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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.



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