“Why is masturbation wrong?” .pdf >>
For young children – Touching or rubbing one’s
penis or vagina for pleasure is called masturbation. You may
hear it called “playing with yourself.”
For older children – Masturbation is an immature
and self centered response to one’s sexual feelings
and is always morally wrong. (Single Sex Setting - Grade Eight,
The Archdiocese of Washington’s Catechesis on Human
What does the Catholic Church teach?
The Catholic Church teaches that masturbation is a serious
problem (see Catechism of the Catholic Church number
2352). The Declaration on Sexual Ethics (Vatican,
December 29, 1975) states, “Even if it cannot be proved
that Scripture condemns this sin by name, the tradition of
the Church has rightly understood it to be condemned in the
New Testament when the later speaks of ‘impurity,’
‘unchasteness’ and other vices contrary to chastity
and continence.” The Church teaches that sexual pleasure
is intended for mutual self-giving in the context of true
love in marriage.
Facts to Consider
Answering Young Children’s Questions
- Masturbation is a selfish use of God’s gift of
sexuality and for this reason it is wrong.
- It does not reflect the permanent commitment between
a man and a woman to love the other more than oneself. Instead,
masturbation is a selfish act of personal gratification.
- Masturbation treats God’s gift of the human body
as an object to be used for self enjoyment and pleasure.
- Masturbation is:
- progressive, that is, repeated more and more
- difficult to stop
- often surrounded by fantasy and pornography
- The more that a person is focused on self, the more difficult
it is to refocus on another.
- To learn to truly love another, a person needs to practice
selflessness and learn how to resist sexual temptations.
Parents need to prepare to discuss masturbation with their children.
Although slang terms may make them uncomfortable, a discussion
of these terms can help children differentiate between how God
intends man and woman to use the gift of sexuality and the way
that masturbation can misuse this gift. The slang terms for
masturbation and the more clinical terms are far removed from
God’s intention of mutual self giving in the context of
Parents need to acknowledge that arousing
sexual pleasure by some form of self stimulation can become
sinful. At the same time parents need to differentiate between
situations when a younger child is half asleep or not thinking
about what they are doing and instances when a child is consciously
choosing to masturbate for pleasure.
Masturbation & Pornography
“What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at
a woman has already committed adultery with her in his thoughts.
In Every Young Man’s Battle Stephen Arterburn
& Fred Stoeker state that at least 98 percent of all masturbation
involves lustful mental fantasies or pornography. In many
instances, pornography encourages the viewer to create an
image in his/her mind. This image entices the viewer to fantasize
and in time, these images change the way men and women view
How can the masturbation habit be changed?
In The Courage to be Chaste Father Benedict Groeschel
refers to masturbation as “auto-eroticism.” He
states that this sin it is a symptom of feeling lonely, frustrated,
anxious, bored or just bad about ourselves. He sees auto eroticism
as a frequent symptom of a life that is too empty of the things
that really matter. Fr. Groeschel recommends “crowding
sin out” by filling our lives with so much real love,
goodness and happiness that we no longer feel the need to
Mary Beth Bonacci, a nationally known chastity speaker, recommends
a deliberate program of rearranging one’s life to reduce
the pull of the habit of masturbation.
- Confession and reconciliation - While acknowledging compulsion,
habit or addiction may lessen an individual’s culpability
before God, she emphasizes the need for frequent confession.
Confession is healing in taking our sin away. It brings
an abundance of grace and Divine help as it moves us closer
to God and further from our sins.
- Prayer and Sacraments – Chastity is not easy but
the power to live chastity comes from God, not us. We need
to pray fervently for chastity and let the Eucharist heal
our guilt, shame and sinfulness.
- Real Love – The temptation to sexual sin is usually
the strongest when real love is weakest. To break this cycle
we need to fill our lives with healthy, loving, holy relationships
based on recognizing the image and likeness of God in ourselves
- Goals –What have you always wanted to accomplish?
Define it and do it! “The enthusiasm, the sense of
achievement. The self-esteem boost – it’ll do
wonders for reducing the need to close in on yourself.”
- Therapy – Fr. Groeschel says that “sexual
self-control is often the weakest link in an individual’s
personality and control system. When things go badly or
when one is under great pressure, undesirable sexual behavior
is likely to occur (page 46).” As long as those issues
remain, the temptation will remain. A good Catholic/Christian
therapist can help.
- Exercise – Lots and lots of exercise. Works off
“When a person’s efforts to be chaste are continually
realized, something beautiful happens – something
that has to be experienced to be appreciated. There is not
only a sense of accomplishment, but also a growing awareness
of Christ’s presence and of intimacy with Him in the
soul…only one who has experienced this can believe
it.” (The Courage to be Chaste, p. 98)
Every Young Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
& Fred Stoeker, Random House, 2002
The Courage to be Chaste, Rev. Benedict Groeschel,
Paulist Press, 1985
Real Love Productions – A series on the “M”
word in Mary Beth Bonacci’s chastity articles at www.reallove.net
Mary Lee O’Connell, CRNP - 8/04