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Oral Sex With Spouse is Grounds for Divorce

In the real world its the other way round i.e. couples divorce because they are not getting enough oral sex. Seriously though this view has caused a number of problems for married Witnesses who are forced into the situation of having to tell the Elders of the congregation what their partners have been doing in the bedroom, and then those partners having to go up in front of a disciplinary hearing.  Once again we see how the Watchtower likes to be in total control of its members.

Pay Attention to Yourselves and All the Flock, 1991 p142 (Secret Book)

While the Christian congregation is not in a position to give direction as to all sexual matters concerning the marriage bed, individuals may be advised that in their intimate relations, as in all other aspects of Christian life, they need to display kindness, love, and concern for each other . (Eph . 5 :28-30 ; 1 Pet. 3 :1, 7 ) Each one should have a hatred for all perverted sexual practices. (Lev . 18 :22, 23 ; Ps . 97 :10 ; Amos 5 :15 ; Rom . 12 :9 ; Eph. 5 :3, 10-12 ; Col. 3 :5, 6 )

Persons should be urged to act in such a way as to maintain a clean conscience, and the marriage bed should be undefiled . (Heb . 13 :4 ; w83 3/15 pp. 27-31) While perverted practices are wrong, if within a marriage one is involved or has been involved in such, it does not mean that he or she would necessarily lose service privileges .

If such conduct becomes known to the elders, they would need to consider : Is the practice recent or ongoing, or is it something that occurred in the past and is definitely conquered? Is the individual promoting such conduct as a proper life-style? Is his attitude one of remorse? If he is sincerely repentant and the situation is not generally known, it may not be necessary to remove privileges of service .


Watchtower 1969 December 15 pp.765-8 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

• We have received quite a number of inquiries from married persons asking about sexual matters, as a result of views that have been widely publicized by worldly sources. These questions have dealt with conjugal acts, birth control, sterilization and abortion. We herein comment on such matters to the extent that we feel authorized to do so.


…We have been obliged to respond that it is not the place of outsiders to dictate to a married couple as to what they will do in this intimate aspect of their marriage.

Some have contended, however, that absolutely anything done between husband and wife is permissible. However, that view is not supported in the Bible. In Romans 1:24-32, where it speaks of both men and women who participated in immoral sex practices, including lesbian and sodomite acts, the Bible mentions a "natural use of the female." Thus it shows that to indulge in such perverted use of the reproductive organs so as to satisfy a covetous desire for sexual excitement is not approved by God. This would also be true in connection with married couples; they should not pervert this "natural use of the female." In many places even the law of the land backs this up, making certain acts between husband and wife illegal. For example, speaking about the United States, Time of August 8, 1969, observed: "Sodomy is illegal in nearly every state, even between spouses." (Those who have not learned how such perversions are practiced ought to be grateful for that, for Jehovah God urges Christians to "be babes as to badness."—1 Cor. 14:20.)

In view of their mutual needs marital relations are a way for husband and wife to express tender love and deep affection for each other. Would it be consistent with that selfishly to ask one's mate to share in a degradation of the reproductive organs, acting in a way that the mate found to be repulsive, just so as to gratify one's own senses? Would that be the tender, loving course? No sane person would abuse his or her own human body, or force upon it a practice that was revolting. The Scriptures speak of husband and wife as one flesh. (Eph. 5:28-31) So would a sane and loving husband or wife request sex acts that the other mate rightly regarded as unnatural and disgusting? Obviously authority over the body of one's mate is not unlimited or unaffected by Bible principles.—1 Cor. 7:1-5; Prov. 5:15-19.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1972 December 1 pp.734-6 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

• Recently in the news was a court decision ruling that oral copulation by adults is no longer punishable by law in a certain state. Would such practice therefore be solely a matter for individual conscience if engaged in by a Christian couple within the marriage arrangement?—U.S.A.

…We believe that, aside from those who have been indoctrinated with the view that 'in marriage anything goes,' the vast majority of persons would normally reject as repugnant the practice of oral copulation, as also anal copulation. If these forms of intercourse are not "contrary to nature," then what is? That those practicing such acts do so by mutual consent as married persons would not thereby make these acts natural or not "obscene." Are we being 'narrow' or 'extreme' in taking such position?

No, as seen by the fact that several states of the United States have for long had laws against precisely such practices, classifying them as forms of "sodomy"—even though those engaging in them are married. Because of this legal usage, Webster's Third New International Dictionary includes in its definition of "sodomy" this: "carnal copulation with a member of the same sex or with an animal or unnatural carnal copulation with a member of the opposite sex; specif: the penetration of the male organ into the mouth or anus of another." Of course, dictionaries and state laws differ but our position is based primarily upon God's Word the Bible. Yet such worldly evidence serves a certain purpose, one corresponding in principle to what the apostle said at 1 Corinthians 5:1. There he showed that the sexual relations of one member in the Corinthian congregation were of a kind condemned even by people of the pagan nations. So, the application of the term "sodomy" in modern times to the mentioned forms of copulation shows that we are not unreasonable in saying they are not only "unnatural" but grossly so.

…Therefore the overruling of some state law and the declaring of oral copulation (or similar unnatural copulation) as 'legal' does not alter our Bible-based position. In a world of decaying morals we can expect that some law courts may succumb in varying degrees to the growing trend toward sexual perversion, just as some of the clergy and doctors have done.

It is not our purpose to attempt to draw a precise line as to where what is "natural" ends and what is "unnatural" begins. But we believe that, by meditating on Bible principles, a Christian should at least be able to discern what is grossly unnatural. In other areas, the Christian's individual conscience will have to guide, and this includes questions regarding caresses and 'love play' prior to intercourse. (Compare Proverbs 5:18, 19.) But even here the Christian who wants to produce the fruits of God's holy spirit will wisely avoid practices that approach, or could easily lead one to fall into, unnatural forms of copulation.

What if certain married couples in the congregation in the past or even in recent times have engaged in practices such as those just described, not appreciating till now the gravity of the wrong? Then they can seek God's forgiveness in prayer and prove their sincere repentance by desisting from such gross unnatural acts.

It is certainly not the responsibility of elders or any others in a Christian congregation to search into the private lives of married couples. Nevertheless, if future cases of gross unnatural conduct, such as the practice of oral or anal copulation, are brought to their attention, the elders should act to try to correct the situation before further harm results, as they would do with any other serious wrong. Their concern is, of course, to try to help those who go astray and are 'caught in the snare of the Devil.' (2 Tim. 2:26) But if persons willfully show disrespect for Jehovah God's marital arrangements, then it becomes necessary to remove them from the congregation as dangerous "leaven" that could contaminate others.—1 Cor. 5:6, 11-13.

What of Christian women married to unbelievers and whose mates insist on their sharing in such grossly unnatural acts? Does the apostle's statement that "the wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does" give a wife the basis for submitting to these demands? (1 Cor. 7:4) No, for such husbandly authority is only relative. God's authority remains always supreme. (1 Cor. 11:3; Acts 5:29) The apostle, furthermore, was speaking of normal sexual relations, as the context indicates. True, refusal to engage in unholy acts may bring hardship or even persecution on a wife, but the situation is the same as if her husband demanded that she engage in some form of idolatry, in misuse of blood, dishonesty or other such wrong.

Millions of married couples throughout the earth, both in the past and in the present, have found that unselfish love brings joy and full satisfaction, for both partners, in marital relations, without resorting to perverted methods. Realizing that a corrupt world is soon to be wiped away, we can think on the words of the apostle Peter, who wrote: "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah." Yes, this is not the time to be slipping into, or letting others beguile or pressure us into, unholy practices just to satisfy selfish passion. Not if we truly cherish our hope of living in the fresh, clean new order now so near. (2 Pet. 3:11, 12; Jude 7) So, Christian married couples can keep 'the marriage bed without defilement,' not only by refraining from fornication and adultery, but also by avoiding defiling, unnatural practices.—Heb.13:4.

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1974 June 22 p.14 The Craving for Excitement

Typical is the appeal that illicit sex has. It promises excitement because of what is involved and because of what it might lead to as well as because of the intense selfish pleasure expected. So single and married persons toy with immorality and go on to commit fornication or adultery. This craving for excitement causes others to engage in unnatural or perverted acts. Thus some Christian women complain because their husbands want them to become parties in sodomy and oral sex. Needless to say, perverted, unnatural practices are far from expressing love, affection and tenderness for each other. All such sensual behavior is repeatedly condemned in God's Word.—Rom. 1:24-32; Jas. 4:1, 3.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1974 November 15 pp.703-4 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

• Do lewd practices on the part of a married person toward that one’s own mate constitute a Scriptural basis for the offended mate to get a divorce?

There are times when lewd practices within the marriage arrangement would provide a basis for a Scriptural divorce. Of course, the Holy Scriptures do not encourage divorce nor do they command the innocent party to divorce a mate who engages in adultery or gross sexual perversion.

Regarding divorce, Jesus Christ stated: "Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9) "Everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."—Matt. 5:32.

Thus "fornication" is set forth as the only ground for divorce. In the common Greek in which Jesus’ words are recorded, the term "fornication" is por·nei'a, which designates all forms of immoral sexual relations, perversions and lewd practices such as might be carried on in a house of prostitution, including oral and anal copulation.

As to Jesus’ statements about divorce, they do not specify with whom the "fornication" or por·nei'a is practiced. They leave the matter open. That por·nei'a can rightly be considered as including perversions within the marriage arrangement is seen in that the man who forces his wife to have unnatural sex relations with him in effect "prostitutes" or "debauches" her. This makes him guilty of por·nei'a, for the related Greek verb por·neu'o means "to prostitute, debauch."

Hence, circumstances could arise that would make lewd practices of a married person toward that one’s marriage mate a Scriptural basis for divorce. For example, a wife may do what she reasonably can to prevent her husband from forcing upon her perversions such as are carried on in a brothel. Yet, due to his greater strength, he might overpower her and use her for perverted sex. So as not to be prostituted in this way at another time, a Christian wife may decide to get a divorce. She could establish with the congregation that the real reason for this is por·nei'a and then proceed to get a legal divorce on any truthful grounds acceptable to the courts of the land.

If, on the other hand, the lewd practices were engaged in by mutual consent, neither mate would have a basis for claiming por·nei'a as a Scriptural ground for divorce. This is so because neither party is innocent and seeking freedom from a mate guilty of por·nei'a. Both marriage partners are guilty. Such a case, if brought to the attention of elders in the congregation, would be handled like any other serious wrongdoing.

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! 1975 January 8 p.4 A Permissive Society—Where Does It Lead?

What do religious leaders say about all of this? Many take a somewhat similar position, particularly as regards standards of sex. Increasing numbers of them have said that they see no serious danger or wrong in homosexuality, premarital or extramarital sex. The view of many religious leaders is much like that of an actress of earlier times who said: "It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses." In a time when even among married persons sex perversions (such as oral and anal intercourse) are becoming more and more common, the clergy have little or no word of counsel or caution to offer.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1975 January 15 p.48 Insight on the News

Unnatural Sexual Relations

• Over two years ago this magazine warned against perverted sex practices such as oral and anal copulation, pointing out that, like homosexuality, these were "contrary to nature." The Christian apostle Paul says that those practicing unnatural sexual acts 'receive in themselves the full recompense due for their error.'—Rom. 1:21-27.

Supporting this, the July 15, 1974, "Watchtower" quoted a warning from Dr. Elmar G. Lutz that "herpes-virus," which ranks next to gonorrhea as a leading venereal disease, could be transmitted through oral-genital sex acts.

Now, from the London "Medical News" comes yet further evidence of the rightness of the apostle Paul's inspired statement. At the Praed Street Clinic of St. Mary's Hospital, authorities are quoted as saying that, while male gonorrhea acquired from the rectum (as in homosexual acts) has been relatively "commonplace," evidence now records increased rectal contamination with gonorrhea among women. Of 105 females referred to the Clinic, doctors found that almost half had "indulged in either oral or rectal coitus." The report adds that "such figures co-relate closely with those previously obtained from overseas sources."

Those holding to Scriptural standards are certainly protected from much unnecessary suffering.—Prov. 4:13, 20-22.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1976 February 15 pp.122-3 You Must Be Holy Because Jehovah Is Holy

15 In recent years, homosexuality has swept the world. These homosexuals claim that they are 'bringing it out of the closet' and they brag by saying, 'We are proud to be such.' It was apparent that this erosion of moral standards could pose a danger or threat for God's holy people, so the congregations were alerted and wrongdoers were cleaned out. Likewise, unclean practices, such as masturbation, which can be a steppingstone to homosexuality, have been dealt with in a serious, yet understanding, way, to help individuals keep clean and pure in Jehovah's eyes. Later, another issue needed attention. Unnatural practices in connection with sex in marriage, such as oral and anal copulation, have caused some of God's people to become impure in his eyes. But The Watchtower kept above this morass of filth by alerting married couples to God's thinking on the matter. Also, fornication (por·nei'a, Greek), which is so detestable in God's sight, was shown to include all forms of immoral sex relations. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) The information was appreciated, and those who quit such unclean practices were in complete agreement with David, who wisely asked of his heavenly Father, "From concealed sins pronounce me innocent."—Ps. 19:12.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1978 February 15 pp.30-1 Questions from Readers

Questions from Readers

• Does the Bible set forth any specific definitions as to what is moral or immoral as regards the sexual relationship between husband and wife? Is it the responsibility of congregational elders to endeavor to exercise control among congregation members in these intimate marital matters?

It must be acknowledged that the Bible does not give any specific rules or limitations as regards the manner in which husband and wife engage in sexual relations. There are brief descriptions of fitting love expressions, such as at Proverbs 5:15-20 and various verses in the Song of Solomon (1:13; 2:6; 7:6-8). These, and texts such as Job 31:9, 10, at least provide an indication of what was customary or normal as regards love play and sexual relations and coincide with what is generally viewed as customary and normal today.

The most forceful counsel in the Scriptures is that we should have complete love for God and love for our neighbor as ourselves; a husband is to love his wife as he does his own body and to cherish her and assign her honor. (Matt. 22:37-40; Eph. 5:25-31; 1 Pet. 3:7) As the apostle states, love "does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked." (1 Cor. 13:4, 5) This would certainly preclude the forcing upon one's marriage mate unusual practices that the mate considers distasteful or even repugnant and perverted.

Beyond these basic guidelines the Scriptures do not go and, hence, we cannot do more than counsel in harmony with what the Bible does say. In the past some comments have appeared in this magazine in connection with certain unusual sex practices, such as oral sex, within marriage and these were equated with gross sexual immorality. On this basis the conclusion was reached that those engaging in such sex practices were subject to disfellowshiping if unrepentant. The view was taken that it was within the authority of congregational elders to investigate and act in a judicial capacity regarding such practices in the conjugal relationship.

A careful further weighing of this matter, however, convinces us that, in view of the absence of clear Scriptural instruction, these are matters for which the married couple themselves must bear the responsibility before God and that these marital intimacies do not come within the province of the congregational elders to attempt to control nor to take disfellowshiping action with such matters as the sole basis. Of course, if any person chooses to approach an elder for counsel he or she may do so and the elder can consider Scriptural principles with such a one, acting as a shepherd but not attempting to, in effect, "police" the marital life of the one inquiring.

This should not be taken as a condoning of all the various sexual practices that people engage in, for that is by no means the case. It simply expresses a keen sense of responsibility to let the Scriptures rule and to refrain from taking a dogmatic stand where the evidence does not seem to provide sufficient basis. It also expresses confidence in the desire of Jehovah's people as a whole to do all things as unto him and to reflect his splendid qualities in all their affairs. It expresses a willingness to leave the judgment of such intimate marital matters in the hands of Jehovah God and his Son, who have the wisdom and knowledge of all circumstances necessary to render the right decisions. It is good for us to remember that "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God" and that "each of us will render an account for himself to God." (Rom. 14:7-10, 12) "We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile."—2 Cor. 5:10.

It is also good to recognize that when the apostle wrote his counsel at Colossians 3:5, 6, he did not address it just to single persons but to married persons as well. He said: "Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." At 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 Paul further counsels that "each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite such as also those nations have which do not know God . . . For God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness, but in connection with sanctification."

By his reference to "sexual appetite" the apostle certainly is not condemning the normal sexual desire that finds proper outlet and expression within the marriage arrangement. We have a normal appetite for food and drink and can properly satisfy it. But one can become a glutton or a drunkard by self-indulgent and unrestrained eating and drinking. So, too, one could get so preoccupied with sex that satisfying sexual desire becomes paramount and the chief aim in itself, rather than an adjunct or subordinate complement to the expressing of love that the Bible urges. When this is the case, then the individual reaches the point of greediness 'which is idolatry,' and the sexual desire is that which is idolized.—Eph. 5:3, 5; Phil. 3:19; Col. 3:5.

What, then, of a situation where a married person, perhaps a wife, approaches a congregational elder with the complaint that her marriage mate is abusing her by forcing sexual practices upon her that she rejects as repugnant and perverted? If the marriage mate is willing to discuss the matter, the elder, possibly in company with another elder, can offer to try to help the couple to solve their problem, giving Scriptural counsel.

What if a married person claims that certain sexual practices of the marriage mate are sufficiently gross to come within the scope of the Greek term porneia as used at Matthew 19:9 ("fornication," New World Translation)? As has been shown, the Scriptures do not give specific information that allows for positive identification of certain sexual practices within marriage as being—or not being—porneia. It may be noted that the Greek term is drawn from a word having the basic meaning of "to sell" or to "surrender or give oneself up to," and thus porneia has the sense of "a selling or a giving of oneself up to lust or lewdness." The verb form (porneuo) includes among its meanings that of "to debauch." (Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon) If a married person believes that the sexual practices of the mate, though not involving someone outside the marriage, are nevertheless of such a gross nature as to constitute a clear surrender to lewdness or a debauching in lewdness, then that must be his or her own decision and responsibility.

Such a one may hold that the circumstances provide Scriptural basis for divorce. If so, he or she must accept full responsibility before God for any divorce action that might be taken. Elders cannot be expected to express approval (Scripturally) of divorce, if they are not sure of the grounds. At the same time they are not authorized to impose their conscience on another when the matter is a questionable one. (Jas. 4:11, 12) Having expressed what Scriptural counsel they find fitting, they can then make clear to the one involved the seriousness of the matter and the full responsibility that must rest upon him or her if divorce action is taken. If a person is simply seeking a pretext to break the marriage bonds, then such a one can only expect God's disfavor, for of such treacherous dealing with one's mate God says that "he has hated a divorcing." (Mal. 2:16) "God will judge fornicators and adulterers" and anyone divorcing simply on a pretext and then remarrying will not escape that judgment. (Heb. 13:4) The elders can be confident that the Lord "will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest" in his due time. (1 Cor. 4:4, 5) Anyone who sows in deceit and treachery will not escape a harvest of suffering, for "God is not one to be mocked."—Gal. 6:7, 8.

Even as congregation elders accord to their brothers and sisters the right to exercise their personal conscience in matters where the Scriptures are not explicit, so, too, the elders have a right to exercise their own consciences as to their view of those engaging in questionable actions. If they sincerely feel that the actions of a congregation member in these matters are such that they could not conscientiously recommend him or her for any exemplary service within the congregation, that is their prerogative.—1 Tim. 1:19; 3:2-12; 5:22.


Reference has been made to the apostle's statements at Romans 1:24-27 regarding "the natural use" of male and female bodies. As is evident and has been consistently acknowledged, these statements are made in the context of homosexuality. They do not make any direct reference to sexual practices by husband and wife. It must also be acknowledged that even those love expressions that are completely normal and common between husband and wife would be "unnatural" for persons of the same sex and immoral for unmarried people. Whatever guidance these apostolic statements provide as regards sex practices within marriage, therefore, is indirect and must be viewed as only of a persuasive but not a conclusive nature, that is, not the basis for setting up hard and fast standards for judgment. At the same time there is the possibility and perhaps a likelihood that some sex practices now engaged in by husband and wife were originally practiced only by homosexuals. If this should be the case, then certainly this would give these practices at least an unsavory origin. So the matter is not one to be lightly dismissed by the conscientious Christian simply because no direct reference to married persons appears in the aforementioned texts.

[Emphasis Added]

Kingdom Ministry School Textbook 1981, p151

Sexual Conduct… concerning the marriage bed, individuals can, however, be advised that in their intimate relations, as in all other aspects of Christian life, they need to… have a hatred for all perverted practices including homosexuality, bestiality, oral sex and the like (Lev. 18:22,23; Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15; Rom. 12:9; Eph. 5:3,10-12; Col. 3:5,6) Persons should be urged to act in such a way as to leave them with a clean conscience, and the marriage bed undefiled. (Heb. 13:4)"

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1983 March 15 pp.27-31 Honor Godly Marriage!

Honor Godly Marriage!


Defining "Fornication"

What do we understand here by "fornication"? The Greek word in this text is porneia. In discussing the matter, The Watchtower of December 15, 1972, pages 766-768, showed that porneia "comes from a root word meaning ‘to sell.’" Thus it is tied in with prostitution, such as that practiced in many pagan temples in the first century and in ‘houses of ill fame’ today.

True, porneia is sometimes used in a limited sense, as applying to sex relations between unmarried (single) persons. An instance of such a limited usage is 1 Corinthians 6:9, where "fornicators" are mentioned separately and in addition to those who engage in such other sexual vices as adultery and homosexuality. But just before this, at 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Paul used the same word when counseling Christians not to mix with "fornicators." Is it reasonable to think that here he referred only to immoral unmarried persons? That could not be so, for chapter 6 sets out a broad range of illicit sexual practices that must be shunned, including adultery and homosexuality. Likewise, Jude 7 and Revelation 21:8, which show that God judges unrepentant "fornicators" as worthy of eternal destruction, could hardly be limited only to unmarried persons that have sex relations. And the Jerusalem governing body’s edict at Acts 15:29, "to keep abstaining . . . from fornication," must be understood to have the wide field of application.

So, then, "fornication" in the broad sense, and as used at Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9, evidently refers to a broad range of unlawful or illicit sex relations outside marriage. Porneia involves the grossly immoral use of the genital organ(s) of at least one human (whether in a natural or a perverted way); also, there must have been another party to the immorality—a human of either sex, or a beast. Thus, self—abuse (unwise and spiritually dangerous as this may be) is not porneia. But to this day, the term porneia embraces the various kinds of sexual activity that might take place in a house of prostitution, where sexual favors are bought and sold. A person who goes to a male or a female prostitute to buy any kind of sexual favors would be guilty of porneia.—Compare 1 Corinthians 6:18.

Married Christians

How about sexual activity between married couples within the marriage bond? It is not for the elders to pry into the intimate lives of married Christians. However, the Bible certainly enters into their lives. Those who would "keep walking by spirit" should not ignore the Scriptural indications of God’s thinking. And they will do well to cultivate a hatred for everything that is unclean before Jehovah, including what are clearly perverted sexual practices. Married couples should act in a way that will leave them with a clean conscience, as they give unimpeded attention to developing "the fruitage of the spirit."—Galatians 5:16, 22, 23; Ephesians 5:3-5.

What, though, if one mate wants or even demands to share with his or her partner in what is clearly a perverted sex practice? The above-presented facts show that porneia involves unlawful sexual conduct outside the marital arrangement. Thus, a mate’s enforcing perverted acts, such as oral or anal sex, within the marriage would not constitute a Scriptural basis for a divorce that would free either for remarriage. Even though a believing mate is distressed by the situation, yet that one’s endeavor to hold to Scriptural principles will result in a blessing from Jehovah. In such cases it may be helpful for the couple to discuss the problem frankly, bearing in mind especially that sexual relations should be honorable, wholesome, an expression of tender love. This certainly should exclude anything that might distress or harm one’s mate.—Ephesians 5:28-30; 1 Peter 3:1, 7.

As already stated, it is not for elders to "police" the private marital matters of couples in the congregation. However, if it becomes known that a member of the congregation is practicing or openly advocating perverted sex relations within the marriage bond, that one certainly would not be irreprehensible, and so would not be acceptable for special privileges, such as serving as an elder, a ministerial servant or a pioneer. Such practice and advocacy could even lead to expulsion from the congregation. Why?

Galatians 5:19-21 lists many vices that are not classed as porneia, and which could lead to one’s being disqualified from God’s Kingdom. Among them are "uncleanness" (Greek, akatharsia, signifying filthiness, depravity, lewdness) and "loose conduct" (Greek, aselgeia, signifying licentiousness, wantonness, shameless conduct). Like porneia, these vices, when they become gross, can be grounds for disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation, but not for obtaining a Scriptural divorce. A person who brazenly advocates shocking and repulsive sexual activities would be guilty of loose conduct. Of course, a person with that attitude might even sink to committing porneia; then there would be a basis for a Scriptural divorce. How concerned all devoted Christians should be to avoid and war against all such "works of the flesh"!—Galatians 5:24, 25.

All of Jehovah’s people, whether married or single, should shun every kind of immorality. They should give loyal support to all of Jehovah’s arrangements, including the institution of marriage. (Psalm 18:21-25) Those who are married should, as "one flesh," endeavor to honor Jehovah, cultivating true love and respect in their marriage. (Genesis 2:23, 24; Ephesians 5:33; Colossians 3:18, 19) In this way, as in other ways, they can show that they are "no part of the world"—a world that Satan has dragged into a mire of immorality and corruption and that is about to ‘pass away with its desire.’ Remembering that "he that does the will of God remains forever," all should strive to do God’s "will" in relation to His precious arrangement of marriage.—John 17:16; 1 John 2:17.


See The Watchtower of November 15, 1979, pages 31 and 32; also, September 15, 1980, page 31.


This is an amplification and adjustment in understanding of what appears in The Watchtower of November 15, 1974, pages 703-704, and of February 15, 1978, pages 30-32. Those who acted on the basis of the knowledge they had at the time are not to be criticized. Nor would this affect the standing of a person who in the past believed that a mate’s perverted sexual conduct within marriage amounted to porneia and, hence, obtained a divorce and is now remarried.

[Emphasis Added]

True Peace (1986) pp.142-51 ch.13 Your View of Sex—What Difference Does It Make?

Your View of Sex—What Difference Does It Make?

SOME people have the idea that the Bible frowns on anything having to do with sex. However, an examination of the Bible itself reveals that this is not true. After telling about God's creation of the first man and woman, it goes on to relate: "God blessed them and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.'"—Genesis 1:27, 28.

2 Sexual relations between man and woman, then, clearly have divine approval. But does God approve of unrestrained sex? Would this bring the greatest enjoyment in life? Would it result in true peace and security for us and for those around us?

3 Sex is just as subject to misuse as are other human functions. Eating is good and essential for life. Yet gluttony can impair health and shorten one's life. Sleep, too, is vital. But an excess robs life of accomplishment and can even weaken the body. Just as real enjoyment of life does not result from gluttony, drunkenness, and laziness, so too it does not result from unrestrained use of one's sexual powers. Human experience for thousands of years bears testimony to this. Must we learn this from bitter personal experience? There is a better way.

4 God's Word gives a balanced view of sex that will protect our happiness now and in the future. Yet, it is not just for the sake of our own peace and security that we should learn and hold to God's standards concerning the use of these faculties. More importantly, we should do so out of respect for our Creator. If we truly take his side on the issue of sovereignty, we will gladly submit to his superior wisdom and sovereign authority in this matter, too.—Jeremiah 10:10, 23.

Keeping Marriage Honorable Among All

5 The Bible counsels: "Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers." (Hebrews 13:4) So, God is against sexual relations outside of marriage. This is consistent with the fact that when providing the first man with a mate, God showed that his will was for the two to become "one flesh," in a lasting bond of union. Some four thousand years later, God's Son showed that his Father had not abandoned this standard. (Genesis 2:22-24; Matthew 19:4-6) But is such a standard needlessly restrictive? Does it deprive us of something good?

6 Adultery violates the divine standard, and Jehovah God promises to become "a speedy witness" in judgment against adulterers. (Malachi 3:5) The bad fruits of sexual relations outside the marriage union emphasize the wisdom of God's law. Adultery produces broken confidence and distrust. It causes insecurity and undermines marital peace. The resulting bitterness and heartbreak often lead to divorce. Children suffer as they see their family torn apart. Clearly, God's condemnation of adultery is for our good. His Word shows that anyone having genuine love of neighbor will not commit adultery.—Romans 13:8-10.

7 As we have observed, the Bible also expresses God's judgment against fornicators. Exactly what is fornication? While the Bible's use of this term can include sexual intercourse on the part of unmarried persons as well as adultery, it often has a much wider meaning. The word for "fornication" that was used when recording the statements of Jesus and his disciples is the Greek word por·nei'a. It is drawn from the same root as the modern term "pornography." In Bible times por·nei'a was used in referring to a broad range of unlawful sexual relations outside of marriage. Por·nei'a involves the grossly immoral use of the genital organ(s) of at least one human (whether in a natural or a perverted way). Also, there must have been another party to the immorality—a human of either sex or a beast.

8 When urging Christians to "abstain from fornication," the apostle Paul gave strong reasons, saying: "That no one go to the point of harming and encroach upon the rights of his brother in this matter, because Jehovah is one who exacts punishment for all these things . . . For God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness . . . So, then, the man that shows disregard is disregarding, not man, but God."—1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

9 One committing fornication does indeed 'harm and encroach upon the rights of others.' This is true, for example, of couples who live together without benefit of legal marriage. Why do they do it? Frequently it is so that they can abandon the union whenever they please. They do not give their partner the security that responsible marriage ought to bring. But if both persons enter the relationship willingly, are they still 'harming and encroaching on the rights of others'? Yes, definitely so.

10 There are many effects of the actions of fornicators that do 'encroach on the rights of others.' For one thing, anyone participating in fornication shares in damaging the other person's conscience as well as any clean standing that one may have had with God. The fornicator destroys the other person's opportunity to enter marriage with a clean start. He likely brings disrespect, reproach, and distress on members of the other person's family, as well as his own. He may also endanger the mental, emotional, and physical health of the other person. Dreadful sexually transmitted diseases such as the deadly AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are often linked with sexual immorality.

11 Many choose to be blind to these harms. But do you believe that God, in his righteousness, will condone such callous disregard for the rights of others? God's Word calls for 'honoring,' not debasing or repudiating, his sacred marriage arrangement.—Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 22:39.

12 What of homosexuality? As we have seen, this practice is covered by the word por·nei'a ("fornication"), used by Jesus and his disciples. The disciple Jude used that word when referring to the unnatural sex acts of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Jude 7) Homosexuality there caused degradation that produced a loud "cry of complaint." And it led to God's destruction of those cities and their inhabitants. (Genesis 18:20; 19:23, 24) Has God's view changed since then? No. First Corinthians 6:9, 10, for example, lists "men who lie with men" among those who will not inherit God's Kingdom if they continue such a practice. Also, describing the results to persons who 'dishonor their bodies in uncleanness,' going after "flesh for unnatural use," the Bible says that they "became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error." (Romans 1:24, 27) Such persons not only fall under God's condemnation, but they also receive a "recompense" of mental and physical corruption. Today, for example, there is a disproportionately high rate of syphilis, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases among homosexuals. The high moral standards of God's Word protect us against such harm, rather than deprive us of something good.

Accepting God's View of Divorce

13 "I hate divorce." That is how Jehovah God expressed himself when reproving those who 'dealt treacherously' with their marriage mates. (Malachi 2:14-16, Revised Standard Version) His Word gives abundant counsel to help couples to make a success of marriage and to avoid the bitterness of divorce. It also makes clear that God views faithfulness to one's marriage vows as a sacred responsibility.

14 This is emphasized by the fact that he acknowledges only one proper basis for divorce. Jesus showed what this is: "Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication [por·nei'a], and marries another commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9; 5:32) Por·nei'a, as we have seen, refers to sexual relations outside of marriage, whether natural or unnatural.

15 If one's mate becomes guilty of fornication, does this automatically break the marriage tie? No, it does not. The innocent mate can decide whether to forgive or not. Where divorce is decided upon, the Christian's recognition of secular authority will cause him to dissolve the marriage legally, doing so on a truthful basis. (Romans 13:1, 2) When the proceedings are finalized, remarriage is allowable. But the Scriptures counsel that any such marriage should be only to another Christian, one who is really "in the Lord."—1 Corinthians 7:39.

16 What if the laws of a land do not allow any divorce, even on the ground of sexual immorality? An innocent mate in such a case might be able to obtain a divorce in a country where divorce is permitted. Circumstances, of course, may not allow for this. But some form of legal separation may be available in one's own country and could be sought. Whatever the case, the innocent mate could separate from the guilty one and present definite proof of Scriptural ground for divorce to the overseers in the local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. What if that person were later to decide to take another mate? The congregation would not act to remove him as an adulterer if he provided the congregation with a written statement containing a vow of faithfulness to the present mate and an agreement to obtain a legal marriage certificate if the former marriage should be dissolved either legally or by death. Nevertheless, the individual would have to face whatever consequences might result as far as the world outside the congregation is concerned. For the world does not generally recognize that God's law is superior to human laws and that human laws have only relative authority.—Compare Acts 5:29.

Wisely Avoiding All Uncleanness and Sexual Greed

17 Sexual relations plainly have a proper place in the lives of married persons. God provided this as the means by which children would be produced, and also as a source of pleasure to the parents. (Genesis 9:1; Proverbs 5:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5) Nevertheless, he warned against abusing this gift.—Ephesians 5:5.

18 Because of the emphasis placed on sex today, many young folks find that their desire for sexual satisfaction is aroused even before they are in position to marry. As a result, some of them seek pleasure through self-stimulation of their sexual parts. This is masturbation, or self-abuse. Is it a proper or wise practice?

19 The Scriptures counsel: "Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness." (Colossians 3:5) Is one who practices masturbation 'deadening his body members as respects sexual appetite'? On the contrary, he is stimulating the sexual appetite. The Bible urges that one avoid the thinking and conduct that lead to such problems, replacing them with wholesome activity, and that one cultivate self-control. (Philippians 4:8; Galatians 5:22, 23) When earnest effort is put forth to do this, such self-abuse can be avoided, with benefits mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

20 What the Bible says respecting "uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire" applies to all Christians, single and married. It is true that husband and wife have a Scriptural right to engage in sexual relations with each other. But does this mean that they can throw off all restraint? The fact that God's Word urges all Christians to cultivate self-control argues against such a view. (2 Peter 1:5-8) The inspired Bible writer did not have to explain the natural way in which the reproductive organs of husband and wife complement each other. Homosexual relations obviously cannot follow this natural way. So, male and female homosexuals employ other forms of intercourse in what the apostle refers to as "disgraceful sexual appetites" and "obscene" practices. (Romans 1:24-32) Could married couples imitate such homosexual forms of intercourse in their own marriage and still be free in God's eyes from expressing "disgraceful sexual appetites" or "hurtful desire"?

21 On considering what the Scriptures say, a person may realize that his former thinking on these matters was molded by those who are, as the Bible says, "past all moral sense." But, with God's help, one can "put on the new personality," which is molded in accord with God's standards of righteousness. (Ephesians 4:17-24) In this way a person shows that he truly means it when he says that he wants to do God's will.

Your View Vitally Affects Your Peace and Security

22 Applying the counsel of God's Word as respects sexual morality is not burdensome. Contrast the fruitage of the course the Bible outlines with the world's high rate of divorce, broken homes, delinquent children, prostitution, disease, and the violence and murders committed in connection with sexual passion. (Proverbs 7:10, 25-27) How evident the wisdom of God's Word! When you reject worldly thinking based on selfish desire and bring your thinking into harmony with Jehovah's counsel, your heart is greatly strengthened in right desires. Instead of fleeting pleasures of sexual immorality, you enjoy a clean conscience and enduring peace of mind. Marriage and family ties are fortified with the growth of mutual trust between marriage mates and with respect from the children.

23 And do not lose sight of the fact that your very hope of eternal life is involved. So Scriptural morality will contribute to more than your present health. (Proverbs 5:3-11) It will become part of the evidence that you truly deplore the detestable things done by people who have no regard for God and that you have been 'marked' for survival into God's "new earth," where, not immorality, but righteousness is to dwell. How vital, then, that you 'do your utmost now to be found finally by God spotless and unblemished and in peace.'—Ezekiel 9:4-6; 2 Peter 3:11-14.

[Study Questions]

1-3. (a) How does the Bible show that sexual relations between man and woman have divine approval? (b) Would it be for a person's good to indulge in unrestrained use of his sexual powers?

4. What should motivate us to uphold God's standards regarding sex?

5. What does the Bible say about engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage?

6. What shows that God's law against adultery is for our good?

7. Explain what is meant by fornication, as referred to in the Bible.

8. For what strong reasons did the apostle Paul urge Christians to "abstain from fornication"?

9, 10. (a) Why do some people hold back from legal marriage, even though living with someone of the opposite sex? (b) Even though fornication is by mutual agreement, how is there 'harm and an encroaching on the rights of others'?

11. Why is there no reason for anyone to believe that God will condone fornication?

12. (a) What is God's view of homosexuality? (b) Against what does God's law forbidding homosexuality protect us?

13. How serious is the matter of faithfulness to one's marriage vows?

14, 15. (a) What is the only proper basis for divorce? (b) Does fornication automatically break the marriage tie? (c) Under what circumstances is remarriage allowable?

16. In lands where secular law does not allow for divorce on any basis whatsoever, how do Jehovah's Witnesses show respect for God's law on the matter?

17. From the Scriptures, explain the proper place that sexual relations have in the lives of married persons.

18, 19. (a) Why is the practice of masturbation, or self-abuse, not proper for a Christian? (b) What can help a person to avoid such a practice?

20. What shows that it would not be proper for husband and wife to throw off all restraint in their sexual relations with each other?

21. Regardless of what a person's way of life may have been in the past, what opportunity is open to him now?

22. What immediate benefits come to those who apply the counsel of God's Word in regard to sexual morality?

23. How is a person's view of sex a factor in his being 'marked' for survival into God's "new earth"?

[Emphasis Added]

Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock (1991), p.142


[Learn more about this obscure Watchtower Society book]

While the Christian congregation is not in a position to give direction as to all sexual matters concerning the marriage bed, individuals may be advised that in their intimate relations, as in all other aspects of Christian life, they need to display kindness, love, and concern for each other. (Eph. 5:28-3O; 1 Pet. 3:1, 7)

Each one should have a hatred for all perverted sexual practices. (Lev. 18:22, 23; Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15; Rom. 12:9; Eph. 5:3, 10-12; Col. 3:5, 6)

Persons should be urged to act in such a way as to maintain a clean conscience, and the marriage bed should be undefiled. (Heb. 13 :4; w83 3/15 pp. 27-31)

While perverted practices are wrong, if within a marriage one is involved or has been involved in such, it does not mean that he or she would necessarily lose service privileges.

If such conduct becomes known to the elders, they would need to consider: Is the practice recent or ongoing, or is it something that occurred in the past and is definitely conquered? Is the individual promoting such conduct as a proper life-style? Is his attitude one of remorse? If he is sincerely repentant and the situation is not generally known, it may not be necessary to remove privileges of service.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1992 July 15 pp.8-13 Christ Hated Lawlessness—Do You?

Hating Sexual Uncleanness

15 As Christians, we must particularly hate all uncleanness that involves sexual matters. By creating mankind with strong mating instincts, God served two fine purposes. He made certain that the human race would not die out, and he also made a most loving provision for happiness. Even people who are poor, illiterate, or disadvantaged in some other way can find great happiness in the marital relationship. However, Jehovah has set bounds within which this relationship may be enjoyed. These divinely stated limits must be respected.—Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4.

16 If we hate lawlessness, we will studiously avoid all sexually unclean practices and immoral entertainment. We will therefore avoid all morally questionable books, magazines, and newspapers. Likewise, if we hate lawlessness, we will not view any unclean visual presentations, whether on television, in motion pictures, or on the stage. If we find a program to be immoral, we should be moved to switch off the television set at once or should have the courage to leave the theater. Similarly, hating lawlessness will make us guard against all music that is passion-arousing in its lyrics or its tempo. We will not seek knowledge of immoral matters but will be ‘babes as to badness, yet full-grown in powers of understanding.’—1 Corinthians 14:20.

[Emphasis Added]

Examining the Scriptures Daily 2002

Friday, February 22

—Flee from fornication.

"While sexuality is a gift from God, it is not to be Expressed without restraint, even within the marriage arrangement." Eph. 5:28-30; 1 Pet. 3:1,7

Outside of marriage, sexual relations are forbidden. The Bible is quite specific on this matter. ( Ex. 20:14; Mark 7: 21,22 ) What is meant by the word "fornication"? It is translated from the Greek word por·nei'a, which is Sometimes used to apply to sexual relations between unmarried people. ( 1 Cor. 6: 9 ) Elsewhere, such as at Mat.5:32, 19:9, the term is broader in meaning and refers to additionally to adultery, incest, and bestiality. Other sexual practices between individuals not married to each other, such as oral and anal sex and the sexual manipulation of another's genitalia, can also be designated as por·nei'a. All such practices are condemned —either explicitly or by implication—in God's Word.—Lev. 20:10,13,15,16; Rom. 1:24,26,27,32.

[Emphasis Added]

St. Petersburg Times August 22, 2023 "Spiritual Shunning"

[As recorded at on August 24, 2023]

[Watchtower spokesperson J. R Brown said Witnesses believe that sexual activity between men and women should "follow the normal course." of things. "We feel that oral or anal intercourse would go beyond that."

[Emphasis Added

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