Friday, August 20, 2010

Flee from Masturbation?- pt. 1

A while back, at a prominent Bible blog forum- the question was  essentially asked,  "What is the biblical injunction against masturbation for married people?".  The moderator then essentially advised this inquirer to 'not even consider such selfishness'.  To 'flee from such self- gratification'. To 'flee from such sensuality'.   And to 'fulfill such sensuality with his wife'.

Now let's set aside the implication that this inquirer would not rather fulfill such sensuality with his wife.  The implication that this inquirer was not actually desiring "other gods" before her.    And let's consider the implication that masturbation is always "selfish".  Consider the implication that selfishness is always wrong.  Consider the implication that "self-gratification" is always wrong.   And consider the admonition of 'fleeing'  from this particular sensuality.

Is this particular sensuality actually discouraged in the Bible?

As the above moderator rightly pointed out, with numerous proof-texts- certain sensuality is a good thing.
Yet he failed to provide a proof-text opposed to this particular sensuality.  Because there are none.
A subsequent moderator insisted on removing this from public discussion.  Directing them to a private room.  A room rarely frequented.  For a practice frequently practiced.  Among Christians!
Well, as stated in my original posting here- I am opposed to such privatization.  Opposed to locking this holy discussion in a vacuous vault.  And  opposed to the putting of biblical boundary stones- where there are none.

Now, despite the fact that there are no specific proof-texts on this specific sensuality- the Bible should not be considered silent on this matter either.  Hath He "given us all things pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3)--- or hath he not?  This does pertain to godliness, does it not? 
Then how might we be directed to godliness on these specific things on which the Scriptures appear to be silent?  In which there are no explicit commandments or examples?
Well... we don't have to look too far here.  It is implicit in that very same verse.   That we might be directed on such implicit things- through the "true knowledge of Him".
Pretty lofty sounding isn't it?  But let's look at what this might mean.  If there is no mystical/hidden meaning here.

I would suggest that such "true knowledge" on this specific thing- may actually be derived from the knowledge of His exhaustive commandments.  And derived from knowledge of His expressive examples.
Knowledge from which we are directed to derive analogous inferences.  If we desire to be analogous to Christ. If we desire to be godly.  If we desire to be holy.

And intuitive and exhaustive (Matt. 22:36-40) among these commandments and examples?

1)  That we ought to love God- as he loves Himself (John 17:23).
2)  And that we ought to love one another- as He loved us(John 15:12).

With a love we are told- that is to be faithful (Deut. 7:9) and true .  As God is faithful and true (John 17:3).

Here I am reminded of  Phillip Schaff's criticism of his favorite church father- Augustine.  Schaff's criticism of  Augustine's deficiency in "nobility".  Augustine's deficiency in "genuine Christian principles".  For his fleeing from his long-suffering, faithful woman.  The mother of his son.
Indeed, fleeing from a love that was faithful and true.  To a misguided idea of chastity. To monasticism. To asceticism.  To celibacy.  To a "heathen degradation of marriage".  The prevailing sentiment of Augustine's ascetic  mentor.    And a sentiment that continues in our present mentors.

A particular sentiment which has long been needful of what Steve Hays calls, a "correction of traditional Catholic misinterpretation through proper historical-grammatical analysis".  I will attempt to present some of this needful corrective in this series.

Attempt to provide some "historical-grammatical analysis" in this series.
Attempt to present some exegesis on related principles- in this series.
And conclude with some nouthetic counseling to this particular thing- in the concluding part.
But for now, some brief exposition of how the above exhaustive commandments might interact with this particular thing.

So... in brief consideration of the foremost commandment- is masturbation loving God as He loves Himself?

Well, in a sense I suppose you could say that God does please Himself.  Is expressing Himself.  For His own selfish interests.  His own self-gratification. His own good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
And why shouldn't He? 
 
Yet, in a sense you could also say that- He does not play exclusively with Himself. That He inclusively plays with the other members of the Trinity.  With each member eagerly submitting and providing to the other.  With each member completing each other.  While yet being inseparable from each other.

Indeed, if we might dare to suggest some analogy- kinda like inseparable Siamese twins. Yet more and merrier.  A menage a trois- so to speak.  A menage that loves each other perfectly and completely. 

A menage which by analogous inference- faithful and true couples ought to manage as well.  Ought to desire.  Ought to emulate.  Rather than presuming autonomy.

Now, in brief consideration of the lesser commandment- can masturbation assist us to love one another-as He loved us? 

It is my understanding that masturbation can assist us. 
That masturbation may in fact be- a divine instrument. Provided by God- to temporarily mitigate the temptation of Satan (1 Cor. 7:5).  An instrument provided- for temporary relief (1 Cor. 10:13).  Of setting the captive free... temporarily.
Not unlike the divine provision of wet dreams.  An unconscious provision of relief.  Provided by a holy God (Isaiah 29:10)... occasionally.

A divine instrument that dis-unified man is permitted to avail himself of.  And an instrument that dis-unified couples are permitted to avail themselves of. 

When physical separation is their fallen reality. When physically fleeing to their spouse- is not a viable option.  While spiritually fleeing to their spouse- remains an option.
An option preferable to leaving the physical passion 'unfulfilled' (see NET note on 1 Cor. 7:9).  An option preferable to constipation.  An option preferable to getting "burned".

A physical expression that may be used- to exemplify a spiritual truth.  To exemplify and fortify a spiritual inclination.    Not unlike the physical remembrance (Luke 22:19) of the 'body and the blood'.  An example of how He physically loved us- to fortify our feeble faith.

A truly sanctifying practice, that Roman Catholic priests may avail themselves of.   And a sanctifying practice that others, "who become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:12)- may also avail themselves of.

But only if practiced in faithfulness and truth.  All else is idolatry- Children of God!
Worship of a created thing- rather than worship of the creator.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols- 1 John 5:21.

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