What is sexual immorality?

Question: “What is sexual immorality? It can be defined as interpersonal sexual activity that does not conform to God's revealed laws.  What are these revealed laws?”

Bible Answers

What Constitutes Sexual Immorality

Sexual immorality can be defined as interpersonal sexual activity that does not conform to God's revealed laws.

Acts that according to God’s Word are sexually immoral.

Adultery - Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.  

Fornication – Sexual intercourse between people who are not married and includes adultery.

Homosexuality – Sex between two people of the same sex.

Idolaters - The worshipping of something or someone besides God.  Can include worshipping sex.

Incest - Intimate sexual contact between a child and a close relative.

Lust – An intense or unrestrained sexual desire or craving.

Prostitution - The action or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.

Rape - The unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or coercion to have sexual intercourse.   

Zoophilia – The act of having sex with animals.

What is God’s model of acceptable sexual relationships

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-8).

Does God love those who break His laws

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

God loves all mankind.  He loves you during your entire life, and He will continue to love you if you are going to heaven or if you are going to hell.  What is most important, is to realize that God loves the person, but hates any sin that the person is involved in. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

How are Christians told to behave toward those who are involved in breaking God’s laws

…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:35).

Christians are told not to take part in any sin, but to love the sinner. The point is, like God, Christians are to love the person while hating the sin.

Since God is a God of love, is it OK to have sex outside of marriage if we love each other

God is a God of love and He tells us to love one another. However, love and sexual immorality are two separate issue that we are commanded not to do.  Loving someone is not a license to have sex with them outside of marriage.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4).

Does the Bible say that it is acceptable to marry someone of the same sex

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

In Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus reaffirms: Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that marriage between the same sexes is acceptable to God.

Since God is a God of love, will He punish me for sinning

God is a holy God, which means that God is sinless, loves us all, but He is also a righteous God, who upholds His Word and will judge those who refuse to follow His Word. His Word says that unconfessed sin leads to spiritual death.  

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Death here is referring to spiritual death, which is eternity in hell while the free gift of God is received through repentance of our sins and acceptance of Jesus.

Are some sexual immoral sins less serious than other sins

Breaking God’s Word is breaking God’s Word.  There is no gradient to sin; a sin is a sin regardless of what the sin is. And the payment for any unrepented sin is always the same.

Many want to separate a specific act from other sins, as if their sin is small and unimportant to God, but God’s Word is clear; each act of sexual immorality is just as much a sin as all other sins. The result for all sin is the same unless a person comes to God and repents of their sins and turns away from their sins.

For the wages of sin is [spiritual] death (Romans 6:23).

God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

But what if it is not sex

Many insist that anything short of sexual intercourse is not sex and therefore not sinning. That idea is not consistent with the Bible.  Jesus said, anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28).  

The result of sexual immorality

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1Corinthians 6:9-10).

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).

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 1:7).


When we do what God says we should not do, we are sinning, and unrepented sin separates us from God and results in spiritual death – hell.  Now I know this is not very popular.  We prefer to believe that God is love, we are really good persons, and that we will all go to heaven, but the Word of God is very clear.  Those who follow the desires of the flesh and the world are following them to hell.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen (Romans 1:25).


What causes sin?  The idea to sin comes from the world, our own lustful desires and Satan’s lies and deception. All sins start with an idea that we can accept or reject.  We make that choice.  Many justify their sins by believing or claiming that what they are doing is acceptable to God. But what we believe does not change what God says.

Many will claim, “This is the way God made me,” or “I cannot help it, this is the way I am.”  This is a lie from the devil.  Like any of the devil’s lies, God can help you overcome it.  The more you feed a lie, the more it grows, and as it grows, it becomes a temptation.  And this is why we are commanded, Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38).  

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband (1 Corinthians 7:2).

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). God provides the way of escape, but the choice to continue or escape is still ours. We can follow our fleshly desires or we can follow God.

The world’s approach to sin is to say that the Bible is no longer relevant to our society so that there will be no standard of truth to say that sinners are sinning.

While the Holy God keeps calling us to righteousness, those who refuse will be judged for their sins and will pay the price of sin. Those who keep sinning are deceived by the devil to believe what they are doing is OK.

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy (James 4:12).

Good News

Now the good news.  God loves you and paid for your sins on the cross because of His great love for you.  God is waiting with open arms for those with sins to confess their sins and turn to Him.  If you have not, now is a great time, while there still is time, before your heart becomes hardened, to repent and make Jesus the Lord of your life, and to receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

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