In preparation for writing this article, I spent some time looking for an exact definition of sexual immorality. With the click of a button, Google gave me several different options to choose from. I was able to find a definition intended for non-believers, Protestants, and Catholics. There was even a Christian website giving two definitions, one for married people and another for those who are single.
I have a degree in theology and write about the Bible. Still, I was left more confused with the results of my search than I was before entering a letter in the search bar. I couldn’t help but think if someone were new to the Christian faith and following Jesus, this could be difficult. Maybe, this is one of the reasons why today’s preachers and church leaders ignore the topic at all costs.
So, I did some of my own research. I asked 50 people that I barely know through a Facebook message what they thought sexual immorality was. I didn’t take the time to learn how important Jesus was to them or whether or not they consider themselves a Christian. The goal was to simply learn what they thought of these two words.
The overwhelming response I received is that sexual immorality is when a husband or wife steps out of their marriage and has sexual intercourse with another person. Several people told me when they think of the words, premarital sex is what comes to mind. Others told me sexual immorality is a sin only homosexuals can commit. The overwhelming response was that for something to be considered sexual immorality, intercourse had to take place. As long as the act of sex didn’t happen, there’s no sin involved.
I don’t agree with this. Out of the three responses, I heard the most, two of them have been a part of my life. I had premarital sex with my wife and I’ve had sex with another person since getting married. If you missed the article I wrote last week, I said I was going to be both honest and descriptive with the words I use in this series. While nothing I write is going to be x-rated content, it’s definitely being written for an adult audience.
It’s not something I’m proud of. I’ve been sexually immoral in my life, a sin the Bible takes a very strong stand against. To me, I’m not really big on giving a precise definition of the word. What I know is my actions have not only hurt others, they’ve created a lot of pain and turmoil in my own life.
I don’t limit the definition to a specific act or try to manipulate events to stay within comfortable boundaries. For me and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I can commit this sin with simple thoughts. Simply telling a few specific women I hope they have a good day is crossing the line. Some people may say this is me taking things to extremes. Is it? Am I simply overreacting to make sure I never hurt my family in ways I have before?
I mentioned last week that as Christians, especially Christian men, we’re to put on the whole armor of God and stand nose to nose with the enemy, ready to whoop his tale. We fight the good fight. It’s our mission to share the Good News and do whatever is necessary to rid the world of evil. This is true, except when sexual immorality is what the enemy uses against us.
When this happens, we’re to run as fast and as far as we can. We don’t fight temptation or flirt with this sin. We run at all costs. My preacher tells us if we leave the church and the devil is at our vehicle waiting for us, you strap up and fight for every inch of ground you can take from him. That being said, if you leave the church and make it home and your ex is in your driveway waiting on you, you drive right on by your house. This is more than clear in Scripture.
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.
I don’t know about you, but in my mind, that’s pretty extreme. It doesn’t say to debate and tries to prove a point. The goal isn’t to lead the woman to the cross from the mattress in your bedroom. The Bible says we are to “Flee from sexual immorality.” Along with this verse, I think I need to share what Mr. Webster says about the word “flee.”
“To run away, as from danger or pursuers, to take flight, to move swiftly.” That’s pretty clear. To flee something, you do as much as you can to get away, as quickly as possible. That’s how Paul tells us we should respond to this specific sin. We flee.
So, with that being said, there are several women I have no business saying good morning to. To flee, I have software on my phone, computer, and tablet preventing me from looking at certain websites. More than once, I’ve gone through temptations so intense, I had to have an old flip phone reactivated for a few months. One you can’t look at websites with.
I have no passwords on any of my devices. Anyone can see what they’ve been used for at any time. This goes for both websites I’ve visited and messages I’ve sent and received. If you’re a woman and my daughter doesn’t know who you are through her mother, I have no business telling you what my plans are for the weekend. This isn’t because you’ve done something wrong and are a bad person. This is because I’m to flee sexual immorality.
I’m not trying to say I’m God’s gift to women and they find me irresistible. There are probably more women than I can count who wonder what my issue is and why I can’t even take the time to answer a question. You see, I’ve allowed sin to dominate who I am for so many years that I no longer think like a normal person. Someone can simply ask me if I have plans for a weekend, and my mind starts telling me I need to ask them if they want to hang out. Or, maybe if you’re honest with yourself, you know exactly what I’m talking about and why I set the boundaries I have.
As a grown man, I’ve cried myself to sleep over the sin of sexual immorality. I’ve hurt another person so badly with my actions, I can no longer find peace when I do certain things. I have to always be on guard. Not because of what a woman might do to me. Because what sexual immorality will do to my soul if I flirt with a thought for even a few seconds. Instead, I have to flee. If you’re a Christian man flirting with the ideas of this sin, and I’m sure there are only a couple of you, here’s what you have to look forward to.
The Pain of Sexual Immorality
Still to this day, the pain my sin has created in the lives of others is unbearable. As I mentioned earlier, for me, sexual immorality is much more than the act of having sexual intercourse with someone. I still remember very vividly a night around four years ago. I went to open the case of my phone and found a sticky note my wife had left. She had gone through my browser and saw the websites I’d been visiting while she wasn’t home.
Keep in mind, I’m a recovering alcoholic. With my drinking alone, not counting anything else, I’ve put my wife through more hell than any person should ever have to experience. Still, I can’t remember a time I’ve felt so pathetic in my life. Normally, I have no problem sleeping on the couch, It’s something I’ve gotten used to and actually enjoy from time to time. That night was different though. As much hurt and pain as I felt in that moment, it was nowhere close to my wife’s.
If you’re not someone who struggles with this, there’s nothing I could ever write for you to comprehend what I’m saying. To know that you’ve hurt someone so bad there’s nothing you can say or do to take the pain away. Eventually, you hurt them enough that the hurt is all you can feel yourself. You can read Romans chapter eight all you want. The condemnation still eats at you until it takes everything you have just to breathe. I mentioned it last week but it needs to be said again here. Sexual immorality is a sin that kills your soul.
Living With the Effects
While no one has filed for divorce, my wife and I have been separated for over two and a half years now. No, this isn’t a direct result of me being sexually immoral. That being said, when you figure in events of the past, eventually, the pain adds up. Decisions would have been made differently had the past not been full of so much hurt.
She still has every reason to be suspicious when our daughter tells her I was on the phone with another woman. She’ll pay attention to how closely I watch other women when we’re in public. More than once, she’s questioned me in the last six months if I’m talking to someone else. This doesn’t make her an unforgiving person. This demonstrates the effects created by sexual immorality.
On top of that, when I’m by myself and only have my thoughts accompanying me, they dominate me. There have been so many mistakes. No, wait. That almost sounds like I’m taking the easy way out. There’s been so much sin in my life, I could never blame her for the way her mind now thinks. She has every right to question me, regardless of how humiliated I feel knowing there are trust issues.
A Willingness to Heal
When it comes to the sin of sexual immorality, yes, as sinners, we need forgiveness. Both from Jesus and the people our sin hurts. Also, we need a willingness to heal. Until we do this, our behaviors and actions will only repeat themselves.
For many seasons in my life, every morning began with me begging God for the strength not to watch pornography. If this isn’t something you’ve struggled with in the past, you probably won’t understand. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I hated this sin. Still, time after time, I’d go to bed that night begging God to forgive me for this specific sin. When the Bible tells us we’re slaves to sin, this is what it means.
Sexual immorality controlled everything about who I was. It didn’t matter how hard I prayed that morning. Until I was ready to be healed, nothing was going to change. Only the Holy Spirit was able to manufacture this healing in my life. Still, there was plenty of action I had to be willing to take.
It reminds me of the story of the man waiting by the pool. When the waters would begin to stir, if someone would place him in the water, he would be healed. Instead, Jesus asks the man point-blank. “Do you want to be healed?” It’s no different with us. Until we’re so desperate for God’s healing that we’ll do whatever it takes, nothing’s ever going to change.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.