By Dave Armstrong (6-2-10)
The fashionable zeitgeist now present in Protestantism (especially, but not exclusively, of the liberal variety), is to increasingly sanction divorce, fornication, homosexual acts, abortion, contraception, and masturbation. The latter is surprisingly condoned even by the usually traditional moralist and family advocate Dr. James Dobson, and, with extraordinarily ridiculous and scandalous argumentation, by anti-Catholic Reformed apologist Steve Hays, who wrote (almost as if he were a thoroughly secularized regular columnist for Planned Parenthood):
I don’t think that Christians should go around guilt-ridden if they engage in this practice. On the face of it, this seems like a natural sexual safety value for single men—especially younger men in their sexual prime. Like learning how to walk or perform other athletic activities, this form of sexual experience and physical experimentation may train an unmarried young man in attaining some degree of mental and muscular control so that he is not a total novice on his wedding night. . . . I can’t say absolutely if it is right or wrong, but I tend to deem it permissible under some circumstances.
("Too hot to handle - 2", 7-15-04)
Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, on the other hand, opposed the practice. He referred to it (so it seems fairly clear in context, I think) as a "secret sin":
From: The Estate of Marriage (1522); translated by Walther I. Brandt; pp. 17-49 in Luther's Works, Volume 45 (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1962):
Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not choice. (p. 18)
Therefore, priests, monks, and nuns are duty-bound to forsake their vows whenever they find that God's ordinance to produce seed and to multiply is powerful and strong within them. They have no power by any authority, law, command, or vow to hinder this which God has created within them. If they do hinder it, however, you may be sure that they will not remain pure but inevitably besmirch themselves with secret sins or fornication. For they are simply incapable of resisting toe word and ordinance of God within them. Matters will take their course as God has ordained. (p. 19)
. . . the devil has contrived to have so much shouted and written in the world against the institution of marriage, to frighten men away from this godly life and entangle them in a web of fornication and secret sins. (p. 37)
It is certainly a fact that he who refuses to marry must fall into immorality. . . . For if special grace does not exempt a person, his nature must and will compel him to produce seed and to multiply. If this does not occur in marriage, how else can it occur except in fornication or secret sins? (p. 45)
Note the various moral errors (beyond our present purview) even in Luther's correct condemnation of a sin, in line with the Bible and the entire history of Christianity: at least till the latter 20th century and widespread compromise on sexual issues. It should be pointed out that in the same work (at the very end), he absurdly opines also that:
Intercourse is never without sin; but God excuses it by his grace because the estate of marriage is his work, and he preserves in and through the sin all that good which he has implanted and blessed in marriage. (p. 49)
This self-contradictory, convoluted mentality regarding morality and sin is arguably largely derived from the nominalistic influences on Luther's thought.
On the other hand, to his credit, Luther does correctly acknowledge (referring to Jesus' statement on voluntary and involuntary eunuchs in Matthew 19:12) that there is such a thing as a validly celibate person, by God's power. Thus, he states:
[F]rom this ordinance of creation God has himself exempted three categories of men . . . Apart from these three groups, let no man presume to be without a spouse. And whoever does not fall within one of these categories should not consider anything except the estate of marriage. Otherwise, it is simply impossible for you to remain righteous. . . . you will be bound to commit heinous sins without end.
. . . you cannot promise that you will not produce seed or multiply, unless you belong to one of the three categories mentioned above.
. . . No vow of any youth or maiden is valid before God, except that of a person in one of the three categories which God alone has himself excepted. (pp. 18-19)
The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who . . . voluntarily remain celibate . . . Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God's grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, "Be fruitful and multiply," has no place in him. (p. 21)
Do you not hear that restraint is impossible without the special grace? (p. 45)