Dating & Marriage

Is masturbation wrong if my wife refuses to have sex?

I am a new Christian. My wife is not a Christian. However, she refuses to have sex with me. Is it a sin to masturbate as an outlet in my situation?

confusedbaby

At The Well

Benny says

Dear confusedbaby,

The question you posed highlights an error I sometimes encounter in counselling. This is when one person’s solution to a problem is mistakenly identified as the problem by another. For example, your wife not wanting to have sex with you may be her way of solving or responding to an existing problem. If there is an existing problem in your relationship, she may be so upset that she may literally “go on strike” and not want to have sex until that problem is resolved. Her response may upset you but instead of addressing the initial issue, attention is now directed to the lack of sexual intimacy.

In such a case, it is using a behaviour intentionally to get a response from another (and may not always be a rational behaviour). When one gets upset and is in no mood for any emotional closeness, it is not surprising that there is no sexual intimacy which is best experienced when there is emotional intimacy. So you would do well to review your relationship to see if there are existing problems that need to be attended to.

Finally, I am not a theologian, so I will not comment on masturbation from a theological perspective. Instead, let me say if it is helpful or harmful from an emotional and relational perspective.

In some instances, masturbation may be resorted to when the sexual needs of one partner cannot be fulfilled by the other. This then allows for the need to be met whilst maintaining the sanctity of the marriage. However to ensure that it is not harmful to the relationship, it is important that besides the physiological act of masturbation itself, the mental focus must also be with the partner. So, if one is masturbating and thinking about being with a person other than their partner, this then is harmful. Focusing and meeting your sexual desires with another in mind is not nurturing your relationship.

At The Well

Li Ping says

Dear confusedbaby,

Masturbation, in and of itself, is not necessarily a sin. However, if it is undertaken with the mental focus on someone else other than one’s spouse, then it is not only harmful for the relationship, as Benny mentioned, it is also sinful lust, as warned against by Jesus in Matthew 5:28.

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