Sexual Morality

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Lusting After Other's Wives is Adultery

Contrary to the new-age teaching that sexual orientations are separate and allowable, unlike sexual lifestyles (e.g. some claim they have a homosexual sexual orientation but aren't homosexuals), the Bible teaches that even desires are themselves sinful. Lusting in one's heart inappropriately after other's spouses is itself equivalent to sexual sin, or fornication. We are called to govern not only our bodies but our thoughts as well when it comes to sex, in other words. Nor was this a new commandment given by Jesus, it can be seen from the Old Testament as well.

Matthew 5:27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Deuteronomy 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.


The following sexual practices (and orientations) are clearly forbidden in the Bible and are sinful.


Probably the most criticized sexual practice, Biblically, is adultery. Again, just lusting in one's heart after another's spouse is equivalent to adultery. It was a serious enough crime to merit the death penalty in the Old Testament and indeed appears a rare crime that will be unlikely to get forgiven at the Final Judgment. Adultery is described as a soul-destroying action. (Proverbs 6:27-35)

Note that remarrying after divorce (unless the spouse has died) is considered adultery save in rare instances, such as a pagan spouse leaving or the spouse committing adultery (compare Matthew 5:31-32; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16,34).

Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Leviticus 20:10 ¶ 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.

Deuteronomy 5:18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

Proverbs 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.


Incest is repeatedly and thoroughly condemned throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Incest is defined as seeing the nudity of one's father, mother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, stepbrother, stepsister, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter, aunt, uncle, co-brother, or co-sister. Seeing the nudity of a mother and her daughter or granddaughter, or two sisters at once, was also forbidden (although it should be noted that simply marrying two sisters was not itself forbidden, as Jacob did with Rachel and Leah, rather the act of having them nude together was forbidden-compare Jeremiah 3:6-11).

An early case of incest was Reuben, Israel's firstborn, whose birthright was taken away and given to the righteous Joseph, so that Joseph was given two tribes instead of one (Ephraim and Manasseh for his two sons). John the Baptist was killed by Herod for condemning the wicked ruler's incest, and the apostle Paul demanded that the Corinthians stop allowing incest to occur in their churches.

Leviticus 18:6 ¶ None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

Deuteronomy 22:30 A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.

Deuteronomy 27:20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Genesis 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:
Genesis 49:4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
1 Chronicles 5:1 ¶ Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.

Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.
18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

1 Corinthians 5:1 ¶ It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

Ezekiel 22:11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.


Bestiality is repeatedly condemned in the Bible and bore a death penalty in the Old Testament. It was one of the practices of Canaanite nations so heinous that justified God destroying them. (Leviticus 18:24-25)

Exodus 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Leviticus 20:15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Deuteronomy 27:21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.


See also Homosexuality

The Bible makes very clear that homosexuality is wrong, both in the Old and New Testaments. And contrary to popular belief Jesus does briefly address it also in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25, using the Greek word malakos which the KJV there translates soft, but translates as "effeminate" in 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Jesus addresses homosexuality by asking the crowd what kind of person they came to see, some soft effeminate homosexual like those living in palaces, or a real prophet of God like Elijah in praising John the Baptist as a real man living off the land in the wilderness. Jesus clearly disdained the soft effeminacy of homosexuality and pointed to John the Baptist as an example of what men should be like, rugged and determined, serving God against all odds, unconcerned for worldly pleasures.

Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

1 Corinthians 6:9 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,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

Luke 7:24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.


Prostitution and pimping are Biblically forbidden, that the land does not become full of whoredom.

Leviticus 19:29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Controversial but Biblically Acceptable


As shocking as it may seem, polygamy is never once Biblically forbidden, indeed God Himself was compared to being in a polygamous relationship with Israel and Judah. Three different Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea compared God's relationship with the nations of Israel and Judah to a man married to two sisters who both commit adultery behind his back. As such, God Himself is consistently portrayed throughout the Bible as a polygamous husband.

Biblically adultery is defined as lusting after the spouses of others. However, there is no Biblical limit on how many spouses one can have so long as there are no combinations where men are having sexual relationships with women that other men are having sexual relations with. Monogamy is a new, recent invention with no direct relationship to Biblical teaching.

Jeremiah 3:6 ¶ The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.

Ezekiel 23:1 ¶ The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.
4 And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.
5 And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,
6 Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.
7 Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.
8 Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.
9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
10 These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed judgment upon her.
11 ¶ And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
12 She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.
13 Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,

Hosea 4:15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.

Numerous godly men in the Old Testament had multiple wives and were not criticized for doing so, including:

  • Abraham: Married to Sarah, Hagar, and numerous concubines. (Genesis 25:6, 16:3)
  • Jacob: Married to two sisters, Rachel and Leah, as well as Bilhah and Zilpah. (Genesis 30:1-26)
  • Moses: Married to Zipporah and a Cushite woman. (Exodus 2:21; Numbers 12:1-2)
  • David: Married to Bathsheba, Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacha, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah. He also had children from concubines as well. (1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 1 Samuel 25:44) While David was punished for gaining one wife through adultery, Bathsheba, he was never criticized for having multiple wives, and was called a man after God's own heart.
  • Solomon: Married to 700 wives and 300 concubines. This number was undoubtedly excessive and reckless, as evidenced by Solomon's fall from grace-his pagan wives led his heart away from God, resulting in God's punishment. In pursuing so many wives he recklessly gained pagan wives who led his once-pure heart away from the Lord his God. (1 Kings 11:1-4)
  • Hosea: Married two adulterous women who committed adultery behind his back. God used the prophet's life to show how Israel and Judah were treacherously treating God, like adulterous wives. (Hosea 1-4)

One Wife

The closest the Bible comes to saying otherwise is declaring that church leaders, bishops and deacons, must be the "husband of one wife." For whatever reason, Paul repeatedly calls for church leaders to be married to a single wife, perhaps that they may avoid chaos in their personal lives to better lead the churches peacefully (compare 1 Timothy 3:4-5). Whatever the reason however, this command is never repeated concerning Christians in general.

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

Titus 1:6 ¶ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;