During the time Jesus lived on the earth and the New Testament was written, fornication was a plague on mankind. It was widely practiced and accepted by many as “normal.” So it is today. In our time, multitudes of people live together, sharing the same bed, though they are not husband and wife. They may feel no shame in such an arrangement, but before God their bed relations constitute fornication.

“Fornication” is from the Greek word “πορνεία/porneia,” which means “illicit sexual intercourse” [Thayer, word no. 4202 via e-Sword]. In every instance that a human being engages in sexual relations/sleeping with someone who is not his/her spouse — that is fornication.

The world’s concept of “safe sex” is different from the Lord’s. By “safe sex,” worldly people mean to take precautions when having sexual relations in order to prevent the female from conceiving a child. God’s view drastically deviates from that idea. With God, “safe sex” would involve two phases: (1) never sleep with anyone before you get married and (2) after you get married, sleep only with your own spouse, who also maintains the same level of purity. For both spiritual and physical aspects, God’s mindset about “safe sex” is what every wise person chooses.

While fornication is widely practiced and accepted, in many instances it is not called by that name. It would be rare to hear the word “fornication” used in a movie script or popular song. The concept often is present; it simply is called something else.

Fornication disregards what God says about bed relations. God’s plan is that only certain people are allowed to have bed relations together — that would be a husband and his wife (Hebrews 13:4). Any other approach to bed relations thumbs a nose at God.

Fornication offends the God of heaven. Jesus said that fornication is evil (Mark 7:21-23). Do you believe what He said?

Fornication stains the soul. In Jesus’ words, fornication defiles a person (Mark 7:21).

Fornication tarnishes Christian reputations. If someone wants to remind us, “Well, we all make mistakes,” that is a true statement. That does not change the reality, though, that when a person sleeps with someone who is not his spouse, he is setting a horrible example instead of showing a pattern of good works (Titus 2:7). Yes, it is possible for people to repent, move on with their lives, and be wonderful servants of the Master, but in that stage of life when the fornication becomes public knowledge, the reputation of the member and local church take a hit.

Fornication breaks hearts. It is a stab in the heart to those who care about the spiritual well-being of the transgressors. Jeremiah wept extensively when God’s people committed harlotry by going off and serving false gods. Caring Christians are crushed when saints and family members engage in fornication, especially when the participants shrug their shoulders as if it is no big deal or may even defiantly defend it.

Fornication makes future conversations uncomfortable. If people have committed fornication prior to getting married, they will dread having their own adolescent kids or those whom they are teaching in a Bible class ask them about their moral purity before they were married. The same is true for one who cheated on his/her spouse and others want to know, “Why did you and your spouse split up?”

Fornication forfeits fellowship with the church. The Spirit’s charge to the brethren in Corinth was “not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral . . . not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Congregations and individual members who fail to withhold fellowship from fornicators do so to their own spiritual peril. Let us never doubt that God’s way is right . . . always.

Fornication prevents entrance into heaven. Yes, fornication has eternal consequences. The Bible says fornicators who will not inherit the eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). That sounds serious to me.

“Why have you not mentioned the potential physical consequences of fornication?” Fornication sometimes results in an illegitimate pregnancy or the spread of disease, but to the followers of Jesus, though we would not downplay the effect fornication can have on the physical body, our main focus is on fornication being a spiritual disaster.

Let us not lose sight of these additional facts about fornication: (1) Fornication is avoidable. Our Lord charges us to abstain from fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:12) and flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18). It is possible to do. (2) Fornication is forsakable. Just like other sins, it is possible for a person to repent and change his conduct, which in the case of fornication means to stop doing it (2 Corinthians 12:21). (3) Fornication is forgivable. When a fornicator repents of his sin and submits to the Lord’s instructions, his fornication no longer will be held against him (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

As a Christian, you strive to live your life according to God’s standard that is set forth in the Bible. For your spiritual well-being, you would be wise to date or have a close relationship only with people of the opposite gender who have the same outlook toward marriage and bed relations you have.

— Roger D. Campbell