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  • Steve Derenge

Sexual Immorality Perspective for Every Culture


According to the tripartite classification of culture type (1), what is the nature of sexual immorality and what should be our attitude towards it?

1) The Guilt-Innocence Dimension

Guilt-innocence cultures refer predominantly to the individualistic cultures of Western nations. People from guilt-innocence cultures tend to classify behavior in categories of right-and-wrong and to base their identity upon their behavior in conformity to universal standards and laws. Conformity to these rules, laws, and standards results in innocence, whereas failure to measure up to such standards or to keep such laws results in guilt.

How does this apply to sexual immorality?

Sexual immorality goes contrary to the established spiritual laws in operation in the universe. To jump off a cliff doesn't necessary break the law of gravity so much as it breaks the person who jumps off the cliff without a parachute or anything to break his fall upon jagged rocks. In the same way, God’s commandments not to commit sexual immorality (sex outside the marriage covenant of one man and one woman) are for individual and couples’ protection and provision. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Sexual immorality may seem right. It may seem to provide short-term fun, pleasure, comfort, satisfaction, or happiness, but in the end it leads to heartbreak, disappointment, and ultimately death (Romans 6:23).

2) The Honor-Shame Dimension

This dimension of culture-type refers predominantly to collectivistic Eastern cultures who tend to value interdependence within a group over a predilection towards independence. That is, they value being honored members of a group, functioning in roles and responsibilities that contribute to the harmony of their relationships within the group. Those who meet group expectations are honored, while those disloyal to the group are shamed.

How does sexual immorality apply to this culture type?

Sexual immorality is dishonorable. It is an enemy of love, and will lead to the destruction of harmonious relationships. Love (the nature of God) is patient and kind. Sexual immorality is impatient and unkind. Love manifests in self-control and considers the needs of others as greater than one's own (Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 2:1ff). Sexual immorality is selfish and seeks its own pleasure; it is proud, rude, and self-seeking. Love always trusts and believes the best in people. Having sex outside the marriage covenant destroys trust. Without powerful purification and cleansing (which is possible with God), married couples may suspect, “If my spouse was disloyal before our marriage, how can I trust he/she will be faithful during our marriage?” Harmony within relationships is possible through God's love, which always trusts, hopes, believes the best in the other, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

3) The Fear-Power Dimension

This culture type refers predominantly to cultures of the Global South with animistic leanings. These cultures live in fear of evil spirits who determine much of what happens in the natural realm. People from fear-power cultures value exercising spiritual authority and power by being in right relationship with the spiritual forces active in the universe.

How does this culture type apply to sexual immorality?

There are indeed a plethora of evil spirits active on the earth today. The Word of God, which perfectly describes the inter-relationship between the natural and spiritual realms which God created and governs, is clear about that (Luke 11:14-26; James 2:19). That's why Jesus during his ministry and the church constantly cast out demons, exercising God’s authority, all of which has been given to Jesus, which Jesus gives to His church. c.f. Matthew 10:1, 7-8, 24-25; 28:18-20; Luke 10:17-22; Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; etc.

Why does God command his people to flee sexual immorality? When someone has sex before or outside the marriage covenant, then the demons in one partner may enter into the other partner, and vice versa (1 Cor. 6:16ff). That's why so many STDs exist, most of which may remain latent or undetected within a person. (2)

Why does God tell his people,

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them”? Colossians 3:5‭-‬7 ESV

Earlier I stated that powerful purification and cleansing is possible with God. What is this powerful cleaning agent from God that erases the shame of past sexual immorality? What breaks the power of its attractiveness to souls that haven't yet been perfected and satisfied by the love of God (Psalm 16:11; Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:13-19)? This cleansing agent is the blood of Jesus Christ. It cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:5-9). Thus we can reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:5-11). Another cleansing agent is the Word of God (Ephesians 5:3-27). It is also a double-edged sword that offensively forces demons to leave our houses (bodies) as though naked and bleeding (Hebrews 4:12-13; Acts 19:11-16; Revelation 19:11-16). (3)

If you haven’t yet experienced the love, freedom, peace, and power of God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then I recommend my article here.

  1. A short but excellent book about the three culture types outlined in this article that I heartily recommend is Jayson Georges’ The 3D Gospel.

  2. For more information about the relationship between sexual immorality and demons, see my article Spirits of Sexual Immorality.

  3. For more information on how I have applied these truths to my own life, see my article Subduing Sexual Immorality.



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