Human beings have the capacity to have bed relations with one another. God made us that way. He made us with bodies which have gender distinctions and built-in desires for sexual fulfilment.

The Bible says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). As our Creator and the One who established marriage (Genesis 2), the Lord God says marriage is honorable. In connection with marriage, that is, within a marriage, bed relations between humans are undefiled. They are wholesome. They are proper.

When “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis 4:1), they had those sexual relations with God’s approval. Why? Because they were husband and wife. The message of 1 Corinthians 7:3 is, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” Those words from the Holy Spirit show that it is proper for those who are married to one another to use their bodies in a way that brings them sexual gratification (7:4).

At the same time, God’s word presents a clear and strong message about fornication and adultery. People who engage in those activities and do not repent of such “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The Bible says so (1 Corinthians 6:9). Thus, Christians are instructed to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18). As we noted earlier, God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Hebrews 13:4). Yes, He will hold them accountable for such activity.

By definition, a fornicator is one who commits fornication. What does “fornication” mean? The Greek word which is translated into English as “fornication” is “ /porneia.” That word is defined as “illicit sexual intercourse” [Thayer, word no. 4202 via e-Sword]. “Illicit” means unlawful. Thus, “porneia/fornication” refers to unlawful bed relations. God approves of two humans sleeping together/ enjoying sexual relations only when they are married to one another. Any time one human sleeps with a second human and that second human is not his/her spouse, their sexual activity is called “fornication.” Loving each other does not make it acceptable to God.

When two people of the same gender have bed relations with each other, that is fornication. Why? Because marriage and the sexual privileges that come with it are granted by God to “male and female,” that is, to a husband and his wife (Matthew 19:4,5).

When two unmarried people sleep together, that is fornication. When a married person has sexual relations with an unmarried person, that is fornication. When two people are married, but not to one another, if they have bed relations with each other, that is fornication. Again, fornication takes place any time a human sleeps with someone who is not his/her spouse. If one of the parties is a married person, their fornication also is called “adultery.”

In a number of modern-day songs, movies, and TV shows, fornication is depicted as normal and acceptable, perhaps even desirable. Oh, the songwriters and Hollywood producers do not use the word “fornication” in their scripts, but that is exactly what it is. A number of well-known people are not married, but they live with their “significant other.” Many others who are not as well-known do the same. The devil paints their sleeping together as normal and healthy. The tempter wants us to think that two people of mature age have the right to have bed relations if that is what they want. “I mean, if they love each other, how can it be a bad thing to do?”

We are back to this reality: only the God of heaven has the right to determine which activities are acceptable and which are not. He approves of bed relations between a wife and her husband, period. Any sexual activity outside of that specific realm is unlawful. It may be legal, but God calls it fornication. And, it may be widely accepted and practiced, but God still calls it fornication.

The Lord wants what is best for us. He knows that sin brings temporary pleasure (Hebrews 11:25). God is not opposed to us loving life, but He wants us to love those things which He labels as good (1 Peter 3:10,11). If the Lord’s message to mankind basically is, “Do not engage in sex until you are married, and once you are married, sleep only with your spouse,” then that approach is best for us! Acting in that way is a blessing to our lives and society in general. Such a course of conduct maintains our purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7), produces healthy marriages, and helps keep us on track to enjoy a wonderful eternity.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, chose not to sleep with someone who was not his spouse (Genesis 39). Judah and Tamar made a different choice (Genesis 38). Joseph and Mary chose not to sleep together until after they were married (Matthew 1). David made a different choice with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). God through Peter implored Christians to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Yes, it is a matter of choice.

Jesus taught that fornication and adultery come from the heart (Mark 7:21-23). So does abstaining from such. Biblically speaking, there is no “up” side to an unmarried couple sleeping together.

— Roger D. Campbell