Is Masturbation a Sin?

Have you ever heard anyone tell you to let your conscience be your guide? Back in the days when I used to let my conscience be my guide, I felt guilty about everything. I thought that picking my nose was a sin–and yes, most of the time I ate the fruit I picked! My first attempt at shaving my legs made me feel so guilty that I reverted back to not shaving them, until I saw someone staring at my hairy legs on a bus one time and decided: enough was enough! I debated dying my hair for a really long time before having it done. I was never comfortable with the lengths I saw females go to, to make themselves “beautiful.” I worried about the sins of vanity and pride. I also believed it was a sin to be overweight, and I felt very ugly in my own skin. But I strangely suspected that there was something holier about being plain and ugly than about being beautiful and … well … sexual.

If I were to let my conscience be my guide, I would have a miserable life in which I avoided doing anything that might have the slightest appearance of being “wrong.” But when I was in high school, one of my teachers told me about a “seared conscience.” He said there were kids out there who were able to commit murder without feeling any remorse whatsoever, because they had a seared conscience. It was then that I realised that no one’s conscience can be trusted. No two consciences are the same. I might feel like it’s sinful for me to shave my legs because God put hair there on purpose, but most women in western society would never think twice about shaving their legs because it is socially accepted. The Bible tells us that our hearts–which I believe includes our consciences–are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).

In a similar way, when I started masturbating at age 22, I felt sick with disgust. I was convinced I would never do it again after that fateful first time (in another country–might I add), but I was already addicted. We really can, as human beings, hate the things we love and love the things we hate. I spent the next five years feeling guilty every time I gave into the desire to masturbate, which was about once a month. Sometimes I cried afterward and I prayed and begged God to make me stop. My conscience told me it was a sin.

But interestingly, the Bible never once ever addresses masturbation. You would think that if masturbation was a sin, then Leviticus 18 would have something to say about it in its extensive list against certain sexual behaviours. But it says nothing whatsoever about touching one’s own sex organs, sexual arousal, wet dreams, erections, orgasms or masturbation. Similarly in the New Testament when Paul addresses sex and marriage, he says nothing about touching oneself or getting off and he certainly doesn’t say it’s wrong. If anything, he says that those who burn with passion should get married. I can make a stronger biblical case against wearing make-up, jewellery and cutting hair than I can against masturbation.

There are a lot of mixed opinions about masturbation. I’ve heard some people label it “self-gratification,” and declare it a sin because we should be seeking God for our needs, not trying to satisfy the lusts of our flesh. But when you think about this argument logically, is it self-gratification to eat food? Who is going to determine whether the food is a gift from God, or whether it was the selfish indulgence of the consumer?

Other people say that masturbation is healthy for the body. But then again, sex is also healthy for the body. Some say that masturbation takes away the temptation to have pre-marital or extra-marital sex, while others testify that once they started masturbating, sex was the next logical step. At the end of the day, all I can do is open up the discussion by talking about my own experience in this area. You will have to decide for yourself whether you find this practise healthy or unhealthy.

My experience is that after five years of feeling ashamed of myself every time I succumbed to the feelings in my vagina that demanded my attention, I decided not to trust my feelings anymore. After talking with a pastor and a naturopath, I concluded that it was healthy for me to masturbate, since I was not having sex, and my body was horny. In deciding not to trust my feelings, I learned how to retrain those feelings. This might be called desensitisation, but one can’t assume that desensitisation is always a negative thing. Our ears become desensitised to certain sounds so that we do not become distracted every time a bird sings or a car drives past the window.

In order to retrain my feelings around masturbation, I decided to deliberately masturbate much more regularly and to self-soothe if I experienced any guilty or negative feelings afterward. There were times I bawled my eyes out after masturbation, called myself a slutty whore and prayed that I would just stop experiencing all sexual arousal. My feelings were often extreme because I had learned to feel wrong about all things sexual. I needed to learn to tell myself that everything was okay. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a slut or not because God still loves me. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and I refuse to continue feeling guilty. God made me sexually female. He gave me my sexual organs. In fact he gave me a clitoris on purpose and the only function a clitoris has is sexual pleasure! If my body can orgasm in my sleep–and it can and has–then how can it possibly be a sin to enjoy climaxing?

3 thoughts on “Is Masturbation a Sin?

  1. Bravo Elissa…thanks for bringing this “taboo” subject to the fore front. I know exactly where you’re coming from. Masterbation is a part of our human makeup. It’s also a part of the animal world as well. I’ve been around livestock and wildlife all my life and I can promise you they also find a way to “self gratify themselves”. It’s not wrong or unnatural. It is, in my opinion, a natural and necessary part of life. When it’s denied, as religion teaches us to do, then it becomes a “pent up emotion and pent up energy”. We people will act it out in other ways.

    A Baptist pastor told me one time, in confidence,that he “never” masterbated as a teen or anytime. He admitted though, that when those urges came to him, he would simply go find a girl to have sex with. He had multiple partners during his single life and even after his marriage to his wife. He later lost his position at the church because of sexual improprieties. His son, (who was youth minister at the same church), was brought up on charges of sexual abuse of several teenage girls in his youth group.

    I’ve seen this trend with a lot of men i’ve known. They will preach against masterbation but think nothing of extramarital sex with any woman who will lay down for them. How ridiculous??? So what I’ve found to be true is that those who “yell” the loudest against masterbation are acting out their emotions in other ways or they are a ‘closet” masterbator in disquise!!!

    The bottom line is this….God is not offended by masterbation. That is a “made up religious” sin. Don’t buy into it.
    My Thoughts….

  2. Thanks for being so honest about your journey on this issue. I read your story in too. As a born again Christian who loves Jesus, Unfortunately I found your story not very representative of the true life we have in Jesus, what the bible says about sexual purity or my experience and others I know who have stopped living for their own desires and are seeking to live for Jesus.When we allow the life of Christ to live through us As the word says we become a new creation (old carnal desires pass away). 2 corinthians 5:17. The need for self gratification is simply the flesh and it’s fallen appetites wanting it’s way. I’m sorry you were bound to your sexual desires for so many years when Jesus died to give you freedom from your old nature. Do you think Jesus masturbated? Ofcourse not. If we are to live in His image- then why should we think it’s okay for us to masturbate? It is offensive to God and is a sin that should be repented of. Our bodies are temples of the living God and to glorify Him. Gods plan is that we do not engage in a hint of sexual immorality (eg oral sex, masturbation) and that we wait until marriage to awaken our sexual desires so we can enjoy the special bond of sexual intimacy in marriage between husband and wife. The reason sexual intercourse with your husband was not as special as you would have liked is because you went outside Gods plan and engaged in sexual sin and immorality before marriage. If you think this is all too hard you are still trying to live the Christian life from the power of self rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. Dependancy on Him is the key to living a life of victory. Seek to know who Jesus really is through the Holy Spirit and let Him reveal His truth on these things.

    Ephesians 1:3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

    Happy to chat to you more about these things if you want to email. God bless you greatly and I pray Gods will be done in your and your husbands life.

    1. Hi person whose name I don’t know.

      I totally disagree with you.

      I think Jesus would have orgasmed in his lifetime whether because of wet dreams or masturbation or both.

      Happy to agree to disagree, however. All the best in your sexual journey and spiritual life.

      In the fire of God’s Love,

      Elissa Anne

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