What is sexual sin, and is it really what they say it is or as bad as they say it is?
OK, I confess. I get inspired when I go to church. When I hear a word or expression passed around, I start thinking about it, and then I get inspired to write about it.
What is “sexual sin”? Does that expression imply that all sex is sinful? Is it a necessary evil? Do the words “nasty” and “dirty” refer to sex? If so, Why?
Some of these answers and comments may surprise you; you may even strongly disagree with them because they go against what you have always been taught and assumed. But I hope you stay around long enough to hear another viewpoint, and at lease think about what is said. You might be surprised and change your opinions in some ways.
First of all, let’s set a standard. Not my standard, but the one given in the Bible. Let’s take God’s standard, as identified by Jesus, and get that settled once and for all.
The Great Commandments
One of them, an expert in the law, tested Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That is clear and plain. It’s sad I feel compelled to comment on it, but it’s so far removed from our common way of thinking that I have to emphasize that which should have no other emphasis, just application.
Here we have two experts talking to each other, a lawyer – the expert in the Law – and Jesus, the Son of God who gave the law. Jesus said the greatest commandment is this; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” The runner up to it is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
You may ask, “Just how do I love God ‘with all my heart’? Do I have to go to church or something like that?" No, the Bible answers that question, too. Going to church to please God does not come from the Bible or from God; it comes from people you know who think that way.
1 John 5:3 and 3:23
This is love for God: to obey his commands.
And these are his commands: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
Thus, the love of God is to love each other. That is why the second commandment is a parallel to the first commandment.
[Shameless promotion: I tell, explain and prove these two commands extensively in my book, Key to Biblical Doctrine, chapters 2-6.]
One more thing about the great commandment: Jesus said it and he said it in his authority as the Son of God. He was not pronouncing a man’s opinion; he was stating the Law of God.
Jesus also said,
“All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Not some of them. Not one or two of them. All the law and All the prophets are dependent on those commands; the law and prophets are nothing without them; they are everything with them. I did not say that; Jesus said it.
It’s time for you to make a decision. Are you going to believe it or not? Are you going to believe Jesus or not? Are you going to judge everything by that standard, by that law, or not?
Skin Touching Skin
The problem with people is they don’t think. In this section I'm asking you to think. Follow my logic, think, and see if what I tell you is not exactly true.
Sex is nothing more than skin touching skin. Whether I caress your cheek with my hand or touch another part of your body with another part of my body, it is still skin touching skin.
Attitude, or emotion, is also involved in sex, and that is what makes it sinful or not. It is the attitude which is sinful, not the act.
If the sex act were sinful because it was skin touching skin, then all sex would be sinful – except perhaps sex with a condom.
It’s not the sex; it’s the attitude that determines whether sex is sinful.
Here you may think, "I know its sinful because all my soul tells me it's sinful when I do it." Let's see what the Bible says about that, but first I want to point out that if your soul cannot be tricked and fooled and wrong, then you are without error and you are equal to God. Now, the Bible says this, “I am fully convinced that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:14)
[The context for that verse is whether certain food is unclean, and the NIV deliberately mistranslates the verse to say ,"no food is unclean in itself." The verse properly says, nothing is unclean in itself, and that is Paul's final remark to clear up confusion about food or any other thing that troubles a person.]
If you are fully convinced in your heart that what you have done is sin, then to you it is sin because you have done it not in faith and not in love to God. Therefore you should talk to God about it and apologize. But listen to God's counsel: "Nothing is unclean in itself. If you regard it as unclean, then to you it is unclean."
So, let’s examine attitude and see if that fits the bill. Remember the standard: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Is rape a sin? Of course it is! But why? Didn’t I just say that sex is nothing more than skin touching skin? Yes, but sex is not sin; rape is; it’s all about attitude. Rape is forcing someone to do something (have sex with you) that they don’t want to do. Is forcing someone to do something against their will a loving act? No it’s not; it is a hateful act. Therefore, it is sin.
What about adultery? Isn’t that two adult people having consenting sex? Yes, but sex is just skin touching skin. It’s the attitude we’re talking about. Three people are involved in adultery; the third person is the spouse of one of the sex partners. Is that loving the spouse or being hateful? It is hateful; therefore it is sin. The standard is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Would you want your spouse to have secret liaisons with someone else?
Adultery could also bring disease back to the spouse, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, or AIDS. Is that loving to him or hateful? It is hateful.
I’ve talked about adultery as if the marriage was supposed to be monogamous and the foreign relationship was kept secret from the partner. But what if the relationship was never monogamous between the two people and they agreed from the beginning that each could engage in threesomes, orgies, or whatever pleased him or her?
In that case, if no children are involved, who could be hurt? It’s between the person and God. If the married couple doesn’t find fault with each other, and their sexual actions are not reflected in their love for the other, then their attitude is still loving.
But are children involved? Could children be hurt? The next question would be, Would I, as a child, want my parents to do to me what I’m doing to my children? Then you judge from that.
Don’t forget another thing. Most societies, including ours, tend to discourage, frown upon and ostracize adulterers. Are you willing to put your partner to shame for that? If both of you are willing to bear your society's attitude, then again it becomes an adult decision for you to make; you are still acting in love.
The easy comment to my remarks is, “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’” I’m going to ignore the fact that such a comment is made by people who eat shellfish, which is forbidden. Or, they don’t keep the Sabbath (Saturday) which they are commanded to do. Let’s just go with the objection.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
What standard are we going by? We are going by the one that says Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” That Law against adultery is dependent on loving God and loving your neighbor. Who said so? Jesus said so, in Matthew 22:37-40.
I’m going to give you a few Biblical examples and you may judge for yourself how to treat Exodus 20:14.
Jacob had two wives and two mistresses. God blessed that polygamous group and brought forth the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob loved his wife Rebecca but hated (rejected) his wife Leah, whom he was tricked into marrying. From Leah God brought forth the tribe of Judah, from whom Jesus was born, and the tribe of Levi, from whom came Moses and the priesthood. God blessed this union of wives and mistresses.
King David took and ate sanctified bread from God’s sanctuary, which was against the law for him to do. God did not blame him for it, and Jesus used it (Matthew 12:3-5) as an example to the priests and Pharisees that God’s law is tempered by love.
Jesus rebuked again and again the spiritual leaders who brought others to Jesus for judgment (that is, for condemnation). He said in Matthew 9:13, Go away from me and learn what Hosea meant when he said, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6)
Everything, every word, every phrase, every command in the Bible is to be judged and evaluated based on these two commands,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, and
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Pornography and Lust
The definition of pornography has been extended to mean pictures of nude people, although that was not originally implied at all.
If “porn” is sinful, then looking at nude people is sinful. If looking at nude people is sinful, then medical doctors are sinful by their very craft.
If looking at nude people is sinful, then nudity is sinful. If you think nudity is sinful, then you ought to grow up yourself rather than going around using yourself as the example by which to condemn other people.
If looking at nude people is sinful, then looking at the statue of David is sinful, and so is looking at many other sculptures and pictures found in museums throughout the world.
If you say (what you ought to say) that it’s not nudity that is sinful but the lust that comes with it is sinful, then Bravo! You’ve just said what I said, that it’s the attitude that determines whether something is sinful.
What does the Bible say? That is, what does Jesus say?
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus says nothing about nude images. You may say, “But there were no nude images in Jesus day or in Israel.” I beg your pardon; ancient Rome and ancient Greece were filled with nudity and that was before and during Jesus day. People saw nude images all the time. Furthermore, in Israel leading up to Jesus day, the pagan sex culture featured many nude women, dildos, artificial vaginas and bread baked to resemble sex organs.
What did Jesus say? He said that if you fantasize about committing adultery with a woman, with whom you know you ought not to commit adultery, then it is sin in God’s sight. That’s God’s standard. So what do you do in that case? Do you go up to the husband’s door, knock on it and say to him, “Joe, my name is Tom, and I want to have sex with your wife really, really bad.” No… because you have not sinned against Joe or his wife; you did not have sex with her. Instead, you fell short of God’s standard of purity; so you go to God and say, “God, I’m sorry for my impure thoughts. Forgive me and cleanse me so that I may be the type of person you want me to be.”
Lust should not be equated to libido, which is a human’s urge to have sex. God created in us our libido, the desire to have sex. If the desire and urge to have sex were sinful, then God would be the author of sin. But he is not. Our libido is good; it’s a gift from God, and we should praise and thank him for it.
Lust is our out-of-control libido that leads us to satisfy it without regard to the welfare of the other person. Remember – love your neighbor. If, in your lust and guile, you commit adultery which could be harmful to the other person, and you don’t care about its consequences to her or him, then that is sin, and that is what God doesn’t want you to do.
Looking at pornography is not sin. Looking at it to obtain relief of passion is not sin. Looking at it to generate passion is not sin.
Misusing another person to his or her detriment, that is sin.
What About Homosexuality?
You can probably figure this one out yourself. If two adult men (or women) love each other and wish to be a spouse to each other, then God blesses it, based on the standard we have already discussed.
If you say, “What about all the anti-homosexual passages in the Bible,” to that I say there are none, and if you read my book, Key to Biblical Doctrine (another shameless plug), you’ll see why. The so-called anti-homosexual passages in the Bible are misinterpretations caused by current day culture and psychosis. That’s not what they mean at all. If you disagree, then you should read my book or any one of hundreds of books on the market that also explain the folly of Christian homophobia.
And now, the biggie, what about sex acts between two men who don’t want to get married or be a spouse, but just want to enjoy sex with the other person? Again, judge that by the Great Command. I think the equivalent to that skin-touching-skin scenario is two men who decide to go out to dinner together. They’re adults, they’re harming no one, and they’re enjoying each other’s company. Is that loving your neighbor as yourself?
God loves you. He wants you to love each other. He created your libido. Do what you do in love, kindness and full consideration to the other person.