World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
The foremost of sinful actions is adultery or fornication. No other sin has such a baneful effect on the spiritual life. Because it is committed in secret, by mutual consent, and often without fear of the law, adultery is especially a sin against God and against the goal of life. Modern secular societies can do little to inhibit adultery and sexual promiscuity. Only the norms of morality which are founded on religion can effectively curb this sin.
Most of the passages collected here condemn adultery, fornication, and sexual promiscuity in general. A number of passages seek to demarcate limits of behavior that verge on fornication. At the conclusion are passages on related behaviors: divorce and homosexuality.
Approach not adultery: for it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road to other evils.
Islam. Qur'an 17.32
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and the adulterous.
Christianity. Hebrews 13.4
We find that to every sin God is long-suffering, except to the sin of unchastity. Rabbi Azariah said, "All things can God overlook save lewdness."
Judaism. Midrash, Leviticus Rabbah 23.9
Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Christianity. Bible, Ephesians 5.5
Neither fornicate, for whosoever does that shall meet the price of sin--doubled shall be the chastisement for him on the Resurrection Day.
Islam. Qur'an 25.68-69
Violating and misusing love is the gravest of all crimes. Abusing love is a greater crime than cutting the universal root of life [murder].
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 3-20-77
Both learning and the practice of the Teaching are lost to him who is given to sexual intercourse. He employs himself wrongly. That is what is ignoble in him.
Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 815
A wise man has nothing to do with lust. Lust is nothing but death, and lack of it is serenity. How can one who perceives this indulge in wanton behavior?
Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.61
Four misfortunes befall a careless man who commits adultery: acquisition of demerit, disturbed sleep, third, blame; and fourth, a state of woe. There is acquisition of demerit as well as evil destiny. Brief is the joy of the frightened man and woman. The king imposes a heavy punishment. Hence no man should frequent another man's wife.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 309-10
When a family declines, ancient traditions are destroyed. With them are lost the spiritual foundations for life, and the family loses its sense of unity. Where there is no sense of unity, the women of the family become corrupt; and with the corruption of its women, society is plunged into chaos. Social chaos is hell for the family and for those who have destroyed the family as well.
Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 1.40-42
Immorality in the house is like a worm in the vegetables.
Judaism. Talmud, Sota 3b
Do not approach thy neighbor's wife or maids.
Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way
Let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till God give them independence by His grace.
Islam. Qur'an 24.33
Whoever has illicit affairs with the wives of his relatives or friends, either by force or through mutual consent, he is to be known as an outcast.
Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 123
The philanderer lusting after numerous women does not give up seeking in others' homes. What he does daily only brings regrets-- In sorrow and greed he is shrivelled up.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Dhanasari, M.5, p. 672
Sutta Nipata 815: Cf. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 25, p. 929.
A man should not think incontinently of another's wife, much less address her to that end; for such a man will be reborn in a future life as a creeping insect. He who commits adultery is punished both here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell.
Hinduism. Vishnu Purana 3.11
The lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not take heed to the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it....
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely hind, a graceful doe. Let her affection fill you at all times with delight, be infatuated always by her love. Why should you be infatuated, my son, with a loose woman and embrace the bosom of an adventuress? For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he watches all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is caught in the toils of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is lost.
Judaism and Christianity. Proverbs 5.3-23
If you are handsome, do not go astray after lewdness, but honor your Creator, and fear Him, and praise Him with the beauty which He has given you.
Judaism. Pesikta Rabbati 127a
The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord... Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh." But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?
Christianity. 1 Corinthians 6.13-19
Offering presents to a woman, romping with her, touching her ornaments and dress, sitting with her on a bed, all these are considered adulterous acts.
Hinduism. Laws of Manu 8.357
A monk who, with sexual desire and a perverse intention, contacts a woman, holding her hand or holding a braid of her hair or rubbing against any part of her body, commits an offense, requiring formal meetings of the Order for its exoneration.
Buddhism. Vinaya Pitaka
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet; the Lord will smite with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 3.16-17
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! God is Aware of what they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers... or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto God together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.
Islam. Qur'an 24.30-32
1 Corinthians 6.13-19: Cf. 1 Corinthians 3.16-17, p. 211, on the sacredness of the human body as God's temple. Paul is quoting Genesis 2.24, p. 252. Vinaya Pitaka: The Vinaya Pitaka is the standard text of monastic discipline for Theravada monks. Qur'an 24.30-32: Wearing the veil by Muslim women was instituted in the Qur'an as a practical protection against the temptation to adultery.
A master has said, "He who beholds a beautiful woman should say, 'Blessed be He who hath created such in His universe.'" But is even mere looking permitted? The following can surely be raised as an objection: "Thou shalt keep from every evil thing" [Deuteronomy 23.10] implies that one should not look intently at a beautiful woman, even if she be unmarried, nor at a married woman, even if she be ugly, nor at a woman's gaudy garments, nor at male and female asses or at a pig and a sow or at fowls when they are mating.
Judaism. Talmud, Aboda Zara 20ab
The lawful thing which God hates most is divorce.
Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud
The Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.... "For I hate divorce," says the Lord.
Judaism and Christianity. Malachi 2.14-16
The husband receives his wife from the gods; he does not wed her according to his own will; doing what is agreeable to the gods, he must always support her while she is faithful.
"Let mutual fidelity continue until death;" this may be considered as a summary of the highest law for husband and wife.
Hinduism. Laws of Manu 9.95, 101
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him [Jesus] asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away." But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
And in the house the disciples asked him about this matter. And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Christianity. Mark 10.2-12
Aboda Zarah 20ab: Cf. Treatise on Response and Retribution, p. 932. Hadith of Abu Dawud: The Islamic law on divorce is found in Qur'an 2.226-32. There a waiting period of four months is prescribed, to allow the decision to be reconsidered. Malachi 2.14-16: Christian and Jewish marriage is not like a secular contract which can be anulled at will; it is a covenant to which God is witness and third partner. Laws of Manu 9.95, 101: Divorce is permitted, but it is not done by virtuous people. According to Narada Dharma Sutra 12.92-100 and Laws of Manu 9.76-81, a man may divorce his wife on the grounds of adultery, profligacy, procuring an abortion, drunkenness, malicious speech, or failure to produce a male heir. A woman may divorce her husband if he becomes a religious ascetic, is impotent, is expelled from his caste, or is long absent. A waiting period of one to eight years is normally required.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Judaism and Christianity. Leviticus 18.22
The bodhisattva does not approach the five kinds of unmanly men in order to be friendly with or close to them.
Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 14
And Lot said to his people, "You commit lewdness, such as no people in creation ever committed before you. Do you indeed come in unto males?"
Islam. Qur'an 29.28-29
God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
Christianity. Romans 1.26-27
Mark 10.2-12: In the parallel attestation in Matthew 19.3-9, there is an exception for 'unchastity.' Current biblical scholarship does not see this exception as sanctioning divorce on the grounds of marital infidelity. 'Unchastity' is not the same word as adultery; it is thought to refer to the incestuous relations practiced by some pagans before their conversion to Christianity. Jesus is quoting Genesis 1.27, p. 282 and Genesis 2.24, p. 252. Lotus Sutra 14: The 'five kinds of unmanly men' includes homosexuals, hermaphrodites, eunuchs, and those suffering from various kinds of impotence. The Sangha did not want anyone to join the order as an escape; it likewise barred from membership debtors who wanted to renege on their debts and young novices who did not have their parents' permission. Qur'an 29.28-29: This passage refers to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the Bible (Genesis 19.4-11), when two angels came to Lot's home to warn him of the city's impending destruction, the mob demanded that Lot give the men over to them, that they might rape and sodomize them. Lot defended them and offered his daughters instead; at which point the mob sought to lay hands on Lot, but the angels rescued him. Romans 1.26-27: The 'due penalty' probably refers to venereal disease. In addition, there is the spiritual damage to the personality of one who engages in such behavior.
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