What Are The Seven Deadly Sins?
See Part 1
Lust in us is an unfortunate tendency more or less violent especially from the age of puberty (or adolescence), to indulge in this pleasure within and even outside of marriage. This is the tendency that is called lust and which is condemned by the sixth and the ninth commandments: Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery and Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife.
Lust not only concerns exterior actions, but also interior ones. All interior actions with ourselves or with others are forbidden by the Law of God. All thoughts, fantasies, or desires, are forbidden, except those that are lawful within the limits in the state of Holy Matrimony. It is important for married spouses to realize that no kind of lewd kisses or sexual fore or after play may ever be done, and neither may spouses masturbate each other during the act of marriage. Masturbation is always a mortal sin, and it does not cease with being a mortal sin just because the spouses are married. Lust is as much a mortal sin within a marriage as outside of marriage. The only thing that is allowed by the Church is the marital act itself; all above this is sin.
You must fight against the attacks of lust from the devil, or you will soon join him in Hell in a while. To entertain sexual thoughts outside of the marital act or to unnecessarily put oneself in sexual temptations when there is no need to, is a clear mortal sin. You may thus not entertain sexual thoughts culpably, even about your own wife, outside of the marital act, but must resist these thoughts or temptations as you would resist the thought of adultery.
For example, it would be quite sick not to resist sexual thoughts about your wife (or to continually entertain such thoughts) while at work, or while on a trip etc. For at work or while on a trip, there’s no chance for you to lawfully quiet your concupiscence with her; so to culpably dwell on such thoughts, then, will only distract you and could even lead you into committing other sins, such as masturbation or adultery (in thought as well as in deed). You must thus resist sexual thoughts and temptations, and may not entertain them in anyway.
It is one thing to be tempted to have relations with your spouse, and another thing to have sex with him/her in your mind. You can have temptations about your spouse and consent to the thought of wanting to quiet your concupiscence with her, whenever the opportunity arrives – for that is lawful – but you may not and cannot consent to the thought of having sex with her in your mind outside of the marital act, — i.e., you may not think about her or consent to sexual thoughts about her in such a way that it gives you sexual pleasure or arousal outside of the marital act. This is not to be understood in the sense that you can think about sinful or bad (lustful) thoughts within the marital act. No, all bad and impure thoughts are forbidden; however, but you may let yourself be aroused in thought, of course, lawfully and without sin while having marital relations.
What are the effects of lust? The first effect, and perhaps the most serious effect of lust is the formation of strong habits of sin. Inclination is so strong and intense that young people easily fall into habits of impure thoughts and impure actions. And these habits establish themselves in the soul as a kind of tyranny. People become slaves to this impurity and sometimes they take this slavery to impurity throughout their whole lives and are never able to overcome it.
Even in their old age they commit grave sins of impurity. When the habit of impurity has overtaken the soul, the soul loses any desire for prayer. Prayer becomes difficult for the soul and it is addicted to sins of impurity. A person who is addicted to impurity, a person whose soul is ravaged by lust, is unable to pray — is unable to set time aside to pray; unable to pray the holy rosary; unable to read scripture; unable to do any of these things because the soul becomes incapable of self-sacrifice and unselfish motives. There is but a single thing in life, and that is to have pleasure of lust — that’s what happens to those who become addicted to this.
Men become soft interiorly. They become incapable of courage and uprightness. Women lose their sweetness and their innocence. They’re no longer demure, but they dress shamelessly — many times just to be able to catch a boyfriend. Through the selfishness that accompanies lust, the soul loses interest in everything it once loved.
People who find themselves enslaved by impurity of lust will do things such as stop loving their parents and friends because they only know the pursuit of their lust. We see this very often in cases of adultery. What happens? The adulterer turns on their parents, turns on their family, turns on everybody around them. People around him will tell them, “you need to get out of that relationship…”, “you need to stop…”. Yet the people involved, because lust has overtaken their soul and their heart, will turn on them.
They will turn on them. They hurt those who they have loved for many years because of lust — because lust gives you a cold heart. We can think of all the politicians over the years that we’ve seen that hurt their family members; those involved in the scandal of pedophilia; all this hurt because of this capital sin.
Interior peace in the soul is destroyed by lust. The pleasures makes us like animals, St. Thomas Aquinas says. It must constantly seek distraction in order to pull away from the interior shame that’s caused by it. This can lead even to people having some mental issues and other times it even becomes a physical problem. Lust makes us lose taste for higher things. The intellect becomes dull and weak. Students do poorly in school because they can only think of one thing — the satisfaction of their lust. The lustful man is also angry. He lashes out at everyone whom he perceives to be in his way. Vanity takes hold of the soul and there is an obsession with one’s own appearance. So we can see that lust takes a toll on us.
What are the remedies to lust? How can we root this capital sin out of our lives? The very first thing, is a conviction that it must be avoided and a conviction that it is possible to be pure. That’s the very first way to root lust out of your heart: be convinced to avoid it and be convinced that you can be pure. So many of our youth today are taught that they are incapable of being pure. But it is possible. With God’s grace it is possible to be pure: where you can retain your body as a vessel of purity, because God’s grace is stronger than any emotion that might well up in you; is stronger than Satan; is stronger than anything — and you have to have confidence in that. You have to have confidence that you can be pure. We are temples of God, St. Paul tells us. Who would defile the house of God?
Secondly, we have to avoid the occasion. We have to flee from any kind of dangerous entertainment; flee from any kind of friends that will lead us into these kinds of sins; flee from visits, or meetings, or literature, or tv, movies, surfing on bad sites on internet or anything at all so long as we can get away from these things — we avoid them. There is also prayer and spiritual reading. We have to include in prayer, the frequency of the sacraments: the frequency of Confession, receiving Holy Communion with frequency. Making a point, setting aside time everyday, for prayer and spiritual reading.
To fast, and make penance in other ways, such as abstinence from delicate foods, etc. No doubt the use of these means of defense, requires courage and earnestness and repeated effort. But with prayer and the sacraments and a determined will we can surmount all obstacles. We can be pure. We can root lust out of our hearts.The inordinate craving for, or indulgence of, the carnal pleasure which is experienced in the human organs of generation.
The wrongfulness of lust is reducible to this: that venereal satisfaction is sought for either outside wedlock or, at any rate, in a manner which is contrary to the laws that govern marital intercourse. Every such criminal indulgence is a mortal sin, provided of course, it be voluntary in itself and fully deliberate.
Moreover, if it be true the gravity of the offences may be measured by the harm they work to the individual or the community, there can be no doubt that lust has in this respect a gravity all its own. Transgressions against the virtues other than purity frequently admit of a minor degree of malice, and are accounted venial. Impurity has the evil distinction that, whenever there is a direct conscious surrender to any of its phases the guilt incurred is always grievous. This judgment, however, needs modifying when there is question of some impure gratification for which a person is responsible, not immediately, but because he had posited its cause, and to which he has not deliberately consented.
The act may then be only venially sinful. For the determination of the amount of its wickedness much will depend upon the apprehended proximate danger of giving way on the part of the agent, as well as upon the known capacity of the thing done to bring about venereal pleasure.
This teaching applies to external and internal sins alike: “Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). However the case may stand as to the extent of the obligation under which one lies to refrain in certain circumstances from actions whose net result is to excite the passions, moralists are at one as to the counsel they give. They all emphasize the perils of the situation, and point out the practical dangers of a failure to refrain. It matters not that there is not, as we suppose, an initial sinful intent. The sheerest prudence and most rudimentary self-knowledge alike demand abstinence, where possible, from things which, though not grievously bad in themselves, yet easily fan into flame the unholy fire which may be smouldering, but it is not extinct.
Lust is said to be a capital sin. The reason is obvious. The pleasure which this vice has as its object is at once so attractive and connatural to human nature as to whet keenly a man’s desire, and so lead him into the commission of many other disorders in the pursuit of it. Theologians ordinarily distinguish various forms of lust in so far as it is a consummated external sin, e.g., fornication, adultery, incest, criminal assault, abduction, and sodomy. Each of these has its own specific malice–a fact to borne in mind for purposes of safeguarding the integrity of sacramental confession.