Masturbation: A Candid Call-Out

Over the last 10 years of my recovery I have been asked numerous times if the church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) believes masturbation is a sin. "Of course it does," I reply! Yet, my digging to find an official church source where it specifically declares 'masturbation' a sin has produced very little (nothing from 'official' church resources):
  • I found a few references to it in old conference talks, one of which was by Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone, who said: "We shouldn’t have a problem with masturbation" and "If you never masturbate, the time will come in your life when you will be able to sit in front of your bishop . . . and say to him, ‘I have never done that in my life.’" Neither statement is hopeful for anyone trapped in it.
  • Masturbation is listed as a sin in The Miracle of Forgiveness, which is a widely published book, but as far as I know it's not considered an official church resource.
  • For the Strength of Youth is quoted as listing the term 'masturbation', but the actual pamphlet itself doesn't seem to list it (was it once in there and has since been removed?)
Ultimately, when it comes to official church mentions, actual use of the word 'masturbation' is scare. Yet, it is one of the most prevalent sexual behaviors that stand between the human race and feeling worthy to approach the throne of Grace. How are those bound in the muck of it supposed to find the courage to share their struggle with the very institution that seems to find it shameful to even say?

Is 'shameful' too strong a word? Is the church maybe avoiding the word masturbation in an effort to protect the innocent from discovering what it actually is? Well then maybe we shouldn't say guns, or bullying, or racism, or gay bashing or any other dangerous thing that requires awareness to overcome. Besides, the 'innocents' likely already know what the act is, they just haven't learned the term or the dangers of it because no. one. talks. about. it.

Tiptoe'ing round the word and handling it with white gloves is actually perpetuating the problem. So many women have reached out to me questioning whether or not it's even a sin because it's not specifically mentioned anywhere. I've even heard that there are now some bishops saying it's OK to masturbate so long as you do it less than you did it before.

The heck!?

Look, I get it. The very first bishop I told blushed bright red when I slightly mentioned I may have done it a few times. On the flip side, I just about died when I later met with another bishop and confessed I had a pornography problem just to have him follow up with the question: "and masturbation?" It is not an easy topic to talk about, but it does get easier the more it's talked about. In this day and age, the dangers of pornography are taught in our classrooms, from the pulpit and at each General Conference. But very rarely do people view pornography without also culminating the experience with masturbation.

It's time we bring it out into the open, shed the shame and give it to the Light.


  1. Hi Sidreis... I am a fellow brother in recovery from sexual addiction. I have followed your blog for several years and totally agree with you on so many points. Thanks for calling out on this subject. I absolutely agree with you on this one. The Church does have a tendency to beat around the bush with the use of the word "masturbation", and that the problem is perpetuated by not talking about it openly. It is typically lumped in with the phrase "sexual purity" and the statement in the Family Proclamation that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between husband and wife legally and lawfully wedded. Yes, there was an edition of "For the Strength of Youth" prior to the current one that did use the word, and the new edition does not. However, there is one official Church resource you did not mention that does teach it pretty plainly... see Gospel Library>Individuals and Families>A Parent's Guide>Chapter 5>Pages 36-37. It could be that the Church expects parents to teach it, but so many who weren't taught by their parents fall into the cracks. I would love to hear a General Conference address talk about it outright, use the word, and take the shame of it away. Hopefully some change will come of that soon. President Nelson has been bold on so many accounts, maybe he'll be the one to break the ice. Keep standing tall. You are amazing.

  2. Hello! Thank you so much for your comment. And especially for the new resource. I am currently packing for vacation so I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but I will as soon as I can.

    I agree that 'maybe' the church may want parents to teach it. Heck, parents should be teaching it. Unfortunately, I think parents are confused, too. People fear the dreaded M word so deeply. Like talking about it is going to lead to it, which is completely not the case.

    Every conference I am anxious for more candid conversation, so I'm also with you there. Hopefully soon!

    Until then, keep on keepin' on!


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