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Watch Matt Whitman's video on The Ten Minute Bible Hour:

Special thanks to Andy Smetanka for animating this video. You can find his work at

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One of the biggest challenges people struggle with is sexual shame or guilt.

It's complicated, it's deep, and it can make a daunting mess of sexuality. So I reached out to BetterHelp, an online counseling service I really like, to partner on answering the question: Is masturbation a sin? [WHIP CRACKING, COUGH].

Once upon a time I was a Christian. This is my Bible. I've kept it to tell you this very story.

Genesis (first book) Chapter 38 - Judah and Tamar, the most common reference to masturbation as a sin. While travelling Judah met Shua “married her and went in to her.” That's the second verse of the chapter. Judah and Shua get married and have penetrative sex.

Here's a family tree to help. Judah and Shua have three sons. Er, the first born, then Onan, and Shelah the third.

Verse 6: Judah takes a wife for Er, the oldest son. Her name is Tamar. Verse 7: Er was wicked so the Lord killed him.

Judah (the dad) then goes to his second born son, Onan and says quote “go into your brother's wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.” This is known as a levirate marriage. Levirate from the Latin word levir meaning husband's brother. The tradition obligates the brother of a deceased man to marry the widow and inseminate her.

Levirate marriages still exist in places like Indonesia, Somalia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Sudan. For many reasons but primarily to maintain the first born son's patriarchy and as a way to make sure that the widow is taken care of. In some cultures, women don't have resources to survive without family, so the marriage is security.

Here's what the Bible says happens in this levirate marriage between Onan and Tamar. Onan has sex with her but pulls out. “He emitted on the ground.” He withdrew. He coitus interrupted.

He did not ejaculate sperm filled semen into Tamar. “The things which he did displeased the Lord, therefore He [capital He] killed him also.” In addition to killing Er, God killed Onan the external ejaculator! From this we've been led to believe that rubbing between our legs, spilling seed is a sin. BUT this is a big misunderstanding.

Onan wasn't masturbating. He was rebelling against a social custom -- not impregnating his brother's widow. The chapter goes on with Judah promising his third son to Tamar, because the first two were killed by God.

It's fascinating! Judah actually ends up mistaking Tamar for a quote “harlot” or prostitute and impregnating her himself. Ahhh, the Bible.

As it turns out masturbation isn't in here as a sin or otherwise! There is a second part in the New Testament which people will interpret as “masturbation is a sin” BUT it's actually referring to lust as a sin, not self-stimulation. Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said of those of old ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If you right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than to be cast into hell.” It's fascinating how the Bible is interpreted. There's nothing about masturbation in these sixteen hundred plus pages and yet kids are swatted for exploring their bodies.

There are still millions of women who haven't experienced an orgasm because they've been shamed out of touching themselves. People think urine comes out of vaginas because looking down there is even taboo. The surgeon general under Clinton, Joycelyn Elders, was asked to resign after saying that yes, masturbation could be a safer sex option during the AIDS crisis.

Masturbation is so much safer than most kinds of sexual activity and it feels amazing, but many of us our taught that it's a sin, don't do it. How did we get from this really old book written in a language that people don't speak anymore, to a shame so ingrained in our sexuality that I know some of you still aren't comfortable touching yourselves? BECAUSE IT's NOT A SIN!

In 1760, the Swiss neurologist Samuel Auguste André David Tissot published an anti-masturbation pamphlet, Onanism (named after Judah's second son). Tissot argued that masturbation and other non-procreative orgasms he collectively called the self-polluting disease Onanism would lead to decreased strength, poor memory, a decline in reasoning, blurred vision, nervous disorders, arthritis, pain, tenderness, bloody urine, headaches, and a disturbed appetite. Because of these terrible maladies we should do everything to prevent this type of stimulation.

How did society respond? Strapping ourselves down, eating bland food, restraining our genitals in gnarly contraptions, and removing the penis' foreskin so it's not as nice to pleasure ourselves. STOP IT!!!!

Masturbation is not a sin. Masturbation is not a sin. Masturbation can be healthy for your body.

And it is not a sin. Stay curious. Two things to tell you:.

Thing number one: If you're not already matched with an awesome counselor on. -- please consider it a gift to yourself. I've worked with multiple therapists on their site to make sure the service available to you is outstanding.

Currently I'm matched with an LPC (a licensed professional counselor) who is also a registered nurse and a doctor of psychology. She doesn't know anything more than my name and my personal challenges because that's all I've shared. You can have someone smart, helpful, and kind help you process your life, too.

It's $35 a week to start or even less if you want to do a free trial or qualify for financial aid. AND if you don't like your person, seriously it's so easy to say goodbye -- no hard feelings or tons of money spent on trying to make it work. Thing number two:.

Since filming this episode I met Matt Whitman who produces a show called the Ten Minute. Bible Hour, all about Christianity and what is really being said in this book. He was thrilled that I took on the topic of masturbation in the Bible because quote “masturbation is not a sin.” So thrilled, Matt did something really cool and added a video to his channel that goes into more detail about masturbation NOT being a sin.

I've put links to Matt's video and BetterHelp's website in the description. Take care of yourself.