I’m not here trying to justify masturbation, I’m simply asking a theological question. Now, of course masturbation is grave matter, and, if done willingly and knowingly, is also a mortal sin. However, one cannot deny that masturbation seems to get a special treatment among grave sins, perhaps due to the common practice of it (especially with adolescents). For example, the Catechism terms it a “gravely disordered action” (don’t get me wrong: I realize this means grave matter, but it certainly has a more ambiguous tone than “grave sin” or “grave offense”), and gives a list of mitigating factors not described for other grave sins. There’s also the fact that this sin is especially a struggle for adolescents, and, even though gravity isn’t magically taken away for youth (since that after all, it is intrinsically evil), adolescent immaturity is listed as a mitigating factor in Persona Humana, showing that this is a venal sin for many teens. The subject I need your answers on is some teachings I’ve seen from theologians on masturbation and when it’s a mortal sin: I was reading about the subject in “Christian Ethics, Volume 2” by Karl H. Peschke and it listed a quote from Fr. Hans Rotter SJ that stated “One can certainly speak of a grave sin only if a morally defect attitude of substantial nature is brought about by deliberate and often practiced masturbation. Ordinarily this cannot be assumed.” From what I’ve seen, he seems like a pretty orthodox source, but I would also appreciate your opinions. Next, I found this quote from Fr. John F. Harvey OSFS:
Lastly, the website catholicvu.com (which is also pretty orthodox) expresses a similar sentiment in which they state
[quote=http://catholicvu.com/newpage197htm.htm] BUT is it a mortal sin? Does the act in itself condemn one to ‘hell’ and eternal separation from God? Let’s be just as clear: masturbation is not necessarily a “mortal sin.” For most, masturbation is a “venial sin” yet even venial sins demand repentance.
NOT all sin is the same. Some sinful acts have greater destructive effects than other sins hence the Church’s distinction of mortal [deadly] sin and venial [not deadly] sin. Venial sin is some act that partially damages our relationship with God and others. Such sin does not “kill” the love of God that exists in my heart. This love of God grows each time I call upon the mercy of God. Mortal sin is of such grave and serious nature that it destroys completely my relationship with God (and therefore destroys my relationships with others) and “kills” the love of God in my heart and spirit. With that in mind, one cannot judge all masturbatory acts to be mortal [deadly] sins that completely destroy my relationship with God and others. Each act must be seen in the “big picture” (totality) of a person’s life. Persona Humana makes this assertion in Chapter IX:
Masturbation can become a “mortal sin” when it is practiced in total defiance of the Church’s teaching and in total disregard of God’s love.
These quotes seem to imply that the nature of one’s practice of masturbation depends largely on attitude and the context of it within one’s overall moral life. If someone could explain these things to me that would be great. And please don’t just dismiss these quotes without reasoning, as from what I’ve seen they’re all good sources. The last thing thing I’m going to add is this one interesting post on this forum that I can identify with:
Please help me with this.