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A scripture passage that is often used to refer to the act of masturbation is found in Genesis 38:8-10. However, a study of this scripture reveals that it has nothing to do with the act of masturbation and must be taken in context with the Jewish law of the time. The clarification of these verses can be found in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. It was a common practice that if a man was married and if he were to die without leaving any children, and if he had a brother who was not married, his brother would marry his wife and bare children for his generation to continue. What God was displeased with Onan about was for him to have spilled his seed on the ground during intercourse, so as to not give his brother a child.

I have seen this verse used many times in reference to masturbation, but it has nothing to do with that at all. I have also seen it used to frighten children into not masturbating by pointing out that God slew Onan for that reason.

It is of my opinion that it is quite natural for children to explore and it should be expected. (None of us has forgotten, have we?) I have met many adults who still suffer from the effects of being told that it was evil, and as a result, grew up with the impression that sexuality was evil which has effected their marriage for most (if not all) of their lives.

Another scripture pointed out is found in 1 Cor. 6:9, where it says ...nor abusers of themselves with mankind. The word abuser in the Greek comes from the word which means sodomite, which of course is sodomy, which is in reference to homosexuality. And once again, this practice may be included in a homosexual relationship, but does not refer to masturbation in itself.

The scriptures are silent on this particular subject, and I believe the reason is because it is another area in which it is left up to the individual to determine. If it is wrong for you then it is wrong, but it is not for anyone to determine what is wrong (concerning areas where the Bible is silent) in all situations. For example, masturbation in a homosexual relationship is wrong because of the relationship, not the act itself, for if that were to be the case, then what is referred to as heavy petting or foreplay in a marriage between a man and a woman would be wrong also.

A blanket statement that it is wrong in any circumstance can be countered with many other examples and requires an answer on an individual basis; for example, would it be wrong for a recently widowed person thinking of his/her mate to become aroused in thinking about times past and imagining his/her touch? What about when sexually active married couples are separated for long periods of time? How about when a sexually active married couple become excited during the time of her period or in the late stages of pregnancy? What about the sexually active married couple when one has become too ill for sexual activity?

Are you prepared to give pat answers for these type of situations or are you going to remain silent in areas the Bible is silent and let each individual make those determinations for themselves and let God work out the details in their lives?

What about the young person who has been sexually awakened to his/her sexuality? Or someone who is single for a long period of time? I suggest that masturbation would be better for them than to have sexual intercourse.

At this point, the words of Jesus come to mind in Matthew 5:28 ....That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (It goes without saying this would also refer to the ladies lusting after a man.) Furthermore, as pointed out in the article entitled, What does the Bible say about premarital/extramarital sex?, any sexual relationship outside of marriage between one man and one woman is adultery, before or after marriage. With that being so, where does the above quoted words of Jesus leave us all? I say guilty as charged. (I could be tempted to be legalistic at this point and leave it there, and then to sound very spiritual by reminding the reader that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, but I won’t do that.) We are all guilty of the letter of the law which brings death, and be it either in mind or in deed, have committed adultery in the past and still do from time to time according to the letter of the law.

So What Is the Answer?

I believe we need the grace of God to cover the sins we all commit every day in breaking at least one of the letters of the laws. For saying such things, I am still accused of giving licenses to sin when I speak of salvation by grace and not of the keeping of the letter of the laws, which is impossible to do so before or after salvation, because we all still have the old sinful nature which lurks just under the surface to be revealed for all to see in times of weakness. It is not a matter of IF it occurs, it is a matter of WHEN it occurs. Do you wish to be guilty under the letter of the law which brings death and to be judged accordingly without mercy (Old Testament Laws), or would you rather be under the umbrella of grace where those sins were covered by the blood of Jesus and receive mercy and life (New Testament Laws)? This choice is yours to make, as for the judgment on the above subject, I believe it is best to leave that to the judgment of God.

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