Sex Ed: What Should You Teach Your Kids About the “M” Word?

I think it’s fair to say that “masturbation” is literally the grossest word in the English language. There are few other words that make me cringe more, whether typing them or saying them out loud. But as much as it PAINS me, “masturbation” is a word we really DO need to say out loud—to our kids.

I just cringed again. This is NOT gonna be easy.

But here’s the thing: there are a lot of voices out their weighing in on masturbation, touting it, even. So as uncomfortable as it ABSOLUTELY will be, we need to give our kids a Biblical view of masturbation before someone else gives them one that’s just way easier to accept—just like we should do with sex.

Case en pointe: beautiful, talented, young actress Shailene Woodley. You might know her from The Secret Life of an American Teenager (where she played a pregnant teen so naturally she is a sex education expert), The Fault in Our Stars (love!), or the Divergent movies. She’s currently promoting her new movie, Snowden, so she needed to say something controversial and completely unrelated in an interview, naturally.

I came across Woodley’s comments on masturbation in this article from Hello Giggles, a website aimed at millenials and teens that acted like Woodley was the best thing since the morning-after pill. Hello Giggles quoted Woodley’s interview with the magazine Net-a-Porter and then added some editorial commentary.


As a young woman you don’t learn how to pleasure yourself, you don’t learn what an orgasm should be, you don’t learn that you should have feelings of satisfaction,” she said, candidly. “I’ve always had a dream of making a book called There’s No Right Way to Masturbate. If masturbation were taught in school, I wonder how [many] fewer people would get herpes aged 16, or pregnant at 14?” 

Hello Giggles: “…It’s what the young star had to say about sex education that really had us screaming, “YASSSS! Given that Shailene has a bunch of young adult fans from the Divergent films, it’s great to see her using her position to talk about the issues that matter.”

CRINGE. Cringe trifecta!

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want my kids looking up to actors and actresses to tell the what’s right or wrong about sexual behavior. I want them looking to my husband and me, and ultimately, to the truths God has revealed about what we should and shouldn’t do with our bodies in His word, the Bible. And friends, as hard as it is to accept sometimes, the Bible makes it pretty clear that our bodies are not for our OWN pleasure. Take this passage from 1 Corinthians 6, and see if it doesn’t change the way you think about masturbation.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!16 Or do you not know that he who is joined4 to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin5 a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

In his excellent article, The “M” Wordblogger Ethan Renoe says it better than I ever could.

1 Corinthians 6 talks about how our bodies are no longer our own, but belong to Jesus. If this is the case, it heavily affects how we use them and think of them.

In thinking of masturbation in this light, you have to ask yourself, does masturbation serve others, or the Lord? No. It serves only yourself. The act is utterly selfish and me-centric.

I know a lot of people would push back that, despite the selfish nature of masturbation, it doesn’t hurt anyone else. I would push back by pointing out that every action we commit programs us. For instance, if I regularly please myself, I would condition my brain to think that I am the ultimate source of my own satisfaction. Not only that, but I would come to think that my pleasure is the highest priority, and that the purpose of my body is for myself.

I know, some of you will say, “Well I’d rather my son masturbate than get a girl pregnant,” or “I’d rather my daughter masturbate than get pregnant.” If we truly want what is best for our kids, this argument doesn’t hold water. Masturbation may seem to have fewer consequences than premarital sex, but in reality, the consequences are no worse, they’re just different. Holding to the belief that you can justify one “small” sin because it avoids a larger one WILL have serious consequences later in life, guaranteed. If we can justify masturbation, why not porn use? You’re only hurting yourself, right?


Renoe goes on to say,

The sexual element of our bodies, intrinsic to our human nature, is that our bodies are meant to be giving entities. Sex is meant to be a giving exchange between two people. When a husband makes love to his wife, his goal should be to serve her and vice-versa.

Masturbation is the opposite of that. It reinforces a body that gives only to itself. It is self-medicating. Sure, it feels good, but so does eating a lot of doughnuts, or doing a lot of drugs. Just because something feels good doesn’t make it healthy or even ethical. This is aside from the fact that masturbation is most often an escape from loneliness, a lack of intimacy, insecurity, et cetera. When unhealthy roots in our lives drive us to unhealthy solutions, the outcome cannot be good.

When one masturbates, they are not using their bodies to serve others. They are serving themselves, reinforcing habits of pride and selfishness.

We ALL fight a battle with selfishness every single day. But a life lived for one’s self is no life lived AT ALL, and self-serving habits indulged in through masturbation will absolutely make their way into other areas of our kids’ lives.

Moms and dads, your kids will be tempted with both porn and masturbation. So please, please, don’t leave these topics out of the sex education you are giving your kids at home. It may not be a topic for lesson #1, but it should definitely be broached sooner than later.

It’ll make you cringe, but since we’re talking about self-sacrifice…I think we should take this one for the team.


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.