For instance, consider how utterly stupid and unreasonable it is for a person to be ashamed of committing acts of sensuality and masturbation in front of other people while at the same time he refuses to feel this very same shame when masturbating in the presence of God and Mary and all the trillions of angels in Heaven... all the while hoping to not get noticed by anyone! The whole spiritual world sees his disgusting behavior – yet he doesn’t care. This person knows in his conscience that he justly deserves to be punished by God who sees him commit this evil and shameful act, and he also knows that he is committing an inherently evil, shameful and selfish act since he would be ashamed to commit it before other people. Yet his perverse lust quenches his perverse conscience in this case in order to satisfy his unnatural lusts.
Jean Gerson, Oeuvres Complétes: “What a young boy [or anyone who have sinned through sensual touches or masturbation] should tell in confession: "I sometimes stroked myself or others, urged by disorderly pleasure; I fondled myself, in my bed and elsewhere, something I would not have dared to do if people had been there." Sometimes the priest cannot absolve such fondling. If they are not confessed and the details given, whatever the shame, one cannot be absolved, and the confession is worthless: one is destined to be damned for ever in Hell. The action and the way it has been done must be told.”
Some people may object that there are many other events that are shameful and that are not yet inherently sinful such as soiling one’s pants or being forced to show oneself naked to other people against one’s own will. This objection, however, fails to notice the obvious difference between people committing acts of lust and events which are shameful but that are not desired or longed for by a person in a sensual way. Acts of lust are acts performed for the sake of a pleasure and are therefore performed with the will and purpose of satisfying a sensual desire while the events or acts of soiling one’s pants or being forced to show oneself naked to other people is not a desire or lust that is sought after. Thus, these people do not desire that these events should happen. If those people who endured the events of soiling their clothes or naked exhibition against their own will would sensually desire or lust for that these shameful events would happen in the same way that a man or a woman lust for and desire that sexual acts or acts of lust happen, they would indeed be declared the most disgusting perverts. Who but a complete and satanic pervert would sensually desire or lust after soiling their pants or being exhibited naked?
Someone might say that it is the sexual member that is shameful or evil to expose to others, and not concupiscence or the sexual lust. But this argument is false and easily refuted since no one who is not a complete pervert would have sex or masturbate in front of other people even though their whole body was covered by sheets or blankets. This proves to us that it is the sexual pleasure that is shameful and evil, and not only the exhibition of the sexual organ. For “man is ashamed not only of this sexual union but also of all the signs thereof,” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II:II, Q. 151, Art. 4) and this proves to us that not only the sensual desire is a shameful desire, but also the very sexual act and “also of all the signs thereof.”
Who would like to have their children or parents be a part of a porn movie? No one but a complete and satanic pervert. Who would want their child to be lusted at by other people? Only a son of Satan. This shows us that people know instinctively and by nature that the sexual pleasure is a shameful, evil and inherently disordered pleasure, since it plucks the innocence of people.
All people thus know in their hearts that masturbation is inherently evil and shameful. But since they have allowed their lust to reach such a level in their hearts that they do not want to resist it, they try to forget the obvious fact that this act is against their conscience and nature. They can only try to forget it, however, for they all know that it is an evil act since they are ashamed to do it in front of other people. Thus, their conscience convicts them and testifies against them on this point.
Matthew 5:27-30, Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke, saying: “You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.”
Mark 9:42-47 “And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.”
People who masturbate “look on a woman to lust after her” in order to become sensually aroused, and thus, they commit “adultery with her” in their hearts and a mortal sin against nature and God. But masturbation is also a mortal sin and against the Natural Law even without thinking about women, which means that no one can be excused who commits this sin.
These verses from Our Lord Jesus Christ above also proves to us that the mere consent to lustful thoughts (without any physical activity) is enough to damn a person for ever in Hell — and that is why we must always control our eyes and keep them away from persons or objects that may arouse sensual or sinful thoughts.
Fourth, masturbation is non-procreative. The Church and the Natural Law teaches that “the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children” (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii #54) and that even the normal, natural and procreative “act of marriage exercised for pleasure only” is condemned as a sin for both the married and unmarried people alike (Pope Innocent XI, Various Errors on Moral Subjects Condemned in Decree (# 9), March 4, 1679).
The Natural Law is rooted in design. God, the Supreme Designer, has imprinted a design on all created things – including the human person, both in his spiritual and physical being – a purpose for which each has been created. Thus, with regard to the human person, the Creator has designed speech for communicating the truth and the mouth to swallow food etc. Likewise, the Creator has designed the sexual organs for something noble, namely, for procreating children. Thus, the Church’s teaching is clear that “the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children” (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii #54)
Any action of the sexual organisms (the private parts) or other acts that are intended to arouse sensuality that is lacking the procreative function, is thus always mortally sinful and against the Natural Law. An action of the sexual faculties outside of the normal and natural marital act are lacking the procreative dimension and consequently, it would be sexual pleasure sought for itself, isolated from its procreative function – and that is an unreasonable, unlawful and unnatural lust.
What does the Bible Say about Masturbation?
“Is masturbation a sin?” Many have found it difficult to answer this question according to the Bible because the Bible never mentions the word “masturbation” specifically. To understand how God feels about this topic, we only need to examine other verses that deal with issues such as lust, self-control, and purity.
It has been the constant and clear teaching of the Church from principles found in Holy Scripture that masturbation is a serious mortal sin that will keep one from Heaven (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:10). This is also clear from the teaching of the Church as well as from natural reason. In assigning a reason for such a serious prohibition, the Church teaches that the sexual function is meant by God to serve primarily for the begetting of children. Therefore, any deliberate activation of it is seriously inordinate and sinful.
The Lord has said: “Look not round about thee in the ways of the city, nor wander up and down in the streets thereof. Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up, and gaze not about upon another’s beauty. For many have perished by the beauty of a woman, and hereby lust is enkindled as a fire.” (Ecclesiasticus or Sirach 9:7-9) “Young men, in like manner, exhort that they be sober.” (Titus 2:6) “You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus feels the best thing to do about sexual sins is to gouge out our eyes (Matthew 5:29) and cut off our hands (Matthew 5:30). This is a very serious and extreme remedy. He does not literally mean for us to mutilate ourselves, but that we must cut off all occasions of sin. However, it is clear that sexual sins, and also the sexual fantasies that are so easily overlooked and neglected by so many people, are serious enough to be a part of the highway to Hell. If we let ourselves commit sin with the hand or be hit in the eye by the Devil, we are sure to lose our souls. Let us therefore guard our eyes, the lamps of our bodies, the way to our hearts and mind, and protect our other members from committing or falling into sin.
So we are to control our actions with others and also our actions when alone. We are not to let sin take root in our hearts. Romans 6:12-14 tells us, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Your “members” in this verse is referring to the different parts of your body: your hands, feet, fingers, etc. Are you using your body in masturbation in a way that you think would make God proud?
Many times we have the attitude of “If God gave me this body, shouldn’t I be able to enjoy it?” First of all, we have to remember that sex is God’s invention. He is the mastermind behind it. God Himself has declared that it is only in marriage that any form of sexual stimulation, that is, natural sexual intercourse open to procreation of children, is lawful.
Masturbation is a selfish act where we take advantage of and abuse our procreative power. God cares about what we do with our bodies, in public or in private, and He doesn’t want us to abuse ourselves in any way. Did you know that in older dictionaries the definition of the word masturbation is “self-abuse”? And if you were to look in a current dictionary under the word self-abuse, the word “masturbation” would be the second definition given. To this day, the two words of “masturbation” and “self-abuse” are linked together, masturbation/self-abuse.
You might be thinking, “How am I abusing myself by doing this?” You are abusing yourself by masturbating because you are improperly handling something that God entrusted to your care. You are taking something that God gave us (our bodies and minds) and using it in a perverse manner. When masturbating, you are defiling your mind with obscene thoughts and then defiling your body by using it to act out those thoughts. To “defile” something means “to make unclean, to make impure.” Matthew 15:19-20 reads, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications… these are the things which defile a man.”
And it is of faith that we all already know in our hearts that masturbating is wrong. When you engage in this activity, you know that you are committing a shameful and evil act.
This activity does not lift you up spiritually. It brings you down. God did not create our sexual organs so that we could fantasize and have sex by ourselves. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, isn’t it still better to masturbate than to commit fornication?” The only answer to this question is no, for you are still committing a mortal sin and it doesn’t really matter what form of mortal sin you are committing. You will still be sent Hell for it, whether it be by fornication or self-abuse. Maybe in your mind you feel that it is better to masturbate because at least you are the only one involved. Maybe you believe that it is the “lesser” of two evils.
In reality, masturbation is a mortal sin just like fornication and is considered as even a worse sin than fornication according to St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 154, Art. 12: “Whether the unnatural vice is the greatest sin among the species of lust? I answer that, In every genus, worst of all is the corruption of the principle on which the rest depend. Now the principles of reason are those things that are according to nature, because reason presupposes things as determined by nature, before disposing of other things according as it is fitting. … Therefore, since by the unnatural vices [masturbation, homosexuality, sodomy, bestiality, etc.] man transgresses that [purpose] which has been determined by nature [procreation] with regard to the use of venereal actions, it follows that in this matter [species of lust] this sin [the unnatural vice] is gravest of all.”
First of all, and we mentioned this before, when women are used in sexual fantasies, they are sexually abused, even if they are untouched. So many men rape many women each day and commit adultery and fornication without laying a hand on them. Women also rape men and commit adultery and fornication in this way. Second, masturbation will not truly relieve the sexual pressure that you may feel. It may for a short moment, but in the long run it only creates a deeper desire and capacity for sex, which will lead to more masturbation and, ultimately, the desire for sexual intercourse and pornography. Third, everyone must also be absolutely aware of that even if a person doesn’t think of women or men while masturbating, this sin is still one of those unnatural vices that are amongst the worst sins that one can commit against God and nature.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Four Principal Gates of Hell, On Impurity: “Some will say that it is a trifling sin. Is it a trifling sin? It is a mortal sin. St. Antoninus writes that such is the nauseousness of this sin that the devils themselves cannot endure it. Moreover, the Doctors of the Church say that certain demons, who have been superior to the rest, remembering their ancient dignity, disdain tempting to so loathsome a sin. Consider then how disgusting he must be to God, who, like a dog, is ever returning to his vomit, or wallowing like a pig in the stinking mire of this accursed vice (2 Pet. 2:22). The impure say, moreover, “God has compassion on us who are subject to this vice, because He knows that we are flesh.” What do you say? God has compassion on this vice? But you must know that the most horrible chastisements with which God has ever visited the earth have been drawn down by this vice. St. Jerome says that this is the only sin of which we read that it caused God to repent of having made man, for all flesh had become corrupted (Gen. 6:6-12). And so it is, St. Jerome says, that there is no sin which God punishes so rigorously, even upon earth, as this. … Principally on account of this sin did God destroy mankind, with the exception of eight persons, by the flood. It is a sin which God punishes, not only in the other life, but in this also. “Because,” says God, “you have forgotten Me and turned your back upon Me, for a miserable pleasure of the flesh, I am resolved that even in this life you shall pay the price of your wickedness” (Ezek. 23:35).”
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Four Principal Gates of Hell, On Impurity: “You say, “God has compassion upon men subject to this sin.” But it is this sin that sends most men to Hell. St. Remigius says that the greater number of the damned are in Hell through this vice [of impurity]. Father Segneri writes that as this vice fills the world with sinners, so it fills Hell with damned souls; and before him St. Bernardine of Siena wrote: “This sin draws the whole world, as it were, into sin.” And before him St. Bernard and St. Isidore said that “the human race is brought under the power of the devil more by lust than by all the other vices.” The reason is because this vice proceeds from the natural inclination of the flesh. Hence St. Thomas Aquinas says that the devil does not take such complacency in securing the commission of any other sin as of this, because the person who is plunged in this infernal mire remains lodged therein, and almost wholly unable to free himself again.”
James 1:14-15 tells us that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” This verse is telling us that all sin begins with a thought, but that when we give in to the thought and act out the sin in deed or thought, we will sink deeper and deeper into sin. Sin always takes you farther than you wanted to go and keeps you longer than you wanted to stay. And with masturbation, there is a vicious circle. You are only temporarily satisfied. And the more you indulge in this activity, the more addicted you become to it. Then if you let yourself become enslaved to a sexual high, you will find that you need to go to increasingly extreme acts to maintain the same degree of excitement. I think the many daily perversions committed by sex and masturbation addicts proves this case quite clearly. In John 8:34, Jesus warns us, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”
So, again, masturbation is a dangerous activity to engage in for this reason: All sexual immorality, including masturbation, begins with a thought. Then a lustful thought not taken captive will eventually lead to other perversions, including deviant sexual practices, demonic obsession or possession and homosexuality, and other perversions like pedophilia, because sin reproduces itself if left unchecked. All sexual perverts proves that this is the case. For they all started out as masturbators just like ordinary people at some point in time. When we fantasize and masturbate, we open our hearts and minds up to demonic forces and strange and perverse thoughts and possibilities. We are giving the Devil an open invitation to take residence in our beings. If we do not deal with our evil thoughts, they will take root in our heart. It is for this reason that God is so concerned with our thought life. Jesus came not only to deliver us from our “outward” sins, but also from wickedness that begins in the heart.
Now, you may be thinking “It is unfair for God to demand sexual purity from us after giving us sexual drives that seem to overwhelm us.” First of all, and this is important to remember, Adam and Eve was not created by God with sexual temptations or desires. In other words, God did not create the human race with any of the sexual temptations or desires that we are now plagued with. These temptations are only the tragic and evil effect of the Fall and Original sin of Adam and Eve, and is something which God permits us to be tempted with as a punishment for the original sin.
Had Adam and Eve chosen not to sin, we would not now have had any sexual temptations tempting us. St. Augustine explains it thus: “…lust, which only afterwards sprung up as the penal consequence of [original] sin, the iniquity of violating it was all the greater in proportion to the ease with which it might have been kept.” (City of God, Book XIV, Chapter 12; also see The Origin of Fleshly Lust.)
Second, God never demands from us something that would be impossible for us to do. And even if it’s hard for us, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). True, you may feel weak within yourself, but He will equip you with His holy power to overcome any sin if only you ask in faith.
Hence St. Augustine wisely observes, “The presumption of stability renders many unstable; no one will be so strong as he who feels his own weakness.” St. Alphonsus commenting on these words wisely adds, “Whosoever says that he entertains no fear of being lost, betrays a pernicious self-confidence and security by which he deceives himself. For, confiding in his own strength, he ceases to tremble, and being free from fear [of falling into sin], he neglects to recommend himself to God, and left to his own weakness, he infallibly falls.” (Treatise on Prayer, Chapter IV)
Some of you are probably saying, “Well, I agree with all of this in my head, but living it out on a day-to-day basis is another story.” Perhaps you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the temptations that you face. But never underestimate the power that you have over sin. On your own you are not that strong, but with God’s power, you can overcome. Second Corinthians 10:3-5 reads, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
These verses are telling us that we are not helpless. We can fight and be victorious against our sexual thoughts and desires—with the help of God. If you want to stop masturbating and you realize that this is what your Heavenly Father desires of you, you can. Confess this sin to a Catholic priest and to God and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you so that you can have control over your lustful thoughts and actions, and remember always to recommend yourself to Jesus and Mary in time of temptations, and you will never fall. And if you have a Catholic friend whom you trust, ask that person to pray for you in this area, also. And if you slip occasionally or even a lot, don’t give up. Self-control takes effort. If you truly want to stop masturbating, one thing that you must consider doing is to flee from and reject those things that will cause you to stumble, whether it be the internet or sexually-themed movies, music, books, videos, in other words, anything that fills your mind with images and words that will make you weak and vulnerable.
What you need to do, first of all, is avoid the occasions of sin that are causing you to fall into mortal sin. Take drastic action in that regard, if it is necessary. For example, if someone commits mortal sins on a computer, he or she should get rid of the computer. If people are stuck in such a state, Jesus says they must “cut off” the occasion lest they perish forever (Matthew 5:30).
Second, you need to pray the Rosary each day, and pray it well. Cultivate the habit of praying the Hail Mary as much as you can. There are many ways one can go about doing so. For example, each time you leave your room, you could go to your knees and pray one to three Hail Mary’s. Praying the Rosary and the Hail Mary is actually the most important point, for without those graces you will not come out of mortal sin or begin to avoid the occasions that are causing you to fall into sin. (See How to Pray the Rosary; See also The Revelations of St. Bridget which is a MUST READ book that is especially effective in helping a person to conquer his or her sensual temptations and faults.)
Sister Lucy of Fatima, regarding the Holy Rosary, said the following words to Fr. Augustin Fuentes on December 26, 1957:
“Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
Third, we would recommend these videos on Hell: http://www.doomsdaytube.com/scary-hell.php
Finally, the first degree of humility is to fear God enough to avoid clear mortal sins. Mortal sinners don’t respect that God will cast them into Hell for their actions. If they did, they would alter their conduct. Thus, people who commit mortal sins lack humility. In their pride, they don’t fear or respect God; and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 110:10). A person who commits mortal sins needs to begin to respect and fear God for who He is and what He will do to them.
As far as confession goes, you may make it to a non-heretical and fully Catholic priest ordained in the traditional Catholic rite, as described in this article: “About Sacraments From Heretics and Prayer in Communion with Heretics”. You should focus on ceasing to commit the mortal sins that you are doing, acquiring a firm resolve not to commit them anymore, and making a proper confession. (See this file for help with ceasing to commit mortal and venial sins). (Also see The Steps to convert to the traditional Catholic faith and for those leaving the New Mass - Baptism and Conditional Baptism - the Council of Trent’s Profession of Faith for Converts).
St. Augustine of Hippo in his “Confessions” (written 397-398 A.D.) relates to us his own struggle with the evil of lust and how he was bound down by his own perverse iron will.