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Tom Spooner wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm 14 and I used to masturbate everyday. I just found out it was a sin so every time I do it, I feel like I'm going to Hell. I can somewhat hold myself off but I really, really want to do it.

  • Can't I just masturbate until I'm married, and if I do, will I go to Hell?
  • All of my friends masturbate without worry, so why can't I?

This is so frustrating! I wish I never knew it was a sin!!

Tom

  { Can't I just masturbate until I'm married and, if I do, will I go to Hell? }

Paul replied:

Dear Tom,

First, understand that someone is guilty of mortal sin when there is grave matter, sufficient knowledge, and full consent of the will. In other words, the act must be a serious violation of God's law and the person must know it's wrong and freely to choose to do it anyway.

Masturbation is grave matter. Although force of habit might mitigate some personal freedom, one should do whatever one can within reason to avoid falling into sin. This includes the disciplining of one's eyes and one's mind in order to avoid sexual arousal and sexual fantasizing. This is where it often begins.

If you look at it rationally, masturbation is an abuse of the self by perverting the sexual faculty.

  • What are sex organs for?
  • What is the reason and purpose for reproductive cells and its genetic material?

Fight against lust in our culture is a daily war. It is very easy for a man to fall into the sin of lust and unchastity in our culture today. Try:

  • changing your lifestyle
  • what you expose yourself to, and
  • perhaps even your friends, if necessary.

God is forgiving if you condemn your own sins and take it to Confession whenever you fall.

If you continuously attempt to please God and seek His help against sin — by regular prayer, Confession, Communion, and self-discipline — God will help you through the challenge. Persevere and never give up.

Saints are those who persevered against the constant struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with God's forgiveness and grace, they are now in Heaven with Him.

Ask for their help too.

Peace,

Paul

Bob replied:

Tom,

The habit is worth eliminating even if it were not a sin — and the temptation doesn't go away just because you get married. Masturbation causes a chemical change in the brain that is similar to other addictions and you can become a slave to addiction.

If you could eliminate the habit while you are young, you will have a better sex life when you are married. You will be closer to your wife and God, who wants you to be free and whole, otherwise He wouldn't care about it. God doesn't tell us something is wrong unless He knows it will hurt us and this habit, left unchecked, leads to much bigger problems.

Consider how our sex-starved culture promotes porn, prostitution, a huge sex slave trade — which feeds the porn industry: while not openly condoned, satisfies a huge market for sexual abuse, contraception, and ultimately abortion. You have heard it said that pot is not a gateway drug but it is. Find a heroin addict who didn't not start with something simple like pot but worked up the ladder of better highs.

This habit is another form of potential addiction that could enslave you. You might think it a huge stretch to connect all these phenomena with masturbation but the common denominator is a disordered sexual appetite run amuck. All of us have sexual urges and impulses but we don't have to be slave to them with God's grace. The solution:

  • Do your best to stay chaste
  • avoid porn and
  • getting [drunk/high] where you lose control of yourself.

You will adjust to a chaste life in about three months if you challenge yourself. Offer it up as a sacrifice and God will help you through. Pray in the most difficult moments and you'll be okay, and if you do fail, don't worry. God is not consigning you to hell just because of failure. Seek reconciliation and start over. He is in it for the long haul.

Peace,

Bob Kirby
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