How to Overcome the Evil of Masturbation


If you have not read my previous post, Friends Don’t Friends Watch Porn, you can read it here.

What follows is an excerpt from a Mormon pamphlet that details steps Mormon young men can take to stop or avoid the evil sin of masturbation. If you have a problem with Onanism, I encourage you to read these steps and put them into practice. It is good to know, in a day when war, poverty, disease, and famine,  cause untold heartache, that Mormons, like Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, are concerned with, to sing the old Sunday School song, oh be careful little hands what you do.

Excerpt From the Steps in Overcoming Masturbation

Be assured that you can be cured of your difficulty. Many have been, both male and female, and you can be also if you determine that it must be so…

A Guide to Self Control

  • Never touch the intimate parts of your body except during normal toilet processes. Avoid being alone as much as possible. Find good company and stay in this good company.
  • If you are associated with other persons having this same problem, you must break off their friendship. Never associate with other people having the same weakness. Don’t suppose that two of you will quit together, you never will. You must get away from people of that kind. Just to be in their presence will keep your problem foremost in your mind. The problem must be taken out of your mind for that is where it really exists. Your mind must be on other and more wholesome things.
  • When you bathe, do not admire yourself in a mirror. Never stay in the bath more than five or six minutes — just long enough to bathe and dry and dress and then get out of the bathroom into a room where you will have some member of your family present.
  • When in bed, if that is where you have your problem for the most part, dress yourself for the night so securely that you cannot easily touch your vital parts, and so that it would be difficult and time consuming for you to remove those clothes. By the time you started to remove protective clothing you would have sufficiently controlled your thinking that the temptation would leave you.
  • If the temptation seems overpowering while you are in bed, get out of bed and go into the kitchen and fix yourself a snack, even if it is in the middle of the night, and even if you are not hungry, and despite your fears of gaining weight. The purpose behind this suggestion is that you get your mind on something else. You are the subject of your thoughts, so to speak.
  • Never read pornographic material. Never read about your problem. Keep it out of mind. Remember — “First a thought, then an act.” The thought pattern must be changed. You must not allow this problem to remain in your mind. When you accomplish that, you soon will be free of the act.
  • Put wholesome thoughts into your mind at all times. Read good books — Church books — Scriptures — Sermons of the Brethren. Make a daily habit of reading at least one chapter of Scripture, preferably from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, or the Book of Mormon. The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — above anything else in the Bible can be helpful because of their uplifting qualities.
  • Pray. But when you pray, don’t pray about this problem, for that will tend to keep it in your mind more than ever. Pray for faith, pray for understanding of the Scriptures, pray for the Missionaries, the General Authorities, your friends, your families, but keep the problem out of your mind by not mentioning it ever — not in conversation with others, not in your prayers. keep it out of your mind!


  • Pray daily, ask for the gifts of the Spirit, that which will strengthen you against temptation. Pray fervently and out lout when the temptations are the strongest.
  • Follow a program of vigorous daily exercise. The exercises reduce emotional tension and depression and are absolutely basic to the solution of this problem. Double your physical activity when you feel stress increasing.
  • When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell STOP to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind and then recite a pre-chosen Scripture or sing an inspirational hymn. It is important to turn your thoughts away from the selfish need to indulge.
  • Set goals of abstinence, begin with a day, then a week, month, year and finally commit to never doing it again. Until you commit yourself to _never again_ you will always be open to temptation.
  • Change in behavior and attitude is most easily achieved through a changed self-image. Spend time every day imagining yourself strong and in control, easily overcoming tempting situations.
  • Begin to work daily on a self-improvement program. Relate this plan to improving your Church service, to improving your relationships with your family, God and others. Strive to enhance your strengths and talents.
  • Be outgoing and friendly. Force yourself to be with others and learn to enjoy working and talking to them. Use principles of developing friendships found in books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
  • Be aware of situations that depress you or that cause you to feel lonely, bored, frustrated or discouraged. These emotional states can trigger the desire to masturbate as a way of escape. Plan in advance to counter these low periods through various activities, such as reading a book, visiting a friend, doing something athletic, etc.
  • Make a pocket calendar for a month on a small card. Carry it with you, but show it to no one. If you have a lapse of self-control, color the day black. Your goal will be to have no black days. The calendar becomes a strong visual reminder of self-control and should be looked at when you are tempted to add another black day. Keep your calendar up until you have at least three clear months.
  • A careful study will indicate you have had the problem at certain times and under certain conditions. Try and recall, in detail, what your particular times and conditions were. Now that you understand how it happens, plan to break the pattern through counter activities.
  • In the field of psychotherapy there is a very effective technique called aversion therapy. When we associate or think of something very distasteful with something which has been pleasurable, but undesirable, the distasteful thought and feeling will begin to cancel out that which was pleasurable. If you associate something very distasteful with your loss of self-control it will help you to stop the act. For example, if you are tempted to masturbate, think of having to bathe in a tub of worms, and eating several of them as you do the act.
  • During your toileting and shower activities leave the bathroom door or shower curtain partly open, to discourage being alone in total privacy. Take cool brief showers.
  • Arise immediately in the mornings. Do not lie in bed awake, no matter what time of day it is. Get up and do something. Start each day with an enthusiastic activity.
  • Keep your bladder empty. Refrain from drinking large amounts of fluids before retiring.
  • Reduce the amount of spices and condiments in your food. Eat as lightly as possible at night.
  • Wear pajamas that are difficult to open, yet loose and not binding.
  • Avoid people, situations, pictures or reading materials that might create sexual excitement.
  • It is sometimes helpful to have a physical object to use in overcoming this problem. A Book of Mormon, firmly held in hand, even in bed at night has proven helpful in extreme cases.
  • In very severe cases it may be necessary to tie a hand to the bed frame with a tie in order that the habit of masturbating in a semi-sleep condition can be broken. This can also be accomplished by wearing several layers of clothing which would be difficult to remove while half asleep.
  • Set up a reward system for your successes. It does not have to be a big reward. A quarter in a receptacle each time you overcome or reach a goal. Spend it on something which delights you and will be a continuing reminder of your progress.
  • Do not let yourself return to any past habit or attitude patterns which were part of your problem. Satan never gives up. Be calmly and confidently on guard. Keep a positive mental attitude. You can win this fight! The joy and strength you will feel when you do will give your whole life a radiant and spiritual glow of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Comments (18)

  1. ami

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to get yourself off and just SAY that you don’t do that sort of thing?

  2. Josh

    I have always loved how no one properly addressed the real “sin” of Onan which was that he didn’t impregnate his brother’s widow.

    1. Ahab

      I’ve always wondered about that. When did fundamentalists start interpreting the Onan story as an anti-masturbation screed, rather than a warning about Bronze Age marital expectations?

  3. Baristopheles

    Can you imagine the mental machinations one must engage and the time wasted to avoid touching yourself? Oh wait, I can. Which is why Jesus had to go.

  4. sgl

    how about getting involved in a biblical relationship — ie, getting yourself 700 concubines! that should keep ya out of trouble, don’t ya think? see, the bible *does* have solutions to all life’s problems! ;)

  5. Ahab

    Here’s a better idea for whoever wrote that pamphlet: stop obsessing over it, stop seeing it as sinful, and enjoy it. You’ll be a lot happier and more relaxed if you accept sexuality as something to be enjoyed responsibly, rather than something infernal to be repressed. As long as masturbation is not interfering with your day-to-day life, it’s not a “problem” that needs to be “overcome”.

    1. ftloveblog70

      Intelligent comment Ahab. The institutional church is not going to come around to this (though I think it’s time for them to grow up on this issue). They don’t want to let go their control over people. That’s what it is all about. Nothing more.

  6. Justin

    Dammit, Bruce! Now you’ve gone to meddlin’.

  7. Byroniac

    Can’t find it now, but over at illbehonest dot com they used to have a corny anti-masturbation or perhaps anti-pornography video (and still have several rather lengthy sermons on sexual subjects, such as an almost hour-long sermon by Tim Conway that expounds in-depth on the question “Is Masturbation a sin?” with their obvious answer of “yes” in every conceivable detail and Biblical context for the question). In that video, however, the Christian guy sees porn, and immediately gets up and flees out of the house and is filmed running away from the sinful sexual thing on his screen. I noticed in that video, that he didn’t first stop and clear his screen, so of course it will be waiting for him when he gets back. :) Anyways, I wanted to find that video but cannot. All I can find are Tim Conway sermons and a few sermons from others. I admit, I have not watched any of them in full. Life is too short. And I haven’t sinned sufficiently to warrant such a punishment.

    EDIT: Oops. It’s only a 33 minute sermon against masturbation and why a simple “yes” to the question “Is Masturbation a Sin” insufficient. I thought it was 51 minutes, but I’m thinking of some OTHER Tim Conway sermon. Oh well.

  8. Paula

    They’ve certainly expended a lot of mental energy on this non problem.

  9. Rike

    Whoever wrote that pamphlet – I wonder how many times he stopped writing and if he felt sinful when he was done? Goodness, the thing is the closest to a “how to…” I’ve seen!

  10. Max

    Well you can’t post that and not expect us to wonder how often you flogged the dolphin while pastoring churches. Anything salacious we should know?

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Well, when it was in college, I hated getting assigned to cleaning the showers. :)

      Yes, I may have flogged the dolphin a time or two and I always felt deep shame for doing so. Masturbation, in the IFB church, was considered a lustful, selfish act that was a sin. Lots of guilty men in church on Sunday. :)

  11. carmen

    . .. flogged the dolphin. . . oh, my. The tidbits one acquires on Bruce’s beneficial blog.

    Just . . .unbeatable. . .grin. . .

  12. Texas Born & Bred

    Seems I remember a scientific survey of men –

    – 95% masturbated

    This proves that 5% of men were liars

    1. Alice


  13. Chikirin

    The Scourge Of Onanism, And Its Contribution To The Dementia Of Youth,11000/

  14. Stephanie

    Good grief. Masturbating would take less time than going through all those ridiculous steps. I’ll say it again, there is nothing wrong with experiencing sexual desire. Nothing wrong with masturbation, in fact it is healthy. However, there is something wrong with repressing people’s sexuality like this. It screws people up mentally. They would be better off not following those rules and embracing those attitudes. Sexual desire is not a monster that needs to be contained until it can be used toward procreation.


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