Is masturbation a sin?
This is an important topic, since a significant majority of both men and women practice masturbation. The Bible never says that it is a sin, nor does the Bible voice approval of it. Scripture never mentions it by name. This has led some to the conclusion that masturbation may or may not be a sin – it falls into the gray zone. Some have labeled it as sin by saying it is an act of fornication. Others have said that masturbation is an act that prevents fornication by releasing tension. If we are truly honest, the only real voice that speaks to what is sin is God Who speaks to us in the Bible. So let us examine the scriptures in search of principles to guide us on this subject. Here are some questions to consider.
1. Is Masturbation Fornication?
Ancient sources indicate that the word Jesus used for fornication (porneia) referred to male/female prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, bigamy, polygamy and any unnatural form of intercourse. Is it possible that masturbation was included? We do not know, and so we dare not conclude that it is, since no evidence as yet exists. However, masturbation could easily be included in 1 Corinthians 7:2 since the verse encourages us to get married if we have sexual needs.
2. Does The Practice of Masturbation Lead To Sensuality?
Can a person practice masturbation without engaging in sensual thoughts which is clearly sin (Galatians 5:19)? Ephesians 2:3 tells us that selfishness and sensuality are acts and attitudes of the natural man. The passage reads, “we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh.”
3. Can One Have Pure Thoughts While Masturbating?
Can the thought patterns that accompany masturbation be considered pure? Do they reflect those things in Philippians 4:8?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (NASB) Philippians 4:8
Matthew 5:28 says that if a man or woman looks after another person and thinks about various sexual activities it is sin.
4. Does Your Conscience Condemn You?
James 4:17 and 1 John 3:21 tell us that if our conscience warns us that we are sinning then we are in sin. Surveys indicate that almost every Christian who practices masturbation and a majority of non-Christians feel guilty over their actions. Counselors try to convince individuals that masturbation is not sin since that is their opinion, but John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Is the Holy Spirit telling our consciouses that masturbation is sin?
5. Does This Practice Enslave Me?
Can I stop any time I want (1 Corinthians 6:12) or is there this strong desire to do it some more? Counselors state that once started it is very hard for most people to stop masturbating and many times it becomes compulsive. How often do you masturbate – daily, weekly or once every couple of years?
6. Does Masturbation Bring Glory to God?
The issue is more than just hurting your testimony or hindering God’s witness in the world. Are we positively bringing God glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) by our life and actions? David said that he would walk with integrity even in his house when no one could see him (Psalm 101:2).
7. Would Christ Do This?
1 John 2:6 indicates that we are to walk even as He walked. Remember that He too was tempted as we are, yet was without sin.
8. Will It Keep You Free From Lust?
2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to flee youthful lusts, which means that we are to stay away from that which causes us to fall into sexual temptation and other related sins. While many have argued that this is the best reason for the practice of masturbation, most who have practiced masturbation actually have a stronger lust drive.
How to Stop Masturbating
If masturbation is a sin, the passage that most likely indicates it is a sin is 1 Corinthians 7:2. It does not say that masturbation is a sin, but it does tell us that if one is having trouble with sexual desires they should get married.
But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 (NASB)
If you are already married, then ask your spouse for help. If you have an addiction to masturbation then you are enslaved to it and you are in sin (1 Corinthians 6:12). Masturbation can negatively affect your sexual desire to have a sexual adventure in bed with your partner. This may impact your partner. Beware that 1 Corinthians 7:5 says that you give Satan an opportunity. You open you partner to sexual temptation. Your partner may start looking for someone who will meet their sexual appetite. If you are masturbating here are some suggestions to help you stop.
a) Confess the habit as a sin (1 John 1:9). Habitual masturbation is a sin. Honestly admit it to God!
b) Make a clear decision that you no longer want to be controlled by it and ask God for help. Daily ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your life and to take away the habit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18) and bathe yourself in God’s Word (Colossians 3:16). They go together!
c) Realize that God is able to give you both the desire and the ability to stop and then believe Him (1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 3:13). Ask Him to do that.
d) Guard your eyes and mind against the temptation by avoiding day dreaming, explicit materials, videos and television programs.
e) Serve Jesus Christ in ministry to others.
f) Spend time with Him daily in the Word and prayer.
7) Become accountable to someone, maybe your wife.
It is important to remember that Jesus loves us and forgives. He also desires that we flee sin. Here are a few important verses to remember.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Proverbs 8:13 (NASB)
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. Proverbs 16:6 (NASB)
But most of all – He forgives our sins . . .
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NASB)
You may also want to see another question and answer entitled “Is masturbation a sin in marriage?“
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