What Does Debauchery Mean? A Biblical Definition of Debauchery

What Does Debauchery Mean? A Biblical Definition of Debauchery August 13, 2015

What does the Bible mean exactly when it refers to “debauchery?” What is a biblical definition of debaucher?

A Secular Definition of Debauchery

Debaucher is a word we don’t use in our everyday language today but in the King’s English, in which the King James Bible was written, it was more of a commonly known word. Debauchery means to have immoral conduct or be practicing harmful things or doing offensive things and could include activities like drunkenness, drug abuse, and sexual immorality or all three. Today we see this glamorized in Hollywood and in some advertisements and the debauchery mentioned in the Bible is not all that different from a secular definition as we shall read.

Leaving Debauchery Behind

After I was saved, I had to leave behind many of the things that I felt convicted about. I quit doing drugs, drinking, but didn’t have to cease from any sexual immorality since I have always been faithful to my wife. Most of my friends and some of my cousins were those that I ran with when I did these things. In that context, Peter wrote “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1st Pet 4:3-5). They were surprised that I stopped doing these things and stopped running with them in doing them. They have since done what Peter said; they have maligned me and think of me as too good for them. I don’t judge them though for I couldn’t cast stones. I only felt it was now wrong for me to do these things and so I stopped but this made me like a third wheel at their gatherings after that and so they want little to do with me anymore.


Being Filled with the Spirit

When Paul was writing to the Ephesians, he was stressing the works of the flesh (debauchery) and the fruits of the Spirt (the Holy Spirit that is) which is why he wrote “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:17-19). Paul ties in getting drunk with debauchery as Peter did who also included “sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1st Pet 4:3). Instead of doing those things, Paul admonishes the believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be associated with spiritual activities such as “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19).

Pastoral Qualifications

When Paul was writing to Titus about selecting church elders like pastors, he gave Titus limitations on a man’s social life like he should be “the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach” (Titus 1:6b-7a) so the elder or pastor should be the husband of one wife or a one-woman man and there should be no accusations or be open to charges of living a life of debaucher or he’d be disqualified. The point is, not only shouldn’t elders avoid debaucher, but I believe a Christian should avoid such a lifestyle too and instead, be filled, as Paul wrote, with the Holy Spirit.

Evidence of Debauchery

Paul revealed that there should be no “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you” (Eph 5:3) and including “no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking” (Eph 5:4) nor anyone “who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous” (Eph 5:5) and to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Eph 5:11-12). It is “because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph 5:6-8). Paul also wrote of debauched behavior, writing “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21). The bottom line is that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” and it is “because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Many places in the Bible we are told to leave these things behind and specifically in Revelation 18:4 where the Apostle John writes “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.”


If you are still living in what is called a debauched lifestyle, then you are not filled with the Spirit. Instead you have the wrath of God awaiting you on Judgment Day as the Bible clearly reveals in many places. It is not too late though for you to repent and turn to Christ and put your trust in Him right now (Rom 10:9-13). If not, there is “only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:27). Tragically, most will laugh at this and will regret forever their chance to be saved by the only name given to us by where we can be saved and that is Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • April Dalton


  • Jason Jam

    Poorly written article. “you are not filled with the Holy Spirit if you do a certain activity” ? Sorry, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. The authors lack of provided credentials are evident.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Jason. What I wrote was “to be filled with the Holy Spirit [is] be associated with spiritual activities such as “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19). I did not say what you wrote, “you are not filled with the Holy Spirit if yoiu do a certain activity.” Don’t be sorry. I agree. We are sealed, but saved for good works (Eph 2:10) and no works? No Spirit. Read the Word and you’ll see that. You have taken my text out of context to create a false pretext. That’s “poorly written” if anything sir.

      • Jason Jam

        No works no Holy Spirit? I am done here.

        • Hi Jason,

          From a Christian perspective (I am an atheist), doesn’t Paul say this:

          “…by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Eph.2:8-10).

          • Jason Jam

            Being in an authentic relationship with Jesus will result in you joyously doing works for the Lord, what I disagree with is, us doing anything to be able deserve the Holy Spirit I will pray for you dear friend that Jesus intercedes in your life , like He did for me, I use to be an atheist too. Jesus appeared to me in a radical way and changed my life forever and I am now in bible college.

          • But aren’t you saying the same thing as Jack? I don’t think that he thinks that you are able to do anything to deserve the Holy Spirit. Jack believes that genuine believers in Jesus joyously produce the fruit of the Spirit. The way I read Jack is that no fruit implies no relationship.