Question: Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider the practice of masturbation sinful?

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Question: Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider the practice of masturbation sinful?

Introduction to Question

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views the practice of masturbation to be generally sinful. The Church's current handbook for leaders (2020; 2021) lists abstention from masturbation as among the standards of conduct placed on Church members. It states that engaging in masturbation does not require a church membership council to be called.[1] The rulebook for the Church's missionaries (2019) says to "avoid any thought or action that would separate you from the Spirit of God. This includes but is not limited to adultery; fornication; same-sex activity; oral sex; arousing sexual feelings; inappropriate touching; sending or receiving messages, images, or videos that are immoral or sexual in nature; masturbation; and viewing or using pornography (see 7.5.3). See For the Strength of Youth (2011), 'Repentance,' 28–29, for additional information." The youth pamphlet For the Strength of Youth (2011) has said to "not arouse [sexual] emotions in your own body."[2] Church leaders have been clear for much time that the practice should not be regarded nearly as bad as other sexual practices, but that it is bad enough to require sincere repentance.[3]

Many have wondered why the Church takes this stance. The modern scientific community views the practice as normal in humans of all ages. Many benefits are associated with masturbation such as improved sleep, a better immune system, a better cardiovascular system, reduced stress, and reduced sexual tension—especially when a partner is not available for sexual relations. Many health professionals recommend masturbating to mitigate tension in relationships where one partner has a higher libido than the other and doesn’t want to demand intercourse of the lower libido partner (or the lower libido partner doesn’t want to accept demands). Some women experience a condition known as vaginismus where the vaginal walls and/or opening tighten up to the point where either sex is painful or where they physically cannot experience penetration. Some couples wish to engage in masturbation to the thought of their spouse to have a sexual relationship with them. Many health professionals recommend masturbation to treat vaginismus and/or help couples have a sexual relationship while the woman faces symptoms. There is at least some evidence that more frequent ejaculation in men can result in reduced risk of prostate cancer.[4]

This article will explore why the Church might take the stance that it does on masturbation even given the potential benefits of it. Almost all of these points apply to a discussion about pornography. This article can thus be considered a response outlining the Church’s rationale against masturbation as well as pornography.

Response to Question

Sexual Desire is a Fundamentally Good Thing

Before we proceed with the rest of our response, it should be first noted and emphasized that our sexual desires are fundamentally good things, given to us by God to be used to strengthen emotional and spiritual bonds with our spouses and to bring children into this world. As For the Strength of Youth says, "[p]hysical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife."[5] Thus, sexual desire in and of itself should not be considered bad. It indeed should be celebrated. Since sexual desire has a particular use though, a proper use, it then follows that it should be exercised or put to use for that purpose and that boundaries should be in place to guide us towards fulfilling that purpose. It is not a sin to have a sexual desire. It is sinful, however, to exercise that desire in illicit ways as defined by God.

The Act is (Generally) Bad, the Person is Not

Another thing to be emphasized is that the person that engages in masturbation is not a bad person. The act is bad. We are not "good people" and "bad people." We are people that do good things and bad things. It is true that Jesus says that a good tree cannot produce bad fruit and neither a bad tree, good fruit.[6] But, for Jesus, it is not "who you are" that will determine what you do; it is what you do that will determine who you are. What you do creates proclivities and habits that become part of you. Undoing those and becoming a different creature requires deliberate, sometimes ongoing self-restraint and change. This change can happen for everyone and Jesus lovingly invites us with open arms to make that change if those habits are not in line with God's will as outlined in prophetic teaching/revelation.

Jesus' view of identity is similar to that of Parable of the Two Wolves told here:

The Sexually Relational Telos of Men and Women

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle considered all things to have a telos or purpose for which they were created/designed. He believed that things (including human beings) flourish when they adhere to or are used according to their telos. Telic thinking became the foundation of Aristotle’s theory of morality (known as “virtue ethics”). According to Aristotle, human excellence consists of adhering to their telos to be virtuous.

The scriptures and other official pronouncements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a similar view of human sexuality. They teach that men and women are designed to be united with each other sexually after marriage.[7] Individuals, communities, and nations flourish when men and women adhere strongly to this telos. Sexuality is thus a relational (rather than isolated) act between married men and women for Latter-day Saints.[8] Any act that takes men and women away from that (or at least has a high probability of taking them away from it) is going to be viewed as immoral by the Church.

C.S. Lewis wrote:

For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.[9]

Masturbation and View of Others

Masturbation most often affects the way that you look at others similar to how pornography does—even if only temporarily. When masturbating, one makes use of others or the image of them as the object of their own self-gratification. With repeated masturbation and over time, this can come to make it so that you regularly see others as potential objects of your own pleasure. Using others as merely a means to an end and treating them as an object is contrary to the Lord's command to love our neighbor as ourselves.[10] While you’re only using people in your mind, masturbation still requires that someone be an object of your passion instead of a full subject; a full person. You must abandon, even temporarily, the attitudinal aspect of love: seeing the beloved individual as of merely instrumental rather than intrinsic and absolute value. As we know, love is both an attitudinal and an active virtue. Abandoning one or both halves of this is engaging in an inherently unloving act. In this way, it isn’t virtuous.

Masturbation and View of Self

Masturbation also has great potential to cause negative views of ourselves. We can start to view ourselves as slaves to our passions and out of control. This can cause great anxiety and depression. Being placed over our desires and mastering them can help us embody a fuller self concept and make us feel like the divine beings we are and meant to become. In this way, we can follow the Lord's command to love our neighbor as ourselves by abstaining from masturbation. As the Book of Mormon says, the natural man is an enemy to God and has been since the fall of Adam. The only way to overcome this is by listening to the enticings of the Spirit and putting off the natural man. We can’t engage in recreational, indulgent masturbation and consider ourselves as putting off the natural man. We are indeed distancing ourselves from the Spirit and the joy we feel when close to it.[11]

The Scriptural Case Against Masturbation

Masturbation as part of the definition of other words in scripture. The scriptures are the law to govern the behavior and beliefs of the whole Church.[12] They contain a constellation of words that describe unlawful sexual activity. Among those that are perhaps most relevant to this discussion (including their derivatives) are "adultery," "carnal," "chaste," "concupiscence," "fornication," "lasciviousness," "lewdness," and "lust." An exhaustive scriptural concordance of these words and their derivatives have been placed in the appendix to this article. Readers are encouraged to read each occurrence in their original scriptural contexts (preferably following this approach articulated in another article on the FAIR wiki). While masturbation is not explicitly mentioned in scripture (with the potential exception of Matthew 5:30), it very likely falls under the definition of any one of these words. If it does, then it is condemned in scripture and we are bound to follow those injunctions to abstain from that behavior.

As an example, "fornication" is defined as any sexual activity outside of marriage. If masturbation falls under the definition of sexual activity (which, by many standards, it does), then masturbation is condemned scripturally for those that are not married.

"Lasciviousness" is defined as “sexual behavior or conduct that is considered crude and offensive, or contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior.” If masturbation falls under this category (and it very likely does) then masturbation is condemned scripturally.

Other scriptures that justify refraining. Other scriptural injunctions that support abstention from masturbation include being able to bridle your body and passions as taught by Alma and the author of James,[13] fulfilling your telos (as described above), being a peculiar people so as to encourage interest in the Church and thus success in missionary work,[14] to keep unspotted from the world,[15] to abstain from all appearance of evil,[16] putting off the natural man (as described above),[17] practicing meekness/lowliness of heart/humility/easiness to be entreated before the prophets who have implored us to abstain,[18] following the commandment to receive all the words and commandments of the prophet as if from the mouth of God in all patience and faith,[19] being anxiously engaged in a good cause without God compelling you to do something by explicit revelation,[20] and loving your neighbor as yourself (as described above).[21] Another scripture that may justify refraining is ridding ourselves of "inordinate affection" as encouraged by the author of Colossians.[22]

Whosoever lusts. Another couple of verses that are frequently used to justify abstention from masturbation (and more especially while married and fantasizing about another person) are Jesus' in Matthew 5:27-28:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Jason Staples, an assistant teaching professor in philosophy and religious studies at North Carolina State University, has argued persuasively that Jesus is not condemning sexual desire in and of itself here. Rather he is condemning exercising that desire in illicit ways. Furthermore, according to Staples, "lust" is better translated as “covet.” So, if you are making plans and acting on them in order to engage in unlawful sexual activity (without actually engaging in that activity) with someone while still married, you are committing adultery in your heart according to Jesus.[23] This passage, though, doesn't seem to clearly address the question of whether or not masturbation is an appropriate outlet for desire. Also, is someone who is married making plans to commit adultery by masturbating to the thought of someone besides their spouse? Dr. Staples says this:

While I don’t think the Bible [explicitly] condemns masturbation (the usual interpretation of the Onan story doesn’t get it right), it also doesn’t seem that masturbation is “one of the proper outlets,” either. Actually, Matthew putting “and if your right hand causes you to stumble” [Matthew 5:30] immediately after this statement about coveting a woman may be seen as an indirect reference to masturbation. It’s not entirely clear, but it’s the closest thing in [the Bible] you’ll find to a statement about masturbation. Given the general outlook on sex in Scripture, though, I’d say masturbation would not be included among the “proper outlets,” which are limited to heterosexual marital relations whenever discussed.[24]

So Matthew 5:30 is probably an implicit condemnation of masturbation from Jesus and probably a form of committing adultery in one's heart.

Masturbation and the story of Onan. The last set of scriptures to broach are those telling the story of Onan in Genesis 38. Indeed, many religious groups refer to masturbation as Onanism.[25] While that interpretation has a venerable tradition and ancient roots, modern biblical scholars agree that the story cannot credibly be used as justification for refraining from masturbation. As biblical scholar Carl S. Ehrlich has observed:

Onan's sin was not sexual. Rather, it was a refusal to fulfill the obligation of "levirate marriage" (Deut. 25:5-10; see also Ruth 4), according to which a man was obligated to impregnate the wife of his brother if his brother had died without an heir, thus ensuring the continuation of his brother's line and inheritance...Thus Onan's sexual act, most probably coitus interruptus, was the means whereby he avoided his fraternal duty, in spite of the fact that he seemed to be fulfilling it by cohabiting with Tamar. For this deception he was punished.[26]

The reasons for avoiding pregnancy were also considered selfish. "Onan would have had to expend his own resources to support a child that is legally someone else's, and the child, as heir to the first-born son, would displace Onan in the line of inheritance to boot."[27]

How Masturbation Might Take Away from Marriage

An addiction is a compulsive behavior that interferes with other objectives you wish to accomplish in life. So, if you masturbate enough that you lose your job because of it or your grades suffer because you're losing too much time with it, it is likely that you have an addiction.

While masturbation does appear by most metrics to be harmless when done sparingly, it does have the much-greater-than-merely-possible potential to become addictive.[28] When turning addictive, masturbation can quickly become a deterrent from having normal sexual relations with a spouse. It can become more pleasurable to the person engaging in it over other relationships. Taking away sexual relations from a spouse can cause deep dissatisfaction and distrust in the relationship—thus potentially leading to the breakup of families.

Donald L. Hilton, a Latter-day Saint neurosurgeon based in Texas, relates how, during any stimulation of the genitals and orgasm, chemicals such as dopamine, vasopressin, and oxytocin are released in the brain. Oxytocin and vasopressin in particular have been linked to emotional bonding mechanisms in humans and other animals. When oxytocin was selectively blocked in voles, for example, it was observed that they don't mate for life or bond.[29] Hilton cites American counselor Patrick Carnes who says that one stage of recovery from addiction is grief where the person says "goodbye" to their addiction. Hilton writes that "[i]t may be a combination of craving for dopamine and yearning for oxytocin-bonded pornography, among other things, that pushes a person to act out and view pornography."[30] If Hilton is correct about oxytocin and bonding, we'd do well to ask "why don't we do more to keep sexual relations in marriage so that we can direct our oxytocin and vasopressin-driven emotional bonding towards our spouse as well as more fully recognize and adhere to our sexually relational telos?"

Masturbation and Escalation

The highs that one gets from masturbation and the potentially ensuing addiction that might follow from it can result in escalation of that sexual behavior to include viewing pornography, attending strip clubs, requesting various forms of local prostitution, and even forced sexual advances on the unwilling.

Deriving the Benefits of Masturbation Elsewhere

But what about the many benefits of masturbation? Shouldn’t one care about the risk of prostate cancer at least? The problem is that the benefits of masturbation can be derived elsewhere and there is no net detriment to one's health while abstaining from masturbation. Indeed, masturbation is not even among the top things typically recommended by professionals when wanting to derive most of these benefits. We can take the potential benefits one by one and see what is recommended to reap them to demonstrate.

  1. Improved sleep: The Mayo Clinic suggests six things to improve one’s sleep. These include sticking to a set sleep schedule, paying attention to what you eat and drink, creating a restful environment, limiting daytime naps, including physical activity in one's daytime routine, and managing one's worries.[31]
  2. Improved cardiovascular system: UC Irvine Health recommends that one exercise, quit smoking, lose weight, eat heart-healthy foods such as guacamole and vegetables, have some chocolate in moderation, not overeat, and manage stress in order to have a healthy heart.[32]
  3. Improved immune system: Harvard Health recommends that one not smoke, eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, get adequate sleep, wash hands frequently, minimize stress, and keep with current vaccines in order to maintain and improve one’s immune system.[33]
  4. Reduced risk of prostate cancer: The Mayo Clinic recommends that one keep a healthy diet (such as doing a low-fat diet, increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day, and reducing the amount of dairy products you eat each day), maintain a healthy weight, and exercise most days of the week to reduce risk of prostate cancer.[34]
  5. Sexual tension/Differing libidos: This is a question that is probably best left between the couple and God through prayer (and maybe the local bishop or stake president). However, if one is struggling with hypersexuality and truly trying to lower their libido, Janet Brito and Daniel Yetman recommend focusing on your diet, getting medication, focusing on relationships, and stopping illegal drug use.[35]
  6. Vaginismus: Also probably best left between husband, wife, God, and maybe local leaders. That said, Brenda Goodman and Nivin Todd recommend doing Kegel exercises and manual stretching with the fingers as well as getting therapy for psychological impediments to normal sex.[36]

All the potential nuances/exceptions to the general prohibition come when fostering or nourishing the relational, tender, committed, married, and man-woman sexuality outlined in scripture and/or as specifically prescribed by a qualified, reputable professional for a particular health reason. We should approximate this ideal as much as possible.

Is there something within us that biologically determines us to masturbate?

Some people construct an identity around the practice of masturbation. People say that “we’re sexual beings” (which is mostly true) and “masturbation is a part of our natural development.” What these people often mean is that “engaging in masturbation is a behavior that is biologically determined and thus prohibiting it goes against who and what we are. It serves as a net detriment to our well-being.” We often construct these identities to justify bad behavior and protest against certain standards that go against these identities. Thus, the imposition of a prohibition on masturbation starts to feel like an assault to our personhood. This is one reason that General Authorities of the Church so often stress that our fundamental identity is that of children of God: if we construct identities around sinful behaviors, we will quickly embroil ourselves in habits that are contrary to the will of God and his nature and feel that any call to repentance is a crusade against us. We can thus squeeze ourselves out of faith and find ourselves in rebellion to the Lord's anointed. If we center our thinking about our essential identity in the fact that we are infinitely beloved, spirit sons or daughters of Heavenly Parents, then we will be much more open to changing our behavior so as to foster closer relationships with them and the rest of their creation. Identity construction is one of our most common forms of denial as human beings. We need be careful in how we construct our identity.

We are not merely “sexual” beings. We are marital beings. Again, we are built with the purpose of being joined maritally and, after marriage, sexually as man and woman; husband and wife. We were designed for a relational, tender, married man-woman sexuality and we should create our norms to funnel us towards that as stipulated by scripture.

There actually is one biologically determined function that both men and women experience that serves the purpose people might think masturbation serves: nocturnal emission. We don’t need masturbation to pull double duty.

But What Harm does One Really Do When Engaged in Isolated Sexual Acts?

But do isolated sexual acts really hurt anyone else? The foregoing analysis should be sufficient to demonstrate that masturbation can very likely have adverse effects on others. However, another point to make here is that, as humans, we are exceptionally bad at creating and being faithful to norms that are based on the delayed consequences of our actions. We are really good at creating and abiding by norms that are based off of the immediate, obvious consequences of our actions. For example, all of us agree that it is wrong to kill an innocent person. We would do well to ponder more about how we can create and more diligently abide by (still important) norms based on delayed, less-obvious, and even unseen consequences of our actions.

What do I do if I'm struggling with masturbation?

If you're struggling with masturbation, there is always help for you. The first thing to do will be to disclose your struggles to those you love and trust most. It may also be a good idea to speak with your local ecclesiastical leaders. You should discuss whether or not you actually have an addiction. Many people unfortunately are diagnosed as having an addiction wrongly and end up spending a lot of money unnecessarily on professional help. If you have trouble here, it may be helpful to seek professional counsel. There will very likely be many wonderful, qualified professionals in your area that can help you. These might include marriage and family therapists, sex therapists, and addiction recovery specialists. The Church provides addiction recovery programs for individuals interested in overcoming addiction. There are some resources available online by individuals that help with recovery from pornography addiction including Sarah Brewer, Danny Poelman, and psychologist Cameron Staley. Any good addiction recovery specialist is going to help you on addressing limiting core beliefs that keep you from recovery, understanding the brain science behind addiction, and setting daily boundaries that help address your core emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as well as take away about 80% of potential relapses.

Any good marriage and family and/or sex therapist is going to help you address your problems according to the objectives that you set. So if you go in with the firm and explicit objective of not engaging in recreational, indulgent masturbation, they are obligated by their professional ethics (of allowing individual self-determination) to provide you the best therapies that help you accomplish those goals and are conducive to your ultimate well-being. If they don't help you move towards those objectives, then they are not acting ethically and you should consider seeking other help.

Conclusion

While masturbation is not an avenue of sexual exploration or expression that will be wholly endorsed by the Church, it is still encouraged that parents have open discussions with their children about the beautiful, sacred nature of human sexuality, that everyone read out of the best of books about how to have more fulfilling sexual relationships with their partner (future or current), and that, generally, we make sexuality a topic of open discussion among those that we love and trust most. We often spend too much time in church talking about illicit sexual behavior that we often neglect defining and discussing what healthy, righteous sexuality is and how we can engage in it. That’s not always a bad thing. Talking about all the minutia of sexuality is most often not going to be tasteful in Sunday School and other public church meetings. That said, among our families and others that we love and trust most, it can and should be much more comfortable. Sexuality is a topic that everyone should become an expert of at the right time so that we can all better understand how to reach and live in accordance with our divine destiny and identity.[37]

It is the author's hope that this article will serve as a point of hope for those that would like to discontinue masturbation and remain in line with the Church, as a point of clarity on the Church's stance of masturbation for those that are confused about it, and as a source of great insight to those that are generally looking to understand the utterly sacred and beautiful nature of human sexuality.

APPENDIX: Scriptural Concordance of Words Referring to Unlawful Sexual Conduct and Relevant to Considerations About Masturbation

Adulterer

  • Leviticus 20:10
  • Job 24:15
  • Isaiah 57:3

Adulterers

  • Psalm 50:18
  • Jeremiah 9:2
  • Jeremiah 23:10
  • Hosea 7:4
  • Malachi 3:5
  • Luke 18:11
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9
  • Hebrews 13:4
  • James 4:4
  • 3 Nephi 24:5
  • Doctrine and Covenants 63:14
  • Doctrine and Covenants 76:103

Adulteress

  • Leviticus 20:10
  • Proverbs 6:26
  • Hosea 3:1
  • Romans 7:3

Adulteresses

  • Ezekiel 23:43
  • Hosea 2:2
  • Matthew 15:19
  • Mark 7:21
  • Doctrine and Covenants 63:14

Adulteries

  • Jeremiah 12:27
  • Ezekiel 23:43
  • Hosea 2:2
  • Matthew 15:19
  • Mark 7:21

Adulterous

  • Proverbs 30:20
  • Matthew 12:39
  • Matthew 16:4
  • Mark 7:21

Adultery

  • Exodus 20:14
  • Leviticus 20:10
  • Leviticus 20:10
  • Deuteronomy 5:18
  • Proverbs 6:32
  • Jeremiah 3:8
  • Jeremiah 3:9
  • Jeremiah 5:7
  • Jeremiah 7:9
  • Jeremiah 23:14
  • Jeremiah 29:23
  • Ezekiel 16:32
  • Ezekiel 23:37
  • Ezekiel 23:37
  • Hosea 4:2
  • Hosea 4:13
  • Hosea 4:14
  • Matthew 5:27
  • Matthew 5:28
  • Matthew 5:32
  • Matthew 19:9
  • Matthew 19:9
  • Matthew 19:18
  • Mark 10:11
  • Mark 10:12
  • Mark 10:19
  • Luke 16:18
  • Luke 16:18
  • Luke 18:20
  • John 8:3
  • John 8:4
  • Romans 2:22
  • Romans 2:22
  • Romans 13:9
  • Galatians 5:19
  • James 2:11
  • James 2:11
  • 2 Peter 2:14
  • Revelation 2:22
  • Mosiah 2:13
  • Mosiah 13:22
  • Alma 16:18
  • Alma 23:3
  • Alma 30:10
  • Helaman 4:12
  • Helaman 7:5
  • 3 Nephi 12:27
  • 3 Nephi 12:28
  • 3 Nephi 12:32
  • 3 Nephi 12:32
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:24
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:24
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:25
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:75
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:80
  • Doctrine and Covenants 59:6
  • Doctrine and Covenants 63:16
  • Doctrine and Covenants 66:10
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:41
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:41
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:42
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:43
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:44
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:44
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:61
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:61
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:62
  • Doctrine and Covenants 132:63

Carnal

  • Romans 7:14
  • Romans 8:7
  • Romans 15:27
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1
  • 1 Corinthians 3:3
  • 1 Corinthians 3:3
  • 1 Corinthians 3:4
  • 1 Corinthians 9:11
  • 2 Corinthians 10:4
  • Hebrews 7:16
  • Hebrews 9:10
  • 2 Nephi 28:21
  • Mosiah 4:2
  • Mosiah 16:3
  • Mosiah 16:3
  • Mosiah 16:5
  • Mosiah 16:12
  • Mosiah 26:4
  • Mosiah 27:25
  • Alma 22:13
  • Alma 30:53
  • Alma 36:4
  • Alma 41:11
  • Alma 41:13
  • Alma 41:13
  • Alma 42:10
  • Doctrine and Covenants 3:4
  • Doctrine and Covenants 29:35
  • Doctrine and Covenants 67:10
  • Doctrine and Covenants 67:12
  • Doctrine and Covenants 84:27
  • Moses 5:13
  • Moses 6:49

Carnally

  • Leviticus 18:20
  • Leviticus 19:20
  • Numbers 5:13
  • Romans 8:6

Carnally-Minded

  • 2 Nephi 9:39

Chaste

  • 2 Corinthians 11:2
  • Philippians 4:4
  • Titus 2:5
  • 1 Peter 3:2
  • Jacob 2:7
  • Articles of Faith 1:13

Chastity

  • Jacob 2:28
  • Moroni 9:9

Concupiscence

  • Romans 7:8
  • JST Romans 7:8
  • Colossians 3:5
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:5

Fornication

  • Ezekiel 16:26
  • Ezekiel 16:29
  • Isaiah 23:17
  • 2 Chronicles 21:11
  • Matthew 5:32
  • Matthew 15:19
  • Matthew 19:9
  • Mark 7:21
  • John 8:41
  • Acts 15:20
  • Acts 15:29
  • Acts 21:25
  • Romans 1:29
  • 1 Corinthians 5:1
  • 1 Corinthians 5:1
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18
  • 1 Corinthians 7:2
  • 1 Corinthians 10:8
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21
  • Galatians 5:19
  • Ephesians 5:3
  • Colossians 3:5
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3
  • Jude 1:7
  • Revelation 2:14
  • Revelation 2:20
  • Revelation 2:21
  • Revelation 9:21
  • Revelation 14:8
  • Revelation 19:2
  • Jacob 3:12
  • 3 Nephi 12:32
  • Helaman 8:26
  • Doctrine and Covenants 35:11
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:74
  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:94
  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:105

Fornications

  • Ezekiel 16:15

Lasciviousness

  • Mark 7:22
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21
  • Galatians 5:19
  • Ephesians 4:19
  • 1 Peter 4:3
  • Jude 1:4
  • Jacob 3:12
  • Alma 16:18
  • Alma 45:12
  • Alma 47:36
  • 4 Nephi 1:16

Lewd

  • Ezekiel 16:27
  • Ezekiel 23:44
  • Acts 17:5

Lewdly

  • Ezekiel 22:11

Lewdness

  • Judges 20:6
  • Jeremiah 11:15
  • Jeremiah 13:27
  • Ezekiel 16:43
  • Ezekiel 16:58
  • Ezekiel 22:9
  • Ezekiel 23:21
  • Ezekiel 23:27
  • Ezekiel 23:29
  • Ezekiel 23:35
  • Ezekiel 23:48
  • Ezekiel 23:48
  • Ezekiel 23:49
  • Ezekiel 24:13
  • Hosea 2:10
  • Hosea 6:9
  • Acts 18:14

Lust

  • Exodus 15:9
  • Psalms 78:18
  • Psalms 78:30
  • Psalms 81:12
  • Proverbs 6:25
  • Matthew 5:28
  • Romans 1:27
  • Romans 7:7
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6
  • Galatians 5:16
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:5
  • James 1:14
  • James 1:15
  • James 4:2
  • 2 Peter 1:4
  • 2 Peter 2:10
  • 1 John 2:16
  • 1 John 2:17
  • 1 Nephi 3:25
  • 3 Nephi 12:28
  • Doctrine and Covenants 42:23
  • Doctrine and Covenants 63:16

Lusted

  • Numbers 11:34
  • Psalms 106:14
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6
  • Revelations 18:14

Lusteth

  • Deuteronomy 12:15
  • Deuteronomy 14:26
  • Galatians 5:17
  • James 4:5

Lustful

  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:121
  • Doctrine and Covenants 101:6

Lusting

  • Numbers 11:4

Lusts

  • Mark 4:19
  • John 8:44
  • Romans 1:24
  • Romans 6:12
  • Romans 13:14
  • Galatians 5:24
  • Ephesians 2:3
  • Ephesians 4:22
  • 1 Timothy 6:9
  • 2 Timothy 2:22
  • 2 Timothy 3:6
  • 2 Timothy 4:3
  • Titus 2:12
  • Titus 3:3
  • James 4:1
  • James 4:3
  • 1 Peter 1:14
  • 1 Peter 2:11
  • 1 Peter 4:2
  • 1 Peter 4:3
  • 2 Peter 2:18
  • 2 Peter 3:3
  • Jude 1:16
  • Jude 1:18
  • 1 Nephi 22:23
  • Alma 39:9
  • Mormon 9:28
  • Doctrine and Covenants 46:9

Lusty

  • Judges 3:29

Notes

  1. Wikipedia has a pretty good timeline documenting the Church's attitudes towards masturbation over time. There are some aspects of the article that may be misleading. Caution and discernment is advised in accepting some of the analysis presented.
  2. For the Strength of Youth (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2011), 36. While the pamphlet is more directly addressed to youth, it is clear from reading the actual pamphlet that Church leaders hope that youth will carry the attitudes and standards gleaned from the pamphlet into adulthood. Thus the pamphlet should be viewed as a relevant text for Latter-day Saints of all ages.
  3. See, for instance, Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969), 77–78. President Kimball makes comments about homosexuality as he perceived they relate to masturbation here. For info on this, see our wiki article on this here.
  4. R. Morgan Griffin, "Can Sex, Masturbation Affect Prostate Cancer Risk?" WebMD, accessed September 11, 2021, https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/ejaculation-prostate-cancer-risk.
  5. Ibid., 35. This same attitude about sexuality is reflected in the 1990 and 2001 editions of the pamphlet. Other editions of the pamphlet do not directly address sexual purity.
  6. Matthew 7:15-20
  7. Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:3-9; Doctrine and Covenants 49:15-17; Moses 3:21-24; Abraham 5:14-18; The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Some may not believe that the Family Proclamation constitutes an official pronouncement of the church, but several facts contradict this view. See this page for more info.
  8. In contrast to the Catholic Church's view of human sexuality that makes almost no separation between the unitive purpose of sex (bring men and women together) and the procreative purpose of it (being open to the possibility of children resulting from the sexual act), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sees the unitive act as fulfilling men and women's telos and then strongly urges men and women to have children. The Church affirms the commandment to have humans multiply over the earth, but sees the unification of man and woman as a full adherence to the human sexual telos. See Doctrine and Covenants 49:15-17.
  9. C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 292–93.
  10. Matthew 22:34-40
  11. Mosiah 3:19
  12. Doctrine and Covenants 42:12-13, 56-60
  13. James 3:2; Alma 38:12. The author of this article says "the author" of James since it is not known whether James actually wrote James, someone else wrote James and then attributed it to him, or someone who was a close follower of James reworked material originally written by him into Greek literary style and form. See Timothy B. Cargal, "The Letter of James," in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Michael D. Coogan, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 2165.
  14. Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9
  15. James 1:27; Doctrine and Covenants 59:9
  16. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  17. Mosiah 3:19
  18. Moroni 7:44
  19. Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–5
  20. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–29
  21. Matthew 22:34-40
  22. Colossians 3:5. The author of this article says "the author of Colossians" since it remains in debate whether Paul wrote Colossians, someone else wrote it and attributed it to him, or one of his followers adapted material the he had taught and/or written for the audience. Wikipedia has a decent discussion of the relevant issues.
  23. Jason A. Staples, "'Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust': Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1," Jason A. Staples, August 20, 2009, https://www.jasonstaples.com/bible/most-misinterpreted-bible-passages-1-matthew-527-28/.
  24. Jason Staples, May 22, 2012 1:20pm, "Comment on," Jason Staples, “'Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust': Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1” Jason A. Staples (blog), August 20, 2009, https://www.jasonstaples.com/bible/most-misinterpreted-bible-passages-1-matthew-527-28/.
  25. Latter-day Saint leaders have occasionally referred to it as such. For instance see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 545, 708. It's okay that Elder McConkie and other leaders may have misinterpreted this scripture as supporting refraining since other scriptures support abstention and we are only required to embrace what is in harmony with the standard works. See this page and this page for more info.
  26. Carl S. Ehrlich, "Onan," in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael David Coogan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 565.
  27. Jon D. Levenson, "Genesis," in The Jewish Study Bible, eds. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 77.
  28. For information on masturbation addiction and recovery, see Matt Glowiak and Trishanna Sookdeo, “Masturbation Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments,” Choosing Therapy, July 14, 2021, https://www.choosingtherapy.com/masturbation-addiction/. For research on the reality of masturbation and pornography addiction, see Gary Wilson, "Research," Your Brain on Porn, accessed September 11, 2021, https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/research/.
  29. Karen L. Bales, Julie A. Westerhuyzen, Antoniah D. Lewis-Reese, Nathaniel D. Grotte, Jalene A. Lanter, C. Sue Carter, "Oxytocin has Dose-dependent Developmental Effects on Pair-bonding and Alloparental Care in Female Prairie Voles," Hormones and Behavior 52, no. 2 (August 2007): 274–79. Cited in Donald L. Hilton, He Restoreth My Soul: Understanding and Breaking the Chemical and Spiritual Chains of Pornography Addiction Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (San Antonio: Forward Press Publishing, 2009), 57.
  30. Hilton, He Restoreth My Soul, 58.
  31. Mayo Clinic Staff, “6 steps to better sleep,” Mayo Clinic, April 17, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379.
  32. Heather Shannon, “7 powerful ways you can strengthen your heart,” UCI Health, February 9, 2017, https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2017/02/how-to-strengthen-heart.
  33. ”How to boost your immune system,” Harvard Health Publishing, February 15, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.
  34. Mayo Clinic Staff, “Prostate cancer prevention: Ways to reduce your risk,” Mayo Clinic, September 24, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/in-depth/prostate-cancer-prevention/art-20045641.
  35. Daniel Yetman, "How to Decrease Libido," Healthline, October 28, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-decrease-libido.
  36. Brenda Goodman, "Vaginismus," WebMD, March 22, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginismus-causes-symptoms-treatments.
  37. Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20