Pornography and masturbation problems connected?

Guess I should admit it here, I didn’t realize the connection between porn and masturbation until I was in my 50s. It is only in the last year or so that when I hear about someone with a porn problem I realize that they have a masturbation problem.
That still seems strange to me.
I’m a guy.

I am uncomfortable with this general assumption that seems to be prominent within LDS culture.  First of all, how we define “problem” can sometimes be a problem in of itself.  For instance, I often see the “addiction” label thrown around carelessly with no diagnostic criteria to back it up – causing shame issues that are unfounded in the severity of the “transgression,” (i.e. the young man who is referred to the church addiction program because he masturbates once a month).
Secondly, although pornography use can be accompanied by masturbation – this is not always the case.  And masturbation occurs much more often than pornography usage.  In other words, there are many more people who masturbate than there are people who look at pornography (especially when looked at over an extended period of time).  Therefore, assumptions can be incorrect and shaming to those who deal with these very personal issues.
Third, the “problems” that come about because of pornography use and the “problems” that come about because of masturbation vary greatly in magnitude and in quality of life.  Masturbation can be seen as a normal part of sexual development whereas pornography viewing isn’t intrinsic to human development as much as it is culturally based.  They are both things that the church has asked us to abstain from as part of a sexual code of conduct (with the boundaries around pornography being much clearer than those around masturbation) – but they vary vastly as far as their significance and level of seriousness when it comes to looking at them through the lens of “sin.”
My main reason for responding to this comment is wanting to caution all of us against making generalizing assumptions that many times are uneducated, unwarranted and often only serve to judge and shame others – even if unintentionally.  Proper education about these issues should be an important goal for all of us.

  • Anonymous

    As a mormon male who has been divorced, I personally experience, and understand the connection between abstaining from masturbation, and being available to my single female counterparts in the church. Masturbation, like oral or anal sex, can sometimes be used as a substitute for birth control or even marriage, in the case of some. Although most women in today's female-oriented culture don't understand this, most males will find their strongest motivation to marry in the guarantee of frequently available sex. Therefore, as a believer in Christ who has further awareness of our ultimate mission to seal, and to bond with our counterparts as an eternally bonded couple, I personally feel that we should be aware that although masturbation can be a part of our development, it should also be controlled and restrained. Burning in your desire for someone is not always bad for a man.

  • Anonymous

    how we define "problem" can sometimes be a problem in of itself. For instance, I often see the "addiction" label thrown around carelessly with no diagnostic criteria to back it up – causing shame issues that are unfounded in the severity of the "transgression,"I couldn't agree with this more. "Addiction" is all too often used as an excuse for personal behavior (i.e. someone who spends to much deflecting by saying "I'm addicted to shopping") and/or as a sledgehammer against others. Unfortunately, the attacks on "porn" and "masturbation" have left deep scars on many of us. Neither my wife nor I felt guilt or shame at our first masturbatory experiences until we got the arguably hysterical lectures at church (in the late 70s.) I got over it, she never did and I don't think ever will. Her shame of letting go has almost destroyed our marriage (and probably will.)

  • Anonymous

    Anon 9:13It sounds like the problem with your wife isn't so much about the masturbation, but her inability to believe in the atonement. Past sins (and I look at masturbation more as an indiscretion for single people), once repented of should not prevent a person from enjoying a healthy sexual relationship in marriage. Unfortunately, for many members, they have a hard time putting past indiscretions behind them and they over compensate by thinking that anything pleasurable and passionate, sexually, is carnal – which negatively affects their marriage.I would recommend that you, as a couple, listen to Laura Brotherson's podcasts on marital intimacy on The Women's Information Network:http://thewinonline.com/shows/marital-intimacy-show

  • Anonymous

    Anon 1:05, sorry but this isn't about the atonement; it's about being imbued with a sense of shame that becomes so internalized that the person perceives it as normal.

  • Anonymous

    Anon 1:05 here…I have to respectfully somewhat disagree. When individuals don't have enough of an understanding how the atonement works, they sometimes over compensate and try to atone (by themselves) for prior mistakes by going overboard. This is not always the case, but I have seen it many times, especially in women that have allowed pre-marital sexual relations affect their marriage relationship. They haven't been able to forgive themselves (because they haven't fully comprehended that they have been forgiven by the Savior) – this thinking spills over into their marriages.But, for your wife to feel so much shame for something so trivial and common as masturbation… education about the reality of masturbation being 1) very common amoung church members, and 2) very low on the scale of sins (indescrestions). I would guess that Heavenly Father would put unkind words, belittling, being ungrateful, etc., higher on the list of sins then masturbation.I firmly believe that the primary reason SWK first started preaching against masturbation was to guard against the percentage it would pull into an addiction. But, those with addictive tendencies would likely turn to other more harmful vices if it weren't for masturbation, IMO. Natasha might have a different opinion on this, so I would yield to her training and education. I am just speaking from my years of cousnseling young adults.I don't see Natasha's poll results on masturbation still on this site, but I recall the number of members that have masturbated as being right up there with the general population percentages. I don't think that masturbation among members is much lower, if any, than non-members.

  • Anonymous

    Anon 2:30My wife doesn't feel guilty about masturbation anymore and therein lies the problem. The sense of shame instilled in her as a teenager became applied to sexual pleasure in general and became part of her. In talking to her, it's clear to me that she really sees her attitudes as normal and mine as not.I strenuously disagree about SWK and BKP. I fully remember their talks and writings. Their rhetoric was extreme and all about slippery slopes, not addiction. I believe both men saw and heard about a tiny minority of people with real problems and extrapolated it to the population as a whole and bought into their excuses. Or divined the excused themselves–why would this nice boy do this nasty thing? It must have been porn and masturbation! (Or a temptress!) To this day, you'll hear talks about some vile sinner with the tag line; it all started with porn. What nonsense.(I've yet to understand the reasoning that looking at picture of a nude woman is supposed to drive me into an uncontrollable sexual frenzy, but seeing your hot, naked, bride and actually having sex with her caused no ill effects.)

  • Anonymous

    Anon 12:12I feel for you. All I can say is that she could really benifit from a "Good" LDS therapist, who can help her realize that sex is good, and designed for her/your pleasure, and is meant to bless your realationship.Is she open to counseling?There are some good quotes by General Authorities, that tells us that there is nothing shameful about sexual relations in marriage, and that they are good. Have you tried sharing them with her? Again, the counseling is probably the best route to go… it helped my DW.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the church is wrong in making masterbation such an issue. I would be more concerned about someone who said they have never masterbated. If you have not masterbated you have had wet dreams. What is the difference.I did not know what masterbation was until the bishop interviewed me at twelve years of age. He made such a big deal of it. Laid it on heavy, heavy.Shortly after that I was helping an uncle of mine on his farm and we had a discussion about life. He ask me if the bishop ask me about masterbation in my priesthood interviews. I said yes and I was not comfortable talking about that. He said, "Dont worry about it. The bishop and I used to masterbate together behind the hay stack".Planted the seed of doubt in my mind about the churchs involvement in creating guilt and depression.I ramble, ontimeaz

  • Anonymous

    11Jan1111:43amMasturbation is the best kept secret in mormon society! Fortunately we survive the guilt-inducing propaganda, most of the time. Please, ramble on some more, here or on the irc channel, #mormon_therapist on IRC's freenode.net network. bonez2046nephi12@hotmail.com

  • Anonymous

    Just another thought. My son-in-law is currently a bishop and we have had discussions about masterbation and interviews with young adults. He is working the churches line regarding masterbation. He has a young deacon who he is not allowing to pass the sacrement because of masterbastion problems. I told him the only things that he has established is that this young man is honest about his masterbation and all the other young men in his ward are not telling the truth. Starting the big lie early. I also told him that someday a parent is going to not like the bishop talking to their children about sexual subjects. They are going to file charges against the bishop for sexual child abuse. That would ruin the bishops life to have that on his record. Bishops beware of this.I ramble, ontimeaz

  • Anonymous

    For a Bishop to deny a Deacon to pass the Sacrament, just because of masturbation, is too much. There is no mention of masturbation in the Handbook. So, where do Bishops get it in their head to discipline young men for masturbating – probably their experience with their Bishop when they were a teen, or their Stake President who is going from the same experience. As a former Bishop to Young Adults, I never made a big issue out of it. If there was a severe problem, it was because of other mental issues which needed to be addressed by mental health professionals.

  • Anonymous

    alright so this still isn't very clear to me i am an 19 year old boy struggling to figure out what to do because i don't want to masterbate and offend god but also the urge gets worse and worse. i find that eventually weather i like it or not it has to happen and its kind of embarassing and makes me feel like i displeased god. Even tho my intention wasn't to let loose i was just working out and it just happened and i feel guilty about it and i don't know what to do because i want to be able to take the sacrament again and do all the things in the church as worthy as possible. Also as i see it i don't think its wrong to an extent because god gave us urges and for single people not to be able to do anything about it is kind of redundant. Also tho i do think that it can become a problem if you are addicted (the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming) If you are controlled by it and constantly want to do it then i think thats when you have an addiction, but if you are just living life and aren't married then what are you going to do about your emotions? because obviously you shouldn't have sex outside of marriage. Also i know we all have impure thoughts and we should never dwell on them but sometimes you get those urges even when you strive to keep your thoughts pure (otherwise i believe you are disrespecting others if you are not). This is my opinion on the matter.

  • Anonymous

    Anon > February 15, 2011 5:09 PM: Just to address your question about EMOTIONS. One can NOT choose emotion. Emotion is a byproduct of action and thought. The only thing you can control are your thoughts and actions, so don't worry about emotions, just focus on what you do, and what you think. Is this, understanding your emotions, the thing about which you are still very UNCLEAR? Bonez/nephi12@hotmail.com

  • Anonymous

    Anon 5:09You mentioned that you were just working out and it happened… I assume that you are refering to it happening without you doing anything to self stimulate?This is not common, but does happen for some men when they exert a lot of energy to something like weight lifting, where they experience an unexpected orgasm. If this is the case, there should be NO guilt that you should feel because of this. Some women have the same problem when they do certain exercises, which can lead to them having an orgasm.

  • Anonymous

    Just imagine, if all the energy invested in guilt, shame, self-loathing, and worry about masturbation, were instead spent on living life? One could move mountains and enjoy life. I think we are all making mountains of masturbation mole hills, or tempests in teapots. Aren't there more important things, greater concerns in life, in this world, than whether someone gets accidentally stimulated, or intentionally stimulate oneself to orgasm? Stop the pity party and live. Appreciate human sexuality and physiology that allows the aforementioned process for what it is. bonez/nephi12@hotmail.com


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