The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
9 Points

"the Bible does not teach masturbation is a sin"

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/5/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,225 times Debate No: 35319
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




the two passages that are often used as proof that masturbation is wrong, are usually misinterpreted.

one is onan. God said to onan, to impregnate his deceased brother's wife. instead, onan pull out, and spilled his seed on the ground. many argue that what was wrong here is that he spilled his seed, it went to unproductive use etc, that masturbation is likewise a sin. however, it's pretty clear that God was mad because he didnt follow his command to impregnate her.

the other is in Matthew. Jesus says something to the effect of 'whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart". this makes some argue that if you even lust after a woman, which is usually the case with masturbation, you sin. the problem, is that the original word for "lust" is the same word, teated the same, as the word "covet". no one can really take the ten commandment bans on coveting your neighbor's wife or things, in too literal a sense. covet means something indordinate, not something like just wanting or admiring your neighbor's wife and things. covet means "best understood as forbidding fixing one"s desire upon obtaining something that is not rightfully one"s own". here is more on the use of covet and lust.

this fits my original interpetation of the verse "you would if you could". would you sleep with a man's wife if you could? then youve done the sin in your heart, even if you didnt actually do it. it also highlights that what's wrong here is unlawful marriage coveting. notice he didn't say the person commits fornication, or "unlawful sex". Jesus is probably stressing coveting a man's wife, not just lustful thoughts in general, and not even necessarily unmarried women.


Thank you for instigating this debate, I hope this will be fun.

My opponent cites two possible instances where the Bible condemns masturbation then responds accordingly to them. I won’t be using the story of Matthew for my case because the sin of lusting in thought does not equate to masturbation itself.

I will however, be using the story of Onan to present my case.

My opponent brings up the point that God killed Onan not because he spilled his semen upon the ground instead of in his wife, but because he did not fulfill his duty to have a child for his brother.

This is in fact, a common misconception about God’s intent when he killed Onan.

You see, back during that time under Jewish law a man who did not bear a child for his dead brother was punished by public humiliation (See Deut. 25: 7-10).

This means that God must have killed Onan for another reason.

God killed Onan because he violated the natural law in which God has set out for sexual intercourse.

Let me explain this natural law now.

Contraception/Masturbation (They both involve the abuse of sexual pleasure and deem procreation impossible) is wrong because it is a deliberate violation of the design that God built into the human race. The Natural Law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children. Sexual pleasure can become unnatural, and even spiritually harmful, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God's gift of the sex act, along with pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end: Procreation. (1)

Now that we have clarified that God didn’t kill Onan for not conceiving a child for his brother, we can easily see that God did kill him Onan for violating the natural law of sex.

This would actually mean that the abuse of sexual pleasure in any form where procreation becomes impossible is actually deemed as mortally sinful according to the Bible, for God killed Onan for his violation of the natural law God has set out.

Masturbation, is one of these forms of an abuse of sexual pleasure while excluding procreation, therefore it violates the natural law God has set out.

Once a moral principle has been established in the Bible, it need not be repeated again.

God built the act of sex to be between man and woman, to strengthen the bond and intimacy between them, and to have a natural means of procreation through their loving relationship. The Bible has condemned any other use of the sexual act besides this, and has again and again condemned the abuse of sexual pleasure (lust).

Therefore, under my arguments masturbation has indeed been identified as immoral and sinful according to the teachings and messages of the Bible.

(1) The Essential Catholic Survival Guide: Answers to Tough Questions About the Faith

Debate Round No. 1


at best con has provided merely his own interpretation of the Onan story. at worst, he is overlooking the prevailing interpretation, and most staightforward. Onan disobeyed God... it's pretty straightforward why God is displeased here. it didnt have specifically anything to do with spilling his seed and being contraceptive about it, aside from not wanting her impregnanted. Onan probably wanted all his goods to go to his sons, did not want another to come steal away etc.

masturbation seems natural enough to me, even animals do it. i wouldnt trust merely one interpretation of a single story, out of hte whole bible, to make one think it is a sin. when there's another better interpretation, lack of mention in the rest of the bible, and natural law observed in nature/


I would like to thank my opponent for her response.

Now then, you basically dropped my entire argument and instead just gave an opinion with nothing backing it up.

My argument is very logical.

Onan did X and Y.

Onan didn’t get in trouble for X by God.

Therefore Onan got in trouble for Y by God.

Obviously an incident where a brother did not conceive a son for his deceased brother has happened before, or else it wouldn’t have already been prior Jewish law.

In addition, God wouldn’t have killed every man who didn’t fulfill this law or else there would have been no reason for the law to exist and for the punishment to be public humiliation if God just killed every man who did not fulfill this law.

So obviously God didn’t kill him for not fulfilling this law, he killed him for his violation of the natural law of sex God has created.

In fact, it’s basically a slap in the face to God to abuse the blessing (sexual pleasure) God made for sexual intercourse.

You then go on to look at possible variables that could have been the reason for Onan’s death, but even the reasons you gave (wanted all his goods to go to his sons…?) would not warrant death under the Bible. The story is set up to provide a moral teaching, just as most stories in the Bible are set up for.

My opponent states, “masturbation seems natural enough to me, even animals do it.”

Yeah, and animals also kill each other and practice homosexuality which have both been condemned in the Bible.

Animals are not humans. They do not have a conscience and they were not made to be the people of God. They are simply living creatures whose only goal is to reproduce and survive. They exist for humans. Humans exist for God.

“i wouldnt trust merely one interpretation of a single story, out of hte whole bible, to make one think it is a sin.”

As explained last round, once a moral teaching has been set up in the Bible there is no need to have it repeated. What matters is that the message exists in the Bible, not how many times it was repeated.

My opponent argues against my argument on natural law because nature itself goes against.

Simply, natural law only applies to humans. Natural law is only supposed to humans because only humans have a conscience, live to do more than reproduce and survive, and have a plan set out by God to fulfill. This plan involves us having to understand the laws of morality God has set up and act upon them.

You see, God has set up sex for humans to add in the factor of love and commitment, unlike animals who have sex only for the sake of procreation (while very few other species just do it for the heck of it and I hear dolphins do it for pleasure sometimes) but they still cannot add in the factor of love into the equation.

Therefore, the natural law of sex still very much applies in this situation and the Bible strictly teaches to use sexual intercourse between man and woman for the sake of love to bring them closer and have a natural link to procreation.

Debate Round No. 2


my interpretation of the verse is all i need to back up my argument, as that's all you've provided, and based on the context, all that can be provided.

i still say my argument is most straight forward.... God was mad at Onan, because he disobeyed God, not just because he happened to spill his seed. also, masturbation is natural, as observed by nature and backed up by health experts world wide. the only reason you have to go against experts, is your own interptation of an obscure bible verse. we are to assume the experts are wrong, the most reasonable interpretation of the verse is wrong, and your obscure interptation of this obscure verse should dictate what should be done on this issue?


Again, my opponent drops many of my arguments. I will still respond accordingly.

Yes, both of us provide our own interpretations of the verse, however I already refuted your interpretation with my argument on prior Jewish law, and you haven’t really contended to my own interpretation at all.

“God was mad at Onan, because he disobeyed God, not just because he happened to spill his seed.”

You see, this argument would actually seem sound just by hearing the story, but look at the verse itself.

“And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.”

Look at the wording, specifically “thing which he did”. This implied that it was the action that displeased the Lord through the word “did”.

Specifically, this applied to the action of spilling the seed on the ground.

I trust that if the story did mean that God killed Onan for disobeying him, it would have specifically been worded like so. Instead, it is worded in a way that points God’s punishment towards the actual action of what Onan did. I already explained and supported that the action that he was punished for was spilling semen onto the ground.

“also, masturbation is natural, as observed by nature and backed up by health experts world wide.”

As explained earlier, animals are not equal to humans and natural law simply doesn’t apply to them.

Masturbation is also a choice, not something that comes natural to all people. During a certain age humans tend to experiment with their body more and this many times leads to accidental discovery of masturbation, but this does not mean masturbation is natural for all humans.


My argument on Natural Law is completely sound and is a message constantly supported by the Bible. Even if my argument on the story of Onan was flawed in any way, the Bible still condemns any use of sexual pleasure and sexual intercourse outside of a married man and woman. Logically, masturbation would also be considered sinful because not only does this not fulfill these criteria, but it is also a direct abuse of sexual pleasure, which is condemned in the Bible (lust).

Thank you for initiating this debate, it was interesting.

Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by gagekilmer 4 years ago
I would like to point out that the OP set the topic as "the bible does not teach masturbation is a sin" not "is masturbation moral and natural" sin is natural and obviously it is sin. I found Pros argument about animals masturbating to be irrelevant and invalid considering the context of the debate.
Posted by Naysayer 4 years ago
Onan was in Genesis. Why in the world would you argue Jewish law as a defense of your interpretation?
Posted by ArgentStorm 4 years ago
It would seem to me that the problem wasn't his failure to impregnate his brother's wife, which, as it has been mentioned, was already punished under Jewish law, but rather his failure to follow God's directive that Oman was punished for.
Posted by dairygirl4u2c 4 years ago
quoted verbatim
Posted by xXCryptoXx 4 years ago
If you change the resolution to "the Bible does not teach masturbation is a sin" I'll take this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro, is trolling this topic, as well as others. She didn't take her opponents arguments seriously and just deemed them, personal interpretation. S/G goes to Con for capitalising proper nouns. Con put forth the more convincing argument because he explained his with sound logic. Pro just said "LOL nope".
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Con. I do not share Con's interpretation of the story of Onan, and in fact share Pro's interpretation of it -- but Con gave a reasoned case. Pro responding with "that's just *your* interpretation" is not an argument, especially when Con gave reasons for why his interpretation should be the preferred one. Spelling and grammar go to Con, as well.