Bible Question:

Sexual lust is a sinful desire. However we are told God created people to have

Bible Answer:

Our question today is, “When does sexual passion become the sin of sexual lust?” The answer will be given in two parts: “What is the difference between sexual passion and sexual lust?” and “When does the longing for sexual activity become sin?”

Sexual Passion and Sexual Lust

God designed and created Adam and Eve to have sexual passion and to engage in sexual activity within their committed marital relationship.  In Genesis 1:26-28 we are told that God made the human race and commanded husbands and wives to have children. Adam and Eve obeyed God and had many children including Cain, Abel and Seth (Genesis 4:1-2; 25-26; 5:3-4). They did not sin when having sexual relations because they were obeying God.  In order for Eve to become pregnant, both of them would have experienced strong sexual passions.

The  Song of Solomon is a love story between King Solomon (Song of Solomon 3:9-11) and a Shulammite woman (Song of Solomon 6:13). In Song of Solomon 3:11 the bride and groom are married. Chapter four is devoted to the sexual activity that occurred on the wedding night. The chapter describes how they made love in very poetic terms. In verse 9 the king reveals that his heart is beating fast and he is ready for intercourse.

You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes . . .
Song of Solomon 4:9 (NASB)

God had the Song of Solomon written to teach us that He approves of sexual activity between a husband and a wife. That is, sexual passion, activity and orgasms were designed by God and approved by Him. Song of Solomon is a book devoted to marital love and it includes sexual passion and sexual activities. God also included an entire chapter about how “to make love.”

It is normal for both females and males to have very strong sexual feelings and be driven to satisfy them. Since God designed sexual activity for marriage, then marriage is the context in which He wants them to be satisfied. That is why God wrote 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, which commands husbands and wives to satisfy one another’s sexual desires.  Sexual activity between a husband and wife is not sinful.

We could refer to all sexual passion as lust, but in the English language the word “lust” typically has a negative meaning. However, in the Greek language the English verb “to lust” is epithymeo and it can be translated as “to desire” or “to lust.” It depends on the context. The point is that strong sexual passion or lust is not necessarily sinful. It depends upon the context.

When Sexual Lust Becomes Sin

Therefore, when does sexual lust become sin? Let us look at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:27-28.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB)

The Greek word that is translated as “look” in this passage is blepo. This verb is a present participle which refers to continuous action. This means that Jesus was describing a man repeatedly or continually looking at a woman while lusting after or thinking about having sex with her. This also means that it is not a sin to look at a woman, recognize she is beautiful and maybe notice that she is seductively dressed, as long as he does not stare at her and repeatedly think about engaging in sexual activity with her. Sexual activity is defined as any type of physical contact with someone for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Jesus was talking about intentional preoccupation with a woman to whom a man is not married.

The woman, a man might lust after, can be sitting next to him, walking by or across the room, be a friend’s girlfriend or a woman in a magazine, a book, on the television, a video, a movie or in a painting.  Scripture describes sexual lusting in a number of places. Here are a few examples.

Don’t lust in your heart for her beauty
or let her captivate you with her eyelashes.

Can a man embrace fire
and his clothes not be burned?
Proverbs 6:25, 27

They are all adulterers,
Like an oven heated by the baker
Who ceases to stir up
From the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
Hosea 7:4 (NASB)

But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. I Corinthians 7:9 (NASB)

Sexual passions can be very great. But it is not sin if a man happens to see a naked woman, as long as he does not continue to look and does not continue to think about her in a sexual way. It may be difficult to not think about her, but he will not sin as long as he refuses to not dwell on her and think about sexual activity with her.

The same is true for women since some women read magazines containing naked photos of men and visit male strip clubs. They should not engage in such activity. But often women sin when they lust after or daydream about a man because of his character such as his kindness, mercy, grace, wealth and reputation. Sin occurs when a male or female lusts after or daydreams after anyone to whom they are not married. But it is not a sin for a husband to sexually desire his wife or for a wife to desire her husband. God designed husbands and wives to respond that way within marriage, and as have already discovered God tells husbands and wives to satisfy their sexual passions.


Sexual passion should not be viewed as a sin in every situation. God designed sexual activity for marriage. It helps to draw the hearts of a couple to one another. That is the message of the book of Song of Solomon.

Suggested Links:

Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
Is masturbation a sin?
Is masturbation a sin in marriage?
What does the Bible say about foreplay and sex in marriage?
Can a person make love when fasting?
What is the correct meaning of fornication in the Bible?
Is kissing before marriage a sin? What does the Bible say?
Sex, Seduction, and Saints
Porneia Definition — What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?
Is it wrong (a sin) to touch a woman before marriage, like holding hands, hugging?