Another confession question

Hello everyone, I know that questions regarding the Sacrament of Confession are as common as weeds in a garden on CAF, so I appreciate you taking the time to actually read this post. I would simply have referred to one of the other threads concerning Confession if I had seen my particular dilemma addressed in one of them, however despite searching, I haven’t stumbled upon it elsewhere.

So here’s the problem:

Since my last confession I have committed sins that the Church considers to be mortal. I have struggled with these particular sins for some time, dutifully confessing them regularly and sincerely striving to overcome my weaknesses. However, I have been conflicted about the status of these acts since I first learned what the Church teaches regarding them. To be blunt, since beating around the bush like this is just awkward and takes too long, the sin I’ve been struggling with is masturbation.

Until I returned to the Church I never gave a second thought to such actions. I always viewed it as a healthy, natural thing that most people engage in (even if they don’t admit it) and which nearly all animals do as well. Not to mention the medical research that indicates masturbation decreases the chances of diseases like prostate cancer, etc. So when I first learned that the Church not only considers such actions to be sinful, but to be mortally sinful, I was incredulous to say the least.

But once I became more immersed in the faith and began frequenting not only Mass but also the Sacrament of Confession, I began to try and stop committing this ‘sin’. All the while trying to understand why it is so gravely sinful. I’ve read many, many arguments and despite everything I’ve read I am not convinced. I’m not necessarily sure I was right in my original belief that it is simply harmless, natural behavior, but I also don’t think it ranks up there with sins like murder, theft, etc.

*So how does this long rant link up to Confession? Well, I know that the Church teaches that masturbation is a grave sin. I also know the 3 requirements that need to be met for a sin to be mortal. But I don’t believe that this sin is mortal despite what the Church says in the Catechism and elsewhere. So when I go to Confession should I confess this sin, even though I think that at worst it’s a venial sin and at best it’s not sinful at all?

I want my absolution to be valid and I want to be able to receive the Lord in the form of Holy Eucharist when I am at Mass. But I do not want to disrespect the Lord by receiving Him while not in a state of grace. So do I confess to this sin because I know the Church sees it as mortal despite my own misgivings? Or do I not mention it because I do not feel it to be a mortal sin? And if I confess it, is my confession valid since I do not believe what the Church teaches about this sin and therefore may not have the necessary contrition?*

I’m tempted to just tell the priest everything I’ve just said above and let him give me counsel, but if I can avoid having to rant for this long to the poor priest I’d prefer that.

Thanks in advance for any helpful advice and insights you may be able to give me. I will greatly appreciate it if you can be courteous in your responses. No need to walk on egg shells, but rudeness doesn’t help someone when they’re looking for answers. Thanks.

I agree with you. I went through a long, painful, and scrupluous (or OCD) struggle over this issue, and in the end decided to listen to my conscience. I even became a non-believer, or atheist, for a time in this stuggle, but now I’m both a believer and agnostic. I go back and forth in my faith. But I’m at peace now about it. I just cannot accept masturbation is a grave sin, not even a venial sin. I just can no longer accept this at all, and feel no guilt at all over it.

As for the confessional, I wish I had some advice to offer here, but for personal reasons, I don’t go to confession anymore. For me, the Mass provides the sacrament of forgiveness, the Mass provides all I need sacramentally. I’m at peace now. This of course, will not be the path of most who are traditional, in practice, and I have no quarrel with anyone, who practices in full, so no offense intended here! This is just a description of my process.

I assume when you masturbate you are also engaging in lustful thoughts??..Well Jesus did specifically teach that it is better to pluck out your eye then committ adultery in your heart and go to hell.

Instead of arguing whether masturbation is really that bad…why don’t you start out by trying to reflect on all of the virtues that grow from chastity? My suggestion would be to go to amazon and search for “Theology of the body” or “Christopher west”…and as it says in the good book…knock.

Here is a starter…chastity makes the gift of self possible. Good Luck

Hi, leastofthese! It’s great that you are asking this question. I’m tempted not to answer but to tell you that your inclination to say this exact thing to the priest is the best idea ever. Because it is. As for its being a “long rant,” with just a little editing, you can get the whole story across in a very reasonable length of time! :slight_smile:

But I can’t resist answering. Here’s a question for you that will bring it all into focus. Regardless of exactly how sinful you perceive it to be, have you decided that you no longer wish to commit this sin? Contrition, you see, is in the will. It doesn’t matter so much how sorry you feel; what matters is that you will do your best to stop sinning in order to please God, or at least to escape His just punishment.

You are not required to have perfect contrition (being sorry out of love for God) in order to be forgiven in Confession. You only need imperfect contrition, which very often means fear of hell and nothing else. The sacrament supplies for your lack of perfect contrition.

You are also not limited to confessing mortal sins. If you truly believe you are only committing a venial sin, you can still confess it, be absolved, and receive special graces to overcome the habit. The Church encourages us to confess our venial sins.

At the minimum, then, what you need in order to be forgiven in Confession, is the intention to stop this sin because you are afraid of hell. If you keep confessing at this level, the graces you receive have the ability to bring you along to greater love and virtue and a purer motive.

An incident in the New Testament just occurred to me. Peter and some others had been fishing all night long and had caught nothing. Jesus (a carpenter, not a fisherman!) told them to put the net down on the other side of the boat. That command made no sense to Peter, but, because he trusted the Lord, he did it anyway, and caught a miraculous number of fish. You don’t really believe that your habit is a mortal sin, but you could confess it anyway because you trust the Lord when He speaks through the Church. Nothing but good can come from that.

But, you know what? Ask the priest anyway. It will help him to help you and perhaps give you a special insight that clears everything up for you.

Betsy

Make an appointment with your priest and tell him all of this. Walk him through your thought process and the listen to his explanation/guidance. I struggle with this, as do many many others. The fact of the matter is that it IS sinful (mortally so if the three conditions are met) and must be confessed to heal the break in our relationship with God.

I wish, fervently, that it wasnt sinful. But it is. And I have to deal with that and cut the sin out of my life.

Do not follow this. Do not listen to this bit. The mass does NOT absolve mortal sin. Just go visit your priest and talk with him. Perhaps set up a face to face confession while you are there.

FSC

You should do just that. It didn’t take that long to write; it didn’t take long to read, and it won’t take long to say. Just tell him and ask for counsel.

You said " I have struggled with these particular sins for some time, dutifully confessing them regularly and sincerely striving to overcome my weaknesses. However, I have been conflicted about the status of these acts since I first learned what the Church teaches regarding them." I don’t think you will be able to overcome this sin as long as you are so conflicted that you don’t really believe that the act itself is seriously sinful and goes against God’s plan for us.

When you began to masturbate, you didn’t realize the sinfulness of it. This isn’t at all unusual given the attitude of our society. Even the sitcoms treat it as common, normal, and amusing. Now the pull of the habit is strong and your conscience has been further deadened.

When I began to fight against this habit the Catechism was not yet in print. I couldn’t find anything that forthrightly stated that it is mortally sinful and why. Finally I found a book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, The Courage to be Chaste, that did so. He also said that it is indeed possible to overcome this sin, even when it is an ingrained habit. I think that, prior to reading this, I honestly felt it was impossible, at least for me.

Furthermore, he promised that what you gain is truly worth the wrenching pain of dying to yourself in this way. He said there is an integration of personality and ultimately great spiritual rewards.

He also said the the first three weeks are the hardest. After that, it becomes slightly less difficult and the lapses get further apart. I found this to be true and eventually there was a great feeling of freedom because it began to be easier to choose to do God’s will in this, and in other things as well. But this was many months down the road.

My suggestion for you is to beg God to lead you to whatever you need to convict you of the sinfulness of taking the pleasure of sex (in itself something good that He created for a specific purpose) in a way that is not within His will.

From my experience, I can promise you that if you wholeheartedly fight this sin God will help you to succeed. And you will be rewarded with a closeness to God that you will never want to give up or go back.

Humbly make use of confession every single time you fail. Have confidence that God will strengthen you by the grace of this sacrament. Keep your attention on God’s mercy, not on your failures (you will often fail at first but don’t give up).

Ask the help of your guardian angel and all of the saints you usually pray to. Know that every time you resist temptation they rejoice in your victory, AND you are giving glory to God by your fight. It’s a real fight against yourself and against Satan. Even if, at first, you give in, that hour or two or three that you resist gives glory to God. Every little step you take, every time you turn away from an occasion of sin pleases Him immensely.

May God give you success in your battle. It’s a choice: pleasure or God, Satan or God, your self or God. Keep asking for the grace to choose God.

Being scrupulous or suffering from OCD is a terrible trial.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t keep on being torn two ways and never feeling at peace.
Abandoning confession and giving up seems like the only thing to do.
If you can find a wise and holy priest as a confessor and will submit yourself to him, perhaps you will have the hope and the courage to try again.
If you go back and forth in your faith you’re not really at peace.
God is very merciful and looks with compassion on our struggles.
He values every attempt we make, even when it seems to end in failure.

I want to thank you for your message…and for your compassion! It is indeed a scary struggle.

Thank you everyone for your advice and insights into this matter. You’ve given me much to think about. I feel much more confident about going to Confession today now that I’ve been able to briefly discuss this problem on CAF. I’m still not convinced about the moral status of this behavior, but I am sincerely trying to understand what the Church teaches.

Since you have crossed the line from doubt into denial you may no longer recieve the Eucharist, because you are no longer in Communion with the Catholic Church. Any time that you recieve the Eucharist while in obstinate denial of a teaching of the Church you drink and eat condemnation unto yourself as St. Paul says. You are in my prayers.

First, thank you very much for your prayers. It is also necessary for me to explain, on a personal level, that I’m not obstinate out of willful anger, or a need to rebel, but out of fear, and I have since sought what Jesus described as his “light burden” and “easy yoke,” and how that would feel in practice in relation to him.

Do not let your fear keep you from Jesus. Constantly we are told “Do not be afraid.” If you want the healing grace of Christ Jesus you can not seek it in your terms, i.e. I know how He and His Church feels about this but I am too scared to do it. His Grace will pull you through your fear, and if you like I would help you to find a gentle Confessor in your area.

Leastofthese,

You wrote:

“I know that questions regarding the Sacrament of Confession are as common as weeds in a garden on CAF, so I appreciate you taking the time to actually read this post.”

Let us be overrun by weeds. The Sacrament of Confession is of the greatest importance and we are doing good to go to Confession and ask questions about it because absolution and penance we receive from Confession can make the difference of Heaven or hell.

Masturbation is a pleasant experience from the human point of view. Our culture endorses it and says it helps relieve stress and is very normal. Those who do not masturbate are considered flawed in our culture.

Here is the point, only God knows truth. We do not now truth. If you accept this premise, then go to Confession and if masturbation was one of your sins, confess it. Try not to figure out why it is such a grave sin. If you are sorry for your sin make that clear but talk to the priest about your attachment to this sin and how you do not understand why it is not pleasing to God. The priest acts in the person of Christ. Remember this is like talking to Jesus.

If you commit this sin again go to Confession again. Keep doing this. Receive Holy Communion on a regular basis. Pray the Holy Rosary daily. Keep trying to understand the sin of masturbation and strive to conquer it. If you need a spiritual counselor find a good priest. We must trust the Lord and always try to please Him even if we struggle with the sin. Satan has deep influences in our culture and whether your realize it or not we have to battle Satan everyday. Good Luck and I hope this helps.

Hey everyone, I saw this thread and wanted to ask a few things before making my own thread.

Anyways I am in a quite difficult point in life, I am hating uni, I am not happy with my social life, and anxiety in general.

Ontop of all this worrying I have placed more worrying. I’ll try to explain the best I can, but looking at my posting record from maybe 2007-2008 might explain my situation, anyways I used to worry that everything was a sin, I was worried about turning homo sexual the fear would just give me the worst gut feeling and I would imagine that I have commited lust while looking at a man even though my thoughts are fearing it all… I have started to fall into this again, except now it’s worse I have so much worry from Uni etc that this other burden is just going to cause me to break down, I went to confession today told the priest to clear my mind that I had commited lust for a man anyways because it would make me feel cleaner, but it hasn’t I have started to worry about other mortal sins I might have not confessed in the past 3 years , I now think I need to re confess everything again, I fear looking at a guy will cause me turn homo sexual etc just seeing a man now makes me get a feeling in the stomach like a rush of fear and I really need to get out of this because I am trying to beat my anxiety but this is just burrying me deeper.
Please anyone.
Thanks.

Anyone does this just sound like OCD or something?

Hello dazzi.
Yes that sounds EXACTLY like ocd. I have struggled with the same type of thing during my (admittedly short) life.
From time to time, I would fixate on something and become very afraid of it.
I would fear forgetting to breathe, blink, think, swallow, talk, getting a lisp, and various other things, including becoming gay.
The way to manage these fears is to ignore them and not respond emotionally.
For instance, if you suddenly get a thought like, Oh, no! What if I forget how to breathe?
Answer yourself, “So what? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Death? Well if I die I go to heaven :)”
These fears are generally sudden, caused by stimuli (e.g., you are enjoying yourself when you suddenly fear that you won’t be able to breathe and thus, lose the enjoyment.)
The fear of being gay that you mention seems to be stimulated by the sight of a man. Well that doesn’t make you gay, since you don’t feel lust for that person; the sight merely acts as a trigger for your FEAR of being gay.
So basically ignore those fears, throw yourself upon the grace of God, and realize that, hey, no matter what, as long as I don’t COMMIT sin and not repent, I’ll get to heaven eventually. This has worked for me, and I am sure it will work for you too.
Pray, utilize the Sacraments, and just chill out, dude :slight_smile:

P.S. The Church teaches that you do NOT sin merely by being gay, only if you deliberately think lustful thoughts or commit lustful actions, the same ruling that applies for straight people. Even if you feel lust for some person, you do not commit a sin until you actually choose to keep thinking lustful thoughts (e.g., you see a pretty girl, you feel lust, you realize you are feeling lust and then you choose to keep thinking those thoughts. Then it is a sin) That might help set your mind at ease.

Ok no egg shells :slight_smile:

Such is certainly a grave matter for mortal sin. Something to be repentant of and confessed…(you know now it is serious …) But yes one must be “sorry for the sin” in order to be absolved…

So I would simply accept the Churches teachings …and then repent and confess etc (even if ones thoughts do not sort it all out…it is Faith seeking understanding…there can be times when we do not understand…heck the Apostles did not understand Jesus about the Eucharist in John 6…but when he asked if they too were going to leave him like the others…they said “where would we go…you have the words of eternal life”…we are in his Church cause it is His Church…and he says “he who hears you hears me”…we too must say…“you have the words of eternal life”…and really this is “real life”…even here!)

No matter what mistaken notions one had or which still lingers in ones head…it is a grave matter…

If I thought the Moon was made of cheese…for years and all those around me thought the same…but those who were “witnesses of the Moon” the astronauts told me no it is not…I would have to change my way of thinking…

What we need to seek is the “renewal of our minds”…and the informing of our conscience. Even if “thoughts to the contrary” occur to us…

I invite you to read this from Pope Benedict XVI (do not get thrown off by the beginning…read the whole thing…slowly)

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20090628_chius-anno-paolino_en.html

Enjoy (this is one of my favorite homilies)

(and i’m leaving masturbation out of this, because it will cause people to lose focus on the core grain of the question/dilemma presented, which could apply to any sin/“sin”)

trusting God when He says something is a sin is not the same thing as trusting man when he tells you God told him to tell you it is a sin.

we can get into the whole debate about whether someone should be allowed access to the sacraments and Catholic family if they have a hard time 100% submitting to the idea that everything the Church says is always 100% exact to God’s Truth. (i’m sure many here would say just that: lack of complete intellectual surrender to the church = total separation from God’s graces – i find that rather unrealistic and harsh).

but as far as that basic concept of “disagreeing with God” or “not trusting God” goes, it’s a red herring and useless faux-advice if the dilemma is whether or not you believe God is actually the one against something.

so: what to do when you want to submit to and participate in the sacrament of confession but can’t successfully fool your thinking mind into believing something it doesn’t believe? good question. i actually came into this site today to ask the same. lol. i tend to just confess it out loud and in my heart say “God, i’m conflicted about this, but if it’s a sin, i’m sincerely contrite.”

planning not to do something again, though, is tough if you can’t decide whether it’s actually bad in God’s eyes lol

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