If masturbation is a grave sin, why isn't gluttony as well?

Masturbation is bad because it’s a misuse of the sexual faculties, since God intended them as unitive and procreative, and masturbation is neither.

Why can’t the same thing be said for gluttony? One could say that God intended the digestive system as nutritive. If a person is eating simply for pleasure, even when they are full, isn’t that separating function and intention, and so sinful by the same logic that masturbation is?

Who said it wasn’t?

Gluttony is one of the capital sins. Now, the definition of gluttony has changed (I think. Again, I need verification or correction), so that if one overeats occasionally, it is not a grave sin, but if it is a part of someone’s lifestyle (They overeat all the time at almost every meal), then it is.

Gluttony is one of the capital sins. It is grave, why would you think it is not??


**1866 **Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

**2290 **The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

Given the high percentage of the population that’s obese ~30%, last I heard], I would assume that, if gluttony were a mortal sin, there would be more posts about it here. I mean, masturbation sometimes gets multiple threads in a single day. By comparison I’ve seen very few threads about overeating.

Gluttony can certainly be gravely sinful. But not all vices are of equal seriousness or of equal intent.

One needs to eat. No question about it. One can overeat by inadvertence, and I suspect most instances of overeating really are inadvertent. And, rarely does overeating involve anything that really is harmful to anyone. Sure, if we order up a banquet, eat one thing and deliberately waste the rest, we would, I think, be out there in the seriously sinful area. If, as the Romans (we are assured) often did, we feasted, vomited, feasted, vomited, going well beyond bodily needs in a deliberate fashion just to enjoy the sensation of taste, I think we would be there.

One does not need to masturbate in order to stay alive. Nor is it easy to picture it happening by inadvertence.

Not all overweight or obese people are that way because of gluttony. They may have medical issues, we cannot know just from the outside package.

And furthermore, gluttony causes far greater harm to the individual (and often to his family, and society in general) than masturbation, which is essentially harmless in moderation for a single, unattached person. I think some of the disparity simply reflects the peculiar emphasis that the Catholic Church places on sexual matters.

I think that today’s sedentary lifestyle has a lot to do with it, as well. People drive to work and school instead of walking, often because there is no pedestrian walkway between their home and their work or school (or else because it is too far to walk), and then they sit all day at a desk, instead of doing physical work. So, even though they don’t consume more than 2,000 calories a day, they still become overweight, due to the lack of daily exercise.

Yes, good point - you and kage_ar are quite right - obesity certainly can have causes other than wilful abuse of food, and we can’t judge just by what we see.

I agree that obesity can have causes beyond gluttony, but I also propose that gluttony-caused obesity affects a significant portion of the population. However, I hear very little, if anything, from the Catholic Church about this issue. If indeed gluttony is a mortal sin, this seems very weird.

well, the thing is, there are lots of people who are fat, who really don’t over eat enough to make them that fat, i’ve known and heard of plenty of people, who just by taking one thing out of their diet, started losing weight faster and better then any other means they tried, my sister being one of them, she looks great now, and she use to be so heavy, the only thing she took out of her diet was high fructose corn syrup(which everyone has heard of by now)
of course there’s many other bad things in our foods, but that is one of the worst for weight gain because it’s hard to digest and when it turns into fat it is very hard to burn off,

well, aside from that, although gluttony can be a grievous sin, it is more so only in cases of drunkenness and people who really overeat, like all day always eating something, are those who will eat till their full, force themselves to throw up, and eat more,
but simply eating even after your full is not necessarily a mortal sin, it really depends on why and how much,
like some people eat to live, and some live to eat,
the difference between the two is one eats for the right intention, and perhaps every now and then treats themselves a little more, which is ok,
but the other one will go and eat as much as they can because they desire it, they are not just feeding their gut, they’re feeding their desire,
which can be connected with lust, but really is entirely different because they are of different actions and results, the one results in an exterior deformity and intemperance, and can also feed other vices such as sloth and greed,
but the other can result in mental deformity, perversion, coveting, treating people as things,
although more then that for either one, but you get the idea, they each just produce different results, they stain the soul in different ways, the one sin is unclean and shameful, the other is pitiable and grotesque,

of course i’m not saying gluttony is not a big problem right now, because it is, people are far to easy to give into their desires, but in regards to gluttony being just as bad as lust, i would say it is not, and i will explain why…
lust is definitely harder to overcome then gluttony, and is actually the hardest of the vices to overcome, which likewise, chastity is the hardest virtue to obtain, which we are told is fitting, being that chastity is the virtue which makes us most like to the angels,
lust is a vice most displeasing to God, because it perverts and deforms us in every way, in our minds, our eyes, our ears, mouth, even nose, the way we dress, the way we move, how we treat others, everything is perverted, and it influences others most terribly, when people see a fat person who eats in excess, they are repulsed and turned away, but those who are lustful, can actually allure others, if they are not already virtuous or atleast desiring to be so,
lust is a cancer, it spreads throughout the mind, body and soul, even the heart,
God hates it most because you cannot even think of heavenly things without some perverted thought entering your mind, your mind is filthy and God cannot dwell in you,
whereas someone gluttonous can still love God tenderly without evil thoughts entering their mind,
if gluttony seems like such a terrible thing(of course it is) it is because we can see it’s horrible effect more clearly, and do not consider it worth the risk, whereas lust, people do consider it worth the risk, and go as far as saying they don’t care if they go to hell for it,

another big difference is, gluttony in some forms is not a mortal sin, but lust in any form(with the 3 requirements of mortal sin of course) is always a mortal sin, that means that the main factor in gluttony is temperance, and the main factor in lust is misuse,

…well, i’m not sure if i really touched on what you were asking, i have a feeling i misunderstood the question e,e but perhaps not…anyway, hope this helps, tc.

I cannot imagine any Catholic who feels gluttony is okay, thinks that the Church is just being wrong and old-fashioned by calling gluttony a sin. I have never met one person in real life or on line who left the Church because they could not accept her teachings on gluttony.

I have met many who have left the practice of their faith over sex, masturbation, contraception, abortion, etc. Seems that Catholics have learned the lesson on gluttony.

Pray God, someday abortion is considered as abhorrent as gluttony and that Catholics no longer need to be reminded it is a sin.


I think you’re confusing the definition of gluttony with the state of merely being fat, or out of shape, or (most often) both.

Thomas Aquinas said: “Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire… leaving the order of reason, wherein the good of moral virtue consists.”

Even if you’re pro-masturbation, don’t you think it would be a grave sin if described as such: “Masturbation denotes, not any desire of pleasure and orgasm, but an inordinate desire . . . leaving the order of reason. . .”

And that seems like a very good working example of a disordered compulsion.


Gluttony can be either a mortal sin, as when a person treats food as the highest good, as a type of idolatry, or it can be a venial sin, as when a person overeats to some degree. St. Thomas:

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), the vice of gluttony properly consists in inordinate concupiscence. Now the order of reason in regulating the concupiscence may be considered from two points of view. First, with regard to things directed to the end, inasmuch as they may be incommensurate and consequently improportionate to the end; secondly, with regard to the end itself, inasmuch as concupiscence turns man away from his due end. Accordingly, if the inordinate concupiscence in gluttony be found to turn man away from the last end, gluttony will be a mortal sin. This is the case when he adheres to the pleasure of gluttony as his end, for the sake of which he contemns God, being ready to disobey God’s commandments, in order to obtain those pleasures. On the other hand, if the inordinate concupiscence in the vice of gluttony be found to affect only such things as are directed to the end, for instance when a man has too great a desire for the pleasures of the palate, yet would not for their sake do anything contrary to God’s law, it is a venial sin.

However, illicit sexual acts are not a matter of degree. A sexual act lacking in the marital or unitive or procreative meanings is inherently gravely disordered due to a moral object that is gravely contrary to love of God and neighbor.

It seems actually that gluttony is not really the cause of obesity–obesity is typically the result of adding a few hundred extra calories a day beyond what one requires (the equivalent of a small order of fries) which can equal a 30lb weight gain in one year… multiply this by several years, that’s where obesity comes from, not from people sitting down and gorging themselves silly.

Anyway, unlike sexual acts, eating excessive amounts can have value. Athletes trying to gain weight, for example, can justify eating twice the amount a normal person consumes, without any sin. No such justification (as much as many search in vain for) is available for sexual conduct outside its proper setting.

I have never seen a convincing explanation, which doesn’t make reference to Church teaching or the Church’s interpretation of natural law, as to why masturbation is inherently wrong.

I’m pretty sure it’s one of the 7 deadly sins actually, not sure where the confusion was with glottony.

Well we could, start here if you like :slight_smile:

1 Tim 3

15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth

I don’t see anything about masturbation there.

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