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S9. Giving Ourselves to Unlawful Sexual Desires.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to have give ourselves to unlawful sexual desires.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 20:14(17)
Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Proverbs 6:23-29
For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah is light, and reproofs that discipline are the way to life. They keep you from an evil woman, from a loose woman's seductive tongue. Don't let your heart lust after her beauty or allow her glance to captivate you. The price of a whore is a loaf of bread, but the adulteress is hunting for a precious life. Can a man carry fire inside his shirt without burning his clothes? Can a man walk [barefoot] on hot coals without scorching his feet? So is he who has sex with his neighbor's wife; anyone touching her will be punished.

Matthew 5:27-29
You have heard that our fathers were told, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you sin, gouge it out and throw it away! Better that you should lose one part of you than have your whole body thrown into Gei-Hinnom.

Supportive Scriptures

Romans 8:6-8
Having one's mind controlled by the old nature is death, but having one's mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom. For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God's Torah - indeed, it cannot. Thus, those who identify with their old nature cannot please God.


Merriam-Webster defines sexual "lust" as "an unusually intense or unbridled sexual desire." Since the Bible unambiguously says that "lust" is sin, Merriam-Webster's first alternative ("an unusually intense sexual desire") cannot be the one meant because mere feelings, no matter how strong, are never sin. The second definition ("an unbridled sexual desire") is closer to what is meant, the inclusion of "unbridled" making the difference. Restated, the sexual sin of lust comprises the prurient desire for a person that is not our spouse, coupled with one or more wrongful actions designed to gratify the desire; ergo, the title of this Mitzvah: "Giving Ourselves to Unlawful Sexual Desires." The reason that Yeshua (in Matthew 5:28) was able to say that "a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery in his heart," is that the man he is speaking of is not only feeling sexual desire for the woman, but has already begun to pursue her either in his mind or by his actions. With this understanding, David's adultery with Bat-Sheva did not begin when they had sexual intercourse; it began when David sent his messengers to fetch her (2 Samuel 11:1-4).

Commentary by Daniel C. Juster

Lust includes allowing one's imagination to entertain sexually immoral thoughts without immediately renouncing them and refocusing. It includes masturbating while entertaining thoughts of a person who is prohibited to us, as well as any other act designed to gratify our desire. Our sexual thoughts are to be only toward our spouse or (within strict constraints) toward one we are legally pursuing for marriage.

Classical Commentators:
This Mitzvah is not addressed by any of the classical commentators.


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