"porn"?

Is looking at women stripping naked in videos considered pornography, or naked photos of women? I wouldn’t say look at these videos/pictures to lust but just appreciate their beauty? Is it not porn because these pictures or videos aren’t considered sexual acts? I know pornography is wrong but is what I have been doing a mortal sin?

On Looking at Girls
By Jimmy Akin
jimmyakin.org/2009/01/appreciating-beauty-vs-concupiscence.html

Posted on Janurary 6, 2009

A reader writes:

This is regarding “looking at girls”.

I am very clear that obviously pornography is a grave matter. I also am clear that deliberately engaging in lustful thoughts, lustful desires, or trying to arouse yourself (outside marriage) with full knowledge and full consent is also mortal sin. Of course thoughts without these aspects are either venial or not a sin.

What I still struggle with is the question of “deliberately looking at an attractive or shapely girl”. And liking to do so.

I had understood that one could deliberately look at an attractive girl and admire her beauty -even the beauty of her form- and that the pleasure one finds in seeing her beauty and shape was not sinful to consent to and one could just ignore any “reactions of concupiscence” that happen.

Of course one must take care …and know yourself …as well as at times use custody of the eyes --particularly if she is very immodestly dressed.

Also that one could even look at a work of art that is nude etc (that is not lustfully done --that shows the dignity of the person) and admire the form and beauty and ignore any “reactions of concupiscence”.

Is this treating a girl as an object? Am I wrong in doing this? Is it sinful?

In this context, treating someone “as an object” mean improperly treating a person as an instrument of sexual gratification and thus not properly recognizing the dignity of the person. There are also other ways one can (non-sexually) “object”-ify a person, e.g., treating a spouse as merely a means of getting certain tasks done (breadwinning, household management, whatever). In general, treating someone merely as a means to an end and not respecting the fundamental dignity of the person results in the objectification of that person. Sexual objectification is just one species in a larger genus.

But you know what doesn’t belong to this genus? Recognizing a person’s good points.

If someone is beautiful or handsome or smart or prudent or a good breadwinner or a good household manager or a good square dance caller or has any other good points, it’s fine to recognize and appreciate those facts. If they are manifest, it would even be contrary to reason not to do so. So recognizing and appreciating the beauty of the human form–in general or in a specific case–is not a sin.

At least you couldn’t guess it from the statues and paintings that the folks at the Vatican have all over the place. They sure seem to be on board with this idea. I mean, just look at the Sistine Chapel! Just look at the Last Judgment! And this is where they elect popes!

So it seems to me that one is on pretty safe ground saying that it’s okay and not-automatically-objectifying if you recognize and appreciate physical beauty or any other good attribute that a person has.

It becomes objectifying if you reduce the person’s worth to just their good or useful qualities. Of course, in the area of appreciating physical beauty–especially of the opposite sex–we have to be careful.

It’s one thing to be looking at a marble statue of a nude woman.

It’s another to be looking at a color photograph of a nude woman.

It’s another yet to be looking at a real live nude woman.

These represent different levels of moral risk, and the greater the peril, the more stringent efforts must be taken to avoid it or escape from it. Because people are different and subject to different levels of temptation, they will have to determine based on their own self-knowledge and personal history what situations are too dangerous for them to allow themselves to be in.

For some–particularly males at a particular stage of life–even looking at artistic representations of nudes may be too much. As normal in risk management–which is what avoiding temptation is, since it’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk of temptation (given the mind’s ability to produce temptation on its own)–one must avoid two extremes: under-estimating the risk that a situation poses and over-estimating it.

(cont.)

For most people the laxist approach is the greater danger, which is why Jesus told us to seek the narrow path. For other people, particularly those subject to scrupulous tendencies, the rigorist approach is a danger. Neither approach is what we are called to.

What one must do is evaluate the risk a particular course of action poses for one and act accordingly. In some cases temptation will arise despite one’s efforts. That’s the nature of risk. As long as the risk isn’t zero–and it never is in this life–sometimes temptation will arise.

The thing to do when that happens is relax, ignore the temptation, and move on to something else. The “relax” part is important, because if one allows oneself to become anxious about temptation then it only reinforces the temptation. Temptation is deprived of its power if you refuse to get anxious about it and simply move on.

Because I’m not the reader, I can’t say precisely what courses of action are too risky in his case, but I can say that it’s not sinful to simply recognize and appreciate beauty. (As opposed to dwelling on or studiously contemplating the details of a particular person’s physical form, which is going to increase risk.) I can say that it is not sinful to be exposed to any and all levels of non-zero risk. (Zero risk of temptation is impossible in this life.)

And I can say that if he tries to instantly avert his eyes from every single pretty girl he sees then he will foster an anxiety about temptation that will actually feed the temptation he is seeking to minimize. The better thing to do is avoid situations that are known to be dangerous (i.e., that pose a significant risk of significant temptation) and to otherwise relax and move on when temptation does appear.

I do become aroused when this happens but I never think I want to do something sexually with them it’s just wow they are beautiful. Is this still mortal?

Are you married to any of these women? Dating them?

How do you know they are not someone else’s wife? Someone else’s daughter? Could you tell a woman’s well-armed father the things you said here?

How old are you?

If the woman in question are married, then they are committing the greater sin. The father should punish, not catholif4life, but them.

:shrug:

Are you saying a man should punish his adult daughter if she sins? :confused::rolleyes:

:frowning:
Not always. In scenarios where the natural consequences are enough to prevent the child from doing something again, the parents wouldn’t need to provide further punishment by taking away the child’s phone, or grounding him or her.

For example, you step into your daughter’s room to find her posting sexually immoral pictures online. When you find that she enjoys this venture, you discipline her accordingly.

However, if you step into her room to find that she’s weeping vibrantly, and, upon questioning her, find that she was posting sexually immoral pictures online for a few months, and that some perverts made use of those photos for personal gain, then you wouldn’t need to discipline your daughter; she has already realized the fruits of her deeds via causation.

:hmmm:
In regards to his thread’s opening post, I’d say that the woman whose photos cathif4life is eyeing are in fact committing the greater sin, simply because they are leading cathif4life, and possibly many others, into occasions of sin.

Faxero, it does not matter who commits a “greater” sin here. In this fallen world, there will always be men and women willing to debase themselves in front of a camera, for free or even for money. And there will always be people who are eager to look in with a voyeuristic tendency. All of these people are committing sins of some kind, and we need to speak out about both types of sin, but the OP is struggling with the latter tendency, and we do not know who his subjects are, and so we cannot reach them adequately to share the Gospel with them and invite them to live a life of chastity. However, we can do this with the OP. So I don’t think it serves the OP well to tell him his sin is lesser than someone else’s, someone we do not know, and someone he does not know other than a visual engagement in the way that only married couples should behave.

Unchastity is grave matter. The OP should definitely consider bringing this behavior up in the confessional so that he can receive guidance, and if necessary, absolution.

There are many great resources on the Internet for those seeking chastity. Matt Fradd is an inspirational speaker and writer. Chastity.com is sponsored by Catholic Answers, so this could be your one-stop shopping. Also look up the P.O.R.N. Militia on Twitter, and the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. These should be great resources for you all who struggle with this insidious tendency.

Try not to fool yourself satan does that enough. If you play with fire you will likely get burned. Stay away from nude photos because that sounds like an occasion of sin just waiting to happen, but mostly “to thine own self be true.”

Exactly. Do not put yourself into these near occasions of sin as it will then be easier to actually commit the sin. When these near occasions happen, do not look at them, do not think about them, remove yourself from the situation and pray.

Yes it is porn, and appreciating their beauty usually leads to lust, why do you think the figure skating thread was closed?

I guess I was confusing the two scenarios, one where a woman is married, the other where she’s not married and is living at home with her parents.

The fact that it occurred to you to come here and ask the question is telling. There must be something about it that gives you the sense that it is wrong, otherwise why ask?

It was closed because it was an old thread. Reviving old threads is against CAF rules.

In my opinion, ‘porn’ is dependent on the reasons the person is seeking out or looking at the images in the first place, if they are doing it purely to get aroused and to see something sexual, or to masturbate to, then YES, its porn, but if the person is viewing a piece of art, or statue that shows male/ female genitalia, and appreciating for the beauty of the art/ Gods creation, then that is NOT porn.

God created us so we can and should appreciate the beauty of his creations, which include the male and female bodies, I am a male and find the female body very beautiful, however in modern times, its hard to separate simply appreciating Gods ‘handi work’ versus getting aroused or lusting after the female in the image, I know many times, people will look at an image of a naked female body, and suddenly lust after the women, start thinking about what sex with them would be like…its tough not to, but it becomes really bad when and if we act on those feelings too, I dont think its sinful to lust in that way if its left at that and forgotten about later on, but would be sinful if that person keeps that image in their mind and then starts seeking out casual sex to satisfy their cravings.

There is no essentially sinful component in the acts you describe. Probably those acts entail sin by most users, however, the vast majority of times they occur.

Here are most of the potential avenues for sin:

[LIST]
willful harm
lust/concupiscence
objectification/reduction/depersonalization
near occasion of sin
betraying a trust
selfishness (time spent better elsewise)
inducement
scandal
cooperation with evil (secondary effects)
dishonoring womanhood/God’s creation
[/LIST]

If your viewing activity passes all these tests, then it should be fine. If not, and we’re not talking about the first three (intrinsically evil), then there had better be a proportionate reason for the viewing in order to satisfy the dangers or likely sinfulness of the other potential sins. For example, if you are a recovering sexaholic, and you find that a nude art class helps you achieve a proper framework and/or purity in your struggles against internet pornography, then it COULD be justified even if there is potential scandal or a slight near occasion of sin.

To comment briefly on each of the avenues for sin:

  1. Harm - if you wish to directly harm someone by a pornographic action, this is the worst sin.
  2. Lust - wanting God’s creation for yourself, rejecting God’s lordship, intense selfishness
  3. Objectification - denying one’s personhood (JP’s “subjectivity”) for your own ends
  4. Near Occasion of Sin - our job to resist the devil and flee temptation; if you’re pure, at least to the extent you practice the act, no problem here. Judge yourself carefully, and a prudent man is risk averse (but see above, sometimes the risks are justified). Pornography can be very addictive.
  5. Betraying a trust - maybe the viewing is ok, but it would cause too much hurt in a loved one (spouse) who is not understanding yet
  6. Selfishness - spending countless hours on this? don’t you have other responsibilities?
  7. Inducement - are you directly leading another to sin or to near occasion (without intent, in which case would be #1)?
  8. Scandal - same thing, only indirectly with third parties who hear about your activities
  9. Cooperation with evil - does your viewing habit give any aid to people who will likely exploit others who are vulnerable; are all actors and producers and broadcasters subjectively innocent?
  10. Dishonoring womanhood - (also manhood) some depictions are potentially permissible on an objective analysis but the potential for appeal to the prurient interest is too great

Beyond these, there is also potential sacrilege of the Eucharist and taking the sacrament of confession for granted (presumption).

A sexual impulse alone beyond the pleasure of viewing naked beauty seems healthy enough and acknowledges that part of the subject’s gift, but once noted, the viewer must move on; the danger for lust is too great.

Refusing to view a beautiful naked body just because it is naked is also potentially dangerous too, so it is best to keep an open mind, assessing the dangers of each. A flat refusal might be a rejection of God’s order, a part of which is beauty, a danger of rejecting the gift of beauty, a danger of over-prioritizing the spirit (yes it’s more important, but not infinitely so) over the body, and a sad loss of perfection. Because of our sinful nature, prudence might always mandate not viewing, but closemindedness is bad.

Because we no longer live in Christendom where it was much easier to flee temptation, instead living in a secular world with many ways to access the Internet, I would strongly argue that is is incumbent upon all noncloistered Catholics, as a matter of prudence, to learn purity even if it readily risks the near occasion of sin. Go to the beach or nude art museum, and don’t be afraid. Yes, it is risky, but to not do so may be riskier for some people. Talk to a spouse or trusted Catholic friend about these issues. If you sin, confess and be healed. But try to study the theology of the body and learn to see as God sees. God created man in his image and it is very good.

A man is being appreciative of a woman’s beauty whenever he treat her as he would his own flesh-and-blood sister. These words ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ are more than just a fancy title; they are a direct representation of how we should aim to treat each member of the opposite gender that is not our husband or wife.

The more you cease to view a woman for whatever carnal satisfaction you can extract from her, the more you will gain the privilege of falling in love with her, either as a wife or if not, as a beloved sister, and her company will fill you with happiness, and seeing her happy will make you all the happier.

Deliberately ruminating on lustful thoughts is an act of malice against the woman and is a grave matter. When these thoughts come to you, you must turn to prayer.

Prayer is an infinitely powerful resource that God has provided for us. We have a line to the Court of Heaven whenever and wherever we want.

" I dont think its sinful to lust in that way if its left at that and forgotten about later on, but would be sinful if that person keeps that image in their mind and then starts seeking out casual sex to satisfy their cravings"

Lust is defined as (unbridled sexual desire, lasciviousness,) All lust is inappropriate. Desiring to share your love for your wife through licit relations with her is one thing, but to lust for anything can lead to uncontrollable desires which objectify and destroy logical reasoning often leading to sinful thoughts and behavior.

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