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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.

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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 45 comments


April 11, 2014  10:18am

I had a marital problem that my husband had an affair with other woman with this we don't have any intimate relationship anymore. I used to masturbate just to satisfy my need that I felt guilt afterwards. Is it wrong? Please enlighten me....

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April 07, 2014  8:27am

People like Joachim with that big ol' plank in their eye - always looking to cast stones at others because it feeds their need to bully. The woman in the example provided in the article IS married and therefore her activity is NOT sinful. It is obvious you really need to crack open that Bible more often because it says the marriage bed is undefiled. Some growing up would also benefit you a great deal.

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March 29, 2014  6:37pm

I struggled with this for years as a teenager and then in my twenties. It led me down an inward, lonely path of shame and guilt, and ultimately, finding release through masturbation while watching pornography. It was an awful time and I thank God for showing me he wanted so much more for me through a loving committed relationship with a spouse. I only write this as a warning to others, not to condemn the author and their situation. My wife has a similar physical need and it is something I'm able to "help" with. I give the article 4 stars because it doesn't go far enough in touching on this subject. Many young people need to talk about it. My generation never did except to make jokes, but maybe things are different in youth groups of today.

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