As children of God, we have an incredible opportunity to walk alongside and encourage one another, even when a topic is difficult to broach. That’s why I felt honored when a friend called me and asked, “Is masturbation a sin in the Bible?”
When anyone asks that, there’s often something deeper going on, so I leaned in to listen. They mentioned that they felt dirty and had been feeling guilty.
I thanked them for trusting me enough to share something so personal. Then I turned to research it to ensure I gave the best Biblical answer to such a sensitive issue.
Where in the Bible is masturbation?
As I researched, I was amazed at the sheer search volume on Google that said, “Is masturbation a sin?” I was also surprised by the lack of resources available online.
If you’re wondering why the folks at the Video Bible would tackle the topic of masturbation, that’s why! Our goal has always been to point people to God through the scriptures. Why should masturbation be any different?
It’s important to remember first of all that God loves us and that he loves giving us good things. Since he created all good things, the simple truth is that his way is better! Who better to teach us about sex and pleasure than the one who created it?
God created sex and gave it to us as a good gift in marriage. It brings intimacy, and pleasure and builds families. But more than all that, it points us back to God, the giver of all good things.
Proverbs 5:18-19 says:
“Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
A lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
Be intoxicated always in her love.”
Spiciness aside, notice that it’s all about love. God gave us a loving gift. Next, we share that loving gift with our spouses, and it all points us back to the love of God.
It makes sense then that married people should serve each other sexually. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says:
“The husband should give to 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. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time… but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
From the passage above, we can tell that sex is meant to be something we give someone else, not something we take for ourselves. That’s the problem with masturbation. It isn’t about serving anyone other than ourselves.
The entire Christian life is about laying our lives down to follow Christ, just as he laid down his life for us. It’s about dying to self, not pleasing ourselves. Why would we expect sex to be any different?
It’s not that pleasure is evil. How could it be when God made it? It’s just that his way is best. When we turn from that way, we get hurt.
Masturbation & Neural Physiology
Studies show that compulsive masturbation causes new neural pathways to form in the brain, leading to more masturbation. Essentially, people who masturbate enough can become addicted to the pleasure. Why bother working on a challenging relationship when you can get pleasure easier on your own?
However, when we focus on having sex with our spouse, brain chemicals like Oxytocin are released, which are bonding and leads to a stronger marriage. Isn’t God good? It’s like he knew what he was doing when he created sex or something. It literally makes more sense to love your spouse than to “love” yourself.
However, this still leaves out single people, right? Not exactly. Remember how data shows that masturbation can be addictive? How would a single person who’s been perpetually masturbating suddenly give it up the day they marry?
Masturbation & Hidden Dangers
Also noteworthy is that masturbation goes hand in hand with pornography, which can cause untold pain, but that’s a topic for another day. Regardless, masturbation usually includes lustful thoughts about another person. Matthew 5:27-28 is clear:
“You have heard that 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.”
While I can’t say with 100% certainty that people can’t masturbate without lusting, I’m guessing the chances of it happening are close to zero.
As usual, God’s rules are there for our good! He wants us to be free to experience love and sex in the healthiest way.
What we’re really looking for in all our earthly searches is actually perfect intimacy with God. That’s the most resounding cry of our hearts. We can use sexual frustration as a reminder to look up and seek him.
So, If you have a husband or wife, great! Enjoy each other like crazy, and do so in a way that serves them and ultimately points you both to the Lord.
If you are a single Christian, great! God loves you, and intimacy with him is far better than anything this world can offer. Let any struggle with sexual frustration point you to the Lord.
Hope From the Shame of Masturbation
If you’re struggling with masturbation, my heart is not to cast shame on you or heap guilt. I want to encourage you to surrender to our good God and his ways which are always for our good.
Know that you’re not alone! Many people fail in this area daily. There are plenty of recovery groups and counselors at local churches where you can find help and encouragement.
Consider talking about this with a trusted friend. Struggling well together can bring us closer to God and other believers. In the case of my friend who asked for help, his authenticity and vulnerability certainly deepened our friendship.
Perhaps you came here today because you’re struggling, so you Googled “Is masturbation a sin in the Bible?” and found this article. Thanks for coming. I hope you find this to be a safe place to struggle well. But go to the Lord. Tell him your struggles. He wants to hear from us and has the best in store for his children. In Jeremiah 29:11-12, we’re told:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
So seek him, friend, and watch your union with him grow. He is a good father and won’t let you down even when people do.
What can you do today to reach out for help or perhaps help a struggling friend? What have you done in the past to get help with the issue of masturbation? We hope you consider sharing your thoughts and testimony below so that we can encourage each other.
Find hope from the shame of masturbation in the love of God from John 1.