My understanding is that murder is a sin because I don't have rights on another person's life in the same way that another person doesn't have rights over my life. Likewise stealing would be a sin because I don't have rights over another person's property nor would I like anybody else to take what is mine. On the other hand smiling would not be a sin because I don't encroach on another person's right when smiling and they may actually like being smiled upon.

In the Old Testament David (considered a prophet) did not sin when he engaged with concubines and slave girls who were not legally wives. If adultery is defined as having sex with another man's wife, David has not broken the law. Or did he? However today if two (unmarried) consenting adults have sex, that's adultery by Biblical standards. From my understanding its encroaching on another person's right that seems to define sin. Here I don't see an encroachment of the rights of any person.

If a married person is involved in extra marital sex he sins, because he has broken his marital vows. Why is the sexual act a sin when two people have fun by mutual consent and not encroaching on each others freedom?

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    Probably not the "sex" that is the sin, but the "lust" that fuels/ creates the want for sex. Christianity, like many other religions, has a core of self-denial. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." – user1477388 Jul 27 '13 at 14:56
  • Hi. Given the way the site has developed since this question was asked in 2012, this subject is now probably off topic. You could leave it as is (it'll probably be closed, but not deleted), or you could edit it to fit current norms (not sure whether that's possible, or I'd give it a try). – TRiG Jul 27 '13 at 21:17
  • Hmm, in my country at least the evangelic church (24.5 M members) states that it isn't... – Andalur Dec 26 '13 at 17:50
  • @Andalur The issue of whether sex before marriage is sin is not only dogmatic but also cultural. – fгedsbend Feb 2 '14 at 16:37
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    Because the question is on hold, I can't add a fully developed answer, but having sex before marriage is stealing something from that future persons husband/wife. – Greg Feb 3 '14 at 22:13

Sin is not merely defined by one person encroaching on another person's rights. Pride, greed, envy, bitterness, and many other such things are sins, but they do not encroach on anyone else's rights. So, then, why are these considered sins by God? It seems the key point is that each of them is a departure from the righteousness of God.

In the case of two consenting adults, you assume that each of these people have title to their own lives. According to the Bible, "a man's life is not his own" (Jeremiah 10:23), but belongs to God Himself. So, we should certainly consider the consent of the other person, but we cannot forego the consent of God Himself.

When David prays his prayer of repentance over his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51, he says, "Against you, you only have I sinned..." (Psalm 51:4) David understood that the primary infraction was not again Bathsheba or even Uriah, but against God. It is His standard and His holiness that matters--not the consent of any mere mortal.

Another note is that the eating of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden did not infringe on any other person's rights--but it still went against the command of God.

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 ESV

"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." Psalm 51:4 ESV

"but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17 ESV

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    +1 for sin being "a departure from the righteousness of God." – Joe Nov 7 '12 at 13:51
  • Great answer. Likewise, Joseph's reason to shun the advances of Potipher's wife was that he did not want to "sin against God" (KJV 39:9). – Christopher Bottoms Apr 23 '15 at 12:01

The 10 commandments makes it very clear. Customs of that time may have been to have more than one wife like King David, but that is not God's best plan. Let every man have his own wife. Who can afford more than one nowadays. Who would seriously want to live with more than one. Adulterers, fornicators, liars, thieves, murderers will have their place in hell.

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