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I've been thinking about my posting on The M Word and the subsequent comments as well as some private conversations I've had with a few of you. And, there are a couple of points that I want to bring out.
I've found it interesting that most of the dissenting opinions have been from the sisters among us. I don't mean that as a criticism. For me, it underscores just how different men and women are when it comes to sexuality. Women can't understand male sexuality any more than men can understand female sexuality.
For us guys, there are certain aspects of male sexuality that we all share, regardless of who we are attracted to. For one thing, it is a simple fact of life that men have to ejaculate periodically. If we don't do it via intimacy with a partner or in a solo session with ourselves then our body will do it on its own through a nocturnal emission. The answer may seem simple - just let your body do its thing and stop playing with yourself. But, alas, it's not that simple.
Elder Boyd K. Packer talked about nocturnal emmisions when speaking to the young men of the church in the priesthood session of the October 1976 general conference:
As you move closer to manhood, this little factory will sometimes produce an oversupply of this substance. The Lord has provided a way for that to be released. It will happen without any help or without any resistance from you. Perhaps, one night you will have a dream. In the course of it the release valve that controls the factory will open and release all that is excess.These dreams he refers to - these aren't dreams of flying or of red balloons. These are erotic dreams culminating in an orgasm; and, at least for me, they are of the homo variety. I recall times on my mission where I was laying in my bed having a homoerotic dream and I, perhaps subconsciously, reached down to touch myself which brought on this release. Afterwards I felt tremendous guilt for the dream and thinking I had just masturbated. But, in retrospect, all I probably did was bring on the release a few moments before it would have on its own.
When I was in high school, I had a pet chihuahua. I recall once the neighbor had a female dog in heat. It was all we could do to keep him in our own yard. He wouldn't eat or drink. I truly feared we might lose him. The need to copulate was stronger than his need to sustain himself with nourishment. We, of course, aren't dogs and there are different physiological factors involved. But, the sexual urges in human males are still just as strong as in other males in the animal kingdom. We also have the God given ability to resist these urges. However, depending on what else is going on in our lives, our ability to resist may be weakened.
This brings me to my second point. In a Bishopric training meeting recently, our good Stake President had "dealing with ssa" on the agenda of things he wanted to talk about. He only spent about 5 minutes on the subject; but, there is one thing he said that I've since come to realize was very profound. As he counseled the bishop's in our stake he said (and I'll try to word this exactly as he said it as best as I can recall) "brethren, when working with someone with same sex attraction, there are factors that may be affecting their behavior, other than just making bad choices, that you need to take into consideration."
I think that when we put restrictions on someone who has a masturbation problem or when we berate ourselves for a perceived masturbation problem - we may be treating a symptom and ignoring the problem. In some ways, masturbation can be like alcohol or drugs in that it provides temporary relief from other problems the person may be facing. He may be feeling depressed, downtrodden, desperate, perhaps even suicidal. And, for a brief moment of ecstasy, he can put these feelings behind him.
So, if we find ourselves masturbating more than we think we ought to (which, for some, might be 'ever', for others, it might be exceeding some 'acceptable' frequency), I think we need to examine what else is going on in our lives. We need to make sure we are treating the problem and not just the symptom.
And, for those of us who have sexual feelings contrary to that which is taught by the church, masturbation may not be a deviation from the strait and narrow path - it may, in fact, provide a way for us to stay the course.