Sexual Immorality in the Bible

The law (Torah) came from God on Mt Sinai, and Jesus agreed with everything the Torah said, including everything about sexual immorality, because it all points to him (Luke 16:29-31, John 5:45). He followed the law perfectly which made him sinless, and that qualified him to die for our sins. The law says that incest (Lev18:1-18), adultery (Ex 20:14, Deut 5:18), same-sex intercourse (Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13), bestiality (Lev18:23, Lev 20:15-16), and fornication (Ex 22:16-17, Deut 22:28-29), are all sins that were punishable with execution. Sex between a married man and woman that have no conflicting relationship (blood or otherwise) between other family members, is the only legit way to have sex. Jesus agreed with this because he followed Torah and believed it to be the word of his father God.

In fact, look at what Jesus said about the law (Torah) in Matt 5:17-19.
Matt 5:17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Leviticus can be divided into 8 sections, the first 7 are the specific details of the law and the 8th declares the terms and conditions of keeping faithful to the covenant. The 7 sections of Leviticus: Sacrificing Rituals (Lev 1-7), Priestly Ordainment (8-10), Ritual Purity laws (11-15), The Day of Atonement (16-17), Moral Purity Laws (18-20), Priestly Consecration (21-22), Festivals, Feast, and Sabbaths (Lev 23-25), and Terms and Conditions (Chapters 26-27).

In Acts 15, the council at Jerusalem determined that it wasn’t necessary for Gentiles to follow Jewish ritual purity laws like circumcision or the rules for sacrifices, holidays, and priestly structures. Hebrews chapters 5-7 are about Jesus’ role as our new covenant High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 8-10 says that Jesus is the greatest sacrifice that cleanses us of sin rather than just covering like the animal sacrifices in the law did. Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and scapegoat (like the Yom Kippur scapegoat) because he took our sins on himself. So Jesus is our priest and sacrifice covering those parts of the law. However, they came to the conclusion that the moral laws still had to be followed, so idolatry, blood-drinking, and sexual sin are still forbidden (Acts 15:19-29).

Furthermore, we don’t need to be in a clean state (ritually pure) to interact with God’s presence anymore. This is because he no longer resides in a Temple/Tabernacle, we are the temple now. In the new covenant, we have God’s spirit inside of us because we were made pure by the sacrifice of Jesus. However, Gentiles are still required to follow the Moral purity laws (Lev18-20). Moral purity laws still apply because we have sin nature and we are waiting on the new bodies that have enteral life to be free from that (1 Cor 15:35-58, 2 Cor 5:1-10, Phil3:20-21). However, with the holy spirit inside of us, we can actually overcome sin nature by walking in the spirit instead of the flesh (Gal5:16). If we sow into the flesh we reap corruption, if we so into the spirit we reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8). That’s why Paul said to flee fornication in 1 Cor 6:18-20 because it defiles our bodies as temples of God.

Notice how the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 didn’t mention lying, cheating, stealing, and killing? While Gentiles were coming from pagan religions, most of those religions already agreed those things were bad and even had legal codes and laws against those things. The same is true for most unbelievers today. However, most non-Bible believers both today and back then, disagreed on sexual sin, because that is one of the most powerful human desires. Gentiles had sex deities and their temples had prostitutes, they had sex with animals and same-sex intercourse, all of which would fit in the Torah’s definition of sexual immorality. So the council had to specify that sexual sin is an issue because many gentiles didn’t see free sex as sinful with the exceptions of adultery and incest (1 Cor 5:1). The Jerusalem council also mention idolatry and blood consumption, because only Jews had a full revelation that these things were sins. If a Christian doesn’t believe what the Bible says about sexual sin then how are they different from a pagan or agnostic? Therefore under the Messianic covenant, non-Jewish believers were to stop following those ideas altogether and let the Torah be their guide on morality. After all, Jesus said all of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms pointed to him (Luke 24:44).

The difference between moral and ritual purity is that ritual purity was about the physical states of a person’s body and contact with unclean things like bodily fluids and certain animals. However moral purity is about behavior, so we have to choose righteous actions to be counted as morally pure. A person can’t take pride in sin and be repentant at the same time. True repentance is acknowledging a specific action like fornication as sin and making the effort to follow the spirit and avoid it. 1 John 1:9 says one gets mercy when they acknowledge that sin is sin, which means agreeing with the Bible and then turning away from it. So if you are fornicating or adultering, then stop, repent and “go and sin no more”, as Jesus said in John 8:11 to the women caught in adultery. In John 5:14 he even says to someone he healed, that if they don’t stop sinning, something worse will happen. Jesus NEVER gave us a license to sin all we want.

Ezekiel 18:23-32 says those that are repentant receive mercy, God doesn’t take pleasure in punishing people. The righteous are the ones who are repentant and the wicked are the ones who keep sinning. If the wicked repentant they are counted as righteous and if the righteous start sinning their sins will be counted against them and their good deeds are worthless. The worthlessness of good deeds in the face of sin is echoed in Isaiah 64:6. Pride is what prevents people from repenting, doesn’t matter if it is pride in your sex, sexuality, race/ethnicity, or nationality. Our identities as believers are secured in Christ, not our flesh. The holy spirit is here to aid us in overcoming sin nature and following the moral laws (John 14:15-17). This will continue until the new kingdom when we get our new sin-free bodies and sin won’t be a part of us anymore.

Let’s talk about the elephant of this subject, same-sex intercourse. The word homosexual is not an ancient word that is used in the original language of the Bible, and all the scriptures mentioning it describe the sex act, not the desire. The New Testament continues the definition of sexual immorality from the Torah (Lev18:22, 20:13) and that is why same-sex intercourse is still listed as sin just like every other kind of sexual sin in the new testament (1 Tim 1:10, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Rom 1:26-27).

Christian author, Jackie Hill Perry once pointed out in an interview that  Christians typically don’t handle this subject properly because they focus too much on the action and not the person. She said (paraphrasing), “In response to this subject Christians often read from 1 Cor 6:9-10 and stop, but verse 11 is the most important part. Then she read from the NIV translation of 1 Cor 6:9-11.

1 Cor 6:9 (NIV) 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.”

Galatians 5:16 says walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. This means the flesh will always lust against God’s plan, but with the spirit, we can choose not to fulfill it. I don’t believe temptation is sin, Jesus was tempted in the garden but he didn’t sin. If you have the temptation, you can either overcome it with the power of the holy spirit or give in to the flesh. Remember sowing into the spirit reaps eternal life, but sowing into the flesh reaps corruption (Gal 6:7-8). Temptation/attraction isn’t a sin, but it is sin to act on the temptation. Therefore, if a gay person is celibate they are not guilty of sexual sin in that way. This means a gay person can receive Jesus and be a Christian and make their goal to follow the holy spirit rather than submit to sexual sin. 1 John 1:9 is there if they mess up, but the goal is to draw closer to God [the light] and away from sin [the darkness] that Jesus talks about in John 3:20-21. This means their identity should be secured in Christ and not in their orientation because they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Matt 19:4-6 which quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Jesus says heterosexual marriages are the only legitimate ones. So anything sexual outside of that is sin. Genesis 2:24 says that the definition of marriage is when a man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife. Gen 1:27 declares God made humans as male and female. This points to the two complementary sexes God created as necessary to be fruitful and multiply. Lastly, Jesus says in Matt 19:6 that no man can separate what God has joined together, in response to the Pharisees who were inquiring about divorce. Redefining marriage is a form of separating what God has joined together since it contradicts the definition Jesus gave. Jesus said no man should do that since it was God that defined marriage.

What kinds of temptations we get are not a choice, but our behavior in response to those temptations is always a choice. In the same way, a lustful heterosexual desire may not be a choice, but sinful sexual behavior like fornication or adultery is a choice. Think of King David, he lusted after Bathsheba as she bathed herself, took her, and sexually assaulted her even after finding out she was married (2 Samuel 11). He was drawn to her by his own lusts, and he could have stopped his lust and asked God to forgive him, but he didn’t. He made a deliberate choice to commit adultery. It’s wrong to suggest God makes us sin because he does not tempt anyone, but rather temptation comes from our own desires (James 1:13-15). God made Adam and Eve, but they sinned. Then they gave birth to more sinful people, that we descended from, so we are all “born that way” (the way of sin) because we inherited Adam’s sinful nature (Romans 5:12-17), and living in it is not God’s will. Sin is translated from the Hebrew word chatah (חַטָּאָה) which means failure. Therefore, sin is simply a failure to love God and keep his commands. However, Christ died so that we could be “born again” (John 3:5-7). Remember those who are BORN AGAIN, can receive the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who reject are counted as rebels against the king of heaven (John 3:18-21). We are all born sinners, but we can be born again and free from sin because of Christ. So being born any particular way is not an excuse, because the first way we were born was corrupted by sin and we all need to be born AGAIN, according to Jesus.

We are all born with a sinful nature. We all naturally lean toward sin. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). According to the Bible, sexual lust is just one kind of sin among many different sins, that people gravitate toward that will prevent them from inheriting the kingdom. People struggle with lying, gossip, jealousy, stealing, adultery, fornication, and some fornicators have sex with the same sex. Just because a person struggles with same-sex attraction doesn’t mean God made them to have same-sex intercourse, any more than a person struggling with anger means God made them a murderer. We all have a choice about what we do with every temptation. We may not choose which desires tempt us, but we do choose what we do with them.

Believers are supposed to respond in love towards everyone and that means not wanting them to die in their sins, but rather leading them to repentance and freedom in Christ. This is the great commission that Jesus gives in Matt 28:18-20. If a believer is damning a person to hell for their sins then that contradicts the point of the gospel (which is good news). The gospel (good news) comes in contrast to the bad experiences of sin and death in the world, and the gospel is supposed to give people hope in God’s salvation through Jesus. Believers are supposed to show the world the way out of slavery to sin. However, if some believers are condoning sin by agreeing with moral relativity and the idea that humans can redefine sin, then that makes those believers accountable for misleading them to condemnation on judgment day. If someone rejects the gospel that is their business, but if a Christian misleads them into believing a false gospel then that is a judgment on the Christian’s head. If someone told you some food you were eating was safe when they knew it wasn’t, but didn’t want to upset you and you died, wouldn’t that make them responsible? Same thing. Now, if a person was warned but they don’t believe and eat it anyway, then only they are accountable.

God says this in Ezekiel in Ez 3:18-21. God says, (NLT) 18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me. 20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”

James 4:4 You adulterers![and adultresses] Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

A Christian’s job is not to judge people but to judge actions (1 Cor 5:9-11), Matt 7:1-6). Making everyone aware of God’s laws by which we all will be judged, is not judging, it’s proclaiming God’s word which is what Jesus aid to do for all nations in the great commission. That way when we all stand before God, no one can use ignorance as an excuse and we all will be held fully accountable for our words and actions concerning his will, and laws (Matt 12:36). The Holy Spirit can free us from sin (Galatians 5:16-26) so there is no excuse for anyone who follows Christ and has the Holy Spirit to live in it. Those who are not born again are slaves to sin (Romans 6:20), and in John 3:18 Jesus says they will be condemned because they reject salvation, thus rejecting God.

Here are some resources on the subject of same-sex attraction and the bible by people who have struggled with it:

Jackie Hill-Perry author of “Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been”, talks about this issue in a 6 part interview with Focus on the Family.
Jackie Hill Perry – Focus on the Family

An article about Beckett Cook author of “From Gay to Gospel”

A blog post by Samuel Abraham Perez on the subject of same-sex attraction

In his book 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality Mike Haley said:
“I can tell you from personal experience that virtually no one chooses homosexuality and the resulting pain and rejection that comes with it. No child or adolescent approaches the smorgasbord of sexual orientations and says, “Hmm…I think I’ll take that one.” On the contrary, most homosexuals try to deny the existence of their same-sex attractions, pray it away, or repress it until they become so discouraged by their inability to master the desires that they “come out”…No one chooses to feel attracted to someone of the same sex. However, men and women do choose how they will act on those feelings.”

Mike Haley – 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality