Question: “What is sexual immorality?”
Answer: In the New Testament, the word most often translated “sexual immorality” is porneia. This word is also translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It means “a surrendering of sexual purity”, and it is primarily used in connection to premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of “selling off.”
Sexual immorality therefore is the “selling off” of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship (Matthew 19:4–5).
The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18, which says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”
The bodies of believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).
Biblical prohibitions against sexual immorality are often coupled with warnings against “impurity” (Romans 1:24; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19). This word in the Greek is akatharsia, which means “defiled, foul, ceremonially unfit.” It connotes actions that render a person unfit to enter God’s presence. Those who persist in unrepentant immorality and impurity cannot come into the presence of God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8; Psalm 24:3–4).
It is impossible to maintain a healthy intimacy with God when our bodies and souls are given over to impurities of any kind.
Sexuality is God’s design. He alone can define the parameters for its use.
The Bible is clear that sex was created to be enjoyed between one man and one woman who are in a covenant marriage until one of them dies (Matthew 19:6). Sexuality is His sacred wedding gift to human beings. Any expression of it outside those parameters constitutes abuse of God’s gift.
Abuse is the use of people or things in ways they were not designed to be used. The Bible calls this sin.
Adultery, premarital sex, pornography, and homosexual relations are all outside God’s design, which makes them sin.
Hebrews 13:4 makes God’s expectation for His children crystal clear: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Sexual immorality is wrong. It is Sin against our own flesh, it is defiling the temple of the most high God (1Corinthians 6:18-20)
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