Masturbation as a Socially Acceptable Thing

Why is masturbation so widely accepted? It seems as though there are many Catholic’s and non-Catholics around my age 19-20’s are so open about this. It is not morally acceptable. Why?

A health science teacher in high school once said to us (Co-Ed setting) that 95 percent masturbate and the other 5 percent are liars. Well, Gregory House may say that everyone lies, but perhaps, most don’t lie about that.

More seriously, there are strong biological urges that are difficult to defeat and most people succumb to them. In other words, there is not much thought or premeditation going into one’s decision or urge to masturbate (since one’s “free will” is enervated). Perhaps the urge to masturbate is much like the urge for someone with Prader-Willi syndrome to eat voraciously (because their gastrointestinal system produces too much grelin). From my more cynical perspective, it doesn’t seem that chastity really is a virtue, so much as a neurophysiological state of chronic sexual satiety. Instead, it would seem that the ideal state for a Catholic single is a state resembling hyperprolactinemia. Too bad there isn’t a drug that can bring about this neurophysiological state in a manner with minimal side effects.

In women, a high blood level of prolactin often causes hypo-oestrogenism with anovulatory infertility and a decrease in menstruation. In some women, menstruation may disappear altogether (amenorrhoea). In others, menstruation may become irregular or menstrual flow may change. Women who are not pregnant or nursing may begin producing breast milk. Some women may experience a loss of libido (interest in sex) and breast pain, especially when prolactin levels begin to rise for the first time, as the hormone promotes tissue changes in the breast. Intercourse may become painful because of vaginal dryness.

In men, the most common symptoms of hyperprolactinaemia are decreased libido, sexual dysfunction (in both men and women), erectile dysfunction, infertility and gynaecomastia. Because men have no reliable indicator such as menstruation to signal a problem, many men with hyperprolactinaemia being caused by an adenoma may delay going to the doctor until they have headaches or eye problems caused by the enlarged pituitary pressing against the adjacent optic chiasm. They may not recognize a gradual loss of sexual function or libido. Only after treatment do some men realize they had a problem with sexual function.

Won’t speak for Catholics, but non-Catholics tend not to be bound by what Catholicism deems morally acceptable.

They certainly don’t adhere to Church teaching, that is true; but to not be bound by it means that it is not true, and a person’s decision not to accept something as true has no affect on whether or not that thing really is true. They may not adhere to it, no, but as it is the law of God they are certainly bound by it whether they accept it as true or not.

This is similar to the fact that even if I don’t know something is illegal, or don’t accept that it is illegal and do it anyways, I am still held accountable for breaking the law.

Because the fundamental philosophy of our culture has changed.

100+ years ago, we lived in a culture that believed humanity was created by God for a distinct purpose and that there were objective criteria for discerning the difference between actions that contributed to us living out that purpose (virtues) and actions that were destructive to that purpose. Sexual intimacy is a gift given to us to cement the bond between man and wife and allow it to both flourish and endure for a lifetime. When it is used for shallow gratification like a candy bar, it loses its power to achieve its actual purpose.

Today people have redefined the idea of “freedom” from one in which we are able to choose and do what is good to one in which we can “do whatever we want.” Freedom today isn’t thought of in terms of living up to our potential as human beings, but in achieving pleasure.

Nobody much studies philosophy anymore (I’m only starting the learn the basics myself), but the change came about largely via the thoughts of three major figures: Nietzsche, Freud and Marx. JP2 agreed with Paul Ricouer that these three great “Masters of Suspicion” fundamentally changed the character of western civilization.

What? You asked!

Sure, but by the same token, the law of God’s ability to assert itself as the law of God has no bearing on the truth of whether it actually is the law of God.

As rational beings we can understand that the only rational use of sperm is to fertilize eggs to “generate” the next “generation” of humans.

As rational beings we can understand that the intense pleasure of sexual activity is so that it will be desirable more than anything to do, and thus it will happen and there will be “generation” of the next “generation” of the species.

As rational beings we can understand that the intensely personal nature of sexual intimacy is to ensure that there will be reasonable trust between a man and woman that provides for fidelity with regard to that trust of the self to the other partner, and thus guarantees they will remain together to parent their “generated” offspring of the species.

As rational beings we can understand that an activity that impacts society’s well being (the need for future generations of good citizens, the need for the species to continue), this activity is moderated by society, by the laws governing marriage. While it has been somewhat rationally governed by societies, in the Church we see the fully rational moderation of it with the granting of Grace in the Sacrament of Matrimony to fulfill it in fully rational act.

Masturbation is irrational, throwing away the sperm for males, missing a great portion of the sexual pleasure that a man and woman only can experience, hiding his masturbation in trust of no-one. That is why it is sin - it is “in-ordinate” actualizing of sexual instinct. In-ordinate, meaning not ordered by reason, which is what humans are for, to act by reason rather than by imagination.

In which “society” is this sin acceptable? In “American Society” or in “Catholic Society”?

I, for the most part, welcome the modern liberation from “white” “philosophy” and readily embrace empiricism and utilitarianism as the basis for philosophy. (I see myself as “Blue” and “Red”.) People do study philosophy, and what conservative Catholics regard as “modern” philosophy (in a pejorative sense) is quite tenable, and be the basis for a society based on sympathy and social, economic, and technological progress. Masturbation has little to do with that, since it is one’s means of satisfying a primal urge if a partner is not available.

As one can see, I see that particular act as a consequence of one’s biological urges that are deeply entrenched reflection of our 3 billion year evolutionary heritage. And also, I would say that “sex” as a form of “shallow gratification” is entirely ignoring the Darwinian profoundness of the issue, since sexual activity was usually associated with reproductive fitness. Thus, satisfying that desire is usually associated with propagating one’s genetic information into the next generation.

On a more personal note, I do do it. Sometimes I win; sometimes my biology gets the best of me. But as a result of my material understanding of my physiological and neurobiology, I almost never feel guilty about it, but I always feel shameful. often to the point of missing Mass. I never know that it is “mortal” since I believe that if I have “free will”, its influence its quite weak. After I do it, I often lament at my own weakness, many times too ashamed to asked for forgiveness, and I often wish there was some pharmacological means to reduce my desire to do it (with a favorable side effect profile as I do not want to take antidepressants or antipsychotics for this alone as I deemed those unacceptable for the benefit). I almost never think about it as an issue about “virtue” but rather biological urges that are hard to control.

Again, I have no practical advice to offer. I am just expressing some of my own intimate thoughts and attitudes on it.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what you’re trying to say with this. Could you please rephrase, or explain what your point it?

I think a hallmark of modern society is the belief that morality is a social construction rather than a reality, and that morality can therefore be reconstructed as society sees fit. This, of course, runs counter to the Church’s understanding that moral law comes from God and is not something we can change.

Once a person comes to the belief that society can alter moral law, it seems simply mean-spirited to impose old standards on others, and masochistic to impose such standards on oneself.

Basically, people are building their houses on shifting sand rather than on the rock.

You have a “schoolmaster” in learning to persevere in turning to God instead of sinning, in trusting God. God gave you this “schoolmaster”.
The “schoolmaster” is your desires, strange as that may sound.
Now, desires want satisfaction. and there are two ways to satisfy them, or so it seems. First, you go and take care of it yourself.
Second, you tell someone else of your desire, then let it go, knowing the “someone else” will provide for you.

The second way is what God wants you to learn when you experience desire (any desires). He wants you simply to tell him, “I am hungry”, then go on about your work with your stomach growling, continue to do the works he has put in front of you to do (after all, he is your “Lord”, and you, then, are his “subject” by implication), so your whole life is for you to come when he says come, your life as his subject is to go when he says go, and to eat when he says, “take and eat”. So, when you desire anything, you tell him “I desire”, then you go about His business joyfully, knowing he knows your desire.

The first way, getting your desire’s satisfaction for yourself, happens this way.
When you desire, your own mind begins thinking and imagining scenarios that could or would lead to successful satisfaction of your desire. You visualize images, have imagined conversations, etc. You are like an actor rehearsing the way you imagine things should go to achieve satisfaction.
This is a kind of “pre-thinking” that is an automatic occurrence in the human animal. St. James (chpt. 1) described it as being “lured and enticed” in the moment of his desire. Then, when the “pre-thinking” has been “conceived”, at some moment you begin to physically act out the pre-thinking, the rehearsals, and this is sin.
James’s solution to the first way is this:
Stop the pre-thinking when you realize it is happening and recall to your thoughts that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”. Your Father in Heaven is the source of the satisfaction in your desire. He gave you your desire to make you grow strong in trusting him and turning to him, not for “pre-thinking” and satisfying for yourself.
This “pre-thinking” St Paul called “the Flesh’s Forethought”. Paul said, “Put on, clothe yourself, with the Lord Jesus Christ - don’t do the pre-thinking (forethought) of the flesh in the midst of desires.” (my translation, from the Greek). Your “schoolmaster”, the desires God gave you are for “testing” you, they are a proving ground in making you “steadfast, perfect, and complete” in persevering in trusting in Him.

The pre-thinking we do in our heads is not real; the satisfaction is not satisfaction. Look at yourself - in the thoughts you have before you sin, you imagine everything is, in a way, “good”, but after you sin, you are fully dis-satisfied with yourself. The pre-thinking, the imaginations, etc. were an illusion and a lie and deception, and their satisfaction also vanished like an illusion. When God provides for your desires, you will humbly smile and whisper or you may shout “thank you” to Him.
Put away the pre-thoughts when you desire. Put on the Prayer. And then do the deeds your Lord sets in front of you while you wait for him to send his satisfaction.

I think what AJ is trying to say is that the logic of ignoring the law does not mean that the law is not true could also mean that just because God does something doesn’t mean it’s correct.

My point was that, for many, the most compelling piece of evidence that the presumed law of God is actually the law of God is that the law of God proclaims itself to be the law of God.

By the same token as proclaiming that you are not bound by God’s law doesn’t make it so, neither does the law of God, on its own authority, proclaiming itself to be the law of God make it so.

what the question again?

I would disagree with socially acceptable but say more of a common practice.
In today’s world- there is a lot of difference of opinion generated by different levels of exposure to sexual practices;what for one holds true for another may be anathema.

What is true is that it is seen as a safer method of experimenting or accessing these practices without actually taking part, significant if you take into account that what is on offer is seemingly without limit;physically you cannot actually undertake all of these in a lifetime yet they have a different appeal to each one. Fundamentally then it comes down to Fear and Curiosity and is driven by general misunderstanding of the true nature of sexual relations and why these ultimately lead to the destruction of the human soul when not conducted under the premise of matrimony.

The fact is we are blinded by the temptation of pleasure which means two things-we need to accept it as a thing of beauty at the same time that we realize how to go about it, akin to getting say a driver’s license.I believe this is Pope Francis message.many are ensnared simply by the fact that they can see the first and not the second.I say ensnared because once the door is opened , like any other it leads to many others and then it is a maze.

Going back to the beginning would say that it can be considered a current trend , meaning that there were other before and there will be others after as a general rule if you consider different sexual practices through the ages.In order not to be blinded to the harmful effects, we need to direct ourselves to the core of not knowing, not understanding what it is, but then still we are vulnerable through the knowledge of others. What is clear is that none can save themselves from sin in their lives and that ultimately it falls to the grace of God to liberate us

Hello Discernmentinpr.

It isn’t. You’re deluding yourself.


You have a will which is supposed to be in charge. Unfortunately, like all too many of us, your body and emotions are in charge.

We strenthen our wills by prayer and mortification. We start out small with mortifications and work our way up as our wills become stronger. A little mortification like saying one will not eat between 3 and 4 in the afternnon, the hour of Christ’s death, is one way to start. Saying the Rosary each day, or part of one and working up to 5 mysteries a day, is a way to start strengthening one’s prayer life.

Reading some good solid Catholic books instead of modern-day philosophy is also helpful as by strengthening our faith and love for Christ, our will is also motivated.

The closer we are to God, the less we are at the mercy of our bodies and emotions.

Dom Scupoli in Spiritual Combat says we must trust God to help us overcome sin, and when we fall, we must get right back up! And 2 of the ways we get God’s help is through Confession and Mass. It is good to feel shame or sorrow for our sins, but we must let God know we are sorry by going to Confession. Believe me, both God and priests have heard worse! So never feel too shamed to go to Mass or Confession! Even if you haven’t made it to Confession, go to Mass and make a Spiritual Communion instead of receiving.

Remember that Christ died on the cross for *you! *Obviously then, He will do anything to help you, all you have to do is to ask. Think about His great love for you and turn to Him whenever you need to.

Well, one must have faith that God can provide, through some mechanism, a desired neurophysiological state. For most people who realize that it is a sinful act, they simply relent to temptation because they want to revert to the neurophysiological state of non-arousal. Simple put, this would seem that the ideal Catholic single is one who is insensitive to the mental and physiological cues of sexual arousal, and that “virtue” primarily is an invulnerability to those neurophysiological states. It makes me think how many people would take “steroids” (for men this should ironically have anti-androgenic effects) in the Cathlympics; the connotation of cheating implies that there is more “virtue” when one perseveres through “free will” than through some pharmacological means, but one does not sin if one does not sin regardless of the means. Some “steroids” do exist, such as antidepressant and antipsychotics, but I am sure most reasonable people would not use them to diminish sexual desire alone, given that many have assessed that the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

This “pre-thinking” St Paul called “the Flesh’s Forethought”. Paul said, “Put on, clothe yourself, with the Lord Jesus Christ - don’t do the pre-thinking (forethought) of the flesh in the midst of desires.” (my translation, from the Greek). Your “schoolmaster”, the desires God gave you are for “testing” you, they are a proving ground in making you “steadfast, perfect, and complete” in persevering in trusting in Him.

I do not need to be “tested” to know that I am weak and lack perseverance (given that I lack conscientiousness, and I am more prone to apprehension, despondency, and dejection relative to the average person, but I am not clinically depressed because I do not experience anhedonia and those states are transient). I am fundamentally a glass cannon* whose defenses are akin to a wet paper bag who cannot take many neutral physical or special hits, and who largely needs to set-up a Substitute to avoid being KOed (but I got a fairly decent set of immunities.) I could knock out most temptations prophylactically if I anticipate them, but sometimes they persist and I inevitable succumb.

There is really no point train for traits that I do not possess. It is best to focus on my strong points.

Again, I mostly feel nothing but shame and frustration (no pun intended) when I do it, and never any pangs of guilt. Lamentable, going to Mass for me now is like clicking “Focus Blast”** (and it is actually worse than that).

  • Like Gengar with 60/60/75 bulk, not my namesake, Latias, who actually can take a few Special hits with her 80/90/130 bulk. I feel like I getting Pursued or Sucker Punched!

** A powerful Fighting-type special attack with 70% accuracy. It is regarded as essential coverage for some special attackers to get by some walls.

Regarding the issue in the OP. One contributing factor is that most people do not want to feel bad or mired in excessive guilty and/or shame. Do single people want to identify their libido as an almost insurmountable enemy that should be incapacitated? This seems to be a rather simplistic, but accurate understanding of the sexual aspects of Catholic moral theology.

You start talking to God when you are experiencing desire, you say, “Lord, I am hungry for sexual satisfaction.” This replaces the “pre-thinking” thoughts in that moment.

Angels were sent by God to minister to Jesus in his hunger in the desert, but had he not ended the pre-thinking inspired by Satan and had he said there is not point and had he changed stones into bread he would not have kept walking away from Satan and would never have encountered those angels with their food and drink.

You also, can “go hungry” until you see the angel with the provision from God. He is expecting that of you, that you come to the provision he provides with your hunger. That is your purpose in this matter - to hang on and meet him in the provision he provides. That is the point for you, not to give up, but to persevere in turning to him when others give in and say there is no point. You are Catholic.

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