Monday, August 24, 2009

The "M" word - revisited

I've had this post sitting my my drafts folder for over two years (it was dated 07/25/2007). Because of the first question I received (my personal philosophy regarding masturbation) and some subsequent comments, I decided to go ahead and publish it. Although going back and reading it, it reflects my views 2 years ago which have somewhat evolved since then.

* * * * *

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.


Hidden said...

Similar to dealing with homosexuality, I think there is a range of opinion among church leaders with regard to the M word. Before going on my mission I was a heavy P and m addict, and worked very hard to be free of that so I could serve. Once I got out in the field, I was good for the first few months - no problem in the MTC, or in my first area. But then my companion got sick and we were home-bound, and there's only so many talks you can read before you go stir-crazy... or get bored.

I talked with my mission president a number of times about my "problem" with M and he repeatedly counseled me, even going so far as to threaten to send me home if I didn't curb my frequency. I tried really hard to "be good."

Eventually, my President got released and the new one came. I was so excited to make a good impression on him, to have him see me as the missionary I knew I was. Only I slipped up again. AGH! So when I went to talk to him, I simply said, "I know you've probably already seen my file, and you know what this is about." Only he didn't! My old President had thrown everything away! I had a clean file and here I was ruining it again! I couldn't believe it.

But when I told him that I was still "struggling" with M, he smiled and said, "Elder, if I sent home every missionary in this mission who did that, I wouldn't have any missionaries left." I was shocked. Both were men of God, but they understood principles of the gospel so differently.

A.J. said...

I know thinking of such things makes you uncomfortable but women do masturbate. I spoke with my Bishop about it before going to BYU and he was very kind and told me how difficult it can be to be celibate and that to not do it for a certain amount of time. I was so relieved he didn't freak out or make me feel like I was hell bound pervert. I am really grateful for his compassion even though it's been years and years since I went to see him.

Jenz said...

Your not going to like this but...The clitoris has no reproductive purpose whatsoever. It was given to women for the sole purpose of pleasure. Plain and simple. Therefore, Yes...women do masturbate.

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm not listening [covers ears] la, la, la, la, la

That's a little TMI for this gay boy :)

A.J. said...

sorry if we got too graphic "hug" -A.J.

Jenz said...


Frank Lee Scarlet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Point of Order (not sure if that's the right motion, but oh well): I think I read in one of your posts--maybe a Q&A one--that the Church doesn't have a specific policy on M. However, the 'For the Strength of Youth' pamphlet says, in the section on sexual purity, "Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage...Do not arouse those [sexual] emotions in your own body."
You may have already read this, or maybe someone has already brought it up, but I just thought I'd throw that out there. I'm not saying anything, just thought it might be helpful in the discussion.

Abelard Enigma said...

That's an interesting point; although, I find it interesting that the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet explicitly talks about not touching the private parts of someone else - but does not explicitly address touching our own private parts.