(What Is Fornication?) Bible Question.
“Could you please explain what fornication is? We were discussing the grounds for divorce in Matthew 19:9, and there was some disagreement about the meaning of the word.”
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.“ – Matthew 19:9 (King James Version)
Please notice that the Lord used different words in this verse to describe illicit sexual actions. Some dictionaries define “fornication” as being sexual relations between unmarried people. And “adultery” is usually defined as sexual relations between two people, at least one of whom is married to someone else. This definition is correct as far as the biblical use of “adultery” is concerned. But the “fornication” definition is inadequate.
The Greek term Jesus used (which is translated as ‘fornication’) is from “porneia”, which is a broad term that is usually defined as “illicit sexual activity”. That term includes sex between single people, it includes adultery, it includes homosexuality and it includes bestiality (to name a few). In other words, “fornication ” as used in the New Testament Scriptures includes every kind of overt and illicit sexual activity. Although the idea is not addressed specifically in Scripture, I believe it would also include most (if not all) pornography.
According to the definition of the word, when one commits adultery he or she guilty of fornication. When one engages in homosexual sexual behavior he or she is guilty of fornication. When single people engage in sex, they are guilty of fornication. In other words, to engage in sex outside of marriage is fornication – regardless of what the sex act is. That is what the word means.
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