1 Corinthians 6:9 – Adulterers (moichos)

Valentin de Boulogne - Saint Paul Writing His Epistles
This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series 1 Corinthians 6:9

We shouldn’t practice fornication or idolatry according to the first two items on Paul’s list (pornos and eidōlolatrēs respectively) in 1 Corinthians 6:9, and his next prohibition is closely tied to the first two.

Adultery (moichos) is the sexual unfaithfulness of a married person. Basically, it’s engaging in any sexual act with a partner other than your spouse.

A Tragic Reality

Adultery is insidious, malicious, and cancerous. Nothing can rend the united soul of a marriage like this heinous act. Sure, some marriages continue while one or both members continue unhidden affairs, but you’re kidding yourself if you pretend that hollow shell of a business arrangement is a marriage with any soul remaining.

This topic hits close to home for me. I’ve been there. And were it not for God’s grace and a wife who remained faithful to Him even as I was proven unfaithful to her, my marriage would not exist today. Instead, my infidelity shattered us, and it took a long time to build things from the pieces.

And years later, we still occasionally find pieces that need attention, despite having a relationship that’s healthier overall than at any time in our history together.

Like a large boulder dropped into a lake, the agony of adultery makes a huge splash at the point of contact, but pain ripples extend outward to affect everyone and everything else, too.

The Original Intent

God created marriage to last a lifetime, built on commitment, transparency, integrity, and love. And not those warm fuzzy feelings of love you feel when you’re “in love” but the intentional acts of love that aren’t based on something as flighty as feelings but instead are based on a stubborn resolve to seek your spouse’s best interest before your own. Regardless of reciprocation. Hence the whole “for better or worse” feature of our marital vows.

Adultery breaks everything in that model. Commitment is thrown to the wayside, transparency is nonexistent, integrity is seriously compromised, and love is substituted for a paltry stand-in with a shiny veneer that barely resembles the real thing while hiding a toxic evil beneath.

Obvious Greek

Marriage itself produces an extremely permissive atmosphere

And just to be clear, adultery is certainly what’s being talked about here. The word moichos isn’t ambiguous; in fact, it’s used as a root for many other words throughout the New Testament. This is arguably the least open-to-interpretation word on Paul’s entire list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

It is moichos that combines with pornos to provide the biblical depiction of an undefiled marriage bed in Hebrews 13:4. That is to say that sexuality within marriage (i.e. the marriage bed) holds no rules or barriers in acceptability save one: engage in sexual activity with no partner but your spouse. Apart from that limitation, there are no marital prohibitions; everything is permitted, even if it is not specifically endorsed.

Naturally, other sins can make an act wrong, but marriage itself produces an extremely permissive atmosphere.

Empowering Such Permission

Why is that? Why does marriage enable such flexible permissiveness?

Well, it goes back to those four lifetime characteristics —commitment, transparency, integrity, and love. With these four qualities embedded into the very fabric of marriage, an everything-is-permitted atmosphere is made viable. Without any one of those characteristics, or without a lifelong quality to any of them, the marriage is unsafe for one or both parties, making the kind of vulnerability necessary for an “extremely permissive atmosphere” unwise.

That’s why adultery is insidious, malicious, and cancerous. It incinerates the security that had previously protected the souls of the one flesh, and the physical, sexual bond between spouses is suddenly subjected to limitation. Such a limitation is an unnatural arrangement for marriage, unintended by its Author. It’s a betrayal of the very nature of the covenant of marriage.


As for avoiding adultery, much can be said about prevention. Having strictly-enforced boundaries could have prevented me from stepping into a sin I believed myself immune to. Wisdom and discretion play a role here, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sometimes boundaries can seem silly or archaic, but only because they’re employed before things become complicated. That might mean I apply them to ten thousand women unnecessarily, but it also means I’ll never know the one who made those boundaries necessary. I wish I’d know that then.

Thankfully, God was able to save my marriage from the moichos I’d enlisted with, but He’d rather (and I agree) I’d not been one in the first place.

The next word is a trickier translation, but Paul mentions malakos specifically, so we should know what it is.

Originally posted 2016-04-29 08:00:41.

Series Navigation<< 1 Corinthians 6:9 – Effeminate (malakos)
By Probably Valentin de Boulogne (1591 – 1632) (French) (Creator, [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
About Phil (245 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.

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