This is an important topic, since a significant majority of both men and women practice masturbation. The Bible never says that it is a sin, nor does the Bible voice approval of it. Scripture never mentions it by name.
This has led some to the conclusion that masturbation may or may not be a sin – it falls into the gray zone. Some have labeled it as sin by saying it is an act of fornication. Others have said that masturbation is an act that prevents fornication by releasing tension. If we are truly honest, the only real voice that speaks to what is sin is God Who speaks to us in the Bible.
So let us examine the scriptures in search of principles to guide us on this subject. Here are some questions to consider
Ancient sources indicate that the word Jesus used for fornication (porneia) referred to male/female prostitution, homo, lesbianism, bigamy, polygamy and any unnatural form of intercourse. Is it possible that masturbation was included? We do not know, and so we dare not conclude that it is, since no evidence as yet exists.
However, masturbation could easily be included in 1 Corinthians 7:2 since the verse encourages us to get married if we have sexual needs.
Can a person practice masturbation without engaging in sensual thoughts which is clearly sin (Galatians 5:19)? Ephesians 2:3 tells us that selfishness and sensuality are acts and attitudes of the natural man. The passage reads, “we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh.”
Can the thought patterns that accompany masturbation be considered pure? Do they reflect those things in Philippians 4:8?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (NASB) Philippians 4:8
James 4:17 and 1 John 3:21 tell us that if our conscience warns us that we are sinning then we are in sin. Surveys indicate that almost every Christian who practices masturbation and a majority of non-Christians feel guilty over their actions. Counselors try to convince individuals that masturbation is not sin since that is their opinion, but John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Is the Holy Spirit telling our consciouses that masturbation is sin?
The issue is more than just hurting your testimony or hindering God’s witness in the world. Are we positively bringing God glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) by our life and actions? David said that he would walk with integrity even in his house when no one could see him (Psalm 101:2).
2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to flee youthful lusts, which means that we are to stay away from that which causes us to fall into sexual temptation and other related sins. While many have argued that this is the best reason for the practice of masturbation, most who have practiced masturbation actually have a stronger lust drive.