If you (or “this friend you know”) want to know the answer to this question, let me first encourage you (and your friend)…
The fact that you’re even asking this question shows a personal concern for the holiness of God and a desire to live rightly—which is awesome. This is an anything-goes, follow-your-feelings day and age. There are millions of people, Christians and non-Christians, males and females, who are unashamedly looking at porn and masturbating without considering whether or not it’s sin.
Here is the lie…“I’m not hurting anyone; it’s just me alone with my computer.” But many people get hurt by porn and masturbation: sex-trafficked slaves who are not there by choice, your spouse (present or future) who you will be physically having sex with while mentally having sex with a partner from your fantasies, and you. Yes, you are hurting yourself. Porn hobbies easily turn into big problems. Combining the chemical high of an orgasm with the lie of a fantasy can drastically hinder your ability manage real human interactions in a healthy way (it can even leave men impotent, unable to be aroused by real human interaction). That’s not to even mention the greatest hurt – the sin that hinders your fellowship with God.
But you say, “Yeah, I don’t look at porn anymore. Frankly, I don’t even lust when I masturbate. I just think of baseball or something” (someone actually told me this). Right…so here is a public service announcement…if you think about baseball while masturbating, that’s how fetishes form. Whatever you’re thinking about during the orgasm, as the dopamine/endorphins floods your brain, will reinforce and tell you, “That was amazing!?!…Go get some more baseball!”
“But I don’t think about baseball,” you say, ”it’s just me in the shower, or in my bed because I can’t sleep, and my mind is just in neutral.” “And besides…God and the Bible doesn’t say anything about masturbating. There was that Onan deal, but that’s not the same (Genesis 38:8-10).”
Before you take matters into your own hands (oh yes I did), let’s look at God’s Word:
God says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Let’s replace the “do everything” of this verse with some specifics for personal application:
“Eat cupcakes in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.” Check, I can do that. How about four cupcakes in one sitting? Probably not—that is gluttony.
“Have sex in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.” Double-check, say the married. How about sex outside of marriage? Nope. Want God’s gift; follow God’s instruction (Hebrews 13:4).
Married and masturbating in the name of the Lord Jesus? When you got married you became one with your spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 says that your body is not your own; do not deprive each other except by mutual consent. So, based on that, you’ll need to ask your spouse if he/she doesn’t mind you masturbating, because doing so would deprive him/her of the oneness God intended sex to be (How do you think that conversation will go?).
I hear that grumbling, single man. But did you know that God wired you to have an orgasm without sex or masturbation (Deuteronomy 23:10)? If you stop masturbating, you’ll have wet dreams (orgasm while sleeping) like you did when you hit puberty. A wet dream is not a one-time event. If it was a one-time event for you, it is likely because you haven’t gone a month without masturbating since puberty. “Have a wet dream in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.” You bet.
“Watch porn in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks….” Nope. Never (Matthew 5:27-30, Proverbs 5:15-21).
“Do more than kiss my girlfriend in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving…” Getting personal now (1 Timothy 5:2).
Let’s go back your original question, “Is it ok to masturbate if I’m not lusting?” Well, plug it into Colossians 3:17: “Masturbate in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” That’s awkward even typing, let alone imagining praying to and praising Jesus during the act.
So, now answer the question…can you masturbate, even while not lusting, in the name of Jesus giving thanks to the Father?
You may argue, “Colossians 3:17 is no proof text for masturbating!” No, it’s a proof text for every aspect of our lives. Anything we do, say or enjoy should honor God, others and your body, God’s Temple (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, and 1 Corinthians 10:31, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 and Ephesians 5:3 and more…).
Remember, sexual desires are not needs. I know of no one who has died because they haven’t had a recent orgasm. Now, erase your browser history and go do something in the name of Jesus while giving thanks to the Father. God is good. He will provide everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).