Priest says Lust is not a sin

I went to confession yesterday and the priest said that lust is not a sin at all. At first I think he was under the impression that I was married and perhaps he assumed I was “lusting” after my wife, but I corrected him and told him that I was in fact not married.

He still persisted and said that it’s not bad. Sexuality and lust is a gift from God, that the sexual energy and power of it is a good thing.

Then I quoted Jesus where he says “Whoever looks at a woman with lust, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The priest told me that I was reading that out of context. He said that we need to appreciate sexual energy and its power, accept it, so that we can use it in the proper way.

I’m not sure what to make of this. He even made me thank God in the confessional for sexual energy. What do you guys think?

He is wrong.

I figured, it did not sound right, especially when other priests have not bothered to correct me that this is not a sin. It’s even apart of the seven deadly sins!

Anyway, he absolved me of my sins. Is my confession valid?

Also, I went out with a friend for coffee last night and was literally surrounded by a lot of women in this part of town and it being summer, they were dressed immodestly I would say. I looked at them, I tried not to focus on their bodies so much but sometimes my eyes would glance over. I did not think of any sexual thoughts, but my eyes and attention kept gravitating toward them. Is what I did wrong and considered lust or just basic attraction?

It kind of sounds to me as though the priest may have been speaking from a particular perspective or thought process that made his comments seem rational to him. But it sounds to me like you have a decent handle on the issue so I wouldn’t worry much. Certainly, sexuality is a gift from God and like all gifts, we must use it responsibly. Lust, like anger, etc. is an emotion which isn’t necessarily good or evil by itself as an impulse, but rather we we allow it to manifest.

As a married man:

I may find a woman attractive – Ok so she is
I allow my mind to fixate on her – mmm, hang on
I start imagining immodest things – whoa, better get rid of that.
I decide to engage her in dialogue to feed my impulses – Dangerous ground, get to confession before this gets worse !!!

Maybe the priest thought that you were battling with scrupulosity ? I don’t know, its possible, I can’t read his thoughts so we shouldn’t assume he is off his rocker. Either way, the confession is licit.

He said that we need to appreciate sexual energy and its power, accept it, so that we can use it in the proper way.

This is true, but lust is not the proper way.

It’s one of the seven deadly sins for a reason, you know!

Sexuality and sexual energy and desire for sexual union with another is not a sin.

Inappropriate pursuit of sex (whether by oneself or with others) outside of marriage is sinful.

Sex is good not bad.

Sexual attraction is good not bad.

Sex outside marriage is out of order, disordered.

Your posting history indicates that you suffer from scrupulosity of some severity. I would suggest that you obediently follow the advice of your confessor and/or spiritual director and not try to second-guess whether they are wrong when they give you advice. Certainly, seek out a priest you can trust to fill these roles for you, but your trust should be complete, or you will suffer worse and worse from your disorder.

I think it is fair to say that this Scripture quote has Christ speaking about impure thoughts willingly entertained. This is a far cry from fleeting sexual thoughts which are dismissed or ignored. It is definitely possible to look at a woman and admire her feminine form without raping her in your mind. Do you see the distinction?

Yes, 100% Valid confession. You said what you had to say. Another thing is a priest not knowing what hes talking about.

It may be a matter of miscommunication. Lust is a word that has a theological meaning (disordered sexual desire) and a more common colloquial meaning (strong sexual desire). If people are discussing lust without clearly identifying which particular meaning of the word they intend, the conversation can quickly become confused.

TheHolyGhost, in your second post in this thread you indicate that the distinctions between these two meanings is not clear for you. It may be that the priest was trying to help you understand that sexual desire is not sinful per se, but the two of you were not understanding each other very well.

Either way, the confession was valid.

We cannot lust after any person period. And the only persons who may intertain sexual desires are married people and they may have this desire only for one another. And this is not Lust for them. It becomes Lust when single people or married people are entertaining such desires and/or thoughts about people they are not married to. And John Paul II said even married people could have Lust for one another. I don’t know the context in which that would occur since I am not married and since I am not a moral theologian.

Inappropriate pursuit of sex (whether by oneself or with others) outside of marriage is sinful.

Sex is good not bad.

Sexual attraction is good not bad.

Sex outside marriage is out of order, disordered.

In the case of last night, I did not willing entertain sexual thoughts about the women as I had coffee with my friend. My attention was strongly drawn to their presence and their bodies but I tried not to let myself become focused on that. I tried to “move along” mentally as they walked in and out of the coffee shop all night.

However, before that when I went to confession this priest had me thinking. Now that I recall he is not the only priest to have said that lust isn’t a sin. And by lust, I am thinking of thoughts willingly entertained about people who are not my spouse. Sometimes I do consent to these thoughts, as eventually they get the better of me and I give in. My body gravitates towards sexual thoughts and lust (maybe my mind has become corrupted and perverted) but since I want to be a disciple of Christ, my spirit does not want to consent to this.

This priest is wrong. Jesus Said:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘you shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30).

Maybe he was concerned about you obsessing over lust being a sin.
He does have a point about the goodness of creation, and with that our human desires.
It is either Augustine or Aquinas (or both) who speak of how desires are supposed to point us to God, but we have somehow content ourselves with the lesser manifestations of His goodness and beauty (and thus end up sinning).
Perhaps he was hoping to give you a sense of moving on to practice love and virtue, versus getting stuck in obliterating the stain of lust.
Well, that’s how I’d try to make sense of it, as I try to say that somehow both of you are right… and maybe now, I’m right, too :smiley:

Forgive me if I sound uncharitable, but you should not be doubting the advice a prest give you in confession; especially, it is inappropriate to discuss it publically outside of confession with lay persons.
When you are in Confession, the Priest is there representing Christ. Would you doubt Christ, and put His advice up to public debate?
Public discussion of problematic advice in the Confessional may ease the psyche of an individual, but it also gives tons of ammunition to anti-Catholics who view it.
I strongly suggest that you make an appointment to see a Priest outside of the Confessional. Copy this thread and bring i with you. You should also get a referral from the Priest for a Catholic Psycholigal Counsellor or Psychiatrist to address your serious problem with scrupulosity.

ἐπιθυμῆσαι epithumēsai translated as lust doesn’t always or exclusively or even most of the time have a sexual connotation:

Greek-English Concordance for ἐπιθυμέω

Luke 15:16: He longed (epethumei | ἐπεθύμει | imperf act ind 3 sg) to be fed with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything.

Luke 16:21: who longed (epithumōn | ἐπιθυμῶν | pres act ptcp nom sg masc) to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. But instead, the dogs used to come and lick his sores.

Matthew 5:28 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed (epethumēsan | ἐπεθύμησαν | aor act ind 3 pl) to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.

Acts 20:33: I (epethumēsa | ἐπεθύμησα | aor act ind 1 sg) have (epethumēsa | ἐπεθύμησα | aor act ind 1 sg) not coveted (epethumēsa | ἐπεθύμησα | aor act ind 1 sg) anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

You are going to have to be very specific, and I don’t mean publicly on the Internet, but I mean in the confessional, when you speak of lust and impure thoughts and sexual desires with your confessor. Because there can be a wide spectrum of thoughts that are acceptable and thoughts that cross the line.

I often admire the feminine form of strangers or actresses and I can look for a good long time without even the slightest impure thought actually even crossing my mind. I do not allow myself to become aroused and I do not violate the chastity of these ladies in my thoughts, because those would be clear mortal sins for me. I do not feel that a gaze of admiration is anything to be ashamed of. However, I often confess a venial sin of objectifying women. I know well that my first thought should not be about a woman’s body, but it is a subconscious tendency that I have to appraise them physically to the detriment of personality or intelligence. But I do not think it is advisable or even possible for any person to abolish all thoughts of sex from his or her conscious, because, well, what can I say: it is a gift from God. There is a girl on the bus who is too young for me but has a marvelous head of long red hair. I consider it a gift from God when she rides and I can admire her hair and I can assure you that I don’t have the slightest inclination to sleep with her or undress her with my eyes or make a rude comment. I have a favorite actress and I must say that I am more attracted to her personality than anything else. But when I look at her and hear her voice I am overjoyed because she is the most beautiful thing to me - other than the Eucharist - and I thank God that she is a wholesome person who has found a great husband and had three children in a committed marriage. For quite a while my thoughts about her were persistent and obsessive, and I cured myself of this by mentally apologizing to her husband for my lust, and eventually the thoughts subsided to a manageable level.

Yes, I struggle with sins of a sexual nature, and in my past there are many mortal sins, but I promise that with a good confessor and a cultivated love for the Eucharist, you can overcome any mortal sin whatsoever, and it will never have a hold on you again.

Lust is one of the Seven Deadly sins,

i’d say ask a priest ,but you wouldn’t listen to him anyhow :shrug:

No offense taken and I hope I do not sound uncharitable in response, but not everything a priest says is always going to be correct. Not all priests are good or are orthodox in their beliefs and teachings, sadly. I once had a priest tell me in confession that masturbation was not a mortal sin, when this is directly contradictory to church teaching. So I am generally leary especially when they come out and say things like lust isn’t sinful without me being able to fully comprehend what they’re saying, possibly due to language barrier or otherwise.

Just so we’re clear on what lust is or when it becomes mortally sinful, if I may ask some simple yes or no questions…

-Is looking at a woman’s buttox with no sexual thoughts attached a mortal sin?

-Is looking at a woman’s legs with no sexual thoughts attached a mortal sin?

-Are sexual, dirty thoughts that come to mind a sin automatically? Or does one still have to consent to these?

-If there is absolutely no possibility of sleeping with a woman and the person who is looking is not attempting to chase after her, but is extremely attracted to her appearance and looks (or keeps looking) is that a mortal sin?

-Are sexual thoughts with no intention of chasing after her or no possibility of sleeping with her a mortal sin?

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