Looking at a woman with lust is not a sin Matthew 5:28

December 14, 2015
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ but I tell you that everyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

It sounds like looking at a woman with lust is sin – but is it? And what is sin?

Struggle to be holy

To me as a young man it was a VERY painful verse for years. I was struggling. I wanted to be holy but I always failed. I looked at beautiful women with “lust” in my heart all the time. I was committing adultery all the time, or so I thought…

When I was about 14 years old I realized that “looking” is conditioned with “to lust after her”. I concluded that looking at a woman to marvel at her beauty is not a sin if it’s not to “lust after her”. That was very freeing because I knew it was the truth.

Later I also realized that adultery is different from fornication and if I was not married it was ok for me to look at women. After all how can you find your spouse without looking?

Then I married and I still looked at other women so I thought I was committing adultery…

Only recently did I realize that a man can love more than one wife and looking at a woman even for married men is not a sin. It’s a really good news and very freeing. Hallelu Yah!

Let me explain.

The context is adultery

To understand the above verse we have to be aware that the context is adultery. Let's look at the previous verse for this purpose.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;

- Matthew 5:27

Yahusha quoted the Law where it's written:

“You shall not commit adultery.

- Exodus 20:14

It’s easy to see that Yahusha was talking about adultery specifically, when he mentioned looking at a woman. He did not say anything about looking at women in general.

Adultery always involves someone’s wife

If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both die, the man who lay with the woman and the woman. So you shall remove the evil from Israel. If there is a young lady who is a virgin pledged to be married to a husband, and a man finds her in the city, and lies with her;then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones; the lady, because she didn’t cry, being in the city; and the man, because he has humbled his neighbor’s wife. So you shall remove the evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 22:22-24

Adultery is not any kind of sexual sin. Adultery according to the Holy Scriptures is very specific (see above the quote from the Law). It always involves someone’s wife or a woman who is betrothed. A man (whether married or not) cannot commit adultery with an unmarried or unbetrothed woman. Period.

The Greek word 


in this verse can mean both “woman” and “wife”. For some weird reason most translations translated “gyne” in this verse as “woman” – incorrectly.

Since Yahusha the Anointed was talking about adultery he could only have been talking about a “wife” not “a woman in general”. For this reason “gyne” should have been translated as


This leads us to the following translation:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ but I tell you that everyone who looks at a wife to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:28 (translation corrections in italic)

Sounds better, doesn't it? I have a blog post that explains what adultery is: What is adultery? Adultery is intimacy with another man's wife

Here's a Jewish Rabbi explaining the same thing here (30:42 - 37:35)


Could be translated as "covet" not "lust"

You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Deuteronomy 5:18-21

Wives are the man’s property just as his houses or cars. Thus, adultery is not only a sexual sin with a married woman, it’s coveting someone else’s property.

In Matthew 5:27-28 the Greek manuscripts read


Which is transliterated to English as


epithumeo means lust after or covet things that are forbidden.

Coveting and lusting are not the same.

Lust is a very strong sexual desire. There is no reference in the bible that strong sexual desires would be sin. None.

On the other hand side, coveting is yearning to possess (something, especially something belonging to another). There are plenty of references in the Holy Scriptures that tells us coveting our neighbor's wife is sin.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

- Deuteronomy 5:21

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

- Exodus 20:17

Knowing this, leads us to the following translation:

You have heard that it was said,‘You shall not commit adultery;’ but I tell you that everyone who looks at a wife to covet her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:28 (translation corrections in italic)

Looking at a woman with strong sexual desire (lust) is not sin.

Looking at a married or betrothed woman with lust or yearning to possess her (covet) is a sin.

Committing adultery in the heart

What Yahusha wanted to tell us is that even if we actually haven’t committed a physical sin, if we planned it in our heart we did commit it. That’s the core message, not the looking.

So what is committing adultery in the heart after all?

Yahusha said that if someone looks at a wife to covet her he committed adultery in his heart. That is if someone looked at a wife with the INTENTION to take her from his husband and have sex with her. That’s the only way someone can commit adultery in his heart in my understanding based on Scripture.

As you can see the point is not the looking part, the point is the INTENTION of the heart to take something that is NOT YOURS. That's coveting. That's sin.

Coveting a not betrothed virgin

I added this paragraph because I wanted to address someone’s comment. They were saying that since having sex with a not betrothed virgin is a sin (according to Exodus 22 and Deuteronomy 22) so looking at them with lust is sin too – as the inward act bears the same consequences as the outward act.

I have two problems with this logic.

1. As we discussed earlier Yahusha was talking about adultery which always involves a married woman.

2. Exodus 22 and Deuteronomy 22 do not mention that having sex with a not betrothed virgin is a sin.

The man is obliged to pay a bride price and he cannot divorced her all his life. This is because he did not walk the standard route:

Step 1.

Get permission from the father to marry his daughter.

Step 2.

Marry the woman.

Step 3

Have sex with her.

He skipped step 1 and 2. But does this mean it was a sin? It is my understanding that if he paid the bride price and did not divorce her all his life, he did not transgress the Law.

Men of Yah loved beautiful women

Great man of Yahuah loved beautiful women. Physical beauty can only be recognized by the eyes. So just by reading about some stories in the Holy Scriptures we can safely conclude that these authors did look at women with lust otherwise they could not have described their beauty. Could they? If someone tells you to the contrary they are either being ignorant or hypocritical.

Solomon loved beautiful women, he had 1000 of them.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love.
Behold, you are beautiful.
Your eyes are doves.

- Song of Solomon 1:15

Abraham's servant realized the beauty of Rebekah:

Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher on her shoulder. The young lady was very beautiful to look at, a virgin. No man had known her. She went down to the spring, filled her pitcher, and came up.

- Genesis 24:15-16

Abraham considered his wife Sarai beautiful to look at so much so that he asked her to say she was his sister.

When he had come near to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at. It will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me, but they will save you alive. Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you.”

Genesis 12:11-13

Similarly did Isaac.

The men of the place asked him about his wife. He said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “My wife”, lest, he thought, “the men of the place might kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to look at.”

- Genesis 26:7

Yahuah created beautiful women and eyes to see them

Why would Yahuah create the beauty of a woman perceivable by our eyes unless he wanted men to look at it and desire it? Creating beautiful women would not have made sense if it was forbidden to look at them. Yes he wanted to create that beauty. He wanted to attract men’s eyes!

That’s right!

He built this instinct into our very core. Real men love beautiful women. That’s in our design. It’s not sin.

It is Yahuah who created our eyes to see beauty. It wouldn't be logical at all if he then wanted us to refrain from looking at and lusting a woman’s beauty. God is never illogical!

Lust (strong sexual desire) is not bad. It's good. It's wired into every healthy male. If men would have not strong sexual desires they would not bother finding women to marry. Men would not multiply.

But Yahuah said:

God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28

How could have Yahuah commanded both Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply unless he gave them strong sexual desires? When he commands us something he always gives us the means to carry it out. Sexual desire is a means to carry out this command. The means can't be unholy or unrighteous if it is a means to carry out a holy command.

So if you're a wife and your husband looks at a pretty girl walking down the street, rejoice! He is being healthy and normal. It's wired into him. It's in his DNA. It's not against you. It doesn't mean he's a pervert. It doesn't mean you're not good enough or fat or ugly. It's means he has a strong sexual desire to obey Yahuah's command to be fruitful and multiply. And as we discussed earlier, it's not a sin for a man to desire more than one woman.

You want to have a real man or a gay?

Men, don't feel guilty for looking! Be happy that you're not a gay.

Attraction to beautiful women proves I’m not gay

When I read about homosexuality in the Bible I felt I’ll throw up. Being gay is a sin and to healthy minds and souls it’s naturally disgusting. My natural desire for women reminded me about the good news: I was not a gay! It can remind you too. Praise  Yahuah if you are attracted to beautiful women!

“‘You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestable.

- Leviticus 18:22

“‘If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

- Leviticus 20:13

Men are instructed to get married

Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But, because of sexual immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

How can you actually get married unless you look around and see a woman whose beauty captures your eyes? Don’t even allow someone to come near you who tells you this is wrong!

How about looking at a married or betrothed woman?

In my opinion Yahusha wanted to say that the intention of the heart matters and that coveting someone’s wife or someone’s betrothed woman is sin.

I can’t see how looking at a wife or a betrothed woman without coveting (yearning to possess what's forbidden) would be sin. Why would it be? I can marvel at the beauty of someone’s wife but I shall not covet her, I shall not yearn to possess her, she is someone else’s. Coveting is the sin, not the looking.

By the way, we can never be sure if a woman is married or betrothed. We may see an engagement or wedding ring but we may not. I believe that Yahuah judges our heart righteously. And that is the point of the verse. Judging the intention of the heart.

How about porn?

Lust (strong sexual desire) is good but it matters what instrument we use to fulfill this desire. Watching porn is a wrong instrument in my opinion. When someone watches porn they see a sexual act that belongs to the bedroom of a married man and a woman.  The actors are most likely not even married, let alone defile the marriage bed by exposing their nakedness.

“‘You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, and defile yourself with her.

- Leviticus 18:20

Not only that, when a man watches a man and a woman having sex, they see the man naked just as they see the woman. Consequently they will desire both the woman and the man sexually. The eyes can't erase the presence of the man penetrating, thus it is my opinion that porn involves homosexuality.

“‘You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestable.

- Leviticus 18:22

How about looking at photos of hot women?

Generally speaking, it is my opinion that looking at photos of hot women is not a sin. How would it be? Is it a sin to look at and lust after a hot women walking down the street? I hope that by now you see it is not a sin. So how would it be sin to look at and lust after the same woman on a photo?

But… As we discussed above the problem is not the looking but the intention of the heart and the instrument we satisfy lust.

The problem starts when someone looks at these pictures instead of the real thing. Some has gone so far as looking for easy online sex instead of going out there to find real women to marry.

It’s easy to go online and view a few pictures of hot women. But it’s a substitute for the REAL THING (marriage). On the flip-side it's difficult to find a good woman to marry. Masturbation is a sex-substitute.

Sexual desire is in our DNA. This desire is ingrained in us to find a woman, get married, have fun and have children. So my advice is this: get out there, look at real women, meet them and talk to them (you can meet real women online on social networking sites or dating sites too), court them with the intention to marry.

Keep in mind that if you look at women in the magazines there is very little chance that you could marry them. There is no chance for you to contact any of them, they are virtual and unreachable. They are most of the time photoshopped as well. So they are not always real.

We should also keep in mind that addiction is slavery. We're either slaves of Yahuah, or slaves of sin. Addiction is when you can't get away from something by any means. I'm not advocating that a man should spend hours at the computer looking at hot women every day. But I can't see how it's a sin to look at a pretty chick walking in the mall or have a look at that hot facebook friend's photos, or checking out photos of girls fishing in bikini once in a while - if that's your thing.

Hope this article helps you to go out to the world without feeling ashamed of being a normal man with healthy testosterone levels!

Barnabas Nagy
Barnabas Nagy

I’m Barnabas, a servant of Yahuah, who loves writing songs and speaking about the truth. Together with my lovely wife I run a small homestead where we raise free range organic chicken, ducks and turkey. We also have a garden where we grow seasonal vegetable. Read more