Gay sex, Gay love in the Bible

We don't like fundamentalism in any form. You don't need to be fundamentalist to accept the clear directives in the Bible regarding gay sex. In this article we'll look at each of the popular approaches that try to expain away what the Bible has to say on gay sex. The Episcopal (Anglican) "bishop" John Shelby Spong author of "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" proposes that Jesus is not divine, hell is an invention of the Church, prayer is wishful thinking, and abortion is fine. This is fundamentalism in its absolute denial of the moral authority of the Bible, and leads to secular fundamentalism. Another leader in the re-interpretation of Scripture was Rev. Candice Chellew-Hodge a lesbian United Church of Christ minister. In 2006, she said:

... We can't relate these ancient Scriptures to our own lives... I'm going to ...do a radical surgery on the Scriptures ... re-write Luke's gospel so that we can see how it can directly relate to our own lives ... before anyone gets offended ... I'd ...like to remind you that I'm following in the footsteps of some guy named Jesus... he rewrote the Hebrew Scriptures every time he opened his mouth and gave a sermon, so I'm in good company...

(source: December 10, 2006 http://whosoever.org/audio/wordofgodcame121006.mp3)

Jesus didn't rewrite the Old Testament Scriptures, He completed them. Rev. Candice said her favorite Scripture is “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom 8:35-39) However, sin can deprive us of his “Sanctifying Grace”. (Gal 5:19-21). Two years later, in 2008, Rev. Candice turned 180 degrees and said:

We should not be spending our energy arguing the Bible or even worrying if the Bible condemns us as gay and lesbian people. It might well condemn us. But it is a book that also approves of slavery, the division of the races and the subjugation of women. In all of these areas we have heard - and heeded - a fresh revelation from God and disregarded what the Bible does or does not say about these matters without disregarding the Bible itself. (July 2008)

Regarding the Bible and slavery, see an excellent essay by George Bourne (1789-1845). We have a separate discussion of women in the Church and in the Bible. Rev. Chellew finally agrees she cannot justify gay sex with the Bible so she is trying to establish the Bible as having no moral authority over modern society. In general, Gay and Lesbian biblical scholars are taking this approach.

"The fact is Paul spoke against Homosexual practice."  (Online Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered Encyclopedia)

“The Bible is negative toward same sex behaviour. There is no getting around it. Paul wouldn’t accept it for a minute.” (Walter Wink, Gay affirming scholar)

“The exegetical of what the Bible says is straightforward. We know what the Bible says. It is important that we reject the straightforward command of Scripture and appeal to another authority.” (Luke Timothy Johnson, gay affirming Scholar with lesbian daughter)

The gay community, as a whole, has abandoned attempts to find a justification for gay "love" in the Bible, and they are settling with the theory that the Bible is an outdated historical document coloured by its cultural context. Given that Jesus and the apostles were counter cultural, to the point of death, there is no reason to believe they "caved into" social norms on homosexuality. The apostles said gay sex is wrong (like other sexual sin). From back to front, beginning, middle and end, it never flinches on its strong opposition to gay sex. We cannot justify sexual sin by pointing out the sin of war or western greed. Hopefully, the problems of this approach are self evident. The Bible itself predicted this would happen.

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a ... different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Cor 11:4)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 2-5)

Isn't the Old Covenant Law of Justice replaced by a New Covenant Law of love and inclusiveness?

We got an email that said :

...the new testament is a document of love - all of the old ways (before christ) were shown to be no longer valid. To me, that includes any admonition against same-sex love. We have stated this argument many times and have yet to receive a valid rebuttal. The catholic church of today refuses to recognize the message of inclusive and perfect love as taught by jesus christ...Just as "an eye for an eye......." no longer applies since Jesus' deliverance of the human race, SO any old testament teachings against man with man sex are no longer true - that is true to the message of the Jesus I know - the Jesus of complete love. ...(text is unaltered)

God is mercy and Love, and the New Covenant is most certainly about Love, but that does not vilify the Old Testament. If that was the case the Church would not have included the Old Testament when it chose the books that make up the Bible (in 397 AD). In Matt. 5:17 Jesus said:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:17)

This does not sound like Jesus wanted to abolish the Old Testament. Jesus was completing it. When Moses said, "An eye for and eye.." he was actually softening the hearts of the Jews. Before that, the rule was to kill someone who took out your eye. Moses was saying, "don't do any worse to the person than they did to you." That was a moral step forward among ancient Hebrews. Those apparent harsh laws of Moses were actually softening the law. Jesus fulfilled the law in Mathew 5:38 by introducing the law of love. Jesus completes the law of the prophets.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was taking the 10 Commandments to a new level.  He took the law of retribution, an "eye for an eye," and challenged us to address the source of people hurting us, our lack of charity. (Mt 5:38) He took the law that forbid murder and challenged us to conquer the source of murder, anger. (Mt 5:21) He took the law of adultery, and he challenged us to conquer the source of adultery, lust. (5:29) He wanted us to avoid lust at all costs, tearing out our own eyes, cutting off our own hands if they caused us to sin. Even there, Jesus was taking the law to a new level because those used to be punishments inflicted upon someone who broke the laws of sexual morality. He took the law of divorce and said marriage is a lifelong thing. (Mt:5:33) Jesus wanted us to internalize the law of the Torah. He didn't want us to ignore it. 

What that means is that He wrote the law upon our hearts. By turning to Him in an authentic way, He will give us a deep sense of right and wrong and He gives us the strength to live that out. That is why we invite our gay friends to turn to Jesus and spend time with him. He is pure love and his intimacy far surpasses anything available in a same sex relationship. He will allow you to see his will. He will give you the power to carry that out. We pray the gay community sees this.

Jesus loves us just the way we are -
and he loves us too much to leave us that way!

Jesus is most certainly about love. He loves everybody in the GLBT community every bit as much as he does every person sitting in Church. He loves each of us equally and that is 100%.

Jesus never talks about homosexuality in the Bible

Jesus lived in a time when homosexuality was understood to be wrong. Jesus did not often reaffirm what was already stated clearly in Scripture.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." (Mat 5:17)

There was nothing new to say about homosexuality, otherwise it would have been written and recorded. Especially since it would be such an incredible departure from every reference point of the Jews or even the Pagan societies at the time. In fact, Jesus makes a radical departure in the other direction on marriage, restoring the "one man, one woman," model that God gave us in Genesis. He affirmed that adultery is wrong (Mat 5:27-28), that any sexual contact or lust outside of marriage is a sin (Mat 5), and that marriage is between a male and a female (Mat 19:5-6).

We also have to assume that the apostles knew Jesus' teaching. If we deny that then we are denying the infallibility of the Bible, in which case we would not even have to discuss the Bible's relevance at all. Churches that try to change the Word of God so that it is more in alignment with current society end up empty and irrelevant very quickly (Anglicans, United, etc). The books of Jude, Paul, Peter and others are explicit in their condemnation of gay sex. These faithful servants died for Jesus and they knew that it would be a scandal to teach anything contrary to his words.

The different types of "love" in the Bible

The English language has one word for many types of "love"; not so in the language of the Bible. There are at least four Greek words for "love" in the Bible.

  • Philia - brotherly love
  • Agape - God's love
  • Eros - romantic love
  • Storge - the love of parents for a child

Our advocate of gay sex above said, "...I know the Jesus of complete love." Jesus' love is Agape, which is God's Love. Although Jesus is all for "Philia" (brotherly love) between people of the same sex, there is no example of Jesus or any apostle advocating "Eros" (romantic love) between people of the same sex in the original Greek manuscripts of the Bible. In fact the New Testament is very clearly against same sex "Eros" (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10) and its consequences are described in Jude 1:6. We have trouble understanding how the person who wrote the email above can say "any Old Testament teachings against man with man sex are no longer true" in the New Testament.

What about two men who love each other and have sex, the Bible doesn't say anything against that does it?

We got an email that said:

There is no passage to condemn same sex marriage so why not just command all same sex couples to marry and problem solved. Im wondering what it is you HAVE seen in the Bible thats different from what Ive seen..... did you ever find where same sex romantic love is listed in the Bible as a sin at all yet?

Leviticus 18:22 says:

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13

" 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.

When a man lies with a woman it is generally because of love or marriage. The Bible is expressly saying that a man should not lie with a man, even if he feels the same love that a straight man would feel about a woman.

Our friend responded:

Ah but lev 18;22 in its HEBREW and Biblical context doesn't hint at love as a sin. Look again. It says a man must not lie wth mankind as with womankind in TO'EVAH. And this hebrew word was idolotry. So the real sin here was not men with men in love ... but all male same sex acts in idolotry.

"You shall not lie with man as with woman" is an entire phrase followed by a punctuation mark. It is a complete thought. And then the line "It is an abomination (or detestable) ...the Hebrew word TO'EVAH is translated to abomination, in Greek it is "to ebah" which is an active participle in the sentence.
 
There is no evidence anywhere in history that it was interpreted as "idolatry" in this context. It is made clear throughout the entire section, which lays out all kinds of sexual sin, concluding with Lev 18:26 says "any of these abominations (TO'EVAH Hebrew or "to ebah") referring to all the sins in the chapter which included incest, bestiality etc, which has nothing to do with idolatry. Using that translation of the word is like interpreting someone saying "I am fine" to mean they had been "fined" for a parking ticket.

What about Sodom?

Some advocates of Gay sex say that the destruction of Sodom was about "unwelcoming", not homosexuality. On the other hand, others have said that the sin of Sodom was "rape," not gay sex (love). We got an email that said:

"I have done my own research and the sin Sodom was about rape [of Lot's guests]".

Scripture says "Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord." This was before the night that they came for Lot's guests. In fact the men of Sodom never even raped anyone that night. The Angels blinded them so they could not even find the door to get in to Lot's house to do the rape (Gen 19:11).

We believe the sin of Sodom is more than just being unwelcoming to the guests. Many towns and countries were unwelcoming to the Jews and they share their fate. The sin of Sodom was not about this isolated incident. God told Abraham that a judgment would come upon Sodom. This was even before the night of the "attempted rape" of Lot's guests. (Gen 18:20)

Isaiah 3:9 says that the people of Sodom proclaimed their sin. can't imagine someone proclaiming the act of "unwelcoming" but at every gay pride parade, well meaning people are proclaiming their "right" to have same sex relationships.

The look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths. (Is 3:9-11)

This reminds us of the latest Canadian Supreme court decision in favour of Gay Marriage, for the Federal Government and the Supreme Court are most certainly our leaders. In the Bible, after condemning the proclaiming of sin like Sodom, the next passage reminds us of the pride parades our associate marched in:

Their insolent airs bear witness against them, they parade their sin like Sodom, To their own undoing, they do not hide it, They are preparing for their own downfall, Tell them "Happy is the virutuous man for he will feed on the fruit of his deeds" 16 . are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet; ...In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the garments of gauze, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. 24 Instead of perfume there will be a stench; and instead of a sash, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a binding of sackcloth; instead of beauty, shame. (Is 3:16-23)

We received an email in response to the Biblical account of Sodom that said:

I hate to tell you this but the men of Sodom ... attempted it [rape] and were unsuccessful, you obviously never known a rape victim, but find one and ask, I assure you they will agree that attempting the act is every bit as horrific and against God as actually committing it. the people of Sodom earned their punishment in just the attempt alone.

We agree with this writer that the intent to rape is unconscionable and extremely abusive. However, whether "attempted rape" is the source of the destruction of Sodom is another question. There are good reasons to think not.

Peter describes Sodom's sin as 'licentious, lawless deeds.' (2 Peter 2:7) The word 'lawless' is particularly interesting because Jewish law found in Leviticus never specified the 'intent' of rape as a crime. However, gay sex is expressly forbidden in Jewish law. (Lev 18:22) Peter uses the word 'deeds' to describe Sodom's sin. This infers a concrete action, not just intent. This passage says "indulge their flesh in depraved lust." To indulge the flesh points to more than intent to rape. The passage says Lot was tormented 'day after day' by lawless deeds he 'saw and heard.' This appears to be more than simple intent and appears to refer to more than one isolated incident. Jer 23:14 and Isaiah 3:9 also support this.

They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from wickedness; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah. (Jer 23:14)

The New Testament says "Likewise Sodom and Gomorrah in the same manner ...indulged in sexual immorality and... unnatural lust." (Jude 1:7) This seems to clearly identify what went wrong in Sodom. The term "unnatural" is further described in Romans 1:24-27:

Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done...

Some same sex affirming theologians have said that this passage refers only to people for whom gay sex was "unnatural" and that people who are naturally "gay" are OK. So let's, for a moment, consider that to be true, that the passage exempts 100% purebred homosexuals (on the Kinsey scale, if there is such a thing). Where would that leave the bisexual? If these theologians were right, then this passage would be very critical against bisexual people. The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) has this defense posted on its web site, yet asserts that bisexuality is a perfectly valid orientation. The theologians and gay friendly churches that justify gay sex using this defense also say it is perfectly OK for someone to have a bisexual orientation, which their interpretation of this passage damns. Why should we take their interpretation of Rom 1:24-27 seriously if they don't?

We don't think of "degrading their bodies among themselves" as something from which "purebred" 100% homosexuals are exempt. "Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." This describes acts not intentions. If an action is condemned, it does not matter who does it, whether they are straight, gay, bi, transgendered or whatever. We don't think we can shrug off gay sex with this very sloppy theology. It reminds me of some of the blatant justifications for sin that I used to use. The human mind has an almost inexhaustible capacity for self justification. The Catholic word is "concupiscence" which basically means we were born with original sin and we have an attraction, a natural inclination to sin. We got an email (spelling errors as written) that said:

With reference to Romans 1:20-27 ... First, that this passage could be interpreted as condemning homosexual intercourse, or as condeming pre-marital sexual intercourse, or as condeming adultery. The last two ideas could, of course, raise the issue of 'gay marriage', and thus either exist as a contradiction (unlikely), or that the acts were either pre-marital and hetrosexual in nature, or that they were adulterous.

There is no serious Bible scholar who would try to say that unnatural sex refers to adultery especially when set in context with the other Sodom passages above. The word "unnatural sex" is never used anywhere to describe a state of marriage or the sin of adultery in the Bible. The Greek word they use for “nature” is "Phusikos" which means "physical nature." This is driven home when it said they "received in their bodies," they practiced "mutual degradation of their bodies." (Rom 1:25) One of the most bizarre emails we've received said:

... Sodom. I had always interpreted this as meaning that sexual relations with an Angel were a sin, ... I interpret that the Angels are men, and that having intercourse with an Angel is the sin, rather than the men having intercourse with men.

The Bible says, "Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord." Gen 18:20. This was before the night that the Angels came on the scene.  In fact, the reason that Abraham went there in the first place was that the Lord was going to destroy the town because of their sin.(Gen 18:20-33) So no, it wasn't about Angel sex.

Isn't the Bible's condemnation of sex only about prostitution?

We got an email that said:

I understand that for centuries conservative faith traditions have taught that homosexuality is a "sin".   This is an incorrect teaching... scripture talks nothing about homosexuality... it does talk about prostitution.

There is no serious Bible scholar that would say scripture says nothing about homosexuality. In Sodom, they were not asking for money to have man to man sex. In 1 Tim 1:10 the Greek word used is "arsenokoithV (arsenokoites)
ar-sen-ok-oy'-tace from arrhn - arrhen and koith - koite; a sodomite:--abuser of (that defile) self with mankind. It references back to Sodom in which no money was exchanged.

Isn't Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 part of the old "Holiness code?"

The new pro gay video, "The Bible tells me so", says:

"Leviticus also says its an abomination to eat shrimp"

The New Testament completes the law of Levites in Mark 7:19, "Thus He declared all foods clean." Some of the punishments of Leviticus were completed by the law of Love. Although there are severe punishments in the Old Testament, the New Testament completes the law of justice with the law of love and clearly shows that there is to be no violence towards people who have anal sex. But just because there is no longer a death sentence or anything like that, doesn't mean that it's OK. If sodomy no longer is wrong because of the old 'Holiness Code' then Paul would not have included it in his list of sins to the Corinthians, and in his letter to Timothy. To dismiss the position of gay sex in the New Testament is to dismiss the New Testament. The difference between the shrimp example and the gay sex example is that the New Testament reaffirmed that gay sex is wrong and it said that Jesus made all foods are clean.

Although the New Testament ends violent punishment by introducing the law of love, it clearly restates that gay sex is a sin and any form of sin is not a good thing, because it separates us from God. Not because God is walking away from us, but because we are walking away from God. In fact, the punishment is worse in the New Testament, because in the Old Testament the punishment was physical death, and in the New Testament the penalty of mortal sin is eternal death. That sounds strong but that is why we are spending so much energy to try to help people understand that gay sex is not a good thing for us in the eternal scheme of things.

There is no amount of Old Testament worldly punishment that could match what Jesus describes as "hell." Hell is a word that the New Age and "Christian" gay sex advocates want to re-frame as old fashioned. They prefer the word "ignorance." Unfortunately, the Bible is clear on Hell also. It's real and it's not fun.

Doesn't the Bible have examples of same sex relations such as Saul and Jonathan, Naomi and Ruth, Paul and Timothy, and even Jesus and John?

There is no reasonable evidence in Scripture that these relationships are anything other than Philia (Greek for brotherly love). This is wishful thinking by advocates of same sex who are mistaking Philia for Eros (romantic love). Surely people in the gay community can imagine close same sex friendships without sex.

Regardless of these attempts to redefine Scripture, there is just no way around the explicit passages in the Bible that forbid gay sex (love). (Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10, Jud 1:7) Scripture condemns gay sex as a sin. Scripture says that Jesus was without sin. (Heb 4:15) Therefore, Jesus did not have gay sex with John.

This theory about gay lovers in the Bible is basically saying that the Scripture contradicts itself by both condemning and condoning gay love (sex). This reduces the Bible to an archaic piece of historical literature. If that is the case, then there is no need to try to find a justification for gay sex in Scripture because, as an outdated piece of history, it would not hold humanity to a moral standard. However, the Bible itself says it is the Word of God and that we should not mess with it. (Rev 22:18)

In the book of Revelation, John describes the fallen Babylon. It is eerily similar to the vision that gay advocates have for our culture, and John's advice is stirring:

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great ...Then I hear another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven..." (Rev 18:1-4)

We pray that each of our gay friends will have a different kind of coming out than what they have been told about in the gay community. We pray that our gay friends come out of the gay community. It is not a healthy place emotionally, spiritually, or physically. God has better plans for you.

"Judge not that you not be judged"

We got an e-mail that said:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. "
(Mat 7:1-2)

The passage is condemning hypocrisy, not those who publicly speak against same sex. Two verses later, Jesus says, "...first take the log out of your own eye, then you will clearly be able to take the speck out of your neighbour's eye."  Each of us has to work on our faults but that does not prohibit us from sharing our positionon same sex publicly. There are plenty of Bible verses that show us that it is very important to publicly oppose sin. (Jn 7:14, Lk, 12:57, Psm 37:30, Prv 31:9, Lk 17:3, Lev 19:15-17, Is 22:2, 23:36, Mat 23, Mat 3: 2,7, Acts 13:10, Cor 2:15, 6:2-3, Jn 3:18-19, 12:48).  Jesus said, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (Jn 7:24). Christianity has always been called to impact and influence society toward God's vision as it is laid out in Scripture.

Jesus is most certainly about love. He loves everybody in the LBGTQ community every bit as much as he does every person sitting in Church. He loves each of us equally and that is 100%.

 

Doesn't Deuteronomy say, "stone your kids if they stray from the faith?"

If the Old Testament is harsh like that, then why should we listen to it at all? Here is the passage former President Obama was talking about:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

The first thing to notice is that this is a "son" old enough to drink and go out on his own. He is an adult, demonstrated by the absence of common discipline for children mentioned in other parts of the Bible (i.e., Prov 29:15). He was capable of making mature adult decisions, and chose not to. He was not a child. Also this was the Old Covenenant. Christ completed the law of justice found in the Old Covenant with the Law of Love found in the New Covenant.  The New Covenant reasserts some of the old laws and absorbs others in love. In the New Covenant, the death penalty is overshadowed by the Love of Christ. However, the sin of gay sex is reaffirmed in the New Covenant.

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.(1 Cor 6:10)

Is the Bible silent on Lesbian sex?

We got an email that said:

"... and note no law for lesbians in the OT! So were lesbians OK in OT times?"

Generally, throughout the Bible, most discussions of laws applying to "man" are interpreted as "mankind." For instance, when God said "man cannot live by bread alone..." (Matthew 4:1-11) of course he was not talking about gender specific males. It's quite obvious that "unnatural sex" in Jude 1:7 and Rom 1:24-27 covers lesbian sex also. The Jewish interpretation of the Torah is also clear. Even the liberal Wikipedia says this:

In the entirety of the Torah [first 5 books of the Bible], such behaviour is widely viewed as forbidden by most rabbis.

Many in the gay community want to ban the Bible as "hate literature" but want to lift every other kind of censorship especially regarding pornography. We find this paradox counter-intuitive.

See related article on why the Church is against same sex, and resources for help?

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