What is Sexual Immorality in the Bible?

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Theology | 0 comments

The Bible has a lot to say about sexual immorality. For instance, it forbids sexual immorality and prescribes harsh judgment for the immoral person both in the Old and New Testament.  In the Old Testament, the sin of sexual immorality would lead to death while the new testament prescribes expelling the immoral brother (1 Cor. 5:13). 

The Bible teaches that sexual intercourse should only happen between a man and his wife. Any other kind of sexual intercourse falls within the confines of sexual immorality. Other words used in the Bible as synonyms of sexual immorality include fornication and sexual impurity. 

Sexual immorality was punished severely because as the Bible says, it is the only sin that is committed within the body – a body that is meant to be the temple of God. Let us have a look at the types of sexual immorality mentioned in the bible. 

Types of Sexual Immorality in the Bible

There are various forms of sexually sinful behavior that are addressed in the scriptures. These include:


Adultery is the sexual relationship between a married person with another person who is not their spouse. This could be the spouse of another person or a single person. The Bible explicitly condemns adultery and even outlines severe consequences for those that violate this law. Under the Mosaic law, adultery was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10). In the New Testament, Jesus elevated the standard by saying that adultery doesn’t just entail engaging in sexual intercourse but even lust. In other words, lusting after another person is tantamount to committing adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). 


Fornication is a broad term for any sexual relation outside the confines of marriage. This includes extramarital affairs as well as other sexual activities between unmarried people. The Bible consistently warns against fornication, emphasizing the value of sexual purity and reserving sexual intimacy for the marriage covenant. Fornication is distorting God’s original design for human relationships and the Bible teaches that fornicators will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,(1 Corinthians 6:9)


Homosexuality may be a hot potato today but the Bible pronounced itself on the subject from as early as the Mosaic law. Homosexuality refers to sexual intercourse between a man and another man or between a woman and another woman. In Leviticus, the Bible refers to homosexuality as an abomination. 

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22). 

There are many other scriptures that condemn homosexual relationships including 1 Cor.6:9 which explicitly says that homosexuals cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Romans 1:26-27 also addresses lesbianism and just like Leviticus, it makes it clear that God is against same-sex relations. 


Incest refers to the act of close family members (e.g. two siblings or a child and a parent) engaging in consensual sex. Just as is the case with other sexual sins, the Bibel teaches against incest and considers it an abhorrent act. Several stories in the Bible, like the account of Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38) and Amnon’s assault on his half-sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13), serve as cautionary tales, illustrating the destructive consequences of incest. 

Rape and Sexual Assault

Rape can be defined as non-consensual sexual activity. Even though the word rape does not exist in the scriptures, there are a handful of rape accounts that are recorded in the Bible. The first account of rape is recorded in Genesis when Dinah (Jacob’s daughter) was abducted and raped by Shechem (Genesis 34:1-31). Another example is when the men of Gibeah gang-raped and murdered a Levite’s concubine in Judges 19:11-30. Another illustration of rape is found in Genesis 19 when the men of Sodom attempted to rape two visitors. 


Bestiality is when a human being engages in sexual activity with an animal. Just like adultery, bestiality was not only forbidden but it was also a capital offense. In Exodus 22:19, the Bible says that anyone that was found guilty of bestiality should be put to death. The Bible repeats this judgment in Leviticus but adds that in addition to killing the human being, the animal should also be killed (Leviticus 20:15–16). In Leviticus 18:23, the scripture makes it clear that both males and females are forbidden from bestiality. 


Prostitution is the act of paying a harlot for sexual intercourse. A harlot is a person who charges clients for sex. The Bible condemns the work of harlots as well as prostitution in general. Moses also charged the Israelites not to bring any earnings from harlotry into God’s house because that would be an abomination 

You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God,” (Deuteronomy 23:18).


Voyeurism is the act of deriving sexual pleasure from watching other people who are naked or engaging in sexual acts. Even though the word is not used in the scriptures, there are some examples of it. One such example is when David observes a woman bathing on the roof (2 Samuel 11:2-4). As a consequence, David committed adultery which attracted God’s wrath. Jesus also cautioned against voyeurism by saying that anyone that looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery. 


To sum it up, sexual immorality may be an emotive subject because different societies have different stands on what they consider moral or immoral. However, the Bible has pronounced itself on most of the issues of sex. For starters, the Bible makes it clear that sexual intercourse should only happen between married people. This means any form of premarital or extra-marital sex is against the teachings of God’s word. Additionally, other forms of sexual relations like same-sex unions, bestiality, and voyeurism are also considered sin and are therefore forbidden in teh Bible. 

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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