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You could ask me: what is love in first place? There are myriad possible descriptions… It is impossible to state one perfect definition of love and especially to prove it to be the only righteous one. Undoubtedly, what love is, and what it is not, will always remain indescribable for our human language, to some extent. Though love is part of our daily reality, we all experience it, but at the same time we so often encounter the truth that love surpasses our human ability to completely understand it or perceive it.
Many of us know very well the taste of pain from our own life experience, when someone abuses word love, or when we are offered sham love, instead of the true love that we all long for. Often, even we ourselves misuse the word love, defined by its biological realities, which expresses merely our human preferences or excitement: butterflies in our stomach. We can call love unexpected feelings of sympathy toward a stranger and other, innumerable examples alike exist.
However, mostly in times of trouble, we recognize that love is much more than gentle feelings toward the other, that it encompasses faithful respect and perseverance and something even more… a desire and real actions that seek another’s happiness as a most important priority. True love provides nothing less than life itself. But what we find is that often such life-giving love reveals itself through authentic self-giving and sacrifice: a mother painfully giving a birth to new child; a father working an extra night shift in order to feed his family; a spouse nursing her sick husband in his weakness and losing her own health, for the sake of his better quality of life; a fireman throwing himself into the heat and flames, in order to save a life. Such expressions of true love are so far away from the pleasurable excitement or butterflies in our stomach. Yet these experiences stir our hearts in much deeper layers, providing the profound hope and help that we truly need.
Love is crucial for our existence. It’s sometimes enough one strict “no” from a mother, and a child never sees the light of this earth. How blessed we all are that each of us received that life giving “yes” from our mothers! Doors for us to enter this life were opened!
The Bible goes even further and claims: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1Jn4:16b NIV Bible), and this puts LOVE in a much higher perspective than merely our human feelings, or desires, or dedication. The love in our lives depends on whether we live up to our best potential and become who we were made to be: people according God’s image and likeness. When we turn away from God, from love, we enter sin, we inevitably start to move to a darker direction, which eventually ends with our death. And, what’s more, we bring death experiences for those around us.
Love is life. Love is so worth pursuing. Love nourishes us and everyone around us. Through love, we become gifts for one another and bless one another in life. Just remember now, at least one experience, even the smallest one, when you were loved and the life, comfort, and light that someone else’s choice to love you brought to you. What a gift was that moment! What a gift was that person! And just think! To such a life, defined by love, God is constantly inviting us. Such life is His dream for humanity, to which He is reclaiming us through Christ.
About such life-giving love, and why masturbation is not such love, I will shortly discuss in this post. However, before jumping to the answers why, I also want to define masturbation.
Masturbation, for the majority, usually has much narrower meaning than the word love, however there is still a lot of controversy connected with this term that also exists. Worldwide, we can find a variety of completely different human behaviors (in a moral sense), which are flagged by the same word: masturbation. That might not be completely incorrect, if we analyze merely the outer aspects of certain behavior and its physiological effects on the human body, but it becomes disastrous, if we, using wide range of different (by its purpose or psycho-spiritual aspects) behaviors, try to draw specific moral boundaries that would be correct for the word and aspects of the human behavior that it describes.
If we mix a lot of behaviors under one term, than a lot of contradictions should not surprise us in the topic. In order to avoid the possible misinterpretations, which this post might evoke in some hearts, I simply want to emphasize here the definition of masturbation to which I am referring when I use the word masturbation.
So, this post will shortly overview several main aspects of why masturbation is not love, when masturbation is understood as: self-stimulation in a variety of ways and by a variety of means, with the purpose of seeking sexual pleasure, often until complete sexual self-satisfaction (orgasm) is achieved. It means that I will not cover here other, similar kinds of outside behavior, when sexual self-stimulation is also accomplished, even to the point of orgasm, but when such stimulation is done for other purposes than sexual self-satisfaction, for instance: medical reasons (in order to provide a semen sample for tests or to treat sexual dysfunction, etc.); or when it lacks true sexual purpose, such as the masturbation of a toddler, who is unable to truly to seek sexual self-satisfaction (in the moral sense, due to early stages of sexual development); or when masturbation is not done by oneself, such as mutual masturbation, referring to sexual stimulation performed by a partner in order to avoid penetration for whatever reason and similar.
Masturbation is not love because:
- …it contradicts the main purpose of our sexuality, i.e. to be a gift for the other (opposite gender and new life – our children). When we masturbate, we abuse our authority over our bodies and consume our sexuality for our own sake. We unpack the gift of our sexuality, which was put in our bodies by God for the other’s sake and use it for our own pleasure. With time, some of us even lose the desire to ever share that gift of our sexuality with another (so common in those who struggle with addiction to masturbation), because playing with oneself is less stressful, more quick and comfortable source of intensive pleasure in comparison to interpersonal relating. Masturbation provides a way to bypass any need to sacrifice anything for the sake of relationship in order to gain the pleasure our bodies start to crave for so creating a false illusion that our happiness, sexual fulfillment, can be reached without the other.
- …it places our sexual pleasure as a priority over the needs of the other, over loves boundaries and requirements, over Gods plan for our sexuality. We become idolatrous and self centered. We start to build our happiness by ourselves by choosing masturbation as a source to satisfy our hungers, instead turning with them to God.
- …it separates sex and sexual pleasure from love. What is meant to be enjoyed only as an instrument to help celebrate love in the most intimate, physical manner on this earth, between two loving spouses, and to participate with God in the process of creating a new life, becomes a purpose in itself, eradicating the need for other and the need for loving relationships.
- …by choosing masturbation, we make our sexual pleasure our main goal, yet, God teaches us to pursue love in our lives, not pleasure (1 Cor 14,1).
- …Love is relational, masturbation is not. It always pushes us into sexual isolation (physically and psychologically), into deep loneliness, into the inability to love another authentically with our sexual body and our hearts. We detach ourselves from true relationships and immerse ourselves in false control. If we practice masturbation often, we so easily fail to resist temptation in favor of sexuality within our control. So, we often become unable to truly receive the gift of the other and to rejoice in it. Others’ worth becomes measured by the pleasure he/she can provide for us and if he/she fails to provide we “save ourselves.” Love opens the door for the other (opposite gender and God) in our hearts, while masturbation closes those doors.
- …it strengthens a false behavior pattern for coping with life’s difficulties by chasing pleasure, instead of choosing a loving response. Therefore, gradually, masturbation contributes to the fact that we become weak in character: impatient, selfish, distant, lacking endurance in daily situations. Whereas, love, which is patient, kind, not self-seeking and always perseveres, and chastity, which respects and protects rightful boundaries for each human relationship, are so needed and build life, not only for us but also for those around us. They provide deep sense of safety and honor which we all long for.
- … through masturbation, we misuse those body parts on which we have no authority, but only our husbands/wives. (1 Cor 7:4). So it crosses the holy boundary that God implied for our bodies – to be His temples and our sexuality – to be gift for the other.
The experience of pleasure may provide instant relief to certain extent, but only authentic love provides profound happiness.
I pray for profound happiness for everyone, who is bounded by masturbation: may freedom come, may good choices be done!
Know that you are loved, choose love and be blessed!