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Thread: Masturbation! Guilt and Religion!

  1. Top | #31
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    That's really oversimplifying Hinduism... it is true that the Tantric perspective on masturbation is a positive one, though.
    Yes. It is. I was just trying to find some perspective on some of the Hindu perspective on masturbation. Tantric is a wonderful way to enjoy sex, especially for older folks. It has always irked me when atheists criticize Tantra. Of course, it has no supernatural powers, but there are some wonderful love rituals that can enhance one's sex life. But, I'm a bit off topic now.
    I don't think that's off topic. I wish more atheists remembered that "religion" doesn't stop at the edge of conservative Christianity, frankly!

    Hinduism and masturbation have a long and conflicted history with one another, and we only know parts of the story. The Vedic texts themselves are silent on the issue, leading to much speculation over the centuries as to what attitude should be embraced. Some traditions embrace it, others forbid it entirely, others only outside of marriage, others present strategies to wean a person gently away, really the whole gamut of possible perspectives is there, partially a consequence of the patched together nature of the faith outsiders dubbed "Hinduism"! If you understand a bit about the philosophical underpinnings of Vedic thought, its easy to see why completely uncontrolled sexual impulses are not something a Hindu variant of any kind might look upon with suspicion.

    The question though, is how to best establish control over those desires. Is it through abstinence? Is it through letting your proper partner be the judge of the matter rather than your animal impulses? Or should it be by recognizing that need, meeting it as best you can by whatever morally acceptable means, but balancing it against other things as you grow in age and experience? Even the Tantrics see sex (including masturbation) as something of a temporary pleasure, eventually to be exchanged for the more real and pure contentment of Enlightenment. But they saw and see a healthy sex life as driving you toward rather than away from that goal. Having "scratched that itch", as it were, and learned from experience the limitations to bodily pleasures like sex, food, and wealth, the mature soul will eventually seek out more fundamental senses of peace and contentment.

    Monks of any sect are under more restrictions than the average person, due to their vows. There is much more tolerance for masturbatory acts connected to a healthy marriage (keeping in mind that marriages were traditionally arranged by parents as opposed to resulting from lust).

    In some parts of India there is a folk belief that in losing one's semen unnecessarily, one can sap one's own religious and worldly potential; each sperm being a potential soul, there's a thought that you are giving up something better retained within the self, and that excessive loss of semen will ultimately tap your virility. Ayurvedic medicine used to hold that semen was not easily produced, the last form of pure substance refined within the body (air to blood, blood to marrow, marrow to semen), and thus something you could run out of by over-indulging in sex of any kind. Medical anthropologists are apt to be familiar with a culture-specific anxiety disorder called dhat syndrome, in which young Indian and SE Asian men become obsessively worried about the amount of semen they have lost in their lifetime, to the point of incurring serious psychosomatic symptoms such as perceived dysmorphia or suicidal ideation. This is relatively rare, though.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

  2. Top | #32
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    Hindus can be just as conservative as Christians, Jews, and Muslims. That goes for Buddhists as well.

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    Veteran Member WAB's Avatar
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    "Hey, don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone I love!" - Woody Allen

    Woody's got all the good masturbation jokes.
    A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
    - Alexander Pope

  4. Top | #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Hindus can be just as conservative as Christians, Jews, and Muslims. That goes for Buddhists as well.
    Yes, I realize that, but could only find the more liberal Hindu view on sexuality. I did find some Buddhists sites that condemned masturbation, but never got around to posting them. I find it very sexist that so much of the objection to masturbating seems obsessed with losing sperm. Of course, we all know that every sperm is sacred. . It's almost as if some of the more patriarchal religions don't even realize that women have sex drives and unlike most men are capable of unlimited orgasms in one encounter, regardless if that's with a partner or without one.

    I also object to the idea that there is anything about masturbation that is animalistic or immoral. I suppose anything can be taken to an extreme, but there are all kinds of obsessive compulsive disorders that have nothing to do with sexuality. Psychiatrists tell us that there is no such thing as sexual addiction, but conservative religionists insist that there is such a thing. Science tells us that the chemicals released during orgasm are good for our mental and physical health, so why does religion often condemn something that nature has provided us?

    I guess to me, the question is how did such an innocent, harmless act become regarded as a terrible sin in so many theistic religions? Part of what made me think of this issue was due to the disturbed individual who killed the women in Atlanta recently. He was a religious fanatic who was taught that sex outside of marriage was a horrible evil, so he took his frustrations out on women, who he viewed as his temptresses. If he had been taught a more rational view of sexuality, perhaps he would not have become so disturbed, regardless of whether racism had a thing to do with his horrific acts. Of course most young people who are taught such things don't respond with violence, but it still makes me wonder how many people have been emotionally damaged due to their religious indoctrination in regards to human sexuality.

    I think the Psychology Today article that I linked at the beginning of this thread made a good point when it listed the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religions, yet these same religions ban the harmless act of masturbation. Anyway, I've said more than enough.

  5. Top | #35
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    Jews, Muslims, Christians and all else range from ultra orthodox to liberal. Jewish sexts are representative,. Israel led the US on gay rights y decades, yet there is is an ultra conservative elements a main part of Netanyahu's power base. Like Christians, pick a synagogue that suits you.

    Hindus and Muslims have clashed. Pakistan vs India.

  6. Top | #36
    Veteran Member Atheos's Avatar
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    I have long been of the opinion that sexual repression is one of the most powerful weapons used by fundamentalist religion against its membership. I very much consider myself a victim of the effects of puritan culture in the deep South of my youth. Growing up in a rural Georgia town I still recall the horrific scandal of a high-school couple who had to get married because the girl got pregnant. And I very much remember all the tongue-wagging, hand-wringing and renewed intensity with which we younger kids (I was around 12 at the time) were admonished to stay chaste until we were married.

    Somewhere around that time my dad took the occasion of two dogs fucking in our backyard to explain where babies come from. Nothing about the mechanics other than a sterile explanation that essentially came down to "Insert tab A in slot B." Apart from that everything else - everything else that my parents had said about the subject was with regard to how wrong it was. It was treated as a taboo subject, not fit for decent people to talk about.

    I knew nothing of masturbation or that such a thing was even possible. At least not until I figured it out for myself. Fortunately for me my dad had a bit of a pron habit and kept a stash in his tool cabinet (which was locked but as I discovered not very secure). I learned how sex worked by reading about it in a "dirty book." When I did eventually discover a method to reach my first orgasm I remember thinking "I should be hung for doing this." I was horribly ashamed of what I had done and promised myself I'd never do it again.

    That lasted about one month, but the urges continued to grow more insistent until I could no longer deny them. My second orgasm was much more deliberate, as I had made the conscious decision to just go with it. After that I eventually learned that I was not the only person who had figured out how to do that, which made me feel better but did little to assuage the deep-seated sense of shame and guilt that was (for me) associated with sex.

    I'm fairly certain that I never fully recovered from the impact that had on me, and now that I'm in my 60's I'm pretty sure I never will. I did learn to live with it I suppose, but it's not the same thing. But it's the hand I was dealt and it certainly could have been worse. At least I came to understand that there is no disapproving god watching me do naughty things, etching another marker next to my name to be brought up some day when I stand before him in judgment.

    But to bring all this back home my observation is that fundamentalist Christianity (and perhaps other religions) makes prey of sexual impulses, treating it like a disease and offering Jesus as the cure. The recent outrage of shooting those Asian women who worked at massage parlors in Atlanta is an example of why this is such a bad thing. The perp is/was making a case that he has a sexual addiction and he felt like the only cure for him was to purge these people out of his life. The fact that someone would even consider such an argument as viable speaks volumes about the warped impact this Christian strategy has.

    PS: based on what others have said I understand that not all variants of Christianity are inclined to treat sex in this disdainful way. Mine sure was.

  7. Top | #37
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    Thank you Atheos. You have expressed pretty much what I have been thinking when it comes to how some versions of religion damage children when it comes to sexuality. I grew up in New Jersey, so these fundamentalists, while more common in the South, are not absent in the Northeast. Plus, the Northeast is heavily populated by Catholics and they do a pretty good job of messing up their kids when it comes to sex, or at least they did back in my day.

    And, once again, I do think if the religious at least taught their children that it's perfectly okay to masturbate once they reach puberty, while explaining to them that it's a good way to get to know their own bodies, as well as being the safest sex around, we would all be better off. Of course the idea that Jesus is watching everything we do, doesn't really help. That's not my idea of a sexual fantasy.

    I was hoping that a few of the women posters would give their opinions about this. I was interested in learning if masturbation was ever mentioned if they were brought up in a religious home, or when they discovered the practice, did that indoctrination make them feel guilty or dirty etc. Were they able to overcome their guilt etc.

  8. Top | #38
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    I went to a Baptist church and school when I was in junior high. One day they pulled us out of class and we gathered in the chapel. The preacher told us lusting for girls was fornicating with them "in your heart". He pointed an accusing finger at us and declared: "I can SEE in your eyes, which of you are touching yourselves!" A lot of heads lowered. I wondered "But can even see anyone's eyes from up there? And what would he see? I think he's lying". So he'd reminded me of a trick parents use, where they pretend to have access to their kid's mind. And calling to mind that much-resented trick helped me realize I was hearing lies.

    There isn't necessarily a complete healing from the shaming techniques used on young people. Sometimes when alone, I don't quite feel alone. The "inner critics" are there like an audience. Maybe this is a universal feature of the mind but it sure as hell doesn't need puritanical authoritarians piling it on.

  9. Top | #39
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    I think there is something in the gospels where Jesus sys if you lust in your heart you have already sinned, IOW fornication. In his Playboy interview Jimmy Carter, a Baptist, confessed to having lusted in his heart.

    In n ancient tribal culture I would think restrictions on sex along with monogamy was intend to limit conflict between males.

    If you want to strike rfear in conservative Christians just shout 'VAGINA!!!'.

  10. Top | #40
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    I think that the taboo on talking about sex among Christians was ramped up to high during the Victorian era. Older literature seems to be quite open about sex.

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