Excerpt from Chapter on Sexual Morality in “Counter Culture” by David Platt

Posted: March 14, 2015 in 98-Current Events

As we’ve already seen in God’s complementary design of man and woman for marriage (chapter 6), this prohibition also includes sex between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. On this the Bible is explicit. Right before prohibiting sex with animals, the Old Testament reads, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18: 22, NIV). Someone might say, “But that’s just Old Testament law, which also includes prohibitions against eating pork (see Leviticus 11: 7). Does that mean Southern barbecue is also sin?” This may sound like a good argument until we realize the clear and critical distinctions between different types of laws in Leviticus. Some of the laws are civil in nature, and they specifically pertain to the government of ancient Israel in a way that they do not necessarily pertain to governments today. Other laws are ceremonial, prescribing particular sacrifices, offerings, and festivals for God’s people under the old covenant . These civil and ceremonial laws applied specifically to Jewish people in the Old Testament, and we know this because these laws are not reiterated for all people in the New Testament. However, various moral laws (such as prohibitions against stealing and lying, for example) are explicitly reiterated in the New Testament. [67] These laws, based upon God’s character, clearly apply to all people for all time. [68] We know that moral laws include prohibitions not only against stealing and lying, but also against homosexual activity because when we get to the New Testament, Jesus himself teaches that the only God-honoring alternative to marriage between a man and a woman is singleness (see Matthew 19: 10-12). Moreover, the New Testament describes “dishonorable passions” with the example of women who “exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature” and men who “likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, . . . committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1: 26-27). God is clear in his Word that homosexual activity is prohibited. [69]


Each of the Bible’s sexual prohibitions is encapsulated in the all-encompassing command “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6: 18). These words were written to a church in the sex-crazed city of Corinth, where singles were sexually involved before marriage, husbands and wives were sexually involved outside of marriage, homosexuality was condoned, and prostitution was common. (Not much has changed in two thousand years.) So to the church in that culture and to the church in our culture, God says, “Flee from sexual immorality—any and all sexual thinking, looking, desiring, touching , speaking, and acting outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Don’t rationalize it, and don’t reason with it— run from it. Flee it as fast as you can.” God says this for his glory. And God says this for our good. But we don’t believe God on this one. None of us do. By this point it should be clear that the Bible doesn’t speak simply against adultery or homosexuality but against multiple manifestations of sexual immorality in every single one of our lives.

Let me confess the obvious before I go any further. I represent the class of people responsible for the vast majority of sexual immorality in the world today: male heterosexuals. It is heterosexual men who fund the pornography and prostitution industries in the world, and I’m convinced it’s the lack of loving leadership and selfless sacrifice in heterosexual husbands and dads that has caused the majority of sexual confusion across our culture.

I emphasize this because when my initial questions about my gay family member drove me to the gospel, I was immediately convicted not about sexual sin in his life but about sexual sin in my life. My purpose in even addressing the issue of sexual immorality is not to rail against the dominance of sexual sin in the culture around us but to expose the depth of sexual sin that lies within us. I and every reader of this book are guilty at multiple levels of sexual thought, desire, speech, and deed outside of marriage between a husband and a wife. None of us are innocent of sexual immorality , and none of us are immune to it.

The gospel tells us why this is so. We all possess a heart of pride that is inclined to turn away from God (see Genesis 8: 21). One of the most significant passages on sexual immorality in the Bible starts, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . . Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity , to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves” (Romans 1: 21, 24). These potent verses diagnose dark hearts as the root of sinful desires. In our hearts, we all have a sinful tendency to turn aside from God’s ways to our wants. This tendency has an inevitable effect on our sexuality . Note the fascinating connection made by these Scriptures. When we spurn praising God in our hearts, we are prone to sexual impurity in our lives. To make matters worse, we were born this way. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, every single person born of a man and a woman has inherited this sinful heart. We may all have different biological heritages, but we all share one common spiritual inheritance: sin (see Psalm 51; Romans 5: 12-21). This is important to remember, because not one of us can or should say, “God wouldn’t allow me (or someone else) to be born with a bent toward a particular sexual sin.” Instead, the Bible is clear: every one of us is born with a bent toward sexual sin. But just because we have that bent doesn’t mean we must act upon it. We live in a culture that assumes a natural explanation implies a moral obligation . If you were born with a desire, then it’s essential to your nature to carry it out . This is one reason why our contemporary discussion of sexuality is wrongly framed as an issue of civil rights. Even in the virtual absence of scientific evidence that proves homosexual desire is linked to DNA, the emerging cultural morality is now willing to elevate personal desires to the level of highest moral authority so that people have a “right” to fulfill their sexual desires however they prefer. Furthermore, it is now argued that to deny people that “right” is akin to racism. According to popular opinion, just as we must not discriminate between black and white people, we should not differentiate between heterosexual and homosexual preferences. We live in a day when saying that heterosexual or homosexual activity is immoral is equivalent to saying a white or black person is inferior. But this line of thought is fundamentally flawed, for it denies the obvious distinction between ethnic identity and sexual activity. Ethnic identity is a morally neutral attribute . Black or white is not an issue of right or wrong, and any attempt to say otherwise should be opposed (as we will explore in the next chapter). However, sexual activity is a morally chosen behavior. To be sure, similar to how we have different skin colors, we may possess different dispositions toward certain sexual behaviors. But where our ethnic makeup is not determined by a moral choice or contrary to a moral command, our sexual behavior is a moral decision , and just because we are inclined to certain behaviors does not make such behaviors right.

Platt, David (2015-02-03). Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography (pp. 162-163, 164-167). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

  1. Mickey says:

    love your book on counter culture and years ago read Butterfield’s book – sexual sin is rampant and unfortunately more tolerated – reaching others in seeing their new identity in Christ is more difficult but with Christ all things are possible – my own daughter (who was adopted many years ago at age 16) has turned her life of crime and chaos into a healthy marriage and now helping others with there finances – I love how you word things – keep up the good work – Mickey

    Liked by 1 person

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