When is something considered lust?


This is the definition of lust in the 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. [2528]

I find this definition vague, subjective, and unclear when I try to apply it to my situation.

I’m a Catholic, homosexual male. I instantly get aroused when I see a shirtless man, whether it’s a picture, on the street, or at the pool. I have the bad habit of looking at pics of shirtless men on the internet, especially on bodybuilding websites. Even when I go to the mall, there are pictures of shirtless men in clothing store windows and I can’t help looking at them and getting aroused. I see shirtless men on Youtube, on TV, and at the movies.

I’ve been confessing this sin over and over to the priest, and his advice is to give up the internet, keep your eyes away from any shirtless man you see on the street, and give up swimming at the community center. I ALWAYS fail to prevent myself from looking at shirtless men, because my thirst for this pleasure is too strong. I find the priest’s advice too impractical and extreme. He also told me I’ve committed sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist because of the sin of looking at shirtless men.

Is getting pleasure from looking at a shirtless man considered an offense against chastity? After all, it’s not porn or full nudity. Is it a mortal or venial sin? I haven’t masturbated in over 2 years, so this is just a mental problem. Also, I’ve NEVER looked at porn in my entire life. Women enjoy looking at shirtless men as well, so my situation is not any different from theirs. What do Catholic women do about this?


Well the good thing is you don’t sin by doing homosexual acts. Being homosexual is not a sin and the church has no problem with that. I myself like women in bras and panties. Others have told me what I’ll tell you. It sounds like your having a time with the near occasion of sin. If you haven’t masturbated in 2 years hats off to you. You’re doing better than me and I’ll just sit on your side of the aisle and listen to what someone stronger has to say. Personally I think giving up the internet is a little extreme. Are these pictures your looking up or are just popping up in front of you. THere’s a difference. He’s being too rough on you IMO. Your trouble is temptation. It’s an urge you put it out of your mind. Just because you are tempted to commit adultery doesn’t mean you do it. I haven’t had any sex personally since I was baptized years ago and I won’t. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be tempted.

God bless


Tim, Congratulations on your two years free of masturbation! I just went over two years myself. I needed extra help and participate in the CAF group for lust forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=251?styleid=18 and SA meetingssa.rog.

I struggle with images and “custody of the eyes” as well. The addiction folks would tell us that we are still getting ‘high’ from the chemicals released when we view these images. It is when we actively seek them out that we are sinning. When we see a person that excites us we should say something like, “this person is a child of God, Jesus save me from my lust” to avoid slipping into fantasy. When we think or fantasize about what we would “do” with the person we begin to sin. We are turning the person into an object. We are objectifying the other person and using them for our own pleasure. We are failing to see Jesus in them.

This slide show has been very helpful to me in dealing with these situations. slideshare.net/raulnidoy/arriving-at-the-peace-of-chastity-part-one

I don’t want to get between you and your confessor. Mortal sin has 3 elements. Grave matter . Full knowledge (this is a big one in this day and age, people need the clear instruction). The deliberate consent of the sinner. My confessor told me that what I do after the first thought pops in my head determines deliberate consent. If I ask God to take the desire away from me “this person is a child of God, Jesus save me from my lust” Im fine, if I entertain a fantasy that can be deliberate consent.

I find that the image seeking and fantasies disturb me almost as much as masturbation used too. SA’s definition of sexual sobriety includes “progressive victory over lust”. We need to move farther and farther away from the darkness.

Praise Jesus for your desire to achieve chastity and your victory over chastity. Here are couple of more websites they may help: couragerc.net/

I was invested in the AWC two years ago and found it very powerful. Many of the Dominicans involved in AWC are also involved in Courage.

Yours in the Love of His Sacred Heart,


Thanks Patrick I hope you’ve helped TIm as well as you have me. I have not been so victorious over the masturbation though :frowning:


Tim, it does sound like you have an addiction to looking at shirtless men. As a woman, I can see some beauty in a young mans body in that way, but it has never been a ‘turn on’ per se. I think objectifying a man in this way will erode a healthy sense of self and men in general.

In a strange way, I understand the pull of the eyes as sensual pleasure when I’m at the Cheesecake Shop. I’m sure cheesecake is the food of the gods! The problem with indulging the mind and senses lustfully, is that even this, in and of itself alone, affects the chemical/hormonal balance of the body and that undermines so many unrelated functions that depend on the healthy balance of body chemistry.

Try and understand the principles of objectification and its relationship to the love we are called to regard others and ourselves with.


Thanks, everyone, for your invaluable advice! When I look at shirtless men on the internet, it is deliberate. I purposely go to these bodybuilding websites (or other sites that have shirtless men) for the sole intention of satisfying my thirst for lust.

This has been a never ending cycle. I go to confession every single week. A few days after being forgiven, I fall into this sin again. I’m fully aware of the emotional ramifications that this sin will cause if I fall into it again (intense guilt, feelings of impurity, having a dirty soul, and feeling that God is disgusted with me and has left me), but I always end up doing it again and again.


God’s Love and Mercy are inexhaustible and incomprehensible. GOD IS LOVE! Continue to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and frequently receive the Blessed Sacrament. Always return to His Love. The one sin you can’t overcome is to reject and forsake His Love and Forgiveness. In Him is plentiful Redemption.

Thinking we are beyond God’s Love is a form of pride. The Deceiver is the one telling you that you don’t belong, that you can’t be faithful, that you are doomed, that you aren’t good enough. Don’t listen to him. Cry out to the Redeemer! "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have Mercy on me a sinner.’ Our God is real! He has sent the Paraclete to help us. Work with Him to find freedom.

Many of us could not stop on our own or with the assistance of our confessors or spiritual directors. We had to reach out to others who struggle with the problem. We had to become willing to admit that what were doing to prevail over this sin wasn’t working and we needed to do something different. TMy personal feeling is that failing to reach out to try to solve the problem is the greater part of the sin. I now have tools such as calling others BEFORE I look at porn masturbate. I think about how I feel after sinning BEFORE I sin. In SA and other 12 Step groups there are people fighting lust who do not masturbate or look at porn.

I have seem many men stop lusting. It can be done. One of the greatest lies of our age is that men are slaves to sex. Through the power of the Resurrection we can overcome.

Longing Soul’s comments were right on the money. I find myself substituting food, anger, etc for lust.

Perhaps you can try putting a filter on your internet. like “covenant eyes”

Yours in the Love of His Sacred Heart,

closed #8

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