Question: "Is it a sin for a Christian to go to a strip club or to watch strippers?"
Answer: The short answer is, yes, it is sinful for a Christian—or anyone—to attend a strip club and watch strippers. However, the very fact this question is raised deserves some more attention. Often, when someone asks whether a certain activity is “a sin,” the question is based upon the false premise that God has a list of sins that we can avoid to stay within His good graces. As long as we keep away from those particular “sins,” the thinking goes, then we are free to live any way we please. This is a wrong understanding of sin and of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Going to a strip club feeds the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16) and is therefore sinful. Sin can be defined as any thought, word, or deed that “falls short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, every human being has been born with a predisposition to sin (Genesis 3:11; Romans 5:12). We are born with a desire to please ourselves, rebel against God’s authority, and satisfy God-given desires in ungodly ways. Any misuse or abuse of God’s design means we are falling short of the glory of God.
Sexuality is an area of human experience that God created to be positive, not negative. Sexuality is a gift from God, and He has set the parameters for its enjoyment within marriage (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:18). Strip clubs promote sexual expression outside of God’s parameters, turning His positive gift into something negative. Rape, pornography, homosexual activity, and fornication are also negative expressions of God’s gift of sexuality. God designed marriage as the only healthy, holy avenue of sexual expression, so any sexual activity outside the marriage relationship is sin (1 Corinthians 6:9; Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6).
While the Ten Commandments is a good starting place for understanding God’s boundaries about sexuality, Jesus went even further, explaining the intent behind the Law: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:27–29). Jesus was warning us that lust is a serious error that will lead us away from God (James 1:13–15).
Rather than make choices based upon whether something is “a sin” or not, followers of Jesus seek to honor God in everything they do. Rather than ask whether something is “wrong,” we should ask what is “right” about it (see Philippians 4:8). When wondering whether an activity is sinful, it is simpler to ask ourselves, “If Jesus were spending the week with me, would I do this?” If the answer is “no,” then the event in question is most likely sin. Since the whole purpose of strip clubs is to celebrate lust, sensuality, perversion, and immorality, there is no question about whether or not Jesus would condone it. The environment of a strip club is contrary to the character of Jesus and those who want to follow Him. The only reason that a Christian could righteously be in a strip club would be to minister to the people trapped in that lifestyle.
It is good for Christians to stay out of strip clubs. However, we don’t earn “points” with God by avoiding certain sins. We become right with God by trusting in the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from our sinful natures (1 John 1:7; Titus 3:5). When our hearts are made new by the power of the Holy Spirit, we want to do those things that are pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10). When we know Him, we know what pleases Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). True followers of Jesus don’t have to wonder whether perversion or lust is a sin or not. We want to keep our hearts and lives pure, as He is pure (Matthew 5:8). We desire to live holy lives, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15–16). If we call ourselves His followers, then we actually follow Him. We go where He goes and do what He does. We want to avoid thoughts, words, and deeds that are contrary to our identity as children of God—not so that He will accept us but because He already has (1 John 3:1, 9–10; Philippians 2:15).