That which God knows: A paradox of God's qualities

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that…

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.

God of course is stated as being perfection, and is without sin or any state of disorder. He is also stated to be omnipotent and all knowing . That has lead me to consider this point.

If God does know what lusting for sexual pleasure feels like, then he cannot be all good

If God doesn’t know what lusting for sexual pleasure feels like, then he cannot be all-knowing.

What are your thoughts regarding this? Is there an error in my logic? I’ve not fully thought this through yet as it’s just something that came across my mind today while perusing the CCC collecting references for my next lecture.

Knowing what lust feels like is different than engaging in lust.

I am sure Jesus felt the temptation to lust, but did not consent to it. Thus, He knows what it feels like and what it entails.

That would be my usual expectation, but then I recalled this passage…

If Jesus was without sin, then it was impossible for him to commit adultery. If he cannot commit adultery then he cannot have experience of lust (I know we could take this into the realms of the nature of Jesus but I’m trying to keep it focused on the headline topic).

Theory is one side of knowledge, surely the other is experience of the matter? I know giving birth is painful from the screams, I couldn’t possibly say how painful since I have never given birth.

You dont have to commit adultery to commit lust. You can commit lust simply by “checking out” a girl in a perverse way without action.

I am sure there was a woman or two that was presented before Him in some situation where the devil attempted to persuade Jesus to even look at her wrongly. Jesus knows the feeling, but never went through with it.

Just like a person who gets shot, doesnt have to die to know what it feels like to be shot. It hurts just the same.

He designed the human mind; He knows how we will react, without having had the reaction Himself, per se.


But surely the action is the “checking out” so to speak? Is it not because the “checking out” is an action that Catholics are chastised for immodest dress that inspires the action?

If Jesus knows the feeling, then has experience of sinning, but if he was without sin he couldn’t experience the feeling.

Jesus set quite a specific standard as to what counts as adultery, “anyone who looks at a woman”. You can’t lust without looking, and if he didn’t look he has no full knowledge of lust.

True, that person can recount the feeling of being shot but getting shot is itself not a sin. Also while that person may have have experience of being shot they are still without experience of death.

Possible, I could train my pet dog to stand on his hind legs for the reward of food, but I don’t know how a dog that stands on it’s hind legs for food feels or how it itself comprehends the expectation. I know why it stands on its hind legs, but I have no knowledge of what is going on in the dogs mind.

Thanks for the responses so far guys, promise I’m not trying to bash anything here. I’m just genuinely curious.

If you were the creator of the canine mind, you would know exactly what he felt in every situation.


Not necessarily. We could argue God didn’t when we read that Adam and Eve tasted fruit explicitly forbidden to them, they either surprised him by the inclination to sin (and to be surprised he cannot be all knowing) or that he intentionally designed them that way with the full knowledge that they would sin (and his actions since regarding his treatment of sinners would make him non-good) But that’s really a tangent.

As far as I understand animals are not capable of committing sin, so to know and have experience of how the canine mind works carries no moral weight.

If God knows everything, and is all knowing of what happens in the human mind then he must also know of the experience of lust exactly in the same way human mind comprehends it (amongst other sinful emotions, a desire to murder, a desire to fornicate ect). i daresay he could also comprehend it in ways totally alien and far above our intellect but to be all knowing he would have to be all knowing of every manner of doing such. And to be all knowing, then he has intimate knowledge of sin, and if he has knowledge/experience of sin he cannot be all good.

Again, apologies if my points don’t sound entirely clear. English is not my first language. :o

I was not claiming that dogs could sin.

Rather, that since we are not the creators of canine life, our lack of full understanding of the canine mind tells us nothing about how God understands our minds.


No I know you weren’t :slight_smile: What I mean is that the actions of a Dog are morally neutral, to have intimate theoretical or experiential knowledge of how they think or process things carries no moral repercussions, something that is rather different to humans where thoughts can and do come with the penalty attached to Mortal sin, eternal damnation.

True, but we can still identify the disparity between the qualities ascribed to God.

God could understand our minds, but he would still not have the knowledge of the experience of feeling the emotion of lust, because he cannot sin. If he does have experiential knowledge as well as the theoretical making him all knowing, he has committed sin and cannot be perfect and all good because sin is disordered.

It is a paradox because to be all knowing one must have full complete knowledge, experiential and theoretical but to be all knowing one must have knowledge of sin. It’s thus logically impossible to be all knowing and all good. If you’re one, you cannot be the other.

Neglected in the comparison to the dog owner is that God reads minds. He knows our every thought and feeling, even the ones He does not experience Himself.

God really can know exactly how it feels to be a lustful human (or a dog standing on two legs) without actually being one, because He has direct access to every experience of humans and dogs. That is true even though He has never lusted internally and has never been a dog.


It’s possible…But for me it still seems to scribe it more up to “it’s magic” than logic. I have to ask. If lust itself, the desire for sexual pleasure is disordered, how could a being that is perfect possibly comprehend that which is disordered? It’s the chaos to his order, antimatter to reality.

If he is able to access and experience a feeling which is intrinsically disordered, just the fact he can draw upon experience of the feeling, is that not contrary to his perfect nature?
How can that which is perfect possibly engage in accessing an inclination which is the polar opposite?

“The desire for sexual pleasure” is not disordered. God made it to add to the joy of marriage.

Putting one’s will behind such a desire when it is aimed at an inappropriate target is disordered. God doesn’t do that.

“Lust” is not synonymous with “sexual desire.” Feelings and impulses and biological drives have no moral value in themselves. What you do with them by act of will is where the good or bad comes in.


If one looks at another with lust, one does not see the person as they are. That human soul is reduced in one’s consciousness to an object to satisfy desire. One does not love them any more than a wolf loves sheep. That’s adultery.
God is all knowing, all compassionate. He knows every thought, every feeling you have had in the context of what your life has presented to you. God is all good. He loves you and wants you to share in the true joys of paradise.
I’m not sure how well I have made my point, but if these realities do not resonate within you, you should work on your understanding of the nature of God and of sin.
Prayer, study and reflection on the Church’s teaching, as well as participation in the mass and the sacraments are the means by which your faith can grow, through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, of course not, I’m focusing more on the illicit sexual desire towards a stranger or acquaintance who is not your spouse here (English isn’t my first language, I can’t think of other words to describe sensation than “wanting sexual pleasure” and “lusting”)

If God doesn’t put the desire towards an inappropriate target, then he still doesn’t know what it is like to lust for a stranger, and if he doesn’t know, he’s not all knowing. very knowing sure, but not all knowing. If he does know then he can’t be all good, very good sure, but not all good.

It’s true that one can turn ones head to avoid “eying up” another person, but the action and desire itself is still a mortal sin, voluntary or not in this case seeing as men on CAF who respond in this way are instructed to go to confession

I’m not questioning the sinfulness of the act (I’m taking the Catechism’s affirmation at face value truth for the purpose of this) but rather what God’s own knowledge on the matter could be.

I know I selected lust for this but we could pick out any other feeling the CCC marks out as being disordered (homosexual desires, murderous intent and so on). I’ll use SSA for convenience. To be all knowing, God would have to have the full knowledge, theoretical and experiential of SSA. But if he’s perfect and all good, he couldn’t possible experience a disordered sin. If he can he’s not perfect or all good. But by the same token, if he’s not all knowing he’s not perfect.

Of course :slight_smile: I don’t question that, but when this thought crossed my mind earlier it does make me pause to consider what God knows. He could know what I am thinking, but can he know what it’s like to think like that? If not…:o

I’m afraid in this case they don’t. I myself am not all knowing and most of my knowledge of Theology (especially that outside the Catholic tradition) is purely theoretical.

Thank you both for your comments, they’re both very much appreciated and have helped greatly.

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