Where is the line?

I was wondering about this where is the line between lust and noticing beauty? Noticing beauty meaning finding someone to be “attractive” or is there no line and it is always wrong?

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.

So " liking" some for their looks but also personallity is not sinful?

Hi T,

Lust indicates sexual desire.

Beauty can indicate something that is attractive or pleasing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to a person. We can consider a photo beautiful or something in nature beautiful, too, for example.

We can find a person beautiful or handsome, and our thoughts can stop there. If they don’t stop and continue on into lustful thoughts, then that is wrong and they are then considered sinful.

Thanks, this is all somewhat new to me

You would really benefit from a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. It is an excellent, easily read and understood introduction to the Catholic faith. Many RCIA programs use it. I very highly recommend it, as I learn something each time I read my copy.

I’m quite happy to say a woman is beautiful/good looking (I am a woman by the way)…however I am definitely NOT that way inclined so I think there is a difference between finding someone or something beautiful and lusting after it!

Here’s a line_______________:smiley:

If you see a good looking person and you say in your mind wow they look good that is fine. If you imagine any kind of contact then you have crossed the line. You know what I mean by contact

A wise priest once put it this way:

“There is a difference between noticing the bird flying over your head and letting it nest in your hair”

I always liked that analogy.

It gets easier to appreciate a beautiful woman without lusting for her, as you get older :stuck_out_tongue:

ILL rephrase it is it ok to be attracted to someone? Perhaps that is more clear-- not like staring at the person but you know you like them and may want a relationship with them( lacking contact, maybe kissing)?

Absolutely, there is nothing immoral about attraction in and of itself. It is only when it becomes twisted or “disordered” (as the CCC puts it) that it becomes problematic. :slight_smile:

While lust indicates sexual desire, not all sexual desire is lust.

God made us to experience sexual desire. It leads us to marriage and procreation. It is not wrong per se to feel sexual desire for someone. It’s what we do when this desire comes that matters.

If we indulge in sexual thoughts (ie deliberately encourage such thoughts) about someone who is not our spouse, then there is lust. But just experiencing the thought in the first place is not wrong. How many of us would be married if such a thing were wrong? I had very great sexual desire towards my wife before I married her.

So TStokes, if you meet a nice person and experience sexual desire towards them, they may be a person worth getting to know better. That’s pretty much how people get married (other than arranged marriages of course).

Very good answer very Geometric

Here is a repost of a post I made last month on the difference between lust and appreciating beauty.

One distinction that many people seem to struggle with is between what is lustful and what is healthy natural appreciation for the opposite sex when either looking at someone in person, or in artistic representations of a person.

I think the term lust is sometimes used too liberally to describe any attraction to the opposite sex, or appreciation of their physical attributes. Lust, as I understand it is an animal instinct, a craving or immoderated desire for sexual relations that overrides ones ability to relate to a person on a personal basis. It reduces people to nothing more than objects for physical satisfaction, and the driving force of the instinct impairs the ability for a deep authentic interpersonal relationship.

This is why pornography is unhealthy, because it reduces people to nothing more than objects for instinctual gratification, and trains a person to feel sexual instincts solely driving them toward the opposite sex rather than a deeper attraction to the person as a human being with a personality, intellect, and life of their own.

However, not all attraction to the opposite sex, or physical appreciation is lustful. This seems to be where many people are uncertain of whether their actions are sinful or not.

I described a sinful attraction above, but we were created for male and female to attract, so attraction itself isn’t sinful.

If for example, a man looks at a woman, and only thinks of her as a prize to be won, or how to act around her so she will be willing satisfy his desire to please his physical drive to have sex with her, he is acting out of lust.

However, if a man looks at a woman, and appreciates her physical beauty without feeling a strong instinctual drive to have relations with her, he is probably not sinning. If he calmly appreciates her physical body as a component of a human composed of body, mind, and soul, as an outward representation of her humanity, and a symbol of the beauty of our human nature, he is not sinning.

An example is the portrayal of the human body in art. There is nothing wrong with an appreciation of even an unclothed body. The body itself, and the art isn’t what is sinful. The situation portrayed has much to do with whether an image is aimed toward provoking lust or not.

For example, suppose there are two photographs or paintings that depict an unclothed person. Does the fact that within the picture is an unclothed person make the picture pornographic? No. All we know is that the human body is shown, so there is not pornography shown so far.

In the first picture, suppose it is a natural setting such as a field or ocean shore. In the nature scene, a couple unclothed humans are depicted. They are simply standing, or walking together. Whether they are clothed or unclothed seems to make no difference as to the morality of the picture, because it is a setting where the nudity is not out of place, and suggests nothing of an appeal to increasing an instinctual drive. Because nudity in such circumstances is not abnormal, it doesn’t seem likely that someone would interpret the picture in a way that draws attention to any particular part of the body in a way that is sexually suggestive.

In another picture, suppose nudity is depicted in circumstances where it seems forced into a situation it should not under normal circumstances take place, such as in a public business, by an exhibitionist seeking attention for doing something abnormal. In this case, the picture is immoral because, it is not simply a normal depiction of the human body where it is appreciated in a normal setting, but a forced attempt to draw attention to parts of the body which otherwise would be covered. In this setting, normally the body would be clothed. Since the picture is depicting an abnormal setting, the focus of the picture would be on what is abnormal, and thus the emphasis is on certain body parts which are abnormally exposed. This would lead to additional thoughts and conclusions about the picture. This is what I would consider pornographic, because the emphasis isn’t on simply a person, but on particular parts of the person, and in a way that is meant to provoke instinctual reaction.

There is a lot of room between these two options. These examples don’t really help to know ehere the line is, as such.

And I don’t agree with what is implied in the second scenario…that feeling a strong instinctual drive to have relations would be sinful. As I said, that’s how God made us. It is not the experiencing of such a desire that is sinful, but the indulging in it when it is innapprioriate that is sin (ie when you have deliberate sexual thoughts about someone who is not your spouse).

He said without the strong instinctual drive

Yes, he said attraction without the strong instictual drive is “probably not sinning”. I’m not sure why he needed to say “probably”, but anyway…

The implication, and forgive me if I’m reading too much into what was said, is that attraction with the strong instinctual drive is sinning. Which I disagree with.

Ok got it, by relations i really hope i read into that right relations meaning “it” not relations meaning a relationship in terms of a social one

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