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Lust (or lechery) is a craving for sexual intercourse, sometimes to the point of assuming a self-indulgent or violent character. Lust, or a desire for the flesh of another, is considered a sin, or impure act, in the three major Abrahamic religions.

Etymology

The word lust is phonetically similar to the ancient Roman "lustrum", which literally meant "five years". This was the cycle time for the ritual expiation of "sins" called the lustration as practiced in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Sexual intercourse was one of a list of sins requiring lustration.

The Seven Deadly Sins, written during the 5th century is a similar list of sins requiring expiation or forgiveness. These doctrines forbade even thoughts and desires for fornicatio (fornication) and luxuria (luxury). The concept also was progressively embodied in the complex doctrines and debates about mandatory Clerical celibacy beginning in the 1st through 5th centuries and following. For example, Henry Charles Lea states that "Sixtus III barely admits that married persons can obtain eternal life" in his "Sacerdotal History of Christian Celibacy" (p. 45). He also states, "Siricius and Innocent I ransacked the Gospels for texts of more than doubtful application with which to support the innovation ". (p. 53)

However, in the 11th to 15th centuries the northern European usage of the verb still meant simply "to please, delight;" or "pleasure". A related form "lusty", originally meant "joyful, merry" or "full of healthy vigor". See .

The word "lust" moved closer to its present meaning in the 16th century with its use in the Protestant Reformation's early non-Latin Bible translations. This is despite the fact that the original Koine Greek Bible has no single word that is uniquely translated as heterosexual lust. q.v.

Today, the meaning of the word still has differing meanings as shown in the Merriam-Webster definition. lust: 1. a: pleasure, delight b: personal inclination: wish 2. intense or unbridled sexual desire: lasciviousness 3. a: intense longing: craving b: enthusiasm, eagerness . See [8055]

In religion

Buddhism

Judaism

In Judaism, all evil inclinations and lusts of the flesh are characterised by yetzer hara (Hebrew, יצר הרע). Yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man's mis-use of the things which the physical body needs to survive, and is often contrasted with yetzer hatov. This idea was derived from Genesis 8:21, which states that "the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth".

Yetzer hara is often identified with Satan and the angel of death, and there is sometimes a tendency to give a personality and separate activity to the Yetzer. For the Yetzer, like Satan, misleads man in this world, and testifies against him in the world to come. However, Yetzer is clearly distinguished from Satan, and on other occasions is made exactly parallel to sin. The Torah is considered the great antidote against this force. Though, like all things which God has made, the Yetzer is good. For without it, man would never marry, beget a child, build a house, or trade.

Christianity

In the New Testament, the word "lust" is occasionally used as a translation of the Koiné Greek word, 'επιθυμία', Strong's number 1939 and in its various forms. The related word 'ἐπιθυμέω' Strong's number 1937 is rendered as "lust" in the oft-quoted King James Version verse here:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust 1937 after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Gospel of Matthew 5:27 - 28)
However, this verse represents the only instance 'ἐπιθυμέω' is rendered as 'lust' in the New International Version of the Christian Bible. Further insight can be gained from Jesus Christ describing His own feelings using both of these word forms in Luke 22:15:
And he said unto them, With desire <'επιθυμία' Strong's number 1939> I have desired <'ἐπιθυμέω' Strong's number 1937> to eat this passover with you before I suffer (Luke 22:15, KJV)
Note also that doubling two similar words in Koine Greek is not mere redundancy. Rather, it is a common semantic mechanism to accomplish the emphatic voice. Various versions therefore render Christ's words in Luke 22:15 as "eagerly desired" NIV, "great desire" BBE, "fervent desire" NKJV, "earnestly desired" WEB, RSV. Obviously, Mt 5:27-28 has no expression of intense desire using this mechanism.

This analysis begs several questions in Biblical Hermeneutics . Did Christ deprecate even casual heterosexual desire in Mt 5:28? Is all heterosexual desire lust?There are several common understandings of Mt 5:27-28 that attempt to answer these questions.

  1. The most permissive view rejects the 16th century translation to "lust". This view centers instead on the word "woman" (γυνή in Koine Greek, Strong's number 1135). It is taken to mean simply "another man's wife". The KJV renders γυνή as "wife" in 92 of its 201 uses in the Koine Greek Bible. The context of half of those remaining imply that the woman is at least a mother (e.g. having children, etc.), or has a husband, or has prior commitments in some fashion. The presence of the word "adultery" also supports this view. Thus, Mt 5:28 says simply that one is never to covetously desire another man's wife / possession even with a mere look. Value judgments on all other heterosexual desires are therefore considered unstated..
  2. A more traditional view accepts the "lust" translation as if it were inspired by God. It considers almost all heterosexual desire outside marriage to be sin. Romance is usually considered to be non-sexual and is often, therefore, acceptable. This approach may be best represented in the popular book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris.
  3. A more demanding approach is to accept the principles of Celibacy as practiced within Clerical celibacy in several world religions, including those by greater Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and historically by the medieval Cathars (e.g. the "perfect") and others. An elaboration of this view is in the titled Roman Catholic section below. q.v.
  4. The final view in this pseudo-continuum considers this verse to be an endorsement of male Homosexuality. In Mt 5:28, Jesus Christ seems to forbid even casual desire for any woman. Several of the extra-biblical (and disputed) apocryphal books, (e.g. the Secret Gospel of Mark) embody and elaborate this approach. The controversial HBO documentary " Celibacy" relates a saying among monks in the early Saint Catherine's Monasterymarker that "With wine and boys around, monks have no need of the devil to tempt them." Thus, homosexuality is considered in this unusual view to be the most spiritual state possible in matters of sexual desire. See the Lavender Mafia and Homosexuality and Roman Catholic priests. This final view is rejected by established Roman Catholic and most Mainline authorities. See Heresy.


A demon satiating his lust in a 13th century manuscript.


Roman Catholicism

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a Christian's heart is lustful when "venereal satisfaction is sought for either outside wedlock or, at any rate, in a manner which is contrary to the laws that govern marital intercourse".

In Roman Catholicism, lust became one of the Seven deadly sins, taking the place of extravagance (Latin: luxuria). This change occurred because in the Romance languages, the cognates of luxuria (the Latin name of the sin) evolved to have an exclusively sexual meaning; the Old French cognate was adopted into English as luxury, but this lost its sexual meaning by the 14th century.

Lust is now considered by Roman Catholicism to be a capital sin ; the reason for this is due to the Catholic belief that the gravity of an offence is measured by the harm it works to the individual or to the community. And insofar as impurity bears the evil distinction that, whenever there is a direct conscious surrender to any of its phases, the guilt incurred by the individual is always grievous. However, when there is some impure gratification for which a person is not immediately responsible, but simply had posited its cause and had not deliberately consented, the sin is only considered venial.

The determination of the amount of flagitiousness depends upon the proximate danger of giving way on the part of the agent, as well as upon the known capacity of the things done to bring about venereal pleasure. This sin applies to external and internal sins alike, forasmuch as Jesus had uttered the word 'επιθυμίo' during his Sermon on the Mount as shown above.

Islam

In Islam, lascivious glances and thoughts are wrong. As the Prophet Mohammed once said, "The fornication of the eyes is to look with lust; the fornication of the tongue is to speak lustful things; the fornication of the hands is to touch with lust; the fornication of the feet is to walk towards lust; the fornication of the heart is to desire evil."

Paganism

Few ancient, pagan religions have actually considered lust to be a vice. The most famous example of a widespread religious movement practicing lust as a ritual would be the Bacchanalias of the Ancient Roman Bacchantes. However, this activity was soon outlawed by the Roman Senate in 186 BC in the decree Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus. The practice of sacred prostitution, however, continued to be an activity practiced often by the Dionysians.

Shinto

See Shinto and LGBT themes in mythology

Sikhism

In Sikhism, lust is counted among the five cardinal sins or sinful propensities (the others being anger, ego, greed and attachment). In common usage, the term stands for passion for sexual pleasure and it is in this sense that it is considered an evil in Sikhism.

In art



Literature

From Ovid to the works of les poètes maudits, characters have always been faced with scenes of lechery, and long since has lust been a common motif in world literature. Many writers, such as Georges Bataille, Casanova and Prosper Mérimée, have written works wherein scenes at bordellos and other unseemly locales take place.

Despite the apparent evils of Baudelaire, author of Les fleurs du mal, he had once remarked, in regard to the artist, that "The more a man cultivates the arts, the less randy he becomes... Only the brute is good at coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses. To copulate is to enter into another -- and the artist never emerges from himself".

The most notable work to touch upon the sin of lust, and all of the Seven Deadly Sins, is Dante's la Divina Commedia. Dante's criterion for lust was an "excessive love of others," insofar as an excessive love for man would render one's love of God secondary.

In the first canticle of Dante's Inferno, the lustful are punished by being continuously swept around in a whirlwind, which symbolizes their passions. Penitents who are guilty of lust, like the two famous lovers, Paolo and Francesca, cannot cleanse their soul of this sin and will never purge their minds from their lustful desire. In Purgatorio, of the selfsame work, the penitents are forced to walk through flames in order to purge themselves of their lustful inclinations.

In philosophy

The link between love and lust has always been a problematic question in philosophy.

Schopenhauer notes the misery which results from sexual relationships. According to him, this directly explains the sentiments of shame and sadness which tend to follow the act of sexual intercourse. For, he states, the only power that reigns is the inextinguishable desire to face, at any price, the blind love present in human existence without any consideration of the outcome. He estimates that a genius of his species is an industrial being who wants only to produce, and wants only to think. The theme of lust for Schopenhauer is thus to consider the horrors which will almost certainly follow the culmination of lust.

In psychoanalysis and psychology

Lust, in the domain of psychoanalysis and psychology, is often treated as a case of "heightened libido".

See also



Further reading



References

External links




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