We are discussing the article written in 1864 entitled Appeal to Mothers. Because it is so long, I have broken it into parts.
This is part 2, wherein we look at how we learn to masturbate.
Godly mothers will inquire, with the deepest concern,Will our children continue to practice habits which will unfit them for any responsible position in this life? Will they sacrifice comeliness, health, intellect, and all hope of Heaven, everything worth possessing, here and hereafter, to the demon passion?
Masturbation=demon passion. Ha. I’m gonna call it that for now on because I just think that this is Hilarious. Demon passion. It’s what puts some people to sleep at night.
Ellen then goes on for a few paragraphs about the importance of self control, even in babies, and about how important it is to be pure.
Children who are experienced in this vice, seem to be bewitched by the Devil until they can impart their vile knowledge to others, even teaching very young children this practice.
Ellen doesn’t give us some much needed context. Does she mean that, like, 7 year olds are showing other 7 year olds how to masturbate? Or does she mean that 15 year olds are showing 7 year olds how to masturbate? These are two totally different things. I could maybe see a 7 year old not knowing that masturbation is something they should do in private. But a 15 year old teaching a 7 year old? I feel like that is a different issue entirely and yes, I would have a huge problem with that.
Mothers, you cannot be too careful in preventing your children from learning low habits. It is easier to learn evil, than to eradicate it after it is learned. Neighbors may permit their children to come to your house, to spend the evening and the night with your children. Here is a trial, and a choice for you, to run the risk of offending your neighbors by sending their children to their own home, or gratify them, and let them lodge with your children, and thus expose them to be instructed in that knowledge which would be a life-long curse to them.
Note here that Ellen White seems to be under the impression that the behavior of masturbation is learned. Show of hands, how many of us figured it out on our own? My hand is up, and I’m pretty sure a lot of yours are, too.
I’m not saying this sort of thing never happens. I’m sure there are children out there who do tell their friends about masturbation. But I’m willing to put money on the fact that they’re a minority. I honestly think that most of us figured it out on our own, and most of us just kinda knew to keep it to ourselves.
To save my children from being corrupted I have notallowed them to sleep in the same bed, or in the same room, with other boys, and have, as occasion has required when traveling, made a scanty bed upon the floor for them, rather than have them lodge with others.
I had a friend as a child whose parents were strictly against sleepovers. As a child I had no idea why they were so strict. As an adult, I strongly suspect this was a large part of the reason why.
My misfortune, which occurred when I was about nine years old, ruined my health. I looked upon this as a great calamity, and murmured because of it.
“My misfortune” –Ellen, here, is talking about the incident that happened in 3rd (4th?) grade when, on their way home from school, a girl threw a rock at her face. This nearly killed Ellen, and disfigured her face for life. It was absolutely traumatic, and she was sick for a long time because of it.
Because of sickness I was kept from society which preserved me in blissful ignorance of the secret vices of the young. After I was a mother, by the private death-bed confessions of some females, who had completed the work of ruin, I first learned that such vices existed. But I had no just conception of the extent of this vice, and the injury the health sustained by it, until a still later period.
In other words, Ellen was too sick as a child to develop a masturbation habit. I could see that being the case. However, I can’t believe God would rather a child almost die from a traumatic head injury than learn to masturbate. One of these things is far less healthy than the others, and it’s not the one Ellen White seems to think it is.
(I also have serious doubts that death bed confessions are how Ellen learned about masturbation, but set that aside.)
Ellen White goes on to talk about how some mothers worry about their daughters who may have a chronic illness.
I skipped a few paragraphs where Ellen White talks about sick daughters. Then she says this:
Secret indulgence is in many cases the only real cause of the numerous complaints of the young.
And this, a few paragraphs later. She has gone from talking about how children learn masturbation from others, to talking about masturbation being the cause of chronic illness in children, back to how children learn to masturbate.
Was this good writing in 1864, or was Ellen seriously in need of an editor? I feel like she jumps around a lot.
If you are situated so that their intercourse with young associates cannot always be overruled, as you would wish to have it, then let them visit your children in your presence, and in no case allow these associates to lodge in the same bed, or even in the same room. It will be far easier to prevent an evil than to cure it afterward.
Ellen talks for a while about how you, as a mother, should do everything in your power to make sure your child stops masturbating. Ellen then says you should dispense with hired help, because hired help not only takes work away from your daughters who should be doing it, but that hired help could, um, teach your children to masturbate? I guess?
A door will be closed against much evil, which a hired girl may bring into a family. In a few days she may exert a strong influence over the children of the family, and initiate your daughters into the practice of deception and vice.
Ellen goes on for a bit about the benefits of work, then says this:
And the thoroughly tired person has less inclination for secret indulgence.
There was absolutely the idea in Adventism that the cure for a masturbation problem was hard work and exercise, because then you would be too tired at night to masturbate.
For the record, this did not work for me.
The state of our world (in 1864) 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.
I get that this was the 1800s, but even then, I don’t exactly think you’d find this everywhere you looked.
Sins and crimes, and the violation of nature’slaws, were shown me as the causes of this accumulation of human woe and suffering. I saw such degradation and vile practices, such defiance of God, and I heard such words of blasphemy, that my soul sickened. From what was shown me, a large share of the youth now living are worthless.
No. This is wrong. I don’t care what afflictions they have or how much they “blaspheme” and masturbate. Nobody is worthless. All humans have value. (Except maybe rapists and child molesters.)
Christians especially should think nobody’s worthless, because they believe Jesus died for EVERYONE, and they believe that gives every single person unlimited value.
And so, even by the standards of Christianity, Ellen White is wrong.
This is where we will stop for now. Next we will get into what causes masturbation. The answers may surprise you.