Is Masturbation worse then Fornication?

It has been explained to me that the reason why masturbation is so wrong is because it turns sex inward and makes sex about self gratification rather than mutual gratification.

If this is true than wouldn’t that make masturbation a greater evil than fornication?

since in fornication, while you are still being selfish for going against God’s will, you arn’t being as selfish because it isn’t all about self gratification since there is also the desire to please your partner while in masturbation is is 100% self pleasure.

I would say no since how many casaes of fornication are actually in a stable relationship where the deisre is for a child even though the two are not married. Probably less than 1%. Therefore, fornication is worse since the end reusult is always going to be some method of birth control and God forbid someone gets pregnant, a good chance of an abortion. There is only one mortal sin if it is at all mortal in regards to masturbation. There are several mortal sins being committed and some potentially abominable sins in fornification.

It doesn’t matter if one is considered worse than the other. They are both grave sins and if you know that and do them anyway and die unrepentent they will both land you in Hell!

Hmmm, how stable can a relationship be if fornication occurs?

Amen. Sin is sin. It all separates us from God. The only rating of sin that really matters is mortal and venial and that does not mean that habitually committing venial sin is a good thing.

Which is worse, manslaughter or murder? If you’re the victim, it really doesn’t matter as you’re dead either way. In a like way, one’s soul is the victim of sin, even if it’s self-inflicted. If you kill the soul (or more accurately, cast off your sanctifying grace) by masturbation or fornication, the end result is the same.

Some misguided medieval uber-scholastics might say masturbation was worse, but I even doubt they would since fornication involves two people sinning mortally rather than just one.

The both equally violate the Sixth Commandment.

From this perspective, it would seem that fornication is worse than masturbation, because one does harm both to one’s own soul and to another person.

In any case, though, I agree with the answers posted saying that mortal sin is mortal sin. The Catechism does delineate that there are differing degrees of gravity (i.e., killing is graver than theft), but sexual sin is pretty much all in the same bag.


A bad analogy in my mind because murder in general (and even more so in certain circumstances like deliberate premeditated murder in cold blood) is so clearly worse than manslaughter in general (and even more so in certain circumstances like involuntary manslaughter).

What can I say? You get what you pay for. :slight_smile: Seriously though, I agree that murder is certainly more heinous than manslaughter; however, does that really matter for the victim? If each sin wounds the mystical body of Christ, how is that body less wounded by one mortal sin versus another?

ROFL :rotfl:and touche

No, it probably doesn’t matter much to the victim, but I also don’t think that the seriousness of a sin is necessarily viewed from the victim’s point of view. Although, of course, the circumstance of the victim can play a huge part in the seriousness of the sin.

Actually, didn’t Aquinas say that masturbation was morally more disordered than fornication?

To me, it seems that fornication involves two people both misleading the other into sin. Still, masturbation more grossly disorders the sexual act.

Yes. Aquinas did say that. I can’t find the passage right now, but I believe he used the following logic.

Fornication is a misuse of a natural act, while masturbation is an unnatural act. Therefore, in fornication you are doing what you are supposed to be doing (with your spouse) but doing it inappropriately. You are never supposed to masturbate, therefore it is worse. Likewise he states that homosexual acts are worse than heterosexual fornication for the same reason.

From the natural law point of view it makes sense. But, they are all still mortal sins :wink:

God Bless

It’s hard to say.

Masturbation is probably a greater offense against chastity than fornication, because masturbation is a sin against nature.

However, fornication is also opposed to justice, against the child that could be born from the act (since he or she would not be conceived in the proper context of marriage, and we know that such children often are at a disadvantage, especially with fatherlessness). In addition, I think scandal very often enters into fornication as well, when one partner leads the other into the sin. Finally, I think it takes on the same unnatural character as masturbation to some extent when it is performed with “protection”.

Teenage boy #1 while skipping school, enters a store and shoplifts a couple of music CDs and a carton of cigarettes.

Teenage boy #2 ties his best to live in a chaste manner, but awakes one night in the middle of a highly erotic dream, trys to distract himself with a few prayers, and a late night sandwich, but winds up going into the bathroom and deliberately recalling those powerful images of sex from the dream and masturbating to them.

According to the Church, boy #2 has committed a mortal sin, has ruptured his relationship with God, cannot receive communion, and will go to Hell unless he goes to confession, and vows to never masturbate again.

Boy #1 doesn’t even need to confess his deeds since these sins are venial. Does anybody else see a problem here?



Boy number 1 never had union with God may not even be baptized. Oh and by the way no thief will enter the kingdom of God. I doubt that boy number 1 in his heart doubted that the matter was grave.

Boy number 2 knew better and sinned turning his back on God. Will it land him in hell, does the sin of pride keeps him from confessing it to God (turning his back on god again) and making an act of contrition?

Both sins will send you to Hell if not confessed, but fornication involves another person, so you’re partially responsible for their sin in addition to yours.

Don’t know…just do your best!

I just found an article that seems to throw some light on this question.

Aquinas on Sexual Sins – The Dangers of Speaking Formally

Which is worse: adultery or masturbation? Rape or masturbation? Did Aquinas teach that masturbation is a greater sin than rape, because masturbation is unnatural, and rape is not? The suggestion that masturbation is ultimately a greater sin than adultery or rape is immediately repellent to us. In fact it is ridiculous, yet certain authors attribute precisely this position to Thomas Aquinas, reading him to be saying that the sin of masturbation is simply speaking, ultimately, worse than the sins of adultery and rape. Moreover, the further argument is made that the Church upheld this position for a long time, and this (false claim) is used to attack the Church’s credibility in sexual ethics. Doubt is sometimes expressed regarding various teachings or practices of the Church, e.g., regarding the Church’s affirmation that homosexual intercourse is wrong, or the restriction of priestly ordination in the Roman Rite to those who freely choose to embrace celibacy. The argument is made that if the Church “taught for a thousand years that masturbation is a worse sin than rape”, its teaching on sexual matters can’t be very sound.

This misunderstanding of the Church’s traditional teaching on sins against nature seems to be more prevalent than I realized. I hadn’t previously realized how many authors and teachers assert that not only many medieval theologians, but even Thomas Aquinas taught this. Here are some sample quotes from books discussing masturbation in Aquinas:

[In Aquinas’s view], Because sins against nature were sins against God, they were considered more serious than sins against other people, such as adultery, seduction, and rape (John F. Schumaker, Religion and Mental Health [Oxford University Press US], 1992), 76).To make his point perfectly clear, Aquinas poses a question: are not rape and adultery worse than unnatural acts, since they harm other persons, while consensual sins against nature do not? The answer is unequivocal: the four non-procreative forms of sex are worse, since–though not harmful to others–they are sins directly against God himself as the creator of nature. According to this logic, rape, which may at least lead to pregnancy, becomes a less serious sin than masturbation (Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilisation, [Harvard University Press, 2006], 188).

“A practice opposed to the pattern set for us by nature” exceeds in wickedness the seduction of an innocent of the opposite sex, adultery, and rape (II-II 154:12) (Sex from Plato to Paglia, by Alan Soble [Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006], 1053).

Have any of you encountered such positions, or seen such arguments used as arguments that the Church had (and still has) an absurd position regarding sexual sins?

One unfamiliar with the scholastic manner of speaking formally about an issue, that is, addressing precisely the question at hand, might easily get this impression from Aquinas’s treatment of sexual “sins against nature.”

Here is the text itself. In the Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 154, a. 12, Aquinas says:

In each kind of thing the worst corruption is the corruption of the principle on which other things depend. Now the principles of reason are the things in accord in nature… and therefore, to act against what is determined by nature, is most serious and base. Therefore since in the sins against nature man transgress what is determined by nature in regard to sex, the sin in this matter is the gravest kind of sin. After this is incest… while by the other species of lust one transgresses only that which is determined according to right reason, but presupposing the natural principles. But it is more contrary to reason to have sex not only contrary to the good of the offspring to be born, but also with injury to another. And therefore simple fornication, which is committed without injury to another person, is the least kind of lust.

The first objection of the article argues that sins against nature are not the worst, because they are not the most contrary to charity: “The more a sin is contrary to charity the graver it is. Now adultery, seduction and rape, which are injurious to our neighbor, seem to be more contrary to the love of our neighbor, than unnatural sins, by which no other person is injured. Therefore sin against nature is not the greatest among the species of lust.” St. Thomas replies to this objection: “As the order of right reason is from man, so the order of nature is from God himself. And therefore in sins against nature, in which the very order of nature is violated, injury is done to God himself, the one who ordains nature.”

Aquinas is focusing on the sins precisely as a violation of the right use of sexuality, and abstracting from other aspects of them. As justice is a greater virtue than chastity, so injustice is a greater evil than unchastity, and thus all things considered, Aquinas would consider rape a greater evil than masturbation or contraception.