As you all know, I spent the weekend in Springfield, MO at the amazing Skepticon! It was so much fun. The setting was informal, but still educational, and I got to hang out with so many friends I generally only see at atheist get-togethers and make plenty of new ones as well. We even got to debate the Christian protesters who bothered us every morning, one atheist even "street preached" all the horrific and graphic sections of the bible.
Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality, titled "Why Do We Act Like Christians?" He took the data he discovered while working on his book and pointed out the obvious that often gets swept under the rug. The religious have sex just as much as the secular. We start having sex around the same time, we both masturbate, we both look at pornography, and we both have fetishes and unusual sexual practices. In other words, the religious are almost indistinguishable from us when they're in the bedroom. The difference is how they present themselves when they're not having sex. Every major religion uses sex and other acts (like jealousy) that all humans engage in so its members will experience steady amounts of guilt which drive them back to the very religion that caused the guilt in the first place. This is one of the biggest problems I have with religion, I makes us feel disgusted with ourselves for behaving in a perfectly healthy way.
Darrel pointed out that, even though we are not religious we still act like it when it comes to talking about sex. Many of us lie about our sex acts, number of sexual partners and every other detail about our sex lives. Ask yourself if you've ever felt ashamed or embarrassed about masturbating, if the thought of talking about sex with your children makes you blush, if you lie about your sexuality or go to great efforts to keep it "private". If so, then you've become a victim of the toxic environment created by a religious culture. There is absolutely no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed about doing something that is so common it may as well be universal. It makes about as much sense as being embarrassed about sleeping or eating. We all do it, so get over it.
My mother told me there are two kinds of people in this world: people who masturbate and people who lie about masturbating. I proudly place myself in the first category and encourage you to do the same. Masturbation is healthy and helpful, even (or especially) if you're in a sexual relationship. It helps you blow off steam when you're partner is not able to, it helps you discover what feels good, it helps you communicate with your partner so you both have a better time, and it helps you feel more confident about your body. It does not lower your sex drive, make you grow hair on your palms, make you go blind, make you infertile, or make you a sex fiend. So don't lie about it and don't be ashamed. If someone asks you if you masturbate, you should treat it like they just asked if you brush your teeth. Sure, a few outliers don't brush, but we certainly shouldn't encourage that kind of behavior.
Rebecca Watson, which I love!)
The bottom line: Regardless of your beliefs, celebrate the fact that you are a human being. That entails all the things that make you a happy and healthy human being such as sex, appetite, yearning to improve the lives of yourself and others, and an ability to share love and compassion with all you meet. Let's make the world an awesome place where everyone can get their rocks off without feeling dirty or ashamed. Let's shout from the rooftops (at least metaphorically), "I have sex and I masturbate, and so do you!"