Is Masturbation in the Bible As a Sin?

Last month  I posted an article entitled “Are You a Christian Who Masturbates?” There were a lot of interesting comments and some deep questions. I was not specific as to any particular scripture when addressing the topic. I wanted to give people a chance to share their thoughts on it. But now it’s time for “Dr. Intimacy’s Final Word From Scripture” on the matter. This is a tough one to break down and it took some time to unravel the revelation in scripture. So you might want to grab a cup of coffee and get your Bible and a notebook, as I take you deep into the text to reveal a Biblical answer on the question of masturbation!

A lot of people debate over whether or not masturbation is actually a sin. Many people want to confine the Word of God to our limited English language and vocabulary. Because in their hearts they desire to indulge in sin, they feign ignorance due to the fact that every evil act is not noted in black and white in the Bible. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 1:18-19, 18But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. 19For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.”

Admittedly, there is no scripture in the Bible that says, “Thou shall not masturbate”. So hey, if you want to chance standing before God on judgment day with your hand in your pants, you can try this omission of specific language out as your defense! However, for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, you are getting ready to get your fill: the Bible Truth concerning masturbation. Since there is no scripture that uses the word “masturbation” (simply because there is no word-for-word translation between the languages used) let’s examine some scriptures where it can clearly be read between the lines.

“Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” This scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:18,  has often been debated as to its relevance toward masturbation. This is because verses 15 and 16 of this same chapter, as you will read further down, makes specific reference to female prostitution. However, in order to fully understand a scripture, you have to examine it within the context of the entire passage that it is connected to.

That is why I want to take a look back to first Corinthians chapter 6 beginning at verse 9. By doing so, we can find some pretty strong references to masturbation. Since this is a long passage of text, let’s look at the scriptures a few at a time beginning with 6:9-10 “9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

The author of this text makes specific mention of several different acts of sexual perversion: sexual sin, adultery, male prostitution and homosexuality.  Homosexuality we understand clearly to be sexual relations or attraction between two people of the same gender. Male prostitutes are clearly men who exchange sex for money or favors, most often with other men and often as a part of idol worship. Adultery is understood to be sex between a married person and someone other than their spouse.

Then we are left with the term “sexual sin”. What is the author referring to with this term? This text was written during a time when it was culturally acceptable for men to have as many wives as they wanted to. This means that a man could not “technically fornicate” in the way we think of fornication, which is “sex outside of marriage”. If a woman was single and agreed to have sex with a man, they were married – unless she was a prostitute or committing adultery. With female prostitution already being addressed directly in verse 18 and adultery already being addressed in verse 9, what else are we to believe the term “sexual sin” means here, as it is certainly not fornication?

Now let’s look at verses 11 – 14. “11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  12 You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything. 13 You say, ‘Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.’ (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.”

In this passage in verses 11-14, the author expounds upon his reference to being “greedy”, made earlier in verse 9. By doing so, he is trying to help us understand that just because we have been made “clean”, does not mean that we are exempt from the bondage of sin. You can eat, and eating in and of itself is not bad. However, you can also be greedy by overeating and overeating can be deadly. Let’s face it; overeating is suicide on a payment plan. Carelessly subjecting your body to unwholesome, damaging activities is sinful. In other words, just because the body functions enable you to perform an activity, doesn’t mean that you should engage in that activity. The author gives this simple, practical example about eating because it is easy to relate to.

Then the author wants to build upon this understanding and apply this same concept to sexual immorality in the next passage, making the point clear once again: just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should do something! 15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one. 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”

So now, looking at verses 15 and 16 in consideration of the entire message being portrayed, the specific reference to prostitution is no more the “focus” of this passage than any of these other specific references. What is more important than the reference to prostitution are these clauses from 13, 14 and 17: “But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality [like you can say the stomach was made for food; and since you can’t say that it makes engaging in sexual immorality even that much worse]. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead… 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”  These clauses are important because the truth of the matter is that ALL sexual perversion causes you to become one with somebody. Whether done rightly through marriage or wrongly through homosexuality, prostitution or adultery – sex makes you one with the person you join to.

This truth is just as applicable in the case of masturbation as with any other sexual act. Your body belongs to the Lord and is designed to die to self and sin, after you have been cleansed and set apart. This is apparent because in the middle of a passage that has nothing to do with natural death or resurrection, the author makes a clear indication of your body being raised from the dead. This is the death of flesh, death to self, death to your own will and your way that the author is talking about. When you let your body die to sinful ways, God will raise your dead body up as a standard of righteousness for all to see! Yet, instead of dying to self and becoming “one spirit” with The Lord, you are exalting your own sinful life and becoming one with the will of your flesh. And so finally, we can read verses 6:18-20 with full understanding.

“ 18Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” The Apostle Paul clearly and deliberately covered each type of “sexual immorality” (the general term that is used for all sexual activity not done with your spouse) in this passage: adultery, male prostitution, female prostitution, homosexuality and masturbation (sexual sin). The specific illustration of prostitution in verses 15 and 16 is only used to help paint a clear picture of sexual perversion that everyone can undeniably agree is sinful. He follows this illustration by pointing out that we are to be “one spirit” with the Lord.

I don’t believe that if Paul could have translated this passage into English himself that he would have included a break between the two clauses in 17 and 18, “one spirit with him” and “Run from sexual sin!”  This is one continuous thought, leading us into understanding that masturbation, which is what I believe he is referring to when he uses the term ‘sexual sin’, is just as perverse as prostitution and all of the other acts of sexual immorality mentioned in this chapter. It is not at all by coincidence that this clause is followed in verse 19 with these words: “You do not belong to yourself…”

The text could have said, “You do not belong to a prostitute….” or “You do not belong to an adulterer…” or “You do not belong to a  homosexual…” But instead it clearly states, “YOU DO NOT BELONG TO YOURSELF!”: A vivid picture of the act of ‘self-sex’ and taking liberties with your own body that are not harmonious with your estate as The Temple of the Holy Spirit.

You see, Paul wanted to ensure that no matter what kind of sexual addiction you are dealing with, you would know that this text applies to you… Yes, even you who freely indulge yourselves sexually. Now all you have to consider is this: Does masturbation honor God with your body? Can you see yourself at the throne with the 24 elders, who will be casting their crowns before Him in worship, bowing and saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy…” while you are indulging in your own flesh, enjoying sexual lust by your own hand? That is what you have to ask yourself.

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In the Power of Love,

Dr. Intimacy

Prolific Author and Speaker Specializing in Sex, Intimacy and Relationships from a Holistic Perspective – Spirit, Soul & Body

Copyright © 2011 by Laneen A. Haniah “Dr. Intimacy”. All rights reserved. Please see full copyright notice on front page for more info.

22 thoughts on “Is Masturbation in the Bible As a Sin?

  1. this was a great read .this is a major issue in the christian my present distress, A term paul used. I have been a victim of the lesser evil, with out full body participation.

  2. this was a great read .this is a major issue in the christian my present distress, A term paul used. I have been a victim of the lesser evil, with out full body participation. Clarity this is my personal statement not paul.

  3. Exalted Dirt says:

    I wrote something about this on the Succubus page. The scripture study here is very thought-provoking. Understanding scriptural context is so important.

    • Exalted Dirt says:

      I’ve noticed a feeling of dirtiness before after indulging myself. Shaking hands with someone at church, the thought would come to me, “You’re going to use THAT hand?”

      • Dr. Intimacy says:

        @ Exalted Dirt.

        I know right! I have been there too, especially when my children were babies and I had to handle them afterward. Masturbation is diabolical, I don’t care how anyone tried to justify. It is simply a dirty pleasure for those that choose to indulge in it, contaminating not only them but those around them as well – like secondhand smoke!

  4. Lynette says:

    Hello, I know masturbation is a sin. I have known this for a long time. I am married but I still struggle with this sin. I feel so guilty after I have fallen. I dont know how to overcome it. I need help.

    • Dr. Intimacy says:

      This was a devastating problem for me when I was married too. I know how you feel. I would be interested to know what is going on in sexual life with your husband. We need to get to the root cause of you falling and find the open door so it can be shut! Write me back.

  5. Marie says:

    I heard some good advice on this. Do not have any sexual experience away from the marriage bed with your husband. I decided to do this, deny my flesh and trust God. I want to please Jesus more than I want to have an orgasm.

    I was addicted to all that stuff. When your addicted to masturbation and porn you lose your desire for the right thing because your so wrapped up in the wrong thing. I know masturbation is wrong because you have to have fantasy land going on in your head to achieve it….therefor everytime you do it your engaging in sexual sin, adultery, etc.

  6. Exalted Dirt says:

    From πέρνημι pernēmi (to sell; akin to the base of G4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal), that is, (by analogy) a debauchee (libertine): – fornicator, whoremonger.

    This is the word used in I Corinthians chapter 6 verse 9. I decided to look up ‘debauchee’ and ‘libertine’.
    A person given to excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.
    noun /ˈlibərˌtēn/ 
    libertines, plural
    A person, esp. a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, esp. in sexual matters
    A person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion; a freethinker

    adjective /ˈlibərˌtēn/ 
    Characterized by a disregard of morality, esp. in sexual matters
    – his more libertine impulses
    Freethinking in matters of religion
    The phrase “a person who rejects accepted opinions” got me thinking about how even sitcoms and comedians have referred to masturbation as abusing oneself.

  7. Guest says:

    Is it still a sin if you have a very healthy se. Live with your spouse, but need sexual relief in the middle of the day while their gone? I have been married 6 months and have masterbated 5 times since being married – on each day I still had sex with my husband. While masterbating, I only though of my husband, and I only do it if my husband says I can. Is it still sinful?

  8. […] traffic, but every once in a while the stupid is hard to ignore.  Such is the case with this post by drintimacy, who describes her self as a “profphetess” and self proclaimed expert on human […]

  9. richards29 says:

    Gosh thanx a bunch for replying to me.I didnt think i would get a respond.I know masturbation is not a sin buts its the thought that goes along with it that is there were days,month i will go without masturbating but when the urges hits,Oh it hits very hard.The surging sexual energies make it difficult to sleep and difficult to concentrate until i get release.Now I do not watch porn nor read heavy erotic material when masturbating.I enjoy doing it because I love how it feels and the orgasmic pleasure.but then its the guilt that comes after although i was not thinking inappropriate thoughts,Im not justifying my act in any way but i wanted to share this with you and tell me what u think

    What if by reintroducing masturbation not for lust and its compulsive habit but rather to enriched & strenthen ones sexuality with positive sexual energy. similar to that involves eating well, keeping myself in community, doing things that are fun, etc. that helps create positive life empowerment skills.

    hope to hear from u soon.

  10. Dr. Intimacy, I recommend that you invest in a New King James Bible. This version accurately translates the Greek words. For instance, wherever your version uses the expression, “SEXUAL SIN”, the Greek word should be translated fornication. To say “sexual sin” is to lay the responsibility upon the reader to decide what is sin. The scripture is very explicit, by identifying it as “fornication.” It is fornication that is a sin against a “person’s own body”, not the vague “sexual sin”. In fact you could go one better and buy yourself a Greek/English Linear New Testament. Some years ago an older friend of mine told me he was having trouble urinating. Having read that that is a symptom of prostate swelling caused by un-ejaculated fluid thickening to the point of crystals forming, which irritate the prostate lining, I told him that what he needed was some “prostate therapy.” In other words he wasn’t able to run fast enough to catch his new younger wife. If a man notices difficulty in urinating, then I don’t see anything wrong with self-ejaculating in order to bring relief and inhibit the possibility of cancer. Blessings

    • I study directly out of the Greek. I know what the original word is, and what it really means, not what we consider fornication today. When I write, I don’t rewrite the misunderstood Greek translation, I reveal the actual revelation. I’m not a theologian nor do I claim to be. I’m a revelatory teacher. If you are settled on your belief, stand on it, as I will stand on mine. Bless you.

  11. Hi Dr. Intimacy
    I am a Christian and have recently been attacked by the enemy with the idea of a man. In a moment of curiosity I allowed this man to vividly describe to me what sex with him would be like. We both enjoy the fantasies and of course masturbate. This went on for a period of 3 weeks or so. I did my best to end it because the Holy Spirit in me just has no peace and I don’t like that. Now for reason I have a connection to this man that hard to shake (Soul Tie…maybe) but I have found myself talking to him very innocently but waiting for the opportunity. He gave me the open door and I took it. My issue is that before I was a Christian masturbating was very addictive and not satisfying at all. I’m of course experiencing this. After a time of erotic language and fun with this man I can spend the rest of the day masturbating. I know its wrong. I can tell the Holy Spirit is convicting me to stop, but I’m having trouble choosing to quit. What can I do?

  12. susieqcab says:

    I am a Christian who does masturbate. Not to be selfish but to release sexual tension due to my husband’s multiple health conditions which severely curb his sex drive. I love and desire my husband only. We have been married for over 18-years. I feel guilty before and after masturbating. It seems as if I am betraying our marriage vows. But sometimes I have to do it because it feels as if I will burst from wanting to be intimate with my husband. He has soo many different health conditions that adding another medication could cause his others to not work properly.
    I have gotten to the point where I deny myself as long as possible hoping for the desire to come upon him before resorting to masturbation. But when this happens, I think only of him.

  13. David Sebastian says:

    I am a Christian who does masturbate 😦

  14. Zj Aa says:

    Greetings. I have been masturbating for 4 years and I took my faith seriously just a couple weeks ago. Stopped listening to satanic black metal and threw away all my ex satanic items. However I couldn’t stop masturbating. Normally I would stop for a couple days and then do it again but recently I stopped for a week. Throughout the week I would read the bible and pray alot for God to remove these impure thoughts and keep me away from lust but the urge would keep coming back again and again. I had a wet dream a couple days ago and I just masturbated about 10 mins ago and I’m not feeling anything. I don’t feel repentant or anything I just feel numb. I gave in to satan after fighting for so Long I gave up. I gave everything up. I hope God does not forsake me. I will repent even though I do not feel like it. I need help

  15. Zj Aa says:

    I am filled with regret now. Just like how I feel every time after masturbation. I know I will regret it before masturbating but I do it anyway. I’m a failure good for nothing that doesn’t deserve God.

    • Condemnation is the enemy’s tool to keep you bound. Masturbation is a very hard habit to break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you fail just ask God for forgiveness every time and thank him for his LOVE. He always loves you no matter what.

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