Thursday, September 8, 2016

Meet the Men Who Don't Masturbate

Well, now that got your attention, didn't it!

Yes, believe it or not, there are chaste, non-masturbating young men in this world and in this very culture. It was not even difficult to find them. I interviewed them for my book, Raising Chaste Catholic Men, and I'd like you to meet them by reading their answers to five questions, below.

I'd also be pleased if you would introduce them to your own sons/brothers/friends so that your own young men either 1) don't feel so alone, or 2) see that there is an alternative to what how they are living now.

And to all the modern feminists, I can tell you one thing about these incredible chaste men: They are not the ones out there hurting your daughters and sisters -- or you. They are respecting women just as they respect themselves. These are honorable men who have the maturity of self-discipline and self-control. Add to that a deep love of God, a reverence for women, and a desire to be virtuous, and you have the makings of a real man!

So, thank you, gentlemen! Take it away....

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?
2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?
3. What do you say to those who would insist that you are lying about being chaste?
4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?
5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

A 22-year old male (let's call him the Drill Sergeant, speaking specifically man to man):

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

The biggest challenge is the constant temptation. The internet has unlimited amounts of pornography and erotica that is easily accessible. I live alone, there is no one to hold me accountable. I have to hold myself accountable. Despite, actively avoiding this material on the internet I will still sometimes find it unwittingly. This is the true challenge: to click that red x in the top of the screen before I lose my rationality. The other aspect of this is that in every modern medium, pre-marital sex and masturbation are treated as common everyday things that everyone is and should be doing. I once went to a urologist and he told me point blank that I should be masturbating-- that it was normal! When I was younger, this used to make me feel very weird and different from my friends. It made me feel like an outcast. However, I no longer feel that way- I am not so easily swayed by peer pressure and have since realized that these people are slaves to their desires in the same way animals are.

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

Multiple reasons

1. I have a true understanding for the purpose of sexual faculties. That it is to be both unitive and procreative, and that any misuse of this is a grave sin. Sex is not just about pleasure for pleasure's sake. It is giving the whole of yourself to another in sacrificial love. Any distortion of this act is inherently selfish and immoral.

2. I view masturbation as one of the most pathetic and harmful things a person can do to themselves, and as such avoid it. To me it is pathetic, childish, and just plain gross. Why would I want to have sex with my hand? We are not made for it, we are made for something much more beautiful. It follows that since I despise masturbation so, I would remain chaste.

3. I have a deep fear of Hell. It is such a profound fear that I would never even consider masturbating or having pre-marital relations.

3. What do you say to those who would insist that you are lying about being chaste?

I probably wouldn’t say anything. They can think what they want, it does not affect what is true. However, for the purpose of the question I guess I would ask them why I would even lie about such a thing? If masturbation and sex are so normal and commonplace why would I want to appear the outsider? Why, if 97% of men are [masturbating] daily, would I put myself in the 3% that don’t? Why would I make myself look like a freak?

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

From the start, have an open door policy with your boys. No question should ever be off limits. Do not shame them for wondering, and do not chastise them for being curious of the female form. When I was younger, I was on Amazon and a book that had a naked woman on the cover caught my eye. I clicked on it and stared at the pictures until my mother caught me. I was ashamed obviously, but she thought it more funny than anything. The point is, she did not shame me or punish me, she explained that I should not view such things and more importantly WHY I should not view them. Always give a reason, and if you don’t know why, find out! You will earn their respect and trust, and they will always come to you first with questions.

Do not be afraid to teach basic female anatomy to your children at around the time you have “the talk” with them. If you do not teach them about this stuff, they will inevitably take to the internet to find out for themselves, and may be exposed to some very nasty stuff in the process. Teach them the naked human body is not something to be feared, or disrespected.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

Stop touching it. Seriously, control yourselves.  The act of masturbation requires many steps, all of which at any point you can stop. In the same way, the act of pre-marital sex requires conscious choices. You don’t “accidentally” have sex. You are called to be strong men, not juvenile children hiding in their closets. If your computer leads you to sin, smash it. Rise up, you are not a slave to your passions. You are a man with free will. You have the power to choose. And remember that you have no legitimate excuse for your actions. We will always try to justify our sins, we are human after all. But your justifications are as pathetic and harmful as the act you are about to inflict upon yourself. Be a strong, God-fearing, selfless man.


An 18-year-old high school senior:

1. The biggest challenge I face in the culture is probably that everyone just accepts non-chastity (is that a word?) to be normal. Everywhere on tv or at school people present these sins as something that everyone does or that something everyone should do. I've never been unchaste or sinned sexually so it's not that hard for me to maintain that. Its not hard to continue not doing something. Its annoying that the culture today is so tolerant of such things and assumes that if everyone is doing it it must be okay.

2. I remain chaste because I know it's a sin and understand why it's a sin. A lot of people probably have been told that it's wrong, but not why it's wrong. If it's not harming anyone, how could it be wrong? Telling someone it's wrong is not enough. It is important to understand why in order to know that you shouldn't do it. That holds true for all sins.

3. If people think I'm lying about my chastity, it makes me disappointed that people think I can’t have self control. Other than that, I'm not bothered by it because God knows that I'm chaste and that's all that matters anyway. People are allowed to be wrong.

4. Trust your kids. Give them the benefit of the doubt. If you have explained to them why these acts are sinful, it should be enough to keep them chaste. After you teach them why it is a sin, it's really out of your hands whether or not they keep their morals. Its between them and God.

5. Stay strong in the face of society. Prove everyone else wrong. It will pay off in the end. Waiting until marriage to experience sexual pleasure is probably the best way to experience it. Don't ruin that. It's not how God made us.


A 22-year-old man (at the time this was written, he was engaged to be married):

1. I think the biggest culture challenge is how much sex is glorified in society while chastity is marginalized. One simply has to look at the leaders of mainstream American culture: the music stars, movie stars, and the people rich enough to buy stars. That has an effect on everyone in our society. When I was in college, I remember my roommates and I throwing a party at our house for Super Bowl XLIX. Keep in mind that the Super Bowl is the biggest television event in the US every year with most of the viewers being a male audience. During the halftime show, Katy Perry initially came out dressed in clothes that covered her body more than usual. This prompted one of my roommates to exclaim something along the lines of, "She's wearing too much clothing! I can't see any of her!" Those two sentences really summed up our culture in a nutshell. Much to my roommate's delight, and to my dismay, Katy Perry didn't stay like that and she gradually took off much of her clothing as the show went on. This is what we are up against. We have a culture that expects women to act like sex objects while men can continue to indulge themselves in their lustful fantasies. What my roommate said was very symbolic of our age: down with chastity and up with lust.

2. I strive to remain chaste because of my strong Catholic faith. The teachings of the Church provide an understanding of our bodies that is unparalleled with anything else on Earth. It is much more difficult to remain chaste when we think that pleasure is an ends to itself. Knowing the purpose of every part of my body that God gave to me helps me to avoid abusing them for self-pleasure and keep my soul pure. Remember, our bodies are only vessels of our souls.

3. I do not recall anyone who has thought I was lying about my attempts to live a chaste life.

4. Parents need to be at the forefront of the education of their sons on chastity, dads especially. Not to degrade mothers, but a father will naturally be the single most influential figure of their son's life. As such, they need to be the person to take charge of this duty. When boys are educated in chastity, it needs done in a way of understanding about their bodies and it should be open enough for them to ask questions. If the education is too harsh, they may become ashamed of their bodies, even if there was nothing to be ashamed about in the first place. If the education is too lax, or worse there is no education, then the boys will learn from the culture. It is also important that it is not a one time "talk" and nothing else. The education needs to be continuous since boys progress through more body changes as they grow older. The communication line must be kept open so that they are comfortable to ask questions whenever they have them.

5. Odds are, you will fail many times with chastity in this life. But there will also be times where you succeed more than you ever thought you could. It is one of the most difficult things you will have to fight in your life. Do. Not. Give. Up. When you fail, do not fall into despair. That is how Satan traps you there. God gave us the sacrament of Penance for a reason. If you end up falling into your temptations, get to confession ASAP. Not only will it help put you back in a state of grace, it will also help you kick the habit.

I hope these are good enough and that I didn't write too much! I tend to relate more to personal stories in books so I figured I could add a couple of my own. Let me know if you need anything else!


16-year-old Catholic, and a star high school athlete:

1. The biggest challenge for me is the influence from my friends/students/teammates.

2. I stay chaste because first off the church tells us to save it for marriage, second I don't think their would be anything more awesome than saving your sexual life for the person that truly loves you and you will spend the rest of your life with them, and lastly I don't have time for it right now. I'm trying to achieve my goals and dreams. Balancing school and sports is hard enough.

3. I don't remember ever being accused of lying about being chaste because I think the people around me recognize that I hold myself to a very high standard of living.

4. Just raising your kids in a faith filled environment. And allow your kids to open up to the faith. Send them to youth conferences like Steubenville. This transformed my faith from something you have to do into something you want to do.


A 24-year-old man, engaged to be married (sent back two answers):

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

The following are a few different ways that this culture has persistently challenged my resolve to live according to the teachings of the Church regarding chastity.

In high school and college, anytime my Catholic faith came up, I had to endure a lot of very invasive questions about my sexual experiences (or lack thereof). Because I was open about believing--as the Church does--in abstinence before marriage, I was ridiculed by males and patronized by females. The feeling, thus promoted by society, that one is not a real man unless he is having a lot of sex and is very good at it, can be a huge challenge for a young man trying to maintain his virtue.

After college, the challenge comes in the form of pressure from society to not get married until mid life or to never marry at all. In this culture, if some people do make it to the point of recognizing sex as being about commitment to one person, it is still very rare that anyone considers openness to life and family as an essential part of the marital act.

The other thing pressuring young people to not get married or have kids, but to simply cohabitate and have contraceptive sex, is the economy. Young college graduates today are struggling to support just themselves, let alone a family of their own. Many people in their 20s are forced to live with family members because they can only find jobs far beneath their educational qualifications.

As a result, people have looked at my decision to get married this coming fall at the age of 24 as wildly irresponsible and laughable. Some of my friends have even asked me, "Are you getting married just because you want to have sex? You know you can do that without being married or having kids..." A man trying to live according to God's plan for sexuality can expect no support from the culture. My advice: suck it up and deal with it.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

My advice to other Catholic guys trying to live up to the heroic standard of selfless love set by Christ is this: first, if you have not made the mistake of giving in to temptation with pornography, masturbation, premarital sex, or other impure acts, then keep it that way. It is much easier to stay chaste when you have no experience or memory of sexual sins than it is when you have fallen even once. Eradicating a bad habit is so much harder than never forming it in the first place.

The sad truth is that when we sin, it has the effect of blunting our conscience and making it easier to sin in the same way again. This is what the catechism means by saying that sin begets sin (citation needed). Essentially this makes us unable to feel that what we are doing is wrong. But it is that very ability to know the difference between right and wrong which makes human beings distinct from other creatures. The horrifying reality is that when we sin against chastity over and over, we do violence to our own humanity, i.e., we make ourselves less human. You're a man, not an animal. Just don't do it.

Second, if you have made mistakes or are currently in a relationship where you struggle constantly with sexual sins, do not quit. Go back to confession. Go back to confession. Get yourself (and your girlfriend) up and go back to confession.

No matter how many times you have fallen, you must not allow yourself for one second to think that you might as well give up. Start over right now. Make an act of contrition and resolve to change your life. Go back to confession.

It is helpful if you have one priest that knows you to whom you can confess face-to-face. This may deter you from sinning again in some instances because you will feel accountable to the priest who knows that you are struggling with the same sin.

Often the key to remaining chaste is not having super human will power in the moment of temptation, but having the will power to avoid temptation in the first place. It's almost impossible to refuse sin under certain circumstances because your ability to reason will be compromised. That's why you need to consciously resolve to avoid the occasion of sin while you still have your wits about you. This requires a firm resolve to amend your life and change your habits. It is not easy, but Christ doesn't call us to easy, he calls us to greatness. You can do it.


A 15-year-old high school sophomore:

1. My biggest challenge is when you see an attractive person, try not to think of lustful things. It’s easy to think of lustful things, so I challenge myself not to.

2. I first find other things or hobbies to keep my mind occupied. Also, I would never want to say those sins to a priest in confession, so that helps motivate me.

3. I would tell them that I’m not lying, but they can think whatever they want to think.

4. There is nothing you can do to stop your kids. But teach them right from wrong and hopefully they will make the right decision.

5. Try to find other things to occupy your mind. It is very easy to sin, so find something else to replace it.

A 22-year-old man who is "loving chastity":

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

Advertisements.  Most advertisements are porn.  They don’t sell a product, they sell sex (or sex is the product).  Throw in movies and tv shows.  All of these things are more often than not pornified.  These things are all the propaganda of an unchaste culture.  Especially movies and tv shows.  Most of them don’t revolve around sex or pornography.  There are a lot of funny sitcoms out there.  But most of them treat unchaste living like it’s the way we’re meant to live.  This normalizes living against chastity.  Same goes to movies and advertisements.  It’s like when I first moved to the city (Chicago).  I live a block from the L train, which goes by every 15 minutes at least.  Shortly after moving here I stopped noticing it.  Its sound became as natural to my life as walking and eating.  If I am not careful to guard against an imprudent exposure to these things, the unhealthy sexual views will become as normal to my life as breathing and thinking.

 2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

All chastity is motivated by love.  Love for God, love for myself, love for my future spouse, love for my girlfriend, and love for her future spouse.

It’s hard to explain my entire motivation without writing an entire book myself!  These are some questions that I ask myself when I’m tempted to give up on chastity, or even just push the boundaries back a bit.  On my wedding night, I don’t want my bride to be the next in a list of women I’ve had.  I want our first time sleeping together to be special, because she is special.  What if she was not chaste?  How would I feel?  What would I think?  These are good questions to ask.  What about if who I’m dating now doesn’t marry me?  How will [insert sexual activity] affect her marriage?  How will it affect mine?  These questions need to be thought about.  What about my daughters?  At what age am I going to be comfortable with her having sex?  My girlfriend is someone’s daughter, and I really respect him.  What about my sons?  You see?  Most people will have a double standard with these questions.  If I’m going to be honest with myself, it’s not that I think living an unchaste life is okay, but that I recognize it’s hard and thus say it’s okay for me.

I also keep in mind that sex is not just my body and her body.  Sex alters brain chemistry, it has spiritual components, it has emotional effects.  In a word, sex affects my whole self (and her whole self).  Maybe this is obvious, but it’s important!  Sex is a total gift of all I am.  If I have sex and hold any part of me back I am lying.  But how can I give my whole self to a woman I am not fully committed to?

Chastity is hard.  But that’s a good reason to remain chaste.  I am chaste not because it is easy but because it is hard.  (see my answer to question five.)

Most of all though, I am chaste because I know how lonely and miserable you feel when you’re not chaste.  I know the feeling that you’ve just given part of yourself away that you can never get back.  It feels like an empty darkness.  I’ve read about this in a lot of testimonies of women; after their first time having sex or looking at porn they feel dirty, used, empty.  Women are good about acknowledging this.  Maybe men don’t feel it to the same extent, I don’t know, but we’re lying to ourselves if we say it’s not there.

Let me come at that last paragraph from a different angle, a perspective that I suspect will resonate with a lot of people even if they don’t realize it at first:

I am chaste because I want to be.  It’s as simple as that.  Chastity is living the life that I want to live.  Not on the surface.  Deep down, below all of my surface level desires and wants and feelings is chastity.  I could be watching porn and masturbating and having sex, but at the end of the day I know that, above all of those things, what I really want is chastity.

Everyone wants chastity.  But most of us don’t believe it’s possible.  Call me a dreamer, but I think it’s possible, and I’m going to acknowledge that I want it.

 3. What do you say to those who would insist that you must be lying about being chaste?

I would probably laugh honestly.  What a silly thing to lie about.  But, I would question these people who call me a liar.  In the fact that they think I’m lying, they are saying that it is impossible not to live chastely.  When they say I’m lying, they are implicitly saying “there’s no possible way you can live without sex/pornography/masturbation/etc”.  This is silly.  I would ask them if they had sex that day.  I’m willing to bet none of them did.  I would tell them that obviously they didn’t die.

I would also ask why they think I’m lying.  If they’re just going to say something to the tune of “that’s impossible, how can you live without porn or sex!” Well, then this is a stupid statement because I just did.  Sometimes you need to tell people they say stupid things.  But I imagine that this questioning of their motives will open the door to me explaining why I live chastely.

This question is hard to answer though.  In a group setting, yes I can see being mocked for being chaste, it has happened to me.  But one on one, even the people I know who live very unchaste lives, especially those people actually, have told me how much they want to live like that.  One on one, man to man, when he knows you won’t tell anyone else, he’ll say “I wish I could do that.”  I suspect that most people say you’re lying about being chaste because they’ve tried and fail, then tried and failed again, and now they’ve given up on trying.  Walk with them, treat them with respect, love them because you have something they want, and your friendship is what will help them have it.

 4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

First, do not worry.  Do not be afraid.  Talk to your boys about sex and love, and do not shy away from it.  I know many parents who decided not to talk to their children about sex until they are such and such an age, and even then it’s a one time, vague conversation about “the birds and the bees”.  When this happens your children will learn more about sex from their friends at school and teachers in health classes than from you.  Sex is beautiful, love is amazing!  I know you think sex is amazing and beautiful!  Why do you shy away from telling your kids about it?  Do not make the “sex talk” a one time thing.  Make it a continual conversation, starting when they are young (and by young I mean closer to 5 than 10--do not wait until 10).  When you boys know you’re going to give them real, straight answers about sex they will understand (a) they can come to you (or your spouse) with any questions they have, and (b) you actually know what you’re talking about.

When parents talk about sex in a limited, indirect, vague way, kids will start thinking that you’re uncomfortable talking about sex (because you are).  Sex is uncomfortable enough a topic for kids and teenagers (and adults), why would they be open to listen to your parental advice if you’re even more uncomfortable.  When you tell your kids about sex and chastity do not shy away-- own it!  Seriously, use the word “penis”, use the word “sex”.  It’s okay to say those words. Be comfortable with them.

Be open to their questions, and give them the freedom to ask!  True story:  I was six years old and my mom and I were going through this cartoon children’s book that explained sex.  We’re at the part where I find out that the man’s penis enters the woman’s vagina and, six year old me starts thinking, so I ask, “Wait!  What if while they’re doing this, he really, really has to pee, and can’t help it?!”  I was very concerned.  My mother was very calm and happy to answer, “Your body won’t let you do that” she said, and went into a little more detail on the anatomy of why my body wouldn’t do something.  It was a real answer.  I felt very comfortable talking to my mom about sex.  I was six!

Okay, maybe that’s good advice but let’s say your child is thirteen and you think my advice is eight years too late.  That’s okay.  If you think you failed your child in regard to teaching them about sex, just apologize, tell them why you think it’s important they understand sex, and ask them what questions they have.  If you did the best you could and wouldn’t change a thing but you’re worried because of forces in your child’s life that are beyond your control. Don’t worry. Make sure you’re open to them asking you questions about anything.

I realize how much I have been stressing the importance of being open to answering questions.  But you must understand, kids know they can get answers from google.  And when you combine sex questions with google searches, you find pornography.

Most importantly though, love your spouse.  Wives kiss your husbands, husbands kiss you wives, in front of your kids.  Let them see the affection you show each other.  Show them how devoted you are to each other.  Show them how you chastely live in marriage.  This is an infinitely better lesson than using words.  But what do I know about parenting, I’m a single college student.

 5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

My advice would really depend on the person and what exactly about their struggles they need advice with.  So here are a bunch of thoughts on things I would say if the situation called for it.

You don’t have to have sex.  You don’t.  Most people don’t realize this.

Be a man.  Love women.  Chastity is not avoiding love, it’s loving.

It’s hard, but don’t give up.  Did you want loving a woman to be easy?  If it’s easy, then what’s the point?  We don’t live chastely because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. Love without sacrifice isn’t love at all.  Be a man.  Be the man you were born to be, I know you want to.

You, who watches pornography, I know how empty it is.  I’ve been there.  I know how it feels.  In the moment it seems like there’s nothing else in the world that can ever fulfill you and there’s nothing else you could ever want.  But at the end of the day it’s you and a computer, in a dark room, alone; it’s lonely; it’s sad.  I don’t know why you first looked at porn.  I did because all of my friends did and I wanted to fit in--it was as simple as that.  And I know now you tell yourself you choose when you watch it, but let’s be honest:  there are those nights when you feel as if every ounce of your being needs it; that you can’t live without it.  This is not freedom.  This is slavery.  Be a man.  If you can’t stop, even when you want to (and I know you want to, no one really wants to look at porn)  find help, it’s out there.  Go to confession and ask the priest for help.  Seriously, the guy took a promise or vow of celibacy, he knows what to do.

Chastity is not a denial of who you are.  Chastity is, above all else, being who you really want to be.


A 23-year-old Catholic seminarian:

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

 Temptations toward unchastity are literally everywhere! The most challenging thing is that, while there are certainly a lot of overt sexual themes on TV and in movies and advertising, the temptations and the things that lead to unchastity are usually much more covert. The constant promotion of individuality, of moral relativism, and the necessary indulgence of every desire (carnal or otherwise) creates a culture in which anything goes and everything is acceptable. Then there's this Church and these "religious people" saying I'll only be happy if I give my life to God and others and let Jesus touch and heal my "wounds" rather than just do what feels good right now? That ideological divide creates a tension for a lot of people; if I can do what feels good right now, why bother with any of that other stuff no matter how good it might really be?

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

 Well, there’s certainly the fear of hell and all of that; I’d prefer not to be in the confessional every day! But it is for the love of God that I remain chaste. I do not want to offend him and I do not want to act against the person, the priest, he is forming me to become. I remain chaste for the old lady who puts her only $2 in the diocesan annual appeal that funds my education; I remain chaste for the teenager in youth group who also struggles with chastity; I remain chaste so I can offer the sacraments one day with purity of heart and body and mind for the people of God. Bottom line: I am chaste for the sake of relationships. Unchastity destroys our ability to have healthy relationships. First of all with God, then my relationship with myself (knowing who I am as a beloved son of God and not a mere object to be abused), and ultimately for other people who count on me to be chaste and close to the Lord so I can help them live that way, too.

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

 Don’t try to hide the culture from them or them from the culture; when they inevitably go out into the world they won’t be ready for it, first of all, and second their reaction will be like a broken spring: the tightness that once protected them will turn into the force of their demise. I hope that makes sense.

Set clear rules about technology use, acceptable behavior with women, but don’t criminalize their sexuality. When they reach an appropriate age, don’t be afraid to use....those....words with them: masturbation and pornography.

Boys (and girls) want to hide their addictions and tendencies toward unchastity but I’ve found that when even the words “masturbation” and “pornography” (and other words, too, like “lust”, “custody of the eyes”, “emotional chastity” etc) aren’t taboo or weird, it takes a lot of the mystery and allure from the actions themselves and allows boys to be more open with their parents about their struggles with them.

So....culture of chastity, openness with your kids about their struggles, non-judgmentalism.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

Remember the love of God is in this, too. Jesus, God-with-us, fights alongside you as do the angels and saints, especially your guardian angel and your patron saints, and St. Joseph.

Masturbation and pornography are not the disease, they are symptoms of a disease that lives in you; they are our way of acting out in our need for affirmation, attention, intimacy (physical or emotional). The times of acting out very often become times of safety and control for us which, as men, are both things we desire but obviously unchastity isn’t the way to get those things. Be open with a confessor, spiritual director, or counselor about it and explore the root of the problem. Yeah, you can go to confession every day and put a million blocks on your computer and phone, but without some kind of deeper exploration of your interior life, you’ll only ever cut the leaves off the weed and never uproot it.

Practically speaking: Be a man and do what you gotta do! Set limits for yourself. For example, no phone or computer after 8:30pm, keep the computer in a totally separate place from your bedroom or living space; get an accountability brother or group; if you have to white knuckle it, then (literally) for God’s sake white knuckle it! Foster a devotion to the Eucharist, to the saints, pray a holy hour, start praying the liturgy of the hours.


An 18-year-old Catholic seminarian:

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

By far the biggest obstacle to young men striving to be chaste is the omnipresence of suggestive material in everyday life. Many chastity speakers and writers emphasis the destructive nature of things such as tv commercials and magazine covers, but the impact of images on the minds of boys simply cannot be conveyed in a few words. As I mature, I observe more things consciously: a model pulling up her stocking, an athlete slipping off a shirt, a sloppy, long-drawn-out kiss between actors who aren’t even married, and the cover of Sports Illustrated. For me in our current culture, normal activities like watching a football game or buying groceries become mentally excruciating and spiritually dangerous.

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

The only way I have remained chaste is through the example of my father and the power of the Holy Spirit. Contrary to some modern Catholic thought, chastity is unattainable given ordinary circumstances. A young man ought to be able to gaze at a woman without lust, but the reality is that he cannot, and therefore must not gaze. To win this “must not” battle is completely impossible for the Catholic man in any circumstance; and this is why many do not remain chaste: they look for strength within themselves, in their own manliness. Only in the Savior does this strength, this manliness, lie.

3. What would you say to those who might insist that you are lying about being chaste?

To those who would scoff and say, “By your own admission, you cannot remain chaste, and therefore have not”, I respond: I am tempted every day, sometimes every hour, and I do not always win the immediate struggle. Jesus indeed adjures us in Holy Writ, “Therefore be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”; however, he also names Himself Divine Physician, and tells us that He comes not for the healthy, but for the sick. To remain pure of heart, I must strive with my whole self to endure temptation, and if I fall, I may not relinquish the struggle, but instead cry out to the Father for mercy and courage and forgiveness. I do not remain chaste by being perfect; I remain chaste by trusting and persevering. Thanks to the Hand of Almighty God, I have fallen and yet remain chaste.

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

My advice is contained succinctly in this quote from St. Josemaria Escriva:

"Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul."

If you as parents see or sense worldliness or an unchaste spirit in a peer or companion, ensure that your child parts ways with the young person. Do not be afraid of appearing harsh or unreasonable; better this than eternal hell-fire! I speak from my experience when I say, if you stay this course for as long as you must, your son will understand your wisdom when God provides vigorous and steadfast friends for him. It took me 17 years to encounter chaste and Godly men for friends, but such blessings they have been to me that I would go back and wait to meet them anew.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

I would reiterate several points I have already made. Men, if you are reading this, you have already done battle hundreds of times and emerged both defeated and victorious, as I have done. Go to great lengths to guard your eyes, perhaps choosing to read a book during commercials with the tv muted, or electing to wait longer in the grocery store line to avoid a lascivious picture. Limit and even eliminate time spent with acquaintances who speak rudely or make unchaste remarks and are constantly referencing bawdy humor. Make as your goal the elimination of all lust and unchastity, but when you fall on the way take your failings instantly to the Throne of Heaven and cover yourself with your Mother’s gracious mantle. Above all, be courageous, and be such a man that other men will look at you and say, “Christ abides in him; I wish to possess this fire also."


A 15-year-old high school student:

Answer #1: Being a student at a public high school, many of my peers often ask if I want to view nudes of any of the various woman on campus. The hardest thing to do is tell them no not only because I am often tempted to view them, but also because of peer pressure, which can seem worse than the temptation of looking at the photos.

Answer #2: I love thinking about my honeymoon night, and I always get excited because I know that when this time comes I can give my full self to my wife, and only my wife. I can make myself into ours, instead of ours and that girl in high school, or the lady on the internet.

Answer #5: The best way to staying chaste is to stay as far away from any "triggers" as possible. It is ingrained in men to respond to anything sexual, and things like social media and parties have loads of these triggers that lead to a slippery slope of unchaste acts.

Thank you so much for letting me part of this. I hope I can help other boys/men to live a chaste and meaningful life.


A 22-year-old man:

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

For me, I have found the biggest challenge lies in how our culture tells women to behave. I have, on more than one occasion, had to call things off with a girlfriend because she felt that sex needed to be part of our relationship. The "everyone else is doing it" mentality has certainly been ingrained into men and women in our society and that can be challenging for men such as myself. I won't lie and say that calling things of was easy, in fact I was engaged to one of these women, but a strong foundation and constant support from my family helped.

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

For me the biggest reason for chastity comes from a strong foundation instilled in me by my family. I was taught early on to treat a women with the utmost respect because she will be someones future wife and that has been a mentality I have carried with me in every relationship I have been in.

3. What would you say to those who might insist that you are lying about being chaste (because they think it's not possible)?

I actually have been told I've lied about this more than once, and to them I have to ask in reply "what does it say about our culture, that you would assume I would lie?" It's always challenging to explain to this someone because typically it is the same person that questions why I go to Mass every Sunday. To this day I still struggle to find a good answer to give to people like this, but I think it really comes down to telling them that I have a deep respect for women and I want to treat them in a way that shows them the respect I have for them.

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

My biggest word of advice would be to establish a strong sense of communication. I have always felt that I can come to my parents with any questions or problems I have had, and that has certainly helped. As I mentioned before, I had to call off an engagement with a women I had been in a relationship with for many years, and this was because, among other things, an issue of chastity. The communication my parents offered to me helped me through this process more than I can ever say, and I can't thank them enough for it. I think with a strong line of communication, parents can convey a strong message of chastity that will permanently be instilled in their boys.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

My biggest word of advice would be to stay the course and when doubt begins to arise find ways of putting yourself back on the right track. For me, attending Mass on every Sunday definitely helped. That constant reminder that I was living before the eyes of God certainly helped. I've also found that, as a university student, attending the local campus ministry has helped me develop a great group of friends with solid foundations that definitely have my back on things like chastity.


A young married man, looking back at his single years:

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

Chastity is the biggest challenge that I face in this culture, but to single out one specific challenge is masturbation. The reason why this is the biggest challenge is that it is way too easy to commit; it’s just you and your imagination. The damage it does with regards to guilt and shame make it all the more challenging.

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

When it comes to chastity, it is too obvious that most guys think nothing of it. It seems super easy to just go along with the flow, but I do not want to be on the same boat as the others because I know the reality of sexuality as God intended it to be. There is no way to shake the truth when you know it and believe it; otherwise you will be faking the truth, and that just doesn’t sit right in a real man’s gut.

3. What do you say to those who would insist that you are lying about being chaste?

I just stand my ground and let them jeer and taunt. I have found that when I give them my straight answer, that I am living chastely, and do not waver when they explode in a whirlwind of disbelief, they end up calming down, convey their respect of my decision and move on. I tell them that, of course, I am tempted big time all the time, but I stand my ground because of my principals.
I remember a time in high school where I witnessed a group of boys taunting a fellow classmate because he said that he was “saving himself for marriage”. He did not change his statement due to the harassment that he received and eventually the boys left him alone. I did not step in to defend him, though I wished that I had the courage to do so, but when the others had left I went up to him and offered words of encouragement and solidarity. This event impacted me greatly and strengthened my view on chastity.

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

I would tell parents to talk about chastity in age appropriate ways, starting as early as the age of reason and not shrinking from the subject, especially when they become awkward teenagers. Also, I would encourage the parents to not leave their boys alone too much. Check in on them often and keep them occupied so that they do not have idle time on their hands.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

Take the long and narrow road. Find good and encouraging friends, men and women, to keep your perspective clean. Do not waiver in the face of adversity, because if you do, you will be less of the man that you were created to be, and to get back that which was lost, is a rough and rugged road. You will not die if you do not give in; trust me.


A 24-year-old man:

1. What is the biggest challenge you face in this culture with regard to chastity?

The most difficult part is the influence of peers and culture being thrown in your face.  The fact that you have to face it when you do anything.  Even in your own home on the tv and computer. You have to become a hermit to avoid it and even that is difficult.  To function in society you must be exposed to sexually explicit material.  Because we have become accustomed to little things like mild jokes and what not.  We don't even know we are being weakened.

2. Why do you remain chaste when others don’t?

I remain chaste because, firsthand it is must easier to be chaste when you are single.  Although, even then, there is still the struggle of porn.  Mostly because I know about the benefits of being chaste and because I am not in denial about them.  I acknowledge that it will be better for me to be pure and that I will work towards it.

3. What do you say to those who would insist that you are lying about being chaste?

I haven't gotten very far in these conversations.  Usually most people believe me and just put a loser label on me.  When I worked a factory for a year everyone called me the virgin.  They truly believe that sex is a necessary action for each person to take.  In public school I learned that the three necessities of life where food shelter and sex.  It is hard to undo this.  I have had to explain to people why you won't die if you don't have sex.

My journeyman has been bugging me about this recently, asking everyday "Have you slept with her yet?"  I've told him that I don't want to end up like him being divorced.  He'll acknowledge that answer, but he'll still ask in a couple days again.

4. Advice for (worried) parents who are trying to raise chaste boys?

This one is very difficult.  Obviously the first and most important thing is for parents to pray.  I've seen many good parents have children become sex addicts and leave the faith.  On a side note, most young people I've known have left the faith for sexual reasons.  They slept with someone, decided not to go to confession and that was it.  I think if parents lead a good example and don't obsessively enforce it, children naturally will follow them.

5. Advice for other boys/men trying to navigate this unchaste culture?

I would tell every guy how much of a difference it makes down the road.  That it really does affect your relationships. Keep other men in your life who agree with you about the nature of sex in your life.  Spend as much time as possible with them especially if you're bombarded at work.


And there you have it! Some really great guys, with some great advice for other young men and for parents, as well. I used some of their answers in my book, but I couldn't fit them all in, so I am posting the unabridged answers here! Oh, and three of the young men are my own sons.

Pray for all our young men, and for a renewal of the virtue of chastity in our land!

And just for fun, here were some of the winning memes in the meme contest I held for my book release on Facebook. You ladies are so clever! Enjoy!

Thanks, Megan Stout!!

Thanks, Amanda Luckey!

Thanks, Hannah Hasson!

PS: If you read my book and liked it, please consider writing an Amazon review to help get the word out and promote chastity in our boys!


  1. I'm now a 24 year old happily married woman -- I struggled with masturbation as a teenager. We don't talk about this too much because girls are not "supposed" to have this problem, but so many of us do!

    My one advice is, don't trust your self control to work in very tempting situations, but change the situation! If you're tempted to masturbate, go somewhere it's impossible! Go to the living room if you're in your own room, go take a walk if you live alone. Skip that shower if you need to. I don't often endorse skipping showers but its sure better to be physically dirty than to sin! This also works with pre marital sexuality. If you and your fiance are never behind closed doors together, you won't do inappropriate things.

  2. Gina, excellent points! Thank you! There was a speaker at our recent women's conference who spoke of her struggles with masturbation early in her marriage, and I thought that was so brave of her to discuss it!

  3. You know, Leila, in a way it's almost funny. For as much as there's talk about "the rich people", most people don't expect to be rich, or even want to be. For as much talk as there is about "white privilege," most non-whites don't want to be white. And for as much talk as there is about "the politicians," most people don't want to be politicians. No, it is one of the basest most common things which seems to be one of the strongest underpinnings to bringing our culture down: uncontrolled sexual desires, which it seems everyone wants and, to justify themselves, seems to say it is RIGHT (or "a right") to want. The devil must be pleased with himself.

    "And God created man and woman and it was good," and the devil changed it into something so many people think is bad. Even at the Protestant men's Bible study yesterday morning, the guys lamented that it was a sad day when the first church said that divorce was okay. (We were in John, reflecting on: "What is truth?")

  4. Wow! I didn't read this whole thing, but oh my life I'm so happy you aren't a hypocrite and you hold both men and women to the same sexual standards! It is so refreshing seeing something like this. Women maintaining their purity is something that is applauded, while men doing the exact same thing is heckled and ridiculed. What rubbish. I'm so happy this got posted! Men can remain chaste and wait until marriage just like women. And like Gina said women struggle with this too. People think they don't but believe me, women are tempted sexually as well.

  5. DNBA, yes! That is brilliant. So, so true.

    Sunwoo Shim.... I am happy to say that the Church definitely holds men to the same high standards of chastity as women! We are all called to be chaste and holy. It's a point I make in my book.... this "boys will be boys" crap is not a way of saying, "Oh, boys will masturbate and fornicate and look at porn, you know!" Um, NO!!!!!!!

  6. Good post! It's so encouraging to see these brave, chaste men speaking out! I'm a Protestant, and it's very rare in the evangelical world (even among "Conservatives") for anyone to oppose the dangers of masturbation. It's accepted as okay, because the Scriptures don't condemn it explicitly. I would agree with the Catholic position that it's a form of formication and thus comes under that title, but alas, so many good Christians are blind to this truth. Many even view it as a way to mantain "purity", using the logic that if you're satisfying yourself you won't be as tempted to have sex before marriage. I admire the Catholic Church for its strong teachings against the evils of maturabation!
    I agree with those of you who have pointed out that this is not an just an issue for men. Just because girls are wired differently doesn't mean that they are not tempted to sin in this way as well! Many girls struggle with the sin of masturbation and I feel it's important for daughters to know as well that it's okay to talk about this with mom or a trusted adult. They need to know they aren't a freak for struggling with this sin despite its usually being considered something only boys struggle with, and that God is gracious to forgive!

  7. PuddleDuck, I am so glad you commented! Two Protestants have commented here, and it is good to hear from you. I'm so disheartened that the teaching on masturbation has changed so much, and the idea that men should masturbate (what we traditionally call "self abuse") in order to remain "pure" is just so contradictory! Young men must sense that contradiction! I have a whole chapter in my book on Masturbation, and I think it destroys any notion that such a thing could be compatible with any virtue, or with Christianity. It's just inherently "yucky" and we all know it.

    And yes, you are right about girls. God bless you for being open and vocal about this!

  8. 'You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
    Never understood the denial of biblical evidence. Isn't Christ amazingly clear! What He describes is precisely what is happening regarding this sin whether it's in front of a computer screen or in the minds eye.

  9. I'll throw in my two cents. One person mentioned a urologist that recommended masturbation. This looks like evidence that this anti-masturbation teaching by Catholics and other Christians is anti-science and anti-health.
    "Waiting until marriage to experience sexual pleasure is probably the best way to experience it." Maybe it is, but that would mean some people would never experience it. Something is better than nothing.
    "I am chaste because I know how lonely and miserable you feel when you're not chaste." I feel this way whether I am chaste or whether I am not chaste. At least masturbation is a temporary escape from these feelings.
    "But at the end of the day, it's you and a computer, in a dark room alone; it's lonely; it's sad." Indeed it is. And it's my life even without pornography.

  10. Bob, I'm glad you put in your thoughts!

    I don't think what you say about the urologist's recommendation follows. For example, many doctors today think it's "healthy" for a woman to kill her child in the womb, for example, or to take the Pill which actually derails natural bodily functioning and is a carcinogen according to WHO. And many doctors think that "health" includes small children learning about sexual practices and in some cases giving healthy young children powerful hormones to delay puberty, so that they can figure out what "gender" they want to be.... And doctors these days seem to believe that mutilating healthy body parts (for reasons of sterilizing the reproductive organs, or for "changing" into the opposite sex) is good medicine, etc. So, we can't just make a blanket statement that because a doctor makes a recommendation about a certain act or activity, that means it's "healthy" (and we haven't even touched upon moral). Besides, feeling pain in the groin due to not ejaculating has never killed or even maimed anyone. It's not a health issue, it's a comfort issue. I could go on, but I hope you get what I mean.

    "Something is better than nothing." I don't have that as a principle of life, so I would disagree. Why is something (even if it's immoral) be better than nothing? And why is not having sex "nothing"? I know legions of joyful, radiant priests, nuns, sisters, single people who are chaste and they have such interior peace (heck, it's not just Christian singles who have "nothing" in the way of sex, it's also Buddhist monks, yes? I don't see a lot of misery there, but I see a whole lot of misery in the hook-up/porn/sexual license culture. I have a chapter in my book that is all about masturbation. I include the secular movement on Reddit called NoFap. You should check it out, especially the Ultimate Benefits thread -- for those who give up porn and masturbation. They are shocked to find how strong and manly it renders them, and happy! Again, they are in no way religious. But it follows! We don't thrive as humans when we use things against their nature.

    Bottom line, life is not simply about avoiding suffering and seeking the next pleasure to escape the pain of this world. That is no way to live! St. Augustine said, "The heart is restless until it rests in Thee, O Lord." He was right. He was also the one who previously, famously did not want to embrace chastity!

    You sound like you are sad and lonely and that is heartbreaking, actually. I hope you find peace. I really hope you find a refuge in your Creator. God bless you!

  11. I will add this link to the Reddit page:

    Also, please forgive my lack of proofreading and typos in the first comment!

    And, lest you think I am anti-doctor or anti-science, I come from a medical family, my immediate family and my extended family. I love modern medicine!

  12. Serious question: If I touch, ahem, myself during the marital act, is that considered masturbation?

  13. Salha, you have pretty free rein during the marital act. As long as the man ejaculates within the woman's vagina (a one-flesh union), the rest of the "session" is pretty much up to you and your spouse, and how you best enjoy each other's bodies together. If you are alone doing that by yourself, separated from your spouse, that might be considered a solitary act, so I'd avoid that, but other than that, there are not a lot of "rules". Anyone else have a better answer? I hear that Holy Sex (by Popcak) has a lot of specifics on what is or is not "okay" during a lovemaking session.

    1. This might help, too. The definition of masturbation from the Catechism:

      2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."138 "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."

  14. Salha, I deleted your last post, as it's getting too graphic. You should consult Holy Sex (the book) for answers, or the author, Dr. Popcak. I would think that your husband should be involved there somehow and you should be near to him. If that helps.

  15. Hi Leila, Sorry if I offended! It wasn't my intent. I am new to exploring these topic. I thought since the thread was about masturbation that my question about female orgasm was within the bounds. Is the female orgasm not discussed within the Catholic faith? Or, is the word "orgasm" not acceptable in English? (I am a non-native speaker).

    I will look into this book you suggest.

  16. Hi Leila, Sorry if I offended! It wasn't my intent. I am new to exploring these topic. I thought since the thread was about masturbation that my question about female orgasm was within the bounds. Is the female orgasm not discussed within the Catholic faith? Or, is the word "orgasm" not acceptable in English? (I am a non-native speaker).

    I will look into this book you suggest.

  17. No worries, and no, the word "orgasm" is not a problem at all! I just didn't want to get so detailed about particular sex practices between you and your husband. It's a bit too intimate, since we are not part of your marriage. :) But generally, yes, the act would have to at least include your husband's participation in some way.

    I hope that helps!


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