Young men and women, have you ever felt guilty for your need to pleasure yourself? Have you ever felt guilty because of need arising before marriage? It could just be that you’ve been misled as to what The Bible alludes to. Rob Smith spills the beans in his second guest appearance at Thinkers’ Podium.
Hi everyone. I’m Rob, as you probably guessed from the introduction. Between work and running my unregistered charity, Hymns for Neglected Greyhounds, I pitch in as a youth group elder at the Uniting Way Church of The Blessed Tree. I’m also a part-time external student studying theology at the Sydney Theology of Faith University (STFU).
Obviously I’m not a theologian yet, but I do get quite a lot of young adults coming to me and asking if it’s okay to masturbate, or engage in pre-marital sex. So as Bruce says, I’ll spill the beans. (And to keep Bruce and Tipper happy, I’ll put all the smut over the fold.)
Worship at the temple of Onan
Onan, the brother of Er and son of Judah is a biblical figure that I think has been given some pretty rough treatment by those responsible for putting the good book together. Much in the same way Judas was turned into a traitor after a succession of biblical edits altered the account of his actions – when all along he was just following the instructions of Jesus.
This distortion of biblical message has been instrumental in prosecution of anti-Semitic prejudice. Just as the distortion of the tale of Onan has been instrumental in the promotion of the idea of sexual pleasure as sin.
Young adult Christians ask me, “is God angry with me when I touch my pee pee?” When I tell them that it’s okay and that God is happy that they are happy, they usually retort (no doubt feeling silly for being so irrational) that Onan blew his unwanted seed in the sand and that God killed him for it.
The standard tale has Onan being asked by his dad to knock up his brother’s (Er’s) wife Tamar. Er being unable on account of being killed by God, some say on the grounds that he didn’t want to spoil his wife’s beauty by getting her preggers – personally I think he just didn’t want to put his wife through the stress.
At any rate, Onan is said to have withdraw his old fella at the last moment of coitus and blew his spooge in the dirt, instead of in his sister-in-law. Then at some later point (it’s not clear exactly) we are told somehow (that part’s not clear either), God struck Onan dead.
Look. God did kill Onan. In two ways. Metaphorical ways.
First off, Onan was mortal. God decided that he was mortal. In this respect, God kills all of us. Are we to take it that God disapproves of any given thing we do?
Second, Onan ended his own line. If it is true that we live on through our children, and that God’s natural law prevents conception through the blowing of one’s wad into the regolith, that’s another way that God brought Onan’s life to an end. But then what of the celibate? God ends them in much the same way! Does God also disapprove of celibacy?
There is a third point to be made to compound all of this. I’ve noted that Bruce has a fetish for citing a certain fallacy – post hoc ergo propter hoc. [I’m flattered that you noticed, Rob. – Ed.]
Which is to say that just because something follows another, it doesn’t mean that the second thing is caused by the first. Even if God was angry and killed Onan, it doesn’t follow that Onan’s ejaculatory practices brought about God’s wrath.
If we are to believe the conventional line, the God of the Old Testament was a vengeful God. Maybe he just thought that Onan moved the remote. 😉
So no, the tale of Onan isn’t a justification of any of the sexual prohibitions that have been extrapolated by conventional Christianity – contraception, masturbation, facials, butt sex and so on. I mean really, can you imagine an envious God in the sky watching Onan take his sister-in-law up the bum* and saying “Dammit! I wish I was doing that! DIEEEE!!!”, all the while vengefully tugging a flaccid penis like some angry, impotent Internet perv?
(Source: Larsen – The Far Side)
God isn’t like that. God isn’t pathetic. God deserves better than to be projected upon by a bunch of sexually repressed theologians. God is quite happy for you to touch yourself!
That’s masturbation cleared and we’re already half-way to debunking the prohibition on pre-marital sex!
I keep getting asked by young, unmarried couples, “we really love each other, but we keep hearing that if we make love too soon and die in a car crash before we repent and marry, we will go to Hell.”
First, Hell is just make believe. Haven’t you read your John Shelby Spong? Secondly, I don’t think there is reliable biblical support for this argument.
So what did Jesus have to say about marriage? Well, if you want to be literal about it, Jesus didn’t think much of divorce. And if you take Matthew 5:32 seriously, while ignoring that the other mentions tend not to give such exceptions, you could divorce you wife – otherwise if you divorced her and married another, you would make her an adulterer. (Yeah, I know – don’t take it so literally!)
Other than that, Jesus didn’t have much to say on the topic. In the Old Testament, the biblical definition encompasses polygamous marriages, especially that of King David – a marital arrangement that The Tree of Jesse runs though! Even with the consequences David suffered, there’s monogamy gone as a biblical definition, along with the credibility of associated, fabricated marital tradition!
Not buying it. What about King Solomon?
“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”
(1 Kings 11:3)
That’s seven hundred wives, not one wife and six hundred and ninety-nine women he cheated with. The Bible still recognises a marriage between a man and seven hundred women as being a marriage. Even if it frowns on such a marriage – and even that’s up for metaphorical interpretation.
And as biblical convention goes, how can one condemn pre-marital sex when The Old Testament is so ambivalent on the topic?
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
Now clearly I don’t endorse men being sexually forceful with women – and neither did Jesus. Indeed, there is plenty in the teachings of Jesus to strongly mitigate against such conduct – The Golden Rule being only one. However, there is nothing Jesus teaches us that mitigates against the endorsement of pre-marital sex found in Zechariah 14.
Now if you repeal the puritan exaggerations and treat things metaphorically, all those prohibitions just melt away!
So, if you want to beat off, make like Nike and just do it! If you want to make love to your girl or guy and you aren’t married, so what? Heck, if everyone’s willing, there’s no sensible reason to assume that The Bible prohibits gangbangs.
Masturbation, pre-marital oral and anal sex, even DVDA (and you thought that Parker & Stone’s satire of Dawkins’ scientism was all they gave to theology!) are all okay with the man upstairs. Oh how I laughed when Christopher Hitchens challenged Alister McGrath to find just one religion that wasn’t sexually repressive – McGrath was only being modest when he replied that pagans positively revel in their sexuality – Christians do as well!
Guys, just remember to keep it real. Use a condom and make sure she cums first. And remember to thank Onan if and when you wipe off.
* It has been suggested that Onan engaged in anal sex with Tamar – see Alan Dershovitz‘s The Genesis of Justice.
[Editor’s Note: I had no idea that Christians could be so ribald. The views and opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily those held by the editor, or anyone else at Thinkers’ Podium, nor Rob’s mum.]