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However, Buddhism began to spread in western nations just as many of the old cultural rules were disappearing. I hope we can all agree, without further discussion, that non-consensual or exploitative sex is "misconduct." Beyond that, it seems to me that Buddhism challenges us to think about sexual ethics very differently from the way most of us have been taught to think about them. They are undertaken as a personal commitment to Buddhist practice.Falling short is unskillful (akusala) but not sinful -- there is no God to sin against. It's up to us to decide how to apply the principles.If a monk makes sexually suggestive comments to a woman, the community of monks must meet and address the transgression.

Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Japanese Pure Land, married, and he authorized Jodo Shinshu priests to marry.

In the centuries that followed, the marriage of Japanese Buddhist monks may not have been the rule, but it was a not-infrequent exception.

This takes a greater degree of discipline and self-honesty than the legalistic, "just follow the rules and don't ask questions" approach to ethics.

In Japan today -- and in schools of Buddhism imported to the West from Japan -- the issue of monastic celibacy is decided differently from sect to sect and from monk to monk.

Let's go back to lay Buddhists and the vague precaution about "sexual misconduct." People mostly take cues about what constitutes "misconduct" from their culture, and we see this in much of Asian Buddhism.