The following is my response to a question raised by a Pastor friend of mine in the midst of a recent energetic back-and-forth on FB.
Challenge: John, will you acknowledge that every sexual relationship outside of marriage is sin in the eyes of God?
Response: I believe that there has to be an order in which a person (especially an unbeliever) is taught and brought into the knowledge of God and of spiritual things, including an understanding of sin and its consequences.
I believe that making a broad declaration of the mind and will of God over social media, which includes a very large audience of non-believers (i.e.: not-Holy Spirit-minded people) is unwise and will accomplish little, and may in fact build impenetrable walls between them and the doctrines and followers of Christianity. My basis for this is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, where he notes that “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:11-14
I offer a second spiritual truth for your consideration as well. I think it’s pretty clear from the Bible that people are only accountable for the knowledge they’ve received. That’s why Jesus declared that the people of the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum would be judged harsher than the people of Sodom and Tyre and Sidon. (Luke 10:10-16) The people of Judah and Galilee had access to the written words of Moses and the Prophets and studied the Holy Scriptures constantly and even heard Jesus preach the good news of His mission on earth, and still they rejected Him as their Messiah. Much more was expected of the Jews than was expected of the heathen nations that surrounded them; and even more is expected of every New Testament believer.
Unbelievers are judged, not for their sexual sins, but for their choosing of things above their desire for God. In fact, it was God Who “gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.” Clearly Scripture tells us that the “non-believer” is justly punishable for his or her “exchanging the truth of God for the lie, and worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.” For “the heavens” and “things that are made” have adequately revealed God, “even His eternal power and Godhead” to every man and woman, yet some have “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness,” so “they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-25)
But back to the original question, in a one-on-one spiritual counseling session with a man, whereby I can assess his relationship with God, if any, and the roots of the problems that are going on in his life, of course I will explain the spiritual devastation that every sexual relationship outside of marriage brings upon them. When Paul stated: “Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He [God] says, ‘shall become one flesh,’” (1 Corinthians 6:16-17) he was explaining to the morally bankrupt Corinthians how every sexual relationship is also a merger of spirits. Two becoming one flesh is as much a spiritual union as it is a physical one, whether in marriage or outside of it. The spirits that each person carries, whether they be spirits of light or spirits of darkness (the latter including unclean spirits, spirits of divination, spirits of alcohol and drug addiction, spirits of fear, anger, etc.) all are brought into and attach to the ones engaged in a sexual relationship – and stay attached long after the relationship ends.
Everyone needs to be taught this, but there has to be an order in which a person is taught and brought into the knowledge of God and of spiritual things, including knowledge of the activities of the spirit realm. And I don’t believe it’s either necessary or wise to focus on an unbeliever’s sinful nature to reach him for the Kingdom of God.
- First a person must be introduced to the Sovereign God Who created him and loves him unconditionally and the Son of God Who suffered and died that he might have eternal life.
- Once the person is saved and has the Holy Spirit residing within him, now he is capable of understanding spiritual things, so you can proceed to explain the absolute need to forgive all those who have hurt him in the past. For unforgiveness leaves one mentally, emotionally and behaviorally imprisoned.
- Then and only then is a person ready to truly understand sin and its power and destructive nature and the need to be set free of the consequences of sin that are destroying his life and his relationships, and the need to modify his behavior to live a morally righteous life.
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20