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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Bits and pieces, 9/30/05

There’s been a most interesting and enlightening discussion going on at Spunky Homeschool over the past few months. First came Spunky’s very astute analysis of Debi Pearl’s book, Created to be His Helpmeet (beginning here),* which elicited a response from Mrs. Pearl herself. Then the discussion was picked up by The Old Schoolhouse magazine. The "final analysis," so to speak, can be found at this recent follow-up post of Spunky’s.

This long and protracted discussion has been quite revealing, not of proper (or improper) wifely behavior, but of people and belief – of what people believe and why, and why they say what they say and do what they do.

Not only is it crucial to examine the teachings of those who claim to teach in His name, but it is imperative that anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ be willing to openly examine their own self –- thought, heart, mind, and motive –- and be willing to let go of whatever they must in order to embrace God in truth.

*all relevant posts can be found in the sidebar under “Best of Spunky.”


From the Jamestown, NY Post-Journal,

In 1945, Robert H. Jackson, a United States Supreme Court Justice and Jamestown native became the architect and chief prosecutor for the war-crimes trials which brought to justice Nazi Germany’s most vile leaders after World War II’s close.

In commemoration of the trials which began 60 years ago, Jamestown’s Robert H. Jackson Center, SUNY Fredonia and Chautauqua Institution have teamed to present a symposium at the Athenaeum Hotel, beginning Tuesday and wrapping up on Thursday [of this week].

They’ve worked to pull together the brightest legal minds and practitioners in international criminal law.


Martin LaBar has been posting all kinds of really interesting, relevant, and thought-provoking stuff at his blog. There’s so much that I won’t try to link to every post; just go on over there and start reading :-).


William Vacchiano, former principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic orchestra and teacher extraordinaire, has passed on at age 93. Vacchiano began his performing career with the Portland, Maine symphony at age 14. He joined the NYP in 1935 after studying at Juilliard, where he went on to teach for 67 years.

Among Vacchiano’s students were Wynton Marsalis, Gerard Schwartz, and Philip Smith, current NYP principal trumpet. His teaching and playing have influenced nearly every American professional trumpeter of today.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Other Christians on autoerotism, part IIc

This is the third of a three-part piece that was originally posted in two parts. Due to the length of the original parts, I thought it advisable to break it down further for ease of reading.

part 2

In I Corinthians 6:16-17 it is written, “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, “The two will become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him (emphasis added). I bring this up to ask, does the one who masturbates join Himself to the Lord in one spirit with Him? No, not if sex is a fleshly union intended for two people in marriage. Can consciously experiencing an orgasm by one’s own hand in solitude join a person to the Lord? No –- orgasm is intended to be the culmination of the joining of husband and wife. Use of one’s hands and genitals to pleasure oneself in solitude (and it is pleasure), whether it’s mere “release” or not, cannot equate with offering the parts of one’s body to Him as instruments of righteousness; this is certainly not in Scripture.

The essay in fact opens with this Scripture quote:
1Cor 4:6 (Wey) .. in order to teach you by our example what those words mean, which say, "Nothing beyond what is written!"...
yet the essay itself is allowing, if not advocating, something clearly beyond what is written. If it’s not OK to fabricate a case against masturbation, then it’s not OK to fabricate a case for it either. Say the authors,

The Scripture is strangely silent about this universal issue, while not shy about all sorts of other sexual situations and great detail concerning sex with animals, etc. Yet the bible says nothing about masturbation. This is odd, don't you think?

As we’ve seen, the Scripture is not explicit about this issue, yet it is also not “strangely silent.” Whether the term “sexual immorality” refers only to sex with another person outside of marriage or is inclusive of masturbation is not clear. However, as masturbation is nowhere mentioned in Scripture as being legitimate, and as there are several clear statements illustrating sex as being for marriage and the spouse, I think it’s a stretch to say that masturbation can be legitimate.

On the issue of thought life, I believe that it is possible to have sexual thoughts that are not sinful. Perhaps I’m making the opposite case from the article: it’s never possible to masturbate sinlessly, but it is possible to have sexual thoughts and not sin. These thoughts are to be distinguished from fantasy, however. Sexual thoughts are part of a person’s natural, God-given sexuality and are part of self-knowledge. Their purpose? To prepare one for spousal union and be realized therein. Note, though, that this self-knowledge will be much, much different for the young, non-masturbating person than for the married person. If a young person awakens his/her sexuality through masturbation and thus gains sexual self-knowledge, then he/she opens up whole vistas of discovery and possibility that will cry for fulfillment. Such a young person will find it much more difficult to hold out for marriage and refrain from further masturbation. Once married, though, this awakened and developed sexuality can be given to and be satisfied within the marriage.

In other words, it’s what the thoughts and awareness that are part of one’s given sexuality lead to that matters. Does one keep these thoughts in the holding tank, as it were, or allow them to go where they shouldn’t go, developing them way too early or otherwise expressing them inappropriately?

Why should keeping one’s thoughts sequestered even matter? So that one may keep one’s sexual thoughts completely trained toward and involved with the spouse. If one has part of one’s sexuality, thought-wise, invested elsewhere, can one truly give one’s full sexuality to one’s spouse? Ditto if one gives sexual release to oneself in solitude. It cheats the spouse (present or future) out of part of one’s total sexuality – thought/emotional life included – if part of it is invested elsewhere, or has been developed prematurely. If one’s sexuality is not completely invested in the spouse, then the marriage is not as close as it could be – ought to be – and this will no doubt show up in other areas of the marriage as well. Thus it will also affect the entire family (children) in ways perhaps subtle, or perhaps not. Masturbation is a compromise of one’s sexuality and one’s marriage.

Final note: I want to make clear that I am not callous or insensitive to the difficulties inherent in dealing with sexual urges. I’m human too, you know. These difficulties are also acknowledged and addressed in Scripture. Nevertheless, the arguments in favor of masturbation as presented in the above-discussed essay strike me as a variation on the “devil made me do it” theme, only, in this case, it’s “God made me do it,” since God gave us sexuality. Which leads to “God made me do it, and therefore it’s not wrong.” To that I would say that God has given us an appropriate outlet for our God-given sexuality, which is marriage. (I Corinthians 7:2)

What of the young person for whom marriage is a long way off? Well, that’s a problem, and one I can’t get into here; I think that the delay of marriage in our culture is probably in general not a good thing. Of course there are also all kinds of problems that may prevent a person from experiencing sexual gratification within marriage. Life can be hard, no question. Yet I believe that the solution can be found by walking in faith (if also in pain) with God, day to day. Otherwise, there’s really no need for God, is there? What need is there to trust and depend on Him if we can just take care of our needs, and our problems, ourselves?

*deep breath* OK, I think I’m about done writing on this topic...

(To anyone who's read this whole thing, congratulations! and thanks :-) )

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Other Christians on autoerotism, part IIb

This is the second of a three-part piece that was originally posted in two parts. Due to the length of the original parts, I thought it advisable to break it down further for ease of reading.

part 1

Romans 14:3 enjoins: “Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.” Though I do not believe that masturbation can be substituted for eating in this passage, I am not saying that the person who believes masturbation to be wrong ought to condemn or judge a person who disagrees, or vice-versa. That is God’s domain. I am merely looking at the thing itself: whether masturbation can be legitimate or not.

To give credit where it’s due, the essay does mention the connection between masturbation and thought life and suggests that most of the time such a connection is present, which therefore rules out masturbation as an option most of the time. It also refers to the fact that the way of faith must involve suffering:
Think about the radical nature of the spiritual dynamic of what is being explained here. If you are really the recipient of the HOLY Spirit, then this means PAIN in a physical body that lives in this carnal world. If you get this right in your attitude, God says you will be "done with sin". Awesome, eh?
The problem is that we want relief, and sin is the way. But if we agree in advance that the way of the faith must inevitably involve suffering, then we are truly living the gospel and have transferred out of the power of evil and into God's will.

Strangely, though (ignoring the problems in those two paragraphs for the moment), those paragraphs are followed by this (my comment inserted):

And masturbation, never forbidden by God [yet never condoned either], can be used as one of the ways that we can "learn to control our bodies"; not by inflaming the body with pornography or fantasies so that it can be done too often, but in using it to keep ourselves from dangerous, physical temptation when it can (rarely) be done without sinning in any way.

I’m presuming that the authors are suggesting that masturbation helps one “learn to control one’s body” (a reference to 1Thessalonians 4:2-8) by helping one avoid illicit sex with another person and avoid illicit fantasies, but I don’t believe this is the kind of control that the passage is referring to. I Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” (emphasis added) Control of the body is not mentioned, but abstention from sexual immorality is. Is masturbation itself an abstention from sexual immorality? Is it an abstention at all? Or does it represent a lack of control of the body via indulging its sexual urges for the benefit of the self only? Scripture certainly does not suggest masturbation as an option for avoiding sexual sin; it offers abstention and marriage.

What’s interesting about the authors’ statement is the fact that, earlier in the essay, the case is made that masturbation helps one control one’s thought life. So here we have a statement saying that it helps control one’s body too. Is it one, or the other, or both? Regardless, the statements are dubious, if not fallacious. In reference to thought life, fantasies are most likely going to pop up anyway, regardless of whether one masturbates or not. The way to deal with them is to turn away from them and think on something else (Philippians 4:8).

Say the authors, (with my commentary inserted):
Commit yourself to a certain amount of pain [but not too much], and commit yourself not to sin in thought, and I think you will find that masturbation cannot be done that often, but when it is needed it is a true blessing as a way to keep your body under control. We should not indulge our bodies [then that rules out masturbation], but we should "honor" them and learn to live in them properly in this sinful world [which means honoring their moral purpose and living this purpose]. For singles, God has given the ability to masturbate, and has not forbidden it [God has given the ability to commit all kinds of sin; He certainly hasn’t condoned masturbation either]. For married couples who are apart and who are thinking of each other, the same applies [ditto]. But God has most definitely forbidden sinful thoughts that so often accompany masturbation, and for this we all need to die to self and commit ourselves to the fact that living holy in this world will involve pain.

Amazingly enough, the article goes on to include this quote from Romans:

Ro 6:13 (NIV) Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

It seems that the authors are saying that masturbation involves a way to avoid sexual sin so as to offer the parts of one’s body to Him as instruments of righteousness, but again, this seems to me to be sinning in order to avoid another sin. Substitution of one sin for another does not constitute avoidance of sin. This is true worldly compromise – are not many sins of this kind? It’s also questionable whether masturbation truly prevents fornication or adultery.


Other Christians on autoerotism, part IIa

This is the first of a three-part piece that was originally posted in two parts. Due to the length of the original parts, I thought it advisable to break it down further for ease of reading.

Note: I have edited this piece in order to change my manner of speech in some places. I came to the realization that it might not be taken as intended; i.e., to lighten up the read. I’d like for my arguments to stand or fall strictly on their own merits and not be distracted from (or otherwise detracted from) by any other elements.

I found an online essay which states that masturbation may be advisable in limited circumstances. The essay, titled “ Masturbation: A Sin for Christians?” suggests that since there is no place in Scripture where masturbation is even mentioned, much less forbidden, and since it is a very common human experience, it must not be altogether wrong. There’s logical fallacy in those statements, however, which I will address in this post. The author(s) (Dean and Laura VanDruff) suggest that masturbation may even be a gift from God to keep someone from sinning; i.e., they make a case similar to Neil’s in the comment section here. The argument is that if a person’s body requires it, then it’s a blessing, a “rote act of keeping the body in submission” that enables a person to avoid a “pent-up” self-sex life.

However, if the body truly “required” masturbation, then there would be no such thing as nocturnal emission, or spontaneous orgasm in women. Secondly, as I said in this post, and despite what some have said, masturbation to relieve sexual pressure cannot be a “rote act” unless one is so out-of-it that one has no sensation. (Is there such thing as a numb orgasm?) The authors state that masturbation without accompanying fantasies is “hardly exciting,” and it may not be, but I’m sure it feels quite good in a very specific, i.e. sexual, way.

I wonder if there is reliable evidence that sex hormones affect the body separately from the mind, and vice-versa. One may focus on one or the other, but surely the two are very closely related. Even if one tries not to fantasize, one is certainly cognizant of the physical sensations of masturbation, which involve the mind and surely emotion as well. Can a person truly have a burning physical desire concurrent with mental disinterest? If the whole rationale for masturbation is that the desire/urge becomes unbearable, and hormones affect the mind and emotions as well as the body, then there must be more that’s unbearable than merely the physical urge.

Otherwise, imagine what this sort of “separated” sexuality would do for a marriage: “Honey, we gotta do it; I’m feelin’ the pressure!” Somehow I don't think this would excite a wife. Even Neil admits that his “pressure” was accompanied by mental activity in the form of explicit dreams. (Sorry, Neil!)

The relevant quote from the essay:
On the other hand, if we attempt a pent-up self-sex life, then we find that the body needs help from the soul through illicit fantasies, and then sin is clearly being committed.

What exactly is meant by a “pent-up self-sex life,” the article doesn’t say. Perhaps it means that a lack of masturbation leads to pent-up sexuality. Scripture does not address pent-up sexuality, however, except to recommend marriage. (I Corinthians 7:9)

To say that if physical sexual pressure is not relieved, then the soul must introduce fantasies in order to compel a person to masturbate is a dubious statement indeed. As I’ve already pointed out, the body can take care of this pressure via spontaneous orgasm. Illicit fantasies surely do not arise for such altruistic reasons as “helping the body.”

That God allows masturbation to even work is a mystery (ever try tickling yourself?) and so it is reasonable to assume that it is a "gift" to keep ourselves from temptation.

Sex organs don’t work the same way that the tickling reflex does. (Spare me the stories of how you were tickled to orgasm...)

It seems to me that masturbation is part of the temptation.

So people might come to different conclusions concerning masturbation, and that is anticipated within our faith. Each man must live in holiness before the Lord in his/her own body, and this might mean different disciplines and personal leading in each case. What works for me or you... we should not impose on anybody else as a stumbling block.

Rom 14:12-13 (NIV) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother's way.

I believe that Scripture is being misapplied here. Chapter 14 in Romans begins thus: “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike...he who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God [same for him who does not eat]. The passage concerns things which are not unlawful. Since it is not explicitly clear in Scripture whether or not masturbation is lawful (although some say that the term “sexual immorality” is inclusive of masturbation), I do not think that this passage can be applied to masturbation.

Masturbation is not about observances or food or any other external thing; it is an act committed by a person with their own body and mind (I Corinthians 6:12-13). It is a function of something (sexuality) that’s part of the self, not outside of the self, given by God for a proper use, which lies outside of the self and only with the self in conjunction with a spouse. Sexuality can be used improperly, as stated in Hebrews 13:4, Proverbs 5:15-19, and I Corinthians 12-20. While Romans 14 does not suggest that any foods in and of themselves are unlawful, it is clear that food itself can be misused (Proverbs 23:21). No one day is more important than another, but the way those days are used can be constructive or not (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I’ve no doubt that masturbation can be done in thanks to God; in fact, just about anything can, whether improper or not. A person might thank God for the purse he just snatched. That sort of thanks surely grieves God, and not just for His own sake.

The authors also imply that by suggesting masturbation is a problem, one might impose a stumbling block upon someone (or is it, by suggesting that masturbation isn’t always a problem, one might impose a stumbling block?) By this logic, though, suggesting to someone that stealing is a problem might be a stumbling block too. Yes, stealing is explicitly spoken against in Scripture, and masturbation is not; yet the purpose of sex is spelled out in Scripture, and it doesn’t include masturbation.

To put a stumbling block in someone’s way is not to “impose” on someone, it’s to create an unnecessary moral burden, or problem of conscience, for that person. (Perhaps there’s a Freudian slip in the authors’ use of the word “impose.”) No doubt the authors are suggesting that to say that masturbation is always wrong is to create an unnecessary moral burden for some, but their supplied proofs do not prove it.

Bottom line: the essay is misleading.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Other Christians on autoerotism, part I

It appears that there has been more written by Christians on the subject of autoerotism (that’s masturbation, for those of you in Rio Linda) than I thought. Funny thing is, I discovered this inadvertently. (Meaning, I didn’t go looking via google searches, etc.)

Tim Challies has written a wonderful two-part essay; it’s posted both at his blog and at WorldMag Blog. He treats the issue in much the same way I do and in more detail/depth.

I also found this lengthy treatise, The Bible and Masturbation. (Thanks, sitemeter) It’s a great source for references and links to Christian writing on the subject. It even contains some C. S. Lewis quotes.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Your cause be mine, great Lord divine

We sang this hymn in church yesterday. I commend it to you:

1. Your cause be mine, great Lord divine,
Your aim be my ambition:
For wasted is my greatest strength
Unless it find expression
In love that gives itself away,
In life responsive to obey
The terms of your commission.

2. Your cause be mine, great Lord divine,
This be my life’s vocation:
To seek the prize when life is done –
Your loving approbation.
Diminish pride, increase my love,
O may your Spirit now remove
All selfish motivation.

3. Your cause be mine, great Lord divine,
The world’s emancipation:
To let your light invade the dark
In every situation,
To prove you in a thousand ways,
To serve you well with zeal ablaze
Thru life’s unknown duration.


Bryan Jeffery Leech, 1931 -
A. Royce Eckhardt, 1937 -

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bits and pieces, 9/25/05

Hot? Or not?

Rich Lowry has written a dead-on op-ed review of Ariel Levy’s book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (the “pornification of feminism"). I found it in the local newspaper but it’s online at National Review Online. Some great quotes:
No lustful man would’ve looked at Gloria Steinem in the 1970s and thought, “She is going to help fulfill my most absurd voyeuristic fantasies."

We live in a world seemingly designed to gratify the teenage boy in the movie Animal House who is looking at a copy of Playboy when miraculously a cheerleader is thrown through his window and onto his bed. “Thank you, God!” he exclaims.

Among the forces supporting this pornified culture that gleefully objectifies women, according to Levy, is women...“Raunch culture is not essentially progressive,” Levy writes, “it is essentially commercial.”

This, ladies, is the scam! You may think that your provocative appearance is giving you real power and value, but in truth you are being duped into making yourself a mere commodity for consumption, an object for possession. The joke is on you! Don’t fall for it!

“As long as the feminist left associates sexual restraint with outdated prudery, there won’t be any pressure for change from that quarter, either. So Levy cries in the wilderness, while all around her lascivious men ogle the movable bimbonic feast of American culture and lift their voices to the heavens: “Thank you, God.”

(Is that a bacchanale I hear playing in the background?)


It’s apple harvest time

Today my family and I went to the annual Busti Apple Festival held by the Busti (pronounced “bust-eye”) Historical Society. Not only were there plenty of apples, cider, and other local products available as well as items at an endless line of craft booths, there were historic displays of life in earlier times and the days of the original Busti Gristmill, which is now a museum. As I am currently reading Eric Sloane’s Diary of an Early American Boy with my son, these displays were timely for us. One of the exhibitors is a gunsmith who told us he had been inspired by Sloane’s books as a youth.

On display in the museum was a brass/bronze button from the coat given to Chief Cornplanter as a gift at George Washington’s inauguration in New York City. The man attending the display, who was the discoverer of the button, wouldn’t tell me where he found it. He told me that only five people -- elder Indian women -- know where Cornplanter is actually buried. (It’s somewhere in the Kinzua area of PA).


Buttered up

Said to my three-year-old daughter: “Oh, no, don’t eat the butter, Honey.”

My daughter: “I didn’t eat the butter –- I just swallowed it.”

Saturday, September 24, 2005

angle up Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

cacophony Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

blue view Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bits and pieces, 9/20/05

mum’s the word

Jeff Clinton posted his Conversation With A Cell Biologist About Evolution a couple weeks ago and sparked quite a discussion in the comment thread. Also of interest is his follow-up.


do you mean that literally?

This is old news, but the debate is still current: Matt Powell takes issue with Joe Carter for his statements about Biblical interpretation and scientific knowledge. Rusty Lopez takes on (in the comment section) Matt’s allegations that old-earth creationism “carries water for deists and atheists.”


who was left behind?

And why? Terry Mattingly at GetReligion mentions some factors perhaps forgotten in Katrina’s aftermath.


pay attention, now

Only three weeks ‘til the GodBlogCon, to be held at Biola University in LaMirada, CA October 13th-15th. As part of the pre-psych, there are some new posts up at the GodBlogCon blog, one on the history of blogging and another on “blogging ADD". I had to stop & think about that one.


something to chew on

Christianity Today online offers a review by Lauren F. Winner, Fit or Fat, for your consumption. In Born Again Bodies, Princeton University's R. Marie Griffith speaks out against the “gospel of slimness.” Griffith “calls for American Christians to do better than absorbing and parroting our surrounding society's obsession with slimness. It is one thing for the church to encourage healthy living. It is quite another for the church to have uncritically embraced the idol of slimness.”

In Don't Eat This Book, Morgan Spurlock follows-up on his film, Super Size Me, a McDocumentary of the McMonth during which he ate nothing but McDonald’s food (ugh, I think I'd rather starve). Spurlock adds up the real cost of obesity, including figures guesstimating the amount of extra CO2 put into the atmosphere by jet engines working hard to propel overweight folks through the air.

What I appreciate most about Winner’s review is that it rightly notes both extremes of eating habits/choices as being problems both individual and societal: “...our choices are conditioned by the available options, by social expectations, and by market forces.” This is true in many areas of our lives, not just the gastronomic ones.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

White elephant

Posted by Picasa

The location pictured here is definitely not a white elephant, but what else was I going to call this photo??

Friday, September 16, 2005

Solitary sex: a follow-up

In the wake of my first post on the subject of autoerotism, I've been collecting additional thoughts. Yesterday morning, a Breakpoint commentary by Mark Earley titled Moral Sexuality in a Morally Neutral World appeared in my inbox. Earley speaks of Jennifer Roback Morse’s new book, Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World. Both Earley’s and Morse’s thoughts relate closely to my thoughts on autoerotism.

Before I share them, allow me to explain my use of the term “autoerotism.” 1) The term is precise and descriptive; it draws attention to the two most important elements of masturbation: a) it’s about the self, and b) it involves more than mere physical reflex; it is, in truth, eroticism. In fact, it may not involve any physical action at all. 2) It is a term that will perhaps cause a person to think twice and to identify what is spelled out in (1), hopefully free (or at least temporarily so) of some of the associations that might immediately be conjured by the word “masturbation.” 3) The term is not, as some may suppose, styptically academic. It was coined by none other than Havelock Ellis, an early proponent of sexual liberation.

Says Earley, speaking of Morse:

She deals with concepts like “reproductive freedom,” “recreational sex,” and “consumer sex,” and shows how they’re not only morally bankrupt, but also anti-social.
Morse explains that the problem with these views of sex is that they focus on the individual.”

I’d like to suggest that autoerotism focuses on the individual allowing or performing it. It is a thought/act resulting from an inwardly-focused view of sex, at least in that particular instance. Yes of course this is self-evident, but I call attention to it to show that this is antithetical to the proper use of sex as a marital sacrament.

As Morse puts it, “When we engage in consumer sex, we do not fully consider the impact of our actions upon others. Consumer sex is focused inward, on personal pleasure, not on the building up of the community of the family.”

I would put masturbation/autoerotism in the category of both “recreational-" and “consumer sex.” No doubt the person who engages in masturbation does not fully consider the impact of his/her actions upon others, or else does not consider it to be problematic.

I’m aware of the practice of masturbating (by a male) prior to coitus so as to have better relations with his wife. Such an individual would claim that this is done for the sake of his wife, and that the focus of such masturbation is to build up community with his wife. Without going into detail, or claiming to be Dr. Ruth, I would offer that the problem such a man is wishing to alleviate can be addressed in other ways that directly involve his wife.

I’m also aware that there are women who claim to be better at sex and to enjoy it more because of self-discovery as a result of masturbation. This view, however, substitutes knowledge and “achievement” for relationship itself – the sharing, mutual discovery and mutual “achievement” (if it must be called that) that characterizes a healthy marital sexual relationship.

In short, the sexual revolution taught us to think of our sex lives as our own property and our own business, and nobody else’s, even though other people are obviously involved. To use sex this way is to treat it as the opposite of what it was meant to be: a destroyer of relationships rather than something that builds them. (emphasis added)

While I do not claim that masturbation is necessarily a destroyer of relationships, I suggest that its practice is part of a mentality that does destroy relationships. At any rate, I am not convinced that its practice can possibly build up a relationship, or even not detract from it if, as detailed in the first post, sex is solely for the spouse.

“So what,” someone might say. “I have a great relationship with my spouse, including the intimate aspects. Masturbation in no way interferes with that.” Well, he/she may say that, but that doesn't make it true. How can someone truly know that masturbation does not detract from a marital relationship? It seems self-evident that something given to the self or indulged in solitarily is not given to someone else. The fullness, the completeness (speaking in terms of what’s healthy, and I know that’s another can of worms, but please bear with me) of one’s sexuality is to be given to the spouse. To do otherwise is to deny two-becoming-one.

I don’t see personal privacy coming into play here, as it does for many aspects of marriage and personhood. In other words, saying that “what I do sexually in private has nothing to do with anyone else, my spouse included” is not a true statement, as per the quote above. Nor do I see mutual consent as being relevant either. (Meaning a couple mutually agreeing that they’re OK with each other’s solitary masturbation.) The buck stops at the deontology of sex.

Speaking to Christians: clearly, a redeemed view of sexuality starts with the self. Unless one develops the view that sexuality does not belong to the self, one’s view isn’t essentially different than a view whose expression involves sex with an individual or individuals others than one’s spouse, even if one limits one’s practice of mutual sex to one’s spouse. I know many may disagree, but it’s a matter of degree, I believe, not of essence. Adultery begins in the heart/mind. And of course, one can be monogamous yet merely use one’s spouse for one’s own gratification in a selfish way. In other words, the object is still, as with autoerotism, one’s own gratification. If a Christian is monogamous yet holds a self-directed view of sex, then his/her limiting of sex to the spouse is, in actuality, a form of legalism. At its root – in the heart/mind – the sexuality of such a monogamous person has not been (fully) redeemed.

There are many Christians who rightly state that the goal of the Christian life is sanctification, and it seems that sanctification is an oft-forgotten point among evangelicals. In a mindset in which sex is made an idol, it may actually be viewed as a rite of sanctification (as opposed to sacrament when used properly). But this of course is a lie – a grave misunderstanding of sanctification. I fear that such idolatry can occupy a Christian’s mindset quite easily, especially if said individual practices autoerotism. “Be ye renewed by the transforming of your mind...” Romans 12:2

Endnote: I apologize for the frankness of this post. I consider myself a modest person and honestly am not comfortable writing much of what I’m writing here. So why am I doing it? Because I think it needs to be done. I don’t know that anyone else is doing so substantially. It seems as though the pen has been put in my hand, so to speak.

(And to those of you who think modesty is for prudes, I have this to say: showing off in virtually any other area is considered crass. What is the point of publicizing something that ought to be private? (I don’t mean the topics themselves, I mean personal attitudes or specifics.) Do you really think that your not being privy to something by means of someone else “showing” it to you means that it doesn’t exist? Please, don’t flatter yourself. And don’t flatter yourself into thinking that your own blustering means you’re too sexy for your comment, or your blog, or whatever.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The crickets are singing...

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

(from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, Chapter XV)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005


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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Don't leave without me

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hosta study #2

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

My latest at Intellectuelle

I invite you to peruse my two most recent offerings at Intellectuelle:

Deontology and consequentialism in Christian argument


Iconoclasm, Part I: A house of cards

Feel free to browse the other great posts while you're there :-)

White hosta flowers

For some reason, these flowers made me think of the hurricane victims, so I dedicate these photos to them.

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I like the way this one looks as though it's reaching; being in the shade gives it a subdued look.

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At a time when the nights are getting cool, the apples are falling from the trees, the pumpkins are ripening in the fields, and the sunflower heads are bowing with the weight of seeds, I am cheered by these late-season hostas. Their lush foliage is still strong and green; their flower spikes laden with delicate yet splendid pure-white flowers that exude a rich, honeysuckle-like scent.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spiral staircase

The place where we stayed on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution this summer has a spiral staircase. At the top is a plexiglass “bubble” which, when opened, provides access to the roof.

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One day upon the roof, we got a surprise visit from E.T. (he asked to use the phone)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Grandma's window

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Let's hear it for the Calvary

I have been listening to news reports and reading blog posts and emails regarding the situation in New Orleans (and surrounding areas), and all I can say is that I am sickened, saddened, and encouraged all at the same time. The awful things – what can one say. Would that the hurricane hadn’t hit. Would that the city had been better prepared. Would that help could’ve been rallied sooner. Would that so much suffering and death could’ve been averted. But I am encouraged that relief efforts of all kinds are being made, including those of people who are putting themselves in harm’s way. Thousands of troops are on hand. Major relief organizations are doing their part. Our church denomination’s world relief department is collecting funds for on-the-scene aid. A local freight company is collecting donations of bottled water, non-perishable foods, and other simple provisions. To name a few.

I am encouraged that many are turning their energies to prayer and the offering of whatever tangible aid they can rather than playing the blame game. Not that error should not be noted, or that effort should not be put into correction and other improvements so as to avoid future tragedies of a similar nature, but blame itself is non-productive, if not counter-productive.

There was a fabulous typo at the top of the front page of Saturday’s local newspaper, announcing the arrival-in-force of troops in New Orleans: The Calvary Arrives.

Would that people can find Jesus in all of this.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Butterfly heaven

Spent the day at the family homestead/farm today. The gardens were covered with butterflies.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bits & Pieces/Update, 9/01/05

Join me in prayer for the appallingly large number of people so profoundly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Offer tangible aid if you can.

Remember not to take things like family members, pets, housing, clothing, food, cars, and indoor plumbing for granted.


The GodBlogCon 2005 is six weeks away. Things are pretty quiet lately on the GodBlogCon front but I’m told that it is still going to happen and still intended to be a national event. The stated purpose of theGodBlogCon is “to establish and cultivate relationships within the Christian blogging community and to provide opportunities for Christian bloggers to think about their role within the broader blogging world.

Publicity is planned for the upcoming weeks but I am concerned that such late notice won’t give folks enough lead time to make arrangements to attend. Please help promote the GodBlogCon on your blog if you are so inclined, and don’t forget to check the GodBlogCon prayer blog. Then, go to the GBC to hear some great discussion and meet other Christian bloggers!


Douglas LeBlanc writes an intriguing commentary at GetReligion about an article in The New Yorker that features Hugh Hewitt, the "Most Famous Conservative Journalist Whom Liberals Have Never Heard Of." LeBlanc points out bits that pertain to the matter of full religious/political disclosure, or lack thereof, by Hewitt and journalists in general.


Check out my post on deontology and consequentialism at Intellectuelle, including the comments. I’m still trying to work out all of the implications of these two terms and how they relate to Christian thought and apologetics. I probably will be for awhile. My brain is kinda cramped, given that


I’ve also been involved in a discussion at Hugo Schwyzer’s blog that has spun off from my “autoerotism” post and his comments on same. Here is another post in which he adds further thoughts.

I really enjoy involved discussion but man, it’s tiring. Especially when life is tiring too. Not to mention that my computer screen just up & decided to change its display format so that font size and the way text fits on the screen are all messed up. It's driving me nuts, and I have no idea how to fix it. *sigh*

I need to do something mindless for a change, not to mention get a good night’s sleep. So goodnight (and thanks for reading!)