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James Moorehead wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it a sin to masturbate without lust as a teenager?

I am 14 years old and am going through puberty, and I understand that masturbation is a sin, but the Catechism says that in order to form a judgement on wether a sin is mortal or not, you must take into account the (immaturity/psychological) factors of the person.

  • During puberty, I go through psychological changes, so does this make masturbation without lust a venial sin?


  { Since I go through psychological changes during puberty, is masturbation without lust a venial sin? }

Paul replied:


Masturbation as a kind, or species of act, is grave matter, meaning it is the matter of mortal sin. In itself, it is unnatural, violating our human nature. We should never assume beforehand that we have some subjective element that would lessen the gravity of guilt before we choose an objectively sinful act.

Like any sin there is uncertainty as to how much guilt we have incurred with a particular act so it makes sense to take it to Confession. Let God through the priest forgive you of any and all guilt you may have from the choice.



James replied:

Hi, guys —

I forgot to add that by masturbation, I do not mean masturbating with lust or impure material.

  • Does this still make it a mortal sin?


Eric replied:

Hi, James —

It doesn't matter, it is still a mortal sin even if it is without lust or pornography.

This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines masturbation:

Offenses against chastity.
2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure.

"Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana 9)

"The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana 9)

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

Hope this helps,


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