Just for Catholics

Sexual Purity

Question: In today's society, it's hard enough to remain abstinent, let alone completely separate from sexual activity. I get many different responses from Christians on the morality of acts such as masturbation. I've read some verses on adultery in the Bible, but still have no concrete answer on the morality of masturbation. Is it wrong? Is it a sin?

Answer: I thank God for you, for your concern about sexual purity, and for the courage to write and ask about this matter.

Masturbation is sinful because it is a distortion of God's purpose for sex, namely, the expression of mutual love of the husband and his wife within the context of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-4). Moreover masturbation is associated with lust and pornography. Jesus said "that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

A young man can become dominated by sexual sin, reducing him to spiritual weakness and poverty. The solution is not easy, but it is not impossible to be pure even in our filthy society. The Lord commands us to be pure and flee sexual immorality, and He also gives us the wisdom and strength to obey Him.

Prepare beforehand for the battle. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:14). Allow no provision, no occasion to fulfill lustful desires. Think about the places and occasions that lead you to pornography and masturbation. Take steps to avoid those occasions. Be radical! Destroy all pornographic material and control the use of TV and internet. Do not listen to filthy jokes and conversations. Keep in mind that Jesus, not lust, is the Lord of your life.

Even so, the hour of temptation will certainly come. With God's help, you can win. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Do not let yourself be lured into sin. When evil thoughts first come to your mind, turn immediately to God in prayer, saying something like this, "Lord I love you and I want to please you. I want to be pure for your sake and for the sake of my future wife." Then escape: switch off the TV or PC, phone a friend or go where the rest of your family members are.

Finally, see to it that you have a regular quiet time of prayer with the Lord. The battle is often fought - and won or lost - on your knees, before the time of temptation comes. And let your life be full of good works and enjoy your work and recreation, family and friends.

What happens if you fall into sin? Thank God, we do not need to remain defeated and defiled. We should not allow sin to become the excuse for further sin. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Immediately confess your sin to God and rest assured of His forgiveness, and then go on to live a holy and pure life.

May the Lord help you to be pure. This is His promise to you: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A