Is masturbation sin?

I occasionally get questions of this nature that I feel I am not qualified to answer. Other examples include: Can Christians couples read erotic literature together? Is there even such a thing as valid Christian Erotica?

These questions are asking for a religious judgment about which activities are OK and which are not OK, and I do not presume to have any of the definitive answers on such questions.

As a biologist, I see all such activities as within the range of normal biological behavior, having seen monkeys and squirrels masturbating and animals mate in view of other animals.

But even assuming that masturbation is a normal behavior, there may be instances of excessive masturbation or masturbation with inappropriate thoughts (e.g, about children, close relatives, or with violence) that make it clearly NOT OK. Additionally, excessive use of vigorous stimulation, such as vibrators, may desensitize a women to more moderate forms of stimulation. Similarly, excessive masturbation or use of pornography can be addictive, and can lead to more and more extremes of thoughts or behavior to stimulate the desired response. Clearly, although natural, masturbation should not take the place of going out and having fun with friends and/or normal relationship activities with a spouse.

Furthermore, each religion may have its own teachings on the topic and we are not here to countermand such teachings.

In summary, masturbation is a normal biological behavior, but we cannot say whether or not it is a sin. Likewise for the other questions. Clearly, WE think that erotic literature is OK within certain parameters, see. e.g., the Song of Solomon, but we are not qualified to dictate what is sinful.

That's just my opinion, Annie