Hi, Anonymous —
This is an important question and
I'm glad you asked it. It's understandable
that you want answers and a good
reason for what the Church teaches,
and there is in fact a good reason
other than "because we said
Masturbation is wrong because the
act between husband and wife is designed
by God to unite them, making them
one flesh, and making their love
so real that it may bear fruit in
another person. Marriage is a mutual
self-giving; the husband gives himself
to his wife, giving her pleasure
and even his own DNA, and the wife
opens herself entirely to her husband
and gives him pleasure. This mutual
self-giving binds them together in
Science tells us the physiological
and emotional reality of the fact
even releases hormones that bind
the spouses together on a powerful
emotional way. The act, when it is
unselfish, then reinforces the love
between spouses and makes them, as
we teach, one flesh.
Masturbation, on the other hand,
is a misuse of the sexual faculty.
Number one, it is fundamentally selfish.
You aren't giving to anyone in an
act of masturbation; rather you are
satisfying your own desires. There
is no mutual self-donation. There
is no one you are becoming one flesh
How does it affect your future wife?
Getting the habit of masturbation
trains and conditions you into seeing
sex as something to satisfy your
own desires, not as a gift of self
to your wife. Your orientation is
to please yourself in the sex act,
not to please your wife. (Conjugal
love should be you seeking to please
your wife, and seeking to please
you, not each spouse seeking to please
themselves by using the other person
as an object.) In short, it makes
Masturbation is also not fruitful.
The human reproductive system is
designed, by God, to be oriented
toward the procreation of children.
It should be obvious by biology that
it's supposed to work this way. The
reason it's designed this way is
that it is an image of the love of
the Trinity. God, who is unconditional
love, is the male principle. He pours
out his love to the Church (the female
principle) unconditionally, who receives
it, returns it, and bears spiritual
fruit as a result. God and man become
one flesh, one blood through the
Eucharist. God expects us to bear
fruit as a result when he fills us
with his divine life. Likewise, sexual
expression is expected to be open
to bearing fruit. It's an analogy
in our bodies.
Also, you are not giving yourself
fully to your spouse if you are withholding
your fecundity. As God gives everything
to us and wants everything from us,
so spouses are to give everything
to each other.
If you look in Scripture, barrenness
is considered a curse all throughout,
and having children is considered
a blessing. See Psalm 127:4-5. A
man named Onan was struck dead by
God for committing an act of contraception
(Genesis 28:8-10). Traditionally
this has been applied to masturbation
Thus any act that is not oriented
fundamentally towards fruitfulness
(not counting a body not working
as designed) is not morally licit.
If you are fantasizing in masturbation,
that is also wrong, because as Jesus
says, even if a man lusts in his
heart, he commits adultery.
I think your fears (Onan notwithstanding)
of having everything fall apart in
your life are misplaced. All you
need to do when you fall is get up
and express your repentance and sorrow
in the Sacrament of Confession, and
you will receive healing absolution.
Confession is a powerful way to escape
the grip of this sin. The good soldier
is not the one who never falls, but
the one who when he falls gets up
and continues to fight.
Masturbation, once you have developed
a habit of it, is a very hard habit
to break. The culpability of it can
be mitigated or even eliminated by
Here is something to consider: Is
it more manly to give into every
urge of your body, or to withstand
the temptation and resist? Anyone
can give in. You've already said
as much. The real merit is in fighting
the good fight.
You say "Isn't
adolescence about discovering
- Well haven't you discovered it?
- How often do you need the masturbate
to "discover your sexuality"?
- And did it even occur to you
that perhaps it would be more
romantic to wait to
"discover your sexuality" with
your wife and share that new experience
exploring it together?
Considering pre-marital sex, because
marriage is a total self-giving,
you can't go "part way" into
it. To give yourself totally to someone
means that you have given your whole
life to them (at least until they
die), which is irrevocable. To have
sex without committing your life
to them would be a lie, since it
wouldn't be total self-giving. Also,
because once you have sex, you become
one flesh with that person. If
you later have sex with someone else,
you rupture that one-fleshness and
in a very real sense tear yourself
A good resource to answer your questions
News about Sex and Marriage by
Christopher West. Also see:
Chastity.com — The
New Sexual Revolution Is Here
for some good booklets and resources.
Hope this helps!