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Lila Brown wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am having a lot of trouble understanding why sexual gratification is considered a sin.

  • Why is something that is natural and, quite frankly, beautiful called a sin?
  • Because it feels good?
  • Why is masturbation a sin?

It is, again, natural. In fact, it's healthy, especially for men. In order to keep a safe prostate, it is recommended that men masturbate x times each month. Masturbation releases stress, and even relieves migraines.

Homosexuality is natural, too. Homosexual behaviors are found in thousands of species.
Just because somebody can't reproduce doesn't mean their love isn't equal.

Sex isn't just for procreating.

  • Why would God give us a sex drive if he didn't want us to use it?

We naturally want to have sex with others. It's not a choice or decision we make. This is especially true for homosexuals, who do not choose their lifestyle. Humans are attracted to other humans.

Sex is a beautiful, natural connection of two or more people — it's as simple as that.


  { Why is sexual gratification and our sex drive a sin when they are good for you? }

Paul replied:

Dear Lila,

To distinguish the difference between what is natural to human beings and what is a disordered desire we must look at the end or purpose of the act.

Sexual love has a double or two-fold end:

  • the union of two persons and the potential procreation of a third
  • bonding and babies
  • love and life
  • the unitive and the procreative significance.

This two-fold end of love is the surest measure to indicate what is natural and right-ordered.

Permanent bonding and potential babies only makes sense within the permanent commitment of marriage. Acts that misuse or abuse the self and others, performed for sexual pleasure and/or motivated by disordered desire, are always intrinsically evil, meaning they can never be good and are always objectively sinful.

This is objectively true regardless of how much the wayward world tells us it is not.


Mike replied:

Dear Lila,

Thanks for the question.

Let me speak frankly. The status of basic Catholic catechesis in the Church in America is extremely poor. This is why you've asked the questions you have. They are very good questions so let me address them from what I see is the Church's view.

Every man and woman, whether baptized or not, is born with the Natural Law. The Natural Law is that thing in us that tells us, something is very right, or something is wrong, without someone else telling us.

Solely based on the physical make up of both men and women, the natural law tells them the primary purpose of sexual activity, as Paul said, is for:

  1. babies, and
  2. bonding within the marital covenant.
    (Outside the marital covenant, there is no life time commitment.)

Both men and women were also created with what I call a hierarchy of pleasures.
Paraphrasing from another answer I gave to a different question:

You see, God created both man and woman, with a kind of hierarchy of pleasures to be used according to His Divine Providence.

Used in the way that the Lord has ordained for both men and women, pleasure is not only OK and very good, but intentionally built into both men and women.

When our Lord created us, he attached certain types of pleasure to things we do.

  • What am I talking about?

Well, whether you are at work or at home, I am sure there are a number of times you have to go to the bathroom during the day and it has nothing to do with grooming yourself. In our family we call this:

Taking a mother nature break.

I don't think there is one reader of this web posting that will disagree that there is a big pleasure in taking a mother nature break.

  • Why is pleasure attached to going to the bathroom?

Because if we didn't go to the bathroom, the toxins in our waste would kill us and we would die.

  • How about eating and drinking?

Surely everyone will agree that, for most of us, this is a pleasurable activity.

  • Why?

Because if we didn't eat or drink, over time, we would die.

What we see during our daily lives are various levels of pleasures attached to certain activities that both men and women do, including:

  • holding on to our (boy|girl) friend during a date.
  • petting during a date.
  • getting our back or feet rubbed by our (boy|girl) friend or spouse
  • kissing our <(boy|girl) friend> or (our husband or wife)

Of all the pleasures attached to all the activities we do, probably the greatest pleasure is that of sexual activity.

  • Why?

Because it has the potential each time to bring a new life into the world!!

A new life made in the image and likeness of God, made for a specific purpose in life.

The strong sex drive both men and women have are invitations by our Lord to build a Christian family within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Although your question implies the problem is with the Church not accepting masturbation, the real problem is with our American culture discouraging:

  • Christian families, especially big Christian families
  • and discouraging:
    • Christian fathers from being Christian fathers
    • Christian mothers from being Christian mothers, and
    • Christian children from growing up with Catholic values.

Even if there were health benefits to masturbation, the natural law in everyone reading this answer tells them that the sole purpose of sexual activity is within the context of the marital embrace within the marital covenant of Christian Marriage. The human eye can logically see how God created man and how God created woman, physically, and put 2 plus 2 together.

The natural law overrides the laws of physical health and also tells us we can't rationalize good, moral reasoning for poor, immoral reasoning that justifies sin without deceiving ourselves and others.

You said:
Homosexuality is natural, too. Homosexual behaviors are found in thousands of species. Just because somebody can't reproduce doesn't mean their love isn't equal.

Sex isn't just for procreating.

Homosexuality is not natural and you know inside your holy gut that homosexual behavior is not natural. It is a learned behavior that is sometimes encouraged by uncatechized family members and relatives. The focus on how to develop and promote a Christian family life and values is thrown out the window and changed to promoting the self and self-pleasure.

You also know, as I think everyone does, that any organization can hire people with a given set of principles to say anything they want is moral, when, in fact, it is not moral. This is the sad state of our American culture these days.

  • Without Christian marriage there is no life-time commitment to the fruit of a couple's love — their children.
  • Without a proper Christian family culture, that protects traditional marriage, generations of future Christians will dwindle in numbers and our Catholic civilization in the United States with die!

Finally, true Christian love is sacrificial, it's not a love based on how another person of the same sex can make you feel.

You said:

  • Why would God give us a sex drive if he didn't want us to use it?

We naturally want to have sex with others. It's not a choice or decision we make. This is especially true for homosexuals, who do not choose their lifestyle. Humans are attracted to other humans.

God gave us a sex drive to use appropriately. He didn't give us a sex drive so we can make up our own rules and redefine what sex is and what the primary purposes of sexuality activity is.

At the same time, no one is denying your just desire for sex. It's built into us. My father came from a family of nine children. Mankind's nature is to procreate with those of the opposite sex so it is part of who we are and what we do, but we have to do so within the guidelines of the way our bodies were created and the intentions of Our Creator.

Though Christian Baptism removes original sin from our soul, a sensitive appetite called concupiscence, remains. The goal of the Christian should be to save him or herself, sexually, until marriage. That said, this can be very hard, especially in this culture, so the Church offers the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis, especially on Saturdays.

Remember that the Confessional is a tribunal of mercy and healing, not of judgment. The point is not to accuse you or impose guilt; the point is to relieve guilt and apply the balm of mercy to sins so that they might be healed. A sin is like an injury, and the priest is like a doctor.

You said:
Sex is a beautiful, natural connection of two or more people.

Not quite! What you have described is an orgy. Sex, as God intended it, is a beautiful, natural connection between two people of the opposite sex who have committed themselves in a marital covenant for life. It is intended to resemble the Trinity in that the husband gives all he has to his wife and the wife gives all she has to her husband and from the two comes the fruit of their love, their children.

The resemblance with the Trinity can be seen this way: in the same way the Holy Spirit proceeds from God, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, so the children of the parents proceed from the love of the Christian father and the Christian mother after becoming one.

You said:
This is especially true for homosexuals, who do not choose their lifestyle.

This is incorrect, they do choose. Homosexual behavior is a learned behavior.

Finally, no secular society has the right to redefine a Judeo-Christian term like Marriage. Marriage is not a secular word, it is a Judeo-Christian word. That's why there is no such thing as gay marriage. Two men cannot bring forth new life — neither can two women. In fact, I consider the pubic use of the words gay marriage as a form of hate speech against Christians.

Sure there may be just issues dealing with the rights of spouses resulting from broken traditional marriages, but those issues have nothing to do with so-called gay marriage and should be dealt with apart from any talk about the definition of marriage — a Judeo-Christian word.

I hope both our answers address your questions.

[Related posting]

Mike followed-up latter:

Hi Lila,

I had an interesting additional reflection I wanted to share with you.

You said:
It is, again, natural. In fact, it's healthy, especially for men. In order to keep a safe prostate, men are recommended to masturbate x times each month.

  • Given our natural desire for sex and that in Genesis God told Adam and Eve to go forth and multiple, does your statement say something, not so much about men's health, but something about the strong desire by our Creator to bring forth big Catholic families, which in doing so, bring men added health benefits and blessings?

Of course those addicted to a homosexual lifestyle or any form of hedonism are going to deny this because their focus is solely on what makes them feel good, no matter where they are rubbing. The last thing on their mind is:

  • bringing forth the next generation of Catholic Christians, or
  • any aspect of accountability or responsibility.

Sadly, the man in the White House for the past five years has done little to nothing to promote:

  • Christian values and
  • economical welfare in this country that would put people back to work

He has also made it very clear how hostile he is to:

  • Catholic values and
  • the only Church Jesus founded on St. Peter and his successors.


Eric replied:


Any good Boy Scout knows that a campfire belongs in the fire pit. And any good homeowner knows that fire belongs in the fireplace. Fire can be good or it can be bad. When properly controlled, it is very useful. When uncontrolled, it leads to devastating loss. So it is with human sexuality. The confines of a loving marriage serve as a fireplace or fire pit for the extremely powerful (and satisfying) sexual urge. Outside of these confines, you can experience powerful destruction. There is nothing wrong with sex in the proper context — done with the right intention it is holy, and in fact we believe marriage (with sex) is a sacrament.

Unfortunately each one of us is born with a tendency to sin, a tendency toward selfishness, and this tendency is most prominent in human sexuality, precisely because it is so powerful.

The point of all the rules about sexuality is to keep our selfishness in check and the fire in the fireplace so we don't destroy ourselves and those around us. Conjugal love should be an act of total self-giving between husband and wife, not an act of using each other for sexual pleasure.

That's not to say that sexual pleasure doesn't play a proper role, only that to use your spouse to seek pleasure (as a means), instead of seeking your spouse as a person (as an end), — is not an act of love, but of selfishness.

One of the complaints I hear is how the Catholic Church is obsessed with sex. This is usually proffered by those who can't seem to stop thinking about it, doing it, promoting it, or what have you.

  • Who is obsessed with sex, the ones promoting moderation, or those who demand unrestricted license for it?

The fire is good and useful when it stays in the fireplace and doesn't get out of control.


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