Question:

Hello,

I recently caught my son masturbating. I wasn't aware that he had begun to do something like that.

I talked with him about it, and he does feel it's wrong to do it. He feels he is doing it too much and have dificulty resisting it. He has also looked at pornographic material online. So I'm going to install a filter program on the computer he has in his room. But I am unsure of how to help him further.

Do you have any advice for him?


Answer:

Yes, it is usually a shock to a parent to realize that her child is growing up and becoming sexual. The occasion probably was not pleasant for you, and I'm sure your son was wishing for a hole somewhere in which to hide.

The typical knee-jerk reaction to masturbation is that it must be wrong, yet most people admit that they can't point to a Scripture that defines it as being wrong. That your son assumes it is wrong is normal. Anything that gives such pleasure and involves a private area of the body must be wrong -- but again it is based on feeling and not fact.

What is of concern is that he has fallen into the trap of using pornography to get himself sexually aroused. Pornography is a sin (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). The filtering program will help but it won't be a perfect solution. Also remember that it needs to be installed on any smartphone he has access to as well as computers. But the problem is that there are always going to be other routes available where he can access pornography, so he needs to understand why it must be avoided.

A child entering the teenage years is becoming aware of the concept of right and wrong. In childhood it was sufficient for a parent to say do these things and don't do those things. But it is critical for teenagers to learn why certain things are right or wrong because you won't always be there and every situation has variations which causes a young adult to wonder is it right in these circumstances or not.

Teenagers also tend to retain the literal mindedness of childhood while also developing the ability to reason. This means information needs to be presented in a clear, blunt fashion. There isn't a passage that states "thou shalt not play with yourself," so you need to dig deeper so you can explain what is wrong and why it is wrong. The best way to battle sin is to be knowledgeable about why things are sinful and how sin works its way into our lives.

Your son is maturing. It is time someone sat down with him and teach him about growing up, sex, and his responsibilities. It is best presented by a man from a man's point of view. I recommend the material in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys because it was written just for this purpose. At a minimum have him read the book, and more importantly read the passages cited from the Bible. Another alternative is that I am willing to have the discussions with him either in person if you are in my area or over Skype. Or, again at a minimum, have him read the material on the web site and especially have him read the questions and answer section. If he has his own questions, he can send in an email to have it addressed.

Here are some answers on the topics of masturbation and pornography that I've given in the past. Hopefully they will help you see ways you can approach this with your son.

Yes, it was embarrassing for both of us! Actually, what upset me was that he admitted to looking at pornography. If he would have just masturbated descreetly to 'relieve' himself, then I wouldnt have had any objections. But I think that when pornography becomes involved it might escalate into something compulsive. But I will talk with him again and suggest your web site. Is it OK if I give him this email directly?

He would probably prefer writing to you to avoid being too embarrassed to ask questions.

It sounds like you have a good grasp of the situation. I agree that it is the pornography part that needs to be address first and a part of that will be tackling how to manage his body's desires so that he can control his impulses -- something that becomes more critical as time goes on.

I will be happy to hear from him.

Hello again.

Someone has suggested me that I should consider getting my son circumcised. They gave the reason that it usually deters boys from too frequent masturbation if it's done in a particular way. Do you know anything about this? Reading your page it seemed you didn't think it was important either way.

The Scriptures teach that circumcision is merely cosmetic surgery. It contains no physical benefits. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). There was a thought back in the Victorian era of the 1800's that circumcision would cut down on masturbation, but that has been proven false. Over 95% of all men admit to masturbating at times, likely the other 5% just won't admit it. Whether a person is circumcised makes no difference in the numbers. Circumcision is a surgery that has risks. It causes pain for several days. There needs to be a good reason for it.

Therefore, you can't treat the problem of pornography by attacking the symptoms. It would essentially be like saying you'll handle the problem of an overweight kid by duct-taping his mouth -- it just won't work. The problem is the desire for pornography and that is what needs to be addressed.

I see, yes. I agree that it is more mentally that he needs to be 'trained' or 'conditioned' into rejecting the temptations of arousing himself artificially by watching pornography. I'll talk with him again, and try to explain to him. Then I'll show him your site and give him your email.