Moral Gentleness vs. Moral Truth

I have been a fully initiated, practicing Catholic for almost five years now; I’m a convert in my early 20s. Since coming home to the Church, I have struggled immensely with overcoming masturbation and the occasional use of pornography. I know enough about my faith to realize that when I fall to those sins I’ve made a huge mistake and I have no excuse. Furthermore my hatred of these sins often leads me to despair and want to leave the Faith when I fall. I suppose I feel like a Christian should be completely dedicated to Christ after coming to know Him in the sacraments and, therefore, should be free from mortal sin…and certainly habitual mortal sin. I’ve worked with a spiritual director for years now trying to overcome these sins and I still fall to them at least once a month. I go to confession regularly, I follow all the Church’s commands, and I pray from time to time (though I know it’s not near enough).

And so now I’m coming to realize that there’s no point in despairing or thinking of leaving the Church when I fail to live up to the demands of chastity. I feel like I need to learn to be gentle with myself in the sense that when I fall it is often the cause of my age and the sexual tension that builds over time. That’s not to say that I think it’s okay to masturbate or view pornography (by no means!!) but rather that, if I fall, I should simply recognize it, resolve to do better, confess, and try again. This understandings expands to what I used to feel was a “wasted life” after I came into the Church…that is, I was still falling to these sins. I now think that they were not wasted years because I did grow and learn a great deal despite the fact that my sins held me back in other ways. Plus my sins aren’t near what my coworkers and non-Christian friends report, and while I know that doesn’t mean that I can commit my own vices, it does seem to provide a perspective.

I guess what I’m trying to ask is whether or not it’s okay to “be okay” with one’s struggle with vice? I mean is it okay to recognize that one’s vices are rooted deep from a past life and that the biochemical dynamics of a young man tend towards these areas, while at the same time striving as much as possible to overcome these sins and be free of them?

I just feel like now that I need to re-evaluate how I respond to myself and to God when I fall. I feel like I should be more gentle with myself and allow that gentleness to lead me to try harder but not with the super-declaration to be sinless in the future. Recognizing, as it were, that I’m going to fall from these sins more before I finally conquer them and that that’s, in some way, okay (i.e. it’s a part of the journey rather than a deviation out of it). To put it in yet another way: I feel like I need to accept that I am still a weak child in the realm of virtue and Christian living…that I have a great deal to learn and that this struggle is somehow a part of it.

The problem of course is I don’t in anyway want to suggest that these sins are not serious or that the decision to engage in them is justified in anyway. That is to say that I want to find that balance between the gentle and truth that is a part of Catholic morality.

Any thoughts?

I think I get what you’re saying. That even though you know you’re a sinner and are fairly confident you will struggle with it in the near future, you still do your best and slowly grow closer to God. I’m kind of in the same boat. I have problems with ssa and masturbation it doesn’t seem likely to go away soon. But I can still follow God’s law and try to avoid evil things. And try to break those kinds of habits.

What would you say to someone else in your position? Often times we are far more merciful and gentle with others than we are toward ourselves. Obviously Jesus knew we would, all of us, struggle with sin throughout our lives. That’s why he gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That way, if it happens, there is healing. Your struggles to overcome bring growth. Though it would be nice if God would just wave a magic wand and all of our inclination to sin would disappear.:smiley: One reason we are able to be merciful to other sinners is because we recognize we’re all in the same boat.
Be gentle with yourself. If you should fall back into sin, go to confession. Notice I said “if”, not “when”. Over time, as you continue to work on this and grow and mature both in life and in the life of faith, I think you will find yourself falling less and less.
Know that, just like the Prodigal Son, the Father loves you with an everlasting love. Be gentle with yourself and if you fall, go to confession (which you do) and keep on walking.
Let grace be grace and don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you haven’t fully conquered this yet. When we beat ourselves up over things, we are essentially doing the priest’s job and assigning extra penance to ourselves. As Catholics, the assignment of penance isn’t our job. And once we have completed the penance we are assigned to do, that’s it. No self-flagellation is allowed. (Now if I can just do that! :shrug:)
Be at peace and may God richly bless you and give you strength.

There is no perfect person. Remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints. Is there anyone who isn’t struggling with something???

That said, however, we don’t want to become complacent about our sins. Our efforts must always be directed toward God. In our weakness we might slip, but we must always get up and re-orient ourselves toward the Lord. Pray, pray, pray. Eventually, our love for the Lord becomes stronger than our weakness for the sin with struggle with.

Brother, Porn and Masturbation have been called “Every Man’s Battle”. It is a very serious sin. Each time Man has broken his covenant with God the Devil used lust and sex to accomplish the task.

Everyone needs to work to stop. For me, I had to join Sexaholics Admitting I was powerless over lust ironically has kept me free from sexual sin for over two years. I joined the Angelic Warfare Confraternity shortly after that. I then joined the sexual impurity group here I have also taken up the daily Rosary and a devotion to the Sacred Heart.

My point in all of this is that we need to make use of the resources Christ and his Church have made available to us. Many of us could not stop on our own or with the assistance of our confessors or spiritual directors. We had to reach out to others who struggle with the problem. We had to become willing to admit that what were doing to prevail over this sin wasn’t working and we needed to do something different. My personal feeling is that failing to reach out to try to solve the problem is the greater part of the sin. I now have tools such as calling others BEFORE I look at porn masturbate. I think about how I feel after sinning BEFORE I sin. I join the other members of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity in our daily prayers for purity.

I have seem many young men stop looking at porn and masturbating. It can be done. One of the greatest lies of our age is that men are slaves to sex. Through the power of the Resurrection we can overcome.

The Church has taught how to do this since day one. Father T. G. Morrow has produced some great tools. I have found his “Achieving Chastity in a Pornographic World” book helpful.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this some more.

Yours in the Love of His Sacred Heart,

I would also add, don’t despair. God’s Love and Mercy are** inexhaustible** and incomprehensible. GOD IS LOVE! Continue to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and frequently receive the Blessed Sacrament. Always return to his Love. The one sin you can’t overcome is to reject and forsake His Love and Forgiveness. In Him is plentiful Redemption.

Thinking we are beyond God’s Love is a form of pride. The Deceiver is the one telling you to leave the Faith. That you don’t belong, that you can’t be faithful, that you are doomed, that you aren’t good enough. Don’t listen to him. Cry out to the Redeemer! "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have Mercy on me a sinner.’ Our God is real! He has sent the Paraclete to help us. Work with Him to find freedom.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Yours in His Love,

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