Seventh Day Adventists generally believe they have been called and chosen by God in these latter days to spread the gospel to the whole world and bring people to God. One of the greatest tools for achieving this aim is their health message. It is intended to show people how to live more healthy lives and therefore lead them to Jesus Christ.
The Adventist health message is based on the counsels of their prophet Ellen G. White. As we shall shortly see, one would have to be an idiot to follow her counsel. Oh, there is no doubt that Ellen White gave a lot of good counsel. But after reading what is to follow, one must be very careful of anything that she has to say and probably should stay away from anything she wrote.
The meat of the Adventist health message actually is based on meat or flesh food literally. Their whole health message hinges on this one item. Any Adventist today will tell you that most of them are vegetarian; probably 50% are most of the time. They will insist to you that they do not eat meat because meat eating is not in God's plan and the consumption of the flesh of animals can only lead to sickness, particularly cancer. They will tell you that chickens and salmon these days are full of cancer these days; and how could you possibly eat them and not end up with cancer yourself? Adventists do not realize the original reason why Ellen White condemned meat. That is to be the fascinating subject of this chapter.
Before we go into this further, let me point out some good advice given by the writer of the Book of Hebrews. "Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents." (Heb 13:9) The writer here is indicating to us that the people preaching special diets as doctrine are teaching diverse and strange teachings. Further, diet has not done anything for the salvation of any of these fanatics.
The revelation that was to shape Adventist health reform was given to Ellen White in the famous vision of Oswego, on June the 6th, 1863. During a vision lasting 45 minutes they claim God exposed highly advanced, revolutionary medical principles years that were supposedly years ahead of their time. (Ellen G. White: Prophet of Destiny, Rene Noorbergen, p. 98.) One would think that in 1863, with man's knowledge of healthful living being rather poor, God would have several important topics to relate to his prophet. It turns out to be quite a shock when one finds out the particular item which was to take priority in the health message of the Adventist church. As indicated previously most Adventists today have no idea what that priority item was.
In 1864, just months after the famous health vision, Ellen White published a book entitled An Appeal to Mothers: The Great Cause of the Physical, Mental, and Moral Ruin of Children of Our Time." This was Mrs. White's first book on health reform. Its intent was to warn the world about the evils of solitary vice or MASTURBATION!
It seems that Mrs. White was dissatisfied with the result of this production and therefore six years later in 1870, another publication was produced entitled "A Solemn Appeal" by Ellen G. White. This book was edited by her husband James White and included some articles from other writers to back up Mrs. White's counsel about masturbation and meat.
This fascinating booklet is not widely available currently. One can certainly understand why it is not advertised in the Adventists book catalogues. However, there must have been some questions about this book as it was recently reprinted in small number for those who wanted to look into these original writings more deeply. Between 1976 and 1979 a total of 700 of these books were produced. I suspect they were generally confined to Adventist theology students, who by their very disposition could not be adversely affected by this information.
Fans of Ellen White often point out that her works can stand on their own merit. I would ask that Adventists hold to this saying. After I have pointed out some of the writings of Ellen White, I would ask them to make a careful and honest decision. The word of God says, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matt. 7:15-16) One should have no difficulty categorizing Ellen White as a false prophet when he becomes aware of some of the fruit she has produced.
Let us examine some of the passages in this important health book by Ellen White.
"I feel alarmed for those children and you who by solitary vice are ruining themselves ... you listen to numerous complaints of headache, catarrh, dizziness, nervousness, pain in the shoulders and side, loss of appetite, pain in the back and limbs, wakeful feverish nights, of tired feelings in the morning, and great exhaustion after exercising? and have you not noticed that there was a deficiency in the mental health of our children?" (p. 11)
"Secret indulgence [masturbation] is, in many cases, the only real cause of the numerous complaints of the young. This vice is laying waste the vital forces, and debilitating the system." (p. 13)
"The state of the world is alarming. Everywhere we look we see imbecility, dwarf forms, crippled limbs, misshapen heads and deformity of every description . Corrupt habits are wasting their energies, and bringing upon them loathsome and complicated diseases. Unsuspecting parents will try the skill of physicians, one after another, who prescribe drugs, when they generally know the real cause of the failing health, but for fear of offending, and losing their fees, they keep silent, when as faithful physicians they should expose the real cause . Children who practice self indulgence [masturbation] must pay the penalty." (p. 14)
It is enlightening to note that Ellen White's original writing of this last quotation has been changed in this later edition. Her husband, James White, the editor of the writing, deleted the evidence which indicated his wife had seen this in a vision from God. Was James embarrassed by the original version?
"The state of the 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 . . . etc". The force of the later quotation is considerably dulled to, "Everywhere we look etc".Maybe James White didn't believe in his wifes so called visions. Lets study more of the enlightening visions.
"If the practice is continued from the ages of 15 and upward, nature will protest ... and will make them pay the penalty ... 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 humours There is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution; and death is the result." (P. 14 & 15)
"Many are ignorant of the sinfulness of these habits, and their certain results. Such need to be enlightened . . . Females possess less vital force than the other sex, . . . The result of self abuse in them is seen in various diseases, such as catarrh, dropsy, headache, loss of memory and sight, great weakness in the back and loins, affections of the spine, and frequently, inward decay of the head. Cancerous humour commences its eating destructive work. The mind is often utterly ruined, and insanity, supervenes. . . Such are just as self murderers as though they pointed a pistol to their own breast, and destroyed their life instantly The practice of secret habits surely destroys the vital forces of the system . . . Among the young the vital capital, and the brain are so severely taxed at an early age, that there is deficiency and great exhaustion, which leave the system exposed to diseases of various kinds. But the most common of these is consumption (tuberculosis). . . They must die. (p. 17)
"There is hardly an end to these diseases caused by solitary vice; dyspepsia, spinal complaint, headache, epilepsy, impaired eye sight, palpitations of the heart, pain in the side, bleeding at the lungs, spasms of the heart and lungs, diabetes, or incontinence of the urine, fluor alblis, whites, inflammation of the urinary organs ... Besides rheumatism, affected perspiration, consumption (tuberculosis), asthma, catarrh, polypus of the heart, affections of the bones, fevers, priapism, strangury, polypus uteri, blood discharges, etc. . .
Then a case history is reviewed.
"A full and particular account of a little boy who at two years old was epileptic, from this cause; the vice taught to him by his nurse Rendered him paralytic. By the most vigilant use of mechanical means for confining the hands, covering the genitals, etc. the child was at length cured; he now enjoys good health, and, with the exception of a remarkable loss of memory, retains no trace of his former indiscretions."
Picture yourself taking your two year old son to see a doctor after he has suffered a convulsion. The doctor tells you that he has been masturbating and this is the cause of his illness. You are going to have to bind his genitals and tie his hands until he is cured of the filthy habit. This is the kind of stuff that Ellen White believed with all her heart, has been commissioned to pass on to us, and we are expected to believe she is a true prophet.
Let us continue with more of these fascinating quotations.
"Unchastity, as we have already seen, deranges, debilitates, and ruins the body. Now, out of this startling fact arises another fact, if possible more startling. It is that unchastity deranges, debilitates and ruins the mind ... By unchastity, especially by solitary vice (masturbation), the mind suffers permanent debility ... great debility of the memory, great prostration and foolish imbecility of the mind. Perception is made dull and obtuse, the reasoning powers are blunted ... From debility the mind often sinks into idiocy ... I saw a young woman in a town of Massachusetts who made herself an idiot by masturbation. (p. 2 & 3)Well, enough is enough. From the above quotations we can see Ellen Whites preoccupation with masturbation as a direct cause of all these Illnesses. Her visions from God indicated that masturbation causes such diseases as blindness, epilepsy, diabetes, consumption (tuberculosis), asthma, etc Not only does it cause these physical diseases but leads to imbecility, idiocy, and insanity. We are told that the mental hospitals are filled with people who are insane because they masturbated. The end result of course is death.
"In the fall of 1844, the writer visited the Massachusetts State Lunatic Hospital Our attention was suddenly arrested by the peculiarly haggard, frantic, wild, fiendish appearance of a young man, with his eye turned back over his shoulder. Struck with his shocking aspect, we inquired of our attendant, a young physician, what was the cause of his insanity? 'Solitary vice', was the ready reply. Thought we, solitary vice produces solitary insanity! We further asked, have you many here from that cause? 'A large proportion', more than from, intemperance? 'Oh, yes, far more.' When they (crazy persons) do indulge, this act must be considered as a bad symptom, since it constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the cure: it destroys the strength and finally produces in the patients, stupidity, phthisis, marasmus, and death . . . Nurses, by manipulating infants to cure their crying, have been known to give them a notion which has resulted in a habit of solitary vice." (p. 4)
"Self abuse opens the door for consumption, dyspepsia, nervous debility, epilepsy, apoplexy, paralysis, insanity, and almost every disease from which humanity suffers. It weakens and deranges the stomach, the liver, the kidneys, the bowels, the muscle, the bones the nerves, the brain, and all the various organs of the body The loss of semen is very exhausting yet the expenditure of nerve force is quite as great a source of evil . . . it gives a shock to the whole system; and when often repeated, the nervous power is completely drained away. It impoverishes the blood and induces consumption, dyspepsia, nervous diseases, and mental derangements . . . Self abuse is, probably, the most flagrant violation of the sexual law; the grossest abuse of the sexual function with the most disastrous consequences to the health, happiness and even life of the race. It is an evil more damning than any other to which mankind is subject!" . . . "Although the habit may be abandoned, in 9 cases out of 10 the loss will be continued in the form of involuntary nocturnal emissions" [wet dreams].
"After having indulged in this habit for a time, the child loses its bright and happy looks; it becomes pale with a greenish tint, the eyes are sunken, and surrounded by dark rings; the vermilion of the lips is faded, the limbs are attenuated, the muscles soft and flabby both in form and feature the child has the appearance of being old and worn out."
"Many children are born with this propensity and the habit is commenced in infancy or in early childhood ... without a thought of evil on the part of the little masturbators."
"Self abuse is a sure road to the grave . . . This picture full of horrors as it is, is not overdrawn, in truth the half hath not been told."
"It will not kill you outright ... Ask any medical man conversant with diseases having this origin and he will tell you that no other cause of disease equals this no cause is more influential in producing insanity. The records of the institutions give an appalling catalogue of cases attributed to it [masturbation].
When I revealed this information to some staunch Adventist believers they actually tried to defend these writings of Ellen White. Emotion took over completely and rendered their common sense, and logic useless.
Anyone can conclude from common sense alone that none of these diseases or conditions are caused by masturbation. Consumption or tuberculosis we know is caused by a germ, a specific bacterium. In fact the germ causing tuberculosis was discovered shortly after these writings of Ellen White. How can anyone possibly believe this nonsense written by Ellen White? How could anyone insist she is a true prophet from God?
The Cause of The Cause
Having been told by Ellen White that masturbation causes all of these illnesses, what are we to do about it? Well, one must know what might lead to masturbation and its horrors so that one can avoid it.
"We noticed bad diet as a cause of unchastity. By bad diet we mean the use of food and drinks of bad qualities and unreasonable quantities. (p. 5) A diet chiefly or wholly vegetable, is evidently best adapted to allay passionate excitement. Flesh meat diet is more stimulating than vegetable. Consequently it is plain that all those who suffer from too high venereal excitement, should abandon it (meat) ... When children shall be taught correct habits of diet, much, very much, Will be done toward the removal of secret vice and other species of unchastity from society. (p. 9) Mince pies, cakes, preserves, and highly seasoned meats, with gravies, create a feverish condition in the system, and inflame the animal passions. . . We should encourage in our children a love for nobleness of mind, and a pure, virtuous character. In order to strengthen in them the moral perceptions, . . . we must regulate the manner of our living, dispense with animal foods, and use grains, vegetables and fruits, as articles of diet. (p. 15)
"Sip no more the beverage of China; no more the drinks of java; what shall you drink at your meals? ... I say, nothing is best; yet cocoa, chocolate, or warm water seasoned, or bread coffee, rice coffee . . . will be good substitutes as they do not inflame."
"For a similar reason, meats, mustards, condiments, peppers, spices, rich foods, gravies, everything heating and irritating, will only add to existing inflammation, and increase both desire and disease ... Some kinds of food, as already specified, excite amorous desires; while others, as rice, bread, fruit, vegetables do not; and may therefore be eaten."
"As to suppers, I recommend none at all. A full stomach induces dreams or the exercise, in sleep, of those organs most liable to spontaneous action, which produces libidinous dreams, with accompanying night emissions, which weaken and disease equally with indulgence A heating, stimulating diet still more prematurely develops this passion. We have already seen that meats, teas, coffee, mustards, spices, etc. stimulate in adults ... A heating diet, after all, is the most prolific cause of excessive and perverted sexuality eat and drink cooling, calming articles only."
"Sleeping on feather beds and feather pillows, in close, unventilated rooms is another cause of weakness, and therefore aids in inducing this vile practice of solitary vice."
We have just seen several of the stimulants which leads one to masturbate. In fact such things as meat and spices are claimed to be aphrodisiacs. We notice that we should not eat supper as this would cause us to have wet dreams. Also we should recognize that sleeping on feather beds and feather pillows tends to make one masturbate.
Here then, is the real reason that Ellen White counsels against meat eating. Of course as time went on she added other reasons for not eating meat. But the original reason for abstaining from meat, as given to her by God in that first important health vision, is to prevent uncontrollable passions leading to masturbation which in turn leads to disease, insanity, and death. Is this really a prophet from God speaking? Can one trust anything that she says in her writings unless it is in the mainstream of Christian thought?
The Cure For Masturbation
Having pointed out the cause of masturbation and its disastrous results, what is her counsel as to how we could get out of such a dilemma? Mrs. White was greatly impressed with hydrotherapy or water treatments which was really a fad during her time. This type of treatment represented big money and was the basis of most of the Adventist health units of that day. One would expect then that water treatments would be involved in the treatment of those poor souls trapped in the habit of masturbation. Let us look at some of the treatment.
"Here is a brief outline of the course of treatment which should generally be adopted by this class of unfortunates ... thousands who read these pages will readily acknowledge the truthfulness of the picture, and admit that their own cases are faithfully pointed out, but will despairingly exclaim, what shall we do? The fearful prevalence of sexual disorders, has been rendered painfully prominent to the physicians and managers of the Health Reform Institute at Battle Creek, and a large number of cases have been successfully treated here, while many more have been advised by letter to the health reformer. The advice which follows is therefore the result of experience, observation, and careful study. The greatest difficulty in their management consists in inducing them to adhere with any degree of tenacity to a prescribed course of treatment. Such had better place themselves under the care of a hygienic physician, if this can possibly be done".
- "Diet. The diet of this class of individuals should be rigidly abstemious. The food should be nutritious but non-stimulating. The two meal system is of special advantage as the presence of food in the stomach at night is often the exciting cause of nocturnal emissions."
- "Sleeping. Sufferers should never lie in bed to encourage a dreamy or unsound sleep. Better rise unreasonably early in the morning than to lie in a state of dreaminess, as the dreams of such will assume a lascivious character, and aggravate the evil. The bed should not be too soft and on no account should feathers be tolerated."
- "Bathing. Harm has been done in some cases by overdoing in the matter of water treatment. In the earlier days of the so-called water system, heroic treatment and a good deal of it was advised for this class of complaint. The baths should be tonic, rather cool, but not too cold. A sitz bath may be taken from once to four times a week of a few minutes duration, at as low a temperature as can be tolerated without chilliness. Give at the same time a hot foot bath, and apply cool wet cloths to the head. The frequency of this treatment will depend upon the condition of the patient occasional hot fomentations may sometimes be of benefit but too much warm bathing must be guarded against as weakening in tendency ... a wet girdle may be worn a portion of the time especially at night, to good advantage. Cool bathing of the parts affected is also beneficial."
- "Exercise. Much mental exercise should be strenuously avoided... The mind should not be taxed with cares, nor should much reading be indulged in. Especially should any exercise of the brain be avoided toward night, or in the evening. As congestion of the brain is often the exciting cause of spermatorrhea [involuntary emissions], by reason of the intimate relation between the brain and the sexual system, it will readily be seen that to keep the head cool is all important."
Here we have the cure as recommended by Ellen White for one who masturbates. In short he should avoid stimulating food, particularly meat, should not eat supper, avoid feather beds and pillows, and not loiter in bed. He should take prescribed baths (and imagine yourself doing this) consisting of sitting in a cold pail of water, putting your feet in a pail of hot water and wrapping cold bandages around your head. At other times a wet girdle should be worn and the genitals should be bathed with cool water frequently. Not only is supper disallowed but reading or thinking in the evening [or toward night] is completely banned as this 'Mental activity' may lead to wet dreams.
After reading these wise counsels given by Ellen White and realizing that she is claiming divine inspiration, I would say to you that there is only one class of person that could continue to believe that Ellen White is a true prophet. This type of person can be classed only as an idiot.
Apparently Mrs. White did not take her own counsel too seriously. She continued to eat meat for years after this revealing vision from God and actually went against her own counsel. In later years she added the second reason for not eating meat, the belief that meat directly transmitted diseases, particularly cancer. This of course is the reasoning used by more modern Seventh-day Adventists.
Despite having this vision concerning meat eating and masturbation in 1863, Ellen White continued to eat meat until 1894. For 31 years following her health vision then Ellen White did not follow her own counsel. Ellen White was finally convinced by a Catholic lady of the ultimate reason for not eating meat. Mrs. White had just given a temperance lecture in Australia and was approached by this Catholic lady who inquired if the speaker ate meat. When Mrs. White confessed that she still ate meat the Catholic lady fell on her knees at Mrs. White's feet and tearfully pleaded with her to have compassion on the unfortunate animals.
Mrs. White later wrote to some friends
"when the selfishness of taking the lives of animals to gratify a perverted taste was presented to me by a Catholic woman, kneeling at my feet, I felt ashamed and distressed - I saw it in a new light, and I said, I will no longer patronize the butchers. I will not have the flesh of corpses on my table." Prophetess of Health by Ronald L. Numbers, p. 172
It seems that Ellen White herself was not impressed that meat eating would lead her to masturbation and its resultant tragic consequence . It took an emotional appeal concerning the killing of innocent animals to get her to stop eating meat. Much more will be said about meat eating later but at this point let us remember that Jesus was not a vegetarian He ate meat.
During three years in the Adventist Church I didn't hear one sermon about meat eating and masturbation - lots of rumbling about meat; but nothing about these secret horrors. Why? Isn't it time other Adventists learned the facts? It is possible these revelations about Ellen White may change some lives - honest ones!