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“Ask a Priest: What If You Have Second Thoughts and Don’t Watch Bad Content?”
Q: Is it a mortal sin if you select impure content and then click it off and not watch it at all? Thank you. – M.D.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s good at least that someone has second thoughts and doesn’t watch the content. Nevertheless, there are a few things to consider.
First, if this was the worst thing that you have done in this area to date, your initial selection of the content is a sign that your chastity was challenged or is starting to degrade.
It would be good to face that honestly, and intensify your prayers and sacramental life, apart from the question of the gravity of the act.
Your selection sends a signal to someone that this is the kind of thing that you want to watch. This could motivate others to continue to produce and distribute immoral content. Your selection of the content is a kind of vote, in other words.
Second, if you have a history of watching bad material, and this incident was the “best” response that have managed, then don’t get discouraged. This could be a stumble on an otherwise upward climb. To help you continue on the climb upward, you might look at websites such as Strive and Integrity Restored.
In any case, to “select impure content” is, by definition, an act of the will and a deliberate choice for sinful material. You are putting yourself in the near occasion of sin, even if you intend to skip over some of the bad content.
This could be a grave sin; God alone knows for sure. In any case, you should go to confession.
Third, anything with raunchy content probably has lots of secular ideas embedded in the rest of the production — ideas that you might be absorbing without much thought. This can deform your conscience and lead you into worldly ways of thinking.
Fourth, it might be helpful to consider what economists call opportunity cost. Every minute you spend watching worldly and/or risqué content is a minute of opportunity lost when you could be praying or watching something good or reading a worthwhile book.
Perhaps some of this is worth taking to prayer.
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