Sexual Immorality Increasingly Acceptable—Unless It’s Adultery

by Avery Foley on May 27, 2017

More Americans (61%) think human embryo stem cell research (which kills unborn children) is morally acceptable than the number of Americans (51%) who think medical testing on animals or wearing animal fur (57%) is morally acceptable. Gambling is morally acceptable to 65% of Americans, while only 32% approve of animal cloning. Human cloning, however, is a different story; a mere 14% embrace this area of research.

A recent Gallup poll, taken annually since 2001, asked Americans to “rate whether different practices are morally acceptable or morally wrong.” They note that in the 16 years since they began taking this poll, moral values have shifted to become more permissive with 10 of 19 moral issues being “the most permissive views to date” in 2017.

This view is clearly seen regarding sexuality.

Sexual Immorality—What’s That?

Various sexual and marriage practices that the Bible strongly condemns as immoral1 are gaining acceptance among Americans. Here are the various practices, along with their approval ratings:

  • Divorce—73%
  • Sex between an unmarried man and woman—69%
  • Gay or lesbian relations—63%
  • Having a baby outside of marriage—62%
  • Sex between teenagers—36%
  • Pornography—36%
  • Polygamy—17%
  • Extramarital affairs—9%

But Adultery—That’s Not Okay

It’s interesting that premarital sex (except between teenagers), homosexual relations, and divorce have very high approval ratings, yet adultery still remains morally off limits for more than 9 in 10 Americans.

Why is this? After all, the rallying cry for the acceptance of homosexual relations and gay “marriage” has been “love wins” and “if they love each other, who are you to judge?” If a married man happens to supposedly love his young secretary or if a married woman falls for the handsome guy at the gym, who are we to judge? After all, doesn’t “love win?”

It is highly inconsistent to allow for premarital sex, homosexual relations, and more, but to suddenly draw the line at infidelity. There is no standard by which to say “premarital sex is okay but adultery isn’t” except for one’s own opinion. And why does your opinion make something right or wrong? It doesn’t! By this standard, if your spouse cheats on you, you have no ultimate standard by which to condemn his or her actions as immoral. And a marriage vow apparently isn't an ultimate standard for why adultery is wrong—after all, 73% have no problem with breaking that vow in divorce!

Of course, adultery is wrong. Indeed, it is included in the Ten Commandments that God personally gave to Moses,

You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)

And its sinfulness is reaffirmed in the New Testament.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4)

Morally We’re Not Doing So Good

Morally this nation is falling apart. And it’s not just conservative Christians who are sounding the alarm. Recent research shows a staggering 81% of Americans are concerned about the current moral condition of this nation.

What has happened? Our nation has stopped basing its thinking on God’s Word and has instead embraced the idea that man determines truth. Essentially our nation is doing “what’s right in [its] own eyes” (Judges 21:25), and the consequence of this thinking is a collapse of Christian morality and growing immorality. When we do what we think is right, sin will always be the result. For until we are ransomed by Christ, we are slaves of sin (Romans 6:20) who love “the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).

The Gospel—Our Only Hope

The only hope for this culture—indeed, the only hope for any person or culture—is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the gospel that frees us from our bondage to sin and allows us to think according to God’s Word and live for righteousness.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:11–14)


  1. In the case of divorce, Scripture has outlined certain circumstances where divorce is permitted. For example, see Matthew 19:8–9.


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