Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a few Catholic questions on the faith and I was hoping you could answer them for me.
I received my First Reconciliation last year and do go to church.

These are questions I worry about everyday and am too [scared|embarrassed] to ask my priest or family members. I don't want to have to go to others, so please take your time.

I have a friend who says they have a homosexual orientation and they have no problem staying away from homosexual relationships and sodomy.

  • Are they still sinning?
  • Is fantasying a sin?
  • What if a person fantasizes about two heterosexuals having sex; is that a sin?
    — What is an example of fantasizing?
  • Is sexual thought about two people having sex a sin?
  • Is a sexual or homosexual desire a sin?
    — What is an example of this?
  • Is a homosexual tendency a sin?
    — What is an example of this?
  • If a practicing homosexual never confesses there homosexual sin can they still go to Heaven if they obey the rest of God's beliefs?
  • Do you need to confess all your sins in order to get into Heaven?

My teenager masturbates while watching people on T.V. having sex. I've asked the deacon at my church, as well as other priests and deacons, what I should do, but I don't understand what they are telling me.

  • Is this natural?
  • Is this considered a sin?

Thank you and God bless you.

Anonymous

  { Is homosexual or heterosexual fantasies or desires a sin and is Confession necessary? }

Eric replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Thank-you for the question.

You stated in your question:
I have a friend who says they have a homosexual orientation, and they have no problem staying away from homosexual relationships and sodomy.

  • Are they still sinning?

Yes. Any time you engage in an homosexual act, it is objectively sinful. Assuming they know this, they would be sinning.

You stated in your question:

  • Is fantasying a sin?
  • What if a person fantasizes about two heterosexuals having sex; is that a sin?
  • What is an example of fantasizing?

Yes, that is a sin. Jesus said that even to look at a person lustfully is sinful, so anytime you think of people having sex for the purpose of sexual gratification, it is sinful. An example of fantasizing is if you picture in your mind two people having sex, and what they would look like and do.

You stated in your question:

  • Is sexual thought about two people having sex a sin?

I'm not entirely sure how this differs from fantasizing about two people having sex, but if it is for sexual gratification, it is sinful.

You stated in your question:

  • Is a sexual or homosexual desire a sin?
    What is an example of this?

No, but homosexual desire is intrinsically disordered (that is, not in conformance with God's plan for sexuality). Nevertheless we must treat those with homosexual desires with compassion, understanding and Christian love. An example of homosexual desire is if you, say, get an erection thinking about sexual contact with another man.

You stated in your question:

  • Is a homosexual tendency a sin?
    What is an example of this?

Same answer as above.

You stated in your question:

  • If a practicing homosexual never confesses there homosexual sin can they still go to Heaven if they obey the rest of God's beliefs?

If they engage in the acts knowing that they are gravely wrong, and do so freely and deliberately, and never repent of those sins, or do so only out of the fear of Hell and not out of love for God, then no, they cannot go to Heaven.

You stated in your question:

  • Do you need to confess all your sins in order to get into Heaven?

A Catholic who has committed a mortal sin (such as homosexual activity) and has done so:

  1. knowing that it is wrong, and
  2. done so freely (i.e. not under compulsion)
  3. with sufficient reflection (that is they have had enough time to think about what they were doing)

needs to go to sacramental Confession to be absolved of that sin. There is an exception if they die and are sorry for their sins out of genuine love for God (and not merely out of a fear of Hell.)

You stated in your question:
My teenager masturbates while watching people on T.V. having sex. I've asked the deacon at my church, as well as other priests and deacons, what I should do, but I don't understand what they are telling me.

  • Is this natural?
  • Is this considered a sin?

Masturbation is a sin, and a mortal one at that, but it is certainly typical and expected. Watching porn is a sin, too. I am not a deacon or other clergyman so I am reluctant to offer pastoral advice, but teens who masturbate risk screwing up their future sexual relationships with women because they are learning to pursue sex as a selfish gain rather than as a self-giving act.

Men should pursue the pleasure of their wives in sex, not their own pleasure. That is how you please your wife and build a happy marriage. In order to do so, they need to learn sexual
self-control, not sexual self-gratification. The problem with watching porn is that you begin to objectify women and, again, see them as objects to use for your sexual gratification, and not as persons worthy of respect and honor. True love seeks the other person's fulfillment; lust seeks one's own fulfillment. Your son is conditioning himself in a way that will be very destructive to his future relationships with women.

I don't mean to put you off but there is an excellent tape series you may want to listen to called Naked Without Shame ((www.giftfoundation.org). It is cheap so you have no excuse to not order a copy. ;-) It talks about the Catholic view of marriage and I guarantee it's stuff you never heard before about what Catholicism teaches. It's dynamic, even riveting.

There is a shorter, more focused CD set called Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity: Straight Talk with Men about Love and Life by the same author, Christopher West. I'm not sure it's suitable for your son, but I'd order it, listen to it and either judge whether it is, or else feed him what you think is suitable.

Hope this helps!

Eric Ewanco

Anonymous replied:

Thanks Eric.

Your answers did help.

  • So even if the person has a homosexual orientation, but doesn't act on the desires, it is not a sin?
  • What if you picture two people having sex and you don't do it for the gratification?
  • What is sexual gratification?
  • So a homosexual desire isn't a sin?

You gave as an example of a homosexual desire: getting an erection thinking about sexual contact with another man.

  • Is it a sin or isn't?
  • Isn't a homosexual thought considered a sin?
  • So what if one day you are thinking, and a homosexual or heterosexual thought of two people having sex comes in to your mind; is this a sin? Is it a mortal sin?
  • Is it a sin if you picture two people having sex, not for gratification, but just dwell on it?
  • What is an example of a homosexual desire?
  • Is it a thought about sex?
  • How do you know if you love God?
  • What if you confess out of the love of God and fear of Hell?

Anonymous

Eric replied:

You stated in your reply:
Your answers did help.

  • So even if the person has a homosexual orientation, but doesn't act on the desires, it is not a sin?

That is correct. You have to act on the desires for it to be sinful, although you can act on them in your mind.

You stated in your reply:

  • What if you picture two people having sex and you don't do it for the gratification?

Then it's probably not sinful, but you're getting into dangerous territory here, where you risk rationalizing something. Scripture says the human heart is deceitful. I can only think of a very few cases, if any, where you have a legitimate reason to look at two people having sex. *Maybe* if you are a clinician, of some sort, doing it to help the couple in some way.

You stated in your reply:

  • What is sexual gratification?

Well, put bluntly, it's when you get your jollies off of it — when you deliberately enjoy something in a sexual way and use it to arouse yourself and develop a sexual response.

You stated in your reply:

  • So a homosexual desire isn't a sin?

No.

You stated in your reply:

You gave as an example of a homosexual desire: getting an erection thinking about sexual contact with another man.

  • Is it a sin or isn't?
  • Isn't a homosexual thought considered a sin?

Homosexual thoughts are not sinful unless you deliberately pursue them — encourage them, entertain them, savor them, and so forth.

Getting an erection thinking about sexual contact with another man is not, in and of itself, sinful — after all, it's a physiological response, and those are not sinful. Nevertheless, if you deliberately embraced a temptation and savored a sexual thought with the aim of eliciting an erection, that would be sinful. Basically, the point is to avoid arousal or anything which you know will lead to it. If the thoughts are accidental, they are not sinful, but if you deliberately seek them out, or allow them to remain without dismissing them, that would be sinful.

You stated in your reply:

  • So what if one day you are thinking, and a homosexual or heterosexual thought of two people having sex comes in to your mind; is this a sin? Is it a mortal sin?

Nope. If it's unintentional, it's not sinful, but you must dismiss such thoughts as soon as you are aware of them. Lifting them up to Christ to help you shoulder the burden, and persevering in steadfastly resisting them, is an effective way to handle them.

You stated in your reply:

  • Is it a sin if you picture two people having sex, not for gratification, but just dwell on it?

There is really no legitimate reason to do this, and you can too easily fall into sexual gratification without you realizing it. Why tempt yourself?

You stated in your reply:

  • What is an example of a homosexual desire?
  • Is it a thought about sex?

That's fairly straightforward, it's a sexual desire oriented towards having sex with a person of the same sex. If you have a teen, I assume you know what sexual desire is. :-)

You stated in your reply:

  • How do you know if you love God?
  • What if you confess out of the love of God and fear of Hell?

Scripture says, "Perfect love casts out fear." If you have a kind of relationship with God where you are afraid he's gonna whack you when you sin, and are motivated by that to not sin, that is called "imperfect contrition". In that scenario you must confess your sins sacramentally to be forgiven.

If, however, you react as if you had hurt a beloved friend, where you are sorry to damage your friendship with God, that's perfect contrition, and it's possible to still be saved if you die in a state of mortal sin and have an intention of confessing your sins sacramentally. It's still OK if you fear Hell in such a scenario, as long as your primary motivation is out of love for God.

Hope this helps!

Eric Ewanco

Mike replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

Thanks for your questions.

In addition to the fine comments from my colleague Eric, I'd like to add something from a different spiritual angle; just as a diamond has many facets.

Probably one of the most important world-war battles that's happening right now, here on earth, is the battle for our minds.

On our side: Our guardian and other holy angels of God here to assist us and remind us of our call to holiness: our call to be other Jesus' in the world for others who have not yet heard of the Gospel.

The enemy: Satan and his many demons who strive to put many sinful thoughts in our heads and persuade us to go ahead, sin and throw Our Blessed Lord, Jesus, out of our lives.

The choice is ours as to which thoughts we block or permit in!

The properly trained Christian mind will always keep this vital point in mind when they are tempted by bad thoughts, especially those that tempt us into the sins of the flesh.

The Church teaches that homosexual acts, like sodomy, are a grave sins against God.

  • Why?

Because the man or woman is using their bodies for sexual pleasure but not for the life-giving purpose God has intended their bodies for.

By nature, man was created for woman and woman was created for man. It is through the
life-giving principle of the martial act between a husband and wife, working with the Holy Spirit, that new life is created and was intended to:

  1. stabilize society for future generations with children, and
  2. bring forth more adorers for the kingdom to come.

This is why homosexuality destroys our culture and the future of our society in America. Successive generations will not able to be cared for because the importance of Christian Marriage in our current society will have been seen as an option instead a basic staple of society.

  • But what about single people?

There are some called by the Lord to be a public witness for Christ in the world as a single person. These people live their life looking toward the “ultimate joy” they will hopefully have in Heaven.

You stated in your question/reply:

  • Is fantasying a sin?
  • What if a person fantasizes about two heterosexuals having sex; is that a sin?
  • What is an example of fantasizing?

One can be tempted with bad sexual thoughts on their mind. The bad thoughts, in themselves, are not a sin, but a temptation.

The person who chooses to give into the bad thoughts, by saying, "I want more bad thoughts",
sins by saying "yes" to the sin.  It all depends on whether one chooses to turn right away from the fantasy, by saying "no", or encourages [his/her] mind to accept more bad fantasies.

You stated in your question/reply:

  • Is sexual thought about two people having sex a sin?

If it is deliberate, Yes.

You stated in your question/reply:

  • Is a sexual or homosexual desire a sin?

No, so long as the person doesn't act on the desire.

You stated in your question/reply:

  • Is a homosexual tendency a sin?

I'm not should what you mean. There is no known natural reason for a person to have homosexual tendencies. God made man for woman and woman for man.

The root of homosexual thoughts come mainly from the following media:

  • T.V.
  • radio
  • books
  • groups that encourage the behavior, and
  • the internet.

Any information you hear about homosexuality being a genetic issue that has to do with our genetic make-up is garbage!

You stated in your question/reply:

  • If a practicing homosexual never confesses there homosexual sin can they still go to Heaven if they obey the rest of God's beliefs?

It depends on whether they knew that homosexual acts where mortal sins. If they did know,
yet continued with their behavior, No, they would not be able to go to Heaven. All men and women have been created with the natural law written in their hearts and are bound to be guided by the Holy Spirit to repent if they sense what they are doing is wrong [and/or] sinful.

This natural law (which is built into the soul) tells the practicing homosexual that [his/her] behavior goes against the purpose for which God made their bodies.

You stated in your question/reply:

  • Do you need to confess all your sins in order to get into Heaven?

Catholics have to confess all known mortal sins including the approximate number of them to get to Heaven. Sins against the flesh are mortal sins and must be confessed. The same is true with those sins where one gives permission to more bad thoughts, if they meet the criteria the Church has given:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the amount of blame of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The prompting's of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

You stated in your question/reply:
My teenager masturbates while watching people on T.V. having sex. I've asked the deacon at my church, as well as other priests and deacons, what I should do, but I don't understand what they are telling me.

  • Is this natural?
  • Is this considered a sin?
  • Is this natural for anyone?

Yes, the struggle and temptation is natural for any man or woman. As men and women, we were created with fallen natures, thanks to the sin of Adam and Eve.

The best comment I've heard on this subject was from a priest who said there is only one time when you won't have to worry about struggling with the sins of the flesh:

When you are 6 feet underground ... meaning, you are dead and physically buried.

Our fallen nature manifests itself by our sins of the flesh both inside and outside the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Christian Baptism erased original sin, but we still have a tendency to repeat these sins of the flesh due to concupiscence. Jesus even told us Himself:

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

So He understands the struggle and how difficult it is.

Many "red-blooded Americans" will say. "It's natural!".

I say, "No, it is natural within marriage." Because of our fallen nature, "their line" can be persuasive; nevertheless, it isn't.

The Church and Our Lord tell us that we have to strive to keep holy as St. Paul struggled:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us the following:

405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

A hard battle. . .

407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil". Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals.

Because of our fallen nature, it is a struggle to keep our [temples|bodies] holy, but this is what we are called to do so that, in receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, we partake 110% in His divine nature and become co-workers with Our Lord in his vineyard: the world.

Simple advice: If one commits one of these sins, just go to Confession and, end the Confession by telling the priest you wish to make a good, holy Communion.   Then you will have a clear conscience when making your Sunday obligation.

My two cents from a personal view: Weather you are single or married, the sins of the flesh are not easy sins to combat no matter what age you are. I have found the most power weapons in keeping my [temple|body] holy are:

  1. frequent Confession
  2. Daily Mass and
  3. praying the Rosary and particularly asking Our Lady for help.

My personal prayer after Confession:

"Lord, you created my body out of nothing. You created it with all its senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. Although my mind and body, at times, struggles to understand aspects of your teachings on sexuality and may be drawn in the opposite direction of your Holy Will, I pray you will bless this body {make the sign of the cross over your whole body} and make it chaste according to your Divine Will.

I ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen."

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

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