Many people might say, “Why should it bother you if two unmarried people consent to sex and it’s not hurting anyone else?” or “Why do you care what people do in their private lives? What they do in private doesn’t affect anyone else.” These are two justifications commonly used to defend what scripture calls sexual immorality. There is a lot in these statements that need to be considered and broken down. For example, scripture would agree that there should be consent in sex between married people; otherwise, it is sexual abuse (1 Corinthians 7:5). However, the defence statements above generally are not used in regards to marital sex, but in regards to sex outside marriage. Should Christians be quiet as soon as the defence statement is spoken in relation to sex outside of a marriage between a biological male and female, or should they confront sexual immorality with grace and truth?
Consent Doesn’t Mean That Nobody is Bothered
Consider that just because two unmarried adults consent to having sex in their home’s privacy does not mean nobody is bothered. God is bothered. After all, both have sinned against God. We see that with Joseph’s story. Potiphar’s wife came multiple times to Joseph desiring sex with him (Genesis 39:6-7, 10-12), but Joseph said, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Potiphar’s wife consented to have sex with Joseph; according to modern logic, as long as Joseph consented and it was done in private, then there would be nothing wrong. However, Joseph said that for him to have sex with her would be “wickedness” and “sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). Therefore, despite the mutual consent between two people to have sex, it still goes against the will of God, and therefore is sin. God is bothered by sexual expression that goes against his design.
Also, scripture mentions many forms of sexual sin that we’re to avoid, such as adultery (Hebrews 13:4), fornication (1 Corinthians 7:2), incest (Leviticus 18:6), bestiality (Deuteronomy 27:21), and homosexuality (1 Timothy 1:10). Just because two people are consenting when they perform these sexual acts does not mean that it is not a sin. Proverbs 5:20-23 teaches us that practising sexual sin leads us astray, leading to judgement from God and death. Further practising sexual sins ultimately leads to hell (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The impact on your personal life is significant if you commit sexual sin. The impact may not be fully realised in this life, but it is assured in the next life.
Sexual Sin Does Hurt Others
Sexual sin does end up hurting other people; for example, King Solomon loved many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1), to the point that he ended up having 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). God’s perfect plan for sex was between a married couple consisting of one biological man and one biological woman (1 Corinthians 7:2, Matthew 17:5). However, Solomon blew past this and committed a lot of sexual sin with all of these wives and concubines. The impact of this is that the kingdom of Israel was divided, and ten tribes fell deep into idolatry and lost blessings from God (1 Kings 11:11, 31-33). Also, enemies rose against Solomon and the rest of Israel (1 Kings 11:14, 23-25). Israel did not know war during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 4:24, 5:4) until after his sexual sins. As with Solomon, sexual sin does not just impact you alone, but others as well.
In our everyday life, we can also see the negative impact of sexual sins. Consider that adultery, for example, frequently leads to divorce. Divorce can really impact the lives of children. I’ve also seen that adultery leads to the wasting of money. Girlfriends on the side are a costly upkeep to where even a rich man becomes broke at the end of each month, which deeply impacts his family. Fornication can lead to an unplanned pregnancy, seriously altering a young mother’s life plans. Single parenthood caused by divorce or unplanned pregnancy traditionally leads to struggle. Lastly, sexual sin can bring on all sorts of diseases and reliance on drugs to treat those diseases. There are many other things to contemplate with this, but consider this thought: how many societal issues would go away if humans were to obey God’s plan for sex?
Sexual Sin Leads to Other Sins
Sometimes we feel that our private sexual sin is something we can control and won’t hurt our belief in God. Solomon’s sexual sins show us that the foreign women he loved (1 Kings 11:1) ended up turning his heart to foreign gods (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon went so far as to even build altars and temples for these foreign gods (1 Kings 11:7). The sexual sin of Solomon led to idolatry. Idolatry is always connected to sexual sin throughout scripture (Isaiah 57:7-8, Hosea 4:12-14, Romans 1:18-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5, Revelation 2:14, 20, 21:25). Having sex the way that we define is right as opposed to the way God defines it shows that idol worship is present. Therefore, sexual sin is not just an isolated sin; it brings about other sins.
God desires to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus, but sexual sin hinders that from happening (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Sexual purity allows us to see God’s blessing and know him more intimately (Matthew 5:8, Isaiah 59:1-2). Beyond this, we should fear God because he brings judgment on those who act as if sexual sin is not a big deal (Colossians 3:5-6). Therefore, we should fear God and know that sexual sin has negative consequences. Consider that David said his body was wasting away for not confessing his sexual sins (Psalm 32:3-4). Confessing our sexual sin, as opposed to covering up with clever modern defences, is something that God will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
Should Christians Speak Up?
Back to one of my original questions, should Christians speak up whenever someone uses the modern-day defence for sexual sin? Remember that Christians are to love their neighbours and enemies and desire their good (Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:27-28). Whether someone is a friend or foe, scripture calls us to love everyone. This means you desire them not to harm themselves in this life or the afterlife. It is merciful to tell someone that their practice of sexual immorality is harmful to them, possibly in this life, but for sure in the next life (Colossians 3:5-6). We always see public warnings of potential or certain harm in our lives. For example, cigarette smokers are told publicly and even on their packs of cigarettes that smoking harms their health.
Warning people of unbiblical sexual behaviour is an act of love, assuming it is done with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Furthermore, if we don’t confront someone with their sin, then we’re not allowing them to find restoration (Galatians 6:1). Be wise with your confrontation (Colossians 4:5-6) and pray about it, but do not completely ignore a friend who is caught in sexual sins. To do so allows their defence (“We both consented, and it’s not hurting anyone”) only to shield off humans; it will not defend them against a holy God (Colossians 3:5-6).