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Q. What is the Synod’s view on masturbation? Are there any references to self-pleasurement in the Bible? I was asked this question and I did not know how to respond other than, “I know it cannot be right in God’s eyes.” However, I do not have any theological proof. Can you help out?

A. In its report on “Human Sexuality,” the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations says the following regarding masturbation: To view our sexuality in the context of a personal relationship of mutual love and commitment in marriage helps us to evaluate the practice of masturbation. Quite clearly, chronic masturbation falls short of the Creator’s intention For our use of the gift of sexuality, namely, that our sexual drives should be oriented toward communion with another person in the mutual love and commitment of marriage. By its very nature, masturbation separates sexual satisfaction from the giving and receiving of sexual intercourse in the marital union and is symptomatic of the tendency of human beings to turn in upon themselves for the satisfaction of their desires. In childhood, masturbation may often be a form of temporary experimentation. However, children of God are warned against the voluntary indulgence of sexual fantasies as endangering faith and spiritual life. Such inordinate desires are clearly called sin by our Lord (Matt. 5:27). As the child grows and matures, youthful lusts and fantasies (2 Tim. 2:22) are left behind. For those who are troubled by guilt and who seek God’s help in overcoming problems in this area, pastors and Christian counselors need to stand ready to offer Christ’s forgiveness, remind them of the power of the Holy Spirit to help them lead “a chaste and decent life in word and deed,” and hold before them the joys of remaining faithful to what God’s Word teaches about His intention for the good gift of sexuality.

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