What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?

By lan Warner


The age-old question “what does the Bible says about masturbation?” is not going anywhere anytime soon. But, unfortunately, masturbation is not a word you will hear very often in a church. Our culture, on the other hand, has fully embraced the word. Masturbation is the act of having a sexual orgasm through self-stimulation. It feels natural for many to masturbate, but just because something feels natural does not mean it’s pleasing to God.

1 Corinthians 10:31“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Does The Bible Speak Again Masturbation Directly?

The Bible does not speak against it in a direct manner that uses the word. I wanted to put that out there to make sure that no one is mistaken. Often, the Bible is straightforward about things like not bearing false witness or killing other humans. Those things are wrong.

When it comes to masturbation, the terms we need to examine are sexual immorality and lust. When we dive into these words, we get a clear picture of what God wants.

The other place I want to challenge you before you go further is, do you want to know what God wants, or do you want permission to do whatever you want to do? Whenever this question comes up, I always ask believers if they feel that masturbation is pleasing to the Spirit that is given to us after they are finished? The answer is almost always no, but we will talk more about that later.

What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation? Let’s Examine Lust and Sexual Immorality

1 Corinthians 6:18 – 20 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person commits sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard it was said; you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Therefore, if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body is thrown into hell. And if your right-hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

What we are trying to figure out here is if sexual immortality includes masturbation. If it does to it would mean that when you do it that it is a God-honoring thing. But, on the other hand, it would also mean that the point of sexual acts is to please ourselves.

What we learn in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4  shows us something that unlocks some truth in this matter. It says, “The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. So, likewise, the husband does to have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

The goal of sex is far from what our culture tells us. Our goal is to please our wife or husband. Marriage is a gift from God, and it represents God’s love for his bride, the church. Sexual immorality is any sexual act outside of pleasing your wife/husband in the covenant of marriage.

You may be married and thinking about your wife while you masturbate, but that is still sin because your goal is to please yourself, and that is not what sex was created for.

The second problem with masturbation is how it throws open the door for lust, leading to adultery. Jesus making the point in Matthew that it is not enough not to commit adultery but that lust is committing adultery in our hearts. Jesus cares about our heart condition more than what we do or what we say.

When you are masturbating, there is a good chance that it stems from an urge from some picture you just saw on social media or something that turned you on. You throw away all self-control that we are called to have (Galatians 5, 1 Thess 4:3). We are not called to give in to whatever passions and urges we feel in the moment unless we know that what we are doing will be pleasing to God.

Why Self Love Culture is Destroying Our View On What The Bible Says About Masturbation

Here is the problem, our self-love culture is destroying our walk with Christ. It’s turning people into self-righteous mini-gods in their own eyes. I want to be clear; I am not saying you need to hate yourself all of the time to follow Christ. But, what you do need to do is hate your flesh and understand that it is sinful in every way. You can love you that walks in the Spirit and sets its mind on things of the Spirit because that version of you can’t take any credit for anything.

Galatians 5:16 – “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Romans 8:6“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Matthew 26:41“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Culture tells you that you are amazing and that most people are good people. Culture wants you to follow your heart and do what you desire regardless of whether it goes against God’s word. What you need to do is recenter back on the word of God.

The goal is not to love yourself as much as possible. The goal is to love Jesus as much as possible, and through love, love will flow through to everyone else. We don’t naturally love our neighbors because we are selfish. Instead, we tend to look out for ourselves, but it is Jesus who changes our hearts.

Follow The Holy Spirit for Truth When Looking for Answers to What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation

Romans 6:15 -16 “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness?”

Romans 7:15“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

One of the best things you can do if you still think masturbation is not a sin, listen to the Holy Spirit that has been given to you as a follower of Christ. If you masturbate, you can almost bet that after it, you don’t feel filled. When you have sex within the marriage covenant, you feel no guilt or worthliness from it. Instead, it fills you up because you are using something in the way that God had intended you to.

We are not supposed to keep moving in sin and count on grace, but Romans 7 tells us that we can’t stop sinning. We are not able to because our flesh is weak, and humans are all naturally sinful. In Romans chapter 8, Paul introduces the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the helper that Jesus promised he would leave us with after he returns to the Father (John 14). The helper will further engrave answers to the question “what does the Bible say about masturbation?”

You have to lean into the Holy Spirit for you not to be sinful. In this way, you have to give all of the credit to God, and you can’t take any of the credit yourself. So you Boast in Christ by recognizing that you are weak and in need of a savior.

lan Warner

Ian Warner is a believer, husband, and father of three. He grew up running track in Toronto before earning a scholarship to Iowa State University. At Iowa State, he became an All-American and made the 2012 Olympic team. He currently helps people to build better habits and follow Jesus Christ.

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