The Meaning of Lust
Reaching the Nadir of Muslim Biblical Exegesis


As part of his grand effort at completely misunderstanding what the Bible has to say about issues of morality, Mr. Nadir Ahmed has thrown us this little beauty, when asked how he interprets Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (His text in red, mine in normal colour.)

Here is how I understand it. What you say I accept. The word in greek for "lust" simply mean to have desire for a woman. It does not nessarily have to be a sexual desire. For example, if a man meets a woman and decides they have alot in common, and she would a great companion to share his life with, then that man has committed "lust". The only type of male which I know that doesn’t desire woman are homosexuals. All heterosexual males desire woman. This can happen at the mall, school or simply watching TV. Therefore, to properly understand this verse, all it is saying, is that all heterosexual men have committed adultery in their hearts. Nothing more than this should be inferred.Therefore, we should understand the following:

lust = heterosexuality

Furthermore, according to Mt. 5:28, the only way possible for Christians to get married is the ancient Hindu tradition of arranged marriages, in which the groom and the bride are forbidden to meet each other till the actual marriage day. It is only on the actual marriage day, when the groom and the bride see each other for the first time. If the man and woman were allowed to see or talk to each other before marriage, there is no doubt, that to certain extent, some desire ("lust") for the other will occur. For example, the man may appreciate the womans good looks and vice versa, and therefore, some form of desire or "lust" may take place.

But to the best of my knowledge, Christians do not practice this form of courtship. Rather, they practice "dating". The entire system of dating is founded upon desire, or "lust". You have to like ("lust") the person you date. There has to be a certain amount of attraction ("lust") that each are suppose to have for the other. Can you imagine a Chrisitan man saying to his girlfriend, "I have no desire for you….lets get married, we were meant to be together."

It should be clear from Mathew 5:28, that there is no difference between a kind young beautiful woman giving an exhausted emergency flood aid worker a warm cup of hot chocolate and Britney Spears bumping and grinding. Both actions have the potential of causing heterosexual men to "desire" them.

Therefore, according to the Christians, "lust" is ok. And I say, "ok, fine". What you say I accept. Are you now beginning to see the problems with the Bible? Or are you still in denial?

It should go without saying that this is "exegesis" of the worst kind - it takes no account of the connotation of the word being investigated, nor of the context in which this verse resides.

To begin, the Greek word translated as "lust" here, epithumeo does not merely mean "to have a desire". It is a word which actually indicated a strong, even consuming, desire, most often for something which, for whatever reason, is not lawful for one to possess. This is the way in which the word is used at many points in the New Testament where it appears. For example,

"I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." (Acts 20:33)

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Romans 7:7, here a nominative form is also used)

"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." (I Corinthians 10:6)

Even when the verb is not describing an intense longing for something unlawful, it still describes an intense longing, far deeper than merely "liking" something or someone. Examples of this connotation are also seen in the New Testament,

" For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." (Matthew 13:17)

The word is used here to describe the intense longing that prophets of old had to see the fulfillment of God's Word. Also, the word is used in a sense of almost desperation,

"And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." (Luke 15:16)

The word is used to describe the longing for food that the prodigal son had when he was in such desperate straits, such that he even longed to eat the husks that were being fed to the pigs! This word hardly describes "liking" something or someone in the way Mr. Ahmed seems to be trying to use it.

With this in mind, let us then look at the context in which the Lord Jesus uses this word in His pronouncement that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." The context is clearly addressing sin of a specifically sexual nature - adultery. The portion of the Law which Jesus is expounding is the seventh commandment, the one against adultery. Jesus fills out the details on what is meant by adultery in v. 28, and tells us that looking on a woman to lust is to commit adultery in our heart. From this, it seems quite obvious that the Lord Jesus is describing, per the connotation of the word being used, looking upon a woman with an intense desire. Not a mere glance, not a general sort of attraction that may be normal to any heterosexual man, but an intense desire, with an idea towards POSSESSING the desired object (remember Paul's application of "lust" to the tenth commandment, against covetousness, in Romans 7:7?) What the Lord Jesus is talking about here is looking upon a woman in such a way as to desire to take her for yourself, even if it is not lawful for you to have her, in this specific example because she is another man's wife. Clearly Jesus is attaching the particular "sin" connotation to epithumeo, and applying it to the sort of ogling that a man might do which would lead him to then think about and develop a strong desire for the woman who it would be unlawful for him to pursue. Or as Job wrote in Job 31:1, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" What we look at, and HOW we look at it, will continue on in our minds, even after the object of desire is out of sight. Out of sight is NOT always out of mind.

From all this, it is apparent that the Lord's exposition in Matthew 5:28 is not talking about normal male heterosexuality. It is not talking about never being attracted to a woman who you might like to marry one day. It is talking about abstaining from a strong and persistent desire to possess or take, even in the temporariness of adultery, a woman who is not your wife, and who in fact is probably the wife of another man. This is what the context of the passage and the applied meaning of epithumeo indicate what is meant. As such, Mr. Ahmed's "exposition" falls far short of the mark.