What Is Sexual Immorality?
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10 ESV)
There is this growing trend among Evangelicals that it is not sinful for two individuals to engage in sex outside of marriage, as long as they are in a committed relationship with each other and as long as neither of them are married to someone else. Much of this comes from the fact that whenever the Bible talks about sexual sins, most often it is within the context of adultery. Yes, we read passages like 1 Cor. 6:9-10 which says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (emphasis added). But what does it mean to be sexually immoral, some have argued? And when we try and define sexual immorality from the Old Testament, often those passages are dealing with at least one person being married or in the passages where scripture is very specific, it does not mention one unmarried man and one unmarried woman having sex together being sinful. See, for example, Leviticus 18. And the seventh commandment specifically forbids adultery. So where in the Bible do we specifically find that it is sinful for one unmarried man and one unmarried woman to engage in sexual intercourse? Exodus 22:16 says, "If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.” Thus, according to God’s word, once two people engage in sexual relations, they must get married. This is the only proper way to repair the sin which has taken place. And in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 Paul writes, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (emphasis added). In other words, if your hormones are going crazy and you are struggling to control your passions, Paul says, you need to get married. Why? Because as Paul says just a few verses earlier, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (vv.1-2). In other words, in order for men and women to avoid the sin of sexual immorality, they should get married. Sexual relations outside of marriage is sin--sexual immorality.
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