When referring to the Bible and masturbation, most tend to point to the story of Onan (Genesis 38:9-10). They debate the words ”spilling your seed” as a direct reference to masturbation and its sinful nature.
Unfortunately, masturbation is not exactly what the passage is trying to relate to. In fact, the Bible not only does not call masturbation a sin, there is really no mention of the act in the Bible at all. In the aforementioned passage, God actually condemns Onan for not fulfilling his duty to provide an heir for his brother, not for spilling his seed.
Another passage also talked about is Matthew 5:27-30. The Son of God speaks against lustful thoughts. ”If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” And while one might see parallels, forcing the link of this passage to masturbation is quite the stretch. Scholars agree it is unlikely that is what Jesus was talking about.
The debate does get complicated. The Bible may not explicitly mention sin and masturbation at the same time. Yet study shows that, according to Scripture, actions that lead to it are viewed as a sin. Masturbation is, after all, a direct response to sexual stimulation, lustful thoughts and pornographic interaction. The Bible actually argues that we need to deal with these actions, not masturbation. We must dispense with the sin of lust, pornography and immoral thoughts. Masturbation itself becomes a non-issue when we deal with the acts that lead to it.
Now, we should be aware that there are biblical principles that can be associated with masturbation.
In Ephesians 5:3, it says “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” This is more than a direct statement about wanton thoughts, but a direct comment about its repercussions. After all, one of the Bible’s strongest lessons is in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In other words, if your actions do not represent the glory of God, do not engage in that action. Any act that cannot be attributed to His glory is a sin, as stated in Romans 14:23: “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Corinthians also reminds us that our bodies are redeemed, belonging to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20): “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
This, finally, is the edict that we as Christians have to strive for. The concept that what we do with our bodies directs link with our relationship to God, and we should act accordingly. This is not only in terms of acts such as masturbation, but as our impure thoughts lead to masturbation, the action is not glorifying to God. It can never negate the act’s appearance of immortality. But this can be applied to the way we carry ourselves period. Any act not performed in His glory cannot pass God’s test of having ownership of your body.