Masturbation is a Mortal Sin

The New Testament

Catholic Articles

Masturbation is a Mortal Sin

Tweet this article

We regret that we have to address these issues.  However, due to the fact that we have received a high number of queries on this issue, it must be addressed.  Since so many are coming out of mortal sin and are convincing themselves that certain things are not sins, we must preach against those sins with some specificity lest people perish in their ignorance. 

Masturbation is a mortal sin.  Those who took the time to read our recently-posted article against Justification by Faith Alone should have noticed a point which concerns this issue.  There are about three places where St. Paul gives a list of some of the main mortal sins which exclude people from Heaven.  These lists do not comprise every mortal sin, of course, but some of the main ones.  Well, it always puzzled many people exactly what is being referred to in the following passages by the sin of “uncleanness” and “effeminacy.”  St. Paul says that these sins exclude people from Heaven.  Does “effeminacy” refer to acting like a homosexual?  What does “uncleanness” refer to?

Galatians 5:19-21- “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11- “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceivedneither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Ephesians 5:5-8- “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

Well, some time back one of us came across the following point in St. Thomas Aquinas.  St. Thomas Aquinas identifies masturbation as the biblical “uncleanness” and “effeminacy.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Pt. II-II, Q. 154, A. 11: “I answer that, As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called "the unnatural vice." This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of "uncleanness" which some call "effeminacy." Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called "bestiality." Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Romans 1:27): and this is called the "vice of sodomy." Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.”

Thus, not only is masturbation a mortal sin, but it’s a mortal sin which is identified in three different places in Scripture as one which excludes from the Kingdom of God.  It’s also classified by St. Thomas as one of the sins against nature, for it corrupts the order intended by God.  That’s probably why it’s called “effeminacy.”  Though it’s not the same as the abomination of Sodomy, it’s disordered and unnatural.  We believe that this sin – since it’s contrary to nature and is classified as “effeminacy” and “the unnatural vice” – is the cause of some people being given over to unnatural lusts (homosexuality).

Therefore, people who are committing this sin need to cease the evil immediately and, when prepared, make a good confession.  If people are really struggling in this area, then they are not near the spiritual level where they need to be.   God’s grace is there for them; but they need to pray more, pray better, avoid the occasions of sin and exercise their wills.  They need to put out more effort spiritually and then it shouldn’t be a problem.