I get why murder and idol worship are things you have to give your life up for. But why is giluy arayos - sexual sin so fundamental as to require a person to give up one's life? I'm looking for a taamei hamitzvot perspective, not just the formal derivation of the law.
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He says that the point of these laws is to tell us that the central symbol of our service of God, the Altar, has to represent the fundamentals of our actual service - our adherence to the three fundamental laws. We therefore have to, through the laws given here, "expel the very last trace" of the fundamental sins from the Altar, just as we do so from our actual lives.
He formulates the Big Three as "the culmination of sin against God, of sin against one's fellow man, and of sin against oneself."
So, how does sexual immorality constitute "the culmination of sin against oneself"?
I think R' Hirsch touches on this in many places, but I found it set out pretty clearly in his commentary to Leviticus 18:6, at the beginning of a list of couplings particularly prohibited to Jews:
(my bracketed comments where indicated)
To our purpose, I think what he's saying is that sexual morality is the paradigm of human adherence to God's Law through choice. A person who violates this Law turns his back on his mission as a human being, just as an apple tree that somehow decided to produce grapes instead would be turning its back on its mission as an apple tree.
After a careful reading of the Talmudic explanation for this law (in Bavli Sanhedrin 74), it is clear that the "giluy arayos" that is included in the "big 3" is, specifically, rape. This is the context in Devarim 22:26, which says that rape is as bad as murder. When a man rapes a girl, he actually murders her, therefore it is a mitzva to save the girl by killing the raper.
Therefore, if someone tells you "either rape that girl, or I kill you", then it is just like saying "either kill that girl, or I kill you" - in both cases you should be killed and not rape/kill.
(I am aware that in the Yerushalmi the explanation is different... this is a topic for another discussion).