God’s hatred of sexual immorality and his impending wrath on the sexually perverse can’t be separated from his love for sex within marriage, along with his commands for couples to have sex frequently.
Those who love must also hate. Those who love what is good, what is beneficial, what is honorable must hate what is evil, what is harmful, what is deplorable. We are defined by the things we love as well as the things we loathe. And what is true of us is true of God as well (or, said better, what is first true of God is subsequently true of us). For God to love he must also hate.
The Bible tells us of many things that God hates, sometimes by right-out saying “God hates this” and other times by describing such things with words like “abominable” or “detestable.” When we put it all together we find there are eight broad categories of things he hates. We have already seen that God Hates Idolatry. Today I want to show that God hates sexual immorality.
God Hates Sexual Immorality
Human beings are sexual beings. We are far more than that, of course, but we are not less. Our sexuality is a part of who and what we are, a good gift of God given to bind together a husband and wife and to expand the human race. Like everything else we have, our sexuality is a gift given to us in trust. We are to steward it faithfully, to use it in the ways God commands and to refuse to use it in the ways he forbids. God stipulates that sex is to exist only in the marriage of one man to one woman and further stipulates that it must exist in that context (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Just as it is sinful to have sex outside of marriage, it is sinful not to have sex within marriage.
God loves when human beings use the gift of sexuality in the ways he commands, but then necessarily hates it when they abuse it in other ways. Specifically, he hates acts of homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:22-23) as well as cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5). He hates offerings in which the proceeds have come from prostitution—in this case ritual temple prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:18). We might apply this to a modern context by observing that money spent or earned illicitly dishonors God, even when given to a noble cause.
God also hates divorce, the severing of the bonds of marriage (Malachi 2:14-16). Malachi 2 is a tricky passage whose translation is disputed, but we can be confident in this: What may have been opaque in the Old Testament, when divorce was permitted, is crystal clear in the New Testament when divorce is forbidden except in the case of adultery (see Mark 10:1-12). God especially hates divorce when the object is the exploitation of another person as in Deuteronomy 24:4 where it seems the emphasis is on a husband marrying to receive a wife’s dowry, divorcing her, then later marrying her a second time to receive a second dowry.
To summarize, God hates sexual sin, he hates any defilement of the gift of sexuality, and he hates any dishonoring of marriage, the only right context for sexuality.
Why God Hates Sexual Immorality
Why does God hate sexual immorality? Because in some way sexual sin is more serious than other forms of rebellion. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 we read these surprising words: “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Biblical scholars debate the meaning of the words but this much is clear: Sexual sin makes a mockery of the significant physical and spiritual union bound up in the sexual relationship. As the Reformation Study Bible points out, “in Paul’s teaching, the physical union involved in sexual immorality has special consequences because it interferes with our Christian identity as people who have been united with Christ through the Holy Spirit.” Those who are united with Christ have no business being united with a prostitute or anyone else to whom they are not married.
Sexual sin degrades and misuses the body which God indwells as his temple. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is worth pointing out the similar language Paul uses to describe idolatry and sexual immorality. Both are signs of deep rebellion against God.
God’s Judgment on the Sexually Immoral
God is perfectly clear in his judgment on sexual immorality. Much of the first chapter of Romans 1 is dedicated to proving that God’s judgment falls on those who commit sexual sin and, who over time, fall deeper and deeper into it. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). In fact, Paul goes so far as to show that increased sexual sin is its own form of judgment through which God gives people over to their sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9 insists that neither the sexually immoral nor the homosexual will see heaven and this is echoed in Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5, and Revelation 22:15. The author of the letter to the Hebrews demands, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). Those who commit sexual immorality will face God’s righteous, everlasting judgment.
Hope for the Sexually Immoral
Yet there is hope for even the sexually immoral. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul discusses the purpose of God’s law and says the law was given for “the sexually immoral, [and] men who practice homosexuality” (1:10). God has made provision for all sinners! The law was graciously given to expose their sin, their desire to sin, and their inability to stop sinning. But, of course, the law was not enough, so Paul immediately switches from the goodness of the law to the goodness of the gospel, to what he refers to as “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” That gospel insists that none of us are beyond redemption, none of us beyond salvation, if only we will turn to Christ for forgiveness. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15). There is no sinner beyond his grace.
“Flee from sexual immorality,” says Paul (1 Corinthians 6:18). We must flee this sin, and through the gospel we can.
Key Verses on Sexual Immorality
If you would like to engage in some further study, here are key verses about God’s hatred of sexual immorality.
- God designed marriage and sexuality around male and female (Genesis 2:24-25)
- God hates homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:22)
- God hates sexual acts between humans and animals (Leviticus 18:23)
- God hates the wearing of clothing of the opposite sex (Deuteronomy 22:5)
- God hates and will not accept as an offering the proceeds of prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:18)
- God hates exploitation through divorce (Deuteronomy 24:4)
- God hates divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)
- God hates sexual immorality in all its forms (Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5, Revelation 22:15)
- God created the body for purity not immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13)
- God commands us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- God offers forgiveness to the sexually immoral (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
- God commands the exclusivity of the sexual relationship within marriage (Hebrews 13:4)