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What does the Bible say about human sexuality and sexual sin?

The Bible affirms human sexuality as a part of God’s original creation, something He considered good and beautiful. The Genesis account tells us that God created human beings in His image as male and female—complementary genders designed to play and work together for a greater purpose. Our Creator-God intended the first couple to use the gift of sexual union to reproduce His image across the earth[1] and to enjoy and deepen the unique bond between a husband and wife.[2] God’s design portrays sex as an act of creation and joyful intimacy between a man and a woman in marriage.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they set in motion many ways human beings miss God’s design for life. These behaviors take many forms, including selfish actions in relationships, sexual behaviors and lifestyles, and physical excesses. The Bible speaks to all of these as sin[3] and makes it clear that we all have done things that go against God’s design for our lives.[4]

The Bible is clear that God hates sin because it damages us, sabotages our lives, and limits our ability to experience and express the life and love of our God. This is beautifully observed in Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well. While he named her sexual sin by telling her that she was living with a man outside of marriage, His words did not condemn her. Instead, He invited her to an everlasting life and satisfaction she had never known.[5]

While some sexual sins can have more far-reaching consequences than others, the Bible does not encourage the people of God to single out one sexual sin as the worst. Neither are we to condemn those who struggle with sins that we don’t.[6] Instead, Jesus calls us to compassionately meet people where they are and to humbly invite them by word and example to God’s new way of life found in him, never losing sight of our own persistent capacity for sin.[7]

We live in a time of widespread sexual promiscuity and growing social acceptance of adultery, homosexuality, and the use of pornography. As a result, our world today looks much like the world of the Bible, influenced by the Greek and Roman worlds that embraced a culture of sexual excess. We should consider approaching these matters as the Apostles did—calling people to “put aside the deeds of darkness,”[8] to avoid judging others,[9] and acknowledge our own sin but in the context of God’s grace.[10]

The Bible reveals the Creator of heaven and earth to be a God of love, mercy, and second chances. He doesn’t give up on the sexually promiscuous person any more than He writes off the greedy or the gluttonous. He longs to show mercy toward those who confess to all forms of behavior outside of His divine intent.

Though God’s forgiveness doesn’t exempt any of us from the present consequences of sexual sin, the pages of the Bible also show that we who fall short of God’s design can be forgiven and restored to live a new life found in Jesus.[11]

[1] Genesis 1:27-28

[2] Genesis 2:24

[3] Mark 7:21-22

[4] Romans 3:23

[5] John 4:7-26

[6] John 8:3-11

[7] Matthew 9:12-13

[8] Romans 13:12-14

[9] Romans 14:10

[10] Romans 7:15-25

[11] Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17

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