Is masturbation a sin in the Bible?


This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic) हिन्दी (Hindi)


Masturbation is the act of sexually stimulating oneself. It is usually the result of lustful thoughts, sexual desire, and/or pornographic images. The Bible doesn’t mention masturbation. The passage most linked with masturbation is the story of Onan in Genesis 38:9–10. Onan did not want to perform his duty to provide an heir for his deceased brother. So, he spilled his seed on the ground. The passage is not talking about masturbation but about refusing to perform a family duty.

Is masturbation a sin according to the Bible? There are biblical principles for sexual activity for men and woman that can be applied to Masturbation. Ephesians 5:3 declares, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” The “lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16) is sin.

Many people struggle with guilty feelings concerning masturbation, when in truth, the things that led to this act need to be repented off. In Matthew 5:30, Jesus says, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” In this passage, the Lord does not call for mutilating the body, but for controlling the thoughts and actions.

Therefore, when we answer the question: is masturbation a sin? We must see it both as a physical and a mental act. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount “that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5:28). The sinful act of adultery, generally seen as a physical thing, starts in the mind, which then leads to the act. It was already a sin once it was started in the mind; the physical action that follows is an open sinful act.

Thus, concerning masturbation, both the physical act and the thoughts involved in the act are sinful (Leviticus 15:14-16). Christians cannot separate the body from the mind (Proverbs 4:23; 6:25; 12:25; 14:30; 15:13; 15:30; 17:22). God designed humans to be living beings who act as their minds direct each part of their bodies (Genesis 2:7). Masturbation is simply the result of sin. For this reason, it cannot pass the test of purity.

What Does the Bible Teach?

  • “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). Masturbation is a sign of a lack of self-control.
  • “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). The bodies of Christians have been bought by Christ’s death and therefore they need to honor God by how they treat it.
  • “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If an action cannot glorify God, then believers should not do it.
  • “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Lust is not of God.
  • “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh” (Romans 8:12). Believers owe everything to the Lord, and their loyalty and faithfulness should be fully given to Him.
  • “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22). Every behavior that leads to sexual immorality should be stopped.

Being Pure

All who have a real sense of what is involved in being a Christian know that the children of God are under obligation as His followers to bring all their passions, their physical, and mental powers into perfect subordination to His will. They are to resist sexual temptation.

The believer’s body belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He gave it to him, and he really should take care of it as though he is taking care of it for Him by keeping it holy and pure (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). The Bible teaches, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If a believer cannot give God glory for something, he should not do it. “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

So, what does a believer do if he has sinned? The Bible says he must confess to God and purpose to stay pure (1 John 1:9). Once he has purposed in his heart to do that which is right, God will supply the strength to overcome (John 14:13). Then, he should find a replacement to fulfill that sexual need. A healthy outlet like exercise, physical work, or sports can prove to build and purify the soul. But most importantly, he should keep his daily connection to the Lord through Bible study and prayer. And the Lord will be faithful to renew and transform his mind (Romans 12:2).

God Gives Victory

The Lord promised to give men and women the power to overcome the sin of lust of the mind and flesh. For He promised “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Thus, the faithfulness of God is the Christian’s source of security against sin. There is no security in relying on self for victory, but if the Christian wills to be pure and depends on God for strength, he will have the desired victory. However, he should remember that God will not protect him if he places himself into the path of temptation (Matthew 7:13, 14, 24, 25; 1 Corinthians 9:25, 27).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic) हिन्दी (Hindi)

Subscribe to our Weekly Updates:

Get our latest answers straight to your inbox when you subscribe here.

You May Also Like

Can I practice homosexuality and still be a Christian?

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic) हिन्दी (Hindi)In the Old Testament, homosexuality was considered a wickedness (Genesis 19:1-11; Judges 19:16-24 ) and an abomination (Leviticus 18:22; 1 Kings…