Impure Movies = Mortal Sin?

Please bear with me guys!

I was going through an examination of conscience yesterday and something in there confused me a great deal. No worries. I’m not concerned for my soul (if I HAVE committed a sin it isn’t mortal as I was unaware that it was a sin) but I AM confused.

This examination takes you through a long list of mortal sins and then venial sins.

Under the mortal sin category they had:

“Have I watched pornography?”

Which is clearly sinful.

But then below this;

“Have I watched impure movies or listened to impure music?”

Now if the pornography question hadn’t been above I would have assumed ‘impure’ movies meant pornography.

What does this mean exactly and is it TRULY a mortal sin to watch movies with impurity in it?

For example, a movie like Bridesmaids… would it be considered a mortal sin to sit through it after that rather racy introduction?

Or a movie like Lethal Weapon that is peppered with filthy language. Would THIS be considered mortal?

I always assumed so long as we were in control of our thoughts, watching someone swear and/or seeing hints of impurity in a movie wasn’t sinful? And if it was sinful I would presume it was venially so but is it truly gravely sinful?

Any thoughts?

Check out this thread.

To willfully watch any act that belongs in wedlock is mortal sin if done with full knowledge and deliberate consent. This goes from pornography to sex scenes of any shape and sort. In general, any sort of imagery that elicits indulgence in lust can transform into mortal sin, without it having to involve the full sexual act.

Violence and swearing are a whole different topic, worlds apart. Lust is the one thing that all saints - beginning, of course with the one Saint, the Lord - recommend we run away from. Violence and swearing are sinful at a different level, often venial. Of course, in theory we want to only indulge in things that lead us close to God, which makes all gratuitous violence and brutal killing and senseless swearing something that we can and should avoid. But I would not think they constitute mortal sin :shrug:

But in short, yes, lust in movies can be mortal sin and probably is most of the time. The fact that most/all/many movies have it and “everyone watches it” makes no difference - we had no movies for about what, 17 centuries from the coming of Christ? The teaching is timeless, regardless of whether a certain society at a certain place and time arbritrarly decides to establish that X is not bad/evil/immoral/sinful.

Remember, examinations of conscience are not infallible lists of mortal sins but are guides to get you asking questions about your own behavior.

You might ask your Confessor next time what would qualify as an “impure movie”.

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Please, talk to your priest. I don’t think a lot of people know what the various ratings mean or how they apply. PG-13? R ?

Each movie can fall into one category or another. TV is better about this but not explicit enough.

Last night, I viewed a program with a scene of simulated sex, a rape with slight body part exposure and profanity, including profanity from kids. And a sexual pervert who liked underage girls.

The warning mentioned:

Sexual Situations
Strong (or Adult) Language

It’s sad, but it seems that most any name, attractive young actress has to be in a movie with simulated sex, partly exposing a part of her body that should be covered, and so on.


This, to me, is a very confusing issue. If these scenes don’t illicit feelings of lust in me how are they sinful for me to watch? I suppose that’s where the confusion lies for me.


But I shan’t worry. I don’t seek impurity. It finds me. :stuck_out_tongue:

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The only time we should see a sexual relation is in our bedroom with our wife. I’d think anything beyond that is sinful, and I’d leave it up to the confessor to determine if it was venial or mortal. And it’s not necessarily the *feeling *that makes the sin.


I’ve only been a Catholic for two years… it’s hard to understand all of this. To me the ‘scenes’ that are in mainstream movies just don’t seem like a big deal but I suppose I need to reexamine. Interesting for sure!:slight_smile:

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Okay, here’s a related question.

In the musical/movie/book Les Miserables, there are several portrayals of sex with prostitutes as well as with random strangers met in bars. But this sex is not given a positive connotation or result.

So is the important thing the outcome or the treatment of the sex? Isn’t it unrealistic to demand that Catholics watch nothing with sex in it outside of marriage?

If it is arousing, then one must turn away. Besides the vicarious enjoyment, it leads to thoughts of enjoying more in other sinful ways. Additionally, even if not liked, it can give scandal (setting an bad example for the weak).

From vicarious enjoyment of sin comes attachment to the idea of sin, leading to sinful actions and neglect of good actions.


I agree. I think this is where scrupulosity and sins of conscience collide. I always try to follow my conscience. But I’ve not always followed my conscience correctly either; that’s for certain.

Supreme court justice Potter Stewart put it very well :

“I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it.”

:slight_smile: I wish there was some way to get a definite answer on this. I could understand this being venial, I just can’t understand it being grave. It makes little sense to me.

If it is gravely sinful then we should avoid all books that mention immoral sex. We should avoid all TV shows, movies and radio programs that glorify immoral sex. We would, basically, have to cut ourselves off from society.

And just to be clear, I’m not trying to make excuses as to why I CAN watch these things. I’m more trying to understand how we are supposed to implement this if it is truly grave and I am trying to understand how it CAN be grave. To me it feels very much venial.

Ok, think for a second of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all that she represents and embodies: purity, chastity, fidelity in matrimony, courageous motherhood.

Immoral sex is a denial of that, and thus an offence to her.

Is an offense to Mary grave?

Now consider that she is only a blessed creature who received the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In reality, the greater offense is against He who is Chastity, Purity, Fidelity itself. It is an offense to God.

Is an offense to God grave?

Surely there are matters which aren’t grave. A bad word, say. Immoderate laughter. God is not gravely offended by these. But to take the sacred act of the marital embrace and transform it into a monstrous means for the most depraved sort of sensual pleasure, desecrating the holiness of wedlock, stripping away the dignity of the bride and of the bridegroom, and lowering the two men from spouses to mere animals, that is, dear brother, grave matter indeed.

And yes, we should avoid all of those things altogether. In fact, we should also train ourselves in self-mastery in order to keep our eyes and our immagination under control, for even a look at a woman can fill us with filthy desires to possess parts of her for a limited time and solely for the sake of satisfying some base desire of the flesh. And that is also gravely offensive to God.

It would be so gravely erroneous and misleading, however, to think that doing this is to cut ourselves off society. Are you truly considering that society is based on and has at its core immoral sex? That we cannot live a normal life without being exposed to immoral sexual relations? Well then, how about all the clergy and religious? And how about all the lay faithful who have achieved some basic level of self-mastery and avoid these immoralities? Are they not part of society? Surely they are.

Now, however, to separate ourselves from these things is, indeed, to cut ourselves from the world. This is what, in baptismal vows - whose renewal I recommend - we define as renouncing to the pomps and works of Satan, the prince of the world of darkness. As Christians, we are dead to the world and reborn to eternal life in Christ Jesus, who is God. We partake in the divine nature of the Son, and become children of the Blessed Virgin. As such, we no longer are from the world, but from God. We still, however, live in the world. We are not called to become hermits or cloistered religious (at least, not everyone is), however neither are we called to embrace the filth of the wordly things simply because we live amidst or are surrounded by them, or even because all others do it (which, even in the secular affairs, is rejected as a fallacious way of reasoning).

Have you ever heard the phrase “I prefer heaven”? It is attributed to St. Philip Neri, and I tend to repeat it every so often when I am faced with some temptation, be it of pleasures of the flesh, of vanity for the wordly things, or of pride for whatever I may have done in my short existence. But then the good Lord reminds me that “the flesh accounts for nothing, only the spirit matters”…that “heaven and earth shall pass”, and that “I am an unprofitable servant, for I have only done what I was commanded to do.” Thus, I turn (or try to turn) my back on such things as immoral sex, gratuitous violence, exaggerate laughter, and focus on the things above, telling whoever is tempting me - be it the law of my own flesh or some silly demon - “no, thanks. I prefer heaven.”

Try and do the same. It’s a wonderful way of life. This coming from a man who not too many years ago loved to indulge in lust and had no reason whatsoever to stop, until he found Christ, and realized that truly God alone is all he ever needed.

Hope this helps.


Surely the meaning behind the scene is what counts. If the sex scene is shown in order to advance some theme of love, then it is necessary that we acknowledge its sinful error; if it shows the sex for what it is (ultimately meaningless and without meaning) and leads to consequences then I would say the scene is vindicated.

What about a work where the sex is strongly implied but not shown? Do you reach the same conclusion in that case?

That’s what I wonder. Where is the line? What IS impure and what isn’t?

I’m really, super confused on this point. Because implied impurity is in pretty much everything… Ugh. It seems so complicated. LOL. For now I will trust my conscience until I can speak to my confessor because honestly it seems like a bit much.

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