WARNING: This is a ‘raw’ entry dealing with masturbation, don’t read it if you are likely to be offended.
When I was 18 I went on a Christian year out. I don’t remember much of the training but I do remember them shipping in an elderly gent to talk to the boys about masturbation, while his wife just had a general chat over coffee with the girls … probably (this was my experience of wedding prep too). Anyway we all huddled in a room, actually quite keen to hear this man’s lofty wisdom on the matter.
His basic premise as I remember it was to remove the lust and fantasy from the act thus rendering it a mechanical necessity. This left some of us slightly disappointed and one joker chipped in ‘If I’m not allowed to think of girls what am I meant to think of? Umbrellas?’
Thus umbrellas became a code for us during that year out … This was the extent of the churches teaching on sex that I received.
I bring up this story because it only highlights that yet again Christians have very little idea about talking openly about sex and everything that it involves. I see myself as pretty open minded but when I meet the next generation of Christians who are actually a bit better with this sort of thing I find myself blushing, even though I think they are right.
Our journey through IVF would have been much easier if sex and particularly masturbation had a more prominent place in church teaching. As it was my experience of having to ‘produce’ many sperm samples was a lonely, frustrating, comical and scary one. One that until now has amused only my closest friends.
Warning – readers: This might get a bit more graphic than you were anticipating.
The first sample I had to produce was a relatively simple affair, it was for the local hospital and the only stipulation was that I had to get it there fresh! The ludicrously small container they give you was duly filled (well not filled but you know what I mean) the box you have to tick confirming you haven’t spilled any ticked and the whole shebang put in the special transparent hospital bag they had given me. I dashed up to the hospital, which despite only being a five minute journey had me clock watching all the way – the pressure of deadlines eh? Now came the bit I hadn’t thought about – negotiating the hospital corridors with a bag containing my own freshly produced sperm. In my head every person I passed was now a mind reader and had instantly homed in on what I was doing and was laughing at my attempts to look casual while carrying my precious load. (If you want any idea of what this was like try to write a blog about the topic without anything that could be considered a innuendo – I have given up by the way!) The illusion was promptly shattered by the receptionist who took the bag rather nonchalantly and asked me to sign a form while barely looking up from her other tasks.
Since then I have been offered enough porn and dubious material in clinical infertility units to make any school boys dreams come true and had to have awkward conversations with Anna about it. I have felt the pressures of performance and even almost succumbed to the pressures of stage fright once or twice. I have been shown with graphic depiction the procedure they would perform on my testicles should I not be able to produce at the right time. Christian teaching barely prepared me for how to deal with the normal temptations of sex, let alone this strange world I found myself in. How do you combat the temptation to look at a titillating picture when the lab technicians are literally waiting for you to produce the sperm that will potentially become your child and so far your attempts have been rather unfruitful? How do you get and maintain an erection when you know if you fail they will peel open your testicles like an orange and get it themselves? We (the Church) don’t stand a chance of answering questions like this unless we can get more honest on the vanilla sex issues first. This may still be a minority issue, but more and more men will find themselves needed to produce sperm for medical investigation as time goes on. Let’s get ahead of the game.