The Masturbation Connection

By Gregory Hunt, M.D. (a compendium of Dr. Hunt's 1981 book, Beware this Cult

The revelation that was to shape Adventist health reform was given to Ellen White in the famous vision of Oswego, on June the 6th, 1863. During a vision lasting 45 minutes, God showed her highly advanced medical principles years ahead of her time. Such, anyway, is the claim. (Ellen G. White: Prophet of Destiny, Rene Noorbergen, p. 98.)

One would think that with man's knowledge being what it was, God could have revealed some highly useful information. For example:

  1. In 1863, a major purveyor of disease was milk. Milk carried a variety of disease, the most serious of which were brucellosis and tuberculosis; and it did so until the discovery, about 1870, of pasteurization: a simple effective process that could have been revealed to Mrs. White.

  2. Thousands died annually of typhus and cholera because no one knew that these could be prevented by the boiling of drinking water: another simple and effective expedient that could have been revealed to Mrs. White.

  3. The world's greatest killer at this time was malaria. Countless people died of it. That is was caused by a micro-organism spread by mosquitoes wasn't known until discovered by Ronald Ross, an Englishman, in 1898. God might have revealed to Mrs. White the value of draining mosquito breeding grounds.

  4. God could have revealed the use of vaccination.

  5. God could have revealed the use of antibiotics.

God could have revealed these and other life-saving techniques. In doing so, He would have:

  • Proved the visions.
  • Saved lives.

Turning from what God might have revealed to what He did reveal we learn the particulars with some surprise.

Just months after the vision, Ellen White published An Appeal to Mothers: The Great Cause of the Physical, Mental, and Moral Ruin of Children of Our Time. This was Mrs. White's first book on health reform. Its intent was to warn the world about the dangers of - MASTURBATION!

Mrs. White, it seems, was dissatisfied with the result of this production and six years later she produced an amplified version entitled "A Solemn Appeal." This book was edited by her husband and included articles from other writers to back up Mrs. White's counsel.

This booklet is today unavailable, and any who read it can see why. Let us examine some of its passages.

"I feel alarmed for those children and you who by solitary vice are ruining listen to numerous complaints of headache, catarrh, dizziness, nervousness, pain in the shoulders and side, loss of appetite, pain in the back and limbs...and have you not noticed that there was a deficiency in the mental health of your children?" "Secret indulgence [masturbation] is, in many cases, the only real cause of the numerous complaints of the young." (p. 11, 13)

"The state of the world is alarming. Everywhere we look we see imbecility, dwarfed forms, crippled limbs, misshapen heads and deformity of every description... Corrupt habits are wasting their energy, and bringing upon them loathsome and complicated diseases... Children who practice self-indulgence [masturbation]...must pay the penalty." (p. 14)

It is enlightening to note that Ellen White's original writing of this last quotation has been altered. Her husband deleted the words that showed that his wife had seen this in vision. Was he embarrassed by the fact?

The passage originally said: "The state of the world was presented before me [in vision], and my attention was especially called to the youth of our time. Everywhere I looked, I saw imbecility, dwarfed forms" etc. This is much more authoritative than: "Everywhere we look we see..." Maybe James White doubted that this was something God had actually shown his wife. Be that as it may, he altered it. Let's continue.

"If the practice is continued from the ages of 15 and upward, nature will protest...and will make them pay the 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 humours... There is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution, and death is the result." (p. 14-15)

"Females possess less vital force than the other sex." (See Note:) The result of self abuse in them is seen in various diseases, such as catarrh, dropsy, headache, loss of memory and sight, great weakness in the back and loins, affections of the spine, and frequently, inward decay of the head... The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity supervenes... Such are just as much self-murderers as though they pointed a pistol to their own breast... Among the young the vital capital, and the brain are so severely taxed at an early age, that there is deficiency and great exhaustion, which leave the system exposed to diseases of various kinds. But the most common of these is consumption [tuberculosis]... They must die." (p. 17)

(Note: For the uninitiated, the basic idea of the vital force theory is that an individual begins life with a certain amount of "vital force," and expends that force slowly or quickly - the more quickly, the sooner it runs out - death follows.)

"There is hardly an end to the diseases caused by solitary vice" - following which statement we find a long train of diseases supposedly so caused, among them "epilepsy, impaired eye sight," "bleeding at the lungs, spasms of the heart and lungs, diabetes," "rheumatism, affected perspiration, consumption [tuberculosis again], asthma," and more than a dozen others.

Then a case history is reviewed. A two year old, who was epileptic and paralytic, was brought to a doctor. "By the most vigilant use of mechanical means for confining the hands, covering the genitals, etc. the child was at length cured; he now enjoys good health."

Picture yourself taking your two year old to see a doctor after he has suffered a convulsion. The doctor says your two year old has epilepsy caused by masturbating [in a 2 year old?]. You are going to have to tie his hands until he is cured. This is the kind of stuff that Ellen White believed with all her heart, and asked us to believe was shown her by God in vision.

Let us continue with these fascinating quotations:

"Unchastity deranges, debilitates, and ruins the body. Now, out of this startling fact arises another fact, if possible more startling. It is that unchastity deranges, debilitates, and ruins the mind." "I saw a young woman in a town of Massachusetts who made herself an idiot by masturbation." (p.2-3)

"In the fall of 1844, the writer visited the Massachusetts State Lunatic Hospital.... Our attention was suddenly arrested by a peculiarly haggard, frantic, wild, fiendish appearance of a young man, with his eye turned back over his shoulder. Struck with his shocking aspect, we inquired...what was the cause of his insanity. 'Solitary vice,' was the ready reply." (p. 4)

"Lascivious day-dreams and amorous reveries...often [cause] debility, premature disease, and even premature death, without the actual exercise of the genital organs." (p. 9-10) Think of it: death caused by mere thinking!

"There is hardly an end to the diseases caused by solitary vice." "It hurries its victims to insanity." "Confirmed onanists...will shrink from few acts of crime." (p. 11,20-21)

"Self-abuse opens the door for...almost every disease from which humanity suffers." "Language supplies no word sufficiently strong to express the horrors which result from it!" "Self-abuse is a sure road to the grave." (p. 84-85,90)

"After indulging in this habit for a time, the child loses its bright and happy look; it becomes pale with a greenish tint." "Many children are born with this propensity and the habit is commenced in infancy." "Little babies [!] acquire the habit..." In these cases, the victims "live but to linger a little." (p. 22,97)

Women are "dying by thousands, of consumption [tuberculosis], of spinal affections, of general debility, and...of insanity, caused solely by this practice." (p. 191-192) Thus tuberculosis, an infectious disease, could be caused solely through masturbation! "No other cause of disease equals this." "This not overdrawn."

Well, enough is enough. We can see that Ellen White was preoccupied with masturbation. Her vision from God indicated that it causes blindness, epilepsy, diabetes, on through a long list.

When I revealed this information to some staunch Adventists they actually defended these assertions. Emotion took over and paralyzed their common sense.

Anyone can see that these diseases are not caused by masturbation. Tuberculosis is caused by a germ, a specific bacterium. In fact the germ that causes tuberculosis was discovered shortly after these writings (or should I say "rantings"?) of Ellen White. How can anyone today believe in Solemn Appeal's nonsense? How could anyone insist that the woman who endorsed it was a prophet of God?

The Cause of the Cause

Having been told that masturbation causes these illnesses, what are we to do about it? Well, one must know what might lead to masturbation so that one can avoid it.

"We noticed bad diet as a cause of unchastity. By bad diet we mean the use of food and drinks of bad qualities and unreasonable quantities." (p.5)

"A diet chiefly or wholly vegetable is best adapted to allay passionate excitement. Flesh meat diet is more stimulating than vegetable. Consequently it is plain that all those who suffer from too high venereal excitement, should abandon it [meat]... When children shall be taught correct habits of diet, much, very much, will be done toward the removal of secret vice and other species of unchastity from society." (p.9)

Mince pies, cakes, preserves, and highly seasoned meats with gravies, create a feverish condition in the system, and inflame the animal passions... We should encourage in our children a love for nobleness of mind, and a pure and virtuous character. In order to strengthen in them the moral perceptions...we must regulate the manner of our living, dispense with animal foods, and use grains, vegetables and fruits." (p.15)

"Sip no more the beverage of China; no more the drinks of Java'... What shall you drink at your meals?... I say, nothing is best; yet cocoa, chocolate, or warm water seasoned, or bread coffee, rice coffee...will be good substitutes as they do not inflame." "For a similar reason, meats, mustards, condiments, peppers, spices, rich foods, gravies, everything heating and irritating, will only add to existing inflammation, and increase both desire and disease... Some kinds of food excite amorous desires; while others, as rice, bread, fruit, vegetables do not; and may therefore be eaten." "As to suppers, I recommend none at all. A full stomach induces dreams or the exercise, in sleep, of those organs most liable to spontaneous action, which produces libidinous dreams, with accompanying night emissions... A heating, stimulating diet still more prematurely develops this passion. We have already seen that meats, teas, coffee, mustards, spices, etc. stimulate in adults... A heating diet is the most prolific cause of excessive and perverted sexuality... Eat and drink cooling, calming articles only." "Sleeping on feather beds and feather pillows is another cause...of solitary vice."

We have just seen several of the stimulants which leads one to masturbation. In fact, meats and spices are claimed to be aphrodisiacs. We notice that we should not eat supper as this would cause us to have wet dreams. Also we should recognize that sleeping on feather beds and feather pillows tends to make us masturbate.

Here is the reason that Ellen White counsels against meat eating. As time went on she added other reasons. But the original reason for abstaining from meat, as given by her great health vision, is to prevent arousing passions leading to masturbation which in turn leads to disease, insanity, and death. Is this a prophet of God speaking?

The Cure

Having pointed out the cause of masturbation and its disastrous results, what is her counsel as to how we could get out of such a dilemma? Mrs. White was greatly impressed with hydrotherapy or water treatments, which at the time were a national fad. Few Adventists today, reading about the days when Ellen White went about founding sanitariums, realize that these actually were (and remained throughout Ellen White's lifetime) water cure establishments, whose major service was to cure persons from masturbating. Let us look at their regimen:

Here is a brief outline of the course of treatment which should be adopted...

  1. Diet. The diet of this class of individuals should be rigidly abstemious. The food should be nutritious but non-stimulating. The two meal system is of special advantage as the presence of food in the stomach at night is often the exciting cause of nocturnal emissions.
  2. Sleeping. Sufferers should never lie in bed to encourage a dreamy or unsound sleep... The bed should not be too soft and on no account should feathers be tolerated.
  3. Bathing. The baths should be cool, but not too cold. A sitz bath may be taken from once to four times a week of a few minutes duration, at as low a temperature as can be tolerated without chilliness. Give at the same time a hot foot bath, and apply cool wet towels to the head. The frequency of this treatment will depend upon the condition of the patient... Too much warm bathing must be guarded against as weakening in tendency... A wet girdle may be worn a portion of the time, especially at night...
  4. Exercise. Much mental exercise should be strenuously avoided. The mind should not be taxed with cares, nor should much reading be indulged in. Especially should any exercise if the brain be avoided in the evening. As congestion of the brain is often the exciting cause of [involuntary emissions], it will readily be seen that to keep the head cool is all important.

Here is heaven's approved masturbation cure. In short, the patient should avoid stimulating food, particularly meat, should not eat supper, should avoid feather beds, should take prescribed baths (and imagine yourself doing this) consisting of sitting in a pail of cool water, putting your feet in a pail of hot water and wrapping cold bandages around your head. At other times a person should wear a wet girdle. Not only is supper disallowed but in the evening thinking is banned.

After reading these wise counsels and realizing Ellen White claimed divine inspiration for them, I would say there is only one class of person that could continue to believe that Ellen White is a true prophet. This type of person can only be classed as an idiot.

During my three years in the Adventist Church I didn't hear one sermon about meat eating and masturbation - lots of rumbling about meat, but nothing about these secret horrors. Why? Isn't it time other Adventists learned the facts?

Abandoning the Masturbation Connection

In later years Mrs. White pretty much abandoned the meat and masturbation connection. She now gave a different reason for not eating meat: the belief that it directly transmits diseases, particularly cancer. This of course is the reason given by modern SDAs who (like Mrs. White herself) left the original vision-delivered reason to remain buried in silence.

See also

Category: Solitary Vice
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