How do I avoid being a partaker in obscenities, foolish talk, and coarse jesting?

Last updated on October 7, 2020


What is the meaning of Ephesians 5:4? What are obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking? In verse 7 what is a partaker? I read somewhere that we can be companions or around these people, but we just can’t be partners or to have common goals.

Song of Solomon is quite descriptive over sex. Do these verses have to do with humor and making light of sexual immorality?

Thank you.


But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7).

Paul lists three things that Christians need to avoid: fornication (sex prior to marriage), uncleanness (things that would encourage or lead up to fornication), and covetousness (greedy desire for what is forbidden). By saying “let it not even be named among you,” Paul wants a Christian’s behavior to be such that these things are so out of place in a Christian’s life that people would never associate a Christian with these deeds or thoughts.

In order to accomplish this, Christians must avoid filthiness (dirty talk — speech with sexual content or profane words regarding sex), foolish talk (senseless chit-chat, such as gossip about sexual exploits), or coarse jesting (witty remarks regarding coarse things — discussions that include sexual innuendos or jokes with sexual punch lines). You cannot talk like a person who thinks nothing of fornication and then expect people not to think you are committing fornication when no one is looking. In other words, your talk should match your walk in life.

There will always be people to will dismiss this idea. They will tell you there is no harm in making jokes about committing fornication or talking dirty to your girlfriend. After all, it isn’t like anything actually happened! But Paul warns us not to be deceived by these empty or useless words. God is going to judge those who engage in such talk, as well as practice them.

His conclusion is not to join them. The word literally means to share with them. You don’t want to get involved in improper talk or jokes about sinful acts of sex because those who do will end up sharing the same fate in the judgment of God.

As Paul wrote elsewhere, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (I Corinthians 5:9-10). We are always going to have dealings with sinful people since we live in a sinful world. The difference between us and them is that we should not join sinners in committing sins.

The Song of Solomon deals with the topics of love and sex between a couple engaged and then later married. All along the way these topics are treated seriously and with respect. There is nothing crude or light-hearted fun in the book. When topics, such as sexual desire before marriage is mentioned, it is accompanied by warnings that a person has to avoid arousing passions before the proper time. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases” (Song 2:7). The Song of Solomon shows the proper way to discuss personal matters, such as sex. It is not what Paul had in mind when he wrote Ephesians.