What do we think about masturbation but in front of a spouse, whether that is physically or whether that is online?
Are we ready for the answer?
It’s wrong. It’s wrong for the same reason masturbation is wrong.
Sex is a one-flesh union, the sexual pleasure is meant to be derived from the other person. I think King James gets it. It’s says, Adam knew his wife and they gave birth. In other words, Adam having sexual activity with his wife was a form of knowledge of his wife. It wasn’t knowledge like reading my wife has these mood swings and all of that. This is the deepest form of knowledge. Adam communed with his wife. The sexual pleasure came in the context of marriage first, and also in the act of knowing the other person out of love. That’s what sex is really—you are knowing the person and because you are knowing the person, you are joining with the person.
What’s masturbation? Self-knowledge, self-love. Even if it is inspired by somebody, the act is committed by you. It is the antithesis of Biblical love. Biblical love is always seeking the pleasure of the other person, not just wishing it in your mind like, “I wish you would have good pleasure, so do this and do this”. No. it is you actually committing the act to the person that has been committed to you and who you are committed to.
And I’ll get into the context of all of this but me looking at my wife and then saying my wife should commit self-knowledge because it then stimulates something in me is doing it the wrong way. I am given to her, and she is given to me. She’s not given to herself; I am not given to myself. If you say, “oh it eventually leads to the sex that we both can have”. The end doesn’t always justify the means, and this is what we’re trying to say about this sexual thing and that’s why I’m being as explicit as possible because the bible is as explicit as this. It is self-knowledge as opposed to other knowledge. The definition of love there really does matter.
If you say it eventually leads to sex, then I’ll say, find other ways. If you say that’s hard. Exactly, that’s why you are committed to yourselves. You are married for a long time. This is why a lot of people try to say I’m having sex with this person for me to know whether we’re sexually compatible. That’s absolute nonsense. Marriage is not the place where you discover whether you are sexually compatible, marriage is the place for you to learn how to be sexually compatible because it’s about knowledge of the other person.
So, what happens if we are separated by a pandemic?
What happens when we as a church are separated from the Lord? We long for him. We long for him. Because if we say “I need to fill my sexual tank, I need to fill my sexual tank, food is for stomach and sex is for the body, body no be firewood”, we get back into that. So, in this case, we long for the person.
Let’s say you travel for one month; you should be planning for it as you’re landing. If you have children, book hotel, or send them to grandparents because the grandparents love them, and they love the grandparents. Do you understand? That’s why a lot of people, check, the children were born nine months after somebody came back from a trip.
What happens if we are separated indefinitely?
So, what if it is not one month or two months. What if it is long-term like a job has taken me and so now, I’m separated from my wife, and we’re separated indefinitely.
Do you know the answer?
Nope, it shouldn’t be like that. In fact, what you’ve done by being separated for that long is the antithesis of marriage because marriage is not only about sex, marriage is about unity and it is unity, first of all legally, then it should be unity geographically. I do say this with a sense of compassion to people who have gone through this or who are going through this. I think one of the most dangerous things not just for the church but in our society is our rereading of what marriage is. So many people read marriage first and foremost from economic terms and a lot of the location thing is like, I have to be abroad, I can’t come back so we just marry, you have your job here, I have my job here at least we both have good jobs. That thing is disastrous, absolutely disastrous. oh, let me go and spy the land first, I have gotten my papers somehow hopefully we’ll be able to get you after” is a disaster. It’s killing people and not only is it leading to sexual immorality, but a lot of people are dying because of the longing they have. It’s not meant to be so.
I’m not trying to big up ourselves, but this is what my wife and I did. I was living in the UK. We did the court wedding because our understanding at that point was court wedding was just render unto Caesar what Caesar’s. I’m sorry I’m extending this, but can I end with this story?
So, they said the church wedding is the real thing which is in November. But we got married in April. Do you know why we had to quickly do the marriage? Now our understanding is that the real marriage is in November so once we did the April one, I told my wife, please apply for change of name so that after you do change of name, you do change of passport and after you do change of passport, you apply for visa. Why? Because the day we get married, we are going together, we can’t be separated.
If you ask me, if she was rejected multiple times, you know what I would have done, I’m not playing, I would have cancelled my PHD and I would have come back and I say that because a friend of mine, a guy called Francis, one of the leaders of this church, that’s exactly what he did. That’s exactly what Francis did. Francis and I, we lived in the UK together and all of that, yet they had to make a choice and I’m sure Francis would not mind me sharing it, they had to make a choice because his wife was here. He tried to get a job here. Thank God he got a job here. He was doing a PHD, and Francis is more brilliant than me, he would have finished his PHD quicker than my own.
You see what people don’t understand, even the ones that do weekend; I live in Abuja, and I come back, and you have children, it’s like you are a holiday dad or a holiday mom, that’s what you are. You don’t understand that a lot of the forming process is in the insignificant daily things. That’s how you come together and that affects your sexual life. So, it’s not just, hey my wife is coming in. Everybody just go away and then we just quickly have sex, and we try to crash course the bonding that is meant to happen in our union. We try to crash course it. It can’t work.
So, I try to advise people when they come up with this supposed impossible situation. I can’t come, she can’t come. I’ll say the person abroad why can’t you come. You’re Nigerian, aren’t you? And the underlying thing is, I’m this close to receiving my papers. Papers. Papers. Papers. We have elevated papers over something as sacred as I committed my entire body and everything to you and to me. You see that’s why I have sort of deviated but it’s within the whole context. You don’t answer this question just that I say no don’t do this, it’s a picture of what marriage is and I’m saying that’s why a lot of people who are in that situation, they are empty. It’s killing them and that’s why you then have to then resort to sexual activities that I actually think, not I think, I’m sure the Bible does not support.
Femi Osunnuyi is lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.