Exhibitionism and voyeurism

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Exhibitionism used in its psychiatric sense means that a person likes others to see their sexual parts or likes other people to see them doing sexual things.

Voyeurism means that a person likes looking at the sexual parts of other people or likes to watch other people doing sexual things while whoever the voyeur is watching is unaware.


But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Matthew 5:28[1]

Some Christians interpret this as meaning that a man can’t even look at his own wife that way.[2]

Ray Comfort is one example of a fundamentalist Christian who says a man can’t look at his own wife sexually. In a conversation with a young man named Matt, Comfort reveals:

Matt: What if it’s your own woman?

Ray: It doesn’t matter if you look with lust you look with lust.

The interrogation continues, Matt says he’s not married:

Ray: If you’re not married she’s not your own woman anyway.[3]

Therefore, according to Ray Comfort, a man’s own woman is only his wife and a man can’t even look at his own woman (his wife) with lust. In addition he probably likes sex blindfolded because he somehow managed to have three children.

Even a Christian man can’t ever look at pussy, he can’t even look at his own wife’s (...) Can a Christian woman look at her husband’s *****? The Bible is less clear, and the many different fundy Christians probably disagree. Fundamentalists hardly ever give women more freedom than men, so a good Christian wife should probably look modestly away when her husband comes to her undressed.

(Perhaps Jesus was not so keen on sex, or perhaps Jesus was more touchie feelie with Mary Magdalene.) Due to this over the centuries, goodly Christians felt their duty was to avoid looking at their wives or husbands that way and even sometimes today that happens. So good married Christians used darkened bedrooms: other places were just a little improper. They avoided mirrors, never undressed together, and did everything between the sheets in the missionary position, thereby spoiling half the fun.

Most Christians apparently seem to ignore Romans 7:7, which equates the act of lusting with the act of coveting. In other words, the act of lusting is wanting something that already belongs to someone else. This would allow for an alternate interpretation (a better one) of Mathew 5:28, namely that to covet a woman who is already married is adultery. What must also be given thought is that the Greek word for woman can mean wife too, which would strengthen this interpretation. Seeing that intense sexual desire is represented as healthy, even encouraged, in the Old Testament (Proverbs 5:19, Song of Solomon, Erotic dancing was condoned in the Old Testament[4][5]), this alternate interpretation would not be a contradiction.


Consensual exhibitionism and consensual voyeurism are not a problem except for sexually repressed Conservatives. In gay bath houses, leaving a door ajar but not fully open can be a signal that others are welcome to watch but not to join in.


Non-consensual acts of those kinds can be distressing for other people who don’t want to see something sexual or don’t want to be watched when they are doing something private; such non-consensual acts are commonly illegal in many democratic countries. These kind of voyeurs are often called "peeping Toms".