Friday, March 28, 2008

Masturbation and Missionaries: Is it a Harmless Practice?

Before I joined the Church I had had a brief time when I was seventeen where I had fallen in to some moral problems which lasted for about two months when I had a relationship with a girl. When I joined the church I repented of my lapse and was extra vigilant about living the standards of the Church. I never had a problem with masturbation before my mission and remained clean until I was married in the temple at the age of 28.

Considering I came from a home where my father a shift boss in a gambling casino in Las Vegas was involved in adultery and continually goaded me about being "a man" my lifestyle after I joined the Church was antithetical to that of my family members who were Italian mafia types. My family was in to gambling, drinking, and womanizing. Everyone of my siblings was immoral before marriage. One time my father embarrassed me by closing my bedroom door when a girlfriend was talking to me. It was actually a major achievement for me to refrain from such practices coming from such a background until I was seventeen.

I was actually very shy as a teenager and didn't go out until I was seventeen on my first date. I now wish I had waited longer. Most Mormons had no clue of the moral strength it took for me to reject the traditions of my father. All my siblings had moral problems. One got married at fifteen and had a baby. Two lived with women before they were married.

The point is that I was very knowledgeable of the things of this world particularly when it came to moral issues because I saw family members succumb to them. Even in my own life I didn't just go out one day and carry on with a girl I started out thinking about it. Once you go down that road it is hard to stop. Being one that had fallen even briefly I tried not to be hypocritical but repentance makes us eschew sin in any form. I went through hell in my repentance and wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

I joined the church at nineteen and a fourteen months later went on a mission. I feel my sins were washed cleaned during my baptism. When I was on a mission in Canada Toronto I went on a missionary exchange for a couple of days with another junior companion who spent a couple nights. I usually slept like a log and got up later than my companion about ten or fifteen minutes late every day. I woke up early because I heard this elder moaning over and over again Connie, Connie, Connie. Not knowing if he was sleeping or awake I said Elder what is going on. He said don't worry elder I was just dreaming. I suspected that something was not right but I let it go. I didn't think about masturbation since I thought maybe he was having a wet dream and was too embarrassed to say anything. I figured it was no big deal since you can't always control your dreams.

In fact the Church's Parents' Guide says: "In the boy, millions of sperm grow in the testicles within spermatic fluid. When the fluid and sperm fill the tubules and testes, they are automatically released or ejaculated. This usually happens during sleep and is called nocturnal emissions or “wet dreams.” Sexual dreams are not always present, but they can trigger a nocturnal emission or ejaculation. In either case this is not masturbation."

The next morning I heard the same moaning. I became convinced he was up to no good but I couldn't prove it since I couldn't see him doing it since he had a blanket over him. I actually teased him about it and said something like how do you have the same dream two nights in a row. He assured me that there wasn't anything he could do to control his dreams and had this reoccurring dream often involving this girl Connie. I knew he was lying to me but since I was considered a screw up missionary I knew turning him in would get me in more trouble than him so I didn't report it. I didn't have visual proof other than my instincts so I left it alone in the hands of the Lord to deal with him. It troubled me since until that point I was oblivious to the fact that masturbation was a problem for Mormon youth let alone missionaries.

I was also a bit perturbed because Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone had just spoken out against the practice in the April 1975 General Conference that this missionary must have listened to.

Elder Featherstone told us "President J. Reuben Clark gave me great light many years ago on a great tremendous subject. He said (and these are my words, not his) that the sex urge does not have to be satisfied, that Satan’s old lie is that it does have to be satisfied.

I am sorry to tell you that there are men in high places who have some fairly major moral problems, even as youth have the same problems.

We shouldn’t have a problem with masturbation. I know one fine father who interviewed his 11-year-old son and he said, “Son, if you never masturbate, the time will come in your life when you will be able to sit in front of your bishop at age 19, and say to him, ‘I have never done that in my life,’ and then you can go to the stake president when you are interviewed for your mission and tell him, ‘I have never done that in my life.’ And you would be quite a rare young man.”

The father again interviewed the young man, who is now 18 years old, and he asked the son about masturbation. The son said, “I have never done that in my life. You told me, Dad, that if I didn’t do that, I would be able to sit in front of the bishop and stake president and tell them I had never done it, and I would be a rare young man, and I am going to be able to do it.”

Our mission president talked continually about staying morally clean. I think he told us a missionary masturbating would be grounds for being sent home if it was a persistent problem. When I was young they would even announce when a person was disfellowshipped or excommunicated for immorality by name. Having overcome my own problems I was rather inflexible about others having problems and felt they should confess, repent and move on with their lives. There are many who think that masturbation is no big deal but it involves self-gratification that usually involves fantasizes about committing fornication or adultery.

Whenever I think about masturbation being wrong I remember Matthew in the New Testament said:

"Matt. 5: 28 (27-28).
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

I also think of the scripture in Mosiah 4:30 which says:

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish.

President Kimball in the Ensign in 1980 amplified the position he had on masturbation in the Miracle of Forgiveness. In his article entitled "President Kimball speaks out on morality" he says:

"The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins that were reprehensible to them. Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices. One of the worst of these is incest. The dictionary defines incest as “sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry.” The spirituality of one’s life may be severely, and sometimes irreparably, damaged by such an ugly sin. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have determined that the penalty for incest shall be excommunication. Also, one excommunicated for incest shall not be baptized again into the Church without the written permission of the First Presidency.

Conscience tells the individual when he is entering forbidden worlds, and it continues to prick until silenced by the will or by sin’s repetition.

Can anyone truthfully say he did not know such things were wrong? These unholy practices, whatever may be their unmentionable names with all their approaches and numerous manifestations, are condemned by the Lord and his church. Some may be more heinous than others, but all are sin, in spite of statements to the contrary of those who falsely pretend to know. The Lord’s prophets declare they are not right....

Masturbation, a rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord nor of his church, regardless of what may have been said by others whose “norms” are lower. Latter-day Saints are urged to avoid this practice. Anyone fettered by this weakness should abandon the habit before he goes on a mission or receives the holy priesthood or goes in the temple for his blessings.

Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality. We would avoid mentioning these unholy terms and these reprehensible practices were it not for the fact that we have a responsibility to the youth of Zion that they be not deceived by those who would call bad good, and black white.

The Parents' Guide also says: "One example: masturbation is considered by many in the world to be the harmless expression of an instinctive sex drive. Teach your children that the prophets have condemned it as a sin throughout the ages and that they can choose not to do it. Throughout childhood, boys and girls have touched their own genitals frequently to wash and to dress. This is a behavior that usually has the same meaning as keeping one’s feet warm in the winter, enjoying a swim on a hot day, or scratching an itch. We ought to be friendly to our bodies and appreciate the body’s marvelous range of senses. This innocent touching is not the kind of behavior warned against by prophets through the ages. The sin of masturbation occurs when a person stimulates his or her own sex organs for the purpose of sexual arousal. It is a perversion of the body’s passions. When we pervert these passions and intentionally use them for selfish, immoral purposes, we become carnal.

Masturbation is not physically necessary. There is already a way by which the male system relieves excessive spermatic fluid quite regularly through the nocturnal emission or wet dream. Monthly menstrual flow expels the female’s egg and cleanses the womb. For both sexes, physical or emotional tensions can be released by vigorous activity. Thus, in a biological sense, masturbation for either gender is not necessary. In a gospel sense, it is a sin: “Masturbation, a rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord nor of His Church regardless of what may have been said by others whose ‘norms’ are lower. Latter-day Saints are urged to avoid this practice” (Spencer W. Kimball, Love Versus Lust, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 5 Jan. 1965], p. 22)."

The Family Home Evening Resource Manual states: "As boys and girls reach physical maturity, curiosity in one’s body may result in self-stimulation (masturbation)” (Relief Society Courses of Study [1972–73], p. 203).

The world rationalizes that masturbation is natural and healthy. However, President Spencer W. Kimball states the Lord’s view as follows: “Prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation. It induces feelings of guilt and shame. It is detrimental to spirituality. It indicates slavery to the flesh, not that mastery of it and the growth toward godhood which is the object of our mortal life. … No young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 77.) "

John M. Madsen in 1991 in the Church News talked about sexual immorality: "'It was my privilege to be present on Oct. 13, 1987, in the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus, as our prophet President Ezra Taft Benson delivered a devotional address. He spoke on the law of chastity. I wish all the youth of the Church could have been present to hear his message and feel his love.

He said, ``From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all--it is the same for men and women; it is the same for old and young; it is the same for rich and poor . . . . The law of chastity is a principle of eternal significance. We must not be swayed by the voices of the world. We must listen to the voice of the Lord and then determine that we will set our feet irrevocably upon the path He has marked.`` . . . I say again, as have all the prophets before me, there is one standard of virtue and chastity and all are expected to adhere to it. What the Lord says to one, He says to all; `Ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually.' '' (D&C 46:33.)

In the excellent and timely booklet, ``For the Strength of Youth,'' the Lord through His servants has set before us the standards of the Church, including the law of chastity or sexual purity. We are told that ``the Lord specifically forbids certain behavior, including all sexual relations before marriage, petting, sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape and incest), masturbation, or preoccupation with sex in thought, speech or action.'' (FSY p. 15.) In their letter of introduction in that booklet the First Presidency counsels and pleads with us to live morally clean lives, keeping both our ``bodies and minds clean, free from the contaminations of the world,'' so that we will be ``fit and pure vessels to bear the responsibilities of the kingdom of God in preparation for the second coming of our Savior.'' (FSY p. 4-5.)

There are other voices, the ``voices of the world.'' They are the seductive, persuasive, ``learned,'' evil and always confused voices that entice us to disobey the law of chastity. (D&C 46:7-8.) They would have us believe that to have ``fun,'' to be ``free,'' ``popular'' or experience ``self-fulfillment,'' we must abandon all standards of sexual purity and decency. All such doctrines are inspired of the devil, the father of lies who seeks to ``deceive'' and ``blind'' and lead away ``captive'' the souls of men. (See Moses 4:3-6.) The scriptures record the awful, bitter, tragic and deadly fruits of sexual immorality. (Moses 5:12-13; 7:33-34; Gen. 19; Jacob 2:5-9, 31-35; 3:11-12; Alma 39:5-9.)

We have before us the voices of the Lord and His servants, and the voices of the devil and his servants. Latter-day Saint youth, what is your choice? Who do you believe? Who will you follow? As Joshua said of old, ``Choose you this day whom ye will serve. . . . '' (Josh. 24:14-15; see also Rom. 6:16; Alma 29:5.)

As you make your choice, remember, you are free to choose! But you are not free from the consequences of your choices. (2 Ne. 2:27-29.) ("Listen to the Voice of the Lord to Keep Bodies, Minds Free from Contamination," Church News [Saturday, 14 September 14 1991]: 5).

Joseph B. Wirthlin said: "To help missionaries remain faithful and obedient, we give them a little handbook. We ask them to carry it with them and read from it often. We have also provided a handbook for our young men and young women. Its title is "For the Strength of Youth. We ask you to carry it with you, refer to it frequently, and live according to the counsel it contains. That counsel can protect you from evil and help you to obey even when obedience is difficult.

As you build your lives in obedience to the gospel and strive to achieve your goals, do not become discouraged by temporary setbacks and disappointments. Remember that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” You will grow and learn by overcoming obstacles. The Lord has admonished all of us to “keep [His] commandments and endure to the end.”

No doubt, you young men have learned that obedience is not always easy. In fact, it can sometimes seem stifling, uncomfortable, or even impossible. “But with God all things are possible.” You can be obedient. You can defeat Satan and overcome temptation. God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The Lord does not expect anything of you that you cannot do. Remember Nephi’s faith when he testified that “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

We live in a world filled with evil. Swirling all around us are the whirlwinds of strife and contention, temptation and sin. “The priesthood is a shield against temptation; it motivates and inspires young men to the highest and noblest of deeds; every young man, whether he holds the office of deacon, teacher, or priest, is a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How could we serve Him unless we were free from the evils of mortal life? Some mistakenly think it is impossible to avoid the sins of the world. To escape evil, a few even attempt to isolate themselves from society. The Savior prayed “not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” That, too, is our prayer for you young men." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Live in Obedience,” Ensign, May 1994, 39).

In Preach My Gospel we are told: "God delights in chastity and hates sexual sin. Chastity includes strict abstinence from sexual relations before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage. Those who live the law of chastity enjoy the strength that comes from self-control.
They enjoy confidence and trust in their family relationships. They can enjoy more fully the influence of the Holy Ghost in their lives. Those who break this law are subject to a lastingsense of shame and guilt that burdens their lives.

Chastity requires faithfulness in thought and action. We must keep our thoughts clean and be modest in our dress, speech, and actions. We must avoid pornography in any form. We should treat the God-given procreative power and our bodies as sacred. Baptismal candidates are to live the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relations outside of a legal marriage between a man and a woman. They are not to participate in abortions or homosexual or lesbian relations. Those who have committed sexual sin can repent and be forgiven. (Preach My Gospel, Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2004, p. 77)

I recently talked with an active church member who told me that masturbation was a natural practice and no big deal. I beg to differ I feel it leads to greater sin. You have to think about something in order to self-stimulate yourself. I know that many people argue that the General Authorities don't get in the bedroom anymore but I think as far as single people go that we shouldn't wink at missionaries masturbating as just a natural thing. I can tell you from experience that any form of sexual sin is wrong.

22 comments:

Rijjka said...

You have said what I've thought for a long time. I've always been too meek to try and argue the point to those who would think otherwise of the degrading sin, but now, maybe I will. Thank you.

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Is it wrong to masturbate if you are fantasizing about your wife?

MormonZero said...

Harmless? Physically, Yes. Spiritually, debatable. Mentally and Emotionally, There are a number of factors that would take longer to discuss and explain than I would like.

What is sad, is to see young people who get involved in a physically harmless act that drives them to unbalanced shame and guilt, which only helps fuel a compulsion to act out something that they oftentimes discovered by accident and didn't really want to be doing in the first place.

I believe every person and situation is completely unique and different and that this is why the leaders speak so much about the importance of personal revelation. Furthermore, just because a church leader says something it does not make it the undeniable truth, a great guide, yes but truth not necessarily. This is why we need personal revelation. Study it out, pray to God, accept the answer.

MormonZero said...

I hope what I post above is not taken as hurtful are mean. It was not meant to be taken in that kind of spirit.

Dr. B said...

I am only dealing with missionaries in this post. The Poll shows there is a divergence of opinion on the practice. Unfortunately there hasn't been too many recent statements on the practice so it makes you wonder as to the recent General Authorities views on the subject. All the recent manuals and Strength of the Youth pamphlet date to around 2000. They all refer back to President Spencer W. Kimball. Maybe it is time for one of the the top General Authorities to address the subject again.

Mormonzero: I think you make some good points. People have differing opinions it helps us to make reasoning decisions. I am just not convinced it is such a harmless practice. It can become an addicting practice that leads to other forms of sexual sin. Even in itself it can cause serious psychological trauma and angst. If it doesn't lead to other things it is still a weakness that needs to be overcome.

I think that natural curiousity or inadvertant activity on one or two occasions is not something to cause a person to kill themselves as I observed in a search on the subject or to become neurotic. I think young people should talk to their parents on the matter if they have fallen in to it. They should strive to put it behind them. I don't think any religious group will just ignore it.

If a person can't overcome it and it becomes habitual they should seek professional help. If that doesn't work they should go to the Church for help. Even if bishops and stake presidents don't have a lot of training they can give a youth or adult perspective on the matter and maybe refer them to LDS Social Services.

It is better in my opinion to be pure and clean all the days of your life. Thousands of young people who have kept themselves clean prove it can be done. If a person slips they should move on in life. Religion and repentance bring guilt. Guilt is not a bad thing if it is handled in a healthy way if it causes you to turn away from a harmful practice.

It doesn't make a person flawed for life to succumb to sin. I know having conquered moral problems. It isn't easy since it is like a whirlpool pulling you down but with time and personal strength and the Lord's help you can overcome any problem from pornography to masturbation to fornication to adultery. You can reprogram your mind to be clean and pure again. The atonement of Christ can overcome any form of transgression or sin if you allow it to.

Matthew: I think what you do in the privacy of your home is between you, your wife and the Lord. Part of the church's viewpoint deals with the fountains of life argument. Masturbation is a selfish hedonist act that fulfills a momentary gratification on the part of the person performing it.

The only reason I can see why anyone in a married relationship would engage in it is for self-gratification when their partner refuses to have relations with them. I think those who engage in it probably feel it is a lesser evil when a person's wife doesn't fulfill their needs.

I personally feel it is a transgression even in married life. Although I can understand why a man would do it I can't condone such a practice. You should work out problems in a relationship so that you have a healthy sex life. Partners should be sensitive to one another's needs and help one another. The Church leaders teach self-control and that the spirit can overcome the flesh. Even in marriage there needs to be self-control so that you don't demean yourself or your wife.

The Brethren haven't gotten in to prescribing every detail between a man and woman since the 1980s. If you feel it is acceptable to the Lord, your wife agrees with such a practice, you feel spiritually okay doing it then use your conscience on the matter.

My fear is that a person is prone to think of someone other than their wife and biblically it is a waste of procreative powers. I am sure having read Boyd K. Packer and others they would be down on such a practice. But whom I to judge. I am just a general member like you. I don't speak for the Mormon Church these are only my own opinions. However since Spencer W. Kimball decries it on several occasions then my opinion is to not go down the path or masturbation. If you go down the path then to repent of such practices. But you have your free agency and as mormonzero says "gain personal revelation."

MormonZero said...

I suppose it is hard for me to speak objectively on the subject. I personally hardly knew what masturbation was before my mission other than the fact the act was bad and could potentially lead to me being gay. I never did it as a teenager; heck I hardly looked at a girl. My first real experience with this occurred while on my mission. It was terribly traumatizing although the whole thing was an accident. Yes, I agree that one can control his actions. I told my mission president that I would never do it again when I immediately confessed. However, my self control led to a new problem where while teaching or walking the streets I began having some spontaneous problems that led to some messy pants. (sorry I am trying to watch my wording here)

I am sure most people would know what the doctor prescribed.

That said, I don't want to make it seem like a sob story or pity me time. I just wanted to point out that people are all different and our bodies react differently.

I am sure my circumstance is exceptionally rare. However, I don't see a real need for the church to get involved in teaching kids not to do a medically demonstrated physically non-harmful act. Teaching them to entertain good thoughts is a much better way of handling this and then let the parents teach their kids what they may about masturbation. This may save some kids from unbalanced guilt and shame (I agree guilt can be an effective tool if used properly but I see the problem with masturbation being the guilt to the act is commonly not proportionately accurate).

It is like boyd k. packer said and I paraphrase from memory, "teaching doctrine will change behavior faster than teaching behavior will change behavior."

So I guess one's opinion may hinge on whether one believes masturbation is doctrine or not.

MormonZero said...

Before I go I just wanted to add one thing. I see our church is falling into much of the same trap our country is falling into--that of habitual conformity. Rather than relying on personal revelation in order to understand doctrine we are having others interpret that doctrine for us. I even believe that the prophecies in the church about the future division of its members is going to be largely along the lines of this issue of choice just like most every other really important war including the war in heaven.

Example goes back to the doctrine that God created the earth. I believe it was a lot healthier mentality before when there were openly differing viewpoints even among the Q12. You would see the Joseph Fielding-Bruce R. McConkie types take the stance that evolution was a doctrine of the devil and others like James E. Talmage and J. Reuben Clark take the stance that evolution was real or just not important when dealing with the doctrine of creation. We saw differing viewpoints and different interpretations about how to apply the doctrine but they were united in the doctrine itself.

What I am saying is that I see masturbation as being an interpretation of doctrine rather than an actual doctrine. Hopefully I made some sense. I am just trying to present a unique perspective is all. It takes a lot of the potential growth away from the individual if all the thinking is already done for him or her.

MormonZero said...

I have been browsing around your blog this evening. I must admit I am fairly new to the blogging community and your blog is very well organized and compiled. Great Work! Just wanted to give you props.

Nick Literski said...

Okay, let's try just a little common sense and logic. You quoted the following as a reliable, inspired statement:

“Son, if you never masturbate, the time will come in your life when you will be able to sit in front of your bishop at age 19, and say to him, ‘I have never done that in my life,’ . . . And you would be quite a rare young man.”

You then quoted the following as an even more reliable, inspired statement (after all, Kimball was an apostle when he wrote it, not a mere seventy!):

Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality.

Now, if it's true that the young man who has never masturbated is "quite rare" (and I think that's a very fair assessment), why, do you suppose, the percentage of homosexual males is somewhere around 2% (or 10% at the most dramatic, overwrought estimates)?

The theory that homosexuality results from masturbation comes from early 19th century writings in which religious figures threatened that masturbation almost inevitably caused insanity. At this time, such persons were seeking to ban books on female physiology, lest they cause young men to masturbate.

The idea that masturbation causes homosexuality is no more as legitimate than the old claims that masturbation will grow hair on your palms, make you go blind, or cause your "little factory" to stop working altogether.

Even in itself it can cause serious psychological trauma and angst.

To the contrary, masturbation does not, "in itself," cause any such thing. Masturbation causes ejaculation--period. The guilt imposed on a young person for masturbation (whether you believe that guilt is proper or not) is what can cause "serious psychological trauma and angst."

Masturbation is a selfish hedonist act that fulfills a momentary gratification on the part of the person performing it.

Then again, so is eating chocolate cake.

My fear is that . . . biblically it is a waste of procreative powers.

Feel free to show us a single passage in the Bible that discusses masturbation. The story of Onan does not involve masturbation, but rather an individual refusing to fulfill the primary duty of levirate marriage. Onan engaged in coitus interruptus, rather than raise up seed to his dead brother. How this story became twisted into a condemnation of masturbation (even to the point of calling masturbation "Onanism") would be a fascinating historical study. The Bible simply doesn't address masturbation at all.

Even aside from the Bible, you consider masturbation a "waste of procreative powers?" If so, you must condemn birth control, or even sexual intercourse involving an infertile wife. Both involve a non-procreative emission of semen, yet neither is condemned by LDS leaders (though birth control was, until fairly recently).

MormonZero said...

Nick

There are a lot of incorrect things that have been said by GA's. Unfortunately our understanding of masturbation is extremely limited even today and 30 years ago it was even worse as many ppl were still going off 19th century science.

I strongly believe that if leaders are going to teach something as truth that they should make sure to use truth in order to back up their claims. A great essay book title "the Power of Truth" really influenced me in this belief. It would seem apparent that this did not happen with some of these discourses.

It would be helpful if a GA would address this issue directly today; however I see that as being a potentially risky move based on the status of the polls that are up.

The argument that masturbation is wrong b cuz it is a "momentary personal gratification" is a dangerous one b cuz on that merit that would condemn a number of other acts.

The strongest argument for any Christian against masturbation is the "lust" factor. This line of what is lust and what is not is different for nearly everyone. I have heard some ppl define lust and it makes me think "how in the world did you ever get married?" I hear others definitions of what is lust and think, "How in the world did you ever make it to marriage?"

Again, I just rededicate myself to my previous position of not relying on someone else to tell me what is okay and what is not. I am going to use my conscience, light of Christ, or Holy ghost or whatever someone wants to call it and do what I feel is right--or at least do my best at it

Dr. B said...

Nick: Just because a few people have a problem with a sexual transgression that doesn't mean we should say no big deal go ahead and do it.

I think mormonzero has made some good points about our current brethren tackling this issue and the need for deeper analysis. I don't think there is anything unenlightened in having standards of morality. That is a distinguishing reason why I became a Mormon in the first place because I respected their high standards of morality.

I haven't changed my opinion about the topic of masturbation. Personally I don't feel good about engaging in it. What you do is your personal business?

I think the majority of missionaries don't have a problem with masturbation. I agree that in the majority of cases it doesn't lead to homosexuality since the likelihood is that most men and the few women who engage in it probably fantasize about a person of the opposite sex. If you have homosexual tendencies you will probably have thoughts along those lines. It depends on your orientation.

Since I have already gone down the GA quote path I might as well throw out a few more for your response.

Are you referring to what President Kimball said about it leading to homosexual tendencies or the following quote by Boyd K. Packer:

"Normal desires and attractions emerge in the teenage years; there is the temptation to experiment, to tamper with the sacred power of procreation. These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or the encouragement from unworthy associations. What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.

If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature.

With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman. The scriptures plainly condemn those who “dishonour their own bodies between themselves … ; men with men working that which is unseemly” (Rom. 1:24, 27) or “women [who] change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Rom. 1:26).

The gates of freedom, and the good or bad beyond, swing open or closed to the password choice. You are free to choose a path that may lead to despair, to disease, even to death (see 2 Ne. 2:26–27).

If you choose that course, the fountains of life may dry up. You will not experience the combination of love and struggle, the pain and pleasure, the disappointment and sacrifice, that love which, blended together in parenthood, exalts a man or a woman and leads to that fulness of joy spoken of in the scriptures (see 2 Ne. 2:25; 2 Ne. 9:18; D&C 11:13; D&C 42:61; D&C 101:36).

Do not experiment; do not let anyone of either gender touch your body to awaken passions that can flame beyond control. It begins as an innocent curiosity, Satan influences your thoughts, and it becomes a pattern, a habit, which may imprison you in an addiction, to the sorrow and disappointment of those who love you (see John 8:34; 2 Pet. 2:12–14, 18–19).

Pressure is put upon legislatures to legalize unnatural conduct. They can never make right that which is forbidden in the laws of God (see Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:9–10)....

When any unworthy desires press into your mind, fight them, resist them, control them (see James 4:6–8; 2 Ne. 9:39; Mosiah 3:19). The Apostle Paul taught, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13; see also D&C 62:1).

That may be a struggle from which you will not be free in this life. If you do not act on temptations, you need feel no guilt. They may be extremely difficult to resist. But that is better than to yield and bring disappointment and unhappiness to you and those who love you.

Some think that God created them with overpowering, unnatural desires, that they are trapped and not responsible (see James 1:13–15). That is not true. It cannot be true. Even if they were to accept it as true, they must remember that He can cure and He can heal (see Alma 7:10–13; Alma 15:8).

Now, what of you who have already made mistakes or have lost yourselves to an immoral lifestyle? What hope do you have? Are you cast off and lost forever?

These are not unforgivable sins. However unworthy or unnatural or immoral these transgressions may be, they are not unforgivable (see D&C 42:25). When completely forsaken and fully repented of, there can open the purifying gift of forgiveness, and the burden of guilt will be erased. There is a way back—long, perhaps; hard, certainly; possible, of course! (see Acts 5:31; Eph. 1:7; Mosiah 4:2; Mosiah 26:29; D&C 1:31–32; D&C 58:42; D&C 61:2).

You need not, you cannot find your way alone. You have a Redeemer. The Lord will lift your burden if you choose to repent and turn from your sins and do them no more. That is what the Atonement of Christ was for.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).

The choice rests with you; you are not cast off forever. I repeat, these transgressions are not unforgivable.

One may think, It is too late, my life will soon be over, and I am eternally doomed. Not so, for “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Just as the physical body can be cleansed and healed, so can the spirit be washed clean by the power of the Atonement. The Lord will lift you and carry your burden during the suffering and struggle required to make you clean. That is what the Atonement of Christ is all about. He said, “I, the Lord, [will] remember [your sins] no more” (D&C 58:42; see also Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10:17; Alma 36:19).

Our beloved, precious youth, stay in the Lord’s way. If you stumble, rise up, go on. If you have lost your way, we open our arms and await your return. (Boyd K. Packer, “‘Ye Are the Temple of God’,” Liahona, Jan 2001, 85–88).

Boyd K. Packer also said: "“This creative power carries with it strong desires and urges. You have felt them already in the changing of your attitudes and your interests.

“As you move into your teens, almost of a sudden a boy or a girl becomes something new and intensely interesting. You will notice the changing of form and feature in your own body and in others. You will experience the early whispering of physical desire.

“It was necessary that this power of creation have at least two dimensions: one, it must be strong; and two, it must be more or less constant.

“This power must be strong, for most men by nature seek adventure. Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life.” (“Why Stay Morally Clean,” New Era, July 1972, p. 5.)

In the same talk he also said: "“Now there are other things that I will tell you as a warning. In the beginning there was one among us who rebelled at the plan of our Heavenly Father. He vowed to destroy and to disrupt the plan.

“He was prevented from having a mortal body and was cast out—limited forever from establishing a kingdom of his own. He became satanically jealous. He knows that this power of creation is not just an incident to the plan, but a key to it.

“He knows that if he can entice you to use this power prematurely, to use it too soon, or to misuse it in any way, you may well lose your opportunities for eternal progression.

“He is an actual being from the unseen world. He has great power. He will use it to persuade you to transgress those laws set up to protect the sacred power of creation.

“In former times he was too cunning to confront one with an open invitation to be immoral. But rather, sneakingly and quietly, he would tempt young and old alike to think loosely of these sacred powers of creation, to bring down to a vulgar or to a common level that which is sacred and beautiful.

“His tactics have changed now. He describes it only as an appetite to be satisfied. He teaches that there are no attendant responsibilities to the uses of this power. Pleasure, he will tell you, is its sole purpose.

“His devilish invitations are coined into jokes and written into the lyrics of songs. They are acted out on television and at theaters. They will stare at you now from most magazines.

“You grow up in a society where before you is the constant invitation to tamper with these sacred powers.

“I want to counsel you and I want you to remember these words. Do not let anyone at all touch or handle your body, not anyone! Those who tell you otherwise proselyte you to share their guilt. We teach you to maintain your innocence.

“Turn away from any who would persuade you to experiment with these life-giving powers.

“The only righteous use of this sacred power is within the covenant of marriage.

“Never misuse these sacred powers."

As President of the Church Spencer W.Kimball said: "President Spencer W. Kimball has clearly stated: “We strongly warn all our people from childhood to old age to beware of the chains of bondage, suffering, and remorse which come from improper use of the body.

“The human body is the sacred home of the spirit child of God, and unwarranted tampering with or defilement of this sacred tabernacle can bring only remorse and regret. We urge: stay clean, uncontaminated, undefiled.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 8; or Ensign, May 1974, p. 7.)

In 1980 SWK followed it up by saying: "The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins. … Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices."

“...The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and his Church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage” (New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 41).

Hugh B. Brown an apostle said: "The powerful sex drives are instinctive, which is to say, God-given, and therefore are not evil per se. In order that these instincts may be controlled and directed into proper channels, they should be indulged only within the divinely instituted sacrament of marriage” (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], p. 70).

Richard G. Scott said: "“Within the enduring covenant of marriage, the Lord permits husband and wife the expression of the sacred procreative powers in all their loveliness and beauty within the bounds He has set. One purpose of this private, sacred, intimate experience is to provide the physical bodies for the spirits Father in Heaven wants to experience mortality. Another reason for these powerful and beautiful feelings of love is to bind husband and wife together in loyalty, fidelity, consideration of each other, and common purpose.

“However, those intimate acts are forbidden by the Lord outside the enduring commitment of marriage because they undermine His purposes. Within the sacred covenant of marriage, such relationships are according to His plan. When experienced any other way, they are against His will. They cause serious emotional and spiritual harm. Even though participants do not realize that is happening now, they will later. Sexual immorality creates a barrier to the influence of the Holy Spirit with all its uplifting, enlightening, and empowering capabilities. It causes powerful physical and emotional stimulation. In time that creates an unquenchable appetite that drives the offender to ever more serious sin. It engenders selfishness and can produce aggressive acts such as brutality,abortion, sexual abuse, and violent crime. Such stimulation can lead to acts of homosexuality, and they are evil and absolutely wrong” (“Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).

Jeffrey R. Holland said about intimacy: "In matters of human intimacy, you must wait! You must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember, “you are not your own”) and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole self is emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love. You may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved you have spent, and that only God’s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue you so casually gave away. On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best self—clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 75).

The biblical wasting of seed business has been expounded in that we are to use the procreative powers within the bonds of marriage. As to an infertile wife in the resurrection she will be made whole so I don't buy her as an example for your argument.

Having eight children I have never practiced birth control a day in my life but I am probably atypical. I am sure there are some who practice birth control but not me. As to the procreative argument you will have to take on the brethren rather than me. BiV and the feminine housewives went down that road a month or two back. I had as many as I could. Whether I could have had more that again is possible but not due to my reluctance or curtailment. That was my wife's choice I respected what she wanted.

I am getting on in years I will leave it for the rest of you if you are in that stage in life. I am not against adopting but it is getting harder to get children when you have had as many as me. My children will have to carry on in that regard.

I think you have got me on a few points so far but tomorrow when my mind is fresher I will give this more thoughtful analysis.

Dr. B said...

Nick: Just because a few people have a problem with a sexual transgression that doesn't mean we should say no big deal go ahead and do it.

I think mormonzero has made some good points about our current brethren tackling this issue and the need for deeper analysis. I don't think there is anything unenlightened in having standards of morality. That is a distinguishing reason why I became a Mormon in the first place because I respected their high standards of morality.

I haven't changed my opinion about the topic of masturbation. Personally I don't feel good about engaging in it. What you do is your personal business?

I think the majority of missionaries don't have a problem with masturbation. I agree that in the majority of cases it doesn't lead to homosexuality since the likelihood is that most men and the few women who engage in it probably fantasize about a person of the opposite sex. If you have homosexual tendencies you will probably have thoughts along those lines. It depends on your orientation.

Since I have already gone down the GA quote path I might as well throw out a few more for your response.

Are you referring to what President Kimball said about it leading to homosexual tendencies or the following quote by Boyd K. Packer:

"Normal desires and attractions emerge in the teenage years; there is the temptation to experiment, to tamper with the sacred power of procreation. These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or the encouragement from unworthy associations. What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.

If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature.

With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman. The scriptures plainly condemn those who “dishonour their own bodies between themselves … ; men with men working that which is unseemly” (Rom. 1:24, 27) or “women [who] change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Rom. 1:26).

The gates of freedom, and the good or bad beyond, swing open or closed to the password choice. You are free to choose a path that may lead to despair, to disease, even to death (see 2 Ne. 2:26–27).

If you choose that course, the fountains of life may dry up. You will not experience the combination of love and struggle, the pain and pleasure, the disappointment and sacrifice, that love which, blended together in parenthood, exalts a man or a woman and leads to that fulness of joy spoken of in the scriptures (see 2 Ne. 2:25; 2 Ne. 9:18; D&C 11:13; D&C 42:61; D&C 101:36).

Do not experiment; do not let anyone of either gender touch your body to awaken passions that can flame beyond control. It begins as an innocent curiosity, Satan influences your thoughts, and it becomes a pattern, a habit, which may imprison you in an addiction, to the sorrow and disappointment of those who love you (see John 8:34; 2 Pet. 2:12–14, 18–19).

Pressure is put upon legislatures to legalize unnatural conduct. They can never make right that which is forbidden in the laws of God (see Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:9–10)....

When any unworthy desires press into your mind, fight them, resist them, control them (see James 4:6–8; 2 Ne. 9:39; Mosiah 3:19). The Apostle Paul taught, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13; see also D&C 62:1).

That may be a struggle from which you will not be free in this life. If you do not act on temptations, you need feel no guilt. They may be extremely difficult to resist. But that is better than to yield and bring disappointment and unhappiness to you and those who love you.

Some think that God created them with overpowering, unnatural desires, that they are trapped and not responsible (see James 1:13–15). That is not true. It cannot be true. Even if they were to accept it as true, they must remember that He can cure and He can heal (see Alma 7:10–13; Alma 15:8).

Now, what of you who have already made mistakes or have lost yourselves to an immoral lifestyle? What hope do you have? Are you cast off and lost forever?

These are not unforgivable sins. However unworthy or unnatural or immoral these transgressions may be, they are not unforgivable (see D&C 42:25). When completely forsaken and fully repented of, there can open the purifying gift of forgiveness, and the burden of guilt will be erased. There is a way back—long, perhaps; hard, certainly; possible, of course! (see Acts 5:31; Eph. 1:7; Mosiah 4:2; Mosiah 26:29; D&C 1:31–32; D&C 58:42; D&C 61:2).

You need not, you cannot find your way alone. You have a Redeemer. The Lord will lift your burden if you choose to repent and turn from your sins and do them no more. That is what the Atonement of Christ was for.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).

The choice rests with you; you are not cast off forever. I repeat, these transgressions are not unforgivable.

One may think, It is too late, my life will soon be over, and I am eternally doomed. Not so, for “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Just as the physical body can be cleansed and healed, so can the spirit be washed clean by the power of the Atonement. The Lord will lift you and carry your burden during the suffering and struggle required to make you clean. That is what the Atonement of Christ is all about. He said, “I, the Lord, [will] remember [your sins] no more” (D&C 58:42; see also Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10:17; Alma 36:19).

Our beloved, precious youth, stay in the Lord’s way. If you stumble, rise up, go on. If you have lost your way, we open our arms and await your return. (Boyd K. Packer, “‘Ye Are the Temple of God’,” Liahona, Jan 2001, 85–88).

Boyd K. Packer also said: "“This creative power carries with it strong desires and urges. You have felt them already in the changing of your attitudes and your interests.

“As you move into your teens, almost of a sudden a boy or a girl becomes something new and intensely interesting. You will notice the changing of form and feature in your own body and in others. You will experience the early whispering of physical desire.

“It was necessary that this power of creation have at least two dimensions: one, it must be strong; and two, it must be more or less constant.

“This power must be strong, for most men by nature seek adventure. Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life.” (“Why Stay Morally Clean,” New Era, July 1972, p. 5.)

In the same talk he also said: "“Now there are other things that I will tell you as a warning. In the beginning there was one among us who rebelled at the plan of our Heavenly Father. He vowed to destroy and to disrupt the plan.

“He was prevented from having a mortal body and was cast out—limited forever from establishing a kingdom of his own. He became satanically jealous. He knows that this power of creation is not just an incident to the plan, but a key to it.

“He knows that if he can entice you to use this power prematurely, to use it too soon, or to misuse it in any way, you may well lose your opportunities for eternal progression.

“He is an actual being from the unseen world. He has great power. He will use it to persuade you to transgress those laws set up to protect the sacred power of creation.

“In former times he was too cunning to confront one with an open invitation to be immoral. But rather, sneakingly and quietly, he would tempt young and old alike to think loosely of these sacred powers of creation, to bring down to a vulgar or to a common level that which is sacred and beautiful.

“His tactics have changed now. He describes it only as an appetite to be satisfied. He teaches that there are no attendant responsibilities to the uses of this power. Pleasure, he will tell you, is its sole purpose.

“His devilish invitations are coined into jokes and written into the lyrics of songs. They are acted out on television and at theaters. They will stare at you now from most magazines.

“You grow up in a society where before you is the constant invitation to tamper with these sacred powers.

“I want to counsel you and I want you to remember these words. Do not let anyone at all touch or handle your body, not anyone! Those who tell you otherwise proselyte you to share their guilt. We teach you to maintain your innocence.

“Turn away from any who would persuade you to experiment with these life-giving powers.

“The only righteous use of this sacred power is within the covenant of marriage.

“Never misuse these sacred powers."

As President of the Church Spencer W.Kimball said: "President Spencer W. Kimball has clearly stated: “We strongly warn all our people from childhood to old age to beware of the chains of bondage, suffering, and remorse which come from improper use of the body.

“The human body is the sacred home of the spirit child of God, and unwarranted tampering with or defilement of this sacred tabernacle can bring only remorse and regret. We urge: stay clean, uncontaminated, undefiled.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 8; or Ensign, May 1974, p. 7.)

In 1980 SWK followed it up by saying: "The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins. … Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices."

“...The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and his Church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage” (New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 41).

Hugh B. Brown an apostle said: "The powerful sex drives are instinctive, which is to say, God-given, and therefore are not evil per se. In order that these instincts may be controlled and directed into proper channels, they should be indulged only within the divinely instituted sacrament of marriage” (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], p. 70).

Richard G. Scott said: "“Within the enduring covenant of marriage, the Lord permits husband and wife the expression of the sacred procreative powers in all their loveliness and beauty within the bounds He has set. One purpose of this private, sacred, intimate experience is to provide the physical bodies for the spirits Father in Heaven wants to experience mortality. Another reason for these powerful and beautiful feelings of love is to bind husband and wife together in loyalty, fidelity, consideration of each other, and common purpose.

“However, those intimate acts are forbidden by the Lord outside the enduring commitment of marriage because they undermine His purposes. Within the sacred covenant of marriage, such relationships are according to His plan. When experienced any other way, they are against His will. They cause serious emotional and spiritual harm. Even though participants do not realize that is happening now, they will later. Sexual immorality creates a barrier to the influence of the Holy Spirit with all its uplifting, enlightening, and empowering capabilities. It causes powerful physical and emotional stimulation. In time that creates an unquenchable appetite that drives the offender to ever more serious sin. It engenders selfishness and can produce aggressive acts such as brutality,abortion, sexual abuse, and violent crime. Such stimulation can lead to acts of homosexuality, and they are evil and absolutely wrong” (“Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).

Jeffrey R. Holland said about intimacy: "In matters of human intimacy, you must wait! You must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember, “you are not your own”) and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole self is emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love. You may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved you have spent, and that only God’s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue you so casually gave away. On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best self—clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return." (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 75).

The biblical wasting of seed business has been expounded in that we are to use the procreative powers within the bonds of marriage. As to an infertile wife in the resurrection she will be made whole so I don't buy her as an example for your argument.

Having eight children I have never practiced birth control a day in my life but I am probably atypical. I am sure there are some who practice birth control but not me. As to the procreative argument you will have to take on the brethren rather than me. BiV and the feminine housewives went down that road a month or two back. I had as many as I could. Whether I could have had more that again is possible but not due to my reluctance or curtailment. That was my wife's choice I respected what she wanted.

I am getting on in years I will leave it for the rest of you if you are in that stage in life. I am not against adopting but it is getting harder to get children when you have had as many as me. My children will have to carry on in that regard.

I think you have got me on a few points so far but tomorrow when my mind is fresher I will give this more thoughtful analysis.

MormonZero said...

Dr. B

"I think the majority of missionaries don't have a problem with masturbation."

I am not trying to be obstinate but my experience while serving in Latin America (2 years ago) would speak somewhat to the contrary. However, it is nearly impossible to say due to the private nature of the act and also the very fact that I probably associated with less than 5% of the missionaries in my mission.

All of my Mormon friends (there was a core group of about 12 of us) engaged in the behavior before my mission. I would presume that at least some of them cont'd during the mission. In fact, when the topic came up and I told them that I never had done it, they didn't believe me. BTW the topic came up b cuz one of my friends was nervous about confessing to the bishop; i don't want to give the impression that this was a group of jack mormon kids with a habit of speaking vulgar. They all went on a mission on returned honorably.

However, no matter if you are in favor of or against masturbation for missionaries I don't believe anybody should have to hear their companion moan "Connie, Connie."

Even though I am of the mind that masturbation should not be a big deal (as also prescribed by an old Mormon health book during the early 20th century; I'll find the reference if it is really important to anybody here) I would hardly condone giving up one's self control. I really don't like the chocolate cake analogy but going with that if you are trying to eat healthy it hardly helps if you keep focusing on avoiding the chocolate cake. Focus on eating good foods that you enjoy; if you slip up and have chocolate cake just move on and leave it in the past. Focusing on the chocolate cake will harm you more in the future and damage you confidence in yourself and lead to one feeling guilty(for lack of a better word) for having eaten too much.

Dr. B said...

I don't disagree with you that once you have partaken of the practice that you need to repent. I fully agree as do the statements by the Authorities which say that we need to repent and move on not live lives racked with guilt and self-incrimination. If you commit any type of sin or transgression that is the case move on.

That we are human is not disputed. That we transgress and sin is not disputed. The disputation comes when we disagree that we should refrain from the practice that it as natural as breathing. All sin is natural that is the point. The natural man is an enemy to God.

I didn't make the commandments. God made the commandments. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's wife. Even those who don't practice religion live a civil religion to some degree or another. They don't argue for the most part adultery doesn't have any affect. Many of them logically know it has effects. They say I was a bad man but I was weak.

When you cut away all the philosophical mumbo jumbo most people agree that we should not practice masturbation, fornicate, commit adultery or any other sexual when there are more fulfilling and intimate outlets and that we need to save our intimacy for our life partner. It is the basis of the Judeo-Christian belief that we practice sex within the bonds of marriage however you define that.

Since missionaries are not married but single there is an implication that they be chaste. The Apostle Paul even encourages those who minister to not marry. He must have been thinking about the fact that it is a distraction. In many religious cultures there is a mastery of the spirit over the body when we use self-control that it allows us to be more spiritually in tune with God when we reject the physical.

I have thought this over since last night. When you go out as a missionary you teach others to live the law of chastity. If you engage in any form of sexual conduct you are actually being hypocritical and deceitful. You willfully transgress. You need to repent. You need to follow the rules outlined by whoever you represent.

When your religious leaders and your religion teach there should be no sex before marriage and they don't allow baptism to converts who masturbate, fornicate, commit adultery, have an abortion or practice homosexuality and you secretly do that there is a problem.

Missionaries teach in one of their discussions not to do these things.
As a missionary you need to set an example. How can you ask Mr. or Mrs. Brown not to do it and you are doing it on a regular basis. That is the height of hypocricy.

Missionaries know they shouldn't be beating their puds, fornicating, committing adultery or practicing any type of sexual sin before marriage. Missionaries know even making out with people can get them transferred or sent home.

There is a process of repentance that missionaries teach. It is pretty clear it states we need to recognize, feel sorrow, confess, make restitution and never do it again. I was almost sent home from my mission for just not confessing a sin I committed prior to joining the church. Even though I was a convert and had my sins washed cleaned in the waters of baptism I still didn't follow the process.

Before I joined the church I had a few indiscretions. I had a poor baptismal interview and was not asked about them just about lying and stealing. I confessed the few things I discussed with my interview. I didn't confess to anything else because he didn't ask and I didn't know any better. I feel I had repented. I figured it was no big deal but I was wrong.

When I went on a mission I began teaching the law of chastity over and over again. It took me a few months to understand what I was saying since I did it in Italian. One day the light clicked on. Even though I believe my sins were washed clean I had failed to confess them even if I had forsaken them and never did them ever again.

Not to be a hypocrite I wrote my mission president and confessed them. Soon I found myself in a situation where I had to write a letter of forgiveness to a person who didn't care and my parents who also didn't care. The missionary committee, my mission president and stake president debated whether I should even be on a mission and should I be sent home. Lucky for me Elder Monson who was the head the committee could see I hadn't intentionally done anything deceptive so I was transferred to Canada Toronto under Elder Ballard.

My mission president who was a convert of four years made a mountain out of a mole hill. Elder Ballard said what I did was water under the bridge and I should have just stayed where I was in Italy. So I humiliated myself in the process and lived through a traumatizing time. I admit it ruined my mission but that is a consequence of sinning or transgressing. You got to own your sins.

Even as a former Catholic saved Baptist I knew leaders in those faiths considered any form of sexual expression a transgression including masturbation. All these supposedly logical discussions are not going to change the fact that at the basis of this discussion is the fact that Mormons and any mainstream Christians teach we are to be morally clean. We aren't to engage in any act before marriage including masturbation.

If we slip then we need to take the consequences of our sins. We need to own our sins not argue they weren't sins or transgressions in the first place. We need to follow the steps of repentance that we teach as missionaries. We need to use the process of repentance and allow the mediation and atonement to be in effect in our lives.

Ballard used to tell us the road to hell is paved with good excuses. Instinctively we know that. I mean the truth of the matter is that what I had done prior to joining the church was really grounds for me not to even be serving. If you know you shouldn't do something and then you do it. You have to have the moral courage to admit your sinning and move on.

Once I joined the church I lived up to the teachings. I never committed any sins from seventeen until twenty-eight when I was married in the temple. Once you make a commitment you have to live the standard. If you fall you start over again and again until you get it right.

When I went out as a missionary I knew I was a representative of the Church and Christ and that my actions had to be congruent with what I was teaching. If I had been sent home I would have accepted that as a part of the process had I violated any practice, doctrine or teaching I had been taught to comply with as a missionary. I could have say to myself what is the big deal. I did it before I was even a Mormon they shouldn't hold me to that standard. Once I joined the church, once I agreed to serve I put my own will in subjection and lived morally straight.

Was I perfect on a mission? No. I had other challenges with authority. With sleeping in, with ignorance, racial intolerance, cultural stupidity a whole slew of issues. But I made it through on the big things such as sex, tithing, the word of wisdom, etc.

Being a convert I guess I wasn't inculcated in to hypocritical practices where I shaded the meaning. I saw things as Black and White not little grey areas. I guess until recently I didn't realize the actions of the missionary who moaned were of any great significance. But as I grappled with it in these posts I see it is a big deal. There are ripple effects.

There is a yuckiness factor but now that I have put my mind to it I can see that sinning against yourself can be just as bad as sinning against another person.

It can be worse because we hang on to it harder. It is like a whirlpool in that we have to spend so much energy defending it when we inherently feel it is wrong. It takes less energy to live righteously than to sin.

The truth is that I would have respected them for their high moral standards. I think God and Church leaders are more forgiving than we give them credit for. I am sure many a missionary in a momentary lapse has confessed to masturbation and been allowed to continue serving.

One time I had a BYU bishop who told me eighty percent of guys practice it and forty percent of the girls in his ward had a problem. He told me if I should have a problem it was no big deal and that it is a waste of time to confess.

I didn't agree with him I thought he was a lazy bishop who didn't want to engage with his people. Just because a lot of people do it doesn't mean it is no big deal. If it was no big deal then why have some people killed themselves over doing it. Homosexual Mormons have a high suicide rate. You don't strike a blow for tolerance by throwing the standard or baby out with the bath water. You just have dirty water that needs filtrated.

Particularly for missionaries who are teaching on a daily basis to be morally clean. I wasn't forced to go on a mission I chose to go. I chose each day to teach about reserving the powers of procreation until I was married.

I had the power to get up and leave my mission if I wanted to. I came close a few times to doing that because I didn't like the bozos I was serving with.

A missionary that masturbates could stay also provided they have followed the channels which call for confession, forsaking, and never doing it again. We teach repentance also as missionaries.

I feel that even though a lot of missionaries managed to muddle through hiding their transgressions that doesn't mean we should lower the standard or soon you will have a degenerate group preaching.

Nick Literski said...

Dr. B., your litany of GA comments suggests that you misunderstand something about what I'm saying. I'm not for a moment questioning that LDS leaders have condemned masturbation as a sexual "sin," thus near to murder in seriousness (in other words, better that your LDS son be caught shoplifting at WalMart, than caught masturbating in his own bedroom).

I was referring to Kimball's theory of "masturbation makes you gay," though your posting of the same theory from Packer is certainly noteworthy. Frankly, we should be charitable toward both of these men. Kimball's unfortunate comments in The Miracle of Forgiveness reflect the common views of his own generation, which were in turn based on an extremely limited scientific understanding of homosexuality. As for Packer, perhaps we shouldn't hold him accountable for statements he made in 1982, since he evidently can no longer even recall identifying "intellectuals, feminists and gays" as the three greatest threats/enemies of the LDS church. In any case, several points in the 1982 statement you've provided do not reflect the current position of LDS leaders, as reflected in the recently-released pamphlet on homosexuality (detailing these points of divergence would be material for a separate thread in itself). Ergo, I think it's safe to assume that Packer would not wish to have some of these 1982 comments perpetuated.

The biblical wasting of seed business has been expounded in that we are to use the procreative powers within the bonds of marriage.

I disagree. The story of Onan "spilling his seed" is set within the context of a levirate marriage. It has nothing to do with masturbation, nor with sexual relations outside of marriage. It is simply irresponsible to suggest that the story of Onan has been "expounded" to cover any and all sexual "sins." In other words, as I noted before, the standard works, themselves, say nothing at all on the subject. LDS members must rely upon the statements of their leaders (a source of additional scripture, in Mormon teaching) as the authority for any theological guidance on the subject.

As to an infertile wife in the resurrection she will be made whole so I don't buy her as an example for your argument.

Sorry, but that's a non-sequitor. If the infertile wife will become fertile in the resurrection, her husband can wait until then to engage in sexual relations with her, when he won't be "wasting his seed," as you call it.

Having eight children I have never practiced birth control a day in my life but I am probably atypical. I am sure there are some who practice birth control but not me.

I hope you don't mean to condemn birth control by this statement. I'm sure you're aware that there are perfectly legitimate medical reasons for which a couple may practice birth control. I have five children, each of whom were born via cesarean section, and my then-spouse certainly needed time for complete healing after each surgery (six months minimum, according to the doctors). Unless one subscribes to complete abstinence as the only acceptable means of "birth control" (a very destructive practice, in terms of the marital relationship), one must be willing at times to prevent conception.

BTW, if you've raised eight children, it's difficult to believe that you consider masturbation "unnatural." Even infants, though incapable of orgasm, clearly enjoy touching their private parts.

The disputation comes when we disagree that we should refrain from the practice that it as natural as breathing. All sin is natural that is the point. The natural man is an enemy to God.

Hold on there, friend. I think most would agree that you're entirely misconstruing King Benjamin's statement. "Natural," in the context of King Benjamin's speech, means "carnal."

Besides, I've already seen LDS play both sides of the "it's natural" game, on a different subject. First they said homosexuality was "unnatural." Then, when science found otherwise (observing, for example, homosexual behavior in over 400 species), these same people suddenly decided homosexuality was bad because it was "natural." Poor form!

When you cut away all the philosophical mumbo jumbo most people agree that we should not practice masturbation . . .

I think you're reading your own religious views onto the public sphere, Dr. B. If we were to look for actual studies on this topic, I doubt we'd find that "most people agree" that masturbation is wrong. What's important for you, of course, is whether your own chosen faith believes it's wrong.

When your religious leaders and your religion teach there should be no sex before marriage and they don't allow baptism to converts who masturbate, fornicate, commit adultery, have an abortion or practice homosexuality and you secretly do that there is a problem.

Exactly. One should either follow the rules of their faith (to include repentance when one errs), or honorably withdraw therefrom.

We need to own our sins not argue they weren't sins or transgressions in the first place.

Agreed, with the proviso that we are careful not to be deceived as to what truly constitutes "sin." Various faiths identify "sins" that are not considered sinful to LDS, for example. If we believe in a particular faith, and we violate the commandments to which that faith subscribes, we will experience feelings of guilt, shame, and fear, whether deity actually considers the act sinful or not. Since we don't want "false guilt," we need to be rather certain when it comes to what is, or is not, truly sinful.

If it was no big deal then why have some people killed themselves over doing it. Homosexual Mormons have a high suicide rate.

Case in point, Dr. B. Many of those homosexual LDS who have commited suicide never had sexual relations. They explained in their "goodbye" letters, how they felt guilt and shame for their sexual orientation, yet they had not committed any actual sin (see the new pamphlet, if you mistakenly believe that homosexual orientation is, in itself, sinful in LDS teachings). It was this false guilt that led them to make the drastic, permanent, tragic mistake of suicide.

MormonZero said...

Dr. B.


"When you cut away all the philosophical mumbo jumbo most people agree that we should not practice masturbation, fornicate, commit adultery."

I don't really see anything philosophical here. I just don't see masturbation being directly harmful. Fornication and adultery have a plethora of potentially physically damaging aspects. Masturbation, the only really legitimate reason for its harm is that it makes you feel guilty. (that seems more philosophical than anything) Most of what I have seen on the subject suggest masturbation to be a healthy behavior for both men and women.

However, I believe I agree with you that heightened spirituality can be obtained by abstaining from physical actions, hence fasting, but like Ecc. 3 says, there is a time for most everything. Although I do acknowledge we somewhat disagree as to what times are in fact appropriate. Which is fine.

"I have thought this over since last night. When you go out as a missionary you teach others to live the law of chastity."

As a missionary leader who went out on a number of "divisiones" w/ missionaries to go and teach the law of chastity I cannot remember one time where masturbation was ever brought up or even taught. It was not in preach my gospel- homosexuality, yes; porn, yes; thoughts, yes; but no masturbation.

"When your religious leaders and your religion teach there should be no sex before marriage and they don't allow baptism to converts who masturbate, fornicate, commit adultery, have an abortion or practice homosexuality and you secretly do that there is a problem."

Again, masturbation was not taught during the lessons and was never mentioned during the baptism interview. So to think that a convert is going to necessarily associate law of chastity with masturbation is not an absolute.

"Missionaries teach in one of their discussions not to do these things.
As a missionary you need to set an example. How can you ask Mr. or Mrs. Brown not to do it and you are doing it on a regular basis. That is the height of hypocricy."

I agree but not everyone has the same experiences, nor or all the missionaries at the same spiritual level. To what one would call hypocrisy the other would think is good teaching. I would define hypocrisy as being when someone teaches something they don't believe or does not adhere to themselves. Now if the missionary believes masturbation is okay and then says that it isn't; that is hypocrisy. I guess, a better analogy would be with tithing. One missionary may believe that it is necessary to pay on gross, another may believe it is on the net. Is the one who says it is on the net a hypocrite for teaching tithing. I see that with fornication and masturbation. Without any really thorough and in my opinion credible explanation by GA's (b cuz explanations are also littered with known fallacies; although not intentional) on masturbation being a sin who can really blame a missionary, especially one who had different experiences and teaching from a parent or education or wherever, for teaching the law of chastity up to his level of understanding.

"Missionaries know they shouldn't be beating their puds, fornicating, committing adultery or practicing any type of sexual sin before marriage. Missionaries know even making out with people can get them transferred or sent home."

I think most ppl would accept that but as far as the church is concerned I would rather find out the missionary is masturbating than to find out he is "making out" with people. Making out would be far more destructive to the missionary,the companion, the area, the zone, the other missionaries in the district, and even to the church itself than a missionary who after doing all the day's necessary endeavors and maybe even sleeping for a few hours decides to sexually relieve himself.

"There is a process of repentance that missionaries teach. It is pretty clear it states we need to recognize, feel sorrow, confess, make restitution and never do it again."

Totally agree. I have some interesting opinions on the repentance process based on the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith that I will be addressing on my new blog in a couple weeks or so.

Overall, Dr. B, I think we probably agree on more than we are disagreeing on. On some points it might just be better to agree to disagree. I completely agree with the notion that we cannot just accept behaviors because everybody is doing it. In most cases I believe personal revelation has different effects for everybody and we all have certain differences. It is like a friend of mine who during the course of 1 month had 3 guys come to her saying that they had received personal revelation that [he] was to marry her. When she told me the story, and still to this day, it makes laugh. But who is to say who or which guy was wrong in his revelation. Maybe God's path for each involved that moment but not necessarily the same outcome.

That said, I respect your opinion and it is quite evident that you doing what you do not by simple "blind obedience. I respect that greatly.

If you want to read anymore of my thoughts on this issue of sexuality. Check out my most recent post earlier today on:

mormonzero.blogspot.com

Guy Noir, Private Eye said...

Yup; church leaders (BKP) got it right again; only males masturbate...
RIGHT!

drex said...

I too was unaware of this problem. I thought it was rare among missionaries and was not aware of a single missionary who struggled with this when I served a mission.

A french mission president told his missionaries that church leaders in SLC told him that 40% of missionaries masturbate (in one capacity or another).

That shocked me, but I guess it's true. I've linked to the audio from his talk below. Someone actually pointed this out on another blog about this subject.

I do think it's very poor form that someone posted this on the Internet, but I don't want to spout a statistic without a citation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVmxNVF7CCM

I've been working on a book about Return Missionaries and the adjustments and challenges they have when they return home, so this subject is of interest (masturbation problems are very frequent in singles wards, even amongst return missionaries).

I think there are three approaches to the issue. You can either relax your standards, redefine them, or hold to the standard. I think the third option is the right one, but perhaps there has to be more understanding that, apparently, in many young mens cases it's something they are striving toward but not perfect at.

A lot people struggle with anger or language - we hold the standard and understand many, many people are imperfect.

I wouldn't put masturbation in a category with sins that sexual sins that involve relationship with others, and as far as I've read neither do the brethren (Pres. Kimball said it wasn't a "heinous sin" unlike the sins he named that happened with others).

I do think, however, that teaching people not to masturbate helps fulfill God's plan.

It keeps the focus on the fact that sexuality is relational, that it's designed for a purpose that when used appropriately brings great happiness, and that our appetites can and should be controlled.

I do believe some church leaders come down too hard on masturbation and therefore shame others into not resolving it. Is it a sin that requires confession? I'm sure in many cases it may. In all cases, I'm not so sure. But I do know that causing a person to feel like they're evil or unusual for engaging in it is to burden them with a shame that may run counter to actually helping them resolve it.

Anyway . . . my two cents.

CoriAnton said...

This is something that I struggled with on my mission. When I finally went to my mission president about it, he helped me to realize it wasn't anywhere near as big of a deal as I thought it was.
I had felt the Lord's help and felt the Spirit with me on days that I'd masturbated.
Looking back on it now, I know that the horrible guilt that I felt over it was not the same guilt I feel when I do other things wrong... it was something I'd imposed on myself, because of cultural beliefs I had. I don't think it's wrong at all. I don't think God ever intended it to be restricted in the Law of Chastity. The GA's that have condemned it (in my opinon) did it because of cultural conditioning, often using false statements to support their ideas. They condemned face cards too, but I havent heard them say anything about that anymore. I think the same thing is happening with regards to masturbation. They don't seem to mention it anymore. The only references in church materials are old quotes from SWK... I think it is going to slowly fade out of church teachings, and our grandkids will be surprised to hear it was ever taught.

Anonymous said...

stillinaquandry - I am a practicing L.D.S. man of mature years. I have the greatest respect for those young people in their teens and twenties who join the Church coming from a worldly environment and remain completely chaste. I can also see the viewpoint of those who suffer with "wet dreams" spontaneous orgasms and the mental, physical and spiritual quandries that go with them. Over my life, I have gotten the distinct impression that most Church leaders realize that it is entirely possible to say too much as to say too little on this subject. Both have been done. Some young men react with deep shame and remorse, all out of proportion to the offense. On the other hand, a mission is not the place for unchaste thoughts or behaviors. There is also the specter of same sex experimentation. I realize that most people do not make themselves gay, but this practice does occur in the military, prisons, camps, preps schools and yes, on missions. To make matters worse, the social taboos about this sort of activity have been diluted over the past thirty years or so, increasing the risk. The Brethren are, I'm sure terribly concerned about this sort of "corruption" happening. There is enough of a "frat boy" mentality in some missions as it is. There are some excellent comments on this blog, and I can understand all of the points of view expressed. May God Bless

Thegri said...

I never masturbated on my mission or knew that anyone else did. After my mission I was at BYU and did and felt I needed to confess to my bishop. He didn't berate me and seemed rather amused by the topic. He told me stories of other youth who had erred including a young woman who had confessed that she was in the family pool and had 'planted' herself over one of the water jets till orgasm and asked if that counted as masturbation. Driving home when I thought about that story I had a spontaneous, unexpected orgasm. Maybe I should have gone back to the Bishop but his stories might have put me in a vicious circle.

Some say that masturbation is a sin. I just don't believe it any more. I believe that I would have been a better person, even a better missionary if I had never been afflicted with the guilt and angst about masturbation pushed on me by church leaders. I find it notable that the General Handbook of Instructions doesn't even mention it anymore.