Masturbation is not Sin? Really?

What I Had Always Thought…
Sometime last year, a dear friend of mine reluctantly approached me and told me that she was struggling with masturbation.
She said she did it because she was “angry at God” for certain things which she thought she should have but didn’t. She also mentioned the fact that the “habit” was reinforced by certain “brethren” demanding such things as “phone sex.”
She wanted to stop but didn’t know how.
I assured her that she was not alone in this “struggle” especially since I had, had my fair share of struggle with masturbation (even as a married man). I told her the following:
1. Admit it is a sin you need to repent from
2. Find a person you can confide in to share your struggle with.
3. Realize that, because you are born again, you are under no obligation to yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness.
4. Resolve to overcome Masturbation.
5. Pray to God to strengthen your resolve.

Masturbation Isn’t Sin?
Imagine my consternation this week when I heard that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome said masturbation is not sin. I had to listen for myself and I offer you that opportunity to hear it for yourself; see link below

The points he put forward for saying masturbation isn’t sin are:
1. The bible doesn’t it call it sin
2. masturbation is between you and your body,
3. It is only when it becomes a thing of the mind that it offends God.

While the points he raises are very debatable, that is not the goal of this write up. Pastor Chris got me thinking about something much more important than masturbation, and that thing is, “What is sin?”
It is “easy” to call something sin and not even know why it is sin especially if it is not expressly stated in the scriptures (except for the fact that it makes us “feel” uneasy, it is not “societally” acceptable, it hurts others, it is “unfilthy” etc.)

Take masturbation for instance;
1. It is not stated expressly in Scriptures as sin.
2. We can’t go the bad habit route since “picking one’s nose in public is a bad habit”
3. What about “Your body is the temple of God and it ‘destroys’ your body?”. Well, that would make eating chocolates sin.
4. What about lust? Lust is “old english for desire” and was used in the Authorized Version do describe an action of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17 KJV). However we connotatively use it for “lusts of the flesh” (which is sin). Nevertheless, saying masturbation always involves lust is very tenuous since you would have had to question every human being (dead, alive and yet to be born) who has ever masturbated or will ever masturbate; about whether they pictured a person of the opposite sex in their mind before they masturbate. What about the man that has the “image of his wife” on his mind?
5. What about just “feeling its bad”. Ah! You have now become the standard for measuring what is right or wrong. The problem with that is, even if you hit the bullseye on masturbation (that is, your feeling is right) what about other vices you “feel” are okay? Remember Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it?”

What Then Is Sin?
So, what then is sin or better put, what then can be deemed sinful (especially if the Bible does not state it categorically as sin)?

To understand sin, one has to be clear on who God is, and what he demands from his creatures.

Without going into a theological treatise, I would like to state a few things about God in relation to his creation as I believe it would help us understand the subject of sin better.

1. God made everything for His own pleasure – Rev. 4:11
2. God made man for his glory to declare his praise, to give him thanks- Isaiah 43:7, 21; Romans 1:21
3. God created the heavens and the earth with laws of design and regularity (Genesis 1:1-31 ; 8:22 Ecclesiastes 1:2-7; 3:1-8; Psalm 89:34) [God created creation to function in a particular way]
4. God has also allowed man to “improve his lot” within the context of the laws of design that he has set in place. Man has creative ability – (Gen. 2:15; Isaiah 28:23-28)
5. However, man is not allowed to:
a. Alter or disregard the laws of God- (see Gen. 1:28, then Gen. 11:1-8; Deuteronomy 12:28; Ezekiel 20:19; 36:27)
b. Worship as God what God made- (Exodus 20:4-5: Romans 1:22-25)
c. Worship as God what man has made- (Jeremiah 2:13, 26-28)

The caveats in 5 above basically capture the essence of what sin is
“Altering or disregarding God’s law”
“Worshiping anything apart from God as God”

Sin Is Also “Not Glorifying God”
1Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Hmmm… I have asked many people to tell me what it means to “glorify God”. The answers I get include:
1. “Ahn! Ahn! To glorify God na!”
2. “Glorify God? Haba! It means to honor God na!”
(Ok? So how do I ‘honor’ God?)
3. “To glorify God is to do things not to please myself”
(Really? So God is glorified when you are displeased abi?)

Let’s face it, most of us don’t know what it means to “give God glory” or “glorify God”. We think we know but when we are asked to explain it, we realize how we have never thought about it.

Let me try to help us:

Glory comes for the Hebrew word “kabod” (pronounced “kaw-bode”) which means “weight”. It also refers to splendor or copiousness. Copiousness is quite apt when one thinks about God saying, “All the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord”- Numbers 14:21
It gives you the idea that there’s just no “getting away from God” everything has to be examined in relation to him; “Trying to ignore God as if other things mattered more than him” is precisely why man is in such a bind.
To “glorify God” is therefore to examine everything we do and everything we are in relation to God and his demands on us (remember the 3 caveats in point 5?)

This would likely seem like “nitpicking”; but when we take a closer look at it, we would see it as it really is “liberating.”
As we would see that “glorifying God” is “using” things as God created them to be used, and “being in relation to” all of creation and the created order in the way that God determined.

So, we eat food only when we are hungry and not to “feel good about ourselves”

We drink wine with “friends and family” to celebrate life, not to get drunk so that we can “forget our sorrows”

We engage in recreational activities like watching football for relaxation and entertainment, not to drool over stars or clubs.

We go to the gym to “keep fit” not to “get our self-esteem back”

We work to “earn an income”, not to “define our lives by it”

We were given sex to “enjoy with our spouse” not “to satisfy private lusts and build egos”

The list goes on and on…

So, How Does This Affect Masturbation?
The first test to put masturbation to is,
Can one masturbate “to the glory of God”?
I doubt if anyone would say yes to that.
Masturbation is defined as the manual stimulation of the genital organs for sexual pleasure.

Immediately one sees the problem with masturbation because it fails the “God’s design for sex” test.
So, it obviously cannot rank as God glorifying and is thus sin.

On A Final Note:
Why did I have to go this route?
Well, for one, we are prone to using the broad brush stroke of “it is sin” to label anything we are not “comfortable” with and this opens us up to arbitrariness or even the danger of endorsing the “sins” we are comfortable with.
We must be ready with an answer for those who would want to sway us in our convictions by examining on what basis those convictions are founded.
If anyone is caught in this sinful habit, I pray that God shows you a way out.
You are loved. Not condemned.
Your Brother
Olamide Falase.


31 thoughts on “Masturbation is not Sin? Really?

  1. Well articulated and written from the beginning to the end.

    I can’t agree less. We should never downplay on any sin even when we are trapped in it.

    God bless you for the write up Sir.

  2. Wow! Some matured writing!
    My only concern is people don’t take time out for themselves to confirm issues and search with open hearts.

  3. @adebiaye…u agree it is not sin, could you kindly tell us why you “think” it is not. the writer has raised a lot of important issues crossreferencing with scriptures. If you say he is wrong, then defend it with scripture.put forth your thinking (with scripture) in words. we are eager to hear. Thanks Mr falase, since this story broke out i have had calls from young teens who are confused..pastor chris has no idea whatsoever what he has done.

  4. Question: If the definition of sin isn’t “what doesn’t glorify God” like wearing a red shoe other than black or brown or choosing to wear a bronze Swatch other than a gold Rolex, doesn’t the fundamental principles upon which this thesis is built fall like a pack of cards?

    I don’t see how my choice of colours or ornaments glorifies God and cannot accept that I am sinning because of the choices of colours and ornaments I wear.

    Does a man who fries his hair glorify God? If yes, How? If No, does it mean he is sinning? I need answers pls. Perhaps we’ve not exhausted the definition of this thing called SIN.

    • @OSF: But it is you who is saying, “wearing red shoes instead of black doesn’t glorify God”.
      Are you not creating a strawman argument, since I haven’t posited such an absurdity.
      Please read the article to see what I define “glorifying God” as.

  5. What if we look at it this way? Sin is transgression against God; to disobey or go against God’s express command or instructions?

    What if we ask this question? “Who determines what is classified as sin?” we or God? Can there be sin without transgressing or going against express instructions?

    If there is no law prohibiting a thing, can there be punishment against the practice of it?

    • But your definition does not negate the fact that sin is what doesn’t glorify God, does it.
      For the records, let me state what I define “glorifying God” as:

      Glorifying God is “using” things as God created them to be used, and “being in relation to” all of creation and the created order in the way that God determined.

  6. I strongly believe that since the fundamental point upon which this thesis, well articulated as it is, is hinged on the definition of SIN as whatever doesn’t glorify God in our actions, it remains fundamentally flawed as for instance whether I choose to sleep on the bed or on the floor doesn’t particularly have any bearing or relationship with glorifying God, going by the definition; and may therefore be classified as SINS if I choose to do either of them. If you sleep on the bed, you sin because we cannot say how that glorifies God. If you sleep on the floor, you still sin because we cannot say how that glorifies God.

    So there’s something fundamentally void about this definition and we may have to do some more research to arrive at the right definition and answer to the begging question of WHAT IS SIN?

    • @OSF: What I think is flawed is the inferences you are drawing from the definition.
      You seem to be “walking backwards” rather than forward. You are attempting to “nullify a definition” by the conclusions you are coming to, when in fact the problem is that you are coming to the wrong conclusions.

      Having defined glorifying God, I would want you to “focus” on the definition itself and not attempt to nullify it by drawing the wrong conclusions and then “attacking your own conclusions” and then say, “therefore the definition is flawed”
      If you ask me, “that is very poor logic indeed”.

  7. Well, the posts are there for all men to determine the substance to all sides of the argument. My point remains that many things we do don’t glorify God and by your definition will be erroneously classified as SINs which is why we need to determine what SIN really is before we confuse the world rather that enlighten it and eventually save it.

    • @OSF: The bible says in 1Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

      I think the bible is pretty clear on how many things we are to do to the glory of God. So, except you are saying to violate a command is not sin, I don’t see how, “not glorifying God” isn’t sin.

      But the command itself begs the question, “What does it mean to “do all to the glory of God” or “How does one glorify God?”
      I attempted to define glorifying God as follows:

      Glorifying God is “using” things as God created them to be used, and “being in relation to” all of creation and the created order in the way that God determined.

      Now, if you say the definition doesn’t capture what glorifying God means, I would appreciate it if you would give a proper or correct definition.

  8. Well, the posts are there for all men to determine the substance to all sides of the argument. My point remains that many things we do don’t glorify God going by your definition and will be erroneously classified as SINs which is why we need to determine what SIN really is before we confuse the world rather that enlighten it and eventually save it.

  9. John Wesley one day asked his mother Susanna Wesley’s to give him a definition of sin. Her answer: “Whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of GOD or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short, if anything increases the authority and the power of the flesh over the spirit, that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself”. John Wesley went on to preach 40 000 sermons.

  10. The word of God is not limited to d reasoning or logic of any man .God’s word remains d standard, study d bible for urself so dt u can know first hand wat is contained therein. dt way we are able to guard our hearts with all diligience….remember a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump….first its ok to kiss lightly, then its ok to neck n peck wit d person u r in a r/ship wit( it eases d sexual tension), next its ok to ve sex wit d person u are dating so long as u ll eventually get married,den u can abort a child since u r nt ready…wen would d understanding of your eyes be enlightened to know dt all these are d lies of the devil to get christians to just get comfortable in sin…we are empowered by the Holy Ghost to live above sin infact d bible says that” sin has no pwr of us”…Pls lets study d word to show ourselves approved a workman dt need nt be ashamed…Our bodies are the temple of God and are therefore holy..We are to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. This means dt God has a standard for us and dt is ‘HOLY’…masturbation is fiddling with ones sexual organs to derive sexual satisfaction..ds act my peeps does not meet this standard….Plssssss…ds is d devil n not being modern, diplomatic or cool….Its sin all d way…

    • @Ese: Thanks for your pointed and clear analysis. I am completely on the same page with you as to masturbation being sin.
      However, we must be careful in how we use our brush, so that we don’t tag only those things we are uncomfortable with as sin; whereas we leave out those which, though, we may be comfortable with, are also sinful.
      As many as use the “it’s not stated in the bible argument” we are able to work from foundational doctrines and show them why indeed a particular act may be sinful.
      No matter how people try to “lower God’s standards, sheep are “notorious” for listening only to the “voice of their shepherd” and we want to be as clear as possible in bringing the “shepherd’s word to his sheep” and to show that the shepherd has called masturbation sin. Sin which he forgives, and can deliver the sinner from.
      We will not put strange words in our master’s mouth.
      We must bend to his words, not his words bending to us.
      God bless you; and once again thank you for your straight to the point analysis.

  11. To put some more flesh on “glorifying God” might I suggest that it includes holding God as infinitely valuable and completely adequate. Using this yardstick I sin when I behave or hold ideas as good which imply that there are things that I must have or be for happiness other than those God has graciously provided. By this token masturbation is a sin.

    • @OSF: Lol. Not so fast.
      You haven’t clearly shown that I did not define sin, yet you are saying it wasn’t well defined.
      Besides, if I didn’t “properly define sin” as you have suggested, I am sure you have a definition that “negates” mine.
      Again, for the records, I defined sin as
      1. Altering/ ignoring God’s laws.
      2. Worshiping anything apart from God as God
      3. Not glorifying God.

      I also defined what “glorifying God” is (please read the article again.)

      We can’t escape God’s searchlight. We were made for his glory (Isaiah 43:7,21; Romans 1:21) and as long as we “refuse” to “give him glory” we face the fearful expectation of his wrath!

      He has weighed us, and found us wanting (Romans 3:10-16)

    • @Ibelema: I see a danger in attempting to reduce sin to “just actions” and then hoping to sort through the myriads of undertakings of daily life in the hope that we would avoid those actions that “don’t glorify God” so that we “don’t sin.”
      I honestly hope that is not what my post has achieved.
      Please let me state that the inferences I drew from my definition of “glorifying God” are by no means sacrosanct (I even imagine that they do not “help” the definition).
      One thing that we must take away from this definition is the fact that nobody knows better than God what it means to be in “right relation to all of creation and the created order” and if it is God “who is at work in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) then I dare say we are in “safe hands” as far as “getting it right” on the “glorifying God” issue goes.
      I even make bold to say that the “glorifying God” business starts and ends “in Christ.”

  12. I am simply thrilled by your posting @olamide. Yeah it’s eloquent, point on, well presented and interesting too, but my thrill lies somewhere else: your heart and mind set. You didn’t sound like you had anything against rev oyakhilome or anyone who masturbates, but the concept of masturbation itself. Someone described the article as mature, and I agree because to separate what makes us uncomfortable from what is sin requires some objectivity and that, you displayed. Objectivity, clarity, thoughtfulness, and probably exposure, are some the reasons i consider it safe to listen to you.

    @OSF, I like your attempt to be analytical and not easily swayed, but since you haven’t yet provided your definitions, it makes your argument seem like it was born, not out of a superior truth, but a searched out a point to flaw olamide’s definition. We will most likely find what search hard for.

    In the absence of a “better definition” (which can be flawed if presented and we search for a flaw), let’s appreciate this one we have because it answers the question it set out to, and it’s fundamentals are not out of place. It might not be total, but it is not false or wrong either.

    Speaking of masturbation, if it does not glorify God, it is sin. Or see it this way; “if it dishonors God, it is sin”. Speaking of black or red shoes, or sleeping on the floor or bed, I think some things do not bring glory to God, neither do they take glory from him. So…

    • Went thru d article and while i like d style of the writer, i don’t totally agree with the logic of his argument. Masturbation is sin. Yes and yes and yes but not for d reasons he has given. His attempt to define sin as not glorifying God, while not wrong, is watered by his statement like “can u masturbate to d glory of God”? This is because, we then need to ask “how do i determine what is to the glory of God?” What if i ask, can I have oral sex with my wife to d glory of God? Let me ask the question very directly so u can understand what i’m talking about. Can a woman suck her husband’s penis to the glory of God? U see dat, we’re back to asking how do we determine what’s to d glory of God? The definition of sin hasn’t changed much from what I was thought as a young boy in sunday school. It,s really simple. Sin is simply any thought, word, action or attitude that goes against God’s revealed will. U cannot masturbate without lewd pictures or indecent thoughts in your mind. Unclean thoughts are against God’s will. That’s what makes it sin. Lack of self-control is also sin. That’s also why masturbation is sin. God’s revealed will is for sex to be enjoyed between a heterosexual married couple. Masturbation doesn’t fit into that will. May God help us all.

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