Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Question of the Day

Is masturbation a sin?

27 comments:

JD said...

Yes. Since it is the spilling of semen that does not produce offspring.

"Then Judah said to Onan, 'Lie with your brother's wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.' But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also." Gen 38:8-10 (NIV)

A little more pointed comment. Jesus said:

"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matt 5:28-30

If one can masturbate without lusting in their heart for another man or woman, than they are not sinning, but how many can do that? Is it OK to masturbate while lusting after your wife or husband?

I do not know the exact answer as it is not exactly spelled out, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church states it this way:

"By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. 'Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.'138 "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.' For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of 'the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.'139

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability."
CCC 2352

I know we are not Catholic here, but 2000 years of church history begs a little attention. All in all, when we have to delve this deep into a discussion about "well it is, but only here" then it is better to err on the side of caution and say it is something best to be avoided.

PAX
JD

greg. said...

if masturbation is a sin because of the "spilling of semen" then wet dreams are also sin.

if masturbation is a sin because it is about seeking pleasure for yourself, then scratching your head when you have an itch is also a sin. we are constantly doing things for our own pleasure. like reading funny blogs. is that a sin (oops)?

finally, if masturbation is a sin because you MUST be lusting when you masturbate, then it is no different than looking at someone lustfully, or lusting after someone's car/home/ipod/good looks, etc.

in the final analysis, i say that is is a heart issue. in other words, you can't simply (imho) make a sweeping statement that it is a sin. it depends, i think, on the individual and the motivation.

so there is my humble opinion, sans all the great scripture references that JD has.

David said...

Going back to the "Sin of Onan" mentioned above - the sin is failing to honor a covenant of levitical law to produce offspring that would secure the lineage of your brother. This does not seem to be relevant anymore, but that may be another discussion altogether. The short answer comes back to lust, or to the discussion of how it may build relationship rather than isolation, as is more common in thematics of Scripture

JD said...

I find it interesting that Greg didn't attack the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but did attack the scripture references.

Greg said:

"if masturbation is a sin because of the 'spilling of semen' then wet dreams are also sin."

This is not a legitimate argument against the sin discussion of "spilling seed." Nocturnal emissions are a natural occurrence in all men that do not masturbate regularly and are of an unconscious nature. Masturbation, for the sole purpose of individual pleasure, is sinful for this main reason...the seeking of sexual gratification outside the procreative possibility of a married relationship usually during times of lustful thoughts or the viewing of pornography. It is not a sin for a lustful thought to pop into one's head, it is the dwelling upon that thought and acting upon it that is sinful. The seed spilling is secondary and depending on your theological take, debatable.

Greg said:

"finally, if masturbation is a sin because you MUST be lusting when you masturbate, then it is no different than looking at someone lustfully, or lusting after someone's car/home/ipod/good looks, etc.”

Exactly! 10th commandment states: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

Greg said:

"in the final analysis, i say that is is a heart issue. in other words, you can't simply (imho) make a sweeping statement that it is a sin. it depends, i think, on the individual and the motivation. so there is my humble opinion, sans all the great scripture reference."

I can get on board with the "depends on the motivation," but there are very, very few times that it wouldn't be a sin, i.e., mutual masturbation between a husband and wife as a precursor to intercourse...but at its core, masturbation is sinful.

David said:

”Going back to the ‘Sin of Onan’ mentioned above - the sin is failing to honor a covenant of levitical law to produce offspring that would secure the lineage of your brother. This does not seem to be relevant anymore, but that may be another discussion altogether.”

I can reply to that with a yes and a no. Yes, the main reason Onan was struck down was due to him not following God’s command for offspring. No in that the lack of following the command involved the sexual act and not being open to offspring. I believe this is one of the places that the Catholic Church looks to for the teaching against birth control in any form other than natural family planning. It is a wasting of the seed thing. So yes, it is debatable and another topic.

PAX
JD

the reverend mommy said...

No, not if you read the Greatest Commandment as the penultimate of the law.

Observation: JD seems to forget that women can masturbate, too.

However there is something just WRONG about a person who will masturbate rather than have marital relations with their partner.

JD said...

The rev mommy said:

""Observation: JD seems to forget that women can masturbate, too."

I slightly mention it at the end of my second comments, {:^), but that is true, although, I got caught up in the male thing because, I'm a male, and I went down the "seed" road.

Rev mommy also said:

"No, not if you read the Greatest Commandment as the penultimate of the law."

I am not sure I understand this statement. I think it is splitting hairs. I will have to fall back to my original comment "All in all, when we have to delve this deep into a discussion about 'well it is, but only here' then it is better to err on the side of caution and say it is something best to be avoided."

I tend to think that God would be a little more upset with us being foot loose and fancy free about things rather than a little "prudish." We tend today to rationalize things for ourselves because we are unwilling to practice a little self control.

PAX
JD

Anonymous said...

What I find bizarre is that the Bible is so silent on a topic that seems so universal. The saying goes, "95% of men masturbate and the other 5% have been known to lie." If masturbation is something that almost everyone deals with it seems strange to me that God wouldn't be a little more explicit about explaining his stance on it.

I agree that the issue comes down to lust. But even when I've done it and only thought of my wife I still didn't feel quite right about it when I was done. Some would say that I only feel guilty because my culture has taught me to, but perhaps it's the Holy Spirit convicting me for accepting less than God's best for me life. On the other hand, it seems like it's a much more preferable option to adultery or fornication.

I keep coming back to the thought that if God were totally against it he would have taken up at least a verse or two in the Bible to express that.

JD said...

Anon said:

"On the other hand, it seems like it's a much more preferable option to adultery or fornication."

You know, I hear that excuse and read that excuse alot, but when it is all said and done, it is about personal responsibility and self control.

Paul tells us in 1 Cor 9:24-27:

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

We are called as Christians to discipline our body against all things and not give into carnal desires. While we all slip and make mistakes now and then, we must always strive for the best, for purity and discipline in our lives.

PAX
JD

doodlebugmom said...

(I have learned to keep my opinions to myself on your blog. But what's up with the cat picture?)

John said...

doodlebugmom, have I offended you? I want you to feel safe to express yourself here. If you feel slighted please let me know at locustsandhoney2005 at yahoo dot com.

doodlebugmom said...

Nope, YOU haven't. At times other's comments and,well, if I wanted to be called names I would go see my mother-in-law...lol. No worries.


I just wondered if that was a peeping tom. :o)

John said...

Yes, it's one of the very first lolcats that made it around the intertubes years back. The original caption was "ceiling cat is watching you masturbate."

I'll change the image to something a little less obscure. Something that makes people immediately think about masturbation.

Larry B said...

I grew up catholic and it was a sin for us no matter what the circumstance. Though it was considered a venial sin and not a mortal one (at least by our priest).

Hadn't thought much about it since I became methodist. Probably because we don't have a sacrament of confession that mirrors the catholic church where you confess explicit sins to the priest on a regular basis which forces you to regularly think through what you might have done that was sinful.

trekkerjay said...

"Peeping Tom"... that is a good one, Doodlebugmom!! 8-) I too had wondered about the cat picture. Thanks for explaining, John.

Rev. Jeremy Smith said...

I feel terrible that I recognized the lolcat immediately. I believe it originated on Fark though...

the reverend mommy said...

Yes, I recognized the cat picture immediately, as well.

JD, I believe that we are much closer in thought than it first appears. I believe that it begins more with a sin of being selfish and humans fulfilling their own desires, rather than God's.

However, if I had a young person come to me for counseling, I would never take a hard line by telling them they have "sinned greviously and offended God." I would rather take the conversation to the WHY they are masterbating and deal with the root of the problem. The guilt that the hard liners lay upon these children's heads (and in my experience, it's mostly children and young adults who need this type of counseling) is horrible and unnecessary.

God make sex pleasurable and just as with many things that God created, there is a good and proper use of that creation and a misuse of that creation.

I personally find the objectification of women much more disturbing because it's so accepted in our society -- and insidious.

JD said...

Rev Mom said:

"However, if I had a young person come to me for counseling, I would never take a hard line by telling them they have 'sinned greviously and offended God.' I would rather take the conversation to the WHY they are masterbating and deal with the root of the problem. The guilt that the hard liners lay upon these children's heads (and in my experience, it's mostly children and young adults who need this type of counseling) is horrible and unnecessary."

I disagree on one point, while horrible, I think understanding what is sin is very necessary.

I remember when I was young (22) and teaching high school students, I had a young girl in my class that was pregnant. I asked her why she had not taken precautions. She said that she was too young to get birth control on her own. I then asked her why her "boyfriend" had not used protection. Her response was, and I remember it specifically, because he is Catholic and it is against church teachings to use condemns. {:^0 In my youth, I blurted out, “Having premarital sex was also a sin, specifically mentioned in the bible as no fornication, so if you chose to go that far, you might as well use protection. You've already offended God in your behavior.”

The moral: there are always teaching moments, and, as you stated, moments to find causes for why the sin occurred, i.e., what situation were you in? why do you feel the need to do this? The questions: What did you do wrong? Why was it wrong? What can we do next time so this does not happen? approach. There are also moments, in the end, that sin is sin and needs to be discussed as such. Not from a fear stand point, but an understanding of relationship building with our Lord, peers, family members, etc.

As we discuss these things, I think we all use the information gathered to approach old issues in new ways. While we may not have our minds changed about things, regardless of evidence presented from one school of thought or the other, we are exposed to conversations that we may not have with those closest to us.

Thanks for your input in this discussion.

PAX
JD

doodlebugmom said...

The library? Seriously? People do that at the library? I think I am a sheltered geek! (And my work study job all through college was working at the library!)

John said...

I've even had a flasher at a library.

doodlebugmom said...

Gee, I guess I missed all the excitement when I had my nose buried in a book! :o)

Dan Trabue said...

What is this masturbation Can you describe it to me so that I might avoid it, if it is a sin?

I need details, folk, Details!!

John said...

Go to a public library. Preferably at an urban, downtown location. Then ask your question at the reference desk, or just look around at the customers on the public access computers for a demonstration.

Dan Trabue said...

I only get my answers from pastors and spiritual experts. Can you recommend one?

John said...

This is why your car is in such lousy shape. As I keep telling you: take it to a mechanic, not a chaplain.

Dan Trabue said...

Are you suggesting that masturbation is fundamentally a mechanical question?

Dan Trabue said...

I thought it was more of a plumbing matter...

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Hey guys, this is a very interesting discussion, and I think I tend to be on the same page as JD.

One thing that hasn't come up (as far as I noticed) was the growth issue. What kind of person am I becoming? Am I becoming more like Christ in his cross-shaped love, or less like him?

If I entertain lustful thoughts and gratify physical urges, am I becoming more likely or less likely to commit more serious sexual sins when the opportunity might arise? Am I training myself for life or for sin?