What About M? Part 1

MW Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the book Mentoring Warriors. This week and next we will address an issue that many men struggle with, sexually. You can purchase the book by following this link.

What about it? We’re not talking about M, the infamous director of Mi6 in the James Bond movies.  Nor, are we talking about milk or Ford Mustangs or even marijuana, although the latter should be a topic of discussion at some point.  We’re talking about the one thing that virtually every male from adolescence on has either experienced at least once or has now become a habit; masturbation.  Before we get into this discussion, I want to preface by saying, masturbation is a sensitive topic to talk about and even more so to write about.  I want you to understand that in doing so, it is my every intent to be as respectful and cognizant that this issue expresses itself along with a host of emotions and opinions.  Not everyone reading this will agree with me.  That’s okay. However, hear me out.  With virtually every young warrior I mentor, this topic of masturbation eventually comes up; and it’s not always a fun one to discuss.  In most cases, there is baggage associated with it.  Lots of baggage.  Like a tangled rope, untangling how masturbation has impacted one’s view of sexuality can be complicated.  Let me explain.

What is M?

Let’s first lay down a definition of masturbation.  Masturbation is the self-manipulation of one’s genitals for the purpose of sexual arousal and orgasm. adds that it can also be done mutually; with someone else. (I will comment on this last part of the definition at the end of next week’s post (Part 2) as a postscript.)  As a boy’s body develops into puberty, around ages 11-13, the pituitary gland awakens and hormones are released in the body that develops body mass, and the sexual reproductive system.  It’s why you have hair to one extent or another all over your body: head, armpits, legs, chest, even around your genitals.  This is totally normal and is nothing to be ashamed of.  People who make fun of your bodily development are inconsiderate and disrespectful.  By the time a guy gets into his late teens and 20s shaving becomes more or less standard. Honestly, thank God for your body.  You might not like everything you see when you look in the mirror, but know that every hair is accounted for and God loves you whether you have a beard and man-bun or not!

Along the time of one’s early-mid-teens, a guy’s sexual development produces semen.  This is the body’s way of carrying sperm through his penis to a woman’s vagina, for reproduction.  One of the first experiences a guy has is what is known as a nocturnal emission; a wet dream.  While sleeping, his penis gets erect and the body ejaculates semen.  This usually wakes the guy up to wet underwear and/or sheets.  I recall the first time this happened.  My first thought was I wet the bed; that I reverted back to a small boy.  Was there something wrong with me?  Answer?  Absolutely nothing is wrong.  This is normal and there is nothing sinful or evil about it. The sexual release comes with some unique feelings.  Medically, the body is releasing endorphins into your brain that bring pleasure.  What usually happens next is a guy starts to manually reproduce that feeling of arousal.  He manipulates his genitals to the point of arousal, erection, and eventually ejaculation.  Endorphins are released and that sense of pleasure returns.  This time, however, there is also a sense of guilt.  Have I done something wrong?  

Is M Normal?

There are proponents that say masturbation is normal and natural; nothing wrong with it.  Some even argue that since the Bible doesn’t directly address it, then it must be up to one’s personal preference.  Honestly, I can follow their logic and there is a part of me that agrees.  Let it be.  Do as you please.  However, both from personal experience and from sitting across from multiple young warriors, many who love God and frankly have a convoluted sexual life, masturbation is often found to be one of the culprits.  The fact that your body’s sexual development can be aroused, you experience erections, and can ejaculate is not wrong.  (If you are into your warrior years and are not experiencing sexual development, then I strongly suggest you see a doctor.  Testosterone levels vary in men such that your experience, or lack thereof, could be a medical issue.)  

Did Jesus M?

What I’m about to say related to sexual development I have not heard or read anywhere, so bear with me on this thought.  As Christ-followers we talk a lot about being like Jesus.  Most of that talk is related to character development.  This gets into the issue of a person increasingly exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit.  However, has anyone ever considered Jesus’ humanity in a way to see if what we experience as humans, in particular males, is what Jesus experienced?  The Bible says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  Stature refers to physical development, including his own sexuality.  The Bible also says that Jesus never sinned. He experienced everything as we do and yet without sin (Hebrews 4).  That means Jesus felt the temptation to sin sexually but didn’t.  So, is masturbation a sin?  Did Jesus masturbate?  If he did, then M isn’t necessarily sin. But, let’s keep thinking this through.

Jesus also said that if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery with her.  Thinking of having sex with a woman you are not married to is the same as having sex with her; according to Jesus.  Jesus thus never lusted after a woman.  The real issue here isn’t as much masturbation as it is lust.  I was talking with a warrior who told me about his struggles with M.  “Walking down the street, I saw this young gal dressed in a provocative outfit.  That’s all it took for me.  The rest of the day all I could think of was that woman and what it’d be like to have sex with her.”  He told me that later that day, he ended up masturbating.  Without exception, lust is sin.  Lust fuels virtually every act of masturbation.  Studies have been done that say up to “95%” of all men masturbate and it comes out of a lustful heart.  If Jesus masturbated, it was definitely not lustful.  I can say this with reasonable certainty; Jesus experienced normal wet dreams.  And, he didn’t sin in doing so.  

Check back next time for Part 2 of what is a very common issue for most guys; M.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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