Lust

Friends in Christ, in the 1st reading today, St. Paul speaks against immorality and impurity. ‘Be sure of this, he says: no immoral or impure person has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
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When he speaks of impurity, he is speaking about lust. Lust is one of the 7 deadly sins.
Thomas Aquinas says[i] that lust is to indulge in unlawful sexual pleasures. Sexual love is meant for marriage, and in the pure and good context of marital love, the sexual power is very good. But how easily this power can be misused.
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Lust is a disordered use of our sexual power. St. Thomas speaks of various types of sins of lust. Among these, are fornication, adultery, seduction, and unnatural vice.
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Fornication is the unlawful use of sex by unmarried men or women; it is a mortal sin for two reasons. First, it is a dreadful lie. A man or woman says with their body, ‘I give myself totally to you.’ But they may not be around next week or next year, because there is no marriage covenant. These actions are therefore a big lie; it is to use another person for gratification, with no commitment.
The other wrong here, is that children have a right to be conceived in a permanent relationship of parents; so fornication is to play around with the real, potential lives of children. We see the great damage today of this sin, many children without married parents. St. Thomas also reminds us that kisses and touches that are lustful are mortal sins as well.
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He also rightly says, that whatever happens in one’s sleep or in dreams cannot be sinful, since we have no control over our will. However, there could be fault in our waking actions – what we watch or listen to, which could prompt evil dreams.
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Adultery is a sin far worst than fornication, because it violates not only chastity, but is also a gross violation of justice against the true spouse of the person. It is an open attack on the other spouse, and it is also a sin against the common good – we see all the damage it is doing to society.
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Finally, St. Thomas speaks of ‘Unnatural vice.’ Unnatural vice would include impure actions with self or between two people of the same sex. Notice that he does not call this ‘unnatural sex,’ but ‘unnatural vice,’ because unnatural actions are not sex at all; they are perversions of the gift of sexuality.
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Lust is one of the 7 Deadly, or ‘Capital’ sins. But the virtue we really want, is purity. If our heart and our actions are pure, then we will, as St. Paul says, ‘Be children of the Light.’

[i] Tour of the Summa

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