Love & Sexuality: Is Masturbation A Sin If I Don’t Also Watch Porn?

Issue 30  //  · 

“Is masturbation a sin if I don’t also watch porn?”

Whenever I have questions like these, I like to ask myself: Can I honestly say that doing XYZ is an act done in the name of Jesus as a way of thanking God (Col 3:17)? If the answer is no, then I ought to snap out of it!

God designed us as relational beings, and one of the highest pleasures we can get is from relationships and intimacy. But God designed the intimacy of sex to be enjoyed within the confines of the most intimate relationship we can have with another — marriage.

When we seek sexual pleasure or satisfaction elsewhere apart from within a marriage, we are looking for close intimacy in the wrong places. The avenues can include watching pornography, having casual sex, masturbating, or even indulging in lustful thoughts!

Jesus sets up the highest standard possible in Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” While it may seem impossible not to have even the slightest lustful thought, we must at least be aware of God’s standards and how turning away from those standards puts us on a path to sin and pain.

So, even if explicit images are not used for self-pleasure, the latter is still a no-go zone because it ultimately weakens us in our resolve to walk in God’s ways. Our bodies are to be temples for Christ, and we are to behave in a way that glorifies God.

Rather than focusing on the technicalities of sexual sin, like “how far is too far,” let us think instead about godly things, and the grace and goodness of Jesus who saves us (Eph 2:4–6). As we immerse ourselves in His Word and continually seek Him, we will realise more and more that God is the only one who can truly satisfy our longing for intimacy, beyond any other form of pleasure.


“What is an effective way to steer away from sexual sin?” 

I feel you. This is something that I’ve personally been struggling with for over eight years now. Over the years, I’ve tried so many methods of steering myself away from sexual sin, and yet time and again I’ve failed, feeling guilty, frustrated and trapped each time.

Sexual sin can be really hard to overcome because sexual pleasure comes from the release of the hormone dopamine, making us crave a higher ‘high’ after each time.

But take heart! We can be assured that God knows our struggles, and He knows the temptations that we face. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, and not only that, He will also provide a way of escaping the temptation!

I’m thankful for your determination to fight sexual sin. Personally, I’ve found some of these tips and habits to be very helpful in my own fight:

1. Pray every morning for protection against sexual sin. Ask God to empower you with the Holy Spirit to resist temptation.

2. Identify what causes you to be tempted. Because once you know your triggers, you can do the following…

3. Set strict boundaries. Avoid whatever tempts you so you won’t give yourself a chance to give in to it. For me, that means avoiding movies with sexual scenes.

4. Run away (1 Cor 6:18)! Physically, if you need to! When I’m feeling tempted, I get out of my room and take my mind off the temptation by doing something else, like taking my dog out for a walk.

5. Find an accountability partner. This can be a leader, a Christian friend or a pastor you can trust. Having someone to walk with you gently but honestly through your struggles makes the fight against sexual sin a lot easier.

Getting out of sexual sin is a long road of perseverance, discipline and accountability. Don’t be discouraged if you fall sometimes, but continue to cling on to God’s redeeming grace, which is greater than any sin we can commit, and seek His strength and the Holy Spirit to convict you as you journey.