I'm worried for my nephew


Here’s the thing:

So I have a seventeen year-old nephew who is a very pious individual. He goes to mass every Sunday, prays the rosary with the family, and is very active in the Youth Ministry in our local parish. However, I just found out recently (through his friends) that he masturbates on a daily basis (sometimes, up to three times a day! I still cannot believe this!). He also keeps a lot of pornographic videos in his computer.

What should I do? I’m so worried that God might spite him, despite his good works. I’m worried that all his efforts are meaningless.

Please pray for him and his family!


His friends told you this?


Yes. Those friends are also from the Youth Ministry, and I am very much acquainted with them. They told me out of concern.


If I understand Catholic teaching correctly it is not your responsibility or your business. Do you have any sins requiring the intervention of your nephew?


Really? I can see a camel in your cup.

Three times a day? Is there a doctor in your neighbourhood?


This is not abnormal for a 17 year old boy, and if he’s as pious as you say, presumably he’s already aware it’s a problem and he’s working on it. The last thing he needs is his uncle having an awkward conversation with him about his masturbatory habits.


What exactly were the 17-year-old’s friends expecting you as the uncle to do about this?

I would think a concerned friend of a 17-year-old would tell the 17-year-old directly that he was sinning and they were worried about him, not narc on him to his family in a case where he wasn’t in immediate danger of death. I can see friends telling a family member if a 17-year-old is using hard drugs or has expressed suicidal thoughts.


Have we changed the meaning of this word?

He’s using pornography and masturbating three times a day and he’s described as pious?

I’m not judging the lad but I am questioning the use of this word.


Im sorry they broke his trust. I hope whatever measures are taken do not create a rift in his spiritual life which would be larger than his sins.


Have you talked with him about it?
I still find it strange that his friends would tell you such thing and first of all check up on its accuracy with your nephew before spreading such information to anyone else.
Kids can be mean and gossipy.
Why would he tell them in the first place? How did they find out? Did they spy on him?


I’ve reconsidered this. All this masturbation and pornography must be causing him a great deal of spiritual discomfort incongruent as it is with his pious nature. I think that’s punishment enough but I will pray for him in any event.
God bless.


I think the OP meant “pious” in the sense that the young man prays, goes to Mass, and is involved with a youth ministry.
He is outwardly pious.
He may have a big secret problem with the porn and masturbation.

I hate to say this, but this sort of thing is true of many outwardly pious guys. In some cases I think the thrill of the “forbidden” actually causes them to get more interested in secret sexual naughtiness than the guy who isn’t particularly holy. The less holy guys kinda shrug off porn with a “meh” as they don’t feel bound by religious rules and don’t see it as being forbidden or a big secret thrill.


I totally agree, a lot of what sex is about is in the mind. Also some nervous individuals develop this compulsion to reduce anxiety. And as the Catechism points out there is also a force of habit, the body actually becomes accustomed to things if they become regular. It’s not easy for a youngster.

I wish that more people understood the nature of evil, I’m sure if they did they would reject it swiftly. I often see people rejoicing in their base behaviour and I am saddened by it because excess leads to excess and the ultimate results are chaos, destruction, hate and illness and that’s just in this life. Later as we know it also leads to death of the spirit. And behind those people having harmless ‘fun’ is the enemy, gloating and watching Gods creatures destroy themselves. The enemy hates people and wishes their destruction. Masturbation and pornography is a way in, an open door and invitation.

It has to be said.


Thanks for your honesty.
Maybe I wasn’t clear enough about my thoughts on this. I once thought that masturbation was extremely trivial, like scratching an itch, that’s it. But since I’ve become a Catholic I’ve had to think about it differently, I had to decide whether I agreed that it was a mortal sin or not for example. At first I didn’t.
Eventually I considered carefully what in fact I was doing and I decided that although the act itself isn’t that awful my accompanying thoughts were not helpful to my attempts to be pious. That throws up hypocrisy as well. I personally think that that is where the evil lies and so I now agree that masturbation, particularly accompanied by viewing pornography is pernicious. Jesus spoke once about a divided house cannot stand and I feel it applies here because there is this incongruence involved and as everyone seeks to remove incongruence due to the discomfort of mental ambiguity there is a danger that someone’s faith would collapse, especially if they are young.

I do agree with you and I am not a paragon of virtue by any means, but there are some underlying dangers which need to be addressed I think. If I’m going to seek reconciliation by telling another man that I’ve masturbated I need to have a good reason! My only good reason would be if I genuinely thought it was a mortal sin and had caused separation from God.

Years ago someone told me or I read that the most common reasons for damnation are sins of the flesh. Personally I try to keep that thought. I’m glad we talked about this because the problem is often not discussed properly in my opinion.


That must have been a very awkward conversation. Be careful, something seems not quite right here.

Just look at his computer to confirm and then talk about what you found if you find anything. I would not talk with the friends anymore about this.

Praying for your nephew.


I have no words to describe how weird it is that they told you.

Talk to God about it, but not your nephew. Trust me, he won’t want to talk to you about it.


Yeah, don’t do that. Violation of privacy and all that.


I was a slave to this sin for many years, though I was rather lapsed. When I came back to the Church at 28 I quit. I expected it to be more difficult, but I did. Not entirely sure why I’m sharing, but there’s certainly hope that he’ll mature out of it.

Pray for him. It’s something your nephew’s parents will hopefully have informed him on already when talking about puberty (do parents have “the talks” anymore?). As an uncle, it’s not really your place to step in unless your nephew gives you an opening of some sort to talk about it.

Raging hormones, addiction, force of habit, are mitigating factors in his culpability.


I wasn’t aware if the op was guardian or not. If not it’s inappropriate for teens to tell an uncle, no matter what comfort level is in conversation if he’s not guardian, and he should let them know this and to redirect to parents.

In this day and age conversations like this between minors and adults are not smart.


Sorry, I meant to reply to the OP and it captured you instead.

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