Masturbation without lust

I posted a thread similar to this, and unfortunately I still find myself looking for excuses.

I’ve struggled with masturbation for a little while now. I’ve given into temptation, gone to confession (I’ve gone so many times the priest must think there’s something wrong with me), held out for a month or so, then given in again. After almost giving into temptation again, I was pathetically looking for loopholes and I stumbled across something. Someone said it was only a sin if there was fantasizing involved. I am asexual (I hope that’s not a sin), and never fantasise at all. It never even occurs to me.

So my question is this: Is masturbation without fantasising truly a sin, and a mortal one at that?

Note: I am NOT trying to justify my disgusting actions, I just want to know if I fall to temptation while trying to ween off the habit if I have to worry about not making it to heaven if I die suddenly.

No, this is rubbish.

This is what the catechism says about masturbation:

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.

Keep going to confession. Keep trying your best not to fall into this sin. While masturbation is always grave matter, it is not always mortal sin, as described in the above. You could discuss this with your confessor if you have constant fear of going to hell because you fail to overcome a long-established habit. But importantly, this is a matter for your confessor, not internet strangers, so please don’t take this advice as any sort of suggestion that in your case it is or is not mortal sin.

Masturbation without lust = Wishful thinking

I have to disagree. As I mentioned, I’m asexual, so I have no sexual attraction (I do plan to marry and procreate, for the sake of procreation, however).

I can truthfully say that I have no sexual thoughts when I masturbate.

Regarding the first response, that’s what I get for looking around on the Internet I guess, haha. And thank you for informing me of the correct definition.

Well my hat’s off to you then.

It’s still a mortal sin. You are willfully deriving sexual pleasure outside of marriage. It’s contrary to what we are called to be as persons.

“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.

"And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman.

"For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.

"Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.

"In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. . . . After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

  • Personal Letter From Lewis to Keith Masson (found in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3)

Clearly masturbation with lust is worse than masturbation without lust, but that doesn’t answer your question.

The Catechism does not appear to clearly to answer your question either. “[2352] By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure” (emphasis added).

A sexual release is not the same as sexual pleasure. Therefore this action does not appear to violate the Catechism, perhaps avoiding the defined activity.

That doesn’t really answer your question either.

I suspect, regardless, that the action is still sinful.

It stimulates the sexual organs which can form or perpetuate addictions. It still risks scandal if discovered.

However, mostly it takes a sexual act out of the forum for which it was designed. Masturbation without lust still risks medical aspects like skin chaffing (and bleeding), being unable to perform within marriage (including a future marriage), and unknown cancer and brain chemistry risks. If God were to reveal to me that I was not able to conceive the child I was supposed to have done because I had masturbated in this faction, I cannot imagine my shame and sorrow and sense of lost. As we are called to keep our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, non-lust masturbation would still seem to be incompatible with this.

We have no right to expose our bodies to such risk (similar to the reasoning why any self-harm is bad), as the only potential justification, that it is arguably better than lustful masturbation, is already gravely intrinsically evil. Still, just as it is better to “only” beat someone up instead of murdering them, if one commits non-lustful masturbation as opposed to the lustful version, it is probably better. This does not make the act non-sinful, just as beating someone up is still sinful, even if you were considering a murder as an alternative. Non-lustful masturbation would likely still constitute grave matter, which if combined with full knowledge and full will, would make it mortally sinful. I suspect in practice it is usually not mortal since the will would seem compromised, but this presumes much, and should still be confessed and discussed with a priest.

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength, fortitude & wisdom to overcome your temptations.

Masturbation is a sin against the dignity of your body and the dignity of your sexuality, whether or not lust is involved. Yes, lust makes it more serious because fantasizing means using your imagination to treat another person as an object of pleasure.

But without fantasizing, masturbation is still a misuse of your sexual powers, which should always be oriented toward love and the creation of family. Masturbation takes an act of love and points it inward for selfish purposes.

Regarding your struggle with it, my guess is that the priest does not think there is something wrong with you. Most men struggle with masturbation. And it is usually a habitual sin. The more we masturbate the more difficult it becomes to break the habit. Breaking the habit takes a lot of sacramental grace, prayer and effort (and more prayer and more grace).

This has been claimed before and frankly I think it’s just semantic obfuscation. Masturbation for “release” or prostate health or any number of other reasons offered seems to me to be nothing more than people rationalising this sin.

But we need not debate it because the catechism nips this in the bud anyway:

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

“for whatever reason” seems crystal clear.

I’m not buying this masturbation Is sin stuff folks, to me its like saying its sinful to go in the woods unless you defecate to fertilize the forest. All guys masturbate, so if its a mortal sin no man goes to heaven, the guys that say they don’t masturbate are lying, so they go to perdition as well. If I’m wrong may the Holy Sprit speak to me and will tell me its a wrong and a sin, a sin that could ruin ones chance to be in heaven. Because at this point I truly believe its not an act that hurts anyone, in fact it may keep you away from acts that are sinful, adultery, sex out of marriage as so forth. This sounds like a Pharisaic law to me, the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law, the law which Christ brought, love and understanding of the human condition. His law was to love thy neighbor as thy self, do good to all people in all situations, not find ways in which to condemn them, like committing a natural act as young males do, which is to ease them selves of a burden. If I’m wrong I’m sure the Holy Spirit will speak to my heart, but for now this is what the spirit and me own heart tells me. Hope I’m not offending anyone. Just stating my opinion.

This is a good quote/point. But “contrary to its purpose” still needs a lot of explaining before you get to “intrinsically sinful” or “grave matter,” both of which were concerns of the original poster. Alone, it is not so crystal clear since it doesn’t answer the question “how?”

Using the Catechism as a proof-text without an accompanying logical explanation is not always the most helpful course of argumentation. It works for some faith-filled Catholics for limited purposes, but doesn’t convince others. Even for those it does persuade, Catechism proof-texting alone will not help those to convince others who are less inclined to trust in the Magisterium.

I stand by my earlier, more complete answer.

Please read post 7 above. CS Lewis nails it there.

As for letting the Holy Spirit talk to you…well, if you are Catholic you can have complete faith that the Spirit does talk to us through the Church. If you are not Catholic, then you’ll have to keep working through this issue. And the words of CS Lewis (not a Catholic) above are worth your consideration in that regard.

I might suggest that more emphasis be placed on the fact that the sperm cell transmits the spark of life to the egg cell in order that we might be better able to understand how sexual acts outside of the Sacrament of Marriage, or inside the Sacrament of Marriage that are designed to prevent the act of procreation, ‘waste and disrespect’ the gift of life given to us by God.

It has been revealed and taught to us by the Church and Tradition shows us that the intended plan of God was to enable men and women to be participants in the procreation of life within a family structure. Any sexual act outside of the Sacrament of Marriage is a prohibited, unloving act that disrespects the great gift of life given to self and the potential gift of life present in the sperm cell and thus is therefore a sin.

Any sexual act within the Sacrament of Marriage which does not have the unlimited and unimpeded potential to create life is a sin. Although sex between a man and a woman, within the Sacrament of Marriage, can and should be enjoyable it is also carries with it the moral necessity to be cognisant of the fact that the primary objective of sexual activity is procreation and not just to be a fun, relaxing, shared activity with no objectives beyond personal pleasure. The additional responsibility is to care for and to teach any life that results from our sexual activity how to know, love and serve God.

Marriage is a covenant made with God and to one another. It is a covenant in which we have obligations to bring forth life and to be responsible for the care and the teaching of that life to have respect for self, for all life and how to be cooperatively interactive with all life in a loving life sustaining way that never neglects the teaching that ALL life comes from God. The man and the woman best teach these lessons by how they demonstrate their love and respect for one another and for themselves within marriage.

With this understanding of the purpose of sexual interaction between a husband and wife to be procreation of life and with the understanding of the graces provided by God through the Sacrament of Marriage to sustain and grow that life in a healthy spiritual, physical, mental and emotional way firmly understood it then becomes obvious and “beyond discussion” as to why any sexual act that wastes the spark of life is a sin.

The nature of the wasting of that life is what determines whether it is a mortal or veniel sin not whether or not it is a sin.


It’s not a matter of opinion or feeling. :nope:

It’s a matter of Church teaching. Masturbation is a sin. Work to understand why.

The purpose of defecation is not fertilization. The purpose of sex IS the creation of family through the unitive and procreative powers of sex. Masturbation is a selfish sexual act that directly contradicts the self-giving, life-giving love that sex is supposed to be.

Your statement about every man going to Hell is also wrong. We all have temptations to mortal sin. We all fall to those temptations. That’s why God gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation and why He gives us the grace we need for conversion. The more we immerse ourselves in God the stronger we are against our sins. We can conquer them, rise above them, and embrace the goodness that God has planned for us.

So an older couple, or barren wife would be in sin if they had sex?

Yet it is crystal clear, as you say, for “faith-filled Catholics”.

Fine - you want to understand the teaching more, in terms of “how” and what is meant by “contrary to its purpose”. That’s great. But the teaching itself is set in stone. Understanding it, or not understanding it, does not change it. The proscription is crystal clear. And thus the answer to the OP is crystal clear.

Moreover, you will not find a respected Catholic moral theologian who does not hold masturbation to be grave matter.

Wrong on so many levels.

*]All of us have pride, but that doesn’t mean pride isn’t a mortal sin.
*]Saying we all masturbate is wrong, speaking from personal experience. For what it’s worth, you’re slightly offending me (not that I profess much self-worth). But you dare to call the saints liars and hypocrites for allegedly avoiding this sin?
*]Supposing the possibility that you’re wrong, putting the Holy Spirit to the test to tell you as much when you appear too ____ to discover the truth using reason would seem to break the command of putting God to the test.
*]You fail to submit to the wisdom and teaching of the Magisterium, preferring to trust in your own wisdom. (This is different than the question of trusting in your own conscience, though that might be at fault too.)
*]No harm in masturbation? Tons of anecdotes out there to read, including how it affects wives/girlfriends… The call to be risk averse alone is probably strong enough to avoid the practice.
*]Masturbation enslaves, it does not ease one of a burden. Else, why the repetition?
*]Masturbation (almost always) encompasses lust, clearly forbidden by scripture. It usually has secondary effects of supporting a very insidious porn industry that debases and harms women, starting a sexual slave trade filled with evil.

I feel sorry for you for having let cynicism and slavery rule your heart. It breaks my heart, but you simply can’t make such posts which are blatantly disrespectful of the many heroic-in-virtue Catholic saints. Keep such ideas to yourself if you must have them.

No, for they have done nothing to impeded procreation. Growing old dosen’t unintitle a married couples from sharing their love in a sexual way.

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