Every once in a while, an exchange happens down in the comments that really ought to be its own post. Recently, a reader (Matt S) took issue with an essay from back in January 2013 entitled “The Single Most Important Secret About Sex that Every Mormon Needs to Know Now,” and I responded vigorously and with emotion. (If you haven’t read the post, the “secret” is that sex is optional and you won’t die if you don’t get it.) In case it isn’t clear from what I say below, sexual addiction is a life-and-death struggle for me. The “life of masturbation” that the reader insists upon will kill me, so it’s not an option–even if it were in the least bit appealing, which it’s not.
This isn’t merely an interesting intellectual exercise for me. I don’t have time to sit around and wait for the rest of the world to realize that the Great Porn Experiment that started in the 1950s and continues to this day is destroying individuals, families and societies. My family and I are NOT going down with that ship! And we’re going to help as many people climb into the lifeboat with us as care to join us. The beauty of Christ’s atonement is that it’s infinite, which means that the beauty of addiction recovery is that it’s also infinite.
So Here’s What Matt S Had to Say:
[Note: The spelling, grammar, statistics and opinions are all his. The paragraph headings and images are mine.]
I’m sorry, but I completely disagree [with your post about sex being optional]. Sex is hard wired into our brains so much, that repressing our sexuality causes it’s own problems. My first marriage completely failed because of my wife’s extreme sexual repression because of the church.
A Priestly Problem?
The problem with pedophilia in the Catholic church is caused by the sexual repression that priests experience when they are told that they shouldn’t have ANY sexual relations with anyone. The brain starts to obsess on sex, even if it isn’t something that shows outwardly. The pressure builds up until all but the very strongest and most disciplined crack under the strain, and now we have an entire church who’s extreme sexual repression has led to at least 10% (and counting) of all Catholic priests being pedophiles.
Sexual repression is serious business, and trying to just ignore the body’s needs is a sure fire way to psychological dysfunction. At best this is uneducated and bad advice, and at worst you are setting people up for extreme psychological issues by not addressing needs properly.
Everyone Else Is Doing It So How Bad Can It Be?
90% of all males masturbate. It provides a way to clean up the pipes and get rid of old non-viable sperm so your body can make newer fresh sperm. Masturbation has been shown to help fertility. The need (and yes, I use that word on purpose) to follow our programming is so strong that almost no one refrains, not even in the church. If masturbation really is so bad, then I guess that 90% of all men in the church will be going to hell, because it is going on far more than people realize. Deal with sexual issues, don’t just ignore them or try to pretend you don’t need sex.
Telling Fat People to Stop Eating Causes Anorexia?
This article is like telling fat people that they need to stop eating so much. It might work for some people, but it’s going to contribute to anorexia and bulimia if not handled properly. In the same light, not dealing with sexuality properly leads to repression and more problems.
If you don’t believe me, spend a little time researching psychological studies on sexual repression, and if you want to really get into it, find the ones that specifically target religion and show the harm done by religious sexual repression. Educate yourself so you aren’t suggesting courses of action that will harm others.
And Here’s My Response:
This Website Is Not For Everyone
Ouch, my friend, those are some fiery darts. I’ll make you a deal: I’ll educate myself some more about sexual repression and you educate yourself some more about sexual addiction and maybe we can meet back here in a couple months and have a meaningful conversation.
In the meantime, I’ll tell you what I’ve told many others: This website is not for everyone. It is for people whose sexual behavior is out of control and is leading to chaos and insanity. It’s also for their spouses and priesthood leaders. If you just have a little “periodic masturbation issue” that doesn’t really bug you too much, then move on!
If, on the other hand, your sexual behavior is progressively escalating to more and more shocking and dangerous behavior that is destroying your sanity and your wife’s, too, then we’ve got some things to talk about. And to be clear, it’s not about repressing sexual urges.
Masturbation or Sexual Repression? That’s It?
So you’re saying that masturbation is a need and that I’ll be unhealthy if I don’t engage in it–because my only other option is sexual repression? Are you serious? Those are my only two options? Masturbation or sexual repression? That’s it? That’s how God made me? To masturbate or to bury and desperately try to ignore the “flames of lust”?
The Third Option
Matt, I’d like to introduce you to the Third Option: Arrive at a real understanding of lust and how it impairs my life, thoughts and behavior, and then–with God’s help and the help of a therapist and a bunch of guys in Sexaholics Anonymous–eliminate lust and my obsession with it from my life. Guess what? Happy life, happy wife, no more masturbation, no more porn, no more guilt, a return of feelings of integrity, able to look people straight in the eye, able to connect in healthy ways with the people around me. And that’s not sexual repression, my friend. That’s what happens when a son of God removes an obsession with lust from his life.
I don’t want what you’re pitching, Matt. I don’t want a life of masturbation. It never made me happy. NEVER! I don’t want to have to do mental gymnastics to justify my fantasies and masturbation just so I don’t feel bad whenever I read Christ’s admonition about lust in the heart equating with adultery (Matthew 5:28). He said it. That ends the debate for me.
I Am a Lust Addict
See, Matt, I’m addicted to lust. For years, my behavior spiraled downward into darker and more dangerous depths. I nearly died as a result of my compulsions and obsessions. Then one day, another LDS man said, “Andrew, your brain is broken. You’re addicted to sex and you can’t get over it on your own. It can’t be done–on your own–so quit trying!” He was speaking from experience, one addict sharing with another about his experience, strength and hope. He introduced me to Sexaholics Anonymous and he saved my life. I am happy now. No sexual repression here! Just a guy who continues to learn how to eliminate lust from his life.
Rejecting a Life of Masturbation–For Something So Much Better
The life of masturbation that you want me to accept and embrace, Matt, will amount to a death sentence for me. Like the alcoholic, one drink is too many and ten thousand isn’t enough. I don’t want to die. Instead I prefer to live a life of serenity, integrity and connection with Heavenly Father and the people around me. I prefer to live a life of meaning. Masturbation does not provide me with meaning, just more insatiable lust.
Like I said, Matt, I don’t want what you seem to have. If someone is struggling like I was and losing the battle to compulsive sexual behavior as his life spirals out of control, I pray to God that he runs into me before he runs into you. I have something to offer him–and it ain’t masturbation. You might do well to listen to your own advice: “Educate yourself so you aren’t suggesting courses of action that will harm others.”