Is Masturbation a Sin?

Question from a Site Viewer
Where in the bible does it say masturbation is wrong? Is masturbation a sin?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your question. The short answer is that nowhere in Scripture is masturbation mentioned, except to the extent that the subject may be included in the word “fornication” (a word meaning general sexual sins). Some have sought to say otherwise by pointing to Genesis 38:8-10, but the issue there was selfishness and a refusal to fulfill the duty God had given him to raise up seed for his brother.

But though the word is not found in Scripture, for the believer the question does not stop there. When we come to Christ, we surrender our bodies to Him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). Our bodies no longer belong to us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but to God. And we are called to focus our thoughts on things of heaven (Colossians 3:2). So life is no longer about us, but about the will and mission of God in this world which is to save sinners and bring people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Masturbation as well as sexual fantasies can control a person’s mind. And the more we give in to such temptations, the more it controls us. Some have argued that for a person who is unmarried, masturbation is an innocent way to relieve sexual tension that otherwise would consume us. But such is simply not true. Sexual tensions consume us when we allow them to occupy our minds. The battle is always fought in the mind. But if we bring our thoughts into obedience for Christ, then sexual tensions, like all other matters diminish. The less we think about sex, the less it controls us. The more we think about sex, the more it controls us. And we have an ability to control what we think about. Scripture tells us to think about the things that are true, noble, just, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8). To be vessels prepared for the Master’s use, we want to have self-control in all areas, including this area.

Sex was created by God as a relational matter. It is for this reason that the male and female sex organs are shaped as they are. And it is in the marital relationship that we find a blessing in Scripture on sex. Paul speaks of the natural use of the woman (Romans 1:27). What is true of women is true also of men. There is a natural use of our sex organs that is honorable before God (Hebrews 13:4). There is an unnatural use that God will judge (Hebrews 13:4). Paul urges the Corinthians, who formerly were into all sorts of sexual deviancy (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). He then goes on to state in 1 Corinthians 7:9 that if anyone cannot exercise self-control, then let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn. He does not say, “let them masturbate,” as some counselors and Christians would say today.

Some have a more difficult time controlling their thought life in the area of sex than others. This does not mean that anyone should give up the battle. If we fail, we confess and begin to live again in a right relationship with God. But the worst of all worlds is to give up the fight and simply spiral down into a life controlled by thoughts of sex. In that path there is no life, but we truly become slaves of sex and sin even as Scripture says. Sexual thoughts will crowd thoughts of God out of our lives and make us less than God intended for us to be. On the other hand, if we choose not to walk in the Spirit, if we focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), then we will become like the saints and prophets of old with a deep and abiding personal relationship with God that is worth far more than any momentary pleasure that sex can provide.

Paul’s admonishment to young Timothy was to flee youthful desires (2 Timothy 2:22). Peter writes the same thing when he urges us to abstain from fleshly desires which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). My advice is to save sex for marriage and use it in marriage to honor one another. And if one never gets married, then the loss of sex is minor compared with the glory of Christ. There is no comparison. No one in heaven will wish they had more sex. But we may all wish that we had served Christ more faithfully.

May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you in the knowledge of His will in this area and give you peace.

your servant,


One thought on “Is Masturbation a Sin?”

  1. ollowed, and obey Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, 5, 6.

    Some believe that masturbation is included in “akatharsia,” “akathartēs,” “akathartos,” = “impurity,” “uncleanness,” “filthiness,” “lewd,” “foul,” and “aselgeia,” “licentiousness,” “lasciviousness,” “wantonness,” as well as in “porneia,” “porneuō,” “pornē,” “pornos” = “harlotry,” “fornication,” “whoring,” “commit illicit sexual intercourse,” “indulge unlawful lust.”
    Masturbation, oral sex, anal, mutual masturbation are said to proceed from lust, from sensuality, not from love and duty. Enough is described explicitly as approved and forbidden for us to figure out any details. The acts people ask and argue about have been condemned for over 2,000 years until 1853.

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