Masturbation 101…in a Church
This Week’s Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us
by Rebekah Maxwell
As the church’s strain to keep young “seekers” reaches new extremes, an edgy idea sprang up from the hallowed halls of academia: we’ll use your church to teach masturbation.
Instant cultural relevance.
Yes, last week, one of the oldest colleges in the nation decided to use their hundred-year-old chapel to hold a sex-workshop. The following contains graphic description of sexual activity (as the title suggests).
Allegheny College’s Ford Memorial Chapel was transformed into a boudoir of sorts Wednesday night, as professional sex educators advised students in attendance how best to touch themselves and their partners to reach orgasm, in what was billed as an educational seminar.
The chapel is where Catholic mass and non-denominational services are conducted every week at the private liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania. But all that took a back pew to Wednesday’s festivities, dubbed “I Heart the Female Orgasm” and hosted by a variety of student groups on campus.
The two sex educators, Marshall Miller and Kate Weinberg, talked students through a variety of masturbation techniques during the event.
“Sometimes it can be difficult finding your G-spot by yourself, because it involves inserting a finger or fingers inside the vagina into the front wall of the body, and that kind of results in an awkward, kind of clawlike hand position,” Weinberg said, demonstrating with a pawing motion as the audience giggled.
“Some people figure out masturbation and orgasm as teenagers, some people figure it out later than that,” said Weinberg, describing her lifelong fascination with pleasuring herself. “And some people figure it out earlier than that. Like preschool age. I was part of that last category.”
The sex educators also got “biblical,” assuring students that masturbation is not a sin. (I suppose no other hermeneutic would explain the lack of divine lightning strikes during their Chapel of Self-love?)
Weinberg said that because Biblical scholars debate the exact meanings of many portions of the Bible, it permits a wide variety of sexual activity.
“A lot of Bible scholars say (Onan’s story in Genesis 38) is the primary anti-masturbation story, but I don’t really see it,” she continued. “Onan wasn’t struck dead for masturbating. He was struck down for not sleeping with his brother’s wife. So the masturbation wasn’t the sin. So obviously, you know, the Bible is something that is interpreted in a lot of different ways.”
Right now, you may be asking, how did this happen? Why would such a lurid sex discussion invade a worship space? Surely, the evil intelligentsia forced this upon the helpless Christians, as big-bad colleges are wont to do, right? Well, let’s ask their chaplain:
Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickel, who conducts non-denominational Christian services each Sunday and manages the office of Spiritual and Religious Life:
“I don’t have a problem with it being held in the chapel. The program advocates responsible, respectful decision-making regarding sexual behavior, and includes the option waiting for marriage, a message that resonates with many students of faith. While the name may have some shock value, the event itself is consistent with our policy of opening the building to campus groups. We would love it if students at such an event experience the chapel as a welcoming space, and then feel encouraged to attend a religious service or program.”
That’s a fascinating theory. That students going to a graphic masturbation tutorial (in the middle of Lent) would be so inspired by how “welcoming” the chapel is, that they’d come back later for the whole religion business. Because the building is so nice.
I’m sure that’s exactly what Reverend Timothy Alden intended when he founded Allegheny College almost 200 years ago, in connection with the Methodist Church. He was a Harvard Divinity school graduate, a missionary to the Seneca tribes, the son of a famed New England preacher whose final epitaph remembers “a man of prayer, sanctified by grace…all his hopes rested in the merits of Jesus Christ.” I’m sure he would be on board with this edgy new type of outreach.
But, you may say, this is a new generation, far beyond the backwardness about sex that the Church has stereotypically promoted. Why shouldn’t we open up our doors to a new, exciting, self-loving human experience? Because that’s what sex is about, right? Making sure you get the pleasure you want?
We’ve already cast off the notion that sex should be a consecrated bond between a man and woman, committed to one another for life before their God. That’s “an option,” I suppose…if you’re laughably backward. New forward-thinking calls for sex to be physical, frequent, and unfettered by convention. It’s just sex: not an intimate intercourse, not a communion between two souls, not a means of continuing the human race. It’s a mere mechanism for you, the glorified animal that you are, to extract as much sensory pleasure for yourself as possible before you die.
That’s so progressive. Hard to believe that in the last several millenia of human culture, no one’s ever thought of bringing sex into the worship space before. It could be a great way to glorify ourselves as the ultimate god-force, you know? Maybe we could start hiring sex workers in the temples, just so they can help…instruct those who need it. After all, the church is a welcoming space. And, if all we have to do is believe in ourselves, why not let our worship reflect our true beliefs? Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Just clean up after yourself.
Serious Note: The church is a real place for real people, people with ugly pasts (and imperfect presents). We were all once enemies of God. But His great love calls us to cast off the guilt of our old ways, seek forgiveness in Christ, and follow His design for our lives (sex lives included). For ideas on real outreach the church can do to help men, women, and teens, who are trapped in sexual sin, check out ministries like XXX Church.