Why is Masturbation a Sin?

Alright, let's talk about masturbation. This is an extremely sensitive topic because so many people struggle with it. There is something uncomfortable about it; many Catholics, even in the past, were very reluctant to talk about "the solitary sin." For example, there is no entry for masturbation in the otherwise very voluminous 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. This traditional reluctance is somewhat understandable. To discuss the matter is to admit one into a very intimate aspect of one's life, an aspect that is sometimes not proper to discuss at all. And to admit of masturbation is a serious embarrassment; it is like admitting that one lacks the most basic self-control. However, given the prevalence of masturbation, the awkwardness surrounding it, the confusion many young people have about it, and the silence of many in the Church about this issue, it is fitting to take some time to address it here.

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Returning to a Morality of Happiness

The modern Church seems crippled when it comes to its moral teaching. Of course, many in the hierarchy openly dissent from the Catholic moral principles. But even among those inclined to defend them, there seems a growing uncertainty about how to explain them. Similarly, the Catholic laity are as little disposed as ever to live by them; hence the complaint of the bishops in the Instrumentum Laboris of the 2014 Synod on the Family that a morality grounded in natural law is "incomprehensible" to most Catholics. Thus dissent and confusion are the order of the day. As with many problems in the modern Church, this difficulty is bound up with an abandonment of the teaching of St. Thomas on morality. In order to build a solid basis for our moral teaching, we need to recover a Thomistic approach to morality. In this article, we will sketch St. Thomas's moral principles and contrast them with the presumptions of post-medieval moral theology.

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Homosexual Marriage is not a Civil Right

The debate over same-sex marriage has not been resolved. Instead, the militant homosexual lobby has simply declared that the debate is over and is trying to shut down conversation. The manner in which they are bullying their opposition into silence is by pushing homosexual marriage as a "civil right." This is manifestly false, but has unfortunately been repeated so much that ignorant Americans are starting to accept it as a given. Of course, if one admits that homosexual marriage is a "civil right", then to deny the legitimacy of same-sex marriage puts one in the same category as racists who would deny blacks the right to vote. In this article, we will examine why homosexual marriage is in no way a "civil right." We will also confine ourselves to using arguments from law and common sense, because in the public debate on this issue, religious and moral considerations are often not given any weight. 

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Philosophies of Nature

One of the tragedies of modernity is that not only has Christian culture been displaced, but even the very vocabulary of our Christian heritage has been jettisoned or redefined. A classic example is the concept of "free will", which in Catholic Tradition means man's capacity to act of his own volition without internal coercion. In the mind of the modern post-Christian, however, free will usually is the belief that human beings are morally free to engage in any behavior they wish, so long as they are "following their heart". Thus, all sorts of behaviors seen as sins in Catholic Tradition become expressions of man's "free will" in the secularist's view. The traditional term is redefined to mean something completely different from the classical understanding.

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Three Types of Scandal

"Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal comes", our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Matthew (18:7). Scandal has been defined in the Church's tradition as an act or omission on our part that, through our bad example, leads another to commit sin or lose faith. Our Lord warns us in the above cited passage that to do such a thing is particularly heinous; as if it is not bad enough that we destroy our own souls, scandal causes us to drag others down with us into the mire of our sin, sometimes by actively leading others into sin, sometimes just by causing them to be shaken in their faith by our poor example. He levels dire consequences against those who lead believers to sin, warning that it would be better to have a stone about our neck and be drowned in the depth of the sea than be guilty of scandal.

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