I have had many Christian men ask me about this question and I decided it was time to take on the “guilt” side of masturbation. For some it was a parent scolding them and for others it was a Sunday school teacher or Pastor telling them that masturbation was a heinous sin the eyes of God. Perhaps it was the stories told of a man named Onan in the Bible who was killed for masturbating.
Guilt is not a bad thing, if we are feeling it for actual sin. But often times as believers, we are made to feel guilty for things that are not sins. Christian teachers add things to God’s law, and then try and heap guilt on other believers for doing things that God has given us the freedom in Christ to do.
I am not saying all these teachers have nefarious motives. Many of them are guided by good intentions, and they genuinely believe they are serving God by teaching men to not only fight against sexual sin, but to also suppress their God-given, male sexuality.
The way to fight guilt about masturbation, is the same solution to most every problem in the Christian life. We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts, memorize his Word, and mediate upon it. Below I list 8 Biblical principles, and the Scriptures upon which they are founded. If you will just mediate upon these passages, I promise that the guilt of masturbation will eventually fade from your mind, and will become only a bad memory. You can finally have that peace that passes all understanding.
God recognizes masturbation as a normal bodily function
In Leviticus 15, God recognizes three distinct bodily functions. The first is a man having an emission of semen, separate and distinct from having sex with a woman. The second emission of semen is during sex with a woman. The third discharge, is the blood a woman has when she menstruates. What is interesting here is God never says any of these bodily functions are sin, because if they were a sacrifice would have to be made. Instead they were only “unclean” until evening. This had to do with disease prevention, and nothing to do with sin. If God though a man having an emission of semen was sinful, then he would have demanded a sacrifice for it.
Onan was not killed for masturbating
First of all, the context of Genesis 38:6-10 is not even of masturbation, but of “pulling out”. This is when a man is about to ejaculate while having sexual intercourse, he pulls out to let his semen fall on the ground.
For centuries, and even to this day, some Church teachers have wrongly taught that God struck down Onan for masturbating. This could not be further from the truth. The truth of the matter is, he was struck down for not fulfilling his duty of Leveratite marriage to raise up an heir for his brother’s estate, and especially for the deceptive way in which he did it. He would enjoy his brother’s wife sexually, but instead of doing his duty and ejaculating inside her to give her a child, he would pull out. This was the heinousness of his crime and the reason God struck him dead.
Masturbation is NOT selfishness
A common tactic of anti-masturbation Church teachers is to claim that masturbation is an act of selfishness. First let us point out that the Scriptures never teach that masturbation is a selfish activity. As stated in Biblical truth #1, God even acknowledges masturbation as normal bodily function, in the same vein as sexual intercourse and women having periods. If masturbation was a sin, he would have stated it was in Leviticus 15, instead of comparing it to activities we know are not sin, such as sexual intercourse and a woman menstruating.
Put another way, if masturbation is a selfish activity, then so is having sex with one’s wife, and so is a woman having her period. Masturbation is no more selfish than it is to eat or drink, or to have a bowel movement. These are all natural bodily functions. Is it selfish to enjoy our favorite meal? Is it selfish to sit in a bath tub and enjoy a hot bath? Is selfish to take a vacation day and relax? Is it selfishness to read our favorite book or watch our favorite movie? No! Selfishness is not taking care one’s own body, or experiencing various pleasures that God allows, selfishness is when we ONLY think of our needs and wants, and not the needs and wants of anyone else around us.
Masturbation is not the cause of Lust, Masturbation is the cure for Lust
1 Corinthians 10:13(HCSB)
Masturbation is not the temptation! This a lie that Satan wants us to believe, and many Church leaders throughout the centuries after the Apostles died, fell for this lie and many other lies. The temptation is to have premarital sex, or adulterous sex, or homosexual sex, the temptation is to commit sexual immorality.
Masturbation is actually the “way of escape” that God has given us to relieve our minds of the temptation to sin. Take for instance if a young collage age man is feeling tempted about having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. If he masturbates just before he goes on this date, his temptation to have pre-marital sex with be greatly lessened.
If a man is being denied sexually by his wife, and perhaps he is tempted by a woman at his work, masturbating can relieve this temptation.
Satan wants us to take away the gift of masturbation that God has given us, so that we will be more tempted to commit actual sexual sins.
Sexual arousal and Sexual Fantasy are not Lust
A common tactic used by many Church teachers is, if they will admit that the Bible never condemns masturbation specifically, they will say it condemns it implicitly because they say being sexually aroused by someone of the opposite sex you are not married to is lust, and this usually precedes, or comes during masturbation (sexual thoughts of another person). I actually agree that masturbation without any fantasy at all is very difficult, and can actually be very frustrating.
But the entire premise is wrong. Jesus never condemned sexual arousal or sexual fantasy in Matthew 5:27-28, what he condemned is the desire to possess another man’s wife. Literally he condemning sexual covetousness – which is the strong desire and the fantasizing about actually taking possession of a woman outside of marriage.
A man simply being aroused by the site of a beautiful woman is not Lust. Even if that man imagines what it would be like to have sex with that woman, still no lust has occurred. It is when he begins to plot, to think about how he could lure that woman into having sex with him outside of marriage, then he has lusted, then he has truly coveted her. And if he does not catch and confess his covetous thoughts, they may lead him to the physical act of adultery, instead of just the mental act of adultery.
Is it not wrong for a young man to look upon, and sexually desire single young women
Can anyone seriously say with a straight face that they think Job was saying he never looked at any young ladies, or never thought any young ladies were pretty? That is not what he is talking about at all in Job 31. What Job is talking about is lusting after young women, and lusting in this case is a man thinking about, plotting, how to get young virgins into bed with him outside of marriage.
This builds upon Biblical truth #5, but more specifically targets young men, whether they be teenagers or young college students. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a young man sexually desiring, or getting sexual pleasure from looking at the young woman around him. There is nothing wrong with masturbating to thoughts about them either. In fact as we talked about in Biblical Truth #4, masturbation may keep you from having premarital sex with that young woman you are dating.
Masturbation glorifies God
I Corinthians 10:31(HCSB)
“How does masturbating glorify God?” This is another question that might arise in your mind, or one that has been presented to you by a Christian who opposes masturbation. The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10 that even our eating and drinking has the capacity to glorify God. These are normal bodily functions that God has given us not only for survival, but also for our enjoyment. Therefore we honor God in any bodily function we perform, and even in the enjoyment of our body as long it does not violate God’s commands or his principles for Holy living. It also glorifies God by helping to keep us from real sexual sin (Biblical Truth #4)
Do not submit to unbiblical rules and teachings that forbid masturbation
Colossians 2:18 & 21-23(HCSB)
Asceticism is the idea that by avoiding all things that give us pleasure in this world, we can attain a higher state of spirituality. This false teaching is not unique to Christianity and is found in many other faiths. Monks are good examples of those who follow ascetic teachings, denying themselves all forms of pleasure thinking it will bring them closer to God.
Asceticism had already crept into the Church while the Apostles were still alive and writing God’s Word. This is exactly what Paul was fighting against in Colossians 2. Unfortunately, not long after the Apostles died Asceticism poured into the churches. Eventually you had church teachers even teaching that it was a sin for a married couple to take pleasure in sex. Sex was seen only as a necessary evil for producing children and it was common for early church leaders to have married couples take vows of celibacy, lest they indulge in this “worldly pleasure”.
While modern Church teachers today no longer condemn taking pleasure from sex within marriage, they still continue to repress the normal sexuality with which God has designed us all. Some of these Christian teachers actually teach young teenage boys that it is a sin for them to become aroused by the site of beautiful young girls around them. Still others teach that if a man is engaged to his girlfriend, he must confess every sexual thought or fantasy he has about her until they are actually married.
Modern Christian teachers still condemn masturbation, teaching unbiblical doctrines that ever emission of semen a man has must be with his wife during sex. However we can clearly see from Leviticus 15 that God acknowledges men having emissions of semen – WITHOUT their wives present, masturbation. He never condemns it and puts in the same category the natural bodily functions of having sexual intercourse with your wife, or a woman having a bloody discharge from her period.
Don’t let anyone steal your joy, or take away the “escape” or the pleasure that God has given you through his wonderful gift of masturbation. Always return to these 8 Biblical truths – and enjoy the freedom, not to sexually sin, but to enjoy what God has given you.
Just remember – Christian teachers not too many centuries ago were telling married couples that they could not even enjoy sexual intercourse together!