3/20/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsAn Essay by P.D ~
With contributions by Tanya Simmonds ~
When I was 16, I was an impressionable, credulous teenager who was lonely. I was taken in by a Church near to my home who introduced me to the Bible and to Jesus. They taught me the doctrine of Hell, and the idea that if I became born again, I would be saved from it. A sign that I was reborn, I was told, was that I would no longer feel the need to masturbate.
By now, my hormones were raging. I would pray, in my terror of Hell, that Jesus would deliver me from masturbation, but the urges persisted with a vengeance. I attempted to suppress those urges with pain by mutilating my arms with a razor blade, but it was futile. I lost sleep at night thinking that if the urges were still there, that meant I wasn’t ‘born again’ and so I was bound for Hell. I wanted to commit suicide but was afraid of doing so for fear of going straight to a place of eternal torture. I petitioned God to reach back in time and prevent me from ever being conceived so that I would never have existed in the first place.
Ultimately, I suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 17.
I seek to educate people about the truth of this insidious doctrine and appeal to Christian ministries around the world to cease and desist promoting this cruelty. It is my learned and experienced opinion that this teaching is evil, primitive, sadistic, opportunistic, predatory and without any merit whatsoever. When inflicted upon impressionable adolescents, I believe that it quite possibly qualifies for child abuse.
This argument is a matter of reason and compassion. My wife is a qualified academic theologian (B (th)(hons)) and we ask the reader to consider our words in the context of his/her personal freedom and the threat that this teaching poses to our democracy.
What Causes Masturbation?
Masturbation is caused by a series of hormones known as androgens. An adolescent will begin to masturbate often before he/she even knows what masturbation is. The hormones are secreted into the blood at puberty and suddenly the urge strikes – overwhelmingly. It happens for a reason. Humans are genetically hard-wired for orgasm, which is how human life continues.
Repression of masturbation (or sex) indefinitely will also result in detrimental health issues. Studies show that abstinence can result in increased stress (climax lowers stress and blood pressure) which leads to heart disease – the world’s greatest killer! Orgasm has been shown to boost immune system function (Human Reproduction, Vol 12, 2200-2207, Oxford University Press) and is highly effective in the treatment of migraines and the alleviation of menstrual cramps.
A study in 2004 to show a causal link between frequent ejaculation and prostate cancer indicated that male orgasms of five times per week or more actually reduced the risk (Leitzmann MF, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA. 2004 Apr 7:291 (13): 1578-86.) This had also been affirmed in studies by Professor Graham Giles of the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia in 2003.
Masturbation also facilitates the release of the hormones serotonin and dopamine, thereby assisting in the alleviation of depression. (F.C. Denison, V.E. Grant, A.A. Calder, and R. W. Kelly Seminal plasma components stimulate interleukin-8 and interleukin-10 release. Mol Hum. Reprod., March 1, 1999; 5(3): 220-226.)
A 1997 study at the Queens University in Belfast (among others) concluded that regular orgasms can significantly increase longevity.
For these reasons, nature gives us this overwhelming urge – one that is so powerful, it is almost never conquered even by the most zealous of Christians. Pornography will aggravate it, of that there is no doubt – however, it is not the root cause of it. Masturbation is purely biological in nature.
The anti-masturbation doctrine rarely ever results in anything other than the torment of innocent people, unwarranted guilt and hadephobia (the fear of Hell) and extremely busy psychiatrists. Guilt can arise from masturbation, but this is largely the result of the religious influences on our culture. The Bible has an effect on the views and feelings of all Western people, even on the most secular. Guilt over masturbation is not natural – it is acquired. One of the more famous cases of this is that of Kip Eliason, a 16 year old, deeply committed Mormon follower. Under the strict, anti-masturbation doctrines of his church, he found himself unable to resist the pressures imposed upon his body by his hormones. Filled with self-hatred over his ‘weakness,’ he took his own life on March 2nd, 1982. This is a true case of mind-control leading to self-torture, and the death of an innocent child.
The body is biologically conditioned to respond to self-stimulation. It is an inherent instinct. As a mere action, it has been shown on ultrasound that foetuses masturbate in the womb. THAT is how natural this is! After puberty, it becomes a matter of need.
Indeed, sex is a relational experience – as eating can be. To say that orgasm absolutely must only be shared with a partner can be likened to saying that a person shouldn’t eat unless they have someone to dine with.
One of the Christian arguments is that a person cannot become intimate with another if they masturbate. This is an absurdity. That would make 99.9999% of the human population sexually dysfunctional and yet we now live in a world of unprecedented overpopulation.
Prima Facie, it is difficult to imagine why an individual would attempt to pressure others into torturing themselves in such a cruel way. It is bewildering how the suggestion that teens and single people should abstain from masturbation isn’t viewed as a contender for the single most sadistic doctrine in history. It is to deny any form of sexual outlet to those who need it the most: to those whose androgen levels are 20 times normal, and to those who are lonely; to literally sentence them to a torment where they should strive to turn their own bodies into instruments of hormonal torture.
If masturbation (in males) is abstained from for long enough (around 30 days – after the necrotic cells have had time to release carcinogenic toxins around the prostate gland) it will be expelled in the night to the accompaniment of an involuntary erotic dream. Ejaculation is a bio-cerebral connection. This is how sexuality works, which is why people are drawn to sexual imagery.
It isn’t a ‘sin.’
A Question of Compassion
Understanding how the Christian God could give life to a species independent of its own request, shape it in such a way and then throw all of the rules in opposition to that design, under the threat of Hellfire to any who dare to disagree is a troublesome question – especially when He is described as a God of love, compassion and great kindness.
Matthew 5:28 (committing adultery by looking at a woman with a desire to possess her) is often quoted as the endorsement of criminalizing sexual thoughts, but in its historical context, it is actually a re-iteration of the tenth commandment – do not covet your neighbour’s property (his wife, included among land, oxen, ass, maid-servant, slave and any other chattel.) The word ‘lustfully’ as it appears in Matthew 5:28 is actually a fraudulent mistranslation from the original Greek. The passage is actually referring to ancient Jewish proprietary rights and the objectification of women, and has no relevance to twenty-first century teenagers masturbating to pornography.
In our civilization, we no longer view women as property, just as we don’t accept slavery as moral (as Jesus apparently did: Colossians 3:22.) It is also worth remembering that during biblical times, men married at an age considerably below today’s age of consent. It is arguably unconscionable for a person, (especially one who is married,) to suggest that single people must have no sexual outlet whatsoever and suffer it indefinitely, until they marry, which today can often be into their thirties, if at all.
No one person is guaranteed a partner. Such unions are the result of chance and can depend on many factors: financial, an individual’s self-confidence and in some cases, whether or not someone finds them attractive enough to marry. However, the libido is guaranteed and it will show single people absolutely no mercy! Relief is solely in their own hands – until religion pressures them into torturously abstaining.
It is also worth considering that Jesus went on to recommend castration in Matthew 19:12. Despite apologists attempts to retranslate this to mean simply ‘permanent celibacy’ (which is even crueller) the exact translation from the original Greek shows that the word ‘eunuch’ is clear and unambiguous. According to Eusebius, a man who was instrumental in the compilation of the New Testament, the early church scribe Origen of Alexandria, around the year 220 AD, took Matt: 19:12 literally and set about his own groin with a sharpened blade in response to what he read.
So how far is the fundamentalist Christian right prepared to take this? And once again – why? The history of the Catholic Church and its extra-curricular activities provides a good indication of what this particular brand of chastity-sado-masochism can lead to.
Masturbation can become compulsive for some, of that there is no doubt. However, these people are not common if they are taken as a percentage of the overall populace. Similarly, there are people who eat compulsively to the extent that they suffer obesity, high blood pressure and ultimately, an early death. It doesn’t follow that the remainder of the populace must embrace a policy of starvation. The more zealous Christians go as far as to suggest that all pleasant-tasting food should be avoided. St. Paul’s doctrine on people not ‘being mastered’ by their own bodies can lead to extremism as has been shown throughout the history of the church with practises such as self-flagellation. Most are mastered by food to varying degrees, yet some have clearly managed to overcome it, as shown on fashion catwalks around the world. But is it healthy? As aforementioned, there are serious health risks associated with overcoming masturbation also.
Despite the Christian claim that orgasm is for marriage only, it is worth remembering that St. Paul, the founder of Christianity as it is today, suggested that he wished for all people to remain unmarried as he was, going on to cite marriage as the refuge of those who were spiritually weaker. (1 Corinthians 7: 7-9.)
No one would even be able to debate this issue if Paul had had his wish.
He also repeatedly preached that people should flee all sexual desire and ‘deaden their bodily members to their passions’ (Colossians 3:5). It could be argued that these passages are encouragements of global genocide.
It should also be taken into account that when Paul said: ‘Take a wife, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion,’ a woman’s consent to being ‘taken’ was not considered to be a factor in Middle-Eastern culture.
For the most part, it still isn’t.
If Christians decide that they once had a problem with excessive masturbation, they have a tendency to inflict their policy of total abstinence on all others, where the idea that anybody can be different from them is unimaginable. They argue that they are only acting in the best interests of the people, but therein lies the dark side of the agenda. If the people unrepentantly refuse to comply, the Christian God will send them to Hell for not acting in their (hypothetical) best interests. Christians have always failed to explain how torturing somebody in fire eternally is in their best interests, which is surprising given that hypocrisy seems to have been the source of Jesus’ ultimate rage.
Given the malevolent nature of this God, it is difficult to comprehend why any person, other than an unimaginably extreme form of masochist, would wish to spend eternity with him.
Assuming, hypothetically, that masturbation had no biological function or health benefits, that it was purely a pleasure for the sake of pleasure; it is so very difficult to understand why a loving God would wish to deny his children this. To give them feelings, senses and an intellect and then demand that they ignore them poses serious questions about the morality and decency of this deity.
The Morality of the Bible
The Bible illustrates, in detail, God’s ‘perfect’ morality quite clearly with his ordering and endorsing slavery (the denial of an individual’s right to self-determination by another), the beating of slaves to death (Exodus 21:20-21), multiple accounts of divine-endorsed mass infanticide, including snatching innocent babies out of the arms of their mothers and joyously crushing them to death against rocks, along with tearing the unborn from their mother’s wombs (Psalm 137:9; Isaiah 13:16; Hosea 13:16), countless orders of genocide and the destruction and displacement of others, insidious cruelty to innocent animals, and most shocking of all to most (presumably because its easier to relate to) – the rape of thousands of innocent women, whether they were innocent young virgins as the spoils of war (Numbers 31:18 et al), or God-sanctioned rapes of innocent women simply to punish their disobedient husbands (2 Samuel 12:11-14; Zechariah 14:1-2).
In the Old Testament, these types of incidents are too numerous to list. However, in the New Testament, Jesus seemed to be in total support of them. He clearly endorsed beating slaves (Luke 12:47-48), Paul endorsed slavery (Ephesians 6:5-7 et al) and Peter demanded that slaves find joy in the unjust cruelty of their masters (1 Peter 2:18-21.)
Jesus endorsed all of the cruel laws of the Old Testament (Matt: 5:17-18.) These would include the rules that unruly children, homosexuals and anybody who eats shellfish or collects sticks on the Sabbath must be bludgeoned to death with rocks, how much money to charge for a slave (there was a requirement that females must cost less than males, by the order of God!) and how to identify slaves by driving nails through their ears (Deuteronomy 15:17), etc.
Jesus also implied that any who do not accept him as King should be slain in his sight (Luke 19:27.)
Once again, and exclusive to the New Testament, there is the doctrine of Hell.
Christian apologists use what we call the Trinity of Delusion to justify these atrocities.
The first is – It doesn’t quite mean that. This is a self-contradictory proposition. If we add up everything in the Bible that doesn’t mean what it says, then the entire book – God’s vital message to mankind – doesn’t mean what it says.
The second is – You’re taking it out of context. They will then offer either no alternative context, or one that is clearly manufactured with absolutely nothing to verify it. It is also worth noting that different apologists will offer completely different and often immoral contexts to the same biblical atrocity, all failing to present reasons for believing their position other than ‘We’ve just made that up.’
One of the World’s leading Christian apologists, Dr William Lane Craig, when asked about the morality of the slaughter of the Canaanite women and children under the orders of God, responded that those women and children weren’t really the victims. He said that the Israelites who had to commit those acts were really the victims and then asked the audience to imagine how terrible it would have been for them to have had to have done such a thing, (much like saying, “How awful it must have been for those poor SS Officers to have had to have slaughtered all of those Jews.”)
This affirms a statement by Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg when he said: “Good people do good. Bad people do evil. But for a good person to commit evil – that takes religion.” While Christian apologists don’t necessarily commit evil, it is very clear that they are willing to defend it!
The third and probably most transparent is the ultimate cop-out – You don’t want to listen, so I’m not going to explain it.
Despite these painfully weak attempts at reconciling the Bible with morality, there is no choice in Christianity. According to its tenets, people must follow the way, or they will suffer infinitely. This is the most immoral suggestion in human history. Firstly, a human being cannot commit acts of evil in a finite life that would merit INFINITE punishment. Secondly, the Bible doesn’t say that ‘acts’ are, necessarily, the offences. Beliefs are. What moral God of unconditional love, compassion and great kindness would judge a man on his beliefs over his deeds? And after giving him an intellect that would enable him to learn facts that either contradict, or find NO evidence for the extraordinary events claimed in his anonymously-scribed holy book?
In the case at hand, masturbation must be substituted for indefinite, unjustified struggle. Failure must be followed by repentance, or the penalty will be eternal torture.
For the majority of people, these teachings fall considerably below their minimum standard for morality. This is everything that the democratic West claims to be opposed to: cruelty, totalitarianism, and terrorism. And yet there are many democratic citizens who embrace these teachings, whose ability to reason has been compromised into accepting the denial of their very fundamental human rights on account of them.
Yet, they always seem so happy.
The elation Christians display could be likened to the joy of the ‘Stepford Wives’ and is reminiscent of a scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, where a bearded prisoner was shackled to a stone wall in a Roman gaol crying out joyously: “Great race, the Romans!” – Literally worshipping his own captors.
There is a term for this. It is called Stockholm syndrome, which occurs when people are subjected to terror at the hands of others. Reports show that victims of kidnapping and hostages whose lives have been threatened by their captors can develop an empathy with those who oppress them (Nils Bejerot: The six day war in Stockholm New Scientist 1974, volume 61, number 886, page 486-487.) Accounts show how such victims have even provided legal defence for the terrorists who have held them at gunpoint for the very crimes committed against them, corresponded with them in prison, and have even gone on to marry them! They develop a joyous euphoria born out of absolute terror when their minds try to latch onto the hope that their captors ‘can’t be all that bad.’ This can eventually evolve into: ‘They’re actually quite good,’ until it reaches: ‘There must be a good reason why they’re doing this. I must help them.’
Similarly, Christians will go to any lengths to defend the atrocities of their imaginary God and attempt to justify why, in his loving mercy, he wants them to torture themselves with the ‘gift’ of chastity. This so-called ‘blessing’ is, in fact, the malady that presents itself as the cure, resulting in countless incidents of shame, neurosis and psychological damage, whilst those responsible continue to indulge the delusion of their born-again euphoria.
In several Islamic nations such as the Republic of Somalia, female children routinely have their clitorises cut away, without anesthetic or sterilization, as a means of preventing sexual pleasure and preserving their chastity. Infections and even death have been reported as consequences. (Lewnes, Alexia (ed). "Changing a harmful social convention: female genital cutting/mutilation", Innocenti Digest, UNICEF, 2005, p. 16.) This hideous procedure is performed upon them by female members of their own family - who have each endured it themselves. They celebrate it and consider it an honor, which pleases Allah.
This is yet another example of how religion can warp the judgment of individuals to the extent that they will embrace the most terrible atrocities being committed against them as acts of virtue, and seek to inflict those atrocities upon others. Similarly, Christians believe that it is a privilege to be ‘set free’ from masturbation and make a point of spreading the word to all others. It is, yet again, the celebration of sacrificing one of the most pleasurable and healthy of fundamental human rights, with no justifiable reason. Put another way: “The joy of being set free from freedom.”
The anti-masturbation doctrine so often appears to be promoted by individuals who have, in some way, experienced a sense of powerlessness in their lives. Having no control over one’s circumstances can be traumatizing, but to what extent is it moral to regain empowerment by seeking to control others and to leave a trail of mental anguish in one’s wake? There is no doubt that this teaching damages far more people than it ‘helps,’ given its astronomical failure rate. The proponent’s defence to this is usually to attribute that failure to the ‘sinful nature’ of the victim and indefinable clichés such as ‘They are not fully walking in the spirit.’
Advocates of the doctrine always claim that they are merely doing the ‘Lord’s work’ thereby establishing a continuous policy of zero-accountability for the harm that they cause.
Occasionally, they simply blame other churches. – “You’ve been damaged. I’m so sorry. We’re not like that…but you still shouldn’t do it!”
The Libidinous Power of Denial
One of the arguments Christians use against masturbation is that it is fuelled by pornography; an industry many claim is rife with the abuse of women (although there are even more first-hand accounts of porn stars to contradict those claims.)
If the claims of abuse within the porn industry are true (which seems to be highly questionable), the issue of cruelty on set must be addressed as with any other form of abuse. If an impoverished woman is asked to endure brutal sexual acts for the camera and told by producers and directors that she will never work (earn) again if she doesn’t comply, that is coercion, leading to compromised consent. Ultimately, it would be a form of cruelty, rape and terrorism.
But at what point does this heinously extreme view of masturbation NOT become cruelty and terrorism on the opposite end on the scale?
When Christian evangelists continue to promote the anti-masturbation message, we should take into account that prohibiting or shaming it will cause a conscious desperation for it, subsequently increasing the desire one hundred fold. Nobody wants anything more than that which they can’t have. It is likely even more arousing than pornography itself. Statistics show that pornography use among Christians is considerably higher than among the secular community.
This adds yet another layer of suspicion to this entire doctrine. In Catholicism, many believe that the masturbation rule was implemented as a congregation trap, with the knowledge that nobody would be able to live up to it. Consequently, this creates a continuous line of attendees at the confessional and tithe-offering repenters. If people can be persuaded to surrender their rights to their own bodies and thoughts, it becomes child’s play to persuade them to surrender the contents of their wallets.
The potential financial benefits of the anti-masturbation doctrine should not be discounted.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Masturbation is a natural biological function. This is attested to by a wealth of academic, medical research and knowledge. However, Christianity uses the words of unqualified, completely anonymous and falsely-ascribed authors from the Bronze Age, most of whom had a clear political agenda, to argue against that knowledge. In so doing, it inflicts unjustified guilt and shame upon the innocent and unlearned, along with maddeningly heightening their libidos. If the guilt-trip proves to be ineffective, it shifts its game to terrorism with the promise of eternal damnation.
There is a truly serious issue here if we value our freedom. Brainwashing negates free choice. Totalitarianism is the unlimited application of authority that strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarian policies include restriction of movement, restriction of reading material and entertainment, and the prohibition of certain inter-personal relationships.
However, when people are pressured into embracing doctrines that say they have no right to their own thoughts (Exodus 20:17 and Matthew 5:28) and no right to their own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19) under the threat of Hellfire for any who refuse to repent; that truly is, not only sadistic, but the final frontier – of tyranny!
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