Masturbation: The Bible says

The Bible doesn't specifically mention the word masturbation or wanking. This means that we should approach this topic with caution and sensitivity. Many teenagers and single young adults face enormous struggles coming to terms with their sexual drives. We hear what the Bible says about Sex, but on the other side the World (and Satan) pushes the line that sexual expression is important and "Just do it and have fun! Everyone else is having sex aren't they."

In this environment, Masturbation can therefore lead to feelings of guilt and feelings of failure as a Christian.

So what is the answer?

Firstly, we need to gain a sense of what Jesus meant by some of His comments regarding sex and put other passages of scripture related to sex into context. We can then decide upon masturbation on its own.

Sexuality and sex were created by God himself. Sexual intercourse was meant to occur between a male and female as laid down in Genesis 2:24.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Therefore, sexual intercourse is a sacred union of two people who are married. God's intention for husband and wife is monogamy.
However, because we are all sexual beings whether married or not we need to work out how we can express these sexual desires in accordance with scripture.

See Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus says
"You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. " Here we see that Jesus broadens the possibility of sexual sins to include our minds and not just sexual expression through a physical act. Even though Jesus is talking about adultery in this passage it is very clear that Jesus has raised the issue that the mind has the propensity to sin sexually as well as the body. It appears that if our minds are lustfully associated with another person and that person is not married to us then we can be committing a sexual sin. If we are in a marriage relationship then we can see that God has given us our partner to satisfy those sexual desires. See 1 Corinthians 7:2-5. "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way , the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. "

There is no other passage in the Old Testament or New Testament that adequately convinces us that masturbation is a sexual sin in itself. However, if we consider the mind concept that has been raised by Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 then if we masturbate with thoughts of others (men or women) then we are sinning sexually. Consider Paul's words to us in 1 Corinthians 6:12. He says that "Everything is permissable, but not all things are beneficial " and his words to us in Galatians 5:22-23 concerning self-control" "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace....self-control." versus lust in Colossians 3:5. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. "

We are not condemned for masturbating because of God's grace that he offers. See Ephesians 2:8-9
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast." However, we need to consider the reason why we are masturbating. Is it the need for sexual release because of sexual drive? Is it for stress relieving related reasons? Is it out of pure lustful desire? Or another reason? If it is out of lust then we have crossed the line into Colossians 3:5 and are sinning because we have invoked the mind. If we are able to be controlled as in Galatians 5:22-23 and not masturbate with sexual thoughts then we do well for ourselves.

If we cannot control our desires for another person due to sexual desires then we need to consider the prospect of marriage as a way forward. See 1 Corinthians 7:9
"But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
I would recommend that pre-marriage education take place at this point before a person becomes engaged to be married. So, overall, it could be said that a person can masturbate for stress, sexual release or another reason as long as they do not invoke sexual thoughts at the same time.

Unfortunately, even though all things are permissable and not beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12) we have to sometimes consider the lesser of the two evils because we live in a depraved and convoluted society due to sin. Therefore, in some cases it is better for a person to masturbate with sexual thought and sin if they cannot control their desires, and do not want to get married. In this case it is better to masturbate with sexual thought rather than risk raping another person or participating in sexual intercourse that they may regret later on. Sexual intercourse obviously involves another person. So not only do you sin sexually but the person you are involved with also commits a sexual sin. If the girlfriend or lady involved becomes pregnant then this can lead to further sins (abortion), an unplanned marriage and other difficult decisions. Therefore, in these circumstances masturbation with sexual thought is clearly the lesser of two evils.

In summary, Masturbation is a very personal experience and the final decision must rest with you the reader. We at ASKTHEBIBLE hope that the above comments are helpful and of some assistance to you. In the present days where images of female flesh come from many directions (newsagents, newspapers, the web, unwanted emails, television, pay TV, unhelpful friends, etc) living a pure and holy life is not easy. The Devil is alive and well and knows exactly how to use sex for his evil purposes.

Kind regards,
Pastor Keith

Updated Jan 2012