32: An Interview with a Mormon Sexologist, Dr. Melissa Jones

Brandt talks with Dr. Melissa Jones, a practicing sexologist (and a Mormon) to discuss Mormons and their views on sex, masturbation, and pornography, as well as healthy approaches to sexuality.

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References
Dr. Melissa Jones’ Website

Interview with Richie Steadman from The Cultural Hall Podcast

Interview on X96 Radio from Hell show

10 Comments

  1. Megan

    This was a really interesting interview! I was intrigued by the process and training that go into this discipline – I have to admit that I don’t know if I would be up to doing all of it, and I’m not an active Mormon!

    I was a bit disconcerted to hear Dr Jones ascribe sexual temptation to Satan, however. This seemed really contrary to the rest of her message which was about owning and understanding one’s sexuality and taking control of it. Externalising sexual desire in that way not only removes it out of the individual’s direct control, it (literally) demonises a perfectly normal and human response and diminishes the individual’s ability to really understand it.

    It seemed so out of place with the rest of the discussion that it actually startled me. I don’t know if Dr Jones is following these comments, but I’d be interested to hear more about how she breaks down the division between Satan-caused desire and ordinary human desire and how one can understand that in a healthy way.

    Reply Mar 02, 2013 @ 15:33:39
    • Brian

      I think you nailed my reaction to this episode in a nut shell. I really enjoyed the honest discussion but I too felt Dr. Jones contradicted herself with the whole “Satan is tempting you” bit. It was very strange and felt out of place. Perhaps she was worried about beginning to sound too “blasphemous” and reverted back into mainstream LDS thought.

      I was also surprised at her response to the Kinsey question. I didn’t understand how “feeling more sexual some days than others” was relevant to the sexual fluidity of a persons orientation. I also don’t think that’s what the question was asking. What about the fluidity of sexual orientation over years and decades? that’s the question I was hoping she would answer.

      Reply Mar 03, 2013 @ 23:48:19
    • Cylon

      Megan, that was a record scratch moment for me, too. She went from saying Satan tempts us with sexual desire to talking about the chemical reactions that God gives us to make sex great in the very next sentence! It was weird. I didn’t know what to make of it.

      Reply Mar 05, 2013 @ 11:50:52
    • Saw Skooh

      I had to log on just to comment on the Satan comment, and I see you guys beat me too it. I thought we were listening to the wisdom of a professional scientist, but she lost me as soon as she she uttered the words “Because Satan makes it that way.” Guh?? Did they cover the Satan Theory of Sexual Response in grad school?

      Reply Mar 19, 2013 @ 04:55:05
  2. Rob

    I listened to this one today and also discussed it with my Wife (we are both Non’s living the good life in Zion). Some things concerned me and I feel like a few things got missed….but. It would have been interesting to see porn usage in Utah ( http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705288350/Utah-No-1-in-online-porn-subscriptions-report-says.html?pg=all ) included in the discussion. Porn is so heavily shunned publicly, yet heavily consumed privately. I think that is a very interesting and telling statistic when it comes to a state that is predominately LDS. (one more comment/question to follow as my wife was curious about something too)

    Reply Mar 02, 2013 @ 21:19:06
  3. Rob

    My wife is a Non and runs a call center here. She pointed out that she hears regular discussions about sex and porn among the agents at her center. She was very confused about the comments saying sex and porn isn’t talked about when she said “they tend to be a dirty bunch down there”. Maybe it is the age, but she is in Happy Valley and her experiences were very different.

    Reply Mar 02, 2013 @ 21:19:49
  4. Dinosaur

    What a great discussion! About the Satan tempting us, I agree with her concept. Satan hates us and will use any tool to create enmity between us and God.Also I find it very interesting that sexuality is something that tyrants always try to control. Look at Nazi Germany, or Stalin’s USSR both of which had some very, very weird views about sex. Its so dark and repressed that it doesn’t get a great deal of research. Sex = Joy is the message the God gives to us and it should be the default reaction we should have, with the only proviso that it needs to be in marriage.

    Reply Mar 10, 2013 @ 23:15:10
  5. jeff

    The podcast did not directly address whether pornography is cheating, which in my opinion it probably is in many cases, even though that behavior is well removed from adultery on the cheating spectrum.

    With that said, the LDS church—and by reflection, the LDS culture—is doing a terrible job at developing healthy perspectives about sex among its members. In particular, the anti-pornography stance observed in General Conference and in worthiness interviews with church leaders is counter-productive to the matter of why do otherwise active LDS, married men view pornography.

    As Dr. Jones points out, many Mormon women won’t like the answer, but there are two sides of the issue with pornography. The large majority of Mormon men who use pornography do so because their spouse does not meet their needs. The repressed sexuality and general naivety of Mormon women about men’s sexuality is a lamentable state of prudishness that when put together with men’s sex drive is a quick candidate for an unhappy marriage.

    As Dr. Jones points out, psychology’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM) describes pornography addiction as something that goes well beyond the sort of behavior that is demonized as such in the LDS church and culture. Generally, pornography use among Mormons is nowhere near what professional psychologists would diagnose as a pornography addiction.

    By framing the issue as “pornography destroys marriages and homes”, leaders overly-shame Mormons who indulge in pornography as sexual deviants, and they over-emphasize the victimization of the non-offending spouse. The whole approach is wrong; that approach takes a minor matter and exacerbates the matter well beyond the original offense. The approach should focus on spouses communicating about sex and other needs and how to meet those needs for each other. Instead the approach encourages a non-offending spouse to take offense and shame or punish the offending spouse even further, which destroys the communication and intimacy needed to address the matter. It’s a very sad state of affairs, but worse than that is that leaders do not appear to be anywhere near recognizing that their approach is making the whole issue much, much worse.

    There is a plethora of now ex-Mormons, who once they parted ways with the LDS church and got the church out of their sex life were able to put aside the ridiculous, over-the-top-shaming, and address the differences directly as a couple to enjoy a happy healthy marriage. The church never should have micro-managed the sex life of couples who are now conditioned to seek permission as to what kind of married sex is ok. Absurd! That is a decision that should be between the couple.

    Reply Mar 17, 2013 @ 13:34:21
  6. Saw Skooh

    Wait, wait, hold on. Heavenly Father invented the clitoris? Did women not have clitorises before Elohim attained godhood?

    Reply Mar 19, 2013 @ 05:12:41
  7. R Ob

    Yeh…OK…I’m responding like YEARS later here. But, I do want to mention some things that were VERY interesting from this podcast.

    Melissa mentioned that all of the studies show that families where children are able to talk about sex with their parents openly, there actually is less teenage sex. This is counter to LDS culture in a big way, meaning the LDS way is to suppress sex and NOT talk about it.

    When I grew up, my father never talked to me about sex a single time–no, not once. I was given a book with little diagrams when I was in the 6th grade about how the sperm swims, and so forth, and the only talk I got was from my mother: “Is there anything you want to ask your father about?” She was mortified with embarrassment, which I felt, so there was certainly NOTHING I wanted to talk to her or him about.

    I went into marriage absolutely stupid about this stuff, and ill-prepared. Have since divorced and am no longer LDS. I confess I hate the church at this point–the teachings and shame associated with sex sowed the seeds of my failed marriage, which shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    ———–

    Melissa also mentioned she was happy when a couple that was going to get married talked openly together about the sex they were planning and hoping to have, and that this (the impression I got from Melissa) was appropriate and beneficial to the relationship.

    This idea is directly countered in church literature that is still published, namely Chapter 6 of “A Parent’s Guide”—Chapter 6: Mature Intimacy: Courtship and Marriage. In that publication, the message is clear that you should NOT talk about sex before marriage, but should put “mundane” thing into proper perspective. The antecedent in the paragraph was sexuality–and the clear implication is that sex “is mundane.”

    I like the fact Melissa has her own professional opinion about this.

    Oh…one last thing. It was mentioned that out of every group, no group more than Mormon’s seeks “permission” as much. Mormon’s want to know what they can and can’t do.

    This is sad, but makes total sense in the culture LDS people are raised. “When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done”. — implied message; “Don’t think for yourself because ‘the thinking has been done.'” We look to leadership for what we believe.

    I call it mind control. If you disagree with me, just get a big feel for what happens in your normal church sustaining meeting if someone raises their hand in opposition. Listen to the gasps and the tension as it flares in the room….just get a feel for that.

    Someone could actually disagree?…in the church?….OH WOW!

    Reply Jan 13, 2017 @ 14:16:09

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