Joanne has had sex many times with men that were not her husband.
Jimmy has drugged many women with date-rape substances and then sexually assaulted them.
Mark is a pastor who has slept with several of his parishioners.
Brian watches pornographic videos and acts them out with prostitutes.
Tom and Lucille have joined a Swing club and to date have switched partners dozens of times.
Each of these is a Christian I have counseled, and each is sinning against the God they have chosen to serve. Very few Christians would disagree with my assessment that every one of these people has violated some of God’s directives regarding human sexuality. As followers of Christ, we believe there are limitations and restrictions on the practice of sex. Though there are elements of our culture that believe that anything is allowable, this is not in alignment with the Bible. There are other cultures where certain actions are considered ungodly and sinful, but that list might disagree with the list compiled in other countries.
However, in the 40 years of giving people counsel on their sex lives, I’ve seen a number of sexual sins that hardly ever get mentioned by anyone. Yet these sins are alluded to in the Bible and we are warned about their dangers. Let me quickly outline each one, noting the different manifestations, what the Bible says about them, and what consequences follow each one.
- The Judgmental Virgin:
Definition: The attitude adopted by a person who has not ever had sexual intercourse, toward those who have had sexual intercourse outside of marriage. This attitude believes that there is a position of moral superiority by the virgin over the non-virgin.
Description: Virginity, or the state of never having had sex, is somehow prized in Christian culture. Some would say this is because the Bible places a high premium on saving sex for marriage, and I won’t disagree with that. But there is nothing in particular that makes someone righteous for abstaining from sex. Just because you haven’t done a deed doesn’t mean you have lived righteously. Righteousness is BOTH doing the right thing and resisting doing the wrong thing. And it is wrong to feel morally superior to anyone. This is something Jesus taught on more times than he did on sexuality.
Scriptural Principle: Matthew 7:1-2 is pretty clear. We are told not to “judge” others. The Greek word means to be both judge and jury, looking down your nose at another person for their actions. Also, in many cases, Jesus warned the Pharisees that their judgmental and legalistic ways were making them fit for hell. When Jesus confronted a woman caught in adultery he told them all to examine their own lives first without casting a stone in judgment. He then also told her that he didn’t condemn her. Many virgins violate this and sin against non-virgins in this way.
Long-term Effect: We are told in Matthew 7:2 that the measure with which we judge (i.e. the intensity of our judgment) will be in line with how severe the consequences are. I have personally found that judgmental virgins later have a good deal of trouble experiencing joy in their own sex lives.
- Deceitful Daters:
Definition: This is the person who gives every indication they are deeply committed to another person so as to lure them into a sexual relationship. In reality, this person has no intention of making a long-term commitment and simply wants sex. They instinctively know they need to give some kind of promise that the relationship is going to go further in order to have intercourse.
Description: It used to be that this was how many men approached sexuality. If you read Shakespearean comedies like “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet” (which is part comedy and part tragedy) you will see this has been around for a long time. But it is not just men practicing this any more. There are women who do it also. Groupies and predatory women who want to claim famous or well-known men among their sexual “prizes” have been known to do this. But the majority still are men. Some people have been known to do this just to score points with other people, almost like sexual conquests.
Scriptural Principle: There are those who claim that anything that goes on between two consenting adults cannot be sin (apart from adultery). I disagree. One of the reasons that people in positions of authority are legally discouraged from having sex with their clients or students is because the authority relationship is hard to say no to. In the book of 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructs Timothy about the dangers of putting young women on a widows list. A widows list was a list of women whom the church financially cared for. In return, these women agreed to remain single and celibate, and work out helping other women with their families. Paul warns Timothy that these women often go running after a man or are deceived by a man. A lot of deception happens in these relationships.
As anyone in today’s online dating world knows, deception is practiced by many. If you are the one deceiving another person to gratify your sexual desires, this sin is grievous indeed.
Effects of this sin: Any time you begin to deceive others, you find that you yourself are deceived inside. You begin to believe your own lies. At the very least, the Bible tells us the deceptive heart becomes calloused. You will find it harder and harder to hear God and obey God.
- Abstaining On Purpose:
Definition: This is when a spouse deliberately pulls away sexually from their partner. Regardless of the reason, this puts an undue hardship on their partner.
Description: Because God never condones adultery, and because a person does not stop being sexual just because their partner pulls away, this is the case of being doubly deprived: They cannot have sex with their chosen partner, nor with anyone else. Both men and women are capable of doing this, though traditionally, women do this more than men. Many women justify this by stating that they do not feel sexually attracted to their husbands because of how badly they have been treated. But this is not the way to deal with problems like criticism, neglect, violence, narcissism, workaholism, substance abuse etc. Instead of passively pulling away physically, address the problems in counseling or in conversation. In extreme cases, go to the police. But pulling away sexually solves nothing and creates another layer of problem.
Scriptural Principle: Once again, Paul is pretty clear on this one. He says this in 1 Corinthians 6:3-5:
3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
So, unless you agreed not to have sex for awhile to devote yourselves to prayer and intense study of the Word, you are disobeying the clear teaching of Scripture. Having said that, let me be clear that this does not stipulate how often you are to be sexual. That is something negotiated with every couple. But remember to be open about it with each other.
Effects of this Sin: For the most part, this sin causes a separation between two people that can often become permanent. In almost every case of divorce I have met, at some point, one or both people in the marriage stopped being sexual. And it was always one person to begin with. This sin violates the covenant promise you made to each other. When you do that, you are causing serious spiritual harm to your souls. You are open to the attack of the enemy constantly.