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lustful or not lustful glances - a serious problem with confession

idahoon1

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I have an issue that I cannot really discuss with my priest: is it a sin to look at someone attractive?

To give you an example: your'e watching tv or browsing a magazine - and baaam, there's that man/woman that catches your eye. Or, worse - you see someone handsome in the street and look at him because of his face, body features, etc. (I'm not talking about deliberate staring with imagining something bad, nor about watchning something indecent)

Now the best part: assuming there's that subple shade of attraction/desire - how to tell it during confession?

- if I say: I had lustful glances on men - it would be a lie, since I didn't stare at anyone, or rather looked the other way
- if I say: I had lustful glances on PEOPLE - it would also be a lie - since in that particular case I saw a guy...
- if I say: I looked at a man and felt desire - it would be also a lie - since it was not that strong feeling, it would be an exageration

So, whenever I happen to see an attractive face, a piece of nudity, someone that is pleasing to my eye - I face the above problem.
And when I tell the priest "I casted lustful glances" - I feel like holding back something (and be worthy of judgement and so on).

I cannot discuss this with my priests - as he is young and should not be performing the role of an Elder (to avoid the so-called "mlodostarczestwo").
He is performing the role of my spiritual father, but I know there are limits - and I feel like such conversation would be of no spiritual benefit to anyone.

For that reason, I would even more appreciate an answer from a priest.

Thank you!
 

LizaSymonenko

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Being of an artistic mindset.... I have a huge imagination, and often am moved by the beauty I see all around me... including the beauty of the human form.

I do not think it sinful, unless you are truly lustfully gazing upon said person.

When I was younger, we went to see my first ever ballet performance... which leaves little to the imagination... and yet I marveled at how beautifully the human was composed... the smooth muscle structure, the power, etc. I was not lusting over the dancers, just marveling at the beauty of God's creation.

If I see a handsome man on the street, or in person, he might make my heart skip a beat, and I may once again be amazed by whatever feature it is that sets him apart... I will also pause to admire a beautiful woman... and will often let her know how pretty she is (because often women do not realize they are beautiful...just the way they are).

None of the above was accompanied by lustful thoughts or desires of any kinds. Just an appreciation of how beautifully God made us.

I have never felt the need to confess any of the above, as I do not believe any of it was sinful.

Now.... if I had left my gaze upon a certain man, followed him with my eyes....and in my mind I went where I should not... then I would have something to confess.
 

Asteriktos

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I think most would differentiate between lust and attraction. Attraction is something that is natural, at least as part of our current human state. Church Fathers acknowledged this:

"Let no one think however that herein we depreciate marriage as an institution. We are well aware that it is not a stranger to God's blessing. But since the common instincts of mankind can plead sufficiently on its behalf, instincts which prompt by a spontaneous bias to take the high road of marriage for the procreation of children." (St. Gregory Nyssa, On Virginity, 8)

"Blame not natural desire. natural desire was bestowed with a view to marriage; it was given with a view to the procreation of children, not with a view to adultery and corruption." (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on Ephesians)

"For truly, truly this love is stronger than any tyranny; other desires may be strong, but this one never fades. This love is deeply planted within our nature. Unnoticed by us, it attracts the bodies of men and women to each other, because in the beginning woman came forth from man, and now from man and woman both men and women proceed." (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on Ephesians)
People like Rachel and Esther are called 'beautiful' by the Scripture. There's nothing wrong with the basic idea of recognizing such things, the problem comes in if you take it in a bad direction. Just like gluttony takes what is fine (desiring food) and turns it into a bad thing, so too with lust, adultery, etc. when it comes to attraction. If you think of someone as handsome or whatever: fine, no big deal, just move on from it. If you can't--if you become infatuated for example--that's when it might become a problem.
 

Stinky

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When i acknowledge with my brain that there is beauty in front of me, it is not lust for me. I turn my head and continue what i was doing. When I still think of that beauty when my head is turned away and thereby turn again for another look and that look "passes 3 second", for me it is lust. It's a voyerist pleasure and objectification of another. When I wonder what that person looks like in another situation ( entertaining imagination) then it has gone into the sewer.
I confessed simply at my last confession, " I looked on someone with lust." Father doesn't need to know more details unless it comes up at every confession then he may want to give helpful advice to help me gain victory. This is true for any repetitive sin. I leave that up to him to ask for clarity. If you feel you are really struggling in an ongoing way then simply state that you often look at others with lust and it is weighing you down and getting in the way of a healthy prayer life. This may help him understand that it wasn't a passing by thing but may be taking root.
 
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I have always viewed lust as thinking sexually in an intentional manner after someone. If I see a pretty woman I might think wow she is pretty and enjoy how pretty she is. (don't tempt yourself by staring though). No lust there. If I see the same pretty woman and think I wonder how her breasts look or what it would be like to have sex with her and hold that thought then it is lust.

A great example of how noticing someone of the opposite sex without lusting is this. I have been friends with a woman for 35 years. I can't remember not being friends with her. I am 35 she recently turned 36. Her husband is now one of my best friends also. But one day I was with them and I noticed that her breast looked bigger and other signs and I realized they were pregnant but have not told anyone. I was right. I did not lust at all but did notice the change in her. Of course and this is going to sound horrible but I also don't think is attractive but can see how others can and could think that.
 
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When I don't tempt your self by staring I mean gawking. There is nothing wrong with seeing and admiring beauty as long as it stays chaste
 

idahoon1

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that's the problem - don't you think the border is really thin?
 
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that's the problem - don't you think the border is really thin?
It can be. I have noticed that a lot changes with age. At near 36 I don't really struggle with it at all. I am in love with my wife and age also has a lot to do with it. I would imagine that at 16 I really really struggled hard with it.
 

Thetruthisgod

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“I know a man who, when he saw a woman of striking beauty, praised the Creator for her. The sight of her lit within him the love of God.”

— John Climacus
 

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In cases where you seem to be nearing a line, consider that attraction/lust might be a way of growing and maturing in the faith. "ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:6-7). True, sometimes it takes a while to do what you want to do consistently, but even the saints had problems with that sometimes. "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Rom. 7:15) In that case the story about the monks comes to mind...

A man asked a monk, “What do you monks do in the monastery?”

The monk’s reply: “We fall down and we get up.”
 

LukeDM

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I had a dear Roman Catholic professor who advised us struggling young men, when we began to cross the border from looking to lusting to pray thusly: "Lord, protect your daughter from thoughts like mine."
 

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From my experience: when I give in to accept attraction as not sinful, after some days/weeks the attention to attraction develops into lustful thoughts and desires.

I confess it in the following way: I saw a beautiful woman/man and my heart & mind was attached to that beauty.
 

idahoon1

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Nathanael, but - would confessing "I took lustful glances at someone" be holding back or lying during the confession?
 
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