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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.