The following is an excerpt from my upcoming devotional titled Sex With God.
No temptation hath taken you—except human; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but He will make, with the temptation, also the outlet, for your being able to bear it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 YLT)
This devotional is filled with encouragement to view sex as sacred, and to embrace the beauty of becoming one with a person who contributes to your wholeness. But what about the millions of people who don’t have a partner, and those separated from their beloved by distance, illness, depression, or extreme demands on time?
There can be great unitive power in the act of restraining from sex when a couple approaches the decision together, communicating about their desire and agreeing to mutual abstention. The resulting build-up of shared hunger can draw a couple closer and even increase intimacy when communication is good. But a myriad of circumstances can make this impractical and can lead to emotional and physical vulnerability, as today’s passage describes. Paul warns us that denying our bodies can lead to temptation strong enough to pull us places we don’t want to go.
You may have been taught that auto eroticism is dirty and sinful. Many of us were. But as we consider Paul’s words above, and recognize God’s design for our bodies as sexual, can you envision another view? Our creator doesn’t find it objectionable when we satisfy the growls of our stomach with a snack when a full meal isn’t possible. They don’t find it problematic if we watch a frothy comedy as brain candy to offset the intense pressures of the real world. Would the Creator who designed our desires want us to hate ourselves for our self care? Couldn’t masturbation be a God-honoring means for regulating our temptation, as long as it doesn’t dishonor someone else?
Today’s quote from Rev. Dr. Stone Williams (below) comes from a talk about sex, and refers to masturbation. In it she reminds us that loving our bodies is important, and that self pleasure can be life-affirming and can lead us deeper into intimacy; with God, with our beloved other (if we have one), and with ourselves.
Paul was right. God does provide an outlet.
Does your sexual expression cause you to flourish? Does it cause you to thrive? Does it cause you to live whole-heartedly? If it does, then you are loving God. …Our sexuality should always be leading us toward intimacy with God, it should be leading us toward expressing love to a beloved… and then our sexuality should cause us to love ourselves. One of the hardest things for us to love is our own bodies.
Rev. Dr. Paula Stone Williams