Is sexting a sin?

“Sexting” is obscene texting. It is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, usually between mobile phones. Sexting has become so prevalent that, in August 2012, the word sexting was listed for the first time in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Some people view sexting as harmless. After all, there are only a few words and maybe some pictures involved. It’s not as if people are actually committing adultery or fornication, right?

Matthew 5:28 says, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This moral concept also applies to how women look at men, and Jesus clearly equates lust with adultery here. So the fact that “only words or pictures are involved” is obviously immaterial to God. What matters is what is in our hearts. Colossians 3:5 warns us to “put to death” whatever belongs to our earthly nature, including sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.

Galatians 5:19–21 reveals the severe consequences of disobedience in this matter: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity . . . and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

But what about sexting between a married couple? Technically, sexting between a husband and his wife would not be a sin, since a satisfying sex life is a gift God gives to married couples. However, it is still ill-advised. We never know who might read our messages or view our pictures. It’s possible that someone may happen to see nude photos of your spouse over your shoulder, and this may cause lust in that person as a result. Sound unlikely? James 1:14–15 says, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Given recent revelations concerning government surveillance of cellular telephone and internet traffic, as well as the ability of hackers to intercept personal communications, we should be careful in our use of phones and web-enabled devices. Even if we’re not sexting, we still face the problems of identity theft and data privacy.

It’s best to follow the advice of 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

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Is cyber sex / phone sex a sin?

The Bible nowhere mentions cyber sex or phone sex, obviously, because “cyber-anything” and “phone-anything” were not possible in Bible times. The Word of God does give us some principles that apply to activities such as cyber sex and phone sex. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

There are many Scriptures which indicate that sex outside of marriage is a sin (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). Jesus Himself taught us that to desire something that is sinful is also sinful: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Cyber sex and phone sex are, in essence, desiring something that is sinful (fornication or adultery). Cyber sex and phone sex are fantasizing about that which is immoral and impure. In no sense could cyber sex or phone sex be considered noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Cyber sex and phone sex are virtual adultery. They are fantasizing about a person lustfully and encouraging another person into immoral lust. They lead a person into the trap of “ever-increasing wickedness” (Romans 6:19). A person who is immoral in his/her mind and desires will eventually become immoral in his/her actions. Yes, cyber sex and phone sex are most definitely sins!

Masturbation – is it a sin according to the Bible?

The Bible never explicitly mentions masturbation or states whether or not masturbation is a sin. The Scripture most frequently pointed to in regards to masturbation is the story of Onan in Genesis 38:9-10. Some interpret this passage as saying that “spilling your seed” on the ground is a sin. However, that is not precisely what the passage is saying. God condemned Onan not for “spilling his seed” but because Onan refused to fulfill his duty to provide an heir for his brother. The passage is not about masturbation, but rather about fulfilling a family duty. A second passage sometimes used as evidence for masturbation’s being a sin is Matthew 5:27-30. Jesus speaks against having lustful thoughts and then says, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” While there are parallels between this passage and masturbation, it is unlikely that masturbation was what Jesus was alluding to.

While the Bible nowhere explicitly states that masturbation is a sin, there is no question as to whether the actions that lead to masturbation are sinful. Masturbation is nearly always the result of lustful thoughts, sexual stimulation, and/or pornographic images. It is these problems that need to be dealt with. If the sins of lust, immoral thoughts, and pornography are forsaken and overcome, masturbation will become a non-issue. Many people struggle with guilty feelings concerning masturbation, when in reality, the things that led to the act are far more worthy of repentance.

There are some biblical principles that can be applied to the issue of masturbation. Ephesians 5:3 declares, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” It is hard to see how masturbating can pass that particular test. The Bible teaches us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you cannot give God glory for something, you should not do it. If a person is not fully convinced that an activity is pleasing to God, then it is a sin: “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Further, we need to remember that our bodies have been redeemed and belong to God. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do with our bodies. In light of these principles, the conclusion that masturbation is a sin is biblical. Clearly, masturbation is not glorifying to God; it does not avoid the appearance of immorality, nor does it pass the test of God’s having ownership over our bodies.

What does the Bible say about bestiality?

The Bible mentions bestiality in four different passages. Exodus 22:19 says, “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.” Leviticus 18:23 declares, “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.” Leviticus 20:15-16 commands, “If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Deuteronomy 27:21 agrees, “Cursed is the man who has sexual relations with any animal.” From these verses, it is abundantly clear that, according to the Bible, bestiality is a horrible, unnatural, and abominable sin.

Why is bestiality condemned so strongly? First, it is an unnatural perversion. Clearly, human beings were designed/intended to mate with other human beings, not animals. In the creation account, none of the animals were “suitable” for Adam (Genesis 2:20). Second, bestiality represents the ultimate of sexual deviancy. The fact that the animal was to be put to death (Leviticus 20:15-16), despite the fact that it would be “innocent,” indicates how wickedly perverse bestiality is. Third, and perhaps most importantly, bestiality essentially denies the uniqueness of humanity which God created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Bestiality lowers humanity to nothing more than an animal, a beast which is unable to distinguish right from wrong, natural from unnatural, love from lust.

The New Testament nowhere mentions bestiality, but that should not be interpreted as an allowance for bestiality or a weakening of how strongly God condemns bestiality. While the Old Testament Law was fulfilled with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15), the Law, in most instances, is still a guidepost for what is right or wrong, moral or immoral. Unlike some of the other Old Testament commands, there is nothing in the context of the biblical condemnations of bestiality that in any way limits the applicability to Israel as a nation or to any particular time period. While the death-penalty aspect of the command does not need to be enforced, the fact that bestiality is still a horrible, disgusting, perverted, and abominable sin is abundantly clear.

What does the Bible say about oral sex?

Oral sex, also known as “cunnilingus” when performed on females and “fellatio” when performed on males, is not mentioned in the Bible. There are two primary questions that are asked in regards to oral sex: (1) “is oral sex a sin if done before marriage?” and (2) “is oral sex a sin if done within a marriage?” While the Bible does not specifically address either question, there are definitely biblical principles that apply.

Is oral sex a sin if done before or outside of marriage?
This question is becoming increasingly common as young people are told that “oral sex is not really sex,” and as oral sex is promoted as a safer (no risk of pregnancy, less risk of sexually transmitted diseases*) alternative to sexual intercourse. What does the Bible say? Ephesians 5:3 declares, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…because these are improper for God’s holy people.” The biblical definition of “immorality” is “any form of sexual contact outside of marriage” (1 Corinthians 7:2). According to Hebrews 13:4, only the “marriage bed” is pure and undefiled. According to the Bible, sex is to be reserved for marriage. Period. So, yes, oral sex is a sin if done before or outside of marriage.

Is oral sex a sin if done within a marriage?
Many, perhaps most, Christian married couples have had this question. What makes it difficult is the fact that the Bible nowhere says what is allowed or disallowed sexually between a husband and wife, other than, of course, any sexual activity that involves another person (swapping, threesomes, etc.) or that involves lusting after another person (pornography). Outside of these two restrictions, the principle of “mutual consent” would seem to apply (1 Corinthians 7:5). While this text specifically deals with abstaining from sex/frequency of sex, “mutual consent” is a good concept to apply universally in regards to sex within marriage. Whatever is done, it should be fully agreed on between the husband and his wife. Neither spouse should be forced or coerced into doing something he/she is not completely comfortable with. If oral sex is done within the confines of marriage and in the spirit of mutual consent, there is not a biblical case for declaring it to be a sin.

In summary, oral sex before marriage is absolutely a sin. It is immoral. It is in no sense a biblically acceptable alternative to sexual intercourse for unmarried couples. Within the confines of marriage, oral sex is free from sin as long as there is mutual consent.

*While oral sex is safer than sexual intercourse in regards to sexually transmitted diseases, it is definitely not safe. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs can be transmitted through oral sex.

What does the Bible say about anal sex?

There is no overt mention of anal sex in the Bible. In the account of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, a large group of men sought to gang rape two angels who had taken the form of men. The reasonable presumption is that the men of Sodom wanted to have forcible anal sex with the angels. The men’s homosexual lust is obvious, but again, anal sex is not mentioned in the passage. The words sodomy and sodomize come from this biblical account. Sodomy is, literally, “the sin of Sodom.”

In modern language, the term sodomy has acquired a broader definition than what is biblically warranted. Today, “sodomy” often refers to any form of non-penile/vaginal sexual act, which includes anal sex and oral sex. If the biblical text is used as the basis for the definition, though, “sodomy” cannot include oral sex or, technically, even anal sex. The strict understanding of sodomy, based solely on the events of Genesis 19, would have to be “forcible anal sex, with one male homosexually raping another male anally.”

The Bible clearly and explicitly condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). And the Bible strongly condemns rape, as well (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). So, clearly, the Bible condemns sodomy in the sense of male homosexual rape. The more difficult question is whether the Bible condemns all anal sex.

Ultimately, our answer is the same as our answer for “What does the Bible say about oral sex?” Outside of marriage, all forms of sex, including anal sex, are sinful and immoral. Since the Bible nowhere condemns, or even mentions, anal sex within the confines of marriage, it would appear that anal sex falls within the “mutual consent” principle (1 Corinthians 7:5). Whatever is done sexually should be fully agreed on between the husband and his wife. Neither husband nor wife should be coerced into doing something he/she is not absolutely comfortable with. If anal sex occurs within the confines of marriage, by mutual consent, then there is no clear biblical reason for declaring it to be sin.

In summary, the word sodomy does not occur in the Bible, although it does originate from a place name in the Bible. The specific sin of Genesis 19 was forcible anal rape of a man by another man. This passage does not concern marital relations. Anal sex between a husband and wife, within the confines of marriage, in the spirit of mutual consent, cannot be definitively categorized as a sin.

Please note – while anal sex between a husband and his wife may not be sinful, that does not mean we endorse it. Medically speaking, anal sex is neither healthy nor safe. Anal sex increases the risk of tissue damage, infection, and the transmission of STDs.