I’m a healthy, virile, 18-year-old male. Since we’re not supposed to have sex, what are we supposed to do with our sexual drives and urges? Some people suggest masturbation, but the church looks down on that, so what should we do?
Pastor Edmond Answers:
I’m not trying to make light of what I believe to be a very honest and sincere question. But your question does remind me of the story about the woman who went to her pastor and said, "Pastor, I have a bad habit of exaggerating. What should I do?" The pastor replied, "The first thing you need to do is call your habit what it really is–it’s lying!"
That "urge" or "drive" you get to have sex with someone to whom you’re not married ought to be called what it is–"temptation." And there aren’t a whole lot of things Christians can do with temptation besides resisting and/or avoiding it.
There seems to be this feeling among some teenagers (and even among adults) that the human sex drive is so strong that yielding to it in some way is pretty much inevitable and "normal."
I received a question about masturbation a few years ago. When I answered by saying that masturbation isn’t something Christian young people should be involved in, I got a letter from a doctor. He criticized me for saying that masturbation is wrong and said I should stop making young people feel guilty for this "normal" activity. Basically, the doctor said to me that masturbation is a perfectly acceptable alternative to sex.
I don’t want to come across as flip or smart-aleck in any way, but I would like to suggest another alternative besides masturbation–self-control. When you’re tempted to be sexually active, you don’t have to do anything to anyone–including to yourself.
You can overcome sexual temptation, as well as any other temptation, but there are some things you have to do.
First, you have to call what you’re going through what it is: "temptation." It’s not just an "urge," or a "need," or a "drive," or all the other things we call it. It’s first and foremost a temptation.
And second, remember that any temptation can be overcome through prayer and by avoiding those things that are tempting. That means you can’t read just anything or look at just anything (or everyone) or listen to just anything.
By following these principles and relying on God’s strength, you can overcome.