As a bachelor, that m-word is the limit of my sexual experiences. Just as anyone likely does not obsessively contemplate eating, sleeping, or urinating, I normally take this m-word for granted. And just as those former bodily functions are acceptable to publicly discuss, I see no reason why the m-word cannot be expressed in an unrestrained, unabashed manner. A conversation with a friend — a female friend — revealed that my opinion deviates quite far from the feminist, sexually-saturated attitude of most people. Here I shall convey honestly my history and wandering thoughts associated with that dirty m-word. Probably too honestly. Brace yourself.
I was fourteen years old the first time I ejaculated. I was alone in my bedroom, reading a copy of the Guiness Book of World Records when my eyes fell upon a full-page spread of a bikini-clad model. I realized that I was lying on an armchair pillow in a position that made me feel very strange and very stimulated. Shortly I discovered that if I pressed my waist against the pillow, wiggled, and focused on the image on the page, my whole abdomen and buttocks felt as if they were washed over in magical plasmic honey and my phallus torpedoed from my pelvis. I kept up a steady pace, until — surprise! — a little cartilege hammer was thrumming beneath my scrotum, and my hairless tummy and the pillow were a viscuous mess. Oops.
I locked the door and did it again.
I did it again that night.
The next day, I rushed home from school and did it again.
I did it again.
I expended an embarrassing portion of my time and creativity devising new methods to feed my lust: poking a hole in the pillow, mounting a sleeping bag, sandwich baggies filled with hair conditioner, the space between two sofa cushions, the shower wall — I even once came with a hotel Jacuzzi jet. It is miraculous that I possessed the will, or the sheer terror, to shield my eyes from pornography all (uh… most) of my teenage life. If you’ve lived with four siblings and shared a bedroom until you’re 17, you’ll understand that finding privacy to do anything is maddening.
I became a mainstream Christian when I was twelve. For the teenage male Christian, a great mystery of the universe is whether or not masturbation constitutes as sin. My spiritual mentor at the time believed it was, and suggested I find an “accountability partner,” another male friend struggling with lust with whom we could report to each other regularly (and perhaps make a wager, say $50) and hold each other responsible for keeping our hands away from our crotches.
I had that friend already. “The habit,” we called this Enemy, and we depicted ourselves as warriors, waging a righteous war against the scourge that was this Enemy, the Dark Lord Libido. Around campfires, in pillow forts, in the woods, we tallied the days and weeks and months we’d held our ground against the Yom-Kipper-War mental/biological assault of the libido’s hordes of winged monkeys before caving in to an urge, and if we’d tasted defeat, then we’d seal countless promises to one another that last night, that was the last time, from that moment on we would both be clean until we met our wives and lost our virginities in the sanctity of the marriage bed.
We never did.
I was troubled and embarrassed. I sent emails to my spiritual mentor about my failure to remain pure, and yet for all his sincerity about the grace of God, the love of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit to transform me into a new man, my own penis was a thorn in my thigh.
When I was 17, my father finally sat me down in my bedroom and administered “the talk,” when he had intercepted one of my emails to my mentor. Though I only alluded to masturbation in the message, by now I realized how universally males were afflicted by this particular problem, by how quickly he understood. He promised me that 99% of men masturbated, and that the 1% were liars. He told me it was natural, that it was healthy, that it was a way to keep a man’s sexual function occupied until a real woman came along.
A real woman came along.
Self-assurance that I was not a pervert came when I felt my first intense feelings for a living female human who was not from either an anime show or my imagination. I was relieved; this was the way sexuality was supposed to be, and I pursued courtship. It led only to an episode of humiliation and pain that made the all-powerful old Lord Libido into an angry, harmless, stick-swinging midget. Real women keep coming along, and every time they do, I wish I had appreciated what was in reality the bliss and simplicity of my youth.
Don’t receive the wrong impression. My life was not consumed by this pathological war of attrition against my own sexual urges. I did other stuff. This is just my own sexual legacy, a variation of which every human shares in equal detail. But also mind you, if you believe I’m obsessed, that sex haunts every brain like a ghost in the room — it’s lurking in the dark depths of your subconscious, fueling your motives and translating your perceptions even when you are not aware of its puppetry upon you.
I stood on the mountain overlooking Heaven and raged against God for putting me in this body with its stupid, humiliating urges, and for giving me a heart that only loved the women destined to never love me back. But God cannot be cruel. Like a monkey in a cage pressing the pleasure button, I remained voluntarily trapped in this prison, while behind me the door was standing open.
* * *
Why is masturbation sinful?
The bulk of literature within Christianity concerning the topic of sex is unsettlingly immense; masturbation represents a single node in the web of a grandiose dilemma which sex poses. In brevity, mainstream Christians, from whose congregations I have departed, will basically provide a unanimous response: they don’t hate sex. Quite the opposite — Christians hold sex as sacred, a precious gift from God. Because it is so precious, its only proper place is with one other man/woman in the marriage bed. It is an idealization fed by a Catch-22: we don’t know what sex is like, so we fabricate it, we listen to our mother and fathers’ word, but to learn what it is truly like and disillusion ourselves, there is no way to do that without entering into sin.
Biological evolution provides a wealth of evidence for the advantages of monogamy in early human nomads: (1) whereas in polyamorous apes the females mate in season, a human female does not display her ovulation, so a male must mate with her constantly to insure fertilization, (2) hunter-gather groups, if they were poly-amorous, would have been sundered by male rivalry and competition for mates, when it was absolutely required to cooperate during the hunt in order to find food, and (3) raising offspring was only possible with a nurturing female and a male to hunt and provide food. But civilization has absolutely changed this environment, so that by artificial means of contraception, abortion, and welfare, the chauvinistic ideal is not relevant to survival.
Witness also the emotions intertwined during the coital process. Unless one is mounting prostitutes behind dumpsters on a regular basis, staving off emotional investment from intercourse is like trying to plug a garden hose with his thumb. Monogamy is ideal.
“But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
Masturbation violates Christ’s command, for even our mental mistress — whether a carbon copy of the girl at school, or an imaginary assembly of a thousand television celebrities — is not our mythical “wife,” and so a sexual gaze upon any female form will damage the spirit. When a man has no wife at all until he is 25 or 30, he will doubtless succumb in a thousand, thousand instances. No matter how “honestly” we feel our feelings are felt for a woman, beholding her in the secret dungeon of the mind will open the door to demons of the metaphorical, and literal, sort.
But masturbation, as we see in Christ’s ancient command, is broader than the physical action of self-stimulation. So long as a man has no wife, any imagination of a woman or part of a woman, will degrade one’s perception of true woman. She might be fat. She might be ugly. She might possess the same blemishes that you yourself possess, yet are too vain to gaze upon them in the mirror.
The damage of masturbation is evident. C.S. Lewis describes the harem that exists in a male’s mind.
“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.” – Personal Letter From Lewis to Keith Masson (found in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3)
At this point, whether or not I masturbate, I will remain in the prison of my self forever. For once it was my woe that no woman loved me; now it is that those who do love me, I do not and cannot love back. I have tried badly, even when I kiss her, yet I cannot break the chains around my heart and face the reality in its eyes: “This is the one. I must learn, now, how to attract myself to her.”
Possibly, mere masturbation has little to do with this. For what will happen when I settle for that one woman, and then after years suddenly I encounter the woman I love? I will have forged a marriage on a lie, of years “learning” to love she who was just my friend all along, and then either cleave asunder this facade or dwell my days in mediocrity and hatred, sleeping with my wife while dreaming of my mistress.
Here is where Lewis and I part. For while the mainstream Christian believes there is a rare, pure form of sexuality, I expose that myth and crucify it. For the entire game of love in my life is a red herring. It keeps me off the path. Were I given a magic wand that would either make my genitals disappear or make me live forever, I would choose to be bloodlessly and painlessly castrated.
While Christians withhold themselves for the eager hope that they will one day find release, my opinion of sex is apathetic at its mildest, pure hatred at its height. I have not had sex, but by early college I had educated myself via media and the testimonies of many friends, and I realized how absurd it is that a biological function as aesthetically appealing as defecating or digestion (without even the metabolic necessity of either) is idealized by both religion and by humanist feminists. Most men have never walked upon the moon, yet we study it and know so much about it. Sex, like a dark, distant, empty world, is exactly the same.
* * *
But what of woman and her self-stimulation?
Lately I had the opportunity to discuss self-stimulation with a female friend. Unfortunately, her explanation of the female experience was merely a schizophrenic diatribe that offered no concrete evidence to my contrary notions — doubtless the result of brain disintegrating from saturation in sex.
Feminists have insisted to me that there is no disparity between the male and female sexual nature. Clearly, this quotation from a female blogger testifies the contrary:
“When I started masturbating, I became more comfortable around men. I started to admire them. I was able to more openly admit if I found them cute. I became more comfortable with myself.”
What occurs, O Female, when those males do not admire you? How then do you reconcile your useless urges? That is why sex torments men like me — for when we love you, it is most often a mad chase that ends in a great a lie, yet when you love, it seems you have the power to attain whomever you believe correlates to your psyche. There is something beyond the mere problem of males setting a “physical” ideal, while females a “psychological” one. Are women, thus, the better judge of love?
Instead of a harem, the female appears to set upon a pedestal a single man, a lord of her life, and adore him with all her might. The sin in this, however, is greater; that one man, when he casts her down, will crush every bone of her soul. Males, as myself, are privy to this as well, as we see in the French troubadours and Arabian Bedouins. But this is the greater pain.
I wonder if this means women are more vulnerable to make the mistake of idealizing physical pleasure as the same as love-power, or does this mean the female libido is purer than the male’s? Are their hearts clean? Does this mean that there is a “pure” method of self-stimulation, a secret gifted to the female but withheld from the male? It is far more likely for a female to naturally — helplessly — latch to the sexual partner, because of their close association of sex with love. Their hearts are more prone to be broken.
It appears when a female stimulates herself, she engulfs the entire man — his body, soul, and spirit — and breathes the same breath in every earth-spinning kiss. For males, we only tend to love one, perhaps two, of those three assets. Rarely all of them, no matter how hard we try. I remember as a young man, even in the midst of my silly struggles with lust, I did too desire in this whole fashion, before I matured out of that fantasy. That fantasy must live longer in the female psyche, and die much harder.
When a woman is ‘more comfortable around men,’ does this mean that the female brain translates virtually every interaction with men in tiny degrees of sexuality? Or perhaps it is that males are not hyper-sexual, but concentrated sexuals. For males, sex has one place. For the female brain, sex is spread out in a thin layer over everything, less blinding and more easily manageable.
Next she proclaims:
“I understand why people need religion. It’s a grounding thing. It gives them hope, something to cling to when there is nothing else left to believe. It’s something that, even though I won’t admit it, is needed.”
I will also relent in my argument also, O Female, and say that some people need sex. Sex, not religion, is the true opiate of the masses. If there is any reason for humans to exist on the earth, I concede we need at least a few people reproducing until a better method of procreation is developed.
* * *
As an adult, sex is meaningless to me. That is how this story ends. I have outgrown the anxiety, the outrage, the humiliation, and accept sex as a grim reality alongside labor, loneliness, and death. As a peasant who pays fearful tribute to the tyrant that is my body, I give in to what my body demands. One day that tyrant will grow old and die. My body will not “want” anymore.
Sex is like snow. I hate snow. Snow is cold, dirty, useless, gets in the way of everything, and lasts a very long time. But eventually I adapt and deal with the snow until spring arrives.
I think I hear the birds calling.