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Posted by: Cold-Dodger ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 05:15AM

My new lows, my new baseline, is significantly higher than it was a couple months ago, so that's good.

What do I want? What have I been trying/waiting to extract from my parents? Am I just tacitly admitting that they still control my psyche?

I grew up in a very helicoptery house. They controlled what we did, who we were friends with, and even how we felt. Well, no one can control another person's feelings, but they can invalidate their feelings. My in particular did all of that; it's probably how she was raised. Inappropriate thoughts and feelings were shamed and scolded. They downloaded their whole worldview into us, not just the Mormonism.

I have early memories even before the masturbation started (I just read that sentence, and oh my God, I can't believe this is the way that I thought for so long) of my mother cornering me in the chapel or at home and angrily swatting me or getting in my face and threatening to swat me, telling me that Sister or Brother so-and-so was very upset with the way I behaved in class today. Was I a problem child? No, I was one of the quietest children, and I was expected to be one of the good children, because of whose son I was. So when I spoke up in an attempt to be like the other kids, I was noticed and singled out and they went straight for my parents to twist their ears to get me to behave to set an example for the other kids, because the adults always seemed to think I had some kind of magical exemplar effect on everyone else. They didn't know how apart from my peers and alone I felt most of the time. Those feelings go back to preschool. I don't know why, but I felt unwanted and like no one wanted to be my friend and like I was different somehow.

I felt that way at school, too. I had teachers jump down my throat, and I just wanted to melt into the walls and never be noticed again. I felt a little less that way at church, but a series of episodes like the one mentioned above plus those feelings at school made me decide to clam up by default from now on. That was the beginning of my anxiety-induced silence and conformity. My goal was to go unnoticed by being exactly whatever people saw when they looked at me.

Then the bishop's interview happened to become a deacon. The bishop asked me if I masturbated, and it freaked me out. I could tell he was stressed about asking me, but I didn't know what the word meant. He explained just enough for me to realize I was guilty, though at the time, I thought it meant tracing the lines of your dick and noticing that it was sensitive. I didn't know anything. None of it had ever been explained to me. But it started years of self-hatred for lying, because I lied to the bishop, and I didn't repent until I was seventeen. They made my father the bishop, the one man I was scared to death of disappointing.

Those years were hell. I had friends, but also I didn't, because I was too anxious to enjoy being in the moment. For a while I was scared that people would know what a freak I was. I started to get the sense that I was normal, but also that was when I started to get particularly religious, so knew the opinions of nonmembers didn't matter. I was different. I had the gift of the Holy Ghost. I had the priesthood. Although, I was unworthy, and so the feelings of guilt and separation and loneliness I had were deserved, maybe. I profaned everything with the touch of my unworthy hands - the sacrament, the blessing of the sacrament, the temple, the ordination to higher offices. When I came for the first time, I broke down and cried, because I thought I had broken something like my dick had leveled up. Whatever had just happened, I wasn't supposed to experience that yet. Had I ruined my hope for love and marriage? Was the devil enjoying his takeover of my body? I knew he was laughing for joy. I knew God was hanging his head in sorrow.

My feelings at school were intense shame and apartness from everyone else on top of the feelings I'd had since I was a kid. Girls? I wanted nothing to do with them. When they came near me, I quaked, because I was just afraid. I didn't want to look at them, touch them, talk to them, nothing, because it was a source of so much torment between me and the God in my head. I really did manage not to look at porn until after my mission, but I saw the golden disks that NASA sent up into space and I saw the simplistic cartoon pictures in some science books in the library and thought those counted as porn anyway.

My father was drained and emotionally distant at home. Mom was a straight up bitch half the time, because dad was drained and emotionally distant all the time. My most common memory of my dad in the evenings after school when he got home was him asleep in an armchair. When I did catch him awake in the morning, he was so cold and stone-faced. I thought he was angry at me. He couldn't know, because I hadn't told him anything, or could he? He was the bishop. I finally got the courage to tell him everything after I had read the Book of Mormon for the first time. I had the Moroni's Experience and everything. I was going to make my dad proud by being what he expected me to be finally, the person everyone thought I was. He told me the Lord had already forgiven me, and I thought: really? Just like that? You must not understand everything. The last five years of pain were just me being stupid? I wondered if I'd confessed everything. It filled me with resentment and doubt, but those were sins put in my heart by Satan to keep me addicted to self abuse. I tried to get along, but I was resentful, and it made me feel guilty again, even though I hadn't done anything new yet. My dad didn't understand. We started to have conversations at home about how guilty I felt. He figured that it must be a lot worse than I had said, but my feelings just didn't match the gravity of my crimes. That was my first inkling that something was wrong.

I went on my mission, but I had a hard time, because relating to people was difficult. I didn't feel like I'd had much of a life to use as fodder for small talk. I'd spent so much of it clammed up in extreme anxiety that never turned off. At the lowest point of my mission, I started to self-abuse again, but I also started learning some of the ways that the church was not true. I had my testimony of the Holy Ghost to fall back on, but I started getting alarmed. It felt like the devil was all powerful towards the end of my mission, and God was nowhere to be seen in my life. I lost my one convert to anti-, and I blamed myself. He was making good points, but I knew by the power of the Holy Ghost that the gospel was true. I'd developed quite a savior/apostle complex towards the end, even though the other half of the time I was sure I was doomed to lose my testimony and be damned. I thought God spoke to me through my thoughts. I asked him questions, and he answered in real time. It was just impressions, but I followed Joseph's rule that you always go with your first impression, because 9/10 times, it's God. Thus, I figured God communicated to me. I talked with him. I knew he was there. So then what the f*** was all this? Was it a test? Was I being tested to purge me of my unworthiness once and for all? I thought often of my dad, and I thought at one point that God would kill him if I didn't get my mission right.

So I got home, and I wasn't home for two days before I finally just gave in to temptations I'd had my entire teenage life and looked at internet porn. I went from not knowing anything about the female body to knowing how it looked from every angle imaginable. I was twenty-one. I was on cloud 9 for several days, and then the religious guilt started to sidle in the from the side, and I came to my self and realized I needed to tell my dad. He was mortified, because I was addicted now. I figured I was too, because Dad said so. I tried stopping, but I kept looking, and I would confess to Dad, who was now in the stake presidency. That was our relationship. What was happening is that the way I'd lived my whole life was unraveling, and I was using porn to self-medicate. That was why it felt so compulsive. It was biggest rush of dopamine my brain had ever felt, and it went "whoa, yes please."

I lived with my parents. My dad didn't think I could live on my own in my condition, and I agreed with him, because that's all I ever do. Whenever my addiction started to feel exactly how I imagined souls bound for Outer Darkness would feel, I would tell him almost cheerfully because it proved the gospel right. I wanted to fix it no matter what cost. We sent me to a shrink for the first time, and he put me on SSRIs, which was humiliating, because it meant I was that broken. I went two weeks without looking at porn, and I was giving thanks and praise to God for finally delivering me, and then I messed up again, and my mood tanked. It was a new low I'd never felt before, and I wanted to put a gun in my mouth. I didn't care if I went straight to hell. I deserved it anyway. I knew where my dad's handgun was. I sat on his bed with it in my hands once, although this was after my therapist had seemingly mocked my resolve to do it. I had told my therapist I was getting suicidal, and he asked me if I had a plan, and I thought about it and wondered if a kitchen knife would do it. He laughed and rolled his eyes, and then I resolved my dad's gun would be much better, but I didn't tell the therapist that.

I utterly humiliated myself and put myself in the lowest hell that there is for a human being to feel while living, or so it felt to me. My father was skeptical of the mental health stuff I was learning. It was a foreign language to him. He fancies himself a doctor, but he's just a chiropractor and an overall naturopathic nutjob. The gravity of what I had done to myself started to weigh on me as I thought threw some of the implications of what I learned on my mission. But I thought-stopped, and decided it was time to go to BYUI.

I almost didn't get to go because I kept telling people about my "problem." My YSA bishop was obsessed with the three-month rule over the slightest thing. He punished everyone in that ward for being honest, I learned from several others since. But I had connections, and my dad knew I was pathologically honest, so he pulled strings and we got two stake presidents to breath down this bastard's necks, and he relented. Barny Fife with a mantle.

Two years into BYUI away from home, and I started talking to you guys. Atheism strengthened my independence of mind, and gave me the will to live. I've sorted through so much shit since then. But when I was trying to protect Chief from being strong armed into his mission, I tried telling my dad about my unbelief, and he didn't take it well. He shut me down. He told my mom before I could. Everyone stopped talking to me, although that may have just been my solitary Facebook post that I took down some days later that I no longer believed. Why did I make that post? Because I was terrified that my dad thought I was only a nonbeliever to justify my porn addiction to myself. To this day, he hasn't let me explain what the gospel topics essays are to him. It feels like he controls my life. He doesn't control my thoughts, or I tell myself he doesn't, but it feels like he controls my life. I needed people to know that I was being honest and forward with them, because I wasn't going to let me dad take it all from me with his zealousness.

I raged on Facebook for a while over religious stuff, and then switched over to political matters. My dad said he had read a couple of the religious posts early on, but I just sounded like so many anti-mormons to him. I watched the Trump drama unfold from the perspective that millions of people as stupid as my father were trying to take the world outside of mormonism away from me too. I thought, this guy's a moron, Dad will you now admit that there's at least one thing you're wrong about? And he never would. Every stupid thing he did, and my family always had a come back or a spin or gotcha or a whataboutism to level the political playing field or make Clinton or Biden sound just as bad. I started to see just how fucking ignorant and stupid these people I'm related to are. I'd been above them this whole time, so why was I waiting on them for anything kind of validation.

Then the day came when the capital was attacked. I tried sharing clips of Trump inflaming his base with completely baseless bullshit about rigged elections, and took the claims point by point and refuted the more odious ones, and they told me that I didn't have all the facts. They sent me some legal brief filed by Lin Wood, the crazy evangelical lawyer who cosigned a lawsuit by that crazy bitch who filed "the Krakken," the lawsuit that was going to prove that Dominion conspired with Venezuelan communists to rig the voting machines and sneak ballots over the border and all sorts of weird things. Trump was giving a speech to his base the day that the electoral college was being certified, and the unthinkable happened. After months of inflaming passions, there it was. It was mother fucking coup de'tat attempt on American soil.

My family was defensive. "We don't support that." And then the conspiratorial reactionaries started trickling in, and their shame transformed into self-righteous indignation real quick when they learned that all those people were really Antifa in disguise to make Trumpers look bad. I'd had it. I blew up on them. Those were texts I shared. I cussed and spit and hissed. "Screw your beliefs, all of them." They were never going to give me an inch. They would descend into the craziest bullshit before they would ever admit that they were wrong about something. And I keep trying to reach them anyway. What am I doing? What do I want? Whatever it is, they're never going to give it to me. They don't care enough about my feelings to give me the time of day, because my dad thinks he's got me all figured out. Porn. Just porn. My believing brothers and my mother look to him for their cues, and even if he never told them any details, he told them to dismiss me out of hand. All our the family friends call them to get their news about me or my brothers, instead of talking to us.

I coerced my family into listening to some of my story for the first time, just the emotional side of it. For the love of God, just give me something, anything. When my brother screamed into my ear on the phone that I was vilest, most disgusting person he had ever met, it made me relieved just to hear that I was a flesh and blood and took up space in his mind. I yelled back, because I was annoyed that he didn't read anything that I had written in the family chat - they keep doing that. They don't read anything I write, don't listen to anything I say, deliberately give me nothing, even emotionally, even though they invite me to all the family gatherings, and when we finally talk about something, they all take a patronizing stance against me.

When everyone left the text chat, I deliberately started venting into the Marco Polo app. I was avoiding the "anti" but I was desperately trying to vent every terrible feeling and complex thought I'd had for twenty years before they tuned me out, and the hook I used to make them listen was confession to all my shit. They wouldn't have listened to any of it otherwise. But they finally started realizing where I was coming from, and they were smitten if but for a moment with shock and grief at how they had contributed to this shit, but they soon absolved themselves, because that's what they always do. Things are better, but I'm having to weaponize my mental health journey narrative against them to keep them listening. They understand the language of emotion, even if their dumb fucking minds can never wrap around the Book of Abraham or second site or the evidence against the Book of Mormon or any of it. They live in a world made of complete bullshit where the gospel is manifestly true, and the only evidence against it is my misery, and I have to convince them that it isn't just porn, it's all this shit - ADHD, anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation I've had since childhood.

Only, I wonder now if I don't sound like the biggest snowflake there ever was. I got them to listen to something of it, and it helped me undo a bunch of anxiety that I've consistently had since I was twelve. But now with that anxiety gone, I'm thinking: was that all just religiously-induced paranoia because of the weird relationship I have with my Dad? I've started sharing some mental health stuff on facebook too, and I'm trying to reach out to people I've known and reestablish connections that went dark in my early twenties, some of them on my end. What am I doing? I'm seeing old faces I've not seen since certain traumas occurred, and I'm talking about those feelings right onto my social media wall. I'm tired of living in this introverted carapace. Was I even an introvert this whole time? Or was I just abused and paranoid and anxious because of my fucking parents?

My father admitted to me the other day that after he shut me down the first time I told him about my unbelief, he ran to the stake president to ask "what do I do?" So that was how the Mormon grapevine knew about me. Those two men knew everything about me. I'm trying to take control of my own narrative. I've been sorting through this shit and talking about it with strangers for twenty years. I don't have any shame left. I'm just anxious that people are gonna have me pegged as a porn addict, so if I attack the church with anti-, that's why. So I'm trying to explain the psychological utility of atheism after the Book of Mormon let me down. I'm getting through to some people, but also - what am I doing? Do I want to rekindle these relationships at all? Do I want to do it like this? What am I doing?

I hate my father. I fucking hate him. I hate him so fucking much. These twenty years of nonstop anxiety did not have to happen, and even now I can't "anti-" him or even explain what the science on porn addiction is, because it gives him bad feelings and makes him feel guilty before the Lord. What about my feelings? What about what he has put me through? And haven't I proven my loyalty to him and his religion with how much of my soul I poured into it and how much damage I accumulated in the process? Damn his testimony, and damn him. I just realized what I'm doing. I'm making this hurt him as much as it can. I want knowledge of my pain to burrow into his skull and bounce around in it destroying his peace as much as mine was, and if he just ignores me then all of his friends will know it and so it will find him anyway. No one can deny that I am bearing my soul in its entirety, or as much as they will let me without running for a Mormon safe space. I have been honest for all these years. I never should have had to be. What is this powerful presence that my father has in my brain? Because it drives me to do this.

I probably sound like a sociopath. I went over to my parents' house tonight, and saw my dad passed out on the arm chair in front of the tv still in his work clothes just like I remember from my youth. He looked tired. He is a bishop again, the YSA this time, the same one I was in that Bishop Barnie Fife tried to withhold my application to BYUI for admitting that I half masturbated once but stopped in the last week of my three month probation. This is doing weird shit to my psyche.

I had thought that since everyone always said I was so smart, that if I did my homework and explained to everyone calmly how I knew that Mormonism was not true, they would at least let me go off the hook that had be anxious for so many years. I didn't know what masturbation even was. I hadn't looked at porn for a whole week before my Dad labeled me an addict. I just didn't know anything, and I didn't know anything because I believed what he told me to believe and trusted him. I went to college. I'm the first one in my family to get a four year degree of any kind. I've gotten him to a point where he admits that I'm smart and I'm honest, but I'm still a porn addict. I am such a dumbass.

My mother seemed jumpy around me tonight, like if she says the wrong thing, I will flip my shit and yell at her. They think I'm fragile. No, I'm just abused and traumatized, but I want to talk to about it, because I'm tired of the anxiety and flashbacks, and sick to death of getting the Mormon stink-eye from people who think the Mormon grapevine gives them the right to pretend to the spirit of discernment. I know how that works, you fuckwits. But I'm trying to play nice and rebuild some bridges. There is an element of emotional leverage against my dad in all this, but only because I embarrass him. He is embarassed that I am not the pristine son he used to have, only that was a facade. I was dying inside and not because of sin. Fuck Mormonism, and fuck my dad for thinking I had a bad time in the church only because I was the only child he had vaccinated and it gave me autism or some shit. I also recently heard that my believing brothers think Chief turned gay when he got his shots to go to Australia. Why do I even bother? They're lost. They're hopeless. Why do I let them bother me so much? It's because I'm angry and desperate for all this bullshit to mean something, like it led to us to have stronger relationships or whatever. Their brains are consumed with culty bullshit. They are exhibiting more signs of addiction and addictive thinking than I ever did, but I'm the piece of shit and I'm the fragile one.

I just can't anymore. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? Spending it around them is just... bleh. I thought reconnecting with everyone was what I wanted. I'm not sure what I want. My cousin was reading my posts and shot me a text saying that I'm acting crazy with reckless abandon.

I wanted a calm, cordial conversation that day with my dad, and he wouldn't give it to me then because my serenity shocked him. So he took it away, and once he saw my weakness, he took courage in his bullshit again. I've achieved my serenity again, which might not be apparent when I'm meditating on my pain for the purpose of writing a rfm post on my thoughts and feelings, but it's bothering them again. It bothers them when I have my peace and not in the way they had prescribed. Back when I was texting my family, I wanted to have a conversation about stuff, and they chickened out and ran for the hills, which brought out the "screw your beliefs" reaction. They drive me nuts. They're incapable of talking about anything sensitive and they don't feel the irony when they call me an addict or treat me like I'm too sensitive to say what they really think. That is some marvelous projection abilities.

What am I doing with my life? What's the point? This is not a suicide note, don't worry about that. I'm just asking. I've been possessed by the stupidest of all demons for twenty years. I'm not anymore. I'm not afraid to tell people to fuck off or to bear my soul to them. I'm not afraid of life anymore. So now what? lol. I've never given thought to this before, because I had too much anxiety to think about it without thought-stopping. I'm thirty-two. What the fuck? Have you ever heard of weirder experience that ran for so long? The end feeling after all this is that I live in bizarroworld as long as I'm around my family. There's no logic to anything, no underlying evidence. It's just the church is true plus whatever bullshit they've tacked on to it that makes sense to them. My head is free of it all for the first time.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 10:58AM

Nice to see you finally explode like Fourth of July fireworks after your family loaded you with gun powder all these years.

Your family is really screwed up. Made me so happy to see you say you hate your father. I hated my father from the time I was 9 or ten to about thirty. The last years more like fear than hate, but still . . .

Dad was always the bishop, always gone, and we were always expected to be the perfect family. Me. Hiding the secret at any cost.


The big difference for me is I was not, like you, pathologically honest. I knew from about age 7 that I needed to hide being gay at all costs. There was no hiding it really, but at least I knew to lie. Lying is a wonderful tool. I wonder how different your story would be if you had kept your personal to yourself. So painful to read that you confessed so freely, that they had such a strangle hold on you. Public knowledge it became as they made you your "sin."

Pained me worse to see that your life will now be summed up by that. I know that feeling. I am summed up by being gay to my family. Nothing else matters but that small portion of who I am. My mother still tries to hide the fact at 93. Still ashamed. I have ruined the family honor.


What you have been through, what I went through, and many others, will be part of the fabric of your life until you die. I would say your post indicates a major breakthrough and makes me relieved for you to see that. But. My years in that extreme Mormon family still affect my life at 71. However, the tortured youth is now a small percentage of that which has an effect on my life--Only a bit of green in the back of the grand flower arrangement. Your break through has now increased the percentage of good in your life and decreased the unhealthy Mormon part that will always be there. Be voracious in adding the best of everything to your self. Rearrange the percentages.


My father finally saw the whole me, and he liked me, by the end. Broke me down to the core because I needed to be liked. I needed to be understood. I didn't need to be loved. Most love is worthless and often used as a side-step. Do you know what I mean?

I hope you get that--the being liked and understood-- and I hope it comes sooner than mine did. From your description of your dad, I wouldn't hold my breath. I'll be the one who expects great things from you instead. Your brilliance and heart shines through. My life really started, kicked into high gear at 35. I was a late bloomer and much of that was due to my extreme Mormon upbringing in an extreme Mormon family. "They" are right when they say how important your formative years are. I know your story is your own like no other, but man, your words ring bells for me.



Deep scars don't heal, they just get filled with the beauty of understanding and empathy so they can be treasured even if they shouldn't be there.

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Posted by: cl2notloggedin ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 04:18PM

All they have to do is read your experiences in the church and KNOW that men suffer at least as much as women.

Myself, I lived in absolute fear of ever having to repent to a bishop about some sexual sin and so I lived so that I would never have to talk to a bishop about sex. And then I found out my boyfriend is gay (1983). And it all began. I found myself having to discuss sexual things with church leaders and it nearly destroyed me. I realized just in the past few years that I finally decided to marry my boyfriend (and he the same) to survive as they were DESTROYING ME--the person I am.

I lucked out in that even though my parents weren't perfect and my mother was actually quite concerned that her sons would do something "nasty," they were not the extreme TBMs. My mother's sister and brother are, but not her parents (who were both deaf and my mom was the oldest child). My parents argued about my dad not going to church much (he was a farmer) and they did argue every Sunday. My mom would often take use to SLC to temple square after my aunt moved away. Before that, we'd go see my aunt and family.

But my mother couldn't be extreme mormon given her parents' situation and my dad. My dad was the one who had the more difficult time with me leaving the church, but he accepted it. My mother told me I could be spiritual without being any religion (as she felt I was the most spiritual child of her children). She never said I had to go back. She accepted it 100%. She'd seen some of the hell I'd been through. Oh, my dad told me "gays are born that way" and he told me I was too intelligent to have married someone gay, so WHY WOULD I HAVE DONE SO? He didn't like the answer. He was furious at the church leaders.

Anyway, I read what you wrote and I have to ask if you have a therapist now? Not a mormon one. My exmo therapist is absolutely wonderful and he has saved my life. Just got an e-mail from him telling me he is now doing "live" visits as long as we wear masks and I'm GOING. I've been seeing him for 24+ years. He diagnosed me with PTSD over my religious issues. You definitely sound like you have PTSD. You were ABUSED. You are extremely intelligent OBVIOUSLY. I hope you can find the help you need to find a way to be at peace and be happy. I can guarantee you there are nice girls out there who would love to date you. There are not so nice girls out there, too.

I would love to see you find more peace. My siblings are all out except my disabled brother (and he needs the ward members--they are good to him as he lives in my parents' old ward). The other 5 no longer believe. My daughter is the only mormon of my parents' grandchildren and great grandchildren. Heavens, if my daughter actually has a child, then they will have a mormon great grandchild. (They have been dead for 12 years.)

Our family wasn't the good little mormon family and we were treated as such. It wasn't fun. I can't believe I held out so long. YOU DESERVE to find some happiness.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 04:41PM

Do you journal? You have, whether you intended to or not.

Consider tweaking and reworking what you did here, utilizing others' comments. If you work with a professional counselor or therapist, this would be an excellent self-introduction. Even if you don't, you're thinking through these issues, in terms of chronology and personal priority.

So continue to lay these things out to the healing power of sunlight. I think you'll find your subsequent entries more positive. Months and years from now, you'll look back at what you wrote above, and think, "Sure, it hurt. It really sucked. But that's not who I am now."

Peace.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 05:14PM

Your family is composed of religious nutters (as the British would say,) and in your mind, you have to start thinking of them like that. Work on creating some emotional distance from their religious and political ideas. Don't let them get to you. Mormonism is a really insignificant faith in the scheme of things.

Looking at porn is entirely normal for a young man. When I was in my 20s, most young men I knew had stacks of Playboy and Penthouse magazines, and no one thought anything of it. Those young men led entirely normal lives. They graduated from college, they got good jobs, they got married and had kids. The Mormon church demonizes something that in most cases is no big deal.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 05:20PM

The Mormon church makes a strong religious case that no one of the opposite sex should see each other naked until marriage and then only see one person naked unless remarriage occurs. No masturbating. Fantasizing once married about anyone other than the spouse is inviting the devil into your brain.

These are not negotiables. Sex toys, fetishes, sexual positions are things for which they have no guidance for people. But porn and sexual desires for other people they have laid out crystal clear.

The Mormon Sex Therapists/Psychologists walk a razor's edge.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: May 04, 2021 05:28PM

To me, fighting masturbation and (average) porn is a tough battle that is not worth the fight. You are just going to make people feel bad about themselves for being in the grip of powerful hormones and for having perfectly normal desires.

As you point out, the church has no opinion when it comes to other sexual practices. IMO this is about control as opposed to morality.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: May 05, 2021 12:49PM

And all this time I thought you had been fighting in real wars. . .

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