About nudity... again

Hello, I’m a 17 years old male and struggling with some things. I’ve searched a lot of threads on this forum about nudity and haven’t found definitive answers. I’ve gathered some informations though, for example, that the Cathecism wouldn’t define a picture of a naked girl as pornography, but it could as well lead to sin. Can you look to naked people to see how beatiful they are? Because what seems to be said here is that looking is not the problem, but the resulting lust. And you could have lust as well looking to dressed people. But our bodies aren’t, in itself, bad. And if you look to a woman’s body, without fantasizing about having sex with her, but just admiring her body, would it be sinful?

For example, you can look to a woman’s face and think “wow, she’s so beautiful”, and I think it wouldn’t be a sin. But you could look and then imagine bad things, which would be wrong. Why wouldn’t it be the same case with breasts?

Btw, of course I am not implying that it’s just one-sided, I’m using my perspective as a male, but the same question could be used by a female point of view.

I hope I made myself clear.

God bless you all.

  1. For what reason are you seeking to view nude females?

  2. Do you feel as if you cannot fully appreciate/admire the beauty of the female body unless it is nude? Meaning, why is it necessary for you to view nude women?

  3. Have you considered that this may be an inordinate desire of your subconscious that you are seeking to rationalize?

If you’re in an art class and drawing the human form, or a doctor studying for a test, or what have you, then no it wouldn’t be a sin. As being a 28 year old man, I can’t imagine looking at nudes just to admire them passively as a hobby (maybe if I was an artist, or in an art gallery, but I’d be trying to improve my own art in that case or truly trying to think as an artist). I mean, sure, there may be some situations where for whatever reason we can call it appropriate, but if I had a desk drawer of female nudes that I just liked to look at… That would be suspicious, and certainly for me it would be keeping an obvious near occasion for sin at hand.

I can imagine seeing a nude online and staring a little too long before I become aware of what I’m doing, and I would think that may not be a mortal sin, but once I consent to keep staring I can’t imagine that not being for reasons of lust deep down.

Anyway… It’s not about being legalistic. We need to be wary about creating excuses. You are right - looking at a nude isn’t inherently sinful. But why are we looking at the nude? How do we react looking at a nude? Do you find yourself going in with good intentions and falling to bad actions/thoughts?

I’ve rambled enough. Are there particular circumstances you’re concerned with?

1/2 - I think it would be a different manner of seeing the body. Maybe the ‘full beauty’, I don’t think it’s necessary, but wanted to know if it’s something I could do.

3 - Could you please elaborate more on this?

Hmmm, what would be the good intentions? I’m just thinking of looking truly to admire the beauty, and, knowing that I can’t lust, I would avoid that, and if I couldn’t avoid, I would stop.

And also, for example, TV shows. If they have nudity and I control myself not to lust, would it be ok to watch them?

Good intentions such as becoming a better artist, or doctor, or something along those lines.

I don’t know your heart. I think you should reflect on whether, deep down, this is driven by an impure desire. Could you possibly be trying to just get as close to the line of seeing naked women without technically sinning? I can only speak from my own experiences and weaknesses. Be careful about using technicalities to try to justify your own impure thoughts.

That may not be what you’re doing at all, in the end. Again, I can only speak from my own frame of reference. But please reflect on it. I suggest speaking with a priest, too.

Hey look. I don’t know if this helps, but looking at nude and looking at porn are two totally different things. I mean yeah, usually the two overlap quite a bit, but really they are not supposed to be the same.

If you think about how many paintings show nude people. And you think about how rarely that leads you to want to fantasize about them.

But the trouble is that today the two are usually confused. I mean if you looked at a picture of a bunch of nudists in a natural setting that would be fine and not pornographic. But now if you took them and put them in a suggestive location it might be.

So there is a fine divide between them.

But really. Why would you want to do that? Why is it important to look at that type of beauty? (I mean, I know why. I’m just asking to be rhetorical and all that.) This is what you need to ask yourself.

The other thing is that if you get to the point where you are desensitized to the effect that a woman’s body is supposed to have on you as a man, you might find yourself in a strange place at some point deep into marriage. So I don’t think you are accomplishing anything heroic by stoically looking at nude pictures.

And besides. Anyone who caught you doing it would never buy your explainaition.

Go buy a picture-book of flowers or landscapes or something nice like that. Or maybe even just look out the window at the lawn. I don’t know. It just seems there is enough beauty all around without looking for it inside people’s shirts.

And also, what would you think of your girlfriend if you caught her really scrutinizing pictures of naked guys? (Especially if none of them were you.) Would you even hear what she said about why she was doing it? Probably not.

Don’t have a girlfriend? Fine. How about if it was me looking at them? Would you want to just sit on the couch beside me while I talked to you about why I found this stuff to be really nice to look at while you slowly lost your lunch? Sorry buddy. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder. But at least we all kind of know what sort of qualifies to hang on our living room wall. What qualifies to make it into a coffee-table book.



I second this :thumbsup:

If you are looking at someone just as a body without a soul there is a problem. Don’t feel like your alone. I am 36 and I try my best to look down while walking a mile to work in a big city. Continue to work at purity and if you enjoy reading, St.John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a good book on this subject.

Just a few more thoughts: It would not be a sin unless you listed or did something impure or approached it with impure intent. We draw a line, and that line is so we, when analyzing ourselves, can know if we sinned or not. The line does not exist so we can toe it. It’s so we can know when we’ve stumbled across it by mistake. We should try to keep a healthy distance from the line in our daily lives. If the intent is to toe the line and try to get as close to something as you can without sinning, then I’d say that’s driven by impure desire and probably a sin in of itself. It almost always shows that we desire what’s on the other side of it.

I apologize if I’ve misjudged your intent here.

What he said.

I’d like to add, as a female of the species :p, that our culture kind of conditions us to think of the human body as something arousing.

For example, I have no problem looking at a male chest and admiring its beauty - I actually do that when looking at some Greek sculptures, or studying anatomy (to see a body at its full capacity, like those of people who practice sports, is simply stunning. God made truly perfect machines). Our culture teaches us that it is normal for men to walk around without shirts, so I was conditioned to see naked male chest as nothing out of the ordinary. I cannot, however, look at the lower body part of a man without some reserves. (unless, of course, I am looking at it for some procedure - I AM a nurse, after all. But then, I’m not looking at it to admire…).

In other cultures, Brazilian natives for example, where everyone walks around practically naked, they see nothing more in a naked body than a nurse or a doctor would. They could sincerely admire a naked body without the inherent lust our society covers us with.

I have often found it interesting, as a woman, when this line of thinking comes up. Because a person can say, “the beauty,” and think that’s somehow better, but I’m thinking, “You’re still looking at a person,” and from the way you write above it’s still like viewing an object. A person is not a thing. I would think regardless of the reason, if you’re treating a person like a thing, you probably shouldn’t be doing that.

I think in most cases, seeing a person nude or otherwise in a state of undress (whatever that means to that particular culture) is about intimacy. The person is revealing something about their person to you. In a painting, yes, attention to form and perspective and other aspects are important, but the fact remains that the painting is still of a person and as a whole it should be revealing something about the person. To remain distant and abstract is, I think, not a good idea.

I will admit I am not a trained artist. But I am disturbed that a person could look at me, even with clothes, and simply think, “Oh, those are nice cheekbones,” without seeing that they belong on my face, which is part of me.

A person, clothed or not, is more than just a collection of parts to look at.

Very well said. Thank you for your post. In everything I said, I failed to even acknowledge the objectification part of it. I’m humbled to have read your perspective.

Personally, nudity leaves me kinda cold… :rolleyes:

I think she’s got it.

The human nude is not in itself sinful. The human nude is us the way God intended!

But art is not the same as an actual person; each human body is by definition somebody; and to look at someone as you would an object, is wrong, because dehumanizing.


Adam and Eve were naked. When they sinned, the clothed themselves. Being naked then could be said to be a state of innocence.

Nakedness does not mean sin. Go to a nudist colony - where is the sin?

I have just been two weeks in Finland - there, there is the culture of having a sauna. It is normal there, to be invited to dinner, and when you arrive, you undress, have a sauna, and then continue with the dinner. You are not alone in the sauna. People there do no think that you are naked, it is quite normal.

Nakedness is a problem if we make it one.

The Catechism.says, to go into.an occasion of near-sin, is a mortal.sin in itself.
Eg; to look at nude pictures puts a person at risk of thinking impure thoughts, one impure thought deliberately thought of, freely, in full knowledge, is a mortal sin (under.the 3 conditions). Mortal sin can be in thoughts.

So, to look is a mortal sin, because it opens you to possibly slipping to the sin of lust.

About TV shows, it is not OK to watch them. Nudity is only necessary in certain situations, like medical school or certain necessary procedures done at a hospital. I wouldn’t even recommend it for life drawing class, which I took at college. Good reference books for artists without photos of male or female nudes exist and have existed.

This is something that should never be promoted as a good thing, especially for “entertainment” purposes. The nude human body is not sinful in itself, but what’s the point aside from a few possible situations? I’ve seen model beautiful women and there is no need to see them without clothes.

Finally, opinions don’t matter. We must respect the dignity of the human person.


Thank you all for your answers!

Reading back now, I think that I made it look like I was having problems with that, but I kinda wanted to say that I was having problems understanding that. In the internet, it’s less awkward to ask, haha, and you have answers from people with different ages, from different places, so it’s amazing.

Everywhere you are now, there is nudity. TV, ads, beach, whatever. I wanted to know how should I face it. Should I be desperate (it’s not the right word, but you get the feeling) to avoid it, or should I don’t make a big deal of it, just avoid it, but not really care? I wanted to know how wrong is it, and thank you for helping me understand.

One thing about objectification: even if you look at someone and see him/her is beautiful, just looking at the face, how different would that be from looking at the body? Is that objectification as well?

I think nudity in TV shows is unnecessary. My favourite TV show, Breaking Bad, didn’t use it. If it used, for no more than 15 seconds in the whole 5 seasons. It was fantastic to see - no spoiler - the change of Walter White, because of the involvement with drugs, and how it changed his life and family. You see how much you can change while still denying, and how it can be bad, while looking good. But lots of good TV shows make use of it, and what about skipping the scenes? Can’t I separate the good from the bad? There are shows out there with amazing stories, but they always find a way to insert a nude scene. Should I throw it all away, instead of just the bad part?

About.objectification; looking at someone even their face and deliberately thinking impure thoughts, Jesus said it’s a mortal sin (under the three conditions) it’d adultery of the heart.

About TV, the catechism says it’s a mortal sin, to put yourself in near occasions of sin,
Watching a programme that can randomly throw an unchastity scene of nudity, is that a near occasion of sin? Yes. You are putting your soul at risk just watching that programme of film. There are plenty of completely clean programmes out there.

St Jude wrote in Acts; “Refrain from unchastity.” That included.guarding your eyes. Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body
If your lamp is dark, how great is that darkness!”

Let’s say that hypothetically you’re looking at naked women to go “oh she’s pretty” and have 300% perfect self control to NEVER get aroused. My response would be (as a women):

A) that’s really creepy. If you want to just admire God’s creations, I’d refer you to landscapes or something else.
B) I doubt your control is 300% perfect. Even if it’s just 200% perfect, eventually you’ll see something get aroused and the be mega-burned by this fire you’re playing with. Let’s face it: you’re a fallen human being.

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