What does the Bible say about masturbation and mutual masturbation?
Ray writes: "I grew up in the Catholic Church and was told that masturbation is a sin. I have researched and discovered masturbation is never mentioned in the Bible."
I believe you are correct, that masturbation as such, is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. The passage most people use, as if it refers to masturbation, is Genesis 38:4 and 8-9. This passage does not mention masturbation.
Ray writes: "I came to the conclusion that it is not wrong."
I agree with you. The male body continually produces sperm and seminal fluid to transport the sperm and testosterone, a hormone which affects us emotionally, physically, sexually. These natural bodily processes were created and blessed by God with the expectation that we would use them for His honor and glory.
For heterosexuals, using them for His honor and glory means sharing them with a female partner, 1 Cor 7:1-6. For gay men, using them for His honor and glory means sharing them with a male partner
There are other things to consider beyond the fact that there is not a specific verse prohibiting masturbation. The problem with assuming masturbation is never wrong is the thoughts and fantasies a man tends to indulge while masturbating. And some men masturbate while watching gay porn
. Jesus told us that what we think and what we look at can cause us to sin.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord." -Psalm 19:14
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." -Matthew 5:28-29, NIV
Jesus is using hyperbole to make a point. Literally gouging out your eye will not stop you from sinning, will not save your soul, will not get you into heaven.
Jesus' warning indicates sin and hell are real and we need to obey God and get saved instead of trusting our good intentions and our good works. When the children of Israel moved into the land of Canaan (what today we call Israel or Palestine), God commanded them to destroy all the pictures of the Canaanites.
"Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:" -Numbers 33:52
The ancient Canaanites had pornographic images
of people having sex on their pottery, their drinking vessels, in murals on their walls, floors and ceilings.
These images were often made to honor the fertility goddess. Their sexual activity linked to fertility goddess worship was specifically forbidden by God in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
So, while it is technically correct to say that the Bible has no specific commandment against masturbation, if we are honest, we must conclude that the illicit imaginings, daydreams and fantasies which often accompany masturbation are most definitely sinful.
All sin begins in the heart
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a close friend of Henry David Thoreau and owner of the little cabin where Thoreau stayed on Walden Pond, put it this way.
"Sow a thought and reap an act;
Sow an act and reap a habit;
Sow a habit and reap a character;
Sow a character and reap a destiny."
"Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?" -Proverbs 6:27
Instead of masturbating on a regular basis or engaging in mutual masturbation, our goal should be marriage where that is legal for us or partnership with an orientation compatible partner. While there is not a clear command of scripture against masturbation, scripture is clear that we are not to entertain lustful thoughts.
Rick Brentlinger's conclusion For those who are not married or partnered, masturbation or mutual masturbation is certainly much better than having anonymous sex with strangers, behavior which exposes us to many health risks.
"For as he thinketh in his heart so is he." -Proverbs 23:7
"And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:" -Jeremiah 9:13-14
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" -Jeremiah 17:9
"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" -Matthew 15:19, spoken by Jesus.
Ray writes: "My question is, another single Christian friend and I were talking about my research and he asked me, "Well then would mutual masturbation be ok?" I set out to find the answer to that question and hit a brick wall. Is there anything in the Bible that covers that question?"
While there are verses which deal with our behavior in sexual situations, these passages do not specifically address mutual masturbation. They do offer us principled guidelines to ensure that our conduct is pleasing to God.
"Now these things (from the Old Testament) were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." -1 Corinthians 10:6-11
The experiences of the Israelites are examples for us and God expects us to heed the lessons we can learn from their experiences.
"And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)" -Exodus 32:25
The passage does not say that they were masturbating but it is clear that they were worshiping an idol, were naked and were having sex with people to whom they were not married.
The scriptural cure for sexual lust is not necessarily masturbation or mutual masturbation with someone with whom you are not in committed partnership although either of those is less dangerous than one night stand sex with strangers, in my opinion.
The scriptural cure for sexual lust is marriage with an orientation compatible partner.
"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
-1 Corinthians 7:2
The passage addresses male-female relationships because those cover the vast majority, about 95% of humanity. For the 5% of humanity who are same sex attracted, precisely the same principle applies, yet with an orientation compatible partner.
- Scripture views sexual relationships involving one with whom you are not in committed partnership as fornication.
- To avoid fornication, we are counseled to have an orientation compatible partner with whom we can meet our physical sexual needs.
- Married couples (or committed partners) are to meet each other's sexual needs.
- Mutual masturbation is not mentioned as a God-approved outlet which replaces marriage.
"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." 1 Corinthians 7:4-5
Hope this answer is helpful to your spiritual life and causes you to draw closer to our Lord who loves you and bought you with His own precious blood.
Remember that our goal as Christians is not to see how much we can get away with because there isn't a specific scriptural command against it. Our goal as Christians is to glorify God in every area of our lives, including our thoughts.Return to Ask A Question
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This page revised October 4, 2011