basically limited to “don’t do it”. Also like most men of my generation, I found internet pornography during my teen years and it became an ongoing battle and source of guilt. Other than my struggle with pornography, I avoided all the behaviors which our evangelical culture said made us “impure”, and I made it to marriage with my “purity” intact.
Some time before I met her, my future wife had been sexually assaulted by a man with a severe pornography addiction. She was in counseling and on the path toward healing by the time that I came into her life, but there were still significant struggles for us. Yet, through it all, God made it abundantly clear to me that she was the one He had for me. Because of my wife’s experience, I came to hate pornography and all the abuse and evil towards women that it represented and promoted. But the allure was still there, and I was always afraid that one day I was going to go back to it. I relied on internet filters and had no web browser on my smartphone.
Was I Like a Predator?
I had always been told—by both the culture and the church—that men are primarily visual (meaning that what we see controls our sexual response). Because I had been told that men were visual, I had believed that the effects of time, weight gain, or childbirth on my wife’s body could eventually diminish my attraction for her. She had believed that too. Despite my reassurances, she lived with a fear that someday she wouldn’t be pretty enough to hold my attention. Several years ago she gained some extra weight due to a medication and health problems. It seemed odd to me at the time, but my attraction to her didn’t decrease (I know now it’s because we have a loving relationship). However, she really believed that her worth as a woman was tied up in how she looked, and she sometimes felt she no longer deserved to be loved.
I wanted to be nothing like the man who had abused my wife. The way I acted towards her was totally different, yet I noticed there were far too many similarities in the way that I thought about her body. Sometimes when she changed in front of me I would look at her body with what I thought was “healthy” male sexual attraction, and she would say to me “stop! you’re looking at me like a predator!” I was devastated, but I didn’t know what else to do. Wasn’t just seeing her body supposed to be a sexual turn-on for me? I thought that if I didn’t have some sexual response every time I saw her naked, that meant that there was something wrong with her body—or with me. But I knew she was right that there was something subtlety predatory about how I viewed her and her body. She knew how the predator had looked at her, and I surely wanted to be nothing like that! I didn’t know the answer, but I increasingly came to believe that male sexuality—as I had been led to understand it—was deeply incompatible with how a Christian man was supposed to selflessly love his wife.
So with all those interwoven frustrations and confusion, I asked God to change something. I didn’t know what needed to change, I just knew things couldn’t work the way they were then.
God’s Unexpected Answer
God provided an answer in an unexpected place. I was browsing through Podcasts on iTunes, and came across a naturist audio podcast. I admit my initial motives were less than pure, but out of curiosity I listened to one episode. In that podcast I heard an idea that rocked my world: there is such a thing as non-sexual nudity. I knew intuitively that if that statement were true, it would open a door to the answer I was looking for. But I also thought that idea was deeply incompatible with the Bible. I mean, wasn’t nakedness a bad thing in the Bible? Wasn’t a person’s naked body only supposed to be seen by their own spouse because it would tempt all others to sin?
I set out to research this contradiction, and in the search, I found MyChainsAreGone.org. Their arguments presented in the teaching there were logically, exegetically, and theologically sound, yet I had never heard anything like it before. The freedom they spoke of sounded too good to be true, but I knew that if they were right about the body, it changed everything. I studied the Bible very carefully, asked lots of questions, and read a lot of other sources on theology and history. Finally I decided that they were right; God never intended the simple sight of the human form to be a source of sexual temptation. I can’t even express to you how much joy and freedom I have found with this discovery!
The truth on the page The Renewed View was probably the most profound to me personally. What a relief to learn that God intended men to be primarily relational in our sexuality. The “men are visual” idea is actually a very cruel lie, despite the fact that so many well-intentioned Christians have repeated it. It leaves women with fear that each new pound or stretch mark makes them less lovable. It leaves men with a sexual response held captive by how much skin they see, and disconnected from the selfless agape love that should be at the center of how husbands relate to their wives. If men are visual, the way I was taught, we don’t control our sexual response, and thus don’t really own our sexuality. And we cannot truly give what we don’t own. Yet sexuality, as designed by God, is all about giving. So I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the “men are visual” lie is actually aimed straight at the heart of God’s plan for human sexuality.
My Marriage is Transformed
I can honestly say that things are really different for my wife and me in regard to our relationship and sexuality. We’ve stopped worrying about what we can’t control (i.e. the effects of time on her body), and started focusing on the things we can control: our relationship and love for one another. We’ve both embraced the truth that nudity is not necessarily sexual, and that has given us freedom for a deeper and more genuine love. She will tell you that there is a profound difference in the way I look at her now. She feels much more confident about her body, and knows that her value to me as a woman isn’t tied up in some arbitrary standard for her appearance. The allure of pornography really is gone in my life, and that battle has changed in a way that it never had my entire life.
I think this quote from the page The Right Battle summed it up well:
Gentlemen, stop fighting the beauty of women. Ladies, stop fighting the attractiveness of men. Start fighting your lustful responses.
Learning that the body was made in the Image of God was a massive step toward my freedom. But it also showed me that my own heart was not as pure as I had thought. You see, I had thought that the problem was outside of me, but God showed me the problem was within me. I had thought that I just needed to change my circumstances, but God wanted to change my heart. I had thought purity was simply a matter of avoiding certain sins, but God showed me true purity was actually about learning to see His creation through His eyes. God showed me that my own selfishness and lust ran far deeper than I had realized, but that his transforming grace runs deeper still.
If I could sum up what I’ve learned over the past year, it is this:
Lust takes, love gives. Lust sees another person as means to satisfy ourselves, love earnestly desires what is best for another.
I’ve spent the past year studying what the Bible has to say about the body and sexuality, and what I’ve found is both beautiful and profound. There is more—so much more. I encourage everyone to listen to Pastor David Martin’s talk on The Incarnation – Scene One. MCAG is just an appetizer for what the Bible has to offer in this regard. So my encouragement to all who read this is first to rest in the purity that is accounted to us by faith in Christ. Then learn to live out that purity by embracing truth. Learn truth by studying the Bible, thinking hard, and asking the hard questions… but most of all, through prayer. One of my personal favorite prayers is that of the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43:
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me… Lord, I want to see.”
We welcome readers’ comments on our site and blog articles… even if they don’t agree.
We recently received a comment on the articles about masturbation. I felt like the comment was well written and reflected a perspective that is perhaps very common among a lot of Christians. Consequently, I also thought that it deserved more exposure than just a reader comment buried in the comments on a blog article. It also deserved an honest response.
We at MCAG are not the final arbiters of truth regarding all things sexual, and certainly, we are not the measures of moral absolutes as it pertains to sexual behavior. So, I urge our readers to examine everything we say—and everything they themselves believe—in the light of God’s Word, which is the measure of moral absolutes and the final arbiter of truth.
That said, let me quote the reader’s comment in full:
Ruth’s comment on FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 4)
I’ve read a few of the articles and find them interesting and hopeful. I do have a different opinion on the topic of masturbation. Masturbation is the ultimate form of single sex. I think instead of searching for scripture that speaks to masturbating (of which one verse has been linked to the subject-seminal emissions which doesn’t mean masturbation has taken place) that we should ask, “What is the purpose of sex that God has designed for us?” There are well defined verses in the bible that say sex is designed for man and woman to enjoy in marriage. To become one…not to have sex as one person. I think the reason that there isn’t a verse speaking to masturbation is because sex wasn’t designed to be single sex. Masturbation doesn’t have a purpose to bring God glory. I think we are foolish to think that we can masturbate and ‘in moderation.’ Whatever moderation means regarding masturbation…that’s a tricky one to define and confusing. And maybe dangerous for those who’ve struggled with lust in the past and those who have yet to struggle with lust.
I’ve learned a lot about sex addiction because my husband has struggled with it. In my own research, I’ve read many articles which link the orgasm’s release of dopamine to creating an attachment with whatever is occurring at that moment. It’s why the addiction progressively worsens because each time one masturbates to porn, an attachment is made to something inanimate. With addiction, the porn searches become more..adventurous, dirtier and each time it takes something just a little more over the top to get that same excitement. Porn rewires your brain circuits to be stimulated to porn, women’s body parts, and eventually, your wife isn’t as attractive anymore, not as exciting as the girls in print or video. Women become objects. My point is this: if you can suggest that one can masturbate without lust, what thoughts are you letting the dopamine attach to? And, isn’t it dangerous? IMHO, it’s like telling a child to play with fire unsupervised. You can play with it, you may or may not get burned today…
Lastly, I just want to say how disappointed I am to read the suggestion above to women to masturbate so she would be “more fulfilled in her sexual union with her husband when she marries.” This statement suggests that orgasm is the ultimate goal of sex when it’s not. Intimacy is the goal. And I think, that a man and woman, in marriage, figuring out each other’s bodies, communicating them to one another, learning together in their whole lifetime, is exciting enough. In fact, to suggest that the woman should figure out her body so she can be satisfied on her honeymoon steals the gift of herself away from God and her husband.
My two cents…
First of all, Ruth, let me thank you for a respectful and well-articulated statement.
Before I respond to specific statements in your comments, let me reiterate some very important principles that I try to allow to guide my thinking on this—or any—topic.
- God’s Word is authoritative.
- By this I mean that I believe that where the Bible speaks on moral issues, it speaks the mind of God, with the totality of divine authority.
- I also mean that I am not willing to hold or promote moral standards that I cannot derive from the Scripture’s teaching. If God declined to include them, I won’t add them.
- Man-made Rules are not helpful towards true righteousness.
- Col. 2:20-23 makes it absolutely clear that any man-made religious/behavior rule will fail to accomplish the moral purity it has been established to promote—no matter how well-intentioned.
- Man-made Rules usually have the “appearance of wisdom” and boil down to “severe treatment of the body” (also Col. 2:20-23). Despite the apparent “wisdom,” the rules are still false.
- Consequently, we should never create–or bow to–Man-made Rules for righteousness.
- Rather, we should be on the alert for them and actively reject them.
I cannot emphasize these points enough. I firmly believe that such man-made rules are not only ineffective towards their intended result, but actually make our bondage greater. The reason for this is two-fold:
- First, when we expend our energy following a command that God never gave us, we are failing to apply our energy to that which really is “God’s rule.”
- Secondly, when we submit to something which is actually false (i.e. not from God), we are actually submitting to the author of falsehood… which leads inevitably to more bondage.
With regard to the current topic, when a young man believes that God forbids masturbation, he will focus much of his effort on avoiding masturbation—instead of focusing his effort on not lusting! Furthermore, he will also assume that the natural physical urges that he experiences are actually expressions of lust, leaving him deeply frustrated with his inability to overcome his “sinful desires.”
One of our most important tasks as we seek to grow in the Lord is to not only embrace truth, but to diligently and honestly examine our current beliefs to ensure that they truly align with what is true. A lie believed always supplants a truth that we need to believe.
I emphasize this up front because it sets the stage for what I will say in response to your comments. In short, it is not that some of the things you’ve said don’t make sense, but simply that the Bible does not support the assertions or the assumptions that are behind them.
Finally, let me say clearly that I mean no disrespect by my responses here. I have some very dear friends who are strong supporters of MCAG who vehemently disagree with the things I’ve presented here on this topic. But as it turns out, my commitment to holding to the Scriptures alone forces me to take the position that I’ve articulated.
So, now allow me to quote selection from your comments and respond to them.
I’ve read a few of the articles and find them interesting and hopeful.
Thank you for these encouraging words. We believe that the “hope” that is found in truth is for everyone. We believe that real freedom from porn and sexual bondage is never going to be found in strategies that treat the human form as if it is a danger to person’s spiritual health.
Masturbation is the ultimate form of single sex.
Short Answer: No, masturbation is not sex. Orgasm is not sex. Sex is a relational act. And if it is not relational, it is not sex. Consequently, we cannot apply biblical teaching about sexual relationships to masturbation.
Long Answer: I’ve heard this statement from more than source. But the problem is that the very concept is one that cannot be defended from the Scriptures. Masturbation is not sex. This is because orgasm by itself cannot be considered “sex.” Whenever the Bible speaks of sex, it uses relational terms. As you correctly observed, God speaks of sexual union only in terms of relationship:
- “The two will become one flesh.”
- Adam “knew” his wife Eve and she conceived.
- So-and-so “lay with” his wife…
In other words, God doesn’t define sexual behavior based upon the presence of an orgasm, but in terms of the relational behavior of a man and woman by which she might conceive and bear a child. Of course, we know that orgasm has to happen for the “seed” of a man to impregnate a woman, but to God, the issue is “one flesh” rather than orgasm. In point of fact, the Bible never even alludes to—let alone regulates—the physical experience of an orgasm. To consider every occasion of orgasm to be regulated by the biblical rules of “sex” is a recipe for a man-made rule.
This sort of “man-made rule” error happens in many different contexts, but it works like this: God’s rule about 123 is XYZ. In our own wisdom, we claim that 456 is the same as 123, so therefore, we assume that XYZ applies to 456, too… yet God did not apply it that way. One biblical example is the Pharisees’ error regarding “working on the Sabbath.” God said, “Don’t work on the Sabbath.” The Pharisees said “carrying your bed mat is work;” they said “healing someone is work.” So they applied God’s “don’t work” rule to the bed mat and healing… applications that God never intended. In their efforts to follow God’s rules, they created false man-made rules… that were wrong.
If we call masturbation “sex,” then we feel justified in applying God’s laws regarding sex to masturbation… even though God never applied them that way. As soon as we reject the description of masturbation as “sex,” then all of a sudden, we have no basis in the Scriptures to regulate against it. To create such a regulation when God chose to omit it is the very definition of a “man-made rule.”
Now let me hasten to establish one more baseline for my comments here… I am not defending or promoting the use of porn, erotica, fantasizing, or the objectification of any other person in the mind as a focus and drive for the self-stimulation. This sort of masturbation is always wrong! But what makes it wrong is the mental objectification, abuse, and consumption of another person made in God’s image for the purpose of self-gratification. I think you would agree, this makes almost all masturbation sinful as it is generally practiced by people today.
…one verse has been linked to the subject-seminal emissions which doesn’t mean masturbation has taken place…
Short Answer: The passage applies to any case where there is a seminal emission… including masturbation.
Longer Answer: I am not trying to say that the verse in Lev. 15 is only about masturbation. I am saying that without any doubt, this verse applies to the specific context of masturbation. Notably missing is any reference to the agency of the emission. One way or another, an orgasm happened, else there would be no emission at all. But from the perspective of the law God gave, the means by which the orgasm occurred was not even worth mentioning. So, a man who masturbates must apply this verse to the situation just as much as the man who has an involunary nocturnal emission. I am furthermore saying that this passage—with its matter-of-fact instructions about an emission of semen—is the only passage in the entire bible that we can be sure speaks to the man who masturbates. It appears from this law that God is more concerned about the health issues—clean the linens!—than He is about the occurrence of an orgasm by a man alone in bed.
Masturbation doesn’t have a purpose to bring God glory. I think we are foolish to think that we can masturbate and ‘in moderation.’
Short Answer: We cannot establish a moral standard for behavior simply on the absence of an identifiable purpose of bringing glory to God. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control, so there is no specific action that is impossible to control—”in moderation”—when the Spirit of God empowers a person.
And maybe dangerous for those who’ve struggled with lust in the past and those who have yet to struggle with lust.
Short Answer: The simple act of masturbation is not the same thing as sinful “lust.” Creating a man-made “rule for righteousness” which God did not give will not promote true righteousness or restrain sensual indulgence… this is clearly declared in Col. 2:20-23. For the man who struggles with a lust stronghold in his life, we need to provide biblically sound answers… answers that God articulates in His Word, for no other answer will truly help.
I’ve read many articles which link the orgasm’s release of dopamine to creating an attachment with whatever is occurring at that moment.
I’m going to let that one phrase stand in for your entire paragraph so I don’t have to re-quote the whole thing here…
I too have learned a lot about pornography addiction… because I experienced it. I too have read about the “attachment” that some claim occurs during the dopamine release… but I’ve come to believe that that explanation is incomplete. I don’t believe that the “attachment” comes simply from the experience of an orgasm—as “feel good” and dopamine-rich as it may be—but rather that experience combined with an adrenaline rush. Here’s what I mean and why I say that…
Long before God delivered me from my struggle with porn, I pondered my own experience with it and noticed that the adrenaline high I experienced from planning and sneaking a time of indulgence was MUCH more powerful than the sexual excitement and/or release I experienced when the time arrived. Quite frankly, after all the adrenaline-laced anticipation, the actual viewing of the porn and the release was almost a let-down by comparison. Yes, I remember some “attachment” moments, but they were always laced with adrenaline… making them exponentially more potent as an experience than orgasm alone.
Contrast that to the sexual relationship I have with my wife. I have never been dissatisfied with her sexually, and I delight in our sex life. But honestly, I truly wish I was more “addicted” to it and had the physical ability to engage in it more often! We love our times of intimacy, but there is relatively little adrenaline associated with it, since there’s nothing that compels the “fight or flight” reflex that pours adrenaline into our system. We aren’t stealing affections that are forbidden. We aren’t planning ways to sneak away for an illicit encounter. We are simply enjoying our time together, and allowing our love to overflow into physical union. Plenty of dopamine with the experience to be sure, but little adrenaline. Consequently, no “addiction” response. And my relational attachment is not created by the orgasm, the physical union is literally an expression of the attachment that already exists.
So… does masturbational orgasm include adrenaline and “attachment” to anything? Well, it depends… on whether the event is “forbidden” or not. If we forbid any and all masturbation, then we actually create the context where anytime a guy (or girl) masturbates, they are engaging in a forbidden act… which invariably triggers the adrenaline component. But if a young man simply finds release in the shower as an inconsequential and matter-of-fact part of his day—without engaging his mind in lustful thoughts—then it will not trigger the adrenaline, nor will the experience be memorable or induce any sort of “attachment.”
I know this is my opinion, but frankly, I believe it fits the data better, and I know that it fits my own experience better. My point is that the position you’ve presented and the research you’ve alluded to is not as concrete as you might think, or as incontrovertible as it has been declared.
Lastly, I just want to say how disappointed I am to read the suggestion above to women to masturbate so she would be “more fulfilled in her sexual union with her husband when she marries.”
Well, I admit that my statement on this point was very much of the IMHO sort… and it still is. For what it’s worth, however, after I received your response, I asked my own wife what she thought about my statements. From her experience and perspective, she agreed. She and I entered into our marriage as virgins… although neither of us were strangers to masturbation. Yet, I can assure you, there was no lack of joy in the discovery and learning about each other’s bodies. And I would suggest that our first experience together was more “successful” and joyful for both of us because of our knowledge of how our own bodies work. We experienced no disappointment that first night, nor ever since. But I do hear stories about women—who go into marriage after a lifetime of considering any and every sexual sensation to be sin—finding it very difficult to just “turn on” the sensuality and fully accept those feelings as godly and right just because they now have a ring on their finger.
I hope you see that I’m not trying to denigrate women by stating this position, but rather release from rules that God didn’t give them, and free them to learn and know their own bodies better so that their experience in marriage is not laden with guilt and uncertainty, but wondrous anticipation and fulfillment.
And one more thing I’ll say on that topic… I know there might be some who extol the joys of “solo-sex” (a misnomer to start with), but there is simply no comparison between masturbating alone and sexual union with one that you are loving for a lifetime.
My Final Comments:
Masturbation is not sex. Orgasm is not sex. Sex is relational. God never regulated orgasm, he regulated sexual relationships. God could have regulated masturbation… but He did not. And neither should we.
God did forbid lust, and so should we. God did call us to love, and objectifying and consuming another person for self-indulgence is contrary to love. We can and should stand against the objectification of women and men. We must stand against pornography. But we never accomplish those things by adding to God’s Word a rule for righteousness that God chose not to include in the inspired text.
All the scientific reasoning and all the religious fervor that we can generate do not justify adding to God’s Word. This is why I stand where I stand… I refuse to add something to God’s Word which careful evaluation reveals is not found in its pages.
— Pastor David Martin
Before going further, let us be
very “Up-Front” with you…
MyChainsAreGone.org exists to help people overcome bondage to pornography.
The MCAG website is Radical and Revolutionary.
It really is…
… but you might miss that if you just glance at it.
Just How Radical Is MCAG?
At MCAG, we believe that most Christians are blindly committed to a pornographic view the human body. That view is a lie. And only the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
This blog’s purpose is to:
- Highlight the radical, life-changing truths presented at MCAG.
- Challenge falsehoods about the body you’ve always assumed to be true.
- Give you an opportunity to comment, challenge, question, or inquire.
- Provide additional content that doesn’t appear in the pages of MCAG.
If you’ve read any MCAG articles, you can expect these posts to be shorter, more thought-provoking, and more controversial. We’re taking aim at some long-held and cherished—but false—beliefs… It’s time to tell the truth.
NOTE: MCAG really is all about overcoming bondage to pornography. Keep that in mind if what we say tempts you to question that fact.
When a well-packaged web of lies
has been sold gradually to the masses over generations,
the truth will seem utterly preposterous
and its speaker a raving lunatic.
— Dresden James
(pseudonym for Donald James Wheal, British writer, 1931-2008)
The raving is about to begin.
Welcome to the MCAG Blog!
After reading a post from a young Christian who is choosing the culture’s view of homosexuality and so-called “Gay Marriage,” I got to thinking about how and why young people—our own children, even—could so easily set aside the Scriptural understanding of marriage.
Then I realized… they rejected it because their parents’ already had!
No, we parents haven’t endorsed same-sex marriage, but our understanding of the meaning of marriage has already been exchanged for a meaning that is culturally—not biblically—defined.
Here’s What I Mean…
For at least a generation, it has been commonly acknowledged and practiced that marriage exists for personal fulfillment. Consequently, marriages have been forged in a moment of passion, then dissolved in a moment of frustration. I’m over-simplifying, of course, but you see my point… a person has the right to be married to whomever makes them happy. And conversely, they don’t have to be married to anyone who doesn’t make them happy.
As you probably know, the divorce rate among Christians is not much different than among non-Christians. So, while Christians should know better, these statistics belie the fact that even Christian marriages are still—too often—based on the culture’s “personal fulfillment” ideal.
We’re Not Teaching the Truth!
What does marriage mean, though? What is it really for? Has the church been teaching it?
I don’t think so…
We give lip-service to the biblical truth that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, but do we really know what that means? For example… what does sexual union teach us about Christ and the Church? In all my years in a pastor’s home, Bible College, full-time ministry, and listening to thousands of sermons, I have never once heard a biblical answer to that question.
God made us in His image… and evidently, it took both male and female for God to adequately paint the portrait. Have you or I ever been taught why? I can’t remember ever hearing why.
When God made the man and the woman, you remember what He told them… to be one flesh, and to be fruitful and multiply. These are commands to engage in sexual union. And He told them these things right in the context of making the man and the woman in His own image!
So… exactly how does sexual union contribute to the “Image of God”?
Perhaps a few have heard this answer, but it sure hasn’t been emphasized in our teaching on marriage or sexuality. I believe the answer is this:
God is a “Trinity”—that is, He is a plurality expressed as a unity. Sexual union is a physical picture of that divine unity… it is literally a plurality expressed as a unity.
It’s right there in Genesis 1 & 2… the God who is ONE said “Let US create man in OUR image,” so now in human flesh, the “TWO become ONE.”
Marriage is a Portrait of the Divine
Marriage is not about human-fulfillment. Marriage is not about the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is not about self-expression. It reveals the very nature of God.
Marriage is not about rights. Marriage is not about equality. Marriage is not even about human love. It expresses of the glory of God.
When a man and woman come together in marriage, they reenact the creation of mankind in God’s image as a plurality—male and female. When that man and woman unite sexually, they expand that image by making tangible a picture of the perfect unity of the Godhead.
This… this is the deepest meaning of the sexual union of a man and a woman in marriage.
Have They Rejected This Picture of Marriage?
Today’s generation of young people have not rejected this truth… they’ve simply never heard it.
Today’s generation of young people have accepted our definition of the meaning of marriage—to find personal fulfillment—but they have wondered why we would be restrictive about what sort of personal sexual fulfillment is “OK.”
Today’s generation of young people have embraced our value of human love as the ultimate purpose of marriage… but they also correctly recognize that real love doesn’t just happen between opposite genders.
Do You See How Far We’ve Strayed from This Truth?
It is we who have failed to understand the true meaning of marriage from God’s Word.
It is we who have, instead, embraced the culture’s man-centered definition of marriage.
It is we who have laid aside our glorious calling as Divine Image-Bearers—Male and Female—designed by our maker to physically join in one flesh… and made sex only about ourselves.
So let us not be shocked that our children have mutated our distorted definition of marriage into one that we find offensive.
Perhaps our own distortion of marriage has been offensive to God for a long time already…
A Call to Truth.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Supreme Court. I don’t know what laws will be enacted regarding these issues. But I do know that we—as the church—need to be restored to God’s Truth.
And regardless of what the law of the land is or becomes, we can embrace God’s calling on our marriages. We can begin to seek out the riches of God’s Glory, revealed in human flesh as described in God’s Word. We can put the truth of God-given gender distinction into practice in our lives.
… And only then will we truly have a voice to speak to the next generation what sex is really about, and what it means to play the God-ordained, gender-determined role in that divine portrait.
— Pastor Ed
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(The following story took place about 8 years ago…)
Checking Out the Artwork
My daughter had a violin recital. We had to get there early, so while they prepared for the performance, the rest of the family had to wait. Thankfully, the recital was held at a community arts center that had lots of artwork around the grounds to look at.
So that’s what I did… I looked at all the art work… all—that is—except one.
That one was a nude.
To be honest, I wanted to look at it, too… but since I still held the pornographic view of the body, I would not allow myself to look at it for fear that it would incite lust in my heart.
A Startling Question.
“Hey, Dad… did you see that one sculpture?” It was my 10 year old son. “Isn’t that disgusting?”
I was a bit surprised by his question, but apparently, I had already taught him my very distorted view of the body… without even realizing that I had done so. But he took that view to its logical conclusion… a conclusion that was self-evidently false!
And it was an uncharacteristic moment of clarity that informed my answer…
“Actually, it’s quite lovely.”
I’m not sure why I said that… I guess I was just too surprised by the question to respond with anything but the truth.
Look at it… how could such a sculpture ever be described as “disgusting”? Yet that’s exactly the perspective that I had somehow communicated to my son… without ever saying a word about nudity!
What Are We Teaching Our Children?
I can’t remember what I ever told my son about nudity. I don’t recall ever telling him to spurn the sight of human skin. I never told him that a woman’s nude body was “disgusting”… but that’s obviously what I had taught him.
In fact, it seems that he was confident that by coming to me and declaring it “disgusting,” he would be rewarded by affirmation and earn my approval for his insight. I must have taught him really well…
It’s a Lie…
The sculpture my son saw was not disgusting.
Yet I was as guilty of teaching him that lie as if I had spoken it from my own lips.
You see, we have culturally defined the unclothed body as a sexual condition, so we’ve concluded that it is “indecent” to be seen in any context other than the one where sexual expression is condoned (marriage). We have supposed that this perspective promotes moral purity… but instead, it promotes a lie… which leads inevitably to impurity! (That’s just what lies do.)
The Beginning of Understanding.
This incident with my son and the sculpture happened probably eight years ago. And it was several years thereafter before God more fully corrected my thinking about the meaning of the unclothed human form. But this was a beginning. I had been startled into speaking the truth instead of just reaffirming the lie that I had unwittingly taught my son.
It was moment of clarity from which—thankfully!—I’ve never recovered.
Ultimately, it was part of a transformation of perspective that delivered me from pornography and drove me to establish the MCAG website.
It’s time we teach our children the truth.
— Pastor David Martin
Sculpture above by Joan Bankemper, found at joanbankemper.com.
For more on this topic:
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Some people can say a lot in a very few words. This post is the first in a new blog series where we’ll present a rich quote, and make a few comments.
This quote for the New Year is from Kenich Ohmae, a Japanese business and corporate strategist. He was probably speaking here of business, but his words are equally applicable to our effort to understand human embodiment.
We Need New Lenses…
It is hard to let old beliefs go. They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them.
Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses.
Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away.
In our world today, the pornographic view of the human body is a pair of glasses that—it would seem—almost everyone wears. So many wear them that we find both the church and the porn industry affirming the same false perspective… so we’ve all just assumed that it must be right… as if we’re really not seeing through any lenses at all!
But we are… and we are in desperate need of new lenses. It’s time to view the human body through the biblical lens of the Imago Dei.
— Pastor David Martin
For more on this topic:
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It was the perfect day to build a snowman.
And so Eliza Gonzalez and her two children created their own snow version of the famous Venus de Milo sculpture, albeit without the head.
One neighbor evidently complained and soon the police were knocking at Ms. Gonzalez’s door requesting that she cover or destroy the nude snow woman.
One of these snow sculptures is pornographic…
Can you identify which one?
The nude sculpture accurately portrays God’s beautiful design for a woman’s torso. It makes no “statement” and tells no lies.
The “clothed” version, however, definitely does make a statement.
It says that even the representation of a woman’s breast in snow is lewd. It is sexual. It is provocative. It is dangerous to our moral purity to be observed. It is, in fact, indecent.
And the sarong? Well, everyone knows that it’s wrong to see a woman’s loins uncovered… even if she is only made of snow.
That’s a Pornographic Perspective!
Only one of these two versions of the Venus de Milo insults the woman’s form it displays… the one in the bikini.
And it tells us a lie about what that form means. That lie is that the most significant thing to be observed in the female form is its sexual impact. (see this article)
Clothing the snow sculpture gives us permission—and even encourages us—to continue thinking pornographically about a woman’s body!
Ironically, it was not the artist who crafted the nude snow-woman who sexually objectified the female form, but the neighbor who complained about it! In fact, after her daughter had dressed the sculpture as seen in these photos, Ms. Gonzalez was quoted as saying, “I thought she looked more objectified and sexualized after you put the bikini on.” (See this online article about the Snow Venus.)
I think she’s right.
Pornographic Thinking Empowers Pornography
It matters how we think about the unclad human form. It matters what we think it means. It matters because how we think about it drives how we respond to it. That is simply inescapable.
I like to say it this way:
We sinfully view the unclothed human form because we have a sinful view of the unclothed human form. Tweet this
— Pastor David Martin
For more on this topic:
Gordon College: Policy on Nude Art Models
— A Christian College Art Department uses live nude figure models.
A Christian Perspective on Nudity in Art by Matthew Clark
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“But godly men will not masturbate, even if the Bible is silent about it” — or so people say.
Is it OK to create “rules” for living that God didn’t include in the Scriptures? Can they help? Can they hurt?
Man-Made “Rules” for Righteousness
Man-made rules for righteousness always make sense. They’re really pretty easy to defend.
But… that doesn’t make them God’s Rules. We are not obligated to follow them. We should not assess our spiritual maturity or health by them.
Why? Because those man-made rules—no matter how wise they appear to be—are of no value at all in the promotion of righteousness.
God really couldn’t be more clear on this… let me show you:
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.(Col. 2:20-23)
Need I say more?
Listen, it is absolutely senseless to waste time defending a rule for righteousness that God didn’t give to us. Even if you can defend its “wisdom” impeccably, the rule is still worthless.
And if I read Paul’s words correctly here, we should actively reject those rules… if for no other reason, to demonstrate to ourselves and others that we will not be submissive to man-made rules for righteousness (be ready for some criticism from the defenders of those rules, though…).
No, man-made rules cannot help.
But it Gets Worse…
There’s another very significant reason to reject the man-made rules…
Man-made rules for righteousness are counterproductive to purity!
Those false rules for righteousness do not keep us from being enslaved to our sin… they actually make it worse!
How can I say that? Let me explain:
- We can’t expect God to support them!
- God will not contribute to the “success” of a man-made rule for righteousness; He’s already told us that they are worthless.
- If any real success were to be attained by following man’s ways, it would ultimately mean that God is untrue. Therefore, our commitment to man-made rules for righteousness invite God’s active opposition.
- They Distract Us From the “Real” Rules.
- God has real rules for righteous living… but if we are trying to follow false rules, we do so at the expense of a proper focus on the real rules.
- Time, energy, and spiritual focus are given to fruitless efforts… rather than efforts that will yield fruit.
- We lose out on God’s Grace.
- When we fail to live up to false rules, it results in false guilt.
- False guilt is not God’s will
- False guilt does not lead us to grace.
- False guilt results in hopelessness, defeat, condemnation, and despair.
- God gives us His grace to follow His true will. We lose out on that if we’re pursuing something else.
- All effort expended to follow man-made rules are going to be completely in the power of the flesh. And that’s a recipe for failure.
- When we fail to live up to false rules, it results in false guilt.
Let’s Get Practical…
So, how does the “No Masturbation” rule actually impede someone’s progress towards sexual purity?
I’ve known of many young men who battled continuously with masturbation, trying desperately to follow that “rule.” As a single man, I was one of them! The rule was and is never any help to sexual purity. Instead, it creates a persistent state of frustration and failure.
Let me lay out the progression of how I believe this particular rule has such a debilitating impact on a young man who wants to live his life in purity before the Lord. Let me say up front here that this is my speculation based on my own observation, reasoning, and experience. Hopefully, however, it will resonate with men who are struggling… and serve as an encouragement to them.
A Recipe for Failure
(Note: I’m going to describe what could potentially be the experience of a single man who is committed to celibacy and sexual purity until marriage, and who therefore does not have the opportunity for sexual release with his own wife. For married men, this should only apply when the opportunity to unite with your wife is not there.)
- I commit to “No Masturbation”
- This false rule is treated as if it is God’s rule, and therefore also a measure of sexual purity for a young man.
- Increased (and ever increasing) physical sexual pressure.
- This is simply how the male body works.
- Heightened sexual awareness and interest
- When sexual pressure is elevated, everything about the man feels and responds to that pressure.
- Frequent involuntary sexual responses.
- All the plumbing works as designed (that’s a good thing!)
- “Oh, by the way, that is LUST that you’re feeling there…”
- Satan whispers a lie in the man’s heart to induces false guilt and erode resolve.
- I might as well give in… to masturbation… and lust…
- The desire to have release is powerful.
- The man feels like he’s already failed (although he really hasn’t).
- The man gives in to masturbation.
- The man does not know that it is possible to masturbate without lust, so he doesn’t even attempt to avoid lust while masturbating.
- After release, there’s a deep sense of shame and guilt
- The guilt for the lust is legitimate, but it is assigned in his mind equally to the masturbation.
- “You’re a no-good, hopeless, dirty-minded failure… how can you think you’re of any use to God at all?”
- Another lie from the enemy, who doesn’t play fair…
- Live in hopelessness, despair, and on-going defeat
- After yet another failure, the resolve to live in purity is gone, and the man feels like any renewed effort will be just as fruitless, so he stops trying to fight it all.
- Finally cry out to God in desperation and repentance
- God’s grace is greater than our sin, so the man’s heart is restored to fellowship with God.
- Repeat… and repeat… and repeat.
Result: A man who truly loves that Lord and wants to serve Him lives in a perpetual cycle of defeat and guilt.
Yes, man-made rules can hurt.
As is typical with “rules” based on man’s wisdom, there are unintended consequences to the commitment to a rule that God did not give. Because purity has been defined by man in a way that God did not require, the rule is false. Following the false rule results in increased strength in the temptation that God never intended us to face.
The commitment made to pursue purity becomes the very reason that purity is so difficult to maintain!
So… Where Is the “Way of Escape?”
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13 – NASB)
I can only guess how many men have come to scoff at this verse—the “promise” of a way of escape—when they’ve never consistently found it.
I suggest to you that the way of escape is to reject the commitment to something God never asked of you! Learn how to masturbate without objectifying God’s daughters. Learn how to masturbate with gratitude in your heart for God making you sexually alive and virile. Learn how to gain release righteously.
It is much easier to avoid lust and sexual thoughts or responses to women when your body isn’t screaming for sexual release!
A Recipe for Relief.
- I commit to “No Sinful Lust”
- This is God’s rule. And it’s the only one needed.
- Increased physical sexual pressure.
- This is simply how the male body works.
- When needed, masturbation is employed to release the pressure.
- The heart is committed to thank God and reject sinful lust.
- No false guilt. No shame.
- The power of temptation to sinful lust is greatly reduced…
- …When not combined with pent up sexual pressure!
- Daily life is focused on pleasing the Lord… not on “avoiding masturbation.”
- Because physical sexual pressures are managed effectively, the man’s mind is free to focus elsewhere.
- Live in… and by… God’s Grace!
Result: A man who lives in freedom can live for the Lord he loves.
Yes, these characterizations are probably oversimplified and idealistic… but hopefully you see my point.
It is better to learn how to masturbate in purity before God, than commit to a rule for “purity” that God did not give.
It is never OK to justify the rejection of God’s true rules for righteousness… that’s why I didn’t start the Masturbation FAQ articles with this one… I had to first demonstrate that “No Masturbation” is not one of those God-given rules. Only then, can we look at it and see that following it is a mistake, or discuss how following it contributes to impurity rather than purity.
— Pastor David Martin
Check out the rest of the articles in this FAQ series:
- FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 1)
- Masturbation in the Bible (it IS there!)
- FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 2)
- Masturbation and Lust – Inseparable?
- FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 3)
- How Much is Too Much?”
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