tamar.jpegSo this past weekend I preached from Genesis 38. This is one of the “R-rated” chapters of the Bible, and many long-time Christians told me they had never heard a sermon from that chapter of the Bible. Ever.

Hey, we can’t pick and choose. I started at Gen 37 and we’re going straight thru the whole Joseph story. It’s all God’s Word, and we pastors shouldn’t skip the hard stuff. We have to wade straight into it. So many people live the soap opera of Gen 38. They need to hear God’s wisdom for their lives.

I had some emails suggesting that I should have gone more into the topic of masturbation. In this chapter, Onan has sex with Tamar, but… Uhhh, rather than me paraphrase, here is the New Living Translation paraphrase:

“But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with Tamar, he spilled the semen on the ground to keep her from having a baby who would belong to his brother.” Genesis 38:9, NLT.

onanism.jpgI mentioned that Onanism is an old term for masturbation. I didn’t get into the topic very much. I received some email suggesting that I should cover the topic. I don’t plan to though. I feel that the topic of masturbation is best suited for parents to talk about with their kids… or for a men’s retreat, or for youth groups and young adult groups (men and women separately). Not because I shy away from stuff. But c’mon, people! There’s lots and lots of grandmas and grandpas there! YOU go talk to them about masturbation!

I advocate James Dobson’s teaching on this subject. To read it, click here. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in it.

Please do not turn this comment section into a debate on masturbation! Thanks! Yes, it’s controversial. If you want to read an opposing opinion (anti-) then click here. I side with Dobson. I heard him speak on this (it was a movie, I mean a real, 16mm movie) topic 25 years ago, and you could hear a pin drop in my church. I don’t think the leaders saw it coming. But he’s been consistent over the years. I’ve been told that he advocates the same opinion in his book Preparing for Adolescence but I haven’t checked that out.

If you want to listen to or watch the sermon, click here.

If you want to read an excellent journal article, one that was part of my research for the sermon, click here. Here you’ll find Steven D Mathewson’s article from Bibliotheca Sacra; a terrific synopsis of the issues raised by this chapter.


The point of my sermon was spiritual consistency. Your life will never feel truly content without spiritual consistency. In four ways:

  1. Consistently follow Jesus in more and more compartments of your life.
  2. Consistently follow Jesus in your days and hours.
  3. Consistently follow Jesus in your months and years.
  4. Consistently return to Jesus when you blow it.

9 thoughts on “Onanism

  1. Not really, Dr. G. It’s just sometimes we can’t stay at the computer all day and wait eagerly for your entries. This one is indeed interesting and I can’t wait to take the time to read the suggested excerpts. Unfortunately, time is short now. Later…..

    (I’m sure I’ve heard Dr. Dobson’s version years ago….)

  2. Just wanted to add that most people don’t have Mondays off, Dr. G. Some of us have to work Mondays. (I sure hope you can “see” me smiling from ear to ear….)

    OK, so I read the suggested excerpts, even the research part. Yawn… No, I’m kidding.

    Genesis 38 is totally fascinating, even to this gramma! I remember reading it years and years ago and shaking my head in wonder with its interesting tale. Since then, I have truly appreciated the story because it shows quite a different side of what most Christians might think would be more “spiritual.” What I love the most is a Canaanite, heathen woman, using her initiative and courage (along with quite a bit of brains amongst other of her talents), charted a course in history that made her immortal Scripturally. She’s one of the few women mentioned in the geneologies of Christ. How’s that for rockin’ your world?? Very cool, indeed!

    Now, down to the subject on hand. I truly don’t see how Onan’s story has anything to do with masturbation. He was being plain disobedient with a very selfish attitude, to say the least. Dr. Dobson deals mainly with the adolescent male with his advice. I suppose you could say Onan was an adolescent, but he still had a duty to perform, and that was with another human being, not alone in his room…The critique on masturbation seemed to be more concerned with phornography and other sexual sins than masturbation.

    Any more pins dropping??

  3. Thanks for the link to Dr. Dobson’s article. I agree with him whole heartedly. 🙂

    Sunday’s sermon was fantastic. I “preached” a summary version of it to Wendy.

    Massive, I tell ya. 🙂

  4. Dear Friend,

    Your a wise man!

    Genesis 38:9 is a great study for sex education; however, it’s way to sexually explicit for a church congregation.

    I tried to listen to the sermon to see how you broached the subject, but I couldn’t find it.

    Keep up the good work.

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