still_life_with_open_bible_candlestick_and_novelI’m going to take some heat for this blog post…

(Note to our Catholic brothers and sisters… these articles are written from an Evangelical Protestant perspective. Due to some differences in how our traditions come to our understanding of God’s moral law, there will always be some issues upon which we disagree… and this is one of them. I urge you to ensure that you are following your own understanding before the Lord in the faith tradition that he has led you to.)

Secret Sin or Providential Provision?

Some college buddies of mine called it “The Big M.” It’s called lots of other things, but whatever it may be called, it’s definitely a BIG issue!

Is it wrong or not? There’s probably no bigger “Frequently Asked Question” that we’ve had at MCAG. So I’m going to try and answer the question biblically and reasonably.

But before I answer…

I have to establish a ground rule here—a presupposition that undergirds my response. If someone disagrees with this foundational premise, then they are not likely to agree with my conclusion. It is this:

I cannot accept and will not promote a “rule for righteousness” that does not arise directly from the pages of Scripture.

As we are taught very clearly in Col. 2:20-23, there is absolutely no value (against fleshly indulgence!) in any man-made rule… no matter how well-articulated or how wise it may appear to be.

One of the most persistent realities that sabotage all the failed strategies against porn is that you are told to measure your purity/righteousness/freedom according to man-made rules. At MCAG, we reject any “rule” that is not stated clearly in the Bible.

The Bible Really DOES Talk About Masturbation!

Most people claim that the Bible does not mention masturbation. So, into that silence, they are all too ready to define and insert “God’s Moral Will” about the practice so that we all can know that masturbation really is wrong… God just forgot to mention it.

Don’t believe me? Just Google “Bible” and “Masturbation” and see what you get! It’s amazing to me how many Bible teachers readily admit “the Bible doesn’t mention masturbation… isn’t that amazing?” then turn around and tell you why it is wrong… as if God just “forgot” to address it.

But I disagree. I believe the Bible does mention masturbation… just not with the clinical word that we use to describe it in modern times…

And I suspect that the reason no one seems to recognize it is because the passage does NOT condemn the practice!

A “Seminal Emission”

The passage I speak of is Lev. 15:16-17. However, to fully understand it, we really should look at verses 16-19 (and the following verses too, if you want). Here is the passage:

16 ‘Now if a man has a seminal emission, he shall bathe all his body in water and be unclean until evening. 17 As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.

There it is. Masturbation in the Bible.

Some claim that this is really talking a “nocturnal emission” and claim that it only applies if the guy is asleep. But that limitation is not found in the passage. Furthermore, we’ll see in the very next verse that the guy is obviously awake there, so we can’t just “read it into” this verse. There is nothing specified in these verses about whether the “emission” happened spontaneously or by active intent. Clearly then, it must apply to either case, so this passage definitely does speak to masturbation.

Notice the only “penalty” for this event is that the man will be ceremonially “unclean” until evening. But does that mean that the practice is wrong? “Unclean” can’t be good, can it? Don’t jump to conclusionslet’s read on…

18 If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

This verse gives the same “penalty” for a man having sexual relations with his wife… which of course, also includes a “seminal emission.” Let’s keep reading…

19 ‘When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. (The verses that follow expand on the regulations regarding a woman’s period)

Here, we see the very same “penalty” for a woman having her menstrual period!

Would anyone try to make the case that marital sex is wrong? Or a woman’s period? Of course not! Therefore, we cannot claim that the Bible teaches that the practice of masturbation—in and of itself—is wrong!

Summary of the Biblical Teaching on Masturbation

Here it is:

If you masturbate, you are ceremonially unclean until the evening. By the way, be sure you clean up your mess.

That’s it.

Of course, there are other important matters to discuss relative to masturbation… like how it relates to lust and addictive or compulsive behavior, but this is where we must begin! I’ll cover those related questions next.

— Pastor David Martin


Stay tuned for the rest of the articles in this FAQ series:

For a very honest, thorough, and biblically sound study about Masturbation, see:
Is Masturbation a Sin?

Feel free to Leave a Comment on this post.

Please share this blog with others…

7 Responses to FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 1)

  • Thanks for Part 1 and the link. Looking forward to Part 2.

  • While I personally believe (thanks in part to your articles) that masturbation without lust is acceptable in moderation, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that this passage of Scripture is referring to it. One could argue that since a woman’s period is involuntary, the seminal emission reference should be interpreted that way as well. The point of these laws is the importance of cleanliness as a symbol of holiness. This passage neither condemns nor condones masturbation.

    Ed, thanks for all the work you and the others have put into this site. It has helped me a lot!

    • Hey, Wes. Thanks for writing.

      To clarify, I am not suggesting that Lev. 15:16-17 is only referring to masturbation, but without any doubt, this passage would apply to the occasion of masturbation just as surely as it would a nocturnal emission.

      There is no basis to read “involuntary” into these verses because of the involuntary nature of a woman’s cycle… else you would also have to read “involuntary” into verse 18, which speaks of a man and woman having sex… hardly and involuntary physical act.

      I believe the “point” of these laws was literally a matter of health preservation. When the law was given, people had no idea about bacteria and the causes of infection. But God told them to be very judicious in how they handled the presence of bodily fluids. These laws would have done a lot to keep exposure to infectious waste much lower than they likely would have been concerned with otherwise.

      David Martin (aka Pastor Ed)

  • We so completely agree concerning this passage.

  • Brother David,
    I completely agree with these posts about masturbation. Generally, it is a benign practice. It does help with depression and lowers blood pressure and relieves endorphins as well. No harm done.

  • Just absolute heresy and nonsense! Have you listened to the Holy Spirit on this? Did you choose not to listen after guilt and shame washed over you every time you did it? What’s going on? You’re leading the righteous astray! Just absolutely disgusting! Masturbation is a sin and wilfully engaging in it is absolutely a slap in the face to God! Practice self control! Read your Bible more! Dust it off first though. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God! Disgusting!

    • Dear Mr. Nameless “Heresy Finder”

      As you can see, I have published your comments… because I’m not afraid of a challenge… because the truth is not afraid of a challenge. Show me from the Scriptures how I am wrong and I will thank you.

      That said, allow me to answer your direct questions:

      1. Have you listened to the Holy Spirit on this?

      Yes, I believe that I have. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is the author of God’s Word, and I need His illumination to understand it correctly. I do believe that He has provided that illumination, so I’m comfortable asserting that I have listened to the Holy Spirit.

      2. Did you choose not to listen after guilt and shame washed over you every time you did it?

      Actually, I came to this conclusion long after I was married and have no need or desire to masturbate any more. Absolutely no guilt or shame involved in my reaching this conclusion at all… only an honest evaluation of the words of Scripture.

      3. What’s going on?

      What’s going on is that I’m teaching people to reject man-made rules of righteousness and live only by righteous directives found in the Scriptures.

      Now, I’ll respond to some statements that were not questions…

      1. You’re leading the righteous astray!

      Actually, following man-made rules is never a mark of true righteousness… and typically, those same rules are even impediments to true righteousness. Rejecting man-made rules is actually commanded in the Scriptures… See Col. 2:20-23.

      2. Masturbation is a sin and wilfully [sic] engaging in it is absolutely a slap in the face to God!

      You know, that’s what I heard all my life. But when I tried to validate that position from the Scriptures, I could not. How do YOU reach that conclusion?

      And on that note, Mr. Nameless, I issue you a challenge.

      Demonstrate to me from the Scriptures how “Masturbation is a sin and… a slap in the face of God!”

      If you cannot, then it is you who is slapping God in the face, for He said “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book” (speaking of the prophecy of Revelation, but a dire warning to ever “add to” God’s word for any reason).

      The floor is yours. Open your bible and make your case. I’ll publish it here where my readers can judge for themselves who is drawing their position from God’s Word and who is not.

      And when you write back, Please include your real name.

      David Martin

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