Like most religions, Jehovah’s Witnesses have strong beliefs about sexuality and morality. Unlike most Christian religions, they don’t stop at simply forbidding fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. In their religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t allow masturbation. According to them, it ruins marriages and makes you gay. No, really.
Masturbation in the Bible
While Jehovah’s Witnesses often claim that they take all their beliefs from the bible, it’s interesting to note that masturbation is not mentioned in the scriptures at all. This is significant because, after Moses gave Israel the ten commandments, he then gave them some 600 other laws that god wanted them to follow. These laws included such details as the animals they could and could not eat, where and how they were to use the bathroom in their camp, whom they could and could not marry, and the sacrifices they needed to make for sins.
If masturbation was so important to god, you think he would have included it in a law that dictates a sacrifice a man needed to make for an “emission of semen,” and that told women how to bathe and wash their clothes after their monthly periods. Since no other intimate details about their everyday lives were spared, why not mention this one?
Masturbation Ruins Marriages
From the September 15, 1973, Watchtower:
Though speaking of the ‘normality’ of masturbation, medical and psychiatric authorities are obliged to recognize the frequency with which habitual masturbation becomes a real hindrance to a happy and contented marriage later in life. The facts show that it is not uncommon for the practice to persist after marriage to the point where the masturbator feels obliged to seek psychiatric help.
Stop for a moment. What “medical and psychiatric authorities” are recognizing that masturbation ruins marriages? What “facts” show that those who practice masturbation actually seek psychiatric help? They quote no experts, no studies, no doctors. Apparently there are so many people running off to psychiatrists to get help with this problem that these “facts” are considered to be self-evident, so they don’t need to provide any actual proof.
Why do they believe that masturbation ruins marriages? Consider:
The habitual practice cripples his social and emotional development, hinders his attaining a healthful outlook and attitude toward the other sex and toward people in general. It can ‘turn the person inward’ upon himself, making him introverted. … the persistent practice causes a person’s thoughts to be turned inward so that he becomes self-centered and selfish, with problems in trying to relate himself to others.
From the book “Young People Ask”:
Masturbation instills attitudes that are totally self-centered. For example, when masturbating, a person is immersed in his or her own body sensations. … Masturbation causes one to view those of the opposite sex as mere objects, or tools, for self-gratification. … The selfish thinking that is instilled through the practice of masturbation can make satisfying sexual relations in marriage difficult to achieve.
So according to this, a person who masturbates becomes so selfish that he (or she) is actually “crippled” in his social and emotional development, and anyone who masturbates cannot have a happy marriage, simply because masturbation involves concentrating on your “own body sensations.”
While I agree that being selfish and indulging your selfishness can make marriage difficult for someone, I would need to question why doing something only for yourself automatically makes you selfish. For example, when someone gets a massage aren’t they “immersed in his or her own body sensations”? When a person lifts weights or does yoga, they’re encouraged to tune into their body during this time, for maximum physical benefit. Do these things make you selfish?
By their reasoning, anything you do on your own for your own “body sensations” will make you selfish and cripple you emotionally, and ruin your chances at a happy marriage. So, don’t enjoy the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, warm sand under your toes, a hot bath, a really good dessert?
The bottom line is, doing things for yourself and only for yourself doesn’t automatically make you a selfish person. In some ways it can make you balanced and healthy, as you can be happy and feel as if your own needs are being met. In truth, sometimes not having your needs met can be what makes you selfish, as you become so frustrated with your situation that you cannot think about how to make someone else happy.
Masturbation Makes You Gay
Jehovah’s Witnesses have many times said outright that masturbation can make a person gay. From the Watchtower quoted above:
Or it can, and frequently does, lead into homosexuality, in which the person, not satisfied with his lonely sexual activity, seeks a partner for mutual sex play.
From the May 15 1970 Watchtower:
… autoeroticism or masturbation is no mere innocent pastime but rather a practice that can lead to homosexual acts.
The February 15 1976 Watchtower:
… unclean practices, such as masturbation, which can be a steppingstone to homosexuality, …
From the book “Your Youth, Getting the Most Out of It”, published in 1976:
… masturbation can lead into homosexuality. In such instances the person, not satisfied with his lonely sexual activity, seeks a partner for mutual sex play. … This happens much more frequently than you may realize. Contrary to what many persons think, homosexuals are not born that way, but their homosexual behavior is learned. And often a person gets started when very young by playing with another’s sexual parts, and then engaging in homosexual acts.
Their reasoning is that a person who masturbates gets tired of being alone and seeks out a partner for “mutual sex play.” I will agree that masturbation can get boring and a person will often seek out a sex partner, but what makes them believe that someone who masturbates will seek out a partner of the same gender? If a heterosexual man gets tired of masturbating and wants a sex partner, wouldn’t he seek out a woman, someone to whom he’s attracted?
This is another huge leapfrog in their logic; it’s as if they’re saying a man who touches his own penis will automatically want to touch another man’s penis. How far does this thinking go; if a man sees his naked body in the mirror every day, does he want to touch another naked man?
What is also erroneous is the thought that a homosexual “learns” their behavior through sexual play and contact, or any other such contact. They quote no studies, no experts, no homosexuals themselves who say that this is what made them gay. I know a few gay people and they all say that they knew from the time they were pre-teens that they were attracted to the same gender, and it had nothing to do with sex play, interaction with other men, or any learned behavior in any form.
It’s also worth noting that in the 1973 Watchtower above, they quote an unnamed study that says that 95% of boys and 40% to 50% of girls masturbate. However, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 3.8% of American adults identified as gay or lesbian (see this website).
If masturbation so easily made a person gay, and some 95% of boys masturbate, wouldn’t there be a lot more gay men? What’s going on with the other 90% of men who masturbate but don’t become gay? The Watchtower above says that masturbation “frequently” leads to homosexuality, but I’m not seeing the numbers to back up this statement.
The real problem with these statements is not the connection between masturbation and selfishness and homosexuality, but how dubious and outright fabricated they are. Dubious, fabricated statements about any subject call into question the validity of all a religion’s statements. One lie or one very shaky foundation for a belief makes a person, or should make a person, question all other foundations for beliefs.
Why then would Jehovah’s Witnesses be so bold and brazen so as to put these statements out there? Did you not think that someone might want additional proof, other than just your word? Did you not think that someone might be able to prove these statements to be downright false, thus calling into question any and all statements you make?
Religions are allowed to make up whatever rules for their adherents they want; if Jehovah’s Witnesses want to forbid masturbation, that’s their right. However, this rule betrays their claim that all their beliefs are based on the bible. These statements, that masturbation ruins marriages and makes you gay, seem to be based only on their own word and nothing more. If I can’t believe these statements and know that you’re just making up your claims as you go along, how can I then trust any other statements you make?
Please share with others so that people can fully understand the more outlandish statements made by Jehovah’s Witnesses.