Is Masturbation a Sin?
4 Biblical Principles Suggest it Is

Is masturbation a sin?

Many Christians never come to the point of really believing that it’s a sin.

The world considers it to be as innocent as going to the bathroom. If you feel pressure on your bladder, you find a bathroom and go pee. If you feel sexual pressure building up, you find a private place and “release that tension”.

Want to Stop Masturbating?

They say it’s a harmless and legitimate way to have sexual release, especially if you are single, if your husband or wife is gone for a long time, or if you would otherwise commit a crime if you didn’t. Since the word “masturbation” is not mentioned in the Bible, they say God does not care if you do or don’t. And if God doesn’t care, nobody else should either, so stop meddling!

But the Bible says that without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14)

It also says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

In overcoming masturbation, you must decide if it is a hindrance to holiness and purity of heart. If it is, Scripture promises that you will not see God.

The Bible gives us 2 options: Self Control or Marriage

In 1 Corinthians 7:9 God addresses the plight that many single people have.

“If they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn”

1 Corinthians 7:9

God does not say, “It is better to masturbate than to burn.”

Masturbation does not put out the fire.  It only adds fuel to it.

To the question: Is masturbation a sin, some suggest it is not. In fact, many believe masturbation is a normal function and unless carried on into marriage, usually proves to be harmless. But, what they do not realize is that

sex is a desire that God gave us; not a need.

They give the argument that sex is like food. Just like it is natural and healthy to eat when you are hungry, it is also natural and healthy to masturbate when you are aroused. If you eat too much you become a slave to appetite so you just need to be temperate. So, as long as you are temperate in your masturbation habits, it’s okay.

It is true that hunger and sexual desire are natural responses God endowed us with, but if you go without food you’ll die. If you go without sex, you’ll live.

One is a need. The other is a want.

When sexual passion arises within you, your two options are self control or marriage. I recommend practicing self control because even in marriage you’ll need it.

Overcoming masturbation now will be a blessing to your sex life long term.

Your sexuality is for your spouse's benefit

“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. “

1 Corinthians 7:4-5, NASU

The passage here is saying that your body does not belong to yourself. Your sexual capacity does not exist for yourself but should be used to benefit your future husband or wife.

Masturbation is a perversion of the sexual act because it is by its very nature a completely self-centered act.

Love gives. Lust takes.

This is God’s paradigm of sexuality.

The modern, pleasure driven culture’s idea of sexuality is that masturbation is their right.

But masturbation “represents the very antithesis of the disciplined life Jesus expects from His followers and its selfishness is utterly foreign to the Kingdom of God.”(Steve Gallagher, Create in me a Pure Heart, p.73)

Self denial is at the core of God’s Kingdom and is the lifestyle of any disciple. 

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23 NASU

If you really want a good sex life, adopt the philosophy of Acts 20:35.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

This is the attitude God designed us to have regarding sex and you won’t be completely fulfilled unless you operate in harmony with your design.

Overcoming masturbation will be a gift to your spouse and an evidence of true discipleship.

Masturbation is driven by lust and fantasy

In the garden of Eden God said it is not good for man to be alone. To resolve this dilemma, God did not instruct Adam to self-stimulate.

Instead he created a partner suitable for him. Of course there were also reasons of companionship and procreation, but it is apparent that sexual activity was never designed to be conducted as a solitaire, mechanical, physical activity.

It must involve another person, if not physically then mentally.

To create the sexual excitement necessary to bring yourself to orgasm requires that you focus your thoughts on someone else whether that is a pornographic picture, a mental image of someone you know or some sexual romantic fantasy.

Jesus clearly says that lusting after another person in your heart is adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).

Masturbation makes you a slave

“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

Rom 6:13-14 NIV

Notice how many times these verses use the word “offer”?

If you offer food to idols or offer a lamb sacrifice to God, you are worshiping. It isn’t just something you are doing in private. How we treat our body reveals who we worship and who we serve.

If you are not overcoming masturbation, you are essentially putting your body on the altar to the god of lust.

But if you are tired of being lust’s slave, with its never ending demands for more, the solution is simple. In the verse above it says to offer your body to God as instruments of righteousness.

You will then become a slave to Christ which will produce complete freedom from masturbation.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Gal 5:16, KJV

Walking in the Spirit is the antidote for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. What does “Walking in the Spirit” look like in practical terms? Look at the next verse.

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires" (Romans 8:5).

What you set your mind on determines whether or not you will live according to the flesh or walk in the Spirit. It means thinking about what pleases God in contrast to fixing your mind on things like nudity and sex, which outside of marriage, does not please God.

"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God"

Romans 8:8

Overcoming masturbation is therefore essential to please God.

Is Masturbation a Sin?

Though the Bible never directly answers the question: is masturbation a sin, the above points suggest that the practice of masturbation is not in harmony with God's will for our lives, and therefore, is a sin.

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