Friday, January 2, 2009

Is Pleasure Bad

Q: I have always wondered if pleasure is bad. I'm a guy and I'm 18 and I masturbate (touch myself) twice a week. I know that it's a natural part of life and that a lot of teens do it. I was wondering if masturbation is a sin???

A: First off, pleasure isn't bad. God gave us the amazing gift of sexual pleasure, but like anything worth having it needs to be treated with the greatest respect. Masturbation is a sin and if it's done with full knowledge and consent it is a mortal sin. There really isn't an explicit passage in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not masturbate!" However, there are passages about sexuality and love...

Matthew 5:28
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

During masturbation, we call upon lustful images. We allow this slide show from Hell to control us physically. In doing so, we are essentially committing adultery with every single person that runs through our mind. In this moment of "self love," our minds are no better off than that of a rapist.

We are called to imitate our Lord as best as we can. "What would Jesus do?" Our Lord God is love, and "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Masturbation does not fit any of these criteria. It is a purely self-seeking act, a narcissistic "self love", and an act of impatience in waiting for sex in its true and holy form. Also, no matter how much we would like to deny it, masturbation affects the people closest to us. When you start to get close to someone in a pure way, even on just a dating basis, this purely selfish act will eat at you night and day. It prevents you from fully caring and enjoying another person in the intimate, self-giving, and holy ways God calls us to.

2 Peter says:
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

A continuous turning away from God prevents us from truly loving ourselves or anyone else. The fight for purity is a long and hard road, a fight that can only be won when we allow God to lead the way. And in the fighting you will gain so much. You will learn how to let go of selfishness and pride, how to lay your struggles at the feet of Christ, how to truly love selflessly, and also, you will start to realize the infinite forgiveness of the Almighty. The Lord of the universe was beaten, tortured, and killed because of our sins; and yet, He gives His forgiveness to all who asks. Do not underestimate the power of God's grace which is given to us in the Sacrament of Confession.