Is it progress to go from fornicating to wrestling with lustful thoughts?
I think the word ‘wrestling’ makes it a definite yes. (Even wanting to make progress is progress.) But, gosh, if you’re wrestling, I would think you are not giving full consent to the thoughts. Maybe there’s no mortal sin at all! Keep praying.
I want to add, what is some advice to progress from this?
I don’t suffer from these particular kinds of thoughts, but I do suffer from intrusive, unwanted thoughts of another variety, and this is how I deal with them:
I don’t try to immediately banish the thought. But that’s NOT the same as engaging the thought. Think about it this way. If I tell you to not think of an elephant, you’re going to think about an elephant. But, if you notice that you are thinking of an elephant, try not to beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge that yes, you’ve thought of an elephant. But that doesn’t mean you go from “oh, there’s an elephant,” to “Oh, elephants eat peanuts. There are two kinds of elephants; one lives in Africa, the other lives in Asia. They have trunks. I remember that one time I heard on the Discovery channel that they’re really smart.” That’s engaging the thought and allowing it to take over the brain - interrupting whatever other important things you had going on - this is the path where the thought can become sinful, depending on the nature of it.
So, after you acknowledge, OK, there’s that thought again, then you move on. You can say, “Lord, I’ve had this thought. I know it’s not your will for me to sin in my thoughts,” and begin praying. You can find a distraction of another kind, as well, but I find that prayer is very, very helpful. Find something outside of yourself to focus on instead of your thinking. Maybe if you are lusting after a person you are looking at (and looking away is not an option), you could put your attention on his or her face and think about who they are as a person. If you’re talking to them, you could ask them something about themselves, which diminishes the temptation to see them as an object. Or if you can look away entirely for a moment, you can find something else in the room. I’ve heard a lot of people mention that having a picture of Mary by their computers is an excellent deterrent for the use of pornography.
I hope some of this can be helpful to you. :o
The progression of a temptation is from a thought about it, to consider doing it, to actually doing it.
The advice I’ve always read is that when the thought pops into the mind, distract yourself immediately to something else with out hesitation. This seems to be the best way to handle a temptation. Simply turn the mind’s attention to something else promptly.
When a person starts to consider it, there is a real possibility of saying yes to it.
If once yes is said, then the thought is no longer a temptation but a sin. For sin takes place in the heart. So once yes is said to the desire of it, then a wrong has been done, even tho the person may decide right after saying yes to doing it, to refrain from doing it.
That is definitely progress. By fornication a person pulls another person into mortal sin. That is much worse than a person committing mortal sin on their own. You know that your work is not over yet on this. There is more you must do (removing lustful thoughts), but you must always have hope that God will free you from sin. Trust in God.
Do not be overly anxious over this. Remember, you can’t control random thoughts popping in your head. What you can control is your reaction to those thoughts. As soon as you realized you were having thoughts of lust, did you put it out of your mind? If no, you accepted it for some amount of time, however short, and that’s a mortal sin. If yes, it would be a venial sin. It is still a grave sin, so make sure to confess these.
What has worked for me to lessen lustful thoughts is to pray to God every night. Ask Him to make clear to you that any person you look on is a child of God, a holy temple to treat with respect, just as you would treat your own body. It is one thing to know how you should feel, it is another to truly feel it. This takes time. Pray every day, multiple times if you have time. In addition, every time you have a lustful thought about a person, direct your thoughts toward true love of the person. If they are married, pray that they have a happy, fulfilling, and fruitful marriage. If they are single, you can also pray that they will find that special person to get married. If they are a porn actor/actress, pray that they find a another way to support themselves, and to also have a fulfilling marriage (not be used as they currently are).