Masturbation and Discernment

I’ve been discerning priesthood for over a year. I have regular spiritual direction. Here’s the problem. I am 100% able to go without masturbation. Sometimes, though, I mess up and do it. Does this mean that I don’t have a genuine vocation? For the record, I have gone to confession…

I think you need to discuss this with a spiritual director, and you really need one if you are discerning a vocation.

I’ve read that some Church officials would like to see seminarians ditch the habit of masturbation and not get into the habit of “running to different confessors.”

Also, I would have to say there’s more to an actual vocation than immediate, perfect discipline on masturbation.

This subject never ceases to amaze me, as to how much chatter is created by a natural human function

It doesn’t mean that you don’t have a genuine vocation, but it is important to purify/prepare yourself for such a sublime vocation. St. Alphonsus writes that, for the first eleven centuries of the Church, one could not be admitted to the priesthood if they had committed mortal sin. Obviously the Church has changed this discipline, but it gives us some idea of the great dignity of a priest.

Keep close to Our Lady and you will come to love what she loves: purity and humility.

Good luck with your discernment!

100%, except for sometimes ? :confused:

Becoming a priest is generally a 6-year process isn’t it? That’s a lot of time between you, your earthly friends & counselors, your mystical brothers & sister’s, & God to get you into shape. Just keep battling for purity until this grave evil is removed entirely. If only perfect men discerned to join the priesthood, there wouldn’t be a priesthood. The existence of sin in your life is not an indicator - in even the slightest fashion - that you’re not meant to be a priest.

Don’t become disillusioned with the idea that you’re not getting anywhere. Sexual morality works the exact same way as any other lifestyle that we condition into ourselves. The more you say “Yes” to God, the more founded you become to say “Yes” the next time. The more you say “No” to God, the more founded you become to say “No” the next time. Just keep persevering. It’s a spiritual athleticism. Reps & repeat.

And don’t be a defensive combatant and simply think “Don’t be impure”, but rather think “Be pure”. They both mean the same thing, but the 2nd one possesses a different attitude. Think of new ways in which you can serve those around you, in prayer, in study, in generosity, in involvement. The more you open yourself up to being a light, the more our sinful nature is going to recede.

It never ceases to amaze me how if it is no big deal then how come people can’t stop doing it. Reminds me of all the potheads saying how MJ is not addictive or harmful, then risking their families and freedom to smoke it.:rolleyes:

I would say that if you believe the Church and cannot stop doing this function that it ceases to be a natural human function and treads in the area of a disorder.

I noticed that too.

“I can quit drinking anytime I wish.” “Just not right now…”

How does that song go,?

 Everybody's doin. It doin it doin it ,,,

And no,it’s not a disorder, unless you do it several times a day,

The OP wants to stop. The OP cant. Call it what you will.

For me when the urge arises (most often if my mind is not occupied) that’s when I try to read some chapters of the bible, st. Augustine’s confessions, or anything to get myself occupied. Though I fail to overcome the urge a times. I have now been striving to find myself an activity to do such as a walk or workout.

And yet you could not refrain from joining in on the conversation yourself.

That’s a neat theory. On whose authority or on what reasoning do you make this claim? It’s certainly not based on Church teaching or on natural law ethics.

On what reasoning ? It’s called reality of human nature,
Although the spirit is strong , the flesh is weak,
What would your interpretation be of that quote be, and in which context ?
In my 60 years of experience on the wonderful earth…
I have at times stood back and watched humanity,
I have learnt much, and yet I have learnt nothing,
We are nothing but dust, and to dust we shall return,
I could as others do, give reams of information,
About human nature and why people conduct themselves in certain ways,
But what would the point of that be,
You are on your journey, and I on mine,
Good luck,

My friend, the context here is that we all experience the consequences of Original Sin. It is human nature to be drawn to fleshly pleasure, that is F-A-L-L-E-N human nature. Through God’s Mercy and the help of His Grace we can master our bodies in a way that these temptations have little hold on us. It is a matter of ordering the will, by properly forming the conscience. If you are Catholic, I would recommend you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this which I have quoted below.

(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.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”

While I am 100% in agreement with Church teachings and I struggle with this sin myself, I would just have to say that eating and breathing are natural functions that are not disordered but we cannot stop doing it. Our sexuality is not disordered if we maintain the discipline to use it as the gift that it is. But the natural temptations are part of our make up and unfortunately many of us have those weak moments where we fail. This is not like many sins that are not a part of our physical anatomy but more on just right decision making. I never smoked pot and it was quite popular in my day but sexual urges started when I was around 12 and never left as of yet. This is a very difficult area for many people and the CCC actually recognizes that there are circumstances where the culpability of this sin is mitigated.

You are right that masturbation is a disordered use of our sexuality but it is also probably one of the hardest urges to overcome since we are physically made to have these feelings. The only difference between one who falls in this area and one who doesn’t is the amount of discipline one is willing to put forth. It can be done as has been affirmed by some but then there are those who will struggle with this the rest of their lives.

It’s liars and children of the devil who say this which have prevented me from seeing it as a disorder from my youth, and now it has developed into a strong habit and has a firm hold over me. I truly wish liars and children of the devil who promote the idea that “masturbation is natural and fine” would be completely silenced from spewing that evil.

Well, you admit to the fact that you do such things, why do you feel the need ?
Does the devil have such control over your being ?
Is it actually the devil that is causing you to fall short of your expectations of yourself ?
It’s not my place to ask weather there are certain aspects of your life which fall short,
I have seen enough to say, it’s not the devil at all,it’s humanity itself…
Nothing to feel shame about, their are far worse deeds committed than self amusement ,

I think it was the book Spiritual Combat, where it was said that we should not follow the example of Eve in debating with Satan, lest we should fall victim to subtle deceits. Rather, we should respond: if you wish to know the truth of the matter, you may ask the Church yourself. So, this I say to you.

Phil, just stop.

If you want to hold this position, fine. It’s your soul. But when you come into a public arena, speaking as a self-identified Catholic, deliberately speaking by the authority of age-wrought wisdom things that are antithetical to Catholic doctrine, you cause scandal. And that is itself a grave sin because by it you lead others to sin.

The Catholic Church has clearly defined masturbation as a grave sin. Yes, there are worse deeds committed, but that doesn’t lessen the gravity of this sin. It deforms the intellect and erodes the will. It is not a matter of mere amusement. There’s no such thing as an isolated, personal sin.

Sex is a biological expression of the essential nature of God: Love. And love is the self-gift for the good of the other. Masturbation deforms the meaning of self-giving love and turns human sexuality in on itself. Masturbation is essentially selfish, while true human sexuality is essentially other-oriented. In authentic human sexuality, there is a lover and a beloved, and the life that springs from that mutual love. In masturbation, the lover is the beloved, and the act is barren.

The way masturbation deforms the intellect is that through this practice of self-love, the treatment of an essentially other-oriented aspect of your biology as self-oriented, one begins to treat other aspects of human nature as self-oriented. The immediate area affected is normal sexual activity. One begins to treat other people as objects to be used rather than people to be loved. Why? Because through masturbation that’s exactly how one treats oneself. Your own body, which is you, becomes an object for self-satisfaction. So, if you treat yourself as an object, how much more will you treat others as objects? Eventually, this will extend to all areas of human interaction. You begin to see normal, everyday interactions as sexual. Filial (or brotherly) intimacy becomes homosexual. Polite interactions with members of the opposite sex become flirtatious. Familial intimacy becomes incestuous. Etc.

It erodes the will because as one becomes addicted to the endorphins released into the brain during the act, one becomes less able to deny oneself such pleasure. In time, this weakness permeates to most other areas of one’s life. The person becomes short-tempered, easily aroused, argumentative, slothful, gluttonous, etc. In other words, one seeks instant gratification.

One may be able to ward these effects for a time if other virtues are cultivated and affirmed. But, this sin diminishes those other virtues, making them less than they could be.

As Catholics, we do not promote a culture of shame. Christ came to free us from the weight of sin. However, that doesn’t mean that sin isn’t shameful. It just means we shouldn’t let it dominate us, but rather we should use it as motivation to be better lovers for our beloved Lord. In other words, it shouldn’t be “I’m evil” kind of shame, but rather, “Christ deserves better, so I will be better” kind of shame. Anyone who’s married knows that the first kind of self-pitying shame doesn’t help anybody, but the second kind can help make the marriage flourish.

So, it’s good for those who fall into this sin to feel shame, as long as it’s the right kind of shame. And let’s be clear, this is a sin, and it is grave.

Wow, that’s a really great way to put it. This might help a lot against my self-loathing and despair. Thanks!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit