Youth come into contact early with masturbation. Many would-be authorities declare that it is natural and acceptable, and frequently young men I interview cite these advocates to justify their practice of it. To this we must respond that the world's norms in many areas—drinking, smoking, and sex experience generally, to mention only a few—depart increasingly from God's law. The Church has a different, higher norm.
Thus 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. Our modern prophet has indicated that no young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice.
While we should not regard this weakness as the heinous sin which some other sexual practices are, it is of itself bad enough to require sincere repentance. What is more, it too often leads to grievous sin, even to that sin against nature, homosexuality. For, done in private, it evolves often into mutual masturbation—practiced with another person of the same sex and thence into total homosexuality.
Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 77-78
As we read the scriptures quoted or referred to above, we observe that they list virtually all the modern transgressions, though sometimes under ancient names. Let us review the lengthy list:
Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in masters, disobedience in servants, unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God, disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery, lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth, striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality, deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk, profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling, covenant-breaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost, Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness, implacability, bitterness, clamor, spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking, provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate, covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things, fleshliness, heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability, ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block; and in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery, homosexuality; and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure practices.
Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 25
One young man came to me to be interviewed for a mission. He admitted nothing wrong except what he called a "little" masturbation. I had him come again. In the meantime, his conscience had pricked "a little." The next week he admitted he had done a "little" petting, nothing more. In subsequent visits he admitted one error after another, until finally he had admitted fornication.
Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 182
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. Our modern prophet has indicated that no young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice.
While we should not regard this weakness as the heinous sin which some other sexual practices are, it is of itself bad enough to require sincere repentance. What is more, it too often leads to grievous sin, even to that sin against nature, homosexuality. For, done in private, it evolves often into mutual masturbation—practiced with another person of the same sex and thence into total homosexuality…
Elder Spencer W. Kimball, quoted in We believe: Doctrines and Principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Edited by Rulon T Burton, Tabernacle Books (1994.).
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 of 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.
Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.174
How like the mistletoe is immorality. The killer plant starts with a sticky, sweet berry. Once rooted, it sticks and grows—a leaf, a branch, a plant. It never starts mature and full grown. It is always transplanted an infant. Nor does immorality begin in adultery or perversion. Those are full grown plants. Little indiscretions are the berries—indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing. The leaves and little twigs are masturbation and petting and such, growing with every exercise.
Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.230
All sex activity outside marriage is sin. 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 Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Edward L. Kimball, ed. (1982) p.264.
Numerous times have I interviewed young men who have been told by people in whom they had confidence that masturbation was normal and natural and necessary. Numerous times have I visited with young people who have been advised to greatly limit their children. More than a few times have I been advised by frustrated people that they have been advised to seek promiscuous sexual life to cure their maladies.
Many errors are induced by society's approval. The subject of chastity is hard to preach about. In nearly every group in meetings, firesides, etc., there is a mixed group, both sexes and youth of different degrees of mentality, training, and experience. To clear the thinking of one youth would put ideas into another mind. I think we should clarify the thinking for the people, but it must be done with great care. If we think and talk sex too much, harm can come from it; and if it is too little, harm may come, so it is hard to know just how far to go. These interviews with singles are most satisfactory. If every youth would voluntarily come to someone in whom he had confidence and discuss boldly and frankly these matters, much good could come. Many missionaries have enthusiastically thanked me after an interview in which I have tried to properly and decently and understandingly discuss with them the dangers and possible damages which can come from masturbation, petting, and especially "heavy petting," and the sin of unchastity. Many young men have seemed a bit surprised that the Church could not wink at the former two. They told me that at the university the doctor and the physical education instructors had spoken of the thing as a necessary thing or as a habit, universal and without harm. Several prospective missionaries have said, after our interview: "Thanks, Brother Kimball. I am so glad you spoke to me of these things. I didn't know. I can wholly give it up and shall do so. I didn't know the Church considered it immoral."
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Edward L. Kimball, ed. (1982) p.269.
And I believe the youth of Zion want to hear the clear and unmistakable tones of the trumpet, and it is my hope that I can play the tune with accuracy and precision so that no honest person will ever be confused. I hope fervently that I am making clear the position of the Lord and His Church on these unmentionable practices.
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.
A person is the maker of himself. He may control his own destiny, if he is normal. James Allen says:
"... A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.... Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits . . . let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astounded at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life..."
James Allen again says:
...Man is manacled only by himself: thought and action are the jailers of Fate—they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of Freedom—they liberate, being noble.
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.
This unholy transgression is either rapidly growing or tolerance is giving it wider publicity. If one has such desires and tendencies, he overcomes them the same as if he had the urge toward petting or fornication or adultery. The Lord condemns and forbids this practice with a vigor equal to His condemnation of adultery and other such sex acts. And the Church will excommunicate as readily any unrepentant addict.
Again, contrary to the belief and statement of many people, this sin, like fornication, is overcomable and forgivable, but again, only upon a deep and abiding repentance which means total abandonment and complete transformation of thought and act. The fact that some governments and some churches and numerous corrupted individuals have tried to reduce such behavior from criminal offense to personal privilege does not change the nature nor the seriousness of the practice. Good men, wise men, God-fearing men everywhere still denounce the practice as being unworthy of sons of God; and Christ's Church denounces it and condemns it so long as men have bodies which can be defiled. Earlier in our treatise we quoted Peter as having said,
"I beseech you . . . abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." (I Peter 2:11.)
And James says:
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.... Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
"Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
"Do not err, my beloved brethren ."(James 1:8, 12-16.)
Spencer W. Kimball, BYU Speeches, January 5 1965, p.22-24
Nor does immorality begin in adultery or perversion. Those are full-grown adults. Little indiscretions are the berries -- indiscretions like sex thoughts sex discussions, passionate kissing, pornography. The leaves and little twigs are masturbation and necking and such, growing with every exercise.
Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1967, p.67
masturbation is a sinful habit that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. It is not physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme. It is a habit that is totally self-centered, and secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore separates a person from God, and defeats the gospel plan.
This self-gratifying activity will cause one to lose his self-respect and feel guilty and depressed, which can in the extreme lead to further sinning. As a person feels spiritually unclean, he loses interest in prayer, his testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become burdensome, offering no joy and limited success…
Be assured that you can be cured of your difficulty. Many have been, both male and female, and you can be also if you determine that it must be so.
This determination is the first step. That is where we begin. You must decide that you will end this practice, and when you make that decision, the problem will be greatly reduced at once.
But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you. It must be actually a decision. If you truly make up your mind that you will be cured, then you will have the strength to resist any tendencies which you may have and any temptations which may come to you. After you have made this decision, then observe the following specific guidelines.
- Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
- If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, you must break off their friendship. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don't suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken out of your mind for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.
- When you bathe, do not admire yourself in a mirror. Never stay in the bath more than five or six minutes -- just long enough to bathe and dry and dress and then get out of the bathroom into a room where you will have some member of your family present.
- When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those clothes. By the time you started to remove protective clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your thinking that the temptation would leave you.
- If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, get out of bed and go into the kitchen and fix yourself a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you get your mind on something else. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.
- Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember -- "First a thought, then an act." The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.
- Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books -- Church books -- Scriptures -- Sermons of the Brethren. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.
- Pray. But when you pray, don't pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep it in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends, your families, but keep the problem out of your mind by not mentioning it ever -- not in conversation with others, not in your prayers. keep it out of your mind!
The attitude of a person toward his problem has an effect on how easy it is to overcome. It is essential that a firm commitment be made to control the habit. As a person understands his reasons for the behavior, and is sensitive to the conditions or situations that may trigger a desire for the act, he develops the power to control it.
We are taught that our bodies are temples of God, and are to be clean so that the Holy Ghost may dwell within us. masturbation is a sinful habit that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. It is not physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme. It is a habit that is totally self-centered, and secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore separates a person from God and defeats the gospel plan.
This self-gratifying activity will cause one to lose his self-respect and feel guilty and depressed, which can in the extreme lead to further sinning. As a person feels spiritually unclean, he loses his interest in prayer, his testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become burdensome, offering no joy and limited success.
To help in planning an effective program to overcome the problem a brief explanation is given of how the reproductive organs in a young man function.
The testes in your body are continually producing hundreds of millions of reproductive cells call spermatozoa. These are moved up a tube called the vas deferens to a place called the ampulla where they are mixed with fluids from two membranous pouches called seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. The resultant fluid is called semen. When the seminal vesicles are full a signal is sent to the central nervous system indicating they are ready to be emptied. The rate at which the filling takes place varies greatly from one person to another, depending on such things as diet, exercise, state of health, etc. For some it may be several times a week, for others twice a month and for others, hardly ever.
It is normal for the vesicles to be emptied occasionally at night during sleep. This is called a wet dream. The impulses that cause the emptying come from the central nervous system. Often an erotic dream is experienced at the same time, and is a part of this normal process. If a young man has consistently masturbated instead of letting nature take its course, the reproductive system is operating at a more rapid pace, trying to keep up with the loss of semen. When he stops the habit, the body will continue to produce at this increased rate, for an indefinite period of time, creating sexual tensions and pressure. These are not harmful and are to be endured until the normal central nervous system pathway of release is once again established.
During this period of control several things can be done to make the process easier and more effective.
As one meets with his Priesthood Leader, a program for overcoming masturbation can be implemented using some of the suggestions which follow. Remember it is essential that a regular report program be agreed on, so progress can be recognized and failures understood and eliminated. Suggestions
- Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and out lout when the temptations are the strongest.
- Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.
- When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a prechosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.
- Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week, month, year and finally commit to never doing it again. Until you commit yourself to _never again_ you will always be open to temptation.
- Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved through a changed self-image. Spend time every day imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming tempting situations.
- Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to enhance your strengths and talents.
- Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
- Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting a friend, doing something athletic, etc.
- Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of self control, color the day black. Your goal will be to have no black days. The calendar becomes a strong visual reminder of self control and should be looked at when you are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up until you have at least three clear months.
- A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall, in detail, what your particular times and conditions were. Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter activities.
- In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eating several of them as you do the act.
- During your toileting and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.
- Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake, no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something. Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food. Eat as lightly as possible at night.Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual excitement. It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.
- Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your progress.
- Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Satan never gives up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Apostle Mark E. Peterson, “Overcoming Masturbation: A Guide to Self Control,” distributed by the LDS Church
There is; however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.
Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find theses shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were. As the music begins and the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away from your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.
In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.
Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind of unworthy thoughts, keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change your environment so that you have things about you that will inspire good and uplifting thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous.
Another thing will help both to prevent and to overcome such habits. At times of special temptation skip a meal or two. We call that fasting, you know. It has a powerful effect upon you physically. It diverts some of that physical energy to more ordinary needs. It tapers desire and reduces the temptation. Fasting will help you greatly. In the scriptures, fasting and prayer are generally mentioned together. Prayer is a powerful instrument to bless young men. If a missionary, for instance, indulges in these unworthy practices, the Spirit of the Lord will leave him. When he is prayerful and will fast, the Spirit of the Lord sustains him. He soon develops a manly restraint and worthiness.
Resist those temptations. Do not tamper with your body. If you have already, cease to do it —now. Put it away and overcome it. The signal of worthy manhood is self-control.
Apostle Boyd K. Packer, 1976 General Conference, speech entitled “To Young Men Only”
Virtue may be lost by degrees; and chastity may be destroyed a step at a time. Immodesty, necking, and petting, themselves a form of sex immorality, frequently lead to much grosser offenses. Every degree and type of lewdness, lasciviousness, and licentiousness; of concupiscence, prostitution, and whoredoms; of sodomy, onanism, and homosexuality; of masturbation, incontinence, and perversion; of rape, seduction, and infidelity; of adultery, fornication, and uncleanness—all these things, as well as many others, are condemned by divine edict and are among Lucifer's chief means of leading souls to hell. Fine distinctions between them are of no particular moment and are not necessary to observance of the divine laws involved. Counsel in the field of chastity is simply: Be Chaste!
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.708 SEX IMMORALITY
To illustrate: An individual may go to a psychiatrist for treatment because of a serious guilt complex and consequent mental disorder arising out of some form of sex immorality—masturbation for instance. It is not uncommon for some psychiatrists in such situations to persuade the patient that masturbation itself is not an evil; that his trouble arises from the false teachings of the Church that such a practice is unclean; and that, therefore, by discarding the teaching of the Church, the guilt complex will cease and mental stability return. In this way iniquity is condoned, and many people are kept from complying with the law whereby they could become clean and spotless before the Lord—in the process of which they would also gain the mental and spiritual peace that overcomes mental disorders.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.610 PSYCHIATRY
Adultery is one of the most serious sins committed in mortality. Any act or thought that leads to or that might culminate in an adulterous act is "like unto it" and is condemned by the Lord. With such a divine injunction, no one can expect to live in Zion who justifies or fails to repent of acts of petting, masturbation, homosexuality, etc.
Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, Vol.1, p.288
Bishop Featherstone then told the priesthood congregation to imagine a great scroll suspended from the ceiling and on it were the names of those who had purchased pornographic literature, viewed x-rated movies, had a masturbation or homosexual problem, were adulterers or engaged in fornication or petting.
The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.9
Are parents willing to answer to God at Judgment Day for the violation of His moral law and the laws of health which cause handicapped bodies and retarded mentality for His choice spirit children? You young men and women and parents of the Church cannot follow the practices of the world. You are not of the world, so choose and dare to be different. Avoid immodesty of dress, familiarity, masturbation, petting, and other perversions which lead to sex sins.
Delbert L. Stapley, BYU Speeches, April 26, 1966, p.12
Let me suggest the way that I think we ought to interview as ecclesiastical leaders. You, as counselors and psychotherapists, would interview much differently. We have a right to interview this way and everyone has a right to be interviewed in depth to find out what kind of life they are living. We had 1384 temple recommend holders in the stake in which I served as stake president and I interviewed 500 people personally. I would meet them at the door and say, "How are you?" "Fine." "Your family's fine?" "Yes." "Your children are well?" "Yes." "Even your boy on his mission is doing well?" "Yes." Anyway, I would come across the floor and be very warm to them and then sit, not behind the desk but across the corner of the desk or out in front. Then I would say something like this, "Now, before this interview begins, if there has been a major transgression in your life, that has not been confessed and adjusted—and President Kimball said that it is critical to say `and adjusted'—then I'd like to know about it before this interview ends—not that I need to know but that I want to take it off of your heart. If I can close it, I will close it, and you need not open it again and if not, we can take the appropriate action and help you to repent." Now, with that introduction almost immediately I could tell whether the person I was interviewing had a problem. It comes back to their mind and they think, "Finally now, am I going to be able to tell? Does he really want to know? Will I have enough courage? Is he going to ask the questions so that it will come out?" So I ask the next question, "Is there any problem with the Word of Wisdom? tea? coffee? liquor? tobacco? and so forth," and I am not going to attend to those particular questions, but we need to go slow enough to get a response to each one. If they have been to the temple, I talk about wearing their temple garments properly, and keeping the Sabbath day holy. I talk about whether [p.7] they are affiliated with an apostate church, or whether they are full tithe payers, and sustaining the bishop and so forth. Now, I hurry so that I can get to this part and say, "Are you morally clean?" You know in all the interviews I have ever conducted, I have never had anyone say no. I can ask everyone in this room and I know what you would say. Every single person in this room would say, "Yes, I am morally clean." Why do we say yes to that question? Because most people justify and rationalize their conduct. Elder Stapley, when I traveled with him once, said, "When you ask about masturbation, don't ask `do you?,' but ask `how long has it been?'" Do you see the difference? If a fellow did it a week ago, or had a problem or a young lady did, they say, "Heavenly Father, I'm going to promise that I'll never do that again." A week later you see them in the interview, you ask "Do you have a masturbation problem" and they answer no. In their minds they think, "Well, I've prayed about it and I won't do it anymore." They are answering honestly, but the next night after the interview is over, they know they will not be interviewed for another year. Satan will come tempting and there is a tendency to slip. If we ask them how long has it been, then you find out, and you can find out if it has been a week, or two weeks, or six years. If it has been six years, go on to the next question. If it has been two weeks, then let me suggest how you can help them overcome the problem. Give them a special blessing. I think ecclesiastical leaders who do not take the opportunity to give special blessings really miss a sweet experience and miss the opportunity to bless the lives of the persons they are interviewing. Also, always promise them by the power of the priesthood that they will have the power to overcome the temptations.
AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists), Volume 16, Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, p.6
When we are dealing with problems on a constant basis, it may be easy to develop an attitude that most everyone has that problem to some greater or lesser degree. This may not be true. Someone said that if you walk with a lame man for a year you'll walk with a limp. I met a psychiatrist back east who was also on the high council. His wife wanted an interview with me. She asked, "How do you feel about masturbation?" I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "How serious is it in the Church?" I told her, "It is serious. The Spirit withdraws," and I went on to explain. She said, "I disagree with you and so does my husband. He's a psychiatrist and [p.66] he says that most everyone does it." She must have been about fifty years old and she herself had been involved in the practice and she didn't feel one particle of guilt. Her husband came and I talked with them together. I asked him if this was the kind of counsel he was giving and he told me that it was. I said, "That is not according to the Church standards, let's talk about it." So, we talked about it. At that time I had not yet been a mission president, but later on when I was called to preside over a mission I saw that nearly 80% of the missionaries literally go through their entire mission and do not have the problem. Yet this woman and her husband would not think it possible. Maybe they were too close to those few who have the problem. Those that he interviewed, that came to his office, those he dealt with all day long were so involved with the problem that he "lost his perspective." Let me suggest to you that we ought to be careful when we start coming across problems in our counseling. As recent as last night, I heard someone talking about homosexuality and how rampant it is in the Church. Of course, there are far too many cases, but of all the men I've interviewed (and they ask us every time we interview a bishop, high councilors, stake presidencies, or prospective stake presidents to ask that question), and all that we've interviewed to serve missions (approximately 30,000), few have ever been involved in homosexuality. If we went on that basis we would hardly find any in the Church. I realize there are a lot undercover and there are far, far too many in the Church, but there aren't as many as people would lead us to believe.
When we are dealing with problems on a constant basis, it may be easy to develop an attitude that most everyone has that problem to some greater or lesser degree. This may not be true. Someone said that if you walk with a lame man for a year you'll walk with a limp. I met a psychiatrist back east who was also on the high council. His wife wanted an interview with me. She asked, "How do you feel about masturbation?" I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "How serious is it in the Church?" I told her, "It is serious. The Spirit withdraws," and I went on to explain. She said, "I disagree with you and so does my husband. He's a psychiatrist and [p.66] he says that most everyone does it." She must have been about fifty years old and she herself had been involved in the practice and she didn't feel one particle of guilt. Her husband came and I talked with them together. I asked him if this was the kind of counsel he was giving and he told me that it was. I said, "That is not according to the Church standards, let's talk about it." So, we talked about it. At that time I had not yet been a mission president, but later on when I was called to preside over a mission I saw that nearly 80% of the missionaries literally go through their entire mission and do not have the problem. Yet this woman and her husband would not think it possible. Maybe they were too close to those few who have the problem. Those that he interviewed, that came to his office, those he dealt with all day long were so involved with the problem that he "lost his perspective." Let me suggest to you that we ought to be careful when we start coming across problems in our counseling The early apostles and prophets mention sins which seemed completely reprehensible to them. Some of them were adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, inventors of evil things. Today we call them necking, petting, fornication, sex perversion, masturbation. Included are every hidden and secret sin, and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices.
AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists), Volume 16, Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, p. 65
Clinical methods were based upon those doctrines, norms, and methods that might be considered orthodox for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Methods utilized within the helping professions but which appear to conflict with gospel principles were not used. Among them are masturbation therapy, painful or demeaning aversive techniques, and the erotic regimens of the Masters and Johnson type of sexology. This is not to say that the utility of some of these approaches was ignored. One does not ignore the obvious usefulness of the internal combustion engine because it pollutes the environment. Instead one seeks to develop a clean engine. No one who has felt the despair of those who suffer from problems of intimacy is inclined to ignore helping methods, even when repugnant. The more humane course is to offer viable alternatives.
Victor L. Brown, Jr.; BYU Studies Vol. 26, No. 1, pg.9
The law of chastity applies not only to behavior but also to dress, speech, and thought. Latter-day Saints are counseled to dress modestly, to use dignified language in speaking of bodily functions, and to cultivate virtuous thoughts. Accordingly, they are to avoid anything pornographic in literature, movies, television, and conversation. Though many outside the Church regard masturbation as normal, LDS leaders teach that the practice is wrong, one that feeds base appetites and may lead to other sinful conduct. Similarly, unmarried couples who engage in petting or fondling are breaking the law of chastity, and stimulating impulses that may lead to other sin.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, v. 1, “Chastity, Law of,” by Bryce J. Christensen
When two people of the same sex join in using their bodies for erotic purposes, this conduct is considered homosexual and sinful by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, comparable to sexual relations between any unmarried persons. masturbation is not condoned but is not considered homosexual.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, v. 2, “Homosexuality,” by Bryce J. Christensen
A Boise, Idaho, father sued the Church for $28 million in 1983, claiming the Church's strict moral teachings against masturbation had so depressed his adolescent son that the boy tried three times, with eventual success, to commit suicide.
“Father's Lawsuit Blames LDS for Son's Suicide,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 4, 1983, p. C2