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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 21 Apr 2002

Followup to masturbation and gay QUESTION from Jeff July 21, 1999 Brother JP,
I realize that this is not a discussion forum, but I felt led to add something to your answer to Jackson. When I have discussed the subject of sin and repentance with others, I have often heard some say,Sure, I do it all the time, but I repent each time, so it is OK. That is to say that their concept of repentance does not include an attempted change in behavior, but only a statement of repentance, and perhaps a prayer for forgiveness. When Jackson stated, I masturbate quite often, and asked if he would be alright as long as I truly repent, I wondered if this concept of repentance might have been in his mind. So my desire here was only to make clear, if it was not already, that true repentance always includes a desire to turn away from the sin, and an attempt to reform one's life. Masturbation, being a sin that is usually done without witnesses and requires no one else's consent, can be a difficult sin to overcome, and for many it may take years of confessing the same sin before it is under control. This is OK, as long as the person is, each time, resolved to try to make this the last time this sin needs to be confessed. (A side note-if this is a real problem, there is an excellent bulletin board on this site for people with pornography addiciton-masturbation is as common a struggle there as actual pornography, so if it would help, I am sure you would be welcome, Jackson) Perhaps I misread between the lines, but I thought that this might need to ber clarified. JP, if you feel these comments are completely off base, this needn't be printed. I defer to your wisdom on the matter, as you are more familiar with an advice forum than am I.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on July 21, 1999 Dear Jeff:
Your comments are completely on base :-) Thanks.
Yes, we must have a true purpose of amendment (true desire to want to stop the sin) and must try to stop. Each time we fail, we go to confession. As long as one is truly sorry for their sin, is contrite and expresses a genuine purpose of amendment, then that sin is forgiven, even if there is a high probability that the person will commit the same sin again. Each sin is taken individually. The Sacrament of Confession is not concerned with the commission of sins in the future, but with sin actually committed and for which the person proposes to not commit again.
But there are many reasons why a person might commit the sin again even when he doesn't what to. This can range from having a strong habit to addiction to psychological factors. Some of these factors may even mitigate culpability as to mortal sin.
Sexual sins, in particular are VERY difficult.
I don't know what the figures are, but I would guess that as many as 70% of the men and 60% of the women have an actual addiction to masturbation.
If addiction is the problem, it can usually be resolved through medication since the most likely reason for the addiction has to do with chemical imbalances in the brain.
The group you mentioned that tries to help people who are having problems with sexual sins (whether addicted or not) is the Catholic Support Group for Pornography Addiction Recovery. Information about this group is available at the following address:
One does not have to be addicted to Pornography to join this group or be addicted. It is open to all who have chronic problems with sexual sins no matter what the nature of the sexual sin. The group has people with problems with adultery, fornication, homosexuality, masturbation, and pornography.
God love you and me and all of us. He is there to help us and comfort us in these trials.
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