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If sex is good for us, why is the Church so hostile to it?

Full Question

I have been struggling with the issue of masturbation for the past couple of months. After doing some research, I discovered that it has some medicinal benefits. Why is the Church so hostile to sex? Is there a plan for the Magisterium to review the sex rules anytime soon?


Even if the physical benefits to masturbation were substantial, which I doubt, they would not justify the negative results. Masturbation conflicts with the whole purpose of sexuality. The act of sexual intercourse is the physical expression of the marriage vows made at the altar. It is therefore an expression of Christian love, i.e., concern for the other. It is the most complete way of expressing the total self-donation of one person to another. Total means until death. It can’t be total for a week or a couple of years.

With masturbation there is no self-donation to anybody. It consists of taking pleasure for oneself alone. There is no giving at all. We were created for more than that.

The Church is not hostile to sex; indeed, nowhere will you find a higher understanding of sexuality than in the Catholic Church. The Church teaches reality. Opinions don’t change reality. Nor will the Church ever attempt to do so. I suggest that you get a copy of Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. You can order it through or by phone: 888 291 8000.



  1. Cynthia Reply

    That book was one of the best books I’ve ever read!!! Seriously read it! It was one of the publications in out kit when my fiance and I started our NFP class!

  2. Andrew Reply

    I do not agree with the answer above concerning masturbation. There are a number of situations where there is not the option to have sexual intercourse with a partner. A few would include a spouse who has been physically or mentally challenged by illness, accident of other causes. The death of a spouse. There are others but I have made my point. The reasoning given above is flawed and does not fit completely into God’s plan for human sexuality.

    1. Emmett G Hubarth Reply

      God’s plan for human sexuality is and always has been to be fruitful and multiply. If you can show where in the scriptures it says God orders us to pleasure ourselves I would like to see it. Indeed, Jesus said it would be better to place one’s seed into the belly of a whore than to cast it onto the ground. (paraphrased) I think that is pretty straight forward and totally against masturbation.

    2. Andrew G Reply

      Whether you agree with the answer or not, it’s the correct one.

  3. Dstorm00 Reply

    The point of sex is to renew the “one flesh” covenant. It’s designed for two people sacrificing themselves to each other before God to bring about life in their marriage through the blessing of children. Mastutbation is the perfect expression of selfish onasism. It’s defiling the act of sex and climax for the pure object of pleasure. True understanding of the awesome unifying capabilities of sex between man and wife gives birth to a sexuality beyond secular understanding. Pleasure and love and contentment and ecstasy beyond anything you have experienced. The act of that sacrifice brings about emotions and sensations that solidify and unify in ways that only God could fathom and create.

    He created us, he knows what we need better than we do. His design is mapped out in scripture for a reason. To go against it is like putting regular gasoline in a vehicle that clearly calls for diesel. He doesn’t give us these guidelines and commandments to hinder or oppress our freedom and sexuality, but to facilitate it’s perfection and enjoyment. It would be wise to follow the “owners manual”

  4. Toni Reply

    While I completely understand this article and the concept of sex, I feel that perhaps there are exceptions to the rule. I have had Catholic priests say in confession that there are certain circumstances where acts such as masturbation are permissible when the husband can not or will not perform. My husband is impotent. I have struggled with this for years. He refuses to get any kind of help. I am still young and want to be sexually active. I have fought the temptation of an affair and I still long for a connection with another human being. Being that I am young and have resisted temptation, how can masturbation for someone like me be a mortal sin? It is not my fault that my husband will not seek medical care. Everywhere you go today, sex is thrown in our faces. I am not at the age where I can put it out of my mind. I am not that holy but I still love God and want him in my life. Those who say it is wrong, do you have a spouse who will not perform their marital duty?

    1. Cami Reply

      I feel that God has given you a precious gift, the opportunity to love him fully and take refuge in him while facing this hard struggle. I am happily married and have a very satisfying sex life. However, I don’t want to have children and this has made me reflect a lot about this matter. After some time of thinking, I have reached the conclusion that we all (in particular Catholics) are called to a life of chastity, in which we love God above all and we are SO full of this love that we do NOT really need any material/physical pleasure. This should be the real realisation of our love to God. Although we can enjoy sensual entertainment (dancing, singing, reading, sex… etc) or material possessions, these things must not be greater or more important that God for us. The real problem now is, as you said, “Everywhere you go today, sex is thrown in our faces", and this confuses our minds and our hearts a lot. I sometimes struggle with the fact that I have a wonderful marriage with an active and satisfying sex life, while at the same time we are not having children. I truly believe I should have a chaste life but can’t ask my husband that. However, I want to believe that God has blessed me with these gifts to adore him and to glorify him every single day of my life, not for my own pleasure. I hope you can find peace in your heart and soul and that the love of God is always with you.

  5. Georges Kawkabany Reply

    Could you please tell me where Jesus said: “it would be better to place one’s seed into the belly of a whore than to cast it onto the ground” !!!!!!!

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