Is objectifying men a mortal sin?

I’m a Catholic male with same sex attractions. I’ve been struggling all my life to the addiction of looking at shirtless men and getting arousal and pleasure from it. I also can’t help looking at men who are wearing tank tops in public. Anything where a man is showing more skin in the torso will instantly get my attention. Now that it’s summer, these temptations are ever more powerful. Lately I’ve seen men dress promiscuously (majority of the time in tank tops) at the mall and on the streets and I didn’t bother fighting the temptation not to look. I’m too weak :(.

I feel particularly guilty today, because I spent the majority of the day (several hours) looking at pics of shirtless men on the internet. I felt I had to satisfy this craving or else I’d go crazy. Looking at a shirtless man is not pornography or nudity, and yet it feels like a porn addiction.

I go to confession weekly. My priest has gotten so sick and tired of hearing me telling him these sins over and over again, that I can hear him sigh every time he realizes it’s me in the confessional again. He keeps telling me that I’m not truly remorseful because I keep doing it over and over again. But he doesn’t understand that it’s not that easy!

One of the rationalizations that I tell myself before I fall into this sin is that looking at a shirtless man is not porn or nudity, so how can it be a mortal sin? So how sinful is the objectification of men? Is it a mortal or venial sin? I haven’t masturbated in 4 years, so this is purely psychological.

Based on what you describe this would fall into the category of lust. From the catechism:

2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes

It is morally wrong to sexually objectify any person since it “… does grave injury to the dignity of its participants … since each one becomes an object of base pleasure…” (CCC 2354).

If you are seeking out images to indulge sexual gratification then regardless of if it is pornography or not it is still wrong. If I see a young woman walk into a bar in a blouse and skirt and position myself so that I can continually look at her so that I can undress her in my mind that is still lust even thought it is not remotely pornographic.

If you have an addiction and are unable to quit this sin without much difficulty I would find a new confessor. I would not appreciate a priest telling me I am not truly remorseful for confessing a sin I am addicted to and trying to overcome. Is he right? Only you know but if he’s wrong find a new priest to confess to in my opinion.


It’s not wrong to notice beauty in another person, or to find them attractive. It is wrong to reduce them to objects of lust though.

Seeking out images of shirtless men online, even if it’s not porn, would be objectifying them, and therefore would be sinful. Noticing them in public, on the other hand, wouldn’t necessarily be a sin, since you’re not seeking out or initiating anything. It depends on whether you purposefully dwell on those thoughts.

Some good advice that I’ve received (though don’t always follow very well myself) is when you see someone you find attractive, say an Our Father or Hail Mary for them. Ask God to bless them. It’s almost impossible to objectify a man when you’re praying for him.

Like I said, I haven’t always followed that advice perfectly myself. But the times I have I’ve found it extremely helpful and freeing.

both male and female bodies are beautiful works of art, made by God, if anyone tries to tell you looking at them or admiring them in this manner, is wrong, or dirty, dont pay any attention to them, they have an agenda.

Look at all the greek sculptures of male and female bodies, they usually did not cover up everything…and for good reason, but in our times, most people think the human body is dirty and pornographic to admire it, they rush to cover these things up, hide their childs eyes from seeing it, etc. People like this are denying Gods creation, they want everyone to think its dirty, and should not be looked at…they are wrong and will probably have to answer for this when they die.

There is a huge difference between marveling in God’s creations and seeking it out for sexual gratification. The question is about objectification of people in a Catholic moral theology forum so I would assume that the OP is asking about Catholic moral teachings. In that case if the actions are driven by lust then yes it is sinful.

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