Did I break my vow to never masturbate again?


Hi minister,

I have been struggling with masturbation since I was 13. I recently ran into some issues, and I promised/vowed to God that if he restored me, then I would never masturbate again. That night, I felt a force on my testicles when I was asleep. A while later, one thing led to another, and I started watching porn. As I was watching, I felt my privates for pleasure but did not continue touching them because of the vow I made. Did I break my vow? It has been bothering me for a while now.

Also, I plan never to masturbate again, but I felt I should not have made that vow as it is keeping me in bondage since we are saved by grace, not by works.


It appears that you made a rash vow in hopes of bargaining with God. God doesn’t need you to give up something you choose to forgive your sins. He tells us what we need to do: give up sin (II Corinthians 7:10-11; I John 1:9). It didn’t work — not because you touched yourself — but because you turned to sin and watched pornography (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). Your “vow” didn’t make you a better person. It encouraged you to sin. The very basis of your vow was sinful because you thought you could bargain with God.

There was a time when Moses wanted God not to destroy the Israelites. “Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, ‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin — and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!'” (Exodus 32:31-32). God answered that it wasn’t up to Moses to decide the criteria upon which he is saved. People are lost due to sin (Exodus 32:33).

Jesus said not to make vows (Matthew 5:34-37). Our word is enough. You can’t bargain with God. You can ask God for mercy or favors, but whether He grants your request is completely up to God. Offering to give up something to get God to listen to you is just a rehash of an old idolatrous religion. Worshipers of Molech believed that the greater something you gave up, the more likely Molech would grant your request. What you’ve been doing is treating God as if He was some idol to be manipulated.

Nowhere in the Bible does God say masturbation is a sin. Watching pornography is a sin. Lusting after sexual sins is a sin. Men ejaculate because they have to get rid of excess semen. It is just the way the body is designed. You don’t have to masturbate, but that by itself isn’t a sin. If you have wet dreams, those are not sinful either. See: Is masturbation sinful or not?

The saying, “We are saved by grace and not by works,” is a misquote from Ephesians. The actual statement is, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). You cannot be saved by disobeying God (Ephesians 5:6). God commands us to do the good works that He has defined for us (II Thessalonians 3:13).

Paul’s point in Ephesians 2:8-10 is that God alone can save us. He doesn’t save us because He owes us anything. Instead, salvation is a gift (grace) from God. The plan of salvation is not something any man designs, and God follows along. We don’t decide what we will do (such as rash vows) to make God accept us. Instead, God has graciously told us what He expects from us, and it is our duty to obey Him. Even if we did what God tells us to do perfectly, it still would not be enough to save us. “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:10). However, if we fail to do as God commands, we will not be saved. See What Saves a Person?

Therefore, stop making up rules for you to live by. Jesus said not to make unnecessary vows, so obey him. Apologize to God for disobeying Him by trying to bargain with Him and live according to what He commanded.