Is Masturbation a Sin?

Dear Father,

Is Masturbation a sin ?

If it is, is it a Venial or Mortal sin ?

I personally do not think it is a sin, but would like to hear from you.




Dear B,

Thanks for the e-mail questions. The first is easiest to answer: Yes, it is a sin--at least objectively, altho as the Catechism explains, there may be subjective mitigating factors. (see Questions about Masturbation)

Whether mortal or venial is more complicated. The classical definition of mortal sin is given by St. Thomas: "When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object...whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery."

That definition is cited by the Catechism as well as Thomas' description of venial sin: "But when the sinner's will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial." (see # 1856)

It goes on to talk about the three conditions for mortal sin* and grave matter. Whether the grave matter part applies to the act of masturbation would take someone wiser than myself to determine. I would certainly say it is an area for the healing and forgiving grace of confession. And also of course to bring before God in prayer, "Lord, there is something I feel uneasy about and you know what it is..."

I hope this may be some help. God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

*A sin is a knowing and deliberate violation of God's law. Those are the three conditions for any sin (knowledge, consent and violation of God's law). For it to be mortal it must involve grave matter.

From Grace MacKinnon at Catholic Exchange: Masturbation: Mortal Sin?

Homily on Sexual Sins

See also Fr. Mateo: Masturbation: Venial or Mortal Sin?


Reflection on Overcoming Masturbation

Sexual Fantasies and Masturbation (a normal way to release tensions?)

About the Sacrament of Confession

Interview on Birth Control

See also: An Eternally Unbridgeable Chasm

The Fiery Furnace

Jesus Teaching Concerning Heaven

Other Homilies


Some Good News on Teen Pregnancy and Abortion

Hitler's Pope: Comic Book Approach to Church History

He Approached the Victim: "It's much more likely one of your relatives will lose his life by surgical abortion than by heart attack."

Germaine Greer on Birth Control

Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)

Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church

Deflating Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Stephen Jay Gould: Gorbachev of Darwinism?

Test Tube Offspring Want to Know Father

Erickson vs. Bartell Drugs

Call No Man Father

What is Original Sin of Sex?

Bicentennial Man (Hidden Assumptions)

Bogus Knights of Columbus Oath

Ossuary of James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus