What does the Bible say about masturbation?

Is it bad and why?

Clarify Share Report Asked June 17 2013 Mini Anonymous

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Bible never explicitly mentions masturbation or states whether or not masturbation is a sin. The Scripture most frequently pointed to in regards to masturbation is the story of Onan in Genesis ...

June 18 2013 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Anonymous
Actually the Bible does address the masturbation issue directly. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 reads: 

4:3 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality, 4:4 that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor, 4:5 not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God. ... 4:7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 4:8 Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (NET).

Note that the Greek literally reads, "to gain [or possess] his own vessel" in v.4. This is a euphemism for the sexual organ. Paul uses the world "vessel" to figuratively refer to a person's body (compare 2 Cor 4:7). Paul writes this letter to the Thessalonian church that will read the letter out loud in a very public setting. He's going to be polite about how he says not to masturbate. He is not going to be descriptively overt in a public setting. He is not out to make people blush, but rather, the implications for holy living need to be addressed in the realm of human sexuality and it needs to be clear and polite. Namely, no masturbation on your own and no sex outside of marriage. The key is to be holy. Sex within the confines of marriage is the holy sex. (For a more detailed study on this passage see Jay Smith's article "1 Thess 4:4 - Breaking the Impasse" in the very academic Bulletin for Biblical Research journal volume 10/Fall 2000: 


The heart of the matter is much more basic. Everyone has excuses. Everyone wants there to be exceptions to this clear teaching. Don't focus on the excuses but rather focus on hoping in God to fulfill your needs via a spouse. The remedy to doubt and temptation is to keep hope alive and pray for God to provide the way to fulfill your sexual needs with your spouse. If a spouse is witholding sex from a spouse then that spouse is not following the clear teaching in Eph 5:22-33. Men are supposed to fulfill their wife's conjugal rights. Men need to remember this.

If you are not married, have self control until you are married. If God can provide a wife for Adam, surely God can provide for you too. If God created sex surely He wants people to engage in sex the way He has designed it. Taking matters into your own hands is a lack of trust in God to provide for this very need. So hope and pray to God for help. At the moment of temptation it is time to pray to God... then as you do the right thing and not succumb to the temptation, the Holy Spirit will empower you to succeed and not sin. That's a demonstration of trust in God. God honors that. 

Be holy. Don't reject the Holy Spirit's teaching on this matter says Paul. Don't keep doing that which you need to feel guilty and repentant about. Remember, it is better to obey than to sacrifice. You will actually feel happier if you obey. It is better than having to ask for forgiveness from your sins. Forgiveness is there in Jesus Christ, but it is better to obey in the first place.

I don't sit here judging anyone. I just wish I knew this clear teaching before engaging in an unholy activity. The Bible literally addresses the issue and we cannot just claim we don't know so do whatever we want. 1 Thess 4:3-8 should be memorized.

June 20 2013 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Nadia Steenkamp
I am a physiotherapist working in the field of sexual health. Our clinic mainly deals with pain with sex or what the medical field calls vaginism. The definition is uncontrolled spasm/contraction of the pelvic floor muscles with any attempt at penetration. This has different degrees of severity, from not even being able to get a tampon in to being able to have sex, but it being VERY sore, to being sore for a bit and goes away.

Why I mention this is because the majority of women we see only discovers this on their wedding night (great though to see there are still so many people believing in staying pure till marriage). Some of these women have been married for 7 years and never been able to have sex. Part of our treatment is that they have to apply a local cream. Do you have any idea how many of these women can't do it because they totally freak out just thinking they have to touch themselves? (Not in a sexual way, medically applying a cream). That they have always been taught it is sinful and wrong. Basically their sexuality and own body being stolen from them and their future marriages. Their whole lives they've been taught don't touch and suppress all sexuality till marriage, that when they actually get married, they can't just re-programme their thought processes. It is a lengthy, intense and costly process to get that fixed and you can imagine the effect it has on a marriage.

Now on the topic of masturbation, what are these women's husbands supposed to do? Get affairs? Divorce their wives because they're "broken"? Or masturbate and love and respect their wives? Wouldn't it have been better if these women masturbated before they got married and thus have a healthy way of controlling their sexual desires and healthy view point of their own bodies? In all things definitely be careful for the devil will try and twist everything. Obesity is also sinful because we don't honour our bodies, but that doesn't mean we are totally going to stop eating because it can lead to sin. If you see masturbation is taking you down a path of addiction/pronography/lustful thoughts in regard to people other than you spouse, then please refrain like an alcoholic would from alcoholic beverages.

October 02 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Anonymous
If its not mentioned in the bible it's is WRONG to say its a sin. Who is worthy to decide yea or nay on the details like this? No one! If you are going to masturbate for the wrong reasons you have sinned long before the act itself. 

The bible speaks that everything is permissible but not beneficial. Is it beneficial to masturbate after spending the day at the beach surrounded by beautiful women in little bikinis, having given to the temptation of lust? You have sinned way before you got to the point of masturbation. Masturbation is only an act that increases your desire for lust, you have gained pleasure from your lust, just making it harder next time, and weakening your temptation to be with someone your not married too. 

If you are a married individual traveling like I am right now. There are healthy circumstances that I can masturbate with thoughts of my wife to keep my marriage strong! It relieved the tension of sexual desires that often cause the mind to wander. I am not dumb and non of you should pretend to be either. I travel, I know I am going to have sexual thoughts, and the temptation to sin is greater. I go planning to relieve the sexual tension in a healthy manner before I have temptations, when I am in control. So I use masturbation to help me not sin. You can't label it as wrong. It is permissible and it has been made beneficial. 

Those desires will always be there and the temptation for lust will always be there. So practice going out and about with a healthy mind set. Go to the store and focus on not focusing on any woman that is attractive. Ignore the short shorts, the tight shirt, the tempting eyes. Physically look the other way. Sounds stupid but you have to re train your brain to not scan to look for things to lust after. Don't go to the beach where there are half naked women everywhere. Go to the river and fish, hike, ride dirt bikes. Something else. Besides putting yourself in those situations to allow lust to creep in. 

But certainly don't add a list of sins to the bible that aren't there.

June 20 2013 19 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Anonymous
I am an older woman but still have strong desire along those lines. I am married but my husband has not been interested in that for many years. He wants me to take care of his rare need, but that just makes it even more difficult for me. I have been faithful to him in body and mind but there are times when I think I will go crazy from frustration. There is no one else in the world I want to be with, and divorce is not an option, so why would this be so wrong for me?

June 19 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Anonymous
One of the ways in which we can honor and glorify God is by keeping ourselves pure for our future spouses, loving them before we've even married them or met them. Since masturbation can be achieved with non-sinful thoughts (lovingly exploring ideas about your future or current spouse, for example), it can also be used to aid in abstinence, both before marriage, and during extended periods apart from them.

1 Cor 7:5-6 & 1 Cor 7:9 supports this when it talks about things that can be done to avoid giving in to temptation. Specifically, it recommends frequent coitus with your spouse to avoid "burning with lust" and so "Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

The overall context of 1 Cor 7 is a church in crisis (verse 29) where people who can bear it, like Paul, shouldn't marry at all (verses 8-9). Nevertheless, the general wisdom of avoiding temptation applies elsewhere. Just as you can avoid the temptation to gorge yourself with food by eating sensible meals regularly, so you can avoid sexual immorality by providing yourself with a release.

Beyond this, there is the spirit of Romans 14, particularly verse 22.

June 18 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Anonymous
Here is an interesting thought: Is it a sin for a man to wake up having had a "wet dream", or a woman to wake up having had an arousing dream that led to an orgasm? It can't be! This is the body's way of naturally releasing sexual tension. (BTW, PLEASE do not teach your children that these are sins. How incredibly damaging!)

 IF these occurrences are not sinful, then what we are talking about sexual release during sleep when we can't control it versus sexual release while awake and can control it. Is that drawing an incredibly legalistic line? I think it is. There are times during a marriage when sex, for one reason or another, is just not going to happen, whether there is geographical distance, prolonged illness, or other situations which make sex with your spouse impossible. Of course, it is always the BEST thing to express your sexuality with your spouse.This is to be celebrated! 

However, I do think that we need to be careful about putting a burden of law on the backs of those who are redeemed by grace. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you that this is something that you should never engage in, then obedience is of the utmost importance! Don't do it. However, if you have the freedom to occasionally engage in the practice due to circumstances, then don't live under a pile of guilt. Of course we are never to fantasize or lust after anyone you don't have the freedom to have sex with and that would be your spouse.Period. I don't believe it is wrong to experience sexual release when sex with your spouse is impossible. As scripture says, we should not let things DOMINATE us. Does that mean never releasing sexual tension unless it is in your sleep and you just couldn't help it, so then it's okay? Hmm. That is a hard one to buy.

 I Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

For those who are interested, a pastor wrote the following thought provoking article on the subject of when it is and when it is not okay to masturbate. It is worth reading and at least thinking about (whether you agree with one word of it or not) so that you might formulate thoughtful answers for those seeking them. As believers, we must be prepared to address hard questions from those in the world who are seeking a relationship with Christ and have all kinds of questions about such things. It is irresponsible to fall into the habit of calling everything a sin. 

There is much talk in the Bible about some things being sinful to one person, but not to another. We are not to stumble others with our freedoms, but we are not to put the yoke of the law on those who are redeemed. Or worse, teach others that they can be saved by following certain rules. Let's be relevant and biblical! Yes, we can be both!


July 12 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Hanna
as one that truly understands the desire of masturbation as normal, I have found that this is a God driven desire for both men and women. The bible clearly states that the seed that was split was because he refused to honor the brother and Gods demand for keeping his brother name alive. How ever, scheduling your self two- three times a month is good because you ease the tension and cravings for sex out of marriage and even when your spouse doesn't want to fulfill the part of the marriage vows. There is no shame in masturbating only if you use perverted methods, such playboy or porn or some thing that will bring shame to you through Gods eyes. I say go ahead and schedule your self two to three or may be even four times a month, so you will have peace with in your self.

January 15 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Sarah Winn Christian believer, college graduate + Walmart employee.
Here is some words clearly spoken by the Bible when it says that, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6: 19-20

October 30 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Al Mari Private practice as a cardiovascular & thoracic surgeon
Are there boundaries to the "allowance" regarding "sex in marriage"?

I Thes 4:3-5. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: " 

The Greek word for vessel is "skeuos" and in common parlance a metaphor for "body"; maybe "equipment or apparatus" but also figuratively a "wife"; sanctification is "hagiamos" means purity; concupiscence is "epithymia" means longing desire for what is forbidden. How then can our "body, wife/spouse, equipment or apparatus" be sanctified and "stay away from this longing desire for what is forbidden"?

After Jesus' death, which reconciled us to the Father, Jesus has to be resurrected (we are saved by his life, not his death Rom. 5:10) so that the promise of the Holy Spirit will be sent (Jn.16:7; Lu. 24:49) and in-dwell in us (from Pentecost, Acts 1:4; 2:1-13) to guide us to be "one" in "mind" (Phil. 2:5) with the Son of God and the Father. We are in this stage of purification or "sanctification and honor", and this "spirit of power" will help us.

We know that sex of and by itself is not sin. It is with whom "our sex" (organ) is used. With whom, differentiates what is sinful and what is not. To do it with others, not your wife, is adultery, fornication, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, etc. Which are judged to be sins. But, how one does it, so long as with married male-female couple, Paul said, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."(Heb 13:4). Undefiled/"amiantos", covers all sexual acts, even as "deviant" as they may. But, does this "undefiled" has limits? 

Notice what Paul's concept of "marriage" is in: I Cor 7:33-34 "But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife...but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband". This precept is reinforced in I Cor. 7:4, " the wife has no power of her own body but the husband.." and vice-versa. See also Ephesians 5:21-33 and Colossians 3:18-19.

Clearly, the principle of sex in marriage is on "love" which is "giving, not getting"; it is directed on the other spouse (to please him/her), not "self", i.e., sex is not for our own selfish pleasure but for the other spouse, even when the sexual act (also) pleases "self". The operative word is "the other's" pleasure, the key focus of "sex in marriage". And, another limit of "undefiled concept" is "with consent" (v-5), with "benevolence";do not force either one to a sexual act he/she is not comfortable with. There is mutual sexual responsibility in marriage but directed to the other spouse, not "self".

Masturbation is selfish and self-centered, therefore not advised, even if the object of "imagination or stimulation" is one's spouse. But, as Paul said (not God), "I would have you without carefulness. (V-32) " amerimnos" to prevent anxiety
(v-33 ESV), if one "cannot contain",then "do it"(v9).

But, I will not be the judge for this problem of "self-gratification". I know though that we have our High Priest to come to for forgiveness and repentance. "Every one has the proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that (v-7); "as God has distributed to every man, as The Lord has called every one, so let him walk"(v-17). 

Let us reckon ourselves as if "unmarried" as in I Cor. 7:32, 34, "..that he/she may be holy both in body and in spirit..." For the "time is short" (v 19-24), as though we have not done it. See also v19-24, to buttress this principle that the present world's cares are minuscule compared to the "next world's" honor. 

Use the "spirit of God" in us to overcome this temptation;be "sanctified". Let us "not grieve the Spirit"(Eph. 4:30); instead use it to have wisdom, and overcome the "pull of the flesh"(2 Cor.10:4ESV).

January 30 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My passport new Arun Kumar Engineer, Chennai, India
Masturbation is not a sexual sin as long as it does not involve fantasies of men/women who are not our spouse.

Masturbation is not a sin, since the OT LAW does nowhere list this act, put the fact having all sexual sins are listed in the LAW!

Masturbation is not a sin as long as we keep our spouses satisfied in bed!

June 01 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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