marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage Part 9 of 11

 WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 Click here in case you missed part [1], [2], [3] ,[4], [5], [6], [7] or [8]

My bishop (or other Church member/leader) has said that using sex toys will make us unworthy to enter the temple.

If a single person uses a vibrator to achieve an orgasm, that person needs to repent and regain their worthiness before the Lord. In addition to being a prurient breaking of the law of chastity, solo masturbation or masturbating when single is a habit that has been shown to have detrimental side effects to your marriage.

When a married person uses a toy or another sexual aid primarily instead of going to their spouse for sexual intimacy, this can create resentment and therefore does the opposite of what sex was intended for - to bring you closer together.

While the use of sex toys is not sinful in marriage by themselves, sex toys (like any other sexual practice or technique) can be used in a wrongful manner, including to hurt or damage our spouse’s body.

If we are forcing, guilting, or coercing our spouse into using sex toys when they would prefer not to, we can and should repent. Repentance means adjusting your approach, making restitution with yourself and your spouse and the Lord, and, if necessary, moving on. Don’t sweat it. Learning what works and what doesn’t sexually in your marriage is part of the game (and the fun, when you do find something that works for the both of you.)

If you bring a sexual concern about using sex toys to your Church leader, that leader is in all likelihood going to tell you to stop and not use them. It's important to understand what that counsel means, though. 

If the use of sex toys is in some way driving a couple apart instead of bringing them closer, then that couple needs to stop using sex toys (at least temporarily) until they’ve discovered the true source of their challenges and worked through it. 

It doesn't mean they should never use sex toys. It doesn't mean that no one should ever use sex toys. 

It means they should resolve any underlying concerns and issues that are keeping them from using them, if they're able. Until then, they should not use them.

For more thoughts on church leaders’ advice regarding married sexuality, see my blog entitled “Is the Bishop In Your Bedroom”[i].


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage Part 8 of 11

 WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 Click here in case you missed part [1], [2], [3] ,[4], [5], [6],and [7]
What if my spouse starts to prefer the sex toy instead of having sex with me?

While toys are helpful and (let’s admit it) often just plain good marital fun, they cannot truly replace intimacy with a live human being in a loving interaction.[i]

Toys can stimulate the sensitive nerves that bring a person to orgasm, but they don’t do pillow talk. They don’t caress you lovingly. They don’t trigger those biochemical; ionic interactions that create the full experience of talking, touching, tasting, and sharing that is human intimacy.They also do not complete our sexual cycles that enable us to fulfill the full measure of our creations.

While you’ve satisfied one aspect of you (the body), a lot of other parts go unsatisfied if all you ever do is use a sex toy.

If this is a concern, it would be an excellent opportunity to have an open conversation about this with your spouse. Talk about what they or you may feel is missing from the relationship. Do they trust you with their feelings to let go and be vulnerable with you? Such conversations are sometimes difficult to have, but they are well worth the effort. Overcoming conflict together intensifies intimacy.

If the barrier is deeper than this, a marriage counselor can be helpful here. The rule of thumb here is that sex is supposed to be used as a tool to strengthen your eternal bond. Sex toys should be used to enhance that, not separate you or push you apart.

[i]“Should I Be Worried About My Wife and Her Dildo? (a secular reference, but has some useful advice about sexual communication between a man and a wife):

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage Part 7 of 11

 WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 Click here in case you missed part [1], [2], [3] ,[4], [5], and [6]

A husband or wife may also carry this belief with them:

Sex toys are immoral because they don’t assist in procreation.

Actually, they very much can be an aid in the procreation process.

Stimulation of the clitoris helps to prepare the vagina for sex. similar to the penis, when stimulated, the vaginal walls become engorged with blood. The vagina will also self-lubricate. This increases feeling for both the husband and wife when he inserts his penis. As arousal continues and if he has inserted himself, the vagina is self-adjusting. This means it adjusts to the shape,size and length of the husband’s penis. The cervix also moves down to meet the head of the penis.

If the wife is brought to orgasm (and she can have more than one), after he has released his semen, the cervix has been shown to engage in a dipping motion into the pool of semen at the back of the vagina. This is believed to help in the conception process.[i]

The chemical release of dopamine after ejaculation causes the husband to become very drowsy and briefly disoriented. Here is where a vibrator can come in handy to allow the wife to come to orgasm if the husband has already achieved one. It is during her orgasm when the dipping action takes place, which helps aid in the conception process.I find this debunks the idea of making sure "she comes first." If you're trying to conceive, it's actually more beneficial if he helps her orgasm second. 

Since his ability to obtain an erection has been spent, and his reward chemical release has temporarily disabled him, a sex toy can come in very handy here. He can use it on his wife, or he can hold her while she uses it on herself.

Procreation is not the only reason for married couples to be intimate with each other.[ii] If this were the case, the sex drive would naturally diminish in both healthy men and women (especially women) as the childbearing years ended…but this is not the case.

In many cases, women in particular often experience a heightened desire for having sex as they age. This can be especially true past menopause. Why would this happen if procreation were the only reason for having sex?

Dr. Helen Fisher teaches that this may be due to our ancestral natural selection biological make-up. A trait (particular to humans) where sex is not only used for procreation, but also as a way to keep the male around to help raise the children.[iii] From an eternal perspective, it is also a way the Lord has designed as a balm to help a couple cope with the challenges of marriage and to keep the couple together for all eternity.

Using sex toys shouldn’t be the only kind of sexual activity a couple has. We’ve been counseled to not have sex to the exclusion of activities that result in procreation. Having babies is still a vital function, and the Lord has commanded us to have children where age and health permit,[i] but that doesn’t mean that every intimate encounter has to be missionary position vaginal intercourse. Sex toys are certainly allowable as a tool in a married couple’s sexually intimate repertoire

[i] Packer, Boyd K. The Plan of Happiness, April 2015 Conference

[ii] “Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven. God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued.33 Not if you want true joy. God’s marriage pattern protects the sacred power of procreation and the joy of true marital intimacy.” – Russell M. Nelson, “Decisions For Eternity”, Ensign, Nov 2013,, (emphasis added)
[iii] Helen Fisher and Eric Meyers. “Science of the Sexes”, Discovery Channel Classics, Not Rated, 2008

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage Part 6 of 11

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

 Click here in case you missed part [1], [2], [3] ,[4] and [5]

Today we address this potential obstacle: 
Sex toys are for masturbating, and masturbation is against gospel doctrine.

The council in the Church that’s given against masturbation is directed to those who are single and in the context of outside of marriage, and is not necessarily aimed at those who are married. For more information, please  read the example I give of this in my article “From a distance: Masturbation in the LDS marriage”.[i]

As discussed previously, sex toys can also be used to perpetuate a solo masturbation habit in marriage, but this often is an abuse of sex toys. Toys should never replace sexual activity with your spouse – only facilitate it.

Mutual masturbation in marriage is not against gospel principles when used as a tool to bond you intimately as husband and wife. When used with this spirit of the law in mind, it is a wholesome exercise of our sacred procreative powers in the bounds the Lord has set.

[i] “From a Distance: Masturbation in the LDS Marriage”. One of many blogs regarding masturbation I have written, and very appropriate here:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage - Part 5 of 11

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
Click here in case you missed part [1], [2], [3] and [4]

This week we address the concern:

Sexual intercourse alone should be enough for any couple to be happy sexually. Sex toys are not needed, unless someone is addicted to profane erotica.

Sexual intercourse is not always sufficient, more specifically for women, to achieve an orgasm.

Some studies have found that as few as 25% of women are able to achieve orgasm strictly through intercourse and nothing else. In addition, (depending on her arousal and sexual response) it can take from 20 minutes to an hour for a woman to reach orgasm. There is nothing wrong with this. It requires loving consideration and patience on the husband’s part in order to give this loving gift to his wife.

However, (unless he is an athlete used to making hip thrust movements with a consistent speed and rhythm continuously for 45 minutes) many husbands may not have the physical stamina to keep up the physical movements that long. Also, the average man reaches orgasm within 2-7 minutes, which is not nearly enough time for women to be stimulated themselves.

Many sexual positions, including the popular missionary position, often provide insufficient stimulation to the woman’s clitoris.

While varying positions can sometimes help with this, most often women achieve more success with direct stimulation to the clitoris, either manually or with a vibrator or other sexually stimulating implement.

The more often a husband has sex and the more satiated he becomes over time, the longer it can also take him to have an orgasm. This can actually be beneficial in helping his wife come to orgasm, but if she orgasms before he does, then using a sex toy on him is also an option. However, when this happens, I usually advise that this is a good indicator that his body is telling him to take a break from sex for a day or two.

What about those who are elderly? Those who are disabled? Those who do not as yet feel confident in their ability to stimulate their spouse to an orgasm?

Are those couples unworthy of sexual pleasure in their marriage? For a husband who’s uncertain of how his wife’s body works, using a vibrator or another sex toy can greatly increase his self-confidence in the bedroom, and make her satisfaction a much easier achievement. In addition, it’s not only arousing for a husband, but also gives a tremendous boost to his ego when he learns that he can give his wife that gift. It maintains its sanctity when a married couple keeps these things between themselves.

For those who would prefer to avoid sex toys and want to try manual stimulation techniques instead, there are some halfway-decent sources in the world for learning this, although they often come with images or content some may feel to be profane, depending on you or your spouse’s sensitivity. I don’t post such sacred things in an open blog, but I do provide information when asked for individually.

If you’d like more information on helpful techniques, please feel free to send me an email at, or message me at my Facebook page, The LDS Marriage Bed (

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage - Part 4 of 11

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

 This blog is a continuation of a reader question found in Part One. Part Two and Part Three are available here. Today we're discussing another concern that may arise when considering the use of sex toys in a marriage:

My spouse may think I’m watching profane erotica, or addicted to profane erotica, if I suggest sex toys.

Using sex toys does not mean you are addicted to pornography (what I more accurately call profane erotica). I’ve not found anything of substance to support the idea that sex toys lead to the use of profane erotica. When used appropriately, they can in fact be a very useful aid to intimacy and procreation, which I will discuss later.

If you fear bringing up the idea to your spouse, that’s a separate communication skill issue that can be addressed. Couples should feel safe and be friends enough to suggest something they’d like to try sexually, and discuss the possibility together without feeling fear of being judged or demeaned.

Dismissing an idea your spouse introduces can’t be done casually. Accusing a spouse of profane erotica use because they’re interested in trying out a sex toy or other sexual aid is an unfounded accusation. If one spouse has concerns, agree together that such concerns should be openly addressed and considered.

“No” may not always mean no. Sometimes a spouse just needs time to think about and warm up to the idea. Cultural ideas need to be examined in the light of day in order to be reconsidered, so give it time.

Brethren, if the idea is yours to share, may I suggest not dumping the idea on her as a “we’re going to do this.” Tell her, “There is something I’d like to try” and what it is. Give her a day or two to think about it. Allow her to think about and discuss the pros and cons. Remember, it may be her body you are introducing the sex toy into or on to. She wants to know it’s safe and moral to use.

Given an ultimatum in a decision with no time to think about it, anyone would say “no”.  Always give her a way out, with respect, and mean it. For example “If you don’t like it, or it’s uncomfortable at all, we’ll stop and I’ll get rid of it. I won’t be upset about the money. It’s supposed to be fun, and if it’s not fun, we won’t do it. Thank you for letting us try.” Sisters can introduce this idea to husbands in the same way.

Both men and women are sexual creatures, with strong sexual desires. This sexual drive in and of itself is not perverted or wrong in any way – God placed those desires within us so we would be motivated to marry, have children, and wish to be close to each other for all eternity. These are good and righteous desires.[i] Within marriage, we have the right to explore sexual possibilities and learn all we can about what’s available to us.

Sexuality does not belong to singles, or to those who make or participate in profane erotica, just because the world thinks it does. As a married couple, sex is your sacred birthright and a righteous rite within a marriage covenant. Just remember that your spouse’s body is still a temple and should be respected and protected. If the pleasure can’t be obtained without harming one or both of you in body or mind, it’s not worth it.

[i] “The desire to mate in humankind is constant and very strong. Our happiness in mortal life, our joy and exaltation are dependent upon how we respond to these persistent, compelling physical desires.” – Boyd K. Packer, “The Plan of Happiness’, Ensign, May 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage - Part 3 of 11

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

Continuing from part 2, below are more potential objections an LDS couple may encounter in regards to sex toys.

They’re a waste of money on nothing but frivolous pleasure.

Did you know that the human female clitoris (a very large forking nerve that travels around the vulva and extends to the anus) has no other purpose than to provide sexual pleasure to the woman?[i]

If God designed and implanted such an organ within the body, then clearly sexual pleasure has a purpose. Even if the Lord commands us to refrain from sexual activity before marriage – within marriage, pleasure has its proper and rightful place.[ii]

Sexual pleasure tends to facilitate personal connection between spouses, and toys can help enhance this connection and create variety for married couples who are interested in including them in intimate activities.

They’re shaped from other people’s sex organs, so it feels like we’re bringing other people into our sex life.

There are some molded toys that are shaped to look and feel very anatomically correct, but not all are made that way.

If you or your spouse are uncomfortable using realistic-looking sex toys, you still have a wide selection to choose from. Many of the Christian shops available online do not stock or sell such toys.

[i] Brotherson, Laura M. L.M.F.T, And They Were Not Ashamed (2004,43)
[ii] “Our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very main-springs of life and happiness – they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society – they are the essence of charity, or love;…There is not a more pure and holy principle in existence than the affection which glows in the bosom of a virtuous man for his companion;…The fact is, God made man, male and female; he planted in their bosoms those affections which are calculated to promote their happiness and union.” Pratt, Parley P., “The Writings of Parley P. Pratt”, 52-53, as quoted in the Eternal Marriage Student Handbook, pg. 139-140

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage - part 2 of 11

- Continued from part 1

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

The Lord doesn’t approve of sex toys. 

Within marriage, the Lord approves of sex and sexuality. Anytime a couple makes the effort to get closer and bond with each other, I believe the Lord’s influence is there, and He is helping them.[i]

As a youth, my seminary teacher taught us that when we come together as husband and wife to have sex (especially when trying to get pregnant) we can say a prayer together to invoke the Lord’s help. This made sense to me. After all, through our marriage covenant he is the third member of our marriage, and the covenant is a charge to “multiply and replenish the earth”[ii], He’s not going to be shocked that you’re having sex, and it’s in his best interest that you are successful in creating bodies for his spirit children.

If sex toys help a couple sexually achieve the full measure of their creation, help them develop a more fully realized sexual identity, and grow closer to each other as a married couple, how could the Lord not approve!?

Some may say that this argument could be used to justify viewing ‘pornography’ in marriage (if it makes us feel closer to each other and more sexual). But this only happens when a couple doesn’t understand what kinds of erotica are sacred, and what kinds are profane[iii]

All sacred sexuality is an inheritance of those who have entered into the marriage covenant, and who strive to keep those covenants. Those who are unmarried may have sexual activity, but they can never have the fullness of joy the Lord promises to those who utilize their sexuality as He would have them do.[iv]

[Be sure to look for part 3 next week] 

[i] “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.” – President Joseph F. Smith, “Unchastity the Dominant Evil of the Age’, Improvement Era, June 1917, pg 739, as quoted in the Eternal Marriage Student Manual, pg. 139 (emphasis added)
[ii] Genesis 1:28
[iv] “Think of the promises that are made to you in the beautiful and glorious ceremony that is used in the marriage covenant of the temple. When two Latter-Day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring, that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them thereafter. What else could man wish? A man and a woman in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation, and glory, worlds without end.” – Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, pg. 138, as quoted in the Eternal Marriage Student Manual, pg. 140.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reader Question: Sex Toys In The LDS Marriage - part 1 of 11

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

Dear Coach Sam,
Would it be wrong to buy toys that could aid in sexual gratification? Or giving gratification by hand? Do you know the Church’s stance on sex toys?

- Sister Anonymous

Dear Sister Anon,

Thank you for your question.

So much of what we believe depends upon the perspectives and cultural systems we surround ourselves with. If we spend more time putting on the world’s perspectives, and less time with the Lord’s, our mind has no choice but to be dominated by the worldly perspective.

When we think of ‘sex’, ‘sex toys’, ‘sexual aids’, or anything sexual do we think of marriage?

I think most often, for people in LDS Church, the first thought is the youth, or singles and how even thinking about sex is going to affect them and their worthiness to reach the temple. Not a bad thing, but can be taken to Pharisaical levels.  For married couples, there’s the additional thought of ‘what is keeping within the guidelines of the law of chastity?’

From our youth, the topic of sexuality is so taboo, the thought of married people having sex is typically repressed. This is many times followed by the assumption that married couples don’t have sex – or if they do, it’s not good, or exciting, or much of anything at all. This line of thinking can play as "true" in the mind usually true because the media does not portray happy married couples having good sex.

The media morality plays generally portray the excitement, adventure and thrill of sex only occurring in adultery or fornication, or sex having no sacredness at all and being tossed around with the equivalent value of allowing a member of the opposite sex to hold your hand while walking in the park.

Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

In terms of your question about sex toys, because we repress the idea of married sex or look at it as too sacred to talk about (which it is in a certain context), Lucifer, the world and media take advantage of this and portray the profane side of sex. Through cultural conditioning, we’re led to believe that sex toys are only used by and allowed to be enjoyed by those who rebelliously profane and defile sex. Sex toys are most often associated with solo masturbation or fornication (which is sexual activity exercised by unmarried people) in the average person’s mind.

The truth is, there is nothing I’ve ever found in Church doctrine, or in the law of chastity, that prohibits or even specifically mentions the use of sex toys in an LDS marriage.

In fact, I’m perfectly comfortable suggesting that sex toys belong within a loving and considerate marriage, and nowhere else. Sex toys can help strengthen the sexual relationship. They can even aid in the procreative process, and are an effective tool for foreplay.

Even with this understanding, reservations remain for many members. I’ve encountered many cultural beliefs that members carry with them that conflict with the teachings of the gospel. What I share below are some of the most common beliefs I’ve heard, or even beliefs I’ve carried myself.

[Look for part two next week]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

CTC Night (At Home) -- Flowering Together

Who doesn't like flowers!

This idea won't even require any special arrangements for the children, but is still a fun and bonding activity for when the budget is tight and the children are still small.

Put a flower arrangement together!

You can usually find the materials fairly inexpensively at a dollar store. A vase, some arrangement foam, some inexpensive flowers, and maybe some ribbon.

You could also grow the flowers in 5 gallon buckets or in your yard. There also may be a member of your ward with a rose garden who may be willing to donate some.

It's kind of like putting a puzzle together, but do it together. Make it as simple, or elaborate as you wish. Make three of them. Take your creation to a neighbor, someone who's ill, a random stranger at the hospital, your home or visiting teaching families, your mum-in-law.

While you're arranging, ask each other this question "Do you feel I give you enough affection in physical touch? What kind of touch do you wish I gave you more of?:"

Here's an arrangement idea from YouTube:
Happy dating!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

CTC Night (At Home) -- Your Creamy Little Pumpkin

Hey all you married lovers out there. Ready for another fun continue-the-courtship night idea?
Well...hopefully this is one!

Icecream is great anytime, but it being October and all, how about home made pumpkin cheesecake icecream?

Break in that icecream maker you got as a wedding present and try the recipe below. I also included a video of a no-churn ice cream just in case.

While it's churning out, go get your box of old love letters you wrote each other before you were married and read them to each other again.

Happy Dating!

7 oz cream cheese
3 oz canned, unsweetened pumpkin
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
 2/3 cup sugar (I like doing half Stevia and Half Sugar)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn ground ginger
1 tspn freshly grated nutmeg (powdered is fine too)
1/4 tspn allspice
1/4 tspn ground cloves
(or 1 1/2T of pumpkin spice mix - instead of all the spices above)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust the taste of the spices if necessary.
2. Chill mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker of choice.
3. Serve with whole or crushed gingersnaps or graham crackers or shortbread cookies, or all three - knock yourself out.

Most important, make it together. Bumping into each other is part of the fun.

Friday, October 16, 2015

CTC Night (At Home) -- Pound Em HARD

Happy Continue-The-Courtship night!

Here's a new twist to an old favorite:

When was the last time you had a good old fashioned pillow fight!?

After you put the kids to bed or distract them with their favorite activity - retire to the bedroom and lock the door.

Put on some music.

Get naked.

You can even dress up in some sexy lingerie or a fun costume. The rules are, ladies first, but make sure the pillows are soft and don't have anything in them that could harm the other. Then, have at it.

Another twist would be to have a Nerf gun fight.

Be sure to follow up with extra hugs and kisses after you've worn each other out.

Happy Dating!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

CTC Night (At Home) -- Wii? Oui!

Are you ready for another fun Continue-the-Courtship night?

This one was submitted by one of my readers, and one I thought was a great idea for young married couples on a tight budget, with small children, or stuck at home.

Too often these are passed up because it's imagined as an immoral activity engaged in by singles. TIME TO TAKE IT BACK as a fun and wholesome activity reserved for married couples.

If you've got a Wii or can borrow one, play strip bowling, strip boxing, strip tennis. Any of the two-player games will do.

Play a round. The winner gets to take an article of clothing off of the loser. Run out of clothes? The winner gets a kiss or... you choose the prize at that point.

Keep it sacred (no one else is invited - and don't post about it on social media). Be sure the kids are asleep or you play it in a room where the door can be locked.

Keep a towel handy as things can get pretty sweaty.

Happy dating!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

CTC Night (At Home) -- Scare Your Clothes Off!

October has arrived and it's time to get geared up for some fun fall activities - including Halloween.

Time to break out your favorite Halloween films.

For tonight's date night idea, lock yourselves away in your room, turn the lights off, and watch your favorite holiday movie together...sans clothing.

Snacks are optional, but (if you've put the kids to bed early or put on their favorite Halloween movie) keep a robe handy in case you need to check on them.

If you're both mentally prepared for something to go wrong, it makes it easier to relax and enjoy your two hours together - alone.

Happy Dating!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

MASTURBATION: What Is The Correct Definition?

One of my favorite apostles, Elder Richard G. Scott, passed away today. In my youth, his words guided me through many challenges with morality. As a missionary in Washington D.C., I had the opportunity to thank him for that. I’d like to dedicate this article to him.

While studying for my next test in my marriage and family textbook, I received some new insights on masturbation. I felt it might be helpful to share what I found.

Definitions mean a lot to me as an adult, because as a youth in the church, we were fed a lot of terminology. Words such as ‘wholesome’, ‘worthy’, ‘morality’, ‘impure’, ‘unholy’, ‘unnatural’, ‘masturbation’, etc… were thrown around as though we (the youth) would just know what they meant.

From an LDS cultural perspective, it was pretty unclear to me what exactly constituted masturbation and why we needed to avoid it outside of marriage. It was treated as such a taboo topic  that discussing it aloud was inappropriate. In my household, the topic was something to be breathed in hushed tones and behind closed doors.

It was stressed on us to avoid it, but never discussed if it was ever appropriate in marriage. Even though in marriage, it can play an acceptable role in a husband and wife’s sacred intimate relationship.

What also mystified me were those people, both in and out of the Church, that felt a need to justify masturbation as a ‘natural’ and harmless practice. This grew more puzzling after I had a chance to read and learn from marriage counselors and therapists about the harmful long-term mental, emotional, spiritual, and relationship effects created by solo masturbation and autoeroticism exercised by the unmarried. See my article "Solo Masturbation, A Sexual Relationship?"

In this discussion, to hopefully shed some light on where some of these cultural perspectives come from, I’d like to share with you some of the definitions I found and allow you to decide which definition will best help you in your marriage and your parental tasks of teaching your children about the law of chastity.

In 1987, Dr. Israel Meizner made the claim in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that he observed fetus’ masturbating with ultrasound. After closer examination, I learned that he observed a fetus gripping its penis or randomly touching the vulva.

I thought about that and questioned “How can you justify that as “masturbation” and then also use this to justify children, teens and singles masturbating?”  

Relying on science as the source of “truth”, many others – including members of the Church – have found themselves frustrated by this, especially when it came time to address it with their children.

While I was studying this week, I came across a passage in my textbook that helped me realize the answer may lie in our definitions.

I have a strong testimony that God the Father and His son Jesus Christ are the only source of truth. A truth with a solid and eternal foundation that I know I can rely on. Whatever I study in college, I purposefully run through the filter and scrutinizing lens of the gospel.

What I discovered was what was currently taught as scientific truth only remains truth until another degree seeker disproves it or alters the definition. For this reason, if it conflicts with the teachings of the gospel, it’s sifted as chaff and the remaining kernels of knowledge that build and edify eternal families remain.

One justification for masturbation not being a sin is that the word ‘masturbation’ is not found in the Bible. That is true. Masturbation is not found in the Bible or any of our standard works.

The closest we come is the suggestion of it in the word “lasciviousness” and ‘licentiousness’. Both pertain to the pre-occupation with sex and immoral sexual behavior. Our understanding of masturbation comes from modern-day revelation and teachings, which other churches do not have.

So a common justification for masturbation being a “sin” is the story of Onan . With closer examination of the account, it’s discovered that the sin of Onan had nothing to do with masturbation (as we define it) but rather with breaking his marital covenants and obligations by denying children to his wife and deceased brother.

So when it came to masturbation, this is what I did find.

The term masturbation originated in the nineteenth century. It’s believed to have come from the Latin word masturbari, as a conjugation of the word manus, meaning hand, and the word stuprare, meaning to defile. The word ‘masturbate’ therefore means to “defile the hand” as its first definition. [i]

While I was studying my textbook, I came across this definition:

“Sexual self-pleasuring that involves some form of direct physical stimulation. It may or may not result in orgasm. Masturbation typically includes rubbing, stroking, fondling, squeezing, or otherwise stimulating the genitals. It can also be self-stimulation of other body parts, such as the breasts, the inner thighs, or the anus.”[ii]

I finally understood where Dr. Meizner (mentioned above) obtained his broadened justification for calling his fetus observations ‘masturbation’, because of this definition.

I found this ironic since both the Merriam Webster and Oxford dictionaries do not give this definition.

They define masturbation as:

 Erotic stimulation especially of one's own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies”[iii]


Stimulate one’s own genitals for sexual pleasure.” From the Oxford dictionary.[iv]

This led me to wonder what definition I could find at the Church website. This is the definition I found:

“…When the fluid and sperm fill the tubules and testes, they are automatically released or ejaculated. This usually happens during sleep and is called nocturnal emissions or “wet dreams.” Sexual dreams are not always present, but they can trigger a nocturnal emission or ejaculation. In either case this is not masturbation…

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

Throughout childhood, boys and girls have touched their own genitals frequently to wash and to dress. This is a behavior that usually has the same meaning as keeping one’s feet warm in the winter, enjoying a swim on a hot day, or scratching an itch.

We ought to be friendly to our bodies and appreciate the body’s marvelous range of senses. This innocent touching is not the kind of behavior warned against by prophets through the ages.

The sin of masturbation occurs when a person stimulates his or her own sex organs for the purpose of sexual arousal. It is a perversion of the body’s passions. When we pervert these passions and intentionally use them for selfish, immoral purposes, we become carnal.”[v]

This definition is much narrower than Dr. Meizner’s or the definition found in my textbook.  This makes a spirit of the law allowance for washing, stroking, touching, gripping, or scratching our genitals (whether single or married) as not masturbation.

I also understand that when the Church leaders refer to self-stimulation for the purpose of arousing sexual feelings, they are speaking in the context of those who are unmarried. They have not referred to masturbation as being a sin when engaged in as part of the sacred sexual relationship between a husband and wife.

President Kimball, in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness, said this about masturbation:

“Most youth come into contact early with masturbation. Many would-be authorities declare that it is natural and acceptable, and frequently young men I interview cite these advocates to justify their practice of it.

To this we must respond that he world’s norms in many area – drinking, smoking, and sex experience generally to mention only a few – depart increasingly from God’s law. The Church has a different, higher norm.

Thus prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation. It induces feelings of guilt and shame. It is detrimental to spirituality. It indicates slavery to the flesh, not that mastery of it and the growth toward godhood which is the object of our mortal life.

Our modern prophet has indicated that no young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice…”[vi]

Boyd K. Packer, in his last talk in 2015, stated, “The only legitimate, authorized expression of the powers of procreation is between husband and wife, a man and a woman, who have been legally and lawfully married. Anything other than this violates the commandments of God. Do not yield to the awful temptations of the adversary, for every debt of transgression must be paid “till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26).” [vii]

I hope you will find the opportunity to discuss this issue as husband and wife. Hopefully it will help to put each other’s minds at ease about our bodies, and how to discuss this issue with our children when the opportunity arises.

[ii] Benokraitis, Nijoke V., Marriages and Families, Pearson Education Inc., 2005, 182
[iii] Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, 2015, 1,

[iv] Oxford Online Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2015,1,

[v] LDS.ORG., A Parent’s Guide, 1985, 34-43 (emphasis added)
[vi] Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft,1969, 77
 [vii]  Packer, Boyd K. The Plan of Happiness. Ensign. May 2015.