Ask Your Preacher
Is masturbation a sin?
Sincerely, Brave Enough To Ask
Dear Brave Enough To Ask,
Self-stimulation is never specifically condemned or even mentioned in the Bible, but that doesn’t make it right. There is only one example that people often use of masturbation in the Bible (Gen 38:9), but that was not really masturbation. The example of Onan still doesn’t tell us much about the subject because he was rebuked, not for the act of masturbation, but for having sex with his brother’s wife, and then spilling his seed on the ground in order to avoid raising children up for his brother (which God had commanded him to do).
I think your question demands two separate answers.
The first question would be “What does the Bible say?”, since we are providing Bible answers to Bible questions. The answer to this question is, “The Bible says nothing about it.”
The second question would be, “Are there any other Bible teachings that would make it wrong?”. Masturbation is the act of stimulating one's self sexually without the use of a partner. The sexual realm was not designed for the individual, but for two committed lifelong partners (1 Cor 7:4-5). Many marriages have been ruined because one or the other spouse seeks sexual satisfaction apart from their marital partner. We should be very wary of any situation where we are attempting to find satisfaction outside of the pattern the Lord has designed.
Furthermore, self-stimulation is almost always connected to mental (i.e. lustful thoughts) and visual (i.e. pornography) fantasizing about the opposite gender. God is very clear in condemning that sort of behavior (Matt 5:28).
The practical problem that generally evokes this question is with a young man who has been unable to find a godly wife. His hormones are going wild, which is according to nature. Now what does such a young man do? There are two things that must be avoided at all costs. First, he must not lust after a specific woman because that is specifically forbidden in God’s word. Secondly, he must avoid pornography at all costs. This always demands lust for a specific woman. Pornography has proven to cause all kinds of sexual problems, not only while a person is doing it but also later in life. Realistically, with those two things in mind, a young man doesn't have much likelihood of masturbating without sinning. It is the overconfident youth that thinks "others would sin, but not me".
In due time, Lord willing, young men will be blessed with godly wives, and until then self-control is their duty in the eyes of God.
How can I know if something is a sin?
Wanting To Be Faithful
Dear Wanting To Be Faithful,
Sin is disobeying what God says. The very word 'sin' is defined as 'missing the mark'. God defines what a good life looks like in His Word. We wouldn't know who we ought to be if He didn't tell us. We are made in His image (Gen 1:26) and created for His glory (Col 1:16). We are the creation, and He is the Creator. Understanding His supreme authority is crucial. We must realize and accept that we are designed with a purpose and that the Creator understands how to properly guide our lives to fulfill that purpose.
Sin can be doing something that God has condemned (i.e. David sleeping with Bathsheba - 2 Sam 12:13). Sin can also be failing to do what you ought to (i.e. Jonah refusing to preach to the Ninevites - Jonah 1:3). We must model our lives after God's commandments and teachings. Our lives must bear godly fruit (Jhn 15:12, Lk 3:8), and we must flee from wickedness (1 Tim 6:11). It is our adherence to both the positive and negative commandments of God that shows our friendship with Him (Jhn 15:14). The Bible is God's roadmap for life; follow it to avoid the pitfalls of sin.
Is there any way to lose your salvation?
Yes, you can lose your salvation - but not by accident. There are two extremes when it comes to discussing salvation.
One extreme is the Calvinistic view that your salvation is never in jeopardy regardless of what you do. This view is called 'Perseverance of the Saints' - the belief that if you are saved, you will always persevere without ever a need to worry about your salvation. This view is simply not Biblical. Consider several verses from the book of Hebrews. Heb 6:4-6 talks about 'enlightened partakers of the Holy Spirit' (certainly this refers to saved Christians) who then 'fall away' and 'crucify afresh the Son of God'. There can be no doubt that this is talking about people losing their salvation. Heb. 10:26-27 talks about knowledgeable Christians rejecting the gospel and the terrifying expectation of judgment to come upon them. Paul said he feared that his preaching had been in vain to the Galatian brethren because they were turning away from the pure word of God (Gal 4:11, Gal 1:6). Yes, we most certainly must watch how we live and act so as to not miss the prize of heaven (1 Cor 9:25-27).
The other extreme is to have zero confidence in your salvation. This is the attitude of "unless I am living perfectly, I am going to be lost." This view is also wrong. Christ died to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15), and it is His blood that pays the price for your entrance to heaven (1 Pet 1:18-19). Your salvation is not dependent upon perfect living but FAITHFUL living (Eph. 2:8): hearing God's word (Rom 10:17) and then living by that Word (Jas 2:14-18) to the best of your ability. Perfection is not a requirement of salvation in Christ - commitment is. A committed Christian, though he often may fall short of who he wants to be, can be confident in his eternal reward.
What does the Bible say about dating / courting?
Dear Maritally Minded,
The Bible gives no specific statements about how to look for a future spouse. God instead speaks to the attitudes we must have and the dangers that exist in the world of romance.
- Don't force it. Song of Solomon is an entire book devoted to romance and marriage. The chorus of that book is the same over and over (Songs 2:7) - it is a warning to avoid forcing relationships merely for the 'fun' of romance.
- Avoid all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22). Make sure to never put yourself in a situation with someone of the opposite sex that would compromise your (or their) reputation or morals.
- Who they are matters more than how they look. The Bible praises godly spouses for their character (Pr 31:10). Beauty fades, but one's values endure. Make sure you are spending your time getting to know the person for who they are and for what they find important.
- Treat them with respect. The Scriptures tell us to treat people of the opposite gender like brothers and sisters (1 Tim 5:2). How would you want your siblings to be treated? Make sure you are behaving in a godly way toward anyone you are dating or courting.
- Surround yourself with godly advice. When we are in the here and now of a romantic relationship, we often get caught up with our emotions and lose perspective. That makes it especially important to get the advice of those around you who are wiser and less biased. Parents, grandparents, and other trusted advisors should be sought out as you search for a mate. Surrounding yourself with many good counselors protects you from making a emotional decision that has lifelong consequences (Pr 11:14).
Marriage is one of the greatest blessings that God gives mankind. If we do it God's way, finding a spouse can be a joy and lead to a lifetime of happiness.
Do you think a person must be baptized by a Christian male only? Could a woman be baptized by a Christian woman if there are no men around? Does the person doing the baptizing have to be a Christian?
Immersed in the Issue
Dear Immersed in the Issue,
The person who is doing the baptizing is not nearly as important as the one being baptized. The only examples we have in the Scriptures are of male christians baptizing people, but that is probably more of an incidental then a matter of importance. It reminds me of the argument that all churches should meet in upper rooms because the only examples we have in the New Testament are of churches meeting in upper rooms. Males baptizing and upper room meetings would both fall under the heading of "missing the point" in my opinion. It would be a rather odd situation where someone came to the conclusion that they must be baptized without being taught by someone who could also baptize them. However these things do occur, so let's consider what the Scriptures say.
Baptism is all about the effect that is had on the person immersed. They are saved (Mk 16:16, Acts 2:38), their life starts anew (Rom 6:4), and they are buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4). The emphasis is so steeply placed upon the person being baptized that there is only one incident in the entire New Testament where it says, "he baptized him"(Acts 8:38); every other circumstance is "they were baptized", "he was baptized", etc. The emphasis is placed time after time upon who was baptized and not who did the baptizing. Paul rarely baptized people himself after teaching them (1 Cor 1:14-17), nor did Christ (John 4:2). The importance was that the people were baptized for salvation and not who did it. In general, people will be baptized by male Christians, but a woman doing the baptizing wouldn't be an issue either if the circumstances called for it. I can't think of many circumstances where an unbeliever would baptize someone, but I wouldn't contest that person's baptism as illegitimate if that were the case. The angels are rejoicing over the sheep that has been found in either situation (Lk 15:10).