Questions from Teens

Real-life questions from real-life teens. Got a burning question about chastity or sexuality or anything else? Ask the REAP Team! Your responses will be answered by a REAP Team staff member. Go to our contact us page and choose 'QNA' from the drop-down menu.

Is oral sex okay?

Former president Bill Clinton certainly confused a generation - is oral sex actually sex or something else? Stay puzzled no longer. Read more »

What's so wrong with pornography?

Living in a porn nation makes it hard to believe anything is wrong with viewing a couple pictures of movies, right? See why so-called "innocent fun" twists everything about sex and the opposite sex. Read more »

Is masturbation a sin?

Masturbation seems harmless, but it perverts sex into selfishness and damages your relationships with the opposite sex, especially your future spouse. Here's how...

Q: Is masturbation really a sin? It doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone, right?

A: Actually… it is harmful. And, because it’s harmful, it’s a sin. Here’s why:

Sex is meant to be a loving communication between two people in marriage — it says “I give myself (body, heart, mind and soul) to you forever and completely.” When masturbating, with whom are you communicating? No one. Masturbation is entirely focused on one's own sexual pleasure, a selfish drive to be personally satisfied. Sex should never be a lonely or selfish activity.

God did not create sex for you to have it with yourself. Sexuality is certainly a part of who you are, and it is natural to want to fulfill your desires, but there is an appropriate place for sexual expression & pleasure — marriage. In marriage, the pleasure is infinitely coupled with the communication of love and intimacy between man and wife.

Although it seems harmless, masturbation is very damaging to both you and others in several ways:

1.     Masturbation fixates your mind on an unhealthy sexual expression. Most likely, it is your mind that brings you to the point of masturbating, either through the use of pornography or your own fantasy. When your mind entertains impure thoughts, impure acts soon follow (or your desires are repressed and come out in other unhealthy acts). It is not a sin for an impure thought to enter your mind – but dwelling on it, or entertaining such a thought, is going too far. What we think about, we usually act upon. For example, if you’re on a diet but constantly daydream about donuts and chocolate sundaes, etc., what do you think will happen when the next donut is offered to you, especially if you’re hungry? It will be very difficult to resist. The same is true with sexual acts. Choosing to focus your mind on sexual thoughts makes it difficult to resist sexual temptation. If you choose to focus on healthy expressions of love now, then you will be equipped to have loving, healthy relationships now and a loving, healthy marriage in the future.

2.     Masturbation damages our understanding of sex. When masturbating, you are not having sex, or thinking of sex, the way it was created to be. Masturbating completely focuses on the physical aspect of sex, ignoring entirely the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual bonding sex was designed to create. In fact, masturbation subconsciously blocks out these other natural aspects of marital sex. If you train yourself to experience sex for the selfish physical pleasure only, you damage your ability to experience the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual power of sex. Then, when you want sex to be a gift, of your heart, mind, soul, and body, to the one person you love more than anything in this world, it is not — it is just a physical thing. You miss out on the true meaning and experience of sex.

3.     Masturbation hurts your relationships — those for whom you care deeply. When dating, even if your intention is to respect and honor the person you are with, both your mind and your actions are trained to focus on your own physical pleasure. You may also be tempted to objectify the person you are dating. Perhaps without even realizing it, you will begin to push the physical boundaries of the relationship because you have trained yourself to pursue physical pleasure. Moving too quickly physically almost always ruins what could have been a good relationship.

4.     Masturbation hurts marriage. There have been thousands of married couples that lack emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy in their sex lives. For such couples, sex in marriage is no different than those self-seeking moments of pleasure from their past. This causes great strain and a lot of hurt in a marriage. Sex is meant to be the super-glue of the heart in marriage — to keep couples together through the struggles of life. When sex is primarily physical, a decision made long before marriage, it does not have the capacity to bond a couple emotionally and spiritually as it is meant to do. Great sex in marriage starts with our attitudes and actions long before marriage.

Therefore, masturbation, when done with full knowledge and consent of the will, is a sin. I realize that masturbation can be a fairly easy habit to fall into, particularly for adolescent boys. The habit, like other sexual habits, can be fueled by underlying issues—loneliness, lack of real love, and so forth. The best thing to do in this situation is to pray, to strive to identify and address any underlying causes, and to work diligently to break the habit.

This is not something you will be able to do alone. You absolutely need to find a good confessor — a priest whom you trust completely, who understands the problem, and who wants to help you. He doesn’t need to know your name, but if you are not going face-to-face, he should have some way of identifying you as the same person each time. It is easiest to tell him at least your first name. Remember, you certainly won’t shock him.

In addition to your confessor, there may be someone else you trust who would be willing to help you talk through some of these issues. Perhaps a spiritual director, or a trusted adult in your parish, or a good friend who can help keep you accountable. That may sound awkward or uncomfortable, but many people have successfully broken their addiction because they had a good friend to whom they could reach out to when they were tempted to fall.

If you are struggling with masturbation, know that many people have been in the same place as you, and that God can help us through anything. Jesus was fully human and tempted in every way man is tempted, so rest assured that Jesus understands. And, know that you can trust Him, because although He was tempted, He did not succumb. We can find courage through Christ, who strengthens us. Many women and men are now living healthy lives, in healthy relationships, even if masturbation has been a part of their past, because they lean on Jesus, and other Christian guidance, to not succumb to temptation.

If you are not struggling, continue to pray to keep purity in your heart, mind and body. This is the best way to live your sexuality the way it was created. Don’t settle for less.

 

 

Related articles How Can I Stop Masturbating?, Spiritual Accountability, Transforming Lust Into Love.

For more information, we recommend Mary Beth Bonacci’s book, Real Love, pg. 196-202. See Chastity Resources for more information on this book and others.

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How does sex before marriage lead to sexual problems in marriage?

An estimated 40 million women in America complain about their sex lives. Although there can be many explanations for the trend, sex before marriage can only contribute to this sad phenomenon because...

The Epidemic of Bad Sex in Marriage

A 2013 iVillage survey reported that 80 percent of married men are either 'happy' or 'very happy' with their sex lives, whereas only 60 percent of married women are.

...that means 4 out of 10 married women aren't happy.

This isn't new information, and things aren't getting better for married couples as our culture becomes more and more sexually permissive. As far back as the year 2000, an estimated 40 million women in America were complaining about ther sex lives. They hate having it, sex feels like a chore, there is no enjoyment, no intimacy—these women have lost the desire for sex. Why? There is no easy answer, and certainly isn't one that is true for all women, but the reality that so many women are unhappy with their sex lives affects not only them, but also their husbands and marriages. A widespread acceptance of sex before marriage is almost certainly contributing to this sad phenomenon.

The two stories that follow were made public on “Oprah” in June 2000.

One frustrated woman describes…

“Before marriage, we had sex 3-4 times a week; but after marriage, it became like a chore.”

Why?

Before marriage, this particular woman admitted that sex was used as a tool (to get a man to commit, and/or for her own personal comfort). In this situation, the act of sex was used inappropriately. Sex inside marriage is designed to be an emotional experience that bonds a couple through good and bad times. It is not meant to simply “comfort” a relationship. Individuals often become misguided as to the role of sex in a relationship and it is only through a great deal of effort, forgiveness, time, and healing that people are able to discover the beauty of sex in marriage.

When someone habitually uses sex in a certain way (whether it be for personal pleasure, or to get a person to commit) that becomes the reason to have sex. Now that the woman had the permanent commitment, what was the reason to have sex? It wasn't an intimate bonding experience for her, so she lost the desire to have sex anymore.

Sex before marriage destroyed her ability to bond with her husband and enjoy sex as an intimate experience in marriage.

Not just affecting women -

One frustrated man describes:

“My wife doesn’t fulfill me when I’m having a hard time. She doesn’t make love to me when I want it, when I need it. Our marriage is falling apart.”

Why?

This man is familiar with having sex when he wants it and using sex for his own personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Sex is created to be a completely giving experience - to give the best, and all, of yourself to your spouse, so as to fulfill them. If someone has sex outside of marriage, they often use it for themselves, even if they believe it is a loving thing to do for their relationship. The wife in this situation does not enjoy sex because it is done for her husband’s satisfaction, not as a gift of self to one another.

Sex before marriage ruined this man’s ability to become a gift for his wife through sex and his ability to sense her needs as more important than his own - and at the same tiem, also ruined his marriage.

These certainly are not isolated situations. Such lack of intimacy happens on a regular basis in many marriages. Movies don’t usually show this, and so many couples are afraid to publicly talk about it. 

Sex Before Marriage

These kinds of habits or motivations can ruin a marriage, even before the marriage begins. You cannot be completely self-giving in sex outside of marriage because there is no permanent commitment which allows you to give all of yourself (heart, body, spirit, mind). If you gave everything of yourself in sex outside of marriage, you risk losing everything, because that person might walk away the next day, month or year.

So, we train ourselves to not give away all of our “heart and soul” in sex. We hold back emotional or intellectual attachments that we don’t want to be hurt. We condition sex to be more of a physical than emotional act, or simply use it to fulfill our immediate needs. Then, when we get married, we wonder why sex isn’t totally giving, beautiful, and bonding. It is simply because we chose to turn sex into something it is not. We abused the gift of sex.

Sex should be a place where a couple grows and connects and discovers each other better, not a place where old baggage, motives and comparisons keep spouses divided and frustrated.

What do you want to bring into your marriage?

Do you really want to habitually use sex out of context, out of God’s plan? How much of your marital intimacy do you want to endanger for sexual moments now?

You’re making that decision now. God wants to bless your marriage with awesome sex, as a totally bonding and giving experience. Chastity can help you to achieve it.

And there’s good news: it’s not too late to start over. If you want to have great sex, start by choosing chastity today.

Is it a sin if I was raped?

Rape is far different from giving yourself to another. Rape falls into another category altogether and requires much healing to become whole again.

Dear REAP Team,

Is it a sin if you were raped? I have been told that it is because you had a chance to protect yourself so it is your own fault, but then I was told that it isn’t a sin because it wasn’t your choice. And if you were raped, do you lose your virginity?

Sincerely,
Totally Confused and Wondering

Dear Totally Confused and Wondering,

When someone is raped, by definition, this means they have not given consent to have sex. If consent is not given, then the individual is not at fault—the perpetrator (rapist) is choosing to act without permission from the other. It is true that sometimes individuals can put themselves in situations where they are tempting to members of the opposite sex, however, when “no” is said, or permission is not given or communicated—no matter what the victim is wearing or any external circumstances—it is rape. Rape is sinful to those choosing to commit it, not to the victim.

Also, it must be made clear that virginity has to be given; it can’t be taken away from someone. Therefore, in instances of rape, one has not lost their virginity. In the eyes of God, they are as pure as they were before the rape. As Mary Beth Bonacci clearly states, “Rape cannot be equated with (consentual) sex any more than breaking and entering can be equated with hospitality.” Rape is a violent crime and causes a great deal of destruction. Because of this, it is imperative that anyone who has been raped seeks help immediately—from parents, a priest, a Christian therapist—someone with spiritual wisdom. Without counseling, victims sometimes become either sexually promiscuous or sexually repressed. If sex truly is as valued, cherished and beautiful as chastity describes, then the violation seems much more profound. Becoming more promiscuous gives the victim the illusion that “sex isn’t that big of a deal.” Also, without healing, a rape from the past can cause a great deal of harm in marital bonding and future relationships. If you know someone who has been raped, please encourage them to receive counseling right away. If you need help finding a good, Christian counselor for such a person, let us know.

For more information on healing from sexual abuse, go to this excellent website - Desert Stream

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