Are nocturnal emissions or wet dreams normal or sinful?

by Interested Reader
(USA)

Dutch flowers

Dutch flowers


"If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp," -Deuteronomy 23:10, ESV

"None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen," -Leviticus 22:4, ESV

Masturbation is a common human experience yet it is never mentioned or forbidden in the Bible, Romans 4:15, 5:13. Scripture mentions nocturnal emissions (also known as wet dreams) in Leviticus 15:16, 32, 22:4 and Deut 23:10-11, about which, some thoughts.

Define Nocturnal Emission

"A nocturnal emission is a common biological function of the male body, a spontaneous ejaculation of semen while a man is sleeping. This spontaneous ejaculation is necessary because a healthy male body constantly produces semen. If a man does not have the outlet of intercourse or masturbation, the male body naturally releases the excess semen via nocturnal emissions."
  1. Nocturnal emissions are never sinful because they are natural, involuntary and spontaneous.

  2. Nocturnal emissions are part of God's ingenious design, allowing the male body to relieve itself naturally.

  3. Some believe that nocturnal emissions are the result of indulging lustful fantasies or watching porn, although that is more conjecture than demonstrable fact.

  4. Nocturnal emissions are sometimes but not always, accompanied by vivid sexual dreams. While the physical process of the nocturnal emission is not sinful of itself, as Christian men, we need to be careful not to feed sexual fantasies which lead us into sin.

  5. We are encouraged to regulate our thoughts instead of indulging in sinful sexual fantasy.
    "Finally, brethren,
    whatsoever things are true,
    whatsoever things are honest,
    whatsoever things are just,
    whatsoever things are pure,
    whatsoever things are lovely,
    whatsoever things are of good report;
    if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

    -Philippians 4:8

Is masturbation always sinful?


We've already discussed the fact that masturbation is not always sinful. But what happens if someone masturbates without thinking lustful thoughts or has a nocturnal emission with or without sexual dreams? Our common sense answer is, masturbating without sinful sexual thoughts would be like a nocturnal emission, a natural outlet designed by God which is not sinful.

A nocturnal emission, with or without sexual dreams, is an involuntary thing and therefore, is not sinful. While some might define nocturnal emissions or the vivid sexual dreams which sometimes accompany them, as sin, that is only someone's personal opinion. The Bible doesn't specifically address those issues, Romans 4:15, 5:13, therefore they are a matter God leaves up to your Christian conscience, Romans 2:15, 14:5.

Masturbation is a matter
of individual conscience

Masturbation is also something which the Bible says nothing about and therefore, it is a matter of personal, individual conscience, Romans 4:15, 5:13.

Masturbating to relieve sexual tension is the choice many men make instead of waiting for nocturnal emissions to relieve sexual tension. They reason that it is better to masturbate to take the edge off the sexual tension that builds up instead of exposing themselves to sexual temptation via fornication by not relieving the sexual tension via masturbation.
"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;" -Ephesians 5:3

Steve Geralli's Advice


Christian author Steve Geralli addresses the topic of masturbation in his book, The Struggle:
“If we’re honest we’d have to agree that sexual thoughts, desires, arousal and even lust precede the need to masturbate. Once orgasm occurs, all of that is gone.

Masturbation is the end of lust, not the beginning of lust. Masturbation isn’t lust nor does it feed lust. It ends lustful episodes.

…there are many godly men and women who believe that because masturbation follows the lust and shuts down the process, it becomes the way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), that many people pray for. For these people, this deliverance from lust makes masturbation a gift from God.”

This is an age-old question

Struggling with lust is not necessarily a new situation. Ancient cultures placed pornographic images on their pottery, their dishes, in their floor, wall and ceiling murals. Carved stone and cast metal statues glorifying the human body decorated ancient streets. Ancient literature and plays are replete with illicit sexuality and images designed to provoke lust.

Part of our difficulty in modern times is that we are constantly bombarded with sexual images in advertising, on TV, in movies, on the Internet, in magazines, newspapers, books, billboards, in novels, on transit bus advertising. Everywhere we look, everything we hear, from music to opera to podcasts injects sexual innuendo into our minds.

How can we deal with this
sexually suggestive onslaught
in a way that pleases our Savior?


God leaves many things in the realm of personal choice. God gives us latitude to make decisions based on conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit. As human beings, God gave us a conscience, Romans 2:15, to regulate our behavior in areas where He has not given specific commands, Romans 4:15, 5:13.

Watching Hollywood movies, consuming beverage alcohol, going to bars and casinos, reading novels, mowing the yard on Sunday and masturbating are just a few of the areas in which Christians hold differing views because scripture does not specifically forbid these activities.

In no way is this an
argument for sexual sin

It is important to note that frequency of masturbation factors into our discussion. Compulsive masturbation is more a clinical problem, different from occasional masturbation to relieve the build-up of semen.

Compulsive masturbators who regularly indulge sexual fantasy, using masturbation as a primary sexual outlet, rob themselves of the ability to enjoy true intimacy with others. Their sexual indulgence enslaves them to a habit that satisfies for a few seconds but ultimately leaves them feeling more lonely than before.

I believe that masturbation without lustful imagination can be a natural, God-given way to relieve sexual pressure without committing the sin of fornication, making it similar to the natural process of nocturnal emissions.

However, given the way illicit sexuality permeates our culture, it seems difficult if not almost impossible for anyone to masturbate without drifting into sinful thoughts. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind," Romans 14:5. Go to God with an obedient heart and a tender conscience and seek His guidance.
Jesus said: "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." -Matthew 5:28, ESV
Each of us is responsible before God to live a clean life and to rule our thoughts. God expects our lives and thoughts to reflect His grace and holiness. Our thought-life should not be characterized by sin.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" -2 Corinthians 10:5

Links to helpful information



What does the Bible say about
masturbation and mutual masturbation?


How can I know FOR SURE I am saved?

Return to Gay Christian FAQ

How can I know FOR SURE
that I have eternal security?


How does repentance figure
into getting saved?


How can I know FOR SURE that I
believe in Jesus the right way?


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This page revised October 4, 2011

Dutch flower photo by A. Gundalach
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Comments for Are nocturnal emissions or wet dreams normal or sinful?

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May 27, 2013
Why didn't someone tell me this sooner?
by: Grant from L.A.

I'm surprised to find this on a gay website. I went to Christian schools and even two Christian colleges but they never taught this. Makes me wonder what else they left out.

Ima use the Facebook button to share this with my friends. Thanks for the good info.

Rick's comment: Cool - thanks for sharing this page with others! There are 8 share buttons at the bottom of each page so you can use Social Media to get the word out to others when you find a page that is particularly helpful. Thanks for using Social Media buttons. You are much appreciated!

Aug 08, 2013
It's perfect Thanks
by: Anonymous

It's just perfect. Actually I am among those people who masturbate only to relieve stress and other things like that and I can do that with no lustful thoughts. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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