Friday, February 09, 2007

An offense against chastity

1) Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!
2) DC Hood vs. St John the Baptist, 7 pm, SJB gym. Go ‘Hood!
An anonymous blogger asked, “Why is mastrabation a sin?” Another anon answered, “Masturbation is a sin because it is a sexual act meant only to satisfy one's self. Sexual intimacy, as designed by God, is meant only for a husband and wife who are open to life. It is an act meant for giving of one self to the other spouse. This sounds totally radical compared to the secular messages about sex! This would definately be a good question for Father Greg or for adult classes.”

Thanks, Anons, especially the one who answered this. I should sign you up to answer more of these questions! Let’s start with what Jesus says about this. We read in Mk 7:21-23 that “unchastity” is among a list of “evils” that “come from within and they defile”. Jesus includes unchastity in the same sentence as murder, adultery, and theft! Next, St. Paul writes in Galatians 6:19-20 that impurity is among the “works of the flesh” (along with idolatry, hatreds, drinking bouts, etc.). He says that “those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of God” (v. 21).

The Catechism teaches that masturbation is a grave sin against chastity and purity. It defines it as “the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure” and characterizes it as “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action” (#2352). It explains further:
‘The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.’ For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of ‘the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.’

The main reason why masturbation is a sin is because it misuses the gift of sex that God has given us. It is a selfish act only. As the second Anon pointed out, it does not involve a) the union between husband and wife, and b) procreation; these are the two reasons that God has given us the precious gift of sex. Any sexual act that occurs outside of union and procreation is gravely wrong because God does not intend it.

The act of masturbation has become for many, many people an habitual act. Society tells us, and even teaches to our kids, that there is nothing wrong with it, and it is natural. Our Lord has taught differently! Now, having said that, there might be psychological or personal factors that play a role in the act of masturbation. Catholic psychologists have taught us that loneliness, anxiety, and boredom are three of the main causes that lead a person to masturbate. As the Catechism indicates, these and other factors are to be considered when judging the moral culpability of the person with each act of masturbation:

“To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability” (# 2352).

There is much more to say about this, other offenses against chastity, and chastity in general. I will keep it in mind about offering a talk on chastity in the future. Thanks!

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