Content of books

Does the church teach anything about which books we should read? Specifically, is it a sin to read a book where the main charakters do sinful things like have premarital sex?


specifically yes, it is a sin to read any books of impure nature,
it doesn’t matter if they’re married or not, you should not read about 2 people having sex(or doing anything impure)

the church tells us to read good and useful books, and to refrain from reading books simply out of curiosity or books we know to have impure content or that belittle morality, scoff at virtue or cause doubts regarding the churches teachings.

ok? hope this help, tc.

So for example: I started reading a book that is said to be about generational differences and it starts with a girl waking up next to a guy… :rolleyes: it’s not pornographic but it implies what happened… so should I stop reading it? Even if I can stay detached and just read it for other reasons?
If it is a sin, then most Hollywood films are a sin to watch too?

Sorry but following your logic, the Bible shouldn’t be read either. There’s implied sex there too you know.

It depends if whether or not such a thing is either condemned or glorified plus if your able to resist it so that it doesn’t become an occasion of sin. That’s my basic understanding of it.

did i say implied sex? i don’t think so, i was referring to actual sexual intimate scenes and descriptions,
sorry i know i wasn’t specific enough, but i was not saying “implied sex”
and if that’s all then i don’t think so, but it’s certainly a good thing to bring up with your priest.

and aside from that, i would say most hollywood movies are not worth watching, simply because there is so much immorality and also because most of it is just trash anyways, not worth the wasted time, it certainly won’t help get you to heaven, and there are a million other good and entertaining things to do besides,

pretty much how i look at it is this - if you can’t sit down and watch it with a priest(or Jesus) then don’t watch it…that’s my personal measuring stick, just a suggestion, not mandatory.
we are supposed to try and imitate Jesus in our daily lives, so i consider that a very good way to make good judgments, like “what would Jesus do?” or “how would Jesus feel about this?” you know?
our main priority in life is to know, love, and serve God in this life, so we can be happy with Him in the next, and these things like tv and movies and games and other things…they’re just distractions, perhaps they’re ok every once in a while, but not every day for hours at a time…

well, that’s all for now. tc.

Well then the Bible falls under that as well. Words like “penis”, “intercourse”, and “nakedness” can be found there. Such things are just as capable of producing graphic imagery as they do in secular books. Then there’s always the rather sensuous passage in Songs.

No offense but unless you compare your life to someone who feels like breaking something after a long day at work/school, I don’t think it’s wise to suggest that spending a lot of time watching movies or playing games is being a disservice to God. Besides, movie buffs, writers, and critics actually make it their job to do those things. Are you suggesting that they become priests/nuns instead?

I’m troubled by some of the posts in here.

Some of the greatest works in the English language have morally questionable behavior. Should we not read Shakespeare? Dickens? Tolstoy?

I’m sorry Emeraldwings. Nothing personal-and I mean that dearly-but I disagree with you vehemently.

No, it is not a sin to read a book where the characters do sinful things, just as it is not a sin to read a newspaper that tells about real people doing sinful things or a Shakespearean play about a son who has a lustful relationship with his mother.

Sin comes from what you do with the information you read and how it affects your conscience. For example, if you read about two people committing adultry and imagine how great that would be if you could do it, you may be sinning. If you read about a priest sexually abusing a child and reason that because of that the Catholic Church cannot be the true church of Christ, that may be a sin.

You make some great points Doc. Really, really great points.

Well then the Bible falls under that as well. Words like “penis”, “intercourse”, and “nakedness” can be found there. Such things are just as capable of producing graphic imagery as they do in secular books. Then there’s always the rather sensuous passage in Songs.

I think it’s possible you are being just a little disingenuous. There is no place in the Bible that describes sex anywhere near as graphically as in many romance novels. (At least in most of the ones I saw, back when I read romance novels)

I mean, there is only one reference to “penis” in the NAB that I can find, and I really would not care to meet the person who could become tempted to unchastity by it:

“No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may be admitted into the community of the LORD.” (Dt. 23:2)

Nor do I recall anything in Shakespeare that did more than ribaldly refer to “things of the marriage bed” with some pretty hefty inuendoes (and sometimes double entendres that are so bold as almost to be single entendres), but no graphic descriptions.

Regarding the OP’s question, if it’s just a question of plot rather than veiled pornography then you have to ask what the effect of the book is on you. And in order to do that, you have to read it, or at least part of it. :slight_smile:

I mean, Pride and Prejudice has implied premarital sex in it, but it’s not harmful because it’s portrayed as something that is engaged in by those of weak wills and weak intellects, who, if they are young, have parents who have failed in their duty of making sure they are not put in situations where it can happen.

But if you are reading one or more books and, upon prayer and reflection, you find that their net effect is to make you to buy into society’s lie that fornication is acceptable, inevitable, or (ugh! how dreary!) obligatory for a healthy person over the age of about 13, then you need to start reading different kinds of books. And really, if you pay attention you can see what the intent of the book is. Does it glorify bad behavior (sexual and otherwise), having all of the sympathetic characters engage in it? Does it (and this can be more dangerous, because more subtle) just assume that the reader already agrees that the bad behavior is just fine? (This applies whether the bad behavior is sexual, or cheating on your income taxes, or doing drugs, or whatever.)

Since professional writers and critics weren’t being discussed, I think we could just give them a miss.

For the rest, it really does matter what you put in your head. And many people manage to go home after a hard day at work (like mine yesterday, 14 hours, no time for lunch, and no paid overtime) and do something other than spend the entire evening watching movies and TV. There is always something better to do. It’s not that there is anything wrong with watching some movies and TV, but if you use it as a drug to make you feel better (or to sedate you), then you are not using it properly.

Also, your time isn’t really something you own, it is a gift that has been given you by God. If you’re spending, say, 5 hours a day glued to the TV (EWTN excluded!), then about 20% of the time God has given you is probably wasted. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t watch, but we need to be careful of the content (many shows have so much sex that there is no room for a plot), and use it, like any pleasant thing, in moderation.

Just my :twocents:


Sometimes it is difficult to say from the beginning if the behavior is glorified or condemned or implied as normal. I kind of want to give the writer the benefit of the doubt at first… what do you think of that?
I know of course that there are a lot of better things to do than to read or watch TV just for pleasure… but I do agree that sometimes to wind down from a day or have a break it can be very relaxing. Plus reading of course can be informative too. For example, we learn about how other people think…
The book I talked about I started reading because I am learning the language it is written in. So it’s not just a reading for relaxation in that sense.

Wow, my question triggered quite a discussion. Interesting, though. :slight_smile:


f God is omniscient then he knows how to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
If God is omnipotent then he is able to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
If God is benevolent then he wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering.
But if God knows how to, is able to and wants to bring it about that there is neither evil nor suffering, then why does he not do so?

“God is incomprehensible” you respond.

Theists have often been content to say that we are unable to comprehend God, that his being transcends our mundane experiences and that our concepts, which are derived from such experiences, cannot be used to describe him. If true, then this might be thought to count in favor of agnosticism; if we cannot comprehend God, then how can we reason with any confidence concerning his existence?

Of course, I can’t expect this to make sense to any one here. The only way you could maintain such a blind faith as I see here is if you rejected anything that offended you or challenged your knowledge. At least when I am censored, you must acknowledge the truth of this last paragraph.

again you misunderstood me, i’m not talking about references or implications,
i’m talking about actual detailed scenes or written descriptions of the act actual happening, that is clearly immoral,

and no i would never suggest that someone become a priest or a nun, i think you’re going a bit overboard, everyone has a different calling in life, and i know plenty of people who do not watch tv or read crude books who live normal married or single happy lives,
tv and movies and video games aren’t the only things in life that can help you unwind or be entertained, what do you think people did before we had all that?
i’m not saying those things are bad or evil, although they can be, but in and of themselves they are not, all i’m saying is we shouldn’t take part in it to much…temperance is the key…

I believe the most popular example was (again) somewhere in the book of Songs. Appreciating the female body is fine, I’m sure. In the context of what some have said here though, I can’t say it would pass their scrutiny.

I think it depends on the effect the book (or movie or TV show or song) has on you. If it increases your likelihood of sinning, then it’s a problem. Otherwise, it’s not (unless it weakens the faith of others who might become aware of what you read/watch/listen to).


Personally I agree you should, unless you actually feel spiritually troubled while reading it. Sometimes even if a book (or show, or movie) is OK in general, as individuals we may find it isn’t good for us.

There’s nothing wrong with any of it–in moderation. :slight_smile: And the reason I feel I can talk about the dangers of it is that (especially for the reading) I am prone to do too much of it myself, so I know first hand. :smiley:

This is just a guess, but I think there is less danger about the moral content of the book if you are not fully fluent in the language. The words won’t be sailing through your mind so fast that their net effect is subtle. Like I said, though, I am completely guessing about that.


The Catholic Church does not maintain a list of forbidden books. In short, there is no short cut. Sorry. :o You have to make use of your own properly formed intellect and conscience to make those decisions for yourself. :slight_smile:

A question to ask yourself is: Is this leading me to sin? I can read about people stealing cars, but that isn’t going to move me in the slightest to contemplate stealing a car. Thus, reading about such a thing would not be sinful for me. If, on the other hand, I am a recovering car thief and reading about such things makes me long for those car thieving days, then, at the very least, I would be putting myself in the near occassion of sin by reading such exploits. Not a wise move.

We need to be cautious and ever try to be honest with ourselves about our motives and how we are effected my the media we consume. But there is no obligation to reject everything that portrays sinful actions.

If you’re interested, I would encourage reading up on what the Church has to say about the Media. I have archived many of the relevant Church documents here:

Thank you :slight_smile:

So could I say, if I feel sure that it will not cause me to sin to read a book, I am allowed to read it without the reading itself being a sin?


I agree with that.


I can’t honestly see how reading a book no matter what its content is going to lead you to sin. If you’re going to be worried about anything, it’s going to be bad writing and a boring story. There are plenty of books out there that have a lot of sexual content, but have been written with a Catholic perspective, two that I can think of are Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It would be one boring story that had a main character that does the right thing all the time.

Kathrin you sound like a bookworm, so may I suggest (along with the above two books) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. It will give you something much deeper to think about that people having extra or pre-marital affairs.

Read any book you want, you’re not going to be sinning.

@EmeraldWings and revert_jen
What do you guys do when you get home? Twiddle your thumbs and wait to go to bed time?

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