Sexual ethics is the combination of moral and ethical considerations that relate to human sexuality. Sexual ethics includes the attitudes and values related to gender identification, sexual orientation, procreation, and consent. The sexual ethics of a culture are usually affiliated closely with the religion of that culture, which assigns moral value to certain aspects of sexual expression. For example, the determination of whether rape, molestation, or adultery is morally wrong varies from culture to culture and is often tied to the level of influence Christianity has had on that region. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, the Bible has the final say on sexual ethics and has been the standard for most free nations for the last two millennia.
Before the sixth chapter of Genesis, humanity had already violated every ethical standard that the Creator had instilled within the heart (Genesis 6:1, 5–6). Genesis 6:5 says that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” We can rightly interpret that to include sexual practices as well. Human attitudes toward sexuality have been tainted with sin, selfishness, and perversion since the beginning of human history.
Since the beginning, God has held the right to define sexual ethics for us because He created sexuality. When He made Eve for Adam and brought her to him (Genesis 2:21–25), He defined marriage and blessed it. From then on, Scripture is peppered with commands that reinforce that definition (Deuteronomy 5:18; Leviticus 20:10; Mark 10:6–8; Ephesians 5:31). Sex was created for a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Therefore, any sexual expression outside of the marriage covenant is sin, whether it be adultery, pre- or extramarital sex, homosexual practice, prostitution, or even lust (Matthew 5:28).
God’s sexual ethics are for our good, not harm. He does not give us His laws to curb our joy or limit our relationships. The God who created us knows how we function best. Just as the creator of a new technology provides instructions so that the gadget can perform at optimal levels, so God provides instructions for His human creations in His Word, the Bible (Psalm 119:105). He knows the consequences of mishandling His gift of sexuality. Our world is reeling from the weight of those consequences. Millions of abortions, STDs, divorces, child molestations, rapes, and cases of human trafficking would be eliminated if we only upheld God’s sexual ethics.
Regardless of our past ethical decisions, we each have a choice every new day. We can continue to wallow in the world’s insanity in which sexual ethics change hourly depending upon a person’s feelings at the moment. Or we can commit ourselves to aligning our viewpoint with God’s and treat sexuality as the sacred gift that it is. Just as we would not use an antique vase to hold dirty oil from our car, so we must never use our bodies in ways that degrade and dishonor them sexually. We were created to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). God’s temple is holy, and it is our responsibility to take care of it, honor it, and make it His sanctuary (Romans 12:1). When we do, we can avoid the devastating consequences so many are experiencing because they disregard God’s sexual ethics.