I Spoke The Truth, My Bishop Responded

After writing my article on https://gospelperspective.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/a-lie-of-masturbatory-proportions/ I felt that I needed to be honest and up front with my Bishop on this matter rather than simply state my feelings on this blog and go about my merry way. My children are at risk from the harm that the LDS church’s position on this issue has and does cause. Millions of members around the world and prospective members are also affected by this position that the church has taken. This matter is important to me, and many others I have discussed it with as well, regardless of what side of the issue they are on. I e-mailed my Bishop and laid it all out on the table. I could not, not tell him as it would weigh on my conscious if I did not.

His response to me was the following

“Andrew,

We definitely will need to talk about this and how it affects your standing in the church.  I haven’t read your blog comments yet but on the face of it you are not sustaining church leaders, teachings and doctrine which would certainly disqualify you from a temple recommend (and possibly disciplinary action).
For the record, don’t take our conversation on Sunday as us establishing that ‘this issue has never been mentioned or spoken against in all of scriptural cannon’.
The soonest I will be able to meet to discuss would be this coming Friday eve or Saturday or next Tuesday evening.  Let me know your availability during those times. “
We ended up meeting the following Sunday for about 1.5 hours. We had a good conversation regarding the issue and my position on it. Many points had been raised:

Bishop
1. The Church declared it so, therefore it is sin.
2. Church leaders have spoken on it.
3. It is part of the law of chastity.
4. How we personally feel should not stop us from obeying church leadership.
5. Church leaders may not be perfect but they speak for God, therefore God has spoken it.
6. One must obey to sustain.
7. It makes no sense that I would receive personal revelation contrary to God’s revealed word to the prophets.

Me.
1. The Church declared it so in mid 20th century while before 1920’s era had very different view, thus this is only a recent “revelation” and was either a non-issue before, or  it is not a sin, why the change now, so recently in the history of prophets? Did God change his mind?
2. Church leaders have declared it sin in conjunction with false statements about it being preached through the ages, thus perpetuating a lie about whether it has been revealed by God previously. This brings into question validity of it’s sinful nature to begin with.
3. While it has been in incorporated into the law of chastity, it status of sin is another question all together.
4. To obey despite our feelings is to reject our convictions and to live contrary to them. We must seek the truth for ourselves and consider the words spoken by church leaders, then after much study, pondering and prayer, which I have done, we can learn the truth for ourselves. This is how God intended it, to do otherwise is to open ourselves to false doctrine and to be led from God’s word on the whims of man, who may have good intentions, Is not necessarily preaching what God actually has said but rather how they interpret it or feel on any given manner.
5. The assumption that every word spoken by imperfect men is by default the word of God simply by virtue of their position in the church is a fallacy and dangerous assumption that leads us open to being led away from God and true doctrine.
6. One can strongly disagree with someone while still supporting that person within that role. The problem here is that words of church leaders have been canonized as scripture because of cultural dogma within the church to accept everything without question that the church leadership has declared. Because of this tendency within the church, it is very easy for church leader’s personal feelings to become enshrined as sacred words of God whether they are or are not. This is what I believe has happened with this issue.
7. To say it does not make sense that I would receive revelation contrary to what God has spoken is to assume that the prophets and apostles statements on the issue (largely just in the 1980-2000 era) was in no way influenced by their own personal feelings and because of their position and therefore was God’s word. It also implies that any personal revelation I have received could not have been from God because it is not in line with LDS church thinking. Essentially one must agree with the church or you’re being deceived. That is the implication at least.

I do not pretend or claim to speak for the church, and I hope I had made that clear during our conversation. My feelings on the matter which I had stated numerous times were my own and the result of my own study, pondering and prayer on the matter, not intended as revelation for the church as a whole.

I had explained to my Bishop that if this was and is truly sin it does not make sense that God would have waited till mid 20th century to declare or reveal it so. It is only in this time that the issues has ever been addressed. It does not make sense that it would have been left out of the record or that God would only reveal its sinful nature now. Ultimately the issue comes down to not so much it status, but how it has been dealt with and preached within the church. As with all things that have the potential to be habit forming, and life controlling, they only become an issue of worthiness when they become problematic on one’s life. At least my Bishop and I can agree on one thing, that habitual masturbation in an unhealthy way is sinful and must be dealt with by church clergy to seek help in overcoming this problem, however where we differ is that this only requires church authority when it becomes sinful and problematic. The occasional masturbation session in no way falls under this idea any more so than a fast food meal, which taken to extreme and levels of addiction is also unhealthy.

Because of my stance my position in the church is at risk and by extension my families as well. My Bishop does not know how to deal with this. Because I have spoken publicly what I have done falls under the apostasy section of the Bishops handbook, and yet because of my testimony of church, my declaration of support of current church leaders and testimony of the book of Mormon my Bishop can’t reconcile my actions and otherwise supportive and faithful position as apostasy. The apparent conflict is not one he can easily recommend a course of action on and he has stated he must take time to pray about it himself.

The effect on my life personally this has had, has been very direct and measurable. Similar to how breaking through the barriers of nudity has changed how I look at things like porn. Because of how I have changed my views on nudity from my upbringing to what it is now, porn no longer has any hold on me. It is easily ignored and no longer provides temptation to me like it has so often in the past. The issue of masturbation was a source of consistent stress and anxiety in my life for almost as long as I can remember. Breaking through the conditioning that was placed upon me has changed everything. It is no longer something that controls me. I no longer feel as though I have a need for it as I no longer have a need to release stress and anxiety due to the constant battle. It is amazing what can change when something is no longer taboo.

I have been asked by my Bishop if I am living the law of chastity as declared by the church. I have told him that while I have masturbated in the past, and I would also be foolish to believe that it could never happen again, I am doing the best I can to live so that I may enter the temple and worship there. Despite my statements that I feel no need for such things, as I no longer have stress, anxiety and guilt over it as a result of the conclusions that I have come to, my worthiness has still be called into question and I had been asked to not attend the temple for myself or my wife. However once I pointed out that it is unjust, unfair and not right to take my wife’s temple privileges on the basis of my comments and statements is wrong. I declared to him that to take her privilege away is to judge her without merit and that she should never be held back from the temple on the basis of my issues. She may agree with my position but she is not the one who has acted, I have. Thankfully he quickly backtracked on that and conceded the point.

There are many things that are requirements for the temple that are not inherently wrong if not done or meeting such requirements. Paying of tithes, being at least 12, attending church meetings, being baptized, membership for minimum of one year, having access to a temple etc… I view abstaining from masturbation as one of those requirements that is not inherently wrong, but a minimum standard that must be met. Not meeting one of these requirements is not in and of itself sinful.

What is difficult for me is knowing that putting my feelings on this issue out there puts my status in the church at risk. This is an organization that I have grown to love and cherish. Ultimately however, doing what is right, was never easy. I could very well have made this easier for myself and family simply by keeping my mouth shut and not saying anything. That however would not have been the right thing to do and ultimately would be worse for myself and family. I have no regrets and feel as if a large burden has been lifted off my shoulders by sharing my story with you and my Bishop. I can go forward with faith knowing that whatever happens, happens. I can go on knowing that regardless of the outcome I am doing right by myself, my family and my God. And that is ultimately what this life is all about, becoming the best people we can so that when we stand before the judgement bar of God to be judged for the kind of life we live we can do so with confidence and a clean conscience knowing we did everything we could to be the best people we can be.

The Irony in all of this is that if I had said nothing online, nothing to my bishop and just kept quiet, my worthiness for the temple never would have been called in to question. I know that I am worthy to attend and ultimately, however, I will have to accept the Bishops judgement, or Stake President in the event of disciplinary council, whether I agree with it or not. Word on that however is still pending.

And that is the Gospel According to Andrew

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A Lie of Masturbatory Proportions

READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS MATURE SUBJECT MATTER WHICH MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME READERS. IF THIS BOTHERS YOU, STOP READING.

I want to start this discussion with some of my own personal experience with this issue of masturbation. I grew up in the LDS church and was taught since my youth through the 80’s and 90’s that masturbation is wrong and a terrible, horrible and evil sinful act. I was not permitted to advance in the priesthood, take the sacrament, receive a temple recommend etc… I spent my youth virtually in a constant state of guilt over this sin which had been drilled into me as God’s truth and law. I could not get away from these feelings of guilt, and as a result it would often lead to more masturbation to release stress and tension from the guilt I was made to feel because I had masturbated. This may be in part responsible for my wayward youth and eventual decline into other sins such as porn and smoking etc… I hated myself, my life, and was in general miserable. Inevitably I would turn to the one thing in life that made me feel good, at least for a time: masturbation.

This issue was preached from the pulpit, in priesthood and young men’s meetings, preached in for the strength of youth, and included in the bishops handbook directly rather than some vague or indirect language as it is today. (This has been confirmed to me by a current bishop in the church.) It was preached in general conference meetings of the church. The church had even published a pamphlet titled “To Young Men Only” which preached the following.

“A boy should be taught about the power of creation within his body and that the Lord intended that this power should be used exclusively in marriage. He should be cautioned against sexual self-stimulation (masturbation). ”

What I found interesting about this is that this is referencing a pamphlet that is to young men only. It is also treated not as a sin, but as a caution, or recommendation in the wording itself. From what my wife has told me, masturbation was virtually never talked about in her young woman’s classes or organizations and only mentioned very briefly. What I remember however was that it was a regular point of discussion in young men’s class when speaking of chastity and sexual purity. What I find interesting about this is that when we consider the stats, which are reported by sexuality and u we find that 71.5% of women and 82.7% of men have and do masturbate in the past year, and 68.6% of men and 51.7% of women have or do masturbate at least monthly.  Statistically speaking, if you have 10 young women in the ward and 1o young men, at least 6 of the young men and 5 of the young women have masturbated in the past month. If this is the case why does the church teaching on this subject lean so heavily on boys when it is clear that girls masturbate almost as much as boys. Is it that this is a bigger sin for boys? Or is  this one issue is highly skewed towards boys and men like dress standards are highly skewed towards girls and women? Is it even a sin for girls?

Growing up I never even knew that girls masturbated. With all the emphasis on masturbation among young men at church, school etc… I was led to believe that this was only something that boys and men did. I had no idea that girls masturbated or that it was even possible. The emphasis within the church was so heavily focused on boys and men in the church it was not until adulthood that I realized or learned that girls masturbated as well.

My upbringing on this manner was extremely one-sided, lacked any relevant information and in general pushed and demonized something that has never been proven to be harmful in any way to the individual or others, physically, mentally or even spiritually. All my anxiety and feelings of guilt had nothing to do with spirituality but trying to cope with something I was made to feel ashamed of with no discernible reason other than “God has declared it sin”.  Virtually every other sin you can imagine or think of has natural consequences. Either it will negatively impact your personal health and well-being or have the same affect on others.  This is not the case with masturbation. We must ask where this idea that masturbation is a sin came from?

Reading in the Bible, the Old Testament specifically, we read of a man name Onan. His story is contained in 3 short verses. Genesis 38:8-10. I mention this story as it has been pointed out to me by more than one person, including bishops that this is the reason masturbation is wrong.

 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

 10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.

This short passage of scripture has been interpreted throughout all of Christendom to mean that Onan had masturbated, which he probably did, (at least there is a 80+ % probability that he did at some point in his life) and that the lord had killed him for this sin. What is often ignored is the rest of the story, that despite the fact that it is only 3 verses long tells us a lot.

Verse1: Onan had been commanded to marry his dead brother’s wife and give her children that would be raised in his brother’s name, and not his.

Verse 2: Onan did marry his dead brothers wife, he went to have sex with her, but rather than give his wife children that would not be his under the law at the time, he “spilled it on the ground”, in other words, he ejaculated his semen outside of his wife to avoid getting her pregnant.

Whether this is by the method of masturbation, or otherwise is irrelevant to his motives and the story. The important part of this is his motives and rational for doing it, not the act itself. Onan’s act was one of spite, he would only father children that would be his own, not his brothers. This was a selfish act and went directly against the commands of God at the time.

Verse 3: God now states his displeasure and the resulting consequence of failing to obey his command, which was death. Onan was not killed because he masturbated, but rather because he would not fulfil his legal and religious obligations to his dead brother’s wife. This was the issue.

Sadly this has been interpreted to mean that masturbation is wrong and sinful.

Growing up in the church I was taught that this sin is a violation of the law of chastity. The law of chastity for those that do not understand this or know of it, is a law within the gospel that condemns any sexual relationships outside of the marriage covenant. Numerous prophets and apostles have spoken on this issue.

I remember countless discussions with my bishop as a young man asking “Why it is a sin?” and never getting an answer that I could understand, except that “God has declared it so.” I have had discussions with my Bishops about this issue in my adult life as well. None of them seem to have a grasp or understanding of the reasoning behind this any more than I do. Often what I have been told by Bishops are answers usually starting with “I think” and “I feel”. Some Bishops I have talked to have mentioned that because it is often accompanied by other sins such as porn, and fantasizing about others, he “thinks” or “feels” that may be why it is a sin. I have asked Bishops what the hand book actually says about masturbation. The Answer I have received is that it does not actually use that term, and such does not directly speak to it, but rather uses terms such as “self pleasure” to arousing these feelings within ourselves as the strength for youth speaks of it.

I have asked some rather direct questions of my Bishops on this matter. One such question I have asked is “you mentioned this act being done in conjunction with fantasizing about another as a reason you believe it to be wrong, something that sounds more like a personal opinion than doctrine, if one were to masturbate while fantasizing about their spouse, would you still declare it to be sin?”  The response I have received when posing this question is “I have wondered about that myself” I have asked “If I were to fantasize about my wife while masturbating, It cannot be considered adultery as I would not be lusting after another woman, but my own wife, how then is this a sinful behavior?” I have never been able to get an answer to this question aside from the usual, I think, or I feel type answers. What one thinks and what one feels is not doctrine, nor is it the commandments of God, it is one’s own personal ideals and feelings. These things can be good or bad, but they do not make doctrinal truths.

Continuing this conversation and idea that masturbation is wrong due to the other sins it is often coupled with such as porn, or lusting after those we are not married to, while being wed, has led to asking the question of church clergy, “Hypothetically, if one were masturbating just for the enjoyment of the act itself, without connection to fantasies, porn or other sexual sins, would this still be considered a sinful act, taking into consideration the statements made that you “think” or “feel” that this is considered sin due to connections with other sinful acts?” The answer I have often received back again has been “The church considers it a sin, that is the official position, though I do not understand why such a scenario would be sinful behavior, it is still considered to be a sin, the church has not changed it position.” As usual, it is an answer without explanation, and as usual, Bishops and clergy within the church do not understand this any more than I do.

I have asked Bishops within the church why the scriptures do not speak on this subject of masturbation. It is not mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Book or Mormon or even the Bible. I have been referred to the story of Onan which we have already gone over, to justify how this is a sinful act. When pointing out that Onan was punished not for the act of masturbation (which it is not clear that he did masturbate) but for his reasons for committing the act and refusing to fulfill his obligations often I am answered with silence or a thoughtful “you’re right”

I have been told that the prophets have spoken on this issue themselves. I recently told my Bishop that he is right that prophets have spoken on this, in fact President Kimball did back in the 1980’s. This is what President Kimball said in 1980 general conference:

“The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins that were reprehensible to them. Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking.”

Other references include, with the most recent article on this issue from 16 years ago in the Ensign. The article is titled For The Strength Of Youth

“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” (FSOY, 14–15).”

From a parents guide

“Masturbation is considered by many in the world to be the harmless expression of an instinctive sex drive. Teach your children that the prophets have condemned it as a sin throughout the ages and that they can choose not to do it.”

This statement tells us that we must teach our children something that has in fact never been taught outside of the modern church era. Prophets have not condemned this through the ages at all, it is only in modern era that such things have been considered sin.  To make the claim that this has been preached through the ages is wrong. The church leadership knows it is a lie and they have continued to perpetuate this lie for decades.  I will not teach my children this lie. If the church wishes to call it a sin so be it, but please do not continue to tell members that it has been preached through the ages as this is simply not true and it is a false statement and misleading statement.

President Kimball states that the early Apostles and Prophets classified masturbation as a sin, Church materials from the 80’s and 90’s state that prophets have taught against this practice through the ages however I cannot find a single reference to verify or validate this claim from the early Prophets or Apostles. It is not recorded in any scriptures. Not the book of Mormon, Doctrine and covenants, Pearl of Great Price or the Bible. This sin, as it has been called, is non-existent in any doctrinal scriptures anywhere in the LDS or christian world. There is nothing to support this claim or why it would be considered sin anywhere.

It is not my intent to prove the church wrong, nor to tell the church what is or is not a sin. My trouble is, and always has been, that If I cannot understand something, then I have a very difficult time accepting it as truth, especially when it is something that has no logic or rationale, but rather is something that is simply stated and expected to be accepted as truth. Masturbation, it seems, is one of these sins with no rational or reasoning, it just is. If the church wishes to consider it a sin, so be it, but we must change our approach to be rational, logical and realistic.

It would appear,  considering the lack of documented material and reasoning to back up the claims by church leadership, it is more of the flavor of the day, rather than actual sin. The church has virtually gone silent on the issue for the last 16 years, despite the fact that it is a common issue with up to 80% of the overall population.

Much of the churches current wording and reasoning regarding this issue is worded to encourage one to avoid the practice, rather than calling it sin. Don’t do it because it could lead to sin. We say the same thing about many other things as well. Don’t go to bars, don’t hang out with people of bad influence, don’t watch questionable media content and material, don’t use certain types of language. None of these cautions is by default sin if committed, but rather is good advice to keep away from potential sin.

Lets take a minute to look at some other sexual sins, there are many we can look at but for the purpose of this article we will just focus on a few.

Porn: This is a sin that has some very real world consequences. It has been proven to be addictive and self-destructive. It gives false ideals of sex, and beauty. It can and has ruined many relationships and marriages. This does not even begin to touch on the spiritual side of things. Addiction to porn can degrade you spiritually, cut you off from the influence of the spirit and lead to other sins.

Adultery: This sin also has real world consequences. It erodes trust and destroys relationships. It can bring with it all kinds of disease and STD’s. You can be ex-communicated from the church and end your marriage. It erodes the trust of your spouse and children. Christ himself said if you so much as lust after another, with whom you are not married, you have already committed adultery in your heart.

Fornication: The act of sex before marriage. While the consequences of this are not as serious they can included STD’S as a consequence for yourself, others and possibly a future spouse.  The act of sex is about more than reproduction of the human species but serves a vital and important role in that serves to increase the strength of the bond between husband and wife, and re-affirms the commitment of the love they have made. With fornication this commitment is not there or as strong.

These 3 examples are meant to illustrate how sexual sins can in fact lead to consequences beyond our selves. Masturbation however, is not like these sins. Masturbation harms no one. Not you. Not your spouse. It has never been proven to be harmful physically, psychologically and at this point in my life spiritually as well. The reality is that the opposite is true, Masturbation has been proven time and time again to be physically healthy, psychologically healthy and a natural and normal part of being human and childhood development.

We have been counseled to avoid masturbation. This is not bad council, but that does not make it sinful if you do. We should also avoid excessive pop consumption, T.V. watching, sleep, eating etc… and numerous other things. Not heeding this council does not make it sinful however. We have been counseled to have food and water storage, failing to have these things does not mean we have sinned and are unworthy of Gods blessings.

There are many things that we can and could do that can lead to sin, and thus should be avoided. These things in and of themselves are not sins. Going to a bar for example is not a sinful act and requires no confession. I have done this numerous times. This could lead to drinking and getting drunk, causing us to commit other sins while under the influence. This does not make going to the bar a sin in and of itself.

I do not dispute in any way that masturbation can lead to and often has been coupled with other sins such as pornography and lusting after those whom we are not wed to. It is also important to understand the context in which the act is committed to fully understand whether or not it is sinful behavior or not.

As an example of what I mean we can look to the act of sexual intercourse itself. One can have sex and be committing a sin, or one can have sex and not be committing a sin. Sex with one to whom you are married under the law of God is not a sin, however sex with one to whom you are not married is a sin. In both cases, the act is the same, however in one it is a sin, while in the other case it is not. Context in this case is important to understanding the difference between sinful sex and non-sinful sex. There are many things we can do that are not sin in and of themselves. Taking prescription medication for example is not sinful, however if one becomes dependent on such drugs and becomes addicted to them this is now a sinful act that must be rectified. The act of killing someone in self-defense is not a sin, in fact it is upheld by doctrine found in the scriptures even. Captain Moroni is an example of this, he killed many Lamanites during a long and bloody war in defense of himself, family and liberty. This was not sinful, nor was the killing of  Laban by Nephi. Other examples include Moses in defense of an Israelite before he fled Egypt etc… However the act of killing an innocent for the purpose of gain, revenge, in anger etc… becomes a very serious sin, even an unpardonable sin. In one case, it is not sin, in the other it is. Context is important! I cannot empathize that enough!

I think I have covered pretty thoroughly at this point why masturbation is not necessarily a sin in and of itself. It is clear that as far as the church is concerned it has been downgraded in seriousness from big deal and serious sin to something to be cautioned against and rarely if ever talked about even indirectly. It seems that this was essentially the flavor of the day and the church has moved on. Other issues of doctrinal serious sins have been talked about since the dawn of time, masturbation however has not, even though the church would have you believe this lie.

Ultimately we have to ask, what natural consequence results from masturbation? Virtually all other sins, and many non-sins have natural consequences whether they be personal, or affects others negatively beyond ourselves. If you really take the time to ask yourself “what consequence comes a result of masturbation?” the answer is, simply, none. There is no consequence to masturbation. It has been proven to be healthy, natural and normal. At this point in human evolution, surely we would have some evidence that masturbation is in fact harmful to oneself or others considering that this has been a normal part of human behavior since the dawn of time. And yet we do not.

The harm that comes from masturbation does not come from the act, but the teaching that it is wrong and sinful in every circumstance. This teaching brings about stress and anxiety to one who has done this in their youth, perhaps before they were first taught it was wrong and learn of it later. The damage is done when kids are indoctrinated into believing something to be wrong, when it has never been declared so in scriptural canon.

At one time the church preached that homosexuality was a choice and that one could be cured of such things. This is not the teaching of the church any longer, and while the treatment of LGBTQ people in the church still leaves much to be desired, the position is no longer that it is a choice on the LGBTQ persons part. Masturbation has had a change in how it is dealt with as well. The tone and denunciation has gone from it is a sin of serious consequences to “you shouldn’t do it” and avoid it. Is the church changing its tune, slowly but surely on this issue? Will it still be considered sin in another 15 years? Only time will tell as attitudes change within the church. If God’s doctrine does not change, then our only conclusion is that if the attitude and stance of the church changes in severity or otherwise on a given issue, then it cannot be true doctrine, but rather ideology and dogma of the day.

Over the years the LDS church’s position on masturbation largely was influenced and has been by popular opinion of the day. A timeline of the LDS church history on this issue show’s how the churches position has evolved. This timeline article summarizes what has happened over the years regarding this issue. To quote from this timeline:

“The picture that I got from this article is that—in the absence of scriptural or official guidance on the issue of masturbation—the popular hysteria and religious distaste for masturbation in the days of the early Mormon church were adopted by default by the members of the church and later enshrined in church doctrine by conservative members of the church hierarchy. The church promoted healthy attitudes toward masturbation during a short time in the early twentieth century. The church then reversed course and now promotes unhealthy attitudes toward masturbation due to doctrinal inertia despite clear evidence that this policy causes its members great, undue emotional distress, all for the sake of a man-made doctrine which insinuated itself into the culture and dogma of the church.”

The Mormon Therapist had a great article on this issue. Quoting from that blog piece:

“I understand that like any normal human tendency, masturbation can become an unhealthy behavior.   This is also true for eating – yet we don’t couch our physical desire to nourish ourselves with food as sinful.  I believe it is unhealthy for masturbation to be done in a way which interferes with your daily functioning or quality of relationships.  I do not want to minimize this for those who have struggled or who have suffered in a marriage where their spouse has withdrawn sexually in part because of an unhealthy masturbation habit.  At the same time, I believe unnecessary masturbatory shame and unmet attachment needs are at the core of most compulsive masturbatory behavior – becoming an unhealthy coping skill used in times of stress and discontent (topic for another post).”

What this essentially boils down to is bridling our passion. We do not bridle our passions to eliminate them, but rather to control them in a way that does not negatively impact our lives. It is about having a medium of control, just as the horse’s bridle is used to control the horse, we too need to bridle our passions and desires in order to control them, not let them control you. Masturbation, like any other activity, can become sinful when coupled with other sins, or when it becomes something that controls you.

We teach our children to turn to the scriptures for understanding of the gospel. We teach from the scriptures, we read the scriptures, we use the scriptures as our guide. And yet, there is nothing in the scriptures regarding this issue at all. My only conclusion can be, masturbation is not sinful, unless, like many other things, it becomes a controlling force in your life. It is when we lose control to our passions and desires that we have sinned, not in the action itself.

I do not want my children to suffer the mental anxiety, feelings of guilt and shame that I did as a youth growing up in the church. I personally refuse to put them through that and will never condemn them, or make them feel shame for doing so. I won’t go out of my way to encourage the behavior, however I will also never tell them it is wrong, never make them feel shame for doing so, I will never look down upon them for masturbating. I will treat it as normal and no different from taking a shower, or going to the bathroom. I will only get involved if it becomes detrimental to their well-being. And that is the way it should be. No guilt, no shame, and no sin, so long as it does not interfere with living a normal life, or becomes connected to other sins such as pornography.

And that is the gospel according to Andrew

Christ Like Love

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Christ like love. What is it and how do we develop that within our own lives. What do we know of it and how did Christ himself show us this love. This is not a concept that can be easily explained, however I will do my best to elaborate on this subject and hopefully help others more fully understand how we can develop and understand this within our own lives.

To best understand this concept we must first define what Christ like love is. To do this we can turn to the scriptures themselves for examples of the love Christ showed for us and others. Some of the immediate examples that come to mind are:

  1. The Widows Mite. Turning to Mark chapter 12 vs 41-44

41 ¶And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

This story speaks of Christ’s great compassion for the poor. He recognized with this widow that her sacrifice has much more meaning to both himself and this widow because of the little she had. She had given up all that she had for the sake of her faith and paying her tithes. Christ demonstrated his love for her by recognizing her sacrifice.

Are there those within our own lives who have made great sacrfices for us? Have we taken the time to recognize the sacrifice others have made for us? What sacrifices have we made for others to show the love we have for them? Christ like love involves sacrifice, and at times much of it.

Another example of Christs love comes from the story of the adulteress found in John chapter 8:4-11

 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The sin of Adultery is a very serious sin, one of the most serious sins we could commit. Christ showed not only compassion but mercy on her and let her know that he did not condemn her. He did not say that she was forgiven but rather that she was not condemned and that he does not condemn her.

Have we taken the time to forgive those who have trespassed against us? Forgiveness is an act of love for the one who has offended us. In doing so we can demonstrate our love for them and help them at the same time to repent of that which they have done.

The blessing of the children is another example. Christ reached out to the children, wanting to bless and teach them.

Mark 10:14 13-16

13 ¶And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

While these are certainly some great examples of Christ like love perhaps the greatest of all the examples of his love is his atoning sacrifice for all of us. The scriptures describe this event as one of extreme pain and suffering even so much that our savior bled from his pores of his skin. Luke chapter 22 records this event in verses 42-44

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

This however was not the end of his suffering, for it was after this that he was lifted up on the cross as his final act of atonement we read what has been recorded as some of his final words before his death

33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

 34 ¶Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Christ’s great love for us, spoken from the cross was perhaps not just spoken about those who were crucifying him but for all of us that have lived, do now live and will yet live in this mortal existence. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”

Christ like love as we can see from the scriptures is a love that conquers all, forgives all and has nothing but compassion for others. It is a love that seeks to reach out to all and provide for all in every capacity. It seeks to bless others, edify and uplift, and strengthen.

How do we develop Christ like love in our own lives?

Well this is not something that is easily done. Perhaps even more difficult to explain as this process can be much different for every person. What I do know is that the lord does provide a way for us to develop this love much like a refiners fire.

One of the methods the Lord uses to help us is trials. It is through trials that we learn what it is to suffer, and because of this we can provide council and comfort to others. We will all go through trials in this life, many will be more difficult that others. These trials, in addition to strengthening us for our own benefit have the added benefit of giving us the capacity to empathize and have sympathy for others.

One other method we can use to help us develop this christ like love is to count our blessings. When we stop to take the time to really truly understand how blessed we are we will begin to understand how much worse we could have it.

Truly comprehending our blessings can help us go without when others need something we have. By understanding our blessings we can be more ready to part with our things and help those in need. Much of this process is begun in our homes and the environment in which we are raised. From the November 1973 new era an article titled divinely inspired it touches on this idea

“We have said again and again, and I repeat it now, that the most important work we will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. Give the child love in the home, and the home will give our auxiliaries well-adjusted children who can feel the lessons of love of God and man taught in the Church.

The experience of love in one’s early youth enables him to develop the ability to feel within the feelings the urges that create the attitudes that result in a truly religious life. It is these feelings that supply the motivation for good works.”

For me one of the most important aspects of developing and showing Christ like love is to never judge others. As the scriputues put it “why beholdest thou the mote in thy brothers eye and not the beam in they own.”

I know what it is like to be on the recieving end of harsh judgements of those who took no time to try to understand but rather prefer to condemn before understanding. Those who were quick to act without thinking through the very serious potential consequences to my family. A wiseman once said, the best of intentions can result in the greatest of harm. It is for this reason that we must never, rush to judgment, but seek first to understand, have compassion and seek to help. Christ never sought to judge but showed compassion and love.

Next time you may be thinking about or judging others, as so many have, without even trying to understand, I would encourage you to remember the words of this hymn which I would like to share with you. It is this one hymn that truly helps us to understand the christ like love.

  1. 1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
    Hath often crossed me on my way,
    Who sued so humbly for relief
    That I could never answer nay.
    I had not pow’r to ask his name,
    Whereto he went, or whence he came;
    Yet there was something in his eye
    That won my love; I knew not why.
  2. 2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
    He entered; not a word he spake,
    Just perishing for want of bread.
    I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
    And ate, but gave me part again.
    Mine was an angel’s portion then,
    For while I fed with eager haste,
    The crust was manna to my taste.
  3. 3. I spied him where a fountain burst
    Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
    The heedless water mocked his thirst;
    He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
    I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
    Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
    Dipped and returned it running o’er;
    I drank and never thirsted more.
  4. 4. ‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
    A winter hurricane aloof.
    I heard his voice abroad and flew
    To bid him welcome to my roof.
    I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
    And laid him on my couch to rest,
    Then made the earth my bed and seemed
    In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
  5. 5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
    I found him by the highway side.
    I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
    Revived his spirit, and supplied
    Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed.
    I had myself a wound concealed,
    But from that hour forgot the smart,
    And peace bound up my broken heart.
  6. 6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
    To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
    The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
    And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
    My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
    He asked if I for him would die.
    The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
    But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
  7. 7. Then in a moment to my view
    The stranger started from disguise.
    The tokens in his hands I knew;
    The Savior stood before mine eyes.
    He spake, and my poor name he named,
    “Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
    These deeds shall thy memorial be;
    Fear not, thou didst them unto me.

 And that is the gospel according to Andrew

By Andrew McLean Posted in Orginals