Dear Christian Sisters,
If you read through all of my last post, then you learned that the Greek word porneia is translated to
- sexual immorality, and
in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) [see the Blue Letter Bible].
We get our English word pornography from the Greek porneia [see dictionary.com].
You also know from my last post that the sexual acts that are included in porneia are the forbidden sexual acts listed in Jewish Law, mostly Leviticus (Jewish Law refers to the first 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy):
- intercourse with animals
- sex with close relatives
- sex with a divorced man or woman
- premarital sex
Hypocrisy within the Church
As Christian Sisters, we know that historically the Church has looked down on women who have premarital sex. We know that even today women with crisis pregnancies are judged within the church and in society.
As women living in a feminist society, we feel the hypocrisy—men are hallowed for their sexual conquests while women are quietly (or not-so-quietly) called whores.
But have you ever noticed that when Jesus talked to women about their unchastity, He was kind?
In contrast, whenever He talked to crowds of men and women, He was direct.
Sometimes Jesus was angry, but I only see His anger when He’s addressing men—and He called them hypocrites.
Jesus Talks Kindly to Women about Unchastity
For example, when Jesus talked to the woman at the well about her unchastity, He did not condemn her. He did clearly reveal Himself as the Christ to her, a woman. That was a big deal. At that point in His ministry, He was not even that direct to the 12 disciples about His divinity.
For more on the woman at the well, read my blog post titled “Abortion & the Church.”
When the Pharisees brought a naked woman caught in the very act of adultery to Jesus, He redirected their eyes away from her and down to the sand. Once all the accusatory men left, Jesus did not condemn the woman but simply told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
For more on the woman caught in adultery, read my blog post “Abortion & the Church.”
Jesus did not condemn either woman, but He was clear about their sin.
Jesus is Direct about Unchastity
Jesus was also clear about porneia (unchastity) to all of His disciples (not just the 12 but the crowds).
There are no parables about sex. Jesus outright says not to have sex outside of marriage.
In three stories, Jesus uses the word porneia.
Jesus Talks about Unchastity in the Sermon on the Mount
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is direct about unchastity but because He does it in the context of divorce, we often miss what He’s saying about premarital sex.
but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity [porneia], makes her commit adultery [moicheuō]; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery [moicheuō].
Matthew 5:32 NASB
Notice that unchastity is the Greek porneia and that adultery is the Greek moicheuō. It wasn’t until I studied this verse to understand what Jesus was saying about sex rather than what He was saying about divorce that I noticed the difference between unchastity and adultery.
Unchastity includes adultery. Adultery is a subset of unchastity. So, unchastity is the larger term and includes any type of sex other than heterosexual, consensual sex between one man and one woman who are married to each other.
That tells me that if your husband thinks that you’re a virgin when he marries you and then finds out that you were not, he can divorce you. And, yes, of course, the same in reverse—if you think that your husband is a virgin when you marry and you later find out that he wasn’t, then you can divorce him.
I hear you laughing under your breath! I know. I know—it would be unusual to find a couple in the United States today who has not had premarital sex. But doesn’t that tell you something about the context of Jesus’ teaching? In Jewish society, it was typical to be chaste until marriage, not unchaste like today.
Now, I’m not saying that you should divorce him! Assuming both of you know the other’s sexual history, The Church expects you to remain married, and God does, too (Malachi 2:16).
There are many couples who stay together through adultery. Certainly if a couple can stay together through adultery, then you can stay together even if one of you lied about his/her virginity.
The fact that Jesus said that couples could divorce because one of them had premarital sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual) tells us that He takes sex very seriously. Why do I say that? Because God hates divorce (see Malachi 2:16).
Jesus is Direct about Divorce and Unchastity
On His way to Jerusalem for the final week of His life (we call that Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day or Easter), Jesus was followed by large crowds (Matthew 19:2) and some Pharisees came to test Him about divorce (Matthew 19:3).
Now, these Pharisees were trying to find fault in Jesus’ teaching (“testing Him” in Matthew 19:3). They already knew what He said about divorce in the Sermon on the Mount or other places, since certainly He taught His commands wherever He went (if all that Jesus did was written, the world could not contain all the resulting books—John 21:25).
These Pharisees wanted to discredit Jesus since He was preaching against what Moses allowed. Here, read the story for yourself. Note that anything in all caps is a quote from the Old Testament:
and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.
Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE (Genesis 1:27, 5:2), and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? (Genesis 2:24) So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality [porneia/unchastity], and marries another woman commits adultery [moicheuō].”
Matthew 19:2-9 NASB
As you can read, Jesus is direct while repeating and reinforcing what he preached in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only is divorce not in God’s will, but unchastity is not, either.
Jesus Gets Frustrated or Even Angry with the Disciples
In another passage, Jesus gets frustrated, maybe even angry, with his disciples for their lack of understanding.
In Mark chapter 7, we read that the Pharisees and Scribes watched Jesus’ disciples closely, found fault in them about the tradition of ritual hand washing, and challenged Jesus about it (Mark 7:1-5). Jesus calls them hypocrites (Mark 7:6), quotes the Old Testament prophesy about them (Mark 7:6-7), and goes on pointing out their hypocrisy (Mark 7:8-13).
Then Jesus turns to the crowd to declare all foods clean (Mark 7:14-16). Frustrated with the Jewish leaders, Jesus goes into Peter’s house to calm Himself down only to find that the disciples didn’t understand either (Mark 7:17-19).
Jesus then makes it clear that there’s a difference between food laws and moral laws:
And He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality [porneia], theft, murder, adultery [moicheuō], coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:18-23 ESV
Have We Kept His Commandments?
So, yes, Jesus did talk about unchastity. Are we keeping His commandments on unchastity and adultery?
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
John 14:15 NASB
Have we always kept God’s commandments on unchastity and adultery?
The body is not for immorality [porneia], but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:13b NASB
I am keeping God’s commandments now, but I have not always done so.
But remember that when Jesus points out a woman’s sin, He’s gentle. He also says, “sin no more” (John 8:11).
Have We Confessed Our Sexual Sins?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 ESV
I have confessed my sexual sins. Have you?
When I confessed my sexual sins, I named them. God does not want to hear the general request: “forgive me of my sins.” He wants you to name them. He wants you to own what you did—and then sin no more. Because when you own your own sins, you acknowledge how perfect God is and how much you need Him for your eternal salvation.
(S)He who conceals (her)his transgressions will not prosper, but (s)he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
Proverbs 28:13 NASB
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin
Psalms 32:5 NASB
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:1-2 NASB
Here is a sample prayer. There is nothing magic about it. I provide it simply to help you if you feel lost for words:
Dear Lord Father,
Your name is above all names. You are holy. You are mighty. You are perfect in all Your ways. You love me even though I sin.
You created the moral laws for my good. I trust You, Lord, that Your laws are for my good.
I have not followed Your laws about sex. I have been unchaste. I have fornicated. Please forgive me for _________________ (having sex before I married [heterosexual or homosexual–both are wrong], looking at porn, looking at soft porn on the TV and in movies, fantasizing about someone other than my husband, saying crude words that demean the beautiful sex that You created for one man and one woman to have in covenant marriage, what other sexual sin does God want you to confess?).
I acknowledge my sexual sins to You, and my iniquity I will not hide from You. I confess my transgressions to You. Please forgive me the guilt of my sin in the name of Jesus, my Savior.
I have died to sin. May I forever feel uncomfortable with sexual sins. May I forever live as a citizen of heaven, a foreigner living on earth until You take me home.
Thank You for Your lovingkindness, Abba Father.
Send me out today as a new woman, in the name of Jesus, that others would recognize the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]) within me.
Are We Teaching Others What Jesus Said about Unchastity?
Not only did Jesus have something to say about unchastity, but He tell us to teach all He commanded. Here it is in the Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 ESV [emphasis added]
If you are a mother, then you are a teacher to your children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
If you are not a mother, then you can have more children than the rest of us (see Isaiah 54:1-3). You are a teacher. You are an influencer to your nieces and nephews, to your coworkers, to children in your church.
Do you want God to reverse Roe v. Wade and greatly reduce abortions?
- confess your sexual sins
- sin no more
- teach other disciples that unchastity is a sin—because it is. Jesus said so.