Two Ridiculous Questions

I am going to ask two ridiculous questions, you will see why I asked these questions by the time you finish reading this post. If I told you that babies came from Amazon would you believe me? What if I told you God showed me in vision that babies came from Amazon, would that convince you that they indeed came from Amazon?

A Basic Definition of a Prophet

Before I get further into this post I believe it would be useful to understand what it means to be a prophet of God. One of the earliest uses of the word “prophet” can be found in the book of Exodus. You may know the story well from various movie adaptations, God calls Moses from the burning bush and instructs him to deliver the people of Israel. Moses gives a list of excuses of why he is a poor choice, one of them being that he has a speech impediment. Most of us are aware of what happens next, God tells him that his brother Aaron would speak on his behalf. However, if you look at the narrative as reported in Exodus 7:1 you’ll notice something very interesting:

And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 1

Aaron became a prophet for Moses. To put it another way, a basic definition of a prophet in one sense is one that speaks on behalf of someone else. This definition has significant implications when someone claims to be a prophet of God, in one sense they are claiming to speak for God, in the same way, Aaron spoke for his brother Moses. The word prophet used in Exodus 7:1 is the Hebrew word נָבִיא (nābîʾ) and occurs more than three hundred times in the Old Testament. Some of the rebukes in the OT about false prophets use the same Hebrew word:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 2

when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. 3

Someone claiming to be a spokesperson for God isn’t a claim that we take lightly.

What the Seventh-Adventist Church Teaches Regarding Ellen White

The Seventh-day Adventist Church asserts that Ellen White was a prophet of God—that she demonstrated this gift of prophecy:

The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. 4

The video below comes from the official church website and claims that Ellen White was a prophet of God:

Did you know that God speaks to His people through the gift of prophecy?.mp4

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Health Message

Adventism also upholds a health message which is mainly based on a vision Ellen White claimed to have received from God in 1863. Usually, after receiving a vision from God, Ellen penned what she saw in vision to edify the church. The first book that came out as a result of her vision on health is An Appeal to Mothers. Here is what the White Estates says about the book in the about section,

This book was the first Ellen G. White writing in the field of health after the vision of June 6, 1863. It depicts the perils of secret vice. It was reprinted by James White in 1870 in the book, A Solemn Appeal Relative to Solitary Vice and the Abuses and Excesses of the Marriage Relation. It is also paralleled in the Testimonies, and was drawn from heavily for Child Guidance in the section “Preserving Moral Integrity.” 5

Here are some quotations from the book:

My Sisters, my apology for addressing you on this subject is, I am a mother, and feel alarmed for those children and youth who by solitary vice are ruining themselves for this world, and for that which is to come. Let us closely inquire into this subject from the physical, mental and moral points of view. 6

So right off the bat, we see the content of this book is a rather touchy topic. Let examine some of the passages in the book that Ellen writes,

The state of our world was presented before me, and my attention was especially called to the youth of our time. Everywhere I looked, I saw imbecility, dwarfed forms, crippled limbs, misshapen heads, and deformity of every description. Sins and crimes, and the violation of nature’s laws, were shown me as the causes of this accumulation of human woe and suffering. I saw such degradation and vile practices, such defiance of God, and I heard such words of blasphemy, that my soul sickened. From what was shown me, a large share of the youth now living are worthless. Corrupt habits are wasting their energies, and bringing upon them loathsome and complicated diseases. 7

Notice how she uses phrases such as “shown me” and “presented before me”. For those unfamiliar with Ellen Whiteʼs work, when she uses such phrases or similar it indicates that she is in vision. A vision that she asserts was given to her by God. Reading further down we come to these sections of the book:

I have been shown that children who practice self-indulgence previous to puberty, or the period of merging into manhood and womanhood, must pay the penalty of nature’s violated laws at that critical period. 8

Many sink into an early grave, while others have sufficient force of constitution to pass this ordeal. If the practice is continued from the ages of fifteen and upward, nature will protest against the abuse she has suffered, and continues to suffer, and will make them pay the penalty for the transgression of her laws, especially from the ages of thirty to forty-five, by numerous pains in the system, and various diseases, such as affection of the liver and lungs, neuralgia, rheumatism, affection of the spine, diseased kidneys, and cancerous humors. Some of nature’s fine machinery gives way, leaving a heavier task for the remaining to perform, which disorders nature’s fine arrangement, and there is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution, and death is the result. 9

The next quotations are from a volume 2 of Testimonies for the Church. In this account, a man asks the Whites (Ellen and James White) for prayers because he was afflicted with phthisis—which can refer to any disease that causes the body to grow weaker but is more commonly used to refer to pulmonary tuberculosis. Ellen and James eventually prayed for the man however, she received a vision and reports,

That night we bowed in prayer and presented his case before the Lord. We entreated that we might know the will of God concerning him. All we desired was that God might be glorified. Would the Lord have us pray for this afflicted man? We left the burden with the Lord and retired to rest. In a dream the case of that man was clearly presented. His course from his childhood up was shown, and that if we should pray the Lord would not hear us; for he regarded iniquity in his heart. The next morning the man came for us to pray for him. We took him aside and told him we were sorry to be compelled to refuse his request. I related my dream, which he acknowledged was true. He had practiced self-abuse from his boyhood up, and he had continued the practice during his married life, but said he would try to break himself of it.  10

In another one of her appeals to the church, she writes,

I saw that the family of Brother G need a great work done for them. H and I have gone to great lengths in this crime of self-abuse; especially is this true of H, who has gone so far in the practice of this sin that his intellect is affected, his eye-sight is weakened, and disease is fastening itself upon him. Satan has almost full control of this poor boy’s mind, but his parents are not awake to see the evil and its results. 11

A couple of things to note from the previous quotations. First, it should be noted that “self-abuse” or “self-indulgence” are euphemisms for masturbation. To summarize, according to Ellen White God showed in a vision that masturbation is the cause of numerous ailments and diseases, which include:

  • weakened eyesight
  • affection of the liver
  • rheumatism
  • diseased kidneys
  • cancerous humors (which an old way of saying cancer)
  • death

Thatʼs a very interesting connection that masturbation causes or at the very least contribute to ailments such as those listed above. If that were the case, why does someone who stimulates themselves sexually get those issues but a married couple (or any two people for that matter) isn’t affected? Whatʼs the difference on a physiological level when someone stimulates you sexually versus stimulating yourself? I know some would argue that maybe medical science has not caught up yet and maybe thatʼs the reason why people get those diseases but that would be absurd. If that were the case, people that are married or sexually active should have at least some of those problems, correct?

Ellen Whiteʼs view on masturbation was not revolutionary for her time. Books were written before her that claimed that masturbation was the cause of many diseases among men as a way to deter them from this practice. A pamphlet titled Onania: or, the heinous sin of self-pollution printed in the 1700s is strikingly similar to the diseases Ellen reports would happen to those who masturbate. Please notice the warnings given:

Disturbances of the stomach and digestion, loss of appetite or ravenous hunger, vomiting, nausea, weakening of the organs of breathing, coughing, hoarseness, paralysis, weakening of the organ of generation to the point of impotence, lack of libido, back pain, disorders of the eye and ear, total diminution of bodily powers, paleness, thinness, pimples on the face, decline of intellectual powers, loss of memory, attacks of rage, madness, idiocy, epilepsy, fever and finally suicide. 12

Conclusion

Regardless of your view on masturbation, whether it’s a sinful practice or not, the fact remains that Ellen White claimed that God told her that masturbation causes diseases such as (cancerous humors) which contractions both common sense and modern medicine. Some would argue that Mrs White is no different from various biblical writers, when it comes to unscientific claims, but is she? The various “unscientific” claims in the Bible (for example, that the earth is supposedly flat) does not make scripture uninspired. Inspiration doesn’t involve God zapping you in the head and you begin writing every word that God dictates to you. Inspiration occurs providentially, God met the various writers in their own time, place and context and moved upon them to write. God was happy with the final result of their work but he doesn’t dictate and tell them how to write the various books we have in the Bible. The Bible never claims to teach advanced science and is not a science textbook, but is a theological work that gives truth about who God is and how we can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, these truths surpass both culture and time. When reading the Bible we need to remember that these are ancient people that didn’t have the knowledge we have about the universe that we possess today. I would have no issue if Mrs White said she believed that masturbation caused those problems as merely her opinion or if she assumed it due to it being a common belief in her era. However, here you have a person that claims to be a speaker for God, that he gave her a vision that masturbation can cause blindness. Let’s look at what Ellen claims about her writings,

When I went to Colorado I was so burdened for you that, in my weakness, I wrote many pages to be read at your camp meeting. Weak and trembling, I arose at three o’clock in the morning to write to you. God was speaking through clay. You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper, expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision—the precious rays of light shining from the throne. 13

Many former Adventist can usually remember a specific issue with Ellen White that “did it for them” and cause them to conclude that she is a false prophet. I found it very amusing that her claims of what God told her concerning masturbation would be such a compelling piece of evidence that ultimately lead me to the conclusion that Ellen White is a false prophet. If you’re an Adventist and you’re not convinced, consider that it is common for some toddlers to practice masturbation (self-stimulation), they aren’t doing this because they are engaging in sexual activity. I am not trying to be a sensationalist, however, are you going to believe your toddler may become blind or develop kidney disease because of self-stimulation?

  1. Exodus 7:1 (ESV) 

  2. Deuteronomy 18:20 (ESV) 

  3. Deuteronomy 18:22 (ESV) 

  4. 28 Fundamental Beliefs see https://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental-beliefs/church/the-gift-of-prophecy/ for online text. 

  5. https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/6.2#0 

  6. Ellen White, Appeal to Mothers, 1864, p. 5, para. 1 https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/6.14#15 

  7. Ibid., p. 17, para. 1. https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/6.14#63 

  8. Ibid., p. 18, para. 1. https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/6.14#66 

  9. Ibid., p. 18, para. 2. https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/6.14#67 

  10. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 350, para. 1 https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/120.1512#1530 

  11. Ibid., p. 404, para. 1 https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/120.1697#1753 

  12. History of masturbation. (2020, January 1). Retrieved January 15, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_masturbation#18th_century_pamphlet

  13. Selected Messages Book 1, p. 27, para. 2

    https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/98.88#112