I received this through our Have A Question page where readers submit anonymous questions:
Is it a sin to lust after your wife. The Bible says to not covet your neighbors wife. But is it wrong to covet your own wife. to look longingly at her thighs or ass etc…
Now, I’ve written about this before, when someone asked “Is sensuality in Christian marriage a sin?“, but I thought I’d tackle the lusting after ones own wife separately for this question.
So, can you lust after your own wife?
Lust, in the dictionary, is defined as:
very strong sexual desire
So, what’s being asked is: Is it okay to have a very strong sexual desire for your wife? Short answer is: yes. Not only is it okay, it’s encouraged it seems. Let’s look at Proverbs 5:19. Now, this verse is actually fairly complicated. Translations for it are all over the map. Just for context, Proverbs 5:18 is talking about rejoicing in the wife of your youth.
NIV – A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
NLT – She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.
ESV – a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
NAS – As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.
KJV – Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
ISV – Like a loving deer, a beautiful doe, let her breasts satisfy you all the time. Be constantly intoxicated by her love.
NET – a loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you at all times, may you be captivated by her love always.
ASV – As a loving hind and a pleasant doe, Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; And be thou ravished always with her love.
YLT – A hind of loves, and a roe of grace! Let her loves satisfy thee at all times, In her love magnify thyself continually.
Why so many versions?
Because the Hebrew is difficult and confusing. Honestly, I think the Holman Christian Standard Bible (which I’ve never read except for this verse researching for this answer) has it best:
A loving doe, a graceful fawn– let her breasts always satisfy you; be lost in her love forever. – Proverbs 5:19
But, if you look at the Hebrew, if you take a purely mechanical approach to translation, here is what you get:
hind-of love and-ibex-of grace nipples-of-her they-shall-satiate-you in-every-of season in-love-of-her you-shall-err continually
See what I mean? But, what is clear is this concept of erring. That you will be so distracted by her love (and by the context, it’s obviously sexual) that you will make mistakes. Solomon’s hope for his son was that he would be so enamored of his wife’s body that he wouldn’t be able to think straight in her presence. In short, that he would lust after his bride.
In Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs if you prefer), written by the same man, Solomon, he spends nearly the entirety of Chapter 7 describing the naked beauty of his new wife, and throughout the book you can see their strong sexual desire for each other. You can’t read it and not say that they lust after each other.
The problem is that in the Bible, whenever we see the word “lust”, it’s in the context of a sin, or something bad happening, however, it also makes it clear that the lust that is wrong, is lusting after things you have no right to lust after, be it a neighbor’s possessions, or his wife, or even another god.
So, just as their is good, healthy, sexual desire in a marriage, and sinful, wrong, sexual desire outside of marriage, there is good, healthy, very strong sexual desire (lust) in marriage, which is inappropriate outside of marriage.
So, can you lust after your wife? Yeah, but that’s good thing. Oh, and wives, you can lust after your husband as well.
39 thoughts on “Is it a sin to lust after your wife?”
I would define lust in a different way. I would say it is a sexual desire that is stronger than one’s desire to obey God. I felt very strong sexual desires for DW when we were dating and engaged and I don’t think there was anything wrong with that. I didn’t deliberately stir them up and I didn’t let those feelings lead me into actions I would regret later, but they certainly gave me motivation to pursue her and seek marriage with her so they served a righteous purpose. I would not call it lust, if I let those feelings lead us into sin, that would be lust. Likewise if my desire for my wife lead me to just use her for my own pleasure with no consideration for her feelings and needs, that would be wrong as well.
Its just normal as I love my wife and I find her sexy and I like looking at here and imagine.
I like that definition, actually. Similarly, I’ve always thought of lust as inappropriate sexual desire, meaning then that it is impossible for a husband to lust after his wife because that is appropriate sexual desire. Not only is it okay for him to desire his wife, he SHOULD! But I think I like your definition better–that it is to the point of disobeying God–because I believe you’re right; your strong sexual desire for your soon-to-be wife was a good thing, although a little frustrating since you can’t act on it yet. Ha.
Holman Christian standard is my favorite translation. 🙂 great article. I completely agree, we should have huge sexual desire for our spouse.
Perhaps the physical desire for one’s wife should not be called lust. It obviously needs to be stirred up in these days of sexual visuals, pornography and the like. Responding to that has more to do with lust which can lead to damage in one’s marriage.
I totally disagree 67 !they’ll shall not lust over any woman
Really bro you’re right even I’m confused, because to lust with a women or a wife they have the same thoughts and if they fornicate it is the same process that does say that to have pleasure with any woman is sin and also in thoughts.
I love this question… My wife and I were just talking about it a few weeks ago when she asked me if I’m still attracted to her and if I’d still be when we’re old and grey. I told her jokingly that I’d still be lusting after her when we’re both old and grey and I have to chase her with my walker.
Excellent question and post.
My studies have lead me to define lust as properly being translated as coveting (Strongs 1937). Just like Kevin used it in his question/comment. I understand how the world defines lust (usually related to sex drive), but I encourage us to also reference the Greek and Hebrew when we can. Coveting (lusting) can include sex, but it also can be my neighbors house or car. And to covet means more than to think something is attractive, it is to think and plan to make something mine even if I do not physically carry out on those plans. I say all that to say, my wife belongs to me and I belong to her. So I cannot covet (lust) something that already belongs to me.
But by all means we should desire our spouse.
Well, since the question was in English, I think we need to trust the English usage when answering the question. Yes, the Greek and Hebrew are useful to understand the passage, but let’s not get them confused.
So, if you want a less ambiguous answer:
Yes, it’s okay to lust (English word) for your wife, but it’s impossible to lust (G1937) after your wife, because she is already yours.
Is that better? 🙂
In response to Robby, I agree that this is true in a healthy marriage relationship where both spouses understand that their bodies are not their own but belong to the Lord and to each other. But what if your spouse has isolated themselves spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally at an increasing amount over the years? In my situation it has been 7 months since I’ve had any sexual relations with my husband and more and more I find myself waking at night longing (or lusting if the definition is a strong desire) to be held and touched by him. I also long to connect with him in the other areas. My point is that something or someone can “belong” to you but they aren’t giving themself to you. It is terribly lonely and always make me think of how much the Lord longs to be with us and we need to make time to have an intimate connection with Him.
Okay, lust, the English word, can be defined several different ways. Meaning that your definition, and your conclusions are perfectly fine. If that definition holds. However, conservatively they do not. See 1st John there are more than one kind of lust, and they aren’t necessarily sexual. Again, however, in contemporary English lust has a sexual connotation. Lust is the desire of a inhuman, impersonal object for one’s personal gratification. In short, real sexual lust objectifies another human. One should not be objectifying their spouse.
One other issue with lust is that when one is over come with lust a person places their gratification above serving and loving the Lord. Which makes the object of the lust an idol. A spouse should not be an idol either.
I agree with Gilbert. I love that my husband and I long for each other sexually and get gratification and arousal out of each other’s bodies, but I do not want to be treated like an object, selfishly used and uncared for.
From the standpoint of “our sex life,” my wife and I have always treated our marriage as really having no limits in terms of what’s OK and what’s not OK (so long as it’s always between just the two of us). God gave us marriage because God, as I believe, understands our need for love, companionship, and sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy can involve lots of things but so long as it’s all within marriage between two partners then I think it’s OK. Not to give too much info, but there are times when what we do together may look like “making love” and there are times when things get very down and dirty. Sometimes I feel a desire to make love to my wife and sometimes, with her playing along, she’s used as an object but ALL the time she’s loved, cared for and cherished (hope that makes sense). Let me give an example and pardon the bluntness of it. Last Saturday, we were intimate. Rather than make love, as we usually do, I told her I wanted her to “suck my cock” because that’s all I really wanted from her that night. She gladly went along and enjoyed it and I returned the favor and we both had the time of our lives. Her attitude toward sex, like mine, changes according to mood–sometimes it’s love making, sometimes it’s downright animalistic and perhaps lustful. We share our lust for each other. Sometimes we send graphic texts and e-mails to each other. Most importantly, we love each other and are 100% monogamous and so to me if that’s all the case then nothing is wrong about it.
I applaud your attitudes toward your marriage bed AND the bluntness wasn’t necessary. You had done an admirable job of conveyng your meaning without sharing TMI. Please consider that sometimes bluntness is like an assault on an unsuspecting reader. 😉
He did warn ahead of time he was going to be blunt. “Pardon my bluntness.” Anyone can choose to stop reading at that point.
You’re right, he did. I guess I’ll be more prepared the next time to stop reading.
Indeed. I actually appreciated his writing style
You are my hero! I’m married for 32 years and still trying to resolve issues. You are truly blessed to have a wife that loves and trust’s you on such a deep level.
This discussion seems to be tied a great deal in legalism as determined by how one precisely defines lust. Using a broader definition than the limited scriptural one which has a specific purpose, I think it is permissible and desirable to lust after (feel strong desire for) one’s wife.
I wonder how many people would feel less negative if they were not associating “lust” with desire? Going back to the comment about equating lust with coveting, what if coveting a material possession of another has nothing to do with sex, but desire to possess only? So, I would ask, if we remove sex from lusting after one’s wife and consider only desire to be in her presence, is it then more acceptable from a religious legalism standpoint? If so, I consider that a pretty sad commentary on how the church defines the marriage covenant and the place of the God created gift of our divine sexuality within it.
What about 1 Thess 4:4-5?
It says a man should live with their wife in a holy and honorable way not through lustful desire as is common with those who do not know God.
It doesn’t, in fact. Wives aren’t mentioned in the entire chapter. I’m not sure what version you’re reading, but it’s not present in the Greek from what I can tell.
Oh, I agree with this writing. However what do I do in the situation when my husband is holding back from me? He won’t let me look at him, touch him, or even talk with me on sexual matters. My body doesn’t do anything for him and I feel completely useless being a women designed for a man to long for. I can’t even read Song of Solomon for it breaks my heart that I won’t expiriance the joys. The only thing keeping me together is if I give up the desires for my husband that Our Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will give so much more. However it does hurt that I can’t freely expiriance what God created to feel the oneness He created for us to relate how His love is for us. Intimacy. Closeness. Completely cut off from anything else in the world just to enjoy each other. Oh Father, I just want to know you…
Sounds like you have your answer. Draw close to God.
Hello Jessie! What is the situation between you and your husband now? Have there been any changes (for the better)?
Thank you so much for answering this question. I have been struggling with this internally for awhile. And am very satisfied with your response. I felt embarrassed about approaching our preist in relation to this. So once again thank you.
The idea that “lust” and masturbation is a sin is straight out of the pits of Gnostic theology. Matthew 5:27-30 has the word “epithumeo” in it and that same word is translated as “kidnap” in the 8th commandment and just simply in a good sense in this verse,
(1 Timothy 3:1) “This is a true saying, If a man DESIRE the office of a bishop, he DESIRETH a good work”
Matthew 5:27-30 has nothing at all to do with a gnostic concept of “lust”. Jesus said that if you want to steal another man’s wife (gune in Greek can mean either wife or woman, going by the laws in the OT and most translations of this word it’s certainly wife) you are committing adultery (na’aph in Hebrew means woman who breaketh wedlock) in your heart. The whole verse is only directed at men because wives were the posessions of their men and a man can have multiple wives in the bible.
You can’t commit a “thought crime” in the bible, so therefore “lust” is not a sin.
Gnostics believed that all your flesh was evil and created by demons, whereas the spiritual world was created by a good God. The ascetic gnostics infiltrated the early church and spread this dogma that all physical pleasure and lust is a sin.
Matthew 5:28 is clear that lust = adultery…
So, yes, the Bible does have “thought crimes” as you put it. Therefore, lust is a sin. You just can’t “lust” after your own wife…since she’s already yours.
There are numerous other verses dealing with sins of the mind as well. To say there aren’t is … well, just silly. The Bible teaches about the soul being both mind and body together. To say there are no sins of the mind would be gnostic, not the other way around. I think you have your theologies mixed up…
Now that’s a circular reasoning that’s very common in regular gnostic Churchianity.
No. Epithumeo is a broad word that can be used in both a good and bad sense, just like the other verses I quoted. Adultery to the Hebrews meant “woman who breaketh wedlock” and “committing adultery with ANOTHER MAN’S WIFE”. You see, The Hebrew culture was a POLYGYNOUS PATRIARCHAL culture that allowed men to take additional wives and concubines,
“If he takes an additional wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” (Exodus 21:10)
Jesus never once condemned this. Adultery to Jesus meant the same thing that it did to Moses,
“WOMEN THAT BREAK WEDLOCK (na’aph)”
And like I said, Epithumeo is also translated as “kidnap” in the 8th commandment in the Septuagint. It’s a strong possessive desire.
This whole “lust” thing you’re touting is a gnostic concept.
But, you’re proving my point as I see it.
This is an analogous word to what is used in Exodus 21:10 for covet. Which is a thought crime. You want to possess something you do not own, or more specifically, that someone else owns, correct?
That is a thought crime.
With lust of another woman, it’s the same thing. You look at her and want to possess her, even though she is not yours. That’s a sin, a thought crime.
I appreciate the exegesis though. It helps solidify my point.
What? Now I don’t undertsand a word of what you’re saying. Feels like the conversation is going around in a circle here.
Exodus 21:10 is about adding another slave-woman as a wife (but “regular” women are obviously also included). The Hebrews didn’t even have a word for “lust”. “Lust” is a Greek/Gnostic invention that you somehow can “lust” in your mind.
Coveting ANOTHER MANS WIFE was a crime to the Hebrews. Jesus just confirmed this commandment even stronger, saying that once you’ve decided to steal a woman from her husband you have commited adultery already with her in your heart.
Of course they didn’t have a word for lust. Hebrew is a concrete language. They didn’t have a word for anger either. They had to resort to saying someone’s nose was flared. They didn’t have a word for any abstract concept. So, that’s not a real argument.
However, Exodus 20:17 does clear state “Or anything else that belongs to your neighbour”, and daughters were considered property. So, you may not covet the daughter either.
By the way, that word for covet, “chamad” is also translated as lust, however what it really means is “tentflap of cheese” because cheese was a rare commodity that people really wanted and it dangles in front of you like a tentflap. Actually, it’s more like “tentflap, river, wall” Apparently cheese seemed like water that had become hard like a wall. See what I mean about not having abstract words? Crazy right? My point is, don’t ever say “they didn’t have a word for [abstract concept]” for Hebrew. It’s axiomatic.
As for saying it’s another man’s wife, its the same word for “wife” and “woman”. In Matthew 5:28, the word in Greek is gunaika, which means
according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
I see no evidence to support your claim. Sounds like you just want to be able to lust after woman with a clear conscience. Plus, it just “smells” wrong.
You really enjoy scolding and judging other people, don’t you.
And conservative Christians wonder why people are abandoning the belief system in droves?
I enjoy judging concepts to see if they hold up or not, but judging people, no. It hard to judge people. You don’t know their hearts, and that’s really what matters. I tend to be optimistic about people. Their beliefs … those are a bit more concrete and we have a clear source of absolute truth to measure it against.
Now, sometimes I do make a guess at their intention, but I don’t assume it. That’s why I say, in plain English, what I think they might be thinking, so they can correct me if I’m wrong.
As for people “abandoning the belief system in droves”, the conservative churches actually tend to do better than the non-conservative ones when it comes to holding people. I think people appreciate and respect a firm conviction and adherence to truth. I know for our church, which tends to be considered quite conservative, we’re growing by 3.1% per year I believe, about 3000 people baptized per day.
So many Christians, especially Catholics, make this common mistake.
Causes a lot of needless suffering.
If a man even looks at a woman other than his wife. He has already committed son in his heart. Period.
Friend, Essentially ALL men lust after women they’re not married to, even though they may desperately try not to.
It’s part of being a man!
I don’t buy that. You can learn not to. I have no interest in having sex with anyone other than my wife.