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 Post subject: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:47 pm 
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Hi!
I am doing research on how the Catholic teaching of freedom is expressed in St Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, specifically in the context of chastity, pornography, homosexuality, and lust.

At the moment I am wondering how does chastity, pornography, homosexuality, and lust relate to the Catholic teaching of freedom?
I am familiar with the Catholic teachings on these subjects. I require an answer deeper than the idea that "man is free to do as he wants but sinful acts are condemned." Please be specific to each of the topics I mentioned (chastity, pornography, homosexuality, and lust).
Please be as detailed as possible.
Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:49 am 
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There's some foundation that needs to be laid before we van get into the details of how sins of the flesh have a detrimental effect our freedom.

I think, first of all, that you've misunderstood the Church regarding what it means for the human will to be free.  The freedom of the will is not the "freedom to do what you want", it's the power(and thus the responsibility) to do the good that you ought.   Paraphrasing Thomas Aquinas(and PED and others pardon me and correct me if I get this wrong), the Will and the powers of certain appetites of the will are directed towards percieved and/or actual goods (such as food for nourishment). And those goods themselves contribute to the general well being of the person.  So long as those goods are sought ordinately and not excessively and according to right reason, then the man's will remains free.  Thus a truly free will is one oriented towards universal goodness, or eudiamonia(human flourishing or well-being).

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 Post subject: Re: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:07 am 
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The OP has two categories of things in his question that can get confused.

Homosexuality, defined as sexual attraction to people of the same sex, is not itself sinful. It is only homosexual acts that are sinful. We are not always free to determine how we are tempted; we are free in how we respond.

Likewise, lust itself is a strong sexual attraction. If freely indulged in, it is sinful, but if it is unsought and unwanted, there is no sin involved.

With respect to porn and masturbation, it comes down to a question of how much habituation diminishes freedom. It's an article of faith that God always gives the faithful sufficient grace to observe the commandments, but a person who is strongly habituated may find it very difficult to make use of that grace, to the point where he (or, increasingly, she) feels subjectively overwhelmed by the temptation. Whether this habituation is sufficient to reduce moral culpability below that required for mortal sin is something that theologians and priests argue about.

Edit for clarity: It's not that priests are in one camp and theologians in another. It's that there are different schools of thought, each containing priests and theologians.

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 Post subject: Re: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:10 pm 
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Obi-wan Kenobi wrote:
With respect to porn and masturbation, it comes down to a question of how much habituation diminishes freedom. It's an article of faith that God always gives the faithful sufficient grace to observe the commandments, but a person who is strongly habituated may find it very difficult to make use of that grace, to the point where he (or, increasingly, she) feels subjectively overwhelmed by the temptation.


And there's the effects of the habit on the person themselves. Sexual pleasure sought as an end in itself is not what we were created for. It's rather a means to the end of strengthening the bond of union between two spouses. When sexual pleasure is sought as an end in itself it is empty. The habit of seeking this, like most disordered habits, is subject to the law of diminishing returns. The more you seek it, the less pleasurable it is while proportionately it becomes more and more difficult to forgo.

That is slavery.

And the effects it has on spouses is itself a whole other matter.



Obi-wan Kenobi wrote:
Whether this habituation is sufficient to reduce moral culpability below that required for mortal sin is something that theologians and priests argue about.


Here's the thing about that, while you're in the moment of suspense and anxiety, where the pressure of passions and/or the numbness or emptiness really weigh in on your mind, and you want nothing more than to escape from them and you believe that the only way to do so is by yielding to the urge, I knew enough to know that it was something that I shouldn't, and ought not to do. But I did it anyway.

I chose to do it. Which is always why I sought confession afterwards.

I don't see how there is any real debate on the matter. My habit never obscured the objective knowledge that what I was doing was wrong and unhealthy.

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 Post subject: Re: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:17 pm 
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Knowing it's wrong is one of the conditions. Freedom is a distinct condition. I think it's always better to go to confession, preferably to the same confessor if this is a consistent issue, and let him work through it with you.

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 Post subject: Re: Personal freedom and sinful acts.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:02 am 
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Jon Snow wrote:
Paraphrasing Thomas Aquinas(and PED and others pardon me and correct me if I get this wrong), the Will and the powers of certain appetites of the will are directed towards percieved and/or actual goods (such as food for nourishment). And those goods themselves contribute to the general well being of the person.  So long as those goods are sought ordinately and not excessively and according to right reason, then the man's will remains free.  Thus a truly free will is one oriented towards universal goodness, or eudiamonia(human flourishing or well-being).
Yes, and I think that’s important to note.

See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01656a.htm

Aquinas talks of the will as the rational appetite, appetitus rationalis. According to Aquinas, we have three appetites (three ways we strive after that which is of our nature); the natural appetite (appetitus naturalis), the sensitive appetite (appetitus sensitivus), and the rational appetite (appetitus rationalis). The first is unconscious (and would involve, I think, breathing and other unconscious processes), while the latter two are conscious, following sense-cognition and the intellect, respectively.

The sensitive appetite (at least in animals ‘instinct’ would a proper term) strives after or desires goods that are presented to the senses – for instance nourishing or tasty food or beneficial situations – and which avoids what it perceives as bad – for instance poisonous or unappetizing food or dangerous situations. In the same, or at least an analogous, way, the will, or rational appetite, strives after what is, rationally, good. Simply defined the will or rational appetite is “[the] power of the soul to desire or choose a good known by the intellect” (as Peter Kreeft writes in the glossary of his book A Shorter Summa). This means that if you know something is good for you, you strive after it. Freedom, then, according to Aquinas, is not simply having endless choices but having knowledge of what is good, so that you can strive for it. That means that the more you know, the freer your are. In more modern times, this has often been called ‘freedom of excellence’ in contrast to the modern notion of ‘freedom of indifference,’ which reduces free will to choice, divorced from the rational or good. See here. To use an analogy, this means that when it comes to playing the piano, a trained pianist have more freedom than a beginner, even though the latter is ‘free’ to just hit the keys randomly.

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