It’s no secret American Christians aren’t comfortable with sex. It’s so bad, the mere mention of sex around a good fundamentalist can set off “more nervous tics than a Lyme disease research facility“. You’re not supposed to even think about sex before marriage (except to just say no) and that includes masturbation. For most folks, wanking isn’t a big deal. In fact, experts in the field (researchers and doctors, get your mind out of the gutter) say it’s part of a healthy sex life and even has medical benefits such as preventing prostate cancer, boosting your mood, combating PMS and other menstrual issues (like cramps). Plus, it’s a natural sleep sedative and especially important these days, it’s the safest sex you can have. So, what’s the problem?
There are plenty of ideas about that. I was told growing up that the Bible says it’s a sin. In Genesis 38, we’re introduced to Onan, son of the patriarch Judah. When Onan’s brother died, leaving his wife childless, God commanded Onan to “do his duty as her brother-in-law and provide children” for his brother. Onan, not thrilled with the idea of fathering children that wouldn’t be his, “spilled his seed on the ground“. Couple of problems with this as an injunction against taking a little batting practice. One, it never says he didn’t do the deed with Tamar, just that he didn’t make a deposit. Second, Onan’s sin wasn’t masturbating, it was disobeying God by not impregnating his sister-in-law. Because of that, most people who think you shouldn’t clean your pipes every so often had to come up with some other reasons.
Recently, I was tooling around Facebook and “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” shared something from a group called Third Option Men. It was a status update that said “Engage Question: “Is masterbation (sic) wrong? Why or why not?” As you can imagine, this caught my attention and I read some of the comments. They were…, let’s say interesting. Here are the best ones:
- “I believe it is simply because it eliminates a man’s need to connect physically and emotionally with a woman.” To which someone later replied:
- “Good god, what kind of sociopath are you?”
- “It’s definitely not profitable. I really wish there was a more Godly alternative when my needs are not met. Haven’t found one yet …” (the “profitable” part is in response to someone invoking 1 Corinthians 10:23)
- “It made me feel so dirty inside”
And, even more recently, Rachel Evans published a post on her blog titled “Christians & Masturbation“. Now, that’s a remarkably dull title for such an interesting article. It was about masturbation from a theological perspective (I was shaking my head as I wrote those words) and asked the question “Is masturbation an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians?” The opinions were varied, with some saying it was fine and others echoing some of the thoughts I listed above. I liked what several of these folks had to say, but one of my favorites came from Dianna Anderson, who said “Like sex itself, masturbation is sinful only insofar as you use it sinfully. And what counts as “sinfully” for one person may not be sinful for others.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Look, God created us as sexual beings and meant for sex to be a part of a fully lived life. Whether you use euphemisms like “getting to know yourself” and “spanking the monkey” or the more clinical (and much less fun to say) masturbation, there’s really nothing wrong with it. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, it’s actually good for you. As long as it doesn’t compromise your love for God or your neighbor, I say have at it. What do you say?