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Is Masturbation a Sin?

Is Masturbation a Sin?

Expert answers to help you navigate bedroom challenges
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Q: My husband and I have been married over 12 years. We recently learned in a Bible study class that masturbation is a sin. This is the only way that I am able to reach climax. Are they implying that it is a sin to masturbate alone, or is it okay with your partner? I need some clarification, because I haven't seen anything written in the Bible stating that masturbation is a sin. Can you elaborate on this subject?

A: Masturbation is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. Any interpretation that it is a sin must be an application of some other Scripture regarding sexuality. Some of these certainly could imply that masturbation under some circumstances could be sin. For instance, if masturbation is used as a way to deny sex to your spouse, that would be destructive and go against the 1 Corinthians 7 principles Paul describes. If masturbation is accompanied by fantasies of extra-marital relations, it may fit with Jesus' definition of lust in Matthew 5.

In your situation, which is not unusual because of the physiological differences between men and women, masturbation is not a sin. Often with their faster sexual response, a male has sprinted through the excitation, plateau, ejaculation, and recovery phases while his wife is just beginning to feel turned on.

Manual stimulation may be her only option to achieve orgasm. A thoughtful husband can provide that, giving her not only physical release but a sense of being cherished. That clearly completes the biblical picture of two becoming one.

Masturbation alone can be useful when a couple is not able to be together for sex. This may be the case in many different situations (travel, fatigue, schedule problems, health considerations, even a time of spiritual "fasting" by one mate). I do not see individual masturbation as sinful in these situations as long as the associated thought life honors the marriage vows.

Subscribe to TCW at this link, and sign up for our e-newsletter to become part of a community of women striving to love God and live fearlessly in the grit of everyday life. To read more about healthy sexuality, explore the TCW store at this link.

Louis McBurney, M.D., and his wife, Melissa, were marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, where they counseled clergy couples. Together they co-authored the column "Real Sex" for Marriage Partnership, from which this Q&A originally appeared.

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Displaying 1–3 of 48 comments


April 19, 2014  9:20pm

I'm single so I'm not really sure what to make of it when your married, but I'm concerned that it might be a sin when your single. (Either way, there is such a thing as becoming addicted to masturbation) I mean, Pornography is a sin, right? It's better, I think, to wait until you meet the right guy (or girl) to discover these things. Just because you didn't have outright sex doesn't mean that your still pure. I think God wants us to experience this masterpiece after we're married, and not by just when you want to "feel" something. A good book that helped me when I was going through this kind of thing was a book called "And the Bride Wore White", by Dannah Gresh. (Even if your married, or not as young as me, I encourage you to read it!) :)

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April 17, 2014  7:11pm

Thank you for posting this question and answer. I'm embarrassed to admit, but due to my husband's health issues we cannot have sex. On his part he gets fulfillment from cuddling with me and "heavy petting" but it does not bring either of us to orgasm. However I am fully able to have sex so I stimulate myself. But I am totally disgusted if I were to think about anyone but him so when I do stimulate myself it's always to the thought of him when we did have a fully functional sex life. When I'm done I feel even closer to the love of my life. Believe me if we were able to have sex with each other I would probably wear him out to make up for lost time but until then I'm glad I have the ability to stimulate myself. I was just concerned about where our sexual issue falls in the eyes of the Living God

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April 17, 2014  5:39pm

This is ridiculous. Why to we obsess over the silliest stuff? If masturbation is a sin, then so is eating that disgusting hot dog that clogs your arteries. So is going 1 mile over the posted speed limit, since technical you are breaking Caeser's law. Might as well turn yourself in right now! Obsess obsess obsess...guilt guilt guilt. How about leading a happy balanced life so you can be a living example to the world of how Jesus has changed you into a new person? Sounds like you have not let Him do anything but be your judge and jury. No wonder we Christians have been nuts for centuries...so much unnecessary self loathing.

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