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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I've looked around this site to see if the question was asked, but I didn't find too much.

I'm a 15-year-old Catholic boy, and I need advice about well, . . . masturbation. When I first found out from my friends, I was in public school at the time, and had never really knew it was a sin, so for the past several years I've been performing this act. I now attend Catholic high school and am suddenly faced with the fact that it is a sin. My main question is:

  • Am I able to continue masturbating due to my age and is it considered less of a sin for me?

At first, I thought I had become addicted because I had a hard time stopping, and yes, I do enjoy it. I have stopped looking at pornography and have been able to quell my thoughts but I've come to realize something.

I am now ending Christmas break and I haven't had the urge to do anything because I was relaxed. I have become very stressed from school and this type of stress causes me to compulsively masturbate. At the same time, since I'm 15, I won't be getting married anytime soon, and will not be able to, well, satisfy my urges. I'd like to know if it would be alright for me to masturbate until I'm at least at the age where I can marry.

I understand that if I'm able to wed, then I have no reason to masturbate, (not that that's a reason to marry), but I feel the God wouldn't torture a teenager, boy or girl, with hormones and not allow them to masturbate.

  • Is there any help or advice you can give me?

Thank you,


  { As an adolescent, am I able to continue masturbating due to my age and is it less of a sin for me? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

This is a struggle that most adolescent boys go through, so you are not alone. I have good news and I have bad news for you.

  • The good news is that yes, being addicted, or being in a habit, or even being stressed out can reduce the level of guilt of the sin, making it in many cases a venial sin.
  • However, it is still a sin. It still is destructive to your soul, it can damage your ability to be a good husband to your future wife, it can even bring on permanent sexual scars.

Masturbation is telling a lie with your body. What I mean is that your body is intended to be a gift to your wife, and the sexual faculties are intended to be an expression of that self-gift. It's also intended to be used to unite husband and wife together in a one flesh union. The rush of pleasure and satisfaction you feel is intended to bind you together with your wife and bring you into intimate union with her. When you masturbate, you're reinforcing this but without your wife — you are excluding her and binding yourself to whatever you're thinking of. If you're using pornography, you are also building up an unrealistic view of women in your mind — a perfect, unattainable, unreal view. You are in a sense becoming one flesh with them. And your future wife is not going to be able to compete, and you will be dissatisfied with her.

It's a myth that as soon as you're married, you'll stop masturbating. You'll still have the habit and it will be tempting, because masturbating is selfish. It's a lot easier than satisfying a woman.
You will be so used to masturbating, and your sexual response will be so accustomed to it, that it will affect your ability to be a good husband.

This is certainly a challenge for adolescent boys, and the more you give in, the more enslaved you become, and the harder it is to be chaste. Think of it this way:

Which is more manly:

  • to stand strong against the assaults of temptation, to fearlessly overcome the passions and save yourself for your future wife, or
  • to give into weakness and satisfy yourself?

It's a battle, no doubt about it.

  • Are you going to surrender?
  • Will you lay down as a slave or fight like a man?

Never forget: God will reward you for every victory you win. Any kid can win a video game but it takes a real man to conquer this monster.

One note: Confession is a powerful tool against this sin. I know it's a hard fight. I know it will be hard to control as a 15-year-old, but Confession can really help you escape it and it is necessary when you freely and deliberately choose to do it.


Mary Ann replied:

Anonymous —

You are very smart. You have made connection between stress and the compulsion to masturbate, and noted that when you were relaxed you weren't tempted. Masturbation with pornography has become a form of tension release for you. That is a connection many people don't make, and they become caught in a compulsive habit or vice that is hard to get out of. It is true that your guilt is mitigated or lessened, because you innocently became enmeshed in this and are now somewhat in the grip of a habit. Sex is not just stress release, and it is not just a biological urge that needs to be satisfied! (and you show you understand that when you say that sex release is not a reason to marry).

You should fight it because it makes you less human and less of a man, it desensitizes you,
it's wrong, and it will require harder and worse kinds of pornography to achieve the same result.

As a friend said, it's like a gateway drug. As you know, many sex criminals do what they do to relieve tension, and the serial killer, Ted Bundy said that pornography was the single greatest influence in his life, so there is a progression.

The beginning has some of the elements of the end: in the beginning, one is using a kind of sexual activity for one's own release only, and using women only as a stimulus, and even then seeing them only in a bodily image, not in their real selves or as persons. This sort of behavior makes it hard for males to even relate to women, and hurts men in the long run, making them the shallow, adolescent, uncommitted stupid souls you see in beer commercials and silly movies. It does not help to make males into strong and interesting men that women admire and love.

I admire your awareness, your ability to see reality, and your honesty. Because you made an attempt to quell your thoughts, you realized something about yourself!! Your effort at self-mastery has already led you to some self-knowledge, so you are already on the way. Just think of how much growth is in store for you as you master this — and it can be mastered.

God is not a cruel torturer who afflicts us with drives we can't control. It will take a bit of effort, and some positive activities, too, but with prayer, good habits, and good advice (like that from the men on this site) you can live freely without being dominated by this habit.

God bless.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Just to add to the excellent answers my colleagues have given, whatever you do, don't condemn yourself if, and when, you fall. That will just make it worse.

Recognize it for what it is. It is a sinful habit. You can master it but like any habit, right now it masters you. This is going to take a work of grace in your life so be patient, and be quick to repent. Don't listen to the devil who will first tempt you, then tell you you're no good because you fell, and finally tell you God is getting sick of forgiving you.

Finally, know that you are not alone in this struggle. It's part of the human condition. Most men and woman struggle with this problem at some point in their lives.

God Bless,

John DiMascio

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