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attraction vs lust
Question from Jim on 10/22/2007:

Fr. Levis, I found this excerpt on the internet (author unknown) and I would like to get your response to this paragraph. I have often wondered about this issue and when our thoughts become sinful. My conscience seems to be neutral because I know I am resisting certain thoughts but I could still use your guidance. Excerpt below, Thanks.

Matthew 5:28 says, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." I find our usual understanding of this passage leads to problems. To say anytime a man looks upon a woman and finds her sexually attractive is sin, it is a dangerous position. I have heard it said there is a distinct difference in finding a woman attractive and finding her sexually attractive. I challenge anyone to clearly define the differences. God created "male and female" and sexual attraction is normal, and I believe to be expected. Anyone not attracted to the opposite sex has emotional or health issues. To say a man sexually attracted to a female falls under the condemnation of Christ is to put every unmarried male in a difficult position. Can they date, become engaged, and plan a future life with one of the opposite sex without thoughts of sexual desire? Of course not! What is the difference? They are seeking and planning a "lawful" gratification of those desires.

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 10/24/2007:

Jim, Of course, every man finds every woman attractive. And I suppose most if not every women also finds every man attractive. Here we have the God-established mutual attraction of the sexes. Sin enters when sexual pleasure is a factor. So if a man continues his attenti0n on a subject once sexuality becomes active, he sins. The degree of the sin depends on the degree of sexual pleasure indulged in. When a couple is planning marriage, more tolerance is permitted them for obvious reasons. Fr. Bob Levis

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