Let me clarify before I move on

I usually don’t make clarification based on comments for a couple of reasons. First, I know those with an axe to grind are far more likely to comment than those who agree, making the comments a skewed measure of what most think. Second, I assume most who read something I didn’t say are reading through their own filters. I’m not putting anyone down; we all do it. I do it all the time, despite my best efforts to avoid it. It’s all but impossible to change someone’s mind when they are filtering what you are saying.

That said, there have been many comments on a couple of recent posts, and enough people seem not to understand what I was saying that I probably should clarify. One fellow summed it up by saying he thought my advice for being a generous husband was to “have more women friends, and masturbate more.” I suggested he was not reading what I was writing and then another fellow said, “I think that’s kind of what most of us are getting from your writings…”, and then someone came to my defence. And so it goes.

Some confusion © digitalart | freedigitalphotos.net

So, one last attempt to say what I mean in a way others can hear. If you don’t care, come back tomorrow, or skip to the bottom where I’m throwing out one more somewhat related issue that’s bound to get me some negative comments. (My wife says it’s a gift. I can’t find the receipt, so I can’t return it. Oh well.)

Female Friends:

In an email I got about this, someone said they just didn’t think it wise to have a deep, intimate friendship with a woman other than one’s wife. I completely agree with this, but I got the feeling the gentleman writing to me thought I was all for such a relationship. As discussed in the comments, part of the confusion here is the word “friend”. For some, this includes people I would call “acquaintances” while others seem to have assumed I was talking about the full range of friendship from acquaintance to deeply intimate. I should have defined it at the start; could’ve saved a lot of trouble. 

To me the word friend covers a wide group of people. I have casual friends, friends, good friends, close friends, and intimate friends. I don’t have any female friends who in the fifth category, nor do I think I ever will. I don’t currently have any female friends in the fourth category, and when I did, they were also Lori’s close friend. I can’t say that’s a hard and fast rule, but I doubt I would ever do otherwise. Bottom line: I have boundaries. By the way, I would never have a friendship with a woman if my wife felt uncomfortable with the relationship – period.

As to the idea of more female friends, my feeling is most men need more and better/closer male friends. Given the limits on our time and energy, I would suggest working on the male friends.


I’ve never said men need to masturbate more. I think the vast majority of married men need to masturbate a far less. In fact, I think most should not be doing it at all. However, I can’t find any way to make it sin without doing harm to the integrity of God’s Word, and if it’s not sin I’m not qualified to say it is wrong. Additionally, if it’s not sin, it might be acceptable in some situations.

Personally, I see masturbation as being like eating slugs and worms – if you’re lost in the wilderness without food, it might be a good idea, but otherwise why would you do it? I haven’t masturbated in years – even when I am away from my bride long enough to feel a strong need. I could do it because I don’t think it would be wrong, and I know my wife would be fine with it. I just don’t want to do it. Yeah, before marriage I thought it was great, but since I’ve experienced real sex, with all of its depth, wonder, and blessings, masturbation does nothing for me. I don’t understand men who masturbate when they have a wife willing to have sex – it completely baffles me. I wonder if those guys just have never experienced sex as God intended it. (No offence intended!)

Various Temptations:

Adultery is not a temptation for me. I know, I know, the man who says that is setting himself up, pride goes before the fall, and all that. First, I’m not saying I am without sin – far from it. Neither am I trying to put myself above anyone else. I am certainly tempted in many ways (I mentioned in a recent comment that if we had broadcast TV I doubt I would control my viewing time well). I’m human; many things tempt me, and I sin far too often.

However, I know what tempts me and what doesn’t. Having sex with another woman is not a temptation for me – never has been. Even when we had many problems, even when we had very little sex, I was not at all tempted. Some will say I am self-deceived, but I think God wants us to know ourselves and know where we are weak and where we are not. I think we can know where we are likely to be tempted so we can take extra precautions, and also know where we’re not going to be tempted.

Why am I unable to commit adultery? My best guess is because I understand the consequences, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt they can’t be avoided. For me adultery it like cutting off my arm – beyond comprehension and certainly not something I could willingly do. Why this sin (and some others) is so clear to me when so many are not I don’t know. I wish I were as clear on other sins, so I could be free of them as well.

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36 Comments on “Let me clarify before I move on

  1. Well said Paul.

    I have a question, is it easier for you to aviod temptation (of Adultry) becasue you’ve been able to witness first hand it’s distructive nature on marriage, or do you think it may be just part of your DNA (i.e. personality type)?


    • IMan – I think that has greatly added to it. Years ago I never felt tempted, but I was still concerned it was possible. Maybe that was some less than biblical teaching I was buying into, maybe I was at risk, maybe some of both.

      As I have seen first hand the destruction that comes from adultery and other marital sins, wrongs, and omissions, it has made me a much better husband. When you cannot deny the pain you are causing your spouse, it is much more difficult to do, much less justify doing things that cause that pain.

  2. I was agreeing with you throughout until you got to “unable to commit adultery.” I honestly believe that 99.99% of us are able to commit adultery if all the conditions are right. I just know too many people who never thought they would and then did, so I caution anyone against relying on their belief that they couldn’t. That’s why not having close, intimate friends of the opposite gender is a good boundary to have–it takes away one of those conditions that could make a spouse ripe for an affair.

    We can all haggle, of course, over where the line should be drawn (and mine is drawn a little earlier than some), but I think marriages do need a line of some kind.

    Thanks for tackling a tough subject!

    • J of H, H & H,

      Well, I don’t think that ” is not a temptation for me” isn’t just a boundary or circumstance driven mindset.

      For example, years ago I went through a series of unfortunate circumstances and had the opportunity to have sex with a woman outside my marriage. It was very tempting. I commited adultry in my heart, and that’s just as bad. Ironicly, a couple of my close guy friends that are gay knew of this and on more than one occasion offered to “intervene”. But I’m not temped to have sex with a man, not at all.

      Are you saying that I had a 99.99% of commiting adultery (if all the conditions were right) with a man?

      Does Paul fall into the 0.01%?

    • J – As I said, I do have boundaries. As a friend of mine often said “let’s not be stupid about this.” Aside from that, I don’t want to cause problems for anyone else, or let “my freedom” be uses as an opportunity for sin.

      All that said, I have a growing belief that in Jesus we can be far more than most of us have been taught. We can overcome sin – not all of it, but one by one He can take us to a place where we are no longer able to commit that sin.

      The Bible is full of passages which suggest we can be far more free of sin than most of us think is possible. We find these ideas scary and dangerous, so we explain them away. Adding to our fear is those who use these passages to justify doing things we all know are wrong and saying they are not really sin.

      I have only scratched the surface of this in my own study. I find it both a challenge and an idea I don’t like. To be honest, I like some of my little sins, and I don’t really want to get rid of them. You know, the “small stuff” that I more or less convince myself is no big deal, is only hurting me, and not doing that very much so. I know that is not the case, most of the time I act as if it were true. The idea that I could be free of those things does not, if I am honest, appeal to me. It is here that I say “God, I am weak, HELP ME!”.

      Am I saying that a human can become sin free moving forward? I’m not, although I think one might be able to make a biblical case for just that. I am saying I think we can, and should, reach a point where sin is infrequent in our lives, and where when we do sin we know it and it gnaws on us until we deal with it. Have I reached that place? Not at all. Will I? I don’t know – am I willing to give up my selfishness? I don’t want to, and yet I want to be what He calls me to.

      All of this is to say I think we can overcome sin in a much more powerful way than we experience. I think that can and should be an across the board thing, but I also think it can be done piece by piece as well. I think He wants to do it for everything, but will meet us where we are.

  3. Paul, you are NOT unable to commit adultery!

    Regarding the denial of Christ in Matthew 26:33-35

    “Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

    Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

    Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.””

    Peter thought of himself better armed against temptation than anyone else and THAT was his weakness! He believed ‘Though all other men will stumble, I won’t!’ He thought it possible that some or all of the others might stumble, but he would escape.

    It requires a great deal of self-conceit and self-confidence to think of yourself as safe from any temptation or corruption that is common to man. You would be wise to understand that if it’s possible for others to stumble, there is danger that you might also.

    Peter bound himself with a promise that he would never offend Christ; not on that night or any other. If his promise had been made in HUMBLE DEPENDENCE UPON THE GRACE OF CHRIST, it would have been a different thing.

    James 4:6
    “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

    Before the Lord’s supper, Christ’s discourse led his disciples to examine themselves with “Lord, is it I?” And, that is our preparatory duty, every day… “Is it I who will deny You?, Is it I who, today, will deny ‘the cross’ which I am called to bear for You?”

    Proverbs 16:18
    “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

    pride = the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance; having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities
    destruction = breaking, fracture, crushing, crash, ruin, shattering
    haughty = pride, arrogance
    fall = a stumbling, a fall, a calamity

    You may be setting yourself up for a fall unless you realize your need to humble yourself. (Your post comes across as VERY prideful and arrogant.)

    When we avoid temptation and stumbling, it is by the grace of God alone.

    • CJ – I realise I am not going to chance your mind, but I will address your points briefly.

      ► The example of Peter was before the resurrection, so He did not have the sacrifice of Jesus or the Holy Spirit as we do.

      ► If I say that it is Jesus in me that has done this, I don’t see it as pride – or at least not pride in myself. I know who I am, I know I am scum, I know I can not do this without Him. However, I also have a growing understanding of who I am IN HIM.

      I am sorry, and concerned that you see my post as prideful and arrogant. I pray that it is not so, and it if it is God will show me that quickly and forcefully. I don’t think I am anything, but I think He is great. I don’t think I am better than anyone, but I think He allows all of us to be far more than we could ever be without Him. In my mind this is ALL about Him, and what He can do with me in spite of me.

      • Paul, as you clarify your thoughts, I see where you are coming from. In your original post though, you didn’t credit the power of the Holy Spirit, the process of sanctification, or ultimately the grace of God as being the source of your strength. You seemingly give credit to your own wisdom – that’s where the confusion lies and the appearance of pride and arrogance come in.

        The truth of the matter is that we are ‘positionally’ dead to sin, no longer slaves to it. But ‘practically’ we still battle the flesh daily as Paul talks about in Romans 7:15-25 and Galatians 5:17… hopefully less and less and less though as we abide in Him and mature.

        So, I still disagree with the use of the word “unable”. Unable is a very strong word – too strong of a word I believe – when referring to man and sin. Unable means “not capable; lacking the ability, fitness or quality to do something”. Given the perfect storm, we are all capable of committing any sin.

        “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
        ~ Jeremiah 17:9

        As long as we are on earth, we will all continue to possess that sin quality that makes us capable.

        Perhaps a better word choice is “unlikely”??
        …as the Holy Spirit convicts through the renewing of your mind and as God’s grace sustains you it becomes more “unlikely” that you will commit adultery…

        P.S. I bet there are a lot of men (and women) out there who would benefit greatly from knowing specifically how you came to the place of being “unlikely” to commit adultery… how they can get to that place too.

        • CJ – Going back and reading it, you are right, I did not give God the credit as I should have and meant to. I don’t see that I ever said anything to indicate that it was me, so I just left it open to assumption. My bad.

          I understand your wanting to use the word unlikely rather than unable. However, in my case, it feels like unable. I don’t mean I would not, I mean I don’t think I could. For me sex has always required a deep intimate relationship – this was true even when I was an over-sexed teenager. At 19 I turned down an offer once to lose my virginity because I did not have the feelings for her I needed to do that (even though I liked her a lot and thought we might one day marry). It was not a moral or thinking choice, it was not really in me to do it. I’ve since realised this is how God made me. A few years earlier I think I might have done it, or at least thought about it, but by the time it happened it I just could not do it. Again, that is not me, it’s Him.

          So as to your PS, I can’t help much. I think the seeds of it were well in place by puberty. At 15 I started to get very serious about following the Lord. That is when I put down porn (cold turkey, no slips). He was working in my heart and mind, and He did things I was not even aware of at the time. When I say it’s all Him, I mean it is all Him – I am aware of nothing I did to even open the way up for it, although I suppose I must have.

  4. Paul,
    Thank you for the clarifications. I was not hearing you advise men to “masturbate more” however I was very bothered by your tackling of the “female friends” subject. While I agree with you that legalism isn’t the answer, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to anything, you seemed unwilling to concede to your commenters who were speaking out about having opposite sex friendships as being unwise. Yes, a definition of “friend” would have been helpful. But honestly, I WAS getting the impression that you were advocating female friendships as being okay. I think this is an area where the “rule” needs to be stated before the “exceptions to the rule” are explored and considered. You did not back the wisdom of guarding yourself against emotional connections to the opposite sex, and as a marriage blogger, I think that was irresponsible.

    I have to agree with J above as well. We are all capable of adultery. Even my husband, who I think would be the last man on earth to commit adultery, is capable. And if you really believe that, please don’t encourage other men who are coming to your site for marriage advice (many of whom are in sexless marriages) to believe that they can also claim to be “unable to commit adultery”

    • workinprogress – If there is a biblical prohibition to have opposite sex friends, please show me. I would counter that Paul has more than a few female friends. To me “fellow workers” would be friends.

      Part of my concern on the adultery issue is the fear that some men and women seem to live in that they, or their spouse, will fall into adultery despite the best efforts of both to avoid that. I see people doing crazy things because of those fears, and I don’t see God in any of that in any way.

      As I see we have a lot of adultery, and a lot of risk of adultery, because we have a lot of marriages which are deeply unhealthy. Heal the marriage, and the risk of adultery is reduced greatly. Heal the marriage and get both husband and wife right with God, and I thin you can eliminate that risk completely. I think God is able to do that. I think both Jesus and Paul told us He can, but we have explained those things away.

      Could I be wrong? Of course! Have been before, will be again. I study, I pray, I seek wise counsel and grow as best as I can.

  5. Jesus said that if a man even looks lustfully at another woman, he has already committed adultery. I don’t know your situation and I don’t presume to guess or judge, but I do know that “looking lustfully” is quite literally *every* man’s battle, and some women’s battle as well. My husband fights to keep his eyes and mind pure every single day, and doesn’t always win the battle. I highly doubt that you, or any other man here, are any different. Your wives probably just don’t realize it, because women think differently.

    • Tlw – That depends on who one defines “lust”. The Greek word means something very different than our English word. In Greek the word is not about sex, nor is it always sin. In Greek it means “a strong desire” and Jesus used the word of Himself when He said He has longed to eat the passover with them.

      So I see two sins – looking and having sexual thoughts, and having a strong desire to have sex with the woman. The first I have not overcome, it’s still there. The second, I do not struggle with. I don’t want any other woman sexually.

      But I fear this just opens a new area of confusion.

  6. I was discussing this with Lori over lunch, and her comment was “What if you had said you knew you would never commit pedophilia?” What if I said I was sure I would never kidnap and torture people, or would never have a homosexual affair?

    If these claims would not have found me accused of pride and arrogance, why not? If changing the sin changes how we think about the claim, what does that mean about what we think?

    Beyond that, none of this is about ME, it is all about HIM. I am able to withstand temptation because He provides a way of escape. If I move past temptation in any area, it is not because of me, but because of what He has done in me. What I wonder is why we feel so frightened by the suggestion this is possible. I wonder that even as I feel it myself.

    My guess is that we have bought a lie. We have bought it, made it our own, repackaged it, and sold it to others. It has become truth to us, and we react strongly to those who claim it is not truth. I get that, I really do. Is this a “dangerous thought?” Maybe, Jesus said the truth shall set us free. If this is His truth, we need to understand it. Challenging the status quo is always difficult, but it is the right thing to do when the status quo contains lies.

    Have I exposed a lie here? That is for each person to prayerfully consider. Is God able to move us to the place were we are really free of certain sins, or is that beyond what He can do with fallen humans?

      • Jay Dee – First see above, my reply to Tlw.

        My eyes can certainly lead me to look at something I should not – which I consider sin. I could look at a less than fully clothed woman and get aroused, and if I do that by choice (meaning not looking away) I would call that sin. Guilty of all that.

        However, I do not desire to have sex with any other woman. If nothing else, it would be like desiring to eat something I knew was full of poison that would lead to a very long, slow, and painful death. No matter how good the food might look, eating it would not be a temptation.

        Waiting for your other shoe …..

  7. Hi
    Pretty much agree with all this, though my only comments….

    “I do not understand men who masturbate when they have a wife willing to have sex – it completely baffles me.”

    ….which is why I do, because once a month with my wife doesn’t quite cut it!

    I’d like to add something to the female friends thing, something I learned from a pastor ages ago. If I ever need to be alone with a female, ie visiting someone, work etc, I will tell my wife when I start and when I finish being alone with her. I generally try and avoid one on one with the opposite sex, obviously it could be near impossible for some guys and work….

  8. I really don’t understand the difficulty in believing that it is possible to develop a level of spiritual maturity and strength in Christ sufficient to consistently resist adultery. I like your wife’s example, Paul, about making comparable assertions such as not being at risk of committing pedophilia or a homosexual affair. I’m sure most people (including those contending the possibility of a no-risk opposite sex friendship in the comments) would agree that their fidelity is not at risk in relationships with opposite sex children or any person of the same sex. Or, as I previously stated, with members of the opposite sex that belong to their immediate family. If you can resist engaging in sexual fantasies or activities with them, why should it be impossible to avoid such things with a friend of the opposite sex?

    The only reason it would be impossible or at least difficult to do so is that you have not fully eliminated in your mind the thought of an opposite sex adult as a potential sex partner. The real simple formula to do this is to apply the same mind set you use to automatically eliminate children, same sex adults and immediate family of the opposite sex as potential sex partners. That is, see it for the *absolutely* inappropriate and disgusting relationship that it would be, so that it would not only be unable to present temptation but actually become repulsive on a level comparable to cheating with, say, a mother or a sister.

    I think all this fear about opposite sex relationships is actually weakening people’s minds to the resistance of adultery. The problem is people are recognizing adultery as sin on a merely spiritual level without intellectually understanding and genuinely affirming the why. Stop focusing on resisting the symptom and start focusing on eliminating the real cause, which could only be a lack of intellectual assent to the fact that adultery is truly a thoroughly disgusting act. Don’t just simply admit it is so, actually *see* it for what is.

  9. (Continued from my last comment)

    I am a single, 20 year old man with a very high (even torturous) sex drive, and I still manage to resist adultery both physically and in my heart. And trust me, the conditions are often very right for me to become prey to temptation if it were possible. I am a competitive bodybuilder and have received many, many explicit, aggressive sexual advances from women (who says they’re not visual?) and manage to resist even simply entertaining sexual fantasies about them. So I know first hand that Paul is correct in this regard. Maybe that sounds absurd but the truth is, with the right mind set, it is very possible, even easy.

    In concise summation, if you have even avoided sexual advancement to a woman who is your sister (for example) you have confirmed everything I have previously asserted. Your only problem is that you are not extending the same mindset to other opposite sex women. You must not simply agree with God that it is utterly sinful, but genuinely see it as such the way He does, so it becomes a thoroughly repulsive thought rather than a potential temptation.

    Of course, if you are currently struggling with such temptations than it would be best to avoid friendships with the opposite sex. Other exceptions include (regardless of your own strength) any relationships that make your wife uncomfortable. You should love her enough to not put her in a position where she is dubious about your desire for her alone and of her ability to solely satisfy you in every relational aspect.

  10. I have been blessed by posts in this blog, for which I am certainly grateful. I do confess, though, that I feel uneasy about the assertion that one is free from commiting adultery. Brother, you are free NOW, but tomorrow you may start to throw away the boundaries that now keep you safe and may, one day, commit adultery or any other sin except the blasphemy against the Spirit (that one a real Christian will be kept from commiting). Satan will certainly not be stupid to come to you and say, “come on, take that girl to a motel”. He will come as an “angel of light”, maybe he will bring resentment, or start to keep you away from the Word, or destroy your prayer life FIRST – with no suggestion of adultery – but eventually he may bring the whole package. I’ve seen it happen all too often. I may be safe NOW, but I have to keep safe tomorrow and every day to the rest of my life in order to keep myself.

    • João Armando Coelho – Thing is I have never suggested that it is my boundaries that protect me from adultery (that, IMHO would be a case of pride and arrogance). I think boundaries are wise, but they cannot keep us from sin – this what the Law shows us all to clearly!

      I am safe from adultery not because of anything I have done, but because of what Jesus has done in me. I am not relying on my efforts, or my vigilance, I am resting on what He has done, and I am sure it is sufficient.

      I suppose it would be fair to say I have allowed Him to do this. That does not make it about me, but it does explain why I can still sin in other areas, and why some are safe from sins with which I struggle.

  11. Just one more comment. I do not think that it is fair to compare the sin of adultery with pedophily. You have never had any problem with that, so obviously the devil will not care to tempt you on that.

    • João Armando Coelho – I find it interesting that saying one has never had a problem with paedophilia is accepted, but saying one has never had a problem with adultery is not.

  12. Thanks for the clarification about your previous comments. I was one of those readers scratching their heads going, huh? I think Paul didn’t realize how that came across.
    With regards to masturbation, men do it, married, not because of the pleasure but habit. This is why I flee from this sin (for me it is) always because it can and will lead me away from my God and wife. This is why I think all masturbation is sin, all, even wife approved is dangerously close to sin. My body takes care of the situation for me without my intervention and I think that a lot of us bought the lie that it is okay before marriage and or ‘when my wife can’t.’ Lies, dudes, lies. Hit the gym, take a cold shower, but save it for the love of your life. I got married at 29, I know what it is to long and not have. I also know how empty masturbation was and is, always.
    So while you make the comparison of yucky food, I rather see masturbation as poison that will permeate my body and destroy from within.
    And as regard to your adultery comments, you did great until you used the word “unable.” According to what I and others see in the Word, there is no sin you are “unable” to commit. Sorry. This isn’t a cop out, just truth. So one can say, my “tendency” or my direct temptation, but none of us can say unable. Remove that one word, and everything else stacks up.
    Thanks again for clarifying. Your blog posts are great conversation starters between me and my bride.

    • Joel – If you can show me some scriptures that support the idea there is no way we can ever be free of any sin I would appreciate it. A part of me wants to believe that, because it’s what I’ve been taught and it’s what most folks think is the truth. But when I try to prove it to myself, I can not, and I find some very “troubling” scriptures that seem to suggest the very opposite.

      As I look at this, the traditional teaching does not seem to have much support, biblically. That does not make it wrong, but it does drive me to study it, to either prove or disprove it. Then I have to look at what changed I may need to make in my life based on what I find.

      • I am not sure I can support the contrary, as in it is possible. Everything that the New Testament tells us talks about a war, a battle, two natures, etc. I guess the bottom line for me is, as you said to drive us deeper into the Word, is that the Word of God does not say that we can be free 100 % of sin, or a sin in this body. Rather, we must choose to follow Christ, fight against and flee temptation, and walk by the Spirit. Lik you said, let us dig deeper, fellas.
        As I said before, the only word that tripped me up was “unable.” I too hold my marriage in highest regards and fight to protect it at all cost and would never want to screw it up with an affair. So I think it is a matter of semantics. The point is well taken: why screw up the second greatest thing in our lives? (second only to salvation)

        • Joel – I would agree that we can never be 100% free of all sin, although I am not sure I can really support that with scripture.

          If we set aside what we think is true, and look at what the Bible actually says, do we find something different from what we have been taught?

          Does not 1 Cor 10:13 tell us we will never be tempted beyond our ability to stand against that temptation? Are we not promised there is always a way of escape provided?

          What of the Lord’s prayer, in which we are taught to ask God to keep us from temptation?

          And Gal 5:16 says that if we walk by the flesh we WILL NOT gratify the desires of the flesh.

          We know that ALL HAVE SINNED, that is clearly written. But must we continue to sin? If we take the Bible at face value, we can, in Him, move past that. I know, I know, that is dangerous, heretical, twisting of scripture, and so on. Wait, taking the Bible at face value is wrong?

          I don’t have an answer. If find that what I have been taught seems to conflict with that Jesus, Paul, and others ACTUALLY SAID. Perhaps it is a lofty goal that few if any will ever achieve. Perhaps we live in such riches and have become so selfish that we have no hope of being able to let go of what we would have to let go of. Or maybe we are way focused on us and not nearly focused enough on Him.

          I have found a place where what I have been taught does not line up will with what I read in the Bible. That means something is wrong. It it be my reading that is wrong? That is always a possibility. Could it be that the traditions of men are not 100% in line with the truth of God? That has happened in enough places that it can not be dismissed.

          Could this line of thinking lead someone into trouble? No doubt. Does Satan ever whisper that to keep us from finding truth? Certainly.

          Everything else aside, I see sin as the result of selfishness. That there is sin in my life is proof that I am selfish. Whether of not it is possible to be free of sin I do not know, but the less selfish I am the less sin I will commit, and that seems like a very wise goal.

    • Joel – As to the masturbation issue, it sounds like for you, it is always a sin, or at the very least very unwise.

      I think Paul is clear that we all have different limits and freedoms. He is also clear that we should not let our freedoms cause another to sin, but likewise that we should not let our limitations cause us to judge those who are free where we are not.

      Perhaps masturbation is like this – some can without sin, and some can not. This would explain why it’s never called sin. (I actually think it’s more complex and deeply buried in some wrong teachings, but I still think this applies.)

      • I agree wholeheartedly with the matter of liberty and license that Paul talks about. For my conviction, notice I did not say doctrine-as in my personal position based on the Word of God but not something I will die for, I look to I Thess 4:3-8 as well as I Cor. 6:12-20. Both passages speak of sexual immorality and control, and this is the word that has been drilled into my head: control, as in nothing but the Spirit of God shall control you.

        As you said, maybe some can without problem, MAYBE, but as I study about the dangers of sexual sin, wouldn’t it be better if one were to see the power of God shine forth in moments of great pressure? (and yes, I battled the addiction of porn and masturbation for 10 years, from puberty right through young adulthood till God granted freedom) I have a beautiful bride, and frankly, praise the Lord, she is the only one that cranks my motor. But do I want to gamble and foul the engine in even the slightest?

        So as you say, maybe it is an issue of liberty, on this I will agree to disagree, and I will continue to hold my conviction that masturbation is wrong, always. But as you say, the Word doesn’t give a “Thou shalt not” so I will hold this view but not die for this view.

        And I don’t judge another man on this just because we disagree. Ultimately every man answers to God, but I believe wholeheartedly that the big M can become a chink in even the most valiant warriors armor. I will try to fight alongside brothers not with, that we may all be holy and righteous before God. Thanks for the good conversation. Indeed a pleasure.

  13. Paul, as I read these comments I wonder why would you ever want to do this? I had a regular blog for just over a year, but being repeatedly misunderstood no matter how clearly you explain things eventually wore me down. Thanks for finding a way to press on.

    • James – The bottom line is a care about couples. I’ve had deep marital pain, and I’ve touched the deep marital pain of others, and I am moved to compassion. That compassion overcome the frustration.

      I believe I am right where God wants me, doing exactly what He wants me to do. Once you find that, there is an ease in the midst of difficulty and peace in the midst of conflict.

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