What is it? Is sex just for pleasure with your partner breaking a precept? Eg with a condom. And is being circumcised bad over personal preferences/ (hygiene,aesthetic)? is oral and anal sex bad? Is masturbation bad? And is circumcising your sons bad?


4 Answers 4


Sexual misconduct is defined in the Pali scriptures as having sex with someone else's partner or fiancee and with those living under the protection of their parents or an institution (in the case parents, if the parents disapprove).

The purpose of refraining from sexual misconduct is to not harm/damage existing relationships.

Therefore, having sex for pleasure, using a condom, circumcision, masturbation & oral & anal sex are not, in themselves, sexual misconduct (even though some of these things can be unwholesome & unskilful).


In general, the Pali Canon is quite exoteric and seems to equate sexual misconduct with various kinds of adulteries. Of course, for a monastic any sexual activity at all with the sole exception of involuntary nocturnal emissions is forbidden by the Vinaya.


Ideally, sexual pleasure should be avoided since it is craving. But Buddha knew that this was difficult for the laity. Therefore, he suggested that the laity should avoid sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is simply sexual behavior which is outside social acceptance. And you can interpret that according to your own society.

  • 2
    Actually it's sought of independent of the society. A main property of Buddhism is independence from time place etc. If told sexual misconduct is implicit sex or rape, I think it's correct. Please refer to the answer of Dhammadhathu. It's about not breaking existing human relationships without their consent.
    – seeker
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 6:02
  • No, in this case its not really independent of society. Yes, Buddhism is timeless, but at the same time there are things which are shared by all of humanity. And while there is a basic understanding of what consists of sexual misconduct, there are also different opinions as to the extent of sexual misconduct. These extents seem to be socially biased and that is what I am referring to. For example, homosexuality may be considered immoral in some societies but not in others. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 0:37

Generally speaking, sexual misconduct means any sexual conduct that involves violence or lying.

One kind of sex is no worse than the other. It all leads to suffering.

I have never heard of anything on circumcision in the Buddha's teaching but there is a rule that monastics can't cut the penis clear off.

  • But does sex with your wife, to pleasure her and yourself(not pregnate her) create negative karma, and is the removal of foreskin a neutral thing to do for hygiene
    – Xxx
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 11:40
  • Yes, sex with one's spouse is negative karma and it creates furthur negative karma. Just "wanting to exist" is negative karma as well.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 11:54
  • @Uilium. The Pali suttas state the duty of monks is to show laypeople the path to heaven (rather than the path to Nirvana). Thus, the suttas never say to laypeople that having sex with one's wife is negative karma. For many people, who are unable to eradicate instinctual sexual lust, to not have sex would be negative karma. Sex in marriage is a method to manage instinctual sexual drives that would otherwise cause oppression & suffering. There are many monks that disrobe due to affliction by lust. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 20:28
  • The Pali suttas are not cookie cut statements but rather teachings that were first meant for certain individuals or audiences. For another audience another teaching about the same thing would be taught creating apparant contradictions and redundancies.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:12
  • 2
    "Thus, the suttas never say to laypeople that having sex with one's wife is negative karma."? The suttas never say many things. However, they do state over and over that to chase sensual desire is negative karma.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .