By H. Osby Weaver

The Bible has many passages that condemn the sin of lasciviousness. It is mentioned as an evil to which men surrender who are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of ignorance and a hardened heart. They are pictured as being past feeling and having given themselves up to this sin, they work all uncleanness (Eph. 4:18, 19). This is certainly an ugly picture of a depraved class of people. Any evil, so degenerating to one’s character, surely ought to be diligently avoided.

Bible writers further tell us that the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were turned into ashes be-cause ten righteous souls could not be found within their limits, were leading lascivious lives (2 Pet. 2:7). In Galatians 5:19-21, we find a number of sins cataloged as the “works of the flesh,” among which is the sin of lasciviousness. Then we are further told that “they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” One does not have to be guilty of all the sins mentioned in these verses in order to lose his inheritance, but just persist in any one of them.

Lasciviousness is a sin that can be committed by a child of God as well as by the hardened sinner. The apostle Paul addressed himself to those among them who had “sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” Those who walk in lascivious ways are said to “think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:3, 4). Those of good moral character need not be surprised when the opposite kind make fun of, ridicule, and characterize them as “strait-laced, holier-than-thou, etc.” They cannot under-stand the Christian’s conduct and wonder what he gets out of life. Let them have their “kicks” and if they continue in it, one day their laughter and ridicule will be turned into “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:42, 43).

To many, lasciviousness is just a big word that is hard to say and still harder to spell. When asked its meaning, one replied, “I didn’t know that there was such a word.” What is lasciviousness? The word is translated from the Greek aselgeia which Thayer, the noted Greek lexicographer, says is “wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females.” Webster defines it as “wanton; lewd; lustful. Tending to produce voluptuous or lewd emotions.” Winston Dictionary defines lasciviousness as “tending to excite lewd or wanton thoughts or emotions, as objects or pictures.”

The sin of lasciviousness can be committed in thought, word, and deed. Anything that is thought, spoken, or done that produces, or tends to produce lewd thoughts, lustful emotions, or wanton ideas is lasciviousness. It can be produced by objects, pictures, or persons. It can be induced in one person by another. When such is done, the one guilty of producing sinful lust bears responsiblity with the one in whom the sin is incited.

At this point, we usually call attention to the indecent dress of the women as that which produces lasciviousness. And so it does, but this sin is not confined to the women. Men can be as guilty in these matters as the women. Men ought to be as careful in their dress as the women should be, and equally as careful of the way they talk and act. If one causes another to have an impure, unholy thought by the way that he is dressed, by the way that he talks or acts, he is guilty of lasciviousness. Not only has his conduct been improper, but he has led another to sin. Jesus said, “It is impossible but that offences will come; but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2).

The sin of lasciviousness is the sin that is involved in dancing, mixed swimming, wearing shorts, telling suggestive jokes, speech that has a “double meaning,” and the list goes on. It is no wonder that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 15, p. 8
August 1, 1996