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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

When I was about 14 I started masturbating because it felt good and normal. After, I felt relaxed and happy. I also went to Church, youth group, prayed and engaged in similar spiritual practices; it was like masturbation was just another part of my religious life. One day on an internet forum someone asks if it was a sin. I had never thought of it as a sin, but as something that was normal. After the reading a Catholic Church statement, it turns out its a gravely disordered act.

I was horrified that I was sinning all this time and tried to stop immediately. It turns out I couldn't stop; it took me over a year to finally bring it under some control. However the problem didn't go away, instead my problems got worse. I started feeling guilty over every little sexual thought and concluded any little sin I did would cause me to fail at school and fail at being a good person. It got even worse when my actions became compulsive. What was a sexual problem grew and grew.

I was able to control it somewhat for a year, but about  two months ago I gave in, and now think it is normal again. Surely everyone else here has masturbated and has felt the urge to.

  • Without porn, which I do not indulge in, is it really that bad?
  • Other animals do it and all of my friends do it; what is really so bad about it?
  • Apparently sexual acts outside of marriage are wrong, but isn't adolescence all about discovering your sexuality?

Having fantasies and particular tastes all come with being an adolescent. I want to talk about this with someone because the issue has seriously affected my teenage years and my feeling of being normal. It just seems like the right thing to do but because the Church has practically brought me up, I feel wrong for questioning it. I believe the Church needs to speak up because, believe me, there are a lot of Catholic teens out there masturbating who think it is OK . . . an opinion I too am starting to develop but am terrified to act on. The Sex Ed at my Catholic school is pathetic:

  • Pre-marital sex is bad so don't do it, and
  • if you do get married you can't use contraception because it is unnatural

That's it. They refuse to be challenged, and when someone brave enough challenges the teacher, they get the same pre-recorded replies every time. Masturbation was not even mentioned, yet I would bet my life's savings that everyone in my class had done it at least once.

I now understand why the Church is losing people:

It is ignorant and frightened. It wants people to believe, but on a whole, refuses to get off it's bum and answer the thousands of burning questions inside everyone's confused adolescent minds.

My faith in Jesus has never been stronger; I just believe masturbation is not wrong. My faith in the Church, however is sadly declining. I receive Jesus in the Eucharist and listen to the Scriptures. That's it at the moment. I feel deeply saddened but I can't change how I feel. Because
I masturbated two months ago, I think I will now fail my exams which I have worked so hard on.
I'm constantly questioning the morality of things but never come to an answer. It's like I've been sitting on the fence my entire life. I need help.

  • What is so wrong about acting upon natural feelings?

It can't be a waste of sperm because it will die before I'm married. It can't be lust because I refrain from lusting after images or people.

  • What am I robbing my future wife of . . . the orgasm?

That happens with or without masturbating or sex. The Church has been wrong before; Jesus came to the earth and tore everything apart.

  • What if they are wrong again?

Just look back on history: e.g. the crusades and indulgences.  Selling them (indulgences) was not right, but the Church said it was alright at the time.

Please answer me, I need answers from the people who are making me refrain.


  { What is so wrong about acting upon natural feelings and how am I robbing my future wife? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

We have answered many, many, many questions on this issue in a very positive yet truthful manner. Let's talk about the culture first.

Most of the culture around the world, especially the one you are in, will not accept Catholic Christian values for the great value they provide to society around the world.

We have a second problem in that many, if not most, Catholics in the pews do not know what the Church teaches and the benefits of what it teaches and why.

As St. Paul states our enemy is not flesh and blood but spirit. (Ephesians 6:12) It is the heavenly spirits, e.g. guardian angels, that assist us, and demonic spirits that wish to bring us down. These are realities that our culture, for the most part, does not believe in, but are real, especially, when dealing with the struggles of the flesh.

Look at the body of any man compared to the body of any woman. Both were designed for an obvious and specific purpose in life.

I'm not saying I don't empathize with your struggle. Every normal human being [male and female] does and will struggle with the flesh until they are buried 6 feet under the ground. Even Jesus understands your struggle. Remember, he was a man like us in all thing but sin! As long as you strive to stay in a state of grace and do the best you can, I wouldn't worry about your test. Just don't do dumb things like receiving the Eucharist after struggling with the flesh. Go to Confession first; every parish has Confession times every Saturday. Even if the priest tells you it is not a sin, confess it anyway and tell him, You just want to make good, Holy Communions and if needed remind him that our previous Pope (Pope St. John Paul II) went to Confession weekly!

Instead of trying to separate the Catholic Church from Christ (something that can't be done), study what she teaches and why.

Like I said:
We have answered many, many questions on this issue in a very positive yet truthful manner.

Use our search engine:

Here are some search engine results that should provide some information to learn from.
In addition, here are some supplemental search results that should help clear up any confusion about the crusades and indulgences.

If you read these postings, although the issue of concupiscence (struggling with sexual sin) will still be in your life, you will better understand the issues at hand and how to deal with them: Prayer and receiving the sacraments in a state of grace.

Here are some good sections from the Catechism as well.

Hope this helps,


Mary Ann replied:


You yourself testify that masturbation has become compulsive behavior. The obsessive compulsive behaviors you had when you tried to quit were the fruit of masturbation, not the result of quitting.

They show what a hold the vice had on you. You are training yourself to be auto-erotic, rather than mutually erotic, as spouses should be.

You are isolating yourself and hurting your chances for a happy marriage. You are deeply ingraining sexual release as a solitary behavior connected with fantasy, rather than a life-giving communion with another person. You are hurting your personal development, arresting your maturation, and hindering social development. You are encouraging narcissism and immaturity.

Now it just so happens that narcissism, immaturity, prolonged adolescence, fantasy orientation, sex addiction, lack of commitment to another, and solitary individualism are the hallmarks of contemporary American men, but that doesn't make it right.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

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 so.

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 a selfless union.

Science tells us the physiological and emotional reality of the fact even releases hormones that bind the spouses together in 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 with.

  • 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, with her seeking to please you, not each spouse seeking to please themselves by using the other person as an object.) In short, it makes you selfish.

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 and 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 as well.

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 the habit.

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 your sexuality?

  • 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 with her,
    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 apart.

A good resource to answer your questions is Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. Also see:

Chastity Project — The New Sexual Revolution Is Here

for some good booklets and resources.

Hope this helps!


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