About 15 years ago, when I was accused of having a "doctrine of masturbation" by that world class
accuser and former Catholic Charles Pace, I replied, " I do not have a doctrine of masturbation, but if I
did, it would be this: if you think its self-abuse, don't do it, now get back to work."
I meant this sarcastically, particularly because we were in a religious meeting and not working, but I also
meant to convey two thoughts. First, people should be free to think whatever they want about
masturbation. Second, getting things done is more important than arguing about whether masturbation
is a sin or not.
In the 15 years since that conversation, I've been too busy getting things done to write about
masturbation, but I have thought about it, finally coming to the conclusion that the Catholic church's
stand on masturbation is one of the doctrines of devils.
A doctrine of devils is a doctrine that only a hypocrite would preach. Further, doctrines of devils are
used to confuse people, particularly children, about what sin is. Doctrines of devils can be used to
convince people that they are hopelessly sinful and by adding extra requirements to God's Law,
doctrines of devils can be used to convince people that God's Law is too hard, and drive them away
from God. The Bible gives examples:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed
to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared
with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to
be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
Two doctrines of devils are specifically mentioned, both have been fulfilled since the days when Christ
walked the earth, "the latter times." The Catholic church has forbidden its priests, nuns, and bishops to
marry, although the Bible contains no such provision.
"A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife..." (1 Tim. 3:2). Forbidding the clergy to marry has
drawn perverts to the Catholic clergy, and caused some priests to conduct hidden liaisons while
preaching chastity and other priests to father children which they do not acknowledge, "speaking lies in
hypocrisy." All this hypocrisy eventually destroys their consciences, "having their conscience seared
with a hot iron."
The Seventh Day Adventist church has told its members not to eat meat, "commanding to abstain from
meats." The church teaches that giving up meat improves health. The Bible lists a number of meats
which are clean or kosher and may be eaten, so their stance is not supported by the Bible Law.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel,
saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever
parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat." (Lev.
I am a supporter of vegetarianism, I believe that those who eat very little meat live longer than those
who eat a lot of meat. But strict vegetarianism is not a religious duty and only people who eat very
knowledgeably can be strict vegetarians and not crave meat. Forbidding what many of their members do
brings hypocrisy into the Seventh Day Adventist church.
The ceremony of the Passover makes it clear that those in the Kingdom of God will eat meat as part of
the celebration of Feast days, "meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them
which believe and know the truth."
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year... And they shall eat the flesh in that night"
(Ex. 12:5,8). The Passover Lamb is a symbol of Christ and spiritual renewal, as such it is a blessing. Even
babies should taste the juices.
Despite a lack of any clear mention in the Bible, both churches preach strongly that masturbation is a
sin. The Seventh Day Adventists call it "self-abuse." The Catholics call masturbation the "sin of Onan."
The story of Onan is an interesting one, particularly since it involves the ancestors of Christ. God had
promised to being forth the Messiah from the bloodline of Judah. (See Gen. 49:9-12.) The woman God
chose to begin this royal and holy line was named Tamar.
"And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was
wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord slew him. And Judah said unto Onan (his second son), Go
in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed
should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the
ground, lest he should give seed to his brother. And the thing he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he
slew him also." (Gen. 38:6-10).
Onan refused to get Tamar pregnant, because the child would inherit the eldest son's double portion of
Judah's wealth and substantially reduce Onan's own inheritance. (The story of how Tamar prevailed to
produce the child whose descendant was Christ is an inspiration to feminists, but not relevant here.)
The moral that I would derive from the spilling of Onan's seed on the ground is that everyone should
keep God's Law in all things, lest they thwart some special purpose of God. As part of the commandment
to honor his father, Onan should have impregnated his brother's widow.
The moral the Catholic church has drawn from the story of Onan is that spilling one's seed on the
ground, as in masturbation or the withdrawal method of birth control, is a sin, a waste of the seed of life.
Good Catholics are apparently expected to experience orgasm only with their spouses, and primarily for
the purpose of creating children.
This is certainly not the case in the Kingdom of God, symbolized in the Book of Revelations as the Holy
City, New Jerusalem.
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it (the Holy City,
New Jerusalem); and His servants shall serve Him." (Rev. 22:3). The curse of multiplied conception on
women, which stems from the sin in the Garden of Eden, will be lifted in the Kingdom of God.
"Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception..." (Gen. 3:16). By
maintaining their stand against contraception, the Catholic church is clinging to this curse on women of
frequent conception, even as the Protestants are leaving it behind them. In the Kingdom of God, birth
control and children are both considered good and desirable, each at the time of choice of the couple
The Catholic church uses the issue of masturbation to convince young people that they are hopelessly
sinful. The shame and the guilt from masturbation (which is a natural human practice, particularly among
adolescents with their raging hormones and lack of sex partners) often leads to either helpless
dependence on the Catholic rituals for absolution or complete alienation from God.
Since the Seventh Day Adventists do not have the rites of confession and absolution, they simply
succeed in alienating their children from God. Ironically, the more rigorous parents are in promoting
church doctrines (innocently including those that are contrary to the nature of human beings and not a
part of God's Law), the more likely they are to drive their children away from God. That is the true
purpose of doctrines of devils.
The doctrines against masturbation have prevailed in the churches for years, because self-sacrifice is
one of the basic concepts of Christianity.
"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me." (Matt. 10:38). To put this
scripture in context, in the same chapter Christ made a number of prophesies of persecution, including
this: "And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake..." (Matt. 10:22). These scriptures apply to full
grown Christian soldiers, who have chosen to preach Christ in the face of strong opposition. They do
not apply to children.
Children should be taught the Law of God and His love. They should be protected from doctrines of
devils, which confuse them and make little sinners of them. In discussing masturbation parents should
remember these words of Christ.
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7). If you are a person who
has never masturbated, then you are entitled to say a few words against the practice. (You probably
shouldn't speak out, however, since statistically you are sexually abnormal, part of a tiny minority.)
What should you tell your children about sexuality and masturbation? First, tell them that sexuality has
its finest expression as part of a committed (marital) relation between a man and a woman, who treat
each other in loving ways. And sexuality is a blessing that bonds couples and allows them to have
children. And sexual expression is important for health, longevity, relaxation and happiness; sexuality is
a blessing from God.
Tell your children that because sexuality is a gift from God (who created sexuality when He made Eve),
sexuality should never be expressed in an exploitive way. You should not make love to a person you do
not respect and would not be willing to marry, nor should you make love to a person who does not
esteem you. If you do not have such a loved and loving person in your life, and your sexuality threatens
to overwhelm you, you may masturbate. In expressing your sexuality, keep in mind that in our culture all
sexuality is private, and you should not offend or embarrass other people with public displays.
Most Christian parents want their children to find happy Christian marriages. Their best chance to help
their children to this goal is to teach it occasionally and live it daily.
Amo Paul Bishop Roden