Is masturbation sinful according to the Bible?

The Bible never explicitly mentions masturbation or states whether or not masturbation is a sin. The Scripture most frequently pointed to in regards to masturbation is the story of Onan in Genesis 38:9-10. Some interpret this passage as saying that “spilling your seed” on the ground is a sin. However, that is not precisely what the passage is saying. God condemned Onan not for “spilling his seed” but because Onan refused to fulfill his duty to provide an heir for his brother. The passage is not about masturbation, but rather about fulfilling a family duty. A second passage sometimes used as evidence for masturbation’s being a sin is Matthew 5:27-30. Jesus speaks against having lustful thoughts and then says, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” While there are parallels between this passage and masturbation, it is unlikely that masturbation was what Jesus was alluding to.



While the Bible nowhere explicitly states that masturbation is a sin, there is no question as to whether the actions that lead to masturbation are sinful. Masturbation is nearly always the result of lustful thoughts, sexual stimulation, and/or pornographic images. It is these problems that need to be dealt with. If the sins of lust, immoral thoughts, and pornography are forsaken and overcome, masturbation will become a non-issue. Many people struggle with guilty feelings concerning masturbation, when in reality, the things that led to the act are far more worthy of repentance.

There are some biblical principles that can be applied to the issue of masturbation.Ephesians 5:3 declares, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” It is hard to see how masturbating can pass that particular test. The Bible teaches us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you cannot give God glory for something, you should not do it. If a person is not fully convinced that an activity is pleasing to God, then it is a sin: “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Further, we need to remember that our bodies have been redeemed and belong to God. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do with our bodies. In light of these principles, the conclusion that masturbation is a sin is biblical. Clearly, masturbation is not glorifying to God; it does not avoid the appearance of immorality, nor does it pass the test of God’s having ownership over our bodies.



  1. Lenny Reply

    I asked three priest (a Jesuit, a Franciscan and a Paulist priest) , and they all replied don’t even confess this, it’s not a mortal sin. I always knew this in my mind, rather it is a gift from God.

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply
    “The Bible never explicitly mentions masturbation or states whether or not masturbation is a sin”
    That should have been the end of the article. Full stop. It’s not a sin. It’s not in the Jewish Law, and Jesus never said a word about it. It’s a sin invented by the Catholic Church, an organization comprised of disordered, unnatural, (supposedly) celibate virgins (do altar boys count?) who insist that we call them “Father” despite having chosen to leave the human gene pool (except for thousands and thousands of children fathered and then abandoned by priests). Do NOT let these miserable old farts fill your mind with guilt and shame. They are the evil ones. They are the ones attempting to control you through guilt, shame and fear.
    If there is a god, this policy debases him, as he clearly saw to it that we evolved a strong sexual drive – without which we would not have survived, given the very high child mortality rates in our early history – indeed right up to the time germs were discovered (something Jesus knew nothing about – instructing his followers that it was not necessary to wash their hands before eating!). The Church wants us to feel guilty about being who we are. That’s evil, just like their god who sends mere mortals to eternal torment despite living only a handful of decades, and for failing to believe something for which there is absolutely no compelling, objective evidence.
    This garbage is a distraction. They want you thinking about this crap because they don’t want you looking into evolution and the DNA evidence that debunks Adam and Eve, and thus the Fall from Grace, and Original Sin, without which there is no justification for the Church to exist.

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