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A Boy’s Own Story

What follows is an exchange I had recently with a young Catholic Canadian man.

Hi Dr. Wagner

My Name is Jack, I am a catholic teenager who is wondering if the act of masturbation is still considered to be a sin. Also is it really considered to be gravely disordered and always morally wrong? I am 18 years old and I am somewhat late going through changes physically. I do believe that it is a natural way to find out about ones body and how it can be used. I have heard that it is not a sin but a natural and healthy thing to do. I have also heard that it is a sin. I have heard mixed reviews I have heard that a vast majority of both boys and girls do it. I can understand if one does it while thinking about other people then it is a sin but if one is doing it to get rid of old stuff then does it count as a sin. I have done it recently and I am going through puberty. There are no thoughts, images or fantasies involved. I do think that it is better then having a nocturnal emission and having to clean your underpants and to hide it so no one think that I wet the bed. I also believe that it is better to masturbate rather than waking up to find a sticky mess in my underpants, which has happened to me, and it was not fun. I don’t want to have to go to bed worrying about a mess in the morning. I have also heard that it can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Is it normal to feel confused about it after doing it? I am planning to talk to my parents and a priest to see what they think of it. If my parents say that it is natural and a normal thing to do does that mean it is all right to do. The only tricky thing is that I am not entirely sure how to approach the subject with them. I have mentioned it to my mother and she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. She said that it is better to do that than to be out having intercourse with girls. I haven t done it in 3 weeks and I feel conflicted over it I see both views on the issue and I am not sure. I don’t want to feel guilty for doing something that has been labeled natural and normal. I love and believe in god and want to know what the views are on it. I do not have any addiction whatsoever I have very good control over myself nor do I need counseling or therapy. I am just a curious teenager wondering if masturbating is a sin or not.

I live in Ontario where the ministry of education has released a updated sexual education curriculum where it mentions that masturbation is natural and normal. There is a part of me that really wants to do it as I feel it takes the edge off. I have heard that some catholic organizations are backing it. This leaves me confused if it is still considered to be a sin. I also believe that it is a crucial part of understanding how ones body works and learning about oneself. I do find it a little hard to understand that we can somewhat accept the sexual orientation of people but people still consider touching ones genitals to be a sin.

Thank you
God Bless

Dear Jack,

Thanks for your question. Might I add, you are exceptionally articulate for a teenager.a boy's own story

If ya ask me, Jack, and you are actually asking me, you’ve pretty much answered all of your own questions. And that tells me you are on the right track.

You ask about Catholic sexual ethics. Before you wrote, did you know that I was a Catholic priest for 20 years? And, not to boast, I am the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in human sexuality. This later part explains why I no longer practice as a public minister. It’s a real long story and I’d be happy to tell you all about it sometime, but for now know that I didn’t go quietly. I wrote my doctoral thesis, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance, back in 1981. And once word got out about this groundbreaking research, the writing was on the wall, so to speak, for my public ministry. I fought for my priesthood and ministry for 13 year, but it all pretty much came crashing in on itself in 1994. If you’ve got nothing better to do, you can read about it HERE.

Enough about me, let’s get back to you and your questions. Although, I wanted to mention that when I was in seminary, way back when god was young, in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, enlightened spiritual directors were already beginning to advise us seminarians that masturbation wasn’t sinful or disordered. Of course, even now you’ll find orthodox hard-liners who insist that self-pleasuring is a moral sin, but they think all sexual expression is sinful. Here’s a tip: you’re never gonna find consensus on any sexual matter.

Like you, I found it difficult to believe all that mortal sin stuff that the hardliners promote. I mean, if mass murder and genocide are mortal sins, how could a little wank be their equal. It just don’t make no sense, right?

However, I can’t agree with you that masturbation might be sinful if there are fantasies involved. Remember, using your mind is an essential part of learning about your sexuality. That being said, most teenage boys are randy at the drop of a hat, so maybe you don’t need to be all that specific with your sexual mental imagery.

I also caution you to be careful when tossing around words like normal and natural. What’s normal and natural to some may be abnormal and twisted to others. But you’re right; few people, professional as well as lay people, these days would consider self-loving anything but normal and natural.

For you edification I suggest you use the search function or CATEGORY pull-down menu in the sidebar of my site and search for pertinent topics, like masturbation, wet dreams, sexual response cycle, etc. You’ll find a wealth of information about all these topics in both written and podcast form.

the shadowI too reported, back in 2011, on the startling new data that came out of Australia about masturbation. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not, about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop prostate cancer. The protective effect of poppin’ one’s nut was greatest while the men were in their 20s. And get this; men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

I also contend that masturbation is the most basic building block to all of our sexual expression. When you know how your body works; when you are familiar with your sexual response cycle and are confident about talking to others about it; you’ll be better situated to be a good sexual partner to another.

In the end, I encourage you to continue to think for yourself when it comes to things sexual. I can see that you are already doing that, so keep it up. Continue to ask questions and consider the input you get from others, myself included; but then make up your own mind. When you own your sexuality and your sexual response, you’ll be a grown-up. Notice I didn’t say you’d be an adult. That’s because there are lots of adults out there who don’t own their sexuality and sexual response and despite being grown up, they’re not grownups.

Good luck, pup

Hi Richard,
Thank you for responding. You have cleared come of the confusion. I guess I got confused because when I would masturbate I would feel like I let my self down.
Thank you again
God Bless

One thing you should know is there is generally a sort of “let down” phase after orgasm. (See information about the refractory phase of the sexual response cycle HERE.) Your body can’t stay in that heightened state of arousal so there’s often a “deflated” feeling.

There’s even a name for if. It’s called post-coital tristesse. And you should know that it’s a physiological phenomenon rather than an emotional one.

Feelings of elation and wellbeing that accompany arousal and orgasm can sometimes morph into a sense of shame during this “deflated” phase. People with lot of scruples about sex are particularly vulnerable to this.

Thank you for clearing that up and for the reassurance that it is natural and normal and not considered to be a sin.
— Jack

Slut Shaming

Name: Martin
Gender: Male
Age: 50
Location:
Thanks in advance for your assistance, Dr. Dick.
Here’s my dilemma; I’m so in love with my partner, he’s actually the man of my dreams. We met much later in life, he being 45 and I’m 50.
I was married before w/children, out now as a gay man and all is well with my children’s relationship.
My partner has always known he was gay, has had numerable relationships, and was a sexual addict. He has wanted me to understand his past in relationship to his level of happiness now, stating that he was a bottom slut only because he was never truly in love or satisfied.
He wants me to believe that “I’m the one” that has changed his life-long addiction to strange dick up his ass.
I can’t seem to get past his past slut behavior, and oftentimes get so pissed off because he wants me to meet and develop friendships with many of these past fucks (primarily because they were military buddies also).
Why can’t I accept his slutty past and stop the suspicions?
Why do I get so upset just knowing that he was a total bottom slut??
How can I get him to understand that I have no desire to know any more about his sexual past and just focus on creating our lives???
Thanks,

Martin, Martin, Martin! How you do go on, darling.bullshit

Take a look at your language, why don’t ‘cha? Could you possibly be any more pejorative when speaking of the sexual experiences of someone who has lived a different lifestyle than you? I doubt it. Look at how many times you use the word “slut” to describe the man you say you love. I’m gonna call you out on that. You simply can’t tell me you love someone that you have so little regard for.

Your man wants you to understand his past, but you won’t take it at face value. You belittle his experience, possibly because it doesn’t match your own very limited, sexually exclusive, predominately heterosexual lifestyle.

circle jerkListen, lots of gay men (and some straight men) have loads of sex for lots different reasons. Sometimes just for the fun of it…or, as your man suggests, just to be a big old bottom slut. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. One can be happily sexual without loving each and every one of his partners. And the sex can be really good too. Just as one can have very unsatisfying sex with somebody one loves deeply. Sex, intimacy, and love are not necessarily dependent on the one another. No need to make such a tangle of it all, Martin.

I also want to reinforce my belief that there’s no such thing as a sex addict. Compulsive behavior? Sure! Out of control behavior? You betcha! Self-denigrating behavior? Absolutely! Sexual addiction? No way!

Try for just a minute to extricate yourself from your sex-negative mindset by exchanging the notion of eating when you talk about your friend’s sexual exploits. Would you have the same revulsion if your guy said he had shared food with lots of other guys? Some of it was fast food that didn’t satisfy all that much. Sometimes he ate just because he wanted to, not because he was hungry. And now he wants you and he, as a couple, to be friends with some of the men he ate with. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me!fingering his ass

Your man is inviting you to open yourself up and see life and sex as most openly gay men do. This is fundamentally different from how some formerly closeted men see life and sex. If you let him, he just might help heal you of your sex-negativity.

Finally, jealousy is one of the worst human emotions. It’s actually a kind of hatred, you know. Sometimes it’s hatred of another, but it is always self-hatred. You say you love this man; again, I challenge you on that. It’s clear to me that you have a much greater love of your provincial notions about sex then you have for this guy.

Here’s a tip, Martin. Jettison the unhealthy attitudes about sexual expression and give your guy a chance to be himself, not the idealized man you’ve made him out be, or think he should be. You’d be well served by working with a sex-positive therapist to help you get over this. Do it now, because if you hesitate you will surely ruin the very relationship you claim to treasure.

Good luck

Awakening Your Sensual Self Post Cancer

Name: Doug
Gender: Male
Age: 58
Location: San Diego
HI: I need some help. I had my prostate removed due to prostate cancer. I feel I have lost my man-hood. I don’t experience hard-ons anymore. My penis is dead. Can you recommend something to help me?

It’s truly uncanny; in the past week alone I’ve received similar email from four different people. Each had a very different presenting problem, but all were experiencing very similar sexual issues. Get this, I heard from a woman in Japan who is recovering from a radical mastectomy. I heard from a guy in San Francisco who is recovering from a serious meth addiction. A young wife and mother in North Carolina whose husband, and father of her two kids, has returned from Iraq a basket case…and now you, Doug.prostatecancer_600x450

Its astonishing that, despite the dramatic differences in each of your life stories, all of you report pretty much same thing — you feel less than whole, disconnected from your sexuality and devoid of any real intimacy or meaningful sexual outlet. It is so amazing how, despite our unique individual difficulties, there are often a universal response to life’s troubling complexities.

Regaining a sense of your sexual-self after prostate surgery, or any of the other problems I mentioned above, is an arduous, but rewarding task. With your self-confidence in the toilet and zero libido to boot, I suggest that you begin your rehabilitation by connecting with others similarly challenged as you. In your case, it will probably be other cancer survivors. More likely than not, they will be a whole lot more sympathetic to your issues and attuned to your predicament. Sometimes, people who have yet to experience a life threatening disease or a disfiguring surgery don’t have a clue about how to interact with those that have. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way things are.

I suggest looking into a support group, if you haven’t done so already. Once you make that connection, you will find, that you are not alone. Other people similarly challenged as you are experiencing many of very same things you are. And to my mind, it’s way much easier to face and handle life’s difficulties when surrounded and supported by others.

AGDD_front coverOne word of caution; my experience is that many disease-based programs and support groups shy away from intimacy concerns. This is a real tragedy, because this is the one aspect of healing that consistently remains unaddressed by the medical profession. That is way I included an entire chapter about the intimacy and sexual needs of chronically ill, elder and dying people in my book — The Amateur’s Guide To Death and Dying; Enhancing the End of Life. I encourage you to check out the book; it’s loaded with amazing sex-positive information.

Next I suggest that you first try connecting with people on a sensual level as opposed to a sexual level. I firmly believe in massage as the best say to accomplish this. Think about it. Imagine the good you’ll be able to do for others, as well as yourself with therapeutic touch. And, to my mind, therapeutic touch also includes sensual touch. It will soothe so much more than the jangled nerves and disrupted muscle tissue caused by radical invasive surgery. It gives the one doing the touch a renewed sense of him/herself a pleasure giver, which is totally important to us all. And when you receive the touch, it will begin to reawaken sensory perceptions you thought were lost for good. And your libido as well as your erection will bloom again. I promise. Here’s a tip: to keep that stiffy goin, I encourage you to use a cockring.

Now if you feel your massage skills aren’t up to par, why not take a class or workshop in massage. You might want to look to something like the Body Electric School Of Massage. They have load of training options. And learning is a hands-on experience. What could be more liberating than that?

If a class is a bit too intimidating at first, you might consider purchasing a book on massage. A great primer is: Male Erotic Massage by Ray Stubbs, Ph.D.  This is a holistic approach to bodywork, including the sexual and the spiritual aspects of Male Erotic Massage. There are over 200 photographs in this volume that reveal both massage techniques and the beauty of the male body embracing the male body. The strength, the joy, the gentleness, the ardor, the tenderness, the equanimity, the pleasure — they are all included.

Another title is: Erotic Massage, The Touch of Love also by Ray Stubbs, Ph.D.  This is a more inclusive volume of erotic massage. It describes long, flowing strokes for the whole body, including female and male genitals. By the way, this was the very first massage book to explicitly illustrate genital massage. The techniques described are simple and easy to perform. It’s superbly illustrated, and the text is both tender and playful.Massage

Finally, your gift of massage is the ideal way to connect with another human, be it a friend, a family member, lover, or even a stranger. Your touch can be either seductive or non-seductive, or maybe a little of both. You can count on this purposefully touching to open new doors. You’ll discover new pleasures, both subtle and profound, as you give as well as receive touch.

I encourage you to push beyond the isolation I know you are feeling, Doug. Purposeful touching, like massage, will change your perceptions about sex, sensuality, and intimacy. And like I said, it will also resurrect your boner. I know this can happen. I’ve seen it happen. Doug, now it’s your turn to make it happen!

Good luck

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

The Naughty & The Nice

Just in time for the holidays, here’s my Naughty and Nice list.

NICE

NAUGHTY

NICELY NAUGHTY

Happy Holidays!

Get a grip!

We continue our National Masturbation Month theme today.

Name: Pablo
Gender: Male
Age: 34
Location: Madrid
Can you help me I have an addiction towards masturbation. I can’t control the urge that I have. I’m single and have never been with a woman. I’m very nervous about this. How can I control these sexual urges? Please write back as soon as you can.

Pablo, darling, what’s the big problem with jerkin’ off…even jerkin’ off a lot? Perhaps you’re creating a predicament where there doesn’t need to be one. Maybe you just need to relax and enjoy your self-pleasuring.

First off, I want to restate my belief that there’s no such thing as a masturbation addict. Compulsive hand jobs? Sure! Out of control wackin’ off? Ya betcha! Self-denigrating pud-pulling? Absolutely! Masturbation addiction? No way!

Masturbation is normal, particularly for someone like you who is not involved with someone else. Of course masturbation is also a big part of the sex life of people in relationships too.

Say, where are you getting the information that self-love is a bad thing? Is this message coming from the Church perhaps? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it were. Masturbation can sure enough be a problem, if you’ve been indoctrinated to think it is bad or sinful. But then again, the problem is the sex-negative propaganda, not the masturbation itself.

I’d be willing to guess a guy of your age, without a wife or lover has all kinds of repressive feelings about sex in general, not just masturbation in particular. Maybe it’s your religious up bringing that is coloring your judgment about your private sexuality. Perhaps if you took the opportunity to rethink your training, you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself.

Since you don’t go into any detail about the extent of your behavior, I guess I’ll just have to make some general comments. Like I said masturbation, or any behavior for that matter, can become compulsive. If the urge to choke the chicken gets in the way of you having a full rich life, you may have a problem. Say you’re jerkin’ off so much that you don’t having a social life. Or you’re pullin’ your pud so much that you can’t hold down a job. Then that’s a problem. But I hasten to add the problem is not masturbation, per se, it’s the being out of control that’s the problem. Just like if someone told me they were jogging so much they had no time for a social life or for a job, then that person has a problem. But it’s not the jogging, per se. Ya get it?

There are lots of reasons why people feel uncomfortable about their sexual desires and behaviors. Most all of us grow up in a very sex- negative environment. Parents still punish their kids if they catch them playing with themselves. The Church still insists that any sexual expression outside of marriage is sinful. So many people are so judgmental about the sexual behaviors of others, particularly if the expression is one they themselves don’t practice. Others can be so cruel, using terms like slut, whore, and promiscuous when talking about someone who is getting more sex than they. In other words, it’s our culture’s unhealthy preoccupation with sex that is often the cause of one’s fear and mistrust of his own sexual desires and practices.

You don’t have to settle for this, Pablo. You can learn to free yourself from the repressive messages that may surround you. You may find the help you need on the internet, don’t cha know. There are many online communities that celebrate self-loving. Do a search using the words: healthy masturbation.

One thing for sure, if you feel bad about jerkin’ off, you’re probably also fearful of partnered sex. I mean it wasn’t lost on me that you’re 34 and still a virgin. Holy Cow! Maybe if you liberated yourself from your repressive attitudes toward masturbation, partnered sex would take its rightful place in your life. It’s never too late for this to happen, Pablo.

Some people use masturbation as a means of self-abuse. I guess it’s no accident that self-abuse is a term some sex-negative people use when talking about masturbation. If you don’t like yourself very much, Pablo, for whatever reason, you could be using your private sex to punish and denigrate yourself. This is the ultimate perversion — turning something good and healthy into something hurtful and hateful.

Are you concentrating so much time and energy on your cock to avoid other problems in your life? Maybe if you confronted these other problems, whatever they might be, head on, you’d feel better about yourself. And your solitary sexual practices wouldn’t loom so large. The problem is, because you feel bad about what you’re doing, you’re actually adding more stress in your life, making it harder for you to get a hold of this, no pun intended.

Good luck!

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!