The Sermon on the Mount is central to Christianity. In it, Jesus calls us to a higher level of morality than what traditional law requires. The law forbids murder, for example, but Jesus says that even to be angry with someone or to call him a "fool" is to expose yourself to the danger of God's judgment. (Are you sure you want to call O'Donnell a fool?)
Continuing with that theme, Jesus says:
You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.So what have you been doing with that hand, eh?
O'Donnell, unlike Jesus, did not go so far as to say that you ought to be lopping off your own masturbating hand. (If you think that, I recommend masturbating with your left hand, if you're right-handed.) O'Donnell took a much more moderate approach to the sacred text (as many believers do). In her view, the real offense against God is abusing the gift of sexuality by disconnecting it from the context of deep love in a marital relationship. In that interpretation, masturbation is sinful. It is mere lust, without love. Is lust a sin? You decide for yourself. She wasn't recommending that the law enforce this higher morality, but what is wrong with it as a personal, religious doctrine? Why is it not respected?
And let's remember: This was back in the 90s. Do you remember how insane everyone was back then? Here's a quick refresher course.
President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, fired Jocelyn Elders in 1994, after people freaked out when she said that young people should "perhaps ... be taught" about masturbation, because it is "is part of human sexuality" and useful in keeping them from doing riskier sexual things.