What exactly is the sin of lust?

Hi I’m having trouble knowing the difference from looking and lusting. I am not married but I’m working to be able to resist mortal sin which I know lust is. However I’m not exactly sure what is required for their to be lust can anyone help explain l?

Lust is when you have a sexual fantasy involving someone whom you are not married to. It’s when you look at a person and think “Gee, I wonder what he/she looks like naked”. Not all sexual thoughts are bad, though. Sexual thoughts involving your wife/husband is healthy.

Dictionary defines Lust as…
1. very strong sexual desire
1. have a very strong sexual desire for someone

does that help?

Step 1: I can look at food and think, that is probably very tasty, mmm.

Step 2: I can move from thinking “that is probably very tasty, mmm” to taking delight in the imagination of eating the food. Now we are in trouble, but not catastrophe.

Step 3: I finally move from thinking “this is nice to imagine” to deliberately wanting to eat the food in reality, even if something prevents me, like it costs too much, or I don’t have a fork, etc. This is catastrophe, even without actually eating the food.

Get it?

Sin is given by the will.

An involuntary thought is not a sin, if we struggle as soon as we realize that it’s bad.

So I would say the key is the difference between “something that comes to mind” and “thought that I consciously want to think”.

Compendium of the Catechism

493. Although it says only “you shall not commit adultery” why does the sixth commandment forbid all sins against chastity?
Although the biblical text of the Decalogue reads “you shall not commit adultery” ( Exodus 20:14), the Tradition of the Church comprehensively follows the moral teachings of the Old and New Testaments and considers the sixth commandment as encompassing all sins against chastity.

528. What is forbidden by the ninth commandment?
The ninth commandment forbids cultivating thoughts and desires connected to actions forbidden by the sixth commandment.

Willfully dwelling with thoughts or imagination on that which is sexually arousing should be avoided. When such a temptation occurs, then an act of will is needed to counter it. Modern Catholic Dictionary has (for masturbation which is psychic or physical):

The sinfulness consists in setting in motion the generative powers while preventing them from achieving, their natural, divinely intended purpose.

What distinguishes lust from the unadulterated sexual impulse, is that lust involves the feeling that one wishes to ravish the other, or be ravished by the other. (Both are equally sinful.) There is an element of rapaciousness present — much though it is taboo to admit this. Lust is (therefore) also the enjoyment of a loss of self-mastery, the delight of casting aside restraint and indulging the desire to “have” the other, or to “be had”. The lustful sexual impulse can arise only when the other is perceived — even if only temporarily — primarily as a body, a tangible shape that can subdue (or be subdued by) another body. The unadulterated sexual impulse,​ on the other hand, is the desire to unite, which requires perception of the other as one’s perfect, living, divine complement.

As for “looking”, it depends very much on what you see when you look. Do you see flesh? That’s lust. Do you see one who can complete you? Then it might be love. But any intense, longing looks (at someone who isn’t your spouse) are suspect, because they are immodest. So be wary of deceiving yourself (or the other) into labeling something “love” to eagerly. Sexual attraction is an extremely strong impulse, and we tend to justify it too easily.

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Thank you. So If I was watching a show and a woman was wearing a bikini and I looked but didn’t have any thoughts in my head or sexual desire is that sin?

Maybe not, but still you shouldn’t look, lest sin creep into your heart. Staying away from the near occasion of sin is an important practice, and guarding our eyes is part of that.

It´s completely normal and natural to be sexually attracted to other people, and that in itself is no sin. What determines whether it´s a sin or not is how you act upon it. There´s no sin in looking at someone attractive, but it becomes a sin when you voluntarily choose to fantasize about them in a sexual way and/or masturbate.

Okay thank you I was almost positive I didn’t sin from that this just helps me to know I shouldn’t feel guilt when I didn’t do anything wrong. It was annoying Bc I went to confession the day before the devil most likely wanted to tempt me and make me feel guilt again.

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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.

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