What does the Bible say about sexual purity?

God declares that sexual relations should be only for a man and a woman in a marriage and should stay between those married people for a lifetime (Ephesians 5:31). God designed sex to be pleasurable, but also instructed that it was reserved for marriage. Despite what many cultures today advocate, sexual purity is for our own benefit. Within the boundaries of marriage, sex is a pleasurable and beautiful gift. Sexual activity outside of marriage is a perversion of something God made good.

There are many Scripture passages about sexual purity, but 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, 7 encapsulates much of God's directive on the subject: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. … For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness."

Sanctification is being set apart for a holy reason—for God's purposes. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are made holy and become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17–19). We are able to live by faith, instead of by our old sin nature (Galatians 2:20).

The Bible seems to set the lack of sexual purity somewhat apart from other sin. In the 1 Timothy passage above, sexual purity is listed as the first evidence, or step, of sanctification. Self-control over this aspect of life shows our reliance on and allowance of the Holy Spirit's work (Galatians 5:22–23). We are told to honor God with our bodies because they are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18–20). And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us honor Him.

Sex joins two people as one. God knows this should be reserved for marriage. First Corinthians 6:15–18 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh.' But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."

God designed and created us, so He knows what is best for us. His rules, boundaries, and discipline are designed for our benefit and His glory. Sex is the most intimate and vulnerable of acts. This type of intimacy is precious within the committed relationship of a married man and woman. Remaining sexually pure protects that gift. Sexual purity is not only something those who are single need to be concerned about, but it is also intended for married couples to remain faithful to each other. Sex is unique to marriage, and sexual purity does much to maintain the integrity and strength of the marriage bond.

No matter your marital state, we are all called to be sexually pure in both our actions and our thoughts. When we follow God's instruction about sexual purity, our lives and relationships will be better for us and honor Him, and our marriage bed will be kept pure (Hebrews 13:4).

Related Truth:

What is a biblical level of intimacy before marriage?

In marriage how do the two become one flesh?

How should a Christian view romance?

Does the Bible talk about dating / courting?

With all its challenges, why even consider marriage?

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