We all know, at least we well-formed Catholics that everything, to excess, is sin, with one exception…God. But earthly things, like overeating, overdrinking, overspending, etc. can be sinful. But who is it left to, to determine what is “excess”?
Case in point, someone wrote me and asked this: “I visit a website which hosts pictures of beautiful people, among other things. I like to go there and see models on the runway, on the beach, etc. in venue-appropriate attire. Once in a while there is near-nudity, but it’s not very often, and I don’t focus on that. Is it sinful?” I told him I would post this and reply, but keep his identity to myself.
What I have to say may shock some people, but this is my opinion, having been someone who enjoyed doing things to excess, including enjoying visually what society has chosen to offer (if you catch my drift). It is true that there are some black and white excesses. Getting drunk on purpose is black and white-it’s objectively sinful. Eating to excess on purpose is black and white-objectively sinful. Watching pornography on purpose is objectively sinful. But there are a lot of gray areas where a person really needs to have a grip on who he is by self-examination.
Know thyself. Know your tolerances and limits. There are some people who can eat 4000 calories a day every day and not be ‘over the line’, and there are some who smell food and go into binge eating (remember Bruce in “Finding Nemo”?). There are some that can and do drink a bottle of <insert alcoholic beverage here>, and not be over the line, while some would fall over it at the scent of beer.
Regarding my friend’s habit, I believe it is left to the individual to know himself. Would the sight of a bikini-clad woman cause him to lust, think sexual thoughts of her, or objectify her? And these are the keys. What’s in his mind while he’s looking at these air-brushed, well-pampered people who spend most of their day keeping their appearance up to snuff? Does he focus on particular body parts? I believe, if he can keep his thoughts to admiring a woman’s God-given attributes for just that, he’s ok. Just OK. Would it be better for him not to have this hobby? Sure. Just as it would be better for the bottle-a-day drinker to not. It used to be called keeping custody of the eyes, but it is also easy to loose such custody, given the preponderance of print, and visual media.
It’s very hard, but it’s not for we humans to judge that, it’s God’s.
I’d be interested to know what my (few) readers have to say on the subject…