Isn't it interesting how a generation looks at things differently. A few decades ago, masturbation was looked at as something dirty. Parents threatened their kids that they would go blind or that hair would grow on their palms if they masturbated. But, over time, we were told that people shouldn't repress their sexual desires and that it was perfectly natural to masturbate. So, I would have to say that the typical consensus in today's society is that it's perfectly natural to masturbate and that parents shouldn't discourage it in anyway or else their child may grow up with some sort of disorder. It probably doesn't shock anyone to be told that the Catholic Church still teaches that masturbation is a sin. Of course it's not shocking--after all--the Church is so "old fashioned" and "behind the times." It's just another reason not to listen to the church. Here is an idea. How about we explore the reasons as to WHY the church teaches it instead of just thinking of it as old fashioned. Why? Put it bluntly--people would rather pleasure themselves than to be told that they can't.
I don't think it is any secret that the Catholic Church has done a cruddy job explaining her teaching about sexuality much less masturbation. It wasn't until Pope John Paul II started talking about the "theology of the body" early on in his pontificate that people really understood the church's teaching. Before then, it appeared that sex was dirty and cheap and to be done solely in the missionary position in bed with the lights turned off. It wasn't until John Paul's helped us see sex in the way that it was intended and that sex is beautiful. Sex became a total, free, fruitful and faithful exchange of love between a husband and a wife. It's a symbol of God's love and any sexual act that isn't free, fruitful, total and faithful actually tears down the beauty of sex and how sex was supposed to be. There is so much more about the theology of the body than I can explain. I encourage everyone to become more educated about the theology of the body.
Masturbation, obviously, is not a free, fruitful, faithful and total exchange of love between a man and a woman. First of all, it's not even an exchange between husband and wife. And it's certainly not fruitful and definitely not faithful. In fact, I would venture to say that most people think of people other than their spouse when they masturbate. And-if they are thinking of their spouse then they are seeing their spouse as an object to be used and not as a person to be loved. I suppose that would go for anyone you are thinking about--you are imagining them as someone to use and not to be loved.
Put simply--masturbation makes it more difficult to be chaste and pure of heart. Chaste does not mean abstinence-it means the ordering of our sexual desires into an act of self-giving love instead of self gratification. By masturbating, you are giving into that self-gratification and instead of a release of sexual tension you become a slave to that self gratification and idea of using others for that gratification. If you break the chains of that slavery you don't repress the sexual desires but you put them in order and you actually become more free.
I've seen what those chains of slavery to masturbation do to people. I've done car checks on people in parks where they couldn't even wait to get home to pleasure themselves. I've had to do building checks on stores that sell pornography where they have private booths to show videos to their patrons. I don't think I need to explain what they do in the private booth. I don't think anyone can say that having to masturbate in public places is healthy or normal.
Repression is not the way to go because well. . . it doesn't get rid of the feelings. But you don't have to masturbate to get rid of lustful feelings. Too often, we rely on ourselves to take care of our problems but we can quite simply turn to God for assistance. Say a quick prayer when we face temptation. Ask God to help you see the person you are thinking about as someone made in the image and likeness of God and not to be looked up as an object for your self gratification.
I'm not saying it's easy at all. Many people are addicted to pornography and addicted to masturbation but with the grace of God you can overcome the temptation and be free. And if you do give it you don't have to freak out. You've succumbed to sin. Go to confession, be freed of your sins and receive the grace to help you not do it again.