Is masturbation wrong because it is self-gratifying?

Last updated on October 7, 2020


I stopped masturbating because I read these articles by Focus on the Family:

I hadn’t ever thought about this way: that masturbation, in a way, could be self-gratification — only for self and in a way, not right. Could you give me your thoughts about this?


You have to read the wording carefully in those articles. They stated that masturbation, by itself, is not a sin. However, there are things associated with masturbation that can be sinful.

  • Pornography, which is condemned in I Thessalonians 4:3-5
  • Lust (sexual fantasies), which is condemned in Matthew 5:28 and Mark 7:21-23
  • And self-gratification

The problem with the last is that it is too vaguely worded. When I eat a turkey dinner, my body is gratified to have received food, especially when I’m hungry. But eating is not wrong unless a person over-indulges — eating solely for the pleasure of eating and not because there is a need for food. This is referred to in the Scriptures as gluttony. See: What is gluttony and is all pleasure-seeking activities wrong?

The way I would express it is: if you are masturbating multiple times a day because you are bored, stressed, or just like having orgasms, then you are putting yourself in danger. Pursuing things solely for pleasure becomes an easy target for temptation. But if you hold off masturbating until there is a need to ejaculate, then of course it will be pleasurable, but it serves the purpose of maintaining your body and keeping your sexual desires at a manageable level.

Overall, I don’t think the people at Focus on the Family and I are all that different in our views of masturbation.