I just committed a mortal sexual sin, and I feel very afraid in case I go to hell. (I am not yet a Catholic but I find the Catholic teaching on salvation compelling.) Afterwards I wasted time on the Internet and put off saying sorry to God and repenting. It was only when it dawned on me that the longer I put it off, the more chance there is that the contrition will be imperfect, that I finally started to pray for forgiveness.
Normally once I’ve confessed a grave sin to God, I don’t feel scared because I am confident that I’m sorry mainly merely because of having sinned against God rather than for the consequences of my soul, but this time is very different. I feel very anxious and scared and I feel like I might have serious trouble sleeping tonight. This in turn doesn’t help me to be perfectly contrite.
However, I do think I have a good understanding of why what I did was wrong. I understand that masturbation is wrong because I am sinning against the body for which Jesus paid the ultimate price, violating and abusing the temple of the Holy Spirit, and presenting the parts of my body, which God created, to the devil for the purpose of sin. There is also C.S. Lewis’ explanation, that it is using your sexuality, the purpose of which is to complete your personality in someone else, purely for your own pleasure. I understand that lust and pornography are sins because you are abusing people and treating them as objects rather than subjects, and perverting the beautiful gift of sexuality, intended to foment unity between husband and wife and to lead to the procreation of children. And you’re committing adultery in your heart. You’re trying to have the pleasure of sex without the effort and cost of lifelong love and commitment towards your spouse and your children.
If I understand, appreciate and truly believe that the sins that I do are wrong, does that mean that I am perfectly contrite even if the fear feels much more intense than the guilt? Is there a difference between feelings and motivation? I suppose mere understanding is not sufficient. Even the devil understands very well why things are wrong; he just doesn’t care. I do care, but that doesn’t mean I care for the right reasons. In the past I think I mostly have.
Another question: Since we have free will, can a person choose to be in a state of perfect contrition, or if you’re in a state of imperfect contrition, is there effectively no way out? When I’m not sure which I’m in, I ask God to bring me to a state of perfect contrition if I’m not already in one, and I try to read the Bible, pray and think deeply about why what I’ve done is wrong so that I will gain that state. But if I’m doing it all out of fear, then that means I’m still in a state of imperfect contrition.