Monday, 9 February 2015

Sinful Masturbation?

I was writing another post and the subject of female masturbation came up (it was a one-line joke) and in that post I had a female character say that female masturbation was not a sin because it was not mentioned in the Bible; and she had no seed to spill.

But this got me thinking about what the Bible says about masturbation in general rather than just female masturbation; which then lead on to what other religions had to say about the subject. This post merely looks at the subject and makes no judgement. My personal view is if you want to masturbate then go ahead. If the worse thing you do in your life is masturbate I'm pretty sure some deity won't mind.

OK let us start with the minefield that is Christianity. As usual with Christians it depends which Christian church you belong to. Instead we'll start with the Bible and then after that see how each Christian religion interpreted bits of it.

Firstly, the act of masturbation does not appear in the Bible; and as such God doesn't mention whether it is a sin or not. So the religions all make up stuff and say things like: "Well it may not mention masturbation but we can examine verses about lust, purity, and self-control."

I'm guessing, and yes it is a guess, God doesn't specifically mention masturbation because he doesn't care what you do. But mention that and someone will undoubtedly say "Just because it is not in the Bible doesn't mean there is no Godly opinion." Which is sort of true in a way. But you have to think if the Bible mentions each and every animal that you can and cannot eat individually it might just list sexual acts you can and cannot do individually too.

Some of the verses always raised in this debate are:

"But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them," (Eze 16:15-17, KJV)

"Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (Heb 13:4, KJV)

"And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also." (Gen 38:9-10, KJV)

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Mat 5:27-30, KJV)

Nothing whatsoever to do with masturbation. But as they are always used to prove that God is watching you masturbate, and will ensure you go to Hell for it, let us look at them.

The Ezekiel passage is all about prostitution. The only bit even close to masturbation, if you use your imagination, is the possibility that using gold and silver to make images of men to commit whoredom with could be seen as the first mention of a dildo. It is not. The images of men are idols; and the committing whoredom is praying to these false idols. So while you masturbate as long as you don't do it for money or in front of idols you are not doing anything wrong. So, no masturbating for Simon Cowell on Pop Idol.

The Hebrews passage. No mention of masturbation. Nothing even close to it. As long as you are not a whore or an adulterer you are good to go.

Genesis. The infamous Onan passage. But once again no mention of masturbation. The full story is that Judah, the son of Jacob, arranges a marriage for his son Er. When God kills Er Judah in his infinite wisdom decides that his other son, Onan, should have a child with his brother's widow. Onan decides that instead of giving his dead brother an heir he'd rather spill his seed on the ground. For this God kills him. First thing to notice is that God kills Onan for spilling his seed not for masturbating. Had Onan been on his own an not with a woman would God have killed him? Second thing to notice is that you really need to question whether you want to take masturbation advice from a passage that says arranged marriages are just fine and dandy.

The Matthew passage is Jesus talking about adultery and saying if you think about it then you have already committed adultery. No mention of masturbation at all. The closest you can get to tying this in with masturbation is that if you are married you can only masturbate while thinking about your spouse. And even then that is a far stretch at tying the passage into God governing masturbation. Maybe, and this is extremely unlikely, the only masturbators that should worry are those that are right-handed. But if you are right-handed and are going to worry, you have already plucked out your right eye so your vision is off somewhat and you can justify it that you thought it was your left hand.

Basically, nothing in the Bible saying "Thou shalt not masturbate". Not a thing.

The Catholic Church teaches that "Masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder". The same church that for years covered up child abuse is going to tell you not to masturbate.

The Eastern Orthodox Church says that sexuality is a gift from God that finds its fulfilment in the marital relationship, and therefore the misuse of the gift of human sexuality is sinful. Because the act of masturbation is self-directed, and by its nature is incapable of expressing love and concern for another person, it is viewed as a distortion of the use of the gift of sexuality. All those self-help people and groups that say 'You must love yourself before you can truly love others' must not be from the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that masturbation is a habit that is a "form of uncleanness", one that "fosters attitudes that can be mentally corrupting". But before you stop masturbating remember this is the same religion that also thinks birthdays, and birthday presents, are a sin too.

On the whole Christianity sees masturbation as a sin even though there is no Biblical evidence to suggest masturbation is a sin.

Hindus on the other hand (no pun intended) can masturbate. And in the Karma Sutra (a 4th Century Hindu treatise on sex) it even describes the best way to masturbate: "Churn your instrument with a lion's pounce: sit with legs stretched out at right angles to one another, propping yourself up with two hands planted on the ground between in them, and it between your arms." How you 'churn your instrument with two hands on the ground' is beyond me though.

Islam forbids masturbation except in certain circumstances. In Islam, sexual engagement outside of marriage is a major sin, which causes the doer to be punished in this life and in the afterlife. Yet if ones desire is so overwhelming one might perform a greater wrong by having sex outside marriage, masturbation becomes permissible as a necessity but in that case it will be like eating the flesh of a pig to survive from major hunger or starvation when no other food is available. Basically, if nothing else is available, such as a sexual partner, masturbation is alright. But there are rules. You can't masturbate during the daytime of Ramadan (the month of fasting) as a fasting Muslim gives up eating, drinking, and sexual desire for the sake of Allah. Since masturbation is a kind of sexual desire, a fasting Muslim must avoid it.

Judaism forbids masturbation because of what happened to Onan in the book of Genesis. According to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, "It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other in the Torah". However, Beis Shmuel expounds that this is not literal, but rather serves to frighten man into avoiding the sin. The gravest sin is masturbation? Killing, rape, and stealing all fall behind masturbation in the sinning charts? Murder, in the Old Testament, is punishable by being stoned to death; so you have to wonder what sort of punishment could be worse for the grave sin of masturbating.

In conclusion some religions allow it and some don't. So if you need to masturbate and haven't actually picked a religion then you might want to check out Hinduism. And if you are one of the other religions already, and want to masturbate, just go ahead and don't tell anyone. Think of masturbation as prayer - it is between you and your deity what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom.

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