[Papercut Press] 2000-04-26 - Masturbation

(NIV) Genesis 38:9,10 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so He put him to death.

Sometimes I sub as a writer for David. He is off for today. What I have been doing with these days, that I sub on Wednesdays, is what I call the “Wednesday Question Series.” We have an interesting one this time. It is from a devotional member. Here it is:

“I go to a church and I have a question I cannot seem to have the courage to ask. What does the Bible have to say about masturbation? I am divorced and I am not a fornicator nor am I an adulterer. Does this fall into the category of 'lovers of themselves?' Thank you for responding.”

A question that, I wonder, if many are afraid to ask.

Here goes: We will start with the above two verses. For those who say that masturbation is wrong, this is a proof text. God killed him because he spilled his semen on the ground. We might ask, “What was he doing with his brother's wife anyway?" Deuteronomy 25:5, helps us: “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.”

He was fulfilling his obligation, but we can see that he obviously did not want to fulfill it. If a male was born, all the inheritance would have gone to him. In effect, the child that came about from the union of his brother’s wife and him would never have been his child. It would have actually been his brother’s child. He was not masturbating, but rather being selfish and not obeying the law of the Lord regarding his responsibility to his brother. He was apparently having sex with her, but he was spilling his semen on the ground and not pro-creating as he should have been.

To get back to the question: is masturbation the same as fornication? Fornication in Scripture: Comes from an evil heart, Matthew 15:19; Sins against the body, 1 Corinthians 6:18; Excludes you from God’s kingdom, 1 Corinthians 6:9; and, disrupts Christian fellowship, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11.

In Matthew 15:19, this Greek word, translated “fornication,” would be best translated today as “illicit sexual activity.” In 1 Corinthians 6:18, the understanding, in the Greek, is that self-gratification of the body is the reason for immorality. The present imperative indicates a continual and habitual physical feeling in the phrase, “flee immorality.” In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, the concept is again illicit sexual activities. The flavor of the passage is, “don’t associate with such a person; don’t even go to dinner with someone like that.”

I have been asked to render an answer to a question. This is a tough call and I know I will offend either way I go. However I believe this: Romans 14:22, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” I think this is a matter of personal conscience.

But conscience is a huge issue here, because this is one of those gray areas of Scripture. If it bothers you, especially if you are bothered by your thought life as you masturbate, then I think it is sin. God is concerned with our thought lives also. He is concerned with the whole person. And that is why I would lean strongly against masturbation. However, I don’t think that I can clearly say that the Bible strictly forbids it. I think it is an issue of conscience. I assume I will have some responses to this, we may revisit this topic at some time.

Soli Deo Gloria,
T-

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