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Masturbation and Pornography:

Follow-ups

Warning! Some of the material in this discussion is a little more graphic than the normal "G Rated" material seen on this site.

These e-mail exchanges are follow ups to the discussion Masturbation and Pornography: Wrong or Not? The e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>I noted with some amusement that something public finally had to be said about masturbation. I applaud your courage for not just addressing it privately but publicly. I remember both of us wondering how to handle that potential question back when we wrote the pre-marital sex articles together [see Is Pre-Marital Sex Always A Sin?].<

I was hesitant to discuss masturbation, but it is an issue that needs to be discussed as many struggle with it.

>It is a real complication for people who do not have the gift of celibacy, while at the same time do not have the gift of a wife; and especially for those who have physical or emotional handicaps to prevent them from getting a wife. Furthermore, there is the problem of avoiding pre-marital sex when you do find a woman to date.

Something that makes me wonder how serious masturbation is in God's sight is the fact that it is known to be medically beneficial for the reproductive machinery. I can think of no other sin that is beneficial to the body. At the same time I know that abstinence from this sort of thing leads to a more heightened spirituality. So, it's a tough question.

In studying out sexual sin in the Bible even more closely this past year, I have noted that the sexual laws of the Bible pertain either to a violation of God's design for man (such as homosexuality, bestiality and incest; Leviticus 18) or to inheritance. Adultery, rape, pre-marital sex, all have to do with creating the possibility that some offspring will be deprived of his proper inheritance or steal the inheritance belonging to another family (for example, the bastard son of an affair taking a chunk of rightful inheritance away from his half-brothers). Masturbation doesn't really fit with either of these reasons. With regard to inheritance, there is no effect, and with regard to design, I defer to George Carlin's axiom, "If God didn't want us to masturbate, he wouldn't have made our arms long enough." He's attempting to be blasphemous, but strangely enough, heresy is sometimes near the cutting edge of truth.<

All very good comments. And I would add, if it was really a serious sin as some suggest, and given that I am sure there were people who masturbated in Bible times, you would think it would have been mentioned in the Bible. But it is not.

>Definitely you are right about the pornography. A good hint for getting pornography out of your life is to ask for God to give you His feelings when you see it. A second thing of value is knowing how hard core pornography is produced. This is a bit graphic, but I happened to learn recently how this is done and it leaves you with a sick and unforgettable feeling inside.  The information comes second-hand from a friend in the church who knows a person who used to film pornographic movies.

The main complication in filming porn is that women in general can't lube for someone they aren't in love with, and even then, not without foreplay, two luxuries that casting and a tight filming schedule do not allow. So, they use some Vaseline on the man (apparently they do not use a water-based lube, oddly enough) which basically enables him to penetrate and that's all. The sex is extremely painful for the woman and the shouts are more often of pain than pleasure.

The amazing stamina of the men in porn movies is an illusion; like most men, they ejaculate within a couple of minutes of beginning intercourse. However, there are drugs (like Viagra, and cocaine can also work) that can keep them hard, plus, a woman hired to masturbate them between takes just enough to keep them up. In the time between the man's orgasms as they work him up to be able to continue, the woman being penetrated is treated by a medic who deals with the bleeding caused by her inability to lube and the tears in her flesh that have resulted. Then, after a few moments, they film the next few minutes of the scene. This can go on for several hours. It is virtually torture for the woman.

Definitely a new way of thinking of it, wouldn't you say? Not one that permits a man to view it and enjoy it anymore.

God bless,
Reese
3/31/2001

Pretty graphic stuff. It would be good for more people to know this, but I am hesitant to post your comments as they might be a little too graphic for some. But there is really no way to explain it without being a little graphic. But you've explain it as delicately as it could and still get the point across. So I think I will go ahead and post your comments if that's alright with you.

My only response would be that your description would only apply to hard core porn. It would not apply to soft porn consisting simply of a picture of a naked woman. But other arguments could be applied to such as case, like it being wrong to look on the nakedness of a woman who is not one's wife (Lev 18, and compare verse 9 with 1Tim 5:2).


>Hi, Gary,

Okay, Gary, you can post that if you want. I thought that might be a bit strong to post but if you put up a warning message on it, I'm okay with it. I think we have to unmask the evil of the world sometimes so people can get past their fantasies and down to the disgusting realities.<

I already posted it, along with a warning. If you don't mind, I would also like to post your comments here. You have made some very good points, and I really couldn't say it better myself, so unless you object, I will post your e-mail without further comment.

>>All very good comments. And I would add, if it was really a serious sin as some suggest, and given that I am sure there were people who masturbated in Bible times, you would think it would have been mentioned in the Bible. But it is not.<<

> Masturbation is not mentioned by name (maybe they didn't have a word for it), but I did find a part of the Mosaic Law that applies to it. Bear with me for a few moments. 

Leviticus 15:16-18 reads:

If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening. Also, when a woman lies with a man, and [there is] an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening (NKJV). 

This is normally explained as being a "nocturnal emission" but if you look under the hood at the Hebrew, a different picture evolves. The word "emission" is alah, which means (among other things), "(cause to, make to) come (up)." The word translated "semen" is a compound of shkabah ("a laying down for") and zeroa ("something sown"..."seed"). So, this word choice seems to indicate a deliberate action of producing the seed.

I'm afraid the "passive" sound of the verses in question is a result of religious sensibilities and not the most honest possible translation of the underlying language. The woman's presence is obviously optional (not present in verses 15 or 16) but present in 17. So I put it to you that masturbation is definitely implied by the verses. Even sticking with just the English translation, were it a nocturnal emission, would the phrase "be unclean until evening" make a lot of sense?

Let me take this just a touch farther. In chapter 15, there are two situations that require sin offerings and one that doesn't. This emission from semen is the one that does not require a sin offering. They do become ceremonially unclean, and they do need to wash up afterwards, but that's the beginning and ending of the requirement under the Law. If there is no sin offering required, then no sin has been committed.

Now, Gary, I don't really want to become known as the world's leading authority on Biblical masturbation and certainly not its proponent, but at the same time, I fear that one of the reasons some people can't clear this "sin" out of their lives is that it isn't a sin at all. There just isn't sufficient Biblical evidence to point to masturbation itself as being a sin, and if you can't believe for a certainty something is a sin, I don't think you can really get it out of your life.

I don't think any Christian using pornography can possibly feel a good conscience toward God. I feel assured that the Holy Spirit will weigh in on that person and let him know in no uncertain terms that it is sinful. In fact, the Holy Spirit might even bring the verse to mind, "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:32, KJV). (This translation, "have pleasure in them", seems terribly accurate to me.)

Some people can ignore the Spirit's conviction but they cannot do so and maintain any sort of positive relationship with God. Their lives will begin to fall apart. For instance, if one partner is using pornography and resisting the conviction of the Spirit, the marriage will at some point fall apart. Ignoring the conviction of the Spirit brings temporal punishment into a person's life, because that's the only option God has left for dealing with you and your sin.

A verse thrown up on this is, ""But _I_ say to you*, every [one] looking on a woman in order to lust after her already committed adultery [with] her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28, ALT). But how do we read that? The word "lust" here is a translation of epithumeo, which means to set your heart upon.

I suggest that to lust after someone, you have to make plans (or at least desire to make plans) on how to have them, personally, for sexual purposes. That's a different thing than masturbating over someone, as a person could conceivably masturbate in order to avoid trying to have the person sexually, or possibly the desire of a personal sexual relationship with the person may never enter the masturbator's mind. I would hope that a person "setting his heart upon" another would also feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and turn away from the sin; but this does not by extension make masturbation a sin.

These issues having been considered, I have to wonder if those who masturbate are lacking the conviction to stop simply because the conviction for sin isn't there. The conviction is not there simply because in the absence of these other plainly sinful behaviors such as desiring to have someone and using pornography, the sin itself is not there. There is perhaps a guilty feeling as a result of man-made religious tradition, but not that incredibly guilty feeling that comes from outside of ourselves, the Holy Spirit striking us with that conviction.

I don't think by any means masturbation is the optimal thing a person can be doing with their time. I suggest that it provides too easy an out for the "terminally shy," as it enables them in not building the enriching love relationship that they would desire and otherwise be seeking to build. The marriage relationship is unquestionably the most acceptable sexual outlet in God's sight.

Although I must point out, from the Leviticus passage quoted, even masturbation and marriage cannot be viewed as being mutually exclusive. Couples that can masturbate together often have a much higher level of intimacy with one another than those who would find such a thing unacceptable, and again, there is nothing in God's Law to forbid it. Technically speaking, the woman in the passage is not even specified as being a wife, but I sure don't want to open that can of worms today! Suffice it to say that looking upon the nakedness of a person not your wife is a sin!

My reason for saying all this is, we know about the weak brother in 1Corinthians, who can't eat meat that is sacrificed to idols. Well, frankly, some of our weak brothers masturbate. And rather than make them stumble by suggesting their salvation is going down the toilet, when there exists not even a shred of Biblical evidence that the act is a sin, is to make ourselves worthy of having a millstone tied around our necks and being thrown out into the sea (Luke 17:1-4).

Definitely, let us condemn the use of pornography and the act of trying to seduce women who are not your wife, actions which are plainly condemned by Scripture, but let's not condemn what the Bible does not condemn, lest we find ourselves adding to the commandments of God.

Yours in Christ,
Reese
4/2/2001 9:28 PM<


>Hi, Gary, 

One last thought for that e-mail I just sent you on masturbation: Thinking about my comments on it, I realized they are summed up by one verse, 1Corinthians 6:12, "All [things] are lawful to me, _but_ all [things] are not advantageous [or, beneficial]. All [things] are lawful to me, _but_ _I_ will not be controlled by anything" (ALT). 

That masturbation can be detrimental to a person's well being and prevent them from moving farther in their relationships is probably pretty much unquestionable, particularly in those cases in which a person is controlled by such a thing.  In some people, it probably awakens rather than deadens lust, and their thoughts begin to circulate around opportunities to partake in masturbation. It would be pretty hard to sell masturbation as an advantageous activity! But it would be equally hard to sell it as unlawful in light of the Scripture's silence about its being a sin.

Yours in Christ,
Reese
4/2/2001 10:00 PM<

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