I venture here to de-criminalise a very taboo topic – Masturbation – by tearing into a couple of massive misinterpretations made by the sexophobic Bible teachers and other religious leaders, regarding the same (the title itself should have given you a gist of what is coming)!
I am writing this for those boys (even girls) who like me struggle with misplaced guilt caused by wrong teachings. Even the grownups who struggle with this will heave a great sigh of relief. This article can also give some guidance to parents of adolescents, to know the struggle their kids go through and what they think about all this!! So I don’t care what a few people might have to say about it. This is a very candidly and very matter-of-factly written article and unless you shed your sexual inhibitions you are not going to be able to read it through. (So sexophobics can either shut their mouths and read or just take a hike).
(Pic Courtesy: Privoy)
Apart from what I know through my personal struggles as a teenager and through what I have gathered from my peers then, I also did bring this subject up with present day youngsters and few grownups as a part of casual conversations. And I write this based on what I could gather from all those experiences and conversations and what I could understand from various religious teachings about it.
I would like to believe that majority of men (and a great number of women) love to do it, but spiritual and social mindsets make them feel guilty about it – because they are taught its a SIN. But with many other things I have heard from my childhood that I could not find any logic in, the attempt to portray masturbation as an act of sin never made any sense for me. People who lie and cheat turn around and point their finger at you and say masturbation is wrong! I had my reasons to believe that it was not, and while still in my teens I had shared it with some senior Bible teachers. I have seen them struggling to convince me that it is a sin. That spurred me into studying about it more and I came to know how some careless interpretations of a couple of verses have ruined so many lives! Hence I take up this ‘shameful’ responsibility of setting the record straight…
Right down there, right between the legs of all who are born boys, there hangs something very interesting and unique – I would like to call it “Our God-given Joystick” (and inspite of everyone having one of their own, this is somehow a very taboo topic)!
Right from the time of the birth till about the age of 8-10, there is only one main purpose for this interesting organ – to piss (pass urine). But after that age, the “Joystick” software starts getting unlocked – at different ages for different boys (as early as 8 or 9 for some to as late as 18 or 19 for others)! You think 8 is too early? Well, I thought mine was activated a bit too early when things started happening to me at the age of 11. But then one day I read about a 9 year old boy who became the youngest known dad in the world (and he was given leave from his school to go see his child – lucky fellow)!! For those of you parents who are shocked, let me tell you, it is not necessary for your son to have pubic hair for him to have an orgasm (the feeling of sexual ecstasy) or even an ejaculation (the release of semen)!
Crying over spilt milk
Majority of the world’s major religions consider masturbation as sinful. Though, interestingly, none of the major religious texts directly mentions it as such. Some even go to the extent of saying that sex is sinful – even some Christians. They argue that Adam had sex with Eve only after they committed sin so sex is sin!
I once saw in a documentary, a Jain priest telling that masturbation is wrong because semen contains life and spilling it is like killing a life. (That, by the way, is the best argument I have heard against masturbation and I was very convinced with that logic).
The argument I have heard Christians bring up is very absurd. They take the example from the book of Genesis, of one Mr Onan, who had to marry his dead brother’s wife and have children through her to keep his brother’s lineage alive. But while having sex with her, Onan resorted to the age-old “rhythm method” (pulling out the penis just before the semen enters the woman) and he deliberately spills his semen on the ground. The Bible says that the Lord disliked this act of Onan.
Now, the passage is not clear about which particular act of Onan God disliked. Was it his decision to spill the semen on the ground or his decision to not have a child for his dead brother? Going by the build-up of the narration in the passage, it most certainly would be his act of denying his brother a child, which would have angered the Lord. If we compare it with how the Lord was angry with Esau for giving away his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of porridge, we can understand this better.
Now, even if someone were to insist that it was Onan’s act of spilling his semen on the ground that made the Lord angry, we still cannot interpret it as an act of masturbation, because Onan was NOT masturbating (stroking his penis) there – he was having sex with a woman! Yet if someone were to insist that Onan was masturbating and God was angry about that, then since God revealed His anger only then, we should conclude that either that was Onan’s first masturbation or that God chose to tolerate his earlier ones…!!!! So, gentlemen! Please leave that Onan alone!!
Now, if we consider the impressive logic that the Jain priest put forth, the only other question we can then ask is if the killing of the sperm by spilling the semen on the ground angers the Lord? Since there is no verse direct or indirect that claims so, we need not consider it so. Even otherwise, when a man and a woman have sex, apart from that one sperm in a year, the remaining millions just die – either inside the woman’s body or outside on a piece of cloth! So sperms do die even in normal circumstances.
The other fact that needs to be noted here is that if a boy does not masturbate for few days then the body has an automatic ejaculation system that gets activated – called Nocturnal Emission (semen ejected by the body on its own, mostly at nights). In some cases the boy knows about it immediately, but most often he realises his ‘predicament’ only in the morning…! That should mean that when God designed this software he knew that many sperms would be pushed to their deaths every now and then, isnt it? So, if God Himself was ok with millions of sperms dying every now and then, why are we worried?!!
Most youngsters think that sperm is produced only when they masturbate. But the fact is that the body keeps producing sperm everyday and once it is accumulated, the body ejects it on its own. After a few embarrassing situations, while in my early teens, I decided that I will decide where, when and how my semen is going to leave my body. There is a popular misconception among married men that if they allow their sperm to accumulate and then have sex with their wife, they will have good results (!). But according to research, accumulated sperm tends to become stale and unhealthy. Only through daily ejaculation – by masturbation or having sex – will the sperm be healthy and fit!
I also need to point out here that though the sperm has life in itself, it does not become a human being unless it merges with a woman’s ovum and starts growing as a body. Till then it is only as living an organism as any other in our body. Every month, a non-pregnant woman’s body pushes out her unused ovum and blood. Blood has also got life in it and, with the same Jain logic, spilling it should also be as sinful as spilling the semen. So even this logic is flawed! (Thank God)!!! :-p 🙂
Masturbation + Bad thoughts = Sin
The other strong and more impressive argument the Christians bring up is the “bad thoughts” one. They insist that one cannot masturbate without having bad thoughts. But this argument does not prove that masturbation in itself is wrong. It only says that since bad thoughts are wrong and masturbation accompanies it, it too should be wrong. With that logic, anything we do with bad thoughts accompanying it should also be considered as wrong. Didn’t understand??
For example: say, every time I have push-ups – an exercise that I do for my physical health – I accompany it with bad thoughts (I think I am having sex with a woman). Would that mean I should stop having push-ups? Wont you rather want me to stop the bad thoughts and continue with the push ups as it helps me stay healthy..? More importantly, according to this logic, a married man can ‘legally’ masturbate by thinking about his wife!! How fair is that?? He can both enjoy sex with a woman and masturbate without having to sin while those who are unmarried cannot do anything with their ‘Joysticks’ even after God has unlocked it for them!!!
I started masturbating at the age of 11 (thanks to all my friends and relatives who selflessly taught me this great art)! At that age my body had not started producing any semen but I certainly did experience orgasm. By 12, things slowly started changing down under – I started becoming a ‘man’! Many parents do not know that for many adolescent boys, their pubic hair rears its head much before their shade of mush appear above their lips. So was my case. Then my body started producing semen. I started loving the orgasms that accompanied it. I started playing with this God-given ‘Joystick’ – EVERYDAY! Infact, it became the one thing that always gave me joy while the world around me seemed eager to inflict pain…!
In a youth camp that I attended I heard a preacher say that masturbation is a sin because it accompanies bad thoughts. I took up my ‘case’ against the leaders (I was also one of the leaders as I had attended my Leadership Training and Counsellor’s Training Courses at the age of 17 itself!). I told them that it is not necessary for bad thoughts to accompany masturbation. They said its impossible. I was around 18 at that time and I had done my homework. I was well prepared for this discussion as I had masturbated many times before without the motivation of the bad thoughts accompanying it. I told them that it is possible, and its not as hard as it seems. They wouldn’t believe!
(I know many of you would want to ask me how that is done. Well, once you read the “What Lust is not…” part below, you would know that you don’t actually need to learn that art, because the interpretation of “bad thoughts”, based on which we are so paranoid, is itself wrong! But for all you curious souls (like me), I wouldn’t like to leave you in a limbo. So here is how you do it: When you are at it (jerking off) you detach your mind from the act and let your hand mechanically do what it needs to do and allow your mind to think of other things. Ofcourse, negative and stressful thoughts will take you down. But any thought that would make you happy can occupy your mind while the hand carries on with its job. Then it happens…on its own. And you are done)!
I also gave the youth leaders the example of a diabetic patient. A person who has blood sugar is not allowed to take sugar. They are forced to drink sugarless tea. For those who have grown up drinking tea with sugar, it would seem close to impossible to think of having to drink tea without it. But since its just the sugar that is harmful, the patient is advised to stop using it. He doesn’t have to stop drinking the tea. He can still let the tea cool his nerves without the harmful effects of the sugar accompanying it!! (And at this point they gave up arguing with me on it)!
What “Lust” is not – blowing the lid out of two massive misinterpretations!
It is also taught to us from childhood that lusting after women is sin and since it leads to masturbation, we should stay away from it. During one of my conversations with a youngster, he insisted that he does not find any interest in masturbating and that he has only done it very rarely and that he felt that it is a sin because it is a result of lusting after a woman about which Jesus had warned. I asked him if it was ok then to lust after a man and then masturbate?! He was perplexed.
The two key verses that say ‘thou shalt not lust’ – both from the OT and the NT – is totally and carelessly misinterpreted. What is being taught down the ages based on the misinterpretations of those two verses is that we are not allowed to look at any woman and be sexually attracted or stimulated…! If this is practised sincerely, then boys would be forced to become homosexuals or asexuals.
This misconception is derived from the famous Tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exo 20:17). The word “covet” used here in Hebrew is châmad and it means -to delight in: – beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, ( X great) delight, desire, goodly, lust.
If by saying “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”, the Lord meant: you should not think of having sex with your neighbour’s wife, then there is a problem, because the verse also uses the same word – chamad – when it says “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s… house /ox / ass”!!! Lets leave the Ox and Ass aside (why? well, u don’t know people…!), there is no way the Lord would have meant ‘thou shalt not desire to have sex with your neighbour’s House’..!!!
So what did the Lord mean? If you have noticed the meaning given to the word covet – desire – it is clear that we are not supposed to desire our neighbour’s house or wife or cattle. Now, I have heard people say that we should not look at our neighbours house or car and desire to have something similar. That interpretation too is wrong! That is NOT what the verse conveys. I can look at my neighbour’s house and desire to have a similar one of my own. That is not wrong. The verse here ONLY prohibits me from desiring to ACQUIRE my neighbour’s property – his house, his wife, his cattle, etc – and make it mine!!! It has nothing to do with any sexual thought or the desire to have good things like him!!!!! GOT IT???!!!!
In the NT Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to LUST after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mat 5:28). This is again a massively misinterpreted verse. This verse is said to be based on the principle laid out in the 10th commandment and hence the same misinterpretation is carried forward.
I want you to note the meanings of some of the key words in the verse:
Looketh – blepō – A primary verb; to look at (literally or figuratively): – behold, beware, lie, look (on, to), perceive, regard, see, sight, take heed.
Woman – gunē – a woman; specifically a wife: – wife, woman.
Lust – epithumeō – to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise): – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).
After her – autos – the reflexive pronoun self, used of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons: – her, it (-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-]) self, [your-] selves, she, that, their (-s), them ([-selves]).
If you lay out these words in the order of the verse and compare it with what I have explained above then you can see what this verse actually says. The word ‘gune’ which is used as woman, is specifically used to mean “wife”. And the Greek word used for the phrase “after her” is ‘autos’, which means himself, yourself, thyself. So what Jesus is trying to say here is similar to what I was trying to explain above. He is saying: anyone who perceives a wife (someone else’s, ofcourse!) and desires her for himself (autos), he has already committed adultery!!
God created boys to be attracted to girls. That is natural. If you tell him that it is a sin to even look at a girl and be sexually attracted to her, then you are by all means pushing him towards mental agony and misplaced guilt. And the Scriptures DO NOT teach so!!!!
So let me repeat here: both the above verses talk about someone who sets his heart upon another man’s wife to make her his own and it does NOT prevent a man from being sexually attracted to a woman!!!!! So STOP your sexophobic, pseudo-saintly misinterpretations of Bible verses that have been causing havoc among growing up kids and men!! Let men enjoy what God has so graciously given them to and let them be naturally attracted to the beauty of God’s creation! Stop poking your ‘unnatural’ spades into the beautiful wheels of God’s creation…!!!
Burning the extra energy
I have read various books where the youngsters are advised to do more physical activities to deal with the extra hormones so that they can stay away from the ‘sin’ of masturbation. Every time I hear that logic, I laugh inside. Those poor preachers and writers would have been those who get totally drained after just one session of jerk-off, based on which they have given such advice. They should consult ‘experienced’ boys before they talk rubbish (!).
During my late teen years (15-19yrs) I used to cycle almost 14kms every day. I played football from 5am-6:30am. For few months, a few of us friends used to go to the ground as early as 3:30am and jog from 4-5am and then play (my dad just couldn’t understand how I could wake up on my own so early while on other days he has to keep banging on my door even at 5:30am to wake me up)!! Then I went to the gym from 7 – 8:30am. Then cycle back home, have bath and go to college. Cycle back home in the afternoon, have my lunch, change my clothes and rush back to the college ground for cricket practice from 3pm – 6:30pm. Then cycle back home, take bath, have dinner and cycle to church – all this EVERY DAY! And yet I had enough stamina to stay awake till late night and jerk-off once or even twice!! (Oh, no. I’m not a pervert. I knew many of my friends who used to do it daily. So there should be plenty of normal kids like us out there)!
Infact, I would like to point out here that masturbation is a healthy activity. I don’t have the exact calculations, but it is equivalent to jogging for some distance. So all those, who like me have the tendency of becoming fat, should do it also as an exercise!!
How much is too much?
If you thought that masturbating two times almost everyday was too much then read this: encouraged by my friends who claimed they did more than 3 times a day, I have often tried to beat their record. I was only forced to stop after 3 times because my muscles ‘down there’ started to pain badly – but ye dil always mange more!! A few times I remember trying to beat the record by going for it a fourth time and ending up rolling on bed, crying in pain (and there was no way you could tell anyone why you were crying)!
After all those years of burning lots of excess energy, and masturbating everyday, I can tell you that I did not have any problem staying healthy or having kids!! But I have known friends who loved to masturbate daily but they couldn’t as it gave them terrible headache each time they did. Some felt totally drained out and did not have the energy to do it again for days (I found it very hard to accept at first)! So each of us has to decide how much is too much according to how much our body can take at that time.
Most of us while we are young, believe that after marriage there will be sex daily and whenever you feel the urge you just get together and have sex. MYTH! Once a youngster asked me some doubts about masturbation. During the conversation when I told him that even married people do it, he was surprised. He couldn’t believe why they would have to do it when they could have sex with their wives whenever they want. I had to convince him that that was not the case.
Those of us who are married know that it does not always happen so. There are various physical and emotional reasons because of which we cannot have sex whenever we wish. Especially with more and more responsibilities of a growing family falling on the shoulders of the married couple, the sexual urge gets pushed to the backburner (and if there is a strain in the relationship, then it gets stuffed into the deep-freezer for a long time)! That’s when we go back to our personal ‘Joysticks’.
Doesn’t post-marriage masturbation affect our sex life?? NO! It doesnt! Infact, it would be good to be able to masturbate without feeling any guilt so that you are not stressed out at not being able to have sex with your wife when you are not able to do so because of various reasons! If you are using masturbation to satisfy your urges even when you are able to have sex with your wife, thus denying her the satisfaction, then you are being selfish. I guess financial stress, professional strain and the occasional personal differences are the main reasons why many married couples cannot enjoy a healthy sexual life.
If God indeed considers masturbation as sin, then he is the worst sadist ever!! Because there is no need for him to sexually prepare boys at the tender age of 11 or 12 and expect them not to touch it for another 10-15years!!!! Its like giving an ice cream in the hands of a small kid and asking it not to eat it for a whole day (while holding on to it)!!! What wrong has that innocent child done for it to be forced to endure such torture??!! Which human in his sane mind would want to punish that kid for being tempted to have a lick at that Icecream which anyway is dripping on his hands and legs?!!! It has not stolen anything from anyone, has it??!!!! No sadist can be so cruel!!!
In my life there were two things that I could never say “no” to: 1) eating non-veg; 2) masturbation. The urge was so strong. I longed for it. It brought me joy every day!! But for many years I lived cursing myself because I could not stop myself from committing this ‘sin’. How many days I have cried bitterly because I just could not stop myself from doing it! But from the time I’ve understood what those verses really mean and how this act is NOT mentioned as a “sin” anywhere, my ‘Joystick’ has been my ‘friend’ in thick and thin!!
So friends, please stop feeling guilty about it ANYMORE! The Scriptures Only stop you from desiring to take another man’s wife as your own (or husband as your own :-p ). Go ahead, be attracted to the God-made beauty around you and enjoy your God-given ‘gift’ – guilt free!!
In the mission of spreading Peace and Joy by shattering age-old dumb teachings, here is:
Yours in Ecstasy, Abraham Jos!
(Note: I really was struggling with my thoughts trying to decide if I should post this or not. Inspite of being a very open and candid person, I just could not make up my mind! Then I weighed the pros and cons and I realised that I would rather have a few dumb people talk bad about me than let many innocent young and old alike struggle through their lives because of some silly teachings… So, here it is)!