Male Masturbation of Missionaries for Stress Relief

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Box 617


Brian Nacy

CNC 6411 – Sexuality Counseling

Dr. McKechnie
Due 4/21/10
Turned in 4/21/10

“Self-stimulation, personal blossoming, chronic demented practice, corrupt depravity, pleasant alternative, instinctual manifestation, genital misadventure and vice against nature” are some of the 200+ polarized descriptions of masturbation. (Bernot 2005, 84-94) Currently, Christian experts in sexuality are hotly debating this topic, but it is rarely openly discussed in churches. While the Bible remains silent on masturbation, it can be estimated that one third of ministers struggle with it as their sexuality, spirituality and ministry gradually decay. ( n.d.) With this in mind, there is an urgency to understand patterned male masturbation for stress relief with its specific application for cross-cultural missionaries. For the purpose of this paper, masturbation will be defined as “the private, solitary act of self-stimulation, culminating in orgasm done in isolation.” The use of “patterned” relates both to: A. a consistent subclinical, yet atypical, means of coping with stress through self-gratification and B. compulsive masturbation. For those struggling with compulsive masturbation, this would be defined as “repetitive behaviors,” “the goal of which is to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress, not to provide pleasure or gratification” (American Psychiatric Association 2000, 457). The extraordinary amount of cultural and ministry stress a missionary encounters, in a foreign environment, makes him especially vulnerable to seek masturbation as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Etiology

Most literature views masturbation as a “normal, healthy way to explore your sexual feelings, express the natural sexual response, and safely experiment” “without worry,” “having a sexual relationship” or catching “a sexually transmitted disease” (Pfeifer 2006, 68). In this developmental stage masturbation enables a psychologically unready teen to cope with the awkward tensions of puberty through the “control” of their own sexuality. At the same time, the teen begins to experience shame due to the cultural condemnation of masturbation coupled with parental discomfort of talking about the transition of sexual awareness. This “sexual shame inhibits sexual loving” and “puts into motion distortions of sexual expression in both universal and unique ways” (Hastings 1998, 14-17). Hastings sees this sexual shame as “the” motivational factor behind all sexual acting out from addiction to pornography to lusting after others. Thus masturbation is both a learned coping mechanism from youth and part of a cycle of shame. A biological factor is that masturbation brings about a sense of “euphoria” as testosterone, dopamine and oxytocin are released. (Wright 2008) These hormones stimulate the reward center in the brain and reinforce the behavior. Steve Earll sees family dysfunction or unresolved family trauma, “any experience that wounds the soul”, as another factor. (Earll 2004) If repressed emotions such as rage, fear, inadequacy or loneliness are not resolved, they grow to be “so powerful that an individual becomes susceptible to addictions providing psychological relief” (Earll 2004). In order to anesthetize the pain, sexual fantasy through masturbation is used to alleviate the psychological ache with the unfortunate affect of fueling shame and the addictive cycle.

Thus masturbation is a developmentally learned behavior that provides a powerful biological experience to escape painful situations and emotions that fosters a sense of control. The unique psychological stressors of missions only increase the vulnerability to use masturbation and other sexual outlets for relief. In his article concerning missionary sexual purity, Ken Williams lists “loneliness, anonymity, unmet emotional needs, greater sexual freedom in the local culture and loss of...
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