by Ganns Deen

Spanking the monkey. Choking the chicken. Teasing the trouser snake. Jacking off.

However you call it, if you are the average young Filipino, you have experimented, one way or the other, with masturbation, the dreaded M word that the parents of your parents’ parents were told was going to send them straight to hell. Or give them hairy palms. Or make them blind. What a laugh!

According to Dave Roberts, author of Following Jesus and writer of “U Can’t Touch This: What Does the Bible Really Say About Masturbation?,” the Church, using Greek theology that pretty much said anything sensual was devil-anointed, has always warned its followers about masturbation; most of its warnings have gone down as urban legend. Did it work? Did people stop masturbating?

Nope. Studies have gone to show that people still ride the self-service elevator. Conservative estimates show that nine out of ten adolescents have masturbated at some point upon entering puberty. Joel*, 16, says:

“I first started to masturbate when I was thirteen,” he says. “I still remember what it felt like when it was over. It felt really good, I’d never felt so good, and I started to do it regularly, sometimes twice a day. It started my day, and I couldn’t wait to get home from school to do it again.”

So how can something that feels so good be so bad? [Oh, that’s a question!] Well, there is a debate over masturbation, with both sides spouting statistics, facts, and arguments that, quite honestly, are very good. The Bible isn’t very clear on masturbation per se. Some ask: is there even an issue here?

Is masturbation all that bad?

Masturbation, defined by Anne Hooper, famous British sexologist (a sexologist is a scientist who studies sexual behavior – what a job, huh?), as “the stimulation of the genital organs to achieve sexual pleasure, most commonly with the hands and fingers.” She adds that masturbation is a “valuable method for sexual exploration [and as] as a release for sexual frustrations.”

Danny, 19, says “I do it before a test, before a date, sometimes even when I’m bored.” His girlfriend, JingJing, shyly admits they’ve even masturbated each other, and says that they know of other couples who also do.

Danny and JingJing may have apparently stumbled upon evidence that provides for the benefits – and ill effects – of masturbation. According to Hooper, there is no evidence that regular (not necessarily frequent) jacking off has a draining physical effect on physical energy; sometimes, it relieves nervousness and stress.

Many psychologists say that teen masturbation is normal, and should be encouraged, if only for the possibility that they would engage in this behavior instead of actually having premarital sex with a partner and getting into another bunch of problems.

So what’s so wrong with it?

Peter: “My dad once caught me, and got really angry. I don’t understand why, because I’m sure he does it too.”

Peter’s comment may sound a little selfish, but he isn’t alone in being confused. Religious scholars sometimes fight about the Biblical stance on masturbation. The often-used example of Onan (Gen 38:8-10), for instance, isn’t entirely correct. During Onan’s time, it was the tradition for a man to marry the wife of his brother if his brother should die, and he didn’t want to honor the tradition; God subsequently punished him for refusing to fulfill the marital obligations by “spilling his seed” on the ground. Most scholars nowadays interpret Onan’s actions as withdrawal, not masturbation.

Joshua Harris, author of Not Even a Hint, a great book on protecting yourself against lust, believes that the Bible does address masturbation, even if it doesn’t address it directly. He suggests masturbation becomes dangerous not as a single, solitary act, but as a lifestyle that takes us away from entering a close relationship with God. Roberts agrees: “masturbation is a values-for-life issue. When our values are clear, the ability to resist sexual temptation and stop sinning is more apparent.”

Many young adults make the mistake of defining their relationship with God by the sins they commit. 1 Samuel 16:7 says “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

Masturbation is an expression of lust, which is, in turn, the worst sin that destroys God’s plans for sex. Sex and all its forms were planned as the best expression of love between husband and wife, and is one of the best gifts God gave man. God wanted sex to be shared, and masturbation takes away the partner. It makes the sexual act self-centered and self-pleasing, and this is not what God wants.

Media sure as heck doesn’t help.

Hooper says, “many [young adults] become curious about the pleasurable sensations of their bodies and experiment with masturbation, and are often eager to gain access to sexual literature.” She says young adults will have sexual desire and biological needs, and will want to seek out porn. She says having a sex drive and wanting to release all that sexual tension is normal; for example, the male body releases semen in “wet dreams” if the male teen doesn’t masturbate. Harris says, however, normal doesn’t equals good. “Natural desires can easily become sinful cravings, [and] masturbation is built on a self-centered view of sex.”

This self-centered view is more obvious today. Teens like you are in greater danger of becoming addicted to the pleasure of a masturbatory orgasm, especially because there are lot of materials out there that encourage it.

“Masturbation is more often than not accompanied by sexual fantasy,” Roberts says. “That fantasy is often provoked by pornography.” The Net, cheap Greenhills VCDs and DVDs, tabloids and purportedly classy glossy magazines, all tell you to do it.

Why should I get over it? And how?

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:11: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” If our values are right with God, we can fight the temptation to masturbate. On our own, we cannot beat it. We need God’s grace to overcome masturbation.

Roberts and Harris provide these reasons not to masturbate: It makes us disrespect people, seeing them as objects; it creates false expectations and lowers self-esteem (how can the buttocks of a future wife, for example, live up to J Lo’s? It can’t!); and it’s adultery (Matthew 5:28 says whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart). Masturbation and porn can destroy all your future relationships. It’s one thing to say a person is attractive; it’s another thing to picture her/him naked. How would you feel if a person you didn’t know did that to you? “If you spend your adolescence mentally undressing women,” Roberts says, “how are you going to stop when you get married?”

It makes you a slave to your own desire. 2 Peter 2:19 says that “a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 says all: all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.

Masturbation by itself won’t send us straight to hell (especially if you repent, but it could be very difficult to overcome the obstacles you build when you make it a habit. Make that attempt, with Jesus’ help, to beat the habit. You won’t regret it.

Here are some great tips on helping get over masturbation:

1. Ask help from God. Let’s face it: you can’t beat Satan without God’s help. Pray directly to Him, and talk to Him like you would a child to her/his parent, because you are His child. Ask for grace and wisdom. God doesn’t put you into a situation that you cannot handle.

2. Eliminate temptation. Get rid of the porn, dump the VCDs and DVDs. Not easy, admittedly: some porn collections can cost thousands of pesos. But when you throw away the porn, you give yourself less chance to let the enemy get you.

3. Get an accountability buddy. It helps when someone’s watching over you and making sure you kick any habit. Pornography and masturbation lead to wrong relationships with members of the opposite and even the same sex (remember, there is also homosexual pornography, and gay teens and young adults would do well to get help from people who understand their situation).

4. Avoid the opportunity. One big way to overcome the addiction to masturbate is to spend less time in, or avoid, the places and times when you normally do it. So, if you’re normally in the john because you’re working on your johnson, surround yourself with books or be conscious of the time you’re spending in there.

Pornography objectifies human beings and makes them objects of sexual pleasure instead of the warm, caring individuals they can be. It can lead you to masturbation. It stimulates your sexual desire, and can make you want to have actual sex before you marry, and we all know that the Lord does not desire to see you in a sexual relationship with a person who is not your husband or wife.