There is so much more to this question than just a cut and dry answer. I think when Pastors are approached with this question its easier to answer on the spot than in a blog. Answering this question takes having some background and some more information than just saying Yes or No. Lets look at some questions I have been asked through the years.
Is Masturbation OK if we are married married?
Many times people get very legalistic about what they can and can’t do with the confines of a marriage bed. As we talk about this the first Caveat is I would never endorse anything that makes someone feel shame or anything that is being forced on one another. Paul uses these words when dealing with our hearts 1 Corinthians 6:12-13
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. That being said I think there are ways that manual stimulation can be used between a married couple that are fine and don’t need to bring up thoughts of guilt or shame.
What if my Spouse and I can’t be together?
I get this question from time to time from military members who are deployed or are separated for some reason from their spouse. The Bible is very clear that you should only have eyes for your spouse. If this brings you closer to your spouse during long separations and doesn’t drive a wedge in your relationship I would say that could be OK. I would beware of the wandering mind and if doing it distracts from thoughts of your spouse I would steer clear of it altogether.
My wife isn’t that interested in sex and I am so can’t I do this to tide me over until the next time we have sex?
Although this may seem like its the same question as above I view this differently. Masturbation can distract and be a coping mechanism that isn’t healthy inside of a relationship. I would strongly warn against doing this and labeling it as a need. Sexual appetites are like any others the more you feed them the more they consume us. Excessive masturbation can lead men and women to have a skewed view of sex with your spouse.
I’m single and It keeps me from sleeping around. Isn’t this ok?
I would disagree with the thought process here altogether. Jesus said this when dealing with thoughts of the mind.Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your lusting after women its the same thing. Keeping a pure mind is difficult enough in todays world and adding masturbation and fantasy to it is not going to make that any easier. Masturbation is not simply a physical act it also engages the mind as well, and that is where we need to be extremely careful.
Is the act of masturbation alone a sin?
The Bible tells us everything we need to know not everything we want to know. Unfortunately the bible isn’t filled with an FAQ section. The Bible is very specific when it comes to the heart issues that can surround masturbation. The Bible tells us not to worship ourselves, Not to lust after women, That our eyes are the window to our soul, To be careful and guard our hearts and many more things that can relate to this issue. When pressed I don’t think we can say the act in and of itself is a sin but it can cause us to sin and this is why we must be very careful when dealing with this subject.