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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 63 comments

Josh

July 25, 2014  4:04am

Hey guess what else is natural, beyond our control, and called "unclean" in the Bible Dan? Women having their period. It's not a moral issue here. It's this type of thinking that leads to severe repression in the Roman Catholic Church and the subsequent severe acting out by the youth of that church.

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Dan

July 20, 2014  9:52am

Masturbation is an unclean act. It leads to sin. We are suppose to keep our bodies pure and clean. If a nocturnal emmission made the body unclean (an act that is beyond our control but one that God gave our bodies) then it is much more unclean to do an INTENTIONAL act to defile the body.

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Rachel Allen

July 11, 2014  3:38pm

I really appreciate the candor and validity of this article, thank you so much. I know that this is a sensitive subject and that we as Christians tend to err towards one extreme or the other, but I agree with the author here, there is a middle ground and that middle ground is called marriage, thinking only of my spouse when it comes to any sexual thoughts or activities within that marriage. I also agree with Shane's comment - any thoughts or activities done with others, whether it's being with them physically or perhaps just mentally through porn, it is sin and God is able to deliver and His Spirit in us is able to convict and help with this temptation.

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