Masturbation is a sin so abhorrent to God that on account of it He put to death Onan, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, because he was the first to commit the act upon the earth, and it is therefore also calledonanism. For the Holy Scripture says in genesis (38:10): “And the thing which he (Onan) did appeared asevil before god: wherefore He slew him.” And it is an opinion of many teachers that God so strongly abhorred those prideful philosophers of the Greeks that he allowed them to be ruled by this sin as a punishment for their idolatry, for having come to know God, they failed to glorify Him as God. This is inferred from that which divine Paul says about them: “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Rom. 1:24), where by the expression “their own bodies between themselves” he was referring to masturbation, during
which the body both acts upon itself and suffers an action of its own. Masturbation, says John of the Ladder (Step 15, p. 108), is fornication performed without another body, by which sin that great Anchorite fell, concerning whom the divine Anthony said: “A great pillar has fallen” (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p. 4).
The same John calls masturbation death and perdition (Ibid.), which death is always present and borne about with us, especially during the time of our youth. Therefore, it is very difficult to abstain from it and for one to repent who has even once been caught in its snare. That is why one teacher likens masturbation to a great net of the devil and of Hades, by means whereof he has drawn the world to perdition, and many are caught in it, but only a few of them ever escape from it, and the devil’s heart rejoices on account of his hunting so much with this net, and he burns incense to it because it has caught much food and many souls, as Habakkuk says (1:15-
16): “He takes it (the world) up with the hook, he catches it in his net, and gathers it in his drag: therefore his heart rejoices and is glad, and sacrifices unto his net, and burns incense unto his drag; because by them his portion is fat, and his meat plenteous.” But
why say so much? Masturbation not only causes the soul eternal harm, but also harms the health of the body. The soul is harmed because it deprives it of the kingdom of heaven, and condemns it to eternal hell, as Paul says: “Be
not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor masturbators, nor idolators...shall inherit the
kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10). Although Chrysostom interpreted the word malakoi (what we interpret as masturbators0 to mean men who have become prostitutes, while Theophylact interprets it as those who submit to obscenity, yet many other teachers have understood it as meaning masturbators. Masturbation causes the soul to lose its virginity, which is the most valuable thing in the world, which if lost just once, is never regained. Never. It also causes the soul to offer a sacrifice to the devil with the seed of its body,
as St. Meletios the Confessor says (Translator’s note: St. Symeon the New Theologian says: “Just as the loathsome flow from the body and, if it may be so called, the pleasurable mingling of the heart with any passion so to speak constitutes a sacrifice offered by us to the devil” Catechetical Discourses 4. P. 87)
So then, this sin is like a pestilence and corruption of the human race, and causes masturbators to live here and now a disgraceful and miserable life, and to be tormented eternally in the next life in the fire of hell. The treatments for masturbation are two:
1)For them to make a firm resolve in their heart to never commit that sin again, and
2)For them not to place their hand near their middle members or look upon them, as much as this is possible.
Therefore, my young brethren, guard yourselves for the love of God from this thrice-accursed passion, and if the lust of your flesh wars against you, do not postpone the time of your marriage (that is, as many as have not resolved to become monastics), but get married young, before falling into such an unnatural corruption of your virginity. For this is how divine Chrysostom commands children and their parents, saying: “When thy son is grown up, before he enters upon warfare, or any other course of life, consider of his marriage. And if he sees that thou wilt soon take a bride for him, and that the time intervening will be short, he will be able to endure the flame patiently. But if he perceives that thou art remiss and slow, and waitest until he shall acquire a large income, and then thou wilt contract a marriage for him, despairing at the length of time, he will readily fall into fornication” ( On I Thessalonians, Homily 5, 3, NPNF VI-13, p 346 )