Lesson 21



Answers:  Section 37: The Sixth and Ninth Commandments


This lesson is based on the text, Life in Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, by Rev. Gerard Weber and Rev. James Killgallon (Acta Publications, 1995). The question in bold type is followed by a short answer taken from the text. The text in italics is another answer from the RCIA teacher, Jim Collins. Hyperlinks in red will direct you to documents or websites related to the topic. The entire sequence of lessons forms a comprehensive approach to basic RCIA instruction.


  1. How are we to understand human sexuality? It begins with God who is love and in whose image and likeness we are made. It reflects the intimacy in the Trinity itself—both unitive and procreative. Human sexuality should be understood as a great gift from God which enables us to be intimately united and to procreate with God. Properly understood, it gives us great respect for our bodies. See Theology of the Body.

  2. What are the sixth and ninth commandments? You shall not commit adultery. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

  3. What is chastity? It is the integration of our sexuality with all other aspects of our personhood. It is achieved by using our human freedom to achieve self-control that is informed by the virtue of temperance and responds to the sexual challenges encountered at various stages of life. It is for everyone. Chastity is a commitment to live a life of purity keeping the Church’s rules regarding human sexuality. See Chastity.

  4. What are the sins against the sixth and ninth commandments?

The following is taken from a related examination of conscience on these commandments:

        Have I willfully entertained impure thoughts? Have I dwelled on impure desires even though I may not have carried them out? Were there any circumstances that aggravated the sin: affinity (relationship by marriage), consanguinity (blood relationship), either the married state or the consecration to God of a person involved? Have I engaged in impure conversations? Have I started them? Have I looked for fun in forms of entertainment that placed me in proximate occasions of sin, such as certain dances, movies, shows, or books with immoral content? Have I immersed myself in pornography? Have I been involved with prostitutes or kept bad company? Have I placed myself in a proximate occasion of sin, such as sharing a room with a person I find sexually attractive, or being alone with such a person in circumstances that could lead to sin? Have I failed to take care of those details of modesty and decency that are the safeguards of purity? Have I failed, before going to a show or reading a book, to find out its moral implications, so as not to put myself in immediate danger of sinning and in order to avoid distorting my conscience? Have I willfully looked at an indecent picture or cast an immodest look upon myself or another? Have I led other to sins of impurity or immodesty? What sins? Have I committed an impure act? By myself, through masturbation? With someone else? How many times? With someone of the same or opposite sex? (See Homosexuality, AIDS and Same Sex Marriage. Were there any circumstances of relationship (such as affinity) that could have given the sin special gravity? Has this illicit relationship result in pregnancy? Have I done anything to prevent or end that pregnancy? Do I have friendships that are habitual occasions of sexual sins? Am I prepared to end them? In courtship, is true love my fundamental reason for wanting to be with the other person? Have I put the person I love in danger of sinning? Have I engaged in acts such as “petting,” “necking,” passionate kisses, or prolonged embraces? Have I committed homosexual acts? Have I sexually abused someone?

            Married People Have I, without serious reason, deprived my spouse of the marital right? Have I claimed my own rights in a way that showed no concern for my spouse’s state of mind or health? Have I betrayed conjugal fidelity in desire or in deed? Have I taken “the pill” or used any other artificial birth-control device before or after new life had already been conceived? Have I, without grave reason, with the intention of avoiding conception, made use of marriage on only those days when offspring would not likely be engendered? (See also: In Vitro Fertilization). Have I suggested to another person the use of birth-control pills or another artificial method of preventing pregnancy (like condoms)? Have I contributed to the contraceptive mentality by my advice, jokes, or attitudes? (On abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc.) Have I exposed children to indecent movies or television programs?


  1. Why is artificial birth control morally wrong? It separates the sexual act from the procreative act and is thus a sin against the virtue of chastity. Artificial birth control is morally wrong because it cuts God out of procreation. The marital act should be unitive and procreative. It is not procreative if procreation is impossible because of birth control methods. See Birth Control; See also CCC 2366: "Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life,"151 teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life."152 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."

  2. What is Natural Family Planning? Couples wishing to have children can make love during a woman’s time of fertility. Those wishing to avoid pregnancy can do so by refraining from sexual relations during the fertility cycle. This is a method which allows couples to plan for pregnancies by regulating procreation by natural means. See Natural Family Planning: http://www.stisidore-yubacity.org/nfp.htm

  3. Are demonstrations of affection between unmarried persons against the virtue of chastity? They are right and good as long as they are true demonstrations of affection and do not lead to unchaste thoughts or acts. Demonstrations of affection between unmarried persons are moral if they show proper respect for one another. See Fornication, Sex Before Marriage

  4. Why are thoughts and desires against chastity sinful? Any deliberate desire to commit a sinful act is in itself sinful (e.g. murder). Pornography is a moral problem because it prompts sinful thoughts, desires, and actions. Thoughts and desires against chastity become sinful when a person dwells on them or acts on them. See Pornography.

  5. What is the virtue of modesty? It is the virtue which protects chastity by inclining us to guard our senses so as not to invite temptation and to be considerate in our dress and behavior so as not to cause temptation to others. The virtue of modesty consists in having proper respect for our own bodies and those of others. See Modesty.

  6. Is masturbation a sin? It is sinful because it does not involve the mutual self-giving of marital love nor is it open to human procreation. Masturbation is a sin under most circumstances because it focuses sexual pleasure on oneself instead of on a partner in marriage. See Masturbation. See also Addictions.  CCC 2352: "masturbation...is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action...To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that can lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, oral culpability."

  7. Why is the sixth commandment sometimes called “the difficult commandment”? Because of original sin, the desire to experience sexual pleasure outside of marriage is easily around in us. It is a difficult commandment because our sexual desires are naturally strong for the sake of procreation but they can become difficult to control or direct properly.

  8. How do we preserve our chastity? (a) the habit of prayer and prayer in time of temptation; (b) cultivating devotion to our Blessed Mother; (c) frequently receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist; (d) avoiding near occasions of sin, such as certain types of books, pictures, entertainments and companions. We preserve chastity by learning self-control, frequent prayer, and regular reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. See also: Abstinence.

See also: Persona Humana: Sexual Ethics--a Catholic Perspective