5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. . . 8 Now to the unmarried 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. – 1 Corinthians 7:5, 8-9
Well this is awkward . . . but thousands of Christians are asking questions about masturbation. So here is a blunt, specific, and direct article about how the Bible addresses issues like masturbation. Here we go!
All the questions and support for masturbation are quickly solved when you understand the Bible does directly condemn masturbation through what it directly condones. The Bible does not give sexual specifics but categories which Christians are to live within. They are the same for the unmarried as they are for the married couple: All sexual pleasure without your spouse is wrong. And all sexual pleasure with your spouse is right.
The Claim that the Bible Gives No Answers About Masturbation Has Caused Many Confusing Questions
It is said to Christians that masturbation is not talked about in the Bible. Therefore there are many questions regarding this sensitive subject: Is it sin to masturbate? If the Bible doesn’t talk about masturbation, then why do people say self-pleasure is wrong? Since the Bible clearly condemns lust, what if I can masturbate without lustful thoughts, with just a blank mind? If I am married, my spouse and I are separated for a long time, such as during a military deployment, and we have each other’s blessing to do so, is it still sinful to masturbate while thinking about my spouse? The medical field states masturbation is healthy, and since the Bible states we should take care of our bodies, isn’t self-gratification good to do then? And if masturbation helps keep me from other more obvious sins like premarital sex, adultery, or pornography, isn’t it better to just masturbate since the Scriptures are silent on this topic?
All of these problems and questions start because we are told masturbation is not directly addressed in the Bible. But what if it was? If the Bible just plainly stated, “though shall not sexually pleasure thyself,” no one would need to argue about what Christians are to do according to the Bible.
Masturbation Is Condemned Through What Is Condoned in the Bible
Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible does speak directly to the issue of masturbation with unmistakable clarity. While it must be quickly admitted you won’t find the actual words “masturbation, self-pleasure, or self-gratification” anywhere in the inspired 66 books, the Bible often speaks on what we are not to do through directly and specifically stating what we are to do.
For example, rather than listing every possible way humans can speak disrespectfully to one another, the Bible simply states, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). There could be a limitless list always being lengthened with what could be considered “unwholesome talk.” Rather than explaining every finer point of what we are not to say, we are simply given general information on what we are to say, “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Likewise, while the Bible does not have a list of specifics which we can and can’t do sexually, the Bible gives an extremely clear explanation on what Christians are to do sexually. The clearest verse on this is 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Masturbation Is Outside the Category of Mutual Participation
In 1 Corinthians 7:5, Paul is talking to Christians on how to avoid sexual temptation. He says to the married: your only two options are prayer and sex with your spouse. Notice he states with extreme clarity “come together again.” Why? “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
By stating that after we get done praying, we must “come together” or otherwise we are falling into sexual sin, Paul categorically deems all sexual activity done away from your spouse as sin. If you don’t “come together,” which means having physical sexual relations, then according to 1 Corinthians 7:5 you are falling into Satan’s sexual temptation through your lack of self-control.
Here sexual self-control is directly related to prayer and having sex with your spouse. And a lack of sexual self-control is directly related to finding sexual pleasure without your spouse. Therefore, since masturbation does not include your spouse’s participation, the Bible declares it evil. Any sexual pleasure that does include the physical participation of your spouse, the Bible condones.
The only things off limits are acts harmful to the body and acts not consented to by both spouses since these acts would directly contradict other clear commands in Scriptures to honor the Lord with your body (Romans 12:1) and honor your spouse (Ephesians 5:21-33).
What About Singles and Masturbation?
The fact that the Bible condemns all sexual pleasure away from the physical participation of your spouse can also be seen in Paul’s instruction to the unmarried, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9).
Paul specifically and directly states in 1 Corinthians 7:9, “if they cannot control themselves, they should marry.” All sexual pleasure done away from your future spouse outside of your future marriage, is under the category of “cannot control themselves” (1 Corinthians 7:9). According to the Bible, therefore, the only sexual solutions given here for singles are the same for married people: 1. Complete abstinence of all sexual pleasure, which would be the opposite of “cannot control themselves.” 2. Getting married, which is the opposite of “burn with passion.”
Questions About Masturbation Are Solved with Biblical Answer
In conclusion, all the questions and support for masturbation are quickly solved when you understand the Bible does directly condemn masturbation through what it directly condones. The Bible does not give sexual specifics but categories which Christians are to live within. They are the same for the unmarried as they are for the married couple: All sexual pleasure without your spouse is wrong. And all sexual pleasure with your spouse is right.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”. . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:18, 24-25