For about two decades spanning from the 1960s to the 1980s, America underwent what many refer to as a sexual revolution. During this timeframe, certain sexual proclivities and actions that were once considered wrong or taboo became both tolerated and encouraged. For a nation that began with a strong Christian foundation, this also meant a departure from teachings derived from Scripture. As the sexual revolution ran its course through society, so did the emergence of sexual immorality.
However, recognizing sexual immorality requires having a biblical perspective.
According to the Bible, sexual immorality takes on various appearances just like any other sin. For example, the sin of greed can manifest as an obsession for wealth, food, or even attention. While the symptoms are different, the sin is the same. Likewise, this is true in regards to sexual immorality. The sin appears differently depending on the person, but the sin is the same, as are the effects.
With sexual immorality and any other sin, we sin against others, ourselves, and most importantly, God. In order to help ourselves or others avoid sexual immorality, we must be aware of the Bible’s teachings on this subject. Here are 5 ways the Bible defines sexual immorality.
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“Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4)
Adultery is defined as sexual interaction between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. Colloquially, the word adultery is commonly referred to as “cheating.” Cheating not only violates the fidelity of a relationship, but also the trust held between two people. The end result of this behavior includes a diminished sense of loyalty, commitment, and often serves to destroy many relationships. One primary reason relationships end for believers and nonbelievers alike is because of cheating.
While adultery may refer more specifically to marriage, and cheating in any relationship, this sin has the same impact on those affected.
Scripture encourages us to honor our relationships, and that includes all relationships, but especially marriage. Within marriage, we have not only promised commitment to a person but have done so before their family, friends, and before God.
“You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22)
“For this reason, God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women[a] exchanged natural sexual relations[b] for unnatural ones. The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
Homosexuality is defined as the sexual attraction and interaction between members of the same sex. Throughout human history, marriage was defined as the covenant union between a man and woman. Modern-day understanding of marriage has extended to include same-sex couples. While this may feel like a win for many people, some Christians included, God’s Word is clear. Scripture acknowledges God’s strong disapproval of this particular sin.
“You are not to have sexual intercourse with any animal, defiling yourself with it; a woman is not to present herself to an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.” (Leviticus 18:23)
The issue of Beastiality is not one that has entered today’s public sphere of debate. Such behavior in many places is considered illegal. When considering the Bible, the behavior is also condemned, and under the Mosaic Law, the consequence of violating this would have been death (Leviticus 20:15). Just as God designed humans to be joined with one another in a particular way, animals are designed for one another, according to their kids.
One of the more recent forms of sexual immorality to be debated is that of incest. Most agree with the scientific basis that incest produces defective traits in children. However, this is not an effective rebuttal if an incestuous couple is unable to have children or have the ability to abort. This behavior is currently illegal in many places. Yet only in light of Scripture is this behavior consistently and undoubtedly immoral.
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While there will always be information we do not know, we can try our best to learn. God is able and willing to bless us with more wisdom and knowledge. We simply need ears to hear, a mind to interpret, and a desire to receive.
“Flee sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
When we are sexually immoral, whether we understand or not, there is harm done to our bodies. This could be the guilt we hold in our minds, or the disease infection we take into our body. No matter how the consequence looks, all issues can be avoided by running from this sin.
“For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.” (Matthew 6:14)
No one is perfect, not ourselves or anyone else. When we or someone else falls into sexual immorality, the proper response is forgiveness and restoration. This does not mean that a romantic relationship will or should continue. God has tasked us with forgiving one another no matter what boundaries we put into place.
The best way to understand God’s design for sex is to read Scripture and study how He presents the act of sex in relation to marriage. Sex validates the union a man and woman make between Him and one another. Any deviation from this physical and spiritual contract of marriage invites sexual immorality.
“Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The sexual revolution is taking place today on multiple fronts. There are those who claim that men can become women, and women become men through sex changes. While we can manipulate our bodies in various ways, God formed us. And in that formation, we cannot change our chromosomes. Women have two x-chromosomes, while men have an x and a y chromosome.
Mankind often finds ways to deviate from God’s design, but God’s design is above our knowledge and power. We are not greater than Him, and with that do not know better than He does. If we can acknowledge God’s wisdom and might, then we will better understand or at least better accept, why He wants us to abstain from sexual immorality.
Though our society continues to stray from God, we can do our part as Christians to make a different decision. We can decide to cling to God, His teachings, and avoid the consequences of sexual immorality. Satan is fully aware of our nation’s disconnect from God. He has room to act, but he cannot operate where he is not invited. If we can abide in God’s Word, we can resist. We can and will overcome.
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.