Immodest glances and lust

Many examinations of conscience list “immodest glances” as sins of lust, but what exactly is an “immodest glance?” And is such an immodest glance a serious matter such that it can be mortal sin?

Take this scenario:

A married man is in a major American city walking down a very crowded street with many attractive women. The man notices and looks at the women, occasionally looks twice, and makes sure not to fantasize, dwell on any sexual explicit thoughts, or make plans (however sincere) to do something impure with the women, and then moves along and thinks about something else. Is there anything sinful or improper about this?

What if he is casually “people watching,” especially keeping an eye out and looking out for the attractive women and then noticing and appreciating their attractiveness for a moment–is this sinful? Gravely?

I am very scrupulous and I, like most men I’m sure, struggle with this sort of situation. And, as a confessor once told me, this is certainly something you don’t want to have scruples about. I’ve always been told that it’s only sinful if you’re fantasizing about those attractive women, thinking about taking their clothes off, doing impure things, etc, or dwelling on those thoughts. But what about when you’re just sort of casually walking along in a crowded street (or mall, or festival, etc.) with very attractive women and you’re really enjoying the attractiveness of the women, without actually fantasizing or thinking anything impure? St. Francis de Sales says that a married man should avoid every glance of the eye, yet I find that nearly impossible practically, and I worry that it could be mortal sin.

I have to note that I never “admire the attractiveness” of women at the beach or pool, and never go to those places, because they are a definite occasion of sin. And when a girl in a mini-skirt or really slinky shirt walks by, I always look away. But when I’m reasonably confident that I can avoid fantasy and dwelling thoughts, I usually take a look or two, admire their attractiveness, and then move along. But then my scruples kick in and I feel awful.

Any advice or thoughts?

It’s okay to notice beauty. It’s not okay if you use it to pleasure yourself.

Many examinations of conscience list “immodest glances” as sins of lust, but what exactly is an “immodest glance?” And is such an immodest glance a serious matter such that it can be mortal sin?

Take this scenario:

A married man is in a major American city walking down a very crowded street with many attractive women. The man notices and looks at the women, occasionally looks twice, and makes sure not to fantasize, dwell on any sexual explicit thoughts, or make plans (however sincere) to do something impure with the women, and then moves along and thinks about something else. Is there anything sinful or improper about this?

What if he is casually “people watching,” especially keeping an eye out and looking out for the attractive women and then noticing and appreciating their attractiveness for a moment–is this sinful? Gravely?

I am very scrupulous and I, like most men I’m sure, struggle with this sort of situation. And, as a confessor once told me, this is certainly something you don’t want to have scruples about. I’ve always been told that it’s only sinful if you’re fantasizing about those attractive women, thinking about taking their clothes off, doing impure things, etc, or dwelling on those thoughts. But what about when you’re just sort of casually walking along in a crowded street (or mall, or festival, etc.) with very attractive women and you’re really enjoying the attractiveness of the women, without actually fantasizing or thinking anything impure? St. Francis de Sales says that a married man should avoid every glance of the eye, yet I find that nearly impossible practically, and I worry that it could be mortal sin.

I have to note that I never “admire the attractiveness” of women at the beach or pool, and never go to those places, because they are a definite occasion of sin. And when a girl in a mini-skirt or really slinky shirt walks by, I always look away. But when I’m reasonably confident that I can avoid fantasy and dwelling thoughts, I usually take a look or two, admire their attractiveness, and then move along. But then my scruples kick in and I feel awful.

Any advice or thoughts?

IMO an immodest glance is looking and desiring.Just too look at a pretty figure is not wrong.Just don’t look to long.

Jimmy Akin

jimmyakin.org/2009/01/appreciating-beauty-vs-concupiscence.html

Modesty protects chastity.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8R.HTM

and we need a “reasonable” custody of the eyes…

I would think “glances” would be OK. It’s when your glances become longer and that opens the door for “thoughts”.

advice ?..pray the rosary, alot…

thoughts ?..i think we may have been separated at birth…brother…:smiley:

God Bless…

Would you feel comfortable knowing they’d caught you “glancing”?

Now that could be a good indication. If you feel guilty about being caught. You could be looking too long.

If i want some strawberries i will go to the shop and inspect and look at which ones to buy

if i want a jacket i will also go and have a look

Sometimes when shopping with my mother, after looking around , i spot something or something catches my eye and go towards it to inspect it closer,then my mother will say ‘come on come on forget it’ you dont need that or it costs too much

Some may not be interested in a women ,their beauty or the nice shape of their body so they dont let themselves get drawn in too much by staring or inspecting

But to look casually at women as we use our eyes to look around, unless we go live in a cave it may be hard not to see women around us,but a second look will show further interest

I appreciate all of the responses–they’re helpful.

Something I really struggle with is whether its sinful to look at an immodestly dressed female. Especially in the summer, a lot of girls have their bra straps hanging out–I see this way too frequently at church, as you’ve probably experienced yourself–and inevitably I take an admiring look and then I get really scrupulous. Imagining yourself taking off a girl’s clothes is definitely lust, but it’s tough when they’re already got their underwear hanging out. I think to myself: is looking at this girl’s bra strap lustful in and of itself, or do I have to imagine myself actually being impure with her? It’s one thing to look at women who are dressed somewhat decently, but it’s another when you’re in a culture that exalts immodesty. Half the women on any given city street are not dressed with much modesty, and yet I find myself looking at them, and I worry that it’s sinful.

I would say your “scruplin” here somewhat. Some look of curiosity or immodest glance does not mean per se that one has lusted! Can it lead to lust…perhaps …yes of course…but do not scruple either. Seek to on the one hand to have a reasonable custody of the eyes. One the other hand seek to not scruple about these things. And also remember there is a reasonable noticing of beauty (though one needs to be aware of concupscience…and take care …but in a reasonable way)

CCC: 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.

Now does that mean you or I ought to look particularly immodestly dressed girl? We need to seek to use as I noted custody of the eyes. But you can not live with your eyes always on your feet or the tops of buildings. And is it possibly a sin at times to look? (other than the question of lust) …yes. But it does not mean it was a sin of lust (which when it is with full knowledge and complete consent…is a mortal sin).

If I can be of any more help feel free to pm me.

and do not forget this link jimmyakin.org/2009/01/appreciating-beauty-vs-concupiscence.html

Also make sure you have a regular confessor…

I think the biggest think to consider is what are you thinking when you look. If you think “she’s pretty” or "that’s a nice dress/shirt etc…) and leave it at that, I say you are OK. I do not think just seeing a bra strap is a problem. The problem is if, in your mind you start imagining where that strap leads and what it covers. You are then in dangerous waters.

I can tell you I do look, I think most men do. I really appreciate a pretty woman with a fit shapely form, I just have to keep my thoughts in check. Looking is normal. Unless you are thinking impure thoughts, I think you are worrying for nothing. You realize your thoughts are where the problem starts, as long as you are keeping that in mind you should be OK.

So does that mean that it’s a sin for a married man to look at a gorgeous woman because of the pleasure it gives him? Would that be a grave matter?

I’ll be perfectly honest: the primary reason I look at most women is because it is enjoyable to see beautiful women, but I don’t know if that’s wrong, and if it is wrong, how wrong.

It’s hard to simply rely on my conscience because my scruples make virutally everything a serious sin, yet everytime I look at a woman for the sole purpose of looking at her figure or beauty or whatever (without lust, fantasy, etc.), I feel like somehow I’ve betrayed my wife and my God. My wife doesn’t really care, but I feel like I’m perpetually in mortal sin becuase of the enjoyment I derive from looking at attractive girls.

Well, I’m pretty careful about making sure that my mind doesn’t wander underneath her shirt or anywhere else that might constitute a genuine lustful thought. But, for whatever reason, the bra strap alone is really attractive and because it is, technically, an “undergarment,” I feel like my mind has already gone too far even if I only look at the bra strap itself without imagining anything else.

If I see a strap…well it is just a strap…sure there can be “attarction” that happens …but you just look somewhere else and continue your day…

You have answered your own concern. “without imagining anything else” means you are not taking your thoughts farther than you should. Quit stressing my brother! If your thoughts are clean you have no worries.

There are differences between normal glances & those where you can tell the person is having immoral thoughts and/or saying something etc. I’ve had to tell off a few guys or a few friends may have done on my behalf so when a strange man is trying to touch me inappropriately and/or when I do not ask to be touched/ogled.

I have a 16 year old daughter that complains of, in her words “really creepy old guys” looking at her in ways that “creep me out.” I suppose it is fortunate that I have not seen this, because I may end up in jail…:shrug:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.