Literature and the Occasion of sin

Recently, while reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck, I encountered some fleeting lustful thoughts. I understand that lustful thoughts are not sinful in that they occur, but only when they are enjoyed or purposefully conjured, but if when reading literature lustful thoughts are more frequently encountered, it would follow that one could more easily, or has more opportunity fall to or entertain one of those thoughts. Such a large proportion of great literature contains some degree of content that has the ability to induce a lustful temptation, so wouldn’t this make reading most literature an occasion of near sin? The mortally sinful quality of lustful thoughts raises the occasion of sin from remote to proximate, which we have an obligation to avoid, and reading for leisure does not really justify a necessity. I would appreciate some rebuttals because I was just getting into secular reading as entertainment and I bought a lot of books which I am now unsure I can read in good conscience. Any comments are appreciated

Given your posting history, you seem to struggle with scrupulosity. You should refrain from asking these questions here and seek help offline.

Others would be well advised not to respond.

You are in my prayers.



I do think it’s wise to avoid books with lustful content in them, especially if that is a sin that you are still struggling with a lot. The more we can starve that the better off we’ll be. At least that has been my experience. I think the saints would agree. I think it’s safe to say that the saints by and large did not read secular literature. However, I don’t think you have to give up on secular literature entirely. I do think it’s possible to find books that don’t have any lustful content. It just may require more research. If you do find that you are struggling with scrupulosity, you might want to read Understanding Scrupulosity by Fr. Santa. It is a really helpful book. God Bless!

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