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Christian views on masturbation

This page is not intended to promote Christianity nor to elevate Christianity above other religions in the context of this site. Most of the religious-oriented questions asked of the author on this site are from Christians, making this page useful, and the author is himself Christian, making compilation of this page feasible. Other pages devoted to perspectives from other religions might come later.

This page is not a survey of Christian views on masturbation but rather highlights some positive statements from a range of Protestant theologians in order to show that Christianity and masturbation are compatible pursuits.

Dr. James Dobson, one of the leading Christian writers for the popular audience, writes the following in his Preparing for Adolescence, Bantam Books, 1984:

It is my opinion that masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It's a normal part of adolescence, which involves no one else. It does not cause disease, it does not produce babies, and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible.

Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick write in their book Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach:

Masturbation can be a healthy, enjoyable way for a person without a sexual partner to experience sexual gratification. Since God has created humans as sexual beings, masturbation provides a way for individuals to experience their sexuality and meet their sexual needs. (p. 246)

Jesus warns that lust leads to adultery, and adultery is sin. However, lusting is not the same as fantasizing ....

Fantasies about future possibilities are usually benign.... Desiring a specific person, and directing on ways to fulfill the desire, is a form of lust. Fantasy, on the other hand, is more general and does not include attempts at achieving that exact fantasy. (p. 247)

Intervarsity Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8308-1595-3.

In Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology (Fortress, 1990, ISBN 0-8066-1701-2), James B. Nelson, building on the work of David Cole Gordon, writes:

In the midst of dualistic alienation, we seek unification, or more accurately, communion. Orgasm is a gift of God's grace toward this end. (p. 172)

Among life's unifying experiences, Gordon contends, orgasm is particularly powerful ... The physiological intensity typical in masturbatory orgasm frequently surpasses that of intercourse, and relational fantasies usually accompany the act in compensation for the absence of the partner. (p. 171)

Lutheran theologians Herbert W. Chilstrom and Lowell O. Erdahl write in their Sexual Fulfillment: For Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old (Augsburg Fortress, 2001, ISBN 0-8066-4047-2):

... it's based on the assumption that we are created by God as sexual beings and the worst thing we can do is pretend this is not so. Repressed sexual feelings and desires will almost certainly come out in inappropriate ways.

We think there is a better way - self-pleasuring.... You need not feel guilt about it. If God has given you sexual desire, is it not reasonable to believe that God also gives ways to satisfy that desire?

We believe that the ability to imagine and fantasize is a gift from God and that our lives would be poorer without it.

Archibald Hart, a psychologist-theologian at Fuller Theological Seminary observed, "I do not believe that masturbation itself is morally wrong, or ... sinful." (quoted in Singles Ask: Answers to Questions about Relationships and Sexuality by Howard Ivan Smith and Harold Ivan Smith, p. 151, Augsburg Fortress, 1998, ISBN 0-8066-3646-7)

Questions from readers:

This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.

What advice would you give to a Catholic? (age 17)

Without having researched the catechism, I would say that overwhelmingly Catholics masturbate, at about the same frequency as anyone else. It has been decades since Catholics have felt compelled to confess masturbation to their priests. You might ask your own priest. He has undoubtedly advised many boys your age on this point. is not designed to provide medical advice and does not provide medical advice. All material is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Please review the information contained on carefully and confer with your doctor, psychologist, or other health care professional as needed. Copyright 2002-2018 by