I am past 70 now, but I shall never forget the time of my adolescence with its confusion, frustration, and pain — all of which were related to sexuality, a total lack of understanding about the changes taking place in my body, and specifically, masturbation. I grew up in a Christian home where sex seemed to be a dirty word. Actually, I never heard it discussed at all, and I suppose the silence was what conveyed the idea that the subject was something to be avoided. There was absolutely no sex education at all.
At times my brother, three years older than I, slept in the same bed; and as well as I recall, we both probably slept naked. And there was the time when I accidentally opened the door to my older sister's room and found her naked. (I quickly shut the door, and nothing was ever said about it.) I saw my father nude while taking a bath on various occasions. But none of this was ever related to sex in any way.
As I entered puberty I noticed that my penis would at times swell, and I didn't understand it; but it would eventually become limp again. This unwelcome condition would happen at just about any time, for no apparent reason. I didn't know that this was called an "erection." I do remember hearing some guys talk about having a "harder," but I never discussed it with anyone.
Erections were a source of tremendous stress during my years of adolescence and even into young adulthood. Throughout high school I avoided physical education classes or any other event that would cause me to have to take a shower in the presence of others. I was scared to death that I'd have an erection and that the other guys would make fun of me.
These erections were a thing of interest, sometimes troubling, but only when it might occur in the presence of others. I would find it pleasurable to play with myself in such times, but I don't call such activity "masturbating." I know the dictionary definition of masturbation is "stimulating one's own genital organs for pleasure, commonly resulting in orgasm." Personally I don't think casual stimulation of one's sex organs to be masturbation unless it does indeed result in an orgasm. At the time I was having these mysterious erections and finding a bit of pleasure in rubbing my penis, there was not an orgasm; I didn't even know that such a thing was possible.
One day while I was at work I was feeling rather horny, and I went into the restroom to play with myself a little. A strange thing happened that terrified me. I was (and am) uncircumcised, and I had a tight foreskin, which I had never pulled back to expose the entire head of my penis. That day the foreskin slipped all the way back, and I didn't know what was going on. I was scared that I might not be able to get it back in place. It was then that I discovered what I later learned was smegma. There were thin segments of a hard yellow substance, which I picked off, and then washed myself. I am ashamed to even tell this, knowing now that a boy needs to daily bathe his penis head carefully if he is uncircumcised. Well, I finally got the foreskin back in place and went back to work.
Up to that time my autoeroticism consisted only of playing with my penis awhile when it would become erect, putting it away and allowing it to return to limpness on its own. I don't really remember when I had my first orgasm and ejaculation by masturbating. By this time I was at lest 16, a junior or senior in high school; otherwise I wouldn't have been working. The only ejaculations I had before were during nocturnal emissions (or "wet dreams"). Those were common — much more common than they would have been if I had discovered masturbation earlier.
"Wet dreams" were a matter of curious, yet serious, concern. It would be wrong to say that I didn't enjoy them. But I didn't understand them. When I had my first few, I thought that I had wet the bed a little. But I had already outgrown bed-wetting, and the amount of fluid on the sheet or underwear was much less. And the content of the dreams was always exciting, erotic, and pleasurable. But I was dreaming of doing things that I would never do, and that caused me to wonder if I was doing something wrong. An example of this is that I sometimes dreamed of urinating in public, sometimes naked. Then I would wake up after the incredible pleasure and find the fluid. I sometimes worried that my mother would find the stains and ask me about it. She didn't ask and I never discussed it.
I think I was in college before I ever masturbated to orgasm. I know that sounds strange, but I was an ignorant, but religious, boy. Remember the silence (about sex) I mentioned about my home atmosphere. I simply never tried to find out anything about a subject that I considered dirty and/or sinful. If I found myself around other guys who were talking "dirty," I would make a quick exit. If I saw other guys looking at "dirty" pictures (meaning naked women and such), I would refuse to show any interest.
I can't remember my first orgasm by masturbating, but it probably happened while I was taking a shower or tub bath. But I can tell you one thing: After the first experience, there would surely be more to come! The biggest problem with this was the idea that I was doing something sinful. Each time I masturbated, I prayed for forgiveness and made promises to God — promises that I found almost impossible to fulfill. I say "almost impossible," because I do believe that with enough will power and faith a guy can live without masturbating. For the most part my "wet dreams" ceased when I began masturbating to orgasm. Had I refused to masturbate, those nocturnal emissions would have begun again, for this is a way that a boy's sexual frustration is eased. But, although there may be some boys who don't masturbate, sexual orgasm is such an incredibly pleasurable feeling that once it is experienced, a guy finds it "almost impossible" to refrain from doing it again — and again — and again.
I finally got somewhat comfortable with masturbating as long as I felt that I was keeping under control. If I could get along with only one time a week, it didn't bother me too much. During this time I ran onto a medical book that said masturbation was normal and wouldn't hurt anyone unless it was extreme, unless it became a preoccupation that prevented him from functioning efficiently in life. How grateful I was for that bit of "official" information. I no longer viewed it as "sin," but I still felt that it wasn't quite a "legitimate" outlet for sexual release.
I remember after getting engaged at about age 22, I told my fiancée that I would be glad when we could be married, so that I could have a "legitimate" outlet for my sexual tension. I might say here that this girl and I had dated for two or three years in college, but we both remained virgins. We never went further than holding hands; we never even kissed one another until after we were married.
So the masturbation continued right up to marriage, when I honestly thought that I would never need to masturbate again. Wrong! As a married man I didn't masturbate as much as before, but there were times when I felt the need to masturbate. Perhaps my wife was asleep and I hadn't suggested having sex, and then this intense urge would come over me and I would masturbate there in the bed beside her. At other times she would be away from the house — not necessarily for an extended time — and I would get the urge to masturbate. And I did.
Frankly, I doubt that there are very many men who don't masturbate at times, even though they are happily married. After nearly five decades of a happy marriage, I still occasionally masturbate.
Some years ago I decided to do an in-depth study of sex and sexuality. Among other things I found that there is nowhere in the Bible that the practice is prohibited. The only scripture reference that is commonly used to condemn the practice is the story of Onan. In Genesis 38, Onan was supposed to have sex with his deceased brother's wife and produce children who would then be the heirs of his dead brother. He refused, "spilling his seed on ground," and he was severely punished, slain in fact. But Onan's sin was not masturbating; it was simply refusing to follow the tradition of raising up seed for his dead brother.
I also read some books by leading Christian psychologists and counselors, concluding that masturbation is not a sin at all. While the Bible has something to say about fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest, it is silent on the subject of masturbation.
Therefore I feel perfectly comfortable masturbating occasionally, and recommend it for any male past the age of puberty. It is so much better than having sex with a partner, when one considers sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and all the problems associated with sex outside of marriage. And for that husband who has to be separated from his wife for several days, masturbation provides a source of sexual release.
I have also found masturbation to be a great stress-reliever. As an adult working late at the office, I have been almost overwhelmed with paperwork and figures (I mean numbers), when the urge to masturbate would come upon me. I have found it nearly impossible to concentrate on my work. Then I would just get up, go into the restroom, and masturbate. It took little time and made it possible for me to get back to work and do the job effectively.
My wife knows that I occasionally masturbate, and she seems to be comfortable with that — at least she allows me to do so. Sometimes I even masturbate while we are having sex, and she doesn't openly object to that; however, she prefers to be in control of the stimulation of my penis. I enjoy masturbating in her presence, but she has never become comfortable to masturbate herself in my presence. Whether she ever does it alone, I don't know, but I try to encourage her to feel free to do it whenever she feels a need. Of course, she has never cared as much about sex of any kind as I.
There is a lot more that could be said on the subject, but I'll quit by saying that I am extremely grateful to the Lord for my learning that masturbation is not sinful, that it is normal and legitimate behavior for men (and women). And it continues to be, even at age 70, a source of wonderful pleasure. Other than my wife, I have never masturbated with anyone else. I read a lot of accounts where men write of their experiences masturbating with other guys — usually when they were children or teenagers. Perhaps I might have done that, had I found someone with whom I could have discussed sex and masturbation. Or maybe it would have been with me just talking about it. Anyway, I regret to this day that I never had anyone with whom I could even mention masturbation in my teens and 20s. I am heterosexual and don't agree with homosexual behavior. However, I would not say that a boy who masturbates with another boy is necessarily gay. Much of it is probably experimentation. And I'd have probably been open to that if I hadn't been so backward and ignorant.
For whatever it's worth, that's my story. I pray that it might be helpful to someone who reads it. I am a Christian, and love God with all my heart. I read Paul saying, "I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection..." (I Cor. 9:27). Thus, I understand the necessity of not allowing masturbation or any other thing to control me. But to me it is akin to eating — there's nothing wrong with it as long as one doesn't overdo it. I even see it as a gift from God. How I wish someone had told me this as I struggled with my sexuality during my youth!
I might add that after writing my story, I enjoyed and appreciated Biography #233 by the Southern Baptist deacon. He said he felt that "similar input from other men of faith would be good for your site." Well, I am an ordained minister in a conservative denomination (not a Baptist), so you have my input.