A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Left Hand Doesn't Know

Candice Watters has informed us that masturbation is wrong. Somebody forgot to tell the boss, though.

21 comments:

Ame said...

I think you are comparing apples and oranges. I did not read the Theophilus artice, so I cannot comment to the context of his statement. However, Candice is referring to porn addiction, which is extremely serious whether the addict be male or female.

In the "question," the writer specifically states, "porn, masturbation, cyber sex." That has nothing to do with what Dobson was referring to in his article.

This level of sex addiction is poisonous, venemous, destructive, degrading, and more.

My ex's sex addiction destroyed our marriage. Had he got the necessary help earlier, before he began screwing prostitutes, there may have been more hope. But once this progressive addiction gets to a physical person, your chances of getting out become very slim.

In the context of sex addiction, male or female (and I know some women who admit they are addicted to sex), the measures taken to get out must, absolutely must, be severe.

Perhaps, given your response here, you are not familiar with the severely destructive and ravenous nature of full sex addiction, so on some level I will give you the benefit of the doubt. However, a man as intelligent as yourself must have more than a preschool knowledge of sex/porn addiction.

Therefore, while I agree you men have some very valid points with Boundless sometimes, I think this is a very cheap shot at Candice, so much so I believe an apology is necessary ... directly to Candice ... and to those of us whose lives have been destroyed by a person's choice to continue in such a sick, sick addiction.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Anakin, for pointing out this vast discrepancy between Dobson's compassionate* stance and the muddled mess Watters created with her response to that poor reader.

Muddled, because she lumps together porn addiction with all masturbation. Even if she didn't intend to create such a blurry distinction, she should have been clearer. It will inevitably be instill fear and shame among many in the majority who masturbate but don't fall under the precise category of "sexually addicted" (see the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders).

*Even Dobson sends out a mixed message when he commends, "I hope you don’t feel the need to engage in this act when you reach the teen years, but if you do, you shouldn’t be too concerned about it."

No doubt about it -- as evangelicals, we have a long way to go on this issue.

Ame said...

I think Anon made some good points.

Candice is not a qualified psychologist to discuss matters of addiction, and she did "muddle" the waters. It would have benefited the article for her to have done more extensive research so her facts could be straight and clear ... or to have have brought in a guest writer who is qualified to discuss such issues.

I can see room to specifically point out such things.

Her audience, though, is clearly single women, not single men or teenagers ... and she was specifically adressing women with sex addiction issues.

To take out one part of the article and compare it to comments Dr. Dobson was making to parents about teenagers is, as I stated earler, comparing apples to oranges.

Female sex addiction is serious, more widespread than probably many think, and therefore should be addressed by Boundless.

Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- do you see no difference between a youngster "exploring" down there and a 20-something who's lusting in his heart and giving himself orgasms (in direct opposition to 1 Cor. 7:9)?

Anonymous -- I don't think it's generally possible to separate masturbation from lusting in your heart. They kind of go together, no? At least in the situation Candice was addressing in her column they did.

I admit, it does require a bit of thinking to discern the difference between childhood exploration and adult lust.

Anonymous said...

Ame said "To take out one part of the article and compare it to comments Dr. Dobson was making to parents about teenagers is, as I stated earler, comparing apples to oranges."

Anakin's citation of Dobson's article about teenagers who masturbate is not mixing apples and oranges. If you had read Candice's Theophilus link you would have seen that it was about a teenager who said "I used to do it all the time, but now only once in a while. Except for that, my life seems to be on track", to which Theo declares right across the board that "masturbation is wrong".

So Candice is basically saying that all masturbation is wrong, whether it's done by a teenager "exploring" "down there", as Ted disparagingly calls it, or a 20-something relieving themselves "once in a while". What she should have done is consulted someone knowledgeable (talking to Dr. Dobson at least would have given her a more reasonable viewpoint, and one more consistent with the FOTF). Then she might have been more prepared to address the problems of porn addiction, compulsive masturbation (as well as prevention and harm reduction) rather than tarring all masturbation with the same brush.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Ted,

In response, I find the following quote by Dobson to be revealing, suggestion a broader application than mere preteen sexual awareness ...

As for the spiritual implications of masturbation, I will have to defer to the theologians for a more definitive response. It is interesting to me, however, that Scripture does not address this subject except for a single reference in the Old Testament to a man named Onan. He interrupted sexual intercourse with his sister-in-law and allowed his semen to fall on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother, which was his “duty” (Genesis 38:8-9). Although that verse is often cited as evidence of God’s disapproval of masturbation, the context doesn’t seem to fit."

What should you as a father say to your 13-year-old son about this subject? My advice is to say nothing after puberty has occurred. You will only cause embarrassment and discomfort. For those who are younger, it would be wise to include the subject of masturbation in the “Preparing for Adolescence” conversation I have recommended on other occasions. I would suggest that parents talk to their 12- or 13-year-old boys, especially, in the same general way my mother and father discussed this subject with me.

We were riding in the car, and my dad said, “Jim, when I was a boy, I worried so much about masturbation. It really became a scary thing for me because I thought God was condemning me for what I couldn’t help. So I’m telling you now that I hope you don’t feel the need to engage in this act when you reach the teen years, but if you do, you shouldn’t be too concerned about it. I don’t believe it has much to do with your relationship with God.

Ted Slater said...

It disturbs me, Anakin, that you advocate the use of pornography and are encouraging that 20-somethings develop their more lustful side. That really is a twisted perspective.

Do you indeed see nothing wrong with young adults investing in sexual fantasy? Do you really see nothing wrong with young adults putting off marriage because they can "get some" in the privacy of their computer-equipped bedrooms? Do you really see no difference between a youngster exploring their anatomy and a 20-something or 30-something that's fulfilling their sexual desires outside of marriage?

Anakin Niceguy said...

Careful, Ted. You are raising a straw man here. Where did I indicate support for pornography or lust? In fact, I didn't even say anything favorable about masturbation.

If Boundless feels so strongly about masturbation that it calls it a sin and lumps it in with use of pornography, fornication, etc. then some explanation of Dr. Dobson's stance is in order besides the answer that he was only talking about preteen behavior. He comments clearly indicate that he has no objection to masturbation, per se.

Would you seek the sponsorship of someone who fails to take a stance against sexual sin? If not, then why is Boundless supported by Dr. Dobson's minstry, Focus on the Family? It was only a matter of time before someone (like me) would raise a question about this inconsistency. If masturbation, per se, is a serious sin, then people are going to honestly wonder why religious leaders who accept each other are allowed to differ about the matter, but not the people sitting in the pews. After all, I doubt you would accept Bishop Spong's acceptance of homosexuality.

Triton said...

Anakin -- do you see no difference between a youngster "exploring" down there and a 20-something who's lusting in his heart and giving himself orgasms (in direct opposition to 1 Cor. 7:9)?

I can't speak for Anakin, but I see no difference. And I certainly don't think 1 Cor. 7:9 has anything to do with masturbation.

1 Cor. 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

This has to do with fornication, not masturbation, which should be obvious when placed in context with the first two verses in the chapter:

1 Cor. 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.

1 Cor. 7:2 Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.


As for that "lusting in your heart" stuff, I assume you're talking about Matt. 5:28:

Matt. 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

This is about coveting another man's wife, nothing more. The word here for "lust" is translated as "covet" in Romans 13:9. There is nothing explicitly sexual about it, as one can see:

Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

And why would Matthew write "adultery" instead of "fornication" or "sexual immorality"? Adultery is a capital offense - those found guilty are executed. Those who think this verse covers all sexual desire are promoting some strange scenarios. For example, a man who raped a virgin would only have to marry her according to the Old Testament, but a man who only thought about having consensual sex with that virgin would be executed as an adulterer according to this interpretation the New Testament.

Then there is the whole issue of sexually desiring one's own wife. And even if an exception is made in that case, the wedding night presents a catch-22; the marriage isn't official until it is consummated, yet a man is prohibited from sexually desiring his fiance. I suppose it is only permissible for Christian men to marry women for whom they have no sexual desire.

No, the only interpretation that makes sense is if Jesus is talking about coveting another man's wife. My personal belief is that adultery in the Old Testament was defined as sexual intercourse, and that left some wiggle room for a man to mess around with another's wife. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are an obvious example. They didn't have conventional intercourse, and neither considered what they did to be adultery. I believe Jesus was saying that acts like oral sex do, indeed, count as adulterous. The law against adultery isn't confined just to conventional intercourse, but to any sexual or romantic act that might be considered unfaithful. This might seem obvious today, but in first century Judea, it was an important legal distinction.

Anyway, back to masturbation: the only verses I've found that address the subject have to do with it making a man ritually unclean for a day, such as Deut. 23:10-11:

Deut. 23:10 If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:

Deut. 23:11 But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash [himself] with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp [again].


And I believe a soldier would be prohibited from taking part in the next day's battle, though I'm unable to find the verse at the moment. We have a modern version of this today - coaches often tell their players to abstain from sex the night before the big game.

The case of Onan is obviously about coitus interruptus, not masturbation. And Onan was punished for his disobedience, not for spilling his seed somewhere other than inside a vagina.

Masturbation is no different than gambling or drinking alcohol; it is Biblically permissible so long as it's done in moderation. The only restriction on it was the "ritually unclean for a day" part, but we are no longer legally bound by the Israelite ritual, so that part is moot. The Catholics and Catholic-lite denominations can make all the rules they want about masturbation, but I'm only concerned with what the Bible says about it.

Triton said...

I would also add that a prohibition against masturbation from the Marriage Mandaters (such as Watters) is completely predictable. They are all about shaming men into marriage, and they'll use anything they can to accomplish that. If these people ever had any real political power, then we would probably all be forced into teenage marriages arranged by government bureaucrats.

Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- read the article Candice wrote. Her article was in response to a woman who confessed to the sexual sins of "porn, masturbation, [and] cyber sex." She wanted help overcoming these sins.

Now you and others are criticizing Candice for offering help.

Are you saying that "porn, masturbation, [and] cyber sex" are not sins? Or are you saying that it's wrong for Candice to offer counsel? Keep in mind that her "masturbation" is in the context of porn use and cybersex.

Seriously -- this entire conversation is just puzzling. That Christians would slam someone who's trying to help another person mired in the sins of "porn, masturbation, [and] cyber sex" just doesn't make any sense.

And that you see no difference between childhood exploration and a 20-something or 30-something that's struggling with "porn, masturbation, [and] cyber sex" leaves me speechless.

Triton -- sexual sin (such as the viewing of pornography, lusting in your heart, engaging in cybersex) most certainly has to do with 1 Cor. 7:9. Committing these sins is an indication that a person "cannot exercise self-control." And that "they should marry" (not my words, but the Apostle Paul's words).

You're saying that Matt. 5:28 has nothing to do with sexuality? A person "who looks at a woman with lustful intent" is doing nothing sexual? Why would Jesus equate that with adultery if it's not sexual?

Triton -- your argument in favor of lusting after women is a marvel.

Anonymous said...

Ted,

Now, I am no "Anakin Fan", as a matter of fact, I have debated with him extensively on whether or not pornography violates women, a point that he categorically denies, I'm afraid to say. However, in the weeks that argument went on, he NEVER advocated the use of porn, but actually declared it as sinful on the grounds that it's a kind of idolatry. Nor has he EVER encouraged ANYONE to "develop their more lustful side" (if anything, he minimizes sexuality, IMO).

As such, I really think these kinds of mischaracterizations border on bearing false witness.

For him to point out the discrepancy between Dobson's position and Candice's was quite fair. And it seems quite evasive of you not to address his questions about why that discrepancy exists.

As for criticizing poor Candice who was only trying to help, PUHLEEZE! The Boundless folks seem to believe that if you give advice with the highest possible moral standards, you can do no wrong. As if good intentions provide some kind of innoculation from the shame that stridency can create.

The only healthy way you can address the issue of masturbation is from a position of MODERATION. The numerous casualities of well-intented evangelical and Catholic zero-tolerance masturbation teachings that are out there speak for themselves. And that's why Dobson, with his years of clinical experience takes a more moderate stance. Candice could have simply addressed the issue of porn and compulsivity, and left out the Theophilus link that basically declares even "once in a while" youthful masturbation to be wrong. But she instead she tarred all masturbation with the same brush.

So if YOU think there's a difference between youthful masturbation and 20,30-somethings lusting after internet porn, take it up with HER, she's the one who's declaring it all to be a big, bad sin, by including that Theophilus link -- and that's why people here are rightly concerned.

Ted Slater said...

Anonymous (clever screen name, by the way) -- Anakin is coming down against Candice for trying to help a woman who is struggling with online porn and cybersex, and "acting it out" by masturbating.

Anakin is saying that such behavior is not wrong, not something to help someone overcome.

I have, on several occasions, pointed out why there's a discrpancy between what Dr. Dobson said about youthful exploration and a 20-something or 30-something fantasizing about sex while masturbating. One may be innocuous experimentation, while the other is feeding lust and keeping some from enjoying sex in its proper context: marriage.

I'm not sure how else to explain the situation.

Would you just dismiss the woman who asked Candice the question, affirming her use of porn and cybersex, telling her to engage in it, but "in moderation"?

Again, it's really puzzling that so many Christians do not seem to see porn and cybersex (and acting on them through masturbation) as behaviors that should be overcome. Just a puzzle.

Anonymous said...

First of all Ted, I really should just ignore your retort, given your scarcasm about my using the anonymous function. But anyways...

"Anakin is coming down against Candice for trying to help a woman who is struggling with online porn and cybersex, and "acting it out" by masturbating...Anakin is saying that such behavior is not wrong, not something to help someone overcome."

No one's coming down on Candice for trying to help a woman struggling with online porn and cybersex. It's HOW she's helping this woman that the problem (ie. by declaring all masturbation as sinful and wrong, even though her "boss" does not). But maybe we're not supposed to critique anything that the Boundless writers have to say.

"I have, on several occasions, pointed out why there's a discrpancy between what Dr. Dobson said about youthful exploration and a 20-something or 30-something fantasizing about sex while masturbating. One may be innocuous experimentation, while the other is feeding lust and keeping some from enjoying sex in its proper context: marriage."

Ted, if you don't think "youthful exploration" of sexuality ever involves fantasizing about sex while masturbating (or that "youthful exploration stops at the teens, the 20s or even 30s), you're kidding yourself. As for a 20-something who fantasizes and masturbates to the point of feeding lust that undermines marriage, that is the EXCEPTION. But somehow I don't think you will concede that there is any such thing as moderate masturbation with no negative consequences-- the middle ground is something you just don't care to discuss, is it?

"Would you just dismiss the woman who asked Candice the question, affirming her use of porn and cybersex, telling her to engage in it, but "in moderation"?" No. But I wouldn't advise a zero tolerance policy on all masturbation either, because that is just a set-up for failure and shame.

"Again, it's really puzzling that so many Christians do not seem to see porn and cybersex (and acting on them through masturbation) as behaviors that should be overcome. Just a puzzle." Again, it's really puzzling to me that although no one here has defended porn or cybersex, we are being given the tut-tut treatment for not jumping on the Boundless "all masturbation is wrong" bandwagon.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Ted,

You write:

Anonymous (clever screen name, by the way) -- Anakin is coming down against Candice for trying to help a woman who is struggling with online porn and cybersex, and "acting it out" by masturbating.

Anakin is saying that such behavior is not wrong, not something to help someone overcome.


Ted, I'm sorry but you are very mistaken, here. I and others have told you already that issue was NOT about Candice counseling a woman caught up in cybersex and porn.

The issue is this: Candice has quoted Theophilus (who is actually James Budziszewski, a man who has converted to Catholicism and who is a big proponent of Natural Law Theology). Candice thus makes a blanket indictment against all masturbation (thus putting her at odds with Dr. Dobson). I like to know why Candice and Budziszewksi get to say one thing and why Dobson gets to say another thing.

noseintheair said...

It's kind of important, in a longitudinal way, to explore the office politics of FoF -- it might be marginally important someone (like me, Ted) who might yet make a part time ministry out of helping young single men get free of ideas that they pick up from places like churches influenced by them.

And I agree that Ted is imputing ideas to people that they have not expressed (something highly offensive to the sensibilities of NT scripture; and something that I do not think he "hears" himself do; it is not willful, IMHO).

BUT there is an issue personal holiness that is all around this question. I'd like to hear you speak to this, Anakin.

Triton said...

You're saying that Matt. 5:28 has nothing to do with sexuality?

It does, but only in the context of coveting another man's wife.

Why would Jesus equate that with adultery if it's not sexual?

Because two virgins having sex is not adultery by any historical definition of the term. Jesus was talking about coveting another man's wife, he was not referring to any and all things that are even remotely sexual.

Triton -- sexual sin (such as the viewing of pornography, lusting in your heart, engaging in cybersex) most certainly has to do with 1 Cor. 7:9.

And yet the context of that chapter would suggest otherwise - that Paul was talking about people who were having difficulty resisting fornication.

Triton -- your argument in favor of lusting after women is a marvel.

My argument was not in favour of "lusting after women", and if you were seriously considering my points, you would realize it.

Your mistake, Ted, is in taking a verse and extrapolating it to include your entire wider subject of interest, even when that extrapolation is unsupported or contradicted by the verse's surrounding context. This is Pharisaical: you are adding to the Word.

Anonymous said...

About 1 Cor 7:9, even if Paul is including masturbation in "if they cannot contain", even then he's saying that it's BETTER to marry than to burn with passion (and I think most of us would think that it's better to be married and sexually satified than be single and sexually frustrated). But saying that one of two things is "better", doesn't mean that the other is necessarily a sin.

Ted Slater said...

Anonymous -- Paul writes, "They should marry."

Perhaps someone like Puritan Calvinist can unpack the meaning of "should." It may mean "they are free to marry" or "they would be wise to marry," or it could mean "it's imperative that they marry."

I believe that the verb for marry here, gameo, is in the imperative mood. In other words, it seems to be a command rather than merely permission.

But I'm not sure.

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Anakin Niceguy said...
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