Why do married men masturbate?

Married couple quarrels in bed. Depressed man sitting on the edge of the bed, focus on man

Jay Dee, a blogger who writes on his blog sexwithinmarrage.com, wrote a post entitled “Why do married men masturbate?” This is one of many blogs that I wish to respond to, as the Lord grants me the time. As believers our first and foremost responsibility is to bring honor and glory to God with our lives, but how we do that is sometimes where we disagree.

In my efforts to bring God glory, I am on a mission to set men free from the secular based tyranny of feminism on one side, and the religious based tyranny of Christian asceticism on the other side.

Feminism attacks masculinity (especially male sexuality) from the perspective that man’s physical, visual and polygynous sexual nature is somehow shallow. They attack men for looking at, or enjoying the view of beautiful women and accuse them of “objectifying woman”.

Asceticism is the belief that one must severely discipline his body, and avoid all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.

Christianity had its own form of asceticism begin while the Apostles were still preaching and Paul actually referenced it and attacked it (Colossians 2:18-23). Just think “monks in a monastery” and you will understand what asceticism when taken to its fullest extent.

The unfortunate truth is, there is still much Asceticism in the Church today, throughout almost every Christian denomination. Many good preachers and teachers, believing they are fighting for holiness and purity put the men in their churches under the yoke of bondage to asceticism.

I have written many positive affirmations on this site from a Biblical viewpoint, about man’s physical, visual and polygynous sexual nature. I encourage you to check them out.

With all that said as a background, I must call my brother in Christ to task on his false teaching that solo masturbation without one’s wife present is adultery. Jay Dee’s full post can be found at http://sexwithinmarriage.com/why-do-married-men-masturbate/

We see the same facts, but we interpret them very differently

Jay Dee starts out with facts about who masturbates. I will list just a few and add my response:

“In 1996 a Promise Keepers survey at a stadium event revealed that over 50% of the attending men were involved with pornography in the last week.  You can bet that number is lower than reality as most people wouldn’t admit it.  Plus, this is only in the last week.”

While Jay Dee would tell these men this was wicked, I would first ask these men what they were calling “pornography”. We must understand there is good and bad pornography, even Jay Dee on his site talks about “Christian Porn”. He simply narrowly defines it as husband and wife taking pictures of themselves, and they are the only ones that see them.

I would define “Christian Porn” in a broader sense as any imagery NOT containing group sex, bestiality, rape, underage minors, homosexuality or any kind abusive sexual behavior. What that means is, any picture of a naked woman by herself or any pictures of heterosexual sex between a man and a woman are completely acceptable by Biblical standards.

If you are thinking this is where lust comes in, you might not know what Biblical lust is. Lust is NOT simply being sexually aroused by someone of the opposite sex, it is the thought and intent to possess the person sexually outside of marriage.

I would first try to find out – how many of these men at Promise Keepers were looking at bad porn(as I have defined it above), and I am willing to bet I would shave that 50% number down quite a bit. But even for those men who were truly looking at bad porn, imagery that would violate God’s laws regarding sexuality, I would show them there is a better way, there is a way to enjoy their God given male sexuality without sin.

I would show them they can look at Christian porn, porn that stays within the boundaries of God’s design and laws for how we can enjoy our sexuality.

By the way here is a Christian site that does offer “Christian pornography” that stays within the bounds of God’s law – http://restoringchristiansexuality.com/christian-porn-galleries/

“29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group)”

So that means we need to convince the 71% percent of those who oppose viewing sexually explicit behavior to realize that sex, within God’s boundaries, is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with a married man or woman being turned on sexually by the site of someone of the opposite sex, it is what you do with that arousal that becomes sin or not. Are you thinking of looking up that person so you can find them and have sex with them? If not there is no lust, there is no sin here.

“61% of married Christian men masturbate”

Ok I would venture to guess that about 31% percent lied about not masturbating, and there might be actually 10% of married men who either are married to very sexually active women (women who want sex more than they do), or they are torturing themselves day in and day out, battling their sexual nature as designed by God, because someone like Jay Dee told them it was a sin.

Jay Dee quotes Matthew and gives his interpretation:

Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If you are masturbating and thinking about someone other than your wife, this is adultery.  Plain and simple.”

Sorry Jay Dee, but “looks lustfully” has nothing to do with sexual arousal or fantasy, it has to do with sexual covetousness as Paul states in Romans:

“for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7

So you, I or any other Christian man can enjoy the sight of, the image of, or the memory of any woman, married or single, and we can even masturbate to their beauty as long as we are not thinking of or scheming to try and actually possess them sexually outside of marriage.

Jay Dee then quotes Ephesians and give his interpretation:

Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Now, the standing that masturbating is sexual immorality is weak, so I’m not going to argue that one here.  But I will argue that a lot of spouses are masturbating out of greed.  They are taking what they want where they can get it instead of where God designed your sexual energy to be focused at (a man’s wife).”

Masturbation is not sexual immorality, and neither this passage, nor any other passage of Scripture says so. “The hint of sexual immorality” does not mean that no program we ever watch on TV, or any book we read can feature an unmarried couple that lives together, or has sex outside of marriage. The “hint” is regarding our own lives as Christians, we ourselves, cannot have a hint of sexual immorality in our own lives, whether that is sex outside of marriage, or adultery or any other kind of sexual sin.

Jay Dee does give us a “hint” of his own, where he is headed with his post when he says “God designed your sexual energy to be focused at (a man’s wife)”. I will respond to this when he fully reveals his thinking later.

Jay Dee continues:

1 Timothy 1:18-19 – Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

Here Paul tells Timothy to hold on to the faith and a good conscience.  As we saw earlier from the stats, most men who are masturbating do not have a clear conscious about it.”

I realize most men do not have a clear conscious about masturbating and do you know why? It is because they have been taught by their parents, their pastors and many others in our culture that this is somehow deviant or bad behavior. This is one of the main missions I have on this site, to help men rid themselves of the heavy burden of guilt that is put on them for masturbating, not by God, but by the traditions of men.

The last verse in this section Jay Dee quotes comes from I Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;

And a call to control yourself, to not be overtaken by passionate lusts.”

Again – masturbation is not sexual immorality. Lust is coveting something (thinking about to actually possess something) that God did not intend for us to have. God did not intend for us to have sex with a woman outside of marriage, so if we are having thoughts of how we can convince a woman, married or single, to have sex with us, without us first being married to her – then we have lusted. This is the “passionate lust” the Apostle Paul is speaking of.

But then Jay Dee comes to his true reason that he actually believes masturbation (apart from doing it with your spouse) is sin:

“But, I think the largest argument is not an explicit verse, but rather the overriding message of the Bible with regard to marriage and sexuality.  100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse.”

Really??? What Bible verse did you get that from? “100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse”?

It is interesting that he uses the term “sexual energy” because that encompasses the visual, the thoughts as well as the physical. Every jealous woman in America is applauding his “100%” percent rule, but that does not make it any more correct than when he uttered the statement.

I agree that 100% of any sexual touching or talking (oral sex, sexual kissing, manual sex and intercourse, phone sex, web cam sex) is to be only with a woman that we are married to. But we as men are no more disallowed from enjoying the view, and being aroused by the sight other beautiful women than we are of enjoying the sight of food or the smell of food that sits on another man’s plate. As long as we don’t try to sneak a bite of his food, or plot how to take it when he is not looking, we have not sinned.

Jay Dee then applies his principle of 100% sexual energy:

“That means when you are unmarried, you are not expending sexual energy.  Otherwise, by doing so, you are cheating on your future spouse.  We call this fornication.  When you are married, you focus all your energy on your spouse.  If you don’t, we call this adultery.  So, if one is married and masturbating alone, focusing his sexual energy on something other than his spouse (porn or an idealistic version of his wife, or just focusing on his own pleasure), then I’m going to call that adultery, and the Bible is very clear on that.”

Jay Dee is actually putting a huge yoke of bondage on young men, or married men (especially with those whose wives are sick or have very low sex drives) by saying “when you are unmarried, you are not expending sexual energy”. Apparently Jay Dee does not remember being a teenage boy or young man in college. Jay Dee has literally declared war on male sexuality with that statement.

God did not give men their sexual nature, only for them to completely suppress it until they are married. Again while his intentions may be good, Jay Dee’s teaching here is utterly false.

Men need to channel their sexuality and it is true they cannot experience their sexuality to its fullest with physical sexual contact with a woman, until they are married to that woman. God gives us this rule for many reasons, one of the biggest being for our own protection, and the protection of women.

But God did give young men the wonderful tool of masturbation. They can freely, and without any guilt whatsoever, enjoy the view of beautiful women and they can masturbate to those beautiful thoughts without feeling ONE BIT SINFUL.

Jay Dee in the end of his post, reveals why he has taken such a strong stand on masturbation:

“Now, I say this in all love, having struggled with all this before.  I have a 15 year history with porn addiction, from teenage years through most of my marriage.  There were times I could not perform sexually because I had already masturbated too many times that day.  There were times I avoided sexual encounters because I was worried my wife would realized I was being sexually active without her.  And at all times I was hiding something from my wife.”

Jay Dee has pulled what I call a “Billy Sunday”. What happens to many good Christian men is, because they used to abuse something that is not sinful in and of itself, they have to convince themselves that not just the abuse of it, but the thing itself is entirely sinful and of no use.

Billy Sunday was a famous Baptist preacher, who before he got saved, was baseball player. He was a horrible drunk and it almost ruined his life. So when he got saved, he was convinced that alcohol itself was the devils drink. He almost single handedly brought about prohibition by going throughout the country preaching against the evils of alcohol.

Now I fully believe alcohol can be abused, and if you think you might have a tendency to get drunk, or someone in your household has trouble with it, then you ought not to have it there. But if you know how to use it properly and in measure, God does not call alcohol a sin, only the abuse of it.

It is the same way with masturbation, since Jay Dee truly did abuse masturbation, where it caused him to have erectile dysfunction while performing his sexual duties with his wife,  and it caused him to sometimes avoid sex with his wife, he was sinning by masturbating TOO MUCH.  His erectile dysfunction may have been caused by his fear of his wife knowing about his masturbation, or because masturbating too much actually causes ED in many men, it makes no difference, the point is, his masturbation caused issues in his sex life with his wife.

What is this “hiding something from his wife”? What Scripture passage says a husband cannot hide anything from his wife? Some men have to hide money from their wives, even in separate bank accounts, so their wives won’t blow it all. Other men because of the secrecy of the work they do cannot share things with their wives.

Unless a husband is hiding something sinful, a man does not have to tell his wife everything he does. Certainly if a man is having an affair with another woman, that he ought to come clean and confess this “actual sin” to his wife. I am not advocating for hiding sin. But a man looking at beautiful women, or even keeping a collection of images of beautiful women and keeping it from his wife is not a sin.

Jay Dee ends by answering the main question:

“So, to answer the question, why do married men masturbate?  I think there are three reasons:

  1. Ignorance – They don’t realize what effect it might be having on their marriage

  2. Selfishness – They know but don’t care, they are just chasing an orgasm

  3. Addiction – Some are addicted, and they need help.  Loving, but firm, help.

My answer to why married men masturbate would follow more in line with Scripture, the sexual design of men by God, and biology:

  1. It is ignorant for a man NOT to masturbate, especially if he is a young man, because it will help him to learn about his body, keep him from ACTUALLY sinning(have sexual touch or relations with a woman)
  2. It is no more selfish for man to masturbate, then it is for him to eat food, it is part of the bodily design that God has given him.
  3. Yes just as someone can become addicted to food, they can become addicted to masturbation, apparently as Jay Dee was in his former life. But food is not sinful in and of itself, and neither is masturbation.
  4. Men masturbate because their sexual nature is much more physically based than a woman’s nature typically is (although there is nothing wrong with a woman masturbating either). His body needs that sexual release, else he can become cranky and frustrated, or he may fall into sin by having ACTUAL sex with a girl because he has not used the natural release valve God gave him – masturbation.

A word to Christian wives reading this post

You may have come hear, because you either caught your husband masturbating(for instance at his computer) or he admitted to you that he does – perhaps even feeling guilty about it. You can take the truths I have shown here, as well as the many articles on why masturbation can actually be healthy and good for a man(or a woman), and you can grow together and help him to not feel guilty.  Your marriage can grow stronger and closer as a result.

This will also require you to sacrifice your pride as a woman, the romantic ideals that you have been raised with that your husband should “only have eyes for you”. You will have to ask God to rid you of your jealousy (a problem that many women in the Bible faced). It will require you to fully accept your husband’s sexuality as God designed it, not as you would have it.

Your other option is to force your husband to war against his God given sexuality in a futile attempt to meet your jealous demands. But this war against his God given sexuality, will never be over, and you and he will continually find yourselves frustrated in in attempt to battle something God never intended for you to battle.

Christian wives – the choice is yours.


Jay Dee, like so many other Christian Ascetics we see online, in print, or in pulpits across America, is a good Christian man with good intentions. However as you can see in his post, he offers not ONE shred of Biblical support for his belief that masturbation is wrong because “100% of your sexual energy should be devoted to your spouse.”

A review of Michael Pearls Freedom from Addictions

Every Mans Battle1

Michael Pearl on his NoGreaterJoy.org site wrote an article entitled “Freedom From Addictions” – this article was forwarded to me by one of my loyal readers (thanks – Jeff). Obviously if you have read many of the articles on this site, especially those on masturbation and the viewing of erotica, I do not believe these practices are wrong, in and of themselves.

However I have stated many times on this site that engaging in masturbation and viewing erotica (even erotica that does not depict Biblically immoral behavior) can become wrong if we allow these things to control us, instead of us controlling them.

““Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.”

I Corinthians 6:12

For instance, food is good, and it gives us pleasure to eat our favorite dishes. However food can become bad if we live our entire lives for our next meal. The same principle applies to our sexuality, which is a gift from God. When experienced in measured amounts (just like eating in measured amounts and at appropriate times) the pleasure we receive from our sexuality can be a very good thing, and we don’t have to feel guilty about it.

But if you abuse the freedom God has given you with regard to your sexuality, and you spend every waking hour of the day looking at erotica and masturbating, then you are now being controlled by your sexuality, instead of you controlling your sexuality.

Michael Pearl’s full article – “Freedom From Addictions” can be found at http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/freedom-addictions/

With all that said – let me highlight some quotes by Mr. Pearl and show where I agree with him on some things, and disagree with him others.

Mr. Pearl states:

“Addiction is the state of being enslaved to a substance or habit, the cessation of which causes emotional distress or bodily trauma. It takes away from ordinary life responsibilities such as work, relationships, or health, and consumes a disproportionate amount of time and energy…

Addictions can be substance based, like drugs or alcohol, or non-substance based, like video games, social media, gossip, exercise, gambling, shopping, overeating, abusing one’s self, and pornography. Addiction comes through frequent and continual reliance upon the action as a source of pleasure. Any source of pleasure can become an addiction. All addictions begin with pleasure and turn to dependency.”

I completely agree with Mr. Pearl’s definition of Addiction as stated here.

Mr. Pearl States:

“Researchers can place you in a functional MRI (fMRI) machine and show you a series of pictures, noting the part of your brain that has activity, and how intense that activity is compared to the average subject.”

I have cited on multiple occasions the research findings from the book “His Brain, Her Brain” that confirm that there is actually a biochemical reaction that men get from seeing women, whether clothed, partially clothed or nude:

“the average man’s brain is sexually stimulated by visual cues and is built for variety…

Using functional MRI scans, researchers examined the brains of young men as they looked at pictures of beautiful women. They found that feminine beauty affects a man’s brain at a very primal level – similar to what a hungry person gets from a good meal or addict gets from a fix. One of the researchers said, “This is hard core circuitry. This is not a conditioned response.” Another concluded, “Men apparently cannot do anything about their pleasurable feelings [in the presence of beauty]”

Dr. Walt Larimore, MD – pg. 99 “His Brain, Her Brain”

So I agree for the most part with what Mr. Pearl said about MRI’s revealing what we are attracted to. I think it gets a little subjective when we start talking about what is normal “intensity” for one man, than another as I think some men are just more visual than others.

Mr. Pearl states:

“Some things are harmful (wrong) only when done in excess, like eating, shopping, use of electronic media, etc. But other things are harmful (wrong) from the very first experience, like drunkenness, getting high on drugs, or viewing pornography…”

Mr. Pearl mentions some things that are only wrong when done in excess – agreed. But then he lists some things that when done only once cause damage. One bout of drunkenness could cause damage, if your drove, operated machinery or tried to do many other things, so on that I would partially agree. However if a surgeon were operating on man and the only pain reliever he had was alcohol, then in this case it would be right for this surgeon to get this man drunk(and this drunkenness would not cause damage) before performing surgery, so as to alleviate the pain(“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish..” Proverbs 31:6).

But then we come to pornography. I agree that there is bad pornography that is harmful to a man even from the very first use of it. If a man is feeding his mind with images of homosexual sex (including lesbians), incest, orgies, swinger sex and other disgusting or perverted acts I agree this is harmful.

But Mr. Pearl would include under his definition of pornography, regular nudity, such as nude women, paintings, drawings, photos and movies of couples engaging in normal heterosexual sex. On this I would have to disagree with his inclusion of these as wrong for a Christian man to view when they are not.  These images do not violate God’s design of heterosexual sex and there is no shame or wrong in enjoying the sight of such images.

Mr. Pearl’s attack on man’s maleness

But then Mr. Pearl gets to one of his most false statements in this post:

“It takes repeated experience over a period of time to develop an addiction for alcohol or drugs. It takes longer to develop addictions to social media, gambling, gossip, and overeating. But the day a boy goes through puberty he is already addicted to pornography, for he is created to crave the female form in all of its beauty and lust. It just takes one glimpse at the naked form on a cell phone for a young boy to be fully addicted, like the former alcoholic who takes a single drink and finds himself entirely in the grip of the addiction he laid down ten years earlier. All young men are recovering pornography addicts and will remain so the rest of their lives, even if they have never seen the first image.”

Mr. Pearl takes a very negative view toward male sexuality, even more than I usually see from those Christians who believe similar to him.

So the day a boy starts puberty, he is already “addicted to pornography”? That is like saying the day a baby is born, they are “already addicted to food” because they have an instinctual desire to feed from their mother’s breast.

Instead of looking at a young boy’s coming of age, and his appreciation of the female form as a gift from God, Mr. Pearl sees male sexuality as a curse, a sin, something to be suppressed. Mr. Pearl’s attack on male sexuality is not found anywhere in the Word of God, but they are as Paul states in Colossians 2:22 – the “commands and doctrines of men”.

Mr. Pearl would claim he is not a Christian ascetic (a believer in the false heretical doctrine that says Christians are not to enjoy anything pleasurable – even sex with their own wife). But by his statement that when a boy starts puberty, he is “addicted to pornography” Mr. Pearl is falling into the error of Christian ascetism, he is just using a targeting his ascetism to particular practices which he deems to be immoral.

Lies told about erotica, and the real truth

It is possible, very possible, for a young man, a middle aged man, or even an elderly man to enjoy erotica that does not depict Biblically immoral acts, and also for a man to masturbate with or without these images and NOT become addicted to either one.

The great lie that is told by many Christian leaders (and even non-Christians who come from feminist backgrounds) is that erotica (which they lump in with true bad pornography) and masturbation always lead to addictive and deviant behavior that becomes more and more depraved.

The truth is that this does not have to be the case. In fact, the reason that people do perverted things is not because of Erotica, or even because of truly bad pornography (which is wrong), but because they already had this evil in their heart to do long before they ever looked at a photograph.

Let me describe the process that happens to many Christian men (and see if this describes anything you have gone through as a man).

The act sex between a man and woman is reserved for marriage, our sexuality is not

As Christian men, we are raised by our Christian parents, and taught by our Christian churches to believe that sex is reserved for marriage. This is a very Biblical concept, not just a tradition.

“Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.”

Hebrews 13:4

This passage from Hebrews makes it clear that God only sees one kind of sexual contact between a man and a woman (and only a man and woman – see Romans 1:27) as honorable, and that is within the bounds of marriage. Premarital sex, homosexual sex, orgies, adultery and all other sexual acts between two persons outside of the marriage bed are by definition dishonorable, and will be judged by God.

However, while God calls us as Christian men to wait until we are within the protected bounds of marriage to have sex with a woman, he does not tell us as men that we must suppress our entire sexuality until we are married.

Many people have a hard time with the concept that our sexuality, and the act of sex between two persons are two very different things, but they are different.

The first signs of womanhood and manhood

For a young woman, the first sign of her womanhood is the day the she gets her first period. For young man, the first sign of his manhood is the first time he receives pleasure from the site of a woman’s body. It is as though a switch flips, one day he notices nothing, and the next day a whole new world opens to this young man.

Sometimes he finds himself looking at a woman’s cleavage as she passes by. He goes to school one day, and all of sudden he notices that his 24 year old school teacher is attractive. Where did this come from? One day she was just his teacher, the next day, she was a woman. The next time she comes by his desk to help him with something, it takes all he can muster for him not to look at her cleavage as she bends over his desk to help him with his school work.

Many Christians would tell this young man that he must suppress his desire, and the refuse to take pleasure from viewing any woman’s form (whether fully clothed or unclothed). They will train him to “look away” if a woman’s cleavage comes into his view, and to think of other things when his mind begins to wonder what a woman looks like without her clothing on.

 Mr. Pearl’s techniques for suppression of male sexuality

“I promised to tell you how to be free from your addiction. The thing that has prevented you from ceasing your disgusting behavior is the misery you feel when you cease partaking… Science tells us that it takes about 45 days to wean the brain off of an addiction and rewire it so that it does not punish your attempt at abstinence. They sum it up in two words, “Reject and Replace.” Reject the old habit no matter the emotional cost, and, just as importantly, replace the old pleasure source with a new pleasure that is wholesome. Stop drinking and start exercising, or learning to play a musical instrument, or learn a new language, or take up that hobby you always dreamed of. Stop viewing pornography and start running or swimming or studying something interesting.”

Mr. Pearl – it is no more “disgusting” for a man to masturbate to an image of a beautiful woman than it is for you to see a commercial for your favorite food, then go home and eat that food when you are hungry. God reserves the act of sex for marriage, but our sexuality does not have to be repressed until marriage.

This is why God gave us the tool of masturbation, so that we could experience our sexuality without violating his laws before we are married. Even within marriage, masturbation can be a wonderful tool to balance out libido differences between a man and woman, and also help when either spouses has medical condition that temporarily makes them unavailable for sex with their spouse.

The absurdity of Mr. Pearl’s “50 day rule”

Mr. Pearl’s “50 day rule” may or may not apply to many real addictions, but it does not apply to things built into our human nature, like our two hungers, one for food and one for sex. You won’t lose your sexual desire for women, or you the pleasure you receive from the female form (even fully clothed) just because you stop looking at erotica for 45 days.

Most people have a natural need for human contact. If you take a person and locked them in solitary confinement away from all human contact for 45 days, do you think all of a sudden they would not need any human contact?

This is the utter absurdity of what Mr. Pearl is teaching with his 50 day rule. It is rubbish plain and simple.

In fact I would argue that suppression of normal sexuality actually leads true perversion. Many men who feel trapped in their own male bodies by their natural male sexuality, instead of looking at erotica that does not depict Biblically immoral acts, look at images with group sex, lesbian sex and all kinds’ images of immoral behavior. This is because they believe “if I am going to sin, I am might as well sin big”, then of course after they sin by looking at true pornography, they have a sudden rush of guilt that befalls them after they are done. This is cycle many good men of God fall into.

There is a better way

Instead of this cycle of guilt, there is a better way, a way to experience your sexuality, and that is to look at erotica that DOES NOT violate God’s law. Then when you masturbate, you have NOTHING to feel guilty about. I hope to spread this truth to as many Christian men as I possibly can, and I hope those of you reading this who agree with me will do the same.

You can choose to stop being ashamed of your God given male sexuality. You can learn to experience and enjoy your male sexuality to its fullest, both before marriage and after marriage all within the bounds of God’s law.

See my post – “Overcoming the Guilt Associated with Masturbation” for many Scripture passages that will help you on your journey out of Christian Asceticism and into Christian freedom.

Besides masturbation, you don’t have to be ashamed of glancing at beautiful women and enjoying the pleasure of their form. See this great series from BiblicalGenderRoles.com – How should Christian women respond to their men looking at other women

At the end of the article form Biblical Gender Roles, there is a helpful section for men about how to experience their male sexuality(enjoying the view of women around them) without acting in a ungentlemanly manner.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture passages are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

Is masturbation selfishness for a Christian?

Man looking in his underwear

Is masturbation a selfish activity for a Christian? Does it violate the Biblical concept of putting God first, others second and ourselves last?

As believers in Christ, one of the first Biblical principles we learned growing up is that true joy comes from putting God and others first. We were taught this simple acronym:

Jesus first: Jesus Christ, his will, and his glory should be the first concern we have as make our daily decisions and plans for life. In fact Jesus said if we loved others more than him, even our family more than him, we were not worthy of him.

Others second: The second group is others. This would be your wife and children, parents and then all others. In other words you take care of your family before you take care of yourself, and then you take care of brothers and sisters in Christ before yourself, and then strangers before yourself.

Yourself last: What I always found interesting in church is, when they got to the “You” part of joy, they rarely said much and moved on, it was simply a place holder, to remind us we always come last before Christ and others.

The JOY acronym is a very Biblical and Christian concept that we find all throughout the Old and New Testaments, here are just a few passages from the Gospel of Matthew which illustrate these important truths:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40(NIV)

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Matthew 10:37(NIV)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24(NIV)

There is absolutely no question that God calls on us a believers to put him first, others second and ourselves last.

In fact in Matthew 10:37, we are called to “deny” ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.

Doesn’t putting yourself last and denying yourself make masturbation wrong?

In light of the Scriptures I have just presented, many Christians throughout the centuries and still even today have believed that Christians must deny themselves all forms of pleasure, whether it be having sex with our spouses, eating foods we enjoy or participating in sporting or leisure activities.

Masturbation has been has been seen by many Church leaders and Christians as the antithesis of the “self-denial” that we are called to in the Scriptures.

But before I answer these weighty charges against masturbation from a Biblical JOY perspective, let’s look at some other Biblical passages:

“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.”

Exodus 23:12(NIV)

 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:18(NIV)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31(NIV)

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Ephesians 5:21(KJV)

While there are many passages in the Bible that illustrate the JOY principle, there are also many passages that address us taking care of our bodies, as the care of our bodies is indeed important to God. Throughout the Old Testament we see the God is interested in the health and cleanliness of our physical bodies.

God did not rest on the 7th day because he needed to, he rested to provide an example for us, as physical beings to give our bodies the refreshment, and nourishment they need. While we are no longer under the Sabbath law, I believe the principle of the Sabbath still remains, that we are to give our bodies the proper rest and refreshment they need.

God does not say it is wrong to love or care for or meet the needs of our body. Where we sin is when we abuse our bodies with drugs, alcohol or unbiblical Christian activities amongst other things.

In fact when I deny my body the rest it needs, by constantly working 7 days a week, and months on end with no rest, I am dishonoring God by neglecting the needs of my body.

It is one thing to fast and pray for a short time, and fasting can actually cleanse the body. But fasting for too long can cause great harm and damage to the body. So even fasting, when abused, can become a sinful and dishonoring activity to God.

The body needs a sexual release, and when it does not get one sinful thoughts can begin to creep in. I wrote an entire post on the subject of how Masturbation can actually help to keep you sexually pure. When we neglect our bodies the need for sexual release, even through masturbation, we dishonor our body, and we dishonor God.

Let me ask you something, if you purposefully withheld having bowel movements, or urinating, for days or weeks on end, and thus hurting your body, would you think this somehow honors God?

Anything that is not sinful, that our body needs to perform, whether it is eating, drinking, bowel movements, urinating, passing gas, having sex with our spouse and yes even masturbation by ourselves brings honor to God. Why? Because we are using are bodies as they were designed to be used, we are caring for our bodies and meeting the needs of our bodies, in ways that are not sinful.

Now even the natural needs of the body can abused, when we do things out of place or in the wrong way.

Passing gas with just family or friends might be amusing, but passing gas in front of strangers or in the middle of a church service would not be honoring to God.

Having sex with our spouse honors God, but if I start sticking my tongue down my wife’s throat in front of her parents, that may not be so honoring because of the time and place.

For masturbation it is the same, in the privacy of my home it is one thing. To just jump out in front of visitors or others and start masturbating would be wrong, again it would be the wrong time and place.

An illustration from massage

Many Christians will say that the only legitimate God honoring way to relieve sexual tension, or sexual hunger is through intercourse with our spouse when we are married, they say to masturbate is the just pure selfishness.

Imagine if we applied this same principle to those who have neck and shoulder tension. That would be like saying we can only get relief by having our spouse rub our neck or shoulders, and it would be wrong to use some massage device on ourselves, or get a massaging chair and have that work out the tension for us.

Many Christians simply refuse to look at masturbation as a legitimate means by which God gave man the ability to relieve sexual as well as other stresses that we may face in life.


It is absolutely true that God calls us to put him first, others second and ourselves last. But this principle does not make masturbation anymore wrong than us eating or having bowel movements is wrong.

It is not wrong to take care of the needs of our body, whether it getting proper rest, eating, having bowel movements, having sex with our spouses, and yes even masturbating when we need sexual relief, in fact I would say that we are honoring God when we take care of these various needs of our physical body.

When I get proper rest each day – I am honoring God because I am caring for the body he has given me.

When I take a day, or even two days off (when I don’t work Saturday) – I am honoring God by giving my body the refreshment and rest it needs.

When I eat my favorite foods, I am honoring God by caring for the body he gave me. (Obviously if I eat too much of my favorite foods then this same activity can become the sin of gluttony).

When I have sex with my wife, I am honoring God by giving her my body, as well as the sexual release that both our bodies need.

When I have a bowel movement, I am honoring God, by relieving my body of the waste that it needs to.

And yes, even when I masturbate, if it is done in a correct way, and under the right circumstances, I am honoring God by relieving the sexual tension that has built up in my body.

Not only are things like eating, sex with our spouses and masturbation needs of our bodies, but God has also given us these things for our joy and pleasure.

God calls to put him first, and to deny our SINFUL desires, he does not call us to deny the legitimate needs and desires of our bodies, we have only to keep them in balance, and do things in the proper time and place.

Masturbation is not a selfish activity anymore than eating food is selfish, it is all how much, when, where and under what circumstances it is done.

Is masturbation wrong for a Christian?

Midsection Of Shirtless Man Holding Laptop In Bed

Masturbation is not wrong for a Christian, in fact it is right and healthy for a Christian (as well as non-Christians). Masturbation can be abused, or used in conjunction with sinful activity, but masturbation in and of itself is not a sin.

Let’s address the Onan in the room

In the Bible there is a character named Onan. He was one of the sons of Judah (a father of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Onan broke God’s law and God struck him dead for it.

The law that Onan broke was the law of Leveratite marriage. Hundreds of years before God had Moses write the first written law of God, God’s law was known only through oral transmission, but his law was known.

The law of Leveratite marriage said that if a man married a woman, and then died before they had any son’s to bear his name and take over his property then one of his brothers would be required to marry her and give her a son. Her first born son would legally not be the son of the brother who married her, but he would be the heir of his sister-in-law’s dead husband. Any children they had together after that could be consider their children together.

Just as a side note, there is no exemption in the Law of Moses for if the brother already had a wife. The Old Testament did not forbid polygamy, it allowed it, and in the case of Levirate marriage it commanded it in the case of a brother already having a wife.

So with all that as backdrop here was the sin that Onan committed:

6 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.

7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.

8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.

Genesis 38:6-10(KJV)

Judah’s first son was wicked (we are not told how) and God struck him dead. Then Judah commanded his second son Onan to go in to his sister-in-law, Tamar, and “raise up seed to thy brother”, a direct reference to Leveratite marriage. But he knew the child would not be his, and he did not want to give his brother an heir.

The next part is critical – the Bible says he “went in unto his brother’s wife” – this is a direct reference to sexual intercourse. The Bible typically uses two phrases to denote sexual intercourse – phrases like “he knew his wife” or “he went in unto his wife”. What Onan did here when he “spilled it on the ground”, was literally to pull out before ejaculating. This was not masturbation, it was pulling out.

Even if someone could try to show that he did masturbate (which the context clearly shows he did not), that was not the sin God struck him dead for. He was struck dead for violating the Law of Leveratite marriage and also for his attempted deception. He was willing to enjoy the pleasure of his brother’s wife, but he was not willing to fulfill his duty to give her a son.

There is no other passage in all the Bible that talks about a man spilling his seed. But that does not mean that many Christians throughout the centuries have not tried other routes to try and make masturbation a sin.

Aren’t we supposed to deny ourselves?

Some would make the argument that the very definition of masturbation is “self-gratification”, therefore it must still be sin. The Bible talks often about self-denial a lot. Here are few passages:

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24(NASB)

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Romans 8:13(KJV)

Let’s just take these two Bible passages as they are great examples to begin this discussion. In Matthew 16 Jesus is talking about the cost of following him while he was on earth. The disciples gave up their homes and everything they had to follow him. Is there some spiritual application as well?

Yes – God does call us to deny ourselves in his service, but what we are denying is our sinful nature. We are not called to deprive our body of food and water (except if we willingly decide we want to fast for a short time).

Not all the desires of the body are sinful, we hunger, we thirst, we desire sex, we desire to have children, we desire to work and have purpose in our lives. Any normal desire can become sinful, when we become unbalanced. We can become gluttons if we eat too much. We become whores when we sleep around and have sex outside of marriage. We become greedy when we work too much and neglect our families.

But what is “living after the flesh”?

In the Bible sometimes the flesh just means, the human body. The Bible says Christ came in the flesh, that he became flesh and dwelt among us. So there are many times when flesh does not have a negative connotation. But other times, “flesh” can be a euphemism for the sinful nature. Those things which we are tempted to do, which would violate God’s law. The Bible lists many of the sins of the flesh in this passage:

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21(KJV)

I don’t see masturbation in that list – do you?


It is one thing to lie together with the sole will of generating: this has no fault. It is another to seek the pleasure of flesh in lying, although within the limits of marriage, this has venial fault.

– St. Augustine, one of the most famous Ascetics in history


Asceticism occurred in Christianity as well as other cultures and religions around the world. Just think of monks, whether Christian or Hindu, other similar groups. Asceticism is the idea that by denying one’s self of all or most worldly pleasures, that one can attain a greater spiritual level. Christian monks believed it would bring them closer to God.

So they ate very simple foods, abstained from marriage and many other worldly pleasures. They even taught people who were not monks and who were married, that they should have sex only for procreation and then take vows of celibacy within marriage(yes that is totally crazy, but married couples did take vows of celibacy).

The Apostle Paul was fighting against asceticism rising up in the churches when he wrote these words:

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ…

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Colossians 2:8 & 20-23(NIV)

Although the primary reason for the next passage from Paul was about his rights as an apostle, it also talks about the basic rights any man has:

4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

I Corinthians 9:4(NIV)

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

I Timothy 4:1-5(NIV)

It is unfortunate that right after the Apostles died the war against asceticism in the church was lost and many of the early church father’s came to embrace asceticism. This asceticism reigned supreme throughout the Catholic Church, and even when the Protestants came to question many Catholic teachings, they left much of the church’s asceticism intact.

When Paul talks about “in later times”, he was referring to his own time. Paul truly believed he was living in the last days before Christ’s return. He is talking about the asceticism that had already come into the church. He holds no punches and calls this out as evil and wicked.

I think a key phrase here can be found in I Timothy 4:4, when Paul says “For everything God created is good”. When God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden, as fully sexual beings, he called his creation “good”. Christian asceticism teaches men to treat their bodies “harshly”, it tells them to “touch not, handle not, taste” not. The problem is these are based on human tradition and not God’s Word. God has given us food, drink, sex and children, and the satisfaction of a hard day’s work for our own pleasure. These are not things to run from, they are things to embrace.

Now are some people, a few specially chosen people, called by God to live celibate lives as both Christ and Paul told us? Yes. But they are the exception, and not the norm. No person should embark on the celibate life without a lot of prayer and consideration to make sure they truly have the gift of celibacy.

The rest of us, the majority of us, do not have the gift of celibacy, but instead we have the gift of sex.

But isn’t sex reserved for marriage?

Yes and No. Yes – Sexual intercourse, oral sex or any other sex between a man and woman are reserved for marriage. Homosexuality and sex with animals is completely forbidden. But nowhere is the act of giving one’s self an orgasm forbidden anywhere in the Bible. This act used to be called masturbation and in recent times is called solo-sex.

As I said earlier, the false teachings of Christian Asceticism taught that God only created sex as a necessary evil for procreation. They taught that God only made sex for having babies and that was it.

But the truth is that God created our sex drive, and our subsequent ability to have an orgasm for these three reasons:

  1. Pleasure, and relaxation. Viewing the opposite sex, especially for men, can be very pleasurable. Having an orgasm can relieve stress and relax a person.
  2. In the context of marriage, sex goes even further than pleasure and relaxation, and draws a couple closer together. It helps them to express their love, it takes on a spiritual meaning in representing the oneness of Christ with his church.
  3. Also in the context of marriage, sex is meant for procreation. God never intended for couples to get married and purposefully never have children. While having children is certainly not the only reason for which God designed sex, it definitely is one of the primary purposes he had in mind.

Sex and Communion have something have in common?

Yep I said it and now I will back it up. The desire to have sex, and the desire to eat are either called “base” or “primal” urges. They actually originate in the same part of the brain. The same area of the brain that makes a man hungry when he sees an image of food he likes or smells food he likes is the same area that gives him pleasure when he sees a beautiful woman, or smells her perfume, or even natural scent.

Normally when we eat, it is to sustain us, but often times it is purely for pleasure (i.e. junk food). We try to choose foods we like, or we see or smell some food we would like to try and we eat it.

But when we take communion, it takes on a spiritual meaning. Yes we are still eating, but in communion this eating takes on a completely spiritual meaning. Here is a “base” operation of our body, being used to represent a beautiful spiritual symbol. It represents the unity of the church, as well as the remembrance of Christ’s broken body and shed blood for us.

In a similar way, sex in the context of marriage takes on a dual meaning. Communion only has one purpose, and that is to symbolize Christ’s sacrifice for us and the unity of his church. But sex (another “base” desire) has dual purposes and meanings. In one sense it is meant for physical pleasure and relaxation and also to draw us closer to our spouse. But it also has a second meaning, a spiritual meaning. In marriage it represents the unity of Christ and his church.

So how does this relate to masturbation?

The point is that masturbation is purely a physical expression of our sexuality, and it does not take on the dual meaning of sex within marriage. Basically masturbation is not much different than having a bowel movement.

The only difference between a bowel movement and masturbation is that masturbation not only relieves physical stress, but also helps to clear the mind as well.

Can masturbation be unhealthy or wrong?

Masturbation can be unhealthy or wrong under these circumstances:

  1. You are compulsively masturbating to the point that it interferes with your job or other interpersonal relationships.
  2. If it stops you from seeking out relationships and ultimately marriage to the opposite sex.
  3. If it interferes with intimacy in your marriage, or makes you somehow unable to perform sexually with your spouse.
  4. You are watching people looking at bad porn(group sex, homosexual sex, rape sex, violent sex, as opposed to normal heterosexual sex as God designed it).

What are healthy ways a Christian can masturbate?

The first thing to realize is that it is very difficult for many people, especially men, to masturbate without some sort of visual stimulation (either in print, or using some images in our mind). In fact it can be a down right grueling experience without these things.

Certain types of porn – those of just naked women or couples engaging in normal heterosexual sex as God designed it are an option. I realize what I just said probably made you fall out of your chair. Let me refer you to the topic Christian porn(porn that falls within Biblical boundaries) as discussed on a great Christian Porn site(one the only ones I know of):

The Difference between Good Porn and Bad Porn

Why Porn is not bad for Christians or anybody else

The Bible does talk about us not “uncovering the nakedness” of our close relatives. But this was a euphemism for incest. The Bible was forbidding sex between close relatives. There is also a famous story about Ham seeing his father Noah naked, but this was not a command about nakedness. The issue was that he was mocking his father’s nakedness after he got drunk, that was his sin.

But isn’t looking at nude pictures lust?

Biblically speaking lusting is thinking about possessing someone or something that does not belong to us. For instance if you look at a young woman and are sexually aroused by her, or imagine how she looks naked, there is no sin. Actually having sex with that young woman, is reserved for marriage. You cannot possess her sexually without first marrying her. To think thoughts of how to entice a young woman to have sex with you outside of marriage is a form of covetousness.

Even when viewing someone married to someone else, the sin is not in the arousal or the imagination of that person, it is in the coveting. If you begin to have covetous thoughts about how you may lure them to have sex with your or leave their husband you have sinned.

So yes it is healthy for you to masturbate using nude pictures, paintings or drawings, or even porn(that stays within the heterosexual bounds(one man, one woman), not group sex or homosexual sex).

I have pretty much have covered the issues surrounding how to masturbate in a healthy way. Now I want to cover healthy reasons why we should masturbate.

What are healthy reasons why we should masturbate?

  1. To relieve the various stresses of life, work and other issues (as long as it does make us remove ourselves from interpersonal relationships.)
  2. To make up for differences in sexual drive between a husband and wife. Even in a healthy marriage, there times when our sex drives just don’t measure up, but we don’t want to bother the other spouse. In these times it is ok to masturbate to balance out the differences in drive.
  3. When married couples are separated by long distances – a good example would be when men are in the military.
  4. For married men to fulfill their need for sexual variety. It is not wrong for a married man to view nude images (not fornicating images) of various women and masturbate.
  5. For single Christian men and women to avoid fornication. This is one of the biggest reasons young teens and adults should not be shamed for masturbating, but should in fact be encouraged to masturbate. Many a teen or young adult would not have had pre-marital sex if they felt masturbation was an acceptable alternative.

The four reasons I give above are primary reasons why we should masturbate. There is one other that I wanted to treat separately because it is more complicated. More often than not this issue affects women more than men. Some women simply have a hard time having an orgasm through intercourse. It is just a medical fact. Even after exploring all the possible physiological and physical issues it just is difficult for some women.

These same women don’t feel like asking their husbands every time they have sex to manually stimulate them or perform oral sex (but husbands should be willing to do this if asked). So at some point these women may go off on their own and masturbate to give themselves some relief. Some women don’t need this, or rarely need it, others need it almost every time.

There is no sin in this behavior. Ladies, I would just give a word of caution that you make sure you have tried everything first with your husband to try and have orgasms with him. Many women find, (and their husbands do as well) that when they both take the pressure off her to have an orgasm during intercourse she actually has one!

Conclusion and Application

It is not a sin to masturbate. Masturbation can be abused like anything else (including eating). But when done in a healthy way, and for the right reasons, masturbation can be wonderful part of the gift of sexuality that God has given us.