The Bible is strangely silent on this subject. The Bible is not shy at all when it comes to sexual issues, so, it is a bit strange that the Bible addresses all of these other sexual things and not masturbation. That being said we must be very careful not to be dogmatic about something the bible does not address directly.
If you are a parent and are wondering how you should deal with this subject with your children, I personally think the book by Dr James Dobson, “Bringing Up Boys” has a great chapter. He basically says not to make the subject of masturbation too big a deal. There are issues the bible does speak directly to and we will examine those in a moment.
Since the Bible never speaks directly to this topic we will use some principles to apply to this subject.
Some who are hard core against masturbation could use a verse like, Genesis3:3. You must not touch it or you will die! Definitely a verse used out of context, I am only joking. These types have also said, “Masturbation will cause you to go blind.” All joking aside they have used another verse out of context from Genesis 38. A guy named Onan spilled his seed (sperm) on the ground and God brought a severe judgment on the guy. They will use this verse to say masturbation is definitely wrong. But truthfully, this verse is not addressing masturbation. In the context of this verse, Onan was supposed to take his deceased brother’s wife as his own and produce children that get his brother’s inheritance. This was the law and Israel’s custom. He deliberately disobeyed the Old Testament Law and God was not happy about that.
Those that really don’t think masturbation is a sin, will quote Ecclesiastes 9:10,
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!
All joking aside, let’s look at some principles more seriously.
Some principles that apply; Ephesians chapter5:3, the Bible says:
…among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity.
From my perspective, it’s hard to see this act without a hint of sexual impurity, because even if you argue that the act is not a sin, sometimes what leads up to it is often unquestionably sinful. Masturbation accompanied by pornography or lustful thoughts is wrong. From my perspective, it’s hard to see this act as not having at least a hint of immorality.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Truthfully, it’s hard for me to see masturbation for the glory of God. Sexual pleasure between a husband and a wife is glorifying to God (just read Song of Solomon!) Self pleasure, not so much.
Something else related, if we are trying to live Christ-like, and would ask the great question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Do you think Jesus would do this? Personally, I don’t think so.
If we take a step back from this very challenging subject, let me give you three bigger-picture thoughts that I think are really important. The first thing is:
1. The battle for purity starts with the eyes and with the mind. I like what Job said in Chapter 31:1, he said:
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.
Before a physical act, there is usually a look or a thought and so we make a covenant, I will not look lustfully at another person.
Paul told the Corinthians, We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
If there’s a runaway sinful, lustful thought; we grab it, we replace it with the Word of God, with something excellent, lovely, pure, or admirable. We think about things that would glorify God. The battle for purity starts with the eyes and the mind.
2. Do your best to remove sinful temptations. Jesus taught this very clearly in Matthew 5:28-30, He said:
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. . . And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.
Applying this verse to masturbation, if this is a problem for you , next week there should be a lot of one-arm cyclops! Jesus was not being literal, He was basically saying that if there is something that is going to because you to fall into temptation avoid it at all cost. If going to the gym, you end up lusting all of the time, work out at home! If your cable TV is causing you to lust and you are surfing all of the time, cut your cable TV. You can’t get on the internet without being drawn into looking at pornography, get filters or blocks, have a shared computer in open site, whatever you need to do to remove the temptation that would lead you into sin, do it!
3. There is a state of purity that many people do not believe is possible. Let’s be honest, we are bombarded with lustful images everywhere in our culture. Some will cry, “but everyone else is doing it.” But if you will take every thought captive, if you will let God’s Word renew your mind, if you will consistently train your eyes not to look at certain places, and train your mind to not go in certain places, overtime, God can renew your mind and your heart to a state of purity that many people do not even believe is possible. By the way, “everybody is not doing it,” that’s a lie. The power of God can do more to purify you overtime if you’ll truly surrender to Him.
If masterbation is a form of comfort or release, then it becomes a false god in our lives. God is “the God of all comfort.” I Corinthians 1:3.
If you do compromise sexually in anyway, you’re not broken, you’re human. Maybe you lose your virginity say, “Oh, I did that, I might as well just be immoral!” No. If you sin sexually and you think, “Well I did this, well now I might as well keep on going.” No, don’t destroy yourself because you fell into sexual temptation. You’re not broken, just human. It is forgivable. If you messed up, do not surrender in the battle for purity, keep on fighting! Just because the world is impure, doesn’t mean that the people of God have to be. There is a state of purity greater than you could ever imagine. I believe it’s worth fighting for.