I Touch Myself: Christians and Masturbation

The following outlines a counter thought to the belief in the Christian community that masturbation is an offense against God or healthy sexuality for people of faith.

The Bible does not specifically condemn masturbation, nor does the Bible specifically condone it. This tends to be one of those “taboo” subjects that people don’t often talk about, but if it is a sin then it’s important for us to know that. I have tried to deal with this subject carefully, but please forgive me if anything I say makes you uncomfortable. Personally, I don’t believe that God cringes at the subject of masturbation (or any other subject), so we should try to set our fleshly reactions aside for a moment in order to seek God’s view on the matter. Possibly you will be surprised at my conclusions (I certainly was!), and perhaps you will disagree with me, but it’s important that we don’t allow our feelings to dictate our beliefs.

Everyone has biases, and personally I always assumed that masturbation was probably a sin. But instead of trying to defend my bias, I wanted to find out what God’s view is towards masturbation. Here’s what I discovered when I studied the Christian arguments against masturbation and compared them with the Bible.

Onan

Some people say that Onan masturbated in the Old Testament, and they say that God killed him for his wickedness. Here’s what the Bible says about Onan:

Genesis 38:6: “Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.”
Genesis 38:7: “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.”
Genesis 38:8: “Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.””
Genesis 38:9: “But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.”
Genesis 38:10: “What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.”

It was Onan’s duty to marry (or to sleep with) his dead brother’s wife and to provide offspring who would carry on his dead brother’s name. Notice that Onan did not masturbate, but rather he slept with his brother’s wife as was his duty. However, because of his wicked and greedy heart, he deliberately prevented her from being able to conceive a child, which meant that Onan’s dead brother would have no heirs. This is the sin for which the Lord put Onan to death, it had nothing to do with masturbating. Here are some things that Bible commentaries say about the above passage:

“By the custom of the levirate (from Latin levir, “husband’s brother”) law of marriage, the second son, Onan, was to marry Tamar, the widow of his brother, and raise up offspring for his brother. However, Onan repeatedly used that law for sexual gratification. He took advantage of the situation, but refused the responsibility that went with it. So God took his life too.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.88, emphasis in the original)

“Moses here uses a word not common for marriage, but which was peculiar to the marrying of a brother’s wife according to a law given in his time: it appears to have been a custom before, and which the patriarch might be directed to by the Lord, in such a case when a brother died, and left no issue, for the sake of multiplication of seed, according to the divine promise, and which in the time of Moses passed into a law, see Deu_25:5 … For this law or custom was partly political, to continue the paternal inheritance in the family, and partly typical, to direct to Christ the firstborn among many brethren, Rom_8:29, who in all things was to have the preeminence, Col_1:18; and this was not taken from the Canaanites, among whom Judah now was, but from the ancient patriarchs, which they had no doubt from divine revelation, and was taught in the school of Shem, and handed down from father to son; for as to this being a law among the Egyptians in later times, and which continued to the days of Zeno Augustus (q), it is most likely they took it from the Jews.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:8)

“The original word means to act as a husband to the widow of a deceased brother who has left no issue. Onan seems to have been prompted to commit his crime by the low motive of turning the whole inheritance to his own house.” (Barnes, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:8)

“The sin of Onan has generally been supposed to be self-pollution; but this is certainly a mistake; his crime was his refusal to raise up seed to his brother, and rather than do it, by the act mentioned above, he rendered himself incapable of it. We find from this history that long before the Mosaic law it was an established custom, probably founded on a Divine precept, that if a man died childless his brother was to take his wife, and the children produced by this second marriage were considered as the children of the first husband, and in consequence inherited his possessions.” (Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:10)

Notice that Onan knew that the children from this marriage would not be considered as his children (instead, they would be his brother’s children). This was an established custom or law, as the above commentaries point out, and it was Onan’s duty to marry (or sleep with) his dead brother’s wife. Onan was not masturbating in the above passage, but instead he was having legitimate sexual intercourse according to his duty. However, he was rebellious against his duty by not providing offspring for his dead brother. He was evil in God’s sight because of his wicked and greedy heart, not because of masturbating.

Therefore, Onan’s crime does not help us determine whether or not masturbation is a sin.

Addiction

Many people are struggling with addictions to pornography, sex, masturbation, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and so on.

It’s the devil who wants to keep people enslaved by these addictions, so if you have any kind of addiction then you might consider reading my article called How to Cast Afflicting Spirits Out of Your Life, which contains a procedure for renouncing things that might have given the devil a “foothold” in our lives. As you probably know, some of the wrong things that we or our ancestors have done (or some of the wrong things that have been done to us) can open the door for the devil to attack us, and this procedure might help to break those attacks. Also, there are many Christian ministries which help people break free from addictions, so try searching the Internet for “Christian help for ________ addiction” (fill in the blank, and don’t use quotes).

Now, sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.

Notice that if the possibility of addiction proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people have become addicted to it – search the Internet for “Christian help for sex addiction” without the quotes). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of addiction does not prove that something is a sin.

If people become addicted to sex within marriage then it’s the addiction which is wrong, not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people become addicted to masturbation then it’s the addiction which is wrong, not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Pornography

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.

Notice that if the possibility of using pornography proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people sometimes use pornography together – search the Internet for “married couples using pornography” without the quotes). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of using pornography does not prove that something is a sin.

If people use pornography during sex within marriage then it’s the pornography which is wrong, not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people use pornography during masturbation then it’s the pornography which is wrong, not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Gratifying the Flesh

Sometimes people condemn masturbation on the grounds that it is “gratifying the flesh.”

One reason why this is a false argument against masturbation is because the New Testament never says that “gratifying the flesh” is a sin. For example, when you scratch an itch then you are “gratifying the flesh.” When you’re hungry and you eat something, you are “gratifying the flesh.” In fact, when a husband and wife make love then they are “gratifying the flesh” in a sexual way. These things are not sins, so “gratifying the flesh” is not sinful in itself.

Instead, the sin is in the method that we use to “gratify the flesh” (such as adultery). If we can prove from the Bible that masturbation is a wrong method for “gratifying the flesh,” then masturbation would be a sin. But the argument that masturbation is “gratifying the flesh” doesn’t mean anything because “gratifying the flesh” is not sinful in itself.

Another reason why this is a false argument against masturbation is because the Bible never tells us not to “gratify the flesh.” Instead, the Bible tells us not to gratify the lusts of the flesh:

Romans 13:14: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires [epithumia] of the sinful nature.”

Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires [epithumia] of the sinful nature.”

Ephesians 2:3: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings [epithumia] of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

In the above passages, the Greek word epithumia (“desires” or “cravings”) means:

“a longing (especially for what is forbidden): – concupiscence, desire, lust (after).” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, emphasis added)

This is a Greek word for intense desire (or forbidden lust), such as when one person lusts for another person, or when a person lusts for wealth, or when a person lusts for fame, or when a person lusts for power, and so on.

But notice that the above verses do not say that masturbation is a forbidden lust. Instead, the above verses tell us not to gratify our forbidden lusts. We need to look elsewhere in the Bible to find out if something is a forbidden lust, and nowhere does the Bible ever forbid masturbation. Therefore, the above passages have nothing to do with masturbation because it is not a forbidden lust.

Fantasizing

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.

Notice that if the possibility of fantasizing proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people can fantasize during sex). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of fantasizing does not prove that something is a sin.

If people fantasize during sex within marriage then it’s the fantasizing which might be sinful (depending on what they fantasize about), not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people fantasize during masturbation then it’s the fantasizing which might be sinful (depending on what they fantasize about), not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Sometimes people claim that sexual fantasies violate Jesus’ command against looking at someone lustfully:

Matthew 5:27: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.'”
Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [epithumio] has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In the above passage, the Greek word epithumio (“lustfully”) means:

“to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise): – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, emphasis added)

This Greek word is sometimes used in the New Testament for “coveting” or “lusting after” something (e.g. Acts 20:33, Romans 7:7-8, James 4:2), and that’s how Jesus used this word in the above passage. The Greek word epithumia (which we saw in the section called “Gratifying the Flesh”) is derived from this word.

Look closely at Matthew 5:21-44 (below) and notice that Jesus repeatedly explained the true meanings and intentions behind some of the commands in the Law of Moses. In the case of adultery, Jesus said that it’s not just the outward act of adultery which is sinful, but even the inward desire and intention to commit adultery is sinful:

Matthew 5:21: “”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'”
Matthew 5:22: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Matthew 5:27: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.'”
Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [epithumio] has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:31: “”It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'”
Matthew 5:32: “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 5:33: “”Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'”
Matthew 5:34: “But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;”
Matthew 5:35: “or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.”

Matthew 5:38: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'”
Matthew 5:39: “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Matthew 5:43: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'”
Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

In the above passages, Jesus was clarifying several commands in the Law of Moses, including the command concerning adultery. So Matthew 5:27-28 (above) doesn’t justify the argument that sexual fantasizing is always a sin, because that wasn’t Jesus’ point. His point was that the intention or desire to commit adultery is just as sinful as the act of adultery.

Of course, sexual thoughts are often no different than pornography, in which case they are just as wrong as pornography. But it is unScriptural to claim that all sexual thoughts are sinful because the Bible never says such a thing. In fact, notice that it’s actually a good thing for a husband and wife to have sexual thoughts about each other because this helps enhance their marriage by maintaining their desire for each other.

The New Testament doesn’t give us any specific guidelines about sexual thoughts, but it does tell us to keep our thoughts wholesome and pure (Philippians 4:8, 2 Peter 3:1). So if you find yourself having sexual thoughts or fantasies, ask yourself if you would be comfortable describing those thoughts in detail to your spouse (or your future spouse). This might be a way to help keep your thoughts pure. For example, if you’re thinking about a situation which would not be sinful in real life, then it’s probably not sinful to fantasize about it.

To help you discern the Lord’s guidance about masturbation and fantasizing and so on, please see my article called How to Hear the Voice of God.

Christ in Us

Another type of argument that Christians sometimes make is that we are supposed to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29), and that we shouldn’t offer the parts of our body to sin (Romans 6:13) because Christ lives in us (Colossians 1:27). Essentially, the argument is that we can’t imagine that Jesus ever masturbated, and we shouldn’t offer our bodies to sin by masturbating, and we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to masturbate.

The problem is that this argument starts off by assuming that masturbation is a sin. This argument doesn’t actually prove anything about masturbation.

For example, how do we know that we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit adultery? We know it because the Bible specifically says that adultery is a sin. In other words, the “Christ in us” argument doesn’t prove that adultery is a sin, it only says that because adultery is a sin then we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit the sin.

Here’s another example. Is it a sin for a wife to take “Christ in her” and make love to her husband? We know that this is not a sin because the Bible specifically says that husbands and wives should make love. Again, the “Christ in us” argument doesn’t prove that making love is acceptable in a marriage. We had to look elsewhere in the Bible to find that proof.

The point here is that first we must prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, and then we can say that we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit the sin. The “Christ in us” argument by itself doesn’t prove anything about masturbation.

Therefore, if we can’t prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, then it is perfectly acceptable to have “Christ in us” and to masturbate, just as it is perfectly acceptable for a husband and wife to have “Christ in them” and to make love.

Similarly, if we can’t prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, then it is perfectly acceptable to masturbate even if Jesus never did it, just as it is perfectly acceptable to have sex within marriage even if Jesus never did it.

God Told Me Not to Masturbate

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because God told them to stop doing it.

Certainly it would be a sin for you to masturbate if God has forbidden you to do it, but it’s not a sin for everyone unless the Bible has forbidden it for everyone.

For example, my favorite Christian recording artist is Rebecca St. James, and back in 2000 I bought her new CD called “Transform.” To this day (eight years later), God has not allowed me to listen to it. He allows me to listen to all of her other CDs, but for some reason it’s not yet time for me to listen to her “Transform” CD.

Notice that if I say that listening to Rebecca’s “Transform” CD is a sin for everyone because God told me not to do it, this is clearly a false argument. In the same way, if I say that masturbation is a sin for everyone because God told me not to do it, this is a false argument.

If we can prove that the Bible forbids masturbation, then we can say that it’s a sin for everyone. However, the Bible never forbids it.

Crucifying the Flesh

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin based on the following passages (and any similar passages):

Colossians 3:5: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Galatians 5:24: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

The argument against masturbation is that we must crucify the flesh and put to death our earthly desires.

One problem with this argument is that it starts off by assuming that masturbation is a sin. But the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin. Another problem with this argument is that our earthly desires are not all sinful, so this argument is based on a false assumption.

For example, we have earthly needs and desires for oxygen, water, companionship, love, etc., but these are not sinful needs and desires because they were given to us by God.

Remember, the sin is in the method that we use for fulfilling our needs and desires. For example, God has given us the need and desire for food, so it’s not a sin to eat food. The sin is when we eat food in a way which violates Scripture, such as gluttony. Notice that the above passages don’t tell us if gluttony is a form of impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if gluttony is something which needs to be put to death.

Similarly, God has given us the need and desire for sex, so it’s not a sin to have sex. The sin is when we have sex in a way which violates Scripture, such as adultery. Notice that the above passages don’t tell us if adultery is a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if the desire for adultery is something which needs to be put to death.

In the same way, the above passages don’t tell us if masturbation is a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if the desire for masturbation is something which needs to be put to death. Again, the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin. Therefore, masturbation is not a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc.

The Craving Gets Stronger Each Time

Sometimes people claim that the desire gets stronger each time a person masturbates.

If you think about it, this doesn’t prove anything for or against masturbation. Remember, the desire for sex was given to us by God, so there is nothing sinful in having a strong desire for sex. The sin is in the method that we use for fulfilling our sexual desires, and the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin.

The reason why people make this argument is probably to imply that masturbation might become an addiction, but we have already seen that the possibility of addiction does not prove that anything is a sin.

Another problem with this argument is that it is simply not true that every person who masturbates will crave it more strongly every time. This is a false generalization which is easily disproved by a simple Internet search.

The Effects on Marriage

Other arguments that people sometimes make against masturbation are based on the assumption that it will have a negative effect on marriage. For example, some of the purposes for sex between a husband and wife (according to these arguments) are for intimate companionship, for procreation, for giving and receiving pleasure, for being “one flesh,” and so on. The concern is that masturbation is for self-gratification, and therefore it hinders these purposes for sex within a marriage. But how valid is this concern? Consider the following points:

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  • For one reason or another, the frequency of sex in a marriage might not always meet a person’s needs. If the person pressures the spouse for more sex, this sometimes causes resentments and arguments. On the other hand, Christian wives (for example) have reported in blogs and forums that they are quite happy with the frequency of lovemaking, and it takes the pressure off of them if their husbands are willing to relieve their sexual needs by masturbating once in awhile (without pornography, etc.). This means that occasional masturbation actually enhances their marriage by leveling out their different needs for sex.
  • Married Christians who occasionally masturbate usually report that they would much rather make love to their spouses. Masturbation doesn’t prevent them from making love to their spouses when the opportunities are there, it simply “curbs their appetite” until there is an opportunity to make love.
  • Some men experience “premature ejaculation,” meaning that they reach orgasm almost immediately after lovemaking begins. This can leave the husband feeling frustrated and ashamed, and it can leave the wife with unmet needs. Men have reported that they have been able to gain greater control over the duration of sex by using masturbation as a way of “training” their sexual responses. So occasional masturbation can enhance the marriage by helping to increase the duration and the frequency of sex.
  • Sometimes a person’s unmet needs can lead to adultery. People have pointed out that by masturbating occasionally in order to “curb their appetite” (e.g. on a business trip), they are not tempted to have sex outside of marriage. So occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage by helping to prevent the devastating consequences of adultery.
  • Pornography can have a harmful effect on a marriage. However, people who have had an addiction to pornography have sometimes been able to break this addiction by masturbating without pornography in order to re-train their sexual responses. So masturbation can enhance a marriage if it helps to break addictions to pornography.
  • According to marriage counselors, sex is one of the top two things that married couples fight about (money is the other one). If the husband or wife is willing to masturbate occasionally in order to help level out their different sexual needs, this helps reduce the arguing over sex. So occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage by reducing one of the top two causes for fights in marriages.

What it boils down to is that in blogs and forums and so on, husbands and wives have testified that the intimate companionship, procreation, giving and receiving of pleasure, being “one flesh,” etc., are not hindered by occasional masturbation. These concerns about the negative effects on marriage are false assumptions, and they don’t prove that masturbation is a sin. Instead, occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage in certain ways.

Sexual problems can have a devastating effect on a marriage. The above points are not “worldly” issues, but rather they are real issues which affect Christian marriages. Therefore, it is important to be able to talk about these things in a Christian context.

Touch No Unclean Thing

Sometimes people argue that masturbation is a sin because it makes a person “unclean”:

Leviticus 15:32: “These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen,”

2 Corinthians 6:17: “”Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.””
2 Corinthians 6:18: “”I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.””
2 Corinthians 7:1: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

In Leviticus 15:32 (above), is the “emission of semen” referring to masturbation? Is it referring to a “nocturnal emission” (sometimes called a “wet dream”)? Is it referring to sex? The truth is, we really don’t know for sure what the Bible means when it refers to “emissions of semen” or “nocturnal emissions.” Therefore, this argument is based on the assumption that Leviticus 15:32 (above) is referring to masturbation.

If Leviticus 15:32 (above) is talking about masturbation, notice that masturbation would cause a man to become “unclean” under the Law of Moses. But when people use this verse (or similar verses) to argue against masturbation, they are assuming that the word “unclean” means that the man had sinned. However, this is a false assumption from not understanding the Jewish background of Scripture. Under the Law of Moses, the Jews were not allowed to come into God’s presence (e.g. into the Temple) if they were ceremonially unclean. This did not necessarily mean that they had sinned, because they could become ceremonially unclean through something perfectly normal or good or proper which they did or which happened to them. For example, touching a dead body made a person ceremonially unclean (Numbers 19:11-13), so Joseph of Arimathea became unclean by caring for Jesus’ dead body (Matthew 27:57-60). It was proper for Joseph to do this, so his uncleanness did not mean that he had sinned. If a woman gave birth then she was ceremonially unclean for a period of days, even though giving birth is not a sin (Leviticus 12:1-5). Being unclean simply meant that a person must go through the specified purification ritual in order to become ceremonially clean again. Here are some ways that people have described ceremonial uncleanness under the Law of Moses:

“The concepts of “unclean” and “clean” are not equivalent to “physically dirty” and “spic and span” … The distinction between unclean and clean was not even a matter of “sinful” and “unsinful,” for much of the ritual defilement came about through accident, illness, physical processes, and other actions that were proper and even commendable” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.190)

“Perhaps a helpful way to grasp one nuance of the term’s meaning ["unclean"] is by analogy. In designing a house, one does not put the dining room next to the bathroom. The activities of the bathroom do not complement those of the dining room. Neither bathroom nor dining room activities are, however, sinful, just incompatible.” (Jewish Laws of Purity in Jesus’ Day Offsite Link)

“A Jew avoided ceremonial uncleanness because under the Law of Moses, it prevented him from entering the Temple– in which was the presence of God. The Gentiles, who did not follow the Scriptures to maintain ceremonial cleanliness could never enter the Temple. For instance, at the time of her monthly period, a Jewish woman could not enter the Temple. Other things which made a person ceremonially unclean included contact with the dead, leprosy, sexual discharge, and child birth. Anyone unclean who did enter in was cut off from the community of Israel, excommunicated by God and expelled from His presence in the Temple–a fate worse than death.” (What Does the New Testament Say About Kashrut (Eating Only Clean Animals)? Offsite Link)

So under the Old Covenant, being “unclean” was not the same as being a sinner. Under the New Covenant, every Christian is ceremonially clean at all times:

“[The Greek word hagios means] Pure, clean, ceremonially or morally clean … Spoken of those who are purified and sanctified by the influences of the Spirit. This is assumed of all who profess the Christian name, hence hagios, saint, hagioi, saints, Christians” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.70)

In other words, Christians are always ceremonially clean through the blood of Christ, even when we sin. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 (above), Paul was quoting what the Lord said to people under the Old Covenant (Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, and 20:41 – see the NIV footnote), and then he applied that principle to Christians by telling us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, above). Does sex within marriage “contaminate body and spirit,” and should we “purify ourselves” from it? No, because the Bible never condemns or forbids it. Does masturbation “contaminate body and spirit,” and should we “purify ourselves” from it? No, because the Bible never condemns or forbids it. The Bible never says or implies or hints that it’s a sin. It is unScriptural for us to claim that masturbation is wrong or sinful, because such a concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

Now let’s look at a similar passage:

Ephesians 5:11: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Ephesians 5:12: “For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

People sometimes use the above passage as an argument against masturbation, but by now you can probably see the error in this argument. Whenever you hear an argument against masturbation, take a moment and objectively apply that same argument to sex within marriage as well as to adultery. For example, here’s how we can apply this to Ephesians 5:11-12:

  • When husbands and wives make love, they usually do it in secret (to hide it from their kids). But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention marital lovemaking at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 tell us that it’s proper for a husband and wife to make love, and therefore husbands and wives are not being disobedient by making love in secret.
  • When people commit adultery, they usually do it in secret. But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention adultery at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tell us that adultery is a sin, and therefore people are being disobedient by committing adultery in secret.
  • When people masturbate, they usually do it in secret. But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention masturbation at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. There are no passages in the Bible which tell us that masturbation is a sin, and therefore people are not being disobedient by masturbating in secret.

Remember, our goal is to honor the Lord in all that we say and do and believe. Therefore, it’s important to be honest and objective when we study a doctrine so that our views are based on Scripture, not on our “feelings.” This is the reason for comparing masturbation with marital sex and adultery when we’re evaluating arguments against masturbation, because this helps us to be objective in our conclusions.

Does the Bible Indirectly Mention Masturbation?

The Bible never directly mentions masturbation, but it’s possible that the Bible mentions masturbation indirectly (without condemning it). For example, I have heard that the Jewish expression, “covering one’s feet,” comes from the practice of standing up while masturbating in a private place. I have not been able to verify if this is true or not, but the euphemism, “covering one’s feet,” is translated as “relieving himself” in two places in the NIV. The first occurrence is in the book of Judges:

Judges 3:20: “Ehud then approached him [King Eglon] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat,”
Judges 3:21: “Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.”
Judges 3:22: “Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.”
Judges 3:23: “Then Ehud went out to the porch ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.”
Judges 3:24: “After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.””

Here’s what a prominent Bible commentary says about this passage:

“the king’s servants delayed outside his locked door, figuring that the king was relieving himself (lit., “covering his feet,” a euphemism for body elimination; cf. 1 Sam. 24:3).” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.387, emphasis added)

According to this commentary, “covering his feet” is a euphemism for body elimination. But “body elimination” can be a euphemism for several things, such as going to the bathroom or masturbating. The commentary doesn’t clarify this for us.

The other reference to “covering his feet” concerns King Saul:

1 Samuel 24:3: “He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.”
1 Samuel 24:4: “The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.'” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.”

Once again, “relieve himself” comes from the euphemism, “cover his feet”:

“Saul’s life was in David’s hands as the king went to relieve himself (lit., “cover his feet,” a euphemism, v. 3)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.451, emphasis added)

The argument that some people make is that if King Saul needed to go to the bathroom, he would not normally seek out the privacy of a cave because soldiers of that time went to the bathroom at a designated spot outside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:9-13). But King Saul wanted to “cover his feet” (which refers to masturbation, according to this argument), so he wanted a place where he could have some privacy for awhile. Consider that if King Saul were simply going to the bathroom, it seems unlikely that David would be able to creep up and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe without Saul noticing. But if King Saul were masturbating, it seems more likely that he would be mentally preoccupied enough for David to sneak up on him and take part of his robe. We don’t know what King Saul was doing, but notice that if he was relieving his sexual needs then there is no condemnation of masturbation here.

The above two passages might be describing the simple act of going to the bathroom, but I have included them for the sake of thoroughness because they might be Scriptural examples of masturbation (with no condemnation attached to the practice). Sometimes people point out that Eglon and Saul (in the above passages) weren’t God-fearing men at that point, so if they did something sinful then it wouldn’t have bothered them very much. However, this doesn’t change the fact that there is no condemnation attached to whatever they were doing, nor is there any condemnation attached to masturbation anywhere in the entire Bible.

Here are several passages which refer to “an emission of semen”:

Leviticus 15:32: “These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen,”

Leviticus 22:4: “”‘If a descendant of Aaron has an infectious skin disease or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed. He will also be unclean if he touches something defiled by a corpse or by anyone who has an emission of semen,”

Deuteronomy 23:9: “When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure.”
Deuteronomy 23:10: “If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there.”
Deuteronomy 23:11: “But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.”

In the above passages, there is no concern about whether this “emission” happened as a result of sex or masturbation or “nocturnal emissions” (sometimes called “wet dreams”). Actually, the “nocturnal emission” in Deuteronomy 23:9-11 (above) does not necessarily refer to a “wet dream,” it could also be a reference to involuntary urination during the night or it could be a reference to masturbation during the night. The Hebrew text is not specific enough for us to be certain. Still, no condemnation is associated with any of the above “emissions,” no matter how they happened (remember, we saw earlier that being “unclean” does not mean that the person had sinned).

The only other references to an “emission of semen” in the Bible are in Leviticus 15:16-18:

Leviticus 15:16: “”‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening.”
Leviticus 15:17: “Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening.”
Leviticus 15:18: “When a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.”

In verse 18, notice that there is no condemnation for an emission of semen which is associated with sex.

In verse 16, it appears that it refers to an emission of semen that is not associated with sex because otherwise verse 18 would not be necessary (plus there is no mention of a woman in verse 16 as there is in verse 18). Whether it’s referring to a “nocturnal emission” or to masturbation, there is no condemnation for it.

There is one more passage in the Bible which some people believe might be a reference to female masturbation:

Song of Songs 5:2: “I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.””
Song of Songs 5:3: “I have taken off my robe– must I put it on again? I have washed my feet– must I soil them again?”
Song of Songs 5:4: “My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him.”
Song of Songs 5:5: “I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock.”

There are many different ways that people have interpreted Song of Songs, and some people see a suggestion of female masturbation in the above passage. I don’t know if that is the proper interpretation or not (personally I’m doubtful), but I have included it for the sake of thoroughness. Notice that if Solomon’s lover was masturbating while he was away, this is not condemned as a sin.

Conclusion

Masturbation is one of those subjects that brings out strong emotional reactions in Christians, but it’s important to guard against letting our feelings dictate our beliefs.

As we have seen throughout this article, the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin.

We saw that there are several passages which might be a description of masturbation, and we saw that those passages do not condemn or forbid masturbation in any way. Apart from those passages, the Bible never mentions masturbation at all. Try doing a computer search in any version of the Bible, and you won’t find any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation) anywhere in the Bible. Try looking in any New Testament Greek or Old Testament Hebrew dictionaries or lexicons, and you won’t find any listings for any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation). Try looking in any Bible concordances or topical Bibles, and you won’t find any listings for any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation).

God did condemn various forms of sex between a man and a woman (e.g. Leviticus 18:6-20), and between members of the same sex (see my article called Is Homosexuality a Sin?), and between humans and animals (Leviticus 18:23), but not once did He condemn or forbid masturbation anywhere in the Bible. It’s not an issue. It’s not a sin.

After reading this article you might be saying to yourself, “Okay, but I still feel that masturbation is a sin.” If so, then ask yourself what Scriptural evidence supports your feeling that masturbation is a sin. There isn’t any! The Bible provides us with no evidence at all to support the idea that masturbation is a sin. Therefore, your view is not based on Scripture, but instead it is based on your feelings. In other words, you have elevated your feelings above the authority of Scripture, which is a form of pride.

Remember, our goal should always be to honor the Lord in all that we say and do and believe. We should always try to be prayerful and honest and thorough and objective when we study a doctrine. Therefore, when Scripture passages seem to condemn masturbation, be honest with those passages. Find out what those passages really mean, and compare them with the passages in this article. For some reason, masturbation is a subject which causes many people to allow their feelings to dictate their beliefs, which dishonors the Lord.

What it boils down to is that we must elevate Scripture above our feelings and our reasonings, and we must believe what God has chosen to tell us. There is no Scriptural evidence whatsoever that masturbation is a sin. I certainly didn’t expect to come to that conclusion when I began this study! But like anything else that we do, it’s important to make sure that masturbation is not done in a way which might dishonor the Lord (e.g. becoming addicted, using pornography, improper fantasizing, etc.).

God did not think that masturbation needed to be addressed in the Bible. As Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family said, “It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God.” (Preparing for Adolescence, Dr. James Dobson, p.83)
The Bible does not specifically condemn masturbation, nor does the Bible specifically condone it. This tends to be one of those “taboo” subjects that people don’t often talk about, but if it is a sin then it’s important for us to know that. I have tried to deal with this subject carefully, but please forgive me if anything I say makes you uncomfortable. Personally, I don’t believe that God cringes at the subject of masturbation (or any other subject), so we should try to set our fleshly reactions aside for a moment in order to seek God’s view on the matter. Possibly you will be surprised at my conclusions (I certainly was!), and perhaps you will disagree with me, but it’s important that we don’t allow our feelings to dictate our beliefs.

Everyone has biases, and personally I always assumed that masturbation was probably a sin. But instead of trying to defend my bias, I wanted to find out what God’s view is towards masturbation. Here’s what I discovered when I studied the Christian arguments against masturbation and compared them with the Bible.

Onan

Some people say that Onan masturbated in the Old Testament, and they say that God killed him for his wickedness. Here’s what the Bible says about Onan:

Genesis 38:6: “Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.”
Genesis 38:7: “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.”
Genesis 38:8: “Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.””
Genesis 38:9: “But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother.”
Genesis 38:10: “What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.”

It was Onan’s duty to marry (or to sleep with) his dead brother’s wife and to provide offspring who would carry on his dead brother’s name. Notice that Onan did not masturbate, but rather he slept with his brother’s wife as was his duty. However, because of his wicked and greedy heart, he deliberately prevented her from being able to conceive a child, which meant that Onan’s dead brother would have no heirs. This is the sin for which the Lord put Onan to death, it had nothing to do with masturbating. Here are some things that Bible commentaries say about the above passage:

“By the custom of the levirate (from Latin levir, “husband’s brother”) law of marriage, the second son, Onan, was to marry Tamar, the widow of his brother, and raise up offspring for his brother. However, Onan repeatedly used that law for sexual gratification. He took advantage of the situation, but refused the responsibility that went with it. So God took his life too.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.88, emphasis in the original)

“Moses here uses a word not common for marriage, but which was peculiar to the marrying of a brother’s wife according to a law given in his time: it appears to have been a custom before, and which the patriarch might be directed to by the Lord, in such a case when a brother died, and left no issue, for the sake of multiplication of seed, according to the divine promise, and which in the time of Moses passed into a law, see Deu_25:5 … For this law or custom was partly political, to continue the paternal inheritance in the family, and partly typical, to direct to Christ the firstborn among many brethren, Rom_8:29, who in all things was to have the preeminence, Col_1:18; and this was not taken from the Canaanites, among whom Judah now was, but from the ancient patriarchs, which they had no doubt from divine revelation, and was taught in the school of Shem, and handed down from father to son; for as to this being a law among the Egyptians in later times, and which continued to the days of Zeno Augustus (q), it is most likely they took it from the Jews.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:8)

“The original word means to act as a husband to the widow of a deceased brother who has left no issue. Onan seems to have been prompted to commit his crime by the low motive of turning the whole inheritance to his own house.” (Barnes, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:8)

“The sin of Onan has generally been supposed to be self-pollution; but this is certainly a mistake; his crime was his refusal to raise up seed to his brother, and rather than do it, by the act mentioned above, he rendered himself incapable of it. We find from this history that long before the Mosaic law it was an established custom, probably founded on a Divine precept, that if a man died childless his brother was to take his wife, and the children produced by this second marriage were considered as the children of the first husband, and in consequence inherited his possessions.” (Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible, from http://www.e-sword.net/commentaries.html Offsite Link, Genesis 38:10)

Notice that Onan knew that the children from this marriage would not be considered as his children (instead, they would be his brother’s children). This was an established custom or law, as the above commentaries point out, and it was Onan’s duty to marry (or sleep with) his dead brother’s wife. Onan was not masturbating in the above passage, but instead he was having legitimate sexual intercourse according to his duty. However, he was rebellious against his duty by not providing offspring for his dead brother. He was evil in God’s sight because of his wicked and greedy heart, not because of masturbating.

Therefore, Onan’s crime does not help us determine whether or not masturbation is a sin.

Addiction

Many people are struggling with addictions to pornography, sex, masturbation, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and so on.

It’s the devil who wants to keep people enslaved by these addictions, so if you have any kind of addiction then you might consider reading my article called How to Cast Afflicting Spirits Out of Your Life, which contains a procedure for renouncing things that might have given the devil a “foothold” in our lives. As you probably know, some of the wrong things that we or our ancestors have done (or some of the wrong things that have been done to us) can open the door for the devil to attack us, and this procedure might help to break those attacks. Also, there are many Christian ministries which help people break free from addictions, so try searching the Internet for “Christian help for ________ addiction” (fill in the blank, and don’t use quotes).

Now, sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of becoming addicted to it.

Notice that if the possibility of addiction proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people have become addicted to it – search the Internet for “Christian help for sex addiction” without the quotes). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of addiction does not prove that something is a sin.

If people become addicted to sex within marriage then it’s the addiction which is wrong, not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people become addicted to masturbation then it’s the addiction which is wrong, not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Pornography

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of using pornography.

Notice that if the possibility of using pornography proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people sometimes use pornography together – search the Internet for “married couples using pornography” without the quotes). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of using pornography does not prove that something is a sin.

If people use pornography during sex within marriage then it’s the pornography which is wrong, not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people use pornography during masturbation then it’s the pornography which is wrong, not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Gratifying the Flesh

Sometimes people condemn masturbation on the grounds that it is “gratifying the flesh.”

One reason why this is a false argument against masturbation is because the New Testament never says that “gratifying the flesh” is a sin. For example, when you scratch an itch then you are “gratifying the flesh.” When you’re hungry and you eat something, you are “gratifying the flesh.” In fact, when a husband and wife make love then they are “gratifying the flesh” in a sexual way. These things are not sins, so “gratifying the flesh” is not sinful in itself.

Instead, the sin is in the method that we use to “gratify the flesh” (such as adultery). If we can prove from the Bible that masturbation is a wrong method for “gratifying the flesh,” then masturbation would be a sin. But the argument that masturbation is “gratifying the flesh” doesn’t mean anything because “gratifying the flesh” is not sinful in itself.

Another reason why this is a false argument against masturbation is because the Bible never tells us not to “gratify the flesh.” Instead, the Bible tells us not to gratify the lusts of the flesh:

Romans 13:14: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires [epithumia] of the sinful nature.”

Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires [epithumia] of the sinful nature.”

Ephesians 2:3: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings [epithumia] of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

In the above passages, the Greek word epithumia (“desires” or “cravings”) means:

“a longing (especially for what is forbidden): – concupiscence, desire, lust (after).” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, emphasis added)

This is a Greek word for intense desire (or forbidden lust), such as when one person lusts for another person, or when a person lusts for wealth, or when a person lusts for fame, or when a person lusts for power, and so on.

But notice that the above verses do not say that masturbation is a forbidden lust. Instead, the above verses tell us not to gratify our forbidden lusts. We need to look elsewhere in the Bible to find out if something is a forbidden lust, and nowhere does the Bible ever forbid masturbation. Therefore, the above passages have nothing to do with masturbation because it is not a forbidden lust.

Fantasizing

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.

To see why this is a false argument against masturbation, carefully compare these two statements:

  1. Sex within marriage is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.
  2. Masturbation is a sin because of the possibility of fantasizing.

Notice that if the possibility of fantasizing proves that something is a sin, then statement #1 proves that sex within marriage is a sin (because married people can fantasize during sex). It’s easy to see that this is a false argument because the Bible says that sex within marriage is not a sin.

So the possibility of fantasizing does not prove that something is a sin.

If people fantasize during sex within marriage then it’s the fantasizing which might be sinful (depending on what they fantasize about), not the marital sex. The Bible never says that marital sex is a sin.

If people fantasize during masturbation then it’s the fantasizing which might be sinful (depending on what they fantasize about), not the masturbation. The Bible never says that masturbation is a sin.

Sometimes people claim that sexual fantasies violate Jesus’ command against looking at someone lustfully:

Matthew 5:27: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.'”
Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [epithumio] has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In the above passage, the Greek word epithumio (“lustfully”) means:

“to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise): – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, emphasis added)

This Greek word is sometimes used in the New Testament for “coveting” or “lusting after” something (e.g. Acts 20:33, Romans 7:7-8, James 4:2), and that’s how Jesus used this word in the above passage. The Greek word epithumia (which we saw in the section called “Gratifying the Flesh”) is derived from this word.

Look closely at Matthew 5:21-44 (below) and notice that Jesus repeatedly explained the true meanings and intentions behind some of the commands in the Law of Moses. In the case of adultery, Jesus said that it’s not just the outward act of adultery which is sinful, but even the inward desire and intention to commit adultery is sinful:

Matthew 5:21: “”You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'”
Matthew 5:22: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Matthew 5:27: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.'”
Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [epithumio] has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:31: “”It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'”
Matthew 5:32: “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 5:33: “”Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'”
Matthew 5:34: “But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;”
Matthew 5:35: “or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.”

Matthew 5:38: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'”
Matthew 5:39: “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Matthew 5:43: “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'”
Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

In the above passages, Jesus was clarifying several commands in the Law of Moses, including the command concerning adultery. So Matthew 5:27-28 (above) doesn’t justify the argument that sexual fantasizing is always a sin, because that wasn’t Jesus’ point. His point was that the intention or desire to commit adultery is just as sinful as the act of adultery.

Of course, sexual thoughts are often no different than pornography, in which case they are just as wrong as pornography. But it is unScriptural to claim that all sexual thoughts are sinful because the Bible never says such a thing. In fact, notice that it’s actually a good thing for a husband and wife to have sexual thoughts about each other because this helps enhance their marriage by maintaining their desire for each other.

The New Testament doesn’t give us any specific guidelines about sexual thoughts, but it does tell us to keep our thoughts wholesome and pure (Philippians 4:8, 2 Peter 3:1). So if you find yourself having sexual thoughts or fantasies, ask yourself if you would be comfortable describing those thoughts in detail to your spouse (or your future spouse). This might be a way to help keep your thoughts pure. For example, if you’re thinking about a situation which would not be sinful in real life, then it’s probably not sinful to fantasize about it.

To help you discern the Lord’s guidance about masturbation and fantasizing and so on, please see my article called How to Hear the Voice of God.

Christ in Us

Another type of argument that Christians sometimes make is that we are supposed to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29), and that we shouldn’t offer the parts of our body to sin (Romans 6:13) because Christ lives in us (Colossians 1:27). Essentially, the argument is that we can’t imagine that Jesus ever masturbated, and we shouldn’t offer our bodies to sin by masturbating, and we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to masturbate.

The problem is that this argument starts off by assuming that masturbation is a sin. This argument doesn’t actually prove anything about masturbation.

For example, how do we know that we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit adultery? We know it because the Bible specifically says that adultery is a sin. In other words, the “Christ in us” argument doesn’t prove that adultery is a sin, it only says that because adultery is a sin then we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit the sin.

Here’s another example. Is it a sin for a wife to take “Christ in her” and make love to her husband? We know that this is not a sin because the Bible specifically says that husbands and wives should make love. Again, the “Christ in us” argument doesn’t prove that making love is acceptable in a marriage. We had to look elsewhere in the Bible to find that proof.

The point here is that first we must prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, and then we can say that we shouldn’t cause “Christ in us” to commit the sin. The “Christ in us” argument by itself doesn’t prove anything about masturbation.

Therefore, if we can’t prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, then it is perfectly acceptable to have “Christ in us” and to masturbate, just as it is perfectly acceptable for a husband and wife to have “Christ in them” and to make love.

Similarly, if we can’t prove from the Bible that masturbation is a sin, then it is perfectly acceptable to masturbate even if Jesus never did it, just as it is perfectly acceptable to have sex within marriage even if Jesus never did it.

God Told Me Not to Masturbate

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin because God told them to stop doing it.

Certainly it would be a sin for you to masturbate if God has forbidden you to do it, but it’s not a sin for everyone unless the Bible has forbidden it for everyone.

For example, my favorite Christian recording artist is Rebecca St. James, and back in 2000 I bought her new CD called “Transform.” To this day (eight years later), God has not allowed me to listen to it. He allows me to listen to all of her other CDs, but for some reason it’s not yet time for me to listen to her “Transform” CD.

Notice that if I say that listening to Rebecca’s “Transform” CD is a sin for everyone because God told me not to do it, this is clearly a false argument. In the same way, if I say that masturbation is a sin for everyone because God told me not to do it, this is a false argument.

If we can prove that the Bible forbids masturbation, then we can say that it’s a sin for everyone. However, the Bible never forbids it.

Crucifying the Flesh

Sometimes people claim that masturbation is a sin based on the following passages (and any similar passages):

Colossians 3:5: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Galatians 5:24: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

The argument against masturbation is that we must crucify the flesh and put to death our earthly desires.

One problem with this argument is that it starts off by assuming that masturbation is a sin. But the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin. Another problem with this argument is that our earthly desires are not all sinful, so this argument is based on a false assumption.

For example, we have earthly needs and desires for oxygen, water, companionship, love, etc., but these are not sinful needs and desires because they were given to us by God.

Remember, the sin is in the method that we use for fulfilling our needs and desires. For example, God has given us the need and desire for food, so it’s not a sin to eat food. The sin is when we eat food in a way which violates Scripture, such as gluttony. Notice that the above passages don’t tell us if gluttony is a form of impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if gluttony is something which needs to be put to death.

Similarly, God has given us the need and desire for sex, so it’s not a sin to have sex. The sin is when we have sex in a way which violates Scripture, such as adultery. Notice that the above passages don’t tell us if adultery is a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if the desire for adultery is something which needs to be put to death.

In the same way, the above passages don’t tell us if masturbation is a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc., but instead we must look elsewhere in Scripture to find out if the desire for masturbation is something which needs to be put to death. Again, the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin. Therefore, masturbation is not a form of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, etc.

The Craving Gets Stronger Each Time

Sometimes people claim that the desire gets stronger each time a person masturbates.

If you think about it, this doesn’t prove anything for or against masturbation. Remember, the desire for sex was given to us by God, so there is nothing sinful in having a strong desire for sex. The sin is in the method that we use for fulfilling our sexual desires, and the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin.

The reason why people make this argument is probably to imply that masturbation might become an addiction, but we have already seen that the possibility of addiction does not prove that anything is a sin.

Another problem with this argument is that it is simply not true that every person who masturbates will crave it more strongly every time. This is a false generalization which is easily disproved by a simple Internet search.

The Effects on Marriage

Other arguments that people sometimes make against masturbation are based on the assumption that it will have a negative effect on marriage. For example, some of the purposes for sex between a husband and wife (according to these arguments) are for intimate companionship, for procreation, for giving and receiving pleasure, for being “one flesh,” and so on. The concern is that masturbation is for self-gratification, and therefore it hinders these purposes for sex within a marriage. But how valid is this concern? Consider the following points:

  • For one reason or another, the frequency of sex in a marriage might not always meet a person’s needs. If the person pressures the spouse for more sex, this sometimes causes resentments and arguments. On the other hand, Christian wives (for example) have reported in blogs and forums that they are quite happy with the frequency of lovemaking, and it takes the pressure off of them if their husbands are willing to relieve their sexual needs by masturbating once in awhile (without pornography, etc.). This means that occasional masturbation actually enhances their marriage by leveling out their different needs for sex.
  • Married Christians who occasionally masturbate usually report that they would much rather make love to their spouses. Masturbation doesn’t prevent them from making love to their spouses when the opportunities are there, it simply “curbs their appetite” until there is an opportunity to make love.
  • Some men experience “premature ejaculation,” meaning that they reach orgasm almost immediately after lovemaking begins. This can leave the husband feeling frustrated and ashamed, and it can leave the wife with unmet needs. Men have reported that they have been able to gain greater control over the duration of sex by using masturbation as a way of “training” their sexual responses. So occasional masturbation can enhance the marriage by helping to increase the duration and the frequency of sex.
  • Sometimes a person’s unmet needs can lead to adultery. People have pointed out that by masturbating occasionally in order to “curb their appetite” (e.g. on a business trip), they are not tempted to have sex outside of marriage. So occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage by helping to prevent the devastating consequences of adultery.
  • Pornography can have a harmful effect on a marriage. However, people who have had an addiction to pornography have sometimes been able to break this addiction by masturbating without pornography in order to re-train their sexual responses. So masturbation can enhance a marriage if it helps to break addictions to pornography.
  • According to marriage counselors, sex is one of the top two things that married couples fight about (money is the other one). If the husband or wife is willing to masturbate occasionally in order to help level out their different sexual needs, this helps reduce the arguing over sex. So occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage by reducing one of the top two causes for fights in marriages.

What it boils down to is that in blogs and forums and so on, husbands and wives have testified that the intimate companionship, procreation, giving and receiving of pleasure, being “one flesh,” etc., are not hindered by occasional masturbation. These concerns about the negative effects on marriage are false assumptions, and they don’t prove that masturbation is a sin. Instead, occasional masturbation can enhance a marriage in certain ways.

Sexual problems can have a devastating effect on a marriage. The above points are not “worldly” issues, but rather they are real issues which affect Christian marriages. Therefore, it is important to be able to talk about these things in a Christian context.

Touch No Unclean Thing

Sometimes people argue that masturbation is a sin because it makes a person “unclean”:

Leviticus 15:32: “These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen,”

2 Corinthians 6:17: “”Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.””
2 Corinthians 6:18: “”I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.””
2 Corinthians 7:1: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

In Leviticus 15:32 (above), is the “emission of semen” referring to masturbation? Is it referring to a “nocturnal emission” (sometimes called a “wet dream”)? Is it referring to sex? The truth is, we really don’t know for sure what the Bible means when it refers to “emissions of semen” or “nocturnal emissions.” Therefore, this argument is based on the assumption that Leviticus 15:32 (above) is referring to masturbation.

If Leviticus 15:32 (above) is talking about masturbation, notice that masturbation would cause a man to become “unclean” under the Law of Moses. But when people use this verse (or similar verses) to argue against masturbation, they are assuming that the word “unclean” means that the man had sinned. However, this is a false assumption from not understanding the Jewish background of Scripture. Under the Law of Moses, the Jews were not allowed to come into God’s presence (e.g. into the Temple) if they were ceremonially unclean. This did not necessarily mean that they had sinned, because they could become ceremonially unclean through something perfectly normal or good or proper which they did or which happened to them. For example, touching a dead body made a person ceremonially unclean (Numbers 19:11-13), so Joseph of Arimathea became unclean by caring for Jesus’ dead body (Matthew 27:57-60). It was proper for Joseph to do this, so his uncleanness did not mean that he had sinned. If a woman gave birth then she was ceremonially unclean for a period of days, even though giving birth is not a sin (Leviticus 12:1-5). Being unclean simply meant that a person must go through the specified purification ritual in order to become ceremonially clean again. Here are some ways that people have described ceremonial uncleanness under the Law of Moses:

“The concepts of “unclean” and “clean” are not equivalent to “physically dirty” and “spic and span” … The distinction between unclean and clean was not even a matter of “sinful” and “unsinful,” for much of the ritual defilement came about through accident, illness, physical processes, and other actions that were proper and even commendable” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.190)

“Perhaps a helpful way to grasp one nuance of the term’s meaning ["unclean"] is by analogy. In designing a house, one does not put the dining room next to the bathroom. The activities of the bathroom do not complement those of the dining room. Neither bathroom nor dining room activities are, however, sinful, just incompatible.” (Jewish Laws of Purity in Jesus’ Day Offsite Link)

“A Jew avoided ceremonial uncleanness because under the Law of Moses, it prevented him from entering the Temple– in which was the presence of God. The Gentiles, who did not follow the Scriptures to maintain ceremonial cleanliness could never enter the Temple. For instance, at the time of her monthly period, a Jewish woman could not enter the Temple. Other things which made a person ceremonially unclean included contact with the dead, leprosy, sexual discharge, and child birth. Anyone unclean who did enter in was cut off from the community of Israel, excommunicated by God and expelled from His presence in the Temple–a fate worse than death.” (What Does the New Testament Say About Kashrut (Eating Only Clean Animals)? Offsite Link)

So under the Old Covenant, being “unclean” was not the same as being a sinner. Under the New Covenant, every Christian is ceremonially clean at all times:

“[The Greek word hagios means] Pure, clean, ceremonially or morally clean … Spoken of those who are purified and sanctified by the influences of the Spirit. This is assumed of all who profess the Christian name, hence hagios, saint, hagioi, saints, Christians” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p.70)

In other words, Christians are always ceremonially clean through the blood of Christ, even when we sin. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 (above), Paul was quoting what the Lord said to people under the Old Covenant (Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, and 20:41 – see the NIV footnote), and then he applied that principle to Christians by telling us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, above). Does sex within marriage “contaminate body and spirit,” and should we “purify ourselves” from it? No, because the Bible never condemns or forbids it. Does masturbation “contaminate body and spirit,” and should we “purify ourselves” from it? No, because the Bible never condemns or forbids it. The Bible never says or implies or hints that it’s a sin. It is unScriptural for us to claim that masturbation is wrong or sinful, because such a concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

Now let’s look at a similar passage:

Ephesians 5:11: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Ephesians 5:12: “For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

People sometimes use the above passage as an argument against masturbation, but by now you can probably see the error in this argument. Whenever you hear an argument against masturbation, take a moment and objectively apply that same argument to sex within marriage as well as to adultery. For example, here’s how we can apply this to Ephesians 5:11-12:

  • When husbands and wives make love, they usually do it in secret (to hide it from their kids). But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention marital lovemaking at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 tell us that it’s proper for a husband and wife to make love, and therefore husbands and wives are not being disobedient by making love in secret.
  • When people commit adultery, they usually do it in secret. But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention adultery at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tell us that adultery is a sin, and therefore people are being disobedient by committing adultery in secret.
  • When people masturbate, they usually do it in secret. But does Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) prove that they are doing a “fruitless deed of darkness” and being “disobedient in secret”? No, because Ephesians 5:11-12 (above) doesn’t mention masturbation at all. In order to find out if they are being disobedient, we must look elsewhere in the Bible. There are no passages in the Bible which tell us that masturbation is a sin, and therefore people are not being disobedient by masturbating in secret.

Remember, our goal is to honor the Lord in all that we say and do and believe. Therefore, it’s important to be honest and objective when we study a doctrine so that our views are based on Scripture, not on our “feelings.” This is the reason for comparing masturbation with marital sex and adultery when we’re evaluating arguments against masturbation, because this helps us to be objective in our conclusions.

Does the Bible Indirectly Mention Masturbation?

The Bible never directly mentions masturbation, but it’s possible that the Bible mentions masturbation indirectly (without condemning it). For example, I have heard that the Jewish expression, “covering one’s feet,” comes from the practice of standing up while masturbating in a private place. I have not been able to verify if this is true or not, but the euphemism, “covering one’s feet,” is translated as “relieving himself” in two places in the NIV. The first occurrence is in the book of Judges:

Judges 3:20: “Ehud then approached him [King Eglon] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat,”
Judges 3:21: “Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.”
Judges 3:22: “Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.”
Judges 3:23: “Then Ehud went out to the porch ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.”
Judges 3:24: “After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.””

Here’s what a prominent Bible commentary says about this passage:

“the king’s servants delayed outside his locked door, figuring that the king was relieving himself (lit., “covering his feet,” a euphemism for body elimination; cf. 1 Sam. 24:3).” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.387, emphasis added)

According to this commentary, “covering his feet” is a euphemism for body elimination. But “body elimination” can be a euphemism for several things, such as going to the bathroom or masturbating. The commentary doesn’t clarify this for us.

The other reference to “covering his feet” concerns King Saul:

1 Samuel 24:3: “He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.”
1 Samuel 24:4: “The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.'” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.”

Once again, “relieve himself” comes from the euphemism, “cover his feet”:

“Saul’s life was in David’s hands as the king went to relieve himself (lit., “cover his feet,” a euphemism, v. 3)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Old Testament edition), Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.451, emphasis added)

The argument that some people make is that if King Saul needed to go to the bathroom, he would not normally seek out the privacy of a cave because soldiers of that time went to the bathroom at a designated spot outside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:9-13). But King Saul wanted to “cover his feet” (which refers to masturbation, according to this argument), so he wanted a place where he could have some privacy for awhile. Consider that if King Saul were simply going to the bathroom, it seems unlikely that David would be able to creep up and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe without Saul noticing. But if King Saul were masturbating, it seems more likely that he would be mentally preoccupied enough for David to sneak up on him and take part of his robe. We don’t know what King Saul was doing, but notice that if he was relieving his sexual needs then there is no condemnation of masturbation here.

The above two passages might be describing the simple act of going to the bathroom, but I have included them for the sake of thoroughness because they might be Scriptural examples of masturbation (with no condemnation attached to the practice). Sometimes people point out that Eglon and Saul (in the above passages) weren’t God-fearing men at that point, so if they did something sinful then it wouldn’t have bothered them very much. However, this doesn’t change the fact that there is no condemnation attached to whatever they were doing, nor is there any condemnation attached to masturbation anywhere in the entire Bible.

Here are several passages which refer to “an emission of semen”:

Leviticus 15:32: “These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen,”

Leviticus 22:4: “”‘If a descendant of Aaron has an infectious skin disease or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed. He will also be unclean if he touches something defiled by a corpse or by anyone who has an emission of semen,”

Deuteronomy 23:9: “When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure.”
Deuteronomy 23:10: “If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there.”
Deuteronomy 23:11: “But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.”

In the above passages, there is no concern about whether this “emission” happened as a result of sex or masturbation or “nocturnal emissions” (sometimes called “wet dreams”). Actually, the “nocturnal emission” in Deuteronomy 23:9-11 (above) does not necessarily refer to a “wet dream,” it could also be a reference to involuntary urination during the night or it could be a reference to masturbation during the night. The Hebrew text is not specific enough for us to be certain. Still, no condemnation is associated with any of the above “emissions,” no matter how they happened (remember, we saw earlier that being “unclean” does not mean that the person had sinned).

The only other references to an “emission of semen” in the Bible are in Leviticus 15:16-18:

Leviticus 15:16: “”‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening.”
Leviticus 15:17: “Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening.”
Leviticus 15:18: “When a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.”

In verse 18, notice that there is no condemnation for an emission of semen which is associated with sex.

In verse 16, it appears that it refers to an emission of semen that is not associated with sex because otherwise verse 18 would not be necessary (plus there is no mention of a woman in verse 16 as there is in verse 18). Whether it’s referring to a “nocturnal emission” or to masturbation, there is no condemnation for it.

There is one more passage in the Bible which some people believe might be a reference to female masturbation:

Song of Songs 5:2: “I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.””
Song of Songs 5:3: “I have taken off my robe– must I put it on again? I have washed my feet– must I soil them again?”
Song of Songs 5:4: “My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him.”
Song of Songs 5:5: “I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock.”

There are many different ways that people have interpreted Song of Songs, and some people see a suggestion of female masturbation in the above passage. I don’t know if that is the proper interpretation or not (personally I’m doubtful), but I have included it for the sake of thoroughness. Notice that if Solomon’s lover was masturbating while he was away, this is not condemned as a sin.

Conclusion

Masturbation is one of those subjects that brings out strong emotional reactions in Christians, but it’s important to guard against letting our feelings dictate our beliefs.

As we have seen throughout this article, the Bible never says or implies or hints that masturbation is a sin.

We saw that there are several passages which might be a description of masturbation, and we saw that those passages do not condemn or forbid masturbation in any way. Apart from those passages, the Bible never mentions masturbation at all. Try doing a computer search in any version of the Bible, and you won’t find any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation) anywhere in the Bible. Try looking in any New Testament Greek or Old Testament Hebrew dictionaries or lexicons, and you won’t find any listings for any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation). Try looking in any Bible concordances or topical Bibles, and you won’t find any listings for any variation of “masturbation” (or any euphemism for masturbation).

God did condemn various forms of sex between a man and a woman (e.g. Leviticus 18:6-20), and between members of the same sex (see my article called Is Homosexuality a Sin?), and between humans and animals (Leviticus 18:23), but not once did He condemn or forbid masturbation anywhere in the Bible. It’s not an issue. It’s not a sin.

After reading this article you might be saying to yourself, “Okay, but I still feel that masturbation is a sin.” If so, then ask yourself what Scriptural evidence supports your feeling that masturbation is a sin. There isn’t any! The Bible provides us with no evidence at all to support the idea that masturbation is a sin. Therefore, your view is not based on Scripture, but instead it is based on your feelings. In other words, you have elevated your feelings above the authority of Scripture, which is a form of pride.

Remember, our goal should always be to honor the Lord in all that we say and do and believe. We should always try to be prayerful and honest and thorough and objective when we study a doctrine. Therefore, when Scripture passages seem to condemn masturbation, be honest with those passages. Find out what those passages really mean, and compare them with the passages in this article. For some reason, masturbation is a subject which causes many people to allow their feelings to dictate their beliefs, which dishonors the Lord.

What it boils down to is that we must elevate Scripture above our feelings and our reasonings, and we must believe what God has chosen to tell us. There is no Scriptural evidence whatsoever that masturbation is a sin. I certainly didn’t expect to come to that conclusion when I began this study! But like anything else that we do, it’s important to make sure that masturbation is not done in a way which might dishonor the Lord (e.g. becoming addicted, using pornography, improper fantasizing, etc.).

God did not think that masturbation needed to be addressed in the Bible. As Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family said, “It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God.” (Preparing for Adolescence, Dr. James Dobson, p.83)

Source:  Layhands.com [Is Masturbation a Sin?]

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6 Responses to I Touch Myself: Christians and Masturbation

  1. TonyC says:

    Who are you? I’m an ex minister and I believe along the same lines as you, but I’ve never heard it broke down the way you have it here. I love the way you present your arguments. It a God sent for the Christian marriage.It give freedom in the bed the way it should be with out the guilt.
    Wonderful blog
    Thanks T

  2. thepurebed says:

    Thank you for stopping by, T. I am a senior pastor and co-owner of ThePureBed.com (with my wife). I’m encouraged that you find these resources valuable.

  3. Charles says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Jesus for this christian article! I certainly see this as an answer to my on going prayer. Let me explain. My wife and I are both christians. ( Praise God). However her sexual desire is not equal to mine. We have had many discussions about this and about my masturbating. Her view is that it is wrong because it takes away from us being together. My take is we are not sexually intimante often enough and the act of masturbation helps relieve my desires. No I do not use pornography. I have beat myself down alot of times for giving in to masturbation I think because of how she feels. So what is your findings on masturbation in a marriage when the sex drives differ and it is done occasionally and without porn. I would much rather be with my wife and she is very aware of this.

  4. thepurebed says:

    Charles,
    Thank you for reading the post. It is not so much that we advocate solo masturbation but that we see no specific nor principle prohibition to it in scripture for Christians. With that being said, we then are left to apply Godly wisdom and pure conscience to the choice.

    In the situation you describe, masturbation, if used, should be an agreed upon activiyt with your wife supporting the choice and even being there with you as much as possible. We would also urge that you both educate yourself on why your levels of desire for sex differ so greatly. You can look at age, diet, health, medication, the quality of your relationship, levels of financial and environmental stress and a number of other factors to get answers.

    Prayerfully consider your choices. Continue to talk about them and to ask yourselves what is in the best interest of your marital relationship and aligns with your faith in Christ.

    All the best…

    The Pure Bed

  5. Charles says:

    thank you pure staff for your insight,
    I have struggled in this area for some time. I have prayed almost cntinousely and talked about it with my wife. At first I thought I had a sickness. (Jury is still out) I pray for an answer to WWJD.

  6. Pingback: Resources for Deuteronomy 23:9 - 11

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