Catechism of the Catholic Church - Sexual Acts


When it refers to pornography as removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of partners, what exactly does it entail? I understand what a sexual act is but I’m not sure where the line between grave and venial sin is. I understand watching two people have intercourse is a grave sin but what else? If you look at a naked woman, is that a grave sin? I suffer from scrupulosity so that’s why I’m asking.


You need to discuss this with your spiritual advisor, one who understands your situation with scrupulosity.


I have but the problem is that I’ve gotten different responses from different priests in the past (and 2 different ones from the same priest at one time). So… how do I know? I understand that if I watch Cinemax pornography (simulated), it’s a grave sin and if I watch real intercourse, oral, insertion of certain things into certain body parts between two people, that’s a grave sin. But what if you look at a naked woman by herself? That doesn’t fall under the Catechism’s definition of pornography but that doesn’t mean it’s right.


I would think that would be why you were looking at them. If you can do so as art, that causes you no kind of stimulation, the possibly it’s not a sin at all.

However if you have or sometimes watch “skinamax” and other porn then that would probably be a pretty difficult thing to do :slight_smile:

The bottom line I believe, when things seem grey, is to go back to why you are doing them and ask, could / would you do the same thing if Jesus was in the room… not that I can always live up to that either mind you… but it’s something to coniser.



Looking at a naked woman for the purposes of medicine is not a grave sin. Looking at a naked woman for the purposes of self-gratification is a grave sin, if you know it is wrong, your conscience affects you and you know that lusting is contradictory to God’s love and etc.

Then there is the grey area when what you are doing is ultimately for a good purpose, but then you are aware you maybe sexually enticed, then it’s upto your judgment, prayer and perhaps spiritual direction from a priest.

But I don’t see any good reason why you would have to be looking at pornography, after all, we know what it is and it’s not like you would be doing a doctoral thesis on it anytime soon.


So you are asking if it’s okay to look at a Playboy or Penthouse magazine, where a woman is “alone” and naked but not engaging in a sexual act?

It’s porn. It’s not okay.


Scrupulosity is best dealt with by a spiritual director or a very wise priest. People on the Internet can discuss with you, debate even, even give you some directions, but they can’t take things off your conscience. If this issue involves scrupulosity on your part, discuss with the priest as well.


If the woman is in a sexualised pose, if there’s anything in the picture which aims to arouse the viewer, then it does actually fall under the Catechism definition. Maybe not literally, but if the picture aims to arouse through showing something arousing, it still removes sexual acts (acts aimed to cause or increase arousal) from the natural context of the intimacy of spouses.

An artistic painting or sculpture does not necessarily fall under that definition. There are such paintings and sculptures that, although they depict beautiful women, cause no arousal in the viewer, have you noticed? That surely feels different from porn. I wouldn’t be so sure about photographs, though. Any photographs (although some are intended only as artistic depictions), and especially those which appear in magazines for men. It’s hard to claim that the intent of such magazines is not disordered, therefore it doesn’t strike me as a good idea to look to them for art.


No, I’m merely saying it’s not covered in the Catechism but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Also, how would that be porn since it doesn’t fall under the Catechism’s definition of it? After all, that’s our “user’s manual.”


How does it fall into the Catechism’s definition? It talks about partners, not a woman by herself.


If one is looking at pictures of naked women, either in men’s mags or movies or whatever, to stimulate a lustful response, they are indulging in a gravely sinful act. You can find that in the CCC under lust.

In addiction, looking at such pictures objectifies the women who are portrayed in them.

It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense.


I can’t speak for anyone else but it really seems like you you are simply looking for a loop hole so you can engage in things you know that you shouldn’t. :shrug: I could be wrong, I can’t read your mind. The CCC is a road map, it CAN NOT mention every single thing individually or they would be re-writing it every other day. 100’s of years ago they had no clue about the levels of depravity our society would one day find ‘the norm’.

I’m sorry that you are struggling with this but deep down I would guess you know it’s wrong. I second PP’s advice on seeking out a spiritual advisor. Maybe your priest could identify someone in your parish that could help you.

God Bless!


Could you post that please? (The CCC under lust).


No, I’m actually trying to climb out of scrupulosity. By the way, you said it yourself “They can’t re-write it everyday.” So, how do know what is gravely sinful and what isn’t?


As for the quote you posted, it explicitly refers to pornography.


**2351 ***Lust *is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.


Why don’t we just cut to the chase.

You should not be looking at pictures of naked women that are designed to arouse, stimulate lust, or conjure fantasies in the viewer.

Trying to parse what is porn and what isn’t has stymied even the highest courts of the land.

You say you are grappling with scrupulosity? I would suggest that you steer clear of material that is at all questionable. Pictures of naked women are just that.


I had a priest once that told us to stop reading the fine print so hard and focus on the spirit of the law.

Here’s my thoughts. We are supposed to refrain/avoid situations that will inspire us to lustful feelings. So what creates lust in you? Many men and women would say that watching videos of people having sex creates lustful thoughts. So those are out. Seeing naked women suggestively posed in Playboy may or may not stir up some lust in you. If it does, it’s out. Mags like Maxim with no nudity but the whole focus of the mag is to get men laid … out. Going to a strip club where the goal of the dancers there is to get your blood moving … probably out.

Then there’s the grey area. Movies with steamy sex scenes. If it’s Basic Instinct, Color of Night, or any other movie where audiences won’t shut up about the sex, probably out. How about movie where the sex is not the main focus of the film? Don’t look to a rule to tell you whether or not you can see it … use your brain. Will you take the scenes in as part of the whole movie experience or are you going to replay the sex in your head fifty times later? If you’re a replay man, don’t see the film.

A personal side note about “using your brain”. I had a close friend tell me that watching men jiggle their junk at a male strip show was absolutely BAD and WRONG, no question about it. I asked her if she’d ever seen a male stripper, which she hadn’t. Well. For me, personally, there is absolutely nothing erotic or arousing about their “dancing” regardless of how attractive they are. I thought it was one of the best comedy shows I’ve ever seen. I laughed til I cried. Would I go see another strip show again? For a friend’s bachelorette party humorous entertainment, sure. If the group was hoping it would inspire them to some lusty thoughts? No, I’d stay away.

I’m afraid I get fussed at regularly for saying “use your brain” instead of “re-read the rule”, but I still believe it. You know the outcome the rule is trying to prevent, so stay away from things that will lead you there. You’re a big boy, does every little detail really need to be spelled out?

(Note: I mean “you” as the public in general, not the OP. Thanks.)


Oops, if my post sounded harsh or preachy, I promise it wasn’t. I was laughing as I typed. I’ll rephrase that last line:

We get to make our own evaluations about these things … don’t you want to?

Apparently I’m feisty today. My apologies.



Here’s a reason for you not to look at pictures of nude women…

A majority of women in the sex trade were sexually abused as children, over 90% by most surveys.

They are in the sex trade because they feel dirty, guilty, tarnished and worthless.

You want to continue the abuse they suffered from their fathers, uncles and step-dads?:mad:

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