Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Lusting in one's heart

Anonymous said:
“dear steve, while i think most of the things you write are totally awesome, i am quite troubled by your approval of masturbation. don't you remember that jesus equated lust with adultery??”

Several issues here:

1.I didn’t say I approve of masturbation. I don’t approve or disapprove. From what I can tell, Scripture is silent on the issue, so I’m not going to condemn something as sin unless it falls under the condemnation of Scripture.

That doesn’t mean I commend it. It means that I have no firm opinion one way or the other.

2.What I do object to is an extrascriptural scrupulosity that is stricter than the Bible itself.

3.I agree with Keener, Carson, and Guelich that Mt 5:28 is blended commentary on both the seventh and tenth commandments. On that interpretation, the issue is one of adulterous sexual covetousness.

Examples would include a married man covenanting a single woman, a single man coveting a married woman, or a husband coveting someone else’s wife or vice versa.

4.Keener notes that “Jewish men expected married Jewish women to wear head coverings to prevent lust (single women were exempt, since they needed to find a husband),” 187.

This suggests that singles were expected to sexually appealing to the opposite sex—within the bounds of modest attire—for purposes of attracting a mate.

5.There is a dispute over whether the construction involves lust on the part of the first party—A is lusting for B–(e.g. Nolland) or whether it involves A provoking B to lust (e.g. Carson, with Blomberg straddling the fence).

6.There’s a question of how to interpret the apparent silence of Scripture on the subject of masturbation. On the one hand, Scripture is very specific and even explicit about naming sexual sins. On the other hand, masturbation is extremely prevalent.

If masturbation is a sin, then it’s a little odd that Scripture would leave the believer guessing about its moral status.

7. At the risk of stating the obvious, while a sexual fantasy can facilitate masturbation, masturbation can involve a purely physical stimulus.

8. At the risk of stating the obvious, even where a sexual fantasy is involved, sexual fantasies don’t necessarily take married women or even living women as their object.

One could fantasize about a long dead movie star. Or one could fantasize about a generically beautiful woman.

If a teenage boy has a fantasy about, let us say, Rita Hayworth, it’s hard to see how that would qualify as adulterous covetous lust. He is single and she is dead. So it doesn’t involve an alienation of affection on one side or the other.

Again, I’m not saying that this is right or wrong. I’m simply discussing it within the framework of Mt 5:28.

9.At the risk of stating the obvious, the lack of an erotic outlet for single men in their sexual prime is, itself, a source of lust and sexual tension. In that context, masturbation is a way of releasing the pent up, psychological preoccupation with sex.

This may be good or bad, but if we’re going to frame the morality of the act in terms of lust, we need to keep in mind that the objection to masturbation as lustful actually cuts both ways.

10.At the risk of stating the obvious, how do we teach our kids about sex (whether homeschooling or private Christian education) without visuals of one sort of another? Since premarital sex is illicit, the only licit alternative is either diagrams or an active sexual imagination.

11.I’m discussing this from a male standpoint because that’s the point of reference in Mt 5:28, and because I’m in no position to speak for women.

12. Sorry if this discussion is a bit graphic, but there are unspoken assumptions in this debate that need to be discussed in a frank and open manner.

Apparently, there are sectors of the church which are still too squeamish to dive into the details, but the details are an essential element in the moral valuation of the act.

Christian commenters are welcome to weigh in on this issue.

39 comments:

  1. http://www.focusonyourchild.com/develop/art1/A0000553.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. seems to me that lusting after a dead movie star is pretty dirty itself.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous said...
    seems to me that lusting after a dead movie star is pretty dirty itself.

    ******************

    So when normal men—which obviously exempts you—watch classic movies to see beautiful women like Mary Astor, Cyd Charisse, Dolores Del Rio, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Hedy Lamarr, Merle Oberon, or Norma Shearer—to mention a few dead movie stars of note, their appreciation of feminine beauty is equivalent to dirty-mindnesses. You talk like a Victorian schoolmarm from a pennydreadful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. well by golly. there is a difference between lust and appreciation of beauty.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous said:
    well by golly. there is a difference between lust and appreciation of beauty.

    ***********************

    Okay, so all that French and Italian art that glorifies the female form is purely platonic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous said:
    well by golly. there is a difference between lust and appreciation of beauty.

    ************************

    The beauty of what? A sunset? Mountain view?

    Sure.

    A woman? No, that has a little something to do with the libido.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting points all around.

    "If a teenage boy has a fantasy about, let us say, Rita Hayworth, it’s hard to see how that would qualify as adulterous covetous lust"

    If, however, fantasizing about covetous adultery is wrong, then fantasizing about fornication would likewise be wrong, I would think. Yet isn't that what an unmarried person is most likely to fantasize about?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Covetous sexual desire, including the premarital variety, is not inherently wrong. Indeed, it's the premarital variety that leads to marriage.

    Consider 1 Cor 7:2,36, where a single Christian male sexually covets a single Christian female. Bluntly put, he wants to make love to her. And this is what motivates him to marry her.

    This reinforces my point that adulterous sexual covetousness is what is condemned in Scripture.

    ReplyDelete
  9. so....where did you get this idea that it refers to only adulterous lusting?

    ReplyDelete
  10. "so....where did you get this idea that it refers to only adulterous lusting?"

    Anonymous,

    Did you even read the post? Please see #3.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Interesting discussion.

    I've been on just about every side of this issue through the years. I'm not sure exactly where I fall down on it at the moment even. But allow me to just toss out some semi-random, more general things.

    Re: lusting after "a dead movie star". Is this "dirty", as anonymous states? Obviously at one level it will be because all of mankind are sinners. Each of us constantly seek to put some form of idol up in our hearts, to take our focus off of God. Thus, if we define lust as a strong desire (regardless of the sexual orientation), each of us consistently lusts for things other than God.

    We lust after power, fame, fortune, whatever it may be.

    However, God also knows where we are, which is the point of grace. God sent Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners. He knows that we are but grass that withers away in the sun. We are dust in the wind, as a certain band might say....

    God's mercy isn't just in saving us from our sins at some future point in time. He also demonstrates forebearance in not punishing us for things that are actually wrong here and now.

    We see such examples as with the Gentiles as a whole, when Paul specifically states: "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). We also see it from Christ Himself who states: "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Matt. 19:8).

    In both instances, God is not as severe as total justice would require. He is merciful. To use the last example, we know explicitly that divorce is wrong; yet we know that marriages are formed between two sinners. As a result, due to the hardness of the hearts of mankind, God permits what was not originally intended. Indeed, we have Moses actually providing legal guidelines that specify what level of sin God will allow to occur, out of His mercy, without His punishing of it.

    In the same way, I could see the argument being made that masturbation is, in the idealic sense, immoral no matter what; but God did not choose to condemn it, nor did He require in His law that one not engage in it. This absense of condemnation could be similar to God's concession to allow divorces to occur, despite the fact that it is not His original design nor is the behavior actually moral.

    So I guess that's about where I stand at the moment. This could change any minute now... :-P

    ReplyDelete
  12. Leviticus 15:16,18--
    "If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water and be unclean until evening... Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bath in water and be unclean until evening."

    If ever there was a place in Scripture to condemn masturbation, this would be the place. According to the Old Testament, if man emitted semen, this made him unclean, just like having sexual intercourse made both the man and the woman unclean. But there is no condemnation given for any emission of semen that is unrelated to sexual intercourse.

    That doesn't answer the question about the lust issue that is often associated with masturbation, but I think it is strong evidence that the act of self-stimulation to the point of orgasm is not, taken by itself, an act that is condemned by Scripture. I mean, think about it. There are basically only three scenarios where a man would have an emission of semen: (1) sex, (2) what is known as a "nocturnal emission", or (3) masturbation. I think it would be hard to prove that masturbation is not something that is contemplated by the passage above.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think you guys are just trying to justify playing with yourselves, seriously. This is your sin nature at work. Masturbation is indirectly condemned. Let's see, feel like dropping down on your knees to pray after you've done it? I think you're conscience will answer correctly, even if your heart and mouth don't...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow Steve,

    I'm going to masturbate every chance I get. Knowing that it's not condemned in the Bible is a real weight off my shoulders. And to think of all the time I've wasted trying not to! I feel so free! You know, I think I have a picture of Grace Kelly somewhere in the house. Well, gotta go!

    PS. What about comic book characters like Wonder Woman? Is that OK? Please say yes...

    ReplyDelete
  15. > "well by golly. there is a difference between lust and appreciation of beauty"

    Indeed so. I learned this as a teenager, having three sisters who are all very good-looking (not just by objective societal measures, but a fortiori compared with me. I think they got the best of each parent's genes, while I got the worst...). I can certainly appreciate their beauty but could never, even at my most depraved (and teenage boys can be very... undiscriminating about what they latch on to mentally), bring myself to fantasize about them.

    I reiterate my point, posted earlier in response to anonymous http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/12/by-scripture-alone_116761459386808418.html, that since Evangelicals have public church discipline by elders rather than one-on-one private confession with priests, as Catholics do, masturbation does not come up as a pastoral issue (so to speak) among Evangelicals. Evs also are more wary of "who are you to judge the servant of another?", and so restrict church discipline to publicly known sins that are harmful (or at least bring disrepute).

    The issue is a red herring used by Catholic apologists trying to paint James Dobson & co as soft on sexual sins (yeah, right), and to attack sola Scriptura. It's like the view quite a lot of Catholics take of contraception: "It's so obviously wrong that, if the Bible fails to condemn it, then the Bible can't possibly be the supreme standard of faith and morals."

    ReplyDelete
  16. > " At the risk of stating the obvious, while a sexual fantasy can facilitate masturbation, masturbation can involve a purely physical stimulus."

    True enough. I have seen very young children (toddlers, well below puberty) engage in "humping", as dogs do - much to their parents' dismay. To them the pleasure is purely physical. OTOH, one can get oneself excited by reading or imagining an erotic fantasy even if both hands are firmly on the book or the steering wheel.

    I suppose in principle, if masturbation were done purely for the physical pleasure - as receiving a massage is - it would not involve lusting in one's heart. In that case, I imagine the Catholic approach would be the same as for a celibate woman who takes the Pill to regulate her periods, or an astronaut who wears a condom so he doesn't pee his spacesuit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "I think it would be hard to prove that masturbation is not something that is contemplated by the passage above [Lev 15:16-18]."

    Not so hard, if in v 17 the unclean garments and leather become unclean purely by accident (cf. Deu 23:10) rather than as an effect of masturbation, which is likely the case if it seems that precautions against mess would be taken in the latter circumstance.

    ReplyDelete
  18. david birney said...
    Steve,

    "God made sex to be a beautiful and pleasurable expression of love between a husband and a wife--not a husband and his hand."

    Cute, but a straw man argument. I've framed the discussion in relation to single men—especially men at an age where their libido is in the ascendant.

    Unless you happen to think that as soon as a boy turns 13 or 14 he should rush to the altar to tie the knot with some 13 or 14 year old girl, you're comparison is irrelevant.

    I'm not proposing that masturbation is a substitute for marriage. The question, rather, is whether it's a sexual safety value for singles—especially younger men (once again, I don't presume to speak for women).

    "Masturbation is inherently self-centered."

    You might as well say that eating an ice cream cone is inherently self-centered.

    But, then, maybe you think that ice cream is intrinsically evil.

    "And if a man can do such an act without fantasizing about a woman, I'll be a monkey's uncle."

    How would you be privy to that information unless you were speaking from personal experience--in which case, why are you condemning masturbation?

    "Oh, sorry, you said you were noncommital about whether it is right or wrong."

    Yes, and I presented a reasoned argument for my position.

    BTW, I've deleted birney's original comment because it contained a gratuitous slander against John Loftus.

    anonymous said...

    "I think you guys are just trying to justify playing with yourselves, seriously. This is your sin nature at work. Masturbation is indirectly condemned. Let's see, feel like dropping down on your knees to pray after you've done it? I think you're conscience will answer correctly, even if your heart and mouth don't..."

    This is all assertion and no argument. Where and how is it indirectly condemned?

    BTW, if you feel that way, fine. The point of my post is not necessarily to change minds.

    But I'm not going to guilt-trip Christians for doing something that isn't condemned in Scripture—as far as I can see.

    Both in Catholicism and certain legalistic Protestant denominations, there is a tradition of going way beyond Scripture to amend the Decalogue with a string of additional "Thou shalt nots" that you can't find in Scripture.

    whizzer said...
    "Wow Steve, I'm going to masturbate every chance I get."

    "Whizzer" is a textbook example of someone who lacks the emotional and intellectual maturity to have a grow-up discussion about grown-up issues.

    But unlike "whizzer," some of us are do care about having an honest and candid discussion regarding an issue that confronts every man at some point in life.

    "Knowing that it's not condemned in the Bible is a real weight off my shoulders."

    In the case of a Christian, knowing that something is not condemned in Scripture should be a real weight off his shoulders if he was burdened by a false sense of guilt.

    tom r said...
    > "well by golly. there is a difference between lust and appreciation of beauty"

    "Indeed so. I learned this as a teenager, having three sisters who are all very good-looking (not just by objective societal measures, but a fortiori compared with me. I think they got the best of each parent's genes, while I got the worst...). I can certainly appreciate their beauty but could never, even at my most depraved (and teenage boys can be very... undiscriminating about what they latch on to mentally), bring myself to fantasize about them."

    In which case it wasn't a live issue.

    Now we're moving into the issue of incest, which is a separate argument.

    It's pretty normal for brothers and sisters not to feel sexual attraction or arousal for one another.

    Even so, that doesn't change the fact than when a man takes note of a beautiful woman, he does so from a male viewpoint.

    It's not the same thing as simply admiring a beautiful sunset or mountain view.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "If ever there was a place in Scripture to condemn masturbation, this would be the place. According to the Old Testament, if man emitted semen, this made him unclean, just like having sexual intercourse made both the man and the woman unclean. But there is no condemnation given for any emission of semen that is unrelated to sexual intercourse."

    You'll notice, though, that it wasn't a sin offering that needed to be given - which, I think, is telling.

    ReplyDelete
  20. To build on Craig Sowder's point, I'd add that wet dreams are often related to erotic dreams, so they are analogous to masturbation.

    But unlike adultery, which was punishable by death, a nocturnal emission merely contracted ritual impurity—the same as conjugal intercourse.

    BTW, any case anyone has failed to notice, inappropriate comments on this topic will be deleted.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Be careful when saying it isn't a sin. Growing up Catholic, I believed each time someone maturbated, he lost his salvation. Some food for thought.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Woman (gyne) is used almost always of married women, and often means 'wife'; Jesus' intention is therefore to prohibit not a natural sexual attraction, but the deliberate harbouring of desire for an illicit relationship. (*Lustfully* is literally 'in order to desire her', 'desire' being used generally of desire for something forbidden," R. T. France, Matthew (IVP 1985), 121.

    In other words, adulterous fantasies.

    ReplyDelete
  23. anonymous..you really beleived by growing up Catholic that someone lost their salvation? You don't know much about the Faith, do you?

    Instead of relying on Steve and his "wisdom" gained over the past 40 years, let's use the 2,000 year history of our Church.

    Masturbation is "the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure." The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose. To form an equitable judgement about the subject's moral responsbility, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

    ReplyDelete
  24. JimmyV said:

    "Instead of relying on Steve and his 'wisdom' gained over the past 40 years, let's use the 2,000 year history of our Church."

    1. Which church would that be?

    2. What about using 3500 years of Biblical wisdom instead?

    3. Are celibate clergy experts on sex?

    "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose."

    The deliberate use of the nose and ears as a platform for glasses is essentially contrary to their auditory, olfactory, or respiratory purposes.

    "To form an equitable judgement about the subject's moral responsbility, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability."

    So a 5-year-old who wears glasses is not as culpable as a 25-year-old.

    What about the use of the lips and lungs to play a trumpet in order to derive musical pleasure? Is that a venial or mortal sin?

    ReplyDelete
  25. jimmyv, yes, i was quite aware of those exculpatory conditions; nevertheless, it remains true that deliberate masturbation meets the three conditions that make a sin mortal.

    ReplyDelete
  26. JimmyV said:

    anonymous..you really beleived [sic] by growing up Catholic that someone lost their salvation? You don't know much about the Faith, do you?


    You are the first professing Roman Catholic I have ever come across who suggests a Roman Catholic cannot lose his salvation. Frankly, I am more inclined to want to get my understanding of Roman Catholicism from the Roman Catholic Magisterium than you, since I would assume you are merely a layman.

    Simon

    ReplyDelete
  27. I read[ed] Jimmy V as saying, not that Catholics believe you cannot lose your salvation, but that you don't "have salvation" to lose in the first place. You're only temporarily in a state of grace while you're alive, and only "saved" once you've done whatever time you owe in purgatory. (I'm assuming Catholicism holds that, once you're actually saved in heaven, you can no longer commit mortal sin.)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Steve,

    I'm surprised by your neutrality with regard to masturbation and single males. First of all, God created sex to involve two parties, "He made them male and female". Secondly, He created sex to be pleasurable within the marriage covenant, as well as for the purposes of procreation. Any departure from the clear testimony of Scripture with regard to God's purposes with regard to sex, is a perversion of it. Sex was not meant to be a one-man show, nor does God's approval rest upon it because Scripture is silent. To my recollection, Scripture is silent with regard to necromancy also. Does that mean it's OK for teenage boys or single men to engage in it? I am surprised that you suggest masturbation could be a safety valve for pre-marriage teenage boys or single men. Would it not rather be God's intention that we exhibit some kind of self control, and realize our dependence on Him for grace to keep a pure heart and mind. In no way will masturbation simply be a physical stimulus, God didn't make men that way. You are attempting to light a camp fire that will, eventually, turn into a forest fire. Waiting for marriage, focusing upon the Lord, denial of the flesh, make one's marriage to be truly delightful and an occasion to rejoice in God's goodness to us in providing the particular woman He has chosen for us. I think you've missed the boat on this topic. Masturbation is just as much of a perversion of sex as is fornication, homosexuality, and adultery. Solo sex is not beautiful, it's ugly and pathetic. Making love to your wife, that's beautiful...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Juan, how exactly is fantasizing about a woman while stimulating yourself as much of a perversion of God's divine order for sex than homosexuality?

    I think this goes against biblical teaching.

    Or are you one of those "all sins are equal" people?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Tom R said:

    I read[ed] Jimmy V as saying, not that Catholics believe you cannot lose your salvation, but that you don't "have salvation" to lose in the first place. You're only temporarily in a state of grace while you're alive, and only "saved" once you've done whatever time you owe in purgatory. (I'm assuming Catholicism holds that, once you're actually saved in heaven, you can no longer commit mortal sin.)


    Tom, you may be right. However, since Roman Catholics believe in baptismal regeneration, in a sense they lose their salvation after committing their first post-baptismal sin.

    Simon

    ReplyDelete
  31. Berny,

    Nope, not all sins are equal. I meant that in the sense that it's a perversion of sex just like the other sins mentioned. I think, if we are to be honest, everyone knows in their conscience masturbation is wrong. Would you, before God, care to defend it? Why does guilt accompany it? Not because of a misinformed conscience or Victorian social mores. The Holy Spirit testifies to its' sinfulness in your heart....

    ReplyDelete
  32. Scripture certainly does condemn masturbation (and contraception by the same token). I've written at length about it. Here is a succinct treatment:

    The Biblical Evidence Against Contraception
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/05/biblical-evidence-against.html

    And a longer one:

    Dialogue: Why Did God Kill Onan? Why is Contraception Condemned by the Catholic Church?
    http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ155.HTM

    This is precisely the reason why there was a consensus on both contraception and masturbation among all Christians: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, until very recently, when theological liberalism, higher criticism of the Bible, and the sexual revolution, have borne their pathetic fruit.

    This is why Luther and Calvin both wrote with extreme disdain for Onan and his sin, whereas many of today's Protestants have a ho-hum or neutral attitude about these grave sins:

    Martin Luther:

    "Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed . . . He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him . . . That worthless fellow . . . preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother."

    (Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44; 1544; LW, 7, 20-21)

    John Calvin:

    "It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is doubly horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born . . . Moreover he [Onan] thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime."

    (Commentary on Genesis)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I find it equally remarkable that in 32 comments on masturbation and Scripture, not a single mention was made of Onan thus far. Yet his story was understood very widely as dealing with both masturbation and contraception, for many centuries.

    It's amazing indeed, but (sadly) not surprising. This is what liberalism brings about. Even otherwise conservative Christians caving in on grave mattrs of sin such as these. I chided James Dobson (whom I admire very much) for compromising on this, too:

    Dr. James Dobson Sanctions Masturbation (Dave Armstrong and EL Hamilton)
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/03/dr-james-dobson-sanctions-masturbation.html
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2005/09/dr-james-dobson-sanctions-masturbation.html

    The tide is slowly turning, thank God. I recently noted that some prominent Protestants are re-examining the question of contraception:

    Secular Social Science Vindicates Catholic Moral Teaching / Important Evangelical Protestants Rethinking Contraception (W. Bradford Wilcox)
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/12/secular-social-science-vindicates.html

    Here is a look at how y'all used to think about the issue:

    Contraception and the "Fewer Children is Better" Mentality: the Opposition of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Other Protestants
    http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ259.HTM

    Baptist John R. Rice's Opposition to Contraception (From 1946)
    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/06/baptist-john-r-rices-opposition-to.html

    ReplyDelete
  34. Juan, you're probably right. I wasn't arguing with you on that point. I just thought you took it too far with the comment regarding the perversion of God's divine order for sex.

    The truth is, even when I have tried to divorce lust from masturbation in order to have a means of "releasing" that all of us men need at times, it has backfired.

    Now, my problem is not that I'm blind to its effects in my life, but that I'm not sure what to attribute these effects to--my "social mores" as you call them, or my conscience.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dave, could you please post some additional material on how the Catholic Church has changed its stance in the past 50-100 years on usury, religious liberty, democracy, capital punishment, and the authorship of the Old Testament? Thanks.

    "Better to be right once tha wrong twice." You guys covered a lot fo ground with Vatican II, but your church's Reformation is only about one-quarter complete. Come on in, the water's fine.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Simon,
    Thanks, please do. You may wish to purchase a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Anonymous, true if the conditions of mortal sin are present. Still, this would not lead one to think that every time one masturbates he/she losses salvation. Even if it meets the conditions of mortal sin, one should repent and live the Gospel.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Steve --

    Carson aside, don't Jesus' comments on this matter coincide with Paul's admonition that it is better to marry than it is to burn with passion? (1Cor 7)

    I think you are right about one thing: the Bible is almost silent on the matter of masterbation -- but not quite. But it seems to talk around the matter a good bit. Deu 23 says one becomes unclean because of a noctural emission of semen; Lev 15 talks about a variety of emissions making a man unclean.

    None of these are treated, I admit, as "take a sacrifice to the temple" sort of uncleanliness -- you wash your hands and your clothes and you are unclean until the next day. But I think we also can't take all of these examples as demonstrations of utter silence on this matter.

    ReplyDelete
  38. OK -- I was going to wait for Steve to respond to what I posted already, but there's something he has said here that needs some more attention -- he has equated the sexual desire which leads to marriage with any ol' sexual desire. Somebody needs to wave the red flag on that.

    Steve: here are three examples.

    - A Burglar who breaks into a house with his buddy and shoots the owner of the house to death.
    - The police office who answers the neighbor's 911 call and shoots the buddy to death while trying to apprehend the burglars
    - The Executioner who puts the Burglar to death after he has been sentenced to death and expended all his appeals.

    All three of these are examples of human beings taking the life of another human being, but I am going to assume that you only call one of them "murder" -- the first one. The other two are not murder but the use of authority to enforce the law -- Rom 13 in action, as it were.

    Some people, however, conflate the last two with the first example because they have a flawed view of the use of force -- they think it is never warranted.

    I think your view -- that sexual motivations are all of the same moral value -- is the same mistake but inverted. You see the sexual desire of a man or woman as allways warranted, only to be ounded by some other factor -- privacy perhaps, or modesty. Sex inside marriage is the view of Scripture -- leave and cleave, become one flesh, be fruitful and multiply, the husband for the sake of the wife and the wife for the sake of the husband. In that, sex is made for marriage, yes? That's what it is introduced to and for.

    All other sex is, by definition in scripture, sinful. I agree with your definition elsewhere that sex is inherently a 2-partner deal -- but the question really is how those partners are engaged. For example, Scripture tells us that rape is wrong; Scripture tells us incest is wrong; adultery is wrong; fornication is wrong; bestiality is wrong; prostitution is wrong. Those edicts exclude all kinds of non-spousal, non-human sexual gratification.

    To get around all of these, you have made the urge that every married man has had toward his future bride into a virtue -- when in fact it is not a virtue until after the two are joined as one.

    You do that by citing 1Cor 7 -- but notice that Paul doesn't say there that the virtue is the urge which brings on a greater blessing: Paul says, "because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." That is, the married union is the context in which the urge is not immoral.

    I'm a guy; you're a guy. We think like guys think. That's why we ought to be married: to do what we want to do in the context God has said we ought to do it.

    But this is where your line of reasoning seems disturbing. If we accept the idea that the lust I had for my wife was neutral when we were dating, and is neutral now, then we have to grant that my lust for some other woman would have to be of neutral value -- and it simply is not. Even in Carson's view of the Mt 5 passage, the problem becomes a problem of contexts for the desire. I suggest that one's desire for one's wife is sanctified when it is a desire inside marriage, even though one had the same desire 10 minutes before the wedding and it was sinful.

    I agree with the boldness of your demand for tota scriptura on this matter. I think that people ought not to possess a morality which forces us to dress like mennonites and wear blinders, or walk forever watching the sidewalk. But when it comes to the matter of willful engagement of desires, I think you have missed the point regarding marriage as an ordinance and the context it creates.

    God bless you. Keep up the good work.
    ________________________________

    And before this gets into the meta, I am sick that I half-agree with Armstrong. Sorry, Steve.

    ReplyDelete
  39. You know guys, I guess you're right. Since you would only be considered "unclean" in the OT, it's really not that big a deal. I mean, you didn't have to slaughter an animal over it. God just declares that you're "unclean". Only ceremoniously so. I guess I'm just being prudish and uptight about the whole thing. No Christian man should have a problem with being declared "unclean" by his God...

    ReplyDelete