Saturday, March 06, 2010

"Body and Spirit" -> The M Word And Sex In Marriage

Warning:  You may find this offensive, and you may disagree with me.  However, I believe that the Christian church must take this on with the all the other issues that we face.  However, I suggest that if you are not of age, or don't want to deal with one man's views on masturbation and sex in marriage, I suggest that you simply don't read the rest.  You will be offended.

I recently sat in a conversation with some very nice, Christian women.  They started to talk about another women.  Now, this may be close to gossip, but it really wasn't.  They were simply recounting this woman's life and some of the misery that she saw.  Then suddenly one spoke out, "Well, her husband had a porn problem."

Pornography is wrong.  As a Christian, we should not use it.  However, these women were clueless.  I really like both of these women, but I could tell that they were trapped in their bodies.  They simply could not understand how men are wired.  Pornography is not right, and as Christian, we need to fight against it.  However, unless you understand the framework, you'll never figure out the root. 

My children are of age where we need to talk about subjects of growing bodies.  Probably the most under talked subject in Christianity is masturbation.  For something that happens so often, you would think that the church would face it straight on.  It doesn't.  It puts the subject on the back burner, and it allows the holy hypocrites to dominate the conversation.

Thank goodness for James Dobson.

If you are not in the Church, you probably think that Dobson is the most repressive fundamentalist Christian that lives.  He does not support homosexuality.  He does not support sexual freedom.  He is anti-abortion.  However, he has some interesting words on masturbation:

"Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice — and the rest have been known to lie."-- "Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide"

I think Dobson has thought this out remarkably well, and he lists four areas of concern with masturbation.

1.  Some people go crazy with guilt over this.  I had a mother that was raised in such a fundamentalist church that they taught that reading any comic strip was sin.  So, until she died, she wouldn't read the funny papers.  This, to me is crazy, but it shows how a religion can make anything filled with guilt.

2.  Over masturbation.  I read a few secular websites where people throw stuff out.  Every once in a while, a rabid atheist will ask "how do I stop masturbating so much?  Its become an obsession."  In these cases, most people answer him.  You don't have to be a Christian to realize that you can masturbate too much.

3.  Pornographic material.  Without going into the details, there is no doubt that pornography does nobody any good, and hurts people.  Again, any secular person will tell you that porn will stop your love making with your wife.  We'll write more on this later in this post, but porn is the great bane of our time.

4.  Masturbation in marriage is wrong, except in extreme cases.  There, I've said it.  I've found an area where we can support it being wrong.  I wish that I could do a perfect exegesis to explain why this is true, but I can't.  However, the evidence is so clearly common sense, I believe you will understand this later on.

To leave Dobson alone, let us talk a bit about masturbation and the scripture.

I've seen some horrible exegesis of scripture on this.  A matter of fact, most exegesis of scripture and masturbation is so bad that those that talk against it may be condemned as Pharisees in Matthew 23:

"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."

I am going to make the exegesis very simple.  The Bible is a big book.  It talks at length on every subject.  You want to know about eating shellfish?  It has a verse on this.  You want to know about miscarriages from a woman being hit?  There is a verse on this.  Do you want to know about how to treat your neighbor?  There is a verse on this.  You want to know what happens if a person has sex outside of marriage?  There are many verses on this.  You even want to know what happens if somebody has a perverse act with an animal?  There are verses on this.

The Bible never calls out that masturbation is wrong as a pleasurable action.

There is one brief story in the Old Testament about Onan that was told to take his dead brother wife and to give her children.  He used withdrawl as a birth control so she wouldn't get pregnant (basically removing any ability for her to have children, and condemning her to an old age without support).  Because Onan wouldn't give his dead brother wife a child, the Lord killed him.  Now, the Bible doesn't say he masturbated, but some have twisted the scriptures and will say that he did.  Regardless, this so clearly is not anything about masturbation that it is an open and shut case.  The Bible says nothing about masturbation.

I've read some Christian forums where people tried an "apply" scripture to say "have no unclean thought" as a basis.  However, this is just silly.  It is beyond silly.  They are off applying scripture when nothing is needed.  Let me be clear.  The Scriptures are very complete.  You don't need to apply anything.  It masturbation was wrong, the Bible would say so.  In clear letters.  In flashing letters.  It does call out everything clearly, but this one activity.

Don't twist the scriptures.

As a married man of over 20 years, let me explain a couple of things.  Sex is made for two purposes:

1.  Procreation
2.  Pleasure to bond

The first one is easy for the Christian to understand.  The second is self evident once you get married.  Generally, the role of male and female is very clear.  Men have a strong sex drive.  Woman don't have a strong sex drive.  Now both male and female have distribution curves of desire, but evidence is overwhelming in both observation and studies.  There is no doubt about it.

I personally believe that if man never fell in the Garden of Eden (commonly called the "Fall of Man"), there would have still been this separation in sexual desire.  Some women recognize this, but remarkably a lot of women don't.  Women can drive extremely strong behavior by virtue of this sexual offset.

The root of sexual desire seems to be testosterone.  I read many reports that when women start injecting testosterone, their sexual desires start to echo those of males.  In the same regard, when boys get to a certain age, the testosterone changes levels, and they start to notice girls and start to worry about sex.  This is where it really gets tough for males.  Once we get this hormone flowing, we have a really difficult time with our behavior.  However, sex is a bit like an appetite.  You may get sexually hungry, but it you act on it, the desire goes down for a while.  Paul recognizes this as he writes in I Cor 7:

"But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

Once you are through the sexual act, the desire goes down.  This is scriptural and clearly written by Paul.

This is one of those points that is so incredibly important that I am going to repeat it, "If you do not have sex, Satan will tempt you."  The Word of God states that sex reduces temptation.

The Catholic Church, which states priest must be celibate, has a big problem.  This is what happens when you don't read your Bible.  I can understand a bit of their confusion, however.

The only challenge with Paul's writings is that Paul could be celibate. So, Paul threw out some comments about being celibate. Many people beyond the Catholic Church have said, "Hey let's be like Paul. Be celibate." Although the scripture says be "fruitful and multiply," we throw that section away.

However, being celibate is not the norm.  Peter, one of the most influential apostles, had a wife that came with him on his travels. No doubt Peter had sex. I find it beyond belief that the Roman Catholic church says "our Popes come from Peter" and yet they do not follow Peter's example of marriage.

Once we get into a Christian marriage, things should change.  If I could drive the best of all behaviors in married Christian couples, it would be the following:

1. Husbands, you can no longer masturbate yourself.
2. Wives, you need to address your husband's need every single day or whatever interval he needs it

The psychology is very clear, and is familiar as Pavlov's dogs. Human beings have broad associations. Let me give you a non-sexual example. It is well know that people are perceived much more positively over a meal that is very pleasurable. The reason why is that human beings cannot distinguish the pleasure from the meal versus the pleasure from the person. If you want to make friends with somebody, just feed them something that they like.

The goal of sex should be to have the husband only associate the pleasurable act of sex as being associated with his wife. Once you have kids and a busy job, you will not have time for passionate love making every night. Face it. To be happy, the wife will simply need to take care of her husband's need. Many nights this will be a sexual act to is fast and not wearing on the woman. Most couples will not want to have certain types of sex during certain parts of the month. However, I would always suggest that it is the wife that addresses her husband's needs.

So now we get toward the end of this post.  Once a man is married, we start to forget what it was like to be young.  I see some older married men or women saying masturbation is wrong for our children.  If you are a woman, I will ask you not to butt in.  Most of you have no idea of what a man's sexual appetite is like, and you can't judge here.  If you are a man, just remember the days of your youth.

The worst thing that we do to our children is to force them to be sexually capable and yet have no outlet. 
I am not some liberal-joe that says "teach your kids to have sex safely because they will have it anyway."  I don't believe in teaching my children to put on condoms.  I don't think they will have sex.  I do believe that Paul had the right idea.  If you have no outlet for sexual tension, you will have no self control.  For girls, you may never need to teach them to masturbate.  For our boys?

We need to understand how they work.

The only thing left that you will struggle with as a Christian with sexuality is the problem of unpure thoughts.  Certainly in masturbation and even in marriage, it is easy to have wrong thoughts.  And many will print "if you think about a woman wrong, then you are committing a sin."  Since masturbation can lead to bad thoughts, we potentially set up ourselves for sexual temptation.

However, I believe that both the Bible, research and commonsense points out the danger of no outlet.  It is necessary for us to provide an outlet for sexual drive.  Although it has risks, masturbation is the only reasonable way for the non-married to have this necessary outlet.