We have not found any biblical verses which deal directly with masturbation. However, the practice is widely condemned by Evangelical Christian groups. A few articles on the subject are described below. They use very different approaches to develop their position. Two of the articles raise the threat of eternal punishment in Hell for the over 90% of men (and probably a lower percentage of women) who masturbate.
Masturbation is a form of adultery:
Religion-Cults.Com teaches that masturbation is an an abomination and a perversion. To pursue sexual pleasure or orgasm in manner not associated with marital intercourse that is love-giving and open to the creation of new life violates the will of God and is immoral. In fact they claim that: "In marriage, any kind of sexual stimulation can be given to the partner, but always ending the relation with sexual intercourse, depositing the semen into the vagina. Other kind of orgasm is a way of masturbation."
Masturbation is sinful because of the sexual fantasies it generates:
New-Life.Net appears to teach that masturbation is not a sexual sin of the same class as fornication (e.g. pre-marital sex). 2 "But it's sinful when accompanied, as is so often the case, by sexual fantasies and impure thoughts." It is also a sin when it becomes habit forming. They recommend diverting sexual energies to re-focus on "the service of God and of others." (Jesus is recorded as commenting on sexual fantasies in Matthew 5:28 as noted above) Further, they say that several bad side effects are inherent from long term masturbation including guilt feelings which make it hard for you to relate to other people, lack of self-control may make you susceptible to unfaithfulness in your marriage and because of the concentration on your own orgasm or release, it can train you to be selfish in marital sex. It is also common for masturbation to create a problem with pre-ejaculation in your marriage.
No documentation of these allegations is offered.
Masturbation is a form of impurity and uncleanness:
RBC Ministries admits that the Bible has no specific references to masturbation. 3 However, they believe that habitual self-pleasuring is contained within the catchall terms "lasciviousness," "impurity," and "uncleanness." They give no reasons why masturbation falls under these categories of sin. They cite some Biblical references: Leviticus 15:16-17; Mark 7:20-22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5. The Galatians and Ephesians are particularly serious, because they state that such people "will not inherit the kingdom of God." They will be headed for Hell fire when they die. On a positive note, they reject the concept that sexual desires and feelings are intrinsically evil. That, they believe, is an ancient Gnostic heresy.
Masturbation is addictive and a misuse of sexuality:
Christ Unlimited Ministries (CUM) concludes that God created sexuality in order to be enjoyed only between two heterosexual, married spouses. 4 Since masturbation only involves one person, it is an abuse of this gift of God. Masturbation is addictive; the individual craves "increasingly extreme acts to maintain the same degree of excitement." [The author of that essay does not provide any proof of this assertion.] Masturbation usually involves fantasy which is condemned in Job 31:1-3 and Matthew 5:28. The author offers a multi-point program for overcoming masturbation: Confess the sin to God; confess it to your pastor or another committed Christian; reject anything that aggravates the sin; seek deliverance from fellow Christians who provide a healing ministry; don't give up.
Masturbation is against natural law:
Good Morals.Org boldly asserts that "ANY sexual activity which attempts to bypass reproduction is a sin. God joined the creation of life together with the pleasures of sexual intercourse. Birth control and abortion attempt to defeat the creation of life that is entwined by Nature's God with the reproductive act. So does masturbation."
They continue on by clearly condemning masturbation as an act of homosexual perversion. This page uses the KJV and draws a direct parallel between "self-abuse" and the sin of Onan.
Masturbation is a violation of God's purpose for sex:
Dawson McAllister of Christian Answers Network (The English version of this article seems to have been recently removed) condemns masturbation for a variety of reasons: Genesis 2:18 describes how God created sex to overcome man's aloneness. Thus, sex was meant for two people. Thus, masturbation goes against God's purpose for sexuality.
Sexual fantasies almost always accompany masturbation. He cites Proverbs 12:11, although the passage does not appear to say anything about sexual fantasies.
Masturbation can damage a person sexually; their future sex life in marriage could suffer. He offers no reason why this will happen; he does not cites any studies in support of his conclusion.
He claims that masturbation is an unhealthy way to deal with loneliness. Again, he does not provide any references or support for the statement.
He claims that "Masturbation is almost always a symptom of a deeper need." Again, no supporting evidence is supplied.
If you Masturbate you are Homosexual!
The Centurion says the following. As usual there is absolutely no documentation of any kind offered to support their position.
"Do not be deceived, for masturbation is a form of homosexuality. The word "homo" means like or same. Therefore, when an individual masturbates, only one sex is present. The Bible promotes heterosexual relationships. In other words, all sexual relations that involve only one sex is homosexuality. This vile practice stems from a heart sanctified to Satan. The Holy Spirit will never instruct anyone to carry out such a corrupt thing. Masturbation is not the answer to sexual urges that one cannot carry out immediately for whatever reasons. Stop abusing yourself. Masturbation affects every aspect of life. It affects your spiritual, mental and physical well being. We must understand that these areas are not independent of the others but inter-dependent. All three work together to establish health. That is why the devil employs this weapon because he knows that the practice of masturbation will destroy man completely."
Okay, whatever. This next part I especially like because it uses nameless scientists for support:
"Scientists have accredited many physical ills to the practice of masturbation. They found out that masturbation disturbs the nervous system. The lungs and liver are affected and diseases such as neuralgia, rheumatism, affection in the spine, diseased kidneys and cancerous tumors are formed as well. in addition, catarrh, dropsy, headache, loss of memory and sight, weakness in the back and loins and insanity set in as well. So, when the Bible admonishes us to flee from the lusts of the flesh and walk after the spirit we can understand why."
Now that is just a pack of silly lies. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for any of the allegations made in that paragraph! I love it when people use the mysterious "they said" for support.
An Ex-Christian Perspective
Only a few of the many sites available condemning "self-relief" have been reviewed here. The writers of the referenced articles come from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. Each used the Bible and Tradition to support their positions.
It is my opinion that sexuality is simply a normal part of life much like eating, drinking, and breathing. We would never condemn a person for eating alone, saying that having a meal is an exclusively social affair. Sex is a primal urge programmed into us by nature to assure the survival of humankind into the foreseeable future. To saddle people with horrific guilt because they have surging hormones...that's just hideous.
I am not a personal advocate for promiscuity for many reasons, not the least of which would be the proliferation of disease, emotional trauma, and unwanted pregnancy. However, to be so invasive as to attempt to control another person's privately touching their own bodies—that's unfathomable.
And that is exactly what religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is all about—control. Specifically, controlling other people.
I know a young man who's wife only desired sex once or twice a month. She thought that her husband's demands for more than that was animal selfishness. Both husband and wife were in their twenties and had two children. They are also Christians who come from Christian homes. He took to masturbating in order to relieve the stress of the hormones surging through his blood. His wife caught him, reported it to his parents, and all hell broke loose in the family—and in their churches.
After several attempts to "heal" the boy of his terrible sin, his wife finally left him. HIS WIFE LEFT HIM!. Get this, he didn't leave her—she left him because she was convinced that masturbation was a form of adultery. She could not bear to live with him anymore once she finally came to the realization that he might never stop the heinous practice of stroking his 20-something, hormone-driven bone.
The funny thing is, from every non-religious article or book I have read on the subject, masturbating, far from alienating couples, actually enhances their sex-life. It does this because each person knows exactly what their body responses are. Instead of a lack of control in love making, each partner actually has much more control over themselves and can devote more thought and energy into satisfying their partners.
I generally have observed that problems with self-control in men, and an inability to orgasm in women, is often directly related to an avoidance of private personal experimentation. If a man knows exactly when to change his pace, or take a break in lovemaking, he will find premature orgasm is much less of a problem. If the woman knows exactly what it is that she needs to reach her peak, she can assist her husband instead of expecting him to be psychic.
When I was a Christian, I thought the way various heretical cults and religions controlled their followers' minds and habits was a crime.
Is Christianity really any different?
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)