Male Masturbation is a Grave Matter

Why do I sincerely belief that male masturbation is a grave matter? I realize that from the currently popular utilitarian moralities masturbation is a paradigm of triviality.

I wrote in Moral Gravity as Degrees of Disobedience to a Moral Authorityy: An act is a grave moral matter if its performance is the highest degree of disobedience to the moral commander. I proposed further that logical distance from basic moral principle measured degree of disobedience to commands. Acts whose wrongness is almost axiomatic are grave matters.

“Logical distance” refers to the number of theoretical assumptions and factual claims added to basic moral principles to show that an act is wrong. It is really common sense. For instance, the notion of logical distance explains the frequent discussions in my high school religion classes on how far a boy could go with a girl before it became a mortal sin. If much imaginative details needed to be added to show how the conduct led to the boy and girl physically stimulating each other sexually the conduct was not gravely wrong – not a mortal sin.

Back to the question: Why hold that male masturbation is immoral and from a Catholic perspective a grave matter, a mortal sin?

Strong cases can be made for the following claims. Making these cases was writing to convince myself that the claims are correct. I intend my writings help others do the same. Of course, the details cannot be repeated here.

1.There are basic moral laws and they are best understood as commands of a supernatural moral authority.

A case for a moral theory based on rules commanding pursuit of basic human goods is developed in several posts over two or three years. A post with which to start is Core Concepts of Authoritarian Morality . “Authoritarian” was a bad label. I now call it “command moral theory.”

2. The Paternal Principle, used below, is one of these basic moral commands. See Chapter IV of my book* for an extended discussion in favor of taking the Paternal Principle as axiomatic or properly basic principle of even purely secular morality.

3. There is a reality upon which all other realities depend for their existence , viz. God.
See A Proof of the Existence of God for one of several posts on the Transcendent.

4. The moral commander can be understood as that God upon which all realities depend,
See Moral Authority as God .

These four claims entail that the Paternal Principle is a direct command of God.

What is this Paternal Principle?

The Paternal Principle tells us that a man should intentionally seek an orgasm only in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom he has a life-long commitment to care for her and any conception resulting from their coitus.

A condemnation of male masturbation, and incidentally male homosexuality, is an immediate corollary of the Paternal Principle.

Hence, male masturbation and homosexual acts are contrary to morality and, from a Catholic perspective properly regarded as grave matters.

* My book is Confronting Sexual Nihilism, Oklahoma City, 2014. A free copy of my book is available by emailing

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Male Masturbation is a Grave Matter

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