The Topics We Don’t Like to Discuss
One thing about being a Christian apologist is that you can’t duck out of the tough topics. When most people think about Christian apologetics, they think of tackling the same-sex marriage debate, the abortion debate, or the proselytizing issues. I wish I was going to tackle those issues today, but I’m not. I’m going to confront an issue that is common among almost every single person who will read this as well as almost every single person that you see on the street.
Soooooooo…..just what DOES the Bible say about masturbation?
Seriously Fred? You are going to talk about THIS topic? It is not as well talked about as politics, homosexuality, or abortion, but it is more thought about in the average person’s day than any of those others combined.
Why do you think there are whole books written about sex or counselors dedicated to the topic? People think about sex a LOT.
Before I continue this, I need to pull out one scripture that will be the basis of this discussion. 1 Corinthians 4:6 – “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.”
I have read the Bible quite a few times and find absolutely nothing about masturbation. There are plenty of scriptures that talk about many other types of sexual sin (some in detail, such as sex with animals) but there is nothing that mentions masturbation, much less forbidding it.
Many Christians cite Genesis 38:9 for claiming that masturbation is a sin. The story of Onan is about the woman Tamar whose husband Er died. Because of Levite law at the time, Onan was required to provide offspring to her because he was the brother of Er. Well, Onan had sex with Tamar but decided he only wanted the sex and when he was about to climax, withdrew, “spilling his seed on the ground.” This is something very different than masturbation. This is a wicked lifestyle that Onan lived. He used Tamar for sex. Saying that story is about masturbation is a grave error.
So…in short, since we are to follow 1 Corinthians 4:6 and not add anything where it is not written, we can say that masturbation is not forbidden.
The Bible is very clear that profane sexual fantasies are forbidden. Perverse imaginations and lust ARE spoken against.
Matthew 5:28-29 – “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.”
Ephesians 5:3 – “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
So let me ask you? If you can masturbate without the use of fantasy then have you still sinned? Based on the lack of discussion in Scripture and assuming no fantasy, then I would have to say the answer is that you have not sinned. If the masturbation is simply used as a way to prevent physical sexual sin, without creating mental sexual sin, then the masturbation is allowable.
But we need to be honest with ourselves. Masturbating without committing mental sexual sin is incredibly difficult. We need to live a holy life. It is so very easy to fall into mental sexual sin, especially in this sex-driven world.
Let’s consider 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 – “For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Now I want you to know that John 8:32 tells me that the truth will set me free. That said, I believe we can find an answer to this in 1 Peter 4:1-2 – “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”
THAT scripture alone is rebellious to this world’s teaching! Even so far as the church sometimes! This tells me that if I truly have received Christ, then I will have pain. If I truly believe this scripture, and I do, then God tells me that I will be “done with sin.”
So this brings me back to the original question. Masturbation is not forbidden. It can be used as a way to help us to control our bodies to prevent physical sexual sin. But we need to resist the urge to turn on the pornography or have an illicit sexual fantasy that happens all too often. And this cannot be something that becomes a habit, but used in the rare situation to prevent physical temptation or sin.
If you commit to not sin mentally and understand that some physical pain is required to follow Christ, then you will see that masturbation cannot happen much at all. But it can also be a true blessing to keep your body under control.
For those of us who are not married, this is truly a blessing as masturbation is not forbidden. For married couples, the same stipulations apply. But mental sexual sin is most definitely forbidden, and that goes along all too often with masturbation. For that, we need to die to ourselves and commit to Christ and the pain in His suffering.
If you are falling to sexual sin, I would like give you the offer that I will pray and fast with you. Sexual sin can only be corrected through trusting God and giving Him our complete sin. We grow closer to Christ as we pray and fast. For those suffering from sexual sin, pray and fast, focusing on Christ and His promises and you will find that your sexual sin will drift away and you, too, can be “done with sin.”