Is thinking of having sex with a married person without actually having sex considered adultery?

Like say you indulge in sexual fantasies… And must you state during confession that you had sexual fantasies with a married person? Or does it suffice to simply mention that you had indulged in such thoughts without mentioning the context?

Matthew 5: 28.


Should we stop praying the act of contrition in Mass then, or just take out the “in my thoughts” part?

There are (basically) three levels here. 1 - becoming aware of an image and its desirability (no sin); 2 - taking delight in the thought of the illicit thing, made worse by special circumstances like marriage or relation or consecration (venial sin); 3 - an actual deliberate desire, over and above delighting in the thought, to carry out the act in reality, even if you prevent yourself or you are prevented for some reason, which then motivates the fantasy, probably even including “because it’s immoral, but I would have it not be immoral if I could” (mortal sin).


I would specify the condition of married person but maybe I’m wrong.

What I know for sure is that thoughts must be defined as real voluntary thoughts, not as mere fantasy that cross our mind and that we chase away as soon as we identify their malignant nature (even if this duality of “involuntary imagination - voluntary reaction” can occur many times in sequence)


Yes, Jesus said indulging in such thinking is a sin and it needs to be confessed.
All of us have involuntary thoughts all day long. These are not sinful if instantly dismissed. But willfully dwelling on an evil thought is a sin.


It may be helpful to indicate that the thoughts involved a married person, especially for any council the priest may give or the particular penance.

Sexual delight in thought (psychic) is interior sin, which in general is the ninth commandment. That which is more specific to the physical is the sixth commandment.

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

Q. 1324. In what does the sixth commandment differ from the ninth, …
A. The sixth commandment differs from the ninth in this, that the sixth refers chiefly to external acts of impurity, while the ninth refers more to sins of thought against purity. …

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Spontaneous thoughts might happen on autopilot, but once you consciously “catch yourself” having certain imaginative thoughts, that is the point in which you gently redirect yourself to something else. When this is repeated over the course of months and years, those spontaneous thoughts will gradually happen with less and less frequency, since human beings are creatures of habit and those neuropathways will become smaller with less use or larger with more use. This is how people develop temperance.

Intentionally entertaining fantasies is a sin of impurity. “Whoever looks at a woman lustfully in his heart…” says Our Lord. The imaginative powers of the mind can be used for good or for evil, so for Confession, you might say “I had impure thoughts” and then give the priest a best estimate of the frequency.



You are very brave to speak the truth here.

We are not saints, so it is very common to have sexual fantasies… you have it,
I have it, even priests and sisters have it.
And the sexual fantasies will not care whether that object is married or not.

I remember Sister Faustina Kowalska wrote in her diary 《Devine Mercy in my soul》, that it is until at some moment in her life , she had a vision that Jesus put a golden robe
around her waist, that she is no more tempted by sexual sins from then on – which means, as a great Saint, she still faces the same temptations as us.

So please do not blame yourself too much . We all meet the same problems.
And perhaps the priest who is listening to your confession is facing the same temptations too…

I believe that it is better to be open and honest, and tell about the real temptations we meet, instead of hiding it ----- in the history , some priests and sisters hide it , which caused scandals in catholic history.


When the thought is sneaking into your mind, that is when you have to reject it outright. Pray instead. It takes determination but one gets better at it over time.


Questions concerning “Is this a sin” and the related issues surrounding such questions need to be take up with your confessor, and if you don’t have a confessor, then seek out a priest.

The vast majority of people in these forums are not moral theologians; and while there are several priests in the forums, one may or may not get their attention at any given moment.

Go ask your priest.

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And yet there are some questions that one doesn’t need to be a moral theologian. Like this one that Jesus answered very specifically.


Yes, this is that rare case where Jesus said in no uncertain terms “it’s a sin”.

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The point remains, people are all too often asking moral questions that need to be asked of their confessor - or they need to approach a confessor on the matter. Certainlly there is no proof that this was not just a theoretical question; but the likelihood is that it is not theoretical. And in that case, instead of going on the internet, they need to get to confession. Lone threads are not an inducement to getting the OP to go; they are more likely to result in their hanging around to watch the conversation.

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Do you give consent to these thoughts or do they just occur?

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