"Is it a Sin to Have Thoughts about Sex?"

Dear Father Bloom,

I have a question about confession of mortal sins. When you confess your sins, do you also have to specify that it was mortal by saying that you committed the act even though you knew it was wrong? I hope not because I didn't and I'd rather not have to confess those particular sins ever again! (I know, I never should have committed them in the first place!)

Also, is it a sin when you get angry with someone but then you realize you're angry so you try not to be angry anymore? And is it a sin to have thoughts about sex enter your mind for a few seconds but then you try to dismiss them from your thoughts? In other words, you don't really approve of those thoughts. Are those things just temptations and feelings that are not sinful?

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my and others' questions. You really are helping to build up the kingdom of God not only on the website, but also in being a priest, or most all! May God bless you and keep you well.



Dear N,

It sounds to me that what you did in confessing your sins was sufficient. Greater detail might be indicated if the penitent or confessor felt it necessary to help in overcoming the sin. Like most priests, I am most reticent to pry further than what a penitent says. Also very often there is a line of people so in fairness to others it is best not to turn the confession into a counseling situation.

About sexual thoughts, the best analogy I have heard so far was by Fr. Mike Scanlon. Imagine that you are at a bus stop. When a bus arrives that is not yours, what do you? That's right, let it go by. Don't get on board because it will take you somewhere you don't want to go. Because of our fallen human nature, our own past failures and the culture which surrounds us, sexual temptations are constantly arriving in our consciousness. Just let them go by. The thought is not sinful in itself - unless you climb on board and it starts taking you in the wrong direction. Do you see what I mean?

The same applies to angry or vengeful thoughts. Since they are not as attractive as sexual thoughts, it is sometimes easier to let them go. However, when we let them take charge, the results are often quite bad. We make rash choices or say rash things which we later greatly regret. Let them go. Don't get on board.

Please keep me in your prayers. Even though I am almost 57, I still have problems in those areas and probably will for the foreseeable future. You are in my prayers. God bless,

Fr. Bloom


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