A Brief Examination of Mark Driscoll’s Definition of Sexual Morality

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Editor’s Note:  This post focuses on sexual morality and examines Mark Driscoll’s teachings about masturbation.  Some will be offended by this discussion and should not read this.  It is, I believe, a tactful and appropriate treatment of the subject, but the subject matter is tricky and controversial.  If this will offend you, stop now.  While, as always, the comment stream is open to those who disagree with Jared’s position, we hope that commenters will attempt to show tact as well.

About 8 years ago I taught abstinence in the local public school system in Cumberland County (Crossville), TN through the local Crisis Pregnancy Center. We however butted heads when they wanted me to teach in accordance with Driscoll that voluntary sexual activity outside of marriage without a partner is a viable birth control option. They had me listen to a tape by Dr. James Dobson where he argued in the likeness of Driscoll. To make a long story short, I quit helping the Crisis Pregnancy Center teach abstinence in the local school system.

Sexual morality is an important issue that needs to be addressed in the local church today. I have addressed it in a G-rated fashion from the pulpit before. Mark Driscoll however does not address this issue in a G-Rated fashion. Unless you have a conscience that is not the least bit sensitive, you will find this video offensive. I however believe that it is necessary to see this video in order to examine the subject of “Sexual Morality” from Mark Driscoll’s perspective (since he is arguably the largest evangelical Christian voice today that has addressed this issue), and then to compare his arguments with Scripture.

*NOTE: If you are less than 18 years of age, then only watch this video with a parent or legal guardian.

*Note: I disagree with Driscoll’s “crude joking.” He is directly violating Scripture (Eph. 5:4); however, this is not the subject I hope to examine here. John Macarthur however has already dealt with this concern in “The Rape of Solomon’s Song”: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

In the video above, Driscoll argues that virtually anything is sexually permitted within marriage as long as the “oneness” aspect of marriage is still intact. This oneness between a husband and wife appears to be his hermeneutic for judging proper and improper marriage bed activities. He jokes that a husband cannot be in one room, and the wife in another, with both being sexually active, and the “oneness” aspect still be present. Both partners must be involved with one another. Where he reveals his inconsistency is when he says that a man or woman, as long as he or she does not lust, is free in Christ to be sexually active without a partner. What I don’t understand is that if the oneness aspect must be present in marriage between two people, then why does Driscoll believe that it is not a sin to be sexually active without a partner while being single? If in order for sexual morality to take place within a marriage, both partners must be involved, then in order for sexual morality to take place period, it must be carried out within marriage. Otherwise, sexual activity while being single without a partner is permissible by God before marriage, but once you are married, it becomes a sin. Contrary to Driscoll, the Bible knows of no such sexual morality outside of the marriage bed!

Driscoll argues that the Bible does not say that being sexually active without a partner while being single is a sin. What he fails to mention is that the Bible does say what sexual morality is; and it is only sexual activity between one man and one woman for life within the covenant of marriage (1 Cor. 7:1-5). The Bible does not have to explicitly condemn every depraved sexual practice thought up by man in order for those practices to be considered sins. The Bible only knows of two sexual categories: Sexual Morality and Sexual Immorality. Anything therefore by definition that is voluntarily sexual outside of the marriage bed is sin! The fact that the Bible defines the boundaries of sexual morality within the marriage bed alone thus reveals that everything outside of the marriage bed is sexual immorality!

Furthermore, lust is not what makes masturbation a sin; the fact that a person is commiting a sexual act outside of the marriage bed is what makes masturbation a sin.  I don’t care what they think about when they do it, it’s still a sin… even if they’re reading Scripture or praying.  If I take Driscoll’s “lust is the issue, not the act” to its consistent end, then someone could potentially visit a prostitute, “as long as they didn’t lust.”  When the sexual organs are involved, sex takes place.  If this sexual act is not with your spouse, then it’s sexual immorality.  There is no sexual act in the Scriptures that the Bible considers “neutral.”  Masturbation is NOT neutral.  The actual act is evil whenever it takes place outside of the marriage bed regardless if the mind is involved or not.

By The Way: If I apply Driscoll’s “The Bible doesn’t call it a sin” hermeneutic to other precious doctrines in Scripture, Christianity dies. Does the Bible have to list every possible way man will ever devise as a way to get to God, and call it sin? Or, can He simply tell us the only way to get to Him (Jesus Christ) (John 14:6); and thus nullify every other possible or conceivable way? The answer is obvious. I challenge Driscoll or anyone else to find me one instance in Scripture where sexual activity outside of the marriage bed was acceptable to God.

It bothers me, and it should bother you, that Driscoll just added sexual activity outside of marriage to what the Bible considers to be “sexually moral.”

In conclusion, based on the arguments presented above, if you are voluntarily participating in anything sexual, and you are not married, then you are sinning against God. What must you do?

  1. Repent, and run to the cross!
  2. Exercise and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit: self-control (Gal. 5).
  3. Memorize Scripture to help in sanctification: 1 Cor. 6:13-20, Col. 3:16-17, Gal. 5, etc.
  4. Recognize that the reason why you desire this sexual activity outside of the marriage bed is not because you are 1) a teenager, 2) a sexual being, 3) a man, 4) a woman, etc.; it is instead because you are a sinner. Deal with your sinful heart or even the marriage bed will not save you from sexual immorality!
  5. Constantly, repentantly run to the cross, leaning on the strength that is found in the finished work of Christ alone, as He continually justifies you in spite of you!

What are your thoughts about this issue? Do you agree or disagree with Driscoll? Why or why not?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    I appreciate Jared’s attempt to deal biblically with this subject.

    The fact is that his conclusion runs contrary to what is probably the majority opinion today. The argument I have heard goes something like this:

    1) The Bible deals with many difficult issues. The Bible is forthright in its discussions of sexual issues.

    2) The practice of masturbation is certainly not a recent innovation in human behavior. Hebrew young people in the OT days and church young people in the NT days likely engaged in the practice.

    3) If the practice offended God, it would likely have been addressed. The Bible addresses homosexuality, incest, bestiality and other disgusting and shocking sexual practices. If it mattered that much to God, he would have addressed the issue in scripture.

    4) Because of the silence of the scriptures, we should assume that the practice is not inherently sinful.

    Most of the Christians I have read on sexual topics generally follow this template. But truth is not determined by majority opinion.

    Jared takes a different view – one that runs counter to the prevalent thought. He addresses the silence issue in his post.

    Should be interesting!

    Due to time constraints, I’m not likely to be a participant in this discussion. But we need to use restraint and tact as we address this personal and difficult topic.

    • Christiane says

      First of all, I am not ‘offended’ by the topic, as most of my family are medical people, and I taught boys and girls aged fourteen to seventeen in a drug rehab called ‘Straight and Narrow’ in Paterson, NJ. Soooo . . .
      I got through the video and tried to comprehend the nature of this man’s authority to speak to those who might be listening on this important topic:
      medical ?, spiritual ?, biblical ?, ministerial ? pastoral ? licensed teacher with certified sex-education credential? or ‘whatever’ ?

      I am not interested in ‘bashing’ him, as he earnestly appears to be trying to help people and he has no intent to do harm to anyone, I believe.

      But I must raise a question with the readers here, because there is something in the Bible concerning ‘masturbation':
      the famous ‘Sin of Onan’ (at least famous to people of my faith) which is mentioned in this quote from the Book of Genesis,
      Chapt. 38:

      “1 About that time Judah parted from his brothers and pitched his tent near a certain Adullamite named Hirah.
      2
      There he met the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua, married her, and had relations with her.
      3
      She conceived and bore a son, whom she named Er.
      4
      Again she conceived and bore a son, whom she named Onan.
      5
      2 Then she bore still another son, whom she named Shelah. They were in Chezib when he was born.
      6
      Judah got a wife named Tamar for his first-born, Er.
      7
      But Er, Judah’s first-born, greatly offended the LORD; so the LORD took his life.
      8
      3 Then Judah said to Onan, “Unite with your brother’s widow, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.”
      9
      Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother.
      10
      What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.”

      My question is this: (sorry if question is offensive to anyone, please forgive)

      Does this portion of Genesis state clearly that the ‘sin’ was ‘wasting Onan’s seed’ or is there another interpretation?

      If it refers to ‘wasting seed’ (sperm), then it seems to me that there is no difference in distinguishing whether or not this was done ‘with a partner’ or alone.

      Once again,
      apology if comment offends: please forgive.

      • says

        L’s,

        I think this is the point of sin for Onan: “Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his;”

        I know of few texts more butchered than this one. This has nothing to do with masturbation, the withdrawal method or anything else so base. It has to do with a selfish evil-hearted brother-in-law who would gladly use the body of his sister for gratification, but not out of love for God, her or his dead brother.

      • says

        Christiane, I think this is a special case instead of one that can be universally applied. I mean, based on your argument, all contraception is evil as well; since all contraception wastes a man’s seed or a woman’s egg(s).

        1) This is the only instance in Scripture like this.

        2) God commanded Onan to produce offspring; and Onan directly disobeyed God.

        3) It seems that this is why God killed Onan, not because he “wasted his seed,” but because he directly disobeyed what God had commanded him to do.

        I know that it can be argued that God has commanded us to be fruitful and miltiphy; but, this does not necessarily mean that we are to have as many children as we can produce. It simply means to “be fruitful and multiply.”

        Furthermore, as someone that has medical knowledge, wouldn’t this also mean that the sperm that gradually comes out of men on a regular basis, is sinful as well? Even though it’s involuntary? Because, this seed too is wasted.

        What are your thoughts? Do you think God’s command to Onan can be universally applied to all men?

        • Chief Katie says

          Jared and Darby,

          I concur absolutely on your thoughts on Onan. He was a self-absorbed man and this scripture has nothing to do with either masturbation or even birth control. It’s not there at all.

        • Chief Katie says

          Christianne, I apologize. I came off way too harshly. It was not my intention. You and I come from different thought on Christianity, and I am aware that the Catholic church uses the story of Onan to partially support its prohibition against birth control, though I don’t know what is taught on masturbation. I don’t see any context for birth control in this passage, but I do respect that is your tradition.

          Blessings.

          • Christiane says

            Hi KATIE,

            I wasn’t offended, please don’t worry about that. That ‘traditional’ interpretation is also shared by some orthodox Jews, so I don’t know how it all got started. It is not totally shared by all Jewish people, of course. Nor, I understand by most Protestant people.

            My situation is that I do not know how Southern Baptists interpret some Scriptures, unless I read about it from a reliable source, or ask reliable people. I do appreciate the responses from you and everyone. Thanks again.

            Christiane

          • Christiane says

            I forgot to add that the ‘traditional interpretation’ of that Scripture about Onan might have reflected beliefs in the natural law. I would think that might be the case, but I am not positive.

    • says

      Dave, I really wonder if in Hebrew culture that masturbation would have been an issue? There was no pornography; and women dressed very modestly. If sexual activity was desired, marriage was expected. Plus, they got married so young; I think it’s just as probable that they didn’t struggle with masturbation like western culture does today. Plus, if teens were not allowed to “read the Song of Solomon” until a certain age, then what would there be to feed this desire for sexual immorality?

      • Chief Katie says

        Jared, If I may, I have a question. I’m no scholar regarding early Hebrew culture. I accept that people married young, procreated and followed the customs of their faith.

        I also don’t know a thing about when young people would have been exposed to the Song of Solomon, but I don’t fully understand your thoughts on their being no need to feed a desire for sexual immorality. I don’t read Song of Solomon as any kind of immorality, but the proper relationship of the friendship of marriage and all that goes with it. Where I am having trouble is with the idea that people need to speak of sex for their to be an interest in it. As a teacher of young children, I’m quite sure that children recongize very, very early that their bodies can provide them with pleasurable feelings. If you’ve ever observed a class of kindergartners at nap time, you’d be convinced I’m right! Children understand this very early in life and I’m very sure there is no sin involved in it. They are responding to the signals their nervous system sends them.

        Have I maybe misunderstood your comments here?

        • says

          Katie,
          I know that Jews often do not allow young boys to read the Song of Solomon until they reach a certain age, so that they won’t excite passions in them before it is time (marriage or maturity). This is all I was meaning.

          I’m not saying that people need to speak of sex for there to be an interest in it; I’m merely saying that the more people hear about sex, and see sexually provacative things, the more prone we are to desire it; unless self-control is intentionally cultivated and practiced. I mean, if you’re constantly surrounded by women wearing lingerie; then sexual immorality will be a greater temptation for you than if you lived with the Amish.

          Concerning whether or not children are sinning when “they respond to the signals their nervous systems send them,” I’m not sure how to respond. If they respond in a sexually immoral way, then yes, they are sinning; regardless of age.

          • Chief Katie says

            Thanks for your answer Jared. I appreciate it.

            I’m not convinced that very young children can determine what sexual immorality is so I can’t see how any outside exposures to it would make any difference. Of course, children do model adult behavior, even if they can’t determine the rightness or wrongness of it without an explanation. But it is food for thought.

            Just my two centavos.

            Blessings.

      • says

        Jared,
        We tend to forget that old Bible maxim that there is “nothing new under the sun.” Not all women dressed modestly and while there wasn’t pornography in the sense that we would think of it now, most paganism revolved around sexual themes and sexual worship practices. Much of the idolatry that Israel was so tempted by undoubtedly revolved around sexuality in some manner. There is a passage from the Mishnah or Talmud that talks about this, but I am unable to remember the citation at the moment.
        I have no doubt that masturbation was practiced in those times as well. I tend to agree with your assessment of Scripture’s teachings as broad principles rather than a need to list out specifics in every case. While God is certainly detailed in many things, He didn’t list every possible contingency of every possible circumstance. The Law contains many things that are intended to serve as examples for more general guides of understanding. We too often want to create “loopholes” by saying that God didn’t specify such and such a thing, when we can clearly see that He has said enough for us to make a good inference regarding it. This topic falls in those lines I would say, and as such, I tend to agree with your assessment that any sexual acts that are outside of the marriage relationship are sin.

          • says

            I will have to find the message that I heard the story in and see where it came from exactly so I can reference it for you. I think I have it in my office at the church, so I will check for it tomorrow.

          • says

            Jared,
            The amazing thing is that I didn’t forget this discussion. I hope you will catch this before it disappears again in any case. I found the reference I was thinking of and it wasn’t from the Mishnah; rather it was from another collection of Jewish writings called “The Legends of the Jews.” This account regards King Manasseh:

            The people of this time were attracted to idolatry with so irresistible a force that the vast learning of Manasseh, who knew fifty-two different interpretations of the Book of Leviticus, did not give him enough moral strength to withstand its influence. Rab Ashi, the famous compiler of the Talmud, once announced a lecture on Manasseh with the words: “To-morrow I shall speak about our colleague Manasseh.” At night the king appeared to Ashi in a dreams, and put a ritual question to him, which the Rabbi could not answer. Manasseh told him the solution, and Ashi, in amazement at the king’s scholarship, asked why one so erudite had served idols. Manasseh’s reply was: “Hadst thou lived at my time, thou wouldst have caught hold of the hem of my garment and run after me.”

            The teacher mentioned that the phrase can be translated as “lifted up your garment” and speaks of the sexual component behind idolatry and worship in those temples.

          • says

            Jared,
            You’re welcome. Sorry it took so long to find. I completely misplaced the CDs and my wife found them last week while we were looking for something else.

  2. says

    Also, I want to encourage readers to not make this a “Driscoll bash.” Do your best to deal only with the theology, and the arguments.

    Dave, I also wasn’t aware I was in the minority on this :).

    Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.

    • Dave Miller says

      That’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it?

      I am speaking specifically of those authors who have written on sexual topics for the church. Wheat. Lahaye. Shedd. Several others whose names escape me now. I (and this is going to difficult to word without embarrassing myself) do not consider myself an expert on the subject. But I have read several authors. As I’ve taught through the book of Proverbs, I’ve had to deal with sexual issues frequently. And of course, when you are dealing with young people, this topic is germane.

      They tend to have an ethic fairly close to Driscoll’s (though they tend to be a bit more reserved in the way they address it).

      Again, the majority is not necessarily right – or wrong.

  3. says

    I think I understand why Driscoll didn’t take a tougher stance – he doesn’t want to add to Scripture by calling something a sin that isn’t. But I’m inclined to agree with Jared on this point. Al Mohler said Christians are the ones who only speak of sex within marriage. There isn’t even room for discussion of any form of sexuality outside the confines of marriage. That appears to be Jared’s point and I think it’s biblical.

    I think Driscoll danced around the topic a bit by saying one must think of tractors or something, so at least the act would be weird. I can’t imagine any reason to do it that isn’t sinful outside of the oneness that Driscoll described within a marriage bed.

    • says

      Darby,
      Do you see masturbation as a neutral act? Or, is it a sexual act?

      I’m asking because I had a grown woman at the pregnancy crisis center above tell me that women could masturbate without thinking anything ungodly whatsoever.

      If there is no lust, can a Christian masturbate unto the glory of God? I’m arguing “No.”

      • says

        I think the old line about it being your body, you can do whatever you want with it doesn’t apply in this case. :)

        My question for the woman at the cpc would be: Why would a woman want to? What is she trying to achieve if not sexual gratification?

        Of course, we can’t help it that certain things feel good on our bodies because we’re created as physical beings. No one faults us for scratching our own backs or massaging our own necks or rubbing our own feet or stretching muscles for no other purpose than that it feels good to do it. But the organs in question have a specific function and that function is sexual by nature. So I think there’s a difference.

        That said, I think if both spouses find it appealing in one another’s presence, as part of their sex life, so be it.

  4. says

    Jared,

    As a person who interacts frequently with men who have experienced various sexual additions, including masturbation (which is addictive), I have discovered that as men get honest about the activity, they almost invariably admit it is almost impossible to “enjoy” without lustful thoughts. Many admit to feeling guilty upon completion. Many of the married men also admit that they had, on occasion, denied their wives in favor of themselves and fantasies.

    I don’t know if I am in the minority or not on this, but I do know that masturbation is generally a self-centered act. There are some occasions where doctors “prescribe” it for health reasons on a temporary basis, but, like medical marijuana, most will never need it, but many will look for a reason to approve it. Doctors don’t necessarily feel a responsibility to base their advise on God’s direction.

    I like Driscoll, but I’ve had many long discussions with people who get so caught up in what the Bible supposedly does not label as sin. It becomes to easy use what we perceive as missing from the Word to justify almost anything.

    God forgives sexual sin, as He does other sins, but He does want us to follow His will in the use of our bodies. God was not unclear about His purposes for sex.

  5. Dave Miller says

    One more thing before I move on to deal with things I have to deal with.

    While I do not sanction Driscoll’s approach in full, I appreciate the fact that he deals forthrightly with very difficult topics. He attempts to apply biblical truth to the discussion, though sometimes we do not agree with either the destination he arrives at or the way he travels there.

  6. says

    I did want to add one point that maybe many do not realize, and that is that masturbation, like pornography, is a growing problem for women. We tend to think of it as a boys and men issue, but it most certainly is not. I think we need to be careful of appearing as judgmental, but, as always, we need to be compassionately truthful and long-suffering on this issue. Many people find themselves with a habit they did not anticipate.

    • says

      Thom, hypothetically, if it was possible to masturbate without lusting, is it still a sin? Is the act in and of itself, since it’s taking place outside of the marriage bed, a sin?

      I’ve had women tell me that they can masturbate without thinking anything ungodly. I’ve also heard pastors encourage young men to pray or read Scripture while they do it.

      • says

        Jared,

        Tough question, that. I think it would still be something that should be done with your spouse and not alone. And I do know that some married couple do that with each other, sometimes because of various limitations one might have. (Tiptoeing here.)

        Masturbation, for most people, at least had its roots in lust. I’m not sure that something that began that way can be turned towards purity. Now . . . have I ever? Yes. Was it sinful? In my case, I believe it was.

        Perhaps the women might clarify what they consider ungodly. We can face some serious and tragic consequences in life, such as the untimely loss of a spouse or a separation that can’t be avoided between a couple still deeply in love. Sexual needs don’t disappear. I know it seems odd, but I believe there are circumstances where you may remain one but not be together.

        • says

          Thom, I appreciate your comments.

          I thought that once one spouse passed away that the marriage bond was severed in God’s eyes?

          I realize that there must be emotional union between the living spouse and deceased spouse due to love not dying with the spouse; but, are you saying that it’s ok to masturbate while thinking of a deceased spouse?

          If death indeed “does us part,” in God’s eyes, how is the oneness aspect still intact between and living spouse and a deceased one, to where masturbation would be sanctioned by your “within marriage” stipulation?

          • says

            Well, I was actually trying to think of a hypothetical situation where the thoughts accompanying masturbation would not be ungodly. While it is true that the bonds of marriage may end with death, in the heart of many a living spouse, at least for a time, it does not seem so.

            While I was trying to think of a non-lustful situation, I still maintain that if we are honest, lust accompanies masturbation. I don’t think it is a sin we should beat people up about, as most are bearing guilt for it already and battling it, even if succumbing. But I do think we should teach the truth . . . just as we tell people not to gossip or lie. Of course . . . there’s the little white lie. Masturbation, for many, becomes a routine event and there are people who end up preferring it to sex with a spouse. That can’t be what God intended.

            Thank goodness for grace.

      • Chief Katie says

        Thanks Gentlemen. I suspected my two cents would be welcome, but I recognize that these types of topics are sensitive, and that everyone has different sensibilities. So here goes….

        First, I enjoy Mark Driscoll very much. I do consider him to be a Christian brother. I have especially enjoyed the kind and loving way he honors his wife and children. He seems to seek out his wife’s wisdom on a wide range of topics. He appears to be a complementarian as am I. He is very straightforward with young men and women about using their bodies as idols to all manner of sin and corruption. He gets big points from me on that.

        I have personally read the sermon Driscoll intended to deliver that John MacArthur speaks about in his remarks on Driscoll, and I have to agree with MacArthur. Driscoll’s sermon was so far over the top as to be bordering on needing to be delivered in a brown paper wrapper. It’s one thing to try to dig through the beautiful metaphors and similes of Song of Solomon, but it’s completely another to extrapolate from it, what Driscoll did. By the way, my husband read it as well, and he was blushing! LOL. Driscoll simply goes too far.

        I do not understand what motivated all of this. I agree that our churches rarely speak about God-given sexuality other than to give a nod to the marriage bed. We should do better and hopefully with an eye towards appropriate time and place. As a teacher, I know that everything said to people is all about the delivery. I could not have sat through the sermon Driscoll intended to give. In this particular area of Mark’s ministry, I see a need for more maturity and I trust he will gain that.

        Now to the topic of masturbation. I’ve never taken a poll and I have no idea who thinks what about it. I personally find it morally neutral. It’s not forbidden in scripture as far as I can see. Nor is it encouraged. We simply don’t have any direct guidance. We can try to lump it into the marriage covenant, but I’m not convinced one way or the other. I don’t see it as fornication. Fornication implies a sexual act with someone you are not married to. So I reject that outright. It’s not adultery either. When I think of sexual acts outside of the bond of the marriage bed, I see betrayal of a spouse, children, an entire family and most assuredly a serious sin against our God. I would agree that masturbation performed while thinking about a different person than a spouse, is a betrayal that strikes at the heart of marriage, but I’m not convinced that is always the case. Let’s be truthful, God made us sexual beings and there are people who cannot enjoy the purity of the marriage bed due to injury, disease, separation, etc. I can’t honestly say that I think people are sinning if they occasionally meet their own sexual needs without the involvement of another person. But I’m open to correction on that. Many of you are Pastors and your knowledge of scripture exceeds mine. I also acknowledge that I am not a man, so I probably don’t have the same view of masturbation that many men do when it is combined with pornography. There is no doubt in my mind that pornography is a great evil.

        As a matter of respect, I will gladly remove myself from this thread if anyone finds it makes them uncomfortable. I’m quite used to spending time with a ship’s crew of sailors and nothing is off-limits for many of them.

        I look forward to seeing the thoughs of others on this topic. I hope that everyone will remain respectful. I never fail to learn something.

        • says

          Very good perspective, Katie. You did come right out about the one thing I was tiptoeing around, and that is that sometimes, in a marriage, sex ends up not being possible for one or the other. I still believe, however, that if masturbation is a part of the marriage, both partners should be aware of that. Secrecy would not be a good thing. Not that it needs to be announced every time it occurs, but a general awareness that needs are being met in that way should be part of mutual consideration for each other. It keeps the other from feeling excluded or rejected.

  7. says

    I appreciate you, Jared, for taking on this discussion. The church is way too silent on sexual issues, while at the same time, always telling our members that the Bible has all the answers they need to live a godly life.

    Now, I’m headed to the gym to work out. Didn’t want anyone to think I was ducking, just in case the discussion keeps going.

    • says

      Thom, I agree. It’s sad to admit this, but I learned about sex on the school bus. Thus, I was NOT taught a Christian worldview concerning sex and glory of God. Praise be to God that He has “reprogrammed me” and continues to do so.

  8. says

    My last year at Southern, I took a theology of marriage class with Dr. Mohler. Towards the end of the semester, he sent the ladies into another room, looked at us guys and said, “Okay, floor’s open, ask anything.” Masturbation was a large part of the conversation.

    Mohler took the same overall direction in saying we do have to be careful because the Bible does not specifically call the act a sin, but he also deviates some from Driscoll. After some thought applied to it, Mohler’s position is the one I take. Basically:

    1. Though we cannot absolutely say the act itself is a sin, lust is undoubtedly a sin and anyone (especially a guy) who says that they can masturbate without lusting is most certainly lying.

    2. We must be aware that in our culture there is a great divide (sometimes of a decade or more) between the onset of puberty and sexual desire, and marriage. Thus unmarried young people (again, especially guys) are very prone to masturbate and masturbate a lot as they attempt to deal with the situation. So our response demands grace.

    3. Aside from the push for earlier marriage among Christians, we as churches, mentors, and parents should encourage single people (and yes also married since the temptation is still there) to avoid masturbation as much as possible, not beat up on them when they do fail, and use the reality of sexual desire to remind them that God designed them to marry, enjoy sex, and have children. Therefore the desires should encourage them to focus on the future, look for a spouse, and work on their character to be the men and women God wants them to be.

    In other words: don’t encourage it, but don’t major on it being a great sin, and use the desires behind it to push for character development.

    Related to this, the topic came up in reference to marriage: what if, due to military service or something similar, a husband and wife are separated for a long period of time, is masturbation permissible? Mohler’s answer was: so long as their thoughts are directed towards their spouse and as long as both spouses are in agreement that it is not an issue, then it should be left up to their consciences and the church shouldn’t speak to the matter one way or the other.

    Like I said, I basically agree with Mohler.

    That being said, I don’t think we should ever label masturbation (with our without lust) as morally acceptable, but because of the silence of Scripture I do have a problem with also labeling it morally unacceptable all of the time.

    • says

      Mike, I appreciate your thoughts. Mohler has some good insight; you offer some great points.

      My concern is that you point to “the silence of Scripture.” I don’t think Scripture is silent on the issue. I think the Scriptures clearly define sexual morality. Masturbation, the act in and of itself, is still seeking sexual gratification outside of marriage. Every form of sexual immorality mentioned in Scripture has the same underlying foundation that masturbation has: sexual activity outside of the marriage bed.

      I agree with your emphasis on grace and encouragement; however, I find it odd that you seem to want to allow the possibility that masturbation is a form of sexual morality. If we allow that sexual morality includes masturbation, then we cannot define sexual morality as taking place within marriage alone.

      Also, if I can think of another form of sexual activity that the Bible does not call sin, will you encourage me to be neutral about it as well? Say… using inorganic objects as tools for masturbation, including inorganic dolls; as long as there is no lust involved? The Bible does not call this sin either, but would you place it in the category of sexual immorality?

      • says

        I don’t think I’m that “neutral.” The point of the last line was regardless of the morality of the act itself, the great majority of the time it’s gonna be couched in sin.

        Personally, I have a hard time believing a single person can masturbate without lust…hence sin is involved. Things like dolls, etc. bascially their point is to create an object of lust that isn’t a living being, so I don’t see how it could be used without lust. But to go back to the idea of the military couple…the act is still there, but do we have biblical grounds to call that a sin? I don’t believe so–yes it would be in the bound of marriage but it doesn’t take place in the literal oneness of the marriage bed, still it is without improper desire…so…

        Your basic premise is to place sexual gratification outside of “the marriage bed” in the realm of sexual immorality. In general, I agree with that statement but I also maintain there are possible excpetions. Some forms of masturbation I would include there, many/most I wouldn’t. That’s basically what I’m saying…

        • says

          Mike,
          You make some interesting points. You’ve given me some more things to think about.

          I wonder if it’s biblically permissable to focus on one’s spouse for the purpose of masterbation? If the other spouse is conscience of this; then, is the “oneness” aspect still involved, since your desire is still for your spouse? Or, must both spouses be present for the oneness aspect to be present?

  9. says

    Because I’m sitting at the front lobby desk where I’m at, I’ve opted to not watch the video although I’ve seen Driscoll videos before on this topic so I have an idea what he’s saying (and how he’s likely saying it). That said, Jared you dealt with the topic in a very helpful way. I agree with your perspective entirely. Great helpful words for anyone struggling in this area too.

  10. says

    When I was in still studying at Bethany Baptist Bible College, I asked one of my professors if he believes masturbation is sin and he point out to me Micah 2:1 from the King James Bible:

    “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.”

    I agree that masturbation is sin, but I was diffident of the use of this verse to prove that it is. I feel there’s something wrong. May I here what you guys think?

    • says

      The fact that bed and hand happen to fall within the same verse doesn’t mean it refers to this. I think the context of Micah 2 leads to a figurative use of the word hand. They lay in their beds in the morning and consider all the ways they can use their position (it is in the power of their hand) to exploit and oppress others when they arise.

    • Chase says

      Micah 2:1 doesn’t seem to be referring to masturbation specifically, but rather to devising evil plans; as verse 2 clarifies, “they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.” These things are devised in bed, and “when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand,” or because their hand works against God. That is not to say, though, that sexual sins are excluded. From John Gill’s commentary on verse 1:

      “Woe to them that devise iniquity, etc.] Any kind of iniquity; idolatry, or worshipping of idols, for the word is used sometimes for an idol; or the sin of uncleanness, on which the thoughts too often dwell in the night season; or coveting of neighbours’ goods, and oppressing the poor; sins which are instanced in Micah 2:2; and every thing that is vain, foolish, and wicked, and in the issue brings trouble and distress: now a woe is denounced against such that think on such things, and please themselves with them in their imaginations, and contrive ways and means to commit them.”

  11. Chief Katie says

    Christianne,

    That’s a relief. It’s not my intention to discard out of hand the beliefs that people hold to even if I don’t agree. I do have many Catholic friends, and frankly, they are what we call (and you may as well) Cafeteria Catholics. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but from their perspective, and mine to some degree, they find the Catholic church’s teaching on birth control inconsistent. So they simply don’t follow it as a matter of their conscience. I think Protestants have a wide array of teachings that some denominations follow and others don’t. That’s probably true of most religions. I have read Pope John Paul II’s statement on the view of honoring life from conception to natural death. I think most of us here, would agree that life is precious and those parameters are appropriate. We just don’t hold to the idea that every act of sexual love has to be open to the possibility of pregnancy.

    I don’t want to hi-jack Jared’s thread here, so let me just say, that I think on the whole, most of us wouldn’t find the scripture regarding Onan to be an issue of birth control and probably not masturbation either. I do however respect your right to hold to it as your belief dictates.

  12. cermak_rd says

    The Torah never calls masturbation a sin. It specifically calls out adultery, incest, and sex by those betrothed to others (which given the demographics would have been most of the sexually available population–either married or betrothed). Their are penalties spelled out for various sexual sins. Masturbation is not listed amongst them. Therefore I would tend to say that the Hebrew Scriptures is silent on this matter. I don’t recall any mention in the Gospels regarding this subject (other than the generic lust statement, which only seems to apply to males). I would think that if the author of the epistles wanted to call out this behavior, they would have specifically. Corinthians 7:1-5 especially seems to be mentioning that it’s better if man is just doesn’t have sex with a woman, but because he’s weak it’s better he marry. Again, that tempation is about sex with another person, not flying solo. Remember in chapter 5, he had just called out this Church on a matter (incest) that was clearly not allowed by the Torah, or even, apparently, the pagan religions of the area.

  13. Smuschany says

    First a little disclaimer, I am not married thus this is looking at this from the outside. Also, I freely admit I am an addict (who by God’s grace has been convicted of and protected from) to pornography, thus the issue of masturbation hits home for me.

    In terms of single men and women and the issue of masturbation, I can say with out a doubt that there is NO possible way in which one can do so, and it NOT be lust. You are either lusting after an image on the screen/paper/ect, or our are lusting after the physical feeling you get when you do the deed.

    In terms of marriage, I would say this. If a man (or woman) is on a business trip and they are in their hotel room alone at night, and they have a choice between either turning on the playboy channel, or getting out a picture of their spouse, the picture of the spouse is one million times more preferable. Of course the better choice would be to get out the bible and read that until you fall asleep but I dont know if that is the point. Paul does tell married couples in 1st Corinthians not to deprive themselves except by mutual agreement for a period of time for devotion and prayer. Simply put, mankind is/was created to procreate! God made it feel good for a reason. But he also makes it clear that that is suppose to take place in marriage. I know what it is like to have the urge to look at pictures and “relive” ones self. I could only imagine what it is like for a husband and wife to long for each other when they are away for periods of time. Thus, why I say, if it is an option to “reliving” yourself to porn, or to thoughts of your spouse, and you just cant control it until you see them again, the latter is always preferable.

    Is it sin? I dont think so…Is it preferable? I dont think so either.

    • says

      When a husband having fertility issues visits his doctor and leaves a sperm sample for medical analysis, is that a sin? How absolute is Jared’s argument against masturbation? Isn’t masturbation in this instance a neutral act (nothing “sexual” about this).

      • Smuschany says

        First, I would say how is he doing it? Is he using the porn that is often provided to “help”? If the answer is yes to that, then YES it is sin, regardless of the need.

        Second, I know this sounds callous, but maybe, God is telling a couple like that that they are not suppose to have their own children, but maybe to adopt or serve as foster parents. Furthermore, I would say that God kept Sarah barren until a specific designated time. There was a reason for her barrenness. Likewise, maybe there is a reason that a man is infertile. If this is the case, no amount of doctors visits and “samples” would change that fact.

        • says

          In reply to both Frank and Smuschany,

          I’ll be open and honest here. The hypothetical above is not a hypo.

          My wife and I tried to conceive for around a year with no luck. She visited her OBGYN to see what was what. Everything was fine. I then visited my doctor (Catholic clinic, conservative Baptist doc). My doc sent me home with a plastic cup and a brown paper bag. I wasn’t at a clinic. There was no pornography. And that experience was the furthest thing from “sexual” that one could imagine.

          A day later, I got my test results back. I wasn’t infertile. I had an infection and low count. I lost weight 25 pounds, starting taking vitamins, took an antibiotic, exercised more, etc. As an aside, my wife is now pregnant.

          I’m an almost 28 year-old guy who just needed a little reproductive health care.

          • Frank L. says

            BDW, please know that I assumed that your post was NOT hypothetical, which gave it great credibility for me. It is not an easy ethical environment to navigate in because we have no direct Scripture.

            I hope you did not feel I was pointing a finger at you in any way. I’ve never walked in that pair of shoes so I appreciate your struggle to find a fundamental ethical principle to guide you.

        • says

          Ok, I gotta be honest here. Everyone who has ever read my comments on blogs knows that I have been belligerent, disrespectful, dismissive, combative. and condescending to moderate (and moderate-friendly) baptists–and I’ve meant each and every single word of it. This includes BDW.

          But, did you seriously just say maybe God MEANT for them to be infertile? Maybe God meant for someone to have cancer so they shouldn’t use chemo. Maybe God meant for someone to die of pneumonia so they shouldn’t use antibiotics. No one would consider either of those to be reasonable questions. Further, if God MEANT for a couple to be infertile, do you think medical science has come up with anything that can thwart the will of the Soverign God.

          I think suggesting something like that about this dude and his wife is just a tad over the line of “reasonable” and this is coming from someone who wouldn’t lift the business end of his pinky finger to help a moderate. What BDW did and how he did it is really none of anyone’s business. Long story short, how else are you supposed to get one of those samples? A needle and syringe?

          • Frank L. says

            There are several accounts where God “shut up the womb.” My understanding has always been that children “are a gift from God.”

            This point of view seems to be supported by the evidence of Scripture and science. Even with technology, the giving of life is not automatic.

            So, I disagree with Joe. I don’t think any measure taken to have a child is necessarily ethical. I’m also not suggesting it isn’t. I’m suggesting that we must let morality, not medicine dictate.

            Just because we can does not mean we should.

          • Frank L. says

            By the way, Joe, I would not wear those descriptions as a badge of honor. I hope you were confessing and not bragging.

      • Frank L. says

        BDW, I do appreciate the spirit of your post that demonstrates the need to find a “fundamental principle” to guide decisions in regard to this issue. However, your conclusion is based upon your presupposition that fertility clinics have a Biblical foundation in the first place. While this might be “cultural common sense,” it is by no means a settled Biblical issue. So, your reasoning has at the least a hint of circularity to begin with.

        The fact that the masturbation takes place in a “clinic” makes it no less “sexual” than anywhere else–just a bit more creepy perhaps.

        It’s like a counselor who uses “sexual therapy” with a client. It’s no less sexual simply because one person has a degree. So, your argument seems weak to me on many levels.

        Also, I think the very concept of a “neutral” act can be challenged from Scripture.

        • Christiane says

          I think Aaron (BDW) sought proper medical advice in the correct places for his faith. His problem was not infertility. That was determined by proper medical tests. His medical problems were resolved, and he will be a new father soon.

          What’s not to admire here?
          People want children, a family. To seek medical help is reasonable, ethical, and moral. I not only don’t see a problem with what Aaron went through, but I applaud his willingness to do so, in order to reasonably find out and correct any problems with his health.

          This ‘soon-to-be’ father is to be congratulated.

      • Tom Parker says

        BDW:

        You said:”How absolute is Jared’s argument against masturbation? ”

        That is a great question, so respectfully I would love to read his answer here.

        • says

          I basically agree with Frank.

          However, since BDW was able to carry out this act in his own home, the oneness aspect of marriage could still be intact. In other words, he didn’t have to masturbate alone to carry this out.

          If it must done in a clinic, then cannot your spouse be involved in this as well? I still don’t see that masturbation is all of a sudden “neutral” just because it’s in a medical setting.

  14. Tom Parker says

    Jared:

    You said:”If it must done in a clinic, then cannot your spouse be involved in this as well?

    Do you really mean his wife needs to be there as he does this?

  15. Tom Parker says

    Jared:

    What do you mean by his wife being actively involved?

    My thoughts are that this is a very private matter and we need to be very careful where the scriptures are silent.

  16. says

    I could see this post turning into a Dr. Seuss book.

    Not in a plane, not on a crane, not in a car, not in a jar, not in a boat, not under a coat, not in your house, not without your spouse, I would not could not Sam I am.

  17. says

    Truly, if BDW and his wife were pursuing help together, she was involved. There was no need for her to be present. Obviously, he didn’t think to himself, “I’m going to do this . . . but I’m not going to tell her about it.” When we are married, we are one — that does not always require a physical presence. Masturbation, in my view, disrespects marriage when it becomes in lieu of sexual activity with the spouse, or in addition to.

    It’s no wonder that people end up bearing so much guilt about things like this. If we are going to debate whether masturbating for medical reasons is a sin, can you imagine how difficult it must be for a guy or a girl who is truly battling a sexual addiction to go to a pastor or church leader? That’s why sins grow in secret.

    • says

      Thom,
      You make some good points. I’m trying to discern whether or not the Scriptures agree with your statement: “We we are married, we are one–that does not always require a physical presence.”

      My main concern is that one fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Through prayer and Scripture study, it seems we are able to exercise self-control for a season (1 Cor. 7:5). Furthermore, the reason why couples are to come back together soon is due to a “lack of self-control.” This is not something Paul or the other Scriptures praise. The church at Corinth indeed lacked self-control; so, he seems to be trying to help them keep free from sin because they lacked the maturing of this fruit of the Spirit.

      It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul never suggests masterbation as an alternative to help with their lack of self-control. Thom, if a husband or wife cannot control themselves sexually when they must be separated, then do they have a sin problem?

      For those that want to argue from silence, with as much problems that Israel and the church has had with “a lack of self-control,” one would think that God would have mentioned masturbation as a helpful remedy if it was a God-glorifying option. I realize that this is an argument from silence; but, so are the other arguments levied in favor of masturbation.

  18. Dave Miller says

    Folks, because of the sensitive nature of this discussion, I’m being a little more aggressive than usual in controlling the comments.

    Let’s stick to the topic and do so with sensitivity and grace.

    And yes, I probably missed a comment that should have been deleted. I’m on my way to a funeral and just looked things over.

    Behave, everyone.

  19. Tom Parker says

    Dave M:

    I think while you are deleting comments you missed the one that included the following comments:

    “Ok, I gotta be honest here. Everyone who has ever read my comments on blogs knows that I have been belligerent, disrespectful, dismissive, combative. and condescending to moderate (and moderate-friendly) baptists–and I’ve meant each and every single word of it. This includes BDW.

    I think suggesting something like that about this dude and his wife is just a tad over the line of “reasonable” and this is coming from someone who wouldn’t lift the business end of his pinky finger to help a moderate. “

  20. says

    Here is my number one concern with this topic. Are we going to send all teenage boys from 13 to 17 into a spiral of guilt and shame, depression and self hatred by saying “if you do it once, it’s an awful sin.” I personally believe that if you tell them to avoid lust, most of the issue goes away, but every teenage boy does it, and most Christian teenage boys feel guilt and swear they will never do it again until the uncontrollable hormones rage through them. Perhaps the scriptures say silent about it, because the act itself isn’t the issue. It’s the purely selfish and self-focus of the act that is the issue. Kids learn to be selfless, toddlers don’t share because it’s a sin not too, but because they learn. As teenagers grow into adulthood, they begin by being self-absorbed sexually. They need taught that sex outside of marriage is harmful, hurtful and causes damage. They need to learn that lust, pornography and masturbation is not good for them, that it causes problems and pain latter on in marriage. They need to learn that sexuality can glorify God. To tell them “that’s a sin, wait till you are married” sets them up for failure. We need to teach them and help them move towards sexual purity.

    • says

      Dan,
      I have a real problem with this statement: “Every teenage boy does it.” This is unverifiable; and even if it’s true, it does not mean that the Bible santions it. It simply means that we have many teens that refuse to exercise the fruit of the Spirit.

      I also disagree with teens having “uncontrollable hormones.” Is God the Holy Spirit not more powerful than teenage hormones?

      Finally, I agree with you that we must help teens work toward sexual purity. I think we however must start with the right foundation. Teens desire sexual immorality, not because they “have uncontrollable hormones,” but because they are sinners. God the Holy Spirit however provides them with self-control. They can resist.

      Paul’s answer for unbridled sexual desire is NOT masturbation; but, is rather marriage. In order to combat sexual immorality in teens, we must prepare them to be husbands and wives by the time they reach puberty; the time when their bodies scream out for a spouse. The fact that young men are putting off marriage into their late 20s, does not help their battle with sexual immorality.

      • says

        I’m not disagreeing with you, I am just advocating that we look at it in perspective. I feel like a judgmental attitude is harmful, to tell the kids “the Holy Spirit is more powerful than your urges” may be true, but has it stopped you from sinning? There is NO SIN that we HAVE to commit, and we should all be sinless and holy, but if I make a standard that you must be perfect and blameless or you will be rejected “which is how your comments come across” does not help them as individuals. I see all justice and no mercy in this argument.

        • says

          Dan,

          Did you read the final 5 points of my original blog post above? God’s grace is indeed greater than our sin; however, this does NOT give us a license to sin. We must be serious about both sin and grace; and the way to do this, is not in downplaying either one. God is not pleased with the sexually immoral. It’s so wicked and ungodly that the only Way to redeem the sexually immoral was to crucify His only begotten Son, that whoever puts their trust in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

          What have I written that gave you the idea that unless we’re perfect and blameless that God will reject us? For, even when we appear perfect and blameless, God still rejects us. Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

          • says

            I’m not talking about “us” I am talking about teenage boys. Here is my point, they are on a spiritual journey and they are confused about a lot of stuff. There are two ways to handle masturbation with teenage boys. Tell them it’s a dirty sin and let them struggle with guilt and shame, or teach them why it’s harmful, tell them God’s standards, encourage them to live purity and give them resources. I don’t agree with Driscoll, primarily because I think the sin issue is more about the heart than the flesh. I think the mindset, the heart issues, that is God’s concern, the fact that masturbation is selfish and self focused, that is causes us to lust and objectify women. We need to teach the youth of today that it’s a sin for a good reason, not that it’s a sin and then send them in a shame spiral.

            I did read your final 5 points, and I think you sound like a Pharisee using “Christnese”. I have heard this rhetoric before, over and over and it starts to sound phony after a while. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it seems you are more concerned with the behavior than the heart. Just my opinion.

      • Chief Katie says

        Jared,

        When do you think young people should marry? Is there an age range you think is ideal?

        • Frank L. says

          Chief, in regard to the proper age to marry . . . if you are a father talking about your daughter, then I think anytime after 40 seems about right.

        • says

          Katie,
          I think we should respond to the creation order, assuming God has placed puberty at certain ages for a reason. This being said, it the responbility of parents to help teenage minds be ready for marriage when their bodies claim to be.

          Furthermore, I think parents should allow their newly married children to live with them until they are able to support themselves. I don’t think putting off marriage until the end of college is biblically ideal. Instead, we should work hard at maturing our children to where their minds match their bodies; encouraging them to marry if they are burning in sexual desire for one another.

          I have 2 young children; and I don’t know how I’m going to get them ready for marriage at such a young age… at the latest 18 years of age. Potentially, they should be ready to marry anywhere from 13 to 18. I realize that this sounds crazy in our culture; but, my mother was married at 14. that was 46 years ago… and she’s still married to the same man.

          • Chief Katie says

            I respect your views, but I gotta tell you, I think you are completely and totally unrealistic. I don’t mean that in a condescending or derogatory way. It’s simply too late to try to reestablish Biblical historical culture. That horse left the barn in the extreme at least 60 years ago (probably much more). I don’t see any possible way we can try to reestablish that. Even if you could, society would come down on it like they did the Yearning for Zion Ranch. In fact, in most states, it’s not only against the law, it might be considered pedophilia. And with that culture, might cause a serious return to polygamay. Let’s see, wasn’t it Solomon who had 1000 wives and/or concubines?

            You have your ages correct in terms of their physiology. God did indeed create women to be at their most fertile between 13 and 16. I have to say Jared, that I’m grateful to be living under the new covenant. I’d never want to try to tell my daughter that she was unclean one week out of every month. It’s a huge disconnect in my mind.

            I have enjoyed the conversation and I honor your beliefs.

  21. Tom Parker says

    Jared:

    I asked you earlier–“Jared:

    What do you mean by his wife being actively involved?”

    I’m not asking for the graphics, I’m just curious as to what you really mean.

  22. Jack Wolford says

    We didn’t invent Religion, The Bible or Sex. This is just another medium to talk about sex by using the Bible and ” men of God” to legitimise the conversation.The Title is in part , ” Mark Driscoll’s definition of sexual morality”. Not the Bibles’ definition and which Driscoll admits in his own words at the very beginning of the tape that the Bible does not say anything on this subject and so he reasons it’s legit to have this charade by bending Bible scripture and calling it science. And the “Rules of Participation” are, ” If you are offended then don’t read it “. We’ll just cull the Righteous from the Wretched at the front door so we only have willing participants inside ready to text their sex “fantasies” without objection. Nero tried this, Mormons tried this . This isn’t my first Rodeo folks. I can compete out in the open. This approach and follow up “discussions” has and will encourage molestations inside the church. The fact that there is no more objection is telling in itself and would be fodder for another blog or an editorial .

    • says

      Jack, would you agree that molestations as well as every other kind of sexual deviance is already taking place inside the church? I agree that sex shouldn’t be used to sell churches or increase the popularity of a pastor or book or blog. However, I can’t see why sex should be off limits unless you think it is inherently dirty to talk about. Sinners thrive in dirt and darkness. Much tougher to sin in the light of truth.

      • Jack Wolford says

        Darby Livingston, Yes, I agree. There are better venues for the discussion of this subject. No it doesn’t embarass me but this Blog is open to 6 year olds who can surf the net or maybe get to go to a “circle jerk” of Driscolls’.

        • says

          That is the most unintelligent argument I have ever seen. The majority of the Web is porn, you are concerned about 6 year olds reading a cumbersome blog and then masturbating? Have you met a 6 year old? I have a 6 year old son, he’s not reading Voices or masturbating to Driscoll.

        • says

          Jack,

          You claim to be concerned about the purity of six year olds surfing Google, yet use the most crude term thus far written on this particular comment stream.

          I, however, don’t mind it because I was wondering when someone would come along and spice things up. Reading your comments and the responses to your comments is almost a better kick than reading Proverbs 5:19. :)

    • says

      Jack,
      Assuming that you’re more righteous than the participants of this blog comes across as arrogant. We have not discussed anything that compares with what the Song of Solomon discusses.

      Furthermore, I disagree that this post will encourage “molestations in the church.” By this statement, I assume you mean “molestations of the Scriptures.” I think NOT Talking about sexual morality and sexual immorality is what encourages the molestation of the Scriptures. Since it’s in the Bible, and an issue that ALL humanity must deal with, it’s important that we discuss this subject. The world is discussing the subject, and giving wicked information. The church must biblically respond.

      Do you think the subject should be discussed?

    • Chief Katie says

      Jack,

      Are you really suggesting that no one should talk about sex?

      The Bible, my friend is LOADED with talk of sex.

      I don’t see anyone offering up any salacious images or trying to say anything that that is even close to inappropriate. No one offered up any lurid, let alone lewd sexual fantasies. It’s a discussion about the morality of certain sexual acts. No more and no less. It appears to me that everyone took great care to keep the conversation based in reality and scripture. I grant that there isn’t any absolute consensus, but people offered their convictions to the best of their ability. It also has apparently been thought provoking as the comments show. There were many comments about “food for thought”. I don’t know where you think Christian people should discuss these things, but not discussing it, only shrouds it in guilt, misunderstanding and probably ignorance. There is nothing unwholesome about sex in God’s plan for our lives. God created it and He is not the author of anything unseemly.

      Our young people are looking to us for answers. The majority of the people here are involved in some kind of ministry as far as I can tell. I think it’s helpful to explore this among people who are committed to God. I have personally reconsidered some of my own beliefs.

      How in the world, will our honest discussion of this encourage church molestations? Do you have some data to support that? And… I didn’t hear Mark Driscoll say his beliefs were based in any kind of science. He was honest that scripture doesn’t address masturbation specifically.

      I’m not trying to be confrontational, I simply don’t understand your reasoning.

      • Frank L. says

        Chief,

        I agree that the Word talks “often” about sexual issues but it doesn’t appear to talk “much” about them.

        I’ve read the Song of Solomon for example that is perhaps the sexiest book in the Bible, but even all the talk of sex in that Book seem to be more veiled and use inuendo.

        I don’t see the Bible as being “R” rated by any stretch of the imagination. I see it dealing with this issue very tastefully and in the spirit of suggestiveness not explictness.

        I agree with you that there is no “luridness or lewdness” and a healthy discussion about sexual morality — in the proper context — can only help.

        • Chief Katie says

          Exactly Frank.

          I sincerely do not understand what’s eatin’ at Jack. For heaven’s sake, I spent a good many years having to deal with sailors who not only used very salty language, but treating their venereral diseased after a Liberty Port. A fair number of them married men. But to say that good Christian people who truly love the Lord shouldn’t discuss sexual things that send so many of our young people into downward spirals is slamming the door on an opportunity to teach them the truth of scripture. Even if we don’t have an absolute mandate from the scripture on this one sexual act, isn’t any reason not to explore the best course of action.

          Our culture is saturated with sex. Where will people (even adults) hear about the purity of the marriage bed, if not from committed Christians?

          I personally think Driscoll, can show more maturity in this area, but I don’t think he is a heretic. Honestly, if Mark Driscoll had been my father, I’d not have felt embarrassed to ask the tough questions. If Christians who have children in public school think they are doing their kids a favor by not discussing these things, they are greatly and sometimes, tragically, mistaken.

          Yes, sex isn’t rated “R” or “X”, only sin puts it in that category.

          God bless Frank.

          • Frank L. says

            This has been a very good thread even with the obvious differences of opinion.

            I’ve learned a lot.

        • says

          Frank, I agree that the Scriptures handle the issue tactfully. I do think however the Scripture is rated “R” in other areas: violence, poetry, sex, etc. I mean, if the Song of Solomon was put into a movie, the content alone would bring a pg-13 rating.

          I do agree though that since the Bible handles itself tactfully, and we should as well. I appreciate your thoughts.

      • says

        It bothers me that sex is talked about by EVERYONE in society EXCEPT the church. Jack, how is sticking our heads in the sand a good thing? This may not be your first rodeo, but that doesn’t mean you are qualified to ride the bull.

        • Jack Wolford says

          Dan Barnes , Your too old to let Biblical “Bull Dinky” bother you and that in my opinion is what this is for people that need a kick while reading scriptures.

        • Frank L. says

          Dan, I’m not sure you mean what apparently you are saying: “Because society talks about a subject means the church should be leading that discussion.”

          I understand what you are saying if you are referring to the church transforming (salting, leading) culture, which is what I suspect you mean. That’s one issue. But, there is such a thing as modesty, which the Bible talks a great deal about. That should be part of a fundamental principle guiding this discussion. I know that sounds very “prudish,” but modesty is highly regarded in the Biblical text.

          Second, just because a church should deal with a subject does not mean it should be dealt with explicitly from the pulpit as Drischoll seems to think. For one, I’m not sure this is all that effective. It gives me the impression of using the pulpit as a “counseling tool” (very popular in our present day) instead of a “prophetic tool.”

          Now, I have no chapter and verse to support what I’m saying (except for the modesty part), but I do think we need to consider not just “what” topics the church deals with but how, when, and where.

          I’m just not convinced that “counseling from the pulpit” is a good idea — if in fact, my view of wha Drischoll is doing is correct. I don’t want to be too bent on “moralizing” in regard to this issue so please understand these words are my “opinion” not some ex cathedra pronouncement.

          PS–It does seem appropriate for this matter to be a part of a blog discussion. It has been helpful to me.

  23. says

    Jack,

    I think the discussion is legitimate if the motivation is genuine. If pastors and church leaders truly seek to gain more wisdom and knowledge into an important issue that dominates many people’s lives — sexuality — that’s a good thing. And, while we can all sit back and make proclamations as to whether it is or is not sin, what we really need to be doing is trying to learn enough to give people some way to deal with it and with the residual shame for those who have already decided it’s sin . . . but are doing it anyway.

    The question is not whether or not men and women will commit sexual sin — many do and will — the question is whether we are prepared to, through grace and forgiveness, help them find freedom from it when it takes the place of God in their lives. Most sexual problems become idolatry, either of self or others. And yes, the Holy Spirit is available in the lies of believers to help with this and all issues we face . . . but we need to teach that and we need to do it patiently, well aware that there are other influences at work in their lives.

    I’m not sure, at all, how you think the discussions here could “encourage ‘molestations’ inside the church. Our churches already have many sexually-broken people in them. We need to minister to them with truth, but we need to do it compassionately so they remain to grow rather than flee in shame.

    I’m not a pastor, but I have certainly been a challenge for some of them and I know there are areas in which they do not prepare themselves.

  24. Jack Wolford says

    Jared Moore, When I click on your name I get you website. I’ve already answered your question here. That this subject should be “discussed in church ” is strickly your opinion and only your opinion. Being a “man of God” if you are a preacher doesn’t give you the right to decree that anything belongs anywhere.

    • says

      Jack, I disagree

      It’s in the Bible; therefore, it should be discussed within the church. Paul discussed it within the church; and I am to continue in the apostles’ teaching. I am also to preach the Word.

      Your culture, not the Bible, is what is telling you to not talk about this subject in church.

  25. Jack Wolford says

    The very fact that we talk about this , which goes much farther than a “morality” discussion gives it legitimacy and I’m guilty of adding to it. But don’t worry Barnes , I can handle it.

  26. Jack Wolford says

    Jared Moore, No, Your wrong. It’s not in the Bible. By Driscoll’s admission that it isn’t. All in the discussion have bent Scripture to try to make a non-existant connection.

    • says

      Jack,
      Since sexual morality and sexual immorality are in the Bible, they must be discussed. Furthermore, the church must respond to its culture. Masturbation is an issue that almost all humans have contemplated. It is laughable in our culture; and it’s assumed that “every man is involved in it.” The church must respond with a biblical, God-glorifying answer.

      Why are you against the church responding to this issue?

    • says

      The only way you can make this assertion true is to argue that masturbation has nothing to do with sex and isn’t sex. Are you going for the Bill Clinton approach here?

    • Chief Katie says

      So Jack, how EXACTLY did Jared, Dan, Darby, Thom, Myself or anyone else who participated here, miss the scriptural mark? I maintain there is no direct teaching from scripture regarding masturbation, but others see it differently. In fact, I’m really shocked that no one used the “Your body is the Temple of Holy Spirit” approach to say masturbation is wrong. But either way, it’s a sexual act that people engage in rightly or wrongly. Christians engage in it for many reasons as has been explored here.

      What ARE you objecting to?

  27. says

    Dan,
    it does indeed sound harsh. Each of the things I mention are Scriptural; they are God’s formula for representing Him in His world. I specifically mention the heart, and how the finished work of Christ deals with the heart. I don’t know what else to suggest to remedy a struggle with sexual immorality.

    Sin must be called sin. And yes, teenagers should feel guilty for their sin; but, they should also be rescued by the grace of God. Are you trying to avoid them feeling guilty for sin? They should feel guilty, for if they are believers, then God the Holy Spirit and their conscience should convict them. However, God’s grace should rescue them yet again as they consciously look to Christ. It sounds like you’re downplaying the sin. I don’t believe the Bible sanctions this approach.

    What have I said that is unbiblical?

    • says

      I didn’t say you are unbiblical, but I think you are taking a Pharisaical look at the law. Guilt is from man, conviction is from the Holy Spirit, and we need to let the Spirit work. I am not trying to downplay the law, I am just not trying to extinguish grace. When Jesus met people who were in questionable situations, we never condemned them. The rhetoric in the post sounds awfully condemning. If a teenager needs to feel convicted, it needs to come from God, and not from us telling them how evil they are. That’s all I’m sayin.

      • says

        It’s important to point out that we agree on the big picture. It’s not that I agree with Driscoll, or that I’m saying it’s ok. I just think there is a way that is helpful, and a way that is hurtful, and for us to blanket condemnation is bad.

    • says

      For young people to understand grace, they also need to be introduced to confession and repentance. That’s where the compassion comes in. They need to see the church as a safe place in which to confess, and a competent place in which to find someone to walk with them through repentance.

      • says

        I totally agree with that Thom. I am constantly talking to young men about sexual purity, about the dangers of letting it control you, how it can become an addiction and cause pain in marriage later on. It’s a big issue, but one that must be done the right way. We, on this issue more than anything, risk losing our youth to the world. Which among us is without sin? We must love them and help them, not push and prod them.

        • says

          Dan, I agree that we must lovingly come alongside our men, encouraging them that there is victory in Christ. I constantly tell my church to “go and sin no more. And then, when you sin again, repent, and go and sin no more; and enjoy the forgiveness of God in Christ.”

  28. Jack Wolford says

    The only thing besides text messaging Driscoll hasn’t added to his group sex “science therapy” is drinking whisky out of coffee cups since it’s Sunday and that would put people more “at ease” which would be a “blessing” I feel somehow that I need to tell some of you ‘blessing” was satire.

  29. says

    We focus way to much as sin being an activity. That’s pretty Old Covenant, and the root of sin is what we need to look at. We are always looking to draw lines, what is sin, what’s not sin. As I served as a youth pastor, kids would ask me “how far is too far”. Most kids have gone too far before they come into physical contact. The issue is, we teach behavior modification. Do this, don’t do this. NOT THE ISSUE. The issue is a heart issue. Everything is a heart issue, it becomes a physical issue later. Anger is murder, lust is adultery, the issue is in the heart. The issue isn’t that someone masturbates, it’s why someone masturbates. Lust, selfishness, even perversion exists. We need to stop trying to change behavior and encourage people to be conformed to Christ by a heart change.

    • says

      Dan, I agree that the root is the heart; but, you cannot eliminate the rest of the New Testament that deals with “behavior modification.” Christians are to live a certain way in gratitude for the grace that they have received. If you are leaving these works out, then you’re leaving out much of the New Testament; even, the fruit of the Spirit. It’s both heart and hands, not merely heart.

      I agree that if the heart is dealt with, the actions will follow; however, due to sin, a believer cannot judge his own sincerity… we can never say, “I have dealt with my heart perfectly.” Thoughts and actions reveal whether or not we have dealt with the heart; the actions are the proof. The actions reveal the Work of God (Gal. 5; 1 John, etc.). Doesn’t Jesus point to the Pharisees’ wicked thoughts as proof that they had not dealt with their wicked hearts?

      Also, to say that guilt is from man disagrees with Scripture. The Scriptures are clear that we have inherited guilt for our sin from Adam: our sin natures. Our guilt was placed on Christ, and He was crucified for it. Sin should make us feel guilty until we consciously look to the finished work of Christ again. I mean, should we really have joy over sin due to grace?

      Can you explain the difference you mean between “guilt” and “conviction”?

      I also disagree with this statement: “The issue isn’t that someone masturbates, its’ why someone masturbates.” I disagree brother. It’s both… How can you deny the numerous New Testament commands dealing with thoughts and actions? I agree that the heart is the large issue; but, the actions are an issue as well. They do flow from the heart; but, since our hearts exist in the presence of sin as well, we must “mortify the flesh” (Rom. 8:13). We must “beat our flesh into submission” so that we don’t disqualify the gospel (1 Cor. 9:27). Where do these Scriptures have a place in your theology?

      • says

        Let me explain the guilt vs conviction thing. First, please don’t use English translations that use the word “guilt” to argue with me, language is always arbitrary, what is said and what is interpreted, the original message from the original author must be heard, not what’s interpreted. To be honest, I see that with most of the things you say that are “numerous New Testament commands”. Do all the women in your church pray with their heads covered, do you forbid them to speak, or do you find the timeless principle that applies? Just sayin. . .

        Ok, my view on guilt vs conviction. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, comes to the heart of the believer and always leads to an action. If you are convicted, there is something you should start or stop. In this case, if you are convicted about a sexual sin, you should stop. If you are convicted to agree with me (just for an example) than you should. Conviction ALWAYS leads to something, a change in behavior.

        Guilt on the other hand is from man and is often more nebulous. Sometimes it comes from something someone else thought we should do, and they tell us we are bad. Not always a direction to follow, not always an action to be done. Pharisees used guilt and coercion to get people to comply. Satan uses guilt to trap the Christian in a shame spiral for things already forgiven. Guilt is not fruitful, it’s the lowest form of motivation and often makes people behave like Christians outwardly, but inwardly they are still unregenerate.

        Now, the rest of your point, I don’t totally disagree with you, but I think you have put the cart before the horse. Yes, we should have the fruit of the spirit, and in 2 Peter, we have a list of things that we must have, self control and love and brotherly affection and so on. The problem, however, is these fruit can be faked for a time externally. I can fake love and joy and peace for an hour each week. The fruit doesn’t come without the spirit. We mortify the flesh because it conflicts with our spiritual condition when we are regenerate. In my theology, man is totally depraved without the spirit, and only with the spirit can man make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).

        The biggest issue, I am talking about teaching and you seem to be talking about applying. In my life, I know that any sexual gratification I have apart from my wife is a sin, and I made a commitment to not have sexual gratification apart from my wife. In the issue is how to address youth. We want them to learn how to mortify the flesh, but we can push to change outward behavior and not affect the heart. Happens way to often and it does massive damage to our youth, young adults and people struggling. We must have wisdom.

        • says

          Dan, first, I wasn’t using “english translations” to argue with you. I was simply espousing the traditional view of sin as far back as Augustine. See David Smith’s “With Willful Intent” for a history of the theology of sin. “Inherited guilt” is how the sin-nature has been traditionally explained.

          I agree with almost all that you said. Where we disagree is that I think you’re over-reacting to bad teaching and theology. In my above 5 points, I encourage readers to run to the cross (heart, actions); exercise fruit of Spirit (heart, actions); memorize purifying Scripture (heart, actions); admit and confess sin (heart, actions); and constantly repent and run to the cross (heart, actions). I think my approach is balanced, and your approach is one-sided. You’re overemphasizing grace to the point that you don’t want to emphasize thoughts and actions. I think you’re being unbiblical.

          Furthermore, in your above post, where have I encouraged “changing outward behavior” without changing the heart?

          Also, even though fruit can be faked, God still points to it as proof of salvation (1 John, etc.). If what you’re saying is absolutely true, why would God still point to tangible fruit as proof of salvation?

          What we want our teens to do is to constantly, repentantly run to the cross, while seeking to live a life that screams their thanks to God for the finished work of Christ continually being appropriated to their accounts.

          • says

            Jared, you said “You’re overemphasizing grace to the point that you don’t want to emphasize thoughts and actions.” That is not at all what I am doing, I am not downplaying actions, and I think you have TOTALLY missed my point, and at this point we are talking in circles. We agree on 99.9% of what is going on, just using different rhetoric and statements to say the same things.
            1. One confesses and repents, coming to Christ and living for Him.
            2. That person grows in faith, behavior being changed and the Spirit growing fruit in the person’s life.
            3. When the believer sins in heart or deed, they should confess and repent, continuing on in the process of sanctification.

            I just wanted to communicate my message that we should walk along young people, help them and encourage them, the danger is when we condemn then without helping or supporting them. That’s my point.

        • Christiane says

          “Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, comes to the heart of the believer ”

          Agreed. But do you know how the Holy Spirit does this?
          The Holy Spirit directs a believer always towards Christ.
          And then what follows is this:
          “2 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on Him whom they have thrust through,
          and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over Him as one grieves over a first-born.”
          (Zechariah’s prophecy)

  30. Jack Wolford says

    This is not finished – but I am here on this subject because I’m not learning any more. Maybe some other time in any big city where these happenings occur every night of the week but you need to pay to get in ! Any body wants to take a shot I’m on this page regularly.

  31. Bill Mac says

    I don’t know how involved I really want to get into this topic, but I think we need to use care when labeling something a sin because it is “selfish.” We do lots of things, everyday, that are not strictly necessary but rather because we enjoy them. Things that benefit our self and only our self. We wouldn’t consider them sinful because of that, or selfish. Being selfish means doing something at the expense of someone else, denying them something because we took it. The act may be sinful for other reasons (I’m not really convinced) but not because it is selfish.

      • Bill Mac says

        “It’s selfish at the expense of the marriage relationship, and can cause damage there in.”

        That absolutely could happen, but that isn’t a certainty. It depends on the marriage and the understanding withing that marriage.

  32. KK says

    Even though the topic has pretty well been beaten to a pulp, I figured I’d still throw in my input. I made the mistake of reading most of the posts before I watched the video, and to be honest, I think you guys are being a little hard on Mr. Driscoll. I’ll admit that he crosses the line from time to time with some of his comments, but for the most point, I don’t disagree with what he said in the video. It seems to me that the thrust of his argument was that masturbation is OK as long as its not accompanied by lust. But there’s the catch – as we all know, that isn’t really possible, so it’s pretty much a moot point.

    That being said, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that masturbation is a huge problem among young men today. Even though I married fairly young (21), that still left we with a good 5-6 years of raging hormones. Even as an active member of a youth group in an SB church, I was never counseled on the subject. The only advice I received was from “Every Young Man’s Battle”, which was better than nothing. Which leads me to a topic of further discussion (albeit a somewhat personal one) – Every Young Man’s Battle presented an alternative to masturbation, that being nocturnal emission. Just curious why no one has mentioned that?

    • says

      “Every Young Man’s Battle presented an alternative to masturbation, that being nocturnal emission. Just curious why no one has mentioned that?”

      First, because it’s natural on its own (involuntary?). Second, because it sounds like a raccoon driving at night and we don’t like that idea.