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.

How should a young person engage in the battle to resist and overcome the temptation to masturbate? I give my answer in A Covenant With My Eyes. Click here to check it out.

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.


All sins created equal

When discussing sins such as homosexuality, some leaders in the body of Christ today are saying things like, “It doesn’t really matter what your sin is. Sin is sin. All of us are sinners, and all of us need forgiveness.” It’s true that we all need forgiveness, but it’s not true that all sins are equally sinful.

One reason the enemy wants us to believe this lie is because he wants us to trivialize sin. He wants people who are bound in great darkness to think lightly of their sin. He doesn’t want them alerted to how destructive some sinful behaviors can be to themselves and others.

When Jesus said, “Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11), He was acknowledging that some sins are greater than others.

In the Bible, greater sins incurred greater punishment (Deut. 17:8; Matt. 26:24; Heb. 10:29; 2 Ki. 23:26; 24:3). Similarly, our legal systems recognize that it would be wrong to assign the same punishment to every kind of legal infraction. Our courts properly acknowledge that not all sins are created equal.

Just as some sins are greater than others, some demons are more wicked than others (Lk. 11:26). One of the negative consequences of greater sins is that they attract the attention of more wicked demons. Demons are attracted to darkness. When they see us giving place to darkness, they fan the flames of temptation and seek to lead us into even greater darkness and condemnation.

Now it’s true, any sin will send you to hell. If you break just one command of God’s law, James 2:10-11 tells us that you are guilty of all God’s law. Once you’re in hell, I suppose in one sense it hardly matters what got you there. However, Jesus made clear that some sins incur more terrifying judgment in hell (Matt. 18:6).

When participating in today’s debate regarding homosexuality, we must be faithful to speak the truth: Sexual sins are worse than many other kinds of sin. And among sexual sins, some are worse than others.

One reason sexual sins are greater than many others is because of how they adversely affect other people. Fornication defiles not just you but another person as well. Adultery is a sin both against the other person and the spouses involved. Molestation and incest are such evil sins because of their power to traumatize the victims. Some people suffer emotionally from these kinds of sins for years and years.

Paul showed that sexual sins are often worse than others when he wrote:

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18).

The construction of the Greek is emphatic, “Every sin whatsoever,” pointing to the unique ability of sexual immorality to defile the body. Some sins defile only a part of your being, such as your mind or your spirit. But sexual sins defile your entire person—spirit, soul, and body.

When we understand how destructive certain kinds of sin can be, the hope of the Gospel shines even brighter. Jesus came to save sinners! He commands us to repent, receive forgiveness, turn from our sin, and dedicate our lives to obeying Him.

What great news!

If you’re looking for more a more in-depth resource on the subject of sexuality and consecration to the Lord, click here to learn more about Bob’s newest book, A Covenant With My Eyes.