Two more contributing authors on the modern Christian
view of masturbation.
How on earth did the Church come to regard masturbation
as ‘seriously sinful’ when the Bible is totally silent
on the matter? Bruce Puddle - Contributing
The answer is scary!
To understand how this ‘masturbation is sinful’ idea came
to be part of Christianity even up to today, you have to
understand some history. So read on. This is fascinating
and scary stuff.
Around the time of Jesus some religious ideas, most
likely originally from India, were arriving with traders
and beginning to become popular in the countries around
Israel, especially among the huge numbers of
Greek-speaking people. The most important groups who
adopted these ideas were the Stoic philosophers and a
religious sect called the Gnostics.
One of their main teachings was that God had created only
the spiritual world; the entire natural physical
world, including human beings and their bodies, were
created by Satan. They began to teach that the human body
and its functions, especially its ‘sexual
functions’ were totally evil, and tolerated only because
there was no other way to produce children. For the first
time masturbation was said to be evil, for two reasons:
it ‘ wasted one’s life force’, which they believed
was limited in supply; and it was pleasurable.
This was not what the Jews believed. Their Bible
said that God had created everything, which of course
included our sexual abilities. What’s more, Genesis 1v31
says, "God saw all that he had made and behold it
was very good." So the Jews believed that sex was
God’s idea and that within the sacred bond of marriage,
where it found its fullest expression, it was to be
celebrated and enjoyed.
As for masturbation, this was never mentioned, nor was it
ever listed as a sin in the horrendously detailed lists
of sins in books like Leviticus. The Jews clearly
regarded masturbation as a natural fact of life and not
even worth a mention.
Not only did the Jewish Bible never mention masturbation,
neither did Jesus or any of the Apostles. There were of
course warnings against the misuse of God’s gift of
sexuality, but masturbation was never included or named
as one of these ‘misuses’.
But in the world of the early Christians the Gnostics
were growing fast and spreading their ideas with great
zeal. So much so that by the end of the first century AD
(80 to 100 years after the birth of Jesus) the Christians
were actually being ‘outdone’ as far as strictness and
attitudes toward sex went. They were at times even
accused of being a sex-cult and of holding orgies at
their communion love feasts. This was made still worse by
the fact that early Christians treated women much more
equally than did the communities in which they lived.
Non-Christian men were really unnerved. The last thing
they wanted was some religion that encouraged women to
think they were equal to men!
So what happened? You’ve guessed it. Gradually over the
next twenty to fifty years the new generation of church
leaders, called by historians the ‘Church Fathers’, began
to twist scripture in order to justify an about-face on
the vital issues of sex and the role and place of women.
This was done so that Christians would be seen to be as
pure as Gnostics, and so that they would no longer offend
their communities as regards the place of women.
By 300 AD the turn-around was almost complete. The
official church teaching was that you could not be
truly close to God if you had any kind of sex life.
They even said that sex within marriage was a sin and
that God turned his face away when a married couple had
sex, even when the purpose was to produce a baby.
As part of those awful Christian teachings, masturbation
began for the first time to be considered a great sin.
And things were about to get even worse! A very famous
church theologian, Thomas Aquinas, wrote in 1200 AD that
masturbation was a worse sin than – now get this –
sex with your mother (or if you were a girl sex with your
father), worse than rape and worse than adultery. True!
Why? Because in the other forms of sex there was at least
a chance of a baby being born, while the masturbator
committed the awful sin of ‘wasting seed’.
By the 1600’s both the Roman Catholic church and the
newly arrived Protestants were so obsessed with the
supposed sin of masturbation that it was not uncommon for
boys to be sent to bed wearing a steel box (like a
cricketer’s ‘box’) with spikes inside it to discourage
erections and prevent the boy from masturbating. I bet it
worked a treat!
For the girls the treatment was nothing short of
horrific. Girls and young women were regularly subjected
to having their clitoris burnt off with a red hot iron!
Why? In 1882 a French doctor wrote, "Repeated cauterizing
of the clitoris with red-hot irons destroys its
sensitivity, children then become less excitable and less
likely to touch themselves." The last western woman to
have her clitoris removed to encourage moral purity was
operated on in the USA in 1946!
This then is the frightening history of how God’s
specially designed and universal gift of sexual release
got onto the Church’s list of sins. Remember, it never
came from the Bible; it never came from God.
It happened because Christian leaders of by-gone
centuries failed to be critical enough of their own
‘traditions’. They did exactly what Jesus had severely
criticized the Pharisees for, making up rules that the
Bible hadn’t set down, and then having the nerve to tell
their people "this is what God says" when God had said no
This history also explains why even today some Christians
still loudly proclaim masturbation to be sinful, and give
the impression that they regard sexual sins as the very
worst sins of all. They don’t realize that what they are
declaring as truth is nothing other than an ancient pagan
This page is a very brief summary by Bruce Puddle, a
former NZ Baptist Minister and is based on his book
called "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" which looks in
detail at this particular question and has heaps more
really interesting and helpful information.
Contact Bruce direct for more information about this
particular subject or for information about his book:
Another article - Is Masturbation A Sin?
Masturbation is not a sin. God provided masturbation for
man. Physically stimulating one's self to orgasm in
privacy is not a sin. God speaks of it in Leviticus
15:16. If you also read verse 18 the message is clear.
God is speaking of two ways to have an orgasm: alone or
with a woman. He compares them on an equal with each
other. There is no sin offering specified for either one.
God connected uncleanness (social quarantine) with both
ways of having an orgasm. This was not a punishment, but
a way to encourage his people to do it at the right time
of day. If it were done at the end of the day, followed
with a bath, just before sunset, His people would gain
the greatest benefit from the release of endorphins to
promote better sleep and the uncleanness would be
virtually null. By this timing method, God is allowing a
person to have an orgasm as much as once a day without
suffering any significant uncleanness. It also
discourages a person from neglecting his sexual feelings
until he has a wet dream that would make him unclean and
quarantined for the whole next day. Paul supports the
principle of frequent sexual attentions in 1 Cor. 7:5.
There is a concern though, in the New Testament Jesus
warns about what is going on in the imagination. He
stated that lusting for a woman in one's mind is
adultery. So, thankfully enjoy the great sensations that
God created into your sexual organs for you to delight in
and let those great feelings bring you up to orgasm
without imagining any forbidden relationships.
The idea is not to hurry things. Remember that God is the
Creator of your sexual organs. He is the Great Physician.
He can help you discover your body. That is why He turned
on your hormones long before you are old enough to get
married and have children. He would not have designed
your body to start producing the hormones that create
sexual desire so long before you should marry if He had
intended sex to be for procreation only. He turned on
your hormones early because He has provided a way for you
to take care of them and intended for you to do so. In
doing so, He also intends for you to discover how your
body works and what will bring you the most pleasure.
Your future wife should be doing the same thing, so when
you are married, you can show each other the things that
will bring you both the greatest delights. Proverbs
5:15-20 metaphorically tells us to satisfy our thirst for
sex from our own fountain, not to do it with anyone else;
then, when we marry, we may enjoy it to the fullest with
Remember, Satan can cause you to feel guilty. The Bible
says he is the accuser of mankind. Wouldn't he want to
make you feel guilty about masturbating so you would
avoid it and have no escape from his temptations when
your hormones built up? You bet! So, now you can send the
Devil and his false guilt on his way with the assurance
that God's Word has clearly provided for you to
masturbate. This is what 1 Cor. 10:13 is speaking of,
because without the provision of masturbation, mans'
hormones could drive him beyond his ability to resist the
real temptation to commit sexual sin upon another person.
Contributed by Roy Dalby, USA