Objections to Our Position on Masturbation

Objections to Our Position on Masturbation

We welcome readers’ comments on our site and blog articles… even if they don’t agree.

We recently received a comment on the articles about masturbation. I felt like the comment was well written and reflected a perspective that is perhaps very common among a lot of Christians. Consequently, I also thought that it deserved more exposure than just a reader comment buried in the comments on a blog article.  It also deserved an honest response.

We at MCAG are not the final arbiters of truth regarding all things sexual, and certainly, we are not the measures of moral absolutes as it pertains to sexual behavior. So, I urge our readers to examine everything we say—and everything they themselves believe—in the light of God’s Word, which is the measure of moral absolutes and the final arbiter of truth.

That said, let me quote the reader’s comment in full:

Ruth’s comment on FAQ–What about Masturbation? (Part 4)

I’ve read a few of the articles and find them interesting and hopeful. I do have a different opinion on the topic of masturbation. Masturbation is the ultimate form of single sex. I think instead of searching for scripture that speaks to masturbating (of which one verse has been linked to the subject-seminal emissions which doesn’t mean masturbation has taken place) that we should ask, “What is the purpose of sex that God has designed for us?” There are well defined verses in the bible that say sex is designed for man and woman to enjoy in marriage. To become one…not to have sex as one person. I think the reason that there isn’t a verse speaking to masturbation is because sex wasn’t designed to be single sex. Masturbation doesn’t have a purpose to bring God glory. I think we are foolish to think that we can masturbate and ‘in moderation.’ Whatever moderation means regarding masturbation…that’s a tricky one to define and confusing. And maybe dangerous for those who’ve struggled with lust in the past and those who have yet to struggle with lust.

I’ve learned a lot about sex addiction because my husband has struggled with it. In my own research, I’ve read many articles which link the orgasm’s release of dopamine to creating an attachment with whatever is occurring at that moment. It’s why the addiction progressively worsens because each time one masturbates to porn, an attachment is made to something inanimate. With addiction, the porn searches become more..adventurous, dirtier and each time it takes something just a little more over the top to get that same excitement. Porn rewires your brain circuits to be stimulated to porn, women’s body parts, and eventually, your wife isn’t as attractive anymore, not as exciting as the girls in print or video. Women become objects. My point is this: if you can suggest that one can masturbate without lust, what thoughts are you letting the dopamine attach to? And, isn’t it dangerous? IMHO, it’s like telling a child to play with fire unsupervised. You can play with it, you may or may not get burned today…

Lastly, I just want to say how disappointed I am to read the suggestion above to women to masturbate so she would be “more fulfilled in her sexual union with her husband when she marries.” This statement suggests that orgasm is the ultimate goal of sex when it’s not. Intimacy is the goal. And I think, that a man and woman, in marriage, figuring out each other’s bodies, communicating them to one another, learning together in their whole lifetime, is exciting enough. In fact, to suggest that the woman should figure out her body so she can be satisfied on her honeymoon steals the gift of herself away from God and her husband.

My two cents…

First of all, Ruth, let me thank you for a respectful and well-articulated statement.

Before I respond to specific statements in your comments, let me reiterate some very important principles that I try to allow to guide my thinking on this—or any—topic.

  • God’s Word is authoritative.
    • By this I mean that I believe that where the Bible speaks on moral issues, it speaks the mind of God, with the totality of divine authority.
    • I also mean that I am not willing to hold or promote moral standards that I cannot derive from the Scripture’s teaching. If God declined to include them, I won’t add them.
  • Man-made Rules are not helpful towards true righteousness.
    • Col. 2:20-23 makes it absolutely clear that any man-made religious/behavior rule will fail to accomplish the moral purity it has been established to promote—no matter how well-intentioned.
    • Man-made Rules usually have the “appearance of wisdom” and boil down to “severe treatment of the body” (also Col. 2:20-23). Despite the apparent “wisdom,” the rules are still false.
  • Consequently, we should never create–or bow to–Man-made Rules for righteousness.
    • Rather, we should be on the alert for them and actively reject them.

I cannot emphasize these points enough. I firmly believe that such man-made rules are not only ineffective towards their intended result, but actually make our bondage greater. The reason for this is two-fold:

  • First, when we expend our energy following a command that God never gave us, we are failing to apply our energy to that which really is “God’s rule.”
  • Secondly, when we submit to something which is actually false (i.e. not from God), we are actually submitting to the author of falsehood… which leads inevitably to more bondage.

With regard to the current topic, when a young man believes that God forbids masturbation, he will focus much of his effort on avoiding masturbation—instead of focusing his effort on not lusting! Furthermore, he will also assume that the natural physical urges that he experiences are actually expressions of lust, leaving him deeply frustrated with his inability to overcome his “sinful desires.”

One of our most important tasks as we seek to grow in the Lord is to not only embrace truth, but to diligently and honestly examine our current beliefs to ensure that they truly align with what is true. A lie believed always supplants a truth that we need to believe.

I emphasize this up front because it sets the stage for what I will say in response to your comments. In short, it is not that some of the things you’ve said don’t make sense, but simply that the Bible does not support the assertions or the assumptions that are behind them.

Finally, let me say clearly that I mean no disrespect by my responses here. I have some very dear friends who are strong supporters of MCAG who vehemently disagree with the things I’ve presented here on this topic. But as it turns out, my commitment to holding to the Scriptures alone forces me to take the position that I’ve articulated.

So, now allow me to quote selection from your comments and respond to them.

I’ve read a few of the articles and find them interesting and hopeful.

Thank you for these encouraging words. We believe that the “hope” that is found in truth is for everyone. We believe that real freedom from porn and sexual bondage is never going to be found in strategies that treat the human form as if it is a danger to person’s spiritual health.

Masturbation is the ultimate form of single sex.

Short Answer: No, masturbation is not sex. Orgasm is not sex. Sex is a relational act. And if it is not relational, it is not sex. Consequently, we cannot apply biblical teaching about sexual relationships to masturbation.

Long Answer: I’ve heard this statement from more than source. But the problem is that the very concept is one that cannot be defended from the Scriptures. Masturbation is not sex. This is because orgasm by itself cannot be considered “sex.” Whenever the Bible speaks of sex, it uses relational terms. As you correctly observed, God speaks of sexual union only in terms of relationship:

  • “The two will become one flesh.”
  • Adam “knew” his wife Eve and she conceived.
  • So-and-so “lay with” his wife…

In other words, God doesn’t define sexual behavior based upon the presence of an orgasm, but in terms of the relational behavior of a man and woman by which she might conceive and bear a child. Of course, we know that orgasm has to happen for the “seed” of a man to impregnate a woman, but to God, the issue is “one flesh” rather than orgasm. In point of fact, the Bible never even alludes to—let alone regulates—the physical experience of an orgasm. To consider every occasion of orgasm to be regulated by the biblical rules of “sex” is a recipe for a man-made rule.

This sort of “man-made rule” error happens in many different contexts, but it works like this: God’s rule about 123 is XYZ. In our own wisdom, we claim that 456 is the same as 123, so therefore, we assume that XYZ applies to 456, too… yet God did not apply it that way. One biblical example is the Pharisees’ error regarding “working on the Sabbath.”  God said, “Don’t work on the Sabbath.” The Pharisees said “carrying your bed mat is work;” they said “healing someone is work.” So they applied God’s “don’t work” rule to the bed mat and healing… applications that God never intended. In their efforts to follow God’s rules, they created false man-made rules… that were wrong.

If we call masturbation “sex,” then we feel justified in applying God’s laws regarding sex to masturbation… even though God never applied them that way. As soon as we reject the description of masturbation as “sex,” then all of a sudden, we have no basis in the Scriptures to regulate against it. To create such a regulation when God chose to omit it is the very definition of a “man-made rule.”

Now let me hasten to establish one more baseline for my comments here… I am not defending or promoting the use of porn, erotica, fantasizing, or the objectification of any other person in the mind as a focus and drive for the self-stimulation. This sort of masturbation is always wrong! But what makes it wrong is the mental objectification, abuse, and consumption of another person made in God’s image for the purpose of self-gratification. I think you would agree, this makes almost all masturbation sinful as it is generally practiced by people today.

…one verse has been linked to the subject-seminal emissions which doesn’t mean masturbation has taken place…

Short Answer: The passage applies to any case where there is a seminal emission… including masturbation.

Longer Answer: I am not trying to say that the verse in Lev. 15 is only about masturbation. I am saying that without any doubt, this verse applies to the specific context of masturbation. Notably missing is any reference to the agency of the emission. One way or another, an orgasm happened, else there would be no emission at all. But from the perspective of the law God gave, the means by which the orgasm occurred was not even worth mentioning. So, a man who masturbates must apply this verse to the situation just as much as the man who has an involunary nocturnal emission.  I am furthermore saying that this passage—with its matter-of-fact instructions about an emission of semen—is the only passage in the entire bible that we can be sure speaks to the man who masturbates. It appears from this law that God is more concerned about the health issues—clean the linens!—than He is about the occurrence of an orgasm by a man alone in bed.

Masturbation doesn’t have a purpose to bring God glory. I think we are foolish to think that we can masturbate and ‘in moderation.’

Short Answer: We cannot establish a moral standard for behavior simply on the absence of an identifiable purpose of bringing glory to God. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control, so there is no specific action that is impossible to control—”in moderation”—when the Spirit of God empowers a person.

And maybe dangerous for those who’ve struggled with lust in the past and those who have yet to struggle with lust.

Short Answer: The simple act of masturbation is not the same thing as sinful “lust.” Creating a man-made “rule for righteousness” which God did not give will not promote true righteousness or restrain sensual indulgence… this is clearly declared in Col. 2:20-23. For the man who struggles with a lust stronghold in his life, we need to provide biblically sound answers… answers that God articulates in His Word, for no other answer will truly help.

I’ve read many articles which link the orgasm’s release of dopamine to creating an attachment with whatever is occurring at that moment.

I’m going to let that one phrase stand in for your entire paragraph so I don’t have to re-quote the whole thing here…

I too have learned a lot about pornography addiction… because I experienced it. I too have read about the “attachment” that some claim occurs during the dopamine release… but I’ve come to believe that that explanation is incomplete. I don’t believe that the “attachment” comes simply from the experience of an orgasmas “feel good” and dopamine-rich as it may bebut rather that experience combined with an adrenaline rush. Here’s what I mean and why I say that…

Long before God delivered me from my struggle with porn, I pondered my own experience with it and noticed that the adrenaline high I experienced from planning and sneaking a time of indulgence was MUCH more powerful than the sexual excitement and/or release I experienced when the time arrived. Quite frankly, after all the adrenaline-laced anticipation, the actual viewing of the porn and the release was almost a let-down by comparison. Yes, I remember some “attachment” moments, but they were always laced with adrenaline… making them exponentially more potent as an experience than orgasm alone.

Contrast that to the sexual relationship I have with my wife. I have never been dissatisfied with her sexually, and I delight in our sex life. But honestly, I truly wish I was more “addicted” to it and had the physical ability to engage in it more often! We love our times of intimacy, but there is relatively little adrenaline associated with it, since there’s nothing that compels the “fight or flight” reflex that pours adrenaline into our system. We aren’t stealing affections that are forbidden. We aren’t planning ways to sneak away for an illicit encounter. We are simply enjoying our time together, and allowing our love to overflow into physical union. Plenty of dopamine with the experience to be sure, but little adrenaline. Consequently, no “addiction” response. And my relational attachment is not created by the orgasm, the physical union is literally an expression of the attachment that already exists.

So… does masturbational orgasm include adrenaline and “attachment” to anything? Well, it depends… on whether the event is “forbidden” or not. If we forbid any and all masturbation, then we actually create the context where anytime a guy (or girl) masturbates, they are engaging in a forbidden act… which invariably triggers the adrenaline component. But if a young man simply finds release in the shower as an inconsequential and matter-of-fact part of his day—without engaging his mind in lustful thoughts—then it will not trigger the adrenaline, nor will the experience be memorable or induce any sort of “attachment.”

I know this is my opinion, but frankly, I believe it fits the data better, and I know that it fits my own experience better. My point is that the position you’ve presented and the research you’ve alluded to is not as concrete as you might think, or as incontrovertible as it has been declared.

Lastly, I just want to say how disappointed I am to read the suggestion above to women to masturbate so she would be “more fulfilled in her sexual union with her husband when she marries.”

Well, I admit that my statement on this point was very much of the IMHO sort… and it still is. For what it’s worth, however, after I received your response, I asked my own wife what she thought about my statements. From her experience and perspective, she agreed. She and I entered into our marriage as virgins… although neither of us were strangers to masturbation. Yet, I can assure you, there was no lack of joy in the discovery and learning about each other’s bodies. And I would suggest that our first experience together was more “successful” and joyful for both of us because of our knowledge of how our own bodies work. We experienced no disappointment that first night, nor ever since. But I do hear stories about women—who go into marriage after a lifetime of considering any and every sexual sensation to be sin—finding it very difficult to just “turn on” the sensuality and fully accept those feelings as godly and right just because they now have a ring on their finger.

I hope you see that I’m not trying to denigrate women by stating this position, but rather release from rules that God didn’t give them, and free them to learn and know their own bodies better so that their experience in marriage is not laden with guilt and uncertainty, but wondrous anticipation and fulfillment.

And one more thing I’ll say on that topic… I know there might be some who extol the joys of “solo-sex” (a misnomer to start with), but there is simply no comparison between masturbating alone and sexual union with one that you are loving for a lifetime.

My Final Comments:

Masturbation is not sex. Orgasm is not sex. Sex is relational. God never regulated orgasm, he regulated sexual relationships. God could have regulated masturbation… but He did not. And neither should we.

God did forbid lust, and so should we. God did call us to love, and objectifying and consuming another person for self-indulgence is contrary to love. We can and should stand against the objectification of women and men. We must stand against pornography. But we never accomplish those things by adding to God’s Word a rule for righteousness that God chose not to include in the inspired text.

All the scientific reasoning and all the religious fervor that we can generate do not justify adding to God’s Word. This is why I stand where I stand… I refuse to add something to God’s Word which careful evaluation reveals is not found in its pages.

Pastor David Martin


comments user

I have read many of your articles and they are really enlightening.
But I have to disagree with that one. Saying that orgasm isn´t sex because sex is relational doesn´t mean that orgasm isn´t part of sex. Sex is relational for sure but God also created us to be able to experience orgasm within the boundaries of marriage making orgasm inseparable from sex. It´s obvious that one of His intents was that humans could experience the feeling of orgasm with their closest one, with their spouse. That in conclusion makes masturbation solo sex.
The fact that it´s not clearly stated in the Bible doesn´t mean it should be allowed or beneficial. (Better safe than sorry- that momentary feeling of pleasure is not worth the pain that accompanies this. And isn´t our relationship to God way more precious than few seconds of carnal pleasure?)
There are many things in life which are not mentioned in the Bible and which we consider to be sin. And how do we know this? Through Holy Spirit who guides us into all the truth.
There are plenty of articles about masturbation written by christians who don´t condemn the act. It´s deplorable and wreacking havoc on so many people´s lives, holding them captive.
I started masturbating without any knowledge of whether it was true or false. It happened by chance and without any lustful thoughts, purely mechanical. Still somehow I felt guilty.
Even when it starts off without lust, it eventually creates lustful thoughts. Masturbation made me look at myself and others as an object, I started to hate and be ashamed of my body because it tempted me, it became a sexual sight. The habit is also extremely addictive, dragging you deeper and deeper without fulfillment. By it´s nature, masturbation can never release sexual tension because it´s a sexual activity outside of marriage, outside of God´s plan and a misuse of His gift. When we step beyong His´ set boundaries, we will lose His protection. Masturbation is clearly a misuse of one´s body.
How come that if one falls into masturbation, which sexually feels so amazing, leaves that person laden with guilt when the feeling is over? Especially if one has never heard it preached as being something unholy. I´ve talked to so many people and all of them have the exact same story- story of guilt and shame. In that case we should consider that MAYBE it´s God trying to tell us something.
When it comes to masturbation, it´s like science- a theory will not be compatible with reality if practice proves otherwise. How do we know if something is sin? By it´s fruits.
I thank God He set me free from this bondage, through repentance and running to Him when I found myself under temptation I could not resist without Him. He met me right there, reached His hand and dragged me out of this. After this my relationship with Him became so much deeper and I found new freedom in Him. His presence, forgiveness and grace exceeds any longing for sexual gratification outside of its Godly context and it is a lie that we need to masturbate. God´s grace is so much better and when He sets us free, we are free indeed.
He revealed to me how things work in spiritual realm: any type of sexual activity outside of the protective boundaries of marriage is sin. There is a spirit of lust over all sexual sin and when one steps out of the protective boundaries God has set and masturbates, then even if he/she didn´t fantasize or have any improper thoughts, still by entering the area controlled by these demonic forces, one opens his/her life to their influence. It doesn´t matter if the person sinned while being aware of it or not. These are the rules of the spiritual realm, not being aware doesn´t cancel out the influence of the enemy.
I have not watched porn but what I have read so far about it´s inherent nature and addiction, I find astounding similarities between masturbation and porn (when being compared separately). That´s why the articles have been so beneficial. Through seeing my body as something divine I am starting to get back my self-confidence and not seeing it as a stumbling block.
I thank God for this knowledge and truth I have found from your articles and I pray that your ministry will be of great help for even more people struggling with sexual sin.

    comments user
    David Martin

    Hi, Karin. Thanks for writing. I’m sorry it took a while for me to get around to approving it.

    I’m not going to attempt to contest every point you made, but I would like to respond to a few things.

    First of all, I don’t think the logic of your first paragraph fully supports the conclusion that “masturbation is solo sex.” I never claimed that orgasm was not a part of sex, only that it was not inseparable from sex. It can be and is experienced outside of sex, even without any sort of manual stimulation (wet dreams, for instance). God did design sex to include orgasm, for obvious reasons, but that does not make orgasm the measure of sex.

    I think it is instructive that God never once speaks of the morality of orgasm… only sexual conduct. And as I point out in the articles, when He did give a law regarding a man having an “emission of semen,” the regulation is exactly the same whether he was alone or with his wife (except that the one who is alone has a mess to clean up, naturally).

    Masturbation is not like other “modern” sins that simply didn’t exist when the Bible was written; we cannot presume to add it into the Scriptures where God chose to omit it. It’s much like the issue of wine and alcohol… God could have–but never did–forbid the drinking of any alcohol. He spoke about and forbade drunkenness. By the same token, God could have–but never did–forbid manual stimulation of the genitals. Instead, He spoke about sexual conduct with other.

    God told his people to bury their feces. He told men not to have sex with a menstruating woman. They were also told to not even sit on the same chair as a menstruating woman! He told them not to have sexual relations with animals. He did NOT mention anything about “solo sex.” He could have, but chose not to.

    Now this gets to the real crux of the matter… Is it really OK for us to add moral standards into the Bible where God chose to be silent?

    One thing is very clear in the New Testament… it is a HUGE mistake to create or even submit to man-made rules for righteousness!

    You contend that you know people for home masturbation has led to damage in their lives. I can’t speak to the cases which you cite, but I can tell you for sure that I have seen GREAT damage to people’s lives–even people driven away from faith in Christ–because of systems of Christianity that insisted upon creating rules for life that God simply never gave us!

    I would rather err on the side of NOT creating/imposing rules for living that God did not give rather than risk lying about God by telling people that God feels a certain way about something based upon my own “wisdom” or judgment.

    Pastor David Martin

comments user

I fully agree that the pleasure and satisfaction of masturbation does not compare in the least bit to that of sex with ones wife.

I will also add that while male masturbation may be mentioned in the Bible as you have said, I know of no instance where anything is mentioned about female masturbation. Considering that female orgasm is not necessary for procreation it seems that the argument that masturbation is misusing the power of procreation could not apply to women even if it did apply to men.

    comments user
    David Martin

    I think you may be right, BJ.

    One pretty surprising thing I’ve observed is that while the bible does talk about sexual relations, and it does hint at masturbation, it never does address orgasm!

    It is not mentioned. It is not regulated.

    We know it must happen, because the race has successfully propagated to this point in time, but God didn’t see fit to ever mention it.

    I don’t think the bible ever mentions chewing (for humans, anyway), either. Or urinating. All “facts of life” but not mentioned in the Bible.

    By contrast, defecating IS mentioned… along with the requirement for Israelites that it be buried. So, we can know that it was literally by choice that God omitted anything about chewing, urination, or orgasm.

    What does that tell us? I’m not sure… but it at least tells us that they don’t require regulations to constrain us to righteous conduct.

    David Martin

comments user

The OT uses of “uncleanness” are legalistic references to seminal emissions voluntary or not. IMHO the NT references imply all forms of non-marital willful emissions.

comments user

Thanks so much to the team who has put this website together! I have read just about everything on here in the last few days and am excited to see how a renewed view of the body and sexuality will bring freedom in my life! So much of it rings as true and makes sense and sheds light on so many experiences in my life. So thanks for sharing it!

I had a few thoughts as I was reading the masturbation posts and comments…I haven’t thought much about this until now, but here’s what I’m wondering…

In your response, you mention that “my commitment to holding to the Scriptures alone forces me to take the position I’ve articulated”. I wonder if just as your assertions on this site would shock many with a “prudery” view of the body, my questioning the “Scriptures alone” assertion would come as a shock? Where in the scriptures does it say that scripture alone is what you need to hold to? Is this a self-defeating statement?For instance, in one of the writings here, you write:

“I commit to ‘No Masturbation’: This false rule is treated as if it is God’s rule, and therefore also a measure of sexual purity for a young man.”

Does the same problem exist with the statement “I commit to ‘only the scripture’”?

Do math, science, and art have anything to tell us? Is 2+2 not necessarily 4 because the Bible doesn’t say so? Does life experience have anything to tell us? Does the splendor and beauty of the Earth and the universe have anything to tell us? Does the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us have anything to tell us?

I don’t want to comment on whether or not masturbation is right or wrong, but rather go one level deeper and question another common assumption found here and in the church. I’m wondering if it holds up to honest scrutiny. Maybe we’re stuck in another “porno – prudery” type of situation?

    comments user
    David Martin

    Hi, Greg. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

    Let me clarify something with reference to “Only Scripture”…

    I’m writing from the perspective of a Christian who believes that God has revealed His Truth (His thoughts, His values, His morality, etc.) through the Bible. If someone else agrees with that presupposition, then we can have a productive discussion about the discernment of God’s perspective about an issue. If the Bible does not reliably and accurately reveal God’s mind, then discussion about what God thinks about something is a waste of time. My opinions about what God thinks are no more valuable or dependable than yours or anyone else’s.

    On a side note, I would affirm that exploring the question of whether the Bible actually IS a reliable and accurate revelation of God’s mind is a worthwhile question for the serious-minded seeker of truth to ask and answer. But that’s outside the scope of this website. I offer my best interpretation of the Bible’s teaching using the tried and tested and widely-held standard for biblical interpretation called the “Grammatical Historical” method. If someone does not accept the Bible as morally authoritative, then they may not agree with the the teaching, but hopefully they can still see that what I’ve presented is a fair and accurate depiction of what the Bible actually says and means.

    My next clarification is that I’ve never claimed that the Bible is the only source for truth (true science and mathematics are not untrustworthy simply because they do not appear in the Scriptures)… but I would say that it is the only source for trustworthy claims about morality and God’s perspective on human behavior. When we’re talking about masturbation, we’re talking about the morality of a specific human behavior. We want to know what GOD thinks about it. Science cannot tell you. Math cannot tell you. Art cannot tell you. But the revelation of God’s mind found in God’s word CAN tell you… that is, if God chose to include it in the Scriptures.

    Ultimately, my aim is to expose what the Bible teaches on a subject. My perspective here is ONLY valuable to anyone other than myself IF my reader counts the bible as morally authoritative as well. Some will value the Scriptures for moral truth, but also feel like there are other moral standards (such as “no masturbation”) that are also in keeping with God’s truth. Personally, I’ve decided not to hold or promote moral “rules” for human behavior which do not arise directly (or through clear logical inference) from the pages of Scripture alone.

    I hope that helps address your comments.

comments user

What about sexual fantasies? How are they different from sexual thoughts? Are they always wrong?

comments user
emma ese

I like your write up, you are doing a good work in exposing the lies about porn. However, I perceive that your views of masturbation is extra-biblical. In prescribing masturbation to ease sexual tensions, you are trying to promote a subtle lie that will enslave many, just as porn (which you are trying to correct now) is doing to so many today. I advice that you should not license what the Lord never licensed, nor regulate what He never regulated. Just be silent where the scripture is silent, allow the Spirit of Truth to guide His people.

    comments user
    David Martin

    Emma, thanks for your encouraging comments.

    And, I appreciate your point… if we “prescribe” something that the bible does not direct us to do, then we are actually making the same error as those who forbid something that the bible does not forbid.

    Let me say that my “prescription” is really more like “suggestion.” And I give it because many, many young men and women have deep questions about masturbation, and the only thing they’ve ever heard from Christians is that it’s always wrong and it can never be used in a way that honors the Lord. My effort is to counteract that lie… and in the process, to suggest how such a practice could realistically be part of a person’s personal strategy to live a godly life.

    I would also caution against the assertion, “you should not license what the Lord never licensed” (although I agree with “nor regulate what He never regulated.”). This is because we actually can work from the starting point that if God does not forbid something, that we can presume–to start with–that it may be allowed (we have “license” even though God does not “license” it). Of course, we must also seek to honestly apply other moral standards and biblical principles to every question before reaching a final conclusion, but we don’t need a “license” for everything that we do.

    And “silent where the scriptures are silent” is not realistic… else almost every pastor would have to say a lot less than they now say, and every Christian Counselor would have very little to offer to their clients. The real challenge is in distinguishing in our communications when we are asserting something on the authority of God’s Word, and when it is our best judgment based on research and experience.


comments user
Trail Reeves

Biblically, sex is that which involves a penis inside of a vagina. Period. Man made attempts to expand the definition are just that – man made. If it takes a woman’s virginity, it would be sex. If it does not, even if an orgasm is involved, then it is not “sex” according to the Bible. The lengths we will go to in order to defend our preconceptions is astounding.

comments user

Hi David,

I want to thank you sincerely for all the work put into this wonderful website, and all the helpful information regarding porn.

However, I am honestly disappointed and upset towards your stance about masturbation, not towards you of course. If masturbation is fine, why does it leave us feeling empty afterwards? M has so many people in bondage. If you don’t believe me, look up the nofap forums. And yes, I am talking about just masturbation, even without porn. I do agree one can masturbate without fantasy, and just do it based on the pure physical pleasure, but there are many verses that although not specifically mentioning masturbation, are related, or in my opinion could be applied.

I want to ask you whether you believe masturbation is sowing to the flesh or spirit, and also for what exactly it means to be walking in the flesh vs walking in the spirit. For example, eating food is “satisfying the flesh” but it is not sin of course. But would masturbating be an example of walking by the flesh instead of the spirit? Genuine question

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I seriously think you could be falling prey to cultural expectations and norms about masturbation in the same way you warned others of the lies they have been told equating nudity with porn through cultural conditioning.

Almost all of the ‘doctors’ and ‘health experts’ claim that masturbation is healthy and normal. There are many lies that have been widespread such as “use it or lose it”, “you need a release”, “if you don’t masturbate you will get prostate cancer”. These are all very big lies. In fact, I will link this study that shows the opposite: that the higher the frequency of masturbation, the MORE likely you are to get prostate cancer.
1) “Men who are very sexually active in their twenties and thirties are more likely to develop prostate cancer, especially if they masturbate frequently, according to a study of more than 800 men.”

2) “Men with prostate cancer were also more likely to masturbate frequently than men in the control group”

The elites want people to masturbate and become enslaved by their sexual desires. That is why social media, porn, and everywhere we are bombarded with sexual images.

While for some people, doing it once every while with no lustful thoughts or fantasies attached might not be an issue. Okay, sure. But for most, especially men, this is so addictive, its like a drug. It puts one in a stupor afterwards. And many people try to quit but can’t. It really is slavery. It is you not being in control of your body. Society has conditioned us to believe that “we have to masturbate” because otherwise the pressure will build and we will explode! No! That’s not true, many have gone months and years without it and are fine, (actually in much better health than ever). For example, see this young Christian man’s testimony and advice about being free from porn, masturbation, orgasm for 4 years!

I myself have gone 100+ 200+ days without it, and let me say, it is so nice not feeling controlled and having to give in to this. Can’t Jesus set us free from masturbation as well? Won’t the truth set us free from this also? In this case, the truth needs to replace all of the lies surrounding masturbation that i mentioned above: that it is healthy, good for you, is consequence free, and brings fulfillment. Doesn’t the bible say “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Its a slippery slope to define whether or not you are actually in control when you masturbate. Many people don’t even realize it is a problem or the fact that they can’t go without it for 2-3 weeks. “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

We have been conditioned lately in the last half century especially ever since the sexual revolution to believe that masturbation is healthy. It has been encouraged. So many are addicted to this. Most people can’t even go a couple of weeks without it! People long ago, famous philosophers and writers, knew that masturbation was like a physical spiritual and mental suicide. And for awhile up until about 2015, people mocked the idea that masturbation can be harmful for you. Because society has conditioned us to believe it is healthy. But the men back then knew the truth.

Another point I want to make is that I think it is disrespectful to waste your life force, your essence into a tissue or sock or on the floor. Your semen has the power to bring life. Just one sperm is needed to fertilize an egg and you are just dumping that on the ground for a few seconds of carnal pleasure… You aren’t adhering to the principle of sexual activity within marriage, which is why masturbation leaves you feeling empty, guilty, and like you lost something.

Please see post here about all of the negative effects of porn and masturbation. Yes, a good portion of the negative effects are from masturbation alone!

Lastly I do not claim to be the final arbiter of truth either. I respect your opinions, but from my experience as well as many others, masturbation should be avoided! If anyone reads this, ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. Maybe for some people, God has put it on their hearts that it is sin, while for others it is not. Perhaps God didn’t explicitly put it in the bible for other reasons as well, for example: It would be extreme since then almost everyone would fail, and also there are specific unique cases where masturbation might be more “okay” for instance if a married man’s wife dies, and so he no longer can have sex for a time. I’m just saying that as an example

I think the bible indicates that the answer to sexual desire is either self control or marriage. Lastly I will leave this verse, because like you said David, it is not written explicitly that masturbation is a sin.
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)

Thank you David, and well wishes to you. I will keep coming back to the articles posted that are so helpful. God bless you

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    David Martin

    Sky, Thanks for your words of encouragement and your thoughtful post.

    Without going through your post point by point, I think I can summarize my response this way…

    It comes back to one singular and undisputed observation… The bible does not forbid masturbation.

    I know that that’s not the very end of the discussion, but it sure is the starting point. And whatever the bible does notforbid, we should be very reticent to ADD it to God’s Word! And I mean VERY!

    So, if I start from that point, I have to say that I don’t find anything in your reasoning that forces me to conclude that I should add masturbation to God’s true list of moral laws. Particularly when sexuality and sexual conduct is clearly something that is as fundamental to human existence and behavior. It is simply incomprehensible that God would address the “cleanup” after a seminal emission but fail to say, “don’t do that!” at the same time (or anywhere else in the scriptures).

    So… for this reason, I am compelled to avoid adding to God’s word something that God clearly knew about but chose not to include in the inspired text.

    That doesn’t mean that the issues you raised are not valid. Many of them really are. But is adding to God’s word a “rule for righteousness” that He did not give the only possible answer?

    I can tell you that I have heard from young men who have made peace with masturbation and have found a way to not experience the emptiness or guilt or shame or disturbance in their relationship with God. Certainly, if someone cannot do that, they shouldn’t be doing it. But can you conclusively say that finding the godly balance is impossible? I don’t think you can.

    I also find in Colossians 2 further admonition to NOT submit to such rules…

    “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Col. 2:20-23 emphasis mine)

    Notice several things here about the “decrees” that we are told by Paul to reject:
    * It usually starts with “Do Not…”
    * It is the teaching of men rather than the teaching of God (not found in God’s Word)
    * It really makes sense (appears to be wise)
    * It is a “religious” effort
    * It’s not person-friendly (self-abasing)
    * It’s not body-friendly

    Now when you run the “no masturbation” rule through that grid, it hits squarely on most of them, and is highly suspicious of being a match on the rest of them.

    And the most important thing to observe is that final phrase that Paul gives… man-made rules “are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

    Now, within that context, what do we have to offer that would override all of that and compel us to “make the rule” anyway? For me, there’s simply not enough evidence–no matter how well articulated–to assert that Col. 2 doesn’t apply.

    So… I have to conclude that it must be possible to remain spiritually healthy and committed to God, even while masturbating. Think about it this way… Can I blow my nose to the Glory of God? Can I urinate to the Glory of God? Can I defecate to the Glory of God? Weird questions, right? But The answer has to be “yes” to all those questions. If I am living in my body in a God-honoring way, and my body is functioning as God intended, then yes, even these less-than-pretty actions can be done to God’s glory. And there’s no reason that we cannot add “seminal emission” to that strange list of things we can do to God’s Glory.

    This is NOT an excuse to engage in erotic fantasies or porn or lust in order to masturbate. There are plenty of very good an biblical reasons why those things are wrong. Quite frankly, I suspect that if someone cannot do the deed without such imaginations, they probably are not yet to the point where their body physically needs the “release.”

    Anyway, I hope this helps answer your question. My challenge to you is this… “What does it take for you to conclude that God has a moral absolute that He did not include in the Bible?” I’m not saying there’s never a place for that (drug abuse or smoking, for example), but for something that spans the history of mankind, there really must be a compelling reason to “add” it to God’s Word. I honestly cannot think of a single moral absolute like that that I can point to and assert that it’s really God’s law even though God did not include it in His word. Can you?


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Byron Haley

Regarding the various discussions on Masturbation…I so wish I had heard this throughout my teenage and young adult life. I echo the pattern of release, regret, request forgiveness, pressure build, release…repeat. For those that say orgasm is sex and is only a part of sexual relations, or that masturbatin is solo-sex; that does not match my experience or my wife’s. We both experienced orgasm the first time in the shower as pre-teens by total surprise. I’m guessing we aren’t the only ones. Washing was feeling good, then all of a sudden some unexpected happened, and our thoughts were “What the heck was that, and I like it? As we grew up in the church, we learned what it was and that is should be considered sinful. If I resisted masturbation because it was wrong (according to the chruch), release would happen when I wasn’t expecting it or trying to make it happen–many boys and girls have fond memories of climbing the pole or rope in gym class because it felt good. Sometimes it resulted in an orgasm and an embarrassing mess to clean up. Noctural emmisions was ususally the result of attempting to not masturbate. Having that happen at a boys sleep over was just about as embarrasing and mentally damaging as wetting the bed as a teenager. As I got older, I began to realize the connection between masturbating and nocturnal emmissions. My wife had slightly different experiences but essentially the same. She unxepectedly orgasmed while riding a horse a few time and while snow skiing. These events were bad timing to be experiencing the typical orgasm effect of “loosing control.” She also had many “wet dreams”. As young adult Christians, we both researched the bible on the subject of masturbation and came to similiar conclusions as David Martin. The bible does not condemn masturbation, but it does condemn lust. We both had bouts with pornography, but overcame them. Here is some of the conclusions we came to. Lust often involes masturbation, but masturbation does not have to include lust. When masturbation is done as way to releave the sex drive without lust involved, it has about as much pleasure as the release when you badly need to pee. It prevented nocturnal emissions which is messy to clean up, and totally beyond a persons control to stop. As far as women, their sex drive, and the need for masturbation; its only really different in the mechanics of act and the volume of emissions. Women should be grateful it is not as visible or messy to clean up for them. This is not a man’s only problem. Its a human condition. We have considered suggesting people should masturbate before going on dates when they are single, just so their head is in the right game. To continue the previous analogy, trying to be a date and carry on a meaniful conversation while needing sexual release is about as effective as trying to carry on a meaning conversation while your bladder is about to explode. We both have masturbated even after being married, not because we have a lust problem; but because the other person wasn’t available at the moment, and this drive was making it extremely difficult just to concentrate on the work at hand. We regret how much time and energy was wasted feeling like we were sinning and couldn’t control or stop it from happening when we were teenagers and young adults. What a perfect scheme of the enemy…convince you through the church that what you are doing is sinful when its not, so that much your efforts are devoted to fighting something that doesn’t exist and creating a weakness for the sin of premarital sex, instead of spreading the gospel and the truth.

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LOVE this post. I will say though, what many people consider “pornography” – just like nudity – ultimately is dependent on the eyes through which it is seen. I will say that people fornicating is tragic, but the sexual act in and of itself *can be* beautiful if viewed through eyes that only see the beauty of the mechanics, grand design, incredible function, and profound potential bonding. In most sexual material, fornication IS the way this is presented and certainly not something that is easy to look past. It would be bitter sweet like seeing victims in prison camps doing good to each other while being forced to also do harm to others. With all that said, I fear that how we treat God’s own miraculous and BEAUTIFUL creation related to our sexual functions is not so different from how the world treats nudity. I truly believe that one can see sex acts (and I agree that masturbation/orgasm are not even sex as defined by God) and or masturbation etc. and **WITH the right eyes and heart** (NOT coveting, NOT intending or even wanting to step into the place of the subjects) truly glorify God for his grandest creation and design while truly celebrating the gift he has given. To separate this element from nudity (as we are prone to try to do) is to separate a divinely appointed part of the body and NOT see the body as god created it, but to CLING to a sense of the ugliness that Satan attached to it from the time of the fall. We essentially do to it what proponents of “covering up” do to God’s creation. It DOES require a conscious mind and re-programming in the same sense that embracing the beauty of a naked, as God created it body does. This does NOT have to lead one to adultery or even desire to commit adultery. In fact, it will often do the exact opposite if understood with the same principles that apply to seeing basic nudity with eyes of beauty/admiration/awe. If viewed this way, the perversion that which IS divine by the pornographers, and Satan’s use of it is flipped on its head and becomes a celebration of God’s greatest design. This is NOT an easy transition to make because the *intent* of the creators of such material is prurient. However, their intent CAN be stomped on and what was ugly can in many cases be turned into a blessing. It is a matter of seeing things through Heavenly eyes and refusing to allow coveting with desire and intent to possess, to be the focus. Just like nudity, greater exposure with THIS view leads to less hold of Satan’s approach. Again, the transition and de-programming is not different from that which comes with breaking away from societies perversion of nudity in general. I believe the process is similar because the concepts are in truth the same. Separating sexuality from the body is not what God has done. When we accept this and see the glory in ALL of it without the “lust” spoken of by Christ (coveting with desire and intent to possess), we destroy Satan’s last bastion of perversion. I believe if all could see and practice this, we would be MORE likely to celebrate the GLORY of our sexuality while having attempts to make it ugly/shameful/or alluring in the context of adultry, fall flat on their faces. The “rush” from the naughtiness of porn could be turned into a controlled genuine celebration and admiration of God’s greatness and supreme gifts. The bottom line (when one disagrees OR agrees): It is true as you have stated that, as you correctly identified based on *scriptural* descriptions/definitions, adultery means sexual relations (ie. the sex act that creates a life) with one who is not one’s spouse. Adultery in one’s heart (the “lust” Jesus spoke of) is a true desire with intent to engage in said sex act with one who is not one’s spouse. Simply seeing these things **with the same perspective with which God intended us to see the body** does NOT need to be adultery or perversion, but instead, if we allow God to share with us His eyes, a celebration of His grandest and Godliest endowments upon us.

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