How do you punish a boy caught masturbating?


I have a problem. Yesterday, I sent my son to his room because he had misbehaved. About 15 minutes later I decided to check on him to make sure he wasn't sulking. I normally knock before opening the door, but this time I just opened it. I was appalled to see him masturbating. He quickly tried to stop and cover himself, but I saw it. He knows that this is against God's law and even though I never caught him doing it. I know he has heard our pastor speak out against doing it.

My question is how to discipline him. Should I spank him for this or use another form of punishment? I know from experience he doesn’t respond well to other forms of punishment, and usually ends up being spanked.

I simply told my son to stop it immediately and we need to pray. I said that I would need some time to decide what his punishment will be. I did say that he will probably be in for the spanking of his life. He understands that I am very much against this sinfulness. I am also thinking of sending to a youth group and Wednesday services from now on because I think he needs more time spent in church.


Yes, it is usually a shock to a parent to realize that his child is growing up and becoming sexual. The occasion was not pleasant for you and I'm sure your son was wishing for a hole somewhere in which to hide.

One of my chief goals is to be scripturally accurate in what I present and recommend, so I would like you to think long and hard about this one question: based upon what passage in the Bible are you so confident that masturbation is a sin? I appreciate that you believe it to be a sin, I know you have heard your preacher speak out against it, but what passages are the foundation for your belief?

You see, I don't think punishment is called for in this particular case unless there are other things involved. I think you had, and still have, an opportunity to teach, but you are bypassing it because you don't know what exactly is wrong. A child entering the teenage years is becoming aware of the concept of right and wrong. In childhood it was sufficient to say do these things and don't do those things. But it is critical for teenagers to learn why certain things are right or wrong because you won't always be there and every situation has variations which causes a young adult to wonder is it right in these circumstances or not.

Second, teenagers tend to retain the literal mindedness of childhood while also developing the ability to reason. This means information needs to be presented in a clear, blunt fashion. There isn't a passage that states "thou shalt not play with yourself," so you need to dig deeper so you can explain what is wrong and why it is wrong.

Rather than repeat the information here, I would like you to read the following:

"Your Body" in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys
Is masturbation unacceptable?

Your son is getting older. It is time someone sat down with him and teach him about growing up, sex, and his responsibilities. It is best presented by a man from a man's point of view. I recommend the material in Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys because it was written just for this purpose. At a minimum have him read the book, and more importantly the passages cited from the Bible. If you don't have a trusted adult male who can go over the material with him, I am willing to have the discussions with him in person if you happen to be in my area or via Skype. Or, again at a minimum, have him read the material on this website and especially have him read the questions and answer sections that accompanies each chapter. If he has his own questions, he can send in an email to have it addressed.