A photo capturing a worn Bible open to Leviticus 18, illustrating the verses discussing various taboos and forbidden relationships.

What Does The Bible Say About Taboo Topics?

The Bible addresses many topics that may be considered taboo or controversial in modern society. While the cultural context has changed over the centuries, the biblical principles on these matters remain relevant.

This article will explore what the Bible says about some of the more sensitive subjects.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible speaks frankly about topics like sexuality, violence, bodily functions, and more. It provides guidance on living wisely and righteously, though interpretations vary.

Overall, the Bible urges believers to approach taboos with truth, grace and discernment.


Sex Before Marriage

The Bible teaches that God designed physical intimacy to occur exclusively within the sacred commitment of marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24). Passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 indicate that physical relations should occur to meet physical need in the context of serving one another in marriage.

Sexual relations are designed to strengthen the marital bond.

Sex before marriage can have many negative consequences, including unwed pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, emotional hurt, and spiritual regret. God’s guidelines for sexuality intend to protect people from harm.

However, the Bible offers forgiveness and restoration to those who have engaged in premarital sex (Ephesians 1:7). Through faith in Christ, people can commit to God’s plan for sexuality going forward.


The Bible identifies homosexual behavior as sin (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27) and indicates that same-sex relations do not reflect God’s intentional design for human sexuality. However, the Bible does not explicitly condemn attraction itself or lesbian relations.

Many LGBTQ individuals and advocates argue that same-sex orientation is natural for some people and should be affirmed. Some denominations welcome LGBTQ members and leaders. Other groups believe that Scripture prohibits all same-sex relations, although individuals dealing with same-sex attraction need love and support.

This remains an intensely debated issue among Christians.

Regardless of one’s position, all Christians should treat LGBTQ persons with dignity, compassion, and love while honestly wrestling with what the Bible teaches on this sensitive topic.

Adultery and Divorce

Jesus clearly upheld lifelong marriage between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6). The only exception he allowed was in cases of adultery or sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9). Yet divorce statistics indicate that Christians divorce at rates similar to non-Christians.

Many churches aim to strengthen marriages and offer support to couples considering divorce. Some churches prohibit divorced persons from leadership positions, while others have special ministries for those recovering from divorce.

Churches tend to be more welcoming of divorced people who have made efforts toward repentance and reconciliation where possible.

The good news is that God redeems brokenness. Christians believe in forgiveness and new beginnings through Christ, even after experiences like adultery or divorce (2 Corinthians 5:17). With humility and courage, people can walk in God’s grace and truth regarding sexuality and relationships.

Bodily Functions


Menstruation, commonly known as a woman’s “monthly period,” is a normal bodily function essential for reproduction. The Bible does not forbid discussing menstruation. In fact, there are several references to it in Scripture (Leviticus 15:19-30; Isaiah 30:22).

Menstruation was considered ceremonially unclean under Mosaic law. Anything a menstruating woman touched became unclean. After her period, she had to purify herself through ritual washing. This ritual impurity taught respect for the natural process of menstruation, not shame.

Today, we understand the biological purpose of menstruation and no longer view it as unclean.


Circumcision was established by God as a sign of His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14). It continued as a practice among the Israelites and was a marker of Jewish identity. The New Testament makes it clear that circumcision is no longer required for Christians (Acts 15; Galatians 5:1-6).

However, the subject remains controversial today. Routine infant circumcision is common in the US, but declining. Multiple medical studies have assessed potential risks and benefits, but there is no consensus. Christians disagree on whether circumcision of boys should continue as a practice.

In Scripture, circumcision symbolizes being set apart for God. It also represents purity of heart (Jeremiah 9:25-26; Romans 2:25-29). The outward act holds deeper spiritual meaning. When discussing circumcision, Christians should move beyond physical concerns to these spiritual truths.

Violence and Immorality

Warfare and Killing

The Bible depicts many battles and wars, but also promotes ideals of peace and non-violence. God is often portrayed as a warrior who leads Israel to victory, yet the prophets envision a future of universal peace (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3).

Jesus taught His followers to “turn the other cheek” rather than retaliate against violence (Matthew 5:38-39), but He also acknowledged the tragic inevitability of wars in a fallen world (Matthew 24:6). Christians debate the ethics of war, with positions ranging from pacifism to just war theory.

The Bible prohibits murder (Exodus 20:13), but accepts killing in self-defense or just wars. The Mosaic Law mandated capital punishment for serious sins like murder, kidnapping, sorcery, and idolatry. Today, Christians disagree on the death penalty, with some pointing to biblical passages supporting it (Romans 13:4) and others emphasizing biblical themes of mercy, forgiveness, and the sacredness of life.


The Bible acknowledges but regulates the existing practice of slavery in ancient Israelite society. The Mosaic Law sought to humanize slavery, mandating the release of Hebrew slaves after 6 years (Exodus 21:2), prohibiting permanent enslavement of fellow Israelites (Leviticus 25:39-43), and instituting other protections.

The New Testament exhorts humane treatment of slaves but does not directly condemn the institution itself (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Throughout history, slaveholders justified slavery by selective quotations from the Bible. Abolitionists countered with texts affirming human dignity and equality. Most Christians today believe slavery is morally wrong, emphasizing biblical themes of justice, human rights, and liberation from oppression.

But biblical mentions of slavery continue to prompt debate on how to interpret and apply scripture amid changing social values.


The Bible consistently treats prostitution as sinful but also shows compassion toward prostitutes. The Mosaic Law prohibited Israelite women from becoming temple prostitutes (Deuteronomy 23:17) and mandated the death penalty for a priest’s daughter who turned to prostitution (Leviticus 21:9).

The New Testament exhorts followers of Christ to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:15-18) but does not single out prostitution.

Stories of redemption include Rahab the prostitute, whose assistance enabled Israel’s conquest of Jericho (Joshua 6:25). Jesus showed kindness toward the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), reflecting His love toward sinners even in their brokenness.

Most Christians today would affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people while maintaining that prostitution exploits vulnerable women and contradicts biblical standards of sexuality.

Handling Taboos

Discernment and Understanding

When it comes to taboo topics in the Bible, discernment and understanding are key. As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This means we need to approach sensitive subjects with wisdom, empathy and grace. Here are some guidelines for handling taboos biblically:

  • Get the facts. Do thorough research on what God’s Word actually says about controversial issues. Don’t rely on hearsay or out-of-context Bible verses.
  • Consider the historical and cultural context. Some practices that seem strange or wrong to us today were common in biblical times. Understanding the original context helps us interpret scripture accurately.
  • Focus on principles more than specific rules. Look at the bigger picture of what the Bible teaches rather than getting hung up on isolated dos and don’ts.
  • Remember that truth trumps tradition. Traditions aren’t necessarily wrong, but God’s Word must be our highest authority on right and wrong.

With study and discernment, we can develop biblically sound views on issues from sexuality to race relations. God’s truth brings understanding, even on topics that feel taboo. As 1 Corinthians 2:15 says, “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things.”

Speaking Truth With Grace

Once we’ve taken the time to understand what the Bible says about controversial matters, we must think carefully about how to discuss them. There are God-honoring ways to speak truth – and there are hurtful or unhelpful ways. Here are some tips for talking about taboos with grace:

  • Be humble. Don’t speak as if you have all the answers. Listen respectfully to others’ perspectives too.
  • Be gentle. You can speak truth firmly without being harsh or confrontational (Galatians 6:1).
  • Watch your tone. It’s often not what you say but how you say it that makes conversations go well or poorly.
  • Consider your audience. Some discussions may not be appropriate for mixed company or new believers. Take the context into account.
  • Focus on God first. Make the goal to honor Christ and reflect His heart, not just to be right (Colossians 4:6).

Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). With the Spirit’s help, we can avoid staying silent about taboos or being unloving when addressing them. Let’s speak biblical truth in a way that builds others up instead of tearing them down.


The Bible frankly acknowledges many topics that may be seen as taboo today. It provides principles and guidance for how to approach these matters with wisdom, truth and grace. While cultural contexts evolve, God’s revelation is timeless.

Understanding biblical teachings on taboos allows believers to live righteously in a fallen world.

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