Masturbation: A Sin?

If you have read any of my posts thus far, you may have come to a conclusion: that I believe masturbating and viewing pornography are sins.

Yes and no.

I have been avoiding this particular train of thought for several reasons. But before I even brush the surface of my opinions on this, I want to make two important distinctions.

  1. Viewing pornography is a sin. It is unjust to those involved, harmful, lustful, addicting, and the list could go on. There is no doubt in my mind about where I stand on this matter.
  2. Masturbation is a little bit more complicated than that.

Most of us know that lust is a sin. Jesus even says that those who lust in their hearts have already committed adultery. That is tough, but truth.

“But what if I masturbate and there is no lust?” I have had people ask. I can’t really give a definite answer. There is no biblical evidence that it would be considered sinful. Masturbation in and of itself is not a sin.

The problem arises when masturbation is linked to other things that are sinful. Lust is one of them. For me, that link was strong and there was no separating the two. When I masturbated, I was lusting.

There was maybe one time when I gave in to my desires that I didn’t feel like I was focusing on someone or something else and being lustful. So, for those of us that fall into that category on a more regular basis, what do we do with that? The answer is simple. You go to Jesus. Ask him what he thinks about it. Does he believe it is beneficial to you or harmful? Are you showing self-control or being tossed around and controlled by your every desire?

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t have all the answers. Only God does, and because it isn’t very clear in His word where He stands on this particular issue, you have to seek His voice on this one. The Holy Spirit will guide you and show you what is truly beneficial.

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Paul isn’t saying that we have the right to do anything that is against God’s commands, but there are things that God hasn’t really said yes or no on, like masturbation. So, do you have the right to masturbate? As long as there are no other clear sins linked to it, then yes. But is it beneficial or constructive for you? Is it helping you seek good for others or just good for yourself?

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14 thoughts on “Masturbation: A Sin?

  1. I would add that the Bible says, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Rom. 14:23 So, here’s my question: In what way can we possibly masturbate in faith? Can we masturbate to the glory of God? There is no possible way we can answer, “yes” to these questions. The answer must always be “no”. Sex is created to be shared within a loving marriage relationship. Sex outside of this cannot be faith and it cannot be to the glory of God because faith acts according to God’s word and not our own feelings or justifications. In my mind, that makes it pretty clear that masturbation is, indeed, a sin. Thank God, grace has been given to give us victory over these selfish indulgences and addictions! Our God is mighty to save.

      • I agree with you in some regards, and I may be misinterpreting your comment, so let me know if that is the case!

        I think the context of that verse is what gets me. Paul is talking about how people with strong faith are able to eat all foods, but those with weak faith can’t. And anyone who has doubts about what they are eating is condemned and it is sinful for them. But there are those who it is not sinful for. I do believe that you can apply this to more than just food, but I don’t think that it indicates that masturbation in and of itself is sinful. For those who have doubts about what they are doing, yes it is.

        I think for most people, it is better to consider it a sin. Those who lust at the same time, those who are addicted and have no self-control. I have talked to a few women who are not addicted and have never viewed pornography and are not lusting. That was never the case for me, so it is best to consider it sinful for me.

        I have talked to several women who only feel like masturbating when it revolves around their hormones. For some it really is a form of release. In their cases, I don’t necessarily think they are doing anything wrong according to the Bible. There are many reasons why I still think it may not be beneficial though. Hope my thoughts make sense!

      • Thanks for clarifying and for your thoughtful response. You are right about the interpretation of the Romans text. I think we have to be careful, though, that we don’t get into a “that may be sin for you, but not for me” kind of thing here. That could be said about everything, as the Bible says “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”. Obviously, God winks at our ignorance, but we don’t want to destroy all morality because of it. I just think we have to go back to how God intended the sexual organs to be used. Yes, for procreation, but also for pleasure. It seems to me that God meant for that pleasure to be exchanged within a monogamous heterosexual relationship. So, with that in mind, I feel like giving glory to God can only be found in that context. It’s also important to think about the nature of sin–which is selfishness. Things that strengthen our sinful, natural desire to cater to self should be avoided. Some may not be lusting while masturbating, but it seems like they would still be building up tendencies toward indulging self for the sake of pleasure. Paul says if we are burning sexually, we should get married. That’s where he says our release should come from–not from indulging ourselves manually. I’m sorry to disagree. Let that not separate us. I still love your blog and appreciate the dialogue! Seriously, I think you have a great mind and are a great person.

    • What do you call it, when your wife will masturbate in your present, meaning during your lovemaking, after she has asked you if she can masturbate and you as her husband gives her the okay to masturbate. Is your wife sinning, because you as her husband has allowed her to pleasure herself by masturbating. Keep in mind that we are both naked in our marriage bed alone, the only one who can see us is God our Father.

      • I am not sure if you are directing this question to me or the person who commented above, but I will give my thoughts anyways. I really do believe that there is nothing wrong with masturbation in the presence of the spouse if both agree they are ok with it. I personally cannot do that because I would begin to rely on myself for sexual pleasure rather than my husband whether he is there or not. It is too much of a temptation for me. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I love this post! Going to Jesus should always be our first response to questions instead of spending hours debating and not going anywhere.

  3. Great post. I think we pretty much line up with our beliefs on this topic. I think where I struggle in thinking about masturbation is from the perspective that the core of our sexuality is the desire to be in relationship with people. If that is the case, then how does masturbation fit into that since it is typically done solo. That’s currently what I’m trying to think through 🙂 Fun stuff!

    • That is such a good point! I am saving that topic for a later time, but it is so important to realize if you ever intend to get married and be thinking about someone other than yourself. Thanks for the thoughts! 🙂

  4. I tend to agree that marriage is the place God intended for sexuality to blossom, but as for the comment about indulging self for the sake of pleasure–well, you have to be careful with that argument. Eating a piece of cake is for the sake of pleasure. It doesn’t do much nutritionally for your body or encourage healthy food consumption. Does that mean it’s wrong to EVER eat a piece of cake?

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