Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The "M" word


WARNING: Please do not read this post if you are under the age of 18 or are offended by matter-of-fact discussions of a sexual nature.

"If you're not comfortable calling it that then we could call it 'Sam's happy time'"
A line from the movie "Transformers" (paraphrased)

Note: I watched "Transformers" this last weekend with my wife. And, that controversial masturbation scene brought to mind a post which I wrote a few months ago but have been hesitant to publish it as I thought it might be a little too edgy - even for me. But, I've shared it privately with a couple of blogging friends who have both encouraged me to publish it. So, here goes ...

I grew up in a non-LDS home. My parents are devout Christians and taught me many of the same things that LDS parents teach their children. For example, my parents do not smoke. There was never alcohol in my home. However, my mother was a nurse and felt it was important to have open and frank discussions about sex. I was also the youngest of six children, so it was not uncommon to hear my sisters talking about their periods at the dinner table, or my married sisters talking about funny things their husbands did the last time they 'did it'. I can remember my mother telling me that the urge to have sex can be even stronger than hunger. I was taught that, once you are married, you need to be 100% committed to your spouse. (I was also taught that homosexuals are evil perverts - but I'll leave that for another post)

Since joining the church (in college) I've realized that Mormon's, in general, (including my wife) tend to be more uptight about sex than what I grew up with. So, I've learned to refrain from discussing it openly. However, my general attitudes about sex have not changed. In particular, not growing up in the church, I was never taught that masturbation is a sin. Even now, after 30 years in the church, I don't consider masturbation a major sin (on par with adultery, abortion, etc.). For me, it is more a problem of self control rather than a chastity problem. IMOHO, if the worse thing a guy does is masturbate once in a while then he is doing extremely well and should be commended.

In my opinion, masturbation only becomes a problem if done in excess. But, even then it is along the lines of overeating, spending too much time playing computer games, etc. It is a matter of self control.

It may seem unbelievable to some. I've been active in the church for 30 years, I've held leadership callings, attended numerous priesthood leadership and auxiliary training meetings. But, I've never heard any *official* discussion of masturbation preached from the pulpit (so to speak) nor had it discussed in a lesson (priesthood or otherwise). I've never had a Bishop ask me about it (not even as I was preparing to serve a mission). I did talk to my mission president about it once. But, he approached it as a matter of self control rather than as a chastity problem.

Since I've started reading MoHo blogs, I've been fascinated by some of the discussions about masturbation. And, it's not just being discussed in MoHo blogs. It was also discussed on The Cultural Hall blog recently. (See the post titled "Confessions of a Serial Masturbator/Repenter" which had 129 comments last I checked.) Do Bishops really ask young men if they masturbate? Are people put on probation (or other church discipline) if they masturbate? Call me naive, but I had no idea.

Intrigued, I went to www.lds.org and searched "All Church Content" using the term "masturbation" which resulted in 23 hits. By comparison, "pornography" gets 702 hits, "adultery" gets 431 hits, "fornication" gets 168 hits, & "homosexual" gets 173 hits. It doesn't seem to me that masturbation is that big of an issue on the Brethren's radar screen. What is particularly interesting is that there is virtually no mention of masturbation on www.lds.org within the last 15 years (at least, nothing was returned when I did a date search)

In an address given at BYU in February, 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson, Of the Quorum of the Twelve, listed "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet"

  1. The Prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
  2. The living Prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
  3. The living Prophet is more important to us than a dead Prophet.
  4. The Prophet will never lead the church astray.
  5. The Prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
  6. The Prophet does not have to say “Thus Saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.
  7. The Prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
  8. The Prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
  9. The Prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.
  10. The Prophet may advise on civic matters.
  11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the Prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
  12. The Prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
  13. The Prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.
  14. The Prophet and the presidency—the living Prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

I've highlighted point #3 where it says "The living Prophet is more important to us than a dead Prophet" since that is pertinent to this discussion. The fact of the matter is, the living Prophet's aren't saying much about masturbation these days. Why is that? Is it because all that is needed to be said has already been said? Or is it, perhaps, that it just isn't that big of a deal? Perhaps there are much more pressing problems that need to be addressed than if a person masturbates once in a while. Which is worse, not reading your scriptures, not praying regularly, or masturbating occasionally?

Some might argue that if you masturbate then you probably aren't doing things you should be doing, such as praying and reading your scriptures. And, that may be true, but what is the cause and effect here? If you've been taught all of your life that masturbation is a disgusting sin. Then, if you masturbate, you might consider yourself a disgusting sinner. If you feel like a disgusting sinner, how inclined will you be to pray and read the scriptures? If you aren't praying and reading, is it because you masturbated? Or is it because you feel like you are a worthless disgusting sinner? What if you were to separate those two -that is, allow for the possibility of being able to masturbate without being a disgusting sinner. If you masturbate and still feel good about yourself - then how inclined might you be to pray and read the scriptures?

Others might argue that masturbation goes hand in hand with pornography. Again, there is probably truth to that. I expect that people who indulge in pornography probably masturbate. But, again, what is the cause and effect in play? Are you viewing pornography because you masturbate? Or are you masturbating because you are viewing pornography? What if you were to eliminate pornography from your life? Would you still masturbate as often?

I'm not trying to imply that we should all just start wanking away (please excuse my crude choice of words). I just think we need to put things into perspective. Masturbation isn't necessarily a good thing. But, it's not a horrible thing either, especially if not done in excess. If we're trying to become a better person, to grow closer to the Lord - then maybe there are more important things we need to be focusing on. And, if we start making progress in those other areas, perhaps any masturbation problem will take care of itself.

I don't have any answers. I have my opinions - but they are just that. My opinion and 50¢ will buy you a newspaper.

BTW, I don't consider myself a prude; but, sitting next to my wife in the movie theater watching "Transformers", I was surprisingly uncomfortable and squirming around in my seat a bit during the masturbation scene. And it wasn't just a one liner, it went on for 3 very long minutes. I mean, was it really necessary? I'm just glad I don't have small kids and faced with the decision whether to let them see it or not (I would probably not let them because of that and other sexual innuendo - OK, maybe I am a prude when it comes to children).

29 comments:

Chedner said...

Based on what I've been reading on these Moho blogs, I was going to post something very similar (i.e. 'If your biggest sin is masturbation, then I think you should look around and realize how well you're doing in life!')

I think you said it very well in this post.

drex said...

I've talked with some people about this subject, because I'm of a similar mind - in all honesty, the only reason I refrain is because the Church says so. It's one of those things that I follow out of a sense of duty and commitment rather than because I completely agree (or understand?). If I were to follow my own personal opinion, I'd say that masturbation, while self-indulgent and possibly fueling unchaste and impure thoughts for a few minutes, helps keep the drive for more damaging fantasies and more impure addictions at bay. I think fewer young men would have pornography problems, and maybe fewer BYU marriages would be like match flames - easily lit, quickly snuffed. Marriages based almost entirely on sex have the proverbial sandy foundation.

I had a bishop that downplayed the impact of masturbation, but for the most part bishops seem to be of a like mind, and some even hold it in higher importance, taking away temple recommends, stating that one has to be free from it for two months before they can have an active recommend, withholding the sacrament for set periods of time, etc. I don't claim to really understand that, but if it's that important to my ecclesiastical leaders, then I'll follow.

Abelard Enigma said...

That does bring up an interesting question. What if your Bishop doesn't specifically ask (which has clearly been the case for me)? Is it then a "don't ask - don't tell" sort of thing? What if, instead of asking "have you masturbated?", he asks "do you have a problem with masturbation?", how do you respond if you do occasionally but don't consider it a problem?

Abelard Enigma said...

I also have a question about these arbitrary time limits that, evidently, some Bishop's impose. If he says you have to be free from masturbation for 2 months before you can get a temple recommend - what are you supposed to do if you 'fall off the wagon' after you have your temple recommend? Are you supposed to refrain from going to the temple for 2 months? Should you turn your recommend into the Bishop and pick it up again 2 months later?

playasinmar said...

I don't remember who said it first but I think it's important to remember, "95% of men admit to masturbating. The other 5% lie."

Masturbation isn't mentioned in the Standard Works. Onanism and adultery are but not masturbation.

I think it's likely just another part of male biology like being born with kidneys and eyes.

Maybe (just maybe) our church's prohibition on it was a hold over from early members who came from other churches (similar to our early prohibition on certain men being denied full membership).

playasinmar said...

Also, that kitten poster is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. One of my old roommates had that as his desktop wallpaper.

salad said...

Yay for being the only girl to make a comment on this...

AtP actually asked me about this the other night. No, I've never masturbated, but truthfully, I don't understand it. I worked at a group home and a lot of our girls masturbated a constant basis and it wasn't fun monitoring them.

I can understand both sides of the argument, but I don't know where I stand personally. I will admit that it makes me a little uncomfortable, but I think it's a natural reaction given the culture I've grown up in.

You guys have it rough and I give you total props for giving it your all and trying to do the best you can. I only wish I could do more than sit here and watch you struggle. But know that I love and admire you and pray that you'll succeed!

J G-W said...

Wow. I ought to write a post on this subject.

My last BYU bishop denied me a ward clerk calling, a temple recommend and told me to stop taking the sacrament until I could go without masturbating for "at least" 3 months.

At the time to me, it felt like he might as well have told me to hold my breath for three months.

At the time I was horribly depressed about my homosexuality, and this bishop's disciplining of me was literally the straw that broke the camel's back. From that point I went into a tailspin that almost ended in suicide and ultimately led to my leaving the Church. Among other things I was devastated because I was left with this hopeless feeling that I just never, ever would be worthy.

When I asked my bishop how I was supposed to achieve this titanic feat of self-control, he said, "You really need to focus on getting married as soon as possible."

When I later learned how common masturbation is among college-age young men, and I considered how many young men there were in my ward who held callings, took the sacrament, and went to the temple, I felt totally betrayed and angry. Was I the only one too stupid to just lie about my masturbation?

In the past couple of years, largely through the guidance of the Spirit, masturbation has become much less of an issue and much less of a habit. I think there was a point in my life where -- because of all the shame connected it, thank you very much, BYU bishop -- that it became this sort of compulsive thing. As I have come to a place of deep self-acceptance, lo and behold, I've found sex with my partner much more satisfying and have lost interest in masturbation.

I think there are many benefits from self control, among others that I just feel the Spirit in my life more often. But I also believe this is purely a matter of conscience and is between you and God. I'm not saying that someone else couldn't masturbate every day, and still have a vivid and deep spirituality and feel the Spirit in his life. I think it is for each of us to discern, to listen to the Spirit and stick with what he teaches us.

Brady said...

Thanks so much for the post. You bring a very reasoned and important perspective to the discussion on this topic. I couldn't agree more with what you've said.

But I also agree with Drex. If it's important to my bishop, then I'll follow. Since meeting with my branch president a few weeks back I've been working at overcoming masturbation. I've paid close attention to my feelings, thoughts, and actions during the entire period. And quite frankly, it seems that I am much more distracted by sexual thoughts than ever before. I think about it ten times as much. And despite reading and praying faithfully during the entire period, I have noticed that the times of most temptation occur while I am reading my scriptures, just afterward, or even as my mind wanders while praying.

So I'll do what my leaders tell me too, but I wish there was more consistency of thought about this in the church. I wish the standards and rules were the same all the way around. I wonder how much is actual church policy and how much is just the individual bishops.

J said...

I think this is a great post. I also often wonder where on the seriousness meter masturbation falls. Every bishop I've ever confessed it to has been really understanding and helpful. Most seemed to view it as more in the class of inappropriate as opposed to sinful. There is a particularly damning mention of it in The Miracle of Forgiveness that talks about how a young man should not be allowed to serve a mission that still does it. That's really the only major mention of it I've read by a recent prophet.

n/a said...

so to start off I loved transformers I wasn't expecting to but it was great, I also thought the masturbation scene was great, although I know I would of been uncomfortable depending on the surroundings... anyway my 2 cents are that when leaders talk about pornography they are referring to masturbation also (the two going hand in hand) I guess that is an opinion but I guess if they don't say it there is always speculation... as for me, the point you made about masturbation being an ugly sin and you seeing yourself as a ugly sinner is true, I've not thought of it that way, I was brought up in a mormon home and was never taught anything I was in high school before I even knew what it was (mind you I had been doing it for a long time by then...) so yeah thats that...

n/a said...

oh yeah I always thought it IRONIC when I hear people say there bishop told them to hurry up and get married, how is is ok to goto the temple to get married but not ok to just goto the temple if you haven't met the "recommended time limit for whatever lame sin ie masturbation...

iwonder said...

Here are my very condensed views on the subject:

I don't feel guilty about it (anymore).

In moderation, it is totally normal and not harmful.

Most Bishops that I've had were overzealous when it came to masturbation.

I believe it cuts down on obsession with sex and sexuality, allows for a more balanced view about sex, what it is and what it is not.

It releases tension and stress and gives the (male) mind a way to purge/release sexual thoughts and feelings in a comparatively very harmless and safe way, and help avoid a preoccupation with sex.

If however, one has beaten into him that masturbation is a horrible sin, and that if I masturbate I am a horrible sinner, and I have to stop, I have to stop thinking about sex, I have to stop feeling sexual, I have to stop masturbating, I have to stop, I have to stop, I have to stop, I have to stop!.

Well then it is clear why he cannot because he is totally obsessed with sex and sexuality even though he is trying to do just the opposite. If he were no masturbate once in a while and just not worry about, he may likely just live a normal everyday life and not obsess about it.

I am convinced that most if not all of the guilt associated with masturbation is imposed from outside sources and if left alone, it really wouldn't be a problem in the majority of cases.

And that's what I think.

Mr. Fob said...

You've given me another reason to like you, Abe. This is a great post.

The bishop I had when I was growing up did ask about masturbation in interviews and talked about it a lot in young men's. He even went so far as to claim that masturbation is a cause of homosexuality.

Then my mission president's attitude was more along the lines of, "Well, as long as you're not doing it ALL THE TIME, don't worry about it--it's not a big deal." The bishop I had right before I got married had a similarly relaxed view not only of masturbation but also of pornography.

Then, after years of dealing with all the internal guilt that first bishop's attitude had left me with, one day I realized I could decide for myself how I felt about it. And the truth is that once I removed the moral weight I'd attached to it, it really wasn't that big a deal.

Marmoreal said...

let me add another female voice - I've had a member of an MTC bishopric tell me it wasn't something for which you would be sent home from your mission (as long as you weren't currently in the habit), a stake president who wouldn't allow me to go to the temple, and a bishop who told me I needed to be taking the sacrament. In short, different priesthood leaders handle the situation differently. However, they are handling the situation because as the "brethren" have stated (from the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet) "The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors, including...masturbation..." Unless there's been some sort of official retraction, I believe the standard still applies.

Beck said...

I think it's clear that the Church has a policy "against" it, but I find these responses disturbing in how it is interpreted by the Judges of Israel so differently.

There was a period of time as YM leader when out of 16 priests, 8 were "unable" to participate in priesthood assignments such as blessing the sacrament, and this was due to the "M" word. With this particular bishop, a priest could not participate at the table if he was participating in the "M" practice - period. And, a two to three month period of abstention was required.

As I observed this trend, it backfired on the Bishop, as the boys began to see the "not able to participate" response to being asked to fulfill a priesthood assignment, as a badge of honor instead of a condemnation. There were a lot of winking and knowing smiles around the quorum between the boys. It began to be a joke and I confronted the bishop on the way the boys were treating his "punishment" and he finally mellowed in his interpretation. Mind you, 12 of these 16 boys served faithful full-time missions. (I can't help but wonder if the other 4 would have gone had this issue been handled in another manner...)

As for current teachings of the prophets, I find it interesting that in the current manual of "Spencer W. Kimball" the "M" word is mentioned once, and in context with an array of other sexual practices, not as a topic on its own. Yet, if you go back to his writings, his talks, the hateful "Miracle of Forgiveness" (which by the way was written in 1969 well before he was a prophet - and in my book, any book that is written by General Authorities in general, not under direct command of the Lord, is nothing but PRIESTCRAFT and selling of one's testimony - take that Deseret Book!), he was full of warnings against masturbation and homosexuality. In my mind, out of 24 lessons, his thoughts on the subject for the 2007 audience has been edited down substantially to a single sentence (Yet there is still a lengthy and condemning paragraph on homosexuality - see lesson 17). Does that mean it's being de-emphasized? Maybe, but it's the inconsistent interpretation and wide variance of punishment handed down or not by bishops that is most damaging, disturbing, and detrimental to the men and young men of this church! Just look at the responses here on this post. It is sad to see the damage done by otherwise meaningful priesthood leaders.

Abelard Enigma said...

"The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors, including ... masturbation ..."

That's not what it says in the most current version of the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet. So, while there hasn't been an 'official' retraction, there certainly seems to be a softening of their position.

We can certainly choose to interpret that the brethren are referring to masturbation when they talk about pornography. Or we can choose to interpret statements like "Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings" (from the current "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet) to include masturbation.

But, I still stand by my opinion that it doesn't seem to be a major issue with the brethren. If it were then they would be more explicit in their language (as they are with pornography) and not mask it in ambiguous statements that are subject to private interpretation.

I'm not trying to rationalize it and say it's OK. I just think we need to put things into perspective. I've worked with the youth for most of my adult life. I am very concerned when a young man isn't coming to church regularly or isn't participating in the weekday activities or seminary or isn't actively participating in the Sunday priesthood lessons. I'm concerned when he isn't reading his scriptures or praying regularly. I'm concerned when he talks about movies or TV shows he's seen that are inappropriate or if he is getting too involved with a girlfriend at a young age. I'm concerned when he is getting involved with the wrong kinds of friends at school or if he has experimented with drugs or alcohol. I worry when I hear his parents expressing frustration with his dishonesty or lack of respect at home. But, I don't waste any brain cells worrying if he masturbates. AND, it's not a topic that is covered in any of the Aaronic Priesthood lessons (all of the other things I mentioned are).

And, just because your Bishop felt a need to discuss something with you doesn't mean that his advice and counsel also applies to me.

Beck said...

ABE: Excellent! Very well stated!

J G-W said...

It's odd... All my years in the church I was never explicitly asked about masturbation. However, due to the fact that my father warned me that bishops might ask me about it (did his bishops ask him about it when he was a boy?), I took that as an indication that it was a sin, and that I should confess it if I engaged in it. The first time I masturbated (at the age of 14) I felt so guilty I immediately confessed it to my dad (in tears!!), and he just awkwardly said, "That's OK. Just try not to do it again." But it ws really Boyd K. Packer's "factory" talk, and Kimball's Miracle of Forgiveness that worked me up to a fever pitch.

Most of my youth, I tried hard to be a good boy and "slipped up" only infrequently. (Because of my abstinence, however, I had very frequent wet dreams, which actually made me feel very awkward and guilty. Even though Packer and other church leaders absolved us of wet dreams, somehow I felt that having them so frequently -- once every night or every other night -- must have meant something was wrong with me.) Looking back now, it seems kind of ridiculous some of the tactics I resorted to in order to keep myself "clean" -- sleeping fully clothed and with the lights on, for instance. Somehow I managed to control myself long enough before each worthiness interview to feel OK about giving the right answers to all the very general questions about worthiness.

On my mission, I only "slipped" twice, confessed to my mission president, and he absolved me on both occasions without further ado. But after I came back from my mission, things changed... The battle became much more intense. I've already told what happened when I confessed to my BYU bishop...

I look back, and I think, that was completely crazy. I do think that exercising self-control is a good thing, I've seen benefits from it personally and in my relationship. But I agree, I wish something could be done to create a more rational, church-wide policy. Just a few wise words from a loving bishop might have gone far to save me a lot of anguish and give me a little perspective. Something along the lines of, "Hey, try not to do this too often, because it's really important to treat your procreative power with as much respect as you can. But if you slip up once in a while, don't feel bad, because we all do."

You guys have convinced me that, based on the wild inconsistency in preaching and practice and weird silences of church leaders and official publications, this really is a matter of personal conscience.

But if so, what a tragedy that so many have been so traumatized. As I have said -- I know others have not struggled with this as much as I have -- but this literally almost killed me, and certainly was a factor in my leaving the church and much of the anger I felt toward church leaders for many years after I left. Where might I be now, I wonder, if, instead of punishing me by denying me a calling, taking away my recommend, and telling me to stop taking the sacrament, my bishop had encouraged me to stay as fully engaged and active in the Church as possible, because we need these things in order to have a vital, growing spiritual life...?

Abelard Enigma said...

In a priesthood leadership meeting last year, our Stake President said something that really struck me. He was talking about pornography. As he was ending his talk, he said the words that we're all familiar with: "Brethren, if you have a problem with pornography then go talk to your Bishop." But then he added: "And Bishop's, if you have a problem with pornography then come talk to me."

It really hit me - none of us are immune. I'm sure there are Bishops, and even Stake Presidents, possibly even regional reps and higher, who masturbate and view porn. They are, after all, human - just like the rest of us. And, being called and ordained/set apart to these positions does not automatically endow them with any extra powers of resistance.

So, when I hear of these Bishops who take such hard core positions; I can't help but wonder if they are fighting with their own demons.

J G-W said...

By the way, I LOVE the Pee Wee Herman picture. It sets just the right tone for this discussion.

Abelard Enigma said...

I was wondering if anybody would catch the significance :)

J G-W said...

Poor Pee Wee.

Paul Reubens never did make much of a come back after that dreadful movie house incident.

We were watching some reruns of the old Pee Wee's Playhouse TV shows a few months ago. Jeez, those shows were gay!! (Though Paul Reubens, I understand, is not.)

Abelard Enigma said...

I used to really enjoy watching Pee Wee's Playhouse with my kids. His style of humor is such that it is funny to children, but it is also funny to adults, but in a different way. I think he is actually very gifted in that way.

But, you're right. his career evaporated over night after that unfortunate incident. But, I blame it on all of those Pharisees and Sadducees who call themselves Christians. Maybe they should spend a little more time removing the beam from their own eyes and less time worrying about the motes in everyone else.

In case you can't tell, I have little regard for the Christian Right - even though I am very conservative in my political views. Maybe if they actually practiced a little of what they preach. You know, things like forgiveness, turning the other cheek, all those things that the God they claim to worship tells us we should do. This is a big reason why I'm so hesitant to jump on the Mitt Romney bandwagon - because those are the people he is courting.

BTW, I have just as little regard for the Christian Left. In fact, I can only feel contempt for anyone that uses religion for political gain (be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, whatever).

However, I digress. But, this is my blog, so I can do whatever I want - right?

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Masturbation: Dreadful sin? Or a biological dalliance?

Max Power said...

What if, instead of asking "have you masturbated?", he asks "do you have a problem with masturbation?"

I respond: Nope. It works every time!

Hidden said...

A little perspective...

Before my mission, m and I were best buds. I tried desperately to get away from it once I actually wanted to serve. I convinced myself finally that I had beaten it, and got the proper clearances.

MTC no problem. In the field though my first comp got sick to the point that he couldn't leave the house. I was new, had no idea about exchanges, and didn't know how to run an area. That left me alot of time in the apt to do whatever... yup it came back.

So here's the perspective of my mission president. When I went in to talk to him about it, he said: "Elder Hidden, if we sent home every missionary who has masturbated on their mission, we wouldn't have any missionaries."

That really struck me. Knowing that I wasn't the only one was pretty freeing, although I still felt awful since I was on the Lord's time...

I agree most with iwonder. You shouldn't feel guilty if you only do it every so often. Every day could probably be a different story. I think it's subjective...

Just don't let it make you feel less than sh-- because that's not helping anyone... especially if it gets to the point of self-abuse. That's scary.

Abelard Enigma said...

Elder Hidden, if we sent home every missionary ...

Your mission president called you by your blog name? Wow!

But, I agree with you. When I talked to my mission president, he treated it as a self control issue, not a chastity issue. Much like having the self control to get proper exercise, eat properly, etc.

iwonder said...

I wish to post an addendum.

I personally believe that this issue is quite often blown out of proportion.

Do I believe that if one masturbates, one is committing a heinous sin and is suddenly an immoral person?

NO.

Do I believe that it is likely best to never have to deal with this at all?

Yes.

Do I believe that God is incredibly understanding, merciful and forgiving?

Yes.

Do I believe that masturbation is a sin?

I'm not sure.

Do I believe that if it were vitally or even reasonable important, that the General Authorities would address it specifically rather than making us guess as to what the doctrine (assuming there is one) regarding this is?

Yes.

Therefore?

I conclude that while not the best course of action, masturbation isn't that serious at all. I believe that we've enough in life to worry about, than to let guilt crush all feelings of self-worth and allow one to falsely imagine that s/he is a horrible sinner because they "struggle" with masturbation.

Struggling said...

Read through your comment on the cultural hall and have now read through this entire post. Logically, I must admit I want to really accept your position. I am continually trying to allow myself to think that it is ok; this is only b cuz thinking about it the other way did not seem to get me anywhere. Confessing, fasting, reading, memorizing, exercising, have not worked. Circumstances like starting while on my mission cause me to become aroused while doing spiritual things; weird. Atleast I assume that is why I get aroused like that. Then they say well dont do anything that causes you to be aroused. Ok, you dont want me to read the scriptures or go to church. I have felt so trapped, confused. I wish I could say to myself, wow the worst sin in my life is masturbation, I am doing awesome. My mind is not able to comprehend that. I dont know if it is the spirit telling me it is wrong or years of nurturing and being told it was wrong. I used to think it was the former. I now think it may be the latter; for numerous reasons. Then ppl tell me to pray about it. I do! but i think my mind, body, and spirit are so confused right now I dont know what is spiritual confirmation and what is not anymore.
I just want to find some peace. I have spent nearly half my life feeling shame because of this sin; thanks in large part to a poorly explained lesson in deacons quorum about masturbation b cuz they were so afraid of just explaining it outright they were vague for 35 min of torture on the mind that left me scarred. The "funny" thing is that they explained it so poorly I felt bad about having done it when I never actually did it at all. I never realized that I had never done it until I really did it. My whole teenage life was spent trying to control wet dreams. Thank you Young Men's president. This is somewhat silly it seems but I look back at various things that happened in my past and I just see everything falling into place for this complete life crash. I want out.