Is masturbation a sin?

Masturbation and the young Christian

04/14/2003 marriage & family

Manuel Seibel

Masturbation is a big problem for teens. Hardly anyone will deny that. And probably hardly anyone publicly admit it. Why? It is not openly talked about, but many practice it. Most of them have a guilty conscience. Does that mean that masturbation is a sin? We want to examine that in this post. Everyone will understand that sensitivity and restraint are necessary. And yet it is good not to hide such problems, but to name them. Everyone should remember that problems can only be solved if they are addressed and dealt with. But speaking alone is of no use: we have to change! We can only do that with the Lord Jesus.

Definition and causes
What does masturbation mean? It is manipulative, that is, self-induced sexual stimulation. What are the main causes of masturbation?
  1. The fear that the natural nocturnal ejaculation (in men) will occur in an unpleasant situation, e.g. while staying with strangers.
  2. A purely external, biological sexual stimulation that is triggered by seeing an attractive person of the opposite sex (or by advertising ...). The sexual urge becomes so great that you have to quench it, that is, to satisfy it.
  3. The "active" confrontation with the opposite sex through primitive literature, pornographic images, mental imagining of certain situations ("free mind games") leads to extreme excitement.
  4. Idleness
  5. Disappointments
  6. lonliness
While the first four causes mainly occur in men, the last two are relevant in women. How should one judge these cases now? Is it all sin or nothing at all?

Sexuality - given by God
First of all, it must be made clear that the Bible presents sexuality to us as something very beautiful - in marriage (compare, for example, the Song of Songs and the relationship of many married couples in the Bible). Sexual relationships are rejected outside of marriage (cf. e.g. 1. Mo 38; Prov 7; Rom 1.24fff; Heb 13.4).
With this awareness, an assessment of masturbation is certainly easier. Is the "exercised" sexuality an anticipation of marital privileges?

Assessment of masturbation
One cannot say that with the first mentioned cause. This is more likely to be about avoiding an uncomfortable situation, although it seems appropriate to ask whether this is not a very theoretical point. According to Leviticus 15: 16-18, this was the cause of a "one day" uncleanness [even for the woman who slept next to this man]. The mention of ejaculation in the Bible shows that it is something natural that need not be prevented. Now why is there no mention of masturbation? Presumably this problem did not exist back then, as there was no constant confrontation with sexual issues as we know it today.
In case 2, the stimulation is initially triggered from the outside, i.e. without doing anything yourself. It is a problem today. We live in a time of drastic overstimulation. A Christian cannot escape this. Since men are mainly affected here, a quick word to women: Men react almost automatically, i.e. without will, to stimulus signals that are sent out in the sexual field. So if you dress or move around not only attractively, but perhaps also provocatively, then you are the cause of sexual arousal and often immoral thoughts from men. So please think carefully about how you appear.
How is masturbation to be assessed in such a case? We want to see clearly: up to the point of stimulation, you can't help it. Of course, I will have to keep my eyes in check so as not to act negligently. But now my area of ​​responsibility begins. How do i react? This brings us to the core problem of masturbation. I satisfy my own desires that arise in me. In principle, this is nothing other than my own self. Should I now, as a Christian, seek my own self? Definitely not! If I satisfy myself, however, I am the center of attention and that is contrary to the Bible. 2 Timothy 3: 2 speaks reproachfully of self-loving people and Romans 13:14 warns us against the provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. From this it becomes very clear that masturbation is a sin. At this point, three brief pieces of help from the Scriptures:
  • Proverbs 4:23: "Guard your heart more than anything that is to be kept; for from it are the ends of life". If ungodly thoughts arise in your heart due to sexual stimulation: Confess and judge immediately, otherwise the completion of the deed will follow immediately. Take Eve as a cautionary example. She saw that the fruit was good and took it. When you see it, speak to your Lord about it immediately - then you will stay pure. Watch your heart critically - it can easily betray you and the damage is often immense.
  • Flee! As Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife, often only fleeing will help you. Sometimes locally, always in your mind and in your heart. Never take such things lightly. otherwise you will succumb.
  • James 1: 14-15: Desire - Sin - Death. This makes it clear: desire is not a sin. But desire leads to sin. You can't help it if a bird sits on your head. But if it nests there, it is your responsibility. If you don't drive away wrong and bad thoughts, you will sin.

In the third case, there is also the fact that the trigger of the sexual arousal lies with the person himself. This makes it clear that masturbation based on it is sin. I would like to point out that this is arguably the most common cause of masturbation. Therefore: Avoid such situations and mind games! Never buy such literature or even porn. You will always succumb.
The same applies to the fourth case. Even David (2 Samuel 11) had to experience that idleness is associated with dangers. For him it led to the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. It is to be feared that time when young people have nothing to do can very easily become a similar arrow of attack in the hands of the devil, so immoral thoughts may arise in the heart and before the gaze. It is therefore no coincidence that wise Solomon warns against laziness in the book of Proverbs.
In 5) and 6), emotional sensations lead to self-gratification. It's not just about a pleasure experience. However, such behavior is not biblical. Philippians 4: 6 tells us not to worry about anything but to pray. Undoubtedly this is a better, because divine, solution to problems. Precisely because I feel sorry for myself through masturbation, I put my own self again in the center, not Christ.

The Bible and Masturbation
After these remarks, the question now arises as to how I counteract or counteract masturbation. There is no magic formula for this! But there is the Bible that helps us. What does she say now on this subject? Almost nothing specific. And that's good! Why? Because the Bible is not a code of law for us in which I only have to turn to page x for every keyword. Rather, Scripture gives us moral principles that make it clear to us what God's will is.
We find a hint in Romans 1:24. Strictly speaking, this passage refers to homosexual people. Still, it throws a moral light on our problem. "That is why God gave them up in the desires of their hearts to be unclean, to desecrate their bodies among one another". We find two clues here:
Desires of the heart can lead to an addiction that creates uncleanness and thus sin. This is exactly what is often observed in masturbation. After a period of time, it leads to a real addiction or drug. You can no longer live or fall asleep without it.
Sex is given for marriage. Any other "use" (homosexuality, sexual intercourse with boyfriends / girlfriends and masturbation) is an "abnormal" use of sexuality in view of the biblical norms and the gift of God to live out sexuality in marriage. [No doubt the first two acts are worse than masturbation.]
What is often the real problem that leads to masturbation? Romans 6-8 provide information on this. I do not consider myself dead to sin, but living for Christ (6:11), but what I do not want, I do (7:15) and ultimately feel disgust and abhorrence of myself. After such an act of Masturbation makes you feel guilty and easily prays superficially and briefly for forgiveness and help to God without grasping the root of the problem: the sin that seeks yours, the ego. Once it has prevailed, a bitter aftertaste remains. As a result, masturbation can become an illness, an addiction (cf. smokers). Sometimes you manage to get rid of a limited amount of time with great self-discipline, but then the urge and addiction come through all the more violently.

A proposal for a solution
How do I get free, get away from it? First of all, by confession. And in a "sober" state. By doing this, I show the Lord that I acknowledge that I cannot cope with this problem on my own. In practice, I experience that my flesh, which has emerged from the old man, can do nothing but sin (7:25). At the same time I recognize that as a believer I am no longer under the power of sin (8.2). I can still sin, but I no longer have to because I have the Holy Spirit (8: 9). This brings about godliness in me, that is, I am happy to please God. - By the way: One does not lose the salvation in the Lord Jesus through masturbation - that is a gift from God that one could not lose again through one's own sins, however serious they are in the eyes of God. Otherwise the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross would not be sufficient - it would still depend on us and our lives.
When the longing comes, the craving: Now I can think about the fact that I don't have to do it anymore - I couldn't help it before. God even wants me to please Him right now. I ask Him for help and mercy: And I will not have to satisfy myself. I no longer live according to the principle of the flesh, but instead I stop the activity of the body (8:13) and will literally discover, feel and develop the new life in me. Then I will get on my knees and thank God that He has helped and given me strength to resist evil and do good.
Those of us who are parents also have a special responsibility to convince their children of the biblical standard in a biblical, understanding but also sustainable way. It is certainly not easy to find the right time and the right way to do this. However, if we want to lead our children on the right path in this matter too, then we must not be silent. The Lord will be at our side.

The dignity of our body
We want to stay sober: we will not always be overcomers. But we will always be able to turn to the Lord to help us. And we will take "precautionary measures". We will stay away from dangerous places. We will not buy or read immoral literature or venture near it. We will go to our parents or believers in lonely moments. After all, we will always ask for protection from masturbation. If we do this, and if necessary, flee, the Lord will help us. Let us remember that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). This gives our body a dignity that we do not want to destroy by wrong deeds. Incidentally, this applies to the time before marriage as well as to the conjugal period. Here spouses have a special responsibility for one another. It is not least for this reason that we find in 1 Corinthians 7.5 the invitation to married couples not to withdraw from one another. Here, too, a lot of wisdom and empathy is required.
In the end, we would like to state once again: There is no magic formula for masturbation! We do not want to over-dramatize this problem either. However, when we are dealing with it, we have a Lord in heaven who cares for us and whom we can always claim. He is always there for you! So let us pray to Him and we will get help.