What Are Unchaste Thoughts?
In a nutshell, unchaste thoughts are sexually arousing or impure, sinful thoughts. They come in three flavors.
- Involuntary. The unchaste thought enters your mind and you immediately do your best to banish it from your mind.
- Involuntary that becomes voluntary: The unchaste thought enters your mind and you linger on it and take pleasure in thinking about it.
- Voluntary: You set aside a time to think about the particular unchaste thought/activity. An example would be someone who can’t wait to leave work so that that he could lay in bed, thinking more about something impure he’d like to do.
“If the mind takes pleasure in unlawful thoughts, which it ought to banish at their first appearance, it evidently commits a sin, and this even when it does not propose to itself to execute what it thought.”
~ St Augustine
Moral theology says that we do not sin if an impure thought enters our minds.
But if once you know that what you think of is unchaste and sinful, and nevertheless entertain it with pleasure without fighting against it and trying to banish it from your mind, you commit a mortal sin, because the pleasure in the unchaste thought is entirely voluntary. It is not necessary that you take pleasure in the unchaste object for any length of time; for, to entertain this voluntary pleasure only for a moment, is a mortal sin. That impure thoughts, in which we take voluntary pleasure, are grievous sins, St. Augustine teaches in these words: “If the mind takes pleasure in unlawful thoughts, which it ought to banish at their first appearance, it evidently commits a sin, and this even when it does not propose to itself to execute what it thought.”
Rev. John Evangelist Zohlner, The Pulpit Orator: Low Sunday through the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost Vol. 3 (1884)
When you’re lonely, it is easy to fall into a fantasy life, to look forward to getting home so you can relish those thoughts of how you want your life to be.
If you’re not careful, you can fall into all sorts of sin like masturbation and porn.
How to Banish Unchaste Thoughts
Here are some ways to banish unchaste thoughts:
Firmly Intend to Not Linger On Unchaste Thoughts
“Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” ~Daniel 1:8.
All good actions require an act of the will.
Will with all your heart that you will not fall into sin.
By resolving not to sin, you are sending a signal to Satan to stay away. At the same time, you are signaling to your brain over and over that these thoughts are not pleasurable for you, and in time, you will automatically dismiss those thoughts as they arise.
Recognize That You Can’t Do It Alone
The Act of Contrition ends with the following: “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.”
If you truly want to banish a sinful habit, cry out to God and plead with Him to help you. He will help you.
“Holy Purity is granted by God when it is asked for with humility.”
St. Josemaria Escriva
Attend Daily Mass & Adoration to Banish Unchaste Thoughts
“One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion is to preserve the soul from sin, and to help those who fall through weakness to rise again. It is much more profitable, then, to approach this divine Sacrament with love, respect, and confidence, than to remain away through an excess of fear and scrupulosity.”
–St. Ignatius of Loyola
If you are able, attend daily Mass and receive the Eucharist.
The Eucharist feeds, us and sustains us.
Offer up your struggles with chastity and unchaste thoughts to the One who can free you from all vice.
Ask for Our Lady to Intercede for You
“More souls go to hell because of the sin of the flesh than for any other reason.”
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady is our mother and she shows us how to live lives free of impurity. She desires to show us how to please her son.
Specifically, cultivate a devotion to the Rosary.
Many have broken patterns of sin by praying the Rosary every night.
Avoid Anything That Might Create an Occasion of Sin for You
“Jesse thought he was immune to movies with explicit, sexual content. “Most decent movies, have some sort of sexual content,” he rationalized. I can focus on the main theme of the movie and not focus at all on the sexual content.”
This is what he thought until he started to struggle.
At night time when everyone else was asleep, his mind drifted to what he had seen earlier and he began to fantasize about engaging in those same acts.
We are not as immune as we might think.
If you find that social media imagery that enters your feed is an occasion of sin, limit your screen time.
If you find yourself reading websites that contain sexual imagery and content, even if it is not porn, consider using an internet filter like Covenant Eyes.
Read the Lives of the Saints
The Saints lived by example and you can’t read the lives of the saints without having the desire to be saintlier. Check out some recommended books in the resource section below.
In a world where sexual intimacy is the norm even while dating, it can be incredibly hard to not think about and desire to have sex, as a single person. Even though it can be hard, a chaste mind totally achievable. This year, why not crucify your unchaste thoughts on the cross?
Resources To Strengthen Your Resolve
Chaste Courtship Articles
Lives of the Saints
This content was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2020.