Masturbation Gave My Life Back To Me


Is masturbation a sin? It is very clear that masturbation is very healthy and a gift of God. Just like sexuality is a gift of God. The same sexual: lust, fantasies, thoughts, are use in both. NOT any 40+ Bible writers or Jesus called masturbation a sin.


A Personal Story About How Masturbation

Gave My Life Back To Me


Nowadays it's commonly accepted by most--but not all--North Americans that a high level of self-esteem is essential for good mental health as well as for success in school, career, family and community living in general. Countless studies by educators, psychologists and other social scientists confirm that our feelings about ourselves tend to predict either our success or failure in many aspects of our lives. However, although most educated people in the 1990s at least pay lip service to self-esteem, I find that few possess a really high level of it.


While growing up as a small-town boy in the late '40s through the 1950s I heard little about boosting self-esteem. In fact family, community and religious forces seemed united in trying to make young people feel humble, guilty, obedient and fearful. At the heart of this negativism is a self-view of our bodies and, especially, of our sexuality which is anything but healthy.


Masturbation attitudes are at the core of our sexual self-image because, as masturbation guru Betty Dodson observed, masturbation is our baseline sexuality. "Masturbation is a primary form of sexual expression," Dodson said in her masterpiece book Sex For One: The Joy of Selfloving. "It's not just for kids or for those in-between lovers or for old people who end up alone. Masturbation is the ongoing love affair that each of us has with ourselves throughout our lifetime.... Masturbation is a way for all of us to learn about sexual response. It's an opportunity for us to explore our bodies and minds for all those sexual secrets we've been taught to hide, even from ourselves. What better way to learn about pleasure and being sexually creative? We don't have to perform or meet anyone else's standards, to satisfy the needs of a partner, or to fear criticism or rejection for failure. Sexual skills are like any other skills; they're not magically inherited, they have to be learned." (pages 3, 4)


Modern therapists and medical professionals recognize the importance of masturbation as a natural part of our lives. But, as is so often the case, the rest of society is far behind our cutting-edge thinkers. And, in my opinion, there are cultural institutions--led by the Christian churches--which covertly and even overtly attempt to undermine sexual expression and solo sex in particular. Even serious articles about masturbation often contain innocuous-sounding disclaimers which state that although most people masturbate, some choose not to do so because of religious or moral reasons--giving the impression that those of us who do masturbate are guilty of side-stepping religious and/or moral values. It is time that someone stands up and says that those religious and so-called moral objections to masturbation are wrong; they are based upon incomplete information, folk "wisdom," and centuries-old negative cultural attitudes toward our bodily functions. This essay will illustrate this cultural repression from a personal perspective.


I was raised in what many would consider an average middle-class home in a small Western town (United States of America). There was a strong fundamentalist Christian religious tone in the home and political attitudes were decidedly conservative. ("Right Wing" was not a term in common use in those days but I suppose my parents could be judged to have been moderately Right Wing by today's standards--definitely staunch Republicans and Mother was--and in her 90s still is--a fervid Baptist. Luckily, I have been able to adopt more realistic, tolerant views.) As a child I was loved, never physically abused nor neglected despite several spankings which I can vividly remember--administered when I probably deserved correction by parents who felt that it was okay to spank in moderation.


One exception to this pattern of non-abuse comes to mind, though, and that is the non-consensual circumcision which I was subjected to as an infant. Today I view this barbaric religious-based custom to be one of the most extreme forms of child abuse. But that is a different story. In passing let me state that the modern practice of male circumcision was initially pushed upon American parents 100 years ago by quacks and ill-informed physicians who felt it would reduce the sensitivity of the penis (it does) and make boys/men less inclined to masturbate. As everyone knows, circumcision has a religious base in Judaism but New Testament church leaders (St. Paul in particular) claimed circumcision was unnecessary for Christians. Promoting circumcision as a "cure" for the "destructive," "vile" and "immoral" practice of masturbation, as self-eroticism was then characterized, helped negate the obvious New Testament injunction which clearly stated that Christians need not be circumcised.


Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, co-founder of the giant Kellogg cereal empire, was only one of many doctors who taught that masturbation was detrimental. In discussing potential "cures" for the "vice" of masturbation, Kellogg wrote that "A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision.... The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind.... In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement."


Enough said about the link between anti-masturbation/anti- pleasure crusaders and circumcision!


Anti-body Dogma/Negative Sexual Conditioning

Self-esteem is hard to come by in an environment permeated with negatives. The church told me I was born a sinner, a wretch, detestable in God's sight unless I mentally made a paradigm shift and agreed to believe a certain laundry list of dogmatic ideas (the divinity of Jesus, virgin birth, etc.). I needed to turn my life over to Jesus, renounce myself, live only for him; then all would be well. BUT, whether I did that or not, I could be certain that God and/or Jesus (the concept of the trinity was so confusing) was on the constant look-out. He (it was always a male deity) was snooping into my mind at every moment. He knew every thought I had, he peered at everything I did. I had NO privacy whatsoever; God was always there watching.


My body, I was told, is the temple of the holy ghost (I Cor. 6:19) and not my own. As a youngster I was even more confused about who this holy ghost was and how he/she fit into the heavenly cosmology. But God was particularly interested in what I did with my body, I could be sure of that. The teaching was that the body was corrupt (the flesh is evil) but that the holy spirit enjoyed residing there anyway. I found it very convoluted and contradictory. (See Gal. 5:17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other....") The confusing doctrine that a member of the holy trinity takes up residence in the body--the body which is (according to the New Testament) corrupt, "flesh-like" and evil-- is, in my view, one of the most glaring contradictions of Christian teaching. It has caused church people for centuries to go through all kinds of mental and physical torture in order to purge the body of all manners of imagined evils.


Now, as a child I was told that there were definitely good and bad things that could be done with the body. It was good to have an erect posture, but not so good to have an erect penis. It was good to brush my teeth, but not to talk too much and absolutely no swear words were to come from my mouth. Obesity was technically sinful, but the preacher didn't say much about that because half of the Baptists listening to his sermons were fat.


But this God of the fundamentalists was especially interested in our genitals, I learned as a child. He was obsessed with them, in fact. A female friend told me a few years ago that her training was similar and as a girl she visualized God as a being who saw little else but her genitals. He was a genital guard god ("God," by the way, is "dog" spelled backwards!). As boys we were taught that the penis wasn't to be touched except when urinating or washing and then only briefly. "If you shake it more than three times after peeing, that's playing with yourself and God wouldn't like that."


Children in school often would tease one another by accusing their friends of playing with themselves in private. Everyone has heard the childish prank of telling a gullible classmate that masturbating would cause warts or make hair grow on the palms of his/her hands. Then everyone would laugh as the nervous kid would glance at his/her own hands thereby telling the others that he/she did "it." The message was clear: society frowned upon masturbation but early in life we learned that it was extremely rare to find anyone who didn't masturbate, whether they admitted it or not.


There was another Christian teaching which did nothing but inspire fear and extend psychological control over my young and impressionable mind. That belief was the parousia, the peculiar Christian teaching that at any moment Jesus is going to return and take all Christians with him--away from this horribly sinful and wicked world. As youngsters we were told about this doctrine over and over again. Often we were asked to think about how glorious it would be to finally see Jesus. "But, what will you be DOING when Jesus returns?" we were asked. Will this God-man find you doing something virtuous when he returns or will you be embarrassed or disgraced by being engaged in something evil? Since we children were not likely to participate in "adult sins" such as murder, use of alcohol, industrial fraud or genocide, we were left with the impression that it was our duty to God to make sure we were always being praiseworthy just in case Jesus would return within the next five minutes. That meant, among other things, that we would not be caught by Jesus while we were being unkind to another, viewing a motion picture, using playing cards, dancing or, worst of all, doing something "improper" with our own bodies. The attitude we youngsters adopted was similar to that which is provoked by the proverbial statement mothers make to children, "Always wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident and are taken to the hospital." Don't do the forbidden things because chances are Jesus will catch you at it when he returns and he and all the Christians at that moment will be looking at you with disgust and pity. That would be even worse than being seen in underwear with skid marks.


The list of forbidden activities now seems banal but at that stage of development it was an important part of our fundamentalist lives. The dancing prohibition in particular is comical because it so obviously relates to the evangelical attempt to have people not recognize sexual impulses of any kind or put themselves in any situation where they might be stimulated. I am reminded of the question and answer joke about Baptists: "Q: Why don't Baptist couples ever have intercourse in the standing position? A: Because it might lead to dancing!"


Early formation of a negative self image is very closely related to our perception of our own bodies. Elimination of urine or solid waste is icky, we were told as children, and, by association, everything else pertaining to that region of our body was especially detestable to our holy, pure and spotless God.


I think these impressions are conveyed unconsciously by parents from the very beginning of life. There are often those moans or sighs which parents emit when they are confronted by full diapers. It isn't always a pleasant task caring for a baby and our negative attitudes, I feel, are often picked up by the infant. Somehow the notion is formed that the region between the legs is unpleasant to others and, if the diapers aren't changed promptly, it definitely becomes unpleasant to the infant as well. The negative self-image about the genitals is being formed at a very early age.


Nancy Friday, in her new book The Power of Beauty,

The Liberated Christian and Masturbation, the Bible and Sex.

God made us and our human nature, including our sexuality and said it was very good, accept for the "sin principal part", which is: unforgiving, selfish, greedy, unloving, bitter, hatred, unkind, no mercy, conceited, provoking one another, envying one another, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, envy, drunkenness, witchcraft, wrath, strife, murders, lies etc.

The spirit of love wars against the flesh, which is the "sin principal" part of us.


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