God, Masturbation, and Other Mistaken Beliefs in Rural Oregon

In bed at night at 12, I still prayed as I had as a child, but instead of my lists of blessings and natural disasters, I began asking for the strength to control myself, and, when that failed, I would bargain for forgiveness. I offered up whatever I could think of in order to relieve my sense of guilt. People were sure to tell me masturbation was wrong, but no one ever told me you weren’t suppose to bargain with the Lord. My version of him was more like the witches of fairy tales, or the dealer of a high-stakes poker game. I reasoned that misbehaving would weaken my hand, making God less likely to protect me against death. 

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