Is this lust, and is it mortal sin?

I tend to hear lust defined as being sexual - deliberately imagining sexual things about another person. I think for females, this happens differently, and that if we tend to fantasize about men, then it is more emotional than sexual, like an imagined story of a relationship with a man - the whole relationship, not just the sexual aspect of it.

If one finds oneself entering into these detailed fantasies, is this lust? I know that when the thoughts slip into the mind and one is not really thinking about what is happening, then this is temptation and not sin. But how about when, once one is conscious of what is being fantasized, and one tends to pick these fantasies back up again where they left off the last time, is that a mortal sin? Sometimes I can pull myself from the thoughts, and I acknowledge and know that they are wrong, but I also admit that I enjoy entertaining these fantasies.

I have confessed this in the past, but the line between whether it is a mortal or venial sin is difficult to distinguish. Another thing to note is that I have been like this since I was probably 12 years old, easily writing fantasies in my head about my life with another person. So it has become habitual, although now it comes and goes, but I still can admit that I like to linger on these scenarios at times.

CCC 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.

Right, all I can find about lust in the catechism is that it is sexual in nature. If it is a fantasy about a whole emotional relationship, then it is still wrong to engage in when you are already married to somebody else… but is it mortal sin, even if it technically doesn’t fit the definition of lust?

Nobody knows if this would qualify as a mortal sin? Lust is a mortal sin, if I am right on that… but would this qualify as lust, and if not, then what is it?

Sometimes I wish there was a specific list of mortal sins vs venial sins!

Lust is the willing to engage in sex with somebody if the opportunity arises.

This is far different from admiring a beautiful woman. I like to look at girls in bikinis, but I have no intention of having sex with them.

Obviously, lust between a married man and woman is not sinful.

I am just thinking of Jesus’s phrase in the Bible about committing adultery with someone “in your heart” by looking at another person with lustful thoughts. That seems to be saying that fantasizing about having sex with somebody is just as bad as if you would actually do it if given the opportunity. I can say that while I imagine romantic scenarios with other people, I don’t think I would ever actually act on those fantasies.

Yes it is Lust. Our thoughts lead to words/actions, so we need to cut it off at the root which is what Our Lord is saying in Matt. 5. Any sin that is serious, with full knowledge, and intention is a mortal sin. So if you are in a constant state of fantasy or thinking about a sexual relationship then it could be a mortal sin. A “list” would be nice but to examine your conscience daily in the light of the Gospel is much better I think. At least that is what I try to do :slight_smile:

Lust isn’t necessarily a Mortal sin. It is one of the “deadly sins” but lust could be as little as a little thought here and there every now and then. We also have to see the difference between Lust and sexual attraction, we can stop Lust but control our sexual attraction, which isn’t good or evil in itself, with God’s Grace, our reason, and will.

That is not correct. The sin of lust can occur in a marriage.

Yes, I also thought that lust could occur within marriage, when one person is only thinking of the other as an object and a sexual outlet.

If it is frequent thoughts of an emotional, romantic relationship - with sex not being much of an aspect of it, or even at all - then is it the same as lust? Often I will have scenarios run through my mind where I am living a normal, relatively moral life but with another man other than my husband.

So, I know that is wrong, but I am trying to determine if it is a serious enough sin that I need to refrain from receiving the Eucharist if I haven’t been to confession. There is an issue at my parish currently where at least once a month, we have a visiting priest at our only confession time, and he has in the past counseled both my husband and me, separately, that our sexual sins were not sins at all - He told us that within marriage, it is fine to do pretty much anything aside from contracepting.:eek: It was really uncomfortable, with him asking for details and basically arguing with me that what I confessed wasn’t a sin. So… I am hesitant to go to confession when he is there (and the next closest parish is 30 minutes away from me), but if the fantasizing is a mortal sin, then I do need to go, and maybe often until it subsides (which it always does… it comes and goes randomly; eventually the fantasy gets old and goes away until another one starts up, usually months later).

In my opinion, what you’re describing is a little different from lust. The catechism defines lust in explicitly sexual terms, as noted by thistle above. Basically, it is a desire for sexual pleasure in an inappropriate context.

If I’m understanding you correctly, it sounds like your thoughts usually revolve around emotional fulfillment or imagining a happy relationship, rather than explicitly desiring sexual intercourse with someone other than your husband. If that’s true, then I wouldn’t classify these thoughts as lustful.

At the same time, I think I can understand why fantasizing in this way feels sinful to you. Although it isn’t explicitly sexual, it still involves imagining yourself in a relationship with someone other than your husband. If you willingly follow the fantasy and continue imagining what it would be like, it seems unfaithful to the man you’ve promised to spend your life with. Would that be an accurate way of expressing it?

When Jesus said that a person who lusts has already committed adultery in the heart, he was emphasizing the importance of living our faith in our thoughts as well as our actions. It’s like saying: “What good is it if you have never committed adultery, but all the while you’re constantly reveling in the thought of it?”

I think the same line of thinking could apply to your case in the following way: If a person willingly fantasizes about relationships with men other than her husband, she is encouraging thoughts that aren’t faithful to the commitment she made in marriage, even if she never intends to act on them. Thus, I think you’re right to identify it as a possible problem.

The question of mortal sin is fairly simple. I doubt it has been a mortal sin for you up to this point, because you haven’t been sure if it’s a mortal sin! You must be sure that something is a serious sin when you commit the act in order for it to be mortal. You also mention that this is a long-standing habit (since you were 12). That can reduce culpability, but only you and your confessor can adequately judge that. Objectively speaking, I’m not quite sure if this is grave matter. My hunch is that it could be, since it involves your lifelong commitment to your husband. I think this is something you have to flesh out with a good confessor, though.

Going forward, I would suggest a few things: Don’t beat yourself up over this! Especially if you have any tendency toward scrupulosity, entrust this area of your life to God’s mercy. Also, it would be good to ask a priest you trust for advice. Perhaps you want to avoid the confessor you’ve had trouble with, but if there’s another priest you trust, try to seek his advice in confession. He may be able to provide more understanding and guidance than any of us can over the internet.

I’m a 56-year old woman. I don’t think it’s sinful at all. I think it’s what all women do.

Women have a God-created need for emotional fulfillment that most husbands simply can’t meet! So women seek emotional fulfillment elsewhere: through her children, her career, her friends, her religion, in novels and movies, in sports and physical activities, in the arts, in nature (hiking, bird-watching, gardening), in volunteering, etc. etc.

Women have a huge capacity for doing and experiencing many different things, and all of these things make up a rich life that fulfills her emotional needs!

I don’t think a lot of men understand this.

What I would say is that you need to try to spend less time fantasizing a relationship, because this isn’t a very productive way to spend time. Instead, do something “real” that will lead to real-life relationships (non-sexual of course); e.g., volunteer, or get a job (if you don’t have one), or get involved with an activity in your parish (a Bible study?) where you can have Christian friends, or learn to play an instrument (there is a real need for organists in the Church!).

I turned my “fantasies” about a more exciting life into novel-writing! If you have any writing talent at all, consider this. Also, try writing screenplays, or stage plays, or short stories.

And of course, cultivate your relationship with Jesus. Go to Mass as often as you can. Do a Bible study. Pray. Read good Christian writing–you might want to try reading some of the Christian romantic fiction–some of it’s really badly-written, but some of it’s good. There is lots of Protestant romantic fiction, but not so much Catholic romantic fiction, but this is slowly changing. You can find a lot of Catholic romantic fiction online–a lot of Catholics (and Protestants, too) have given up on the traditional publishing houses, and have taken to forming their own publishing companies and putting out their own novels, often in the form of e-books. There are some who say that these novels are not very good, and maybe those literary types are right and maybe they’re not right. The point is–if YOU enjoy them, then they’re good!

Another thing you might want to try is telling your husband about your fantasy life. I used to joke with my husband that in my OTHER life, when I wasn’t with him, I was with my OTHER husband, and we lived in a fully-restored Victorian house and we rode horses together. He thought this was fun, and it helped him to know how to please me (e.g., take me to lunch at romantic Victorian-type inns, or go on tours of Victorian homes).

I understand your concern about receiving the Holy Eucharist and to be free of any sin. Remember a Mortal Sin needs to be Serious matter, full knowledge, and consent. Do you have all 3? If it mostly in your thoughts and you not seriously considering do what you are thinking then I would say that it is not a Mortal Sin even if you think about it a lot. I would say go and confess it if you feel guilty about it but to always rely on His never failing mercy. Don’t worry about what the Priest has to say about whether or not it is sinful, it’s your confession time not his! God isn’t out to get us, He LOVES us, loves us to His very own death. Trust Him always and don’t worry! :slight_smile:


Yes, this is exactly right, thank you. That is a very accurate way of expressing it. The romantic fantasies typically only involve sex if in the fantasy I am married to the guy… I don’t really dwell on the sexual feelings; it is definitely about the emotional fulfillment of it. And I can recognize that it is all fantasy; no relationship would ever be 100% emotionally fulfilling, and it is not to say that my husband doesn’t fulfill my needs much of the time.

It started when I was about 12 with a cute boy in our neighborhood and with teen pop stars. I am so trying to avoid the pop star teeny-bopper magazines and such with my own daughters. There is such a societal emphasis for girls on having a boyfriend and such, and I can see it really didn’t do anything positive for me.

You’d think I wouldn’t have enough time on my hands to even have this problem, ha, because I have three kids, one is only a 1 yr old, who I homeschool. I also have a volunteer job working with new moms, and I garden and cook from scratch and other such things. It happens during lulls, like when I am rocking the baby to sleep, or driving, or taking a shower… I need to try praying in those situations instead; I just never remember at the time.

And it is funny you mention writing, because when I was a teen, I did write down these fantasy stories. I do love to write. They were always stories about me being married to some celebrity, usually a musician or professional athlete, but also occasionally boys at my school. I suppose it could become productive if I turned them into stories that were not about me, but about other people, although I don’t want to create more incentive to dwell on them with myself as the character involved.

I don’t know if I should tell my husband - I don’t want him to feel like he is inadequate because he doesn’t have great self esteem to begin with. Also, the other person in the fantasy is always a real person, either somebody famous or somebody we actually know or have met in real life. Most recently it is a contractor who did some work at our house. I wouldn’t feel right telling him, “Hey, I have a crush on so-and-so!”

I do wish I had more options as far as a priest to confess to. Our parish only has a half hour slot before the Saturday vigil to go to confession, and the line is always long, so I don’t feel like I can have a discussion at all or ask for advice… our parish priest often begins confession with only 20 minutes to spare before Mass begins. I could make an appointment, I suppose, but maybe I just need to drive to another parish on occasion, where they have more priests or a longer confession time available.

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