Admiring a Woman and Avoiding Lust

In light of the fact that I have been sexual impure in my past, I’ve gone to extremes to keep pure. Its not easy. I’ve had some wins. No porn or masturbation in 9 months, vow to be chaste until marriage, and trying to watch what the images that are around me. And I’m looking for a copy of Theology of the Body. Until I find it, the cliff notes version I found will have to do.

The trouble is, I’m having trouble with a few things. The first is, I’m having trouble looking at women. I’m almost 24 years old and trying, admittedly not hard right now, to find a woman to marry. I find it almost impossible to admire a woman’s physical beauty out of fear of lust. When I’ve seen a beautiful woman I’ve sometimes had an erection, but I do my best to fight off any sinful thoughts. I don’t want to commit sins of the flesh, but I don’t believe choosing to admire the materials in the floor, sidewalk, walls, and other things are doing much good. So how do I go about admiring a woman without sinning? God made women very beautiful. How do I admire His creation without offending Him?

Secondly, and somewhat related, how does a single guy like myself view and handle the idea of sex with my future wife? In my case this is both a spiritual issue and a physical one. Spiritual in the sense that sex seems so important to Gods plan(Genesis, Song of Songs) and to marriage. Physical in the sense that since having sex before coming back to God, I’ve discovered I have high blood pressure and am at high risk for heart problems. So, in what way is it acceptable to think of sex? Is it morally wrong to look forward to enjoying it with a woman in marriage?

Making all these mistakes years ago really make things seem confusing and difficult now.:confused:

I would say, No, it’s not a sin to look forward to having sex with your future wife. If there was no attraction to sex, many, many, many fewer people would ever do it. It’s attractive because God *wants *us to do it. Within marriage, of course.

High blood pressure and heart problems: check with your MD.

I think if you don’t ease up on yourself a little you’ll go nuts trying to find a wife without letting yourself be attracted to anyone. Right?

And be a little more confident in your strengths. Nine months without masturbation? That’s impressive, my man. Very impressive. I think you’ve got nothing to worry about. You can handle this.

It is not a sin to want to have sex. It is in alignment with God’s creation. It is a sin to lust. To lust is to desire a person as a commodity for your own selfish satisfaction. “Lust” and “sexual desire” are very distinct.

It is not sinful to admire a woman’s beauty, but it can be - and often is - imprudent to do so beyond the initial reaction, not because it is sinful in of itself, but because of what it can lead to, due to our present state of conspicuousness. St John Paul II the Great explained that the dilemma with pornography is not that it shows too much. It is that it shows too little. Those are very sage words I think. This is why the Vatican, the seat of Peter, has artwork within its walls of naked women, and yet at the same time, is bemoaned throughout the world for its allegedly stern sexual ethics. This can seem so odd to an outsider.

Feel free to follow this advice or not, but what has been effective for me is engaging women - including attractive women - as everyday people. Just talk with them as you would anybody else. Be charitable with them. Be respectful. Be mannerful. Do stuff like hold open the door for women if you don’t already. It is extremely difficult for a person to house both charity & lust within themselves at the same time. One of them has to go.

Think about our Pope. Our Holy Father is a lady’s man, but is he lustful? No, he is a chaste servant of God. I have no doubt that this is through living & breathing a life of charity.

I’m very impressed! You are doing a great job! That is NOT easy. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Sometimes we spend so much effort focusing on not thinking about something that the result is that we are thinking about it even more! Recognize that it is natural to feel attraction. But, learn to relax and breathe. Don’t work so hard that you just create another related obsession to replace the first one.

You won’t truly be free until the issue loses its hold on your thoughts, in either direction. Trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you. I have no doubt you can do it with all of the strength you have already shown and all of the saving grace you must have received.

You’ll be in my prayers!


Finally, continue to give yourself time. 9 months is a commendable amount of time, but it’s still (relatively) fresh from your past sinful habits. Be patient with yourself and trust in God’s transformative power. Every month, every week, every day, every hour, every minute, every second that you choose God, you’re going to get a little bit more fortified. Conversion is a lifetime experience.

St. John Climacus relates how St. Nonnus (a Bishop), upon seeing a beautiful figure, would weep. Why? Because he was accustomed to glorify the Creator when he beheld such beauty, and this moved him to love God.

(The truth still remains that “he who loves the danger shall perish in it,” so we must know our weaknesses and avoid adding fuel to the fire. If we are unable to look at a someone we find attractive without sinning, or if there is a near occasion of sin, then we must act prudently.)

Though few of us are likely to attain, here below, the level of purity of St. Nonnus, we can all adopt his practice of mounting from a chaste appreciation of God’s creatures to the praise and admiration of the Uncreated Beauty. For example, when we see someone we find particularly beautiful, we can meditate on the sublime truth that their beauty is only a dim reflection of the beauty of God and the souls of the Blessed. We might also like to say quick prayer for our own intention and for the other individual e.g. that we might both attain purity of heart and soul. A fitting prayer would be “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.” Acting in this way will turn an occasion of potential temptation into an occasion for virtue.

According to St. Catherine of Siena and other saints, if we were to behold a soul dead in mortal sin, we would be horrified. On the contrary, a soul in the state of grace is far more beautiful than the human body.

Our Lord said to St. Mechtilde: "At its resurrection, the body will be seven times brighter than the sun, and the soul seven times brighter than the body, which she will put on as a garment, shedding light into all its members as the sun into the crystal. And I will penetrate all the inmost parts of the soul with an ineffable light, and so they will shine in the heavenly home body and soul forever."

It is very profitable to meditate on the beauty of God, Who is the life, beauty and perfection of the soul and the universe.

If you intend to get married, under your current outlook, you’ll limit yourself to dating women who are unattractive to you. And where will you end up then? :wink:

Keep in mind the value of the person and the reality of concupiscence as well as ones past weakness. Admiring the beauty of the female person is rather different than that of a tree.

Virtues of Faith, love, chastity, modesty, prudence, and a reasonable and prudent practice of custodia occulorum (custody of the eyes).

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