Masturbation: You can’t beat it.

Fundagelicals are very uptight about sex. They believe that the only sex that is permissible is sex between heterosexual married couples. It doesn’t matter how freaky the sex is, as long as it between married heterosexuals; it’s O.K.

The Religious Right believes that Father’s and husbands control the sexual activity of their unmarried daughters and wives. Females definitely get the worse of the perverse sexual control exerted by the Fundagelical patriarchy.

However, single guys aren’t exempt either. If you were a teen guy raised Fundagelical, you might have “struggled” with masturbation. Every year at my private Christian school, we would have a sexual purity week. The boys were separated from the girls, and special speakers were invited to talk to us. I heard many talks about the evils of masturbation. There are three basic arguments why guys shouldn’t engage in the “solitary vice.”

Argument one: The story of Onan.

“Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:6-10)

In 1716, Dutch Theologian wrote a pamphlet called “Onania, or the Heinous Sin of self-Pollution, And All Its Frightful Consequences, In Both Sexes, Considered: With Spiritual and Physical Advice To Those Who Have Already Injured Themselves By This Abominable Practice.” He named masturbation after Onan and linked it to all manner of physical health problems such as disturbances of the stomach and digestion, loss of appetite or ravenous hunger, vomiting, nausea, weakening of the organs of breathing, coughing, hoarseness, paralysis, weakening of the organ of generation to the point of impotence, lack of libido, back pain, disorders of the eye and ear, total diminution of bodily powers, paleness, thinness, pimples on the face, decline of intellectual powers, loss of memory, attacks of rage, madness, idiocy, epilepsy, fever and finally suicide.

The problem with this theology is that Onan did indeed spill his seed on the ground, but he wasn’t masturbating. He was guilty of an unreliable birth control method called “coitus interruptus’ or withdrawal. That still isn’t the reason why God condemned him. He was condemned for breaking the Levirate marriage laws.

“If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.” (Deuteronomy25:5-6)

So this means the dozens of times I was told I shouldn’t masturbate because God condemns it like He condemns Onan means that my teachers should have studied harder at seminary.

Argument two: Lustful thoughts: The second argument was that when boys masturbate, they engage in lustful thinking. Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) The violation is not the arousal, but the intent to violate someone else’s marriage. That is why the term adultery and not fornication is used. In first century culture, women were the property, sexual property as well, of their husband. Jesus was correcting the Pharisees; they believed only the physical act of adultery was a property violation. Jesus pointed out that even the intent in the heart was a property violation. This wasn’t about sexual excitement but violating a fellow man’s property.

So again, the guest speakers needed a few more lessons in seminary.

Argument three: God is watching you. OK, this is just creepy. If God is watching everyone all the time, I’m guessing He has gotten used to seeing lots of sexual behavior. He can’t possibly be as disturbed by it as my guest speakers implied he was.

I got in trouble as a youth pastor because I didn’t condemn the practice of masturbation. I had several teen guys confess to me their “struggle” with masturbation, and I told them not to worry about it. The senior pastor instead of asking me my theological position on the issue or asking me my reasoning for my position insisted that this must be my personal sin and that is why I didn’t condemn it. My response was that masturbation was normal human and animal behavior and any guy that claimed he didn’t masturbate was lying. I pointed out that lying was clearly condemned in the Bible while masturbation was not clearly condemned.

The senior pastor insisted I needed to come up with an appropriate response for when I was asked about masturbation. I came up with “masturbation, you can’t beat it.” I told him that whoever asked could determine which way to interpret the statement. My creative answer was unappreciated. Oh well, what’s a beleaguered youth pastor to do?

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