Martin Luther Condemned Masturbation (“Secret Sin”)

Martin Luther Condemned Masturbation (“Secret Sin”) January 4, 2020
The fashionable zeitgeist now present in Protestantism (especially, but not exclusively, of the liberal variety), is to increasingly sanction divorce, cohabitation, homosexual acts, abortion, contraception, and masturbation. The latter was surprisingly condoned even by the usually traditional moralist and family advocate Dr. James Dobson, and, with extraordinarily ridiculous and scandalous argumentation, by anti-Catholic Reformed apologist Steve Hays, who wrote (almost as if he were a thoroughly secularized regular columnist for Planned Parenthood):

I don’t think that Christians should go around guilt-ridden if they engage in this practice. On the face of it, this seems like a natural sexual safety value for single men—especially younger men in their sexual prime. Like learning how to walk or perform other athletic activities, this form of sexual experience and physical experimentation may train an unmarried young man in attaining some degree of mental and muscular control so that he is not a total novice on his wedding night. . . . I can’t say absolutely if it is right or wrong, but I tend to deem it permissible under some circumstances. (“Too hot to handle – 2”, 7-15-04)

Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, on the other hand, opposed the practice. He referred to it (so it seems fairly clear in context, I think) as a “secret sin”:

From: The Estate of Marriage (1522); translated by Walther I. Brandt; pp. 17-49 in Luther’s Works, Volume 45 (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962):

Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not choice. (p. 18)

[T]he devil has contrived to have so much shouted and written in the world against the institution of marriage, to frighten men away from this godly life and entangle them in a web of fornication and secret sins. (p. 37)

It is certainly a fact that he who refuses to marry must fall into immorality. . . . For if special grace does not exempt a person, his nature must and will compel him to produce seed and to multiply. If this does not occur in marriage, how else can it occur except in fornication or secret sins? (p. 45)


Related Reading:

Why Did God Kill Onan? (Bible and Contraception) [2-9-04]

Masturbation: Thoughts on Why it is as Wrong as it Ever Was [3-14-04 and 9-7-05; abridged, edited, and slightly modified on 8-14-19]

Masturbation Remains a Grave Sin (Debate w Steve Hays) [1-6-07; links added on 8-13-19]

Masturbation & the Sermon on the Mount (Talmudic Parallels) [10-18-11]

Biblical Data Against Contraception: Onan’s Sin and Punishment: a Concise “Catholic” Argument [3-7-14]

Bible vs. Contraception: Onan’s Sin and Punishment [National Catholic Register, 5-30-17]

Masturbation: Gravely Disordered According to Catholicism [8-16-19]

Biblical Hyperbole, Masturbation, & Intransigent Atheists [9-3-19]

Masturbation: C. S. Lewis Explains Why it is Wrong [10-28-19]

Debate: Masturbation Okay in Moderation or Intrinsically Wrong? [10-31-19]


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(originally posted on 6-2-10)

Photo credit: Martin Luther, Bust in Three-Quarter View (1520), by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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