Hi Shannon! I am a 17 y/o Catholic and I am gay. I just want to ask since I am very confused, is masturbating a sin or not?

Hi Shannon! I am a 17 y/o Catholic and I am gay. I just want to ask since I am very confused, is masturbating a sin or not?

I was asked this question yesterday by a blog reader and I would like to take some time to answer it here on the blog because I think it is probably something that is on the mind of many young people in the same situation.

Before I answer I need to point out a few things. Firstly I am not Catholic and I do not prescribe to any religion, nor do I believe in God so I can only pass on what I myself have found after a little research on the net. I would suggest that anybody with these kinds of questions should speak to a Priest.

All of the Catholic Q&A forums that I have looked at on the internet say that Masturbation is a sin and a sin occurs when a person deliberately commits an act they know is wrong. I’m not qualified to expand on the specific dogma further.

What I will say is this,

You are reaching an age where you are now able to make informed choices based upon your own opinions and views. I’m not saying figure it out for yourself or trying to sound like a Parent. I am saying that your relationship with God is your own. The wonderful thing is that your god ( or as I call it the “Universe” ) gave you a direct line to speak to him/her/it everyday. Your heart and your conscience tell you what is right and what is wrong all the time.

The churches ask many people to do many things that I think God and Jesus would not. Your journey is to discover whether your relationship with them will be based on dogma alone or an exploration of your heart and mind.

We all slip up and we are all human. I know when I was 17 I had a hard time keeping my hand off out of my pants, I still do. Living a life that is true to yourself and true to your religion means that sometimes there will be struggle and conflict, that is what it means to be human. This is the promise we all hold, that we can aspire to be better than we are.

The danger is that when you slip up, you feel depressed, dirty, sinful, unworthy or evil. You are not, and no being worth your love would wish this upon you. There are some who wear their religion like a heavy cloak of guilt. Never allow your religion to make you feel like this, creation is to be enjoyed and gloried in. I think if a god is truly out there it is a being of pure love, and will know the measure of your heart and your intent and render judgement worthy of your devotion.

That is my humble answer.

Happiness, abundance and infinite love to you my friend.

This article was originally posted in 2012 but after a conversation with a friend I thought it was worth revisiting. My opinion hasn’t changed and neither has my response.


12 thoughts on “Hi Shannon! I am a 17 y/o Catholic and I am gay. I just want to ask since I am very confused, is masturbating a sin or not?

  • June 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Shannon, congratulations on such an honest and respectful reply. You found the right answer as far as official Catholic teaching goes, and presented it clearly and directly. And as a Catholic, I think your take on God’s love is a good one. As you say, we all struggle at times to do what we believe is right, and sometimes we fail, but we aren’t supposed to go around in a cloak of guilt. Catholicism teaches that Jesus frees us from our sins, so the point isn’t to pretend that we don’t sin, but to accept forgiveness and be joyful.

    You are awesome!

  • June 29, 2012 at 3:58 am

    As a former monk in a Catholic religious community, I would like to share a personal experience. As a young man in the seminary, I used to have my spiritual director hear my confession. Each month I would confess my sins which included masturbating. After about a year of this, the priest stopped me in mid-sentence and said, “Why are you confessing that?” In a very candid discussion, the priest admitted to me that he and the other priests he knew who heard confessions had long ago come to the conclusion that this can’t seriously be considered a sin. He told me to focus on my relationship with God and quit worrying about masturbation. He later added, with a smile on his face, that 90% of teenage males masturbate…and the other 10% are liars.

  • June 29, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Thomas Jefferson’s nephew Peter Carr was an entering freshman at the College of William and Mary in Virginia when he asked for his uncle’s advice regarding his studies, including the study of religion. In a masterfully understated response, Jefferson advised the boy to “question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” He went on to write that the world was full of books which their authors claimed were divinely inspired, and it is up to the individual to determine if such is the case through examination of reason and known history. As an example, he pointed to the story in the book of Joshua in the Old Testament that asserts the earth stood still for several hours before resuming its turn on its axis. He asked the boy to question the reasonableness of such a violation of the laws of nature, and, indeed, what havoc such an occurrence would cause. As for the New Testament, he describes it as “the history of a personage known as Jesus”, and says there are two contensions about him: “1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended and reversed the laws of nature at will, & assended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitmate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ending in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to Roman law…” In summation he tells young Mr. Carr that in his reasonings as to which things to believe and which to discard, “You are answerable not for the rightness, but the uprightness of your decision.”
    So is masturbation a sin? The Old Testament tells us in Genesis 38:9-10 that a man should not spill his seed on the ground.
    I tend to agree with you, Shannon, that there is much in such “inspired” works that are less than inspired and rather are brutish and outmoded, including the admonition in Leviticus 18:22 that man should not lie with man, on pain of death. Every time Christians claim the moral superiority and authenticity of their holy books as opposed to the Quran and the Hadith, they should be remind themselves that the Bible sanctions what the Iranians and Iraqis are doing to gays these days, and that none of that comports with the point of Jesus’ commandment that he who casts the first stone be without sin.

  • June 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve read your reply Shannon and agree with it. I have read the other replies and find them interesting as well. I agree with Br. Noah (formerly) and find his reply excellent. John’s reply is also an interesting read.

    The reference to Gen. 38:9-10 was a direction based on procreation. The idea was to keep the family line going. The reality was that when the individual was have sex with his dead brother’s wife, he pulled out at the last minute thereby not impregnating the woman and therefore no keeping the line going. In general it really has nothing to do with masterbating as an individual sexual act.

    The Leviticus sections are based on Levitical law for the priest hood, which called on the priests of Israel not to follow the “prostitution, sexual worship” that was found in the “pagan” temples of the time.

    To be honest, I beleive David and Johnathan were gay lovers. I also believe that the Jewish Nobility boys (men) taken into Babylonian captivity were put into a “haram” for the sexual pleasure of the Babylonian king and his friends.
    The main four characters, Daniel and his friends were not there as guests, but were sexually active.

    When I was in seminary, I wrote a paper in which I presented masterbation as an individuals “joy of self gratification in sex” and God’s gift to the single person to release his/her sexual desires.

    Just my opinion – I hope it helps your readers.


  • July 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I think AussieSpaceTimeTraveler was very modest and restrained in his response. I can understand that, but I’m not sure I agree.

    First let’s deal with Moral Authority. From the information I have, even the Catholic Church as now adopted the stance that morality is an issue between God and yourself. No one on earth has Moral Authority over you. You can read the Bible and decide for yourself. Certainly the Church, while they can guide you, actually have no Moral Authority. At least no more than you give them. That was the foundation for creating the Protestant movement, but I was told by a Catholic, that the Catholic Church now also endorses a similar view. And ABSOLUTELY Christian Fundamentalist have no moral authority. The Self-Righteous are the worst of the worst.

    So, the only thing that matters, is what you think. What do you logically and reasonably thing about engaging in one of the most fundamental common and natural Biological Urges? Keeping in mind there are genuine measurable health benefits to frequent orgasms. As Woody Allen once said, “Masturbation is sex with someone I love”. Does this act seem to be morally harmful to you or anyone else? And does any theoretical moral harm you perceive override the very real and very positive benefits?

    Frequently the Biblical story of ONAN is used to decry masturbation, but that story really has nothing to do with it. Onan’s brother died, and he has the moral responsibility to impregnate his brother’s wife so that his brother’s family line could go on. Onan ‘spilled his seeds on the ground’ meaning he willfully pull out so as not to impregnate his brother wife. His crime was not wasting his seed, his crime was NOT doing his moral duty.

    Now certainly restraint and moderation in all things. If the act becomes so excessive that it begins to harm your life, just as it would with excess alcohol or drugs, or any obsession, then it is that harm and excess that are immoral and not the act itself. Drinking alcohol in moderation does no harm and has benefit. It is not immoral. Drinking in excess does harm the individual and does harm people associate with the individual, and can put other people at mortal risk. That is wrong, that is immoral.

    I just can’t see something so natural and normal as being a sin; not in and of itself. In the end, both religiously and morally you have to find the high ground for yourself. You have to make a reasonable educated informed judgment, but don’t let the world or the forces in the world try to dictate your moral landscape. Especially when some of those forces are themselves wholly morally corrupt. (PS: That’s not a slam on the Catholic Church specifically.)

  • July 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    well , i have been in the same kind of trouble feeling younger …(sorry for my english as it is not my mother tongue). First thing the religion is that god is love….that means he is supposed to understand ,with love every body, then if you believe in god he created you with you feelings and desires…if those were wrong what king of perverted god he is?
    Getting older and a grown man is to revisit ,to look again from your feelings what it has been thaught to you…make your own decisions, beleivings, what is wrong and right…it is just about an acceptance of who you are…as far as you have this kind of questions means you already are in a good way…sex is something natural, good and healthy.and masturbating is discovering your beautiful body…enjoy it..if you believe truly in god ,the he is the one who gave you that ability..what men says is an other history…step on your own decisions and feelings…stick on them ,you will never be wrong if you behave as a good person to yourself and others…there is nothing ,NOTHING wrong about it this is why you feel like doing it and for the same resin you don’t do hurtful things to other…because you naturally know what is right watch is wrong…and this is right to me…i have been there…and understand you concern…
    have fun in this beautiful life coming to you where you can choose and decide whatever you want and don’t let anybody ,specially the tribe of “it’s not possible ” bother you…every thing is really possible…knowing the input you have to put on it…and you can be who ever you want and decide without the agreement of everybody as much as you carry love for yourself and around you….that’s my feeling…

  • July 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    sorry..i am not done here…you say you are catholic…why? because your parents are? if they were muslim ,jew,or amish that ‘s what you would be…are you sure you are they , your parents, are probably straight…is that mean you have to be?? that’s what i meant as growing as an adult …keep all the good things they tech you and get rid of what doesn’t make sense to you…that is hoe you become who you are..doesn’t mean that you have to fight or go to war…is just like you feel it..trust in your feelings…that’s the best you can do for yourself…you know you are a good person and that’s all what matter…there is universal “laws” that you know by yourself and there rules that religions try to impose you to rule you and have control on you..that’s just humans….your mother pri=obalby told yo not to lie, which is good, and allow her to have control on what is going on with you as a kid to protect you…there is a time that lying is not bad to me…because explaining what you did to people who don’t understand mean that you have to justify of something that in act you don’t have to, it is just the process of growing and understanding your self…and judging yourself..you’ll know if you have to do that again or not…don’t need to got the blaming of anybody..that’s mean that you are responsible for yourself and becoming and adult…

    • July 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

      grammar and spelling aside, I have to agree. If you personally believe in the catholic religion then I could see the concern. If you only believe it because your parents are and it’s forced up on you then maybe you should reconsider. I grew up in a very Christian home, went to christian school, and was forced to go to church every Sunday… yet I don’t believe in it. It just wasn’t me. Plus I can’t honestly follow some book that has been around for decades and translated god knows how many times when I don’t have proof of where it came from, especially knowing how corrupt the world can be. It’s not like books today don’t go into any less detail than the Bible did… and the predictions are no different than fortune tellers, just pointing out the obvious. There will be wars? Well duh, we’re human. There will be natural disasters? Yeah… and then it gives no finite date as to when everything will end, letting it live on forever. It’s just too vague.

      Anyway, I got a bit off topic. Just do you. If you’re seriously concerned about masturbating being a sin then there is no way you’re a bad person.

  • November 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    The bible does not say masturbation is a sin, and Genesis 38:9-10 refers to someone not wanting to get someone pregnant.

  • December 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

    The Catholic Church fucks up all gays by condemning them to eternal hellfire which is a load of bollocks when so many of the priests are out there buggering choir boys!
    Coming to terms is hard enough without all that shit so just be true to yourself, live your live as you want and have faith in yourself.
    So as a Catholic I fuck I suck and toss off, my bodily pleasures. I go to church on Sunday and confess only where I think I’ve sinned and shooting my load with the help of another guy doesn’t come into that category

  • August 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Dude, you are a joy of creation, every part of you, why does it feel so good if it is wrong? Enjoy yoyrself, after all, some drunk driver could end your life tomorrow, would that be if god? No, I like the comment about 90% jerk off and thenother 10% lie and say they don’t 🙂


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