Caution: Question about Masterbation

Recently I saw the following question asked and would like some help with the answer. :confused:

“Since the Church recognizes that the female orgasm has nothing to do with procreation, they allow me to utilize ANY technique to sexually satisfy my wife (as long as my orgasm occurs within her vagina). I understand why that precludes allowing male masturbation but why is female masturbation considered a mortal sin?”

Anything? :shrug:

Because she’s stealing pleasure from an act that’s supposed to be within the context of marriage. Cosmopolitan Magazine says it’s OK to do…just use a vibrator…

Naturally, most girls probably try it at some point, but to their own chagrin. It is not really a sin if done in the act of marriage with one’s husband. Unfortunately very often it is done outside of marriage and does not show any love for another. It is essentially selfish.

First, has the Church in fact made such a declaration? Second, is this claim that the female orgasm has nothing to do with procreation true? I thought there was at least a theory that the female orgasm can help to increase the chances of impregnation.


With regardsbthe female orgasm, there is a genuine purpose to it insofar as making the act of procreation pleasurable. And thus more procreation. Whether its evolved that way or directly or indirectly designed, that’s clearly the point. It doesn’t mechanically make conception more likely - just increase the no of attempts!

Which I think proof enough that like the male one pursuit of it however admirable and understandable has a proper time and place!

I’ve read that a lot of scientists believe that the contractions of the uterus during orgasm can work somewhat like a turkey baster, and help to suck up the sperm to their desired destination. Not proven, but a very valid theory IMO.

What if the woman is an older woman whose husband left her. No possibility of procreation. But she is still a woman with sexual urges.

I’ve heard this too.

You can find many websites and postings making similar assertions, “the Church says…” But you cannot find any magisterial document actually saying anything of the kind. It is a false claim about Church teaching.

Masturbation is intrinsically evil and therefore never justified by intention or circumstances, neither for the man or the woman. And the same is true for every other type of non-unitive and/or non-procreative sexual act.

USCCB Catechism: “Each and every sexual act in a marriage needs to be open to the possibility of conceiving a child.” [p. 409].

Also, concerning the husband, he is not necessarily free from grave sin merely because he ‘completes the act’ in the natural manner. What makes a sexual act gravely immoral is not solely the completion of the act.

The only moral sexual act is natural marital relations open to life.

Unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil, and so they cannot be justified by the purpose of the act, nor by circumstances, nor by other acts that occur about the same time. You will find many persons online loudly defending unnatural sexual acts as foreplay, or for the wife only, but their claims are not Church teaching.

Says just you and your convoluted opinions and interpretations of Church doctrine.

A women is free to an orgasm by herself or by her husband within the context of the marital act.

It’s a good way for her to feel connected and satisfied if orgasm through the marital act alone isn’t achievable.

Otherwise she’ll feel frustrated and used if her husband always achieves an orgasm but she can’t.

End of story.

The difficulty lies in the definition of unnatural sexual acts. When it extends to s kiss, a touch, a caress… then you make these not part of the marital “act”. And thus you define the latter as something very constrained and, frankly, unnatural.

It is disingenuous to describe an unnatural sexual act as if it were a mere kiss, touch, or caress. (I don’t need to be explicit here; we all know what types of acts are being discussed.) A per se sexual act, with or without completion, must be marital, unitive, and procreative.

Consider what Roman Catholic theologians and married couple, Alice and Dietrich von Hildebrand, have said on the subject of marital sexual ethics. In an article published by Catholic News Agency, Alice writes:

“Dietrich would have vigorously opposed Popcak’s so-called ‘one rule’–that married couples ‘may do whatever they wish,’ as long as they don’t use contraception, ‘both feel loved and respected,’ and the marital act culminates within the woman.”

“It is precisely because the marital bed is sacred that one should approach acts within it with enormous reverence. Degrading and perverse sexual behavior – even it is it done by a married couple, who do not practice contraception – should be condemned, as an assault on human dignity. The ‘pornification’ of marriage should be resisted as vigorously as the pornification of our culture.”

I don’t intend to be disingenuous. I am sure there is much we would agree on as to what is an “unnatural” act (including the “degrading and the perverse”) but I don’t know what you really want to exclude when you say the “only moral sexual act is natural marital relations”. When does touching become a “per se sexual act”? Do you mean to limit touching parts of the spouse’s body - will you view caresses as masturbation?


Ron teaches many things which are not taught by the Church.

I am not as negative toward him as many others are, and find his treatment of some issues very good. But I do believe he goes off the track now and again!

“A women is free to an orgasm by herself or by her husband within the context of the marital act. It’s a good way for her to feel connected and satisfied if orgasm through the marital act alone isn’t achievable.”

The Magisterium has NEVER taught such a claim. In fact, masturbation and other unnatural sexual acts are clearly condemned by the Church, with no exceptions for the “context” of the act.

The Church’s teaching (Veritatis Splendor) on intrinsically evil acts clearly states that intention or purpose, and circumstances or context never justify an intrinsically evil act.

CCC 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.”

There is no exception to the above condemnation of intrinsically evil sexual acts for the wife, as if she were under a different version of the moral law than the husband, nor for the marital bedroom more generally.

CCC 1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

The “context” of the act of masturbation does not justify the act, because it is intrinsically evil.

There are no magisterial texts to quote or cite saying that the spouse may do whatever they like, as long as there is a natural act included at some point. And it is even more directly contrary to Church teaching to claim that the wife is exempt from sexual ethics and from the Magisterium’s condemnation of masturbation: “A women is free to an orgasm by herself…”

The teachings of Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Alphonsus Liguori all clearly condemn sexual acts in marriage that are not both unitive and procreative. Alice and Dietrich von Hildebrand have the correct understanding, in this regard, on marital sexual ethics.

Does anyone really believe that Jesus and the Virgin Mary would tell any married couple that such acts are permissible, let alone good and holy? But what is happening is that sinful secular society and the hedonistic culture have influenced the minds of many Catholics, so that they accept all manner of grave sexual sins, on the basis of ridiculous rationalizations.

What is a solution then to an act which for many women without the prospect of orgasm is gravely unpleasant at best? This kind of interpretation is suitable for an age when it was considered entirely permissible for a husband to rape his wife (on the basis that it wasn’t rape at all). Not today. Which isn’t to say anything like “masturbation is ok” (it’s not, let me make that clear). Masturbation in this context (normal and healthy marital sex), does not remotely have adultery as an object.

If we turn the problem around - is masturbation-to-a-degree (to, say, achieve or maintain an erection prior to actual intercourse) permissible for a husband?

Moreover, while it may not spell out such activity explicitly, the general sense of the Theology of the Body would suggest that while there is certainly not a “anything is fine behind closed doors between a married couple” argument, there IS a sense of “within the context of natural marital relations, because orgasm is part of the beauty of sex and there is no sound biological sociological theological or otherwise-doctrinal argument against it that isn’t patently absurd in the extreme, a wife sharing fully in the pleasure of sex would seem to be at the very least allowable.”

You have to wonder what the actual purpose of the clitoris is, if it isn’t for sexual pleasure (within the context of otherwise healthy and appropriate, eg uncontraceptive and marital, sex). Care to tackle that one? It’s not there just to tempt women into sin…

Either way I think getting bogged down in the minutiae - even if it’s much clearer-cut than my attempt at water-muddying suggests - is why people get this mysterious impression that Catholics are obsessed with everything to do with sex (their own, and other peoples). I don’t mind being laughed at for believing that Jesus Christ is our Lord, or that we should pay His mother especial devotion even above all the other saints. I do mind being laughed at because “Catholics need to get a hold of themselves sometimes about sex”. Largely, because we do.

You are taking a thoroughly secular point of view on sex, and you are asking for an explanation of Church teaching that will make sense from a secular and rather base point of view. But that is not how the teaching of the Church works.

You seem to assume an exaltation of sex, as if it were essential to happiness, as if it would be an unthinkable horror to do without sex. But Church teaching is that sex is primarily for the purpose of procreation. The spouses are not obligated to have regular intercourse for the rest of their lives. Perhaps some spouses should mutually decide to live without further marital relations, esp. after they have conceived a number of children.

Certain types of sexual acts are intrinsically evil, therefore they cannot be justified by intention or circumstances. No matter how noble the intention, and how difficult the circumstances, unnatural sexual acts of any kind, including masturbation, are gravely immoral.

Thanks, Ron.

I ought to clarify it’s not me so much starting from a secular view, but ‘secular society’ broadly definitely is. It’s why trying to explain the Church’s view on all kinds of sexual matters (not just masturbation) is so fundamentally difficult. Telling a non-Catholic (or even plenty of Catholics!) “Just don’t do it, for reasons X, Y and Z, which the Church teaches” no longer cuts mustard as far as I can see. In order to get our message across, we need to confront society on its own terms and not just go on yelling about the (undeniable, to you and me!) fact that masturbation is sinful.

So, my point was that one aspect that is especially hard to fathom for lots of people is why masturbation within the context of otherwise-entirely-healthy marital intercourse is sinful.

I didn’t assume an exaltation of sex - far from it. From the earliest Church writers onwards it’s clear that sex and sexual desire is to be feared and run away from rather than considered controlled and directed towards good ends. What I did try to suggest was that marital sex can be exalted. It doesn’t mean it’s the only thing within a marriage that should be so treated, nor, of course, that to do without it is horrid.

Suggesting that sex is just to be a mechanical let’s-get-our-procreation-out-the-way thing, is frankly not only absurd but runs counter to the entire spirit of Christian marriage. If something is meant to be unitive (as it is called) as well as procreative, sex without that kind of bonding is nothing more than a man using a woman as a masturbatory aid, quite frankly. You’re not suggesting that I appreciate but a procreation-only approach does go down that rather slippery path.

What you do seem to suggest is that if a wife finds the procreative and unitive act of sex to be pretty awful without orgasm - AND EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A REALLY EASY SOLUTION - basically she should just lump it. How very self-giving.

I again ask (a tiny bit facetiously) - what on earth is the clitoris for? It’s certainly not for procreation. (Except in men, who in the womb start out with one and it later morphs into a penis, I guess, but that’s beside the point).

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