BAIT for You to Master
In American society, it's not uncommon to refer to a person's husband or wife, fiance or fiancee as a "good catch."
Yes, of all the proverbial "fish in the sea" (available and eligible bachelors and bachelorettes) when a person has found true love with a person of substance and quality, we recognize the good fortune of landing a great partner!
The fishing connotation that the term "good catch" alludes to means that there was something used to "hook" the catch in the first place: bait.
I'm sure if we took a poll of married couples, asking husband and wife what he and she believed their particular "bait" was, the answers would vary greatly. We might hear answers such as—good looks, stimulating conversation, great cooking, big heart...and honestly this list of possible responses could go on forever!
Marriage (and pre-marriage) counselors everywhere advise married (and affianced) couples to never stop pursuing each other.
Sure you landed a good catch, but keep hooking them day after day.
Date your spouse. Romance your spouse. Woo your spouse.
Win your spouse's heart over again and again, as much as possible, and at all costs.
In short, master your bait, so that without fail you will keep your spouse hooked.
But can mastering bait, and masturbation co-exist in marriage?
A Brief History
There has been much debate on whether the Bible addresses the topic of masturbation directly, and whether or not God considers it a sin.
Here's what we know:
The "long-standing speculation" is that word we know today as masturbation comes from the early Latin word manstuprare. The prefix "manu" means hand, and the suffix "stuprare" means defile, especially as in one's self.
Onanism is a synonym for the word masturbation and it comes from the story of Onan in Genesis 38.
Onan is supposed to give his dead brother Er an heir by marrying Er's wife, Tamar, (as was tradition in those times) and getting her pregnant. Onan marries Tamar but when it is time to consummate the marriage, Onan pulls out and spills his "seed" on the ground instead of finishing inside of Tamar. God kills Onan in direct response to Onan's decision.
How did Onan's ism become synonymous with masturbation?
Well, it seems people argued that Onan ejaculated outside the vagina, the same way men who masturbate ejaculate without the presence of a vagina.
But as with pornography, men are not the only ones who masturbate.
According to one survey, 39% of women (the majority) achieve most of their orgasms on their own using masturbation, as opposed to intercourse (35% of women; or oral sex, 12% of women). And 67% of women have faked an orgasm.
What If - An Alternative Interpretation
What if God killed Onan, not for the act itself but because Onan decided to serve himself and his own personal agenda, rather than observe his duty to his new spouse Tamar?
And what if sexual intimacy in marriages today are dying because people are following Onan's example—serving their personal agendas of sexual pleasure through masturbation, without consideration for their spouse?
Why fake an orgasm and/or masturbate alone, when people could just have an honest, and loving but direct, conversation about the quality of the sex in their marriage and take every sexual encounter as a chance to better learn and please their spouse?
Affects of Masturbation
When a person regularly masturbates and achieves orgasm on their own, their bodies quickly adjust to this fast-track to orgasm. In turn, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve orgasm with an actual person because of the additional dynamics that need to be considered.
Spouses don't run on double A batteries. The are living breathing human beings who desire quality time, focused attention, and an emotional connection.
Sex toys of all shapes and sizes (and price ranges), have literally been wired to do what the human body can't.
So when the body, particularly the female body, gets used to achieving orgasm one way with the help of "her" toys, it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve orgasm in bed with her husband. Why? Its simple. He's a man not a toy. And his man parts cannot do all the things "her" toys can.
The Problems with Masturbation
Masturbation and pornography often go together, especially for men.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who so much as looks at a woman [or man] with lust for her [or him] has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his [or her] heart." - Jesus (Matthew 5:27-28)
Marriage thrives on intimacy and the ability to be open and honest with your spouse. The goal is to be naked (completely exposed + vulnerable) and yet unashamed. (Genesis 2:18-25.) Masturbation often hinders progress in the direction of that goal because people masturbate on their own time, and some purposely hide it from their spouse.
Masturbation can become addicting.
The euphoria experienced during orgasm is something people try to find again and again, that's why people continue having sex, it's for pleasure and not just procreation.
However, because masturbation provides a quick, hurdle-free route to orgasm there is an increasing inclination to use masturbation to replace the more challenging (complicated and layered) sexual experience with your spouse.
Even if a person makes the argument that masturbation is permissible, because of its addictive nature it is best to stay clear of it, as it may prove to be more harmful than helpful in the life of your marriage.
"Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by [or addicted to] anything and brought under its power, allowing it to control me." (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Bait to Master
I believe in my heart of hearts that most people get married with the intention to stay married and to build a life filled with love, companionship, and deep satisfaction, including sexual satisfaction.
Unfortunately, what most people don't realize before reciting those marriage vows is the level of effort and personal discipline required to fuel your commitment to each other.
The miracle of marriage isn't in getting married, it's in staying married.
If you're married then there's already bait for you to master.
Perfecting sexual chemistry between husband and wife is a sacred art, and a great adventure that is meant to bring the two people closer to God (in gratitude) and each other (in love).
Masturbation has the power to interrupt that process, and can lead to self-centered sexual expectations that will more than likely go unfulfilled by the spouse.
I will never tell married couples what they can and cannot do together in their bedroom. That's their business.
However, I will encourage married couples (and those planning to be married) to turn their focus on mastering their bait in marriage, the thing(s) that will keep their better half hooked for life.
Although it will prove to be a life-long challenge, mastering those things that will increase overall intimacy and connectedness, and that will keep your spouse attracted to you, is certainly a more worthy cause than using sexual frustration as an excuse to default to masturbation.
If people who indulge in pornographic content or masturbation want better sex in their marriages, they are going to have to be honest about how their individual (and often secret) sexual habits are affecting their ability to give themselves selflessly in bed in order to please their spouse.