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Have you found yourself wrestling with the uneasy question – is masturbation a sin? And what Does the Bible Say? Do you also find yourself with the baggage of guilt, shame, and regret after masturbating?
Well, you are not alone.
This internal conflict is actual, the guilt palpable.
In fact, hundreds of people find themselves oscillating between faith, sexual sin, and desire.
And, even though masturbation has become a debatable topic in the Christian community. Yet, the discussion surrounding this M-word remains veiled in hushed tones. We continue to grapple with our own lustful thoughts, desires, and cultural stigmas while the question looms large: Is masturbation a sin in the Bible?
Well, the journey to understanding this matter is paved with conflicting opinions, social taboos, and elusive biblical principles. The Bible, our guide in matters of faith, doesn’t explicitly mention “masturbation,” adding to the complexity.
Therefore, most do not consider masturbation a sin. But the scriptures do indicate a few things on sexual immorality and point us to an answer.
So, let’s unravel the enigma. Whether you’re seeking clarity or have strong convictions, let’s explore the various viewpoints and understand the nuances without adopting any judgments.
Is masturbation a sin?
Before we move on to understand- is masturbating a sin or not, let’s go step by step.
Firstly, as we know, masturbation is the act of sexually stimulating ourselves. This usually involves the use of porn, lustful thoughts, or anything that can conjure sexual urges in our imaginations.
Secondly, anyone, irrespective of gender, age, or demography, can fall into this habit. You are not the only one who has done it or even has made a habit of this sexual temptation. Masturbation is much more common than you think.
If we look at the studies, statistics report that more than 70% of men and 40% of women have struggled with compulsive masturbation at one point in their lives.
Yet despite the significant digits, we often tend to avoid talking and discussing our doubts revolving around masturbation as it’s one of those “things” we distantly hush upon! No one wants to admit it.
And this loop of uncertainty and doubts grows, leading to a familiar enigma- if masturbation is a sin.
Well, this topic comes with a diverse range of thoughts and several disagreements. Moreover, as statistics reveal, masturbation is a common practice. This leads to the question of how so deeply ingrained human behaviour can be sinful.
Furthermore, as the Bible, our guidebook for moral living, doesn’t directly mention the act itself, it leaves us in a bit of a muddle about whether it’s a sin or not.
But hold on, we’re still on the hook.
While opinions on this matter might differ, I lean towards the belief that, in most cases, masturbation could be seen as a sin. Well, I can back it up here.
So, let’s look at why some, including myself, lean towards the view that the Bible nudges us away from this practice.
What does the Bible say?
In moments where you feel yourself teetering like a seesaw between faith and your sexuality, one question often takes centre stage in your mind: Is masturbation a sin? What Does the Bible Say?
Maybe you are here because you gave in to that urge and are afraid for your soul.
Well, this doubt has woven its way through history, threading through the moral fabric of societies and sparking diverse perspectives.
Moreover, when it comes to what the Bible exactly says about masturbation, the picture becomes less defined. Direct references to masturbation are notably absent.
This, however, is debated with the fact that when the Bible was written, masturbation, wet dreams, and porn addiction were concepts that did not exist.
Yet, above all, there are still verses in the Bible that give you quite a clear picture. Therefore, exploring the intricacies and understanding if masturbation a sin in the Bible requires a meticulous examination.
It requires us to consider the context, understand the cultural norms of the time, and grasp the overarching themes of love, respect, and personal integrity.
For instance, the story of Onan in Genesis 38:9-10 historically has been often looked to find answers to the biblical principles of solo sex and sexual desires. However, most scholars deny that’s not what the passage is about.
This simply increases our confusion about understanding the correct answer: what exactly does the Bible say?
Well, I understand your dilemma. So, the quick answer is yes; according to the Bible, masturbation is a sin because of the act of lust and lack of self-control.
Moreover, some verses imply this. Here are some of them:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NIV): “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” This verse is invoked to advocate for self-control in sexual matters.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV): “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” This verse is sometimes seen as a general warning against sexual activities outside of marriage, potentially including masturbation.
- Matthew 5:28 (NIV): “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Some infer a condemnation of lustful thoughts associated with masturbation from this verse.
- Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV): Describing acts of the flesh, it includes “sexual immorality” and “impurity,” with some interpreting masturbation as part of the mentioned “impurity” or “debauchery.”
- Ephesians 5:3 (NIV): “But among you, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity or greed…” Some individuals interpret “sexual immorality” and “impurity” here as encompassing masturbation.
While these verses from the Bible talk about human actions and sins, let’s take a deeper look at all the religious sins or aspects that lead us to a clearer perspective on- It is a sin to masturbate.
The Act of Masturbation
When it comes to the act of masturbation, the lens of Christianity offers a distinctive perspective. The Bible underscores several principles that shed light on the perceived sinfulness of this act.
According to 1 Corinthians 7:4, it outlines a sacred boundary for sexuality, reserving it for the confines of marriage, where one’s body is dedicated to a spouse.
This premise is reiterated in Galatians 5:16, emphasizing the necessity of resisting fleshly desires while walking in the Spirit.
Furthermore, Colossians 3:5 underlines the obligation to suppress impulses of sexual immorality through our connection with Jesus.
Basically, if we consider it all, we find that despite societal perspectives on masturbation as a natural part of human sexuality, the Bible contrasts it.
The Bible advocates marital sex; that is, it talks about sex primarily as a means of mutual gratification within marriage. The Bible says that doing things to please yourself sexually goes against how God meant for people to be intimate.
Masturbation and Lust
When we discuss the subject of masturbation being a sin, generally, the focus is more centred on the physical act; however, the mental component, that is, the lustful thoughts, needs equal consideration.
In fact, the Bible directly talks about it.
As we know, the Bible doesn’t shy away from addressing the intricacies of human behaviour. And it takes a clear stance that lust is a sin. The sexual thoughts that come along with the lust are clearly considered immoral thoughts.
Now, this, in turn, raises questions about the morality of masturbation, especially considering how closely it is linked to lustful thoughts.
In the biblical context, lust extends beyond a mere physical act; it delves into the realm of desires that breach the boundaries of what is rightfully ours.
Moreover, Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, shaped our understanding of sin.
He articulated, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
This profound teaching reframes sin not just as a physical action but as a matter of the heart and mind.
Consequently, harbouring lustful thoughts becomes sinful, and masturbation often intertwines with such sexual fantasies.
Yet again, this discussion is often met with an opposing viewpoint contending that not all instances of masturbation involve lustful thoughts. Some assert that it can be a purely physical sexual release devoid of any fantasies or the objectification of others. This perspective blurs the line of sin, making the question of morality subjective.
But let’s be honest– can one truly engage in masturbation without entangling oneself in lustful or sexual thoughts?
Well, not really.
In fact, even if you are not using porn, the act of personal pleasure is often accompanied by lustful thoughts or sexual desire. People who have even quit porn often report struggling with masturbation when they remember the explicit images they’ve seen.
Masturbation and desries
Further complicating the discussion on is masturbating a sin is the concept of idolatry.
In Colossians 3:5, Paul mentions “evil desires” and “greed, which is idolatry.”
Moreover, should masturbation transform into fixation, obsession, or affecting personal relationships, it might be viewed as a form of idolatry.
This perspective suggests that anything overshadowing God or displacing one’s relationship with Him could be deemed sinful. The focus shifts from the act itself to its implications on life and faith.
So, while the Bible doesn’t outright address masturbation, it does provide principles that prompt thoughtful reflection on the intertwining issues of lust, solo sex, desire, and priorities in the context of faith and personal conduct.
What do different churches say?
Exploring the relation between the sexual temptation of masturbation and where the act stands, we have seen and debated some aspects. We find that most of these debates and discussions depend on our understanding of the holy scripture.
However, this then brings in the doubts: do we really understand the saying of the Bible?
So, with this nagging doubt in my mind, when I was trying to understand the biblical principles, I realized that for a more evident answer, we need to know what other Christians have understood and believed throughout the centuries.
Therefore, let’s take a quick look at historical Christian teaching and what the churches say to find an excellent way to check ourselves:
The Early Teachings
In the early Christian era, thinkers like Clement of Alexandria emphasized that the purpose of sexual intimacy was procreation.
It was not at all for the sexual release or discharge of semen.
And though they did not directly address masturbation, the early Christian writings condemned non-procreative sexual acts, suggesting a broader aversion.
Later on, the 5th-century rise of monasticism brought forth more apparent discussions on masturbation and the sexual activity of temptation.
John Cassian, in his Conference 5, identified it as a form of fornication, marking a turning point in Christian discourse.
Following that, the monastic writings from this period candidly detailed struggles with temptation, offering earnest guidance. These historical perspectives shaped various Christian beliefs on masturbation, underscoring the evolving attitudes within the faith community.
The Catholic Teaching
As we move towards medieval times, Christian teachings on masturbation took a firmer stance.
Notably, Peter Damian’s 11th-century treatise, Liber Gomorrhianus, heartily denounced the act of masturbation.
Pope Leo IX highly favoured this stance.
Thomas Aquinas, a luminary of early Christian thought, also echoed Damian’s sentiments, deeming masturbation as “against nature” — a departure from God’s intended design for sex. He posited that such acts, contrary to God’s order, constituted a sin.
Moreover, Contemporary Catholic supports these teachings, branding masturbation as an “intrinsically and seriously disordered act.”
The core objection, basically, lies in diverting sexual intercourse and, thereby, sexual relations from its intended purpose, contradicting the ultimate design.
Keeping the dig further, let us understand the Eastern Orthodox Church’s or Orthodox Church’s perspectives.
Well, the Eastern Orthodox Church, known for its reverence for tradition, views human sexuality as a divine gift intended for expression within the bounds of marriage. Sexual activity here is all about respecting the confines of marital sex.
For Orthodox Christians, masturbation is regarded as disrespect of this sacred gift, as it is self-centred and lacks the capacity to embody love for others.
This perception is further solidified when masturbation transforms into addictive behaviour. In that case, it is seen as disrespectful to the purpose of the divine gift of sex.
Moreover, within Orthodox teachings, sexual sins encompass more than physical acts; they extend to the areas of the mind, giving rise to negative emotions.
Whereas the absence of self-centred pleasure, in the eyes of Orthodox Christians, involves turning to the Holy Spirit instead of succumbing to carnal desires. This shift is believed to bear spiritual fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In we talk about the Protestant beliefs surrounding sexuality, well, the historical perspectives on masturbation have evolved, shaping diverse viewpoints.
Brian F. Linnen notes that, until the 20th century, Protestants and Catholics shared similar moral norms. Both firmly believed in the sanctity of lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriages while strictly prohibiting premarital sex, adultery, homosexual relationships, and contraception.
The Protestant theology, rooted in principles such as those of Martin Luther and John Calvin, traditionally linked sexuality exclusively to procreation. Girolamo Savonarola, a pioneering reformer, regarded masturbation as a cardinal sin.
However, contemporary perspectives within Protestantism reveal a nuanced shift.
Many Christians, including conservatives and evangelicals, no longer universally condemn masturbation as sinful. This evolving perspective highlights a divergence from historical norms, with believers genuinely examining the issue through a modern lens that acknowledges changing societal values.
Well, it’s a wrap. But before I go, here is a quick sneak peek into the key takeaway.
Basically, at one point or another in life, you will feel conflicted with thoughts on sins and habits. However, as you now know, the essence of sin in Christianity transcends a mere checklist of actions; it encompasses the impact on oneself and others.
Moreover, the verses discussed serve as guides, urging introspection through prayer and meditation. Life’s balance is found in personal journeys with God, where faith evolves daily.
Whereas sex, often tainted by guilt, should be embraced responsibly. Unreasonable beliefs must yield a renewed understanding. It’s time to give up on compulsive habits like immoral thoughts and excessive masturbation.
Embracing a purpose-driven outlook on healthy sexual activities and finding a balance between both pleasure and health benefits is the need of the hour.
Remember, the journey isn’t a rigid script but a daily, personal communion with faith, adapting to changing world dynamics.
Q. Are nocturnal emissions considered a sin?
Well, nocturnal emission is not considered a sin. However, the nocturnal emissions can result from sinful, immoral thoughts, desires, and input.
Q. What is solo sex? Is it the same as sexual intimacy?
Solo sex basically refers to masturbation, and it is not really the same as sexual intimacy between partners.