Are sins against holy purity always mortal?


Is petting always automatically a mortal sin? I’m a (struggling) gay man who suffers from a lot of disorders, including exhibitionism. There is a constant desire for me to be sexually objectified. Regardless, I’ve been going to confession regularly, and whenever I fall into sins against holy purity, I make it a point to go to the sacrament of reconciliation immediately. As part of my struggle, I do my best to go to mass daily.

I just had confession yesterday, a Sunday, and went to work this morning. While on the bus, I noticed the guy beside me was making signals for something illicit. After a while, he pulled my hand to his pants. I didn’t budge at first but then moved my hand to his instead and we held hands. Now I’ve never had any sexual relations with other men and have never been in any romantic relationship before, so just the mere act of holding his hand aroused me and filled me with a lot of adrenaline rush. Before he alighted, he pulled my hand back his private area. I never put it inside his pants but did briefly “press it” for the lack of a better term and also briefly rubbed his thighs. After he alighted, this immense guilt has overtaken me and I’m already restless thinking about how I’m going to go to confession so soon after I just had one.

I’ve struggled a lot with these impulses and tend to falter on these sudden occasions, from random stimuli that can lead to an overstaying impure thought to the above-mentioned encounter. Add to that, while I do go to confession regularly, I have this bad habit of being overly scrupulous and paranoid.

Had I been younger, I would have looked at the encounter as a minor event. But over the years and since I started working, I’ve been attending several means of formation, doctrine classes, and the like which, while helpful in many ways in my road to conversion, have also made me very paranoid and scrupulous especially when it comes to the sins I commit. I’ve read confession guides stating all sins against holy purity are mortal and now feel terribly bad of the encounter. A part of me really feels it was a sin as I consented to the encounter. But now I feel so exhausted and very discouraged that even these slight encounters can make me trip and fall.

You say that it would have been of less importance if you were younger.

You do not say how old you are.

Why would it be different if you were younger?

I say to dwell on Charity rather than Chastity. If you concentrate your actions and prayer on others, rather than yourself, chastity becomes much less of a problem.

My Spiritual Director, priest of Opus Dei, once said “every sin against chastity is always a mortal sin.”

Ok, so I have never road a city bus before, but is this normal? Strangers grabbing your hand and putting it on their pants and such? Like, I would have punched the person.

It seems like you consented to what seems to be like an over the pants hand job, though. I would go to confession for that.

My spiritual director is Opus Dei too.

To answer the first person who replied, I’m 26. Two or three years ago I would have been completely ignorant of the gravity of such sins. I would have known it was bad, but not that bad, and would have simply moved on with my life, recalling the encounter.

Sounds like you have a difficult struggle. May God bless you and give you strength my brother.

I wondered the same thing. That doesn’t seem very normal to me.

Anyway, back to topic- I think any sin of a sexual nature is mortal. I would confess that in your next sacrament of reconciliation.

Would that include the millions and millions of Catholics who use birth control?

My understanding on birth control- and bear in mind, I’m a new Catholic and still learning- is that if you contracept you are supposed to abstain from receiving the Eucharist. So based on that, doesn’t that mean it’s a mortal sin? Because venial sin doesn’t bar you from reception of the Eucharist, does it?

The use of contraception is grave matter (one of the criteria for mortal sin.) Whether or not a person actually sins mortally depends on if they know that it’s grave matter or not - and considering woeful catechesis and widespread acceptance of contraception even among non-Catholic Christians, I can see that situation occurring. (Consider also that said people who don’t understand that contraception is grave matter are probably also likely to not understand that there are circumstances under which they should not receive communion. :shrug:)

Yes, if you are aware of grave sin you are supposed to abstain from the Eucharist until you can get to confession (preferably, you quit doing the grave sin and confess it ASAP). If you intend on continuing to sin, then it wouldn’t be appropriate to go to confession.

To answer the OP: I would say that most sins against chastity probably fall under the banner of “grave matter.” Whether or not they are mortal has to do with if you know that they are wrong and if you have sufficient will to consent or not. But if you don’t have scruples, I say it’s best to just confess it and avoid in the future.

(And I used to ride public transportation regularly as a young woman and never had anyone proposition me or grope me. I think that is a strange occurrence, but I know it’s common in some areas of the world. Then again, I also give off a strong “hey, don’t bug me” vibe when in public, crowded places. :D)

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