Masturbation in a Biblical Marriage, Are you Serious?

In my last marriage post, I discussed the affects of pornography on marriage.  This topic is huge.  It is one of the number one issues we have seen in couples that we counsel.  Another topic, along this same vein, is masturbation.  It is a topic that we often get asked about, and if it is really discussed in the Bible.  I know I am really walking into a taboo topic now.  But, I think it is so important to ask these tough questions, and to discuss them so we truly know what God’s Word says on the topic.

So, often times in churches there is a teaching that masturbation is a sin, and wrong.  There are a few passages of scripture that are used for this argument.  So, let’s take a look and see what those verses actually say in context.

Genesis 38:9–10

But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his seed (semen) on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

According to the passage in chapter 38, Judah made a deal with Onan: if Onan would sleep with his deceased brother’s wife as a replacement for his brother, then he would be allowed to have offspring with his own wife. However, instead of fulfilling this obligation, Onan chose to  spill his seed .  I personally, do not think this is an act of masturbation.

The definition of masturbation is to stimulate the genital organs of (oneself or another) to achieve sexual pleasure.  This is not what is described in this passage in Genesis.    Onan did not obey his father, nor did he honor God or Tamar by his actions, but in my humble opinion this passage has nothing to do with masturbation.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.

In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Paul gives us a powerful reminder that our bodies are not ours to do with as we please.  This verse is often cited as being about masturbation, and sometimes masturbation can become an unhealthy and habitual pattern that distracts us from more meaningful pursuits.

By choosing to abstain from obsessive sexual behavior or thinking, and devoting ourselves fully to God instead, we show that we have the fruit of the Spirit in us.

“You shall not commit adultery.

The central message of Exodus 20:14 is that God forbade certain types of sexual behavior, including adultery.

If one holds to the definition of adultery being a sexual act committed outside of marriage then masturbation could be perceived as directly disobeying one of the 10 commandments.  So, in that case masturbation would be considered a sin.  I personally, do not think that is what the verse says, but maybe I am wrong.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:14 states that we should live our lives in accordance with the law. This means being mindful of our actions and behaviors, and avoiding things like self gratification.

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

In Ephesians 5:3, the author encourages his readers to guard their hearts against the temptation of a sexual nature.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

According to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, Christians are called to maintain sexual purity in all aspects of their lives. One can surmise that this passage warns against  “sexually immoral” and sinful acts that are displeasing to God and may lead to detrimental consequences.

“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?

I am including Acts 13:10, because many teachers say, this verse is about masturbation.  I do not think it is, but I didn’t want to leave any verses out that are commonly used in teachings on masturbation.

As a child and teenager, I fully believed there was a clear passage that said do not masturbate.  But, now after many years of reading my Bible over and over again, I can honestly say, I do not see any verses that say that.  Now, what does that mean?

Is it ok to masturbate?

Yes, I think there is a time and a place that it is ok.  My husband and I teach our children that they will have times when they discover pleasure in their own body.  They may even have times when they feel a strong desire to have that physical sensation.  This is normal, and how God designed us for procreation, making babies.  But, it is never ok to touch someone else or look at someone else in a sexual way that is not our spouse.  As children and teenagers, or unmarried adults, if you have a physical urge or sensation it is not a sin, it is a physical feeling created by hormones.  There is no scripture that says that self pleasurer is a sin.  But, as you read in the passages above, there is sin in obsession and lack of self discipline.  Anything, that takes up our thoughts and time, and is only about ourselves, is sin. The first commandment says we are to have no other gods before Yehovah.  Masturbation can become our god.  Masturbation is something we need to be very careful to not become obsessed with, and it should not ever be done with lust in our heart.  Yeshua said if we lust after someone it is sin, like adultery.

We must realize there is a difference between a need for physical release in one’s body, and sexual sin.

Masturbation with lustful thoughts is SIN!

Is Masturbation ok in Marriage?

Yes, there are seasons in marriage that a husband or wife might need to help each other feel sexually aroused without actually having sex.  There also may be seasons in marriage where one person is unable for some reason, health, distance, etc.  to meet each others sexual needs.  If a couple has a healthy marriage they will discuss between themselves what they each feel comfortable with in regards to how those needs are met.  Again, there should never be lust, porn, or other images in ones mind when masturbating.  There should also never be anyone else in your marriage.  Your spouse should be the only one who is on your mind in a sexual way.

I realize there are many who will disagree with this post.  But, I would ask that you prayerfully search scripture on this topic, and then openly discuss it with your spouse.  Ultimately, in a healthy marriage there should be open dialogue about sex and sexual needs.  It really only matters what the two of you decide together, and that no adultery is being committed according to the definition given by Messiah.

Lust, sexual desire or feelings, for anyone or anything that is not your spouse is adultery according to Christ!


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