Intrusive Thoughts and Culpability?

I sometimes struggle with intrusive thoughts (usually impure) and have noticed that when I think chastely about a particular person to whom I am attracted, they often increase. Am I obliged to try to stop thinking about him, even if the thoughts are non-sexual? I’m wondering if this kind of thought is an occasion of sin for me, although I don’t want the impure temptations at all. Thanks for your help!

I would say there’s not been culpability “yet”. But it is probably wise to try to stop thinking about him, if you already know dwelling on that thought is likely to lead you to temptation of sexual sort. Temptation itself is not a sin. But at the same time we are called to avoid known temptations and near occasion of sins, which can vary depending on the person. For example, seeing male naked torso can be sexually tempting to somebody but not to someone else.

Also, as a fellow "crush"er, I would recommend not dwelling on thoughts of your crush whenever you can.
I do the same for the person I am seriously attracted to. What I do is simply dismiss a thought of him when it occurs to me(Believe me, it happens a lot. I mean… a LOT.) I can’t control the thought coming to me, but I can choose not to dwell on it.
This is because I know that dwelling on the thoughts can be not really beneficial to my relationship with God. I hope the guy and I will get together someday but that’s up to God and him. My fantasizing about him, even if it’s not sexual in nature, will not make the day any closer and I don’t want to get distracted from what I know God has already called me to do to spend time on what might or might not occur in the future.

To add, I just wanted to say I totally get what you are going through. :wink:

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength & fortitude to overcome your temptations.

To the extent that you welcome the unchaste thoughts, enjoy them, expand them, replay them, then culpability is enjoined in your actions.

However, as you resist and fight them, you are not culpable.

When such thoughts enter me, I say “The Prayer to St. Michael The Archangel”, which calls upon him to “. . . protect me against the snares and tempations of the devil. . .” which is what we are dealing with. Also, if that does not work immediately, I begin to repeat the names of JESUS, Mary and Joseph, slowly over and over again, all of whom fought the evil one and won.

Many go though this. I know I do. When this stuff starts up, I have two choices, run with it and indulge the intrusive thoughts, or say a Hail Mary. St. Michael, or any other prayer, like “In the name of the Father…”

Unless you run with the unbidden images, keep them going, you are fine. It isn’t your fault. On those occasions I do run with those thoughts, which I truly try to avoid, I include it in confession, even if it is not mortal.

Read this pamphlet. catholicpamphlets.net/pamphlets/Are%20You%20Scrupulous.pdf It is the best one I have read on being Scrupulous. I use to struggle with whether I consented to impure thoughts or whether I really wanted them or not but this helped a lot. Impure thoughts are gonna happen. They happen to me randomly. They happen sometimes when I kiss my girlfriend. They happen everyday to me. But unless they are liked, desired and deliberately harbored, they are involuntary and not a Mortal sin if they are dismissed and not dwelt on. Read the pamphlet. It has The “Nihil Obstast” and “imprimatur” on it too. God bless

One would have to judge regarding if one ought to here and now stop thinking about a person in a chaste way - due to it leading to other thoughts. Or how one is thinking chastely about the person. A confessor can counsel one. Sometimes one might need to stop or change the thoughts - or other times one might simply ignore any thoughts that come unwanted while doing something good.

I think though that this re posting of post of mine from before may be of some help in general:

All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…

The fact that a though happened to one- does not mean per se there was any sin.

And for mortal sin one needs not only grave matter, but full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…


Now…

For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of an Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it -you did not want to think of an apple.

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come—simply do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working …etc)

(one can gently - conversi ad Dominum - turn towards the Lord -perhaps with a look of love or a short prayer which is a very ancient practice - pm me if you if you need more).

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a hissing goose or a barking dog. One does not stop to argue with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…and at most laughs at them…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

One would have to judge regarding if one ought to here and now (meaning in this here occasion) stop thinking about a person in a chaste way - due to it leading to other thoughts. Or how one is thinking chastely about the person. A confessor can counsel one. Sometimes one might need to stop or change the thoughts - or other times one might simply ignore any thoughts that come unwanted while doing something good.

I think though that this re posting of post of mine from before may be of some help in general:

All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…

The fact that a though happened to one- does not mean per se there was any sin.

And for mortal sin one needs not only grave matter, but full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…

Note the fear of such thoughts - can make them worse. Trying real hard not to have them…

Now…

For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of an Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it -you did not want to think of an apple.

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come—simply do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working …etc)

(one can gently - conversi ad Dominum - turn towards the Lord -perhaps with a look of love or a short prayer which is a very ancient practice - pm me if you if you need more).

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a hissing goose or a barking dog. One does not stop to argue with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…and at most laughs at them…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

A lot of people have intrusive thoughts. So many, in fact, that there are strategies you can use to help yourself overcome them.

Personally, I used to have intrusive thoughts about the Holocaust. (I have no idea why :shrug: )

I was helped by following a daily practice: I would allow myself to think about the intrusive thoughts for 15 minutes each day. I tried to block the thoughts at all other times. But for those 15 minutes, I would focus on the intrusive thoughts. After a period of several days, the 15 minutes became 10 minutes, etc. It worked for me.

As for whether or not you’re culpable–intrusive thoughts are largely out of our control. One of the phenomena of the brain is that the more we try to not think about something, the more we do. It’s been scientifically/medically/clinically/whatever proven.

One does not want to be consenting to sinful thoughts. Rather if by “allow” one means just ignore and not pay attention to and turn to something else that can be a moral approach. Ones confessor can advise.

Yes your correct.

Such has been known for centuries. One finds such in very old writings from hundreds of years ago… Spiritual writings etc.

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