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Keywords: Is Masturbation A Sin? Good News For Many People: Private Solo Masturbation Is Not A Sin

Private Solo Masturbation Is Not A Sin

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director - Internet Church Of Christ -

Here is good news for many people: private solo masturbation, which is sexual stimulation and release by one's self alone, is not a sin. There is no true Scriptural basis for calling it a sin. The idea that it is a sin is pure "doctrine of man," not based on the Bible.

Sin is defined as "the transgression of God's law."
      "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
       the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4 KJV)
But private solo masturbation is not against God's law in any way, as I will prove below. Therefore it is not a sin.


First we find that the Ten Commandments do not prohibit masturbation. Adultery is the only sexual activity prohibited by the Ten Commandments. (See the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.)

Next, we look at The Golden Rule and The Law Of Love to see if masturbation is prohibited by them; and we find that masturbation is not prohibited here, either.

                             The Golden Rule
      "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for
       this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12 RSV)
                             The Law Of Love
       For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your
       neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14 RSV)
So where, then, is masturbation prohibited?

Some people think that Genesis 38 prohibits masturbation, but it does not. God's displeasure with Onan in Genesis 38 is based on Onan's disobedience to the old law which required him to father a child by his dead brother's wife. It has nothing to do with masturbation.

Emission of semen, however, was unclean under the law, and a man needed to sacrifice two pigeons or two doves to make up for it. (See Leviticus 15.) It was a minor offense, comparable to accidentally soiling your undergarments. However, the law regarding clean and unclean things was repealed by God in Peter's vision, as described in Acts 10. So emission of semen became clean, just as eating of pork became clean. This idea is confirmed by Romans 14:14, where Paul says, "I know and am persuaded in the Lord that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean."

I do not find masturbation listed anywhere as an "abomination," or anywhere among the various lists of prohibited sexual practices. (See Leviticus 18.) Adultery is prohibited; rape is prohibited; incest is prohibited; homosexual sex is prohibited; sex with animals is prohibited. But masturbation is not even mentioned.

If masturbation were really a sin, surely it would be mentioned somewhere in the Bible. But it is not specifically prohibited anywhere in the Bible. So let's turn now to general prohibitions, to see if masturbation falls under any of the "catch-all" categories of offense.

The general disapproval of "fornication" (Greek PORNEIA) does not apply, since solo masturbation does not involve two people and does not involve sexual penetration. Even if you translate PORNEIA as "sexual immorality" rather than "fornication," masturbation is still not prohibited, because PORNEIA means, literally, "the things which prostitutes do." And nobody pays a prostitute to masturbate herself alone in private. So private solo masturbation is not prohibited either as "fornication" or as "sexual immorality."

Perhaps it might be prohibited because it leads to "impure thoughts." But this is too vague to enforce; plus the masturbator might be thinking pure thoughts, such as imagining marital sex with his wife who is out of town, or a possible future wife-to-be, if he is not yet married. If you prohibit masturbation on the basis of impure thoughts, then you would similarly need to prohibit all advertising, because advertising sometimes leads to impure thoughts of material greed.

Finally, it might be prohibited as a "lust of the flesh," but if it is lustful, it is certainly no more lustful than the fleshly lust a married man feels for his lawful wife, which is permitted.

So where, then, is the prohibition? It's not found in the Bible. "I find no fault . . ," as Pilate said of Jesus.

Thus we see that the prohibition against masturbation is pure "doctrine of man," the very kind that Jesus speaks against.

       Matthew 15:9 (KJV)
       But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
       commandments of men.
       Mark 7:7 (KJV)
       Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
       commandments of men.
The simple fact is that private solo masturbation is permitted. And if we reject it as a sin, when it is not, we go against the will of God, Who gave it to us as a gift for our benefit and enjoyment.
      "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be
       rejected if it is received with thanksgiving;" (1 Timothy 4:4 RSV)

Blessings to you in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Rev. Bill McGinnis <><

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Blessings to you. May God help us all.

       Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

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