Pornography and reading?

Okay here is the thing, I know I shouldn’t be telling random strangers on the internet my age, but let’s just say I’m below 16 but above the age of 12
I have a few questions, I have been thinking about this for a long time and in the end I don’t know if it’s a mortal sin. Okay so around the age of 5 or 6 I started masturbating, I know, it’s horrible. I didn’t know it was a sin, especially a mortal sin back then and it turned into a habit. Until I was around the age of 10 or 11 I found out it was a sin, but I didn’t know it was a mortal sin, so I kept on doing it, but now I know and I have COMPLETELY stopped. But for all those years I’ve been doing it, does that count as a mortal sin? Also pornography I’m embarrassed to say but I have viewed pornography many times but I didn’t know it was a mortal sin until about a year ago, and that’s when I have completely stopped. Does that count as a mortal sin for all those years I’ve watched it?
For my second question, I was reading this story online, and then came this part where it was describing a very sexual scene, is that a mortal sin? It’s not like I was reading the story for the sexual content, I didn’t even know, I was just reading it and then it just came as part of the plot. But I don’t know why I didn’t stop myself from reading. It’s not like I desire that certain character, I wasn’t reading it to stimulate myself or anything, and I am being honest.

Thank you so much.

The gravity of the sin of masturbation can be reduced to a venial sin, depending on your circumstances.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."137 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."138

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, **one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability. **

If you were not aware of committing a mortal sin, then you did not fulfill all of the conditions necessary for a mortal sin.

A mortal sin, as distinct from a venial sin, must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter;
  1. it must be committed with full knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense (though nobody is deemed to be ignorant of the moral law, embedded into the consciences of every human being);
  1. it must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.

You’re hardly the first in this situation, and you certainly won’t be the last.

If you honestly aren’t aware of the sinful nature of an act–if you had no reasonable means of knowing that it was a sin, and your conscience wasn’t setting off any warning bells–then it is impossible for sin to exist in the act. In those circumstances, it’s not only not a mortal sin; it’s not a sin at all.

This seems to happen on a fairly regular basis with masturbation; a child starts doing it at a very young age, before they’ve been educated about anything sexual by their parents, finds that it feels very good, and gets into a habit. This leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and very difficult temptations later on in life. In fact, the really impressive part about your story is that you stopped immediately. Most people I’ve heard of can’t manage that, and they find themselves in a very difficult position through little fault of their own.

The same holds true of pornography: if you don’t know it’s a sin and you couldn’t be reasonably expected to know, then it is not a sin. However, I am more suspicious of this. It seems to me that pornography is a bit like stealing–it’s just something that you know is wrong as soon as you see it. But maybe this is not your case. Only you can truly know whether or not you were willfully ignoring your conscience or not.

In the final case… pornography is a very tricky thing. As I understand the teaching, it really depends on (1) what your intent was in reading the story (were you reading because you wanted to read a cute romance fic with your favorite anime characters, or were you out looking for something to get you sexually excited?), (2) how pornographic it actually was, (3) whether or not the story threatened your own personal chastity (i.e. did it inspire unclean thoughts or temptations later on?), and (4) if it did damage your chastity, were you aware of this and did you keep going anyway (that is, did you persist in the damage even after your ignorance disappated)? The answers to these questions can make reading a particular work a mortal sin, a venial sin, an honest mistake, or even morally acceptable (for mature adults, which you are not).

So I wouldn’t be worried about going to Hell. However, there’s no reason not to go to Confession anyways and get this stuff sorted out with a priest and definitively absolved. So that’s my advice: don’t worry too much, but (especially since it’s bothering you so much) get to Confession as soon as possible (this weekend if you can manage it) and put it all firmly in your past.

Hope that was helpful. Good luck, and God Bless!

P.S. The “below 16 and above 12” trick is an old one (especially on FanFiction.net), and it usually means that you’re 13. In the future, I’d suggest that, for your own protection, you merely refer to yourself as “a young woman” in online situations like this one, or don’t refer to your age at all.

I would like to thank JPUSC and Wowbagger for replying :slight_smile:

I don’t know if this makes my case any different but, I knew watching pornography was a sin, but I didn’t realize it was a mortal sin. When I found out it was a mortal I immediately stopped. So I’m guessing for that one it’s a venial sin?

When I was reading the fic/story I thought it was just like any other random story. It didn’t give a warning that there was going to be lemons (sexual content) or anything. As I was reading the story the scene just came up as part of the plot. I wasn’t looking for something that was going to get my sexually excited, I was honestly reading the story because the summary seemed interesting and it didn’t make me think of dirty things later on. When it got to the scene, I continued reading it until the chapter was finished. But I wasn’t sure if it was a mortal sin or not and I was extremely paranoid.

Incidentally, you should report the story. Last I checked, lemons are still a violation of FF.net’s terms of service, and this is especially enforced if there’s no lemon warning on the front.

There should be a report button somewhere. Hopefully no one else will accidentally end up reading it.

…I feel somewhat embarrassed that I know so much about fanfic.

Really? that’s strange because FanFiction.Net is filled with lemons…well in the anime section that is.

But back to my question, do you think I have committed a mortal sin? like even though I knew watching pornography was a sin (but I didn’t know it was a mortal sin) I still continued to watch it, and I feel horrible, but I’ve stopped.

Why in the world would you be embarrassed by that? :confused: There are actually some extremely talented excellent writers on FF. My husband being one of them. He writes good Catholic fiction based on the Narnia characters. Nothing inappropriate or icky about it. Now that’s not to say there aren’t some really HORRIBLE stuff out there, but don’t be embarrassed when there is no need to be. It all depends on what you are reading. :wink:

Now – back to the OP. :slight_smile:

Years ago I was totally hooked on a fiction series called The Earth’s Children, the first book is Clan of the Cave Bear which most people have heard of. They were totally addictive novels. But the sex scenes are extremely graphic and started causing me problems. So - when I was reading the story and started to come upon one of these scenes I would just totally skip forward until it was over and not read that part. It certainly did not detract from the story to leave it out, and it kept my own mind from going where it didn’t need to go. :wink: I could still enjoy the story and leave out the nasty parts. But this does take a degree of control to know that you won’t go there if you think you will be the very least bit tempted.

I would still read these books, I would just skip past those bits. :slight_smile:

~Liza

Go to Confession and tell the priest. Trust me, he’s heard it all before.

If you knew it was a sin (regardless of what type), and you did it anyway, then yes it is still a sin. Go to Confession and then sin no more. :slight_smile:

~Liza

Yeah, FF.net cleaned out all the lemons, actually, about… mmm… six years ago, I think. They only did it because a particularly evil story involving the Power Rangers, rape, and graphic torture that was posted on FF got discovered by CNN and run on the national news, with the basic message that fan fiction is evil and so is the Internet. FF was so embarrassed that it removed the story, updated its Terms of Service, and did a thorough sweep of the site to eliminate lemons. (This is why there are so few pornographic stories on FF from before 2002/2003.)

Nowadays, FF.net has a fairly small staff, and they generally don’t care about lemons as long as they’re in the M-rated section and nobody complains about them. (Frankly, there’s too much pornography on there for them to be able to clean it all up even if they tried.) Nonetheless, it’s worth reporting the story, because (so I’m told), they will respond to specific complaints and pull down stories in violation of the TOS. (Relevant links: FF TOS, FF Community Guidlines, which say, in part, that FF.net will not accept stories with explicit adult themes.)

Oh, and, yes, the lemons are everywhere. The anime section, the Heroes fandom, the Trekkies (who invented slash in the '70’s… not a proud moment for my fandom… though we also invented fan fiction at about the same time, so that was cool), and even the Kim Possible and Halo sections. It’s shameful, but there it is. Just report what you see and hope the admins do their jobs.

Anyhow, as for whether the porn was a sin: since you knew that pornography was a sin (just not that it was mortal), it could actually be a mortal sin. The Catechism says that, for a sin to be mortal, you have to (1) commit a grave sin, (2) know that it is a sin (full knowledge), and (3) willingly do it anyways (full consent). The exact meanings of “full knowledge” and “full consent” and how they apply in specific circumstances (especially for young people, who are especially prone to sexual sin) have been debated back and forth for centuries. So it’s impossible for me to say with any certainty whether your sin was mortal. It’s probably impossible for anyone to say that, though I’d be happy to be corrected. As I said before, I suggest you err on the side of caution and go to confession right quick.

Hey, lizanne! My girlfriend is actually a huge fanfic’er (mainly over in the obscure Tokyo Mew Mew fandom), so I’ve seen a healthy dose of good writing over there. I can certainly see lots of talent! And, hey, I write my own fanfic of a slightly different sort, so it’s not like I have any grounds to be criticizin’.

It does always sit a bit uneasy with me, though, that so many people–me included–are dedicating so much time, so much energy, so much raw God-given writing talent to writing wee little derivative works that we’ve knocked off from more successful franchises and very few people will ever read (and fewer will respect), instead of going out and writing our own characters and our own universes and generally becoming respectable (and paid!) writers.

That’s the source of my embarrassment, not some false assumption that all fanfic is pornographic. You follow me?

Kind of off topic, but Wowbagger, I’d like to read your girlfriend’s fanfic :). I’m a fan of Tokyo New New :smiley:

Anyways back on topic, I’m planning to go to confession on Easter Saturday because my dad just got out of the hospital and he won’t be able to drive for a few weeks. But anyway I kind of don’t understand something. To commit a grave sin you must commit a grave sin and with full knowledge knowing it was a sin. But because I only knew it was a sin not specifically a mortal sin that can’t be full knowledge can it? I thought it was just as bad as starting rumors or telling little white lies. I never knew it was something that could bring you to hell.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.