‎”Is masturbation a sin?” is a question that we are often asked by our teen groups. Many Christians have found it difficult to answer this question according to the Bible because the Bible never mentions the word “masturbation” specifically. To understand how God feels about this topic, we only need to examine other verses that deal with issues such as lust, self-control, and purity. -Mary Clark

Many times we have the attitude of “If God gave me this body, shouldn’t I be able to enjoy it?” First of all, we have to remember that sex is God’s invention. He is the mastermind behind it. This beautiful expression of love was created out of God’s own heart as a gift to be experienced between a husband and wife. As we’ve already said, it is only in marriage that this expression of intimacy can be fully enjoyed to the degree and depth for which it was created.

Hebrews 13:4 reads “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

The more beautiful and unique something is (like sexual intercourse), the more power it holds over our lives, either as a good or bad influence. That is why it is so easy for the devil to corrupt the most precious of God’s gifts. God created sex so that we could become one with our husband or wife. Masturbation is a selfish act where we take advantage of and abuse God’s gift.

God cares about what we do with our bodies, in public or in private, and He doesn’t want us to abuse ourselves in any way.

Did you know that in older dictionaries the definition of the word masturbation is “self-abuse”? And if you were to look in a current dictionary under the word self-abuse, the word “masturbation” would be the second definition given. To this day, the two words are linked together, masturbation/self-abuse.

You might be thinking, “How am I abusing myself by doing this?” We are abusing ourselves by masturbating because we are improperly handling something that God entrusted to our care. We are taking something that God gave us (our bodies and minds) and using them in a perverse manner. When masturbating, you are defiling your mind with obscene thoughts and then defiling your body by using it to act out those thoughts. To “defile” something means “to make unclean, to make impure.” Matthew 15:19-20a reads, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications …these are the things which defile a man.”

And I believe that we all already know in our hearts that masturbating is wrong. When you engage in this activity, you soon after feel a sense of guilt and shame. This activity does not lift you up spiritually. It brings you down. God did not create our sexual organs so that we could fantasize and have sex by ourselves. God created sexual pleasure as something to be shared and experienced between two people — a husband and a wife.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, isn’t it still better to masturbate than to commit fornication?” Maybe in your mind you feel that it is better to masturbate because at least you are the only one involved. Maybe you believe that it is the “lesser” of two evils.

Well, I don’t believe that our loving, holy, all-powerful God wants us to be in situations where we have to choose any evil, whether it be “lesser” or “greater.” God doesn’t want you to be involved with sin at all!

And now let’s look at some reasons why masturbating is no better than fornicating. First of all, masturbation will not truly relieve the sexual pressure that you may feel. It may for a short moment, but in the long run it only creates a deeper desire and capacity for sex, which will lead to more masturbation and, ultimately, the desire for sexual intercourse.

James 1:14-15 tells us, “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” This verse is telling us that all sin begins with a thought, but that when we give in to the thought and act out the sin, we will sink deeper and deeper into sin. Sin always takes you farther than you wanted to go and keeps you longer than you wanted to stay.

And with masturbation, there is a vicious circle. You are only temporarily satisfied. And the more you indulge in this activity, the more addicted you become to it. Then if you let yourself become enslaved to a sexual high, you will find that you need to go to increasingly extreme acts to maintain the same degree of excitement. In John 8:34, Jesus warns us, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”

So, again, masturbation is a dangerous activity to engage in for this reason: All sexual immorality, including masturbation, begins with a thought. Then a lustful thought not taken captive will eventually lead to other perversions, because sin reproduces itself if left unchecked. When we fantasize and masturbate, we open our hearts and minds up to strange and perverse thoughts and possibilities. We are giving the devil an open invitation to take residence in our beings. If we do not deal with our evil thoughts, they will take root in our heart. It is for this reason that God is so concerned with our thought life. Jesus came not only to deliver us from our “outward” sins, but also from wickedness that begins in the heart.

So we are to control our actions with others and also our actions when alone. We are not to let sin take root in our hearts. Romans 6:12-14 tells us, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

Your “members” in this verse is referring to the different parts of your body: your hands, feet, fingers, etc. Are you using your body in a way that you think would make God proud?

Now, you may be thinking “It is unfair for God to demand sexual purity from us after giving us sexual drives that seem to overwhelm us.” To that I say that God never demands from us something that would be impossible for us to do. True, you may feel weak within yourself, but He will equip you with His holy power to overcome any sin if only you ask in faith.

Some of you are probably saying, “Well, I agree with all of this in my head, but living it out on a day-to-day basis is another story.” Perhaps you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the temptations that you face. But never underestimate the power that you have over sin. On your own you might not be that strong, but with God’s power, you can overcome.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 reads, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, 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.”

These verses are telling us that we are not helpless. We can fight and be victorious against our sexual thoughts and desires. If you want to stop masturbating and you realize that this is what your Heavenly Father desires of you, you can. Confess this sin to God and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you so that you can have control over your lustful thoughts and actions. And if you have a Christian friend whom you trust, ask that person to pray for you in this area, also.

And if you slip occasionally or even a lot, don’t give up. Self-control takes effort. If you truly want to stop masturbating, one thing that you should consider doing is to flee from and reject those things that will cause you to stumble, whether it be sexually-themed movies, music, books, videos, anything that fills your mind with images and words that will make you weak and vulnerable.