QUESTION : Before I begin the question, it may be helpful for you to know that I am a young male catholic.
I have been struggling with the issue of masturbation in the past couple of months. I just came into the Catholic Church this Easter Vigil through the RCIA program that my parish began in September. I come from a Presbyterian tradition where masturbation isn’t really an issue (of course if you commit it then you get instant forgiveness through prayer).
After doing some research, I discovered that masturbation has some medicinal benefits. Masturbation strengthens the immune system, reduces the chance of getting prostate cancer, raises self-esteem, and gives your body a work which boosts your cardiovascular system.
Obviously the church teaches that masturbation is a sin, mortal in most cases because of the lust issue.
So I am confused. I have medical science on the one side and the church on the other with opposite opinions on the subject.
I guess I have several questions. First is, “What is your opinion on masturbation?” Second, “Why is the church so hostile against sex?” Third, “Is there a plan for the Magisterium to review the sex rules anytime soon?”
Thank you for your time. HWK
Even if the physical benefits to masturbation were substantial, which I doubt, they would not justify the negative results. Masturbation conflicts with the whole purpose of sexuality. The act of sexual intercourse is the physical expression of the marriage vows made at the altar. It is therefore an expression of Christian love, i.e. concern for the other. It is the most complete way of expressing the total self-donation of one person to another. Total means until death. It can’t be total for a week or a couple years.
With masturbation there is no self-donation to anybody. It consists of taking pleasure for oneself alone. There is no giving at all. We were created for more than that.
Nowhere will you find a higher understanding of sexuality than in the Catholic Church. I suggest that you get a hold of “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.