Is Masturbation a Sin in the Bible?

There are many people who look to the Bible for guidance on how to live their lives, and as sexuality can be a major part of human life, questions about what is morally right or what is a sin will inevitably come up.


Image of open Bible

Because masturbation is a topic relevant to us, we have had a look about the topic in the Bible, as well as related topics. Spoiler alert, things are not as simple as you might think.

Disclaimer: We are not an authority on the Bible, and this blog compiles what we have come to understand, there may be other views out there. We used the New International Version of the Bible in our research.


    What Does the Bible Say About Masturbation?

    First things first, what does the Bible say about masturbation?The simple answer is: nothing, and we read through the entire Bible to make sure. Masturbation is never specifically mentioned in the Bible, either in positive or negative terms.

    Image of someone reading the Bible

    This might seem odd, as there are lots of specific mentions of other sexual behavior (who or what you sleep with) that the Bible condemns.

    So why no mention of masturbation? Sexual behaviour mentioned in the Bible appears to only refer to acts with a partner, and it is quiet about what you get up to on your own.

    Why Do People Say Masturbation is a Sin?

    This brings us to the question of why many religious people think that masturbation is sinful, if the Bible never actually condemns it.

    Image of sign for confessional

    These teachings come from the church, and not the Bible itself. From what we have seen and heard (and you might feel so as well), the church for a long time appears to have considered any sexual activity outside of that between husband and wife for the purpose of procreation to be ‘immoral’. This means that your thoughts on the morality of masturbation could depend on which denomination you are, or on your personal thoughts if you are nondenominational, or are not attached to any church.

    One biblical story you may be aware of is that of Onan (from where we got the word onanism, meaning masturbation), where he ‘spilled his seed on the ground’ and was punished by God. To quote Genesis 38:9 [whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.], and a lot of people think this is about masturbation, but to others it sounds like he is practising the ‘pull-out method during sexual intercourse. This ties back to church teachings about sexual activity not for procreation being sinful.


    For the people who reference scripture for reasons why masturbation is a sin according to the Bible, they often point to topics adjacent to masturbation, such as lusting after others and not practising self-control.

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    Looking at a woman lustily is considered the same as committing adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28), but this passage does not cover lusting after men, or if you masturbate without lusting after a specific person (which could include porn).

    There are also those who consider masturbation as a loss of self-control, something which is seen as an ungodly act, as someone who is godly should be self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:7-8). This text is somewhat vague, as it could refer to other things such as not being violent or drunk.

    The Bible does mention avoiding sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3) as a reason to avoid masturbation, but if masturbation is never called out as being immoral in the Bible, is it included in this category?

    Some say that feeling guilty is a sign that you are sinning (1 John 3:21) but this leaves an obvious question, if you do not feel guilty about masturbating, then is it not a sin?

    On the other hand, there are those who say that masturbation is fine, as it is a way to celebrate the pleasure your God-given body can feel, and that it could prevent you from lusting after others or feeling tempted into premarital sex or adultery.


    As we have seen from our reading of the Bible as well as various texts and takes on the matter, in purely literal terms the bible does not say masturbation is a sin.

    In the end, how you view this topic is a combination of your personal beliefs, the beliefs of your church, and your interpretation of the Bible.

    If you are ok with it, then feel free to take part in this fun activity that also comes with some unexpected benefits. TENGA is here with many innovative products to help.

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