The Sin of Onan
And the thing which he did displeased the Lord . . .



I am a college student attending Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri. I am writing an essay on the subject of Masturbation. I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, and overcame my personal compulsive masturbation addiction in 1996.

Through the gentle concrete confrontation of a counselor, I realized this behavior in my life was an addiction and idolatry before God. Now, I am enrolled in an English course. My teacher worked for several years in a local porn shop and thinks the Bible is just a fiction book.

I desire to present my paper using the facts and limited research that is available to back my personal opinion on this topic. Please send me any resources you may have which I can use for my paper. Thanks so much for your web page which addresses this prominent hidden addiction in the church nationwide.



ANY sexual activity which attempts to bypass reproduction is a sin. God joined the creation of life together with the pleasures of sexual intercourse. Birth control and abortion attempt to defeat the creation of life that is entwined by Nature's God with the reproductive act. So does masturbation.

In addition, masturbation is a homosexual act: sex with a person of the same sex, namely yourself.

The Bible refers to the deed as the sin of Onan. Onan was the son of Judah and Shuah. Genesis 38:4. The Lord slew Onan's brother for wickedness. Judah told Onan to marry his brother's wife "and raise up seed to thy brother." Genesis 38:8. But Onan did not want to have children by his brother’s wife.

"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."

Genesis 38:9. This misdeed displeased the Lord; "wherefore he slew him also." Genesis 38:9-10.

Onanism in the larger sense stands for sexual activity which seeks to avoid reproduction. The solitary vice is one category of such activity. The seed of life is not a plaything. It is to be employed responsibly only in the bonds of matrimony and with the act always open to the possibility of the creation of offspring.

We are enjoined by the Lord to subdue the flesh and make it obedient to the Spirit, that it not rise up against us and bring us to shame. Even animals are trained to obey. We must do the same with our sensual nature. "But I keep under my body under, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others,I myself should be a castaway." 1 Cor. 9:27. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other . . ." Galatians 5:17.

"Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14.

Congratulations on winning the victory over this sin. The first step is to know the truth. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. The person who counseled you brought you to the truth about this behavior. Then you chose to obey the truth in righteousness. Jesus is Truth. They that love him, love truth and are obedient to it.

Sex is not solely for reproduction, but it must never deliberately foreclose reproduction. As one friend said to me: "No pleasure without responsibility."

There is much greater joy in subduing the flesh than in indulging it. The former is noble and holy; the latter shameful and unclean. Self-abuse, of course, is always accompanied by lustful and lascivious thoughts. It is sterile sex with oneself. No one can maintain a pure mind while polluting himself physically and mentally with such activity.

Praise be to God, who delivers us from these things and preserves us pure in mind and body unto his kingdom.

For an excellent study of the subject of sterile sex: see Brian Harrison's essay: The Sin of Onan Revisited.

Be a teacher to your teacher. He needs instruction in righteousness. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:13.