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Opinions of Monday, 13 April 2020

Columnist: Aanu Oluyide

Masturbation and its many misconceptions

Masturbation is the act of stimulating one's genitals for sexual pleasure. It includes touching, fingering, rubbing.

The biblical story of Onan in Genesis 38:8-10 which is the most popular and traditional verse linked to referring to masturbation and condemnation is the sexual act of withdrawal coitus, or coitus interruptus, or simply withdrawal. What does this mean? It is when a man withdraws his penis inside of a woman to pour the sperm somewhere. The informal word for it is "Pull out", "he pulled out of her" "My pull out game is strong", etc.

Withdrawing is also an old birth control method. This means, that if we are to interpret Onan's case it would include any use of contraceptives or birth control methods because it frustrates the natural order and purpose of procreation. So instead of hinging the Bible passage on masturbation where it is never mentioned, it is better to be hinged on birth control methods and contraceptives. Why?

A form of Hebrew procreative act regarding sexuality says that a child is contained in the sperm the same way a plant is contained in its seed. There is the "be fruitful and multiply" clause. Was Onan killed for spilling the sperm or for being rebellious? That is another question to ask. It was more of God instructed him to do something, and he did not intentionally.

In other notes, Leviticus 15 generally sets Jewish rules for discharges from the body, verses 1-16 sets the tone for men while verses 19-33 sets the tone for women. 15-16 sets the same rules for discharges from wet dreams, or nocturnal emission, and sexual intercourse but because of biblical languages and it's inexplicit tones the passage is not specific nor does it state masturbation. The passage however significantly treated a solitary sexual intercourse ceremonial cleanliness exercise, not as a matter of sin or morality and this cleanliness is extended to the act of sexual intercourse itself. A thorough look at the Leviticus list of sexual taboos which is in Leviticus 20 confirmed that no mention of masturbation is there. The Bible specifically forbids adultery, fornication, homosexual sex, incest, bestiality, but never was masturbation mentioned. Nowhere would you find a discussion of whether masturbation is a sin or not. However, since Christians are not bound by Jewish laws, they are to be absolved of this.

In Christianity, the biblical passages that are tagged along with masturbation are Matthew 5:29-30, with a reoccurring statement in Matt 18 : 6: 9, referring to sinning by the eye, hand, foot, and inferring that Jesus's statement of sinning by the "hand" implies Masturbation. However, the example used is an age-long Jewish practice just as Jesus speaks in parables and idiomatic expressions often, there is no explicit proof that Jesus was referring to masturbation. A lot of other verses that are commonly associated with masturbation and related topics such as sexual immorality, lust, temptation, include but are not limited to 1Cor 9: 27, 1Cor 10: 13, Gal 5:19 -21, 2Tim 2: 22, 1John 2:16, 1Pet 2:11, 1Cor 6:18. If you check all though these biblical verses and more, nowhere would you find a sin tagging on Masturbation.

This poses another question, why then do people sin tag masturbation?

A 2016 Psychology Today article stated that the more religious people are, the more likely they are to restrict their sexual fantasies, have fewer sex partners, use less pornography and express stronger disapproval of the use of sex toys. Religious experience is, however, a personal thing and should not be enforced on other people, or be used to declare an act "Sinful".

Another thing to consider is the problem of fundamental interpretation where religious leaders and adherents only interpret biblical passages using their discretion, sometimes cultural taboos and sentiments. Then pick a verse out to judge a whole concept, to back it up or to validify it, this is as opposed to Exegesis which is interpreting a biblical passage based on the context, language, the form, time, place where the chapter or verse is from. It is not just inferring or baseless assumptions. There is no place in the Bible that explicitly condemned or sin tagged masturbation.

Lolu Akinteye explaining on medical grounds says that there is no evidence whatsoever; medically, to associate masturbation to any illness or disease. It is not found to cause any or complicate any disease evidently. And since we are in the era of evidence-based medicine, until there is evidence that it is associated with any disease, we consider it medically harmless. However, it is possible that it may cause some slight effect perhaps due to the handling of the masturbator, that can create wound or swelling on the genitals. These wounds and swelling are probably due to the rough handing and will be resolved after a few days. The good side of masturbation is that it can relieve stress relatively to as much as sex can, it relieves sexual pressure too.

Psychologically, masturbation is a normal occurrence that people do, young people. It is advised in sexology between partners to help them know what parts of the body turn each other on and how they can use that to improve their sexual lives. From previous studies, partners that are open to each other about it tend to have ensuring relationships, and it has not proven to cause any harm to one's psychological state. It is generally healthy sexual behaviour.

It has more to do with one's self-conviction than the act itself. For example, if a little part of yourself believes that masturbation is a wrong act, or unhealthy, or sinful, there is bound to be a feeling of guilt and anxiety and ruined self-esteem each time you engage in it, but if not, you have no worries. Some people tend to say that masturbation can cause mental health problems including depression but it's a long old idea that psychology and sex researchers have since disapproved.

Masturbation in itself doesn't cause depression or a feeling of guilt; one's religion, cultural and societal norms may cause a person to feel bad about it, the feeling that you're doing a wrong thing which stems from societal and religious sentiments that has continuously made it a taboo.

Now, having considered this on biblical, medical and psychological grounds, the conclusion is that, masturbation is neither a sin, nor a taboo, nor harmful.

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