What does the Bible say about masturbation?

What does the Bible say about masturbation?  The answer is, it doesn’t say anything.

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.




About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
This entry was posted in Q & A -Things That Make You Go Hmm. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to What does the Bible say about masturbation?

  1. I like this Article because it is informative but leaves the conclusion ambiguous, allowing the reader to choose for themselves

    • dkoop says:

      You are right. The bible is silent on the subject; but not silent about lust, so do your best to avoid that. More importantly,remember in all things Jesus loves you, forgives you and can help you live for him.


    I got married 2011. then my wife develop a dont touch, no hougin, no kissing and periodical sex as she wish, i talk to her but she always turn it to fight which i dont like, i reported her but it got worse, this make us to stay for 6yrs b4 our twins come in which i hav daot (God pls forgive) since the birth of twins now over a yr nd 4months i forcefully meet her once. now am tired of waiting maybe she will change, am a born again, pls tell me what to do. i dont know maybe i still love her.

    • dkoop says:

      Adeleye, thanks for pouring your heart out in this manner. I’m praying for you and your wife. She is your only source of God honoring sex and should care about your need in this area.

  3. Br Lionel says:

    Hi Ps Darrel,
    Thank you for your views around this subject. I wish to share this with our youth at church but first want to do my homework. We have a group called “young adults” that are married couples who feel they are too old for youth but to young not to participate.

    I wish to differenciate between the 2 about this subject, especially young couples that might have some challanges in this area.

  4. Jason says:

    This has really opened my eyes and to not give up on myself on the road to purity

  5. Katrina Chavez says:

    This has really helped me thank you

  6. Terry says:

    Thanks Darryl for sharing your thoughts on the subject of masterbation. I’ve been a Christian for over 20years and this is not an easy subject to discuss among the body of Christ.

    I tried to discuss this within the church but I’ve yet to hear a solid argument until yours today. Most ignore this subject for one of two reasons; ignorance (those aware and unaware if the subject) or, conservative-over zealousness. Mainly, I think that most conservative Christians are just trying to gaurd their minds so not to lead into possible sin.

    Two arguments you made I think are the potential game changers. Do you think Jesus did? & The act itself is selfish (release or comfort).
    But… the first. Again the Bible does not speak on this topic in regards to Jesus. Same to be said about wine with alcohol. Jesus made it, but did he drink too. Never says.

    The only reason I would support your arguement is because Jesus was never at any point in his life unclean as presented in the bible. Not that is known or at least was the topic of focus.

    Meaning unclean may just that, you are unclean until evening next day and require a bathe before joining anyone. Same with touching of someone body who had passed on.

    No counter for the selfish act though…Its simple and I like it. Made more in the image of Christ; that of a servant, not self-serving.

    Great topic and I’m excited to be able to share this with my Celebrate Recovery group.

  7. dkoop says:

    Thanks Terry! I appreciate the feedback and especially your courage to teach, share and encourage people. God bless you

  8. kudzai says:

    I would like to thank you for a better understanding of this topic which has been a great debate to young boys and young unmarried men.

  9. Josh Mort says:

    I also have to deal with ads on youtube, my moms clothes, etc…. I really need help as I am still confuse if this is a sin or not as I use this to help me with this burning desirable problem that I Hate So Bad !

    • dkoop says:

      Josh, thanks for your reply and your honesty. I’m praying for you right now. Yes, purity and obedience are hard and the temptations are real and ongoing. Don’t give up! Pursue God’s best for you. Please do not be surprised that there are obstacles in living out God’s principles. Think of spiritual warfare like sports, what if a basketball player came off the court and said, “coach I can’t play, every time I go up for a layup someone is stepping in front of me or putting their hand in my face!” That’s part of the game, you keep playing and don’t quit. If you fall down, get back up and learn from your mistakes. God bless you.

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