Is it a mortal sin to read material with strong sexual themes?

Is it directly a mortal sin to read a book w/strong sexual themes, e.g., 50 shades of Gray, etc? And I mean reading it, but with a critical eye----not because you intend to act on anything either towards yourself (masturbation) or towards another person, but because you want to see what the hype is about? I know that doing so goes against “avoiding the near occasion”, but is I’m wondering if it is directly intrinsically evil to simply read something, even if you’re not in agreement with the plot/story or the morality (or lack thereof) that it presents? Is it any different from watching a movie that happens to have a seedy scene or two? Or should it all be avoided completely? Thanks :thumbsup:

Why choose to put yourself in the “near occasion of sin”?

Just to “see what all the hype is about”???

If a person is in some sort of professional field, such as counseling, where reading or at least skimming the book could be beneficial in dealing with a specific case - it might be OK…But not simply because you are curious.
I think this would be a sin… a grave error.

As to it being mortal sin…That we cannot say for certain, but - and speaking only for myself, I would consider it to be “grave matter”, especially knowing the general contents and my own weaknesses. Given that knowledge about myself, if I give full consent to exposing myself to such material then yes - I would consider that I have committed a mortal sin…whether I acted inappropriately on the stimulus in the book or not.
That’s just me - you must consider this carefully for yourself and perhaps speak with your confessor.

In any event - it is my very strong opinion that reading such material is wrong and trying to justifying it as simply, “because you want to see what the hype is about”, is playing right into the devils hands.


I don’t believe it is a mortal sin unless it makes you lustful. As lust is a mortal sin, it would be wise to stay away from sexually explicit novels such as that if it does do that. If not, I see nothing wrong with simply reading them.

I agree with this. Some folks can read this sort of thing purely objectively, while others can’t (it causes them to sin). Me, I am weak and prone to sin so I avoid such things.

“There is nothing that goes into a person from the outside which can make him ritually unclean. Rather it is what comes out of a person that makes him unclean”

Mark, 7:15

I would interpret this, very simply, to mean that art forms, books, films etc. are not expressly sinful in any way as viewing material, rather, that the only reason the Church would guard against them is the possibility for them to incite to sin. I am open to correction of course.

What is it with this 50 Shades of Grey? :shrug:

From my secularist friends, they tell me it’s a lousy knock-off of Secretary, and the male protagonist is a total wimp.

Sorry for the late reply. Yes, I was mostly asking about Fifty shades of Grey. I have several Catholic and Christian friends who have gotten swept up in this latest unfortunate craze. I asked my original question in confession and I found my confessor’s answer was very thorough: In a nutshell, he said that yes it can be a mortal sin. He asked the rhetorical question, “why does a person read material like this? In order to stir (disordered) passions.” He explained that we “do not gain any merits in heaven” when we read or engage in media that is not edifying. He didn’t say that it was wrong to enjoy a show or movie here and there, but our time would be better spent elsewhere. He asked why don’t I instead read a book about the Saints–that way we would draw closer to holiness an gain merits in heaven. Today, Al Kresta discussed the book 50 shades of Grey in his afternoon show. It can be found in his podcast on Itunes (Monday July 9th–2nd hour). Cheers for all of the responses :slight_smile:

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