Is masturbation right or wrong?

What does the Bible say about this? Is it a sin?


The Bible does not mention masturbation by name. That means we must ask some questions to apply the appropriate principles from God's Word to find His perspective on the issue.

It's obvious God created sex to be enjoyable, but what is the setting He upholds as the place for sex to occur? It's always in marriage according to what we find in the Bible. Sex outside of marriage, whether with someone who is single (called fornication) or someone who is married to someone else (called adultery), is always condemned (see 1 Corinthians:6:18 and Galatians:5:19-21). In addition, Christ said that even looking on a woman with the intent of wanting to have sex with her is a violation of the commandment against adultery (Matthew:5:27-28). So God clearly teaches that sex belongs in marriage, not outside of it.

Sex is intended to be pleasurable, but it is obviously intended by God to be a pleasurable act that is shared between a husband and a wife. It forms a "pleasure bond," as some have described it, that helps emotionally unite the two people.

When you contrast that with masturbation (which is strictly for the pleasure of one person, whether male or female) it is obvious masturbation is outside of God's intent. It focuses on pleasing the self instead of a mate and is not the use of sex that brings the best long-term results in our lives.

As for whether masturbation is a sin or not, understanding the definition of sin can help us make that determination. One of the definitions of sin is "to miss the mark" (Vine's Expository Dictionary, art. "Sin"). Since masturbation misses the mark of what God intends for us, it is sin.


tenderlove's picture

there so many things we do that can but may not include the partner such as body cleaniness. A lot of acts are included in a sexual performance such as body massaging, breastfeeding and annointing the body with ointment which many also do without sexual intimacy . So it still remains unclear if masturbation is sinful or not, especially since it is not categorised under fornication or adultery or homosexuality and sedomy as mentioned in the bible. I wish some one could give clearity on the issue.


ilovejesus-dinushi's picture

my opinion about it- god has told us not to run after our own lusts or fleshly desires but to run after the things of his kingdom...and so why should people,especially christian's try to fulfill their own lusts when they can get busy with god seeking his things and asking him to help them get rid of all lusts?????and also god said he who lusts after a woman is committing isn't masturbation kind of like the same thing?????another thing is,if we do the things the worldly people or non believers do-which is sin,what is the difference in us???????????????I think masturbation is a sin before gods eyes.


tenderlove's picture

hi dinushi,

your comments are good. We could generally assume that somethings is sinful or call it good or bad. But the essence of it is to be sure that God really call something sinful and evil. Masturbation as a lust is yet to be identified. On your quotation about lust after woman. I think Jesus said about lusting or looking at a woman to commit adultery with her. If it is allowed to touch my wife - why should it be wrong to touch my self - again - is it a sin to lust after my own wife? - am only looking for an answer that looks logical - Because I believe God is a logical thinking God and he does not initiate confusion.

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture


Perhaps there is some philosophical distinction that can be made between masturbation and lust, but in practice the societal norm is for masturbation to be a tool for gratifying one's lust. Is it permissible to lust after one's own wife, and therefore permissible to masturbate in order to satisfy that specific type of lust? The fact that one must resort to asking that question in order to try to justify masturbation demonstrates that the typical circumstances of masturbation are obviously wrong. 1 Corinthians 7 lends some understanding of this issue.

1 Corinthians 7:5 says a husband and wife shouldn't deprive each other sexually because our lack of self-control will cause us to fall into temptation. It is permissible and natural for a husband and wife to desire one another, but this scripture implies that even this permissible desire can lead to sin if left unchecked. How can this be so? If our desire for physical gratification from our spouse supersedes our desire for spiritual gratification from God, then we violate the 1st commandment. And how does this speak to masturbation? 1 Corinthians 7:4 says: "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."

Marco Brown

Marco Brown's picture

Hi Tenderlove, to a Spirit-led Christian the answer should be simple. Masturbation is accompanied by lustful imagined sexual acts and is therefore a sin as per Jesus' own definition of sinful lust in thoughts or actions. Secondly it is very selfish as it only concerned with personal momentary satisfaction of a desire and is not a primary need being met like for example food. Reserve sex for your partner of the opposite gender in lawful marriage who deserves your undivided loyalties and devoted loving affection.


dziwczyna's picture

I presume when men are masturbating they have an image in their mind of someone or something. Maybe, I am wrong (I am a woman), but if I'm right they are lusting after someone or something which would be sinful.

Also, if you are married and choose to pleasure YOURSELF over your wife, that is clearly selfish. God clearly confines sex within a marriage (husband and wife), anything outside is sin and that would include masterbation, which is basically just sex with yourself.


tenderlove's picture

Thanks for all your comments. I am still trying to understand the mind of God on this issue.

We could easily asumme a decent scenario where a man and a woman have a good relationship. Where they both tend to abide by the pauline advice in 1 Cor.7

But there are quite numbers of cases, where one partner refused to abide by such rule or even opted for divorced.

Now there is a technical difficulty in placing desire for sex on the same slate with lust. Just as appetite for food may be different from being hungry.

Now lust is always towards something external and not to oneself.

One may become naturally hungry because one is used to be hungry and one may be hungry because one develops an appetite for a particular food.

So man may want sex because he lust after some one in his mind (This I understand to be sin)
But a Man may also desire sex without any pre lustful intention but simply out of unconscious memory or simply becuse he is used to haven sex.

The purpose of Sex in the creation is for productivity. But the sexual contact usually induces certain feeling in human which make man to seek and desire it continually.

Such unconscoius memory (without any lustful intention) could lead a man to what we may call masturbation ( playing with his organ) just like such unconscoious memory leads one to be hungry

hey steve! though I like your comment on 1Cor 7.5 very much, would like to correct that paul did not say that the permissable desire can lead to sin if unchecked. Paul said that the permissable desire can lead to sin if not gratify or satisfy by the other partner.

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture

I think I have pinned this issue down now thanks to your comment, "Paul said that the permissable desire can lead to sin if not gratify or satisfy by the other partner."

Consider this: if it were okay for a man to masturbate in order to satisfy this permissible desire for his wife, then why on earth would Paul be concerned that the couple may be tempted by Satan if they go too long without having sex (1 Corinthians 7:5)? If it were okay for the man to masturbate to fulfill this desire, then Paul's statement makes absolutely no sense - if such were the case, the man would technically never need his wife again, since he could lawfully satisfy himself! On the contrary, Paul says that they must come together again in order to express those desires in a lawful use of their bodies together.

Also, it's important to distinguish that the desire of the flesh to have sex is not inherently sinful, but seeking to fulfill that desire with anyone other than your spouse (either in thought or in deed) is sin. For a man to feel that desire is certainly no sin - the concern is that he might, if his wife is unavailable, seek to fulfill it through someone else. If a man's wife is unavailable, then he is in no worse of a position than an unmarried man, who has no lawful outlet for fulfilling his desires, but must do as God admonishes us: to endure temptation without sin.


tenderlove's picture

hi steven britt,

your comment is beautiful. Thanks


londonbrandon's picture

I'm going to tell my (youngest) fourteen year old son that his best case scenario is to wait until he's in his late twenties (at least) to get married. This is because I love him... and I want the best for him and his children... and for a number of reasons, I'm confident about this advice.

It appears the majority opinion here is that I also tell him that for the next fourteen years that he is to feel a sense of guilt and shame if he masturbates... irrespective of his conceptualization during the act... that it's just a black and white issue: masturbation is a sin because the act is inextricably linked to sinful thought. It that for me to say?

I would be telling him that it's not a sin to get married at 18... just ill advised.

I have not yet met my grandchildren but I have an opportunity to do whatever I can for their benefit and indeed for the benefit of mankind in general... and I can't help but link the dots all the way back to the sexual drive of a very young man and how this drive might tend to influence the timing of his fatherhood and the happiness of his marriage. Quite frankly, I cannot reconcile this position with what Paul says:

hen come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture


Sexual desires are somewhat unique in that there is a lawful outlet for them through marriage; however, do not be fooled into thinking that marriage exempts anyone from sexual sins. A great number of married people today seek to fulfill their desires outside of their marriage either through affairs or masturbation. Your son should not feel that sense of guilt if he masturbates for just that next 14 years, but for his entire life. If he chooses to fulfill his desires before marriage by masturbation, it will develop a sinful habit that will be difficult to break later in life, and, if he really cares about his wife, he WILL want to break it.


pureheart's picture

We all have freedom of choice of whether masturbation is sinful or not. I think this scripture answers best whether masturbation is a sin or not, you decide! - See: Leviticus 15:16-17; I think the problem lies with the fantastical ideas (thoughts) that are often associated with masturbation. Is it possible to disassociate one from the other? I would say that God knows the hearts of righteous men and women and that masturbation is something given to keep us from fornicating and committing adultery. The apostle Paul says it best here: 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me" but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. The key would seem not to be consumed by a thing to the point where it gets out of control and leads us away from God. I think masturbation in itself is a form of self-preservation and not in itself a sinful act, but an act 'given' to keep us from harm.


pianoman's picture

I agree with LOndonBrandon and Pureheart,
Some people never have a relationship with a person to get married, thus they remain single. I believe masturbation is no more sinful than any other sin. The bible doe snot elaborate on it, nor does God elaborate on the subject. Moses never elaborated on the subject, neither did Jesus, The on Of God.


pianoman's picture

People who say that masturbating is a sin are not single and must have husbands and wives to satisfy their sexual desires. I am single for 54 years, in the church, baptized and observe all the holy days and attend Sabbath services when I can (150 miles round trip), care giver for my mom, etc., but I have never read anything in the bible, and I have studied it from the old testament to the new and have never found anything on the subject.


xbox74's picture

What if you're single and don't wish to be in a relationship, is it still a sin?


MikeBall's picture

Matthew:5:27-30 clearly says “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."

Jesus never minced words and neither would He speak out of context to throw someone off of what He was saying. Here He's talking about adultery of the heart and lust and then He specifically follows that up by talking about how "if your right hand causes you to sin..." its obvious in my mind that He's talking about masturbation.


Proverb3's picture

I'm a happily married man with 4 young kids. My wife generally only gets one day off work a month and sometimes we have time for sex. We have sex 10-15 times a year. We are both in our 30's, and both have very busy lives working upto 70 hours a week for each of us. If I don't get some form of release within a few weeks time it comes out in my sleep and it's quite messy. Are you people saying if I masterbate it's a sin? I promise you I don't want any other woman. But if my wife gives me pictures of herself for me to use because of our situation are you saying it's biblical wrong? She doesn't have a problem with it and I don't mind if she does it. We both love each other and currently can't do a lot about our situation until our kids get older. I agree lust is bad. I agree if it becomes an addiction it's bad. Leviticus touch on the subject but nowhere can I find that it is wrong, yet.


dziwczyna's picture


Sounds like you are in a bit of a difficult situation, and one that you have a hard time accepting. Have a talk with your wife about your priorities as a couple and set goals--your marriage (the covenant you made to God) should be high on the list.

Physical intimacy is important in a marriage, and should be. Even the Apostle Paul recognised that. It is wrong for a woman to withhold sex for long periods of time from her husband (or vice versa)--obviously it should not be forced either. Sometimes people get desperate for intimacy and they commit adultery. You should not have to resort to other measures, as you are, to fulfill your needs in a marriage. All the best to you!


suewilliams's picture

Proverb3..Wow.. you Guys are working a lot.. Speaking as a woman in her 50's .. I would have a concern with my marriage if my husband and I did not have time together.. Women need time and togetherness to feel loved... Men can feel love in the sex act where as us Ladies want some romance..
Also, I would have concern about you having some time for God.. All relationships require time..that is why God gave us the Sabbath day.. Sorry..maybe it is not my place to be telling you this but have to wonder if your wife is happy with this situation.. If a husband is not romancing his wife a little.. Women can be tempted also ..

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture


I perceive that you wouldn't be reading this article or asking this question unless you had doubts in your own conscience about your situation. Romans:14:23 says that to continue in doing something that you feel might be a sin is a sin in itself: regardless of whether the act itself is impure, your conscience becomes defiled by it. If the only problem with not masturbating is that it is messy, why not rather accept that with a clear conscience than do something that you are unsure of? The way of God is not always convenient. Above all else, I would ask God daily that He should deliver you from this situation so that you and your wife are free to come together on a more regular basis, for this is the best outcome and the one that He desires for you.


Rob55's picture


If you are going to quote scripture, do so accurately. You are citing Matthew:5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So what is going on and NO its not what you think it is. First off Yeshua is in this chapter expounding on the Torah. So what is adultery? Can 2 single people engaged in intercourse commit adultery? NO. Adultery ONLY occurs when 1 or both persons are married. One needs to remember that girls by the time they were 14 were usually married.

Our plum line is the OT when we have things that are spoken by Paul this avoids error as Peter tells us that Paul is difficult to understand.

2 Peter:3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The Bible is utterly silent on the topic of masturbation. People try to cite the sin of Onan as evidence against masturbation and this is ludicrous and is completely out of context with what the text actually says. Gen 38 Onan knew that the [e]offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he [f]wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give [g]offspring to his brother. 10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also.

G-d was displeased with Onan because he refused to fulfill his obligation to insure that his brother's line would not be cut off.

IN short there is 0 direct conversation about masturbation. ON subjects where scripture is silent, we too should be silent. The drive to procreate (especially in a male) is 2nd only to the drive to eat and drink water.


KORY T MORRIS's picture

I have read through all the above comments and I think you all mean well and some of you are on the right path. However, to clarify the issue "Masturbation Is A Sin." If it were not a sin we would not be confused about the subject. Think about all the things that glorify GOD and if you have ever questioned whether or not they were sinful.

The mere fact that we are asking ourselves if something is a sin or not should indicate to us that it is a sin. I believe that GOD has put certain things in us as his children where we know when something is right or wrong whether or not we read it in the bible.

Have you ever asked yourself if praying is a sin? Have you ever asked yourself if donating to a good cause was a sin?

Would killing in defense of a young child free from sin (a new born baby) weigh heavy on your mind or would you feel that the adult that tried to kill or molest this baby justified your actions in the eyes of GOD and the law? Would you not kill to protect your family from an unjust person, law or situation if their lives were threatened? "An unjust law is no law at all."

No one has to tell you that masturbation is a sin. Most of us would not let our spouses watch us masturbate. We often feel the need to close the door, turn off the lights and be completely alone and on alert. If it was not a sinful act we would do it openly without fear, shame or regret. If someone asks us if we masturbate we would readily cover it up with "it is none of their business" or something to that effect. Unless you are among close friends that you know do it as well, you tend to hide it. Would you openly confess masturbation to the pastor of your church or any religious figure? If you have any reservations or feelings of shame, then you should know it is a sin.

Even the gentleman that said that it comes out in his dreams if he doesn't have sex for a while. In our wet-dreams we often see someone other than our spouses. We often have a choice of going through with the act in the dream. Even though we are in a dream state, our actions within the dream are still driven by the thoughts in our minds. If you are dreaming of sex it is because you have a longing or wanting for sex that is not being satisfied. This desire should only be quenched by a wife or husband according to scripture. Anything else is just finding an excuse to sin because of your current disposition.


rwp_47's picture

Rob55 ...
You make some good points. If scripture is silent about something then, your right ... why try and make something out of it? The bible simply says don't add to or take away from (Deut. 12:32). So to disobey that would be sin! Sorry Kory!

And in any case, and no matter how one looks at it ... sex is not unlike what John Denver has to say about life ... its just a funny, funny riddle. And almost anything and everything about it is counter intuitive.

Parting thought ...

Axiom: There's nothing wrong with sex ... just the people involved in it.


EvanToledo's picture

Let's look at this subject both from a physical and spiritual level.

Sin originates in the MIND. It comes from within us.
I believe it is definitely sin to think any sinful thoughts--regardless of the day, time and place we are in.

If one can separate sinful,lustful thoughts from this subject, we are left with bodily elimination like all human beings experience.

It's a tough subject--and one I wish the church could further explain in our terribly sexualized society today.

Whose Morality

Whose Morality's picture

I am confused by some of the comments here. A few of you respond by saying "obviously" for some of the declarations but they are not obvious. If so, why would a bible even be needed. One responder gives the impression that if one closes the door, turns off the lights, and is alone...then those actions are indicators of sin. I don't think using the bathroom or praying in secret are sinful. Just because I seek privacy does not give an obvious indication of sin. And some masturbate with their spouses in their bedrooms with each other present. These comments confuse me.

When people try to speak for God, they confuse me. Similar to how Rob55 pointed out Peter's input.

If I asked you all these questions, could you really answer it with clarity?

A. If my brother's wife did not have any kids and my brother died, will I sin if I don't marry her and have sex with her to produce children? It is 2014, does this Mosaic commandment apply to me if I do not marry my brother's wife? (Look at Matthew 22 and the OT story of Onan for references when you respond. Let me know if would be sinning if I do not marry my brother's widow and have babies.

B. If I called someone on my job a fool, will I be sinning? I want to know because it is written that Jesus indicated in Matthew that those who do are in danger of hell. Is just calling someone a fool, sinning or are there other words? I would really like clarity on if I am missing the obvious here as well.

There is more written in the bible about marrying my brother's widowed wife and calling someone a fool than masturbation. I need to see how clear these other questions can be answered before I can actually digest what some are definitively indicating about masturbation, especially masturbation that is enjoyed by both spouses at their consent and directed toward each other. Are those couples defiling their bed? Is it realistic that both will always be in the mood as well? Will a man have no choice but to willfully sin pleasuring himself to his wife on Skype or pictures he brought with him of her if he is away from his wife for a year deployed in war defending his country and he cannot control his sexual desires for the year? Will that wife back home have no choice but to willfully sin if she wakes up in the night longing for him and her pillow gives her a sensation feeling like his body and she releases? God?


EvanToledo's picture

Whose Morality, you bring up some very real questions!

First of all, many of the CIVIL rules of ancient Israel were for them in their society. The book of Hebrews tells us that the old
CIVIL and PRIESTLY--SACRIFICIAL laws were for that society and Christians are under the Priesthood of Jesus Christ now. Where a lot of people go astray is not separating God's Laws and Statutes from civil and sacrificial laws for Israel and Judah when they were organized societies. Contrary to critics, we do NOT "cherry-pick" the laws we observe--it took much research and prayer for the Church's understanding of this topic.

So to answer your question about marrying your brother's widow, under the New Covenant you are not required to do that.

Your second question about calling a person a fool is much easier to answer---as Christians, we are to LOVE OTHERS as OURSELVES. We shouldn't ever want to call someone names, especially realizing we had--and have many imperfections of our own and daily need to seek God's mercy and strength to grow out of our old sinful selves.

Finally, to the subject of this main thread--the situations you cite require Godly wisdom. It is obvious that if one thinks of sinful fantasies and masturbates it is sin. This leaves your question of release of tension in a gray area. These are issues to pray about and Bible study of the principles involved. We know bodily elimination is necessary, but this is an area which is very personal.

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