Is it ever possible to look at porn and it not be mortal sin? Quite probably not. But I thought I’d ask.


Nope. Porn is porn, looking at it is a mortal sin. Period.

Yes. If you’re in law enforcement and doing an investigation.

Sure! As a college professor I had a colleague who was deep studying human sexuality address my class. Anyway he began the talk by showing several pornographic film clips. I do not think that I sinned by my watching it, or my allowing the class to view it.

In the catechism we get our very very short course in moral theology:

Three things must be present for something to be a mortal sin.

***1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.***

The act of looking at pornography, I would say, is not intrinsically evil; it is, however, an incredibly dangerous occasion of sin for any person, no matter how holy. This is because pornography shows the naked body and various sex acts not in a natural or proper way, but for the very purpose of inciting lust.

As such, there are very, very few occasions in which the viewing of pornography can be condoned, because there are very few occasions in which the purpose for viewing it is other than for the satisfaction of lustful desires.

I would say that even the case presented by post #4 is one in which there was a serious danger of the viewing of pornographic clips inciting lust. The showing of such clips to an audience, even for “educational” purposes, cannot be condoned on pretext of studying human sexuality, because porn does not show human sexuality in a natural way, but in a disordered, disgusting matter which rips human sexuality from its sanctity.

Certainly video material can be used in studying human sexuality, given the proper context and that the video material is not engineered to elicit lust. Pornography is the worst possible matter for such “educational” purposes.

What about taking ‘lustful’ or ‘bedroom pictures’ of your own spouse when you are in a healthy and normal marriage?

Is it sinful to take nudes of a sexual nature if the only one who is intended to see such pictures is your own spouse? For ‘some couples’ (anonymity requested) camera play may be an activity that leads up to the marital act. It’s certainly possible that such photos could fall into the ‘wrong eyes’, sure-- but isn’t that true of any confidential document or private thing? Now that we have digital cameras and computers with which to view these pictures, there is no need to worry that a photo processing person is going to see something inappropriate… just like the Polaroids of not too many years ago.

If the intention is simply to have a fun and erotic photo session between husband and wife that happens to lead to the marital act, is it sinful to create ‘do-it-yourself’ erotica? After all, God does mean for the marital act to be pleasurable and fun as well as fruitful. If a couple’s idea of marital fun involves a camera… is that bad? :confused:

St. John Paul II talked about the sinfulness of lusting after your own wife, but I’m not sure about the citation. It is very wrong to objectify a spouse or lust after them as it is the desire for sexual gratification and not authentic love that is due the spouse.

Depends on your own interpretation of just what porn is,
Watching naked people make a coffee on television ? Would that be porn ?
Watching a naked refugee starving to death , I would consider that as porn…

tried and true test - would you be able to share the movie or home pics with Jesus? If you could truly share it with him, it’s OK.

Even within a marriage lust is still a sin.

That makes about as much sense as saying are you able to make love with your wife in front of your mother.

Not that I agree with camera’s in the bedroom (that is weird and an objectification).

Now here is where blindness can come in. It seems to me that nudity, sexual attraction, and lust are three different things. Being is a state of grace can really help tear away habit that can blind you to things I find. I’m not quite sure what is meant upthread concerning “unnatural positions”. Positions that incite lust. I know pornography reduces the person. One of the pontiffs said, “Pornography’s problem is not that it shows too much but too little.” That does make sense.


There’s people that can do all kinds of weird things. The mind can become twisted. We may find there might actually be mental illness involved some day.


One thing I would not consider porn although nudity IS involved is watching a movie about some South American tribal natives. They just don’t wear many clothes. Some of them anyway. It is their natural habitat, is certainly doesn’t “turn me on” and I watch for educational purposes concerning ancient peoples and there lives and beliefs. Some have Tapirs as pets, and they hunt them too.


What me need to establish is what is ordinate sexual attraction and what is lust.

Getting back to the original post: Think of how bad it would be if viewing porn were always a sin.

How would law enforcement find and prosecute child pornography? How would investigators break up human trafficking?

Murder is always a sin, but there are times when soldier has to fight a just war.

We know how the Church defines lust and it applies outside or inside a marriage.

CCC 2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

That still wouldn’t make it a good thing to freely choose.
Obviously mental illness would reduce imputability…though mental illness may be the consequences of disordered behavious as well.

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