Is God gender biased? Does the Bible warn against men’s sexual sins more than women’s?
[June 23, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Does Scripture indicate that MEN are more prone to sexual sin than WOMEN? The sexual sins of both sexes are recounted in the Bible. Is God pointing the finger at one sex in particular?
For those who are stuck in the sinkhole of sexual immorality, I urge you to read to the bottom of this post where I give a link to a sermon by Ps Liam Goligher that may help you.
This post extends what I wrote in a comment at Relationship Abuse: The Short Story. I’ve added material about Lot’s daughters and the consequences of their sexual sins. And the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees brought before Jesus.
Passages that describe and even-handedly condemn men’s and women’s sexual sins
1 Cor 7:1-5
As for the things you wrote to me about: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his wife, and let every woman have her husband. Let the man give due affection to his wife; likewise also the wife to the man. The wife does not have right over her own body, but the husband, and likewise the husband does not have right over his own body, but the wife. Do not withdraw yourselves one from another, unless it be with consent for a time to give yourselves to fasting and prayer. And afterward, come again to the same thing, lest Satan tempt you through your lack of self control.
For this cause God gave them up to shameful lusts. For even their women turned from the natural way to the unnatural. And likewise also the men left the natural way with a woman, and burned in their lusts for one another. And man with man wrought uncleanness, and received in themselves the reward of their error accordingly.
“If a man is discovered having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both the man who had sex with the woman and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. If there is a young woman who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man encounters her in the city and has sex with her, you must take the two of them out to the gate of that city and stone them to death — the young woman because she did not cry out in the city and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s fiancée. You must purge the evil from you.
Some Christians who are victims of rape are disturbed by these ^ verses because they seem to be saying, “If you didn’t cry out when you were being raped, you are guilty!” Here is my post which addresses that perplexity. She did not cry out while being raped … so is she guilty?
It helps to realise that victims of abuse always resist the abuse. Victims resist abuse in prudent, determined and creative ways. One survivor told me she had a nightmare which encapsulated multiple simultaneous flashbacks of sexual abuse. She was shocked awake….screaming in her mind, not out loud. Screaming in your mind when it’s not safe to scream out loud is one way of resisting the abuse.
You are not to have sexual intercourse with any animal, defiling yourself with it; a woman is not to present herself to an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
If a man has sexual intercourse with an animal, he must be put to death; you are also to kill the animal. If a woman comes near any animal and mates with it, you are to kill the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their own blood is on them.
Passages which focus on women’s sexual sins
There are three passages in the Bible which particularly focus on women’s sexual sins.
1) Lot’s daughters intentionally committed incest with their father.
2) Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, and when Joseph fled from her advances she got him sent to jail for ‘attempted rape’.
3) In the early days of Christianity, a woman named Jezebel seduced believers to practice sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols.
Lot’s Daughters: Gen 19:30-38
Lot departed from Zoar and lived in the mountains along with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. Instead, he and his two daughters lived in a cave. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to sleep with us as is the custom of all the land. Come, let’s get our father to drink wine so that we can sleep with him and preserve our father’s line.” So they got their father to drink wine that night, and the firstborn came and slept with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up.
The next day the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I slept with my father last night. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight so you can go sleep with him and we can preserve our father’s line.” That night they again got their father to drink wine, and the younger went and slept with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.
Side note: The sexual immorality of Lot’s daughters caused big problems for the nation of Israel. Lot’s daughters gave birth to Moab and Ammon. Psalm 106 tells us that the Moabites and Ammonites practiced child sacrifice:
Ps 106:34-39 They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them but mingled with the nations and adopted their ways. They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood — the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; so the land became polluted with blood. They defiled themselves by their actions and prostituted themselves by their deeds.
Potiphar’s wife: Gen 39:6b-18
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. After some time his master’s wife looked longingly at Joseph and said, “Sleep with me.”
But he refused. “Look,” he said to his master’s wife, “with me here my master does not concern himself with anything in his house, and he has put all that he owns under my authority. No one in this house is greater than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. So how could I do such a great evil and sin against God?”
Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her. Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. She grabbed him by his garment and said, “Sleep with me!” But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment with her and had run outside, she called the household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “my husband brought a Hebrew man to make fools of us. He came to me so he could sleep with me, and I screamed as loud as I could. When he heard me screaming for help, he left his garment with me and ran outside.”
She put Joseph’s garment beside her until his master came home. Then she told him the same story: “The Hebrew slave you brought to us came to make a fool of me, but when I screamed for help, he left his garment with me and ran outside.”
Jezebel: Rev 2:20 (ESV)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
Side note: The “food sacrificed to idols” was flesh. Whether it was the flesh of animals or humans is not stated in Revelation chapter 2. But since Psalm 106 tells us that the Moabites and Ammonites practiced child sacrifice, we can’t rule out the possibility that Jezebel was encouraging believers to practice child sacrifice and eat the flesh of the murdered children.
Passages which focus on men’s sexual sins
1 Cor 6:9-10
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived. For neither fornicators, nor worshippers of images, nor whoremongers, nor effeminates, nor abusers of themselves with the male sex, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor cursed speakers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
You have heard how it was said to the people of the old time, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whosoever looks on a wife, lusting after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands.
1 Cor 5:1
There is a report abroad that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not once named among the Gentiles: that a man should have his father’s wife.
While Israel was staying in the Acacia Grove, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. The women invited them to the sacrifices for their gods, and the people ate and bowed in worship to their gods. So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the LORD’S anger burned against Israel. The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord so that His burning anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses told Israel’s judges, “Kill each of the men who aligned themselves with Baal of Peor.”
But if the man encounters an engaged woman in the open country, and he seizes and rapes her, only the man who raped her must die. Do nothing to the young woman, because she is not guilty of an offense deserving death. This case is just like one in which a man attacks his neighbor and murders him. When he found her in the field, the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.
And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery, and set her in the midst, and said to him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, even in the act. Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned. What therefore do you say?
And they said this to bait him, to have something to accuse him of.
Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And while they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you, cast the first stone at her. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
And as soon as they heard that, they went out one by one, the eldest first. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the centre. When Jesus lifted up himself again and saw no one but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are they, your accusers? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.
I believe this story points to the sexual sins of men far more than the sexual sins of women. The Pharisees claimed they caught the woman in the very act of adultery, but they did not bring the adulterous man to Jesus along with her. Who knows: it could have been one of those very Pharisees who committed adultery with her! They could have schemed together to set her up. We know they wanted to trap Jesus between a rock and a hard place so they could accuse him. To them, the woman was merely a pawn. Jesus’ calm, dignified and needle-sharp question to the men caused them all to slink away.
The big one. Chapter 18 in Leviticus spells out the forbidden degrees of kinship.
I encourage you to read this next passage of Scripture slowly, and as you do, think about your friends, relations and cyber-friends. So much incest has been done by abusers. My heart goes out to all victims of incest.
Lev 18:6-19 This is a long passage so I’ve formatted the commands in bullet points.
- You are not to come near any close relative for sexual intercourse; I am Yahweh.
- You are not to shame your father by having sex with your mother. She is your mother; you must not have sexual intercourse with her.
- You are not to have sex with your father’s wife; it will shame your father.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s, whether born at home or born elsewhere. You are not to have sex with her.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, because it will shame your family.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your father’s wife’s daughter, who is adopted by your father; she is your sister.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s close relative.
- You are not to shame your father’s brother by coming near his wife to have sexual intercourse; she is your aunt.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; you are not to have sex with her.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with your brother’s wife; it will shame your brother.
- You are not to have sexual intercourse with a woman and her daughter. [THIS FORBIDS FATHER-DAUGHTER INCEST.]
- You are not to marry her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter and have sex with her. They are close relatives; it is depraved.
- You are not to marry a woman as a rival to her sister and have sexual intercourse with her during her sister’s lifetime.
- You are not to come near a woman during her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her.
I think it’s significant that the warnings in Leviticus 18 are all written to men who might be tempted to have sex with their mother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, daughter, daughter-in-law, grand-daughter, etc.
God seems to have thought it was important to command men to not commit these kinds of sexual sins. To me, that indicates God was implying that men initiate those kinds of sins more than women do.
Christians have traditionally interpreted the forbidden degrees as applying to both sexes.
OT quotes are from the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible). NT from the NMB (New Matthew Bible).
BibleGateway has the HCSB and NMB online
Both men and women can fall into the sinkhole of pornography
A Journey Through the Pornography Sinkhole — By a man (Wendell).
When victims don’t look like victims: women burdened with sins and led astray by various passions — By a woman who used porn and is now recovering. Here is an excerpt from her story:
I developed a habit of using pornography soon after I was born-again, which piled shame on top of shame. The older neighbor man who abused me as a child exposed me to pornography at the age of five. Much of my anger stemmed from the embarrassment and self-hatred that I was a woman struggling with a man’s sin. (I’ve since learned that women are the fastest growing demographic who are getting into habitual use of pornography.)
With Confidence, Draw Near — A sermon by Dr Liam Goligher which may be helpful for anyone who is trying to break an addiction or mortify a besetting sin.
[June 23, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to June 23, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to June 23, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to June 23, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 23, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]