Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dave Sim: On Onan & Masturbation

This Aardvark, This Shepherd
Cerebus #266 (May 2001)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard 

A (very occasional) word from Dave Sim now that he's working full-time on

Thanks for your phone message, Jeff [Relaying Jeet Heer's comment on last week's article].

You can tell Jeet (and also tell him I'm sorry I haven't seen any of his work in the NATIONAL POST lately: I always disagree with him but he's always an interesting read) as far as I know these are the relevant Biblical passages re: masturbation:
Leviticus (Third Book of Moshe) 15:16 And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him then he shall wash all his flesh in water and be unclean until the Even. 17 And every garment and every skin whereon is the seed of copulation shall be washed with water and be unclean until the Even 18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation they shall both bath in water and be unclean until the Even.
I don't put too much stock in this because it's the YHWH and -- unlike every other monotheist -- I think the YHWH is God's adversary. At the same time, I infer that the YHWH thinks his/her/its self to be God so a big part of what the Torah and the Gospels consist, in my view, is the YHWH's idea of Godly laws. Of which I think God is a) relatively indulgent, as He seems to me relatively indulgent of flaws in all of His creations and b) reliant on men to amend them where those laws are "screwy" (i.e. stoning someone to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath).

[The Onan narrative you cite, I infer, is a good example of that. Genesis 38:9 "And Onan KNEW that the seed should not be his" when his father tells him to raise up seed unto his brother by impregnating his brother's widow. It is -- or will be -- part of the Mosaic law:
Deuteronomy (Fifth Book of Moshe) 25:5 If brethren dwell together and one of them die and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her and take her to him to wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her.
The YHWH's concept, I infer, was to "short-cut" the elder being/younger being enactment (the YHWH's inference is that the YHWH is the elder being and God is the younger being; God's -- which I assume is the accurate one: Him being omniscient and all -- is that God is the elder being and YHWH is the younger being) by having the younger being impregnate the elder being's wife. Which is, of course, incestuous adulterous procreation. Morally and ethically choosing not to follow the instruction costs Onan his life but I assume he will have a suitable reward with God for standing against incestuous adulterous procreation. KNOWING what was right and doing that.]

Getting back to Lv. 15:16 the compelled inference, I think, is that semen is theologically unclean and needs to be washed out of garments. But it's not a huge deal. "Unclean until the Even" as opposed to "unclean seven days" (let's say). But that's just MY inference, which is what I infer Scripture is all about, Charlie Brown: you're supposed to make up your own mind what Scripture says, what it's telling you to do and the extent to which you conform to it. On Judgement Day you find out how you did.

The Synoptic Jesus weighed in during the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:27-28 You heard that it was said Not you shall commit adultery. I however am saying to you that everyone the ___ looking at woman toward the to desire her already he committed adultery with her in the heart of him.
[Comic Art Metaphysics in action: I just spent the better part of a month painstakingly examining the "If however the eye of you the right stumbles you" in my RIP KIRBY Commentaries vis-a-vis William Seabrook's invocation of it in NO HIDING PLACE. MATTHEW 5 JUST WON'T LET ME GO!!]

I infer that Mt. 5:27-28 applies to the metaphysics of "innermost motivation" and (in our present day: less so in 1st century Palestine) pornography.

That is, I don't think masturbation is the sin, the sin is what you're imagining while you're masturbating, in descending order of illegality (pedophilia, incest, sexual assault, rape) and immorality (adultery, fornication). Our thoughts only SEEM secret. I infer that what the Synoptic Jesus is saying is that the thought IS the deed: on any metaphysical level above our own, what we're thinking and what we're doing have a shared level of self-evident culpability. No difference.

If you just masturbate for the physical experience of it and you aren't, mentally, committing an act of adultery or fornication (or, I would infer, more problematically actually looking at a naked woman who isn't your wife: either in person or on the Internet) then I don't think it's a sin. It's "unclean until the Even".

This being 2017, I can't imagine that anyone agrees with me (maybe orthodox Jews and Muslims), so that's why I don't really participate in these kinds of discussions. As I said before, I'm way, way, way over here and you're all way, way, way over there.


Tony Dunlop said...

Well, I'm certainly not interested in Dave's theological self-abuse, but - Jeff left Dave a phone message because some obscure Canadian columnist left a snarky, trolling comment wondering whether Dave had stopped masturbating?

A very odd place, this Interwebs.

crazyyears said...

Huh. Pretty quiet in here.
It is interesting that all ye good and faithful Cerebites that waxed eloquently on the morality and policing of prostitution (with, it must be acknowledged, a particular focus on female prostitution) have so little to say about masturbation now that the focus (again it must be acknowledged, it is all about
“seed” not eggs.) is on males.
My “go to” for instruction on this subject and many others is Robert A. Heinlein’s The Notebooks of Lazarus Long:
“Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrong-doing--and you don’t have to go home in the cold. But it’s lonely.”

--- Michael Hunt

Jeff Seiler said...


That's what I get for relying on my memory and not actually looking it up. But, thanks, Dave, for vindicating me to an extent, in accurately pointing out that intercourse with one's sister-in-law still is, technically, incest. Taboo.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Just one nitpick, at random: I notice that Dave makes up the "elder being / younger being" stuff, which is found nowhere in the text he cites. That is his usual pattern: misinterpret a text, make stuff up, and treat it as fact. He's "way, way, way out there" all right.

-- Damian

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dammit, Paul, why are you spilling our secret in public like this?

-- Damian