Is Lust Only Natural?

A multifaith guide to lust.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says that the way to make the most of lust is to get married--and many religions would agree with him. In Judaism and other faiths, lust is seen as simply natural; what is more important is how the lustful believer acts (or doesn't act) on that lust. But Jesus' famous words--"But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart," make it clear that Christianity, as well as other faiths, see lust itself as a sin. Use this guide to see where the five major religions stand on lust.



Buddhism encourages renouncing sensual pleasures. Sensuous lust is considered one of Buddhism's five hindrances. The Buddha taught that lust is a result of desire, which must be abandoned to reach enlightenment. The Buddha formulated 5 precepts of Right Conduct One of these is: "I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct." Buddhists interpret this precept in different ways, but most believe that consensual sexual relations between a couple are okay, and that sexual misconduct would include adultery, rape, incest, and other sexual abuse.

Many Buddhist texts explain these teachings on lust. The "Discourses of the Buddha" states, "The pleasure and joy that arise in dependence on the eye: this is the gratification in the eye. That the eye is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this is the danger in the eye. The removal and abandonment of desire and lust from the eye: this is the escape from the eye."

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