SEX! Now that I have your attention, what a powerful word, right? Just reading the word ‘sex’ can captivate instant attention. It can even produce a psychological and physiological response unique to each reader. And why not? Sex was designed to feel good, promote population growth, and create intimacy between a couple. But, it can also be used for manipulation, empowerment, and countless forms of sexual immorality. Today, the definition of sexual immorality is looser than ever, generally accepted as a contemporary way of life. Is the definition that unclear in the Bible that it is open to retranslation?
We know that it isn’t God who has changed, so why is our understanding of sex so watered down from the past? As millennial Christians, my wife and I live in a rapidly changing world where even the Christian faith is beginning to divide on topics of sexual immorality and definition. But where does the Bible guide us, and did these ‘rules’ only apply to the people of an ancient time? Do they still apply to contemporary Christians?
Sexual Immorality definition in the Bible
You will often read the term ‘sexual immorality’ in more contemporary Bible translations or perhaps a word like ‘fornication’ in your KJV. However, the original Greek translation for most of these terms in the New Testament is porneia; look familiar? Porneia means to surrender your sexual purity. This can be through pre-marital sex, prostitution, idolatry, debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures), etc. Basically anything outside of God’s design for sex.
God’s design for sex is for humanity; time does not affect His perfect plan. He designed us with a mouth to eat and drink, ears to hear, and a nose to smell. So, those private parts we hide beneath our bathing suits have a designed purpose from the beginning of human creation. But what is God’s design?
God’s design for your body is the same as it was for the first man and woman, purity. As Christians, we are to stand out in the crowd, not join into temporary immoral pleasures. Those pleasures do nothing but erode our closeness with God, distancing Him from working in our lives. Sexual immorality, by definition, is surrendering our purity to the world when we should surrender to no one but God. God’s will is explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 –
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;”
But why does God care how we conduct ourselves sexually? That is best described in 1 Corinthians 6:13-20
“You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Sexual sin is an act against our own body. If you are a Christian, your body is a temple for God’s spirit to reside. There is no hiding sexual immorality from God, He sees all and knows all. It is disgraceful to you and disrespectful to God. He isn’t trying to ruin your fun, God is trying to protect you and only wants what is best for you! The repercussions from sexual immorality are many. But the repercussions from abstinence before marriage are few, if any.
Sex and Marriage
Contrary to popular belief, God does not hate sex; it’s actually the opposite because He created it! If we take a moment and think of what is truly in our best interests, it makes sense that we would not conduct ourselves with sexual immorality. Sex before marriage carries its fair share of risks, many of which, effect the rest of our lives.
As a father, I would hope that my two boys aren’t reckless with their future by engaging in promiscuity. Why? Because I know the risks involved and only want what’s best for my two sons. God is no different. Our Heavenly Father wants what is best for us in the long run. He is preparing us for that perfect person we will meet one day.
When you are married, you are joined to that person by God Himself. He sees a husband and a wife as ‘together as one‘ or ‘one flesh‘ and blesses your marriage with a wedding gift, sex. This form of sex brings you closer together and forms a bond that endures the trials and tribulations you may face in life. Sex within your marriage is about trust, purity, love, acceptance, and closeness; these are all things of God. Lust, deception, instant gratification, carelessness, conformity; these are not characteristics of God.
This beautiful purpose for sex is spelled out for us as early as Genesis 2:24:
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
This concept of joining is repeated and expanded in Mark 10:6-9–
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. ’So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
5 questions to ask
A strong marriage between a husband and wife with God at the center, is a supernatural force. Love, trust and even sex are all part of a healthy Christian marriage. When it comes to marital sex, most things are pretty acceptable within the bedroom; however, here is a short check list to ensure your pure sex life is not being corrupted by sexual immorality:
- Does it involve anyone outside of your marriage (physically or mentally)
- Is it consensual?
- Is it performed out of love and respect?
- Does it make either of you feel shame or remorse after engaging in it?
- Does it negatively affect your relationship with God?
Extra-Marital Sexual Immorality by Definition
No discussion on sexual immorality would be complete without discussing sexual relationships outside of a marriage. Hopefully, when you were married, this seemed like a complete impossibility and I pray it still does. But never be deceived by blind certainty. There are times in many couple’s marriage when either the husband or wife feels justified to find another partner. Perhaps while separated or out of revenge, spite, or depression. The temptations vary but the sin is still as bad today as it was when the Bible was written. It’s just more common and accepted today, but God feels the same way today as He did when ‘do not commit adultery‘ was scribed on the 10 commandments.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4
God provides no justification or loopholes for having sex with someone outside your marriage. Your spouse can’t give you consent, you can’t say your job required it, or any other desperate reason. It defiles your marriage which, if you are Christian, God is a part of. It shows a lack of love and respect for your spouse, destroys marital trust and soils your own body in the process. Even in desperate times, we have to trust in God and the bond He formed in marriage.
Sarah thought that God had abandoned her and had Abram sleep with her slave girl, Hagar (Genesis 16). The result? The Twelve Tribes of Sarah’s son-to-be, Isaac, and the Twelve Tribes of Hagar’s son, Ishmael. Judaism and Christianity descended from Isaac’s line, and Islam descended from the Twelve Arabic Tribes of Ishmael. So, one act created conflict that dates back nearly 4000 years and still going on today! Talk about your baby-mama drama!
Pre-marital sex and Sexual Immorality Definition
Look, you already know the answer regarding pre-marital sex. But why is God trying to ruin all the fun, right? If we take a step back in time for a second, why could traveling Hebrews not eat scaleless fish or pork? Would you eat undercooked catfish, chicken, or pork? Ever hear of a uncooked chicken sushi roll? Of course not. Now we know that God was protecting His people from parasites and bacteria found in these meats when not cooked properly. Well, same goes with sex and it still applies today.
God is protecting you. Not just from having a child or getting an STD, but he is also protecting you from the psychological effects of sex and the degrading and devaluing of sex before you ever meet your lifelong wife or husband. He is preserving the sanctity of marriage. Sexual sin isn’t your run-of-the-mill sin, it’s committed against your own body.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18
There is also a valuable lesson in self-control. If Christians are to stand out in the world, what does that mean for your sexual activity? Many will say, well everyone is doing it! But if everyone is doing it, are they standing out or conforming to the crowd? While the world is telling us to do something we know doesn’t feel right (even if you really want it to), God is telling us to save ourselves for marriage, be in a lifelong commitment with your husband or wife, and share in the beautiful gift God gives you on your wedding day. On your wedding day you join yourselves financially, emotionally, spiritually, and then physically. It makes THAT person exponentially more special to you and infinitely more connected.
It’s strange that we are often eager to jump into bed without any attachment to a person, sharing our own body and the temple of God’s spirit. But would you give that same person a Power of Attorney to all your belongings? Of course not, right? That would be stupid, they could rob you blind and have full legal power to do it! That type of POA is only for someone you can trust, someone you know really well, someone whose best interests are in line with yours; someone you are married to…
Self-Pleasure Is Not the “safe option”
Yup, we went there. And why shouldn’t we, it’s an epidemic! It is estimated that over $3,000 per second is earned by the pornography industry. And the truth is, it has to be large because it requires so much diversity. Over time a tolerance is built up and you have to go deeper and deeper to experience new senses of arousal. It is quick sand for your sexual life.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
What happens in the bedroom between a husband and wife is one thing, but using images and videos degrades your view of sex, of a potential partner, and devalues God’s place in all of it. And yes, it is considered sexual immorality. But there is a way to overcome it, there is salvation.
Why live in sexual purity? Remembering the Definition of Sexual Immorality
Thanks to our Savior, we can overcome all sins and be washed clean from our mistakes in life. But Jesus is not a scapegoat to live in sin. Salvation is inviting God into your life and His spirit into your soul. “God is only light, in Him there is no darkness.” If your heart is constantly full of lustful thoughts and sexually immoral acts, God can’t reside in you.
There is no action you can do to earn salvation, but there is a requirement to let go and give your life over to God. If God is working in your life, His light shines through the darkness and begins to change you. God does that work in you, but you have to resist the temptations of this world and push away the things that control you. You can only worship one God and when you put sex above God, He will be second to none.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. 1 Corinthians 6:9
All fall short
We will all stumble and fall, but it is the struggle that shows God working in your life. We try not to sin and have comfort in salvation when we fall short. But that does not mean you can live an immoral life. As Christians, we hold each other accountable and pull each other up when we fall. But we are not here to judge others outside of the church and their lifestyles. Bring them to God and let Him work in their lives. But God is very clear that sin can be forgiven as long as we are walking the path of sanctification and repenting of the vises of this world.
Unfortunately, many believers want to write off individuals who have committed adultery or homosexual acts. But the truth is that everyone has their struggles and our goal is to lead them to Christ and allow His glory and grace work in their lives. Living these lifestyles, even as a proclaimed Christian will end in judgement one day. But that does not mean that someone who has committed sexually immoral acts is condemned. We all fall short of God’s glory and none of us deserve redemption; however, Jesus is the way to wash our sins clean. And that invitation is open to anyone who is prepared to hand their life over to God and allow Him to purify their lives.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Written by Jon and Kathleen Frederick with Seven11, Authors of Immersion: An Inspirational Christian Photography Collection and Devotional.