Undoing Sexual Sin’s Hierarchy

Homosexuality, sex before marriage, premarital pregnancies, pornography… for years these have been considered the big “no no’s” of sexual sin in the church, and as a result we have seen a lack of grace for those who genuinely struggle with such sins. One of clearest messages that those who struggle with sexual sin receive from the church is, “YOU’RE GOING TO HELL BECAUSE OF IT!” This truly bothers me as a Christian and a pastor for two reasons:

  1. People don’t go to hell for only certain sins, they go to hell for all their sin. In the same way, when Jesus died for our sins He didn’t just die for certain sins, He died for all our sin
  2. This message also portrays another false message of, “You would still be going to heaven if you didn’t do that”. Which again, every person is a sinner who needs God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life in heaven.

I believe the main reason the church has developed a hierarchy of sexual sin is because the majority of Christians have lacked a full understanding of what constitutes as sexual sin in God’s eyes. Here is my definition of sexual sin that God has used in my own life to convict me more strictly of my own sexual sin:

Sexual sin is not defined by what we think is weird or gross, but is simply defined by anything that does not reflect God’s image.

When looking at PLUM (Pleasure, Love, Unity, Multiplying) as God’s design for sex, we can see in the Bible that anytime sex is referred to sinfully, at least one of these purposes of sex is neglected. By understanding how each purpose reflects God’s own character, Christians can have a much fuller understanding how even sex is supposed to be an act of worship to their Creator and Savior. Here is a quick recap of what each purpose represents in God’s character:

Pleasure: pleasure in sex is to reflect the pleasure that God has in redeeming His people from their sin (Luke 15:10, Psalm 149, Isaiah 53:10-11)

Love: love in sex is to reflect God’s unconditional and immense love for His people (Matthew 22:36-40, Ephesians 5:25-28, Romans 5:8, John 13:34-35)

Unity: unity in sex is to reflect the eternal and unbreakable relationship covenant between God and His people (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:5-9, 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, Ephesians 5:31-32, Romans 8:38-39)

Multiplying: multiplying in sex is to reflect God’s desire to grow His kingdom (Genesis 1:28, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Matthew 28:19-20)

The conclusion I come to about sexual sin is this: Sexual sin occurs anytime someone separates any of the four purposes of sex from the others. Yes, this will most likely significantly limit what most well-meaning Christian marriages are already practicing who believe they are already honoring God in their sex life…but that’s the point!

God is a holy and perfect God, and it should not surprise Christians to learn that there is more sin in their life than they originally believed, especially if they are growing Christians.

The way this destroys the hierarchy of sexual sin that should never have existed in the church in the first place, is that it rightfully explains how ALL SEXUAL sin is disgusting in God’s eyes. When Jesus teaches about lust of the eyes towards another human being is just as sinful as the physical act of adulterous sex, He is saying very clearly “all sexual sin is disgusting in God’s eyes”.

Here are three important reasons why the church must destroy the hierarchy of sexual sin:

  1. It will make each person more aware of their own sinfulness, and hopefully will also make them more aware of God’s grace and forgiveness towards them when they place their faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. It should significantly enhance the Christian’s ability to show grace and mercy towards those who struggle with a different sexual sin than they do, realizing God shows the same grace to one repentant sinner as the next regardless of what their sins are.
  3. It has allowed Christian to push the boundaries of sexually sinful behavior and to ignore the seriousness of all sexual sin. It canalso led to a sinful judgmental attitude towards those who have committed the “big ones” from those who have not.

By God’s grace, I was able to remain a virgin until I got married at 25 years old, but I was far from being sexually pure. I was badly damaged from my battles with pornography and lust as a teenager. The hierarchy of sexual sin is harmful for the Christian community because it does 2 things:

  1. It creates an environment of pride for those who believe they have maintained more sexual purity than others by not committing the “big ones” (premarital sex, teen pregnancy, homosexuality)
  2. It has caused many who have struggled or committed some of the “big ones” to struggle with unnecessary feelings of rejection by the church or Christian communities, even if they are seeking help.

I feel very strongly about destroying the hierarchy of sexual sin, because Ephesians 5:3 makes it clear that there should not even be a hint of immorality among Christians. Each Christian needs to first realize the seriousness of their own sin before they can go and help another with their sin (Matthew 7:3-5). I thank God for continuing to help me see more clearly my sinfulness, because it is only then I can see more clearly His love, mercy, and grace!

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Used With Permission From Corwin Wong


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS. 

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