I am a catholic teenager and somewhat late going through puberty. I love and believe in God. I live in Ontario where the ministry of education has released an updated sexual education curriculum where it mentions that masturbation is natural and normal. There is a part of me that really wants to masturbate because I feel it takes the edge off. I also believe that it is a crucial part of understanding how one’s body works. I also find it a little hard to understand how we can somewhat accept the sexual orientation of people (note: I am not at all against this), but people still consider touching one’s own genitals to be a sin. I have heard mixed opinions on whether masturbation is considered a sin–gravely disordered and always morally wrong–or if it is a healthy and natural way to find out about one’s own body. I have heard that a vast majority of both boys and girls masturbate. This leaves me confused if it is still considered to be a sin. I can understand it being considered sinful if one does it while thinking about other people. But what about masturbating to get rid of old stuff?

I am planning to talk to my parents and a priest to see what they think, but if my parents say that it is natural and a normal thing to do, does that mean it is alright? I am not entirely sure how to approach the subject with my parents; I have mentioned it to my mother and she didn’t seem to be bothered by it. She said that it is better to masturbate than to be out having sex with girls. When I do masturbate, there are no thoughts, images or fantasies involved. I do think that it is better than having a nocturnal emission and hiding it or wearing absorbent pads so no one thinks I wet the bed. I don’t want to go to bed worrying about a mess in the morning. I have also heard that masturbating can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Is it normal to feel confused about it after masturbating? I used to masturbate when I was 13 or 14 and would feel fine afterwards. When I got older I started to think that I should cut back a bit and haven’t for six months. I don’t want to feel guilty for doing something that has been labeled natural and normal. I guess I would like to be able to masturbate without feeling guilty or ashamed.

This is my faith hurdle. –Anonymous