Is Masturbation A Sin?
This online Bible study regarding the acting out of moral sexuality, specifically, the question if masturbation can be defined a morally acceptable choice of behavior (within human biology and sexuality) or must it be defined a sin, as some people claim.
For those visitors to this page, who are looking for a quick answer to the question being examined here (without continuing to read the full article), the conclusive Biblical answer is, “No, the act of masturbation, itself, is not defined a sin by any Bible writer, neither under the Old Covenant nor under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.”
You are welcome to return when you have more time.
The historical account in the Bible of Onan’s choice to disobey God (Genesis 38), cannot rationally or morally be used as a context for either condemning masturbation or the spilling of sperm outside the vagina during an act(s) of sexual intercourse (Onan’s story will be examined below).
Human Sexuality And The Christian
= The state or quality of being sexual. Interest in or concern with sex.
- The sexual self-excitation or self-stimulation of one’s genitals to orgasm (ejaculation). Sexual-stimulation of the genitals to orgasm, acted out by another person, not using sexual intercourse to climax (orgasm).
Definition: Coitus Interruptus
= The act of a man withdrawing his penis from the vagina during sexual intercourse, so that his sperm can be ejaculated (spilled) outside
The Bible’s Moral Perspective On Human Sexuality
Within the Bible’s teaching, every sexual act men and women choose to act out holds either liberty and/or moral restraint within the morality of God.
A sexual act can be moral in one situational setting and the same sexual act can be defined immoral within another situational setting.
It is this moral perspective that allows the sexual activity that is “adultery” (sex with someone other than your spouse) to be defined a sin, while the exact same sexual activity
that had been acted out during the adultery, when acted out within
marriage, is morally acceptable.
A quick way to see this historical moral perspective more precisely (within the morality of the God of the Bible), is to review a few examples of immoral human sexual behavior that initiated the death penalty under the Old Covenant.
Examples of the misuse of sexual behavior within their situational settings that carried the death-penalty under the Old Covenant were,
- Sex with someone who is not a spouse Leviticus 20:10-12 -- Sex before marriage
- premarital sex of girls who were still in their father's homes - Deuteronomy 22:20-21 -- Making love to a virgin pledged to be married to another
(applied to men who deflowered a virgin pledged to be married, and to the virgin if she does not call for help). Deut 22:23-24
The daughter of a priest practicing prostitution
(death by fire) Lev 21:9 -- Rape of someone who is engaged
. (Deut 22:25) -- Males practicing bestiality
(both man and animal die) Lev 20:15 -- Women practicing bestiality
(both woman and animal die) -- Lev 20:16 - Having sex with your father’s wife
, (both die). Lev 20:11 -- Having sex with your daughter in law
. Lev 20:12 -- Sodomy
- Lev 20:13 -- A man marrying a woman and her daughter
- Lev 20:14
The Bible reader recognizes that normal
sexuality acted out within an immoral
situational choice, and Bible-defined unnatural
sexual behavior, were both the legal basis for activating the death penalty under the Old Covenant.
Under the Old Covenant, masturbation is never named among the causes for which the death penalty would have been activated under its rules and regulations for moral living.
Not only, is masturbation not
named as a death-penalty sin, it is never defined a sexual sin under the Old Covenant.
Under the New Covenant (the only Covenant with God Christians have been placed under) masturbation is never referred to as a sinful sexual act for ether sex and it is not included within the Romans 1 context where the author lists sexual sins (both natural and unnatural sexual behavior choices) that outrages God.
Spilling Sperm / Coitus Interruptus:
Coitus interruptus is the act of a man withdrawing his penis from the vagina during sexual intercourse, so that his sperm (semen) can be ejaculated (spilled) outside
This birth-control choice to disallow conception to take place during sexual intercourse is not named a sin anywhere the Bible.
It is not
an act of masturbation. It is the personal choice of “spilling” the sperm outside the woman’s vagina during intercourse
(just before ejaculation) as a means
to disallow conception to take place.
Removing the penis from the vagina before ejaculation has been a moral birth-control choice of millions of men and women down through time (this choice of controling conception is not as personally satisfying for the couple as ejaculation into the vagina, but, it was a fairly reliable and moral birth-control method before other more reliable birth-control methods were invented or found by medical research).
It is a form of natural birth control that can disallow
a fertile woman to conceive a baby (Its limitations were that biologically, it was/is not a “fail-safe” birth-control choice).
Spilling Sperm Through Nocturnal Emissions
A “nocturnal emission” is an involuntary ejaculation (loss) of semen that can occur during sleep.
Once understanding human biology, one can understand why God did not consider the loss of sperm through the biological process of nocturnal emissions, masturbation or Coitus interruptus, a sin.
Medical research has found that as much as fifty (50) million sperm are discharged during just one ejaculation from a normal healthy male.
Only one or two sperm is needed to make it to a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized.
God’s biological design for when conception is to take place, only when a woman is fertile ~ that is, able
to conceive ~ supports the view that the loss of sperm in a healthy man would bring no risk to conception taking place when
the couple makes the choice to have a baby.
Biologically, spilling sperm is a natural biological response to hormonal activity. It takes place automatically, especially during adolescence. It can happen later in life, also. It happens during sleep involuntary or by the male masturbating.
The ejaculation (spilling) of sperm by masturbating provides moral support for sexual self-control (when not married or for some reason sexual activity can not take place between husband and wife).
Masturbating takes the sexual pressure off the biological function of the body, releases stored sperm, allowing a fresh supply of sperm to accumulate (in the woman, masturbating also provides moral support for sexual self-control and provides a healthy moist environment of the vagina to be maintained).
We should not find it surprising that God never defined masturbation or the natural birth-control method of removing the penis at the ejactulation moment from the vagina to avoid conception, a sin.
Onan’s Rebellious Choice Against God
Here is the Bible’s description of the situational context of Onan’s rebellion to God:
“Judah got a wife named Tamar for his first-born, Er. But Er, Judah's first-born, greatly offended the LORD; so the LORD took his life.
Then Judah said to Onan, "Unite with your brother's widow, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother's line."
Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother's widow, he emitted [spilled] his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother. What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.”
The Bible context tells us why Onan chose to use the natural birth-control method of, “Coitus Interruptus” - it was to avoid contributing offspring for his brother
He chose that method of birth-control because any descendants of Tamar and himself, “...would not
be counted as his...”
The motive for refusing to obey God was in the evil rebellious heart of Onan. The context provides information about Onan’s understanding of the situation, “Onan, however, knew
that the descendants would not be counted as his
The context provides the motive for spilling his seed out during the times of intercourse with Tamar. It is clearly stated: “...to avoid
contributing offspring for his brother.”
The context of Onan’s story, reveals clearly, that Onan arrogantly refused to obey God in his obligation to provide descendants for his brother, and God enacted the death penalty against him.
The first thing one notices about Onan's decision that he would not provide offspring for his dead brother, is that it had nothing to do with masturbation (he wanted to maintain an erection for sex with Tamar).
He obviously wanted
to have sex with Tamar. What he didn't
want, and what he would refuse to do, is to provide offspring for his brother.
So, Onan decided on a well-known natural birth-control method of not allowing his sperm to enter her vagina, during sex.
It's clear by this choice, that he knew the birth-control method of withdrawl before ejaculation would not allow conception to take place.
The contextual reference to his having regular sex with Tamar supports the view that he believed he could have both of his desires. He could have sex with Tamar and also not
allow his seed to produce offspring for his brother.
The choice of the means - Coitus Interruptus
- by which Onan accomplished the rebellious end he desired (that he would provide no offspring for his brother, did
During all the times of sexual intercourse he had with Tamar, as the context shows, his method of birth-control worked: “... so whenever
he had relations with his brother's widow, he wasted his seed...”
Tamar had sex with Onan multiple times and she did not get pregnant. Spilling his sperm on the ground was merely the manner by which Onan accomplished his own end. He deliberately disobeyed God in his refusal to provide his brother offspring.
The context shows, that it was not the choice of natural birth-control that offended God, it was the arrogant and evil heart of Onan that offended Him.
It is obvious why spilling seed (or masturbation) is not named in any of the death penalty lists under the Old Covenant (and never defined a sin under the New Covenant) and that is, that these choices have never been considered a sin by God, in and of, themselves.
Misusing a sexual act for immoral purposes
is considered a sin because it allows sin to take place in the using of it (such as Onan’s choice allowed).
This Biblical morality explains why prostitution was a death-penalty sin under the Old Covenant. It was an act of moral rebellion against God.
Prostitutes deliberately misused the right to act out the same acts of sensuality/ sexuality in marriage, but in the case of prostitution, within an immoral situation (the sexual acts acted out by the prostitutes were not sins, in and of themselves, anymore than Onan's choice of birth-control).
No prostitute was ever executed because of the sexual acts
she acted out, but because she acted them out, outside the morality of God.
The Bible examination of masturbation and/or coitus interruptus is rationally and contextually decisive. There is no Biblical evidence that either masturbation or the spilling (loss) of sperm can be defined an immoral activity, in and of, themselves.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15)
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