Matt Chandler|12:01 AM CT

Answering Four Street-Level Arguments for Sexual Immorality

As fallen human beings we tend to explain away or excuse our sin. We all do it. It's part of our desires to justify ourselves apart from the blood of Christ.

So below are four street-level excuses we commonly use to justify our sexual sin coupled with answers.

M000500811. My sexual choices aren't hurting anyone else.

I call this the Golden Rule idea. If it's not hurting anyone else, what could be wrong with it? If a guy is sleeping with his girlfriend and the two of them are consenting adults, why should the church condemn that behavior? Likewise, if a woman wants to be in a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman, why does it matter as long as it's not harming anyone else?

The truth is, sexual sin does harm us. It's a sin against the body.

We also must remember that the Golden Rule (love your neighbor) is second to the greatest commandment (love God with your whole self). Jesus said clearly in the Gospel of John that those who love him obey his commands (see John 14:15). In other words, "If you love me, obey me."

When you place the Golden Rule within the framework of biblical teaching, you see that sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies and is ultimately a sign of our rebellion against the God who made us.

2. We're all sinners, so who are you to judge?

Whenever Christians affirm Jesus' vision for human sexuality, we are often greeted with the comeback line "So you're perfect, then?"

The critics have a point here. The Bible shows us up as sexual sinners—all of us. But the real issue is repentance. The question is not "Do I sin?" but "Am I walking in repentance?"

Christians ought never to feel superior to others. We're sinners too. The question is about repentance. Are we turning from sin and embracing Jesus?

3. Jesus never talked about homosexuality.

This objection is only half true. When it comes to dealing with the topic explicitly, Jesus did not speak to the subject, so far as we know from Scripture. But there is a sense in which Jesus did address this issue.

In Matthew 15:18-19, we read: "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." The word for "sexual immorality" covers all sorts of behaviors condemned in the Old and New Testaments.

Furthermore, when asked about divorce, Jesus went back to God's design in creation to show how men and women were to relate to one another. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus built on the Old Testament understanding of morality and even went beyond it—calling us out for lust.

4. Sexual promiscuity is seen in nature.

Sometimes people will condemn faithfulness between a husband and wife (monogamy) or the Christian view of homosexual behavior by appealing to nature. As long as animals aren't monogamous and as long as we see some animals behaving in same-sex ways, then why would we condemn adultery or homosexuality or sex outside of marriage? If it's in nature, it must be natural.

This line of thinking denigrates the dignity of human beings, implying we are nothing more than our sexual passions. If we roll out that argument, we arrive in a scary place. We know of certain insects where the male impregnates the female and the female turns around and eats the male. Who wants that as the norm for humans?

What's worse, those who believe in evolutionary theory adopt the principle "survival of the fittest." Do we want to imply, for example, that people with same-sex attractions are genetically weaker than other human beings? Of course not! Appealing to nature to justify any kind of sexual immorality is a dead end leading us to see people with less dignity, not more.


Editors' note: This article is adapted from The Gospel Project's Winter 2013-2014 Bible study on "A God-Centered Worldview." Check out options for adults and students and kids. 

Matt Chandler is lead pastor for teaching at The Village Church in Dallas and Council member of The Gospel Coalition.

Categories: Bible and Theology
  • T

    Not all Jesus's words are recorded, obviously. We can assume Jesus DID specifically detail that homosexuality is a sin, because his disciples, whom he taught, pointed out that it was a sin.

  • Tracy

    Thank you. These are very helpful. We always need to be thinking of ways to engage others without shutting down conversation. On the nature argument (#4), I would add that the Fall has affected all of creation, not just humanity. So to point to a given behavior as "natural" (i.e., occurs in nature) is merely pointing to something else that is under the curse. That may not be the way it was meant to be.

  • Phil

    So below are four street-level excuses we commonly use to justify our sexual sin coupled with answers.

    I find these responses confusing. Are the "excuses" used by Christians, and thus the responses are designed for Christians?

    Or are the responses designed for people who don't identify as Christian?

    If they don't identify as Christian, then I don't see the responses as having any force at all (with the possible exception of number 4).

    • Melody

      Phil, I hear these excuses used by Christians. Usually they're not very committed Christians if they're declaring them out loud (just an observation), but when they're in the moment, deciding to obey or not - I wouldn't be surprised if these arguments popped into the head of many Christians of all varieties.

    • Billy D


      I think that's a valid question but I think the verbiage "excuses we commonly use to justify our sexual sin" would presume these are excuses used by Christians in my opinion to accept or justify behavior.

    • JohnM

      Phil, I wondered the same thing - who is using these excuses, who are we answering here?. Not only do I agree the responses would have little effect with non-Christians, I'm not sure Christians need to be answering these questions to non-Christians in the first place. On the other hand, I can't see Christians asking these questions and standing by them as serious questions, at least not for very for very long.

      • JohnM

        Or I suppose I should have said "making these excuses and standing by them"

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  • Tearfang

    The response to #1 seems a bit wanting. If I understand it right, it claims that sexual sin harms us and God- yet doesn't explain how. Disobedience is not the same thing as harm. And while it may be enough to say ghee whiz that looks really appealing and I'd love to do it, but I follow God and He said not to. That is not an explanation of how what christianity labels sexual sin harms. It is instead, an overriding concern that doesn't care if it is harmful.

  • Brian

    As Tearfang said, the response to #1 could be fleshed-out a bit more regarding the mechanism, although that may not be the best word to use here, of the harm.
    I might add to #4 the fact that animals often mark their territory using their wastes, and often in open sight, or that in some cases, they simply expel their wastes wherever they happen to be standing at the moment. Not quite an application of the idea of extending animal sexual practices into those of humans, but still a dividing line between us.

    • Christian Vagabond

      I've never understood the need to denigrate nature as if it is a depraved realm we should separate ourselves from. God created excrement, and He created animals that use it to mark their territory. He didn't have to do that.

      It's okay to admit that our evolutionary programming may not jibe with our lifestyle. It's obvious that God designed us to procreate right after puberty -around 12-16 years old. In theory this would bypass most of the sexual temptations of our age. Premarital sex isn't a problem if everyone gets married the moment they hit puberty.

      Of course, the idea of marrying off middle schoolers offends our modern sensibilities, so we choose to reject that aspect of our design. Instead of preventing sexual temptation by addressing the impulse the moment it shows up, we choose to live in a culture that values education, career, and individual choices, so even devout Christians regard sexual temptation as a more acceptable byproduct of our modern age.

      • Brian

        I don't see denigration of nature; I see an understanding of the difference between man and nature. Animals marking their territory with feces is perfect and good in nature, but not for humans. Same with sexual tendencies.

        Also, sexual temptation doesn't end when you get married.

  • Jeremy

    Thanks Matt.

    I am becoming more and more convinced that unless we embrace God's explanation of creation (and not be ashamed of it being done in 6 days), then we don't have a robust position on matters of sexual absolutes.

  • Christian Vagabond

    A couple more points about #4: biologists abandoned the phrase "survival of the fittest" a long time ago. It's a poorly phrased concept that led to many misconceptions about evolution, some of which are evident in your comment about homosexuality.

    There are many animals that have survived even though few of their members ever procreate. Most ants never get to mate with the queen, Only alpha male hippos and bears get to procreate. The current theory regarding homosexuality is that it's a designed check and balance to maintain healthy population levels.

    • Jeremy

      We can invent as many theories as we want (whether they be evolution theories or homosexual theories). Our depraved hearts will latch on to anything no matter how implausible, to justify sinful behaviours. Again, until we accept that God created each of us the way He said He did, we will continually have an endless debate about what is acceptable. It may be stimulating to engage in street-level discussions about 'possibilities', but time is short. At the end of the day, 'God said it, that settles it'.

      • Christian Vagabond

        Jeremy, do you believe that science is incapable of shedding any light on God's creation?

        • Jeremy

          I believe God created 'Science' as well as humankind. Mankind is subject (answerable) to Him. 'Science' is also answerable to God. God is all powerful and can even subject the 'rules of Science' to His Word. Such events are called miracles. We see one such event in the resurrection and another such event in creation. I am not sure why Christians easily accept the resurrection, but have such a hard time in believing in 6 day creation.

          And my purpose in focusing on this is not to hijack Matt's blog. Rather I see this as foundational to addressing the street-level 'Has God really said?' questions that surround sexuality.

          • Stephen Houghton

            "Science" is merely the study and interpretation by (fallen) "man" of phenomena around him in the material world.
            The phenomena/creation are God's.
            Science is a fallible and limited endeavour undertaken by a finite and malfunctioning creature called "man".

          • Brian

            The gospels were designed to tell the story of Jesus' resurrection in a very specific manner. Genesis is written in a poetic fashion and may or may not be "literal" in a way that the gospels are. It's the reason I have more questions about 6 day creation than I do about the resurrection.

            • Jeremy

              If the second Adam was literal, so was the first Adam. Genesis is just as historical as the gospels.

            • Bill

              Historical, yes. Literal, not exclusively. Then there is the problem that the two versions of the creation in Genesis can't be reconciled. Is that a "mistake" or is God saying something about how literal those accounts are?

            • Jeremy


              Who says that the there are two accounts of creation that can't be reconciled? God doesn't make mistakes, we do. He was there at creation, we were not.

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  • Monika

    If Jesus is God, and God wrote the Bible, then Jesus indeed did say a great deal, specifically, about homosexuality.

    He and the Father are one.

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  • Neil

    I would like to add to point 3....Jesus was very explicit on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. He said that marriage is from the beginning and no man may separate this one-flesh covenant. Divorce at it's very core is hard hearts that will neither forgive or seek repentance so that restoration can take place. Divorce also causes a multitude of other sins chief of which is adultery. And....remarriage after divorcing a living spouse and/or marrying a divorced spouse is always in every case ADULTERY. Sexual intimacy is only reserved for marriage between a man and his wife.

  • Dan Smith

    My wife recommended this blog post because I've struggled with sexual sin. I loved your thoughts on it immensely. Well written. I've read or heard various versions of most of your points, but Point 3 was new and refreshing. I can't wait to use it in the future.

    On Point 4, there should be no Christians, or professing believers, who would equate humanity with the rest of nature. If they do, then understanding the Bible's idea of sexual sin is far from their only problem. I hope not to hear that excuse very often.

    Again, well written. Thank you!

  • MJ

    Great, concise, thorough presentation of these issues! Thanks, Matt.

    Touched on many of these thoughts in our sex series over at Future Marriage University:

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