Sexual Acts and Acts 15:20

In Acts 15:20 the Christians are told to avoid blood, meat from strangled animals, and fornication. The interpretation of the scripture by the Church in the Council of Florence lifted the ban of those kinds of foods as they were originally done to encourage ecumenism as the Jews viewed eating blood and strangled animals as immoral. Getting to the point, why were sexual acts also included in this ban as sexual acts are quite a departure from eating unclean foods? Were early Christians often practicing immoral sexual acts and so scandalizing the Jews? Any input is appreciated

The very early Christians were Jews.


The ban on fornication was included with food sacrificed to idols, blood, and meet from strangled animals because these all were popular pagan practices associated with local pagan cults in the areas surrounding the Holy Land. The restrictions regarding faithfulness within marriage were lifted during ritualistic orgies dedicated to a specific pagan god (in Roman culture). These cults were so prevalent that the famous “you are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church” happened at the foot of a rock face into which a temple to Pan was erected (whose cult practiced ritual orgies). The apostles were telling the gentiles to abstain from any trappings of pagan worship in addition to the prohibition of participating in the actual sacrifice to the pagan god.

The Council of Florence lifted the ban on the food restrictions because they recognized that these were not meant to be universal prescriptions but rather reflecting a deeper reality in which Christians may take no part in any extension of a pagan ritual.


Non-catholic here. I have a question - well, a few to be honest.

  1. The bible has lots of lists and lots of ‘do not do this list of things’. How does one decipher or discern whether it is because it is something that displeases God versus it is something that was forbidden because local pagan cults did it to worship their gods?

  2. Gimme a moment i forgot my question…oh yeah! Is there any relevancy, any…deeper meaning and implication…to this distinction? The distinction that it is forbidden because it is something pagan cults did to worship their gods and it isn’t something that, on its own, God finds displeasing. Like the unclean food thing.

The Christians I’m referring to here were Gentiles

No Christian, Jew or Gentile - is a Christian IF they’re practicing immoral acts…

Hello anendlesswaltz,

  1. Ultimately, God is love, goodness, perfection and so much more. What ultimately displeases God is when mankind orders their lives in such a way that they act in opposition to God’s identity. They act out of hatred or selfishness instead of love; out of self-destruction instead of the striving for self-perfection; out of evil intentions rather than good ones.

    All of God’s prohibitions all point back to this reality. We must then look at all of the ‘do not do this list of things’ and ask ourselves, “Are the acts which are prohibited directly contrary to living a life of God or are the prohibitions secondary to the undesired act?” For example, fornication is prohibited because the act, itself, goes directly against the sanctity of marriage and the love of God which is expressed within it. Eating pork, however, was not directly contrary to the love of God. Instead, pork was prohibited of the early Jews because it was such a big part of Egyptian religious customs. Egyptians almost solely ate pork (and dog, which was also prohibited) because it was pretty much the only animal which wasn’t sacred to one of the Egyptian pagan gods. While in Egypt, the Jews primarily ate pork because they did not want to upset the Egyptian gods or their priests. Thus, to emphasize that God was the only true God and the other gods were simply idols, He commanded the Jews to dispose of their ‘safe’ meat and feed themselves on the sacred animals which they had previously avoided. They were being made ‘like gods’ in this sense.

  2. The distinction is extremely relevant, at least for Catholics. The ultimate law of God is the Law of Love summed up in the two greatest commandments; “Love God with all your mind, heart, and soul,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” By realizing what actions directly go against this Law of Love and those which help man realize a deeper reality in a certain situation, we can come to a greater understanding of who God is. By understanding that Law more fully, we understand love more fully. In understanding that love, we come to know God and how he works. In doing so, we then know how to order our lives so that He can work in us.


Dont be misleading. We are all human, we all sin. We are still Christian, if Christianity is our religion


A lot of the “clean/unclean” distinction (or all of it) has to do with the “in between” space between life and death… Some of the connection is lost to us, but plenty is not. Anything that is connected with the “beyond” has to be made “one” or “the other.”

Christ touches the in between place - He bridges the gap. (Like touching corpses, dealing with lepers, etc., then rising from the dead.) The Baptismal site is also the perfect example… in the lowest place on Earth, in between the Nations and Israel, in between Galilee (life) and the Dead Sea, etc.

That’s part of the whole dynamic too.


True, but the “very early Christians” to whom this ruling applied (Acts 15:20) were explicitly Gentile Christians. They alone were exempted from the full rigor of the Mosaic Law.

The origin of “Christian” is 1st Century Anno Domini

It means Follower of Messiah/Christ

Christians are any who Obey Christ / aka The Messiah of all: Jew and Gentile.

A person does not cease being a Christian by practicing immoral acts (i.e. sinning).

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It was a list of behaviors acceptable to non-Christian gentiles, but scandalous to devout Jews.

Fornication was included for completeness of the list, although it is different in kind the rest. Pagans already believed that theft and murder were sinful, so behaviors such as these did not need to be called out by the apostles.

The Hebrews had the Mosaic Law to regulate and guide them in matters of morality. The pagans had no such thing - worshiping, among other things, false gods of sexual fertility. Their sexual immorality, bad as it was, pales in comparison to our sexual immorality today.

[quote=“MasterHaster, post:12, topic:610218, full:true”]
A person does not cease being a Christian by practicing immoral acts (i.e. sinning).
[/quote] Mortal Sinning?


26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

Stop twisting Scripture into a false interpretation and in direct conflict with the teaching of the Magisterium

To be a Christian, one has to be baptized.

To say that one baptized is no longer a Christian would imply that one would need to be baptized again; but I don’t know any religious group identifying itself as Christian which so holds.

And the Catholic Church says that if one is practicing immoral acts, one needs to confess one’s sins to a priest and amend their life. It does not hold, however, that one is no longer a Christian.

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You need to write more clearly with full sentences and thoughts. Use capitals appropriately. It is very difficult to follow many of your posts…

Most pagan religions at the time had pretty loose standards with regard to sexual activity. Roman society was notoriously libertine in this regard, with high rates of divorce, prostitution, etc. In addition, most pagan religions at the time contained fertility rites that involved having sex with temple prostitutes as a means of inciting the gods to bless their crops and provide them with children. Many of the Gentile believers who were coming to faith were coming out of this society into the Christian community. Corinth in particular was the location of the Temple of Artemis, with thousands of temple prostitutes. If you read Paul’s epistles to the Church in Corinth, it appears this was a major issue in that community.

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