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Opposition by conservative Protestants

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Conservative Protestant beliefs about masturbation:

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:

bullet Some Christian sources condemn masturbation as sinful;

bullet Because of that, some Christians engaging in the practice feel overwhelming guilt;

bullet Some Christian sources give guilt as a reason to avoid masturbation.

Another is:

bullet Some modern Christian sources condemn masturbation is a type of unclean act.

bullet The Bible condemns unclean acts.

bullet Thus the Bible condemns masturbation.

Some articles 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. 

bullet Masturbation is a form of adultery:
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."

bullet 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).

bullet 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.

bullet 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.

bullet Masturbation is against natural law:
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.

bulletMasturbation is a violation of God's purpose for sex:
Dawson McAllister of Christian Answers Network condemns masturbation for a variety of reasons:

bullet 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 sexuality.

bullet Sexual fantasies almost always accompany masturbation. He cites Proverbs 12:11, although the passage does not appear to say anything about sexual fantasies.

bullet 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.

bullet He claims that masturbation is an unhealthy way to deal with loneliness. Again, he does not provide any references or support for the statement.
bullet He claims that "Masturbation is almost always a symptom of a deeper need." Again, no supporting evidence is supplied. 5
bullet 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

bullet 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

bullet 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

bullet Masturbation can lead to infidelity and other sinful and criminal behavior:
The 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 reality.

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 married life.

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

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Life Bible Class Question and Answer section at:
  2. 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, which is now a broken link.      
  3. RBC Ministries has an essay "Answers to Tough Questions about Masturbation" at:
  4. "What Does The Bible Say About Masturbation?" at: Christ Unlimited Ministries:
  5. Dawson McAllister of Christian Answers Network has an essay "Is masturbation wrong?" at:
  6. Lampert Dolphin, "Masturbation and the Bible," at:
  7. Dennis Rupert, "Masturbation," New Life Community Church, at:
  8. "Questions and Answers,", at:

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Copyright © 1997 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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