Masturbation 2

Christians often struggle more with this
Image by Nicki Varkevisser CC BY 2.0 Cropped

Christians and masturbation

Feelings interpreted as guilt

I am 70 years old, and how I wish there had been something like your site when I was a teen. The MISERY and GUILT I suffered is beyond description, as my family was VERY religious. I was well into adulthood and in the military before I found that masturbation was a normal private function.

Age 70, USA [1]

Information given to teens by a Lutheran pastor

Is sex something Christian boys should forget about?

The Bible says that you are "awesomely and wonderfully made." Seven times in the creation account, God looks at what He made and proclaims "It is good!" The Bible says that your body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit." God made you the sexual young man you are - and He says it's awesome and wonderful! "It is good!" God doesn't see your sexuality as sinful or bad - and nor should you! Your sexuality - like everything about you - is a gift from God meant to bless you. Your sexuality isn't something you should deny or ignore (as if you can), it's something to be thankful for.

What is Masturbation?

It's sex-by-yourself, it's "solo-sex".

Is it sinful?

No. It can be misused and sinful (almost anything can), but it's not sinful in and of itself.

But doesn't the Bible say it's sinful?

No. The Bible doesn't say it's sinful or wrong or bad - the Bible never even mentions it or alludes to it. This is kind of remarkable since the Bible has a LOT to say about sin and sex and because masturbation is a pretty much a universal thing.

What about that "sin of Onan" and the "wasting of seed"?

Some Protestants used to use the story of Onan (Genesis 38:8-11) to discourage masturbation in boys. I can't go into all the customs of that day, but the bottom line is that the whole thing clearly has nothing to do with masturbation (it deals with something called "coitus interruptus" in required intercourse). It just doesn't apply. Some Catholics used to talk a lot about "wasted sperm". Sperm are the part of your semen that can work together with you wife's egg to make a baby. They said you shouldn't "waste" them. Well, every day, your body makes THOUSANDS of sperm - and will continue to do so, every day, for the rest of your life - tens of millions of them in your lifetime. All but maybe 2 or 3 will be "wasted" since no baby will result from them. That's how God made you. Obviously, God isn't too concern that every sperm results in a baby and that none is "wasted". Besides, an unmarried boy isn't supposed to be fathering babies and yet God made him to be making lots of sperm cells every day - obviously He intends for those to be "wasted". The other verses usually quoted deal with sharing our sexuality with others outside of marriage; they obviously don't apply and so I won't go into them.

My youth pastor says the problem is not the masturbation but the thoughts that go with it.

This is the most common reasoning used today. Now, there are clear Bible passages that talk about lust (Matthew 5:28 and Colossians 3:5 are often quoted). There's serious stuff here, so let's look into this carefully.

  1. Masturbation usually doesn't increase how much a boy dwells on sex, it's more likely to decrease it.
  2. "Lust" isn't an easy word to define. The dictionary defines it as a "strong sexual desire" however, the Bible must mean something different than that because these verses apply to all people - including married people who are permitted and expected to have sexual desires. Masturbation is never given as an example of lust. Now, God made you sexual, it's part of being "wonderfully made", it's a gift from God, a blessing to you. Your sexual feelings are part of how God made you and what God gave to you - and God said, "it is good" (He meant it, too). It's part of the "program" God has just downloaded into you - and God didn't make a mistake or set you up to sin. But if we dwell on ungodly, sinful, twisted, perverted sex - that's not thanking God, that's not rejoicing in our sexuality, that's mocking it - and the Bible calls that "lust". In reality, it's a fine line that you'll be struggling with for the rest of your life.
  3. Masturbation does not necessarily include thoughts of sinful sex, nor it is usually done with the idea of encouraging lust.
  4. When condemning lust, it just doesn't figure to condemn anything that might be associated with it. Let's say Bobbie watches lots of television. When he watches television, he eats candy - lot of candy. Bobbie now weighs about as much as a small car. Does that make television a sin?
Do Christian boys masturbate?

Dr. James Dobson, a conservative Christian psychologist, wrote, "Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys masturbate, and the rest have been known to lie". Studies confirm those numbers, and there's nothing to suggest it's different for Christian boys.

Is masturbation harmful?

Physically, no.

Do my parents know I masturbate?

Yes. So do your older brothers - and even your older sisters (YIKES!). Even your DOG knows! (Just kidding about that one). But it's totally weird. Like you and your parents. I mean, you know that they are sexual people (when you think about that, which you probably never do). You know your parents have sexual feelings and stuff just like you. Several times a week, they have fun and exciting sex! I mean, you know that! But UGH! You TOTALLY don't think of them in that way! They're your mom and dad! Well, it's the same the other way around. You parents know that you are now a fully sexual person, with all the same feelings they have. They know that (at least when they think about that, which they almost never do). But they just don't think of you in that way. I mean, you are their son, their boy, their child! Get it? That's one reason why, when you and your parents want to talk about this stuff, well, it's just SO weird.

Can a boy do it too much?

Almost everything can be overdone. I mean, one cookie is great, 5 are probably okay - but a hundred?! Now, the problem (the sin) here isn't the cookie and it isn't the eating, it's the excess! Remember that old saying, "everything in moderation"? In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul is talking about sex and he writes, "I will not be mastered by anything". If masturbation is controlling you, "mastering" you, then it's out of control. Boys need to learn to master their sexuality and not let their sexuality master them!

So there should be some limits?

Like in everything else! It's really important because our sexuality is really POWERFUL (duh). This is a very powerful part of who you are and you'll be managing it for the rest of your life. We need to control our sexuality - or it will control us!! Learn now to control your sexuality - and feel GOOD about that!

Do some Christian boys choose not to masturbate?

Yes, some abstain, at least for a while. They may do so just out of a sense of self-control or because they aren't okay with it or because it's a violation of family values - all good reasons. Boys who abstain are far more likely to have "wet dreams" and a pretty high and constant level of sexual "pressure", but those things can be handled, especially with age and maturity. Choosing not to masturbate for a reasonable, achievable amount of time can teach control and reinforce that you CAN control yourself. But don't set yourself up for failure, set yourself up for success!

I signed an "Abstinence Pledge" that I won't have sex until I'm married. Does masturbation violate that?

No. The pledge is not to share sex with anyone but your wife. Masturbation, by definition, is solo sex - it's not shared. I strongly support such a pledge - it's a GREAT thing to do and to keep! Good for you!

I heard that some guys I know have done it like together, with each other. Is that okay?

No. Masturbation is solo-sex. When it's done with others, it becomes "group sex" and sharing sex - and that's a sin. This goes for married people, too - they don't do it with other married couples! The only one you should share sex with is your wife (who, at marriage, becomes one with you).

So, it's a private thing?

Yes. Our sexuality is, by far, the most intimate and private part of ourselves (1 Corinthians 12:23). Since our sexuality is the most intimate and private part of our lives, so is its expression. By the way, EVERY family should have an absolute "Knock Rule" in the home. NO ONE should ever open a closed door without knocking and seeking permission - this goes for siblings, too.

Once I had a "wet dream" and I dreamt of a boy I know - naked! Is that sinful?

No. Actually, I've learned it's pretty common. A "wet dream" (nocturnal emission) has two parts - the dream and the emission, and you have NO control over either part. Hey, you were asleep! Younger teens, especially, are often more focused on their own bodies than on girls, so it's pretty understandable that your brain would focus on a boy body and create a dream from that. By the way, that does NOT mean you are gay!! "Wet dreams" are the source of lots of embarrassment, they're messy and they can make a boy feel out of control. Good news: they decrease with age and yes - your mother knows (but change the bed and wash the sheets for her anyway, okay?).

I've found some "porn" sites on the Internet and I like to look at that while I masturbate. Any problem?

Big one. The problem is not with the masturbation but with the porn! And doing them together tends to mess up the masturbation, too! Pornography is hard to define but basically it's anything that focuses on sinful sex and abuses God's precious gift of sexuality; it's all about lust. It's DANGEROUS stuff because you are "wired" to be very visual - impacted a lot by what you see. It's just how God made your brain works. Pornography takes advantage of this and abuses it, it really messes up our minds! It's addictive, too - like a drug. Pornography is one of Satan's tools to mess with your heart and soul, drive you away from God, create lots of guilt and twist God's wonderful gift of sex into something evil and perverted.

Closing words

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but has everlasting life." That's a promise, right from God! And it's YOU he's talking about! God not only made you wonderful, but He made you His own - His own dear son, His own precious child, the subject of His awesome love. God loves you unconditionally, just the way you are, EVERY part of you - always, completely, totally. There's NOTHING you can do that will make God stop loving you. Now, life has limits and boundaries. There are right and wrong ways to use His gifts and live our lives. Sin makes God sad because He knows it messes up our lives and hurts us - and that breaks God's heart. God wants to bless us, and He wants us to be blessed by His gifts.

And God cares. I mean, really cares. He made you and He knows what's happening in you - a whole lot better than you do. He understands. He cares. And He's there for you, smiling on you, hugging you, loving you.

What the Bible says


The silence in the Bible does not necessarily mean 'go for it'. Because there are strong and loud differing views on this subject let's look to those who are highly regarded in the Christian community with a track record of presenting balanced views on tough subjects.

It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It is a normal part of adolescence that involves no one else. It does not cause disease. It does not produce babies, and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible. I'm not telling you to masturbate, and I hope you won't feel the need for it. But if you do, it is my opinion that you should not struggle with guilt over it. Why do I tell you this? Because I deal with so many Christian young people who are torn apart with guilt over masturbation; they want to stop and just can't. I would like to help you avoid that agony.

Over this whole issue of masturbation, we have to face the fact that the Bible is completely silent about it. Those who lived 2,000 years ago had all the same basic desires and inclinations of a twentieth-century human being. The New Testament (as well as the Old Testament) continually directs us not to get drunk, rob, murder and swindle. Few believers have ongoing problems in those areas! It is amazing therefore that one thing most Christians experience, to some degree or other, is not actually even mentioned.

Compulsive masturbation, simply for the purpose of self gratification, with other people in mind is wrong. .....But masturbation for the purpose of self control is something altogether different. The act in and of itself is not wrong. When someone is under pressure to the point of distraction, whether single or married, it is often better that they relieve themselves - for at that point no mental stimulation is necessary.

Young Christian guys

When I first began to masturbate, I thought it was a sin. I would masturbate and then frantically pray for forgiveness. I would hold off for a week, and then it would happen again. Given the chance, I would go back and learn the truth...

Age 15, Georgia [1]

Dr. James Dobson says that boys from Christian or church backgrounds often have additional problems with masturbation. Boys from these backgrounds are taught that there is an after-life and they will be held accountable for their life here on earth. Many become plagued with unrelenting guilt over masturbation.

He goes on to say that many boys (including Christians) find masturbation absolutely uncontrollable. The boy feels he has sinned and asks God to forgive him and promises not to do it again. Sooner or later though, the accumulating hormonal pressure becomes all encompassing and he will find he is unable to keep his promise to God.

What does a boy say to God on the 300th time he has failed to live up to his promise to stop? This boy is in incredible pain. He feels bad about himself and 'those' thoughts and guilt that won't stop even when he is church! The pain becomes so great that we lose the young man from the church and from God because he simply has to escape from the inner turmoil.

Dr Dobson summarizes with the statement: 'Masturbation is all encompassing!' Boys and parents need to understand that masturbation (in Dr. Dobson's words) 'is an inevitable developmental stage - it is going to happen!' He concludes with the statement: 'If it happens to you, I wouldn't worry too much about it because I don't think it has much to do with your relationship to God'.

Some basics about Christianity and masturbation

The whole principle of Christianity is that God sees us perfect because of what Jesus did for us, provided we accept Jesus' sacrifice as our only means of getting to heaven. (He is our Savior)

This means that it is not WHAT we do that makes us right with God, but rather our acceptance of Jesus that makes us right with God. That means it is not how we feel about ourselves that makes us right with God, rather it is trusting in His word that we are right with God because of our acceptance of Jesus.

This means that masturbating does not affect our standing with God, rather it has nothing to do with it because we are right with God because of Jesus.

Do you feel like you are sinning?

If we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He ignores all our short comings and failures (whether real or imagined) and forgives ALL the sins that we confess to Him!

If you feel like your masturbation is a sin, then tell God that you are sorry and keep your heart right with Him. Don't try making promises that you will never do it again because it is almost impossible to keep them - almost like promising you will never go to the toilet again! If you keep making promises you will only feel condemned and bad about yourself. It is difficult for quite a lot of teenagers to accept their sexual nature and to become comfortable with this new side of their being.

God sees us as pure and clean when we come to Him like this. The Bible says that it is like we are wearing fine white robes as far as God is concerned. To believe that God sees us that way requires a conscious decision just the same as it needs a conscious decision for us if we were to physically put on some white robes.

Imagine you had a girlfriend that you really loved. This girlfriend kept doing something that she felt really bad about (we'll say smoking for example). Because of this she kept hiding from you, convinced that you were angry with her because of this habit she couldn't kick. All the while you were wanting to be close to her because of the love you had for her - the habit was of no consequence as far as you were concerned. She couldn't be convinced and your relationship became strained.

That is how it is with God. He just wants to love you and have you love Him. This is His highest priority! He is not looking down from heaven waiting to catch you masturbating again. It is apparently of very little (if any) real interest to Him. All He sees is the cleansed you - because of Jesus' sacrifice of dying on the cross and spilling His blood for all who accept the sacrifice.

Dare to see yourself as God sees you

It won't only help you in the area of masturbation - it is a principle that applies to every area of your Christian walk. What is the truth? Is the truth the way you are feeling about yourself or is the truth what God says about you?

If you as a Christian are feeling bad about yourself in any area of your life, then you need to see yourself from God's viewpoint - perfect and an overcomer because of Jesus Christ!

Some more experiences about trying to stop

I tried when I first met the girl who is now my wife. I felt guilty about it my whole life anyway and thought since I was with the girl I really "loved," I should be able to stop. I went about 2 weeks or so until I just about exploded. Finally I gave in, and I shot about 3 or 4 feet on the first squirt. Later that evening, I talked to the youth minister at our church about it because I felt so guilty for giving in again. He explained how normal it was, and that to varying degrees, almost everyone, including girls, had masturbated at some time in their life. Since that time (I was about 17) I have come to the point where I don't have any guilt about it. As a matter of fact, I know it has enhanced my ability as a lover with my wife.

Age 35 Kansas [1]

Yes. When I was 18 I went to a Christian camp for 10 weeks. The counselors requested that we not masturbate while at the camp. I held it for a whole 10 weeks! There was a ton of guilt associated with masturbating, and once I got back from the camp, I tried so hard to stop. I just couldn't, so I started looking into masturbation a bit more. I found out that it is a natural thing and that most guys do it. In the eyes of my religious beliefs, there was no place for masturbation — so I had to make the decision to not follow the religious beliefs until I could find some that meshed with my human desire to masturbate. After several years of trying to stop, I can just say it's incredibly difficult. It helps to try quitting with several other people whom you feel comfortable sharing with and who can hold you accountable if you slip up. But my advice is don't quit. It's really OK!

Age 22 Washington [1]

Be smart on the web

This site might not help your personal situation. The purpose of this site is to give you information from other sources that you might not have heard before. That way you can make your own informed decisions about what can be complex issues in your life.

Every issue has different points of view and it is wise to consider all available information (including the author's motives ) to arrive at the best decision for yourself. All information from the internet (including this site) and media in general should be approached with caution.

Misinformation and true information often look awfully alike. The key to an informed life may not require gathering information as much as it does challenging the ideas you already have or have recently encountered. This may be an unpleasant task, and an unending one, but it is the best way to ensure that your brainy intellectual tapestry sports only true colors.

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