What Kind of Sex Bothers God?


We talk a lot in the conservative church about sex, mostly of the homosexual variety. In fact, my church just did “the sex sermon” and almost the whole talk avoided adultery, fornication, lust, or the majority of the ways that God says people are prone to pervert what was intended to be a good thing.

The sermon focused on the idea that homosexuality is a way to exchange “intimacy for eroticism.”  People cannot be “born homosexual,” we heard, because that’s not biologically useful. A good God, the sermon said, cannot create people who are designed to be unable to continue the species. Homosexuality is therefore a form of “relational brokenness.”

Who Else is ‘Born a Sinner’?

I might have had less trouble with the sermon if this form of “brokenness” had been put in context with other kinds of “relational brokenness.” If you think about “brokenness” that appears early in life, then almost all of us appear to be “born greedy” and “born aggressive” and “born selfish.” If you look at other kinds of relationships that “exchange intimacy for eroticism” then you have to consider sex before marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage, and many other inappropriate relationships that permeate the Christian church.

In Leviticus 18, God has a lot to say on the subject. God seems fairly well convinced that “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” are not clear enough for us to understand. Here’s how this one passage weighs in about inappropriate sexual relationships, on sheer volume:

  • Kinds of sexual relations to avoid: 17 (20 different kinds of relationships)
  • Adulterous and incestuous relations to avoid: 13 (16 relationships)
  • Homosexual or other sexual relations to avoid: 3 (4 relationships)
  • Idolatrous sacrifices to avoid: 1

What Sexual Sins Bother God?

In detail, here’s the list of sexual sins God lays out in Leviticus 18.

Don’t have sex with:

  1. Your mother
  2. Your stepmother
  3. Your sister
  4. Your stepsister
  5. Your niece by your son
  6. Your niece by your daughter
  7. Your stepsister (again)
  8. Your paternal aunt
  9. Your maternal aunt
  10. Your uncle’s wife (a different paternal aunt)
  11. Your daughter-in-law
  12. Your sister-in-law
  13. Both a woman and her daughter
  14. Both a woman and her niece by her son
  15. Both a woman and her niece by her daughter
  16. Both a woman and her sister while the woman is living
  17. Any woman during her menses
  18. Your neighbor’s wife
  19. Any man with any man
  20. Anyone with an animal

God also adjures Israel not to give children to the foreign God Molek.

That’s a pretty hefty list. What is most remarkable to me is how little of it focuses on the one sin of homosexuality that we, as a church, are prone to discuss.

Why Don’t We Discuss the Sins We Practice?

If we preached from this text, we would speak four times as much about inappropriate relations between men and women as we do about the kinds of inappropriate relations that juice our broadcasters, fundraisers, and Christian politicos. Perhaps then we would recognize the relationship between burgeoning adultery and divorce in the church and a world that can’t discern the Bride of Christ.

So here’s my takeout. We’re all born sinners. It’s time to stop focusing on only one or two kinds of sin and begin worrying about the ones that are wrapped around our own lives and churches.

He came to set us free from sin. Let us set aside what so easily entangles.

Painful aside: A couple weeks ago, my husband played at the wedding reception of someone with whom we had apparently had lunch a couple times three years ago. I’d completely forgotten the man. The lunches had come at a time when he was having marriage problems. He and his wife had some of the same issues my husband and I were dealing with at the time and he was getting fed up. I obviously chose to forget someone who, unlike my own faithful husband, was considering walking out because “in challenges” was too much. Now I can’t forget his repeated expressions of gratitude for “helping him” decide to leave and find an easier partnership.

This is not marriage as God gave it to us, friends. A public thank you to my husband for choosing to deal with our challenges instead of walking away.

Related Links

Exodus International President Apologizes to LGBT Community
Exodus International to Shut Down

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About Carlene Hill Byron

The former editor of New England Church Life and The New England Christian, Carlene Hill Byron is enjoying being home in Maine after 20 years in North Carolina. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. Find her at christianpurposeblog.wordpress.com, churchandmentalillness.wordpress.com and on Facebook at MyHouseHasHistory.
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2 Responses to What Kind of Sex Bothers God?

  1. Bert Savarese says:

    Well, I hear your frustration…but our pastor doesn’t seem to dwell much on any sexual sin and some of our most faithful children are getting pregnant! I don’t think I have heard him address this or even our faithful young men…..who date these girls. I am not trying to put blame out there but I wish my pastor would start talking about sexual sin —- period! Sex before marriage has become the norm: the media encourages it, most ads use women & men as sexual objects, the movies are made for undeveloped brains with sex as the driving force……and homosexuality is presented as just another alternative lifestyle.

    If our congregation won’t get into a dialogue that impacts all of us then there is no question our church is dying on the vine, not to mention the individuals who participate in what God tells us not to do. We owe young people morally stronger standards than the 3 monkeys style: I see no evil, I speak no evil, I hear no evil.

    Someone has to start the dialogue in a meaningful way. Can you tell how frustrated I am?

    • Carlene Byron says:

      I definitely can understand the frustration! And it’s really quite like my own. The conservative church is busy standing in judgment of the sexual sins of those outside while we fail to train those within. As God’s family, we have become so enmeshed the culture that it’s hard to separate ourselves from even one part of what the culture teaches. To teach what the Bible says about sex and faithfulness would require us to acknowledge that our church is full of sexual sinners — forgiven, saved by grace, but sinners — and that we’ve been averting our eyes from sin as it occurs in our face. I just wish, with you, that “the sex sermon” had been about the kinds of sexual sin that are mostly issues in the church, not mostly issues outside the church. It’s not my job to judge the behavior of people who live outside of God’s family. But God has given us responsibility for judging (in the sense of overseeing and managing) the behavior of those in the church. So I’d like to see us pay more attention to ourselves.

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