Writing for the Christian Post, blogger Erin Davis unwisely opens her article on the evils of masturbation with the following:
It’s true that Scripture never mentions masturbation specifically.
That, right there, should have been the end of the article. Nonetheless, Davis persisted with a few hundred more words on why True Christians™ shouldn’t — and don’t — masturbate.
Not surprisingly, Davis begins with a paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 about the danger of lust, something that tends to go hand in hand (sorry) with self-pleasure:
First, consider that if masturbation is extremely common (as are most sins) and nearly always associated with sinful lust, we can safely assume the same was true in the ancient world. So think of Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount. He essentially said to imagine having sex with a woman is a kind of adultery (Matt. 5:28). Don’t you think masturbation is a clear application and exactly the kind of action He was thinking about?
Davis is taking a huge hermeneutic leap by suggesting to her readers that Jesus definitely disapproves of masturbation by pulling an isolated line (and not even a direct quote) out of context.
Being the Bible nerd that I am, I’m not easily swayed by articles like these that don’t bother with any kind of mini-translation of the original Greek, so I did some digging. Sure enough, there are scholars who believe that the English word “lust” is an inaccurate interpretation of what Jesus meant. The Ten Commandments differentiate between “lust” and “coveting” — and the text that Davis quotes from uses the Greek word that is the equivalent of the Hebrew word for “covet”: a plan to obtain an object of desire, not the desire itself.
But I digress.
The point is, no, the Sermon on the Mount didn’t involve Jesus telling His disciples to avoid… mounting.
Davis’ earlier statement about the Bible not directly mentioning masturbation makes her later assertion that it’s “against God” all the more bewildering. She conveniently doesn’t bother to address the studies that show the health benefits of masturbation, nor does she look into the phenomenon of masturbating so you learn what your body responds to, which could be useful in educating one’s future spouse. Furthermore, some couples — married ones, even! — enjoy watching each other masturbate, and it’s not for Davis to tell them what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their bedrooms.
It’s clear Davis hasn’t spoken to any experts on this subject, and that she’d dismiss their advice if it didn’t conform to her conclusion. But that didn’t stop her from making this statement about single Christian women:
… a single Christian woman, having no God-given partner with whom she can consummate sexual desire, simply has no legitimate reason for pursuing sexual fantasy at all.
There are reasons. Just because she can’t bring herself to admit that, there are reasons.
The most troubling part of post is that we never get an answer to the most obvious question: If Christians aren’t supposed to have premarital sex, and masturbation is out of the question, what do they do with their sexual urges? Repression doesn’t work, nor is it healthy. Perhaps it would be easier for more Christians to wait until marriage if the taboo of masturbation were lifted.
One other note: The Christian Post article includes a cartoon of two parents freaking out as their son opens up his sex education book. Not a dirty magazine. A sex ed textbook. I don’t know if Davis approved that image, but it really offers the perfect insight into her mindset, doesn’t it? She doesn’t conclude Christians should all be abstinent until marriage after looking at available data and weighing both sides of the issue. She comes to that conclusion because she’s too afraid of educating herself on the entire topic.
(Image via Shutterstock)