Near occasion of sin and UNWANTED impure thoughts

Say someone finds himself in a situation that is causing him to have unwanted impure thoughts, and he very rarely ends up entertaining or fully consenting to such thoughts. Then he doesn’t remove himself from that situation immediately for some reason or another but keeps fighting the thoughts, trying to push them out of his head. Is he committing mortal sin by willingly keeping himself in that situation?

To clarify, the reason for staying in the situation is not one that would normally allow someone to voluntarily enter into the near occasion of sin without committing a sin, but a lesser reason. And the situation is one which would not necessarily lead anyone to impure thoughts (just this person in particular), and one that was not sought out but just came up randomly.

Hey Nogginer,

First let me start by saying that I don’t fully understand your second post, so what I say may not apply to the situation you have in mind. Let me know if it doesn’t.

I would say that if this person is consenting to the situation FOR THE PURPOSE of “playing with fire”-i.e., wrestling with impure thoughts or temptation even though it is within his power to step away, he just enjoys the “game”–this would be a mortal sin if the person knows that Jesus commands against it–

“And if your hand or your foot [could be a situation that leads to impure thoughts or temptation] causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (Mat. 18:8-9).

However, things could be different if there is an outweighing reason for remaining in the situation. For example, a person is hanging out with his friend of the opposite sex and he has spontaneous, impure thoughts of her. Is he going to stop being her friend because of those thoughts that she inadvertently “causes,” simply by being around him? I don’t think so–as long as the spontaneous thought is not caused by any sensual behavior or words from her. In that case, he should tell her to stop and if she persists, then there would be a reason to stop being her friend–and the failure to do so would be a mortal sin IF the person has these thoughts and enjoys “wrestling” with them as described above, or he knows with absolute certainty that Jesus commands against it. However, if he second-guesses himself and thinks along the lines of, “but it would be mean to stop being somebody’s friend for selfish reasons,” then that would be a venial sin.

I hope you can draw an analogy between the example I provide and whatever situation you have in mind. If not, please let me know.

Thank you for your reply, Edarlitrix. Sorry that my second post was confusing. Here is what I was trying to say: If I am not mistaken, the Church teaches that willingly putting oneself in a near occasion of sin is a sin in and of itself, but certain serious reasons can allow a person to voluntarily enter the near occasion of sin lawfully. The “some reason or another” in the first post is not such a serious reason that would do that. I believe that the Church also teaches that there are certain things which are always near occasions of sin to everyone or nearly everyone, such as porn. The situation described in the first post is not one of those things but something that just happens to cause impure thoughts for a particular person which just came up randomly without notice.

Yes, you did answer my question. Thank you. I would appreciate any more thoughts, or opinions.

Segregate yourself as much as possible from the impure thoughts and the occasion of sin. If that means changing jobs, do it. The problem with constantly remaining close to the near-occasion of sin is that it ultimately becomes an occasion of sin. Every human has his or her price, period. Remember that show, Temptation Island, where engaged couples were “tested” by having to go on “dates” with very seductive people in seductive situations, and were rewarded monetarily for not cheating? Every single one of them cheated. Every one of them. One couple got in trouble because they didn’t reveal ahead of time (as was required) that they had a kid together, and the show required this because they intended to bring every single contestant to the breaking point where they would, indeed, cheat. They knew they would break up couples but didn’t want to break up families.

So, in the short term, you can remain in a near-occasion to sin if there is a valid reason for it; for example, if you are ministering to a person you find very attractive, you can complete your ministry but should do whatever you can to lessen temptation - minister alongside another minister or with your priest or a nun, or refer the person to a counselor. I have worked with some female coworkers I’ve found to be nearly-irresistible, and I try to conduct most of my business with them over the phone or email. I NEVER let them come into my office by themselves and certainly never have the door closed (it’s smart for a man not to be in a room with a woman alone at work anyway - stupid allegations can arise and it looks improper to begin with), and once or twice I’ve asked to be reassigned from project teams because I felt that our work friendship was getting to be too personal.

One other thought - distraction. Temptation can yield when you distract yourself, at least in the short term. Over the longer term, though, there is only one way to conquer temptation and that is to turn that part of your life over to the Lord and ask His intervention, blessing and conquest. We are supposed to conquer our baser desires and put to death the sinful nature we carry; we can only do that because of the Son, Jesus Christ, who gives Himself continually for us on the Cross (and to us in the Eucharist), and we do it through the Holy Spirit, who is our advocate. There is a reason why those who are full of the Spirit are like the wind - moving too quickly for Satan to keep up.

(Aside from the near occasion of sin), unwanted thoughts–usually called intrusive thoughts–are very hard to control. The harder you try not to think of them, the more you think of them. It’s a paradox of how the brain functions. In my opinion, a person with intrusive thoughts shouldn’t be held accountable for them as long as he makes an effort to dispel them.

If a particular near occasion of sin causes you to be tempted to sin gravely, then you must keep yourself away from that near occasion of sin lest you be guilty of two mortal sins. Even though that near occasion of sin may not be a near occasion of sin for others, it still is for you. So if you put yourself in that near occasion of sin which could cause you to sin gravely (as it has in the past), then your putting yourself in that near occasion of sin when it could have been avoided would be a mortal sin on your part, even if you had only been tempted to gravely sin. God bless you.

Good advice to read. . . :slight_smile: Hello ready!

‘He who loveth danger shall perish in it’.

One needs to pray short repeated prayers, preferably aloud, if one is involuntarily in a situation of temptation. Such as, ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, protect us.’ But one must fly from them and one must work on the interior life to hate rather than desire what is in them. Fundamentally one must reject, hate, not wish for these desires. It is death, the flesh, the opposite of life what is within them.

He who loveth danger as the saint says ‘is justly abandoned’. And this is easily found to be true by anyone who persists in staying in danger and does not remove from it, but instead tries to stay in it with the illusionary idea idea of being faithful still. When God requires one to go elsewhere, or not go someplace, you must go elsewhere. What one is forbidden to desire, one must not desire. What one is forbidden to do, one must not do. One must not quibble.

'The spiritual masters point out many remedies for the vice of impurity; but the principal and the most necessary are the flight of occasions, and prayer. As to the first means, St. Philip Neri used to say that in this warfare cowards, that is, they that avoid dangerous occasions, gain the victory. Let a man use all other possible means, unless he flies away he is lost. He that loveth danger shall perish in it.

As to the second means, it is necessary to know that we have not strength to resist temptations of the flesh. This strength must be the gift of God. But God grants it to those only that pray and ask for it. The only defence against this temptation, says St. Gregory of Nyssa, is prayer.’

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

‘“It is not,” says St. Francis de Sales, “the seeing of objects so much as the fixing of our eyes upon them that proves most pernicious.” “If,” says St. Augustine, “our eyes should by chance fall upon others, let us take care never to fix them upon any one.” Father Manareo, when taking leave of St. Ignatius for a distant place, looked steadfastly in his face: for this look he was corrected by the saint. From the conduct of St. Ignatius on this occasion, we learn that it was not becoming in religious to fix their eyes on the countenance of a person even of the same sex, particularly if the person is young. But I do not see how looks at young persons of a different sex can be excused from the guilt of a venial fault, or even from mortal sin, when there is proximate danger of criminal consent. “It is not lawful,” says St. Gregory, “to behold what it is not lawful to covet.” The evil thought that proceeds from looks, though it should be rejected, never fails to leave a stain upon the soul. Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.’

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

‘To abstain from sinful actions is not sufficient for the fulfillment of God’s law. The very desire of what is forbidden is evil.’

St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle

Occasion of sin is not sin.where in the Catechism does it say sin ? Sin is only sin when theres full knowledge & complete consent(mortal). Nobody uses occasion of sin anymore because it leads to baseless scruples & irrationale.

Yes we use the term near occasion of sin. Such is perennial and will remain so. Not doing away with the reality of a near occasion of sin.

It depends on what one means. There are all sorts of* remote* occasions in life…all sorts of possible good things that one can do --where there is a possibility that some temptation may come. We would have to avoid many good things in life to avoid all those --and maybe knock ourselves unconscious…

(not saying here one does not still seek to avoid such often…one judges prudently such things)

Certainly one is to avoid the *near occasion *of mortal sin.

We are obliged to avoid “near occasions” of mortal sin (usually the focus is on such in this sort of question).

A near occasion of mortal sin is such where one would generally falls into mortal sin – or is what is likely to cause one to commit a particular mortal sin now. Due to the nature of thing itself or ones particular weakness.

Though there can at times be good reasons to be in them…ones confessor can guide one (necessary occasions…which one still tries to make more remote…)

What I say is the Church’s teaching. Seek out the Baltimore Catechism and see what it says. God bless you.

There can be a bit more of a nuance here…(I would not quite say that…such may be the case but not necessarily).

also my post above.

No. Not necessarily.

For mortal sin there needs to be grave matter, full knowledge and complete consent.
We are obliged to avoid “near occasions” of mortal sin (usually the focus is on such in this sort of question).

A* near occasion of mortal sin *(remote occasions are often all around…) is such where one generally falls into mortal sin – or is what is likely to cause one to commit a particular mortal sin now. Due to the nature of thing itself or ones particular weakness.

One’s confessor can guide one. It may be good to discuss with him your particular question.

More on unwanted thoughts:

All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…

the fact that a though happened to one- does not mean per se there was any sin.

And for mortal sin one needs not only grave matter, but full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…

(And some need some medical/professional assistance in this area…such as medication etc and often a regular confessor )


For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it -you did not want to think of an apple.

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come…do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working …etc)

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a hissing goose or a barking dog. One does not stop to argue with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…and at most laughs at them…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

oh-- I see this is back from June…so i guess we should let this thread rest.

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