Opposition by conservative Protestants
We have not found any biblical verses which deal directly with masturbation.
However, the practice is widely condemned by Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian groups.
In fact, when this essay was first written in 1997, we were unable to find any
conservative or mainline Christian web sites that did not severely condemn
masturbation. Some have emerged since them.
Some reasons for opposing masturbation appears circular. One example is:
Some Christian sources condemn masturbation as sinful;
Because of that, some Christians engaging in the practice feel
Some Christian sources give guilt as a reason to avoid masturbation.
Some modern Christian sources condemn masturbation is a type of unclean act.
The Bible condemns unclean acts.
Thus the Bible condemns masturbation.
opposed to the subject are described below. They use very different approaches to
support their beliefs. Two of the articles raise the threat of eternal punishment in Hell for the
over 95% of men (and
probably a slightly lower percentage of women) who masturbate.
Masturbation is a form of
Life Bible Class teaches that masturbation is a violation of one
of the 10 Commandments ("Thou shalt not commit adultery.") 1 They refer to the
writings of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:4: "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." L.B.C. comments:
"In other worlds, the wife's body belongs not only to her, but to her husband,
and similarly the husband's body belongs not just to him, but also to his wife. This is an
application of becoming one in marriage. Thus all forms of sexual experience out of
marriage is sinful, just as all forms of self-oriented sexual activity in and out of
marriage are sinful and lustful rather than holy, loving and pleasing to God... Thus,
fornication, masturbation, homosexuality, pornography etc are sinful and a violation of
the seventh commandment [which condemns adultery]...The overarching principle to remember is that sex is for MUTUAL
satisfaction and enjoyment within marriage ONLY."
Masturbation is sinful because of the
sexual fantasies it generates:
True Life Stories appears to teach that masturbation is not a sexual sin
of the same class as fornication (e.g. pre-marital sex). 2"But it's sinful when
accompanied, as is so often the case, by sexual fantasies and impure thoughts."
It is also a sin when it becomes habit forming. They recommend diverting sexual energies
to re-focus on "the service of God and of others." (Jesus is recorded
as commenting on sexual fantasies in Matthew 5:28 as noted elsewhere in this section).
Masturbation is a form of impurity and uncleanness:
RBC Ministries admits that the Bible has no specific references to
masturbation. 3However, they believe that habitual self-pleasuring is contained within the
catchall terms "lasciviousness," "impurity," and
"uncleanness" They give no reasons why masturbation falls under these
categories of sin. They cite some Biblical references: Leviticus 15:16-17; Mark
7:20-22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5.
The Galatians and Ephesians are particularly serious, because they state that such people
"will not inherit the kingdom of God." They will be headed for Hell fire when they die. On a positive note, they reject the concept that sexual desires and
feelings are intrinsically evil. That, they believe, is an ancient Gnostic heresy.
Masturbation is addictive and a
misuse of sexuality:
Christ Unlimited Ministries (CUM) concludes that God created
sexuality in order to be enjoyed only between two heterosexual,
married spouses. 4Since masturbation only involves
one person, it is an abuse of this gift of God. Masturbation is
addictive; the individual craves "increasingly extreme acts to
maintain the same degree of excitement." [The author of that
essay does not provide any proof of this assertion. We have not been
able to find support for this belief in the medical literature.] Masturbation
usually involves fantasy which is condemned in Job 31:1-3 and Matthew
5:28. The author offers a multi-point program for overcoming
masturbation: Confess the sin to God. Confess it to your pastor or
another committed Christian. Reject anything that aggravates the sin.
Seek deliverance from fellow Christians who provide a healing
ministry. Don't give up.
Masturbation is against natural
Life Bible Class has an Interactive Newsgroup. 3 One subscriber "D"
argues from an entirely different approach: that of natural law. He states that the
"sexual organ is and [sic] ONLY for pro-creation and for your spouse only [sic].
NOT for self pleasure.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" His statement seems to imply that a man
must not use his penis to urinate and must not derive pleasure from making love with his
wife. The former is not particularly practical; the latter is unfair. When a couple makes
love, why should only one spouse experience pleasure?
He probably meant to say something completely different: that sexual organs are for use
only for procreation and for pleasuring both spouses at the same time. But he cites no
reasoning or Biblical passage in support of his statement.
He states that masturbation is driven by a desire for lust, and that this is condemned by 1
Corinthians 6:13 -- a verse which denounces fornication. But he provides no reason why lust
and fornication should be linked. By definition, masturbation is done alone, whereas
fornication is done by two unmarried persons. Then he warns that Christians who disagree
with him may not be saved, and risk spending eternity in Hell.
Masturbation is a violation of God's
purpose for sex:
Dawson McAllister of Christian Answers Network condemns masturbation for
a variety of reasons:
Genesis 2:18 describes how God created sex to overcome man's aloneness.
This implies that sex was meant for two people. Thus, masturbation goes against God's purpose for
Sexual fantasies almost always accompany masturbation. He cites Proverbs 12:11,
although the passage does not appear to say anything about sexual fantasies.
Masturbation can damage a person sexually; their future sex life in marriage could
suffer. He offers no reason why this will happen; he does not cites any studies in support
of his conclusion.
He claims that masturbation is an unhealthy way to deal with loneliness. Again, he does
not provide any references or support for the statement.
He claims that "Masturbation is almost always a symptom of a deeper need."
Again, no supporting evidence is supplied. 5
Masturbation leads to major negative consequences:
Lambert Dolphin suggested a number of negative consequences to
masturbation, including: "(a) increased self-consciousness, (b)
lowered self-esteem, (c) depression, (d) reduced psychological and
creative energy, (e) lessened interest in interpersonal relationships,
and of course (f) guilt, shame, with fear of being found out." 6
Masturbation is not part of God's plan
Lampert Dolphin continues, writing that: "God did not design sex to be a solitary
experience. It is supposed to be shared with another, and only in marriage.
Sexuality is intended to be part of the complementary interaction of
self-giving love between a man and a woman who are committed to one another
for life.....Within marriage the dynamic interplay between opposites can
bring healing and wholeness for both the man and his wife. Sexual expression
in any other context is destructive to wholeness. The Bible certainly shows
that God is not against pleasure, He wants us to say "no" to things that
hurt us.....Abstinence and celibacy have always been prized by the church as
healthy and desirable before marriage, and normative for singles. In the
personal experience of countless pastors and counselors in the church of
Jesus Christ, men and women are always far better off if they remained
sexually inactive until marriage, and faithful to one's spouse thereafter.
Countless married couples regret their premarital affairs and sexual
expression prior to marriage because the effects show up later on in making
marriage less than it ought to be." 6
Masturbation can lead to infidelity and other sinful
and criminal behavior:
Dennis Rupert writes: "Fantasizing in your mind makes you want to enact your
fantasies -- worse sin, big trouble. I've counseled individuals who began with a
habit of masturbation and so-called 'soft pornography.' But they couldn't stop
there. They ended up in practices of child molestation, rape, bestiality, time
with prostitutes, cross-dressing, public exposure, and jail time. In spite of
what our culture says, lust really can kill you....Your lack of self-control in
this area may make you susceptible to unfaithfulness in your marriage. If you
cannot control your masturbation and fantasy lust (with other women), then what
makes you believe you can be faithful in reality to your marriage partner?" 7
Masturbation can lead to infidelity and other sinful
and criminal behavior:
The Bible.org website states: "....though God created sex for enjoyment and
pleasure, it is to be confined to the marriage relationship because it is also
designed to express love (not just sexual love), unity, and total commitment.
Masturbation is an act of self-gratification rather than a part of giving
gratification and pleasure to one’s partner. Here are a few of the dangers of
masturbation that some have listed:
1. Psychic effects. Masturbation has a tendency to isolate its captives
psychologically and socially. In masturbation, the person is focused on
self-alone even though he or she usually is fantasizing about someone else
at the same time.
2. Emotional deprivation. It is impossible for the one who is practicing
this habit to experience the full extent of sex emotions. Therefore, in
short-circuiting the emotions one can easily be removed from the world of
3. Damaged sensibility. The habit of masturbation has a tendency in
numbing the mechanism of the sexual organs if practiced excessively. This
lessens the sensibility and thus detracts from normal sexual relations of
4. Self-gratification. The emotional background of self-gratification is
not the least bit healthy and usually militates against the home, wife and
family because it is focused only on self.
5. Control of the mind. Along with the act of masturbation comes the
fantasy of the mind. When practiced often, a pattern or cycle seems to
become established within the individual’s mind. Thus, perversion has a
tendency to control the mind and this in turn initiates the act. The real
danger lies in the guilt that increases as the individual dwells in this
world of fantasy. 8
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Life Bible Class Question and Answer section at: http://www.bibleclass.com/
- True Life Stories had a course called "Living God's Way".
Class 6 was titled "The Bible and Sex" which dealt in
part with masturbation. It was at http://homepages.enterprise.net/,
which is now a broken link.
- RBC Ministries has an essay "Answers to Tough
Questions about Masturbation" at: http://www2.gospelcom.net/
- "What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?" at: Christ Unlimited
- Dawson McAllister of Christian Answers Network has an essay "Is
masturbation wrong?" at: http://www.christiananswers.net/
- Lampert Dolphin, "Masturbation and the Bible," at: http://www.ldolphin.org/
- Dennis Rupert, "Masturbation," New Life Community Church, at: http://www.new-life.net/
- "Questions and Answers," Bible.org, at: http://www.bible.org/
Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson