LDS Rhetoric on Homosexuality
Steps in Overcoming Masturbation
Elder Mark E. Petersen
By Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
NOTE: Affirmation does not endorse or approve
any of the following! It is presented here to illustrate the lengths to
which our religious institution will go in controlling all aspects of our
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 yourmind 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
A Guide to Self-Control:
- 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
- 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 Brethern
[sic, Cistern too?]. 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 affect [sic] 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 testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and
other Church callings become burdensome, offerings. To help in
planning an effective program to overcome the problem a brief
orientation is given of how the reproductive organs in a young
man function. The testes in your body are continually producing
hundreds of millions 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. It is
normal for the vesicles to be emptied occasionally at night
during the emptying of come from the central nervous system.
Often an erotic dream is experienced at the same time, and is a
part of this normal process. Instead ourse, 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 his increased rate. As one meets with his
Priesthood Leader, a program for overcoming masturbation can be
implemented using some of t Remember it is essential that a
regular report program be agreed on, so progress can be
recognized and failures understood and eliminated.
- Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will
strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and not 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 pre-chosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is
important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 eat 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
- 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.
Although this is an extreme example of religion trying to govern the most intimate aspects of our lives, it is by no means the only one. We endorse reading Deadly Doctrine: Health, Illness and Christian God-Talk by Wendell W. Watters, M.D., for an enlightening look at the overall negative effect of religious teachings on the lives of all of us — church-goers or not. (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992).