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MASTURBATION,CRIME OR SIN?

By Charles Ayiku

The issue of masturbation is a form of sexual behaviour that most of us learn first – quite instinctively. And, until recently, was probably the type of sex least talked about is being disapproved by many such as Christian theologians and other people in Ghana. In fact, masturbation is widely considered to be a sin - and something to be avoided at all costs. On most radio stations in Ghana, discussions on masturbation end with the host advising people to avoid it.

Masturbation usually goes hand in hand with sexual fantasies, and may even depend on such fantasies, which may be completely different from one person to the other. Some have realistic fantasies about situations that they envisage in real life, making love to someone they have met or know from school or work. Others may have fantasies that are less realistic and even downright shocking to themselves when later they think back on them. Most people have used pornography from magazines or the internet to stimulate their fantasies at one time or another. Fantasies during masturbation are usually common and harmless.

Masturbation and sexual intercourse are the two most common sexual practices, but they are not mutually exclusive (for example, many people find the sight of their partner masturbating highly erotic). Masturbation is also seen by most people as the safest form of sex there is, and very much safer - and often more satisfying - than one-night stands. It is even said that some people are able to achieve orgasm only through masturbation and not sexual intercourse.

Masturbation may be described as the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm. It can refer to excitation either by oneself or by another. It is part of a larger set of activities known as autoeroticism, which also includes the use of sex toys and non-genital stimulation.

Research has shown that most people masturbate every now and then. It used to be thought that boys masturbate more often than girls, presumably because they discover their penis at a relatively early age since they urinate with it. That is not true. Most people masturbate before they become twelve. This does not mean that someone who starts later is not normal.

According to some young people I spoke to, they masturbate to release sexual tension. They also said instead of risking pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, they masturbate. They said it is completely normal and a person should not feel bad or embarrassed about it.

For the guys, when they get an erection, they use their hand and stoke their enlarged and hardened penis until they climax, or ejaculate. For the girls they use their fingers, or other object to create a climax for themselves. Most of these girls use objects shaped like the penis and fruits like banana. Jetstream of water coming from the shower head especially when they are taking their bath is also used. Other aids used in masturbation are gels, soap and oil.

According to a young lady I spoke to, she masturbates whenever she watches an adult movie. «Whenever I watch an adult movie which includes people making love, kissing and holding each other, I feel like masturbating. Even though I don't feel comfortable, I enjoy it.

It is common for children and youngsters, especially boys, to share their sexual feelings or fantasies with others. Most boys at some time masturbate together with one or several friends. They masturbate themselves or each other. For girls, they do not masturbate each other very often, but they enjoy sleeping close together in the same bed. To many people these early sexual experiences are a pleasant memory, which, at a later age, they recall with nostalgia. Some people discover through these experiences in their youth, that they feel so much attracted to their own sex that homosexuality or “supi” becomes their preference or identity.

From Dr Ayibonte's point of view, medically, masturbation is considered a natural and safe (both physically and emotionally) way for men and women to express sexuality and may help promote self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. According to him, by exploring one's own body visually and by touch, this knowledge can be carried over to provide for a stronger and satisfying sexual relationship with one's partner by opening lines of communication regarding what their body responds to best.

He was quick to add that, masturbation on the other hand may become an obsession or addiction which is generally felt to be the case if it reduces time available to participate in other activities (i.e. social relationships, job, work). This he said may lead to diversion of income toward sex merchandises (i.e. videotapes, chat rooms, online pornography, phone chat lines). Frequent and vigorous masturbation may produce skin abrasions or superficial bruising/temporary discoloration.

What are Christians saying about masturbation? For many conservative Christians, masturbation that includes feelings of lust towards person as a sexual object is a form of adultery, as proscribed by Jesus. However, this would probably not apply if a person is able to focus on thoughts that do not involve another person. They might consider masturbation sinful for other reasons unrelated to sexual fantasies and adultery.

For many liberal Christians, secularists, etc., lust is not normally a sin unless it harms someone.Thus, masturbation is not equivalent to the sin of adultery, even though it may involve sexual fantasies.

Therefore, what are your views on this issue of masturbation? Is it a Crime or a Sin? Think about this.

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