Seeds of Hope

What Does the Bible Say About Masturbation?


[Posted on July 28, 2001]

Rev. Turner:

I was just wondering if you had any advice about what the Bible might say about pornography and masturbation. I have had trouble with this issue for a while now and my habits seem to me somewhat addictive and compulsive and I feel like I should be saving myself for my husband. Any input would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Love in Christ

Eric


Dear Eric,

The Bible has absolutely nothing to say about either subject. Pornography was unknown during the times of scripture writing and masturbation, while a naturally occurring act within the human species, is not mentioned anywhere in scripture.

Let me share some facts about masturbation.

1) "...Alfred Kinsey...interviewed thousands of men in the 1940's, and concluded that 95 percent masturbated. In 1960's, William Masters and Virginia Johnson raised that figure to 99 percent." - Dr. Harold Litten, "The Joy of Solo Sex."

2) Masturbation usually takes the form of rubbing one's genitals (sexual organs) with fingers, hands, and/or objects (e.g. a pillow). The optimum technique varies from person to person. Feelings of excitement build quickly. If continued, they will often produce an orgasm, and (in men) an ejaculation of semen. An orgasm is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "a frenzy; great excitement; especially the climax of sexual excitement." To those who have experienced an orgasm, no explanation is needed; to those who have not experienced one, no explanation would be sufficient to describe the feelings. How-to instructions are available on-line.

"Jackinworld" conducted a survey among their readers. Results indicated that the average frequency of masturbation drops from 11 per week at age 11, to 5 per week above age 35. There are wide fluctuations in frequency from individual to individual. 84% of respondents had started to masturbate at or before the age of 13. Afterwards, 89% felt happy and relaxed; 10% felt guilty; 1% felt nervous. Among the very religious readers who had surfed their site 2 months or less, the percentage who felt guilty was 19%. We have a hunch that religious instruction does not cut down on the numbers of youth who masturbate. It does not reduce the frequency of masturbation. It only makes more of them feel more guilty."
Reference: http://www.religioustolerance.org/masturba.htm

Some more conservative religious groups have condemned masturbation because it is done by one person and therefore cannot lead to babies. So it has been called an "unnatural act."

Others say God created sex with the intent that it be enjoyed between a married couple: one man and one woman. Physical closeness = emotional closeness. Again, since masturbation is a solitary practice it has been interpreted by these groups as bad.

However with that said, go to http://www.religioustolerance.org/sex_jesu.htm and read the research as to what Jesus said about sexuality. You will find very little. Most of what Jesus said had to do with how we treat our relationship with another person. In fact, there are no passages in the Bible that discuss this topic directly. Jesus did not give his opinion on masturbation. Although he gave hundreds of examples and stories to help us with our lives, to be responsible to one another and how to bring honor and glory to God, he didn't seem to think the practice of the fine art called human sexuality and this particular practice of great importance.

From my point of view, masturbation only becomes a problem if you are doing it so often that you hurt yourself (bruising or making yourself irritated) and/or you no longer desire a healthy sexual sharing with the person you love. In other words, it replaces the sexual act with your partner in life. If you are finding yourself preoccupied with masturbation and or the material that generally goes along with it then I would say you have an issue to deal with. Otherwise, you sound like a healthy man to me who is concerned that what you do is OK with God. The fact you are concerned about sharing your sex life with the one for whom you love is something I wish there was more of these days.

However, saving yourself for your husband is about not being with any person other then your husband either before or after. While most would not admit it, masturbation is practiced even during the marriage. In fact, masturbation is one of the tools we have for saving ourselves for that special person with whom we will live and maintain our life with. So, my dear child of God, while many in the world may be shaky, fearful and guilt-ridden with an act that everyone does--there is no reason to be fearful, guilty or all that concerned, morally, ethically, or spiritually.

God Bless,

Pastor Paul



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Rev. Turner is Sr. Pastor at Gentle Spirit Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you are seeking guidance and pastoral care on your journey to fullness as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, please contact Pastor Paul directly at pastorpaul@whosoever.org.