I am a 24 year old male, single, and in desperate need of answers to some questions about sins of sensuality.
I think we can all agree that it is not a sin to purposely look at a pretty girl’s face, even if you are not married to her. And we can all agree that it is a sin to have sex with a girl before marriage. Between these two extremes, somewhere there has to be a line between what is sinful and what is not. After 10-12 years of struggling and constant failure, I have concluded that my only hope for staying out of sin is to hear from an overwhelming number of Catholics where exactly this line lies, so that in times of temptation I will stop adjusting my opinion to suit my desires, but I will have a rock of truth to hold onto. Below I have given a number of scenarios, asking if they are sinful or not sinful. I’ve made up these scenarios to illustrate key concepts that I need to be able to grasp. I need to have clear, unchanging, and unrefutable answers to the scenarios listed below. There can be no gray areas; an action is either a sin or it is not. Answers like “It depends on…” or “I don’t know” are fine, but saying “This is a gray area” will not help me. There is a clear and absolute answer for each scenario, and I appreciate any knowledge that you can offer to help me find these answers. If the traditional Catholic view is different from the modern Catholic view in any situations, please specify.
(If you are not comfortable reading explicit sexual terms, do not read any further.)
Which of the following is a sin, and which is not, and why?
- You look at a modestly dressed girl with a beautiful face and give glory to God for creating such a beautiful girl.
- You look at a modestly dressed girl with a beautiful face to enjoy looking at her beautiful face without having a single thought about God.
- You’ve been in prison and haven’t seen a girl in ten years, and then when you’re released from prison you see a modestly dressed girl with a beautiful face. You look at her beautiful face in awe and give glory to God for creating such a beautiful girl. Because you’ve been deprived for so many years, this simple pleasure causes you to have an erection. You continue to look at her face for another two minutes with a full erection, without having a single unchaste or impure thought about her.
- You look at a modestly dressed girl, and although she is modestly dressed, you are able to identify that she has a very attractive body. You stare at her body in awe for about five seconds, then look away and make an effort to keep her out of your vision and thoughts for the remainder of your time around her. (Were those five seconds sinful?)
- You do the same thing as #4, but continue staring at this modestly dressed girl for several minutes. You successfully repress any unchaste thoughts or desires to do something sinful with her, but you enjoy staring at her.
- You do the same thing as #5, and because you have an unusually low tolerance for sexual pleasure, just looking at this modestly dressed girl gives you an erection, and you continue to look at her.
- You look at an immodestly dressed girl with an attractive body in awe for about five seconds, staring at certain body parts, then look away and make an effort to keep her out of your vision for the remainder of your time around her. During those five seconds, you did not have a single unchaste thought about her, but simply enjoyed staring at her somewhat exposed body. (Were those five seconds sinful?)
- You do the same thing as #7, but continue staring at her for several minutes. You successfully repress any unchaste thoughts or desires to do something sinful with her, but you enjoy staring at her somewhat exposed body.
- You look at an immodestly dressed girl whom you do not find attractive, so looking at her gives you no pleasure whatsoever. You allow yourself to look at her freely without restraint, not because you like it, but because you are in a place where it would take effort to keep her out of your vision, and you neglect to make that effort.
- You watch a movie with nudity, and you decide not to skip over the scenes with nudity. You do not find the naked girl(s) in the movie attractive at all, so you do not enjoy the nudity; you continue watching without restraint only because you’re interested in the plot.
- You have a friend who is a girl and you find her very attractive. While both of you are modestly dressed, you give her a hug and enjoy it.
- You do the same thing as #11, but you have an unusually low tolerance for sexual pleasure and hugging her gives you an erection. You knew beforehand that it would give you an erection, and you did it anyways.
- The girl in #11 and #12 gives you a hug, and you could have pushed her away knowing that it would give you an erection, but you didn’t.
- You stroke your hand through a girl’s hair and don’t especially enjoy it.
- You stroke your hand through an attractive girl’s beautiful hair and enjoy it (without her objection, of course).
- You have an unusually strong attraction for girls’ hair, and you stroke your hand through an attractive girl’s beautiful hair again and again for several minutes, leading to an erection and a great deal of pleasure (without her objection, of course).
(continued below due to length restrictions)