A promiscuous person is one who engages in many sexual liaisons with a number of different people. In the days when purity and morality were commonly considered virtues, promiscuity was frowned upon. In our current cultural environment, however, promiscuity is promoted in television, movies, and music. Kids feel the pressure by early middle school to have a boyfriend or girlfriend and are taught in the classroom about human sexuality without biblical morality. So it is not surprising that, before American teens reach adulthood, more than half have already had at least one sexual encounter. A large number of those could be considered promiscuous. Our culture calls this progress; the Bible calls it sin (Hebrews 13:4).
Scripturally speaking, promiscuity is the repeated violation of God’s standards for sex. God created sex as a beautiful expression of love that would propagate the species, but He also knows the devastation that results from abusing His gift. When God put limits on our sexual expression, He did so for our own good. Promiscuity is an abuse of the power of sexuality. It robs those who practice it of the ability to understand true intimacy. It steals its participants’ self-worth, dignity, and purity of heart.
Even a casual glance at global issues reveals that promiscuity is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. Consider the social ills brought about by promiscuity: abortion, STD’s, single mothers in poverty, AIDS, fatherless children, adultery, divorce, the rape culture, and the proliferation of related issues such as welfare fraud, overcrowding, starvation, and pornography. Billions of dollars and thousands of hours are invested in resolving those issues, but most of the problems would disappear if people simply followed God’s instructions about sex.
While the world may consider promiscuity a normal way to live, God’s warnings punctuate the pages of Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). Sexual immorality is a sin that separates us from God. Galatians 5:19–21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery . . . drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” We may try to redefine promiscuity to exclude whatever behaviors we are engaging in, but our definitions don’t count. Only God’s definitions matter, and we would be wise to submit to them.
Anyone can make a mistake and sin sexually. God’s solution is repentance and forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Those who are sexually promiscuous need a radical lifestyle change. Those who continue to violate themselves by having sexual relations with multiple people do not have a heart transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Psalm 24:3 asks the question, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” The answer should be the goal for everyone who desires a right relationship with God: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god” (verse 4). It is impossible to have clean hands and a pure heart when living in sexual promiscuity. Those who believe they can sin all they like, ask God’s forgiveness, and then do it again the next day are deceiving themselves. That is false religion, not reality. However, the radical change of heart that we all need is available in the cross of Christ. Those who come before God in brokenness and repentance will find His mercy and power ready to transform their lives (Psalm 51:16–17).