The other day I decided to take a nap at school. I crossed my arms on the table in front of me and rested my head on them, leaving my whole torso exposed. I wondered if this position, which really draws attention to my upper body, could cause a young man walking by to stumble. However, I thought, “I don’t really care; it’s their problem; I don’t feel like moving–and anyways, maybe they won’t stumble.” I am quite sure that this thought was a mortal sin. However, I have just been having so much trouble looking at sin objectively and determining how bad it is, and would appreciate some knowledgeable insight.
Maybe you are too strict to yourself. It is nice to think on other people’s condition, but what you describe is simple leaning of head on hands. Surely, maybe somebody would find you immodestly attractive even in that position, but that is indeed more his trouble then yours.
We live in the same world, and honest young man can’t expect women to be abstinent from being beautiful 24/7. Especially if they are beautiful by leaning head.
Sort of curious how your whole torso was exposed and you were not arrestedfor indecent exposure.
Or do you mean your back?
No, I meant the front of my torso. I knew this position could cause a young man’s eyes to be drawn to this part of my body, and that that could cause him to stumble. I could have easily moved, but didn’t.
Sorry, perhaps I should be clearer. I was wearing a t-shirt–it was just the position I was in that would have drawn attention.
Well - I’m still trying to figure out how your description would “expose” you - but that is neither here nor there to the underlying question…did you sin.
As always, we are not qualified to give you a specific answer but…
If you were dressed in an immodest manner, and/or you acted in an immodest way - followed by a pang of conscience which you ignored, and in fact, rejected, then yes I’d say you sinned…and possibly mortally.
So get thee to confession.
As to others looking, they have their own conscience and their own culpability. You are not guilty for their sin. Only for your own.
Consider perhaps that sleeping in school is inappropriate. Or if sleeping is allowed at school, wear appropriate clothing that covers your body completely no matter how you happen to position yourself. Its more a matter of maturity, respect for where you are and how you conduct yourself. Calling it a mortal sin seems like a real extreme label. You sound like a young person trying to grow up. Have some patience with yourself.
I agree with the above about maturity, and the only reason that I think it could well be a mortal sin is that she considered the problem and says this, "However, I thought, “I don’t really care; it’s their problem; I don’t feel like moving–and anyways, maybe they won’t stumble.”
So - it seems her conscience, or he guardian angel, told her to move and she said NO.
If, as yoiu say this is a matter of maturing, then listening to such promptings is surely a part of that maturing.
I respectfully disagree. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior and their own sin. Developing teenage boys will think certain thoughts just looking at a young ladies hair or just her presence alone. Perhaps asking a priest if MORTAL sin is involved in normal child/teen development in this case would be a good idea. The young lady was tired and too immature to correct herself. Mortal sin seems over the top extreme labeling in my opinion. If young people in their formative years are falling into “mortal” sin with this simple example, perhaps all girl schools and all boy schools should be in order. :shrug: Just a thought.
Good points…Indeed all are responsible for their own sin. That is why I tried in my earlier post to differentiate between what she thought and did as opposed to what others might have thought and done.
Our disagreement here is a perfect example of why we should always advise going to confession and discussing it with your confessor. The longer and better relationship one has with a good confessor, the better advice and direction one can get.
Thanks James. That’s what I was thinking.
On the note of confession: there is daily confession available at a nearby church at 11:30 every day. I could make it there tomorrow, but should I schedule a confession for today so as to go as soon as possible (which the Church advises)? I have gotten conflicting opinions from two very trusted priests on this matter–one says to schedule a confession asap, one says it is sufficient to go to the next scheduled confession time.
If you leaned forward, then you back was exposed. Unless your butt was exposed, or you were showing some sexy undergarments, then I don’t see how this would be flirtatious. Any guy who couldn’t handle that without thinking salacious thoughts has a problem, which is not your problem. If your intent was to be flirtatious, that is another matter for you to consider. Otherwise, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. But, since it bothers you, then you might want to discuss it with a spiritual leader or adviser whom you trust and can confide in.
were you naked or wearing skimpy or see-through top? then hardly I cannot even contort myself in any way in the position you describe that exposes my whole torso except my back, but maybe your back is sexier than mine.
I agree with Puzzleannie here wholeheartedly. I’m trying to contort myself while remaining in the position you describe and I can’t possibly see how the front of my torso would be exposed. And I’m wearing a T-shirt… It essentially curls me over, minimizing even my profile. And obviously the front of me isn’t exposed at all. So I’m a little confused by the OP.
As for the question of Sin or not, addressing the more general question, I would say that if you intentionally draw attention to yourself in an immodest way with the way you act or the way you dress (wearing skin-tight clothing, low cut clothing, see-through clothing, showing a lot of skin, etc.), that would be sinful. Its a violation of modesty. But if you, through no fault of your own, have people looking at you/objectifiying you, that’s a sin on their conscience, not yours.
If you were describing laying out in a bikini sunbathing in public, I might agree with you on this being a sin (personally I consider that to be pretty immodestly provocative). But as I can’t figure out how the position you describe could possibly be provocative (even in a low-cut shirt for that matter since that part of you is facing the floor and therefore not really visible), I don’t really see how that particular position could be sinful.
That being said, I do agree with the poster who said that if your conscience told you not to do something and you do it anyway and feel guilty afterward, that’s a good reason to go to confession. Then your (hopefully orthodox) confessor can give you some guidance to help properly form your conscience (whether it was indeed sinful or not) which is ever so important.
If I had been seen from behind, there would be nothing wrong. But don’t you think that if you were a guy and walking by and saw a girl from the side leaning forward with her arms drawn up, your eyes would be directed to the wrong place?
Maybe its just because I have a short torso (I have a short body in general) but no… when I lean forward, with my arms crossed, head on my arms, my whole torso curls up and there really isn’t much that draws you to the “wrong place” despite my being… gifted in that area. I just can’t manage to contort myself in a way that makes that an immodest position. It seems to minimize one’s profile, not make it more eye catching.
I have to agree with pretty much everyone here. Firstly, I find the description in the OP baffling as to how your upper front torso would be exposed while napping with your arms and head resting forward of your waist. However, if you say your attractive bits were somehow exposed attractively, I’ll take your word for it.
Secondly, assuming you were exposed as you said you were, and you believed that others could lustfully look at those exposed bits and yet responded in your heart, “I don’t care,” I’d definitely agree that you should probably confess it… and then find a way to nap more closely to the way you described (thus making it, as far as the rest of us can tell, nearly impossible for those bits to be exposed :p) rather than resting however you actually did nap.
Thirdly, while I definitely think the cuplability of those who would look lustfully at the exposed torsos of napping teen girls is something that each lustful onlooker must answer for and confess on their own, women, young and old, should never be encouraged to use the other person’s responsibility as a justification for ignoring their own. I can tell you that it is very hard for many men to look away from exposed beautiful bits on women, and we’d all (well, those of us with well-formed consciences, anyway) be very greatful if you didn’t belittle our struggle or fail to respect the fact that we’d all love it if you wonderful, gorgeous women whom we strive to honor as daughters of God rather than to drool over as tempting bits of flesh, would make the effort to keep those tempting bits covered whenever you think of it. I recognize that, as people who’ve probably never really understood or experienced the same type of temptation that we men struggle with, you probably don’t mean anything by it and most likely don’t realize you’re doing it most of the time. But, when you do realize, like this wonderful OP did, please do respect us enough to remove your pretty, tempting bits from our sight. I’d like to thank the OP for at least recognizing our struggle, even though she didn’t have the energy to take the temptation away from the men around her. That first step is one that I truly wish many more women took.
As for whether you should confess this very moment or tomorrow at midday, I am not qualified to answer… but if you wait till I am qualified, you’d probably find that you could have gone to confession at a regularly scheduled time many times over while you were waiting for me to tell you what you should do.
If you’ve already spoken to two priests, why didn’t you have one of them hear your confession right then? If there is daily confession available, go to the regularly scheduled time. Then ask one of your trusted priest friends to be your regular confessor and schedule a regular time with him.
Also, stop sleeping at school.
Is there a specific form of dress you suggest for girls/women to wear so that you may not be “disrespected” or “mentally led astray” by viewing the opposite sex? Guess what, men have those thoughts looking at women in garden clothes, one piece swimming suits, scrubs with lab coats and on and on. (sometimes it could be her smile) Would a burka or total body veil help? Or if men really struggle even with a modestly dressed woman, perhaps a blindfold should be in order?
My concern is that some of the posts above will make this YOUNG person see her body as sinful or leading others to sin. (even the priest she talked to can’t decide if its a mortal sin) Yes, young girls do dress very questionably going to some schools and she does need to learn to dress appropriately - I see that as a PARENTING issue. Who buys the clothes?
You raise some good points here.
But I think we are getting too sidetracked in the specifics of just what she was wearing, and the postion. And we are missing the more specific point about her pang of conscience and her deliberate rejection of that pang.
So let’s forget about exactly what she was wearing and exactly how she was sitting etc and look at her own admission. In the OP she clearly says…
I wondered if this position, which really draws attention to my upper body, could cause a young man walking by to stumble. However, I thought, "I don’t really care; it’s their problem; I don’t feel like moving–and anyways, maybe they won’t stumble." I am quite sure that this thought was a mortal sin.
The Holy Spirit, prompted her that what she was doing was maybe not such a good idea.
The Loving response to this prompting would have been to move.
Her admitted response was one of rejection and selfishness. “I don’t care”…“I’t their problem”…“I don’t feel like moving”.
These are serious issues that cover two out of three of the requirements fro mortal sin. Knowledge and consent. The prompting stems from her own knowldge of what she was wearing, and sitting and what was “exposed”. Her consent is evident in her selfish refusal to move and her comment “I don’t care”…
This only leaves whether it was “Grave matter”. This we cannot know…but in my view it is serious enough to warrant talking to her confessor about.
So - in all of this, we should not be distracted by the details but get to the core, not of what others might do, but rather of what she freely admits she did do.
Should this girl be ashamed of her body? Absolutely not.
Should she take appropriate and charitable action when prompted by the Holy spirit? Absolutely YES.