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Se toucher

Le mot technique pour se toucher sexuellement est ‘masturbation’. Cela peut être défini comme une stimulation que l’on se fait pour provoquer des sensations sexuelles. ‘
L’utilisation du mot masturbation suggère d’habitude que la personne manipule ses organes génitaux jusqu’au moment où elle éprouve un intense plaisir ou orgasme.

L’acte de gratification de soi, s’il est pratiqué par une personne sur elle-même, montre un manque du sens complet de la sexualité humaine qui est orientée vers une relation amoureuse. D’un autre côté, la condamnation globale de la masturbation par les traditionalistes est basée sur des concepts erronés.

Comment était considérée la masturbation par le passé

1. Interprétation scripturaire - Le gaspillage du sperme d’Onan?

Er, premier né de Judas déplut au Seigneur et le Seigneur le fit mourir.Alors Juda dit à Onân :va avec la femme de ton frère, remplis avec elle ton devoir de beau-frère et suscite une descendance à ton frère. Onân savait que cette descendance ne lui appartiendrait pas ; lorsqu’il allait avec la femme de son frère, il laissait sa semence se perdre par terre afin de ne pas donner de descendance à son frère. Ce qu’il faisait déplut au Seigneur qui le fit aussi mourir.
Genèse 38,7-10

Les interprètes médiévaux étaient convaincus que l’enfant à naître était contenu dans le sperme. Onân gaspillait son sperme et donc la vie humaine. C’était cela l’essence du péché d’Onân selon les théologiens médiévaux, un péché qui fut identifié à la masturbation. Toutefois, à la lumière de nos connaissances actuelles, les moralistes catholiques actuels tombent d’accord pour dire que le gaspillage du sperme n’est pas un péché. Chaque éjaculation libère environ 400 millions de spermatozoïdes et un seulement est nécessaire à la fertilisation. En plus, ce qui est condamné dans la Genèse, n’est pas le gaspillage de sperme, mais le refus d’Onân d’élever les enfants de son frère.

2.Opinion médicale - La masturbation est-elle dangereuse pour la santé ?

Dès le Moyen-Age, la conviction grandit graduellement que la masturbation était très dangereuse pour la santé et le bien être des individus.

Such medical opinion has been totally overturned. There is no evidence for the physical ills traditionally ascribed to masturbation. The practice of masturbation for its own sake may, in the long run, turn the person in on himself/herself. For it deprives the human sexual act of its main purpose and context, namely the creation of a ‘holistic’ and intimate relationship.

3. Scriptural teaching - Is masturbation the unchastity condemned in Pauline writings?

Influenced by such medieval and medical opinions, Christians interpreted some New Testament passages as directly referring to masturbation.

“There must be not even mention of fornication among you, or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity.”
Ephesians 5,3-5.

“Fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility .... I warn you that those who behave like that will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5,19; see also Mark 7,20-22; 2 Corinthians 12,21;Colossians 3,5.

None of the terms used, however, refers to masturbation. They all refer to external breaches of marriage. Basing a scriptural prohibition on those texts is not justified, as is now generally agreed.

4. Traditional morality - Do pleasurable feelings make masturbation sinful?

Experiencing pleasure is not in itself sinful. There are other forms of body stimulation that generate pleasurable feelings: luxuriating in a perfumed bath, lying on the beach and feeling the sun’s rays beating down on you, enjoying a delicious meal, experiencing a sensual massage. In each case, some external agent stimulates nerve endings which in turn generate pleasant feelings. The only difference with masturbation is the intensity of those feelings.

So while there may be other unwanted side-effects in masturbation, it is not the fact of feeling pleasure that makes it sinful.

5. Traditional Catholic teaching - Is masturbation an ‘intrisically disordered act’, always a mortal sin in itself?

Pope Paul VI issued a declaration in 1975 on many aspects of human sexual ethics. It was entitled: ‘Persona Humana - Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics’, issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 29 December1975. We quote some typical excerpts:

The teaching is thus based on the traditional view that equates sex totally with having children. The conclusion of that approach (1) puts a total ban on artificial means of contraception, (2) considers any physical act between homosexuals as intrinsically corrupt and (3) condemns any form of masturbation.
Many Catholic theologians and moralists now reject the view expressed in this papal letter and in similar ones regarding the intrinsic nature of sex. They do not accept the traditional view that sexuality has been exclusively designed for procreation and that all sexual acts that cannot lead to conception are condemned as against natural law.

Sexual acts have other legitimate purposes apart from procreation, such as releasing sexual tension in the individual and strengthening the bonds between partners. In other words: though unimpeded intercourse of husband and wife is the ideal, there are valid reasons for a married couple to use contraceptives during intercourse or fondle each other in mutual stimulation, also for homosexual partners to be involved in physical acts of love, and for individuals to allow themselves to masturbate in certain circumstances.

Present pastoral views on masturbation

Even those (few) moral theologians who still consider masturbation in itself a serious mortal sin, concede that subjectively it often is only a venial (small) sin.

It seems more helpful to consider masturbation as morally neutral. To quote some authors:

Like with everything else in life, circumstances usually determine whether what we do is right or wrong. Masturbation is not a good thing if it becomes a substitute for a real loving relationship, or if we become addicted to it. But from a Christian point of view, we do not need to consider every act of masturbation a sin. For some people it may be a natural way of discovering their own bodies, or of releasing tension.

John Wijngaards

Traduction : Françoise Bourguignon.

Nouvelles perspectives dans la morale sexuelle catholique/ Sources académiques
Le plaisir chrétien du sexe Questions souvent posées
Fantaisies Nudité Contraceptifs Culpabilité Homosexualité Masturbation