A Theology of Sex: Defining Sexual Sin

What constitutes a sexual activity as a sin? Is there a line? How do we know? For the Christian these are not simply theoretical or academic questions, these are questions that relate to how we do life, who we love, and what we do with our bodies and minds. Over the course of this series, running the length of the year, we will examine the myriads of verses that identify specific acts as sexual sins, but for the purposes of this post I think a more simple approach is in order. Sexual sin can simply be defined as any sexual activity which does not conform to the Biblical standard of romantic monogamous heterosexual marital covenant. There are several key aspects to this definition that we will want to unpack in order to make the most out of our denotation.

First, Sexual sin is not romantic. This covers everything from rape to one-night stands. Where there is no genuine affection, care, and concern for your lover there is no Biblical sex. Sexual sin makes the act selfish and self-centered, it is consumed with taking and not giving. Non-romantic sex uses people as objects of their pleasure to be discarded after climax. There is nothing about love, sacrifice, and intimacy in non-romantic sex. To be clear too such sex can and often does exist within the confines of marriage. It is the kind of love-making that seizes and insists on intercourse without regard to the feelings of a spouse or the status of the relationship. It is the kind of sex that exists in a relationship as some mere obligation and not as a piece to the building of intimacy, trust, and love among spouses. This is the kind of sex that is sin. Of course to be clear sometimes sex happens without much romance immediately prior to the event, but that should not be seen as the norm of marital intimacy.

Second, sexual sin is not monogamous. This category covers things like adultery and so-called “swinging,” where married partners swap spouses. God designed sex, as we have discussed at length, to be between one man and one woman. Inviting others into your bedroom contaminates the marriage bed, and adultery, as we will discuss, is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Exodus 20:14). There is no such thing as the “romantic fling” in God’s economy, and he will not permit us such allowances as our culture does. Adultery is a sexual sin which robs your spouse of what should belong only to them (1 Cor. 7:4).

Thirdly, sexual sin is not heterosexual. This is that category that we don’t like to talk about much today. I confess it is one that I dread discussing on the blog because the backlash against this Biblical standard is so vitriolic. Of course it’s fair to point out that Christians have treated homosexuals and homosexuality in a deplorable manner, but that does not change the fact that God created sex for one man and one woman, it is not to be found Biblically supported in any other fashion. Since I will spend a whole post unpacking this more in detail, I will save my comments for that time.

Fourthly, sexual sin is not martial. This category rules out all sorts of promiscuous behavior, as well as intimacy among dating/engaged couples. Sex is only properly biblical when it takes place within the confines of the marriage covenant. Christians are often too quick to point their fingers at homosexuals, but the reality is that sexual promiscuity is as equally prevalent among Christian teens as it is among non-Christians. God set up this boundary for our good, he is guarding our sexuality and our hearts (we will unpack this in weeks ahead). Sex outside of marriage, in whatever form, is wrong…is sin!

There is much more that we can say about the reality of and the definition of sexual sin. I don’t want to belabor the point, and since I intend to dissect each of these in more detail in coming weeks I want to keep it simple in this post. Sexual sin is a touch subject, and in a post-sexual-revolution world it is one that does not receive a great deal of admiration. Of course, I am not sure it ever did, and sexual sin existed long before birth control. But the key for the Christian is letting Scripture define sexual sin for us, instead of our culture. As unpopular as this definition is, we are bound to obey God rather than men.

Comments

  1. what do you think about prewedding sex?

  2. A couple of amusing typos: “sexual sin is not martial” and “sexual sin is a touch subject”.

    • Pastor Dave Online says:

      Ha! Thanks Bob. It’s always hard to self-edit but those are at least pretty funny.

  3. ROBERT GIKARIA says:

    I bless the LORD its ahelpful material i need to hear more

  4. Does touchn n carressing mean dt virginity has being lost?

    • Pastor Dave Online says:

      Onyeka,

      Thanks for your question. “Virginity,” technically speaking, refers to sexual intercourse. So no, touching and caressing does not mean that virginity is being lost. But God’s standard is far greater than just “virginity” it is sexual purity. So touching and caressing may still be wrong even if it doesn’t result in sexual intercourse.

  5. what about masturbation??

  6. Wondering a lot about many different things. I am saved, my husband claims he is, and he is getting there, but I know he isn’t yet. Where I have turned from volguar music, entertainment, evil friendships and aqauintences, temptations, and currently battling an addiction; my husband still embraces all of it and thinks I’m wrong for not wanting him to enjoy what he likes. He hasn’t yet felt the freedom the Spirit gives us when we make our own choice to no longer be slaves to temptation. Anyway, I wanted to quickly explain the situation before I ask; bibically in marriage is oral sex a sin? I read a christian forum today that says it is not if it is out of love to please your spouse, it went on to say that all sexual sins are written in the Bible and not once is this spoken of anywhere in the Bible. I am hoping this is correct because my husband did not like that “I pulled the “God card” on him again today. He feels I’m depriving him of all that he enjoys. Furthermore, what you had said about unromantic sex being a sin, that is a major issue for me. He believes he is loving me by having sex. He does not understand or feel with his heart a need for intimacy and love the way I do. I am lost. I have said to him that I need more love then just being physical together, and his answer to that, in all seriousness is “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and “I don’t know what else you want from me.” Hoping you can shed some light. Thanks.

    • Pastor Dave Online says:

      Carol,

      Thank you for your honest question. I am sure it took a great deal of courage to write that. I would encourage you that if you are not already plugged into a church that you seek one out. Having a healthy church family to support you will be a huge help. I am sure that one of the more difficult things you are facing is simply loneliness with a spouse who does not view things the same way you do, who does not view things the way God does.

      In regards to your question about oral sex: There are different perspectives on it, some saying it is okay and some saying it isn’t. Since there is no direct or even indirect command in Scripture regarding it I think we are free to enjoy it, but should be careful. Some suggest that Song of Solomon 2:3 is a favorable reference to it, and that’s possible. But however you indulge you should be careful that it does not take the place of healthy intercourse.

      I will pray for you and your spouse this week, Carol.

      God bless

      • Thank you very much. I have a wonderful church family, and they are aggresive. If I tell my pastor the things bothering me in our marriage he will insist that we should make the decision to live apart till he is right with God. I have five daughters and can not do it alone. You are correct. I feel alone in my walk with Christ; moreso opposed. My husband says its all about me, its something new everyday. He doesn’t understand I’m not being selfish, that its for the glory of the Lord; that I’m trying to be more self-less. Thank you for your time. Your answer was helpful. God Bless, Carol.

  7. Dillon DeVries says:

    You should really prove your statements with Bible verses, otherwise your words don’t mean squat in a religious context.

    -Former Devout Christian looking for answers to his questions

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