Emission of Semen
The way some writers talk you would think that the Bible never says anything that could even remotely be in reference to masturbation. However, this certainly is not true. Not only is reference made to every kind of interpersonal sex, but the Word of God talks clearly about nocturnal emissions, and there are even verses that could easily be speaking about solo sex. In fact, take way the church’s traditional bias against solo sex, and it seems clear that the pleasurable conclusion to acts of masturbation is exactly what is being addressed.
Consider the following verses. And just to make things as clear as possible, I will quote several translations for each.
Now if a man has a seminal emission, he shall bathe all his body in water and be unclean until evening. As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (NASB)
. . .if the flow of seed
go out from a man,
then he shall bathe
all his flesh in water. . .
”And if the flow of seed [isn’t that a marvellous way of describing the moment of orgasm, “the flow of seed”] go out from a man, then he shall bathe all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the flow of seed, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. The woman also with whom a man shall lie carnally, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even. (Jewish Publication Society Tanakh)
”Whenever a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his entire body in water, and he will remain ceremonially unclean until the next evening. Any clothing or leather with semen on it must be washed in water, and it will remain unclean until evening. After a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, they must each bathe in water, and they will remain unclean until the next evening. (NLT)
If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening. Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. (NKJV)
Leviticus 22:4 – 5
If a descendant of Aaron has an infectious skin disease or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed. He will also be unclean if he touches something defiled by a corpse or by anyone who has an emission of semen, or if he touches any crawling thing that makes him unclean, or any person who makes him unclean, whatever the uncleanness may be. (NIV)
No man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper or who has a discharge, may eat of the holy gifts until he is clean And if one touches anything made unclean by a corpse or if a man has a seminal emission, or if a man touches any teeming things by which he is made unclean, or any man by whom he is made unclean, whatever his uncleanness; (NASB)
If any of Aaron’s descendants has a skin disease or any kind of discharge that makes him ceremonially unclean, he may not eat from the sacred offerings until he has been pronounced clean. He also becomes unclean by touching a corpse, or by having an emission of semen, or by touching a small animal that is unclean, or by touching someone who is ceremonially unclean for any reason. (NLT)
What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath an issue, he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any one that is unclean by the dead; or from whomsoever the flow of seed goeth out; (Jewish Publication Society Tanakh)
If there is any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come inside the camp. But it shall be, when evening comes, that he shall wash with water; and when the sun sets, he may come into the camp. (NKJV)
Any man who becomes ceremonially defiled because of a nocturnal emission must leave the camp and stay away all day. Toward evening he must bathe himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp. (NLT)
The "Flow of Seed"
The only verse of the three that specifically refers to a nocturnal “wet dream” that happens during sleep, is Deuteronomy 23: 10 - 11. The remedy; take a bath.
In the two potions from Leviticus either one could just as easily refer to masturbation. In fact, Leviticus 15:18 talks about ejaculating while having sex with a woman, but verse 16 specifically talks about having an orgasm separate from intercourse. As we very well know, this can happen in any number of ways:
- A loving wife can manually stimulate her husband to orgasm.
- The wife can be giving her husband oral sex, and conclude manually when he is about to ejaculate. (Surely you don’t think that hand jobs and oral sex were invented in the 20th century!) Remember, there were quite a few days in a year in which sexual intercourse was prohibited.
- And, just like today, a man can be alone, and masturbate to orgasm. I am sure that males in ancient Israel, especially adolescent males, were just as horney as we all were when we came physically into manhood. And they jerked off the same we do.
Whatever happened, if you had a “flow of seed” you were ceremonially unclean and had to bathe. And whatever you ejaculated onto in that moment of private pleasure needed to be washed as well. But, it is clear from this verse that a solitary moment of sexual ecstasy was no more a sin than regular sex with your wife.