What's wrong with masturbation?

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Beefster
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Beefster » 28 Dec 2017, 22:40

Curt Sunshine wrote:
28 Dec 2017, 14:05
The Old Testament story is misapplied to this issue. Masturbation wasn't the problem; refusing to accept his responsibility to produce children for his brother's legacy was the issue. He didn't masturbate; he pulled out early. By not going through with the pregnancy expectation, he killed his brother's descendancy and, literally, used his brother's wife strictly for his own sexual pleasure. In other words, he treated her like a whore.

When people quote that passage to condemn masturbation (and many Christian denominations do that), they cheapen the story greatly.
That's my point though. It's a stretch and applying it there would be misapplying it.

The fact that the closest thing isn't even close is an eyebrow raiser.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Dec 2017, 00:52

Yep. It is not mentioned once in our entire scriptural canon.

That should count for something.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

JAC
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by JAC » 29 Dec 2017, 08:18

I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are on these questions:

What do people think about when they masturbate? Are there scriptures that set boundaries for our thoughts? What are the natural consequences of these fantasies?

What is the purpose of sexual desire? Does masturbation fulfill that purpose?

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Beefster
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Beefster » 29 Dec 2017, 08:44

1. I think most people think about the porn they're watching when they masturbate, since the two usually go together. I try to avoid thinking about naked women and focus on the sensations instead.

2. The scriptures focus more on avoiding lustful thoughts. I've interpreted that like this: It's okay to think about sex and it's okay to think about beautiful women, but it's only okay to do the two together if that beautiful woman happens to be your wife. Since I'm single, whenever I fantasize about sex, I try to avoid filling in facial features.

3. Fantasy + masturbation = reinforced fantasy. That's about it.

4. Sexual desire is for bonding and creating children. I'll admit that masturbation does not directly fill that purpose, however, masturbation helps you know what sensations arouse you, improving your ability to bond later. It also can satisfy the spouse with higher libido temporarily so that they can have sex on their own terms and thus bond better. It isn't as good for a relationship when one partner (usually the wife) is having sex just because the other wants it (perhaps a good term for it is punchcard sex). From what I understand, It's not usually satisfying or enjoyable to have sex if your partner is not enjoying it with you. Enter masturbation. Fulfills physical desire when needed without overwhelming your spouse.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Dec 2017, 08:55

[Admin Note]: I want to make it crystal clear that this site does not encourage everyone to act in opposition to church standards. That might get lost in this discussion. We encourage each person to figure out what he or she believes personally and find a healthy way to engage with the LDS Church with that individual faith.

Masturbation is an excellent example of this approach. Some members will avoid it completely. We support that. Some members will not avoid it. That is their choice. Nothing in this thread should be seen as comprehensive endorsement for all people or all members.

Finally, this thread is getting close to our restriction on sexually explicit content. The admins and moderators will discuss that issue privately.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 29 Dec 2017, 10:54

I don't see anything wrong with it. In fact this looks like one of the most common and harmless of all supposed "sins" as taught by the LDS Church right up there with coffee and tea. I think LDS Church leaders have generally considered it a sin mostly because of the idea that sex is supposedly only intended by God for straight married couples. In other words, it is a purely theoretical objection based on assumptions about what God supposedly wants and expects rather than any practical real-life considerations such as health, lack of harm, etc. If you don't believe in God or that God cares that much about anything like this then worrying so much about masturbation seems pointless and even harmful to Church members that are repeatedly given a guilt-trip about it sometimes to the point of confessing to priesthood leaders. Does this really need to be anyone else's business?
Beefster wrote:
28 Dec 2017, 08:15
Why isn't it mentioned by name regularly in GC? What about church publications on the matter?...A number of GAs are known for bringing up the subject, but most of that was before 1990 and they did not bring it up with any regularity. There is a pamphlet on the order of curing homosexuality that condemns it by name, but it does so under the false pretense that it causes homosexuality.
This is the one of the most interesting things about this to me. Why is it that they talk about pornography so much in the Church but we hardly ever hear about masturbation anymore and usually only in a rather vague way such as "self-abuse" (leadership handbook) and "Do not do anything else that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body." (For the Strength of Youth)? Personally I think Church leaders realize deep down that if they tried to push the idea that masturbation makes men unworthy too hard and if very many men and young men take this idea very seriously and get discouraged by it then there wouldn't be many completely "worthy" men/young men left to bless and pass the sacrament, go on missions, get married in the temple, serve in callings, etc. So they are basically stuck in this state where they still think it is technically a sin but they have no choice but to live with it to some extent simply because of the sheer numbers involved where weeding out all the masturbators simply would not fly in practice.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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Heber13
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Heber13 » 29 Dec 2017, 12:19

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
29 Dec 2017, 10:54
In fact this looks like one of the most common and harmless of all supposed "sins" as taught by the LDS Church right up there with coffee and tea.
I'd say it is a topic all over the map for different religions, but the LDS church is not so different from other mainstream religions on this topic, making it very different in that regard from coffee or tea, which is mormon thang.

To quote DA back in 2013 on a good topic that goes along with this thread:
The Nature of Sin
DevilsAdvocate wrote:
07 Feb 2013, 16:32
Personally I would define sin as doing unnecessary harm either intentionally or through some gross negligence. If no significant harm is done by some specific thought or action then I don't see why anyone including God should care that much about it.
If a young man is hurting his own self by damaging thoughts and expectations of what sex is healthy or not, or is hurting his mom or parents by behaviors that turn into addictions...well...seems like that meets that line of thinking that it can be sin and lead to unhappiness and can be taught as something to avoid.

It can become unhealthy in some cases. I'm not sure it is necessarily wrong in every case.

So...I kinda am with Curt...too simplistic teachings won't apply to all. It is also too simplistic to say it is no big deal or just a mormon traditional hangup or rule.

I accept the church leaders' guidance and counsel on this topic. I also reject some of their statements or use of scripture that I think is not right.

There is a middle ground.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by squarepeg » 29 Dec 2017, 22:48

Some prepubescent kids, even really young ones, like 2- to 4-year-olds, masturbate or otherwise stimulate themselves in a way that would be considered sexual. They'll not be engaged in any fantasies or visualization involving another person because they lack a context for that (assuming they're not victims of abuse). It is a purely biological, self-oriented activity, but no one would say it's harming their relationships with God or their ability to love others, or putting in jeopardy their future marriage. So, at what point does the behavior become harmful?

It seems the FAIR post is saying it's important that they (and youth, and adults) learn not to do this because it's selfish. Seems to me that's like saying my son shouldn't read comics (something he does purely for his own pleasure) because he COULD be reading comics aloud with others and bonding with them. What if the rest of the family is tired of hearing about superheroes, or just not interested? What if others are too often busy doing other things? What if he were by himself for an extended period of time? What if we note that when he doesn't read comics he becomes increasingly preoccupied with the idea of comics to the point that he thinks about comics almost all the time and it negatively impacts his academic and social life? Do we just deny him comics, or guilt-trip him for reading them? I'm only going to be concerned about his comic book reading if it becomes excessive to the point that it's affecting his ability to serve or bond with others, or otherwise preventing him from reaching his fullest potential. Poor metaphor?

Is there any evidence that masturbation actually impairs relations with a spouse, or impairs an individual's motivation to find a spouse? The FAIR post makes a lot of claims about harms caused by this practice without providing evidence. I searched the Church's website last week, as I've been trying to decide what/how to teach my kids about this issue, for the term "masturbation" recently and found only older (1980s and prior) references, one of which discouraged it because it could lead to exhibitionism or homosexuality. That claim seems highly improbable to me. It seems important to figure out whether these are legitimate claims or just speculative ones produced solely to back up the original assertion that masturbation is harmful. The whisperings I receive in my own personal prayers about this say that the Spirit will tell each person whether this is harmful for them or not, and can direct them in how to proceed, and that I can teach my kids about it that way: "Leaders at church might teach you that masturbation is a sin, but your parents feel that it might be different for each person, and that you can listen for what the Holy Ghost tells you about it and decide for yourself."

The CS Lewis passage as well as the scripture quoted in the post seem to assume that during masturbation is never independent of lust. But that can't be, because see my first paragraph. I'm female, so I can only wonder if it's really difficult for men to masturbate without mentally bringing another person into it. If so, I could see it potentially harming a marriage relationship if the imaginary person was someone other than one's spouse. For those not married, it seems like if one MUST visualize another person, it would be best if it were someone nondescript, and if one cannot NOT visualize an actual person then maybe he is one of those cases where it's best if he doesn't masturbate. It does seem to me like a violation of respect for others to mentally bring them into one's sexual behavior. And of course, if one is masturbating in conjunction with porn use, that seems clearly wrong. But in the right context it seems like it could be a very healthy thing that could even strengthen one's relationship with one's spouse. It seems like it's necessarily judged on a case-by-case basis, and since it's not really kosher to go into the specifics of potential scenarios during church lessons, it's something best left for individuals and couples to decide (kinda like how birth control used to be condemned and now it's left to couples). It's good that GC has been silent on it for a few decades. Hopefully the last vestiges of it will be absent from the next edition of "For the Strength of Youth" and other printed materials.

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Beefster
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Beefster » 30 Dec 2017, 15:41

:clap: :clap: :clap:

I agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with "selfish" acts. I was thinking something similar last night. If my ultimate life priority is to become a better person, the question shifts from "is this right or wrong?" to "does this help me achieve that?" The answer seems like a no in general, but then you have to consider other things. I play video games quite a bit and that doesn't always help me to become a better person. But I enjoy it. Most would see nothing wrong with it. And it doesn't get in the way of my becoming a better person, so it's something I feel totally comfortable continuing to do. It gets a bit hazier with masturbation because of ideas that I've been conditioned to believe, but given the lack of evidence one way or the other, objectively it should not be an issue for me to do if kept within reason. I certainly enjoy it, it's just really up in the air whether it helps or hinders (or neither) me in my quest to be a better person.

In some situations, it can hurt relationships. In others it can help. It's a matter of judging the situation properly and acting accordingly.

Self-denial is not a virtue IMO. It comes from ascetics from a number of religions (most prominently in eastern religions), but I don't think it's well-founded to deny yourself of pleasure just because it is pleasurable. All pleasure should be judged by its effects, short term and long term. If a certain pleasure hinders you in your overall quest, it is best to avoid it. Otherwise, I say indulge away.

[Admin Note: A short paragraph about how to masturbate has been deleted. That discussion is not appropriate for this site.]
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

Roy
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Re: What's wrong with masturbation?

Post by Roy » 02 Jan 2018, 12:30

I respond to this like most things from my own experience and my own lens.

As a young unendowed man that had not yet served a mission, I struggled with masturbation. I visited a temple and walked the grounds. I committed to stop and wrote into my journal that unless I stopped I would never find fulfillment with a real committed relationship - my deepest desire. I worried that it would make me sexually insatiable and driven to ever more extreme attempts at satisfaction.

After my endowment, I felt that my garments were like a holy suit of armor (probably influenced by that seminary video "Whole Armor of God". Or that God had given me impenetrable castle walls. When I eventually succumbed again to the temptation of masturbation, I felt that I must have let the enemy in through the back door. I had betrayed the gift that God had given me. I did not have a house of light and order, I had a house of shame and betrayal ... and it was my own fault ... my own weakness.

I felt that it disqualified me from being marriage material to young women in my community - an unacceptable result. To marry outside the faith and the temple would be so disappointing to my family. It would have to remain hidden and secret.
But when sexual stimulus comes in the form of masturbation, completely devoid of the sharing and vulnerability and complementarity of marriage, then the brain can become wired so that it is primarily masturbation that produces the reward, and an individual can become increasingly unable to sexually respond to a spouse.
I felt that I would be deviant, perverted, evil. My only choice (because I was too week to stop for good) was to live a lie.
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.”
Yup, I tried that. I felt that getting endowed was my "do or die" moment. I failed.
And this harem [of imaginary brides], once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman.
I interpret this quote not as saying that someone that masturbates would never have sex or even never to get married - that would be demonstrably false. I interpret it as saying that someone that masturbates would be impeded from becoming "one" with a spouse physically, mentally, emotionally. Ironically, the secrecy that I lived by helped this to become a self fulfilling prophecy. I remember having a fight with my wife over something unimportant. I remember thinking something like, "Wow, she is really mad or hurt over this little thing. Imagine how she would respond if she ever knew the real me. She would reject me mentally and emotionally if not physically. She must never know." Because my wife could not know all of me I was denying her the opportunity to accept all of me. I knew this and still it seemed better than the alternative. Better that she love my portrayal of myself than possibly reject the real thing.
It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy or clean.
The Lord had not fully given up on my or rejected me, but it was only a matter of time. My habit could "quickly lead to that kind of [unforgivable]transgression" and because I could not stop myself, I was on a one way train.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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