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What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?

When contemplating the question, "What does the Bible say about masturbation?" many find themselves navigating through a complex maze of interpretations, personal convictions, and biblical principles. Some Christians see nothing wrong with it, and others consider it a gross sin. While the Bible does not directly address masturbation, it provides extensive teachings on sexual purity, self-control, and the sanctity of our bodies. This post will explore these teachings to understand the broader biblical context regarding masturbation.

masturbation and the bible

What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?

Lust and Sin

In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”

This passage is frequently used in discussions about masturbation because it highlights the severity of lustful thoughts. In this passage, Jesus emphasizes that sin begins in the heart and mind. While masturbation itself is not explicitly mentioned, the connection to lust is evident. Lustful intent, often a precursor to masturbation, is condemned, illustrating the broader biblical principle of guarding one’s thoughts and actions against sin.

The Challenge of Lust and the Role of Conviction

Separating masturbation from lustful thoughts poses a significant challenge. Lust often fuels the action, making separating one from the other difficult. The Bible is very clear that believers should flee from lust and pursue purity.

Consequences of Pornography: A Real-World Impact

The harmful impact of pornography on sexual health in a biblical context (marriage) is profound. For instance, porn-induced erectile dysfunction highlights how masturbation, often tied to viewing pornography, can significantly damage one’s sexual health. This underscores the detrimental effects on marital intimacy and overall sexual well-being, pointing to the importance of maintaining sexual purity as outlined in Scripture.

God's Best for You: Pursuing a Higher Standard

Masturbation may not be directly mentioned as a sin in the Bible, but is it God's best for you? God desires the best for His people, encouraging a life of purity and self-control. Settling for less, such as engaging in masturbation and pornography, can hinder one's readiness for a healthy, loving, and committed marital relationship. Striving for God’s best involves seeking fulfillment through meaningful relationships and spiritual growth rather than temporary, self-focused satisfaction.

Self-Control: A Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 lists self-control as a fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” If masturbation controls an individual, it’s a sign to seek freedom through God's help. Cultivating self-control is essential in living a life that honors God and aligns with biblical principles.

Honoring God with Our Bodies

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 emphasizes the sanctity of our bodies: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

This passage calls believers to honor God with their bodies, which includes maintaining sexual purity. As temples of the Holy Spirit, our bodies should be treated with the utmost respect and sanctity, avoiding behaviors that defile this sacred dwelling. Another thing to consider is that as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction if we are doing something wrong. If an individual feels convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding masturbation, this internal conviction is a crucial indicator of seeking purity and aligning actions with Biblical teachings.

Masturbation and Marriage: Impact on Intimacy

In marriage, sexual desire is intended to foster selfless service and emotional connection between spouses. Masturbation can detract from this relational intimacy by redirecting sexual energy away from one’s spouse. This diversion can diminish the emotional and physical bond essential for a healthy marital relationship. That is not a healthy or biblical marriage relationship.

Challenges for Singles: Maintaining Purity

For singles, masturbation can create a sexuality disconnected from a future spouse, which can be spiritually and emotionally harmful. The Bible encourages singles to resist temptations and maintain purity, preparing themselves for a future marriage that honors God and fosters a deep, meaningful connection with their spouse.

Adverse Effects on Mental Health

While not directly in scripture, mental and spiritual health must be mentioned. Contrary to popular belief, masturbation can lead to feelings of guilt, isolation, and poor mental well-being. It can lead to feeling bound and helpless. These emotions are solid spiritual indicators that this is not a healthy activity to engage in.

7 Steps to Overcome Masturbation

Protect Your Mind With God's Word

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." By immersing yourself in Scripture and focusing on godly things, you can resist temptations just as Jesus did. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."

Guard Your Eyes

Avoid sinful and harmful imagery, such as pornography and lustful images, to prevent spiritual and mental strongholds from forming. Psalm 101:3 says, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

Look To God For Help

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” God will always provide a way out of temptation. Recognizing and choosing these exits is crucial for maintaining spiritual health.

Rely On God's Strength

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Ask God for His strength, look to Him, and trust in Him to give you strength through Christ, who lives in you by His Spirit.

Focus On The Benefits

Hosea 10:12 tells us that sowing righteousness brings divine rewards. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Resisting temptation strengthens your spiritual resilience and brings you closer to God’s blessings.

Fleshly Pleasures Bring Deception

1 John 2:16 tells us that the fleeting pleasures of the flesh lead to guilt and spiritual emptiness rather than lasting fulfillment. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” Understanding the deceptive nature of fleshly pleasures helps you seek true joy in spiritual pursuits.

Live Out Of Your Spirit

Galatians 5:16-17 calls us to live out of our Spirit (in communion with the Holy Spirit) more than our flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Prayer, fasting, Bible reading, obedience, and other spiritual disciplines can help weaken sinful desires and strengthen your spiritual life so that you can walk by the Spirit.

By following these steps, you can grow spiritually and find the strength to overcome the challenge of masturbation, aligning your life more closely with God's best for your life.

Bible Passages for Further Study

  • Romans 12:1-2

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

  • 2 Timothy 2:22


Understanding what the Bible says about masturbation involves examining the broader principles of sexual purity, self-control, and honoring God with our bodies. While masturbation itself is not explicitly mentioned, the associated behaviors and thoughts are addressed through biblical teachings, and it is pretty clear that it is not a healthy activity any Christian should engage in. By striving for purity and seeking God’s best, believers can navigate these challenges with spiritual integrity and faithfulness.


How do you think the biblical teachings on purity and self-control can be applied to modern-day struggles with sexual temptation? Share your thoughts below.

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Good references

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