Daniel P. Barron

Masturbation

 

This is a mirror of "Masturbation" by Darwin Fish.


No doubt, much evil is done in the name of masturbation. A search on this subject on the interneti will substantiate that. But is masturbation evil, in and of itself? Some seem to think so.


For example, the Catholic Catechism states,

By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."ii


One Catholic web site plainly posts,

Masturbation is against the biblical teachings which always talks about sex with respect in the marriage context and to have children. To pursue sexual pleasure or orgasm in manner not associated with marital intercourse that is love-giving and open to the creation of new life violates the will of God and is immoral.iii


It is declared to violate the will of God and be immoral, yet no such teaching can be found in the word of God.iv

I. Arguments Against

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, masturbation is strictly forbidden.

Jewish law clearly prohibits male masturbation. This law is derived from the story of Onan (Gen. 38:8-10), who practiced coitus interruptus as a means of birth control to avoid fathering a child for his deceased brother. G-d killed Onan for this sin. Although Onan's act was not truly masturbation, Jewish law takes a very broad view of the acts prohibited by this passage, and forbids any act of ha-sh'cha'tat zerah (destruction of the seed), that is, ejaculation outside of the vagina. In fact, the prohibition is so strict that one passage in the Talmud states, "in the case of a man, the hand that reaches below the navel should be chopped off." (Niddah 13a)v


Clearly here we have another example of Jesus' words,

This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.vi


Certainly, Scripture never teaches, "the hand that reaches below the navel should be chopped off," or anything like it! Nor, as is admitted above, does Genesis 38 even address the issue of masturbation. Onan "emitted"vii on the ground. Indeed, Onan ruined or destroyed his seed on the ground, but there is a reason given as to why he did this:

lest he should give an heirviii to his brother.ix


His motive for doing this was evil. He rebelled against the direct command of his father,x and displayed contempt towards both his dead brother and his wife. Indeed, this was evil in the eyes of the Lord, "therefore He killed him;"xi but it was no act of masturbation. It was an ungodly act during intercourse.xii The Jewish Virtual Library use of this passage is perverted.


Jews are not the only ones who teach "as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9). Broad way "Christians" do so as well, even on this particular subject. For example, Bud and Betty Miller of Christ Unlimited Ministries teach that masturbation is self-abuse and sexually immoral citing 1 Corinthians 6:18.xiii

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.xiv


The problem with their use of this passage is that masturbation is never described in the Bible as sexually immoral. The context of 1 Corinthians 6:18 is sex with a harlot,xv which is certainly sexually immoral. But, masturbation is never identified in this way.

Their self-abuse argument comes from "modern dictionaries," because masturbation is given as a synonym for self-abuse in modern dictionaries. But this begs the question at hand. Is it truly abusive, in and of itself? Is masturbation an intended use of the sex organ, or is it abuse? Obviously, peoplexvi think so, and so they identify the term synonymously with self-abuse.


Bible Media Online, an ecumenical ministry in South Africa, argues,

The Bible gives us no direct answer to the question. It does not even mention masturbation. But we can deduct from Scripture principles that masturbation is an unnatural sexual practice. It is not according to the purpose of God who gave sex as a gift to be used between a man and his lawful wife, within the marriage bond only. Any other deliberate sexual act, where true love is not the main driving force, is unnatural.xvii


The Bible does mention masturbation, at least, the result of it,xviii but Scripture does not teach that it is "not according to the purpose of God." Moreover, the Word of God never identifies it as "unnatural." Homosexuality is unnatural.xix Masturbation is never spoken of in this way.


Another argument that could be made, is that Colossians 3:5 says to put to death "passion."

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire,xx


Also, Galatians 5:24 says,

Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.xxi


What passions are being spoken of here? Sinful passionsxxii and vile passionsxxiii are what have been crucified and are to be put to death. Passion, in and of itself, is not evil. Otherwise, the passion found between a married couple would also have to be put to death. But, on the contrary, Scripture cultivates this passion,xxiv and never identifies self sexual gratification as an evil passion or lust.


What about "uncleanness?"xxv Doesn't the law identify masturbation, or at least the result of it, unclean? Yes it does.

If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening.xxvi


Heterosexual intercourse is not in view here, because that comes in the following verse.xxvii Therefore, there are two ways in which this "emission of semen" could happen. The ejaculation could be the result of a wet dream, "some occurrence in the night."xxviii Or, it could be the result of masturbation. Either way, the man is "unclean" until evening.


In the law, people are called unclean, but they have done nothing evil,xxix in and of itself.xxx In fact, in Numbers 19:7-8, 10, and 22, there they are obeying God's command, yet they become “unclean.” Also, the very next verse classifies people who have been involved in heterosexual intercourse as unclean as well,xxxi and clearly copulation of this sort is not evil in and of itself.xxxii

Moreover, Leviticus also says a woman who has a period is unclean.xxxiii Does that make having a period evil? Leviticus also says when a woman has a discharge of blood other than her period she is unclean.xxxiv Does that make such activity evil? Also, in the same verses that speak of uncleaness via an emission of semen, it also says you are unclean if you touch a corpse, an insect, or someone who is unclean.xxxv Does that mean it is evil to touch a corpse, or an insect, or someone who is unclean? Since Jesus touched a leper,xxxvi and a leper is unclean,xxxvii did Jesus sin? The answer to these questions should be obvious.


What about 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8?

This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.xxxviii


These are some serious words to heed!xxxix But, again, what is being spoken of is sexual immorality, and masturbation is never identified as such. Someone may argue, "masturbation is not 'in sanctification and in honor.'" Says who? The Lord says no such thing.xl

II. Evil Thoughts Are Evil

Wicked men have debased minds that are filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, and evil-mindedness.xli They are "past feeling" and "have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness."xlii Therefore, it is no wonder that masturbation would be greatly abused and misused.


Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.xliii


Jesus made it clear that adultery can be committed in the heart, even though no physical intercourse has taken place. "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth,"xliv so it would not be surprising to find evil masturbatic activity rampant in society. Masturbation with evil imaginations, which could include the use of pornographic material, is most certainly wicked.xlv


But, masturbation, in and of itself, does not demand such evil thoughts. To say it does, goes beyond what is written,xlvi adds to the word of God,xlvii and denies Biblical freedom in Christ.xlviii

III. To The Pure All Things Are Purexlix

Paul wrote,

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.l


Masturbation is lawful. There is nothing in the word of God that condemns it. The Lord never even intimates that it is some form of abuse or not according to His purpose. There is nothing new under the sun,li and it is not as if this is a new thing of which the Lord was unaware! Leviticus 15:16-17 addresses the issue, at least the result of it, and no condemnation is given. Therefore, neither should we condemn what God does not.lii

Furthermore, since it is a practice the Lord does not condemn, and Paul point blank says "All things are lawful," it is something that the pure, with pure thoughts, could practice and still be pure.liii In fact, those who maintain that masturbation is impure, are those who put man made regulations upon men. As Paul rebuked the Colossians for submitting to such things, saying,

If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations - "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.liv


Such a regulation of "Do not touch, . . . do not handle" your genitals, i.e. do not masturbate, is a commandment and doctrine of men. It may very well have the appearance of wisdom, but no such "wisdom" is found in the word of God. It is the wisdom of the world, which God calls foolishness;lv and it is indeed "self-imposed religion." It may very well result in "neglect of the body," that is, the body that is crying out for relief! It is also of "no value against the indulgence of the flesh." If anything, it exacerbates the problem. People left to no sexual satisfaction whatsoever, like Catholic priests who are told they cannot masturbate or get married, are left to the temptations of the flesh with little to no power to overcome.


"But," someone might argue, "believers, who have the Holy Spirit,lvi should be able to overcome in such a situation." On the contrary, Scripture identifies Spirit filled married people as those who lack self-control in this area.lvii Spirit filled single people may as well.lviii Having the Holy Spirit does not mandate absolute control in this arena, especially when man made standards are placed upon an individual, standards that were never meant by God to be imposed.lix


Finally, Paul said, "All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful." Can masturbation be helpful? Certainly, it can be helpful in alleviating the sexual drive, as long as it is done with pure thoughts, as it is written, "To the pure, all things are pure."lx A godly person, motivated by a godly motive, certainly could masturbate without it being sinful or self-seeking. For example, a man of God wanting to alleviate the sexual drive in his striving to be pure and not wanting to be in a vulnerable position for temptation towards sexual immorality via pent-up sexual desires, could certainly masturbate with this in mindlxi and it would be pure. Nothing in the word of God condemns this.

IV. Godly Limits

Even though Paul says, "All things are lawful for me," he also says, "but I will not be brought under the power of any."lxii Masturbation should not control the individual. The individual should be in control of any masturbation. Self-control is a fruit of the Spiritlxiii and should be a continual reality in the life of any believer.lxiv


Also, for married people Paul writes,

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.lxv


Since the wife and husband do not have authority over their own bodies, then masturbation should be in subjection to the spouse. In other words, any masturbation needs to be in submission to the spouse's desires and it should in no way diminish or take away from sexual intercourse and orgasm within the relationship. If it does, then a husband or a wife might deprive their spouse, either in part or in whole, in disobedience to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.


Furthermore, as long as the spouse is available, sexual pleasure should be found in this relationship, as Proverbs declares to the man,

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.lxvi

V. Conclusion

Those who maintain that masturbation is evil, in and of itself, are like the Pharisees of old of whom Christ said:

They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.lxvii


The sexual desire is a God given desirelxviii and it is not evil in and of itself.lxix Moreover, God has made a way for even those who are not married,lxx or those who are away from their spouse,lxxi to at least somewhat satisfy the sexual drive via masturbation. It is oppressive to teach that such an act is against the will of God, and it is evil to maintain such a cause against the innocent in this matter.lxxii


Scripture says,

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.lxxiii

If you have been defiled on this subject by those who profess to know God but deny Himlxxiv and your conscience is not pure on this matter,lxxv it is high time to renew your mind.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.lxxvi


This subject is a good example of Christ's words found in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

The commandments of men are burdensome, but God's commandments are not.lxxvii

They are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.lxxviii

Questions

Bryan Keithlxxix wrote asking several questions on this subject. Most of the questions and the answers are listed below.


Does, 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, instruct a single person to marry or masturbate if they cannot exercise self-control?

Neither. It instructs the church to "let them marry".


If it is to marry, then is teaching an unmarried person to masturbate, instead of marrying, adding to the scripturelxxx of 1 Corinthians 7:9?

It certainly is, and our article teaches no such thing. If you think it does, please give us the quote so we can correct it.


Do you condemn others for adding to scripture?lxxxi

Yes we do, time and again, as Scripture does.lxxxii


Is it written, in Romans 14:1-13;21, that a believer is not to judge or cause another believer to stumble concerning disputable matters of faith, even matters such as what to eat or to drink or which day(s) is/are sacred or anything else

The "disputable matters of faith" in Romans 14 are matters of one's own conscience before God.lxxxiii If they are left to one's own conscience, they are "disputable" and not to be judged.lxxxiv If they are matters of doctrine, then they are a serious matter, as these same issues are addressed as matters of doctrinelxxxv in 1 Timothy 4:1-3lxxxvi and Galatians 4:10-11.lxxxvii

In 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Paul addresses two doctrineslxxxviii for those who "depart from the faith" and follow "doctrines of demons." So, in Romans 14, when left to one's own personal conscience,lxxxix we are not to judge. When it is a matter of doctrine, we judge.

Likewise, in Galatians 4:10-11 Paul says, "I am afraid for you" because "You observe days . . . " etc.. In Romans 14, when left to one's own personal conscience, observing days is no big deal.xc When it becomes doctrine, as it was in Galatians, it's a matter of heaven or hell, that's why Paul was afraid for them, because they were being taught a false gospel.xci


In light of, 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, would not masturbation be one of these disputable matters?

Indeed, as a matter of personal conscience. If it was taught as doctrine, it should be contendedxcii for what the Biblical view is.


If someone, who is not married, were to adhere to your teaching and during masturbation think of another person in a sexual nature, would they not end up committing fornication?

Of course, if they were lusting for that person.xciii


If so, have you not led them to stumble/sin, especially if according to their faith they had previously refrained from masturbation?

No, because we have a whole section in that article addressing such wickedness. If they did so, they would be rejecting what we have taught.


Is it reasonable to believe that someone who previously refrained from masturbation, because it was an area of weakness in the past, might again be tempted if someone is teaching them that it is alright to do so because God is silent on the matter?

God is not silent on the matter, or on any matter, that Scripture does not condemn.xciv That person, if they believed God, would find it quite liberating, because God puts no such prohibition on man anywhere in the Word.


What about a previous alcoholic, would it be edifying for them if they were encouraged by someone to drink because scripture does not condemn it?

Again, if they believed what the Bible teaches on that subject, they would find it quite liberating,xcv and since they would have the Spirit of God, they would have self-controlxcvi and would be able to drink in moderation.


Would it be edifying for a previous alcoholic to have another person of faith drink around them?xcvii

That depends on the conscience of the ex-alcoholic. If he is weak in his faith/conscience,xcviii then no. That's why Romans 15:1-2 goes on to say that those who are strong in the faith are to "bear with the scruples of the weak." ... "leading to edification." In other words, the strong in faith are to not be offensive in the matter, that they might build the others faith and bring them to the point where the weak brother's conscience lines up with the teaching of the faith. Of course, all along the weak brother must acknowledge the teaching of Scripture on the matter. That's how he could not judge those who are strong.xcix Nonetheless, the weak brother is encouraged to get his conscience in line with the teaching of the Word, so that he is comfortablec on the matter.


Is it written, in Galatians 5:22-23, that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Indeed it is.


Is masturbating an indication of self-control or is abstaining from masturbation and controlling your sexual passion an indication of self-control?

Neither is necessarily an indication of self-control. Only when one views masturbation as a sin does it indicate to one's mind a lack of self-control. Moreover, one can abstain from masturbation and still lack self-control. Married couples are explicitly told they lack self-control.ci That doesn't mean they masturbate.


Is masturbating, of the Spirit or of the flesh?

Neither, specifically. "Whatever is not from faith is sin."cii If you give to the poor, but not from faith, it is sin. If you plow a field not from faith, it is sin.ciii


Do you think Jesus masturbated?

The Bible doesn't say.civ


Do you think Jesus had control over His sexual passion or did He “burn with sexual passion?”cv

No doubt, Jesus had self-control over His sexual desires.cvi Burning with sexual passion is never identified as sin. It is simply noted as having strong sexual desire, as 1 Corinthians describes it as literally, "to burn."cvii Such temptation Christ certainly experienced.cviii The sexual desire is not sinful in itself.


Is it possible for a person of faith to consider or believe that masturbation is a lack of self-control?

Yes, if they are ignorant of the Word on the matter.


Do you think that, Romans 14:21, leaves room for something like masturbation, when it says “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak?”

This is not something that would be practiced with any brother present. Paul is not addressing abstinence from eating or drinking when the brother is nowhere around. 1 Corinthians 10 deals with this very same subject matter, and there it shows that it has to do with anyone present.cix


Therefore, is masturbation disputable?

Only when talking about one's own conscience before God.


If God is silent in scripture as to whether masturbation is good or evil, should a person of faith be silent on the matter also -- in so much as not judging others concerning disputable matters?

God is not silent on what He is silent on.cx


Can you prove, through scripture, that an unmarried person, gifted by God with self-control in regards to NOT burning with passioncxi would have a need to achieve self sexual gratification?"

Your question implies sin on your part. There is no Biblical mandate to prove such a thing, unless you have a manmade standard,cxii and that standard would be sin.cxiii When things are lawful,cxiv there is freedom to do or not to do. It is not a matter of need. Your question is like asking, "Can you prove, through scripture, that a sober person, gifted by God with self-control in regards to NOT having a passion to drink would have a needcxv to drink alcohol?"

God "gives us richly all things to enjoy."cxvi It is lawful to enjoy what He has given. We should consider its profitabilitycxvii within our own conscience before God,cxviii but it is not a matter of need.


a true church, P. O. Box 130, Moodys, OK 74444

1-800-HOW-TRUE; www.atruechurch.info

  1. not recommended

  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, copyright 1994, p. 564, #2352

  3. www.biblia.com/sex/masturbation.htm

  4. Proverbs 30:5-6

  5. www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/sex.html

  6. Mark 7:6-7

  7. NKJV, more literally, "ruined"

  8. literally, "seed"

  9. Genesis 38:9

  10. Genesis 38:8

  11. Genesis 38:10

  12. Genesis 38:9

  13. http://bible.com/answers/amasturb.html

  14. 1 Corinthians 6:18

  15. 1 Corinthians 6:13-17

  16. at least those compiling the dictionaries

  17. www.bmedia.co.za/faq/masturbation.htm, bold added

  18. see below

  19. Romans 1:26-27

  20. etc. Colossians 3:5

  21. Galatians 5:24

  22. Romans 7:5

  23. Romans 1:26

  24. see the Song of Solomon and Proverbs 5:19

  25. Colossians 3:5

  26. Leviticus 15:16-17; see also verse 32

  27. verse 18

  28. NKJV Deuteronomy 23:10; NAS "nocturnal emission," Hebrew, miqqerêh-lâylâh

  29. Romans 14:14; Colossians 2:20-22

  30. e.g. Leviticus 11:39; 15:5-8, 10-11, 19-23, 27; 17:15

  31. Leviticus 15:18

  32. Hebrews 13:4

  33. Leviticus 15:19-24

  34. Leviticus 15:25-30

  35. Leviticus 22:4-5

  36. Mark 1:41

  37. Leviticus 13:44

  38. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

  39. Psalm 119:60

  40. Proverbs 30:5-6

  41. Romans 1:28-29

  42. Ephesians 4:19

  43. Matthew 5:27-28

  44. Genesis 8:21

  45. see also Job 31:1-4; Proverbs 6:25

  46. 1 Corinthians 4:6

  47. Proverbs 30:5-6

  48. Colossians 2:20-22

  49. Titus 1:15

  50. 1 Corinthians 10:23

  51. Ecclesiastes 1:9

  52. Matthew 7:1-2

  53. Titus 1:15

  54. Colossians 2:20-23

  55. 1 Corinthians 3:19

  56. Galatians 5:23, "self-control"

  57. 1 Corinthians 7:5

  58. 1 Corinthians 7:9

  59. In righteousness, that is.

  60. Titus 1:15

  61. wanting to be sexually pure

  62. 1 Corinthians 6:12

  63. Galatians 5:23

  64. Romans 8:5-6

  65. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

  66. Proverbs 5:18-19

  67. Matthew 23:4; see also Luke 11:46

  68. Romans 11:36

  69. Romans 14:14

  70. male or female

  71. like a soldier at war

  72. Proverbs 30:5-6

  73. Titus 1:15

  74. Titus 1:16

  75. Romans 14:22-23

  76. Romans 12:2

  77. 1 John 5:3

  78. Proverbs 4:22

  79. ironsharpens@yahoo.com

  80. citing Proverbs 30:5-6

  81. citing Luke 6:37

  82. Proverbs 30:5-6

  83. see verses 22-23

  84. as both parties are told not to judge, see verses 3-4, 10-13

  85. the faith

  86. eating

  87. days

  88. forbidding to eat certain foods and to abstain from marriage

  89. not doctrine

  90. Romans 14:5-6

  91. i.e. false doctrine, Galatians 1:8-9

  92. Jude 3

  93. similar to Matthew 5:28

  94. 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Titus 1:15

  95. 2 Corinthians 3:17

  96. Galatians 5:23

  97. Romans 14:21

  98. as described in Romans 14

  99. Romans 14:3

  100. in conscience

  101. 1 Corinthians 7:5

  102. Romans 14:23

  103. Proverbs 21:4

  104. Proverbs 30:5-6

  105. 1 Corinthians 7:9

  106. Galatians 5:23

  107. Greek infinitive; "with sexual passion" is not in the Greek

  108. Hebrews 4:15

  109. See 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

  110. 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Titus 1:15

  111. citing 1 Corinthians 7:7-9

  112. Matthew 7:1-2; 15:8-9

  113. Proverbs 30:5-6

  114. Titus 1:15

  115. minus 1 Timothy 5:23

  116. 1 Timothy 6:17

  117. Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 "helpful"

  118. Romans 14:22-23; 1 Timothy 1:5

5 Responses

  1. [...] I had brought up in a public chat that masturbation is not wrong, and I was silenced from being able to continue. Someone continued the thread via direct message. [...]

  2. [...] We believe that very few people actually believe the Bible, and that most churches lead to hell. The Bible does not forbid: polygyny, drugs, gambling, smoking, drinking, masturbation. [...]

  3. [...] What website is that? Yes, we believe that the seven spirits of God are God, there were at least two virgin births, masturbation isn't a sin, the trinity is a false doctrine, and that God deceives. We do not believe that Christ is separate from God; we believe that Christ is God. [...]

  4. [...] But here you go, the Bible doesn't forbid: drugs, drinking, smoking, gambling, slavery, polygyny, masturbation. That's not an exhaustive list. [...]

  5. [...] From A True Church: Jesus made it clear that adultery can be committed in the heart, even though no physical intercourse has taken place. "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth," (Genesis 8:21) so it would not be surprising to find evil masturbatic activity rampant in society. Masturbation with evil imaginations, which could include the use of pornographic material, is most certainly wicked (see also Job 31:1-4; Proverbs 6:25). [...]

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