Masturbation: Why is it Wrong if...?


#1

I consider this to be a very serious post. I only wish for insight from somebody qualified to respond. This is of a somewhat private or personal nature…please keep responses on a serious note.

I am a Catholic, 24 yrs. old (male). I have long been struggling with temptations and sins of impurity…specifically masturbation. I stay away from it for several weeks, even months, then, crash…relapse.

First off, the definition of masturbation, according to the Vatican catechism: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

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."138 “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."139

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.*

Now, in the past, I have been tempted for all the usual reasons. You know, it all boils down to “I just want to do it because it feels good.” Well now, I’ve been trying to avoid this for the past several months, but one thing gets me…
See the above definition?.. It keeps mentioning the word “pleasure.” "…masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure"and “…for here sexual pleasure is sought…”

Well, I hate to be knit-picking, and I know it looks like I’m looking for a loophole, but I’m not. The problem is, if I can honestly say that I’m masturbating as a “release,” and it is not for pleasure (i.e. I have previously been putting off the temptation for hours or days, praying, distracting myself from the thought, etc.), if I can say it is not for pleasure, then by definition it is not even masturbation! What do I call it? Is this action even sinful? You will say, of course, but why? If done for reasons other than pleasure, what sin does it come under? Lust? No, that is “the disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure…”

Most of you probably won’t even believe I can be making this argument in all seriousness, but I am. In fact, I am in a dilemma, torn in mind and spirit. I have explained my reasoning somewhat to the priest in the confessional, as I have above, but he says (and I am sure he is only trying to help): “Don’t fool yourself, this is a very pleasurable act. You are doing it for the pleasure.” something like that…

You see, I want, I need somebody to convince me that I am wrong. It will be so much easier if I can realize there are no loopholes. As long as I can say, “if I am not doing this for pleasure, if I can simply have a “release,” just to be more able to go about my daily duties,” I will keep doing this. But somehow, based on my upbringing this action (masturbation, if that’s what it is) seems wrong. That is how I was taught, as a Catholic, in no uncertain terms.

No, it would be far easier if I can put my trust in God and pray that through the intercession of Mary I can avoid these actions… Please tell me how my reasoning is wrong. Or why this action is sinful when done for reasons other than pleasure.
Even though I committed these actions this week with the idea that it wasn’t sinful, I feel obligated not to go to Communion until this is confessed. But if I do not have a “true purpose of amendment” I cannot be forgiven… This is serious. I know there is an explanation. Everything can be explained within the Catholic Church. It always turns out that way. I must be wrong somewhere. I don’t mean to do wrong, but I am torn in mind, heart and soul. I am serious. Please help. By the grace of God, please…I know I will be helped.
May God Bless you.

Ooh! I think I may have posted in the wrong thread. I have since submitted this to “Ask an Apologist.” Sorry I am new to this site. Oh well, if you can competently respond, go ahead, please.


#2

Oh, you’re looking for a loophole alright. But don’t worry, that’s part of being human. :smiley: By saying this I don’t mean to accuse you of seeking to satisfy your lustful desires, but rather I am saying that you are seeking a loophole to provide the stress-relief you find in the act. I don’t think that masturbation is solely fueled by sexual desire. In fact I would in my own opinion say that habitual masturbation goes far beyond that. And in that sense it becomes all the worse. The act of masturbation is a serious perversion of the sexual function, but to use masturbation wholly outwith its sexual context—even of one of self-pleasure—seems to me to be a perversion to a higher degree.

But you may rest your mind at ease because there’s no “get out of jail free card” to play here. Masturbation is always wrong and there is never any justification for it (though culpability may be diminished). And the wording does not leave you any wiggle room unless you accomplish several feats of mental gymnastics to do so. The catechism’s definition is that masturbation is an act which is “the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure” does not presuppose that the ends of the act are sexual pleasure. If—God forbid!—you and I were to fall into the sin of masturbation today, we may have two very different intentions. For talking sake, I do it because I saw a hot blonde and wish to indulge my lustful desires, and you do it because you’ve had a really stressful time at work and you just saw that your bishop was dancing in the parish hall to “Kumbaya” and you just can’t deal with that right now. Your end isn’t the sexual gratification, it is a means to an end, but the end that you seek—a release from your worries, anger, frustration, etc.—is accomplished via the pleasurable stimulation of masturbation.

So whether sexual pleasure is the ends, or the means to an ends, the end result is that it is still sinful and wrong.

It’s a struggle, a struggle you’re not alone in. Just keep having recourse to prayer. You’ll get there in the end. :slight_smile:

In Jesus and Mary,
OS.


#3

First of all I think it’s great that you’re learning about what the Church has to say about it and reaching out to others on here to find an explanation. I think the advice the priest gave you was actually very appropriate and probably something you know in your heart to be true, and that you should listen to the advice of the priest.

I can sympathize with your need for correction. I’m the same way. I often come on here to “explain a hardship” that I’m having with a church teaching and accidentally end up convincing myself of it just by attempting to write it out. That’s kind of the beauty of being able to express your innermost feelings like this in all honesty, not trying to “find loopholes” but to genuinely understand. God often makes the “answer” available to us the second we start to go looking for it. What I think is that you know the answer, and the answer is that you do masturbate for release but also for pleasure, and that the reason you feel like you need to skip Communion is actually the guidance of the Holy Spirit beckoning you back to Himself before you commit another grave sin.

Now to try to answer your question, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that even I have it all figured out. I also struggle with masturbation and lust, terribly so. I often end up going to Confession twice a week because of it, and often have to skip Communion because of it, week after week sometimes. I can normally go a few days at most “sober” from this habit, but I struggle just as I suppose so many others do. It’s probably one of the most common mortal sins there is, but make no mistake that it’s a morally grave action always, regardless of how often it happens or for what reason it’s being done. Now, what you might want to do is talk to your Pastor, if you haven’t already, either in Confession or privately, and tell him that you’re struggling with it and that you feel it’s become a force of habit for you and explain your individual situation. He may be able to give you more personalized help. He may even determine that your will is compromised by “addiction,” and therefore the necessary “full consent of the will” for mortal sin is lessened, but definitely talk to him about that first and go by his pastoral advice.

From my own experience I will say this. Two things need to happen to overcome the sin of masturbation (and lust). You need to know just how much you are loved by God, and know God personally, not as a “force” or a “thing” or something you want something from, but as a “person” who loves you more than you can know. You also need to get to a point of such utter despair that you simply can’t “bear it any longer.” The pain of the despair and the sense of “going in circles” that masturbation will cause you over and over and over again will eventually start to overwhelm the temporary burst of pleasure that it gives you. This despair is actually good for you so long as you understand that God is allowing you to feel it so that you’ll understand just how much this sin offends Him. It’s not something that God wills you to feel indefinitely, but only as long as takes before you finally say “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE” and decide, once and for all, to never go anywhere that will tempt you ever again.

A piece of scripture that I’ve found helpful in the battle against masturbation is Jeremiah 20:9: "But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it."

Notice Jeremiah says something about his thirst for God here that is very akin to something someone who masturbates will often say, and indeed it’s what struck me so profoundly about it, especially the “I am wear of holding it in, and I can not endure it.” Essentially what God is trying to teach us is that our desire for God should be at least as strong and if not stronger than our desire to sin, which if you’re anything like me, can be incredibly strong, to the point where I find myself saying “I can’t endure it any longer!” The point is, after a while of struggling with masturbation, it gets to a point where the despair it casts upon every avenue of grace in life gets to such an extent that you can no longer subject yourself to it… in other words, you can no longer “bear” to subject yourself to it. It’s just too painful to keep doing it.

Keep praying, whether in a state of grace or out of the abyss of mortal sin, knowing that each breath you have is a chance to start anew after every fall, but not just a chance, a gift of God, who remember is not the one subjecting you to this. Ultimately the sinner is the one subjecting themselves to this cycle of despair (which the Church calls “self-abuse” for a reason). Often I feel like God is waiting for us to stop abusing ourselves because He has more important things to “show us,” and sometimes it seems the process needs to be sped up for certain people… some people are bothered by this sin more than others, but ultimately the suffering that it causes over and over usually causes it to end quicker. Ultimately God know what is best for you, and that is why you need to keep asking only that His will be done, even if “we may suffer for a time” (as St. Peter wrote in 1st Peter 1:6: "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."


#4

[Cont.]

Remember that Christian joy has everything to do with “hope.” Christian joy doesn’t mean we cease to struggle, it just means that there’s always hope whether we struggle or not. Keep praying. Keep going to Confession. Go regularly. Go to Communion when in a state of grace. Don’t try to “climb up another way.” You won’t struggle with this sin forever if you keep doing these things. I know it sounds corny and you’ve probably heard people tell you it a million times and you may even get sick of hearing people tell you it (I know I do sometimes), but it’s the truth. Recently I felt God’s “nearness” and His overwhelming tenderness while before the Blessed Sacrament and I think for the first time in my life I felt loved by God… that is, I allowed myself to finally feel what God is, and I knew it because I felt like I loved Him almost like another person. That’s because He is a person. He talks like a person. And He’s right there, always. If you can get into that frame of mind where you have a “lover” always beside you whispering in your ear “I’ll be with you, always.” Then it’s easier to avoid temptation… at least, that’s how it’s been for me.

Why is masturbation always grave matter? Basically because it prevents the soul from being receptive to grace, which is how we live, by misusing the body, and especially the part of the body endowed with God-given “procreative” capacity. This is indeed very hard to resist doing because of our fallen nature, but we shouldn’t be satisfied with our fallen nature. Our call as Christians is to “put on a new nature.” Chastity though is a grace that only God can give, and He’s ever-willing to give us this grace, but we have to be able to receive it as a gift. Like St. James wrote: “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” I’ve found that since I decided not to EVER go back to the places that tempt me, I’ve all of a sudden had amazing burst of inexplicable self control… I haven’t even been tempted in a while now.

What I realize is that self-control is a gift… it’s a grace. You can only “get it” from God… but God can’t give it to you unless you’re able to receive it… and you’re only able to receive it when you’re willing to change something about yourself that you probably don’t want to change. If you’re not willing to change, then you’re not able to receive it, and so therefore God can’t give it to you… and so therefore no amount of your own “willpower” will ever be enough because of the fallen nature being at war with the spiritual. But in the end it’s not about laboring in vain to overcome something, but simply trusting in God, and “coasting with ease” …allowing His current to take you to where you need to be. Instead of trying in vain to paddle against the current, simply continue to ask him to redirect the stream. Then it gets easy for you.

God bless you. I’ll pray for you. :wink:


#5

You responded with a spiritual answer. Here’s a physical one: It’s like playing with fire, regarding “the brain’s chemical cocktail” that occurs during sexual activity and after sexual climax. See “The Porn Circuit: Understanding Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 DaysCovenant Eyes, Inc. (2013). This PDF has information regarding what happens physically in the brain.

Apparently because sex was designed by God to be a sacred participation in His creation, “procreation”, it has powerful affects on our bodies. Ultimately, though perhaps difficult to see (especially if hooked on masturbation/porn and thinking it’s normal), I think masturbation – through these physical mechanisms – ultimately interferes with our relationships, which our sexual drive impels us towards. For example, I have found that, the longer I abstain from “sexual release” as the OP calls it, the more I notice things about the opposite sex, e.g. their appearance, and I find myself more social, even unwittingly engaging in conversation.

Likewise – although here extrapolating – I am inclined to think that, if married, only having sexual releases with one’s spouse will bind one more to that person, which is the purpose of the oxytocin that is released post-climax (and perhaps during). I tend to think oxytocin encourages binding to whatever the person is engaged in – hence masturbation encourages isolation and anti-social tendencies.

I also wonder about hormone cycles, but that’s yet another layer to this puzzle.


#6

The definition of “pleasure” includes “release”.

If I have an itch, and scratching it makes the itch go away, scratching is a pleasure.

As a Catholic, familiar with the Church’s teaching, you already know that any use of the sexual faculties outside of marriage is morally unacceptable.

Since this problem is a common sin for young men, trying to make an argument that it is not a sin is probably not a very productive use of your time.

The issue of culpability is worth your time, and it is one which you should explore with a confessor.

It can be a very tough sin to conquer, but conquering it is possible - I just would not suggest trying to do it alone without some spiritual guidance.

.


#7

Common sin for men? Are you sure that -only- men?


#8

You’re fixating too much on that first sense in the CCC paragraph you cited, which gives a normative description of masturbation, not a universal one. Focus on the third sentence:

“The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.”

For WHATEVER reason, whether pleasure, release, whatever. It’s outside of marriage, hence contrary to its purpose, hence immoral.


#9

Thank you one and all for your prompt replies. For any future viewers of this thread who find themselves in the same (or similar) predicament that I was in…

Two things were said that rang true to me and which (thankfully) shattered my “moral argument”:

  1. The definition of “pleasure” includes “release”. If I have an itch, and scratching it makes the itch go away, scratching is a pleasure.
  2. “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” … so this means:

For WHATEVER reason, whether pleasure, release, whatever. It’s outside of marriage, hence contrary to its purpose, hence immoral.

These are very solid points. I also appreciate those of you who contributed supporting reasoning on the physical level: what we feel if we are brought closer to God…how this will help prevent from falling into sin, also the chemical’s that are released in the brain…and for everything else that was said.

A quick side note to Mark86, you remember, of course, that despair is a sin also. But I know what you mean. I am, as you meant, **intolerant **of committing this sin again. As you put it. “I can’t take it anymore.”
Therefore, I now seek peace and reconciliation, remembering that this sin does offend God very much and for this (in part) He was crucified. I helped to crucify Him. How he must love us to forgive us again and again. This is unfathomable.

I really do appreciate your prayers, and I look forward to the peace of mind and spirit that I hope to obtain soon from the Sacrament of Penance. Pray that I am not struck by lightning before I can get to confession. :o I will pray for you all too.


#10

True. I guess what I meant was something more akin to a “righteous despair”… kind of like a “righteous anger”… Despair by itself means you’ve lost all hope. But I think things in life can still cause one great suffering and anguish without making you lose hope that one day it’ll cease to be a problem for you. I think that’s what the scriptures remind us of over and over again, and indeed what many individuals in the history of the Church have discovered, at least those we call Saints.

Keep it up. :wink:


#11

“Release” is considered a “pleasurable” experience.

If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be wanting or needing it.
If “release” was painful, you probably would not want any.

Unless, of course (and now, here’s your next possible loophole semantically)…we can define the pleasure as the moment* after *the release, because at that moment there is a lack of mental distraction and tension in the body.
And one could say that while you are in the act of it, you are not happy that you are feeling a need to do this…so then again, that could be a case against you feeling the “act” is pleasurable.

So one could possibly say…the actual “act” of masturbation isn’t pleasurable, but that the state of being afterwards is.
Therefore…you are technically doing nothing wrong.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with masturbation, myself; I think it’s very healthy.

.


#12

There was a brazilian priest who explained this very well, I have a thread about this in the Impurity Addiction Support Group, and a transcript of what he said. Problem is you have to ask to join the group. We need some more people here so please consider. I don’t want to post this on the main part of the site:

First thread responding to your question (sort of like how SW85 did, but longer):

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=757467

The second thread wherein the priest gives a longer talk on addiction to porn and masturbation:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=873805

If you want I could PM these to you, but I’d rather you just join the group and perhaps stick around!


#13

Ah, but you are wrong, my friend. I know now. As sw85 said above:

*“The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.”

For WHATEVER reason, whether pleasure, release, whatever. It’s outside of marriage, hence contrary to its purpose, hence immoral.*

That first sentence I just quoted is taken directly from the Catechism. This is what the Church teaches. Now, if you don’t believe what the Church teaches, then that’s for another discussion. The teachings are plain enough, my friend. I was only too caught up in my own problems to see it.

BTW, masturbation is a pleasurable act anyway. There is no getting away from that…and if there was, well, I repeat that stated above.

I do hope that you do come around to the Faith. I will pray for you.


#14

The Catechism was not written by positivists.

Deliberately seeking to sexually gratify yourself like that is immoral.


#15

…and so it turns out once again that “Father knows best.” Never disregard the advice of the priest in the confessional. I should have given more consideration to what he had to say. :o He is seldom wrong.


#16

Ah, I see you have changed your mind about whether it is “pleasurable” or not. That was fast.
Welcome to world, dude!
Most would agree with you on that perception.
But it seems that according to what you quote from the CC, even if it was not pleasurable, it would be considered “immoral” in the circles you run in.
Darned if ya do; darned if ya don’t.
Please, instead of praying for me…I urge you to use that time wisely by reading books by learned biblical scholars and University Religion professors instead, to continue on your learning path.
That would be better!

.


#17

First off, your’re actually only darned if you do (with regard to impure actions). If you don’t, well you should be ok. :thumbsup:
Secondly “the circles I run in” are Catholic circles, I am proud to say…

Well, I don’t know that you are beyond prayer; I am certainly not giving up hope… I must agree with you though that it is worth studying the books by learned biblical scholars: St. Thomas Aquinas, Msgr. Ronald Knox, Hillare Belloc, G.K. Cesterton, Fr. Henry Graham…etc., etc…yes, very sound advice, thank you.

Incidentally, I am just wondering (a totally off-the wall question): did you ever read the bible straight through? St. Dominic did; he had it memorized, it is said. As a matter of fact, he copied it down by hand himself (in the 12th century, before the printing press). I think he can certainly be considered a biblical scholar, though I don’t know of any books he wrote. It was he who was given the rosary, and one of the largest of the religious orders bears his name (Dominican).
Oh well, I am sure I have plenty of reading material as it is from the authors I mentioned. I am ashamed to say, that I have not read many of them. I appreciate the thought, it really is a good suggestion. I’m serious. BTW, have you read any of these authors works?
That would be better!:wink:


#18

what if a married couple were in bed to have sex and the man was getting himself ready and it got too far and he ended up finishing even though that’s not what he wanted as he wanted to make love to his wife. is this a mortal sin as he truly didn’t want to masturbate in the usual sense

no trolling just some men suffer prematurely


#19

Intent is key in determining mortality. Your relationship with God doesn’t die unless your free will is choosing the sin.


#20

If morality were determined by the pursuit of pleasurable feelings, the world would be in a lot of trouble.
Oh, wait…there’s a news flash coming.

“WORLD IN BIG TROUBLE”
Humans Prefer Shiny Apple to God’s Love

  • thrown out of Garden-
    Eve: “I just wanted to feel good”
    Adam: “I have a poor excuse for a wife”.(pun intended)

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