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A Christian cares not only about the physical life of others, but first and foremost about the souls of others.


Rev. Matthew W. Rueger, Author

Jan. 1, 2020

Sexual Ethics: God vs. the World

Morality in our world is driven by the principle of subjective interpretation. This means simply that everyone determines what is right or wrong for him or herself. There are no moral absolutes. There is nothing an individual can point to and say, “that’s wrong” or “that’s always right.” The argument is that what is wrong to you may be just fine to someone else.


"Subjective morality" means there is no overarching truth that guides morality for all people of all times and places. Everything is up to the unique views, cultures, and opinions of individuals. When it comes to matters of sex, then, there is no single principle of right and wrong governing people’s sexual practice. There is only what is right to me in this place and time.


What seems to be agreed upon as an overarching cultural principle governing sex is the principle of consenting adults. As long as you are one, then you may do what you want with any other consenting adult. There are no legal penalties for promiscuity between consenting adults. Added to this is the belief that one’s conscience can be a reliable guide for right and wrong. If there are no pains of conscience, then it must be okay.


This culture of individual morality is an easy culture to embrace because it allows us to satisfy the desires of our flesh while giving us the stamp of majority approval. However, this way of thinking stands completely against God’s Word.

In God’s Word morality is not subjective – that is, it is not up to us as individuals to determine for ourselves according to our special circumstances. Morality to God is objective; it is His truth that He establishes and that He applies to all people the same. One culture does not have God’s blessing to rewrite the rules to fit its desires and its circumstances. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong for everybody the same. The vast majority of ethicists choke on such an idea of objective morality. Regardless of how the majority react to it, the fact stands that God’s Word is built on God’s will.


That applies especially to sexual matters. There is a clear and unmistakable ethics of sex in the Bible. It shows what God intends all people to follow. To break the moral code that God has established is literally to put oneself in danger of damnation.

God’s morality with regard to sex

"Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience..." Colossians 3:5-6

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them." Ephesians 5:3-7


"Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul." Proverbs 6:32


"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

"Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8


"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Hebrews 13:4

Several points become clear from the above passages:

1.  Morality is not subject to our conscience or our individual interpretation. God Himself has decided what is right and wrong and has spelled it out for us.

2.  Any sex outside of marriage is a serious sin before God.

3.  Sexual sins harm the soul.

4.  God is very serious when He says that those who persist in sexual sins will not inherit heaven.

5.  Sexual sins, as with all sins, can be forgiven if one actually repents of them. This means one admits it is sinful, stops living in those sins, and returns to God’s will.

6The life Christ has given us as His children is a life intended to show forth the holiness of God.

Beside the simple issue of sexual promiscuity as breaking God’s commands, there are two more important issues involving sex.

1. The impact of our actions on others.


One would hope that a person involved in sexual relations with someone else cares about that person. A Christian cares not only about the physical life of others, but first and foremost about the souls of others. A careless sex life harms the souls of both people involved. A Christian, therefore, would think not only of how his or her actions affect his or her own person, but how they affect the other person. It is unthinkable that a Christian would knowingly persist in behavior that could lead someone else to hell.


Beside the other person in the sexual relation are still more people who may be affected by it. People within the Church may be emboldened to follow a promiscuous example because they see someone else “getting away with it.” Children may be taught that when they grow up they can ignore God’s Word too and still be okay with God.


Through the sin of one person many people may be led away from Christ. A person who has set such an unchristian example will have to answer before God for all the other people he or she taught to disobey Him.

2. A sexually God pleasing life is not just of the law, but of the Gospel.


Despite the fact that the passages from Scripture cited above show that sexual ethics are commanded by God and therefore are His law, it is important to remember there is more to it than following the rules.


We do what we do in life because we are what Christ made us. The Gospel tells us we are new creations in Christ. He made us into people different from the world around us. He made us a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and His own special people (1 Peter 2:9). He gave us His righteousness. We do what we do because He made us who we are.


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:17-21


Sexual ethics as God teaches it to us from His Word is something very different – not just from what the world teaches – but how the world teaches ethics. Worldly ethical models are built on either majority rule or individual comfort levels. It tends toward “situational” interpretations. God’s ethics, on the other hand, are built on Christ’s identity as His righteous and sinless Son and His claim on our souls. Who He was and is for us becomes the basis for who we are and what we do. When we in weakness fail, when our weaknesses fall short of Christ, He remains our Savior and forgiver. His mercy allows us to put off the past and live again as the children He made us.

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