Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CLIV.: OF THE PARTS OF LUXURY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CLIV.: OF THE PARTS OF LUXURY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE PARTS OF LUXURY.
Article II.—Is simple fornication a mortal sin?
R. Without any doubt it is to be held that simple fornication is a mortal sin. In proof whereof we must observe that every sin is mortal, that is committed directly against human life. But simple fornication involves an inordinateness that tends to the hurt of the life of the child, who is to be born of such intercourse. For we see in the case of all animals in which the care of male and female is requisite for the rearing of the offspring, that there is not among them promiscuous intercourse, but the male is limited to one or more females, as in all birds: whereas it is otherwise with animals in which the female alone is sufficient to rear what she bears. But it is manifest that for the education of man there is required, not only the care of the mother by whom he is nourished, but much more the care of the father, by whom he has to be trained and defended, and advanced in all good gifts as well interior as exterior. And therefore promiscuity is against the nature of man: the intercourse of the male with the female must be with a fixed and certain person, with whom the man must stay, not for a short period, but for a long time, even for a lifetime. Hence it is natural in the human species for the male to be anxious to know his own offspring for certain, because he has the education of that offspring; but this certainty would be destroyed if there were promiscuous intercourse. This fixed assignment of the person of the female is called matrimony, which is said accordingly to be an institution of natural law. But because sexual intercourse is directed to the common good of the whole human race, and common good is subject to the determination of law, it follows that the union of male and female, which is called matrimony, has to be determined by some law. The way in which it is determined amongst us, is discussed in the treatise on the Sacrament of Matrimony. Hence, as fornication is promiscuous intercourse, being beside and out of wedlock, it is contrary to the good of the offspring that is to be educated: it is therefore a mortal sin. And a mortal sin it remains, even though the committer of fornication makes sufficient provision for the education of the child: for the determination of the law is taken according to what commonly happens, and not by what may happen in a particular case.1
§ 1. The evil desire that aggravates sin consists in the inclination of the will. But evil desire in the sensitive appetite diminishes sin: because the stronger the passion under the impulse of which one sins, the less grievous is the sin. And such is the nature of the strength of the evil desire in this case, and very great it is. Hence Augustine says: “Of all the struggles of Christians, harder than the rest are the conflicts of chastity, where the fighting has to be done daily, and victory is rare.” And Isidore says: “It is by the luxury of the flesh more than by anything else that the human race is made subject to the devil,” the reason being, that it is harder to overcome the violence of this passion.
Article IV.—Do touches and kisses amount to a mortal sin?
R. A thing is said to be a mortal sin in two ways: in one way, of its own kind; and in this way kissing, embracing, or touching, are not acts that of their own nature imply mortal sin: for they may be done without passion, either in compliance with the custom of the country, or for some necessity or reasonable cause. In another way a thing is said to be a mortal sin for the motive that prompts it: as he who gives alms to induce another to heresy, sins mortally by his unwholesome intention. Now not only consent to the act, but consent to the pleasure also of mortal sin, is itself a mortal sin. And therefore, since fornication is a mortal sin, and much more other species of luxury, it follows that consent to the pleasure of such a sin is a mortal sin, and not only consent to the act. And therefore, in so far as kisses and embraces of this sort are acts done for this sort of pleasure, it follows that they are mortal sins; and it is in that regard only that they are called lustful. Hence such acts, inasmuch as they are lustful acts, are mortal sins.
§ 2. Though kisses and touches do not of themselves hinder the good of human offspring, yet they proceed from lust, which is the root of such hinderance; and thence they derive the character of mortal sin.
Article V.—Is nocturnal pollution a sin?
R. Nocturnal pollution may be considered in two ways: in one way in itself; and in that way it does not bear the character of sin. For every sin depends on the judgment of reason: since even the first motion of sensuality has not the character of sin except inasmuch as it is capable of being checked by the judgment of reason; and therefore, when the judgment of reason is taken away, the character of sin is taken away. Now in the sleeping state the reason has not a free judgment. For there is no sleeper who does not take fantastic images of realities for the realities themselves.1 And therefore what a man does asleep, not having the free judgment of reason, is not imputed to him to blame, as neither is that which a madman does.
In another way nocturnal pollution may be considered relatively to its cause. That cause may be in the first place bodily, when humour superabounds in the body. If then the superabundance of humour be from a culpable cause, as from excess in eating or drinking, than the nocturnal pollution has a guiltiness from its cause.2 But if the superabundance of humour be from no culpable cause, then the nocturnal pollution is culpable neither in itself nor in its cause.
Another cause of nocturnal pollution may be psychical and interior, when it happens in consequence of some thinking done before in waking hours. Such thinking is sometimes purely speculative, as when one makes carnal sins matter of scientific discussion; sometimes it is attended with a certain feeling either of attraction or horror. Nocturnal pollution however is more likely to happen, when the thought of carnal vices that occasions it has been attended with some attraction to such pleasures, because there remains thereof some vestige and inclination in the soul of the sleeper. Hence the Philosopher says that “the dreams of good men are better than those of the common run;” and Augustine, that “through the good disposition of the soul some of its merits appear in sleep.” Thus again nocturnal pollution may derive a guiltiness from its cause. Sometimes however it follows from mere speculative thinking of carnal vices, even when attended with horror for them; and then it has no guiltiness, neither in itself nor in its cause. Thus it appears that nocturnal pollution is never a sin, but sometimes is the consequence of a sin preceding.
Article VIII.—Is adultery a determinate species of luxury distinct from the rest?
R. In adultery there is a twofold sin against chastity and the good of human generation: first, inasmuch as the adulterer cohabits with a woman not joined with him in wedlock, thus neglecting what is requisite for the good education of his own offspring; again, because he cohabits with a woman that is joined in wedlock with another man, thus hindering the good of another man’s offspring. In the same way of the married woman that is corrupted by adultery. Hence it is said of her: “She hath offended against her husband,”1 as her act makes against his certainty of her offspring: “She hath gotten her children of another man,” which is against the good of her own offspring. Hence adultery is a determinate species of luxury.
Article XII.—Is unnatural vice the greatest sin of all the species of luxury?
R. The worst corruption in every kind is the corruption of the principle on which all the rest depends. Now the principles from which reason starts are the principles established by nature: for reason, supposing those things that nature has determined, disposes of other things according as is fitting; and this appears both in speculation and in practice. And therefore, as in matters of speculation the most grievous and most shameful error is in things of which man has knowledge furnished him by nature, so in matters of practice the most grievous and shameful action is that which goes against what is determined according to nature. Since then in unnatural vice man transgresses what is determined according to nature concerning the use of sexual pleasures, it follows that sin in this matter is most grievous. The next most heinous form is incest, which is against the natural reverence due to those who are bound to us by ties of kindred.
[1 ]St. Thomas’s principle throughout comes to this: An act which of its own nature is the initial act of paternity, must never be done in a way that is intrinsically incompatible with the rest of the office of a father. See further, Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 263—272. (Trl.)
[1 ]St. Thomas here refers back to p. 1. q. 84. art. 8. § 2., where amongst other things he writes of light sleep: “Not only the imagination remains free, but even common consciousness is in part set free, so that the man judges in his sleep that what he sees are dreams, as if he could then distinguish between realities and phantoms. But still common consciousness remains in some degree impeded. And therefore, though the man distinguishes some appearances from realities, yet in some he is always deceived. Thus then by the way that the consciousness is set free and the imagination in sleeping, the judgment of the intellect becomes free, not entirely however. Hence they who make syllogisms when they are asleep, always find on waking that they have been at fault on some point.” (Trl.)
[2 ]Not however the guiltiness of luxury, unless the cause itself be of the kind of luxury, as instanced below. (Trl.)
[1 ]Ecclus. xxiii. 33.