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  1. Outstanding work!!!!! Looking forward to more.

    I so agree with Natasha, we need to get rid of the taboos and talk. This has helped me alot, and I’m sure it will help countless others.

  2. I haven’t listened to both parts yet, but very, very well done so far.

    Idea for future discussions – I’d be interested in Natasha’s opinions/experience with “repressed memory”/”false memory syndrome” in Mormons. What are her thoughts on “recovered memory therapy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovered_memory_therapy)?

    In the 1980’s – 1990’s there were apparently a bunch of LDS folk who claimed they had been subjected to satanic ritual abuse by church leaders/family members (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pace_memorandum). My aunt and uncle were both excommunicated from the church after their adult kids claimed to have been abused as children, having forgotten the abuse, and then having had the memories resurface through some type of hypnotic therapy. My understanding of their allegations included satanic/cultlike/twisted mormon ritualistic abuse, dead animals, temple clothing (weird, weird stuff I know) – all of which was recalled only after “therapy.”

    This issue ties to Martha Beck’s book/allegations about her father, Hugh Nibley.

    http://www.leavingthesaints.com/
    http://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Saints-Mormons-Found-Faith/dp/0307335992

  3. Why so much hand-wringing over masturbation? “I’m trying to develop my position on it.” Huh?

    It is a completely normal behavior to engage in for men and women, including teenagers.

    Boyd K. Packer’s “little factory” and Mark E. Peterson’s “tie your hands to the bedpost” talks about masturbation are just plain wrong. One could even say evil.

    Now, if one is masturbating in a way that is unhealthy or out of control, that is clearly a problem. But that’s true of someone who uses eating or video games in an unhealthy way too.

    People masturbate. It’s normal. Let’s get over it already.

    1. Dear Swearing,

      This sort of attitude completely overlooks new research on brain development that’s beginning to emerge. We’re just now beginning to understand how the brain is like a computer that can be “programmed” by our experiences. Masturbation releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain, and can “program” our minds to respond sexually in very maladaptive ways.

      There was no research on this in the 1970s when Boyd K. Packer and Mark E. Peterson and such were warning us against the pitfalls of sexual activity outside of marriage, but then, the Word of Wisdom came along during a time when no one thought anything bad about smoking.

      We’re wise to acknowledge that sometimes, the Lord has a longer-term view than we do.

  4. @ Aaron, Interesting links but the first one didn’t really bring up anything. Try this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_Memory_Syndrome_Foundation

    BTW, I know a woman who sought help from a therapist for anorexia and the therapist almost got her to believe that she was repressing memories of sexual abuse by her father. Her father had been physically abusive at times but never sexually abusive. The therapist spent a lot of time trying to convince this woman that her type of problem was only found in people who had been sexually abused. Fortunately this woman had enough wits not to buy into her therapist’s delusion. BTW, this happened in the midwest, not in Utah.
    It’s scary to think that a therapist can have such power.

  5. Great interview. Just a comment, based on my experience…

    The Handbook of Instructions does not give Bishops/Stake Presidents any guidance on masturbation. Regarding interviews with prospective missionaries, I have not seen any letters or guidelines that mention how to handle the masturbation issue. From what I have seen, any requirements that a prospective missionary needs to have abstained for a specififed period of time prior to submitting papers is left up the the Bishop/Stake President.

    From my own research and feedback that I have gotten, with discussions from other leaders, the main concern that SWK had (he was the one that seemed to be most concerned about masturbation), came from his experiences of dealing with missionaries that got sent home for same sex experimentation. The thinking was that if a missionary with a habitual problem went out into the missiona field and got teamed up with another missionary with the same problem, they were more likely to notice, discuss and possibly experiment together.

    This, IMO, is why SWK had the opinion that a person should be free from the habit prior to going on a mission. He didn’t ever explain the difference between a habit and the occassional participator, hence we have leaders with all different opinions on the issue.

    SWK did, in one of his statements, refer to masturbation “as a rather common indescrition”.

    I think that after having a young man in Idaho commit suiicide, because he was not able to be 100% free from masturbation, and thinking that he was therefore a vile sinner, that the Church was a little more careful thereafter on how it addressed the issue of masturbation. But, this is just my observation.

  6. “Thus prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation….Our modern prophet has indicated that no young man should be called on a mission who is not free of this practice.” – Spencer W. Kimball, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” Bookcraft, 1978, p. 77.

    “Sin in sex practices tends to have a ‘snowballing’ effect….Thus it is through the ages, perhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk even to seeking sexual satisfaction with animals.” – Ibid, p. 78.

    Has the Church ever categorically denounced either of these statements? No. (Can anyone show me any solid peer-reviewed research that masturbation leads to homosexuality? And can anyone show research that homosexuality leads to bestiality? Yeah, that’s what I thought.)

    Does the Church still print this book and make it available at Deseret Book and at the LDS Church Distribution Center in English (hard and softcover and on CD as well as for the Amazon Kindle), in Spanish, French, and Braille? Yes.

    I’m sorry, that’s Church doctrine. You can tap dance around it as much as you want. You can say, “Kimball wasn’t prophet when he wrote it” or “It’s not in the Ensign or spoken at Conference” or whatever else you want. But it doesn’t matter. Mormon families buy this book, have it in their home and use it as a resource to learn “about the words of the brethren.” They take it as Church policy, practice, and doctrine.

    It’s reprehensible to continue for the Church to continue to endorse these teachings. Plain and simple.

  7. As I understand it, during youth interviews, Bishops ask whether the youth is “refraining from any kind of sexual activity.” The CHI references the ‘Strength of Youth’ which says:

    “Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage. When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage. Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage.

    “Satan may tempt you to rationalize that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).

    “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

    “Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.

    http://www.lds.org/youthresources/pdf/ForStrengYouth36550.pdf

    The CHI also references ‘True to the Faith’ which says basically the same thing and adds:

    “Merely refraining from sexual intercourse outside of marriage is not sufficient in the Lord’s standard of personal purity. The Lord requires a high moral standard of His disciples, including complete fidelity to one’s spouse in thought and conduct. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28). In the latter days He has said, “Thou shalt not … commit adultery, … nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). And He has reemphasized the principle He taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “He that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16). These warnings apply to all people, whether they are married or single.”

    and

    “The best course is complete moral cleanliness.”

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=1f53991a83d20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=198bf4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD

  8. Did I hear correctly that Ms. Parker states that a recent talk by Boyd K. Packer or other GA in the Priesthood GC session say that masturbation wasn’t a sin as much as it was just a transgression? Can anyone cite chapter and verse on that one?

    Looking at most recent Ensign I see the standard BoM verse cited that sexual sins are 2nd only to murder. That’s what I was raised on and was the colossal source of shame for me and countless others growing up the Mormon Church. They continue to lay on the shame and fear through innuendo created by ambiguous mixed messages.

  9. I served a mission in Central America. Converts could be baptized in two weeks. Converts needed to attend church twice, live the word of wisdom and Law of Chastity for the two weeks to be worthy of Baptism. As missionaries we were expressly told to teach that abstaining from masturbation was part of the law of Chastity. We had a Baptism scheduled, and an hour before the Baptism and 60+ year old widower was found unworthy to be baptized due to masturbation. He struggled off and on with many interviews but never made it as active member and was continually full of a new shame he had never felt before.

  10. After reading the miracle of forgiveness as a teenager, I was convinced I was off to hell with bells on.

    The taboos and vagueness are the big problem, I grew up with the “any sexual sin is next to murder” mentality. As a result I grew up in a ignorant hell.

    My best friend, out of the blue, as a teenager said to me “when I grow up I’m going to leave the Church, its to hard”. He didn’t say why but looking back its pretty easy to work out, he didn’t have a girl friend.

    Some clarity on the subject would save alot of teenagers some serious heartache.

  11. I have only finished Part I. Did I like it? Immediate phone calls to three family members suggesting they listen to Natasha and John is the best way for me to answer that question. As usually, John Dehlin has delivered a valuable (soft-spoken) tool for Mormon Stories listeners. Talk about timely subjects…

    By the way, since masturbation was elaborated upon, I was a little disappointed by a certain sin of omission, that fathers and grandfathers masturbate. Mission presidents masturbate, bishops masturbate. It is part of the human condition. Please don’t leave it to twelve through “bridegroom” males (or females), it is usually a lifelong activity. Why are we afraid to mention that, especially therapists? What is healthy?Hiding something pre-mission, hiding something as a seventy year old (granted it may be much rarer, but modern studies show seniors think about and practice sex, when it is available.

  12. Great interview! THanks Natasha and John (as always);). I will definitely be recommending this to others. In reference to the part about homosexuals needing to remain celibate and how hard that is I just wanted to add that we’re not just asking them to abstain from sex. To me, the saddest part is asking them to not have a partner, a best friend and intimate companion with which to share everything with, work together, progress together, fight with each other and be a family with. That, to me, is the biggest, saddest, most lonely sacrifice that I do not believe God would ask someone to make. Man was not meant to be alone.

  13. Ashley, you said: “That, to me, is the biggest, saddest, most lonely sacrifice that I do not believe God would ask someone to make. Man was not meant to be alone.”

    That is why God created Woman. God didn’t create another man to be a campanion to Adam. As Mormon’s, we know the importance of families, and bringing spirit children into this world. Bob and Sam, or Julie and Lisa, are not capable of mulitplying and replenishing the earth. If you don’t have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation then it will be hard to come to terms with this issue.

    I know that it is hard when members have friends or family members that are gay. People expect the Church to one day endorse Gay Marriage… will never happen. No where in the scriptures, or words of any of our prophets, has God condoned homosexual sexual relations, it has always been an abomination, just like sexual relations outside of marriage. It is hard to see loved ones experience trials, such as struggling with their sexual identity, but this is just one of the trials that some people are faced with in this life. Others are faced with dibilitating handicaps, diseases, addictions, mental illness, etc…

  14. Chet, you’ve just helped elaborate the point that Natasha made in the podcast. Those with SSA are in mormon no-man’s-land, formed in part by attitudes like yours. No, God didn’t create Adam and Steve, but he did create men and women with SSA. Like it or not. Please read http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/49488. No, we don’t expect the Church to compromise its doctrines. We do expect them to change in *some* way that will keep young men from killing themselves over this issue. And, actually, the Church has come a long way in just the last ~20 years. In the mid-1990’s, a youth with SSA might be counseled (even at the LDS Social Services level) that the “condition” he had was wrong. Now we have the Church pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” which, in essence, allows those with SSA not to condemn themselves for their feelings (though they must not act on them). Not much of an improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. Who knows how many lives could have been saved if the Church had adopted this attitude sooner.

  15. You say that masturbation before puberty should be ignored. That may be a reasonable response in a culture where children are not exposed to raw sexuality at young ages, but I question that wisdom in the face of rampant child sexual abuse and exposure via the media to graphic sexual images in our culture. So many children are awakened sexually at very early ages because of this phenomenon. I don’t think it is a non-issue before puberty. I think it sets the child up for a full-on addiction in later years.

  16. Marshall/Swearing Elder:

    What is it that you expect the Church to do? Embrace homosexuality and endorse gay marriage? Allow gays to marry in the Church? Do you expect the Church to turn their backs and look the other way for Church members that are breaking the law of chastity?

    Sure, it is a tough situation. Yes God did create all people and we all are given our own challenges in life. But, He has never said that just because we have challenges that we are given a free pass to sin. Sexual relations outside of marriage is a sin, period, whether it is hetrosexual or homosexual. I might be drawn and tempted with pornography, and the occasional fling, because I have these strong urges and tempations. But, I have to fight them and turn away from them, and get help if needed. Otherwise, I am going against God’s law. I am not in “No Man’s Land” within the Church when I fight my urges and tempations, or repent when I sin. I am in “No Man’s Land” when I embrace my urges and openly act upon them and decide to live that lifestyle.

    I know that my stance is probably not very popular on this site. I agree with the Church, in that we need to love even the sinner, but we do not condone the sin. Until God reveals otherwise, homosexual sexual relations (not temptations) is a sin.

    1. Yes, Chet, I expect the church to embrace homosexuality and endorse gay marriage in the temple. I would expect homosexuals to keep the law of chastity, as with heterosexuals, and keep all sexual expression within the confines of marriage. In that case, marriage has to be an option.

      Gay people do not have the option of choosing homosexuality, as a matter of biology, and because of the ignorance and the lack of courage and compassion of our leaders, they don’t have the option of marriage either. I used to think that gay people had the right to civil marriage, no question, but now I truly believe that they should as well have the right to temple marriage, church activity as individuals,couples or families (like the rest of us)in full faith and fellowship in our wards.

      I know the Brethren are light years away from the sort of courage and compassion they need to seek out revolutionary revelation. I know that they fear that making homosexual marriage an option would suddenly increase the numbers of homosexual members … because it would make our children and everyone else think that homosexuality is a viable option. Well, for the 5%-10% of the population that is already gay, it would give them the option of marriage. For the rest of the people who are still growing and unsure of their orientation, they would have the freedom to discover that without feeling so desperately different and eternally hopeless. If the church allowed gay marriage, people would be far less likely to marry the opposite sex when gay or the same sex if heterosexual. The Brethren seem to lack trust for us, the members. They must think we’d explode… or our children would… in crazy orgies of homosexual sin. Again, if gay marriage were allowed in our churches and temples, gay people could and would be able to keep the law of chastity. Now, their options include church activity with celibacy, marriage to someone of the opposite sex (not recommended by the Brethren but the only option for a sanctioned marriage relationship), sin due to engaging in gay relationships (committed or not), or leaving the church.

      I’ve always thought that Mormonism and homosexuality were completely incompatible and expected every gay person to leave the church. If it is Christ’s church, full activity and worthiness should be an option for everyone. Marriage should be an option for everyone… especially in the truest of all true churches.

      Chet, if you are heterosexual, when did you decide to be?

  17. If sexual sin is really is next to murder…..than you are sitting to next to a lot of almost murderers when you go to church. Really next to murder? If we are really going to rank the degrees of sin wouldn’t there be a few between the two? For example beating your wife or children? That view is so damaging to youth it causeses so much hopelessness when someone messes up at 16. I almost gave up on the church when I was 17 due to the guilt. My kids will NOT be taught that view period. And if the church ever changed the scripture verse in the BoM, you would here a huge amen from me in the back Pew.

  18. Chet:

    Being gay is about much more than sex. MUCH MORE. The church doesn’t even want to allow a gay person to feel like “whole” person. Go talk to a gay Mormon teen and see how they feel. Many haven’t done anything “sexual” yet — they know they are gay and they also know their family and church don’t accept them for who they are. The statistics for suicide among teens and gays in Utah are appalling.

  19. Chet, I think if you look into it, scriptural condemnation of homosexuality is not nearly as solid as you believe it is.

    Also, it’s apparent that *something* must change in the Church with respect to homosexuality. The status quo is quite problematic. I don’t know what the solution is, but I think you need to have compassion on gay people and not simply dismiss it or compare it to the temptation of pornography or having a fling.

    Elder Marlin Jensen, for example, said in his interview for the PBS documentary on Mormonism:

    “Yes, some people argue sometimes, well, for the gay person or the lesbian person, we’re not asking more of them than we’re asking of the single woman who never marries. But I long ago found in talking to them that we do ask for something different: In the case of the gay person, they really have no hope. A single woman, a single man who is heterosexual in their thinking always has the hope, always has the expectation that tomorrow they’re going to meet someone and fall in love and that it can be sanctioned by the church. But a gay person who truly is committed to that way of life in his heart and mind doesn’t have that hope. And to live life without hope on such a core issue, I think, is a very difficult thing.

    We, again, as a church need to be, I think, even more charitable than we’ve been, more outreaching in a sense.” [http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/jensen.html#4]

  20. I’m only partway through the first episode, but enjoying it very much. Thanks John for another great podcast, and thanks Natasha – it’s been fun to put an actual voice to your postings on Mormon Matters.

    @ Aron, July 16, 7:33 am:

    About 10 years ago (back when my law practice was focused on litigation, which it thankfully is not any more) I represented a man suing three therapists, all LDS, who had destroyed his family through recovered memory therapy. Their abuse of the family was galling – blatant enough that they told one of the family members, a recently-returned missionary, that they KNEW he had participated in ritual abuse and that they were going to turn him over to the police if he did not confess and work with them. He was the only one of the family who was strong enough to challenge the therapists and refused to play along with them. I don’t have time to write much about this, but if you really want to talk about this you can just email me at mattharmer@gmail.com and I can give you a little more info.

    The recovered-memory-sex-and-ritual-abuse hysteria of the 1980s bore an eerie resemblance to the Salem witch trials. If you want to learn more about this I suggest a book called Making Monsters, by Richard Ofshe, PhD at Berkely. You might read up a bit on the Gerald Amirault case (easy to find on Google). Even Frontline (the PBS news show) did a one-hour show on this called “The Child Terror” – about a series of convictions obtained by Janet Reno (then a prosecuting atty/DA in Florida) which later unraveled, as the convictions were typically based on very coercive interrogations of small children, without their parents present.

    It’s sad that so many LDS bought into this hype, and that innocent people (as I assume your aunt and uncle are) had their lives destroyed. Even Glenn Pace of the First Quorum of the Seventy was a proponent of this theory for a while. The LDS church as an institution seemed to find its bearings on this in the late 80s or so and at least on some level realized that recollections derived solely through hypnosis are dubious at best – but unfortunately not before a number of lives were ruined.

    I’d be curious to know what ever became of your aunt and uncle? Were they ever reconciled to the church or did they simply move on?

  21. This question is for Mrs. Natasha Parker:
    Have you ever counseled someone who is employed by the LDS Church and seen a conflict because what is best for the individual would threaten their employment because the Church is their employer? Can this be the case for LDS Therapists as well?
    If the Church pays for someone to see a LDS counselor does the counselor ever discuss the therapy sessions with Bishop so that the therapist and Bishop may collaborate on how to best help the client? Can this communication occur with out the patients consent? How does confidentiality work when the LDS Church is paying?

  22. Chet,

    You ask, “What is it that you expect the Church to do?”

    Here’s a start:

    The Church brings up homosexuality in General Conference. Even a few paragraphs in an apostle’s talk. He openly acknowledges that the Church has valuable members who are homosexuals, most of whom will never overcome their attractions in this life, if they even want to overcome them. Regardless of that, the Church wants these gay members to be as happy as possible within the social framework of the Church, even if it means celibacy in this life. This would not get mormon homosexuals out of no-man’s-land, but it would give official blessing to a more open discussion of this issue in the Church at large. Elder Hafen did something like this in an address to Evergreen International last year (http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/elder-bruce-c-hafen-speaks-on-same-sex-attraction). I believe the reaction to this address was mixed, to say the least. However, I think it represents forward motion for the Church. Unfortunately, Elder Hafen’s address reached a very narrow audience. The Church as a whole needs to be more aware.

    After that, the Church allows occasional acknowledgement and discussion of mormon homosexuals in Church units during Sunday meetings. It seems to be a taboo subject unless someone is brave enough to bring it up. Imagine, at the very least, the understanding and compassion that could be offered by caring members who hear of the struggles their homosexual brothers and sisters face. I think there are many of them who feel very alone in the Church right now, if only because they don’t feel they can come out to anyone at Church.

    For any mormon homosexual out there who reads this, please don’t judge me too harshly if I haven’t represented your concerns adequately. I’m just trying to understand as best I can, and help promote some kind of healthy change for all of us regarding your situation.

    Trevor – great quote from Elder Jensen. Thanks for sharing it.

  23. So I’m trying hard to determine if Natasha is merely excellent at “re-framing” or if she truly believes philosophically the optimistic answers which she posed to your more incriminating questions about church culture in relation to mental health. I trust that she is genuine, regardless I wanted her to express more validation for how church culture can be a very complicated factor in an individual’s mental health state.

  24. Trevor/Swearing Elder:

    I understand that the issue of homosexuality is much more than sex. I have had the privilege of counseling with several young adults that were struggling with SSA. I was able to do so with as much love and compassion as any of the other great young adults in my ward. I truly felt for them and the issues that they were facing. But, when I tried to get them into counseling with someone that has a lot of experience in dealing with SSA they balked at the idea. They said that they would be willing to meet with them, but in the end, they never followed through, they eventually would move on to another ward – they basically didn’t follow through on any of the comittments that they made to me. There are more and more LDS therapist that are specializing in issues such as SSA, and they are having successes. But, the individual needs to want help and seek it out.

    My experience with various Church leaders has been that they are very empathetic and loving towards those struggling with SSA. My guess would be that most of the suicidal members have not reached out for help from the Church. I agree that more openness and discussion by the Church leaders may help members step forward for help.

    Trevor, I do believe that there is plenty of scriptural references that condemn homosexual practices. This is not like masturbation, where the scriptures are silent.

    1. Chet,
      Are you a licensed therapist of some sort? I’ve never known of one that didn’t completely believe that homosexuality was not a choice and that the church’s position was completely wrong. I’ve known many LDS therapists (I worked at LDS Social Services years ago), my husband is one, and lots of our friends are therapists too. They would never dismiss clients the way you are doing. They would never be so callous and say that suicidal homosexuals were wrong for not seeking help through church channels. Why would they? To be “helped” with their “problem” of inborn same sex attraction? How insulting would it be if you had to undergo reparative therapy to cure you of heterosexual attraction? You didn’t chose your orientation and neither did they.

      If you simply counseled several young adults as a bishop or leader, this would illustrate how the church does not train its leaders very well.

  25. re: research into changing sexual orientation.

    Natasha mentioned that she hasn’t seen any studies on people changing their sexual orientation. One recent study is by Christan Moran of Southern Connecticut State University, who found that some women experience a change in sexual orientation later in life but are reluctant to come out for fear of judgment from society and loved ones.
    [http://www.southernct.edu/womensstudies/uploads/textWidget/wysiwyg/documents/WomensSexualityThesis.pdf]

    I think that maybe she might want to know about this because there are certain to be more in the future due to the divisive nature of this ongoing born-nurtured debate.

  26. It’s easy to ask someone else to give up sex for the rest of their lives. More difficult to do it yourself.

    The Mormon Church IMHO is not a healthy place for gay folks.

    Marsco

  27. Sadie Loweh:

    You posed your question to Natasha, but I can answer at least part of it. If a member sees a therapist who is employed by LDS Family Services, the therapist is supposed to consult with the member’s bishop–but only if the member gives his or her consent. If consent is not given, the therapist honors that. No therapist, regardless of religion, should share information with a clergy member without the client’s consent. Doing so would violate the ethics of the profession.

  28. “The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors, including all sexual relations before marriage, petting, sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape, and incest), masturbation, or preoccupation with sex in thought, speech, or action (see A Parent’s Guide, pp. 36–39).”

    This is a quote from the LDS website under the Strength of Youth. I don’t think people are looking at the churches website or any material published by the church on immorality to find answers on the masturbation issues. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,30-1-7-5,00.html#Sexual%20Purity

    1. Shoot, I grew up learning that homosexuality had the same gravity/seriousness of sin as adultery. With the quote above, it almost seems like homosexuality is being likened unto rape and incest… which seems far worse than adultery. Wow. How awful would that make a young homosexual feel… to think they were perverse (not just sinful)… maybe even with our without their homosexuality expressed. Just terrible.

  29. Natasha is a great therapist. She has helped my relationship with my husband immensely. Jesse- she is the real deal.

    I’ve been able to introduce her blog to some of my LDS girlfriends. Just bringing up “sex” with my LDS friends can be so weird! (Not for me at this point, but for them). One of my friends has been married for a few years and still can’t say the word “sex,” along with the human genitalia , to her friends or even her husband. Regardless, by the end of our conversations, the girls seems grateful for being able to talk about it. I can’t tell you how many friends I have who are in sexless marriages, or are heading that way. Her blog has begun to help them as well.

    I am so grateful that my husband stumbled across her blog awhile ago, and we then decided together to have sessions with her via webcam. My relationship with my husband was never in a true danger zone, but we knew it could be better and so we took preventive measures by talking with her. Though I know a good marriage is always a work in progress, I am so grateful for the tools that Natasha has given us.

    This is starting to sound like I am bearing my testimony, lol.

  30. Josh – that same quote is also in the lesson manuals, such as the SWK manual that we recently used in priesthood and relief society. Unless people are simply inactive, it seems hard to overlook the fact that the church still condemns it – and being married is no excuse either, as some people seem to think.

    Asking SSA members to abstain from homosexual sex is no different from asking single members to abstain from sex, and asking married members to stay true to their spouse (including abstaining from porn and masturbation, which is actually very hard for some people). And there are SSA members that are living in successful temple marriages with a member of the opposite sex, so abstinence is not necessarily a life sentence.

  31. Some people say they don’t believe in absolute truth. That statement in and of itself is an absolute truth. If we believe that there are in fact universal truths all mankind can count on and hold to – where do these truths come from? Do we believe in God? Do we believe that we are children of Heavenly Parents who have the right and the authority to parent us as they see fit? They are providing us with everything we have… Do we believe that they can design and develop rules and consequences for our growth and benefit? If so, then IF we believe in God and IF we believe he knows absolute truth and IF we believe that he knows better than we do – why not listen to him? If He tells us that lying, cheating and committing adultery will create extreme unhappiness within us – why don’t we believe him? If he tells us homosexuality is a sin – why don’t we believe him? I am a married, heterosexual female and I have just as many temptations to sin as the single homosexual male. God has explained to us in perfect clarity what will help us be happy and progress in life. I may not like, agree or understand everything He says right now but that does not mean that what he says isn’t true. If all of you reading this are thinking that I am a follower who does whatever I am told and don’t use my brain to reason this parent/child rules thing out – know this; I have done things God has asked me not to do and I have suffered the consequences. I have found out on my own that He is right and I would do well to listen. If he tells me homosexuality is a sin and an abomination before Him – I’m going to follow what he says…WETHER IT’S HARD OR NOT.

    1. Jane, you are going to follow “God” regarding homosexuality because you are heterosexual. That’s it. It’s not tempting to you, because you are not gay. You may have the same number of temptations as a single homosexual male, but you married. Marriage… a committed loving relationship… should never be considered a temptation. It should be a right. What if being heterosexual were the sin? Sure, I know you would live alone and not enjoy the companionship or relationship with someone you pledge your love to eternally, whether it’s hard or not. What in the world are we asking of our gay brothers and sisters? Are we heartless?

      I believe in God, but I’m not so sure the church leaders are in tune with God well enough to treat all of God’s children with equal rights, respect and love.

  32. This is how the church defines chastity to men and women serving in the military (which would include both married and single people): “Chastity means complete sexual purity, freedom from all forms of sexual immorality, including masturbation, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.” It also goes on to include pornography.
    http://lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,4890-1,00.html

  33. I’d be interested in seeing the talk Natasha mentioned from President Packer about masturbation not being such a big deal. It certainly sounds out of character for him (especially in light of his pamphlet entitled “For Young Men Only”).

  34. Jane, I too enjoyed your post. Sexual morality is and always has been a very emotionally charged issue. It didn’t begin with the restored gospel, and to fault a present day general authority for teaching the same thing that has been revealed and taught for thousands of years is futile. Whether or not one agrees that current doctrine is the same that was revealed by prophets of old, comes down to intellectual integrity. If one believes that the Spirit teaches the truth of all things, there is no need to dispute or try to shoot holes in specific statements made by individuals. The general authorities have never asked us to blindly believe. They themselves don’t do that either. It is our right and our responsibility to ask God in prayer to reveal the truth to us individually. If we are intellectually honest we will hold God responsible for teaching us the truth through His Spirit, which He has promised to do, and when we know the truth, He will give us the power to do His will. God never said it would be easy, but He did promise to never let us be tempted beyond what we can endure, if we place our trust in Him.

  35. i dont understand the debate about whether the lds church stand against whats been described as deviant sinful behavior for centuries is occuring. the world has embrassed homosexuality as normal behavior, pornagraphy as okay and masturbation as okay as well as fornacation.
    these modern therapist know more than the prophets of old and the modern prophets of today. in essence they know better than the lord, or they think hes modified his standing on all moral issues. for those lds members who have problems with what our leaders have said concerning these things they have their free agency to leave the church or simply stay in the church but go their own way ignoring council or what the leaders say they should do. ive been a member all my life and have had personal deep rooted issues. my personal interviews with bishops, stake presidents, my mission presidents were good ones. they were kind to me and i left the interviews uplifted. over the years i have not liked every descion that church leaders [both locally and from salt lake] have made . idont have to, ican choose to obey or not. nobody forces me too. either the church is true or it is not. the leaders who lead us are not perfect men. but either they are the lords anointed or they are not.

  36. About masturbation:

    I don’t think church leaders should ask members if they masturbate or not. The act of masturbation is, in itself, a very personal and private behavior. I don’t think it should be considered a part of the Law of Chastity as a sin. If one does it then that is human nature. I personally think that a leader denying someone a recommend on the ground that he or she masturbates is wrong. There are far worse things that a person could be doing that are violating the Law of Chastity than masturbation (like adultery or sexually abuse).

  37. I only recently discovered Mormon Stories a few months ago and have been enjoying the podcast archive. This is my first time to comment, and I wanted to say thank you for having this interview.

    The insights and commentary were very helpful and useful, I believe, for many people. My personal experience with depression exhibits the truthfulness of how talk therapy combined with anti-depressants are an effective measure for assisting someone in reclaiming their life and finding hope.

    The fact that there are few mental health care options for people with unwanted same sex attraction was disheartening. When a portion of the population that needs such aid is so small, the scarcity of treatment will continue, just as it was in the early days of research into depression. At least two studies demonstrate that changing one’s sexual orientation is possible. I only hope that more aid becomes available to those who desire it.

    Thank you again for this interview!

  38. I only recently discovered Mormon Stories a few months ago and have been enjoying the podcast archive. This is my first time to comment, and I wanted to say thank you for having this interview.

    The insights and commentary were very helpful and useful, I believe, for many people. My personal experience with depression exhibits the truthfulness of how talk therapy combined with anti-depressants are an effective measure for assisting someone in reclaiming their life and finding hope.

    The fact that there are few mental health care options for people with unwanted same sex attraction was disheartening. When a portion of the population that needs such aid is so small, the scarcity of treatment will continue, just as it was in the early days of research into depression. At least two studies demonstrate that changing one’s sexual orientation is possible. I only hope that more aid becomes available to those who desire it.

    Thank you again for this interview!

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