Bible Question:

What does the Bible have to say about masturbation? I believe that masturbation (the act only, not the lust associated with it) is not a sin. The Bible seems completely silent about the topic, although it talks elaborately about sexual sins like fornication, adultery, incest, etc. Also the verse 1 Corinthians 6:20 seems to support my belief.

Bible Answer:

The vast majority of people who masturbate feel guilty. Consequently, people seek advice and worry if they can be forgiven and if they are going to hell because they masturbate. Unfortunately, the Bible is completely silent about masturbation. The Bible does not use the word and does not discuss the situation. But the Bible is also silent about pornography, copyright violations, and privacy rights. It never explicitly says anything about abortion either. Because the Bible is silent about a specific subject that does not mean we have liberty to do as we want. We must examine biblical principles in order to answer the question. We must be very careful not to call masturbation sin. We must also be very careful not to say that it is okay either.

It is important to remember that Greek words can slightly alter meanings and historical information helps to clarify a passage. But some passages are just difficult to understand as the apostle Peter admits in the following passage when he comments on the writings of the Apostle Paul.

. . . our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16 (NASB)

But the problem with the topic of masturbation is that the Bible never uses that word. It does not use any terminology that describes that sexual activity.

So, we must look for principles that help to guide us. 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 is one of those passages. It encourages us to flee immorality or porneia. Porneia refers to a wide range of sins from incest, pedophilia, incest, bestiality, and others. But masturbation is not porneia. 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 is a warning to flee such sins.

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  1 Corinthians 6:18-19 (NASB)

Then verse 20 encourages us to glorify God by our conduct when it says,

. . . therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB)

But when Paul continues his discussion into 1 Corinthians 7:2 he seems to broaden his discussion of immorality.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 (NASB)

It is important to note that the ancient literature has not revealed so far that porneia included masturbation. We glean our understanding of the Greek words from how they were used in the ancient literature. But if masturbation is prohibited anywhere in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 7:2 could appear to include masturbation.

However, Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to allow anything to control us. Galatians 5:23 tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control. This means that if masturbation is okay, it should occur only occasionally. How often is occasionally? That is, if masturbation occurs only occasionally, is not sin? Again, Scripture does not tell us, but it is clear that if masturbation is habitual then the individual lacks self-control and it is a sin. We are sorry that the Bible does not provide a clear guideline.

For those who are married, God encourages husbands and wives to frequently enjoy foreplay and sexual activities.


God calls us to live holy lives. May the Lord bless you.

Suggested Links:

Is masturbation a sin?
Is masturbation a sin in marriage?
Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
How To Be Filled With The Spirit