Bible Question:

Is masturbation a sin in marriage? I have not had physical relations in eight months with my wife. It is very hard to cope with not being intimate with her.

Bible Answer:

Is your wife interested in having physical relations? Based on your question and in order to provide an answer, I have assumed the answer is “no.” While it is common for men to have a stronger sexual drive than women, it is not normal for a wife to have as little desire for physical relations with her husband as you are describing. What follows is the answer to the question, “Is masturbation a sin in marriage?”

Biblical Guidance From 1 Corinthians 7

God makes it clear in 1 Corinthians that both husbands and wives have a need for sexual activity resulting in orgasm. In the following passage, God tells a husband to meet the sexual needs of his wife and for a wife to meet the sexual needs of her husband.

Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 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. Stop depriving one another . . . 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NASB)

God even tells us that the husband does not have control of his body. His body belongs to his wife and the wife’s body belongs to her husband. God does not mean that we can abuse one another and force the other to have physical relations. A wife is to accommodate her husband’s sexual needs and the husband those of his wife.

A woman once came for counseling and complained that her husband did not want to engage in sexual activity with her. Therefore, she wanted to know what to do. Most wives want a physical relationship. How much varies from woman to woman and the same is true from man to man. It is not true that all men want sex all the time. That is a myth. The truth is that we are all different and God wants us to meet the needs of our spouses – male or female.

I suspect your wife is struggling with some serious issues. The issues may be with you, herself, or someone else. I would strongly suggest that you encourage her to go for counseling. I would also encourage you to start praying for her. If you are the issue, you should sit down with her and have a long heart-to-heart talk. It starts with prayer and listening.

Masturbation In Marriage

Hebrews 13:4 teaches us that there is great freedom in marriage for different types of sexual activity as long as it occurs between a husband and wife. Every sexually active husband or wife knows that sexual activity between a husband and wife involves stimulation of one another’s genitals by physical contact until orgasm occurs. That is, spouses masturbate or stimulate one another’s private parts (breasts or genitals) using their hands or other parts of their body. But this is typically not called masturbation but foreplay and sexual intercourse. This is how God designed males and females to respond.  For an explanation of Hebrews 13:4, you are encouraged to read “Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?”

But the question we are concerned with is, “Is self-masturbation a sin in marriage?” The answer is that self-masturbation is obviously a sin if it deprives one’s spouse of sexual enjoyment. That is the message of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. It is important to realize that God designed sexual activity to be done together. That is why God did not give all the genitals to one spouse. Therefore the principles given in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 and Hebrews 13:4 indicate that sin is not committed when a husband or wife touch each other until orgasm occurs.  It is also not a sin if both spouses simultaneously touch one spouse until that spouse orgasms. The important point is that the sexual activity is done together and not in isolation. The marriage bed has great freedom but the freedom does have limits. The article “What does the Bible say about foreplay and sex in marriage?” is highly recommended. It discusses freedoms and limits.

But the Bible never specifically discusses self-masturbation when masturbation does not involve the participation of one’s spouse. There are several very helpful question and answers on this site that we trust you will find helpful. They are “Is masturbation a sin?” and “Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?”


Have you ever seen two rivers flowing smoothly and quietly until they meet and join to form one new river? When this happens, they “clash and hurl” themselves at one another. However, as the newly formed river flows downstream, it gradually quiets down and flows smoothly again. And now it is broader and more majestic and has more power. So it is in a marriage: the forming of a new union may be tumultuous – but, when achieved, the result is far greater than with either partner alone.

Suggested Links:

What does the Bible have to say about masturbation?
Is masturbation a sin?
Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
How To Be Filled With The Spirit
What does the Bible say about foreplay and sex in marriage?
Is oral sex within marriage wrong?
What does the Bible say about anal sex in marriage?
What does the Bible say about different sexual positions?
What is the correct meaning of fornication in the Bible?
Marriage In Splendor