How can I tell if masturbation is a sin when both sides cite Scriptures?

Last updated on October 11, 2020


Lately, I’ve been a little confused about masturbation. I’ve been making my research around a few websites (including yours), sermons, etc. Some people say it a sin with good reasons and with Scriptures; and on the other hand, I have other people saying it’s not a sin with good reasons and referring also to the Scriptures. But there’s is one question I’m asking myself: If Jesus Christ is coming back right now and I’m masturbating without thinking of anyone, etc., am I going to be saved?


The question is whether masturbation is right or wrong. The illustration of whether you were doing it when Christ returns doesn’t prove the point. For instance, it might be momentarily embarrassing to be showering or using the toilet when Christ returns, but neither of those things is wrong. Embarrassment doesn’t define morality.

Better is to look at the verses given by those opposing masturbation and those saying it is not wrong and see if the verses really say what is being claimed.  Which verses do you think makes a strong argument against masturbation?


Honestly, I never saw a verse in the Bible that condemns masturbation, but when I made my research those who are against it put it in the category of lust. They use the verse in James 1:14 or talk about Onan in the Bible who refused to give children to the woman who was his brother’s wife by masturbating on the ground. Those who are in accord with masturbation just say that it’s not in the Bible, so we can do it as long as we’re not having fantasies, etc. But when I come to your website I am all confused. I just don’t know what to think. I just need a clear path on the subject because I’m really lost in this.


As you probably know from my writings, I try to make it clear that no one is required to masturbate. If a person chooses not to do so, that is perfectly fine. There are, however, many guys who are not able to have wet dreams and still need to have the relief of ejaculating the semen they are producing. Thus, the question is whether they are sinning when they do so.

Lust is defined as a strong desire for something that is unlawful — to the point of justifying the sin in the person’s mind. If I haven’t eaten all day, I have a strong desire for food but the strength of that desire doesn’t make it lust.

When a boy needs to ejaculate, his sexual arousal rises until he ejaculates. The desire is strong, but is it unlawful? Just saying it is doesn’t make it so. Thus, James 1:14 doesn’t answer the question. Lust is wrong, but is what is being desired sinful?

Onan’s sin was covetousness. He wanted the inheritance, so he didn’t want to give his dead brother’s wife children. In addition, he had gone into Tamar — i.e. he was having sex with her. He pulled out before he ejaculated. This was not masturbation but a practice of the withdrawal method of birth control. The best you could claim is that in addition to greed, Onan ejaculated on the ground; but that would make any ejaculation that wasn’t into a woman a sin — including ejaculations during wet dreams.  Since males must ejaculate when their seminal vesicles get full, this is defining a natural requirement to be sinful and that God made the male body such that he must sin. However, that contradicts James 1:13 that says God does not tempt people to sin. Therefore, ejaculating on the ground is not a sinful action.

Typically people claim that masturbation is not mentioned in the Bible, and it is true that there is no direct mention of it. But it was covered by the Old Testament laws. To see this, go to Leviticus 15:19-23. This is a law declaring that when a woman has her monthly blood flow, she is unclean for one week. This does not mean she sinned. She had to separate herself for the week and if she broke the laws of uncleanness that would be a sin. However, the fact that she is having a blood flow did not mean she was in sin. Just before this, in Leviticus 15:18, is another law that said that anytime a man and woman have sex and the man ejaculates, the couple is unclean for a day. While sin could be involved, such as fornication or adultery, it also covers married couples. They were expected to have sex; yet, the result was that they were unclean for a day. Now, look at Leviticus 15:16-17. Here we learn that any time a man ejaculates, he is unclean for a day. But like the woman with the blood flow or the married couple having sex, this does not mean he is in sin. This law would cover both wet dreams and masturbation. The one common point is that the man has ejaculated semen, which also explains why ejaculating during sex also makes the man unclean.

Therefore, there were laws that covered masturbation, but there are no laws that say that masturbation is a sin — only that it made a man unclean for a day under the Law of Moses. Since masturbation was not ignored, and it was not labeled a sin, it is wrong to declare it a sin on your own initiative.

Under the New Testament, there are several passages that state that lusting for sex outside of marriage is a sin (Matthew 5:28; Romans 13:13-14; I Thessalonians 4:3-5). Therefore, if a person engages in lusting for fornication, adultery, or homosexuality while masturbating or even when not masturbating, he is sinning. Whether his penis is out is an incidental and not the cause of the sin. The sin of lust involves what is going on in his mind and not whether he is doing something with his body.


Thank you very much for everything. It really helped me finally to find someone whose is capable of explaining to me clearly with a perfect statement about this topic. Stay blessed.