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Too many Christian men and women call masturbation a sin, insisting that it will lead to lust (aka desire, which is not a sin), and that we must cease to masturbate if we want purity and holiness.

Question: Where does God ever say anything like that?

If only we could just resist masturbating, looking at underwear ads, yoga pants, R-rated movies, and the internet, perhaps God would listen to our prayers. If we could just clean ourselves up on our own and stop committing all those “sins”, then things would be okay. Then we would reach the standard of holiness he wants for us. After all, since Jesus died such a horrific death in our place, isn't less masturbation the least we can do to repay him?

On the other hand, perhaps solo sex was part of what God had in mind in Ecclesiastes 9:10 when he said, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

Sexual sin in the Bible appears to always involve more than one person. Masturbation, however, most often only involves individuals. It’s such a controversial subject that it must be addressed, for if it were a sin, then we'd all be in trouble, men especially. To put it in simple terms, everyone knows that all males masturbate, and the few that don’t are liars.

It's no secret that self-stimulation is a completely natural means of sexual expression, even from a young age. And it’s found nowhere on the lists of condemned sexual prohibitions in Leviticus or anywhere else in the Bible.

This truth begs the question: Do young children really sin when they first discover that rubbing their own genitals can feel good? Is sin determined by maturity or frequency, technique, or how one experiences it? The purpose of masturbation is neither for making babies or even necessarily for relational bonding, but simply for one's personal enjoyment. It is not criminal, it does not transmit disease, nor does it destroy other families.

Masturbation, Not Condemnation

Sexual self-pleasure is a gift from God. Yet many Christians continue to condemn the practice. Why?

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The main story in the Bible that people try to twist to reference masturbation is the brief mention of Onan in Genesis 38. His trespass was violating the law that required him to give up his sperm for his brother’s widow. The debate tends to center on levirate marriage and the spilling of seed (semen), and the few verses are hardly much information. And yet, one thing that’s evident is that, if anything, the sexual activity mentioned is actually intercourse with no reference at all to masturbation. Onan was not killed for being messy, or for clumsiness, and especially not for masturbating.

Later on, Leviticus 15 instructs Israel how to handle spilled semen, but again, there is no reference to masturbation or even that it's sinful. In Levitical law, it's a simple matter of hygiene.

Interestingly, Matthew 5:30 may actually be the closest and only possible allusion to masturbation in scripture, and it directly follows teaching about sin in a sexual context (coveting) in verse 28. If our eyes could cause us to sin (v.29), then we should gouge them out, metaphorically speaking of course. And likewise, if our hand could cause us to sin (v.30), figurtively we should cut it off. But neither body part is the source of sin because evil originates in the heart of our being, and God-given sexual desires are not sinful.

The majority of people (men especially) are fundamentally wired to pursue sex as they see fit, whether married or not. It's an innate desire and the apostle Paul knew this. In 1 Corinthians 7, he wrote:



Matthew 5:28 is a notoriously misinterpreted verse with a complicated history, and a reputation of being a marriage killer.

When it comes to immorality, what some think of as sexual "sin" (such as porn) is really a matter of conscience.

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We all have our own opinions on porn. But defining what it is and finding out what God says about it is not as easy as you may think.

Everyone knows that the Bible says sexual lust is wrong. Except when it's not. After all, Jesus lusted, so it can’t be that bad.

A critical look at why people think pornography is wrong. However, the real problem is not porn itself. But rather, it's how we think about it.


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Unlike many today, to Paul, a strong, robust sex drive was never a problem. Instead, the issue of what we do with it is what mattered and is what still matters most. He never once said that masturbation, or mere sexual fantasies, or sexual imagery and media were sin. Ever. He doesn’t go in that direction. For those specific examples, God, through Paul, never tells us to knock it off.

However, he did say that because of the temptation of porneia, people should get married. Paul was concerned primarily about the illicit means of obtaining sex. Additionally, he also wrote that even though certain behaviors are permitted, they're not always helpful, nor should we be mastered or dominated (i.e. addicted) in any way.

Surely some people, either from past addiction, sexual abuse, religious human moralism, or for some other reason, may wish that God never even made sex. However, let's be courageous in addressing this issue because we do ourselves a disservice to avoid any elephant in the room. Here the elephant, specifically, is masturbation and porn.

Are self-pleasure and pornography sins? Now, stop and think about it for a moment. What does Romans 14 say? If God does not condemn those who engage in these behaviors, should we? The short answer is: No. Otherwise, that would make us religious moralists.

God uses such precise accuracy in scripture about what he says, that if masturbation or sexual imagery were sin, he would have clearly told us. And as Colossians 2 says, prohibiting masturbation in no way curbs any kind of sinful physical desires, if there even were any.

So then, what should people do when they have a buildup of sexual tension in their body, and sex is not an option? Well, to be blunt, they should probably just masturbate. After all, it's God's good gift to the sexually stifled.




"But because of porneias, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband…if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
1 Corinthians 7:2,9





"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might"
Ecclesiastes 9:10