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Struggling Sean wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm an 18 year old man who struggles with sexual sin (porn and masturbation). I've been clean for a week since my last Confession.

  • Would it be a mortal sin if I saw (and double-checked) an impure image?

It wasn't something explicit; it was an image from a porn game but didn't show any nudity or alike but it showed the face of a woman having sex (I know this because of her expressions).

I encountered this by accident, but then ended up looking at the image more than once and was tempted to look at pornography because of it.

  • Is it a mortal sin or a venial one?

I don't want to be scrupulous and, because it hasn't been a long time since my last relapse, it's easier for me to think anything I do is a mortal sin.

Please answer this.


  { Would it be a mortal or venial sin if I viewed this impure image more than once by accident? }

Eric replied:


It would have to be something you did with full consent of the will, i.e. deliberately and freely. Compulsions and habits can mitigate guilt. If you looked at it a second time, giving yourself over to the act after sufficient reflection and saying to yourself I know this is a sin, I know this is grave matter, but I don't really care, I choose to do it anyway, then it would probably be a mortal sin.

If it was a compulsive, impulsive act in the moment, then it wouldn't be.

Mortal sin requires, besides grave matter, full consent of the will. Acting in the passion of the moment, or without sufficient reflection, impairs such consent.

Also being tempted is not a sin. Deliberately, knowingly, and with sufficient reflection putting yourself in the occasion of temptation intending to sin would be mortal sin, but if temptation is accidental and not intended, it is not a sin.

Subsequent glances can be a stumbling block and hence problematic, but if they come out compulsion or passion or addiction, it is likely not a mortal sin.

  • For example, suppose you saw it once, were captivated by it and became briefly obsessed in the moment with studying it because it was arousing. That would not be a mortal sin.
  • But if you saw it, went away, and a few hours later, after cooling off, thought about it and made a decision to find it again and inflame your passions, that could well be a mortal sin.


Mike replied:


If you were unaware of it, you may want to check out these two specific areas on our web site where we address sexual struggles and how to handle them:

There each of us had our own recommendations that help in this area.

Also check out the Similar Issues area here:

I hope this helps,


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