Is it a sin to have impure thoughts?

I am a young man in my late 20’s. I see beautiful women all of the time, and I have impure thoughts, not out of my own desire, but they just pop into my head. I try to meditate and pray but they remain. I honestly do not want them in my head and I feel like a horrible sinner when I get them. Is it a mortal sin to have impure and lustful thoughts about members of the opposite sex if you do not wish to have them? How can I get rid of them?

It is not a sin to have impure thoughts because one cannot control what thoughts pop into his head. It is a sin to entertain impure thoughts (i.e., to keep them in your mind deliberately and enjoy them). Catholic Answers’ chastity speaker Jason Evert, in his book on chastity titled
If You Really Loved Me, recommends dealing with impure thoughts by praying for the person about whom you have had impure thoughts.

**Recommended reading:

Starting Over** by Jason Evert

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