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We live in a society that is totally obsessed with sex.  We know that sex sells, so many advertisements we see are sexual in nature.  Television, movies, and novels are full of sex.  Nudity, or near nudity is all around us.  Pornography is so easily accessible.  Women and men dress more provocatively these days and that is becoming the norm, even for young girls and boys.  It’s no wonder that our minds are so often on sex and we feel the need for sexual release.

What does scripture say about masturbation?  The Bible does not address the subject of masturbation directly.  It does have much to say about sexual infidelity, condemning any sexual immorality, including sex outside of marriage.  While the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that masturbation is a sin, there is no question that the actions that lead to masturbation can be sinful.  Lustful thoughts, sexual arousal from reading sex-laden novels and from watching many of today’s films and TV programs, and pornographic images are what usually lead to masturbation. These problems need to be dealt with. If the sins of lust, immoral thoughts, and pornography are confessed, forsaken and overcome, masturbation will become a non-issue. Many people struggle with guilty feelings about self-satisfaction, when in reality, the things that led to the act are just as worthy of repentance.  When our minds are full of impure thoughts, our bodies will soon follow.  1 Timothy 5:22 tells us to, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.”  We cannot be pure if our minds are taken up with things that dishonor the Lord.

2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  If we truly bring every thought into obedience to the will of Christ, we will not have lustful thoughts, and masturbation will not be such an issue for us.  The Apostle Paul speaks of unmarried people in 1 Corinthians 7:9 where he says, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”  The thought here is that it is better to be married than to burn with lust for a woman or man if a person cannot contain himself, or practice self-restraint.  This seems to show that masturbation was not an option.  We are not advised to perform self-pleasure instead of burning with lust.

There are instances where a man and wife, who are used to enjoying sexual pleasure, are parted for long periods, perhaps because one is in the military and is stationed away from their spouse.  Is masturbation acceptable is this kind of situation?  To those, I can only encourage the husband and wife to talk about this together, pray about this together, and seek the Lord’s mind.  We read in 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”  This shows us the danger of withholding sex from our spouse.  Paul instructs the couple not to deprive one another of sex unless it is talked about, agreed upon, and then come together again after a short while.  If there are occasions where the couple must be apart for long periods of time, masturbation may be an acceptable option.  However, Romans 14:23 tells us that, “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  Be sure you have sought and received the mind of the Lord before engaging in masturbation.  (110.4)