Fundy Sex Week Day 5 Bonus: Idle Hands

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It is rare on this blog that I get the opportunity to offend not only fundamentalists but evangelicals and Catholics as well in a single post. Thankfully, the last two years has given me a depth of experience in being the object of people’s righteous (if misguided) indignation. So I’m going to foolishly rush in before I have the chance to second guess myself. Here we go…”

In this world there are many hard and uncomfortable truths that cannot be either denied or avoided. For fundamentalists there is perhaps no truth that is more uncomfortable than this: Human Beings Masturbate. And fundamentalists are no exception. If you’re a guy attending your favorite Fundy U you’d be advised to get a pair of shower shoes. Enough said.

The difference, of course, is that even when everybody’s doing it, almost nobody in fundyland dares to talk about it. It’s a secret shame. A hidden evil. A sin that bears the moniker of Onan the barbarian– and we all know that his story hardly ended well. So of course, this silence is going to be broken as of right now.

Like so many other topics, the Scriptures remain strangely silent on the practice of going it alone. Given this lack of explicit prohibition, one would think that with all the fundamentalists would be happy to offer some alternative to the raging hormones of youth, the privations of singleness, or the general stress of life. And yet, despite being healthy and natural and almost universal among humans (and a bunch of other species), the stigma remains. So many poor souls torture themselves endlessly about the fact that they do exactly what everybody else is doing…and to what end?

Like anything else, masturbation is not without its pitfalls. The Scriptures do have a some rather pointed things things to say about not violating your own conscience and about fleeing patterns of illicit lust. But lust is a state of mind not a physical reflex. On may as well condemn a person who sneezes in bright sunlight.

Of course, even godless secular psychology will tell you that a person who chooses their own company over that of their spouse is not in a healthy emotional or spiritual place. And an overuse of any stimuli whether it be sex, food, or substance abuse is likely a symptom of deeper issues. But judging a thing solely on its potential abuses is hardly a thoughtful approach. If fundamentalists are people of the Book then I challenge them to show me from a proper historical and contextual exegesis where solo sex is condemned. Take your time. Search carefully. I’ll wait.

By the way, if you should ever (in a most unlikely circumstance) find yourself in a battle of proof texts with a fundamentalist on this most taboo of topics, simply hand them Ecclesiastes 9:10 and then walk away whistling. It will apply to the subject just as much as any argument they care to invent. And it’ll be funny, trust me.

And Fundy U students, please bring shower shoes. I’m not kidding.
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117 thoughts on “Fundy Sex Week Day 5 Bonus: Idle Hands”

  1. i’ve been around xianity for my whole life, and heard my share of bible jokes, but Ecclesiastes 9:10 is hands down (hmm, pun intended?) the best ever! still rotflmao (as the kids say these days).

  2. Yes, everyone needs shower shoes, but I’m guessing the reason you’re suggesting is primarily applicable to men. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and can I add one thing here?
    “godless secular psychology will tell you that a person who [always] chooses their own company over that of their spouse is not in a healthy emotional or spiritual place.”
    Because even for couples, masturbation is a healthy way to explore their individual sexuality on their own time. And I believe “statistics” say that a majority of married people masturbate on their own occasionally in addition to their coupled sex life. πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, everyone needs shower shoes, but I’m guessing the reason you’re suggesting is primarily applicable to men.

      I was a guy in a guy’s dorm. I have no insight into what went on elsewhere. 😯 But yes, I could have made that more clear.

    2. If your spouse is not available or up to it, then the big M is a lot better than finding someone else. I think couples should allow it; it can help take pressure off of the relationship in this area.

  3. Unfortunately, if you were a male student at BJU during the reign of Tony Miller, former dean of men, this topic was mentioned. A lot. He had some sort of mad obsession with it, and if one ever found oneself in his lair, you could pretty much count on being questioned and lectured about the “evils” of masturbation. Creepy old bastard.

    1. You know, someone who is dean ought to be talking more about loving Jesus and sharing things he is learning that are uplifting (visions of Mr. Chips – you know, the old B&W movie “Goodbye Mr. Chips” – comes to mind) not obsessing about masturbation. Obsessing like that sounds like any number of psychological issues, but definitely a morbid fascination. That’s wierd.

  4. Not long ago, a teenaged boy asked me, “What are the possible harmful side effects of masturbating?”

    I thought for a while, and then said, “Tired hands.”

        1. The comic strip was making fun of all the stuff that is supposed to happen if you masturbate. You will go blind, it will cause your face to break out, etc. People will know you are doing it by the fact you have zits on your knees.

        2. My hubby and I laugh about the “causes you to go blind” side affects because on the Viagra commercial it says that one of the side affects of the medications is “may cause blindness” lol

  5. Shower shoes are highly recommended for many many other reasons. Since we’ve abandoned all sense of shamefacedness (there’s a good fundy word!) let me just say that sometimes the international students, particularly those who never had indoor plumbing…well, let’s just say they got their “hardware locations in the Western bathroom” a little confused from time to time. >_<

    I think the Fundy hangup on flying solo is that (according to them) it's impossible to do the deed while thinking about, say, puppies. Or driving up the California coastline. Or watching football (unless you get off watching twenty-two 300+ pound guys run into each other for three hours). Basically according to them you have to be thinking about sex in order to simulate it, and of course unless you're married and you're thinking about your significant other, the image and scenario playing out in your head likely falls under the "Matthew 5:28" category and therefore you're committing adultery every time. So…yeah, for whatever *that's* worth, I think that's the thought process.

    1. I have to wonder how literally to take Matthew 5:28, especially since the verses following it talk about cutting out one’s eyes or cutting off one’s hands to preserve the rest of the body. I think it’s interesting that Christians interpret 5:28 as an absolute, but then the following verses are just hyperbole.

      I think there’s a big difference between thinking about someone as “inspiration” for “flying solo,” and actually intending to have sex with that person and planning out the act, which would seem to be what Jesus would be talking about.

      Similarly, I think there’s a big difference between looking at something that your neighbor owns and thinking, “Wow, I wish my car was as nice as his,” and “Wow, how can I go about stealing his car so I can drive it?” When the Bible discourages coveting someone else’s stuff, I would think that the latter would be a sin, while the former wouldn’t. I think that the actual intent makes a big difference there.

      Or I could just be totally off base. Who knows?

      1. Additionally, why does Jesus compare lust to adultery and not fornication? If you are not married you cannot commit adultery.

        I think the passage in question is speaking about marital fidelity first and how easy it is to run off the rails, rather than about sexual desire in and of itself. But, as per usual, Fundies get the meaning bass ackwards.

        1. Additionally, in the larger context Jesus was challenging the prevailing fundy notion of his day, which was that evil was outside the self, and could be warded off with rules. Jesus taught that evil came from within. That is why he talks about the heart, and also why he uses the hyperbole of self-mutilation. As usual, Jesus larger (and much more profound) teaching is ignored in a mad dash toward legalism.

  6. As a man, I will say the issue becomes more about lust and the thoughts you concentrate on while, um, well… playing uno. If you are turning to porn or previous images you’ve hidden away in your mind, then yes, it’s wrong. You are lusting after a woman that you’re not married to. And let’s face it, playing uno is not merely a “physical reflex”. It’s something you do in conjunction with visual stimuli (physical of mental). Now, if you can do it and think only about your wife, and as on flesh, she’s ok with it, then go for it. But, if it takes you down a path of satisfying your own sinful lust, then sorry, but it’s wrong. I don’t believe that’s fundy logic, that’s just being led by the Spirit to a life that’s more like Christ.

    1. LNM, I think you might be missing the germ of the issue here though. Certainly the question of whether or not to masturbate in marriage is an important one, but the audience who Fundy’s most often speak to about this is single folks, rather than marrieds. Thus, if you’re single, as “mounty” said before you, you really don’t have many options on who to focus your… “desire” on. In fact, you don’t have ANY female options which do not, as he says, violate Matthew 5:28. So, although thinking of only your wife may be a good solution in marriage, in leaves those outside of that bond high and dry… no pun intended. πŸ˜€

    2. “Now, if you can do it and think only about your wife, and as on flesh, she’s ok with it, then go for it.”

      So the only condition that justifies it in your opinion is doing it with the permission and concurrence of ones spouse? (I’m purposely using the word spouse here because i’m assuming that whats good for the goose is good for the gander.)

    3. Let me clarify one thing. I’m not defending fundies here. In fact, where they get it wrong is that they shame the act and don’t concentrate on the motive. This is what they do with most things. I.e. – That man is gay, therefore we will condemn, ridicule, and hate him. In reality, his greatest need is Christ, not his sin. When it comes to masturbation and sex in general, fundies automatically condemn the act and never talk about the motive. Rather, they should talk about it and encourage their people to be led by the Spirit and a genuine desire to obey scripture. We should do ALL things to the glory of God. Just like drinking wine to drunkenness is wrong, sex of any kind doesn’t bring God glory unless it’s done within his plan – the dedication and commitment of marriage (physically and mentally).

      DT – No I completely caught the germ, and you’re right. If you’re not married, then you are high and dry (Ha! Great pun BTW). Just like if you’re not married, then sex altogether is not permissible either. The point is that as men, married or single, if we play uno while thinking of, or actually have sex with, or simply lustfully think about a woman that is not our wife, we are wrong. Sorry, but that’s how it is. What’s the alternative to a single man’s burning desire? Christ. As He should be to all Christians married or single. Paul even went so far as to tell single people to embrace their singleness as a time they can devote their entire lives and attention to Christ.

      Marie – Of course that’s not the only condition. We should judge all our actions by what drives them, then we should judge those motives by scripture. But, as a married couple, my body is her body, and I should absolutely talk about “uno” with her, and out of respect for her refrain if she is not comfortable with it.

      1. Really? Everyone look here @LegalistNoMore has found the answers to all of life. With one statement he has ended this argument for all time. Wait for it…”that’s how it is.” Did you catch that? Yup he has settled it.

        Listen I appreciate your strict reading of the Bible, but its wrong. Also it doesn’t work out so well physiologically either. But perhaps most importantly you’ve missed what Darrell was saying to begin with. It is going to happen, it is natural that it does happen, God created us with the ability and natural desires. Why then go back and make it taboo all over again?

        1. How am I being a legalist when I am trying to view this subject in the light of scripture? Are we supposed to live our lives according to what’s fair? What’s natural (sin is natural, btw)? What’s socially acceptable? What does and doesn’t work? Psychology? As followers of Christ the secular and spiritual are one. We must look at everything through the lens of Christ and his word.

          You said, “…It always made me feel like if I just prayed a little more, if I just believed a little more, if I just did a little more, then Jesus would make it all go away.” That is a legalist. Pure and simple. Feeling that if we just try harder we can gain God’s favor. No! We can NEVER do ANYTHING to garner God’s favor. We are to accept God’s grace through the gift of his Son. Not only in Salvation, but in every day life. The grace that saves us, sustains us. I in no way said we should shame people into doing what scripture teaches. Shame and guilt are terrible taskmasters, but the gracious and loving Jesus is a wonderful master. In fact, we should even teach people to show grace to themselves. When we sin, we can’t handle the pressures of life, or even when we do something right, we turn to Christ to rest or boast only in him.

          You appreciate my commitment to the Bible but I’m wrong? Explain. That was my point earlier. We should talk about these things, and it seems we are.

        2. Sorry Mark and Trapped, I kinda mixed my replies into one long post.

          Mark – Your assertion that I have all the answers to life figured out is completely unfounded ;). I don’t claim that. When I used the phrase, “that’s how it is”, I was simply stating that when it comes to looking at things in the light of scripture, the Word settles issues for us. But, since I don’t have it figured out and I love hearing other points of view, I would love to hear yours on the subject.

        3. @LegalistNoMore

          the entire point of the post was that masturbation is both natural and not condemned directly in the Bible. So why make it so? Why go through the trouble to create a doctrine that doesn’t exist? Why take something that is perfectly natural and now create shame or embarrassment?

          As you reach REM sleep you become naturally aroused, a good majority of your dreams (male or female) will be about sex, the majority of which (male or female) won’t be about your spouse, and discharge is extremely frequent. Should we go ahead and condemn that as well?

          I see nowhere in scripture where masturbation is condemned. We do see one passage where Christ speaks with great hyperbole and says to even look at a woman and lust is to commit that sin already. He also talks about plucking your eye out and a couple of other outlandish things. We can read this literally, but it is pretty clear that the passage is not to be taken literally. So if Christ is speaking over the top what might he mean? And in light of how sleep works in general if we take that passage literally we all break that “commandment” in the dead of night when we have absolutely no control. So we are all hopelessly condemned every night to break that commandment.

          So what might this mean? Well it is one thing to see someone of the opposite sex and become aroused. This is exactly how God created us. It is perfectly natural and anyone who is married understands how it works. It is quite another thing to “lust” after her. I don’t think that this is talking about a mere attraction. This isn’t arousal based upon looks. This is King David type lust. You know the type: “I must have this woman and I’m willing to kill her husband for her.” I think we can both agree that seeing a girl and being aroused is quite different from seeing a girl and killing her husband to be with her. In the former case the worst that can happen is masturbation, in the latter case King David looked on her with such a great lust that he literally committed adultery with her.

          So I don’t think that your estimation is accurate for a few reasons. First there is no indication that in the passage Jesus meant that one verse to be literal. In fact, if we take it literally we break this basically every night. If it is not literal then what does it mean? I believe it is talking about a lust that moves you to action. If we read things too literally then we condemn the natural action of being attracted to the opposite sex. And isn’t that what this entire week’s posts were about? Demystifying sex. Taking away the stigma. It doesn’t need to be there. Second I think it is wrong because God naturally gave us such an attraction and graciously gave us a natural release.

          Now watching porn while masturbating? That is a different story. Thinking horribly in depth sexual thoughts while masturbating? That is another story. But the mere act of being aroused and then fulfilling that arousal is not what Christ is talking about and nowhere is it condemned. Can you masturbate and not violate God’s word? Absolutely that’s why God created us this way.

      2. “What’s the alternative to a single man’s burning desire? Christ.”

        πŸ™„

        I hated hearing that when I was single, and I hate hearing it now.

        That statement never did anything but make me even more miserable as a single person. It made me feel like I was wrong for feeling like I wanted a wife and that my perfectly natural desires were somehow evil. It always made me feel like if I just prayed a little more, if I just believed a little more, if I just did a little more, then Jesus would make it all go away.

        I’m sorry, but Christ never, ever, not even once, sufficed as an “alternative to my burning desires” for me, as much as I would have liked for it to be true when I was young and single.

        LegalistNoMore? That’s hardly an appropriate handle considering the content of your post. It’s people like you and platitudes like the one quoted above that made me feel guilty for all of my teenage years and into my young adulthood, when all of that guilt was completely and utterly unnecessary.

        1. So single men (and women, ’cause we do it to) are supposed to think about Jesus when we get that urge? πŸ™„

          And now, a wildly inappropriate limerick about Jesus, fornication, and masturbation:

          There was a young sailor named Tex
          Who avoided pre-marital sex
          By thinking of Jesus and venereal diseases
          And beating his meat below decks. :mrgreen:

        2. Sorry Mark, I kinda mixed my replies to you and Mark into one long reply to Mark’s comment above. Please take a look.

          Also, I wanted to say that I read your reply to mounty’s comment. Interesting. I see what you mean about the conflict of hyperbole vs literality in Matt 5. I appreciate your challenge to read that verse in context of the entire passage. Initially, on the subject of lust, it seems he is warning us that the motive and mental act (v 28) is no different than the actual act (v 27). Legalism says dont do this act and you’re ok, where living in grace says we should look on our heart as God does. For me, this is definitely worth thinking on more. Thanks!

      3. Hmm, in fundamentalism there is a lot of talk about the motives behind sex.

        It is the desire for sex, and it is a sin.

        The fundamentalist read of Matthew 5:28 is that sexual desire is a sin because it is the same as adultery.

        They make no distinction between sexual desire and lust. To do so would be splitting hairs or something.

      4. We discussed this in Christian Ethics at my (not exactly fundy, but almost) seminary. It isn’t nearly as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be. No matter how strong your opinion, Scripture simply doesn’t address the issue.

    4. Who says that anyone who masturbates automatically thinks of doing it with someone (or imagines that someone) during the act? At the risk of TMI, when I’m having fun with myself, I rarely, if ever, think of another human being, fantasy or real life. I’m thinking, “Man, work was crap today, I need this” or even a basic “Ah, that feels good.”

      It’s when I’m out and about looking at all the happy couples that I start angsting for a man in my life, lol.

  7. Darrell, your intro is so awesome, I’m moved to song:

    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is great
    If a sperm is wasted
    God gets quite irate

    (And, more along the lines of short shoes:)
    Every sperm is sacred
    Every sperm is good
    Every sperm is needed in your neighborhood

  8. Sperm has a lifespan of about 72 hours. The male body produces enough sperm to replace the dead sperm. So what happens to the dead sperm? If you do not have sex or masturbate, God does the deed for you and gives you a nocturnal emission while you sleep. The flow is done gradually enough that it is rarely noticed. So if you don’t get rid of it, God will be forced to.

    On a serious note, I started going to church when I was a senior in high school. 90% of the teaching in the male small groups was about masturbation. So many guys (myself included) became messed up with guilt over something everyone did. What sucks is that if you shame someone about an activity, they are more likely to do it compulsively. Hence we had A LOT of young men with chronic masturbation problems, way more than the “heathen” boys outside the church (and no, the heathens weren’t having real sex, at least not my friends)
    Seems odd that if the God is so against it, he didn’t mention this universal activity even once in his book. Catholic talk about Onan, but he did not masturbate, he pulled out so that he would not get his sister-in-law pregnant and therefore screw himself out of the lion’s share of his father’s inheritance. Seriously, read that story, it is condemning greed.

  9. I always thought that Onan got a bad rap. I imagine him being stressed out with a woman he didn’t want to be with but doing ‘his duty’ to his brother’s memoryHe may have had a congenitally weak heart, and suffered a heart attack. In reaction he stood up and then keeled over. Then the fam attributed it to his attitude rather than his poor constitution. Perhaps his brother had the same condition, but his coronary occurred out in the fields or on the street, so he got a pass on the deal.

    1. He did not want to be with her because any child they produced would have been his brother’s heir. Meaning, that child would inherit the 1st son’s share of their father’s fortune. If he did not produce a child, then he would get the money. After he died, the next brother stood to gain, and down the line.

      1. That is the common post facto analysis. But he went in, and he tried. After he dropped dead, he could no longer express what his motivation was in pulling out.

  10. The problem with the text you offer Darrell is that the fundie will grab hold of the last phrase and say if you are dong that with your hand, then thou art surly going to Sheol because of it.
    I just use Matt 6:3b, “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:” lest it become jealous and envy to lust after the same. (king james Embellished)

  11. I was at BJ for the now infamous Tony Miller dorm meeting when he (mis)spoke over the PA about pretty much everything sexual. I have the meeting on iTunes. You know when you laugh so hard you become acutely aware that you need to breathe soon? THAT’s how hard we were laughing during that meeting. Definitely one WEIRD dude. He always reminded me of the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Same messed up vibe from both of them.

    1. You have it on iTunes? Is it something one could find in the iTunes store? Or if it’s a personal mp3 you have, is there any way we could convince you to share? That sounds like the kind of hilarity we all need in our lives.

  12. One of my friends raised his hand to no one in particular and said “I have a question about my girlfriend’s G-Spot” with a compeltely straight face. That’s when I lost it.

      1. But be careful as trees have been know to burst into flame in front of houses where women practice this. See video link in my response below. Just be careful out there. ‘kay? O-kay! πŸ˜‰

  13. I’m quite comfortable “handling” myself when I need to…whether that’s just because the husband is on an all night fishing trip, or if he’s otherwise absent.

    At good ol’ PCC, I “handled” myself regularly. Helped with the pent-up frustrations of the day and/or helped me get to sleep (ah….dopamine, snore….).

    I’d freely talk about such subjects face-to-face with nearly anyone. πŸ™‚

  14. When I was coming of age, I read a book that described a young girl touching herself in ‘her special place’. Alright, I thought, my special place will be … my kneecap. I tried it, and my inner voice said “You dip; do it right or don’t do it at all!”. Didn’t bother again til I met my husband, and then I had to, cause he pushed ALL the right buttons πŸ˜‰ .

  15. I was realy surprised a couple years ago when I found out that Dr. Dobson says not to worry about boys doing the Uno thing. He says it has nothing to do with sex, and just don’t make a big deal of it and get your kid all hung up psychologicaly about it.

    1. But technically, that would be sex. Unless you’re a person desperately trying to believe you’re not yet having sex in a new relationship by saying nothing except PIV is “real” sex. In that case, it’s important to realize there are still potential STI risks and emotional investments in mutual masturbation.

  16. @Neurite – I’d be happy to share. I honestly can’t remember where I got it, but I do know that there are a few places where you can get it online. I’ll try to remember where I’ve seen it posted. One way or another, I’ll figure out how to get it to you. My email address is R_RayMcDaniel@yahoo.com. If you want to send me yours, I could email it to you.

  17. This topic was never discussed growing up. When I was 13 I remember my fundy grandma asking my Mom if I had my “boy period” yet. I was in the other room. I could have died.
    When I was a freshman in college we watched the Dobson movies @ church. There was a youth gathering that night of the sex movie. I remember the youth leadrr saying he wished he had heard what Dobson talked about when he was a teenager. A couple of days later my Dad told me that you don’t get hair on your hands like they used to say. I didn’t really say anything – but I wanted to say, “Dad I figured this out 6 years ago”

    1. “boy period”? What the hell is that? Are we talking wet dreams? Cause my husband was smart enough to clean up after himself, and I’m assuming my boys have been too.

  18. I find it interesting no one ever discusses female masturbation. Girls do play a hand of Uno on occasion. πŸ˜‰

    The subject of lust as well I find wonderfully complicated once you look outside of typical sexuality. Does lust for someone you’re not married to only work when you’re lusting after a human? What about our wonderfundies who have a shoe fetish or are really into autoasphyxiation? Is lusting over an inanimate object really a sinfun lust?

  19. One of the things that made me fall in love with HF was the fact that the topic of masturbation (and sex, in general) was no big deal to him. I felt so relieved to talk about anything I wanted… for the first time.

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