Is it ok to masturbate?
The easy answer is that the Bible is silent on this issue, because the word "masturbation" itself doesn't appear. For such a subject, we must be careful of laying down burdensome rules (Col 2:16-23), but the Bible says "don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature" (Gal 5:13), so we need to be deeply honest with ourselves what is driving a desire to masturbate.
The act of masturbation usually involves one or more of the following:
- Lust – Jesus condemns this (Matthew 5:28) (Prov 6:25) (1 Thes 4:3-5)
- Addiction – Are we being mastered by Christ or by someone/thing else? (Rom 6:19-22) (1 Cor 6:12 & 19)
- Self–centredness – This is the root of all sin (Gal 5:16) (Mark 14:36) (1 Peter 4:1-2)
- Done in secret - Is masturbation something we are comfortable to commend as holy living - "living in the light"? (1 John 1:6)
If we consider carefully what the Bible teaches in these areas, most people would have to conclude that masturbation is something that Christians should avoid. Galatians 5:22-23 teaches that the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control, so here we have an opportunity to put that into practice. And of course, we know right from the creation account that sex is made by God as a gift to be shared in the one-flesh relationship between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24).
Practically, the first step for a Christian might be to ask the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16-17) why you masturbate and to reflect on the Bible references above. Once you have identified what drives your need to masturbate, here are some practical ideas for breaking free from an addiction to masturbation:
- Lust - Intentionally move your mind on to more wholesome things (Phil 4:8) and allow your mind to be renewed (Rom 12:2)
- Addiction - Remember that Jesus has set Christians free (Rom 6:19-22), so don't settle for slavery to a comfort behaviour. Perhaps reflect on what you are comforting with this behaviour
- Self-centredness - We all struggle with this. What are you willing to sacrifice day by day (Luke 9:23)?
- Done in secret - Try finding an accountability partner with whom you can check in on this (James 5:16)
Resources for further study
Please note that any external resources below are intended to complement the main answer given above and may not entirely match TFT's position.