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What is Sexual Immorality?

What is Sexual Immorality?


Biblical Definition of Sexual Immorality

Sexual immorality, as defined within Christian theology, encompasses a range of behaviors that are considered inappropriate according to the teachings of the Bible. The original Greek term often translated as “sexual immorality” is “porneia,” which broadly covers any form of illicit sexual relations. This definition is grounded in the scriptural understanding of sexual relations, which are reserved for the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.

The Bible presents several specific forms of sexual immorality, including adultery (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28), fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18-20), homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27), and other behaviors that deviate from the sexual ethics taught in Scripture. These acts are seen as violations of the divine design for human sexuality.


Sexual Purity in Heart and Body

Christian teaching on sexual morality goes beyond simply avoiding certain behaviors. It also encompasses the purity of heart and mind. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, taught that even looking at someone with lustful intent is akin to committing adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:28). This underscores the belief that sexual purity is not just about actions but also about one’s thoughts and intentions.

The New Testament letters, particularly those of Paul, frequently exhort believers to live in a way that honors God with their bodies, which are seen as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This view of the body as sacred informs the Christian stance on sexual morality, emphasizing the importance of honoring God not just in actions but in all aspects of one’s life.

Marriage as the Context for Sexual Relations

In Christianity, marriage is upheld as the proper context for sexual relations. This view is based on passages like Genesis 2:24, which describes the union of man and woman as a profound mystery, reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32). The marital bond is seen as the only appropriate setting for sexual intimacy, a covenantal relationship that mirrors the commitment and love between Christ and His church.

Within this framework, sexual relations are celebrated as a gift from God, intended for procreation, intimacy, and mutual pleasure within the confines of marriage. This sanctity of the marital relationship sets the parameters for what constitutes moral and immoral sexual behavior according to biblical teachings.

Cultivating a Lifestyle of Purity

Avoiding sexual immorality, from a Christian viewpoint, involves more than just refraining from certain actions. It is about cultivating a lifestyle and mindset that honors God. This includes practices like guarding one’s heart and mind (Philippians 4:8), fostering healthy relationships, and seeking accountability and community within the body of Christ.

The Christian approach to sexual morality is often accompanied by teachings on grace and redemption. While sexual sin is taken seriously, there is also a strong emphasis on the forgiveness and transforming power available through Jesus Christ, offering hope and restoration to those who repent and seek to live in accordance with God’s will.


In conclusion, sexual immorality in Christian theology is understood as any sexual activity outside the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. It encompasses a range of behaviors that are contrary to biblical teachings and emphasizes the need for purity in both action and intention. The Christian response to sexual immorality involves a holistic approach to living a life that honors God in body, mind, and spirit.

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