Is masturbation wrong because it is a fleshly desire?


Hello there.

I have been reading your answers about masturbation being a sin and I have to agree that it all sounds like it is the truth. However, I came across these articles that say masturbation is a sin and have included information that “proves” masturbation is wrong that I had never seen before. I was hoping you could read through them and share your thoughts on them.

Here’s some context about me: I remember feeling an orgasm back when I was like 7 – 10 years old. I felt it every now and then, once or twice a year. I remember when I was 12 I thought to myself, “I wish I could feel that ‘feeling’ again”. So for no reason and not knowing what I was doing, I started rubbing my penis. To my surprise, I felt it happen. I never lusted or watched porn. I did it often back then with no lust or porn.

After a while, I found out that what I was doing was actually a thing called masturbation. I started to wonder if it was a sin for me to do that or not. So I ultimately stopped doing it and have been resisting for a long time (even though I’ve failed every now and then).

Now I am 21 years old. I have the urge to do it a lot. I recently started doing it again after reading your answers on it. No lust, or porn. I simply just have the urge to do it. I’ve done it and felt fine, but sometimes I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing. That’s when I came across these articles and what they speak of are things I never thought of before and their “proof” about masturbation being a sin are things I had never read before. It’s making it really hard on me again because as fine as I felt masturbating with no lust or porn, these are new things that I started to think about since I read about them. Some things are repeated from other articles (like Onan and lust and porn being a sin) but some things I had never heard of before.

I am always trying my best to live for God and I want to do what is right in His sight always. I really don’t want to do something if it is against His will. This is why I keep needing assurance about this. It’s literally like the only thing I struggle with. Wondering if I practice masturbation thinking and “knowing” it is not a sin, and then going to hell for it because it was even though I thought it wasn’t and felt perfectly fine doing it. If you could please review them and let me know what you think about them I would appreciate it very much. 


What I saw in the articles you sent was a lot of poor reasoning. I don’t typically do reviews of other people’s writings, but pick one of the reasons that you thought proved that masturbation was sinful and I’ll show you what the problems are.


For example, where it says that it is just a fleshly desire and we must not give in to those desires because they are of the flesh.

Also where one said that sex was intended between a married man and woman only. So masturbating (since it’s done alone) goes against how God created sex to be and therefore is sinful.

And how, even though done without lust or porn and you feel like you’re not guilty, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a sin. Because it could be even if you don’t feel guilty about it.

They also went on saying how Jesus was tempted in this same way, and how we are supposed to resist like He resisted these temptations.

Also, where they say how the Bible says that although you can do certain things, some things it’s best not to do them anyway (apostle Paul). They said “even if it was permissible, why would you let your flesh control you” and things like that.

Then there was this quote.

“Let’s be clear, masturbation is an act of instant, self-gratification. It is quite the opposite of the self-control that we are constantly reminded of in the Bible. Self-control is an act of obedience to our Holy God and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) an act that requires restraint, thought, intentionality, and delayed gratification.“

Thank you for taking the time to help! It means a lot!


I asked for one, but I’ll address your list.

It’s a Desire of the Flesh

One thing that helps see the core of an argument is to replace what is being argued against with something that is similar but not as controversial. It is true that the desire to ejaculate comes from the flesh, just like the desire to eat, the desire to sleep, or the desire to use the restroom. Just because a desire originates from the physical body, it doesn’t make it wrong.

A huge mistake is not seeing when the word “flesh” is being used to speak of physical flesh and when it is being used figuratively to speak of a focus on sinful things.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-25).

The word “flesh” can refer to the physical bodies of animals and men (Genesis 6:13; 7:15-16). Thus, the physical cannot inherit the spiritual (I Corinthians 15:50). Paul used it in his debate regarding whether he should stay in this world or depart for the next (Philippians 1:21-24). “Flesh” is also used to refer to a near physical relative (Genesis 37:27). We continue to use it this way when we speak of a child being our own flesh and blood.

In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul contrasts Ishmael and Isaac. Both are sons of Abraham born of two different mothers (Galatians 4:22). However, Paul said, “But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also” (Galatians 4:29). Clearly, Paul is not talking about physical birth. Ishamael lived according to the ways of the world while Isaac lived according to the ways of the Spirit of God. It is even clearer in “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin” (Romans 7:14). “Flesh” then can figuratively represent sin and the ways of this world.

Thus, when we are reading Galatians 5:19-21 and the deeds of the flesh, are we talking about the physical body or sinful behavior. While some of the sins listed are physically done, others in this list are sins of the heart. Thus, we must conclude that Paul is talking about sinful ways.

The authors you cited play fast and loose with what they consider to be deeds of the flesh. Eating is a deed of the flesh, but eating is not necessarily wrong — though it can be used wrongfully. Thus, they did not prove that masturbation is wrong by calling it a deed of the flesh.

It is Sex Done Alone

The difficulty here is that there is an assumption that masturbation falls under the definition of fornication or adultery. These sexual sins (I Corinthians 6:9) imply sex with another person who is not your spouse. I don’t know of a dictionary that includes masturbation as a part of the definition of these two words. In essence, we have a case of circular reasoning. Masturbation is assumed to be a part of fornication, fornication is a sin, therefore masturbation is a sin. The flaw is that the assumption is not proven.

It Could Be Wrong, Even If You Don’t Feel Guilty

It is true that our feelings do not define what is right or wrong. Righteousness and sin are defined by God and His Word. But again “could be” doesn’t mean it is or is not wrong. This is only a statement that more investigation is needed.

Jesus Was Tempted in the Same Way We Are

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

This verse states that Jesus faced the same types of temptations as we do (I John 2:16), but it doesn’t mean that he experienced every temptation possible. For example, Jesus was never tempted with adultery because he was never married. However, Jesus did deal with the lusts of the flesh (Matthew 4:2-3) just as you and I must deal with them.

Once again, there is circular reasoning going on. It is assumed that masturbation is a sin and since Jesus didn’t sin, it is argued that Jesus would not approve of masturbation. What remains missing is proof that masturbation is a sin.

Don’t Let Your Flesh Control You

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (I Corinthians 6:12).

Paul’s argument is that just because something is legal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best thing to do. He is saying don’t allow legal things to control your decisions. In this context, Paul is applying this to fornication. Having sex between two unmarried people was not illegal in the Roman Empire — basically the same as today. But just because you are allowed to do something by man’s laws, it doesn’t mean it is always the best thing to do. To allow your desire to have sex to control your decisions regarding having sex with a girl is not wise because our desires don’t operate under the laws of morality.

Now, let’s use this with eating. Eating is legal (so long as you own the food you are eating). But this doesn’t mean you should eat whenever you feel like it. That would be gluttony and you’ll end up fat. Thus, you don’t let your desire to eat control when you eat. But notice that eating is not morally wrong, nor is it wrong to have a desire to eat.

Therefore, this argument doesn’t prove masturbation is wrong. All we have done is say that you shouldn’t masturbate just because you feel like it. There should be other reasons, such as needing to ejaculate. Boys who let their desires to ejaculate control their decisions often end up committing sins like looking at pornography or committing fornication.

It Is Instant Self-Gratification

Allow me to substitute eating for masturbating in your quote: “Let’s be clear, eating is an act of instant, self-gratification. It is quite the opposite of the self-control that we are constantly reminded of in the Bible. Self-control is an act of obedience to our Holy God and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) an act that requires restraint, thought, intentionality, and delayed gratification.” Does this prove that eating is wrong? No. It only argues that restraint should be used. Eat because there is a need, even though you will enjoy the meal when you do eat.

Therefore, this doesn’t prove that masturbation is wrong. It is only an argument that you shouldn’t go wild with masturbating. Masturbate when there is a need, even though you will enjoy it when you do masturbate.