Sexual Immorality

Sexual Sins & Sexual Standards

The Lord wants His people to keep the sexual side of their human nature from sin. So, the Bible warns against sexual sins, not only the actions, but the impure thoughts and filthy words we might speak.

God wants us in fellowship with Him, but continual sexual immoral behavior excludes us from His kingdom. On the other hand, self-control (or temperance KJV) and the Fruit of the Spirit can guide us and keep us in faithful relationship with God and our spouse.

  1. The Bible condemns sexual sin.

    1. Adultery -- (Ex. 20:14) You shall not commit adultery.
      (Pr. 5:1-23) My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, {2} that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. {3} For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; {4} but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. {5} Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. {6} She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. {7} Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. {8} Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, {9} lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, {10} lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man's house. {11} At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. {12} You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! {13} I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. {14} I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly." {15} Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. {16} Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? {17} Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. {18} May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. {19} A loving doe, a graceful deer-- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. {20} Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? {21} For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. {22} The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. {23} He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

    2. Incest -- (Lev 20:19-21) "'Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible. {20} "'If a man sleeps with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless. {21} "'If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

    3. Sex with animals -- (Lev 20:15-16) "'If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. {16} "'If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

    4. Loss of virginity before marriage -- (Dt. 22:20-21) If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, {21} she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

    5. Prostitution -- (Dt. 23:17-18) No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. {18} You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.
      (Pr. 7:10-27) Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. {11} (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; {12} now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) {13} She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: {14} "I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. {15} So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! {16} I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. {17} I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. {18} Come, let's drink deep of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love! {19} My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. {20} He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon." {21} With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. {22} All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose {23} till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. {24} Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. {25} Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. {26} Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. {27} Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

    6. Homosexuality -- (Rom. 1:26-27) Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
      (1 Cor. 6:9) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

    7. Obscenity -- (Eph. 5:4) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

    8. Lust -- (Mat. 5:27-28) "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' {28} But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  2. God's will regarding sexual standards.

    1. In negative terms.

      1. Laws against illicit sexual behavior -- (Ex. 20:14) "You shall not commit adultery.
        (Lev. 20:10-21) "'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. {11} "'If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. {12} "'If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. {13} "'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. {14} "'If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you. {15} "'If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. {16} "'If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. {17} "'If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible. {18} "'If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people. {19} "'Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible. {20} "'If a man sleeps with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless. {21} "'If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.
        (Dt. 23:17-18) No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. {18} You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.

      2. The command to flee immorality -- (1 Cor. 6:18) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
        (Eph 5:3) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
        (Col 3:5) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
        (1 Th 4:3) It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;

      3. Sexual sin excludes one from the kingdom -- (1 Cor 6:9-10) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders {10} nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
        (Gal 5:19-21) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; {20} idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions {21} and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
        (Eph 5:3-5) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. {4} Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. {5} For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
        (Rev 22:15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

      4. Sodom and Gomorrah -- (2 Pet 2:4-10) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; {5} if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; {6} if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; {7} and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men {8} (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)-- {9} if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. {10} This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;
        (Jude 1:6-7) And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. {7} In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

    2. In positive terms.

      1. Strive for purity -- (1 Th 4:3-7) It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; {4} that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, {5} not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; {6} and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. {7} For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
        (1 Pet 3:2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

      2. Be faithful in marriage -- (1 Cor 7:2-4) But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. {3} The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. {4} The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

      3. Exercise self-control -- (1 Cor 7:8-9) Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. {9} But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
        (Gal 5:23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
        (1 Th 4:4) that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.

      4. God can cleanse you from immorality -- (1 Cor 6:11) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
      5. You can overcome immorality through the Holy Spirit -- (Gal 5:16-17) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. {17} For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

      6. See also Adultery; Marriage.