Comments/Questions from Readers

Question #28: Can you tell me if masturbation is not a sin and viewing pornagraghy is not a sin??? thanks if you answer!!

Regarding your questions on masturbation and pornography, let me separate them so we can deal with them independent of one another.

Obviously, masturbation, as with other sexual actions, is an amoral activity. It is neither moral nor immoral. It is how it is used that determines whether the action is sinful. A husband thinking about being with his wife while masturbating certainly is not sinful, any more than fantasizing about being with her without masturbating. For something to definitely be sinful, the activity must clearly and specifically be condemned as sinful in Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture is masturbation even discussed, let alone condemned as sin. However, a man fantasizing about his neighbor's wife would be sinful, regardless of whether he is also mastubating at the time. The action of masturbation itself is not the true issue, but rather, what is in the mind and heart of the individual. If it is sinful to do in real life, it is sinful to do in one's imagination.

Now with regards to viewing pornography, the answer would depend on what the "pornography" is depicting. If the image is not depicting anything sinful, and it does not evoke a sinful image in the mind of the viewer, then no, it would not be sinful for that individual. The problem is that nobody but that individual and God can know for certain. All I can say is that anything outside of faith is sin, so if one feels something is sinful, then for him or her it is sin. However, what most of us would call "pornography" usually DOES depict something sinful as defined in Scripture, so in most cases, viewing pornography is sinful regardless. We just can't make a blanket statement that all pornography is sinful because not everything labeled "pornography" is actually pornographic. This word is used by different people to mean different things. For example, four people might be looking at a picture of a naked lady asleep on the beach. The picture could be viewed as mere scenery to the first person, art to the second person, erotica to the third person, and pornographic to the fourth person. Clearly there is nothing sinful in such an image (unless the person viewing it believes nakedness to be sinful), but again the issue is in the mind of the viewer.

So to wrap it up, no, masturbation itself is not sinful, although it certainly can be used in a sinful way. Viewing "pornography" in most cases would be sinful, but it depends on whether the actual material is depicting a truly sinful activity or whether the viewer is imagining a sinful action in response. In both cases, only the heart and mind of the viewer determines whether it is sin.

There is a story of an employer who was hiring for a truck driver position to drive supplies up a mountain and had three applicants who each wanted the job. The employer asked each of the applicants one question, "How close to the edge of the cliff can you keep the truck without going over?" The first applicant said that he could keep the truck just six inches from the edge all the way up the mountain. The second applicant said he could keep the truck three inches from the edge all the way up the mountain. The third applicant said he didn't know how close he could get, because he would stay as far away from the edge as possible. The employer hired the third applicant. My personal recommendation is to avoid any kind of imagery that is even LIKELY to evoke a sinful response.




"...In essentials we maintain unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love..."

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