In response to my post on the truth about sex, I received a message asking should Christians masturbate? There are a variety of views on Christians masturbating. Some believe that masturbation is 100% okay and will help young Christians remain abstinent and others believe it is 100% wrong and sinful. Then there are some who believe that masturbation being sinful really depends on each individual. This is a tricky topic because masturbation is not specifically mentioned in scripture. However, by studying scripture on sin, sexual immorality, and lust I believe we can determine whether or not Christians should masturbate.
What is Masturbation?
To be able to determine whether or not masturbating is sinful you need to know what it is. For those of you who don’t know or are unsure, masturbation is the act of stimulating oneself sexually. There is no one else involved but there is typically a “fantasy” about another person being involved. This is what leads to the conflict of whether masturbation is wrong for Christians. Some people believe since you are not having sex it is acceptable while others believe that fantasizing about someone sexually is lustful. Others believe that if one can control their lustful thoughts then masturbating is acceptable.
Scripture on Masturbating
As I mentioned above, there are no specific mentions of masturbating in the Bible; nothing that specifically mentions masturbating as sinful or acceptable. Some people will take the story of Tamar in Genesis 38 and use it to insinuate that masturbating is a sin.
However, this is a gross misuse of scripture. If you are not familiar with Tamar, she was a young woman married to a wicked man. God killed her husband because of his wickedness and, as was custom in that time, the man’s brother was given to be her husband and produce a son for his dead brother. The second brother knew any child he had with Tamar would not be his own so instead of getting Tamar pregnant, he would “spill his seed on the ground.” God saw this as sinful and killed him as well.
Some people have taken the fact he spilled his seed and that God saw as wicked and twisted it to mean that masturbating is a sin because one is “spilling their seed” and that should be for producing children only. In this case, the actual act of “spilling his seed on the ground” was not sinful. It was the wicked intent within the man’s heart and his resolve not to fulfill his duty and vow.
Should Christians Masturbate?: Scripture on Sexual Sin and Lust
.Just because something isn’t mentioned specifically in the Bible does not mean it’s fair game. There are plenty of scriptures on lust, sexual immorality, and sin that can be used to evaluate masturbation.
What is Lust?
- 1 John 2:16 (CSB), “For everything in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions- is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
1 John 2:16 explains that lust, or having a strong sexual desire for someone, is not from God but is actually a result of the flesh. Lust springs from the sinful nature of mankind. When one becomes a Christian they do away with the desires of the flesh and pursue the desires of God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (CSB), “Flee Sexual Immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 further explains why one should avoid sexual immorality. As I mentioned above, when one becomes a Christian you quit acting out the desires of your flesh. When you get saved you can’t do the things you used to do. You can’t get drunk, party, have sex with your boyfriend, cuss, etc. A transformation begins to take place as you pray and study God’s Word and you begin desiring what God desires. This doesn’t mean the desires of the flesh simply vanish; they’re still there. This is why God has given you the Holy Spirit- a helper who will dwell within you and guide you. The Holy Spirit is there to help you resist the temptation and desires of the flesh (and trust me, without the Holy Spirit you have no chance of resisting).
Is Masturbation Lust?
- Matthew 5:28 (CSB), “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Typically, masturbating involves some kind of fantasizing about another person while sexually pleasuring oneself. Jesus explicitly points out that lusting after a person is committing adultery in the heart (which is most definitely a sin). Therefore, one can conclude that masturbating is lust and is therefore sinful.
- James 1:14-15 (CSB), “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin,and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”
Some people try to rationalize masturbating by saying it isn’t lust if you don’t fantasize about someone while doing it. However, this is a very dangerous road to tread. Sin has a tendency to snowball; it will take you further than you ever wanted to go and keep you far longer than you ever wanted to stay. Lust is a strong sexual desire and the scripture above explains how desire leads to sin and sin leads to death. Even if you could masturbate without think/lusting over a man you are putting yourself into a position to allow sin into your life. By masturbating you are putting yourself in the position to be entrapped by further sexual sin.
Why put yourself at risk?
Should Christians Masturbate?: The Final Verdict
Should Christians masturbate? Short answer: no. Masturbating is a result of the desires of the flesh. It does not honor or serve God in any way; the only purpose masturbating serves is to temporarily satisfy the desire of your flesh. No matter how much you try to rationalize it you’re putting yourself in a very bad position because if you rationalize lust as being acceptable then you’ll begin rationalizing other sins as being acceptable as well.
I know this probably isn’t what a lot of you wanted to hear but this is what the Spirit led me to; not just while writing this post but within my personal life as well. In my testimony I mentioned that I struggled with lust- and I still struggle with it. I was one of the people who rationalized masturbating as being okay as long as I didn’t have any lustful thoughts. But you know what? The longer I gave into the desire of my flesh and masturbated, the more lustful thoughts began to creep in. The more I entertained those lustful thoughts the more I became entangled in a web of sexual sin. The more I became entangled in sexual sin the less I could feel God’s presence in my life. It was gradual- so gradual I barely noticed it- but one day I woke up and I realized I couldn’t feel God with me anymore. I knew it wasn’t that God had left me but that I had allowed my desire and sin to create distance between us.
God is the only reason I am not still entangled in that web of sin. He forgave me even though I don’t deserve it and it helps me to now live a life that honors him. He will do the same for you. If you are where I was or if you know you’re headed down the road I was on- you’re not alone. God is with you and God will help you if you ask.
I debated whether or not I wanted to include my own experience with masturbation in this post; it’s scary to put yourself out in the open in this manner. However, I sincerely want you to see that I’m not writing this post from the point of view of someone who doesn’t understand what you’re going through. I’ve been there; it’s not easy for me to say that something I used to do is sinful. I made the wrong choice and God set me free from it. This doesn’t mean I’m no longer tempted by the desires of my flesh. This is something I struggle with every single day; each morning I wake up and I hand my lust and desire over to God and ask for his strength not to give into temptation. Thankfully, He is always faithful to help me resist temptation.
I would like to finish this post with a prayer:
Father God, thank you for giving me this opportunity to share this part of my testimony with others and thank you for giving me the chance to use my past to helps others. I pray you will soften the heart of each person who reads this post- reveal your truth and your will to them, Lord. I pray you will strengthen each of these dear sisters; strengthen them to resist their own desires and the temptation they will face.
I pray for the one reading this who has been caught up in her lust; the one who wants to be free from her desires but doesn’t see a way out. I pray freedom over her. Be with her, Lord, and comfort her. Reveal your will and Word to her. I pray your Holy Spirit will dwell within her and guide her as she begins living a life that honors you.
In Jesus’ holy name,