With this blog I’m stepping onto some very tender territory and tackling a gripping question that many have wondered about. We know that masturbation has been with the human race from the beginning, and that it has certainly been on God’s radar. Why, then, did He make no mention of that word in the Bible? When God identified various kinds of sin in the Bible, why didn’t He include masturbation?
First of all, I don’t think it’s because the word embarrasses Him. When you read the Bible cover to cover, you realize that God isn’t embarrassed by explicit sexual language, nor is He reticent to tackle tough topics head-on.
Secondly, I don’t think it’s because He doesn’t consider it a sin. I agree with many who view it as a sinful behavior before God. The reason I think it’s a sin is because, while the Bible doesn’t name it specifically, it points to it in several places. Masturbation involves lust in the heart, which Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:27-30. The Bible also warns against uncleanness (Eph. 5:3 and youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22), which things include masturbation. (I explain this more fully on pages 47-51 in my book, A Covenant With My Eyes.)
So then, why isn’t masturbation mentioned in the Bible as a sin?
I’m going to give you my opinion on this question, and I want to emphasize that what follows is my opinion, not a dogmatic theological position.
To say it succinctly, I don’t think God wanted masturbation cited as a sin in the Bible because of how the devil would use such a verse as a tool for accusation and condemnation. Let me explain what I mean.
Masturbation is a sin that is often accompanied afterwards by feelings of shame and guilt. Something inside tells us it’s wrong, and when we succumb to the temptation, our conscience often accuses us. But it doesn’t stop there. The devil steps in and adds to the accusation. As a result, many believers who struggle with masturbation also struggle with much accusation.
If there was a verse in the Bible proscribing masturbation, the devil would leverage that verse to his advance and increase his accusations against God’s people.
Let me talk about how this sometimes works for us. When we go through puberty, we are curious about the changes in our bodies and emotions. In the process of trying to discover who we’re becoming, masturbation sometimes happens. Often our first experience with masturbation, at least for young men, is in our early teens.
Let’s talk about Jimmy, who is a hypothetical 15-year-old. Jimmy loves Jesus and wants to serve Him wholeheartedly. He has gone through puberty, and he is now experiencing strong urges to seek a sexual release. His conscience tells him that masturbation is wrong, but his urges to masturbate are powerful and distracting. Jimmy is still immature and he doesn’t know how to manage these new urges. Even though he loves Jesus dearly and sincerely wants to please Him, sometimes the urges overtake him and masturbation happens.
It’s followed, almost every time, by feelings of guilt and accusation. Jimmy beats up on himself for not resisting temptation, and then the accuser comes to make it even worse. Under the guilty feelings of both his own conscience and the accuser, Jimmy, who is still a young believer in Christ, feels almost like a failure as a Christian. And that’s exactly where Satan wants him to be—buried under a mountain of accusation that makes him feel unacceptable to God.
If Satan had a Bible verse, he’d whip Jimmy with it.
I think it’s young men like Jimmy that God had in His heart when He decided to keep that word out of the Bible. As a Father, His heart is yearning so much for Jimmy. He is Jimmy’s greatest Advocate. He wants Jimmy to overcome in his teen years and come through as a strong adult in the faith. It’s the Father’s zeal and tender care for every Jimmy in the body of Christ that prompted Him to keep that word out of the Bible. Lest His Jimmy’s be over-burdened with accusation and guilt.
When married men masturbate, I think God views that from a different angle. Married men have the opportunity for sexual release with their wife, and to take that into their own hands is viewed differently by God.
But for Jimmy who is still single at 15, with lots of hormones, I think He is tender rather than stern toward him. God wants to guide him in gentleness and without condemnation through his turbulent teen years to an overcoming life in Christ.
That’s my opinion.
Also available as a quick and easy resource is a video of me preaching this message. You can watch it by clicking here.
Thanks for listening.