How Can I Overcome Masturbation?

Question from a reader:

I have been a believer for several years now. Christ has helped me to conquer many bondages and sinful habits. How can I overcome masturbation?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

The problem with masturbation isnt that the body is wrong or the sex drive is wrong (God created both), but that masturbation involves lust, which Jesus specifically condemned as a sexual sin. Masturbation is a temptation like any other, and the more we give into it, the more we condition ourselves to the behavior. No one has to do it—if someone was holding a gun to our heads and said theyd pull the trigger if we masturbated we would certainly abstain. On the other hand, if they said theyd pull the trigger if we breathed, wed have no choice because breathing truly is a need. The battle with masturbation is won or lost in the mind. The more we watch television, movies, etc., and certainly any kind of magazine or internet pornography, the more addicted well become. Christ offers deliverance, but we must draw upon the empowerment of his grace for victory.

God will gladly forgive someone for masturbating, but there needs to be genuine repentance, which involves taking radical steps to control influences on our minds—e.g. cutting off the internet connection, staying away from certain places and people, only seeing decent movies, turning off the TV (the commercials alone are a huge problem). Again, the biggest key to overcoming masturbation is screening out all the ungodly input that tempts us toward it, and fools us into thinking we need to have sex. Sex is a want, but not a need. There are many people with sexual natures called to lifelong singleness. Abstinence is not impossible. (Even sexually active people are abstinent the vast majority of the time.) Christ never commands something without giving us the resources in Him to obey.

Browse more resources on the topic of purity, and see Randy's book The Purity Principle and his booklet Sexual Temptation.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries