It was not too many years ago after graduating from college that I took a job working at the student health center at the University of Texas at Austin. Not too long after my employment there, I learned that there was a program in place that actually encouraged the students of the University to have sex with one another. The student health center was key in promoting this program. The participants of the program were trained to hold classes and work in booths to promote the concept of “safe sex,” to teach people how to have sex, and to promote sex as a recreational activity. The participants were volunteers, but each participant was required to have sex (whether they were married or not) a specified number of times each week. So, the University of Texas, was actually sponsoring a program, for which state money was being spent, that required its participants to engage in the sin of fornication. Needless to say, I didn’t stay in that job for very long.
This true situation is illustrative of the attitudes that society currently has toward fornication. The sexual revolution of the sixties brought sexual activity out of the privacy of the home and publicly placed it squarely in the face of every person who lives in America. It is now, not uncommon to hear people discussing their sex life with their friends in public places. We are constantly barraged with the lust for sex on television, radio, movie theaters, art displays, books, newspapers, the Internet, and other public venues in which free speech is allowed. While many of these venues have embraced fornication for quite some time, their depictions of such activity are increasingly graphic and offensive. When asked why they do such, the answer is always the same, “because society demands it.” And in my experience, I have found this to be basically correct. Society, as a whole, does demand this type of content within their entertainment. What, then, is a Christian to do?
We must educate everyone we know as to what the sin of fornication is. Most importantly, we must educate our children! At one time, society’s silence regarding the issue was enough to let many young people know that there was something not right about it. However, society does not act that way toward fornication any more. Society now glamorizes and embraces such activity as recreational, fun, and just like going to the movies. Society is not going to teach our children that such behavior is sinful, so we MUST teach them. I once received a question in which a young person in asking a related question indicated that he did not know that fornication was a sin. There should not be any young person that we know who does not understand the sinfulness of fornication. For one to grow up not understanding such is a serious failure on our part as adults to teach the word of God. With that in mind, let us pursue a little education in this matter.
The word “fornication” is considered to be obsolete in the English language, but it is, nonetheless, a word that many recognize and understand. Most modern versions of the Bible use the phrase “sexual immorality” in its place today. But the phrase “sexual immorality” simply does not capture the correct concept that the word “fornication” provides. Fornication is the illicit interaction of sexual genitalia between two persons of the opposite sex, persons of the same sex whether men or woman, or some person and an animal of the same or opposite sex. The only place where God approves of sexual relations is between a husband and a wife in a private setting. This means that everything else within the above definition, is fornication. Sexual immorality includes fornication, but is not specific enough. Sexual immorality includes the concept of petting, but petting is not necessarily fornication, although it is condemned within the Bible as lasciviousness.
What do the scriptures say regarding fornication? There are several passages which speak of fornication as a sin. One such is found in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Fornication is a sin, the likes of which, it takes the flesh of our own body to commit. When one commits fornication, the body is the instrument for the sin. Paul contrasts the sin of fornication with being sanctified in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” The sin of fornication militates against Christian sanctification, holiness, and purity. Those who practice fornication, we are told, will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Fornication is a salvation issue!
Let us resolve as Christians to educate everyone around us regarding the sin of fornication. Let us especially resolve to educate our children regarding this particular sin. Christians have a calling to be holy and those who are not holy will not see God (Hebrews 12:14). If we desire to live godly, pure, and sanctified lives, then we will abstain from fornication. Those who do not, will not see eternal life. That’s plain and simple Bible doctrine.