What is lust?

First of all I want you to know that English is my second language and I’m not so good at it, so I’d be glad if you used elementary vocabulary here. :slight_smile:
There’s no info in my country’s internet. I live about 10000km far away from America.

My problem is very complicated. I’ve heard hundreds of different interpretations of lust and as a result now I have no clue what lust is. I’m going to describe it as I think it is, and then I’ll give you an example. This is my first post on this forum and I hope it’s in the right place, so that I won’t get punished by a moderator. :slight_smile:

So I’m very confused, because some people (priests and “normal” people) say this(there are different interpretations):

  1. Lust is a sin when you imagine having sex with a girl you see, or when you think about her nude body, when you have dirty thoughts about her or when you act this way to have sex with her etc.
    So sexual desire that you feel when you look at a beautiful women (for example in bikini) is not a sin as long as you don’t do these things that are above. You can look at them and feel excited as long as you want and it’s not bad.

  2. Lust is a sin when you feel sexual desire to a woman that you see (bikini) and you should stop doing this, look at something else like floor, or go somewhere where you won’t see beautiful girls, so that I don’t get stimulated. It’s natural to feel attracted, but when you get aware you should stop looking (after 1-2 seconds).
    It’s also imagining these things that I’ve written in point 1 (including acting to have sex).

And I don’t know which interpretation is a good one. Maybe I didn’t described it good enough. Please, tell me what it is.

I’m asking because I got to the point when every look at women seems to be a heavy sin… and it’s so horrible, that I’ve got depressed…

So please, give me a good interpretation of what lust is… I really don’t get it. I beg you to use really elementary vocabulary with some examples if needed…

And I have a question:
Is it a heavy sin, when I see a girl with beautiful body and I look at her bust, legs or butt and I feel excited and I enjoy it? (I don’t have bad thoughts or something. If it happens then I refuse it.) So is it a heavy sin when I keep looking and feeling excited?
Can I look at beautiful girls as long as I want? :confused: For example I surf the net and I see a picture of a girl in bikini, may I look at it for example for 10 second and feel excited, and it’s not a sin?

I’m so confused that I want to cry… I completely have no clue about it.

In real life I really like girls and I don’t want to hurt them in any way. They’re like a queens hah.

I’m waiting for you answer and help…
BTW: I’m 18 years old… I’ve never had a girlfriend
I know looks are not everything, and are not so important, but as a male I like to look at cute girls. I hope you understand me… :confused:
Thank you very, very much.
Take care.

I’ll give a try. Just remember this is only a lay person’s opinion.
A man goes to the beach a sees bikini clad women. no sin
Same man goes to beach sees bikini clad women feels excitement,then leaves no sin.
Same man goes to beach sees bikini clad women gets excited but does nothing to change the situation as not to get excited…occasion of sin iow not sin but next door to it.
An occasion of sin is what leads one into sin and not avoiding such situation is a sin.
Same man goes to the beach to see the bikini clad women and takes enjoyment in being excited by the sights. heavy sin.

Lust is not limited to the sexual. to my knowledge lust is defined as a inordinate/excess desire for a thing… be it possessions, money, power etc.

Finding women beautiful is normal and healthy, including for vowed celibates. Lust is whenever this natural physical attraction is separated and isolated from her infinite value as a human being. These thoughts & actions are offensive to God because far too little of the woman (or man) is being seen by the person, and you start to adopt a mentality that is contrary to Christ: to seek to be served instead of to serve.

I hope you understood that. A simpler way of putting it is that you should see each woman as being Mary’s daughter and Jesus’ sister.

Being attracted to someone is not a sin.
Everyone is human and when a human being sees someone attractive the human brain throws around various romantic thoughts, these are called temptations to Catholics, but a temptation is not a sin.

Sin involves a decision such as deliberately fantasising with impure thoughts and giving consent to thinking those thoughts or decisions in thoughts to committing those sins.

Deliberately looking at someone and deliberately thinking lustful thoughts is a mortal sin if done deliberately, in full knowledge,

Yes deliberately looking at impure images is a mortal sin.
You mention how many seconds can you look at something and not be in sin, the answer is any deliberate impure look is a mortal sin, (if committed with full knowledge that it’s a sin,)

I don’t know about women, but for men I think it’s extremely easy to go from simply admiring beauty to having impure thoughts. Maybe most times you never have impure thoughts, but you are putting yourself at a higher risk by staring at a women’s body. Because of this, I would consider it to be a sin to deliberately search online for women in bikinis (the example you gave). In your daily life, you will probably come across women showing a lot of skin here and there, but do your best to keep your eyes on their faces instead of their bodies. Follow the Bible when it says to “avert your eyes” (Sirach 9:8) from any woman that is not your wife. God be with you in this challenge, “self-mastery is a long and exacting work” (CCC 2342).

Good questions all the way around. To lust you have to **willfully take pleasure in a thought. ** Once the thought comes and the thought is irreverent, you must put that thought aside as soon as possible. Some say it’s best to turn to something enjoyable you like to do. These are for thoughts that are sexual sins.

Going around wanting to constantly look at beautiful women may be an imperfection but I’m not so sure it’s a sin. Although, St.Bonaventure says, when talking about the Gift of the Holy Spirit Wisdom, it is wise to flee women or flee places where there are beautiful women. Why, because it can lead us to sin. I am a married man so I am trying my best to stay out of bars and clubs because I know that there are pretty women there that have been drinking.

Sometimes also we can idolize a woman’s body. St.John Paul II talks about how we should look at the whole of a person, body and soul, not just the body alone. With that said if we were to deny women are beautiful we would be telling ourselves a lie. Women are beautiful but we have to realize that so as to honor their beauty in a proper way.

Another thing is that women wearing tight jeans or showing her bust or short skirts and shorts is immodest dress. A women that dresses that way should give a good man a first bad impression.

This is the official definition/teaching of lust by the Church.

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.

Is it still sinful if lusting never leads us to engage in more serious in though, what if we can admire the beauty of a female body but be able to resist the urge to actually try and make something physical happen between the two of you?

Isnt the whole point to reach a point where we can successfully resist temptation? lust being a serious is like saying just being tempted to sin is wrong.

If a guy sees a shapely, attractive female in public, he admires her beauty, as well as her body, he probably does have a thought about how enjoyable it would be to be with her sexually, but if that is where it ends and he does not actively try to engage her, or try to ‘hook up’, Imo, he was successful in resisting temptation…right?

To your first question, I don’t think it takes longer than a few seconds to admire the female body. Beyond that is risky behavior because the guy could easily get impure thoughts and put himself in a mental battle he could have avoided. It might not be sinful, but why test the limits?

To your second question, we will always be sinners on earth. We will never reach a point of truly “conquering” sin until we die and are perfected through purgatory. That doesn’t mean we have to avoid any place where women will be, but we do need to avoid unnecessary risk such as staring at an attractive woman too long.

To your third question, that probably wouldn’t be a sin because he didn’t seek out the woman on purpose. He was just going about his day and happened to see her. The impure thoughts would be sinful if he realized they were impure and then deliberately continued thinking about them. We can’t control all the thoughts that pop into our head, but once we see that a thought is impure, we have to make the right decision to shut it out of our mind. It can be hard to tell at first when impure thoughts are a sin, but over time it becomes pretty easy. Catholics can talk to their confessor about this to know exactly in their life when they have committed these sins.

  1. So what, should I avoid every single occasion I have to see a beautiful woman?
  2. Can’t I look at woman’s body; legs etc. and feel excited just for a while?
  3. So feeling sexual pleasure while looking at woman is a heavy sin?
    I hate sexuality. How can it be a gift? God seems to be a tyrant… sad.

I’m getting depressed. I see things like this (legs and busts) every day, and everywhere. Should I stop using internet, TV, social media, reading newspapers, watching movies, and lock myself up in a room or church?
I can’t stand a week, there’s always a situation when I see a beautiful girl in bikini and I give a longer look.
I don’t want sexuality, how to get rid of this … sexual desire forever? :confused:

You may not be understanding all the comments. First, thank you for sharing your concerns, You are brave to do so.
I think lust is treating another person as an object, a thing. Not as a person.

If an attractive woman were your sister, would you want someone admiring her beauty, or instead taking long looks at her and being aroused?

You can appreciate a woman’s beauty, be aware of it, think “there’s a beautiful person created by God,” and keep going about your business. You might say a prayer for her salvation, or her family. That is not sinful.
But don’t put yourself into situations where there are a lot of girls in bikinis – watch a different movie, go to a different website.

God is not a tyrant. He wants us to treat one another with respect. That’s all you have to do.
God bless.


Thanks for you answer.
I’m really sorry for writing and asking so much, but please… I need someone to help me. I don’t understand so many things…

I think that comparing my family members like sister to a woman that I may meet anywhere (that’s not close to me) is a bad idea.

Some people say “look at women like you look at your sister or mother”, but it is… a nonsense. Why? Because it’s obvious that I’d not like to touch or to look at for example legs of my sister. It’s natural that I don’t want it. So then, how could I want to “play” with my future wife or gf (I don’t mean sex here)? I’d not even like to approach any girl. It’s a paradox.

  1. So do I have to avoid any situation when I can look at women’s bodies, right?
  2. What if I fail (because I will a lot)? Should I go to confession every single week?
  3. So this sexual drive that happens to us when we see a beautiful woman (for example in bikini or nice dress) is sinful, right?
    3a) so why God gave us something so evil like this?

And I have some new questions that are not connected to previous ones:
4. I guess that I’m depressed. I get frustrated, angry, weak and sad quite often. I’m done with all this rules that I can’t deal with. What if some depressive thoughts happen to me (for example that life is awful and I don’t want to live)? Is it a sin? I guess it’s not, because it’s like a disease…

  1. Should I go back to my past to confess some things?
    I don’t remember if I’ve been confessing a sin of sexual thoughts when I was addicted to porn and masturbation (I’m not sure if I’ve been doing this every single time…). It was about 3 years ago. I remember confessing of porn and masturbation quite well, but not much confessing of sexual thoughts. Or it’s just an “illusion”, because it was “the smallest one”.

  2. Is calling someone a dumb or an idiot a heavy sin (when I’m frustrated and stressed)?
    And is saying bad words like “f#%@k” a heavy sin?

  3. What if till today I was enjoying views of beautiful women without guilt and not confessing it and going to Communion? I was aware that they say it’s awfully sinful to look at women’s legs or butts and take pleasure of this, but I couldn’t agree with this.
    What should I do now? I can’t confess all of my sins from the last “legal” confession, because I don’t remember them. Will it be enough to say something like “I was aware that it’s sinful to look at women’s bodies and feeling excited/to feel excited, but I wasn’t confessing it and I was going to communion with this on conscience for a long time?”

I’m sorry for so many questions but I’m so frustrated to finally get my answers that I’ve been looking for years…

God bless you.

Sexual lust is valuing sexual gratification more than loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

You cannot get rid of it, its in our nature to be this way, we are essentially hardwired for sin.

I still do not think it wrong or sinful to admire the beauty of a female body, its the same thing as admiring art or sculpture, our minds were designed to find these things attractive, it only becomes sinful if you try to take things further, like engaging the gal with the hopes of jumping in the sack with her.

Just looking/admiring (for any amount of time) and then moving on without trying to achieve physical contact is a successful resistance of temptation in my book, IMO, it shows a person to have a strong will, to be that lustful but being able to avoid trying to make physical sex happen.

Plus, its not a sin to be tempted, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, its really about what you choose to do as a result, if you choose to act.

Watching pornography can absolutely destroy the proper way to look at the other sex even years after you repent.

I would go talk to a solid priest about this .

Its not a sin to see beautiful women, and we should not run away from beautiful women either. Live your daily life in prudence, if you happen to see a beautiful women you can say to yoursslf, wow she is beautiful and move on. In your situation I would not intentionally go or look for places where women dress immodest. There is no sin unless you willfully take pleasure in sexual.thoughts or if you tryto hook up with these women for hook up only.

It’s not sinful for you to notice a beautiful woman and appreciate the female form. It’s perfectly natural for men to have an interest in the female body (and vice versa). Physical attraction is usually the impetus for every successful marriage/relationship. (Obviously, it’s just step one of a hundred…not saying you should marry the first girl you see with a nice figure.)

The sin comes in when you start deliberately fixating on the woman and seeing her as just a certain body part. So it’s fine for you to see a woman and think, “Wow, I’m definitely attracted to her. I should see if I can strike up a conversation with her and ask her to get a cup of coffee sometime.” What would be wrong is if you fixate solely on her physical beauty and stop seeing her as a human being and start seeing her as just a nice butt, or whatever.

  1. You should avoid any situation you deliberately seek out to look at women’s bodies. So going to the beach just to check out the women would be a sin. Walking to the grocery store and seeing attractive women along the way, not a sin.

  2. There is nothing wrong with going to confession once a week. Many saints went to confession weekly. God understands our struggles. If you are doing your best, God knows. He’s not going to condemn you for the occasional mistake. In addition, a habit or addiction also reduces your culpability. I think it would be good to go to confession often. Then you can ask all these questions to your priest.

  3. The sexual drive is just part of human life. It’s not a sin. The sin would be in seeking out situations you know will lead to impure thoughts that speed up the natural drive.

  4. One of the conditions to be culpable for a sin is that you give full consent to choose the sin. Anxiety or other psychological factors is specifically mentioned in the Catechism as reducing or even eliminating culpability for the sin. You would have to bring up the specific situation in confession with your priest to know how culpable you are. Remember that part of being Catholic is the lifelong battle against sin. Change is slow, but you will get better if you keep working at it. Every Catholic has tough times, where it feels like there is no way to improvement. Just keep at it though. Most of all keep praying.

  5. When you go to confession you are forgiven for the mortal sins you mention as well as all forgotten mortal sins. The only exception would be if you deliberately omitted those sins. From what you wrote, it sounds like you just didn’t know, so those sins would be forgotten. The only obligation you have is during your next confession to mention that you may have forgotten a few mortal sins (impure thoughts) during your last few confessions.

  6. That’s a hard one. The particular circumstances would make a huge difference in the weight of that sin. Some words are more “severe” than others, so the F word would have more sinful weight than saying “fudge”. Ask for priest in confession about your specific case.

  7. Since you were asking these questions, it sounds like you didn’t know what you were doing was a sin. In addition to full consent, culpability for a sin also depends on having complete knowledge that the action is a sin. Since you did not know it was a sin, your culpability we be reduced and possibly eliminated. I don’t know your age, but if you are a young person, immaturity can also reduce culpability. If one of these conditions were true, most likely your culpability would be reduced enough that despite committing mortal sins, you were only culpable for venial sin. If true, you would have been in a state of grace when you received Holy Communion. No new sins would have been committed. Again, you should really go to confession about this. If you go often, you will have the time to ask all your questions and not have to wonder about the state of your soul.

Thank you for asking these questions, Alwaysafraid. Despite any struggles you may have, you are a good person. :slight_smile: You have some imperfections to work on, but we all do. I have hope everything will work out for you. Just keep working on it. =)

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I was at church one day and there were two young ladies, one dressed very modestly and the other immodestly. Anyway, I could not help but see that the one dressed very modestly was far sexier than the one dressed immodestly. I did not lust, though, just could not help but notice.

Where do our perceptions of sexy-ness come from? Nature or nurture? If nature, what exactly is it that causes us to view some people as being sexier? I was taught in a sociology class that during the Victorian era, obese women were viewed as being more attractive.

Thank you very much too, but I feel a bit lost. You say this

[quote=Jared]You should avoid any situation you deliberately seek out to look at women’s bodies. So going to the beach just to check out the women would be a sin.

And this man says that

[quote=mikekle]I still do not think it wrong or sinful to admire the beauty of a female body, its the same thing as admiring art or sculpture, our minds were designed to find these things attractive, it only becomes sinful if you try to take things further, like engaging the gal with the hopes of jumping in the sack with her.

Just looking/admiring (for any amount of time) and then moving on without trying to achieve physical contact is a successful resistance of temptation in my book, IMO, it shows a person to have a strong will, to be that lustful but being able to avoid trying to make physical sex happen.

A) I don’t want to take the easiest way, but my intuition would probably choose this guy (mikekle). It seems to be more natural for humans.
And it’s not even about this topic, but many, many people tell me the same things and I don’t really know who’s right.
Even some priests and “radical catholics” (that’s how I would call them ;)) say what you said, Mr. Jared, that I should “avoid every single situation and look at the sidewalk”(:rolleyes:)… but again, many other priests (and other catholics) say that it’s only a sin when I have impure thoughts or when I act to have sex, so I can look and enjoy beauty as much as I want. That’s why I am messed up. Who has right then?:(:frowning:

B) When I avoid these situations I fell like I was missing something or losing something, so I feel a bit strange. Like it was something unnatural for me- I lose willingness to live hah:confused:. (You know; the only thing I could do is to study, work, and earn money - no love, no passion and (ugh, how to call it in English haha:blush:) tenderness/sensuality allowed).

C) But when I look (due to these opinions that it’s a sin) at women’s legs, figures etc, I get a big feeling of guilt and shame…
No matter what I choose, I feel sad about it. Now it seems for me this way - when I look at womens’ bodies I say “NO” to God, so He’s far away (because I sin, don’t I?).

D) And when I don’t look, then I feel strange and a bit “empty” like something was missing, but then “I’m okay to God”, as they say, so then He loves me.
(And when I avoid it “to be right” it seems to be very formal to me. What do I mean by this: I ‘enjoy’ being loved by God, by sitting alone and running away from any women’s bikini pic or view. It feels like punishment a bit, lol. I don’t feel to be loved then. I know that God can make something forbidden for our good, but why did He give me trillions of hormones and now He punishes me for looking at women’s bodies? He seems to be a tyrant in this case… I’m sorry for that).

Sexual morality points us to something good. Everything else must be taken in that context. You can drive yourself nuts trying to define the prohibitions. Defining the prohibitions becomes a never ending circle, because the prohibitions are not the end of sexual morality, the prohibitions point the way to the good.
Focus on the good of sexuality.
So, what is sexuality? What is chastity? What is the good that these things point us toward?


2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

It is a very simple thing, but a very difficult and life long task in self mastery.
If you are a young person, be patient, be patient, be patient.
Focus on the good and you will begin to understand what lust is and how it detracts from the awesome beauty of the opposite sex.

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