What is Sexual Misconduct?

Reprinted from Good Question Good Answer by Venerable Shravasti Dhammika

The Third Precept says we should avoid sexual misconduct. What is “sexual misconduct”?

If we use trickery, emotional blackmail or force to compel someone to have sex with us, then this is sexual misconduct. Adultery is also a form of sexual misconduct because when we marry we promise our spouse that we will be loyal to them.

When we commit adultery we break that promise and betray that trust. Sex should be an expression of love and intimicy between two people and when it is it contributes to our mental and emotional well-being.

Is sex before marriage a type of sexual misconduct?

Not if there is love and mutual agreement between two people. However, it should never be forgotten that the biological function of sex is to reproduce and if an unmarried woman becomes pregnant it can cause a great deal of problems. Many mature and thoughtful people think it is far better to leave sex until after marriage.

But what about lying? Is it possible to live without telling lies?

If it is really impossible to get by in society or business without lying, such a shocking and corrupt state of affairs should be changed. The Buddhist is someone who resolves to do something practical about the problem by trying to be more truthful and honest.

Well, what about alcohol? Surely a little drink doesn’t hurt!

People don’t drink for the taste. When they drink alone it is in order to seek release from tension and when they drink socially, it is usually to conform. Even a small amount of alcohol distorts consciousness and disrupts self-awareness. Taken in large quantities, its effects can be devastating.

Drinking a small amount wouldn’t be really breaking the precept, would it? It’s only a small thing.

Yes, it is only a small thing and if you can’t practise even a small thing, your commitment and resolution isn’t very strong, is it?

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