Go Ask Alice
Thursday, October 13, 2005
My mother caught me masturbating the other day and tells me that I will go to hell. Is it ok to masturbate, or am I damned?
If you are a regular reader of my column, I’m sure that you know that I only encourage people to masturbate if they want to. Also, I do not answer theological questions. However, because this is a question I get often, I turned it over to my colleague Dale Carnast of Boston Harbor University.
Almost all adult males have taken part in masturbation by the time they reach adulthood. Because many of these men are Christians (which I assume you are), it is a theological question that does come up often. In fact I had a roommate at seminary that would masturbate 2-3 times a day. I would often awaken at night to find him standing over me with his member in his hand, sometimes reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
It has long been an issue of Christian dogma that masturbation is wrong. While some do quote specific bible verses to back up their beliefs, these verses must be heavily interpreted to be about masturbation.
Some point to the story of Onan in Genesis 38. “But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be counted as his own, and so, although her married her whenever he went in to sleep with her, he spilled the sperm on the bed to prevent her from having a baby which would be his brother's. So far as the Lord was concerned, it was very wrong of him, so he killed him, too.” Some take this to mean that releasing sperm outside of a woman is a sin, but the real reason God kills Onan is because god finds him annoying. I know many masturbators, but none of them have ever experienced anything worse than some chaffing. The story of Onan does tell me that if you find yourself having sex, you should not under any circumstances use a condom or oral contraceptives, but no one really takes it seriously anymore.
However, due to the lack of biblical consistency, there are some people who have developed a new way of interpreting the bible called Biblical Hermeneutics. In the simplest terms, Biblical Hermeneutics attempts to use the original language the books of the bible was written in to determine the real meaning behind over-translated statements. Through Hermeneutical translation we find that god has no problem with masturbation as long as we don’t do it in a tree, Gal 3:13-14, but he would prefer that we experiment with adolescent homosexuality rather than masturbate, John 7:37-38.