Avoid sexual immorality . . . to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
“Sexual immorality” includes every sexual sin. But a lot of sexual behavior is not sinful. Followers of Christ today are often challenged to discern which sexual behaviors are sinful and which are not.
The guidelines in our reading for today show us when a sexual behavior is good and when it has crossed a line. Good sexual behaviors are holy and honorable. Holy means “set apart for service to God.” Honorable refers to showing respect and honor to God and others, recognizing that they have exceptional value. Sexual activities are holy when they honor God, building up his kingdom. Sex within marriage can be holy. The joy of holding hands with someone you’re attracted to can be holy. These can also be honorable, as can many other activities that express our sexuality.
But sexual behavior that is driven by passionate lust or takes advantage of someone is not good. Passionate lust refers to being so caught up that we are not even concerned for our own good. And taking advantage means serving our self at another person’s expense.
Being holy and honorable in our sexual behavior will set us widely apart from the world, for the world invites us to pursue any sexual desire. This may be uncomfortable for us, and it may require a lot of grace if we mess up. But the reward is sexually holy, honorable living that is part of the full life God promises.
Lord, help us not to harm ourselves or others with our sexuality but to give and receive the deep joy of holy, honorable intimacy. Amen.