Question: Is masturbation a sin?
There are four reasons why everyone automatically knows by instinct and by nature that masturbation is a mortal sin against both nature and God.
The first reason is that all people know in their
conscience that masturbation is a kind of rape of another
The second reason is that it is a kind of drug abuse, since the sexual pleasure is an intoxicating pleasure that affects the person in a way similar to a strong drug. 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 (Matthew 5:28) and a kind of drug abuse that makes them guilty of a mortal sin against nature and God that will cause them to be damned forever in Hell by having their “whole body be cast into hell” and eternal torments, according to Our Lord Jesus Christ’s words in The Holy Bible (cf. Matthew 5:29).
The third reason is that all people know that the sexual pleasure is a shameful pleasure, which is why all people who masturbate hide in shame when they are committing this vile and shameful deed.
And the fourth reason is that masturbation is non-procreative and unnatural, and the Church’s teaching is clear that “the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children” (Pope Pius XI) and that is why the procreation of children is the only primary end or purpose that God allows the sexual act to be used for, which makes all other sexual acts (like masturbation) unnatural and mortally sinful.
Yes, masturbation is definitely a sin. It is a mortal sin against both the Divine and the Natural Law. A mortal sin left unrepentant on a person’s soul when they die will always result in that person’s eternal damnation in Hell.
Thus, these four reasons absolutely prove why masturbation is always inherently evil and mortally sinful since this vile act is totally unreasonable, unnatural and selfish; and that is why everyone without exception who commit this act can never be excused from sin through claiming ignorance of the fact that masturbation is a sin, and why they will be damned to burn forever in Hell since they all know by instinct and by nature that it is a sin just like they know that getting drunk or intoxicated is a sin against the Natural Law, God and reason.
First, masturbation is rape. Women are not toys, playthings, or “bunnies” from which to derive sexual stimulation. When women are used in sexual fantasies, they are sexually abused, even if they are untouched. 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. These rapes, fornications and adulteries are not marked by physical violence but by psychological warfare. Because a person is often unaware of being used and abused, and because the abuser often does not fathom the real extent of the severity of his crime, this makes these mental and visual rapes/abuses seem less devastating. Nevertheless, grave sin with all its degradation and death is being committed.
Second, masturbation is a kind of drug abuse. The vehemence of the sexual pleasure is extremely strong and similar to a strong drug. All people of course knows that getting intoxicated or drunk for pleasure only is against the Natural Law. When a person uses a drug to get intoxicated, he or she knows that they commit a sin. Similarly, when a person is abusing sexual pleasure, and since his intention for the sexual act is purely selfish, he knows that he is committing a kind of drug abuse. In fact, the pleasure that is derived from the sexual pleasure is many times stronger than many drugs, and as such, are of course more sinful to abuse than these drugs. For “the sin of lust consists in seeking venereal pleasure not in accordance with right reason...” and “lust there signifies any kind of excess.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 154, Art. 1)
This can be proven by an example. Consider how a man that is sick and who suffers much pain is allowed by divine permission and justice to take morphine or other strong painkillers since he is in need of them. His reason when taking these drugs is not self-gratification but the alleviation of the pain that he experiences. This example could be likened with normal, natural, lawful and procreative marital relations between two married spouses, which is permitted and non-sinful as long as the spouses have “intercourse so that it [the seed] might germinate at the right place and in the right way and bear fruit [that is, bear children] for a just and rational cause.” (Jesus Christ speaking to St. Bridget, in St. Bridget’s Revelations, Book 5, Interrogation 5)
However, whenever the sick person mentioned above would become well and yet continued to use morphine or other painkillers without any need to do so – and for the mere sake of getting high and for pleasure – he would have committed the sin of drug abuse. His just reason for using the painkiller became unjust the very moment he became well and did not need to use it anymore.
The sexual pleasure is always an evil pleasure to experience in itself since it is a shameful and intoxicating pleasure that is very similar to the evil pleasure that people experience when they abuse alcohol or drugs; and this pleasure is evil to experience also for married couples, even though married spouses do not sin during their lawful and normal procreative marital acts. St. Augustine in his book On Marriage and Concupiscence explains it thus: “Wherefore the devil holds infants guilty [through original sin] who are born, not of the good by which marriage is good, but of the evil of concupiscence [lust], which, indeed, marriage uses aright, but at which even marriage has occasion to feel shame.” (Book 1, Chapter 27.--Through Lust Original Sin is Transmitted; Concupiscence of the Flesh, the Daughter and Mother of [Original] Sin.)
Third, masturbation is shameful. Consider the fact that a person would be very ashamed if their parent, child or friend walked in on them when they were committing this shameful, selfish and evil act of masturbation. It is thus clear that their conscience tells them that it is an inherently shameful and evil act. Everyone (but complete perverts who have willfully destroyed their conscience over a period of time) knows that masturbation is a selfish, shameful, intoxicating and evil pleasure and that is why they are ashamed of it and why they hide themselves when committing this shameful deed.
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) 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. And so this is one of the reason for that everyone knows in their hearts that masturbation is always evil and a sin and against the natural law.
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).
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.
“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 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 simple 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, 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, 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. 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 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; See also 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.”
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 in the year of Our Lord 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.
St. Augustine, The Confessions of Augustine, Book VIII, Chapter V, Of the Causes Which Alienate Us from God: “… thus [I was] bound, not with the irons of another, but my own iron will [chaining me in lust]. My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a chain), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled. But that new will which had begun to develop in me, freely to worship You, and to wish to enjoy You, O God, the only sure enjoyment, was not able as yet to overcome my former wilfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus did my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me; and by their discord they unstrung my soul. Thus came I to understand, from my own experience, what I had read, how that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. (Galatians 5:17) I verily lusted both ways; yet more in that which I approved in myself, than in that which I disapproved in myself. For in this last it was now rather not I, (Romans 7:20) because in much I rather suffered against my will than did it willingly. And yet it was through me that custom became more combative against me, because I had come willingly whither I willed not. And who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows the sinner? Nor had I now any longer my wonted excuse, that as yet I hesitated to be above the world and serve You, because my perception of the truth was uncertain; for now it was certain. But I, still bound to the earth, refused to be Your soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all embarrassments, as we ought to fear to be embarrassed.”
An email exchange with a certain person
Tragically, many persons deluded by the Devil falsely claim that sexual sins and masturbation is no sin at all, while some try to minimize the wickedness of their actions; others still try to blame God for their failings – as is demonstrated by the following email exchange with a certain person:
“I watched [the] video on "death and the journey into hell". Based on the video it almost seems like one little false move by whomever and you will be damned. We'll never be perfect. We are all sinners until death. Based on how this world is now, I can see the thought of more going to hell then heaven. I've broken every commandment. I'm trying to stay away from sin but I still find myself suffering with the same sins. I pray to Jesus and Mary all the time. I pray the rosary and many other prayers. I try to make a point of doing goods acts in the name of Jesus whether great or small. This video made me feel as though no matter what I do I will be damned. Jesus be with you and your family.
Answer: You say that it’s as if one little false move will send you to Hell. A mortal sin is not a false move, neither is it “little”; it’s a willful commission of an act that’s gravely offensive to God. It is a huge thing, a mortal sin. You clearly have a desire to downplay mortally sinful activity, and your problem is that you won’t exercise your will and resist sin. You claim that you pray; yet you persist in grave sins. There are seven main reasons for this: 1) You don’t pray with true faith and sincerity, or you pray too little of the Rosary and other mental and vocal prayers; 2) You spend too little time on reading God’s Word and other good, spiritual Catholic writings; 3) You don’t recommend yourself to God nor seek after God’s protection in time of temptation. For if you did recommend yourself to God and if you did ask for His help when assailed by the enemy: you would infallibly not have fallen into sin; 4) You have not cut off all the occasions of sin like evil and worldly friends, media, music, magazines, video games and the like that are opposed to Our Lord Jesus Christ’s words and a holy life; 5) You have not made enough penance for your sins by fasting, mortification and self-denial of your own will; 6) You refuse to speak about God with your family and friends; refusing to help or convert them from sin and infidelity and you refuse to take an active part in trying to help souls in general by whatever means are necessary to you, and in so doing, choose to become God’s enemy according to Our Lord Jesus Christ’s words in the Bible, which states, “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Matthew 12:30). All who can help their family or friends or themselves but refuse to do so will be damned for their lack of charity; 7) You don’t have the first degree of humility: a fear of God that compels one to avoid mortal sin. Hence, your problem is pride. You think God’s law is a joke – not serious enough to warrant a change in your lifestyle – and you are mistaken.
St. Benedict (c. 520): “The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes, shunning all forgetfulness and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded, that he always considereth in his mind how those who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and that life everlasting is prepared for those who fear God.” (The Holy Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter VII, Of Humility.)
Rev. Francis Spirago, The Catechism Explained (1899): “When we are tempted we ought to betake ourselves immediately to prayer, or think of our last end, or of the evil consequences of sin. If the enemy dares to attack the fortress in spite of the ramparts raised about it, it behooves us to defend it manfully. When assailed we must instantly assume the defensive; for of all things it is most important to repulse the first onslaught. The greater our determination, the sooner will our adversary be discouraged. If we falter, he will force an entrance, and gain the mastery over our imagination. He acts like soldiers, who when they have taken the enemy’s guns, instantly turn them upon him. St. Jerome says that he who does not resist immediately is already half conquered. A conflagration can be extinguished at the outset, but not later on. A young tree is easily bent, not an old one. But since we can do nothing in our own strength, we must strive to obtain divine grace. Wherefore let him who is tempted have recourse to prayer; let him imitate the apostles when a storm arose on the sea of Genesareth; or the child who, when he sees a large dog coming, runs to his mother. He who neglects prayer in the time of temptation is like a general, who, when surrounded by the enemy, does not ask for reinforcements from his monarch. Adam fell into sin because when he was tempted he did not look to God for help. We should say a Hail Mary, or at least devoutly utter the holy names of Jesus and Mary. "These holy names," St. John Chrysostom declares, "have an intrinsic power over the devil, and are a terror to hell." At the name of Mary the devils tremble with fear; when she is invoked their power forsakes them as wax melts before the fire. Prayer is the weapon wherewith to ward off the assaults of our spiritual foe; it is more potent than all the efforts of the demons because by prayer we procure the assistance of God, and nothing can withstand His might. Prayer is exactly opposed to temptation for it enlightens the understanding and fortifies the will. The sign of the cross and holy water have also great efficacy against the spirit of evil. He flies from the cross as a dog flies at the sight of the whip. Holy water derives its efficacy from the prayers of the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas and many other saints frequently made use of the sign of the cross with excellent results. St. Teresa on the other hand constantly employed holy water. It is well to sprinkle the sick and dying with holy water, and we should never omit to take it on entering a church.”
St. Alphonsus De Ligouri, Prayer: The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Chapter 1, The Necessity Of Prayer: “Without prayer it is impossible to resist temptations and to keep the commandments. Moreover, prayer is the most necessary weapon of defense against our enemies; he who does not avail himself of it, says St. Thomas, is lost. He does not doubt that Adam fell because he did not recommend himself to God when he was tempted: ‘He sinned because he had not recourse to the divine assistance.’ St. Gelasius says the same of the rebel angels: ‘Receiving the grace of God in vain, they could not persevere, because they did not pray.’ St. Charles Borromeo, in a pastoral letter, observes, that among all the means of salvation recommended by Jesus Christ in the Gospel, the first place is given to prayer; and he has determined that this should distinguish his Church from all false religions, when he calls her ‘the house of prayer.’ My house is a house of prayer (Mt. 21,13). St. Charles concludes that prayer is ‘the beginning and progress and the completion of all virtues.’ So that in darkness, distress, and danger; we have no other hope than to raise our eyes to God, and with fervent prayers to beseech his mercy to save us: ‘As we know not,’ said king Josaphat, ‘what to do, we can only turn our eyes to you’ (2 Par. 20,12). This also was David’s practice, who could find no other means of safety from his enemies, than continual prayer to God to deliver him from their snares: ‘My eyes are ever towards the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare’ (Ps. 24,15). So he did nothing but pray: ‘Look upon me, and have mercy on me; for I am alone and poor’ (Ibid. 16). ‘I cried to you, O Lord; save me that I may keep your commandments’ (Ps. 118,146). Lord, turn your eyes to me, have pity on me, and save me; for I can do nothing, and beside you there is none that can help me.
“… St. Bernard’s teaching is the same: ‘What are we, or what is our strength, that we should be able to resist so many temptations? This certainly it was that God intended; that we, seeing our deficiencies, and that we have no other help, should with all humility have recourse to his mercy.’ God knows how useful it is to us to be obliged to pray, in order to keep us humble, and to exercise our confidence; and he therefore permits us to be assaulted by enemies too mighty to be overcome by our own strength, that by prayer we may obtain from his mercy aid to resist them; and it is especially to be remarked that no one can resist the impure temptations of the flesh without recommending himself to God when he is tempted. This foe is so terrible that, when he fights with us, he, as it were, takes away all light; he makes us forget all our meditations, all our good resolutions; he makes us also disregard the truths of faith, and even almost lose the fear of the divine punishments. For he conspires with our natural inclinations, which drive us with the greatest violence to the indulgence of sensual pleasures. He who in such a moment does not have recourse to God is lost. The only defense against this temptation is prayer, as St. Gregory of Nyssa says: ‘Prayer is the bulwark of chastity’; and before him Solomon: ‘And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it, I went to the Lord and besought him’ (Wis. 8,21). Chastity is a virtue which we have no strength to practice, unless God gives us; and God does not give this strength except to him who asks for it. But whoever prays for it will certainly obtain it.
“… Wrongly, therefore, do those sinners excuse themselves who say that they have no strength to resist temptation. But if you have not this strength, why do you not ask for it? is the reproof which St. James gives them: ‘You have it not, because you ask it not’ (James 4:2). There is no doubt that we are too weak to resist the attacks of our enemies. But, on the other hand, it is certain that God is faithful, as the Apostle says, and will not permit us to be tempted beyond our strength: ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make also with the temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it’ (1 Cor. 10,13). ‘He will provide an issue for it,’ says Primasius, ‘by the protection of his grace, that you may be able to withstand the temptation.’ We are weak, but God is strong; when we ask him for aid, he communicates his strength to us, and we shall be able to do all things, as the Apostle reasonably assured himself: ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’ (Phil. 4, 13). He, therefore, who falls has no excuse (says St. Chrysostom), because he has neglected to pray; for if he had prayed, he would not have been overcome by his enemies: ‘Nor can anyone be excused who, by ceasing to pray, has shown that he did not wish to overcome his enemy.’”
Since so many are coming out of mortal sin and are convincing themselves that certain things are not sins, we must preach against those sins with some specificity lest people perish in their ignorance.
Masturbation is definitely a mortal sin. There are about three places where St. Paul gives a list of some of the main mortal sins which exclude people from Heaven. These lists do not comprise every mortal sin, of course, but some of the main ones. Well, it always puzzled many people exactly what is being referred to in the following passages by the sin of “uncleanness” and “effeminacy.” St. Paul says that these sins exclude people from Heaven. Does “effeminacy” refer to acting like and being a homosexual? What does “uncleanness” refer to?
Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Ephesians 5:5-8: “For this ye know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of unbelief. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”
St. Thomas Aquinas identifies masturbation as the biblical “uncleanness” and “effeminacy.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 154, Art. 11: “I answer that, As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called "the unnatural vice." This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of "uncleanness" which some call "effeminacy." Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called "bestiality." Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Romans 1:27): and this is called the "vice of sodomy." Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.”
Thus, not only is masturbation a mortal sin, but it’s a mortal sin which is identified in three different places in Holy Scripture as one which excludes people from the Kingdom of God. It’s also classified by St. Thomas as one of the sins against nature, for it corrupts the order intended by God. That’s probably why it’s called “effeminacy.” Though it’s not the same as the abomination of Sodomy (Homosexuality), it’s still inherently disordered and unnatural. We believe that this sin – since it’s contrary to nature and is classified as “effeminacy” and “the unnatural vice” – is the cause of some people being given over to unnatural lusts such as homosexuality, as well as acts of pedophilia and bestiality and other perverse and evil lusts.
The truth of the fact that all homosexuals are spiritually possessed by a demonic spirit is also corroborated by the fact that society has recently seen an incredible increase in the number of people who consider themselves homosexuals. This is easily explained by the fact that, with the advent and explosion of the internet and other technological means which make access to pornography and impurity easy, millions more people are committing sins of impurity, millions more people are becoming possessed, and countless more are becoming homosexuals. (And, of course, not all who commit mortal sins of impurity become homosexuals, so those who somehow think they are okay because they are not homosexuals, even though they are committing sins of impurity, are sorely deceived and are also on the road to Hell and in bondage to the Devil.)
Therefore, people who are committing this sin need to cease the evil immediately and, when prepared, make a good confession. If people are really struggling in this area, then they are not near the spiritual level where they need to be. God’s grace is there for them; but they need to pray more, pray better, avoid the occasions of sin (bad media being one of them) and exercise their wills. They need to consistently pray the 15-decade Rosary (i.e. daily). They need to put out more effort spiritually and then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Masturbation, in fact, has always been considered as a grave mortal sin in the Catholic Church and even by most protestant so-called churches until very recently, and this sin doesn’t cease to be a mortal sin just because the spouses are married. Yet, many married “Catholic” and other so-called “Christian” couples actually believe that this sin is right to do within a marriage and the marriage act; and although most of them know or even admit that it’s wrong or a mortal sin to masturbate outside of marriage or the marriage act, they nevertheless believe that it’s right to do it within a marriage or marriage act; and that it is an exception. But what Church teaching, Bible passage or Saint can they cite to support this demonic teaching? None! Only evil, perverted, ignorant and heretical modern “theologians” or other heretical modern-day “Catholic” or “Christian” laymen’s private opinions during the last 100 years or so, can they cite to support this teaching... This fact, then, is quite telling, for it proves that this teaching was totally unheard of in the Christian world before the beginning stages of the Great Apostasy and the modern world. Their heretical and modernistic opinions or teachings are utterly worthless! All masturbatory touching of the genitals of oneself or one’s spouse in the same or similar manner as would be done in masturbation (i.e. manipulative sexual acts), is immoral and a mortal sin. Any type of masturbatory touching is immoral (regardless of whether or when climax occurs) because it is an act that is non-procreative, unnatural and shameful.