The host of a popular Christian dating podcast recently said that masturbation is giving into a spirit of perversion and should not be done by Christians.
Tovares Grey, an author and speaker who spearheads the Godly Dating 101 podcast, said in a July 14 episode that it is a “myth” to say that masturbation is “normal.” He clarified that the act of pleasuring oneself in a sexual nature is not a man-only issue because women also struggle with addictions.
“I know a lot of people have the impression that the Bible doesn’t explicitly say anything. So, is it a sin? Is it not a sin?” he said. “I’ve had feedback in regards to the podcast when we spoke about [masturbation] briefly in the past. … And then there was a whole lot of women that commented that they were struggling with that, [and] with pornography. So [it’s a] way bigger issue than I thought.”
Grey, a husband and father of two, referenced 2 Timothy 2:22 to note that lust is a sin, adding it's impossible to masturbate without lusting.
The podcaster explained the Bible is "not specifically clear on a lot of things" when it comes to what one can and cannot do, "but it does mention the principles that we should avoid."
"Why would God tell us to abstain from fornication and then He's like, ‘Oh, but masturbation is cool?'” Grey said. He dismissed the idea that masturbation is “normal and you should do it.”
He quoted Genesis 3:4-6, where the serpent convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by assuring her that nothing bad will happen and that her “eyes will be opened.”
“I believe that’s what the devil is doing today," Grey said. "He wants you to think, ‘Hey, man, don’t overthink it. It’s normal. Hey, some doctors even recommend it. Don't even overthink this. God is not going to get mad at you.”
“Did God really say you’re allowed to have these hormones and not act on them? Did God really give you urges that you’re not able to act on?’” asked Grey, speaking from the devil’s perspective.
“[Satan tries] to tell you there are benefits to it without considering the consequences of acting out [in] our flesh and turning away from the Holy Spirit.”
Grey addressed listeners who struggle with addiction to masturbation due to abuse and trauma in their pasts. He recommended that they seek therapy or prayer.
“I know there’s a lot more women who struggle with that and there’s a lot of people who say ‘Oh, I do it because it’s the only time, [I] feel good because of abuse [and] all these other issues.’ And that’s why it’s so needed to go to God in prayer for healing."
For those who engage in masturbation to release "sexual frustration," Grey said they need to eliminate things that can lead to temptation. He noted that if "there was no desire for it, there would be no reason to cave into it."
“Every single person has a sex drive," Grey explained. "That's how God creates us. But what happened was your appetite was growing too much, growing too high."
"You had too heavy of a desire that you did not know how to release that, because you’re more than likely not married, that you decided to take matters into your own hands.”
Every sexual temptation is "the enemy" planting seeds in someone, according to Grey. He cited examples of sex scenes on television or music that include sexually graphic lyrics.
“He’ll plant those seeds, and now when you're home alone and in the middle of the night, your hormones are raging because you keep listening to this music that you don't need to be listening to, and now the Enemy is just like, ‘Oh, it’s just this one time,’” Grey said.
“We don’t realize that that music that we thought was no big deal, it was doing something to our spirit. Because what you constantly feed yourself, your body's going to desire it.”
Grey said 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and Galatians 5:16 show that Christians are called to be set apart in the world because they have been called to lead "different" lives according to God’s will by crucifying their flesh.
“The Bible mentions God only has one standard for His children: holiness. So while people are recommending it, you have to understand that they are not trying to honor God," said Grey.
In 2019, then-Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear warned in a podcast episode that masturbation "dangerous because it can be addictive."
“It’s something that can start to almost re-wire your brain,” Greear said. “It can actually sabotage healthy sexual relationships because it takes sexual desire away from the way that God intended it, which is between two people, and turned it into sort of an auto-eroticism type of thing.”
In an entry on their website, the influential family ministry Focus on the Family said that they "don’t think there’s much use in labeling the act of masturbation itself as 'sin,'" adding that they "think that misses the point."
"In short, we should never heap guilt on those who find the urge to masturbate almost uncontrollable — and who might be driven to spiritual despair because of it," explained FOTF.
"At the same time, we should do everything we can to help people see that self-gratification doesn’t match the purpose, goal, and basic nature of sex."