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Shaking Hands With The Bishop

Masturbation (and more) is on my mind again.

I just read a comment by “struggling” about his struggles with masturbation. I can feel echoes of my own life in his story.

The other issue here is that while on my mission there could have been no time in my life where I was more dedicated to abstaining or avoiding sexual thoughts or activities. Furthermore my days were always completely planned and scheduled so it is not like I was not busy and being idle. I had never masturbated until the near end of my mission and that seems really quite odd to me. It nearly destroyed me. I thought I would be sent home from my mission cuz I had read the statement that no young man should go on a mission who engages in such an activity. I fell on my knees in some disgusting foreign country bathroom and weeped excessively while expressing the most intimate of feelings with my Father in Heaven and promising never to do it again. After that I tortured myself mentally and emotionally…maybe even physically. I constantly fasted for strength(once for 48 hours), prayed, confessed, memorized scriptures, wore tight clothing, went without sleep to avoid being in bed where the “temptation” was strongest and all the while trying to serve as the EQ president in my singles unit while battling thoughts of failure, inadequacy, and at times suicide.…

I was just trying to do what the church leaders kept telling me to do. I looked for relief. I read a lot and I read from Miracle of Forgiveness, To the Young men only, talks by Featherstone, some article which may or may not have been from Elder Petersen, my scriptures, skousen books and many more that were not directly correlated to the topic on tab; to what end I am not sure. All I wanted was relief not anxiety. That is what I was searching for. One could argue that I was anxious because I continued in the practice, maybe so, but I fought with everything I had. Every ounce of energy was dedicated to winning this battle every night and after weeks of battling, struggling, enduring, the battle would extend to two fronts as “tension” would infiltrate my daily activities. The funny thing is that I would not even consider myself a “Peter Priesthood” type of guy. Most of my friends were not even LDS but I cant help but feel bad for what those “pristine” mormon children feel when they cannot overcome masturbation or anything that one could logically call an even more grave mistake.

Then there’s Sister Mary Lisa with her painful, touching story of being pregnant out of wedlock and later married to a non-Mormon. She speaks of the pain and humiliation she endured for 13 years.

A couple months later, I realized I was pregnant. All I could think about was my high priest dad’s words from my childhood: “Any daughter of mine who comes home pregnant out of wedlock is no longer my daughter.”…

Being in the primary presidency for years, I was expected to teach all those diverse children about eternal families and what they should strive for in their own lives, because anything less is not what righteous people do. I remember teaching about how families can be together forever while looking into the hurt and wounded eyes of Brother Z., the teacher whose impending divorce had just been announced the week before, and whose daughter was crying in the back row. I hid my own pain well, I thought. Until later that night when my son asked me, “How come WE’RE not sealed together forever?” How do you explain such a nasty concept to a child? Your father doesn’t believe the church is true, honey, and if we don’t go to the temple, then we aren’t sealed together forever. “But why not? He loves me, and I love him!” I know. I know. It’s God’s plan. “But where will we GO when we die? Who will I be with??” If you are really righteous, and marry your own sweetheart in the temple someday, you’ll be with her and your children! “But what about you and Dad?” Oh, don’t worry about us. It’ll all work out in the next life. I’ll be OK. “But will I see you there?” Pain like that eviscerates and is impossible to hid from your children.…

Imagine my horror in finding out that the beloved prophet Joseph Smith (whom I had admired enough to name my son after, along with Joseph in Egypt) had married over 30 women, some of whom were still married to men he had sent on missions! Imagine my horror in reading the accounts of how he convinced Heber C. Kimball to give his 14 year old daughter to him in plural marriage by promising her entire family eternal salvation if they said yes! Imagine my horror when I found out that he did his plural wife thing behind Emma’s back, and denied it publicly when someone called him on it!!

I had been made to feel low and dirty and worthless for my two weeks of sex and my lifetime of keeping an “illegitimate” baby out of wedlock, all by the very church that had been founded by a guy like Joseph Smith???

You know, I can think of only one way to express how I feel about teaching children to be ashamed of their sexuality:

Fuck… That… Shit!

Don’t even come near my daughters with that poison. You seem like a nice person. I don’t want to have to beat you down.

I’m fed up. The shame implicit in the way the Law of Chastity is typically taught is mental and emotional child abuse. I know you’re trying to keep them clean and pure (nobody wants to be a chewed up piece of used bubble gum), but your delusional good intentions would pave the way to a hell full of self-loathing for my daughters. I can’t let that happen.

If one of my daughters comes home pregnant outside of marriage or—heaven forbid!—she masturbates, she will be received as always with open arms and heartfelt kisses. She will never be less than my beautiful, my priceless, my incomparable daughter.

You can call me a sinner if you want. You can blame my non-belief on my not-so-secret sins if that makes you feel justified in your beliefs. But leave me and mine alone. I’m happy to be rid of you and your hateful ideas.

So put down your copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness and nobody gets hurt. Close the door on your way out.

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  1. mel said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

    Very nice. Spaghetti Western for the sexually oppressed.

    Who the fuck’s idea was this anyway? Some self-loathing mind-control freak of nature. And they have the nerve to call this “revealed” religion? Sweet little Spencer Kimball writing the book that catapulted him to the head of the church; confirming once and for all (or at least for a generation or two) that “the natural man being an enemy to god” quite literally means “disgusting” things like masturbation and nocturnal emission. I read the book. I believed. And I hated myself; never imagining that I was one of many.

    Speaking to a new friend today I was gently reminded that, despite the hatefulness instilled by authoritative abuses, we’re coming out of this with a chance to change it in our generation. Jonathan, you and SML and “Struggling” are clearly at the front of this change. Beautiful hope. Thanks.

  2. Eric said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

    Beautifully put, Jonathan. Been there, done that, and I would never inflict such torment and self-loathing upon my children.

    I wonder how much suffering and despair could have been prevented in my own youth if my father or an open-minded church leader (instead of the Kimball clones that passed for them) had taught me my sexuality was not shameful but could in fact be a healthy part of my life. Perhaps I never received such guidance, but my children sure as hell aren’t going to have to go through that. No bishop is ever going to shove his self-righteous ideas about sexuality down their throats, not while I’m alive.

    You know, I try to view the church in a positive light, really I do. But this is far beyond what I can tolerate without wanting to punch someone in the face.

  3. Struggling said,

    September 13, 2007 @ 8:10 am

    Interesting post. I agree that there should be nothing but love for our children no matter what they do. This whole near 3 year period has nearly destroyed me but I am grateful to have had the experience and overcome so that hopefully others will not be abused in such a way. That is my goal. I believe that rather than teaching our children black and white ideals we should be teaching them consequences of action. For example, with sex out of wedlock; there is pregnancy, STD’s, etc. Stealing=potential jail time; cocaine=addiction, and many more I am sure we could come up with. It is like letting your kid decide whether he or she is going to wear a jacket on a cold day. If he/she does not wear the jacket that means they will probably be cold during recess.

    This is where I think the leadership in the church could make an improvement. A teenager who has only been told to not have sex and therefore live in complete abstinence is going to be confused when with their boyfriend or girlfriend and finds out that it feels good. Then the guilt kicks in combined with the physical pleasure (this according to a lot of psychologists can strengthen the power of an addiction) and our once happy teenager is now completely confused. That being said one must be careful to give correct consequences and not lie. i.e. masturbation will make you gay. After 3 years, I am sure that i am more heterosexual now than I was before. If a mistake is made than one should not hide from it but just admit the mistake.
    “Well son I thought hair would grow on your palms but I am sorry that was not accurate information; you will be ok…” yada yada yada.

    That is the beauty of learning. We dont have to feel trapped if we could learn to let go and adapt to the new information that is being made available. I know that many here are probably angry or disappointed with the church but I am still a TBM, somewhat of a liberal, but TBM nonetheless because of my past experiences before the whole masturbation issue. I believe that the church is true but that the people are not and that oftentimes leaders obtain the ability to make decisions for other people and get carried away and mix their own experiences as eternal doctrine rather than looking at the good of the whole group of people who they “preside” over; which is best helped on an individual level. Everyone is different and needs to be taken care of individually and I believe that people are best helped if you teach them consequences so rather than falling over themselves in guilt and shame they understand that A+B=C and therefore I must use C to either do one of the following D, E, or… We dont want them continually delving over past mistakes both big and small. An example is I wish I would have continued playing soccer at the end of high school, I was good and may have been able to get a scholarship. It bothers me that I made that mistake and live with the consequences today like paying for school etc. But, I now accept the consequences and actually use it to fuel me in new pursuits and to never give up on anything that I am pursuing. This would be a much healthier approach to teaching than simple stating 100% truths. In fact the BOM teaches this a lot better than the bible does. (I love the bible but it does tend to be very black and white and easily interpreted in many different ways.)

    For example, how would nephi had felt if after killing Laban, all Lehi could talk about was how one should not murder under any circumstance whatsoever. However nephi killed him because it was better that one man perish than have an entire civilization dwindle in unbelief. That scripture alone proves to me that everyones situation is different. I go through this everytime a teacher or leader finds a magical way to bring up the masturbation issue. Thankfully I have come to understand what is right for me and I know the consequences of my actions…nothing.

    I have a friend that married immediately upon returning from his mission because he thinks it is his duty to God or something and that he prayed about it and feels that I should receive the same revelation and do everything the exact same way. That is bogus. I have other things I am pursuing in life other than get married and have babies, two things that I want to do eventually, but in the right place with the right person.

    Those are just a few of my thoughts; I would be interested to hear what everybody’s thoughts are. I am not trying to change anyone’s opinion just opening up myself and my thoughts to some open conversation so that they can continue to adapt and become more correct.

    This is how I plan on teaching my kids about sexuality; with consequences or cause and effect, not with a list of do’s and dont’s. Then I will still love them even if they take on some very difficult consequences.

  4. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 13, 2007 @ 9:09 am

    There are two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig.

    What happened to me will not happen to my girls. What self respecting father or mother would let their children be molested? This can have extremely similar effects on their minds. It is sexual abuse.


    I’m of the same mind on how to teach children about sexuality. Some of it should be consequence driven. “If you choose to do have premarital sex, then pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are a possibility. I discourage sexual activity for those reasons until you are sure that you’re ready to handle those consequences. When you decide to be sexually active, which you may decide to reserve until marriage like I did, there are precautions that you can take…” I hope to convey the gratitude that I feel for the beauty (and fun) that sexuality can be if nurtured and respected.

    You and I disagree on the status of the church, but we agree on the tragically misguided direction it follows on this issue. I will be happy if those who are in the church can realize that, contrary to what current leadership will have us believe, the church is not an all or nothing affair. It isn’t either all true or all false. They want us to believe this because, seeing some truth in its teachings, it’s easier to swallow the false parts too because we reason “If part of it’s true, then all of it must be.” Not so.

    Right now, I’m still in the process of purging myself of the poison. As I vomit it up, I am disturbed to remember that it was fed to me with such good intentions, this vile stuff. This is an excellent example of how a religion can pervert our good instincts to make good people do evil things.

    When I considered myself sexually addicted (and I was, truly) I thought that I was an anomaly because I understood that most addicts had been sexually abused in some form. I couldn’t see that in my case. The truth is that I just didn’t know where to look for that abuse.

    I spent years agonizing over my weakness and frailty, thinking that I must be the most vile and wretched of God’s children. I couldn’t understand why asking for God’s help wasn’t sufficient to help me to overcome that weakness. I wondered if I was asking wrong, or if I had to do more, be stronger before his help would kick in. Then I started to see that others suffered from the same problems.

    A strong, good man, a police officer, got up one day in Elders Quorum to teach about chastity. At the end, he tearfully admitted that he had a problem with pornography and masturbation. He’s not one of those people who unloads all his problems on you at the drop of a hat. His confession to us that day was significant. That was probably the best ward I’ve ever been in.

    Now that my eyes have been opened, I see the source of my problems. It was not that I was too weak or too willing to give in to the demands of the flesh. That was never my problem. It was the toxic pestilence that surrounded me from birth because I was born into a Mormon home. The perverse, misshapen ideas about sexuality twisted my native desire to be loved and my natural, innocent sexuality into a grotesque sideshow freak that dogged me in the shadows for too fucking many years.

    You can understand, then, why I refuse to let my children suffer a similar fate, why I am prepared to go Dirty Harry all over anyone who says different.

  5. Eric said,

    September 13, 2007 @ 5:04 pm


    I share your feelings about the direction the church should take on this issue. There are potentially serious consequences to sexual activity, just as their are to over- (or under-) eating, excessive TV watching, etc. But that does not mean that our sexual desires are thrust upon us by an evil being just to get us to stray from the “straight and narrow.”

    As long as I interpreted them that way — for many years, unfortunately — I always felt weak and unworthy in the face of the “temptation.” Of course it wasn’t temptation. I don’t feel tempted to eat breakfast in the morning. I would not characterize my intimate relationship with my wife as temptation. So why should we view masturbation any differently?

    In my view, this would not be very difficult for the church to change. Sure, it has been teaching these outdated morals as doctrine for a long time. Saying that these should no longer be taken literally would require some humility and may offend some orthodox members. But I think there are enough people that have been through the hell we have been through that will recognize this as a significant step forward.

    The problem is, we may have to wait a couple of generations before this generation can influence the direction taken from the top. Still, I can’t imagine that our current leaders battled any less with this than we have.

    I need to clarify that in my previous comment, I was not implicating my father as a “Kimball clone.” My father was a kind, sensitive man who was too shy to discuss sexuality with his sons.

    As a consequence, nearly all my sexual education came from bishops and branch presidents I had growing up. On my own initiative, feeling guilty and weighed down by my “sins,” I forced myself to confess to them, sometimes on a weekly or monthly basis. Although they were kind and sympathetic, none of them ever told me what I needed to hear: That my feelings were healthy and not of the devil. That I didn’t have to beat myself up over my supposed imperfection. That I was, in fact, worthy to take the sacrament and participate in full fellowship.

    Would it really be too difficult to implement that kind of change in the church? Perhaps I am too much an optimist, but I don’t think so.

    Like you, Suffering, I take the “cause and effect” approach to sexual morality. Obviously, masturbation is in an entirely different league from adultery, yet we are never taught that specifically. What are the negative effects of masturbation? There are a few, of course, and I’m sure you recognize them. But are they really worse than the negative effects of suppressing and condemning it? I don’t think so.

  6. Anonymous said,

    September 15, 2007 @ 11:00 am

    It is a very sensitive subject. Difficult to deal with thanks to centuries of taboo categorizing of the subject. Top this off with a very critical people, mormons (generally), and it can become even more difficult. I am aware of the potential problems of masturbation. As far as I can tell now, there is healthy masturbation and unhealthy masturbation. Healthy eating, unhealthy eating, even healthy exercise and unhealthy exercise and all these things can vary as to what is healthy and what is not at different points in ones life.

    We teach our kids to use the restroom to urinate so they dont wet the bed. Make sure you go pee before you go to bed, my dad would tell me. Why do we do this but we dont teach our kids to relieve sexual tension in a better place than in their pants. To say that is the way God wants it seems kind of…i dont know…odd.

    And if explained in such a manner I dont see how a child will feel any more guilt about masturbation than they do about urinating. Then that would be that. I also feel bad for the girls who have really no direction by the church in this regard. The church seems to pretend the issue does not exist.

    I feel sorry for those who have unpleasant experiences in the church. I know my teenage life was terrible and I hated going to church for many reasons. The masturbation struggle was almost the end of my relationship with the church. I hope that changes can be made to fix some of these issues within the church. It will be a process, I mean that is largely why Paul traveled from place to place meeting the saints. It was to correct the churches and their practices. There have always been flaws with the people and their actions and interactions in the church. Nothing is perfect including ourselves, all one can do is his or her best. Whether that is from within the church or outside is up to the individual. I am thankful for my “spiritual experiences” before the masturbation problem came up because it allowed me to overcome and learn to accept my actions and hopefully will lead to a greater and stronger relationship with deity. In the end we have to just make the decision that will be

  7. Anonymous said,

    September 15, 2007 @ 11:32 am

    best for us and those we love

  8. Anonymous said,

    September 15, 2007 @ 11:50 am

    The sad thing here is that so many people are left to anonymously talking about this subject that live within the church. How many confess and find comfort not from the church but from blogs? Kind of odd. Then if these subjects come up on TBM blogs they typically get removed or are avoided all together like they are pretending it does not exist. Sad. If you know of a TBM site that actually discusses masturbation let me know. I would love to hear what they actually have to say on the subject.

  9. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 16, 2007 @ 2:36 pm


    I’m happy that you were able to avoid the heartache that the church was dishing out for so long. It seems that the rhetoric has softened recently. Is there anything about masturbation in the Church Handbook of Instructions? I think it’s not mentioned by name, but could be included by those in the right frame of mind under the aegis of “other unholy and impure practices”.

    There’s one faithful Mormon site that I’m aware of discussing masturbation which just parrots the party line. It’s not so much of a discussion really. There’s an old thread over at By Common Consent. I’m just not aware of many TBM discussions of masturbation. Of course I haven’t bloggernacled much.

  10. Anonymous said,

    September 16, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

    Well in regard to the CHI, there is a gradual evolution in the recommendations that are given for handling certain situations. In regard to masturbation it is no longer directly stated. I have not looked through the manual for a few months now, calling change, but I do not remember if there was some sort of indirect comment. If I remeber correctly it is adviced that the bishop, SP, or whoever not inquire into the sexual practices of an individual but rather ask general questions, like do you live the law of chastity?, and then wait for an answer. If yes, then you move on. If no, then the person will either not wish to talk about it and therefore not be allowed to advance in priesthood, get a recommend, etc. or they, and this is what typically happens, explain usually vaguely what happened. Pretty simple. I would like to think that bishops usually give the kids the benefit of the doubt. However, they still have to accept responsibility for their actions.

  11. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    I have a problem with this approach. I admit that asking priesthood leaders to avoid probing questions is a step in the right direction. The problem is that it does nothing to prevent them from imposing their own cultural ideas as the Word of God on those who confess to whatever it is they feel guilty for. It gives them no clear guidance on how they should approach the situation. That’s asking for tragedy.

  12. Truth Seeker said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 11:38 am

    I agree. Check out my new blog at

    I know you dont like the church all that much but you guys were asking for a TBM perspective and here is one. I am new at this so bear with me if it is not perfect.

  13. Truth Seeker said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 11:39 am

  14. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 11:42 am

    Here’s the post Truth Seeker mentioned. I’ll read later.

  15. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    Truth Seeker,

    After reading your story, you sound a lot like me. You sound a lot more like Struggling. I think it might be helpful for you to know the root of the Mormon fight against masturbation. Basically, this is a matter of culture (not doctrine) rooted in some unscientific ideas about the effects of masturbation.

    There is nothing doctrinal about the prejudice against masturbation. You won’t find anything against it in the scriptures. The statements against masturbation have, as far as I know, only been made by single General Authorities whose words don’t have the force of official doctrine.

    If you can accept this truth, perhaps you can begin to make a space to forgive yourself for a sin that was never a sin. You can accept masturbation as good and healthy.

    You are a good, conscientious person. That’s why you feel so bad about this because you believe it’s a sin. Once you can free yourself from that false doctrine, you can regain your peace of mind.

  16. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

    Right on cue, here’s a post on masturbation by a faithful Mormon. He basically confirms what I just said in my last comment.

  17. Truth Seeker said,

    September 17, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

    Thanks for reading my post. I hope to begin to be a helpful resource for those who are seeking answers. I mostly want to present information, allow ppl to study it out in their minds and then they can choose for themselves what will be best for them. There has been lots of discussion on masturbation on a number of mormon or exmormon blogs. I thought it might be helpful to do show people what I have discovered. Along the way I hope to find my way more clearly and be more accepting of myself. As far as I know there are a lot of mormon related blogs out there but I have never seen one that is directly centered around masturbation. I hope this is going to be a beginning. A start to educating ppl about their sexuality; not just masturbation but I thought this would be a good topic to start out with.

    That being said if anybody has any ideas or more links that could be helpful let me know. Also, I was wondering, being a newbie to the blog world, what is the best way to get the word out about such a blog? I want LDS ppl or anyone else for that matter to have the opportunity to express themselves and become more educated about a very taboo subject. I plan to continue to expand the resources, posts, and topics on the page. Currently I think this is probably the most effective way for stirring possible change. Any suggestions on getting the word out?

  18. Truth Seeker said,

    September 18, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

    I have not been able to followup on the sources for this statement by Brigham Young on masturbation but you might want to add it to that timeline you made earlier. This is comes from a formerly censured essay from Mark Twain where he cites Brigham Young on masturbation.

  19. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 18, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

    Hmm. The rest of those quotes are spurious, and so I think it’s safe to assume that this just an amusing farce on the taboo of masturbation. I doubt Brigham Young said this about masturbation. Brigham Young never made a recorded statement on the issue, or so I’ve been led to believe.

  20. Truth Seeker said,

    September 18, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

    Yeah, that is what I have been told as well. Mark Twain has been known for his sarcastic humor. However, the thought that he would even mention Brigham Young in discussing such a topic is interesting. Makes you wonder if there was anything that had been said on the subject. Then again it could just be funny reference cuz everyone knew that he was a polygamist. Not sure.

  21. Anna said,

    September 19, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

    So even if masturbation isn’t a sin, is it good or wholesome? For instance, if you’re married, and you masturbate, does it take away from your intimacy spouse? If it does, then is it wrong?

    Also, I’ve heard masturbation linked to lust, and since it is a sin to lust, therefore it’s a sin to masturbate (because you’re trying to gratify your lust). Following this argument if a child is masturbating is he/she sinful/lustful?

  22. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 19, 2007 @ 1:39 pm


    For me, the idea of sin lacks all meaning if it is defined as a “transgression of divine law”. Lacking a belief in God, I also lack a belief in divine law. Therefore I have no basis for defining sin as it is typically used. Similarly, I need the idea that something is “wrong” to be better defined. For me, words like “beneficial” or “hurtful” are more helpful ways to look at things.

    If we agree that the intimate marital relationship is something valuable, then if masturbation hurts that relationship, then it isn’t beneficial (almost by definition). I don’t think masturbation is guaranteed to harm marital intimacy.

    In some cases where our sexuality has become repressed to the point that we are estranged from it, masturbation may be helpful in healing that divide. This would be beneficial to marital intimacy. Masturbation can be one part of being a healthy sexual being.

    In other situations, masturbation might be harmful. If a spouse loses sexual desire for their wife or husband because they masturbate too frequently or because of unrealistic expectations (often probably due to pornography), then masturbation is harmful.

    Blanket statements about whether masturbation is right or wrong try to shoehorn the issue into boxes where it doesn’t fit neatly. Sometimes masturbation is beneficial. Sometimes it’s hurtful. It’s similar to lust in that respect.

    If people didn’t feel sexual desire for each other, humanity would die out within one generation. In that respect, lust is helpful (and fun!). Sexual desire can work against stable family relationships, especially in societies that strongly expect monogamy in marriage, if we desire someone outside our marital relationship. I value stable families, so in this respect, I see that lust can be hurtful.

    For the sake of discussion, assuming the biblical God exists, there are no injunctions directly against masturbation in the Bible. If lust is a sin, as Matthew 5:28 seems to imply, then I wonder whether thoughts during masturbation must necessarily be lustful. Perhaps our thoughts could be centered on the physical sensations aroused by masturbation rather than fantasizing about some forbidden object of desire. Jesus didn’t forbid sexual feelings, just coveting a woman.

    From my current perspective, however, I think the very idea of a thought crime is reprehensible. We should be able to think whatever we like within the confines of our own head, as long as hurtful thoughts don’t spill over into our actions.

  23. cybr said,

    September 20, 2007 @ 8:05 am


    I lust after my wife. Is that wrong? I like to remind her that I think she’s sexy, and she thinks I’m delusional. :)


    Thought crime is a difficult area. However, dwelling too much on negative thoughts does affect our attitude and can therefore possibly lead to action. So while the occasional stray thought is one thing, we should still be mindful of the thoughts we dwell on as they can hinder us as a person. But, I only have to worry about thought crimes if the “Thought Police” catch me. It’s kind of scary that my monitor is always on.

  24. cybr said,

    September 20, 2007 @ 8:06 am

    And of course now that a webcam is so common place on top of it.

  25. Anna said,

    September 21, 2007 @ 1:30 pm


    I’ve always thought of lusting after my husband as desire and therefore not a sin. If I were feeling the same way about someone I wasn’t married to, then it would be lust, and a sin.

  26. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 21, 2007 @ 2:29 pm


    That’s a fairly clear distinction you draw, but let me probe that a bit.

    Before someone is married, is it sinful to feel sexual desire for their future spouse?

    Also, if a person feels sexual desire for someone who isn’t their spouse, at what point does it become sinful? As soon as they feel a desire? As soon as they notice their desire? One second after they notice their desire but haven’t banished it with thoughts of grandma? Two seconds?

    How strong does the desire have to be to be sinful? If a married man notices that an woman is attractive (without any intent to act on that attraction), is that enough desire to be sinful?

    Where do we draw the line between sinful just being the human beings God (allegedly) created?

    My problem with the idea of sin is that it lends itself to stark black-and-white thinking that doesn’t reflect the complexity of the world. I’ve never seen a spectrum of sinfulness. May I suggest: innocent, mischievous, naughty, sinful, devilish. Or perhaps: Vienna Boys Choir, Bart Simpson, Britney Spears, Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt. :)

  27. lanilila said,

    September 22, 2007 @ 8:41 am

    Jonathon…thanks for being here. I hope you don’t mind a foreigner jumping in here?

    Your topic is so timely. Oh man…I could write much, though wonder how much is good to share.?

    Okay…nutshell version here… Have been in significant relationshipfor 7 years. (we have our own quarters on the property) . Over the summer we have been in a state of change. It’s my initiation to change our understanding and our agreements. My significant is disabled, though he’s pretty much able to function normally. I’m stifled with 7 years of “same as it ever was” and have the itch to grow in ways that are not about “us”.

    Recently one of my e-buddys…whom I’ve been in yahoogroup communication with for over a year…and whom I’ve been in offlist communication with since June of this year, has recently shown “interest”. We had two amazing phone conversations which felt like I was talking to my best friend. We shared photographs…which brought mutual attraction. We even did the mental no-no…allowing permission to fantasize around our attraction…though discreet, and not while on phone or online…but rather while in prayer, alone, firing the grid in a psychic way. He is considered a priest on his path…walking red roads, and carrying the Chanupa pipe.

    Well, one week ago today I received a mysterious phone call to my cell,
    (which only three people have the number).
    It was from a woman saying: …

    “You don’t know me, but I’m —–’s girlfriend, and I did something today I feel really bad about, (got into his computer) …but I just had this feeling. ”
    (okay…she picked up on “it”. I was under the impression their relationship was also ending/changing.)

    This woman and I had a loving talk from one side of the county to the other…for 45 minutes. (!!) It was a very healing, and illuminating conversation. Then, later I received a call from he..saying goodbye… and that he was to go stand before the elders of his tribe, for he has “sinned” according to tradition. This brought crocodile tears which spilled into the river of confusion…and guilt. ( Fortunately, have resolved much this week.)

    Lila, on the other hand, went into full blown honesty with significant, and he is so very understanding of this Aquarian gregarious desire I have to merge with many on the mental planes of consciousness at this time…And, oft’ the mental stimulates the physical.

    The girlfriend then phoned once more…after drowning her sorrows in Tequila. It had been about 10 hours since her first call. We talked for another 45 minutes!!

    I told her that if she loved “him” as she says…then to welcome him. For in her words she claimed to have shamed him royally.

    This is a longer than nutshell version… but I must say that if it weren’t for this experience, in my own Jupiter cycle of 12, and for all of us FOUR involved… the light would not be shining so brightly right now.!!!

    Thanks, Jon, for letting me share here. The topic was too juicy not to add to.

    I’m now claiming a brief abstinance from sex. Having played in the fire…I’ve seen how others can get burned. This has been the only experience I’ve had like this. I’ve nevery been other than monagamous..and faithful in body
    ….I am now to believe….. Lust happens.

    But the truth is, I still feel this man’s heart merging with my heart…and our minds fueling creativity. Muses need eachother sometimes.

    Free Will is what Free Will does… or so it seems.



  28. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 22, 2007 @ 11:31 am


    Thanks for dropping in. You’re always welcome.

    One bit of sage advice my parents gave to us before we were married was to always be honest about attractions that we feel to other people. If we start to feel the attraction being more than casual, we tell the other person. It never fails to defuse the attraction. Secret attractions are dangerous. They’re more intense just because of the secrecy. I’ve told Lacey about attractions that I’ve had a time or two and just the fact that she knows and it doesn’t upset her brings us closer together.

    I don’t want to give the impression here that sexual attraction isn’t dangerous to relationships, just not sinful or wrong.

    Thanks for sharing, lila. :)

  29. Anna said,

    September 24, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    Sin is defined as disobedience to God. (In my church.)

    You are right, and at the same time wrong, about sin being black and white. In several passages, (see Romans 14, I Tim. 4:12, and I Cor. 8:13) it seems that sometimes what is sin for one is not sin for another. (But we are told to give up what is considered a sin if it causes our brother to stumble.) I would say that the Holy Spirit convicts us as to our sins. (The Holy Spirit is sometimes defined as your conscience.) It’s not a feeling but that voice telling us something is wrong.

    An example: my in laws do not drink alcohol, in their mind it is a sin; but in my mind a little wine or a mixed drink now and again is not sin. (However, drinking so much as to become intoxicated, that is a sin.)

    Lust is a STRONG DESIRE. May also be applied to other objects, like the lust for power and money. I would say that you start to lust when all you can think about is that person (sexually) or object. A momentary attraction would not be lust, but if it starts taking over your thoughts, then I would say it becomes a sin.

    I think also our definition of “attraction” might vary a little. For me, seeing, and recognizing that a man or woman is nice looking doesn’t equate to lust. It my thoughts go farther, however, that is the beginning of lust.

    Sexual thoughts toward your future spouse? Good question. I think that’s a fine line. Do these thoughts lead you to do more than you should before you’re married? I need to think on this more. I know that I got into ‘sinful’ areas with my husband before we were married; question, was that the result of lust? I need to think about this one some more.

    BTW, All I can think of right now, when I think of my grandmother, is her romance novels.

  30. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 24, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    I wonder how we think about sin. Do we think about an act as either sinful/not sinful, do we think of it as 20% sinful, or maybe having 10 sin units? Can we be just a little disobedient and therefore a little sinful?

    I also wonder about those who don’t feel the pull of conscience. Is an act sinful only if your conscience told you not to do it? I, for example, don’t feel guilty about half the things that I used to. I no longer think it’s sinful to shop on Sunday and so I don’t feel any remorse if I do so. Is sabbath shopping still a sin for me?

    More importantly, are my feelings of guilt direct communications from God, or are they shaped by my beliefs? As my beliefs change, my feelings of guilt change to suit. I’m left wondering if they really communicate an absolute standard.

    Regarding romance novels, when people talk about pornography, I think romance novels, movies, etc. get too much of a pass. Romance novels fill the same role for most women that visual pornography fill for men. I wonder how many marriages have been broken over unrealistic expectations of romance due to these stories. How many people can’t settle for anything less than happily ever after?

  31. cybr said,

    September 25, 2007 @ 12:04 am

    Another good question, what about a person who feels no remorse or guilt for killing people. That is a good question for both of you then in regard to Anna about conscience and Jon who sees no sin?

  32. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 25, 2007 @ 8:20 am

    Personally, since I don’t judge an action based on whether or not the actor feels remorse for it (I’m not sure anyone really does this), the psychopath doesn’t throw a monkey-wrench in my worldview.

    And let’s be clear on what I mean when I say that sin is meaningless and nonexistent: without 1) a God and 2) an accurate understanding of what God wants, the idea of disobeying God (i.e. sinning) has no basis. No one can demonstrate (1) to me, and even if they could, so many people disagree about (2) that it makes no difference. Usually, God seems to believe in the same things that the believer does.

    To me, thinking in terms of sin is as meaningful as categorizing our actions based on whether or not the ThunderCats would approve. (WWLD?—What Would Lion-O Do?)

  33. cybr said,

    September 25, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    I know somebody who feels remorse. He served his time and currently is a professional chef that is working on his own show that will be on Food Network. He holds seminars for youth at risk of committing gang violence. He has three children of his own. He does not want other kids to go through the same act he committed when he was a teenager. He’ll be the first to admit it’s not worth the outcome to you, your family, or the family of your victim.

    And, I get the feeling you sidestepped my question with more on how you don’t believe in sin. SINce we already know that part. What about the morality of it. And, you’re quick to judge the killer as a psychopath but not so quick to judge the child predator. What if a person is genetically predisposed to mindless killing? Is he not just doing what he finds natural? Should we judge him or lock him away for this? Can we really say he’s wrong? It must be universally good for him to fill his genetic purpose.

  34. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 25, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    And, I get the feeling you sidestepped my question with more on how you don’t believe in sin. SINce we already know that part. What about the morality of it.

    First, I need a clarification on how you see morality as different than sin. What is your definition of moral?

    And, you’re quick to judge the killer as a psychopath but not so quick to judge the child predator. What if a person is genetically predisposed to mindless killing?

    I didn’t say that I judged the psychopath. I judge his actions. I consider him mentally ill rather than evil.

    Is he not just doing what he finds natural?

    Yes, and we don’t have an absolute moral framework to judge him, but we have a practical interest in containing such antisocial behavior.

    Should we judge him or lock him away for this?

    We shouldn’t judge him any more than we judge someone for eating compulsively, for example.

    Can we really say he’s wrong? It must be universally good for him to fill his genetic purpose.

    “Wrong” needs to be defined. Why must it be “good”? By what measure?

  35. cybr said,

    September 26, 2007 @ 1:27 am

    Lets be creative. Since it’s your blog, you define morality and wrong. Then, answer the question.

    I’ll just use the dictionary.

  36. cybr said,

    September 26, 2007 @ 9:02 am

    Another question, if the killer is genetically predisposed to killing without remorse, then is he really mentally ill? You’ve made a judgment and placed a label on him. So, your still judging him even when you say your not. I could argue that to him because your such a pacifist, your the mentally ill one.

  37. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 26, 2007 @ 11:42 am

    Lets be creative. Since it’s your blog, you define morality and wrong. Then, answer the question.

    The ideas connected with “morality” and “wrong” seem incoherent to me. I have never heard a precise, logical definition. It always comes down to this question: What do you want? What do you value?

    Do you value love and reciprocity? From that entirely arbitrary set of axioms, you can develop a morality.

    Do you value truth and the development of the human species? Then you have a different moral system.

    Whatever set of axioms you choose, the morality will look more or less different. Once we reveal the axioms to ourselves, once we’re down to that level, we can’t justify our choice of axioms. It always comes down to what we want, what we choose.

    Morality is therefore undefinable. It’s an incoherent idea. It’s not like gravity, for example, which corresponds to something definable. Morality is a human construct with no precise definition. I personally believe that it will never have a precise definition.

    I’ll just use the dictionary.

    Let’s see:

    1) The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
    2) A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct.

    This works as a dictionary definition, but doesn’t tell us what the standard of “right or good conduct” is. That’s outside the dictionary’s scope.

    Another question, if the killer is genetically predisposed to killing without remorse, then is he really mentally ill? You’ve made a judgment and placed a label on him. So, your still judging him even when you say your not. I could argue that to him because your such a pacifist, your the mentally ill one.

    That’s a valid point. My definition of “mentally ill” includes the idea that the person is unable to function within human society, among other ideas. So my use of “mentally ill” privileges the normal human being, the theoretical average person. This is completely arbitrary, just like I had been saying. But it serves a practical purpose to benefit things that I value.

    However, when you say that I judge him, I must stress that I don’t blame him for being in moral transgression (whatever that means). I don’t blame him for his actions. I see him approximately the same way that I’d see a broken machine. I don’t blame a machine for being broken. I just think it needs to be fixed, or perhaps just kept from harming the rest of us.

  38. Green Oasis » Weekly Links: 14 Jan 2008 said,

    January 14, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

    [...] Wrong With Lust?—an insightful definition of lust: sexual [...]

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