Is Masturbation a Sin?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

I have often received questions framed in this way… “Is ______________ a sin?” This question is no different, and I would respond in similar fashion. Instead of asking if something is a sin; we ought to ask ourselves how we can best glorify God in that particular area of life.

What is masturbation? Masturbation is defined as stimulation of the genitals with the hand for sexual pleasure.

What is sin? Sin has many definitions, but for the sake of this question that came from the message we will define sin from within the text of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. Sin is anything other than God that seeks to hold dominion and authority in your body and life (vs12).

Does the Bible say masturbation is a sin? No.

Are the physical acts of sex and the physiological nature of orgasms a powerful aspect of creation that sin and evil have leveraged to hold people in bondage? Absolutely.

The word for sexual immorality in the Bible is the catch-all word; porneia. In the Bible this word linked to sexual acts that are partaken of outside of God’s original created order for sexual union; marriage between and man and woman. In this past week’s message we looked at the the nature of God and the picture of Jesus and the Church to talk through the purpose of sexual intimacy. [Listen on our Podcast].

Sex and sexuality is a gift from God to teach us about His nature. We are created in the image of a God who exists in three persons so tightly knit together they are actually one being; the trinity. Within God’s being there is no shame, no secrets, total trust, complete love, complete knowing, and eternal unity. Sexual intimacy, for humans, is a small window into this type of relationship. The act of sex is with a spouse is a moment of trust, passion, pleasure, vulnerability, and connection unlike anything else in creation. This is why sexual betrayal and/or abuse leave life long scars for those who have experience such horrors. Such acts are the ultimate shattering and twisting of God’s intention for this great gift.

Back to our original question. Is Masturbation a sin?

Beyond the explicit passages about lust and its harm to the human experience (See Matthew 5:28). We must ask ourselves if masturbation aligns with the creation plan of God’s intention to create intimacy, trust, love, connection, and commitment or if masturbation detracts from God’s purposes for sexual intimacy? Does masturbation cause you to draw nearer to your spouse in a way that reflects the nature of God’s intimacy within the trinity (Trust, love, unity, no shame, connection, etc)? Or does masturbation lead to something other than God having dominion in your life? Pornography? Fantasies? Lust of the heart and eyes?

Let us flee from the things that seek to dominate us and draw us away from being who we are created to be; image bearers of the Holy God. Let us instead draw near to God and discover the joy of life as we live in the way he intended from the beginning.

I will intentionally leave this answer here to promote further thought, prayer, and study on your part (Kind of a Jesus-juke move, I know). I’m happy to provide further clarification for those interested. Text 813.444.7170 or email [email protected] if you have more questions. 


Scripture to help guide your processing:

Genesis 2:24-25 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

James 1:14-15
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Matthew 5:28
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

James 1:13-14
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Colossians 3:5
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Romans 13:14
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.