Anonymous asked: This might be a very taboo subject, so I understand if you decide against publishing this. However, according to your knowledge/sources, what is the Christian/SDA stance on masturbation?
TL;DR at the bottom
I don’t mind answering this, actually. Our Q&A bit here is here to hopefully provide what insight and wisdom we can into anything that can hopefully help with understanding what the Bible says and what Ellen White illuminates or advises. Sexuality is a real part of life, it’s a real part of Adventist life, and it’s something you’ll find SO many different opinions on that anyone’s bound to be confused if they’re looking for answers in the Church.
Here’s a huge point for you - the Seventh-Day Adventist church doesn’t HAVE an official standpoint on masturbation. There just isn’t one. Sexuality has been… well, borderline demonized by a large number of parents in the Adventist community. It’s an impulse or urge that pushes you to do things you shouldn’t (outside the proper context) - What else would you call it?
The problem is that when that above statement is drilled into you for years, and you get very used to being outside that proper context, the whole subject of sexuality ends up becoming not only taboo, but - as I said earlier - borderline demonized in your own head.
Now, as for what Ellen White has to say, I did a little research. She does speak on the matter of a “solitary vice” that she equates with self-abuse. Now understand, this particular writing was directed at either the parents of a pair of children, or the children themselves (I didn’t look into it enough to determine that). Point being, it’s situational. Not only this, but the negative effects of this vice that she cited seem to be taken from then-modern medical standings. Since then, many of those medical doctrines have been recinded, and it’s actually been said by more modern medical professionals that occasional sexual stimulation is actually healthy.
Now keep in mind, I’m touching on the medical aspect of it right now, as it’s what Mrs. White references. She does cite a certain doctor that, correctly, mentions the role that zinc plays in male semen - specifically that a single ejaculation can remove a large amount of zinc that must be replentished. As zinc is necessary for many different and varied bodily processes, including helping the brain and immune systems to function. The point being, repeated ejaculation could result in a zinc deficiency, leaving a man somewhat cognitively impaired and susceptible to disease or illness. EGW’s words can be found in Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, pp. 269, 270.
Now, please understand that I’m getting a lot of this medical information potentially third- or fifth-hand.
My point is that, medically speaking, masturbation seems to be healthy as long as you don’t go overboard. Moderation - it’s true of a lot of things. This considered, the kids (teenagers?) EGW was writing in regards to were brought to her attention because of a specific case where there was concern of at least one of the two kids masturbating in excess to the point of self-abuse. On this matter, remember that the Bible refers to the body as the temple of God - treat it with care, and don’t be destructive towards it.
The Bible never actually speaks directly on masturbation, though - not even in other words that can be clearly pinned to the subject. What it does say, however, seems to revolve around two points.
First is the fact that the Bible never mentions anything that can be regarded as masturbation in the list of forbidden sexual practices in Leviticus 18. This is probably the strongest case for masturbation that can be found in the Bible.
Second, the strongest (and only, far as I know) case against masturbation is in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. In the New Living Translation:
“You have heard the commandment that says ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
-Matthew 5:27,28 (NLT)
Now, this can be interpreted or diffused in many different directions, depending on a person’s opinions or personal understanding of the verses mentioned. Is it technically adultery if you’re not married? Does it count if you’re only using a mental image, or if you don’t need one at all? Or does this more apply to the realm of pornography? Does it mean that you’re not allowed to look at another person and admire their sexual attraction? Was Jesus being dramatic for effect? Are the answers to these questions different depending on a person’s individual situation?
These are answers I actually don’t have. I have my own thoughts on the matter, my personal thoughts on how each of those questions should be answered… but you asked for the Christian/SDA standing on the matter. Simply put… there isn’t one. If you ask a hundred people, I’d be surprised if you got less than thirty different answers.
To those of you who read this, if you have any input on the matter that helps with an answer to this question, feel free to send it in. Please note, however, that I’d be looking for information I’ve missed - not personal opinions, though I’ve no issue with responses that have both. I know that I’m likely going to spark something with this topic, being taboo as it is, so I’ve declined to provide my own views. This is something you, Anon, will probably want to think and pray about.
I pray that I’ve helped with this post. God bless, Anon.
TL;DR - EGW seems to condemn self-destructive masturbation, and the Bible’s input seems to be extremely open to interpretation. Do your own research and prayer on the matter - I can’t give you an answer.
Yvonne here adding on a small bit to that:
A similar question was asked some time ago, and back when I wrote the answer I did not realize that the Adventist Church (as in, the General Conference) never put out an official stance on it, so I was wrong on that. However, a lot of people in the church disagree with masturbation and that, I believe, is due to the potential lust and self-centered behavior attached with the act. Howie did touch upon lust slightly and mentioned pornography which the church has condemned. Most of the issues listed in this statement end up applying themselves to masturbation as well. Either way, I hope that helps you on your journey for truth.