Image Hosted by

Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

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.



Post a Comment

<< Home