Questions From Readers
● Does the por·neiʹa (gross sexual immorality) mentioned in the Bible include masturbation, making masturbation a valid basis for Scriptural divorce?—Ecuador.
The Bible does not mention masturbation or self-abuse, and there is no indication that the Greek word por·neiʹa included this practice.
Masturbation is definitely an unclean habit. This is evident from the fact that, according to the Mosaic law, even an involuntary emission of semen made a man ceremonially unclean until the evening. (Lev. 15:16; Deut. 23:10, 11) This being the case, a deliberately induced emission of semen through masturbation would have been a greater uncleanness. But it was not as serious as the gross sexual immorality designated by the Greek word por·neiʹa. For example, adultery, homosexuality and bestiality (different forms of por·neiʹa) were capital offenses under the Law and therefore paved the way for the surviving mate to remarry. (Lev. 20:10, 13, 15, 16) But we can point to no evidence indicating that this was true of masturbation.
Nevertheless, the Bible speaks out strongly against unclean practices. The inspired apostle Paul wrote to fellow believers: “God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness, but in connection with sanctification.” (1 Thess. 4:7) Hence, the Christian should strive hard to avoid any unclean habits, including masturbation.*
On breaking free from masturbation, see The Watchtower of September 15, 1973, pp. 564 to 569.