Practical Moral Principles: Fourth Practical Principle
by Fr. Gerald Kelly
"It is a venial sin to perform an indirectly venereal action without a relatively sufficient reason."
In this last principle we have not referred to those cases in which there is really a complete fundamental lack of sincerity. But it does happen at times that people merely deceive themselves in the matter of impurity. They want venereal pleasure, but they do not like to admit it, even to themselves. Hence, they read strongly stimulating things, dwell on stimulating thoughts-- always with a certain pretense that they have some other motive. In reality, they violate the second principle but rationalize themselves out of guilt, at least serious guilt. It is often difficult to estimate these cases, as mental quirks develop easily in one who is not sincerely devoted to chastity.
The four preceding principles have taken care of anything that might be sinful in regard to chastity. It remains merely to indicate what is sinless. Practically speaking, our actions are sinless when they are reasonable. In other words, when we have a good reason for our thoughts or actions, we may think or act, and ignore the sexual-stimulation that may accidentally result. Thus, necessity permits the intimate actions of a medical examination.
The acquisition of useful or necessary knowledge permits young doctors, nurse, theologians, and instructors to study things which might at times be strongly stimulating. Normal recreation is sufficient to justify things which are only slightly stimulating (as some people may notice regarding dancing, slightly suggestive motion pictures, generally decent picture magazines, and so forth). Hypersensitive people, that is, those who are bothered by things which do not disturb others and greatly bothered by things which only slightly disturb others, may live as others do in this matter, so long an their intention is good. Sometimes it is better for them to live as others do; sometimes the more advisable course is to lead a more careful life. They need sound personal direction.
What we have said about sinlessness can now be summarized in our Fifth Practical Principle: "Indirectly venereal actions are not sinful if one has a good and sufficient reason for beginning or continuing such actions."
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Copyright © Gerald Kelly. Reproduced with permission of Fusion International. All rights reserved.