Masturbation

Now here’s a powder keg topic!   I’m diving in.  Just know that this is mostly my opinion and you are completely welcome to disagree with me.

The LDS Christian perspective on masturbation is different from other mainstream Christian religions’ perspectives.   Instead of saying “The Bible is silent on this issue so it is okay,” we listen to our modern prophets’ counsel about the subject, which is that it is a practice to be avoided.   Some would argue that our leaders have backed off of this subject and are minimizing it.  I don’t know about that one way or another, I’ve only heard that around the world wide web.  That could be.  I don’t know.

From the dictionary:    

Masturbation:  

  • 1.) The stimulation or manipulation of one’s own genitals, especially to orgasm; sexual self-gratification.       
  • 2.)  The stimulation, by manual or other means exclusive of coitus, of another’s genitals, especially to orgasm.

What does the church say about it?

“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” (Spencer W. Kimball, Love Versus Lust, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 5 Jan. 1965], p. 22).

President Spencer W. Kimball has written: “The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins. … They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion,masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking.

From For the Strength of Youth:  (what is a sex perversion?)  The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors, including all sexual relations before marriage, petting, sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape, and incest), masturbation…

(all quotes found on lds.org, bolds mine)

I have only recently read about this topic,  and how men feel about it.  I really had no idea it was such a difficult thing to refrain from.  Also, I just never really thought about it that much.  Anyway, I am not a man and I can’t really say much  about  solo masturbation,  for the most part, except that while I have learned it’s a huge struggle,  it is still wrong outside of marriage.  All the references I could find on lds.org were referring to outside and before marriage.    That seems pretty clear to me.  So I’m going to talk about masturbation INSIDE marriage.

Can I just say right now that I cannot stand that word!   Especially since apparently some people get so hung up on the word “masturbation” that they can’t get past it to allow their partner to touch them.  Or to touch themselves.     It’s touch.  Sexual touching.  Our leaders refer to mutual masturbation as “petting”.  I prefer stroking (remember Billy Squire?)  and touching over petting.  You pet the cat, for goodness sakes! (Guys, do NOT go there.)

Some of the best parts about sex are all the stroking and touching going on.   If there was no stroking going on a whole lot of women would be very unsatisfied in bed.   That’s called mutual masturbation.  Thank goodness for mutual masturbation!  Woo hoo!  The best thing ever!  Well, okay, maybe not for some.  But for me, YOWZA.  Along the same lines is mutual self and partner touch.  A guy only has two hands–three or four are even better.

How about simultaneous masturbation?  Simultaneous self touching?  I admit, I’ve never had the desire to watch Conan do such a thing, but I recently learned, over at TheMarriageBed.com, that a whole heck of a lot of women think that’s really HOT.   I do know that for Conan, watching me masturbate for him  is incredibly hot.

Solo masturbation after marriage.  Here is an area where things get tricky.  I am not going to say whether it is or isn’t okay, because I could find nothing about it on lds.org specifically.   It is my own PERSONAL OPINION that it should be avoided if possible.   But Zookie, you say, what about this or that study that promotes solo masturbation for this or that reason?   I would say, there are  also numerous studies out there that say coffee and red wine are healthy and without drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine  a day you are putting yourself at greater risk of heart disease, etc.  Just because there’s a study that says so does not give us the green light.   If you want to do it that is not up to me.   If  someone asked me for advice on the subject, I would advise against it.  There are some definite lines, in my opinion.  I would certainly say that if one spouse masturbates and then sexually denies his/her spouse, that would be completely wrong. If  a married person masturbated secretly, hiding it from his/her spouse, I would say that’ s wrong.   If a married person masturbated every time the urge hit him/her, I believe that would be wrong.

Now, I firmly believe there are some times when it IS good to masturbate solo.  Man or woman.

Let’s start briefly with men.  I won’t say much about men, because I am not a man and I can’t truly relate.  I have only had one experience of walking around in a state of arousal (see my “I Felt Like a Man” post) and that didn’t last very long.  But here is my limited opinion.  If a man has PE (premature ejaculation) there are things he can do about it.  Some of those things involve solo exercises.   So if a guy wants to be a better lover and follows the steps to increase his staying power, he is not just “scratching an itch” so to speak, he is working on improving his sex life.   Then there’s the man that for whatever reason is having a dry season sexually.  Guys get pretty physically uncomfortable when they haven’t had an orgasm with ejaculation  for a long time, and it seems to affect their mental outlook, as well.  Maybe he’s away from his wife for a long period of time.  Or she is physically unable to give him pleasure in any way.  Or she is unwilling to give him pleasure in any way for long periods, which I strongly feel  is just plain wrong.  Especially in those circumstances a man should be able to get the physical release he needs.

Women.  A woman has to know her body to have a good sexual experience.  Contrary to the bodice ripper novels, a guy can’t just touch you a few times, enter you, and after a period of time  you explode in ecstasy at the exact moment that he does.  Things just don’t work that way.  Well, they might for some people, but not for me, boo hoo!   There are some blessed few women in this world who can orgasm through intercourse alone.  No other technique required.  But for the rest of us peasants, we need some kind of direct stimulation to the clitoris.  If you don’t know how to touch your clitoris, if you don’t know what it responds to,  how is your husband going to know?   And sometimes for us  peasant women orgasms just do not happen easily.  We have to learn how to have an orgasm.  We can learn to do that by experimenting and masturbating. A woman could always do that in front of her husband, but  I think it would be uncomfortable and almost impossible for a woman who is just learning about her own sexuality  to relax  enough to do this with him there.  So solo is the way to go.   Another thing about women is that we need have frequent orgasms so that they will be easier to get.  The less you have, the harder it is to get one.  The more you have, the easier it becomes.  If you find you need to give yourself orgasms for awhile until you become accustomed to having them with your husband, then do what you need to do to improve your sex life with your husband.

Another reason for a woman to masturbate  is to start the arousal process.  If you have a hard time getting aroused, you can masturbate first.  I call that getting a head start!  When you are getting ready for bed, do that for awhile and when you come to bed or your husband comes to bed  you’re got things going, you’re feeling pleasantly warm and nice down there,  and it might be easier to get that elusive orgasm.  If you have trouble with wanting to have sex because you’re not aroused first, this is one way to get aroused.

If you are a woman and you aren’t having orgasms, I would encourage you to do some research on how to do this.  There are a lot of books and information to help you.  I haven’t read the famous Laura Brotherson book “And They Were Not Ashamed “, but I’m pretty sure there is a section in that book that guides you through this process.  Find a time and experiment.   You will be glad you did, and your husband will be even more glad you did!

So I would say that the end goal with masturbation should be to improve your sex life with your spouse, not just give yourself pleasure for its own sake.   I really think that’s what it all comes down to: having a mutually satisfying, healthy sex life in your marriage.

16 thoughts on “Masturbation

  1. I think that, for the most part, I agree with your thinking. But… it bothers me to read quotes like the one you shared by SWK: “The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins…masturbation.” Early prophets and apostles have mentioned masturbaton? I have been confused who he was refering to, the early, Old/New Testiment Church, or the Restored Church? In the 1st case, there is no prophetic mention of masturbation! As to the 2nd, there have been veru few early references to masturbation. SWK was the first to make a big issue out of it in print, thus we have several other leaders who have quoted him. I believe that SWK was a product of his upbringing and had his reasons for warning against it. But, I have certainly noticed that it seems to have been not as heavily stressed the past 15 years. The current “For the Strength of Youth” section on morality does not use the word “masturbation”, and when I read it I think that what they are really saying is “don’t arouse those feelings in others, or yourself, doing the things we just warned you to stay away from… passionate kissing, laying on top of each other, petting…”.
    The principle here is, don’t arouse those feelings while you are with someone else, since they can, and often do, result in committing more serious sin, i.e. oral sex or fornication.

    In light of that fact that the word “masturbation” does not even exist in the General Handbook of Instruction, where do our current leaders get their instruction on how to counsel members regarding masturbation? My answer… from my experience, they get their policy/opinions from how their Bishop and prior YM leaders counseled them, what their SP says, etc… but not from any current official Church policy of discipline.

    SWK also included, in his long list of moral sins, such things as: lustfulness, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices.

    So, if a Deacon, or any Church member went to their Bishop and confessed they had some impure thoughts, would the Bishop flip out and tell them they can’t pass the Sacrament, or take the Sacrament or go to the temple? No, he wouldn’t. So, why does masturbation get such a bumb rap, when there are other things on this list that could be more severe spiritually?

    Most members don’t have a clue how common (SWK confirmed this when he referred to it as “a rather common indescretion” – he just didn’t dare share how common it is)masturbation really is. If they knew, they would be relieved to know that they are not one of a few. And especially the women would be surprised to know that MOST LDS men have stuggled with masturbation, and many faithful members still do! Much of it is due to the larger dose of testosterone that men have been given. Many of us almost think of it as a curse, for we don’t really want to have these strong urges when they only create disharmony in our marriages (when we have lesser desire spouses), or when we might allow those hormones to affect what we might look at, or what thoughts we struggle with, etc…

  2. As a married woman with kids, I masturbate nearly every weekday to keep my libido strong and have sex with my husband about 4-7 times a week. We’re much more likely to have sex on the days I masturbate because we talk about my solo time together when he’s home from work and that tends to be erotic and fun for both of us. It has worked great for us, but I don’t think there’s one right way to look at this. It depends on each couple’s needs.

    • I think that’s great, Anon Girl. Your experience keeps your sex life with your husband going strong. I’m glad to have you tell your experience here, since mine is very different in this area. We are all different and we all need different things. Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. AMEN to Chet’s comment of:

    Many of us almost think of it as a curse, for we don’t really want to have these strong urges when they only create disharmony in our marriages

  4. I found your blog through The Mormon Therapist. I applaud you for writing about these important topics. I am a 53 year young woman who only about 5 years ago woke up sexually. I had discovered my ability to orgasm as a young girl through masturbation (although didn’t know what it was then) This continued through my teens, when I realized that the church (yes SWK’s book) said it was wrong. I couldn’t find any info on girls doing it, only boys. I thought I was a freak. When I went to my Bishop to confess he said “I didn’t know girls did that”. Well that confirmed I was a freak. It took me until after I got married to stop this “freakish habit”. But in doing so I also managed to turn myself completely off on all sex.

    After marriage, sex became a disliked chore. I became totally inhibited. Missionary position only, never touched him, occasionally allowed him to touch me and bring me to orgasm, but rarely. Over the years I denied him more and more. We got to the point of maybe once a month. Somehow sex felt wrong. I was trying to be a “good girl’ and good girls clearly didn’t have sex or if they did it was only for the man. Being chaste and being sexual were not compatible in my mind. My husband was a saint – and just accepted this from me at least on the surface, meaning he never threatened divorce. He pulled away emotionally from me and there was resentment. We parented together and were good friends – def.not lovers. I didn’t know then, but do now, that he masturbated to take care of his needs. (what choice did he have).

    About 5 years ago after we became empty nesters, something happened and I woke up sexually. It was like a light bulb went on and I thought – I am not denying my sexuality anymore. I started to read about it, initiate it, became adventurous. My husband was totally blown away. Though he tried to keep up with me, he developed some ED problems which we eventually dealt with. I am sure the ED was because he didn’t know what to make of my change. Many times he asked who are you and what did you do with my wife. (He was not complaining mind you)

    A couple years after I had my sexual awakening, menopause started to kick in and I began to have sexual functioning problems. I was devastated and angry. These issues and others (namely some things I read about polygamy) started to affect my feelings towards God and towards the church. i began to blame the church for the years of my sexual denial. I started to question all I had ever believed . And I was angry at God and questioned why he was taking away what I had just re-discovered.

    I fought hard to keep my sexuality alive. Eventually found bio-identical hormones and started to see a sexual therapist which has been an amazing help to my husband and i. Part of the process to fix my sexual functioning again included having to solo masturbate to re-learn and re-train my body to work again. Thank goodness It has worked and we have been able to carry it over to our lovemaking. With mutual consent, my husband and I still solo masturbate to keep things “working” per the advice of our therapist. I also am gradually working on getting my spiritual self back too.

    To make a long story short – my marriage is so amazing now. Far better than I ever dreamed it could be. I have learned the power of having a frequent (for us 4 to 5 times a week) healthy sexual relationship in a marriage. I am so sad that so many wasted years went by without this understanding. My marriage and relationship with my husband now are night and day different than before.. We are so close both physically and emotionally. Now we are not only best friends, but we are lovers – and loving every bit of it!

    • Thank you so much for your story. It’s an important one that needs to be told. There are lots of women who could learn a valuable lesson from you.

      I’m glad that you’re getting your spiritual side in order, too. Be aware that we LDS don’t have a corner on the market of wrong teaching about sexuality in marriage. It’s widespread in the Christian community. Poor God, I believe He wants so much for us to be happy in that area, and His people keep sabotaging His plan!!
      p.s. I believe with all my heart in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! In it you WILL find true happiness.

  5. That’s an important point! There is a big distinction between the teachings of the “church” or people in the church and teachings of the gospel. While exploring with my therapist my attitudes about sex and the anger I was feeling, I came to the realization that my perceived ideas about sex growing up did not come from the “teachings” of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of it was influenced generational teachings of men, some from my upbringing, and most of it from forming my own wrong ideas and thoughts. It was hard to let go of those damaging ideas and even harder to form healthy ones. I have still not totally reconciled being “chaste” with my new sexual self. (Once again my own wrong ideas). But I can tell you – I am having way more fun being sexual!! lol While in my head I understand the concept and know I am chaste – there is still a twinge of guilt sometimes that I have to take out and examine before understanding that is still my warped way of thinking creeping back.

    I love in your blog where you talk about praying for your sexual relationship, praying to have orgasms. I do the same and I think it is awesome that you have opened this up. I hope the woman (and men) who need this most find it and learn from the things you are talking about. I am not think that everyone that reads this has to agree with everything you day (although I personally haven’t found anything I disagree with), cause it is such an individualized topic and every couple has to find what is right for them. However I think the discussion of these topics is so very important. I can’t tell you the difference it has made in my life to know their are others out there just like me. Some of my warped thinking patterns over the years came from thinking all women in the church were “good girls” and weren’t sexual beings. Nobody around me talked about sex – it was a taboo subject. It should be talked about!!!

  6. Someone read this post today, and I re-read it to refresh my memory about it. I want to add something that is, again, totally my opinion and you are perfectly welcome to disagree.
    I think that if you and your spouse agree to it, or if your spouse requests it, wants it, whatever, you should be able to solo masturbate if you want to. Maybe your spouse wants it and then wants you to tell him/her about it when you do it. That could be pretty hot! It’s all part of a mutual sexual experience, in my opinion!
    ok, that’s all.

    • I just found the blog (thanks to my husband) and I love it!

      After reading your comment here Zookie, I had to comment… My husband LOVES everything and anything that involves me masturbating (I hate that word too). At first I was hesitant and felt weird about him watching me but over the years and with much gentle persuasion by him I am totally comfortable with it now.

      He was very insistent that I do it on my home while he’s at work and then when he got home he wanted to hear the details about how I did it, what I thought about, etc. it’s been great for us on the days where I do and serves as extremely hot foreplay.

      My favorite thing to do in the past couple of months is have a little me time in the shower ( if you have a detachable shower head and haven’t tried it out yet, you are missing out 🙂 and after I’m done I don’t switch the shower head setting back to the normal spray, I leave it on the jet stream spray. This way when my husband comes home from work and gets in the shower, as soon as he turns on the shower he knows what I did that day and I can’t help but smile wondering what he’s thinking about in the shower right then, lol.

      Im loving your blog, can’t wait to read the whole thing!

      • Hi Surefire’s wife! Welcome and thanks for commenting and thanks for the compliment!

        This is a perfect example of what I was talking about. Thanks!

  7. This is the first I’ve read this post–don’t know how I missed it earlier.

    I agree with zookie on this.

    I would also add that CM’s experience, I suspect is something that would describe what many, many, men go through. They beat themselves up feeling guilty in their youth repeatedly committing what they think is “a sin next to murder,” struggling to kill their sexual urges, then in marriage grow frustrated when the long-awaited door to their sexual freedom is supposed to open, only to have it slammed in his face, and then. Then, they start questioning God, their religion, and all the sacrifices they’ve made fighting their own urges over the years. Very sad.

    I can see the significant learning value in some solo experimentation in marriage, and appreciate Laura Brotherson opening the door to this idea in her book, They Were Not Ashamed. As a man, I would love the experience described by Anon Girl above–this seems to affect women differently than men.

    If your husband hasn’t had sex with you in the past week or two, and he’s young and healthy, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t finding some kind of relief on his own. My post on this has been fairly popular: Masturbation in a sexless marriage

    I would also add that the reduced Church emphasis on this among youth is probably inspired and healthy. It’s not nearly as big a deal as we usually make it–the big deal becomes the tragedies from fighting against it so strongly.

  8. Thanks for calling our attention to this post again Zookie.
    I’m starting to explore this for myself,and really I’m clueless. I have no physical vocabulary for this. I’ve always enjoyed Mr Darling’s explorations both solo and together, but wouldn’t know where to start for myself. Any help anyone? I tend to favour the erotic over the pornographic, which is a bit of a disincentive to exploring unknown internet resources, I tend not to shop around.

    I really value those contributions here that describe the relationship between their sexual and spiritual journey,I really relate and it’s helped me to stand back a little from my experience. Pure gold. It’s interesting how many different ways you can save a soul.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I am an LDS woman who has been married for just over 2 months now. Surprisingly sex has been one of the harder things for my husband and I to adjust to as a married couple. It’s hard because its not like I can talk about it freely with anyone because LDS culture is one of such privacy when it comes to sex yet it is an important part of marriage (at least I think so). I haven’t had the greatest sexual experiences with my husband but reading this article has given me some good ideas on what to try. It also gives me peace to know that some of my desires are ok and that even solo masturbation can be ok if it helps our sex life. Thanks!!!

  10. As a man I agree with the comments of the other men who have posted comments. I think most women don’t understand how powerful a man’s sex drive is. As a young man I did my best to avoid masturbation, and felt devastatingly guilty for doing it. After marriage the pressure to masturbate eased up but I still had strong urges to do so if my wife was unwilling. I persevered though and rarely masturbated and felt tremendous guilt for doing it such that I would talk to my bishop who at the time reinforced the error of my ways. In my early forties my testosterone level dropped and I had little desire for masturbation which was a relief from the pressure and guilt of masturbation, though still had regular sex with my wife. I experienced ED as well. Now in my late forties I am on testosterone replacement. In the past couple of years it has brought my sex drive surging back like it was in my youth. My wife and I are having more sex than ever, but even with that I have had an increasing urge to masturbate. I talked to a former stake presidency councilor friend of mine about it and his advice to me was to not beat myself up over it and that it was very common but that if I felt I couldn’t get it under control then to talk to my bishop about it. This I did expecting a lecture like I’ve had in the past but instead he was understanding but still counseled me to work to get it under control though he didn’t make a big deal of it.

    Talking to these two men has eased my burden of guilt a lot though
    I still feel its something I should avoid.

    Talking to my wife about it would be out of the question. She was angry at me when I once admitted to her that I had masturbated as a teenager. To her masturbation is a sin of great consequence. Telling her of my occasional masturbation would not strengthen our marriage, but would put a great strain on it. It would not bring us closer, but would likely put an end to our sex life.

    I have a Baptist friend who assures me that masturbation is not a sin so long as it is not done with pornography or with lustful thoughts. I don’t use porn, and I only do it for relief of built up sexual tension. Not with lustful thoughts. I think his view on masturbation is more liberal than mine, but I have been moving more towards his thinking.

    For me (and probably most men) going without sex is like going without food. You can only do it for so long before the hunger drives you crazy. I wish women understood this.

    • It’s interesting to read the comments here. I feel like I’m a pretty normal guy with a pretty normal sex drive–meaning I think about sex multiple times every single day. That being said, I honestly don’t understand the “allure” of masturbation.

      Perhaps this is because I never “got into” masturbation as a young man. I’ve now been happily married for 14 years and my wife and we have a fabulous sex life together. There are times when I have to travel for 5-7 days at a time and it does get a little frustrating to be away from my wife for so long … but the idea of “relieving the tension” doesn’t appeal to me at all. I love, love, love having sex with my wife, but I have no desire to do it alone.

      I don’t mean to come across as condescending or “holier-than-thou”. I appreciate the honesty and diversity of view points expressed on this website. It doesn’t bother me at all if other people have different opinions on the subject. I just wanted to post my thoughts to let you know that some guys (including some with really strong sex drives) don’t feel that kind of urge at all.

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