The Seven Deadly Vices:

3. Lust versus Chastity

by Don Schwager


"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes

and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:15).

Lust is defined as the disordered or unrestrained seeking of sexual/genital pleasure. The lustful person pursues excessively the good of sex which is intended for the good of the human race. A lustful person will do whatever is necessary to gain disordered pleasure. Lust invites us to pursue sexual pleasure for its own sake without weighing the consequences, and to focus so much on our own satisfaction that other moral instincts are pushed aside. Lust is an offence against ourselves, against other persons, and against society. Lust is a capital vice because it leads to other vices/sins -- blindness of mind, perversion of heart, rashness, inconstancy, inordinate self-love, fornication, masturbation, pornography, etc. The lustful person becomes blind to all else as he seeks to gratify his base desires.

"Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:20).

Since we are by nature sexual beings endowed with sexual desires, some regulation of our sexual appetite is required (2 Tim. 2:22, Titus 2:6). The virtue of chastity moderates and regulates the sexual appetite or genital pleasure according to the principles of right reason and the law of God. Chastity is not simply a restrictive virtue. It consists in the right attitude towards sex. It also enables us to reach self-control or self-mastery and it liberates us from the bondage of self-centered, aggressive, manipulative sexual activity. Continence is a virtue of the will by which a person checks the strong impulses of desire for pleasures of touch -- such as the pleasures of food, drink and sex. Virginity is a virtue by which a person abstains entirely from sexual pleasure.

Examples from the scripture: In Genesis 39:7-21, we read the account of Potiphar's wife trying to seduce Joseph into adultery. Joseph's immediate instinct was to flee temptation. Joseph was chaste in his relations with women and remained faithful to God's law. David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11) and Solomon had many wives (1 Kings 11). Both were spiritually weakened and were punished by God for their unchaste living.