Solitary Vice [masturbation]
By Dirk Anderson
If you are a child, this page is NOT for you! Click here to go back
Seventh-day Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White proclaimed solitary vice [also known as "self-indulgence", "self-abuse" or masturbation] caused a wide range of dangerous diseases and serious afflictions:
"Children who practice self-indulgence [masturbation] previous to puberty, or the period of merging into manhood or womanhood, must pay the penalty of nature's violated laws at that critical period. Many sink into an early grave, while others have sufficient force of constitution to pass this ordeal. If the practice is continued from the age of fifteen and upward, nature will protest against the abuse she has suffered, and continues to suffer, and will make them pay the penalty for the transgression of her laws, especially from the ages of thirty to forty-five, by numerous pains in the system, and various diseases, such as affection of the liver and lungs, neuralgia, rheumatism, affection of the spine, diseased kidneys, and cancerous humors. Some of nature's fine machinery gives way, leaving a heavier task for the remaining to perform, which disorders nature's fine arrangement, and there is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution; and death is the result."1
According to the above quotes, the following health problems are caused by masturbation:
Modern Medical Perspective on Self-Abuse
Dr. Bill Lloyd explains the modern medical perspective on masturbation:
"The old myths that masturbation leads to insanity, stunts your growth, [etc...] are simply that, myths, which probably originated in the puritanical atmosphere of the Victorian age.
In 1966, researchers Masters & Johnson revealed the practice to be virtually universal in North America, cutting across all boundaries of sex, age, race, and social class. In 1971, Goldstein, Haeberle & McBride determined masturbation to be the most common form of sexual activity among humans. Recent studies have shown 95% of men, and 89% of women have practiced masturbation.
There is no scientific evidence masturbation causes blindness, insanity, or any of the diseases named by Ellen White. Anyone with common sense can reason that masturbation can be no more harmful than the act of sex itself! Physicians at the highly regarded Cleveland Clinic explain the health safety of masturbation:
"In general, the medical community considers masturbation to be a natural and harmless expression of sexuality for both men and women. It does not cause any physical injury or harm to the body, and can be performed in moderation throughout a person's lifetime as a part of normal sexual behavior."6
Even among Seventh-day Adventist physicians (with the exception of a few) there is now a near universal belief that masturbation does not cause the above illnesses.
Where Did Mrs. White Learn the Dangers of Self-Abuse?
In 1864, Mrs. White published her first book on health reform, Appeal to Mothers. The Seventh-day Adventist people were no doubt looking forward with great anticipation to learn what "light from Heaven" they would receive on health. Imagine their disappointment when they discovered the entire book was devoted to warning SDA parents of the dire consequences of masturbation! In this book Mrs. White claimed her medical knowledge on the dangers of self-abuse came from visions she "saw":
"The state of our world was presented before me, and my attention was especially called to the youth of our time. Everywhere I looked, I saw imbecility, dwarfed forms, crippled limbs, misshapen heads, and deformity of every description. Sins and crimes, and the violation of nature's laws, were shown me as the causes of this accumulation of human woe and suffering. I saw such degradation and vile practices..."8
There can be no doubt Mrs. White claimed her knowledge came straight from heaven. Attached to the same book was an anonymous 29-page essay on "Chastity" citing medical authorities who agreed with the prophetess. Among those quoted were famous health reformers of that era, such as Sylvester Graham, L.B. Coles, James Jackson, and the phrenologist O.S. Fowler. So closely did the views of these individuals parallel those of Ellen White, the publishers felt it necessary to add a note denying prior knowledge on her part! They asserted...
"...she had read nothing from the authors here quoted, and had read no other works on this subject, previous to putting into our hands what she has written. She is not, therefore, a copyist, although she has stated important truths to which men who are entitled to our highest confidence, have borne testimony."9
Given the fact she plagiarized many of her other writings, and given the fact that her writings so closely mirrored the views of the others, it is probable they were the real source of her message.
Origin of Self-Abuse Myths in the 1800s
Before 1700, medical references to the harmful effects of masturbation were scarce. In the eighteenth century, two works, Ononia: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences... (by an anonymous author) and Swiss physician Samuel Tissot's Treatise on the Diseases Produced by Onanism introduced concepts that Sylvester Graham later adopted and helped to popularize.
Samuel Tissot, wrote in 1758 that the ill side-effects of masturbation included everything from pimples to rheumatism, muddleheadedness and headaches and hemorrhoids.
In 1834, Sylvester Graham's Lecture to Young Men was the first of its kind and launched a whole genre of medical tracts on masturbation, known then as "self-abuse" or "self pollution."
In his book Graham noted that the symptoms were easy to recognize -- victims were usually shy, suspicious, languid, unconcerned with hygiene, jaundiced. According to Graham, a masturbator grows up...
"with a body full of disease, and with a mind in ruins, the loathsome habit still tyrannizing over him, with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness."10
Graham tells readers acne is caused by masturbation, and this leads to morbid results:
"...ulcerous sores, in some cases, break out upon the head, breast, back and thighs; and these sometimes enlarge into permanent fistulas, of a cancerous character, and continue, perhaps for years, to discharge great quantities of foetid, loathsome pus; and not unfrequently terminate in death."11
It is very likely that Mrs. White was familiar with Graham's teachings. In fact, many of Mrs. White's "inspired" health reform teachings appear to mirror Graham's reforms.
For a good while (1700-1900), Western medical wisdom viewed masturbation as draining vital energies and somehow related to mental illness. The tide started to turn in 1898, when Dr. Hoisholt and Dr. J.W. Robertson dismissed “masturbational insanity” as a “popular superstition” at a meeting of the medical society of California.16 During the 20th century medical and scientific research proved the concerns over masturbation to be unfounded. Despite numerous research studies, no link has ever been found between masturbation and the diseases cited by Ellen White, Graham, and others.
Is masturbation an "Abomination?"
Mrs. White calls self-abuse an "abomination" and warns of its "exceeding sinfulness." While the Bible warns against impure thoughts and sexual immorality in general, it is silent on masturbation. In the list of sexual abominations found in Leviticus 18, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality are condemned, but there is no mention of masturbation. If masturbation were indeed "an abomination," then one would expect the Bible to list it along with the other sexual abominations!
1. Mrs. White claimed self-abuse causes a wide spectrum of deadly health problems, including blindness, insanity, and even death.
2. Mrs. White claimed she "saw" the dangers of self-abuse in vision from God.
3. Her sentiments on self-abuse appear astonishingly similar to those of other health reformers she admired. So similar, in fact, that the editors of her book felt compelled to put out a statement insisting she was not a "copyist."
4. Although writing often on solitary vice during her early ministry, she is strangely silent on the subject during the last 40 years of her life.
5. Long ago the SDA Church stopped publishing Appeal to Mothers, Ellen White's first book on health reform. One would think a prophet's first book containing "light from Heaven" on health reform would be treasured by her followers! Imagine all the disease and suffering this book could save the world from! Shouldn't it be required reading for all newly converted Seventh-day Adventists?
1. Ellen White, Solemn Appeal, 1870, p. 63.
2. Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 347.
3. Ibid., p. 404.
4. Ellen White, Appeal to Mothers, 1864, p. 25, 27.
5. Bill Lloyd, M.D., © Copyright 1999, Oxygen Media all rights reserved.
6. © Copyright 2001, The Cleveland Clinic.
7. Our Family Physician: A Manual for Home Usage; Allopathic, Hydropathic, Eclectic, & Herbal, pp. 288-89.
8. Ellen White, Appeal to Mothers, p. 17.
9. Appeal to Mothers, p. 34.
10. Sylvester Graham, Lecture to Young Men, on Chastity, pp. 83, 144-148 (1834).
12. "The Health Benefits of Sex (Part 2) by Al Link and Pala Copeland, Urban Male Magazine, Summer 2000.
13. U.S. News & World Report, Oct 17, 1994 v117 n15 p74(7), "Sex in America".
14. "Masturbation for Good Health" by Robert Pollack, Ph.D., Highlights from Men's Health
15. "Frequent Ejaculations May Counter Prostate Cancer", Apr. 6, 2005, Reuters, By Michael Conlon.
16. J.W. Robertson, M.D., "Excerpts from The Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of California," (1898), "Relation Existing Between the Sexual Organs and Insanity, with Especial Reference to Masturbation."
Category: Shocking Statements
Please SHARE this using the social media icons below