The Sixth Commandment

St. John the Baptist reproached Herod for his unlawful union. The adulterous Herodias
and her shameless daughter, Salome, asked Herod to behead the Precursor.

"A just man is slain by adulterers and the guilty passed sentence upon the judge. Look at the eyes, even in death witnesses of thy crime, as they turn away from the site of thy pleasures. Those eyes are closed, not so much by the condition of death, as by the horror of thy indulgence. That golden mouth, now bloodless, speaks no longer the condemnation thou couldest not bear and of which thou are still afraid. " St. Ambrose

The Sixth Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery":

This precept forbids not only adultery, but every act, look and word opposed to the virtue of chastity; in a word, it forbids all impurity or inordinate carnal pleasure. Impurity or lust is a mortal sin and one of the capital vices, (a) because it is a beastly sin, subjecting the higher part of man to the lower brute passions; (b) because God has forbidden it and punished its commission with dreadful chastisements, such as the Deluge, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; (c) because it is universally considered a most shameful sin. Impurity entails dreadful consequences, (a) unlike other sins which affect only one power, such as the intellect, the will, or some of the senses, lust contaminates man's entire being, body and soul, and becomes the one thought and aim of his existence; (b) it impels a man to every other kind of sin in order to gratify this one; from it result lying, slanders, thefts, murders, etc.; (c) impurity causes the loss of more souls than any other kind of sin, because, while it is the easiest to commit, it is perhaps the hardest to abandon, for it blinds the intellect, hardens the heart, leads to a disgust for piety, loss of faith, despair and final impenitence; (d) it causes the most loathsome diseases and more deaths than all the wars of history. The impure man's "bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust" (Job xx.II).

The Sixth Commandment requires all to cultivate chastity according to their state of life. The excellence of this virtue is seen: (a) from the special love God bears it--He chose a virgin as His mother, the chaste St. Joseph as His foster father, and loved most among the Apostles the innocent St. John; (b) from the fact that God promises a special reward to the pure (Apoc. xiv. 3 ff.) ; (c) from the fact that, in consequence of purity, God grants special favors, such as, clearness of vision, peculiar taste for heavenly things, deep interior peace, etc.; (d) from the fact that it is called the angelic virtue (Wis.iv.1). The chief means of cultivating this virtue are: (a) prayer (Wis. vii. 21); (b) mortification, which consists in shunning idleness (Ecclus. xxxiii. 29), excessive eating and drinking (Ezech. xvi. 49), indecent conversation (Eph. v. 3), immodest dances, plays, etc, dangerous company keeping, bad books, immodest pictures (pornography, etc; (c) frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, meditation on the four last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell), and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

If the vice of impurity was an enormous crime for pagans, how much greater is it for Christians whose flesh has been honored by the Incarnation of the Son of God, whose bodies have been made the temples of the Holy Ghost, and who are nourished by the sacred Body and Blood of Christ Himself! The night of paganism is past, the day of Christ is at hand; let us therefore put aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part III
The Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not commit adultery.(1)

The Position of This Commandment in the Decalogue is Most Suitable

The bond between man and wife is one of the closest, and nothing can be more gratifying to both than to know that they are objects of mutual and undivided affection. On the other hand, nothing inflicts deeper anguish than to feel that the legitimate love which one owes the other has been transferred elsewhere. Rightly, then, and in its natural order is the Commandment which protects human life against the hand of the murderer, followed by that which forbids adultery and which aims to prevent anyone from injuring or destroying by such a crime the holy and honorable union of marriage--a union which is generally the source of ardent affection and love.

Extreme Caution and Prudence Necessary in the Exporition of this Commandment

In the explanation of this Commandment, however, the pastor has need of great caution and prudence, and should treat with great delicacy a subject which requires brevity rather than copiousness of exposition. For it is to be feared that if he explained in detail or at length the ways in which this Commandment is violated, he might unintentionally speak of subjects which, instead of extinguishing, serve rather to inflame corrupt passion.

As, however, the precept contains many things which cannot be passed over in silence, the pastor will explain them in their proper order and place.

Two Parts of this Commandment

This Commandment, then, resolves itself into two heads; the one expressed, which prohibits adultery; the other implied, which inculcates purity of mind and body.(2)

What this Commandment Prohibits:

1. Adultery

To begin with the prohibitory part of the Commandment, adultery is the defilement of the marriage bed, whether it be one's own or another's. If a married man have criminal intercourse with an unmarried woman, he violates the integrity of his marriage bed; and if an unmarried man have intercourse with a married woman, he denies the sanctity of the marriage bed of another.

2. Other Sins Against Chastity

But that every species of immodesty and impurity are included in this prohibition of adultery, is proved by the testimonies of St. Augustine and St. Ambrose,(3) and that such is the meaning of the commandment is borne out by the Old as veil as the New Testament. In the writings of Moses, besides adultery, other sins against chastity are punished. Thus the book of Genesis records the judgment of Judah against his daughter-in-law.(4) In Deuteronomy is found the excellent law of Moses, "that there should be no harlot amongst the daughters of Israel."(5) "Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication,"(6) is the exhortation of Tobias to his son; and in Ecclesiasticus we read: "Be ashamed of looking upon a harlot."(7)

In the Gospel, too, Christ the Lord says: "From the heart come forth adulteries and fornications, which defile a man."(8) The Apostle Paul expresses his detestation of this crime frequently, and in the strongest terms: "This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication";(9) "Fly fornication";(10) "Keep not company with fornicators";(11) "Fornication, and all uncleanness and covetousness, let it not so much as. be named among you";(12) "Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor sodomites shall possess the kingdom of God."(13)

But the reason why adultery is expressly forbidden is because in addition to the turpitude which it shares with other kinds of incontinence, it adds the sin of injustice, not only against our neighbor, but also against civil society.

Again it is certain that he, who abstains not from other sins against chastity, will easily fall into the crime of adultery. By the prohibition of adultery, therefore, we at once see that every sort of immodesty and impurity by which the body is denied is prohibited. Nay, that every inward thought against chastity is forbidden by this Commandment is clear, as well from the very force of the law, which is evidently spiritual, as also from these words of Christ our Lord: "You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."(14)

These are the points which we have deemed proper matter for public instruction. The pastor, however, will add the decrees of the Council of Trent against adulterers, and those who keep harlots and concubines,(15) omitting many other species of immodesty and lust, of which each individual is to be admonished privately, as circumstances of time and person may require.

What this Commandment Prescribes

We now come to explain the positive part of the precept. The faithful are to be taught, and earnestly exhorted, to cultivate continence and chastity with all care, to cleanse themselves "from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification, in the fear of God."(16)

First of all they should be taught that although the virtue of chastity shines with a brighter lustre in those who make the holy and religious vow of virginity, nevertheless it is a virtue which belongs also to those who lead a life of celibacy; or who, in the married state, preserve themselves pure and undefiled from unlawful desire.

Reflections Against Impurity

The holy Fathers have delivered many important lessons of instruction which teach us how to subdue the passions, and to restrain sinful pleasure. The pastor, therefore, will make it his study to explain these lessons accurately to the faithful, and will use the utmost diligence in their exposition.(17)

I. The Baseness of Impurity

Of these lessons some consist in reflections, others in active measures. The remedy prescribed against sins of thought consists chiefly in our forming a just conception of the filthiness and evil of this sin; for such knowledge will lead one more easily to detest it. Now the evil of this crime we may learn from this reflection alone that, on account of it, man is banished and excluded from the kingdom of God--an evil which exceeds all others.

That calamity is, it is true, common to every mortal sin. But what is peculiar to this sin is that fomicators are said to sin against their own bodies, according to the words of St. Paul: "Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body."(18) The reason is that such a one does an injury to his own body by violating its sanctity. Hence the Apostle, writing to the Thessalonians, says: "This is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God."(19) Furthermore, what is still more criminal, the Christian who shamefully sins with a harlot makes the members of Christ the members of an harlot, according to these words of St. Paul: "Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. Or know you not, that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body?"(20) Moreover, a Christian, as St. Paul testifies, is, "the temple of the Holy Ghost";(21) and to violate this temple is nothing else than to expel the Holy Ghost.

2. The Injustice of Adultery

But the crime of adultery involves that of grievous injustice. If, as the Apostle says, they who are joined in wedlock are so subject to each other, that neither has power or right over his her body, but both are bound, as it were, by a mutual bond of subjection, the husband to accommodate himself to the will of the wife, the wife to the will of the husband; most certainly if either dissociate his or her person, which is the right of the other, from him or her to whom it is bound, the offender is guilty of an act of flagrant injustice, and of a grievous crime.(22)

3. The Disgrace of Adultery

As dread of disgrace strongly stimulates to the performance of duty, and deters from the commission of crime, the pastor will also teach that adultery brands its guilty perpetrators with an indelible stigma. "He that is an adulterer," says Solomon, "for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul: he gathereth to himself shame and dishonor, and his reproach shall not be blotted out."(23)

4. The Evil Consequences of Adultery

The grievousness of the sin of adultery may be easily inferred from the severity of its punishment. According to the law promulgated by God in the Old Testament, the adulterer was condemned to be stoned to death.(24) Nay more, because of the criminal passion of one man, not only the perpetrator of the crime, but a whole city was destroyed, as we read with regard to the Sichemites.(25) The Sacred Scriptures abound with examples of the divine vengeance against this sin, such as the destruction of Sodom and of the neighboring cities,(26) the punishment of the Israelites who committed fornication in the wilderness with the daughters of Moab,(27) and the slaughter of the Benjamites.(28) These examples the pastor can easily make use of to deter men from similar enormities.

But even though the adulterer may escape the punishment of death, he does not escape the great pains and torments that often overtake such sins as his. Blinded by his own infatuation, the heaviest chastisement with which sin can be visited, he is lost to all regard for God, for reputation, for honor, for family, and even for life; and thus, utterly abandoned and worthless, he is undeserving of confidence in any matter of moment, and becomes unfitted to discharge any kind of duty.

Of this we find examples in the persons of David and of Solomon. David had no sooner fallen into the crime of adultery than he degenerated into a character the very reverse of what he had been before; from the mildest of men he became so cruel as to consign to death Urias, one of his most deserving subjects.(29) Solomon, having abandoned himself to the lust of women, abandoned the true religion to follow strange gods.(30) This sin, therefore, as Osee observes, often takes away man's understanding.(31)

Remedies Against Impurity:

1. Avoidance of Idleness

We now come to the remedies which consist in action. The first is studiously to avoid idleness; for, according to Ezechiel, it was by yielding to the enervating influence of idleness that the Sodomites plunged into the most shameful crime of criminal lust.(32)

2. Temperance

In the next place, intemperance in eating and drinking is carefully to be avoided. "I fed them to the full," says the prophet, "and they committed adultery."(33) An overloaded stomach begets impurity. This our Lord intimates in these words: "Take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness."(34) "Be not drunk with wine," says St. Paul, "wherein is luxury."(35)

3. Custody of the Eyes

But the eyes, in particular, are the inlets to criminal passion, and to this refer these words of our Lord: "If thine eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee."(36) The prophets, also, frequently speak to the same effect. "I made a covenant with mine eyes," says Job, "that I would not so much as think upon a virgin."(37) Finally, there are on record innumerable examples of the evils which have their origin in the indulgence of the eyes. It was thus that David sinned,(38) thus that the king of Sichem fell,(39) and thus also that the elders sinned who calumniated the chaste Susanna.(40)

4. Avoidance of Immodest Dress

Too much display and adornment in dress, which especially attracts the eye, is but too frequently an occasion of sin. Hence the admonition of Ecclesiasticus: "Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up."(41) As women are given to excessive fondness for dress, it will not be unseasonable in the pastor to give some attention to the subject, and sometimes to admonish and reprove them in the impressive words of the Apostle Peter: "Whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel."(42) St. Paul likewise says: "Not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire."(43) Many women adorned with gold and precious stones, have lost the only true ornament of their soul and body.

5. Avoidance of Impure Conversation, Reading, Pictures

Next to the sexual excitement, usually provoked by too studied an elegance of dress, follows another, which is indecent and obscene conversation. Obscene language is a torch which lights up the worst passions of the young mind; and the Apostle has said, that "evil communications corrupt good manners."(44) Immodest and passionate songs and dances seldom fail to produce the same fatal effects, and are, therefore, cautiously to be avoided.

In the same class are to be numbered soft and obscene books which must be avoided no less than indecent pictures and images. All such things possess a fatal influence in exciting to unlawful attractions, and in kindling criminal desire in the mind of youth. In these matters the pastor should take special pains to see that the faithful most carefully observe the regulations of the Council of Trent.(45)

6. Frequentation of the Sacraments

If the occasions of sin, which we have just enumerated be carefully avoided, almost every excitement to lust will be removed. But the most efficacious means for subduing the violence of impure passion are frequent use of confession and communion. Unceasing and devout prayer to God, accompanied by fasting and alms-deeds, has a like salutary effect. Chastity is a gift of God:(46) to those who ask it aright He does not deny it; nor does He suffer us to be tempted beyond our strength.(47)

7. Mortification

But the body is to be mortified and the sensual appetites to be repressed not only by fasting, and particularly, by the fasts instituted by the Church, but also by watching, pious pilgrimages, and other works of austerity. By these and similar penitential observances is the virtue of temperance chiefly manifested. In connection with this subject, St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says: "Every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things; and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one";(48) and a little after he says: "I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest, perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway." And in another place he says: "Make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscence."(49)

The Sin of Homosexuality

Condemnations from Sacred Scripture.

"And the Lord said: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is multiplied,
and their sin is become exceedingly grievous" (Gen. 18:20).

The angels arrived at Lot's house, under the appearance of two handsome men. "But before they went to bed, the men of the city beset the house both young and old, all the people together. And they called Lot, and said to him: Where are the men that came in to thee at night? Bring them out hither that we may know them. . . . And they pressed very violently upon Lot; and they were even at the point of breaking open the doors. And behold the men [angels] put out their hand, and drew in Lot unto them, and shut the door. And them that were without, they struck with blindness from the least to the greatest, so that they could not find the door" (Gen. 19:4-11).

"And they [the angels] said to Lot: . . . all that are thine bring them out of this city, for we will destroy this place, because their cry [of their crimes] is grown loud before the Lord, who hath sent us to destroy them" (Gen. 19:12-13).

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination" (Lev. 18:22).

"A woman shall not be clothed with man's apparel, neither shall a man use woman's apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God" (Deut. 22:5).

"Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind [sodomites] . . . shall possess the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

"Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error" (Rom. 1:24-27).

"As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighboring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire, in like manner these men also defile the flesh, and despise dominion [of Christ], and blaspheme majesty" (Jude 7-8).

Condemnation from Church Teachings and the Saints.

Pope Saint Siricius (384-399)

"We deem it advisable to establish that, just as not everyone should be allowed to do a penance reserved for clerics, so also a layman should never be allowed to ascend to clerical honor after penance and reconciliation. Because although they have been purified of the contagion of all sins, those who formerly indulged in a multitude of vices should not receive the instruments to administer the Sacraments."

XVI Council of Toledo in 693

"See that you determine to extirpate that obscene crime committed by those who lie with males, whose fearful conduct defiles the charm of honest living and provokes from heaven the wrath of the Supreme Judge."

Third Lateran Council (1179)

"Anyone caught in the practice of the sin against nature, on account of which the wrath of God was unleashed upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6), if he is a cleric, let him be demoted from his state and kept in reclusion in a monastery to do penance; if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated and kept rigorously distant from the communion of the faithful."

Saint Pius V (1566)

"Having set our minds to remove everything that may in some way offend the Divine Majesty, We resolve to punish, above all and without indulgence, those things which, by the authority of the Sacred Scriptures or by most grievous examples, are most repugnant to God and elicit His wrath; that is, negligence in divine worship, ruinous simony, the crime of blasphemy, and the execrable libidinous vice against nature. For which faults peoples and nations are scourged by God, according to His just condemnation, with catastrophes, wars, famine and plagues. . . . Let the judges know that, if even after this, Our Constitution, they are negligent in punishing these crimes, they will be guilty of them at Divine Judgment and will also incur Our indignation. . . . If someone commits that nefarious crime against nature that caused divine wrath to be unleashed against the children of iniquity, he will be given over to the secular arm for punishment; and if he is a cleric, he will be subject to analogous punishment after having been stripped of all his degrees (of ecclesiastical dignity)."

Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517)

"Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature . . . be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery (chap. 4, X, V, 31). So that the contagion of such a grave offense may not advance with greater audacity, taking advantage of impunity, which is the greatest incitement to sin, and so as to more severely punish the clerics who are guilty of this nefarious crime and who are not frightened by the death of their souls, We determine that they should be handed over to the secular authority, which enforces civil law. Therefore, wishing to pursue with the greatest rigor that which We have decreed since the beginning of Our Pontificate, We establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be executed as mandated by law, according to the appropriate punishment for laymen plunged in this abyss."

Saint Augustine (354-430)

"Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God's law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust."

Saint John Chrysostom (347-407)

The pleasures of sodomy are an unpardonable offense to nature and are doubly destructive, since they threaten the species by deviating the sexual organs away from their primary procreative end and they sow disharmony between men and women, who no longer are inclined by physical desire to live together in peace.

"All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more prejudiced and degraded by sin than is the body by disease; but the worst of all passions is lust between men. . . . The sins against nature are more difficult and less rewarding, so much so that one cannot even say that they procure pleasure, since true pleasure is only the one according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their passions [of the homosexuals] satanic, but their lives are diabolic. . . . So I say to you that these are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body. . . . There is nothing, absolutely nothing more mad or damaging than this perversity."

Saint Gregory the Great (540-604)

"Brimstone calls to mind the foul odors of the flesh, as Sacred Scripture itself confirms when it speaks of the rain of fire and brimstone poured by the Lord upon Sodom. He had decided to punish in it the crimes of the flesh, and the very type of punishment emphasized the shame of that crime, since brimstone exhales stench and fire burns. It was, therefore, just that the sodomites, burning with perverse desires that originated from the foul odor of flesh, should perish at the same time by fire and brimstone so that through this just chastisement they might realize the evil perpetrated under the impulse of a perverse desire."

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

"However, they are called passions of ignominy because they are not worthy of being named, according to that passage in Ephesians (5:12): 'For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.' For if the sins of the flesh are commonly censurable because they lead man to that which is bestial in him, much more so is the sin against nature, by which man debases himself lower than even his animal nature."

Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)

"No sin has greater power over the soul than the one of cursed sodomy, which was always detested by all those who lived according to God. . . . Such passion for undue forms borders on madness. This vice disturbs the intellect, breaks an elevated and generous state of soul, drags great thoughts to petty ones, makes [men] pusillanimous and irascible, obstinate and hardened, servilely soft and incapable of anything. Furthermore, the will, being agitated by the insatiable drive for pleasure, no longer follows reason, but furor. . . . Someone who lived practicing the vice of sodomy will suffer more pains in Hell than anyone else, because this is the worst sin that there is."

Condemnation of the Sin of Sodomy
from Liber Gomorrhianus
by St. Peter Damian

The vice of sodomy "surpasses the enormity of all others," because: "Without fail, it brings death to the body and destruction to the soul. It pollutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the mind, expels the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart, and gives entrance to the devil, the stimulator of lust: It leads to error, totally removes truth from the deluded mind . . . It opens up Hell and closes the gates of Paradise . . . It is this vice that violates temperance, slays modesty, strangles chastity, and slaughters virginity . . . It defiles all things, sullies all things, pollutes all things . . .

"This vice excludes a man from the assembled choir of the Church . . . it separates the soul from God to associate it with demons: This utterly diseased queen of Sodom renders him who obeys the laws of her tyranny infamous to men and odious to God . . . She strips her knights of the armor of virtue, exposing them to be pierced by the spears of every vice. . .

She humiliates her slave in the church and condemns him in court; she defiles him in secret and dishonors him in public; she gnaws at his conscience like a worm and consumes his flesh like fire . . . this unfortunate man [he] is deprived of all moral sense, his memory fails, and the mind's vision is darkened.

Unmindful of God, he also forgets his own identity. This disease erodes the foundation of faith, saps the vitality of hope, dissolves the bond of love. It makes way with justice, demolishes fortitude, removes temperance, and blunts the edge of prudence.

Regarding this vice among clerics

"For God's sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of ecclesiastical dignity with such fiery ambition?" . . . . "lest by your prayers you more sharply provoke Him Whom your wicked life so obviously offends."

The Sin of Contraception

Contraception--also known as Birth Control--is a regimen of one or more actions, devices, or medications followed in order to deliberately prevent or reduce the likelihood of pregnancy or childbirth. This includes what is known as "Natural Family Planning" when utilized with the intent of avoiding conception while carrying out the marital act.

Pope Pius XI (Casti Connubii 1930)

(#53-56) "And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of the family circumstances.

"But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural powers and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

"Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, 'Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of offspring is prevented.' Onan, the son of Judah, did this and the Lord killed him for it (Gen. 38:8-10).

"Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."

(#17)"The primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children."

(#54)"Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural powers and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious."

"For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial right there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider SO LONG AS THEY ARE SUBORDINATED TO THE PRIMARY END and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved."

"For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the Devil hath power.

"And when the third night is past, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayst obtain a blessing in children.--Tobias 6:17, 22

Sins Against the Sixth Commandment

Fornication, Adultery, Oppression (Rape), Incest, Sacrilege (the violation of a person consecrated to God, or of a sacred thing or holy place, by a sin against chastity), Pollution (Masturbation or self-abuse), Sodomy, all forms of Pedophilia, Bestiality, Contraception and all impure desires willfully consented to are always mortally sinful.


by the Rev. John W. Sullivan

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.--MATT. v. 8.

In reading this chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, you will notice that there are blessings, each different and peculiar in its kind, in store for the "poor in spirit," "the meek," "the mourners," "the merciful," "the peacemakers," "the just," "the patient," but none equal to that for "the clean of heart." "To secure the kingdom of heaven," "to possess the land," "to be comforted," "to have one's fill of God's justice," "to obtain mercy,' "to be called the children of God--are not these great and glorious rewards? Are not these privileges to be sought after? But "to see God"--to see Him who is the Maker of all things visible and invisible--this is the greatest of blessings, and this is reserved for "the pure of heart." To see Him now and to see Him hereafter--for this life and the next are the beginning and the continuation of one God-given life--this our infancy, that our maturity. The future will be but the more perfect doing and enjoying of what we do and enjoy here imperfectly. The pure heart sees God here, though imperfectly--"we see now through a glass in a dark manner," but then we shall see Him "as He is," "face to face."

To secure this goodliest portion of man's chief good, means a tremendous contest with the most subtle of enemies. To be "pure as Christ is pure," "to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," bespeaks a lifelong warfare against the flesh and the devil. The struggle with impurity is not new, the punishments meted out to the conquered are not modern--misery, disease, poverty, social ostracism to-day, hell to-morrow. Who would think that with so many terrible consequences staring them in the face there should be found so many to transgress ? Many who have a horror of the sins of murder and injustice, are not so fearful of impurity; and yet this is as severely forbidden and from the beginning was more severely punished.

Punishments in the Past

Abominations of this class brought the deluge on the world to destroy not alone the sinners but even the creatures that were made for his use and service. The first flashes of that fire which shall one day purge the earth of all uncleanness were drawn from the heavens by the impurities of Sodom and Gomorrha. The Moabites feared for their safety, for they knew Israel was invincible while she remained obedient to God's commands. Therefore did they sacrifice their daughters' honor to the public weal. Israel succumbed to the temptation, and the lives of four and twenty thousand of her sons atoned, in one day, for the sin. Did not the land of Canaan spue forth its inhabitants because impure rites and incest made their extermination a necessity, lest they should breed a moral pestilence? Why did the prophet break the tablets of the covenant, and arm brothers to take vengeance on their nearest and dearest, but for the lewdness that accompanied the worship of the golden calf? So licentious were the profanations which the wickedness of King Manasses wrought in the holy places and brought in as a flood on Jerusalem, that God declared He would bring evils on Jerusalem and Juda "that whosoever shall hear of them, both his ears shall tingle" (4 Kings xxi.12). Onan denied the marriage-bed by a sin of lust, and, therefore, "the Lord slew him because he did a detestable thing." Overcome by lust of the flesh the wise Solomon became foolish, the strong Sampson grew weak, and the holy David was sin-stained. When our Lord visibly entered the warfare, during His earthly ministry, the adulterous character of the generation elicited His severest rebukes--"this is an evil and adulterous: generation." No; the struggle is not new and God knows that it is not light nor its victims few. ,To what a lamentable condition this terrible sin reduced a place like Corinth, we may judge from one of St. Paul's Epistles, and what dread havoc it wrought at Rome, we may infer from fearful passages in another. The writings of poets, satirists and historians, the sights we see around us daily and on all sides, our own personal experiences tell too plainly and too sadly the course of this capital sin and its dire effects.

Future Maledictions

The power of God is not limited nor is His arm shortened. Appalling as have been the visible scourges with which His wrath has chastised directly the impure in this life, severe and dreadful beyond measure are the woes denounced against them in the hereafter. "Fornicators and adulterers," says the Epistle to the Hebrews, "God will judge," and "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "They shall not possess the king- dom of God" (i Cor. vi. 9). How can they since, as St. Paul declares, "they have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. v. 5) ? "The Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be tormented, and especially them who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness" (2Peter ii. 9, 10). Reserve them? For what? St. John answers: "They shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Apoc. xxi. 8). To them is promised not the vision of God, there is another portion, another vision--that of the worm and the outer darkness where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth--darkness rendered blacker by the one brief but bright sight of their Judge surrounded by the dazzling glory of heaven--darkness rendered more painful by that sense of loss which comes upon them with the irrevocable sentence, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels"--darkness rendered more terrible by the personal presence of him who brought them into it by the haunting words: "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still" (Apoc. xxii. ll).

Present Evils

Some of these terrible evils have been visited upon the impure in the past, some await them in the future. They may be, alas, too faint and far-distant to spur us on to virtue or to check us in vice. But the monster of impurity has wages, and very bitter wages in the present, wages that are paid in soul, in mind, in body, in social life; wages that are paid with stem justice to the very last penny.

This sin destroys holiness, Impedes the workings of grace, it weakens reason, turns one wholly to sense, making him brutish, stupid, insensible. It disrupts domestic affections, robs man of his truest joys, runs on for life and is scarcely, if ever, shaken off. Why should not the love of youth be elevated by the desire to reproduce the happy homes of childhood's memory, why should not sisters be the ideals of modesty to brothers, why should not children be edified by the unbroken harmony of parents? There is no reason why but the workings of that foul sin. No crime enslaves man more than that of impurity. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he finds no rest, no ease till he returns. Not content with returning himself, he brings along seven other spirits more wicked than himself. The sinner's soul becomes the rendezvous of this horde, and the last state of this man is worse than the first. No crime involves man in greater misfortune mentally, morally and socially. No crime is more shameful, more productive of the insupportable sting and remorse of conscience. What is first done from frailty is soon committed with full consent and deliberation, and he who falls with anguish and remorse, in the end becomes a hardened sinner. Justly is it numbered among the seven capital sins, for it is the seminary of numberless other vices, of endless evils and is an unremitting enemy of salvation. It is, of all the sins to which we are prone, the most pernicious and destructive, the most filthy, the most abominable in God's sight. "From its fruits you shall know it."

1. Spiritual Evils

As soon as impurity has been admitted it fatally propagates itself. It is much like a drifting亗 quiet, still, unnoticed, perpetual influence ever pulling in one direction, loosening one strand then another until the anchor is uprooted and the vessel, rudderless, pilotless, chartless, is left at the mercy of the waves. It affects parts of the being seemingly most remote from the original mischief. The soul becomes insensible to God and the things of God; as the Apostle has it: "The sensual man does not perceive the things that are of the spirit of God" (I Cor. ii. 14). Man who was once made in the image of God, made for. himself gods in his own image. Is it not a truth that the more defective are the qualities within us, the more defective are our conceptions of the relationships around us, and the more imperfect must be our ideas of God ? The gods of the heathen were impersonations of the qualities of their own nature; for as the evil passions of fallen man are stronger than the good, they naturally became the most prominent features in his ideal of a god who was like himself. Fearfully does the pagan mythology, in the light of these truths, testify to the impurity of the heart from which was drawn their notion of God. Every evil passion and baser appetite took its place in their heaven and had its altars upon earth. What we long for most, what we look to most, that is our heaven! Whatever we bow down to most, whatever we worship most, that is our god! What idea of a God of purity can he have, then, whose nature is cruel, selfish and impure? What conception of God has he who has so debased his moral nature as to be incapable of understanding or loving the better and higher natures of his fellowmen? Is it not such a one that God Himself rebuked, saying: "Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee" (Ps. xlix. 21) ? Is not the God of that man, if he thinks of God at all, as much an idol, as much the God of his own impure and depraved imagination, as ever was the god of the heathen? A man's ideas of God must depend in a great measure on what he is himself. The light that beams pure and bright from the throne of the Almighty takes the hue of the moral atmosphere through which it passes. God Himself has told us, through the Psalmist, that with the holy He will be holy still, with the innocent He will be innocent still, and with the perverse He will be perverse.(Ps. xvii).

If the God above is not spotless in their sight, how can men like themselves be pure? He whose ideas of love, goodness and purity have fallen below the standard of human excellence believes, and must believe, that those around him are similarly blemished. How can it be otherwise ? "To them that are defiled nothing is clean, both their mind and the conscience are defiled."

Inward purity! Whoever that is stained has ascribed that to mortal man? "Out of the unclean heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies," and the jaundiced eye of his spirit invests everything with the hue of its own disease. What to him who will not "flee youthful lusts" are the natural affections of home, the innocence and simple pleasures of childhood, the reverence for old age and its crown of glory ? What, to him who will not cleanse a heart that has become the source and font of defilement, are the ties and endearments of family and friends? What, to him from whom proceed evil thoughts, adulteries and fornications, are the sweet sister, the helpful wife, the mother of children, but spotted and stained creatures like himself ? What value can he set upon the beautiful in nature, the lovely in virtue, the sublime in wisdom, the mysterious in grace? With eyes overclouded, polluted eyes, he sees not, "for unto them that are defiled nothing is pure."

Each class of sin has its own results. Drunkenness has its train of poverty, blurred intellects and weakened bodies. Pride avenges itself by the isolation in which it leaves a man. Murder fears where there is no fear, makes a coward of the brave. Impurity punishes its victims by making entire recovery almost impossible, by creating an appetite which it is mortal sin to satisfy and agony to refuse, by sadly and painfully emphasizing the law that sins committed in the body are punished in the body.

2. Moral Consequences

How frequently is the wicked plea made, and even admitted, that one more transgression, another and another, will make matters no worse! One more and then I shall be pure. Oh, how interminable is the distance between the impure heart, in its present state, and that holiness without which no man shall see God! What mountains and mountains of difficulty lie between purity and impurity! It is not one sin that must be laid aside, not one act of fornication or one adultery that must be stopped, it is the seven unclean spirits, who have entered in with the devil of fornication or of adultery, that must be driven out. It is not one act nor one sin that must be conquered, but a natural tendency which your acts have abused and whose power they have fatally strengthened. The whole tide of thought energized by indulgence must be turned back again, the fountain and the stream must be made pure. Imagination, which has run riot in its revels, is to be restrained; desires, given the free wing of the winds, must be checked; affections that have grown strong in the unhampered exercise of lust are to be converted and purified. Then, with a realization of the difficulty of the task, the sense of impossibility takes holdZZthat chill breath of the iceberg that has so often checked many a warm aspiration after purity. We may fly from the world and from the devil, but we cannot fly from the flesh. This domestic enemy is so closely interwoven with corrupt nature, that nothing but an extraordinary grace can move us to repent it, nothing but death can totally destroy it.

3. Bodily Afflictions

Warnings conveyed by the silent but sure approach of God's judgments, how are they accepted? That emaciated body, those trembling hands, that lack-luster eye, that moody solitariness, those shattered nerves, those withered affections, those keen but secret pains, the disappearance of youthful promise, the sense of utter loneliness, of degradation and stain, of fear lest everyone must know or notice the defilement, the inability of the heart to bestow itself in chaste, modest, pure affection--yea, and those still more vile and painful afflictions the very names of which are as revolting as they themselves--are these taken as warnings from God ? Is not some other reason, and not the true one, given or accepted for these awful punishments in the body for the sins committed in the body? Have the words of Holy Scripture any meaning for the impure: "A young man, according to his way, will not depart from it when he grows old" (Prov. xxii. 6) ? Do they believe the saying of Bacon that "the debauches of youth are conspiracies against old age" and that "one pays dearly in the evening for the follies of the morning"?

Impurity is a sin which will always abound; men will ever have to strive with the natural uncleanness of the human heart; there will ever arise an unwholesome curiosity to lift the veil which God's order draws. There will always be a difficulty in attaining the mastery over appetite, in becoming not like the brute, coarsely gratifying its lusts, but like the restored man, denying himself, bridling himself when indulgence is unlawful. The dread examples which Scripture gives of its evil consequences, the abnormal idea of God, the horrible suspicion of others it engenders, the shattered body and the benumbed mind can scarcely check its advances once it is admitted.

4. Social Evils

At the very foundations of society it works with fatal results. What a terrible evil that which robs our youth of their blooming health, saps their promising maturity, dims their clearness of mind, soils their innocence of soul! How one single boy, careless of speech or hard in conduct, flings a poisonous seed abroad on the air, which may seem to fly away, as the wind, out of sight, but settles down somewhere and then springs up and bears plant and flower and fruit of sin in another soul! How terrible the evil that permits one boy or one girl to corrupt secretly or openly an entire neighborhood, a whole school! That suffers one agent to open the gates of a degenerate nature and drown the innocent in a flood of foul waters!

How repulsive it is in its true colors, how revolting it sounds when called by its true names, which we dare not mention! Conscious of this, its victims shrewdly veil it under false colors and call it by names that may not shock unsuspecting ears. And yet though the world excuses the vice and tries to pass it off as a harmless pleasure, it still remains true that every man, even the sinner, despises the impure in heart. Who will receive into his home that sower of immorality, the smiling villain who is known to pour his vile suggestiveness into innocent ears, who is known to revel with the daughters of shame in the homes of Satan? Trust the sea with your tiny boat, trust fickle winds, trust the miser's generosity, the tyrant's mercy, but trust not the artful scoundrel armed with obsequience for your pride, praise for your vanity, generosity for your selfishness, words of religion for your conscience, spicy scandal for your curiosity. None that go with him return again. What chance has she who has listened to her own vanity, then to the flattery of others, and finally sold her jewel of great price? Conscience may ply her scorpion-whip, there may be repentance, bodily suffering, but the door of return is forever shut and the inner voice cries out, "Thou art dishonored, thou art stained, thou art lost." The lovelier the thing is, the more hopeless, the more lamentable its ruin. This sin ruins that which God planned to be so lovely--the sister, the ideal of purity to her brothers; the gentle, loving wife; the tender, devoted mother--yet the ruin of all this, all this forfeited for the short career of profligacy, short as the life of a moth! What mysteries, what blessings, what joys does this vice break in upon and desecrate! Were it not that St. Paul warns us that these things should not be so much as mentioned, I might refer you to the accounts of our criminal courts; I might advise you to read the scandalous reasons advanced for numberless divorces; I might mention that one of the gravest charges against our boodling officials is that they accept an income for the protection of this blackest of crimes. What misfortunes, terrible and lasting, it begets! Homes disrupted, whole lives ruined, hearts broken, souls lost--and for what? "A heinous crime, a grievous iniquity, a fire that devoureth even to destruction and rooteth up all things that spring" (Job xxxi. 11, 12).

"If we love one another. God dwelleth in us." Can this ever be the case with the impure ? Sensuality, in all its shapes, is ever selfish, cruel, malignant--the enemy of love. So Ammon discovered, when he had accomplished his guilty purpose on his sister Thamar: "So that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her" (2 Kings xiii. 15). So David discovered when the sight of the accomplice of his sin, who had been the occasion of yet deeper sin, recalled to him with agony whose she once had been, and when the news of the war flashed before his eyes that phantom form of his noble mighty one, placed by his orders where the battle was hottest, faithful unto death to him, the faithless. So she discovers who murders the innocent consequences of an unholy love, to conceal her sin, or the unconscious legitimate result of the God-ordained institution of marriage. She has sounded the deepest depths of sin, sacrificed an immortal soul for a mess of pottage.

Some Causes of Impurity

Look around you, you need not look far to see the horrors of this social evil. Think of the many who come to be united in marriage and who should come as penitents. Think of the results that accrue from the very uggestiveness of our penny arcades, our theatrical posters, the flippant, fearless expose of the most delicate subjects by our theaters, our publications, our newspapers. Think of the open, shameless presence of fallen women in our streets, filled with a hellish readiness to entice others to follow them in the ways of sin. Consider that these human instruments are doing the works of demons, entrapping innocent girls, prowling about homes, shops and hospitals, offering pretended kindness and alluring to sham homes. Remember there are cities in this country of ours where the worst of traffics has become a vested interest. Think of her who teaches her unsuspecting sister the trick of infanticide. Think of your own sinful carelessness in not properly guarding your daughters against what not only might be but are occasions of sin in their own homes. Your young sons whose battles are, of all, the most difficult, are left unwarned and unprotected when the worst of temptations have commenced the struggle, when men, criminally even if heedlessly, are putting into their hands circulars or pamphlets they should never read. Reflect on some of these things for a moment; they will bring up many more terrible evils that will make you wonder that the waters of the sea do nor rise again or the flames that destroyed the cities of the plain do not flash.

Cures for Impurity

But thank God there are still brave, courageous men, chaste women, family affections, the blossoms which still bloom on the desecrated temple. There are still to be found even the ten just men, who will save the world and see God, men who are not only outwardly, but inwardly, pure of heart. The source of the evil is the heart, for out of it proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications. Christ went to the root of the matter when He said: "Blessed are the pure of heart." The cure must begin at the heart. See to your hearts first, suffering no unclean imagination to harbor within, training yourselves to habits of self-control in all things. Unchaste thoughts unchecked are like serpents' eggs, which the warmth of feelings hatches in bosoms. Crush them at once or cherish the viper in your heart and be safe if you can. It is against thoughts that we have primarily to guard (Matt. xv. l8). If the heart is pureZZthen are the lips, the hand, the life, like a stream from a fountain. Defile your lips with no words unbecoming the sanctity of a child of God. Read no publications that may inflame or defile you--better they should perish in the flames than that you should be cast into hell. Prayer, mortification, confession, are preventives for all and remedies for those who have fallen, for those who have wallowed in sin. It is easy for sensual, comfort-loving people of the world to scoff at these things, but hard names are not arguments, and abuse of the spiritual necessities does not destroy the obligation of observing them. Then, too, we have Jesus, our exemplar--"even as He is pure." He came to purify us by His own purity, to be the fountain where we may wash and be clean. By His help we may be made pure, for He will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax.


When you are contracting habits of impurity you are dealing most fearfully with spiritual things, you are ruining your body, the temple of the Holy Ghost; you are weakening your will, tightening thin cords into the iron chain of habit. The temptations are sore and grievous, you carry the evil about you in the very body wherewith you are clothed. Yet if it be hard to stand firm against temptation, it is ten times harder, with tainted imagination, vitiated memory, and weakened will,, to rise once you have fallen. It is harder to rise, for you may reach that state where the body refuses to respond but the mind continues to desire. It is harder because the same motives that persuaded you to lose your innocence will dissuade from repentance. Impurity is Satan's deadliest weapon against you. Impurity of every kind, deliberate in word, thought or deed, is a mortal sin. But if the temptations are the strongest that beset you, if the evil results of yielding are the most terrible that befall you--so also is the reward; there is none greater.

"With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth not from it" (Prov. iv. 23). Let purity, like Eliseus, sit at the fountain head and heal the unwholesome waters, putting sweet for bitter, ministering good thoughts, holy desires, pure affections, heavenly love, goodly deeds, then you will be pure of heart and yours will be the reward "to see God."

1 Exod. xx. 14.
2 See 32. q. 4. c. meretrices, and other chapters in the same place; Amb., de Abraham, c. 4; I Jerome, contr. Jovin. lib. I. & 2; in Galat. v, on the words: "Manifesta autem"; in Ephes. v. on the words: "Viri diligite'; Aug., de bono conjug. c. 16; lib. 22. contra Faust, cap. 47, 48; in quasst. Deut. p. 37. ad cap 23; Amb. in serm, on St. John which begins: "diximus superiore Dominica"; Greg., in Matt. lib. 32. c. 21; St. Thomas, Ia IIae, q. 100, a. 5; IIa IIae, q. 122. a. 6.
3 Amb. lib. I. officior. I. c. 50. in fine. Aug. quas. 71. super Exod.
4 Gen. xxxviii. 14.
5 Deut. xxiii. 17.
6 Tob. iv. 13.
7 Eccl. xli.35.
8 Matt. xvi. 19.
9 I Thess. iv. 3.
10 I Cor. vi. 18.
11 Cor. v. 9.
12 Eph. v. 3.
13 I Cor. vi. 9.
14 Matt. v. 27, 28.
15 Sess. 24. c. 24. de reform.
16 2 Cor. viii. I.
17 See St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q. 151. C. of Trent. Sess. 24. dc matrim. c. 3; sess. 25. de regular.
18 I Cor. vi. 18.
19 I Thess. iv. 3-5.
20 I Cor. vi. 15, i6.
21 I Cor. vi. 19. 22 I Cor. vii. 4.
23 24 Levit. xx. 10. John viii. 5. 25 Gen. xxxiv. 25.
26 Gen. xix. 24.
27 Num. xxv. 4.
28 Judges xx.
29 2 Kings xi. and xii,
30 3 Kings xi.
31 Osee iv. II.
32 Ezech. xvi. 49.
33 Jerem. v. 7.
34 Luke xxi. 31.
35 Ephes. v. 18.
36 Matt.V 29, 30.
37 Job xxxi. i.
38 2 Kings xi. 2.
39 Gen. xxxiv. 2.
40 Dan.xiii. 8.
41 Eccl. ix.8.
42 I Pet. iii. 3. 43 I Tim. ii. 9. 44 I Cor. xv. 33.
45 Sess. 25. decret. de invocat. et vener. sacr. imagin. 46 I Cor. vii. 7.
47 I Cor. x. 13. Tert., de Monog. at the end; Nazianz orat. 3; Basil., de virg., after the middle; Chrys. and Jerome on Matt. xvi.; Aug., lib. 6. confess c. n.
48 I Cor. ix. 25.
49 Rom. xiii. 14

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