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Sex Outside Marriage

by Pastor Ross Layne

Sometimes we just need to see the straightforward teaching of God's word.  The moral depths to which the society of our day has sunk is such that many cannot even imagine that God has anything serious to say about sex.  The sexual revolution that has taken place in our time, however, has not revolutionized God.  His word is abundantly clear, and his standards never change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Sex outside marriage is prohibited by God. Sex is a good gift of God to be enjoyed between a man and a woman in the context of marriage.  In this context it is good both for its pleasure and for the conception of children. However, outside this context all sexual activity is sinful. Even lusting and fantasizing about sex with a person other than your spouse breaks God’s law (Matthew 5:27-30). Sex itself is not sinful; it is a good gift of God. However, God has mandated that it be enjoyed in what amounts to the sacred context of the marital covenant and bond of husband and wife (Hebrews 13:4).

God performed the first marriage after his creation of Adam and Eve. He pronounced that a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Becoming one flesh follows their becoming man and wife.

Hebrews 13:4 demonstrates that there are two ways marital sex is dishonored and corrupted. One is adultery. Adultery is when a married person participates in sexual activity with someone other than their spouse. The other way the marriage bed (sexual marital union) is defiled by sexual immorality. This includes all kinds of sexual activity outside the context of marriage whether one is married or not. The text explicitly declares that “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

1 Corinthians 7:2 sets forth God’s prescription for the enjoyment of sex. This verse acknowledges that there are many temptations to sexual immorality. God provides guidance so as to avoid the many ways human beings can sin against him in the area of sexuality. Here is what he says: “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” You do not have a wife or a husband without marriage.

Upon the basis of these two texts, it must be understood that God’s directive for all humans is that they are not to engage in sexual activity outside the context of a marriage. To disobey God’s directive is to sin against God. It is to go against his will.

Now, how seriously ought we to take sinning against God in this area. It cannot be taken too seriously. To commit sexual sin is a high offense against the Lord. As noted above in Hebrews 13:4, God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Here are several additional texts which make it plain that God is serious about his law concerning unrighteous sex.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10. 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:13. The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 6:18. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:8. We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

2 Corinthians 12:21. I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced

Galatians 5:19-20. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:3. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Colossians 3:5. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thessalonians 4:3. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

Jude 7.  Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Revelation 21:8. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Now what if you now realize that you have sinned so badly against God that you fear you may have no hope of forgiveness? As long as you are alive it is not too late to repent and seek God’s forgiveness. The concern is that if you go on in the sin and refuse to obey God, you demonstrate evidence that you do not actually belong to God through reconciliation through Christ. But here is the hope you need.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


*All scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version.