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Onan wasn't struck by lightning because he wanked, he was stuck by lightning for wanking by using a woman's body while denying her the male child she needed to be provided for in her old age. (And denying his dead brother a heir, but it is debatable whether that was the real reason this kind of thing was frowned upon.)

Women didn't have many rights in Biblical times, but they did have the right to children, and literally anything a woman in the Bible does in the pursuit of having children is excused by the narrator.

But yeah. One does wonder why Christians don't do a bit more to stop men from, oh, say, men going to prostitutes and then infecting their wives with chlamydia, making them infertile. It is very uncertain whether God cares about wanted abortions (men who caused a pregnant woman to miscarry had to pay a compensation, but that was seen as harm done to the mother, presumably an infringement on her god-given right to have children), but he sure does care about men denying women their right to bear children.

It would sure be nice if the men who infect their wives with chlamydia were all struck dead by lightning.

Christian men are cowards. They prefer attacking young girls and women in bad situations over confronting male adulterers.

[–] MissBehaved 7 points Edited

I've tried to make this clear multiple times to people when the issue of masturbation or abortion comes up. Onan's sin was that he prevented a woman from having the only security she could expect to have in that culture. She couldn't work for a living, and with her husband dead she needed a child (preferably a son) to provide for her old age. Also her husband's brother was supposed to make her his wife because of the limited options women had in society to provide for themselves.

It was also done so that the dead man could be considered to have descendants of his own lineage. This was what Onan was sore about - he didn't want a child he fathered to be considered his brother's son instead of his own. This is why his act was considered selfish and and shameful.

Interestingly Onan was killed instead of just being shamed and spat on by his brother's wife, as was the usual punishment for breaking the Levirate laws (for refusing to marry one's widowed sister-in-law). The law requires marrying his brother's wife in order to give a male heir. Onan was deceitful because he technically married her, but then denied her the purpose of the union. He essentially used his brother's wife just to get off, which was a big no-no. One could also say that this is a kind of rape, because he altered the conditions which she had originally consented to. Would she have agreed to marry/ have sex with him if children weren't an option? Possibly not.

Heh I came here to say the same thing… that lady had a legal right to his sperm

[+] [Deleted] 10 points

I was reading an old book (off Project Gutenberg, maybe) the other day and someone admonishing someone lest they eventually succumb to "the sin of Onanism": Oh, for the good old days!

For the record, Onan was killed by Yahweh, the Jewish god of the Old Testament, not by "the Christian god." Lots of people of many different Christian denominations, or raised as such, would say Yahweh is definitely not at all the same as "the Christian god." In fact, many would say that a main aim of Christianity when it arose in the first place was to remake the image of god to be kinder, gentler, less punitive and less bloodthirsty than the Jewish god of the Old Testament. Many Christians and some Jews think Yahweh was an overly vengeful, spiteful and smite-happy god who was way, way too quick to go around striking people dead for their supposed wickedness.

Also, the way I was taught the Book of Genesis when I was a kid attending Roman Catholic parochial school in the 1960s, Onan wasn't killed for masturbating. Yahweh killed Onan for refusing to obey the command of Judah, Onan's father and one of the major ancient Jewish patriarchs, who told Onan that after the death of his brother Er, he had to fulfill his obligations to his family and community by marrying Er's widow Tamar under the ancient tradition of levirite marriage. Per the tradition of levirite marriage, a man whose brother died had a duty to marry the brother's widow. In the case of Onan and Tamar, the duty to marry the brother's widow also involved a duty to engage in coitus with her so she could become pregnant because at the time of her husband's death, Tamar didn't have any children.

Levirite marriage was historically practiced in a lot of closed societies in the Middle East where clan was all-important, marriage within kinship groups was common and encouraged, and brotherhood and filial duty were considered sacrosanct. Levirite marriage was regarded as a way of providing widowed women with some protections and benefits in societies where women were forced to live under the rule, guardianship and patronage of their fathers, husbands and/or other male relatives; where women's worth was tied to having children; and where women's longterm wellbeing and economic survival in old age especially was often dependent on having a son or sons specifically.

Levirite marriage was also meant to be a help to women in ancient partriarchal societies who were widowed when they were in the early stages of pregnancy. Because a pregnant woman who didn't "show" until months after her husband died would be suspected and accused of having extramarital sex - and chances are that the child she was carrying would be considered "illegitimate" and thus, if male, would be denied inheritance rights. (I dunno the exact legal reasons for this, but my maternal grandmother who was widowed when newly pregnant in the 1930s had to go to court on an annual basis to swear before a judge that the child she gave birth to after her husband died was indeed her husband's son and rightful heir. That was in Massachusetts, USA.)

But back to Onan: the story of Judah, Onan, Tamar told in the Old Testament Book of Genesis is a lot more complicated and deeper than a cautionary tale about the supposed evils of male masturbation. It's about family obligation, obeying father's orders, lineage, and inheritance rights. It also takes some wild turns after Yahweh kills Onan.

You see, after Onan was killed off by Yahweh, Judah promised Tamar that his next-in-line son, Shelah, who was then a child, would marry Tamar when he grew up. But when Shelah finally came of age, Judah didn't follow through, leaving still-childless and husbandless Tamar in the lurch. In due course, Judah's own wife died. After mourning his wife's death, Judah announced he planned on going to Timnath to shear his sheep. Upon hearing this news, Tamar [still unmarried and still childless] disguised herself in veils and hightailed it in the direction of Timnath. When she came to a place near Timnath where two roads met, Tamar caught up with Judah - but Judah did not recognize her as Tamar because of the veils. Assuming she was a prostitute, Judah solicited her for sex - which Tamar agreed to in hopes that she'd become pregnant. That way, she could finally bear a child in Judah's line, like she had been planning and hoping to do ever since Judah promised her his son Shelah. So Tamar had sexual intercourse with Judah - and for payment, she requested a goat secured by Judah's cord bearing his seal, along with Judah's staff.

When Tamar's pregnancy began showing several months later, she was accused of prostitution - and Judah ordered that she be burned to death. So Tamar sent Judah his own staff, seal, and cord back to him with the message that the owner of these items was the man who had made her pregnant. Recognizing these items as his own, Judah realized that Tamar was the woman he'd mistaken for a prostitute some months before and revoked her death sentence and told Tamar that she had secured her place in the family and extended Judah's lineage. But Genesis notes that Judah did not have further sexual relations with Tamar.

In the end, Tamar gave birth to twins, Perez and Zerah. Although Perez was said to have been born first, Zerah's hand supposedly came out of Tamar's vagina first and was anointed by the midwife. In the Book of Ruth, Perez is identified as an ancestor of King David. Ethiopian Jews believe Perez went on to become king of Persia

Regarding the moral of the story of Onan: I was always taught that the the view that the story of Onan is about the sinfulness of males "wasting their seed" through the act of masturbation comes mainly from puritan Protestant thinkers like John Calvin and John Wesley. My understanding is that when Roman Catholic moralists invoked the story of Onan and Tamar when it came to matters of sexual behavior, it was to decry coitus interruptus within marriage - not male masturbation. But mostly the Roman Catholics don't like to bring attention to the story of Onan and Tamar and Judah because of its apparent endorsement of prostitution and sexual relations between older father in-laws and their younger widowed daughters in law. And because it makes Judah look like a hypocrite who leaned on his son Onan to fulfill his familial obligation to Tamar, but then later reneged on his own obligation and stated promise to make his next-in-line son, Shelah, marry Tamar.

At any rate, the kind of Christianity I was raised with taught a lot of wacky ideas about sex and a lot of other things. But it definitely did not teach that male masturbation was a sin so heinous that "the Christian god" killed or would kill people for doing it.

The idea that all Christians believe that male masturbation is an evil so horrible it once brought down the deadly wrath of "the Christian god" seems to be a bit of propaganda cooked up and spread by those who want to depict all Christians as one homogenous group who all believe the sort of uptight, anti-sex hokum held by the sorts of American evangelicals who go in for "purity balls" and "purity pledges."

One more thing: the view espoused in the middle comment shown in the screenshot - which says that males who masturbate are "squirting out millions of potential babies" - is hardly "Truth"!