Sexual immorality has been a struggle for man-kind since early biblical days, when God first gave the Ten Commandments to a people who were proving to be faithless. Man's sexual activity is a much covered topic in the Bible and we can believe that because of this, how we sexually express ourselves is important to God. But, because the mystery of God's design in creating sensuous beings is not being fully taught, or perhaps fully understood, many believers in Christ find ways to justify fornication and not practice sexual integrity. It may be a good idea to first discover why this area of temptation proves to be one of the most dangerous of temptations in the history of man-kind. What we believe is about physical and emotional pleasure is really about a loving God and His people.
In Leviticus, chapter twenty, we find lists of commandments that pertain to the consequences of having sex outside the sanctity of marriage. While burning at the stake and being cut off from the people were among the consequences of sexual immorality, death by stoning was the usual punishment for fornication among the chosen people of God. "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)
Interestingly, the Lord uses the sin of adultery to describe the wandering hearts of His chosen people. Because God had entered into a covenant with Israel, He considered it a legal contract, as binding and as loving as any marital contract. When Israel turned her eyes from the Lord and began to worship the idols and take part in the practices of pagan nations, God was not pleased, and reckoned His precious people to a wandering wife. "How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman: in that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in thou scornest hire; but as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband " (Ezekiel 16:30-31) Actually, the entire sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel is a description of how God prepared Israel as a beautiful bride only to have her turn from Him and play the harlot in sexual immorality. Discover more about the biblical perspective of adultery by visiting these Bible resources.
With the arrival of the much anticipated Messiah and the new covenant which saves all of man kind, many of the laws that were laid down in the Mosaic Law were overturned. Paul taught new ideas about eating certain meats and about circumcision. But, the New Testament continues with the teachings against fornication. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) And, though Christ forgave an adulteress woman in the book of John, He also told her to go and sin no more. Jesus also taught "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: and these things come from within and defile the man." (Mark 7:21-23) Actually, Christ took the entire matter to a new level and taught that even thinking about sexual immorality was wrong. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)
Many New Testament teachings include parables that are associated with wedding ceremonies. Christ is pictured as the loving and strong groom, while the church is pictured as the bride, one that is preparing herself for a wedding day in the future. And, in the book of Revelation, we are told that the marriage of the Lamb finally arrives. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7) Because our Lord uses such imagery, we can believe that He considers the relationship between a husband and wife very serious.
Sexual immorality practiced by man is a perfect illustration of our weak and wandering hearts that seek after our own pleasures as opposed to God's will. And, when we participate in fornication, we are shaking our fists at God's word picture of love and commitment to us; saying we want things our own way, and we want it pleasurable and we want it often. Our God's gift of marriage and sex is an explicit picture of the Lord's love and of the pleasure He takes in loving us. All fornication distorts this picture, which is the goal of the number one enemy of God: Satan. It's not surprising then that so much of today's world is focused on promoting sex not only outside of marriage, but promoting sex as a pleasure to be enjoyed in anyway fathomable. To learn more about sex in the Bible, click the links above.