Incest is a mortal sin in Scripture

Updated: Jan 2

By Luke Lancaster


Paul discussed with the Corinthians a serious issue that was occurring within their community: Incest. Paul says, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1). This is a serious issue, as it would imply sexual relations between a son and his mother or stepmom, which is wrong. For sexual relations is something that should occur between two people who have given their lives to each other in Marriage. Their vows to each other in being “totally yours” are lived out and expressed in their sexuality.


Sexual relations outside of that bond is, according to Paul, “immorality.” This is not some minor “immorality,” however, because Paul says to hand the guy “over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:5)! This man was to be excommunicated from the Corinthian community! This is where we get the idea of certain sins being “mortal” or “deadly” to one’s relationship with God. The outward sign of the inward spiritual death was the exclusion of the man from the community. His heart already was separated from God and had left the community, so that which was not seen by everybody could be shown to the people when he had to physically leave the community.