By Herbert Dube
The shocking revelation by the man of God and world acclaimed Christ Embassy founder, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, that masturbation is not a sin against God left me wondering what this world is turning into.
Issues like homosexuality and masturbation would have received wholesome condemnation from the church in the old days without being dignified with even a minute of debate, yet today homosexuality has been embraced in some churches and now the man of God has somehow interpreted the scriptures as giving the green-light to the sinful act.
As Christians, we should not be shaken as these are the signs of the times (Mathew 24 vs 11). However, it would need a revisit to the scriptures to try and establish how the Creator views this act.
It is a fact that the Bible does not mention masturbation directly in all its 67 chapters, but then there are so many scriptures that relate to this act which clearly make it an abomination to God.
Masturbation is defined as the act of giving oneself or somebody sexual pleasure by stroking the genitals. The fact that it is said to be sexual according to the dictionary meaning of the word, makes it a part of forbidden sexual acts like fornication, adultery and homosexuality (Colossians 3 vs 5). The Bible only has one permitted way of having sex: that is intercourse between a married man and woman and this is no subject for debate. I Thessalonians 4 vs 3 calls upon people to abstain from sexual immorality. This includes the act in all its hidden forms. Sexual immorality includes sexual sins and everything ranging from fornication, beastiality, adultery, pornography etc.
â€œMasturbation is about you and your body. God is not offended by it,” said Pastor Chris.
I Corinthians 6 vs 19 says â€˜Donâ€™t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves, but to God. He bought you for a price. So use your bodies for Godâ€™s glory.â€™
The human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is our mandate to keep the temple clean if we expect the Holy Spirit of God to reside in it. The verse is clear on the aspect of who owns the body. It belongs to God. Any activity that we take part in which may tarnish the body that houses the clean Spirit is bound to offend God. How can his spirit live in an unclean habitat?
So should we condone beastiality and say what people choose to do with their bodies is none of God’s business? Then we should have legalised adultery and prostitution long ago! The reason why there was public outcry locally, even from non-Chrstians, when the US recently announced that it had legalised beastiality, is that there are practices that go against what defines us as humans and whether they are done in private, they remain an abomination.
It is like saying just because God did not say anything about smoking in the Bible then Christians are free to smoke. Even medical doctors say smoking is dangerous to one’s health. The fact that something is not direclty mentioned in the Bible does not mean that it is permissible. The Bible does not say anything about wearing extreme mini-skirts, but it speaks about ‘the dressing of a harlot’ (Proverbs 7 vs 10) and dressing modestly and decently (I Timothy 2 vs 9). After all, Paul says, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial,” – I Corinthians 10 vs 23.
Pastor Chris in his statement seems to suggest that what one does with one’s body does not affect their relationship with God. If God seeks purity of mind, soul and body, why should we be free to abuse God’s temple and expect to get away with it?
The pastor is of the assumption that there is a moment that this act can be done without one committing the mind which is not the case. This sin affects both the mind and body and it is difficult to separate the two as it is the mind that drags the body into sin.
Brian Goshomi from Life Giving Spirit International says one does not indulge in the act with an empty mind. There will be images of a sexual nature in the brain and in most cases those who do it make use of dirty magazines and other pornographic material of which God hates and is against.
The Bible in Matthew says that if you look at a woman and have sexual desires towards her then you have sinned. It goes without saying what that means for the eye which looks at those things and the hand and body that endulges in it.
Masturbation instills attitudes that are totally self-centered. When masturbating, a person is immersed in his/her own body sensations. It is this selfish thinking that could make satisfying sexual relations in a marriage set up difficult.
The practice also causes one to view those of the opposite sex as mere objects or tools for self-gratification.
“Whenever I look at a woman in the streets I canâ€™t help imagining how good she could be in bed and this spurs me to masturbate even more whenever I get the chance,” says Daniel, a habitual masturbater. This goes on to show how one cannot separate the body and the mind when embroiled in the act. It corrupts both the mind and body and in the end one focuses on it rather than on Godly things which the holy scriptures want us to focus on.
Percival Charlie of Faith Ministries brought in another dimension to the argument. He is of the opinion that masturbation is another form of murder as sperm is a seed which is alive hence it should not be spilled. This brings back the age old question which many have been asking: Is the use of contraceptives and other family planning devices permissible in the eyes of God? If I were to persue this line of argument it would need another article altogether as this is a highly controversial issue so I will leave it there.
God gave us the power to control our fleshly desires so anyone who claims to be a Christian and has the Holy Spirit residing in them can conquer any evil practices.
“People should meditate on Godâ€™s word always so that their minds are always on Godly things and that leaves them no room for such filthy behavioral traits,” says Pastor Josiah Mwashaireni.
A Christ Embassy member, Vincent Mashanje, says he believes the man of God has realised that a big number of teenagers is practicing masturbation hence the need to convince them that what they are doing is not sinful, so that guilt does not drive them away of the church.
“Letâ€™s face it. With his vast knowledge of the holy scriptures, thereâ€™s no way he could ever have such an oversight on such a simple matter,” said Mashanje. This goes on to show how even members of his own flock seem to differ with him on the subject.
One young lad who declined to be named said since news filtered that Pastor Chris has given the greenlight to masturbation he has joined Christ Embassy because that is the only denomination where he can indulge in the act without feeling guilty.
“It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders as I used to believe that what I was doing was wrong,” he said.
There may be stiff competition for parishioners in churches as we now have more church denominations than people but it would be wrong to employ dirty antics to lure people especially the idea of overlooking or ignoring some obvious transgressions with the hope that the affected people will come to our churches. The ultimate goal at the end of the day is to seek ways that will eventually lead to eternal life and it is only the absolute truth that will lead to that.
I believe if we are to maintain holiness and purity in the church we need to go back to the Bible and learn from it how we should live. The church nowadays is too compromising to meet God’s standards of holiness and if we dice with sin and all its forms then we risk missing heaven.
I am in no position to judge the pastor for his beliefs but it is my hope that the man of God may realise his mistake and rectify the mistake before it leads others astray. It would have been prudent for him to refer such a matter to God and the Bible and not pass an outright decision on it. We should all be disciples willing to be taught by the Lord. Masturbation is an abomination to God.
The opinions expressed in this article are the authorâ€™s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.