Is it a sin according to the Bible?
By Pastor Steve Van Nattan

This topic promises to get me into trouble  :-)    Nevertheless, here it is.

It is customary for those who write books for teens and youth to caution them against masturbation.  Beyond this, many will even find a way to say it is a sin.  So, what does the Bible say on masturbation.


There is virtually nothing said in the Bible about masturbation.


There is one text used against masturbation.

Genesis 38:9 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.

This text cannot be applied to masturbation.  The whole context is in regard to a man trying to engineer which of his wives will give birth to the first son and thus the heir.  Onan displeased God in that God did not want his people manipulating His sovereignty.  The point is not wasting the "seed," the point is about cruel control of destiny and degrading of the wife.

Other than this sort of thing, masturbation is not found in the Bible.


Reason is the tool of the apologist from here on out.  He will reason that sex is for marriage and procreation.  He will not talk about sex being pleasurable.  Many saints really do think sex is only to make babies.  Note Solomon on sex....

Proverbs 5:15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.

18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

Solomon clearly talks about pleasure in sex, and procreation has NOTHING to do with it.  The fountain is a discreet reference to the man's pleasure in copulation.  The graphical language is very obvious.  The sin would only be in sharing the fountain with anyone other than the god-given wife.  In the right setting, the fountain is to be very busy for a godly man and women.

Song of Solomon 7:8 I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;

There would be a lot less stress in Christian marriage if husbands and wives talked to each other in these terms.  Also, note that procreation is not mentioned ONCE in Song of Solomon.  The satisfaction of sexual love is everywhere in the book, and it is of God and good.

So, masturbation cannot be pushed into the sin category by saying that copulation is only for having babies.

The next trick the alleged experts will use is that masturbation is selfish.

Well then, so is eating a chocolate bar.  If I eat a chocolate bar and enjoy it, am I selfish.  It gratifies my need for pleasure in food, and that too is sanctioned by David, Solomon, and others as they describe special feast type foods which satisfy me.  So, that one won't fly either.

The next trick is to say that there are many things the Bible does not mention, but we know that they are sin by other contexts.  Things like smoking and drug abuse will be cited.  

Well, masturbation was not some late thing to come along which Bible writers did not know about.  Adam could have conceivably masturbated if he had wanted to.  I note that God gave council on much to do with sexual things, and He made it very clear which things were sin or forbidden:

1.  Adultery

2.  Fornication

3.  Sodomy

4.  Having sex with your wife in the dog position (This is suspect, and I think it actually came from the Talmud).

5.  Women grabbing a man's testicles during a fight

6.  Having sex with an animal

I suppose I missed something, but you see the point.  Masturbation is so common, and it is available to both men and women, that we must not assume it into the sin category when God made NO comment at all on the subject.

Also, young people, as they gain sexual performance in early teens, commonly experiment with the body God gave them.  To assume that the playing with one's privates, and eventually masturbation, is sin, is doing violence to what God did.  If God did not want kids playing with themselves, God would have commented on it.  And, God would have given kids longer to develop so that their ability to perform sexually would coincide better with the accepted age of marriage and starting a family.  God is not the author of confusion.  The talent of generating confusion is reserved for those who proscribe what God does with man made codes and assumptions.


Of course.  All the sex perverts, exhibitionists, and sex criminals of all the ages masturbated before they got around to criminal sex.

Problem with this logic-- So did all the great and godly men with very few exceptions.  We don't need to prove anything, but we do need to stop making cases for morality based on stupid statistics and notions.

Masturbation becomes a problem when boys masturbate together.  This kind of social masturbating, or stag party, often leads to acts of sodomy as boys start stimulating each other.  The solution is to teach young people that masturbation is a private matter and should not be made public.  This will help them to realize that sex in marriage is also a private matter between husband and wife.  Neither form of sexual stimulation should be the subject of gross humor and light conversation.  Telling jokes about masturbation pushes the thing into the dirty category.  Bepiano coverse of that.

If masturbation becomes obsessive it will lead to a loss of control in the life just like gluttony or any other form of appetite gone astray.  The young person should be taught to confess the sin of appetite which is out of control rather than to tell them that they are sexually perverted or nasty.  The sin is that of not letting the Holy Spirit lead in appetites.  Read that again please, especially if you are more than ten pounds overweight  :-)

Another way in which masturbation is, without a doubt, sinful is when it is accompanied by the use of pornography, filthy music, or even mental fantasies of women other than the spouse. This is so common that it is assumed to be the only method of masturbating. Of course, many young people do NOT start out in their first masturbating venture with ANY fantasy. They have no history to work with mentally. They are just playing with their hardpiano coverse.

The older a man gets, the more he accumulates a mental history which feeds fantasy, and thus, the more tempted he will be to sin by mental lust as he masturbates. This is why Paul piano coversns Timothy to "flee youthful lusts." We said that masturbation is NOT called sin in the Bible, but sexual lust for a women IS called sin by Jesus. To add masturbation to this mental "youthful lust" will insure trouble by and by. So, it IS true that masturbation is easily perverted by fetishes of the mind or magazine. I knew a man who fantasized in lust for a woman in the church fellowship while he masturbated, and whenever he came to church and saw the woman, he blushed with shame. So, this IS a danger for sure.


When a husband and wife are separated against their will and one is having severe temptations with lust, masturbation can serve as a release for those drives.  This has saved many men from infidelity.  In that sense, and I suppose I shall be thrashed for this, I suggest that masturbation is a very useful solution.  Masturbation is also a release to young unmarried men.  We just don't like to admit it.  Many a young man has defused a setting for fornication by masturbating ahead of time.  Cold showers are fine, but they don't last.  Of course, a young man can further help this struggle greatly by making sure he is only found in modest company.

Masturbation can also be therapeutic according to one report I read.  It seems that copulation in a man will help to relieve the effects of prostrate problems of middle age.  Of course, the ideal is for the man to simply increase his bed chamber life with his wife, but if that is not possible, masturbation could be helpful to keep the plumbing working well.  Also, this therapy is no excuse for obsessive behavior, and young men need not think this is a matter of getting an early start on the thing.

Also, ask any Roman Catholic priest how he avoids fornication (if he does, that is).  Guess what he will tell you, if he feels free to speak candidly.  Rome's celibacy laws are wicked indeed.


Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

There is one area we need to bepiano coverse of.  If someone sees masturbation as defeating and unclean, we better be cautious about encouraging that person to just let go on and enjoy it.  Enjoying it is also NOT taught in the Bible.  Masturbation is not anywhere spoken of at all.  So, we dare not try to deliver someone of their dedication to avoid and flee from masturbation.  To them, it is important and related to their victory.  Again, this is why the thing needs to be made a private matter for a kid at an early age.  If you catch your son or daughter masturbating, DO NOT panic.  You don't have a budding pervert in your family.  Deal with it discreetly and kindly with a word of advice to keep it very private and personal.

Suzie, "Oh Mommy, I'm so sorry you caught me doing that."

Mom, "Well, you know, God made your body so you could get sexual pleasure at your age before you got married.  Sex feels good doesn't it?  Sex is not dirty, but sex is the most exciting after you get married.  The more of your sexual pleasure you save for you husband, the happier you will be.  If you feel you have to play with yourself, just be careful to keep this very private, and don't allow it to be the main thing in your life.  God wants you to think on His Word and His holiness as much as you can.  He  will help you decide what is good and OK for you if you ask Him."


The kid, "Dad-- Is it wrong to jack off?"

Dad, "Son, the next question is important--  What does the Bible say about masturbation?"

The kid, "Dad, I can't find anything."

Dad, "Nor can I son."

The kid, "So, what about it?"

Dad, "If you have to masturbate to get the pressure off of you, then OK, but talk to the Lord about everything in your life.  He made you with all this sexual drive.  He will help you know what is important.  Stay in the Word.  Don't let sex ever be the main event in your life.  Keep some ammunition for the wife God is getting ready for you.  Here is a question son-- What if you found out the lady you are going to marry was masturbating all the time?"

The kid, "Uh, that's a weird question Dad."

Dad, "Well, think of it as saving some of your strength for her and for the honeymoon.  But, if you masturbate once in a while, God is not mad at you, or He would have told you about it in the Bible."

If masturbation is a sexual sin to you, well deal with it that way. But, you have NO grounds to teach that to anyone else, for God pointedly said nothing about it, and it is the first and possibly the most common form of sexual activity with all of humanity.


"Why did you have to put this in the Journal?"

Answer:  I know that thoBlipnds of little kids in Christian homes have grown up with a piano coversped and twisted terror of their privates and of sex.  Some of these kids have never had sexual pleasure for many years later after they got married.  Some of these kids become pianos as a result of neurotic behavior by their parents.  So, after much deliberation, and after some desperate questions from readers, this is needed.  I hope it helps some kid grow up without crippling terror, and I hope some Mom or Dad learns to be more wise with the kids as they grow into puberty.  It is an exciting thing to see a little kid start looking grownup and act like an adult.  How wicked it is then, to twist their new found sexual desires until they are too mutilated to ever give pleasure again.  I would liken this to castration.  I pray that you see why this discussion is needed.

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.


A reader reported hearing Harold Camping answer a question about masturbation.  Camping said that masturbation was not a sin in itself, but the mental fantasy and imagery in the mind of the masturbater was sin.   So, he felt it was rare that it was totally innocent.  

Steve Van Nattan's response--  Harold Camping is not my favorite source on a number of topics, but he has a point here.  I suppose that a man or woman who are married could have their mind on their spouse and sin of lust in the mind could be eliminated.  Desire for one's spouse, along with memories of sexual experiences with them, is NOT sin.

A young unmarried person would be hard pressed to masturbate without resorting to thoughts of someone they are attracted to.  This violates Christ's teaching that looking with lust is the same as adultery.  Pornography used during masturbation would fall under this teaching also.  So, masturbation could still be without sin, but the mind must not be directed outside of the act alone.


Hi Steve,

Just read your "m" article--if you know what I mean. It just about blew my head off. I think you are right, though. The Bible doesn't say anything about it. As long as one doesn't turn it into some sort of lust or let it become a ritual to look forpiano coversd to. The ideal should still be in the married state. I never thought about those "good" ole Priests. Perhaps in my blinded mind I thought they just went either numb--or at the worst, abused children in secret.

Boy, you didn't mince words and I found myself laughing outloud at some of ways you phrased words, even if they were found in the Bible.  But all in all I think it will help some of the young people. Way to go, brother! God bless.


Eph. 6:13 "Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."