marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LDS Doctrine Or Cultural Myth: A Sexual Relationship With Yourself?

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.

 Some time ago, I asked the question “Is masturbation a sexual relationship with yourself?” A great conversation ensued, and even ventured into the realm of "What is sinful"?  I don’t believe the question was ever truly answered.

Before we can venture into what is a sin or not, we need to first answer the question of whether or not a sexual relationship with one’s own being is even possible.

This is not to suggest a multiple personality disorder. Having a dual personality disorder is very different from a body-and-spirit relationship - separate entities, yet learning to function together as a unit and influencing each other. The desires of the body can overcome the spirit, and the spirit can overcome the desires of the body, throughout our lives.

A relationship is defined as a state of being related, or in other words, an aspect or quality that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together.[i]

Our spirit and our body were not always connected, and when we leave mortality will once again be disconnected. [ii] As we enter into mortality, we have to learn how to live in harmony with our body. We even have to convince to stop or re-direct our body from acting contrary to the will of God. In Mormon terminology, we refer to this as “bridling our passions.” [iii]

Our relationship between our spirit and body has to be conducted in such a way as to prevent offending both God and man. Jesus Christ set this example for us in how he conducted his life.[iv]

Elder Neal A Maxwell taught: 

“…the daily taking up of the cross means daily denying ourselves the appetites of the flesh. By emulating the Master, who endured temptations but “gave no heed unto them,” we, too, can live in a world filled with temptations “such as [are] common to man…” [v]

Christ taught us to “…love thy neighbor as thyself.”[vi] Loving ourselves would not be possible if we could not have a relationship with ourselves.

Every man (and woman) is a dual being, according to the scriptures. Each one of us is engaged in a spirit-to-body relationship that often desire opposite things. The effort to unify the desires of the spirit and the body in harmony with God’s plan is the work of a lifetime. [vii]

Further evidence of this type of relationship stems from the prescribed standards in the “For The Strength Of Youth” booklet, which states:

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife”


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, 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.”

This suggests that having a sexual relationship with the self can count as engaging in a sexual relationship outside of the marriage relationship.

There is also scientific evidence, methods and etymology that demonstrate people can have a relationship with themselves.

Dr. Stephen Gilligan PhD is a psychologist who developed “relationship with self therapy” as influenced by his mentor Dr. Milton Erickson. The theory behind this therapy is about using the events that happen in our lives, and perceiving them in a way that is more empowering for self and others. [viii]

This again affirms the idea that the beliefs that we carry with us affect our perceptions of ourselves, and thus either strengthen or weaken our self-relationships.

This form of therapy would not be possible if it were not possible to have a relationship with the self.

The word ‘narcissism’ is a psychological term for a relationship with oneself. It is by definition a “love of or sexual desire for one's own body.”[ix]

The term “self-less” denotes “self” in the third person. It means to put our “relationship” with others above our relationship with the “self.” [x]

  • If we can talk to ourselves,
  • relate to ourselves,
  • introduce ourselves,
  • be nice to ourselves,
  • like ourselves,
  • be mean to ourselves,
  • hate ourselves,
  • abuse ourselves,
  • pleasure ourselves,
  • ignore our own thoughts or feelings, or
  • get therapy for our relationship with ourselves,
then we can have a relationship with ourselves.

As for having a sexual relationship with ourselves, logically this is also possible.

A sexual relationship is defined as a relationship involving sexual intimacy.  Dr. David Schnarch said that “intimacy is like having an orgasm during intercourse. It takes two people to create it, but only one may have it.”[xi]

In terms of intimacy, sex, and sexuality, there is not just sexual intercourse. There are many ways to have sex, and bring ourselves to orgasm. Solo masturbation is one of them.

Masturbation is a sexual experience that can have such a profound effect upon our mental programming that we can condition our body and brain to primarily associate the pleasure of ‘sex’ with masturbation only - similar to pornography addiction. The effect is actually neurologically reinforced if porn is also involved.

Many couples come to therapy because one spouse prefers masturbation to intercourse, and seek help to reprogram themselves to associate sex with their husband or wife again – because one or both spouses had inadvertently trained their body and mind to prefer masturbation to sex with a person. [xii]

"So many times prophets warn about the dangers of selfishness - the inordinate and excessive concern with the self." ~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 15-19, italics added

Answer: LDS Doctrine

[i] Merriam Webster Dictionary, Definition #2,
[ii] Alma 11: 42-43
[iii] Alma 38:12
[iv] St. Matthew 4: 1-10
[v] Elder Neal A Maxwell, Overcome…Even As I Overcame, General Conference Report, April, 1987,
[vi] Matthew 22:39
[vii] 1 Cor. 6:20, Gal. 5:17, D&C 88:15
[xi] Schnarch, Dr. David, Passionate Marriage, pg. 112
[xii] Mark Gungor speaks on Masturbation, , Your Brain On Porn (pt. 2-6) , Gungor, Mark, Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage; Harley, Hahn, The Island Syndrome, ; 278 Korean J Radiol 11(3), May/Jun 2010,Time-Course Analysis of the
Neuroanatomical Correlates of Sexual Arousal Evoked by Erotic Video Stimuli in Healthy Males,


Strong Man said...

Interesting analysis. And very appropriate of a new therapist seeking to build a new business depending heavily on referrals from LDS Bishops. You certainly need to toe the line on recently official teachings.

BUT you've sidestepped the logical conclusion that is often drawn from this idea: that solo masturbation is therefore a violation of the law of chastity, which in the minds of many who misinterpret Alma 39, is worse than any other sin other than murder.

Are you suggesting if both are 'relationships' that actual fornication or adultery are morally equivalent to solo masturbation?

Many men and couples go to therapy, and some commit suicide, because they've been overwhelmed with guilt over committing a "sin next to murder" (worse than theft, worse than physical assault, worse than verbal and emotional abuse?) when in reality they've harmed no one and have followed their God-given biology in a natural and normal way.

You've used a lot of prophet quotes here. What would your colleagues in the disciplines of sexual and marital therapy say? How do you reconcile any differences?

Strong Man said...

One more thought: When I said "harms no one," I don't pretend to ignore the possible harms you pointed out from masturbation, especially in a marriage, which can be very real.

But, I do struggle to identify the specific social or moral harms of a single teenager following his God-given biology for once or twice a week for a total of maybe 10 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Here's another thought. If you can have a relationship with yourself and you're married and your body is jot your own isn't masturbation then when expressed within a marital relationship still within the bounds of marriage there are no others but husband and wife present. Therefore within the bounds the Lord has set. See I can play with fuzzy logic too.

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon July 6th,

The scripture I think you are referring to is 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 which states " you are not your own for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

You may also be referring to 1st Corinthians 7:3-6 " …let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife...

If you had a different scripture in mind, please let me know.

It sounds like you are suggesting that when a husband and wife marry, all personal identity is lost and that you cease to be an individual. Therefore, a relationship with self is not possible after marriage because a man and a woman merge into a single entity sharing the same brain, organs and body not independent of each other in its most literal sense.

Hopefully, it is obvious that this was not what was intended in either of these scriptures.

President Joseph F. Smith gives us (I believe) the best rule of thumb when it comes to how we should look at any sexual practice in marriage:

“The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love-inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure.” (Improvement Era, June 1917, 739)

Sex serves two purposes: the creation of children, and to strengthen the eternal relationship of a husband and wife.

By this rule of thumb, I would ask myself if solo masturbation is accomplishing at least one of these purposes. If I chose to do it, does my spouse know about it? How do they feel about it? Is it strengthening my relationship with my spouse when I do it, or weakening it?

We can’t lose our perspective on the purpose of this life. If everybody died and ceased to exist…if there was no life after this…then whatever you wished to do would be right; it wouldn’t matter.

But the fact is, there is a purpose to this life. Life continues on after this mortality. God has rules and guidelines he expects us to follow if we want to be married and have sex for eternity (D&C 121:34-46, and sections 131 and 132). Are our marriage practices preparing us for that kind of life in the eternities, or taking us from that way of life?

Each individual has to answer that for themselves and adjust as the Spirit directs.

Dave said...

I apologize in advance for making this too long. I will post as multiple comments and hope you don't mind.

In the narrowest sense, I can readily agree with your conclusion. Namely - I also believe that it is possible to have a sexual relationship with oneself. As you note, our theology is fairly clear that we are dual beings, made up of physical and spiritual components -- That we have both a carnal nature and a divine nature. One of the main purposes of our sojourn in mortality is to learn to put our physical component in subjection to our spiritual component.

Without going through the long thought process that gets me here, it is my conclusion that, not only is it possible to have a sexual relationship with myself, but it is important for that relationship to be the correct and righteous (here maybe I am conflating the concepts of "sexual relationship with oneself" and "our personal relationship with our sexuality" in case you see these as different concepts). In developing this relationship, one can easily find many talks and other statements condemning all kinds of sexual expression outside of marriage. Adultery, fornication, pornography, sexual abuse, prostitution all are farily strongly condemned, and, I believe, without ambiguity. Less common and more difficult to find are those statements that talk positiviely about what a healthy sexual relationship with oneself (or with a friend or with a spouse) looks like.

One of the challenges for me is understanding what is allowed and what is forbidden in this sexual relationship: In understanding what constitutes, as Elder Maxwell puts it in your source [v], "the appetites of the flesh." It is my observation that, not every naturally occurring desire or inclination is considered sinful, wicked, and to be completely eliminated from our life (though, throughout Christian history, there have been those who have advocated such thinking). As an example, those who study diet and taste tell us that our most basic "carnal" desire as far as what we eat and drink goes is a strong preference for foods that are sweet and/or fatty. If our natural, inborn desire is a major factor in determining sinfulness, this could suggest that donuts, ice cream, cookies, cakes, candy bars, and other junk food would be the pinnacle of sinfulness under the word of wisdom. On the contrary, the WoW specifically calls for us to abstain 100% from things that we arguably do not have a natural, "inborn taste" for (like alcohol and tobacco). Though I do occasionally see debates break out over whether obesity is "sinful", the prevailing, official counsel regarding junk food seems to be "with wisdom and moderation and with the overall goal of maintaining a healthy body."

I sometimes wonder if masturbation should be treated like junkfood. It may not have any redeeming quality, but perhaps we are not called to 100% abstain from the practice. Yes it is possible to do it to excess (just like junkfood). Yes it is possible that someone may come to prefer masturbation to sex with a spouse (just like one may come to actually consume junkfood in place of healthy food). On the other side of the coin, it is well documented that someone may become so overcome with guilt and shame over masturbation that they seek suicide or other unhealthy choices (reference our society's obsession with body image and how that is related to what we eat).

Anonymous said...

Strong Man, in his blog, once posted a bishop's perspective on this topic. I wish I had copied it before he took it down. The gist of it was that masturbation best be avoided, but that we shouldn't get too worked up over occasional, solo private masturbation which does not involve pornography.

Strong Man said...

"the prevailing, official counsel regarding junk food seems to be "with wisdom and moderation and with the overall goal of maintaining a healthy body."

Decent analogy. Except--guidance on eating too much junk food is mentioned officially in scripture and have been sustained by extensive scientific research. No so with solo masturbation while single.

Here is a complete list of scriptures referring to masturbation or describing it using other words:

Error: Not Found.

As to latter-day revelation, we have a couple of general authority quotes that have been requoted by numerous others. No official statements by the 1st presidency and the 12.

The idea that blacks were denied the priesthood because of their inferiority in the preexistence had at least this much general authority support before it was plainly denounced by the Church last year.

I'll conclude with some highlights from the bishop guest that used to be published on my blog, entirely in his words:

1. Solo, private masturbation IS NOT sexual relations.
2. There is no distinction regarding permissibility of solo masturbation based on marital status.
3. I put normal, healthy, masturbation in the same category as over-eating, being slothful, minor infraction of laws such as speeding, rolling through a stop sign, or jay-walking, etc. Things we should avoid, but don’t rise to the need for serious repentance. In other words, it is something that we shouldn’t feel free to indulge in, but neither should it be something we get too worked up about.
4. We understand that where there is no law, there is no sin. If masturbation is so pernicious, I’d think it would have garnered at least one or two specific mentions somewhere in the standard works seeing how wide-spread the practice is.
5. Masturbation in and of itself should not prevent you from worthily participating in priesthood ordinances, hold a temple recommend, attend the temple or serve a mission.

Is masturbation wrong? The answer: it’s complicated. I believe that we will be closer to God and ultimately happier when we abstain from masturbation. I also believe that under normal circumstances it can be no big deal and in certain circumstance even useful. If you don’t abstain, work on it and try to get closer to God, but don’t obsess about it. Work on bridling your passions. Don’t expect to eliminate them or perfection.

Here’s my bottom line. Occasional masturbation by a single young person does not ruin lives, obsessing about it might.

Anonymous said...

That is an interesting thought - why is there no direct reference to masturbation in the scriptures or modern-day revelation?

I have a thought (and this is just my hypothesis), but it might be because it's such an easy activity to get involved in, the Lord and the prophets just didn't want to refer to it so know, to plant the idea in someone's head before they were mature enough to handle the idea.

I don't know...I could be wrong. Justs makes a person wonder, though

CoachSam said...

Masturbation causes the release of Delta FosB, a chemical which causes the brain to release reward chemicals that program the brain to crave more.

Even with only one or two hits of masturbation once in awhile, that natural drug stimulates cravings for more and more.

In addition, it is forming the physical neural pathways for a subconscious habit – a habit that can be powerful enough – because it is reinforced by Delta FosB and dopamine - to eventually overpower the conscious logical mind. I’m study neuro-linguistic programming at the moment, which operates linguistically through a similar process – it’s fascinating.

Would you feel that a parent telling a child that taking a hit of cocaine every once in awhile is okay, and not doing anyone any harm? Masturbation is not that different, and the natural chemicals involved are shown to be 10 times more addictive than morphine.

Are you familiar with this TED talk given by Gary Wilson in Glasgow around May of 2012? Some good information on the potential links between masturbation and a host of other issues:

Dave said...

@ CoachSam 10 Aug: In the TED talk by Gary Wilson, I'm not sure if I even noticed that he used the word "masturbation", did he? Even if he did, it was certainly in conjunction with internet porn use. In this and the other things I have seen/read by him, it seems that all of the science pointing to the dangers of "addiction" and "brain re-wiring" all involve internet porn in some way -- these discussion never talk about the dangers of masturbation by itself. Admittedly, I work in the physical sciences, so I'm really not qualified to enter the debate over what neuroscience/psychology says about masturbation. It just seems that I never see discussions about the dangers of masturbation by itself. Certainly nothing to suggest that masturbation (without porn use) is anywhere near similar to cocaine.

Latter-Day Marriage said...

Spencer W. Kimball very clearly instructed the Saints in General Conference to not masturbate. I think it was in 1980. For the Strength of Youth forbids it, as the the Parent's Handbook which is still online at There shouldn't be a debate over if it is wrong or not given that.

Strong Man said...

LDM- In your blog you mention a 15-year period of sexual frustration in your marriage that was resolved in large part by Laura Brotherson's book "they were not ashamed." I'd be interested in your reaction to her chapter in which she encourages some self exploration.

I suspect god is more concerned about the problems with unhealthy marriages and the crippling of excessive shame about masturbation than about some occasional self-learning.

CoachSam said...

Dear Latter-Day Marriage,

Thank you so very much for your comment. Please find me that specific Gen Conf talk by Pres. Kimball. The only talk I was able to find that specifically mentioned masturbation was a talk by Vaughn J. Featherstone. His talk, as well as any writings by Spencer W. Kimball, including the For The Strength of Youth, and the Parent's Handbook - when they refer to masturbation - they are referring specifically to sexual activity outside of marriage, not inside. I have yet to find anything that specifically says or suggests that married couples cannot masturbate as part of their intimate repertoire. If you can, please let me know the specific reference. I would be very interested to see it. Any clarification I can give the Saints would be very helpful. :0)

CoachSam said...

Dear StrongMan,

I know which chapter you are referring to - I have read it, and I've also had a conversation with Laura Brotherson about it. As I've said before, Sis. Brotherson was the one who encouraged me to start this blog in the first place, and work towards becoming an LDS sex therapist. She's been a great mentor to me.

When I discussed with her the chapter about masturbation, she told me she prefers not to use the word 'masturbation', but 'self-learning', and always within the context of marriage.

She explained to me that the purpose of what she was teaching was aimed at the sisters who come into marriage, not knowing how the sexual parts of their bodies work. She recommends to them to 'prayerfully' explore their sex organs, find out what feels good to them, and even learn how to bring themselves to orgasm.

Once they've learned that, they then in turn teach their husbands what they like and don't like. From that point, she encourages them to stop 'self-learning' and begin a process of mutual exploration instead.

She has never encouraged people who are single to masturbate before they are married, and neither do I. There's nothing in that chapter that says anything along those lines, nor does she teach solo masturbation in marriage as a regular practice.

Anonymous said...

I thought you would like this. Thank you for all you post.

Anonymous said...

I've followed the comments on masturabation here and on other LDS blogs. Basic dilemma - wife and I had a somewhat average sex life for first 23 years of marriage, then she went through menopause, and for last 5 - 6 years her libido is at zero. She has no desire to have desire. OBGYN confirmed it's just natural for her not to have interest in sex. Do I really have to live out the next 25 to 30 years of my life with out sex? Short of chemical castration or a complete denial of my desires, occasional masturbation is my only outlet. She knows, doesn't care. In fact, she seemed relieved of the guilt she was feeling. What I thought was a temporary slump has gotten to the point that I don't really consider her to be my wife because she is sexually unavailable. More like a sister, so that when I see her naked, I don't get aroused as I know it's a waste of time and energy. I'm frustrated with advice to "come to a compromise" when she wants no compromise. Any pressure to engage is considered coersive. Yet, she is getting 100% of her needs met. There is no analogy to the sexual union between husband and wife. And for those of us in sexless marriages, we are miserable, and LDS culture and leaders are not helping at all. SWK certainly said "Brothers, be considerate of your wives." But I've never heard one leader say "Sisters, be considerate of your husbands." I personally believe she is breaking her marriage covenants. I don't want a divorce. I still love her. But with each passing month and year, we are nothing but roommates who share an interest in our kids. I could literally leave at 10:00 pm each night and show up at 8:00 am the next morning and it wouldn't affect her at all. No wonder many non-member husbands go through a mid-life crisis and cheat.

Strong Man said...

Anon 9-11-13: Your story is way too common and makes my blood boil.

"it's just natural for her not to have interest in sex."

AND--It's "just natural" for you to have a very strong interest in sex, and for you to seek fulfillment elsewhere if your wife refuses. And of course, if she continues to refuse and has no desire to change, for you to seek divorce. That's absolutely natural, normal, expected.

"She's getting 100% of her needs met."

Why? Are there steps you can take short of divorce to make sure this isn't the case? I doubt she's getting the kind of emotional fulfillment and attachment that she would get if you were having regular intimacy. I bet there are things you'd rather do than help her clean the house. Do them.

Are you leaving her absolutely no doubt how much and how frequently you desire sex? Perhaps if she had to strongly turn you down every single day, she would recognize the problem more clearly.

"I personally believe she is breaking her marriage covenants."

Absolutely she is. She's breaking the law of chastity.

I agree the Church is unlikely to be any help. I see almost no messages of empathy for husbands.

I suspect you'll have to: 1st make sure you are financially and physically fit enough to easily attract another wife if necessary. 2nd--make it clear to your wife that the status quo is unacceptable and you'll seek divorce if necessary.

The hard part, of course, is the kids. But them growing up in an obviously sexless marriage is very unhealthy as well.

What I've found is that you have to be strong and firm and clear about your feelings and needs.

Anonymous said...


Interesting thoughts.

We all find ways to justify our beliefs/perspectives. I, for one, don't believe for a minute that the Law of Chastity is referring to sexual relations as a relationship with ourselves. And, when the Church publishes information on Chastity on it's website and in the FTSOY, it is talking about doing those things with "someone else" that would lead you down the slippy slop to where you end up tampering with the sacred use of procreation. They have gotten rid of the old references to masturbation. What they are referring to now is NOT masturbation, but coupled activities that can lead to intercourse. Read it again, but in context to what the prior paragraphs are saying....

By the Church's definition:
"With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith."

Your can throw the Parents Guide out the window, if your are holding on to it as consisting of doctrine.

Show me where "masturbation as a sin" is "consistently" proclaimed in official publications, which, of course, that doctrine was "first" declared as "doctrine" in an official declaration or proclamation.

And as far as the chemicals generated by the brain argument... So having marital intercourse can be addicting, so we should not put those chemicals in our brain? How about chocolate?

I certainly agree there may be some individuals, that because of their addictive personalities, where masturbation can be an issue. But, the problem is not the masturbation, but the other triggers that bring about the masturbation - self loathing, anxiety, low self esteem, depression, boredom, etc. The key is to treat the causes. Certainly, if something has become an addiction, to where it makes it hard to function properly in life and in our sexual relations, then it needs to be dealt with. But, what is the underlying cause of the addictive action?

Anonymous said...

What is it about 'Do not do anything...that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.' that is so hard for people to understand? Page 42:

This sounds like masturbation is included to me.

It's right there, in the current FTSOY. Masturbation's not as great a sin as some others, but outside of marriage it should be resisted, and repented of, before it progresses to greater transgressions.

Anonymous said...

Again, read the FTSOY in the context which this statement is intended...

What they are referring to now is NOT masturbation, but coupled activities that can lead to intercourse. Read it again, but in context to what the prior paragraphs are saying....

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon Oct 10th,

I have carefully read through the FTSOY and presented it in the clearest context that I could see. Above I also give references to where general authorities have spoken out against Masturbation. I could not find anywhere that this has been retracted. I was also careful to present those quotes in the context they were given. You are welcome to look them up and read them for your self.

The law of chastity section of the FTSOY says clearly to not arouse those (sexual) emotions in your own body. I'm curious to know how the person you are trying to defend masturbation for is able to masturbate without arousing sexual feelings in their own body. All the sexual, biological and anthropological studies I have seen have demonstrated what exactly is happening in the body, nervous system, and brain during sexual excitement. The sexual part of the brain doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care who or what is stimulating the genitals, it will have the same sexual response.

But, I may not be seeing things from your perspective. Would you be willing to break down that section in the FTSOY for me and show how you see it? Would you also be willing to cross reference with talks from general authorities, and scriptures that support your perspective?

I'm excited to read what you find. :)

Anonymous said...

Had something pop into my mind with respect to masturbation. The LOC is to not have sexual relations with someone other than your spouse. How do we define "sexual relations?" Certainly, full blown intercourse falls under the definition. We would say heavy petting. We would say light petting. We would even say extended kissing/making out. Yet, people in dating situations kiss and make out all the time. So, why is it "okay" (to a certain extent) for singles to kiss and make out, but one is married, you can't kiss and make out with a non-spouse? While we would be hard pressed to claim kissing is "sexual relations," as a technical matter, it is. Just as much as hand holding is. It is a physical touching or contact with a member of the opposite sex. (Don't get me started on dancing and sexting.) I think masturbation does not fall in the sexual relations category because it is not a touching involving anyone else. Surely one can become fixated with masturbation the same way one could become fixated with sex in general. Obviously there are healthy limits on all things sexual in nature. At any rate, I still see masturbation as something to avoid the extent possible, not to fixate upon or openly encourage, but not as something that would, under most circumstances, merit a charge of unworthiness.

President said...

Interesting back and forth and I don't want to interject to much into the conversation. So here is pure doctrine that speaks to this topic.

"Masturbation can be described as manipulating one’s own sexual organs to produce sexual excitement. Such practice “is not approved of the Lord nor of his church,” said President Kimball, “regardless of what may have been said by others. …

“Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality. We would avoid mentioning these unholy terms and these reprehensible practices were it not for the fact that we have a responsibility to the youth of Zion that they be not deceived.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 97.)

Talking with Your Children about Moral Purity (Ensign, 1986, p. 57)

In the Eternal Marriage Student Manual For Religion 234 and 235 p. 219, used for preparation for and building eternal marriage classes, President Kimball says,

"“The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins that were reprehensible to them. Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without naturalaffection, 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. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices. . . ."

There is a clear line that it is not an approved practice and further it will not help in preparing young people for sexual intimacy in a celestial marriage.

Textbooks take a different approach and discuss marriage in many different lights, however, we need to remember the distinction of a what a Celestial Marriage is and is not. I believe it is there that the line is firmly drawn.