Can you still be in leadership position if you masturbate?

Asked by Tania

Can you still be in leadership position if you masturbate? I’m 23 and I’ve been a Christian for a few years and haven’t been able to completely give up masturbating. What verses in the bible can I use when being tempted to overcome this problem?


Hi Tania,

Great question!  Let’s deal with masturbation first, and then think about leadership.

Is masturbation bad?  The Bible says absolutely nothing about it.  That’s really weird, don’t you think?  Any kind of sexual activity with anyone not your spouse is condemned, but the exceptionally common practice of private masturbation isn’t mentioned once.  We should be really careful about condemning what God’s so quiet about.

So what are the positives and negatives of masturbation.

Positively, masturbation can be a release.  Sex is for monogamous, heterosexual marriage, but we have sexual desires before that.  These can feel like a dam wall that’s about to burst.  Masturbation can be a great gift from God to release that tension until marriage.

Negatively, masturbation’s bad when its combined with stuff God hates.  In Matt 5:27-28 Jesus says not to even look at a woman lustfully (I assume it includes men).  This means that fantasising about particular people is right out, and so masturbating with those people in mind is too.

But sexual desire isn’t always so specific.  It can just be general, with a general picture of what it wants.  In that case, masturbation can be a helpful release.  So first you need to ask yourself, “Am I using masturbation helpfully or unhelpfully?”

Now, back to your question.  If your masturbating isn’t sinful, then no worries.  If it is, here are some things to think about:

• No leader is perfect.  All leaders require forgiveness, and its freely available (1 John 1:8-9).

• A leader is an example to others (1 Tim 4:15-16).  This includes being a model of repentance and progress.  Others won’t see your progress in this area, but if you lead long enough someone’s going to ask you about masturbation.  If you’ve progressed yourself, then you’ll be fine.  You’ll be able to answer Biblically and sympathetically, knowing the pain of the battle yourself.  If you haven’t bothered to try progressing, then leadership’s not for you.

Finally, check out these verses in Philippians:

• 3:10-14 Even Paul’s not perfect, but he presses on towards Christ.

• 4:5-7 The Lord’s near, always, so pray!  (I’ve prayed for you)

• 4:8-9 Don’t get overwhelmed with what you shouldn’t be thinking about.  What should you be thinking about?

I hope this helps.  Feel free to ask a follow up question.

Dave

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