What is “lasciviousness?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

The King James Bible uses the word only six times.

  • Mark 7:22: “Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:….”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21: “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.”
  • Galatians 5:19: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,….”
  • Ephesians 4:19: “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
  • 1 Peter 4:3: “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:….”
  • Jude 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As these passages bear out, the term has a negative implication. Lasciviousness is a sin. In Greek, it is “aselgeia” (literally meaning “without continence; no restraint or self-control”). The English word actually came from the Latin “lascivia” (lustfulness). Our 1611 translators also rendered “aselgeia” as “wantonness” and “filthy.” “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13). “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:…” (2 Peter 2:7).

For additional clarity, we will mention some synonyms—licentiousness, recklessness, shamelessness, to name a few. In certain contexts, lasciviousness has a sexual connotation (especially Romans 13:13, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, and 2 Peter 2:7). This is simply wild or unbridled activities. In fact, lasciviousness is one of the two extremes of the human sin nature; the other is asceticism. An individual engaged in lasciviousness is loose or uncontrollable with respect to human evil—thievery, gluttony, greediness, and so on. One who is engrossed in asceticism is bound in human good—strictness and religiosity (fasting, long prayers, almsgiving, rites, rituals, ceremonies, giving up all worldly pleasures, and so on). God wants neither human good nor human evil: both cannot substitute Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Also see:
» What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?
» What is “wantonness?”
» What does “concupiscence” mean?
» What is “chambering?”