Does fornication not include sex before marriage?


I would like to address a post on your site: Does God forgive Christians who commit fornication and sexual immorality?

Your reply to this woman is typical of every misguided Christian when it comes to the question of "fornication." You brought down the hammer on this girl quoting from I Corinthians 6:9 in one translation. I looked up this same verse in Bible Gateway and there are over 40 different interpretations of this verse. The biggest lie that we are told in the church is that "fornication" is sex between unmarried singles.

Now, if sex before marriage is such a sin that you can condemn this girl with Bible quotes, how do you justify these verses that clearly shows the Bible heroes having "concubines," known today as girlfriends, or mistresses, outside their marriages? From Abraham to David there are countless accounts of the Bible heroes who were having sex with other single women who were their concubines. How is it possible that you could condemn a single Christian for having intimacy, not full sex, with her boyfriend while you quote from the very Bible that shows your Bible heroes having full blown sex with women they are not married to? Your answer should be interesting, if you care to even reply. I have done extensive research on this subject, and if you are open-minded as a Christian, I urge you to read the attached documents [there was only one and I'm not going to bother including it -jwh] which will show you the real meaning of the English word "fornication." The false teaching of the church has condemned many Christians to bondage telling them the only way to have sex with their partner is to get married.

No Christian should sleep around, but consider the false doctrine of fornication applied to a loving couple with children. One is saved, so according to your teachings that person must deny the other partner sex, or force him, or her, to get married! Is this found anywhere in the Bible? Please show me, the threat of damnation has been used to threaten and force single couple to abandon their sex life and force the other partner into marriage. Are we really preaching the word of God, or the doctrine of man? Paul's advice has caused so much confusion all because the correct phrase "sexual immorality" has been replace with "fornication." God condemned the entire nation of Israel for committing "fornication" (English translation) in Ezekiel 16. How can a whole nation commit "fornication" if it meant sex before marriage?

"But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was" (Ezekiel 16:15).

"Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger" (Ezekiel 16:26).

"Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied therewith" (Ezekiel 16:29).

"But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country" (Genesis 25:6).

"And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her" (Genesis 30:4).

"And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve" (Genesis 35:22).

"And his (Gideon) concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech" (Judges 8:31).

"And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David" (2 Samuel 5:13).

"And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood" (2 Samuel 20:3).


I wonder if you actually read the answer or only picked one for a platform for expressing your ideas. The answer you referenced mentioned I Corinthians 6:9-11 in the context that verse 11 shows she could be forgiven of her sins.

Fascinatingly, your arguments are completely based on your own definition of words. Your attached document only briefly touches on Greek word porneia, stating without evidence:

"In Biblical Greek, the word porneia meant "sexual immorality" or "sexual perversions." It was often used as a blanket term to encompass all sexual activity and even sexual thoughts (i.e. sexual lust or fantasies) that were considered unrighteous by the laws of Leviticus."

It neglects the fact that the Old Testament (including Leviticus) was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. But let's just for a moment pretend that your definition was accurate. You complained that I scolded a young woman who stated that she and her boyfriend had sex at her insistence but they stopped before there was "full penetration." Seems to me that would encompass "sexual activity and even sexual thoughts." Sounds like they were involved in what the Greeks called porneia. Sounds like I Corinthians 6:9-11 would be an applicable verse since it uses the word porneia.

I'm not surprised that you can read forty translations and find forty different wordings of the same verse. English is a flexible language with many word choices available. However, this does not mean the translation is difficult or that some are wrong. Besides, the question isn't about the entirety of I Corinthians 6:9, but how to translate porneia into English.

  • "the impure and immoral": AMPC
  • "people who engage in sex before marriage": CJB
  • "immoral": CEV, TLB, RSVCE
  • "those who sin sexually": ERV, EXB
  • "People who continue to commit sexual sins": GW, NOG, NIRV, NLT
  • "impure": PHILLIPS
  • "sex sins": NLV
  • "lechers": WYC
  • "whoremongers": YLT

This is your own documentation and it shows eleven variations of translations that are pretty consistent. You documented that fifteen translations used the English word "fornication" as the equivalent of porneia. "Fornication" did not replace "sexual immorality" as the preferred translation of porneia. It was the other way around. "Fornication" is the older translation. Note that the CJB actually uses wording that directly contradicts your claim that porneia cannot mean sex prior to marriage. So why did you ignore your own evidence that you are wrong? For a detailed definition with thorough biblical citations, see: Sex. Fornication (porneia) is not limited to only sex before marriage, but it includes sex before marriage. It encompasses all sex that takes place between two people who are not married to each other.

You admit that "no Christian should sleep around." It makes me wonder how you come to this conclusion if you honestly believe that there is law against having sex prior to marriage. What I see is someone who has decided that he wants to sin, and prefers to twist the Scriptures to make himself feel better about his chosen sin; yet, he condemns others who might take his conclusion further than he would. "... our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures" (II Peter 3:15-16).

Another argument you make is based on an improper understanding of what a concubine is. You assume that a concubine is unmarried to the man she has sex with, but you make that assumption without evidence -- it is merely asserted. A concubine is a slave who is taken as a wife. "The Hebrew noun pileghesh refers to a 'concubine.' In the OT sense, a concubine was a legal wife, but one of secondary rank." [The Complete Biblical Library].

In regards to Ezekiel 16, I guess I'll have to break the news to you that you are referring to a prophecy written in symbolic language. The southern kingdom of Judah is compared to a foundling who grows up to be an immoral woman. God had "married" Israel, in the sense that He entered a covenant with the nation, just as man enters a covenant with a woman at the time of their marriage. "'I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,' declares the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 16:8). The imagery of a wife turning to a life a prostitution is used to illustrate Israel's chasing after idols. "'You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened,' declares the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 16:16-19). I can't help but notice that the verses you skipped in your citations are the ones that explain the symbolism and I am left speculating that you did so purposely.

Even if "sexual immorality" is deemed a better translation of porneia, it does not change the facts. Sex with someone you are not married to is a sin (immoral).

"If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife" (Exodus 22:16).

"If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days" (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

"Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband" (I Corinthians 7:1-2).

"But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9).

Hello Jeffrey,

Thanks for your kind reply, there are many things I could address in your letter, especialy your accusations of me wanting to "sin". However, since you are adamant in your assertion that fornication is premarital sex, I would like you to kindly explain this verse for me spoken by Jesus Christ himself: "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:32).

Like you, many Bible teachers also confuse rape with "fornication" (sex before marriage to you), rather than seeing rape as sexual immorality and a crime punishable by burning or been stoned to death. Imagine if people like you were to apply this law to someone commiting "fornication" today? The church would be burning people or stoning them to death for having sex outside marriage even if they were in a loving, long term relationship with a family.

This one verse in Matthew 5:32 alone kills the false doctrine of fornication as premarital sex if a married woman can commit fornication. It also kills the doctrine of divorce and remarriage for Christians as they are condemned as adulterers! You will no doubt look for other translations of this verse, and as you will see, the original Greek and Aramaic words used in the first Bibles have long since been changed with every modern translation. Today, the terms fornication, adultery, and sexual immorality are often confused in many Bibles.

I reread my reply and nowhere do I state that porneia ("fornication" or "sexual immorality" in the English) means pre-marital sex. It would certainly include pre-marital sex, but fornication is sex where the two people involved are not married to each other. Adultery can also be included in fornication, especially when fornication is used as a stand-alone term. Porneia would also include rape, homosexuality, and bestiality. It is when fornication is used in lists with adultery that it refers to pre-marital sex and adultery refers to post-marital sex with someone you are not married to.

I have been arguing from the definitions of the Greek words in the text. As I pointed out, you have been arguing from the meaning of words selected by translations and not doing a very good job of it.

It is the government, not church, who is ordained by God for punishing evil. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:3-4). Besides, the death penalty was a part of the Mosaical Law and not the Law of Christ.