Original Meaning Of Fornication?

Discussion in 'Marriage and Relationships' started by banjo71, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. In Acts 15:19-20, James writes to the church,

    "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood."

    I looked the word "fornication" and in the Greek meaning of the word it means idolatrous harlotry and adultery.

    Now, I have had my experience with having sexual relations with a girl before the ceremony vows. I never felt right about it, and I'll submit here to God that yes, it is a sin, because I had convictions to quit this behavior and I felt better when we weren't doing that. But I don't see how it is a form of fornication according to the definition. Is it a sin because it is immoral instead? I really don't see the connection with fornication.

    If anyone can shed light on this it would be helpful. Thanks.
  2. dictionary.com lists the history of the word as follows (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fornication)

    "c.1300, from O.Fr. fornication, from L.L. fornicationem (nom. fornicatio), from fornicari "fornicate," fromL. fornix (gen. fornicis) "brothel," originally "arch, vaulted chamber" (Roman prostitutes commonly solicited from under the arches of certain buildings), from fornus "oven of arched or domed shape."
    Strictly, "voluntary sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman;" extended in the Bible to adultery."

    Strong's defines the word used in Greed as (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4202)
    1. illicit sexual intercourse
      1. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
      2. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
      3. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12
    2. metaph. the worship of idols
      1. of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols
    According to Vines Expository Dictionary
    "(a) of "illicit sexual intercourse," in Jhn 8:41; Act 15:20, 29;21:25; 1Cr 5:1; 6:13, 18; 2Cr 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5;1Th 4:3; Rev 2:21; 9:21; in the plural in 1Cr 7:2; in Mat 5:32;19:9 it stands for, or includes, adultery; it is distinguished from it in Mat 15:19; Mar 7:21;

    (b) metaphorically, of "the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith,"Rev 14:8; 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2; some suggest this as the sense in Rev 2:21."

    Being out of town, that's probably about as satisfying of an answer as I'll be able to come up without more complete references. I think the important thing to remember is that a little knowledge can actually be dangerous. Language doesn't evolve in a strictly logical sense, and finding the original base definition of a word doesn't always shed very much light on the usage or purpose of a word.
    Terri A. Constant and KingJ say Amen and like this.
  3. Culturally, marriage happens if two people say vows to each other in a ceremony in the presence of God and witnesses. And usually, the state recognizes the marriage as legal if you buy a license.

    In Matthew 19:4-6

    Jesus said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

    Did God always require a formal ceremony? What does God say in his word about how to be married?

    I'd like to really know what the Bible says about how to be married, since sexual relations is either fornication or not depending on if you're married.

    Also, in 1 Cor 7:1-2 says,

    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.

    Again, I haven't found where it says 'how' to get a wife or a husband, so I've always went back to Matthew 19:4-6 on how: to leave your father and mother and be joined by God to a wife. So maybe my question is really, how does God join a man to a woman, according to scripture?

    Is it indeed thru ceremony and vows, or is it a pull toward each other God puts in the hearts of two people to join them? Like what if God puts two people together and they say vows of commitment between each other and God? Is that marriage?

    And to reiterate, I'm not arguing here. My personal convictions are to go thru with the ceremony. So my purpose here is to be clear on what the Bible teaches about how God joins two people together, so that I really know how it's supposed to work - whether going thru with a ceremony and state recognition is going beyond the call of duty.
  4. Largely in the Bible, marriage is done upon consummation. Traditionally, that's how it was always viewed by commentators. For instance, in the case of Abram going to Sarai's handmaiden, most older commentaries refer to Hagar as Abram's wife. Certainly there was no known ceremony. On top of that, the way the Bible handles polygamy and even issues like rape or homosexuality lend credence to that idea. It is generally handled as a protection for the wife.

    To fulfill Jewish law, there actually are three covenants or contracts that must be met. Our modern ceremonies are largely connected to that same idea. The first is a contract between the couple, the second is between the families, and the final is between the families and the community.

    Lastly, the early church once recognized marriage as being directly linked to sex, but abandoned the idea largely because a number of people would sleep together and then change their mind, but of course wouldn't officially tell anyone. The issue at the heart of the whole thing is accountability and protection. When the Bible refers to marriage, it is always the joining of two. Ceremony is just a way of bringing accountability, family, and community into the relationship.

    This is the reason that no matter how our government redefines marriage, they aren't actually redefining it. God's purpose for marriage will always be the same as it was from the beginning. It isn't the ceremony that makes the marriage. Still, fornication becomes wrong because it is taking something that isn't yours. There is no protection. There is no glorification. There is no Christ in such casual and short-term relationships. If you were to consider that every person who has ever had sex is married, how many broken marriages are there REALLY in the world? How many fragmented hearts are utterly incapable of fulfilling their purpose in God's plan? Even without the ceremony, it isn't something to be taken lightly.
  5. Sure, marriage can take place with just two and God as the witness Malachi 2:14.

    BUT, we are told to honor marriage, keep the bed undefiled Heb 13:4-7 and avoid all appearance of evil 1 Thess 5:22 as we are ambassadors of Jesus / our holy God! Thus no good Christian will have a marriage without witnesses unless you are on island ;).
  6. I understand now. Thank you guys for helping me see.
  7. I've done a lot of pondering about this subject. When reading the strict laws of the Old Testament, the only penalty for extra marital sex with a virgin was paying the bride price to her father, after which time she would officially be considered your wife. The main principle seemed to be more paying for damages than atoning for sin. I was surprised that even the strict laws of the Old Testament didn't seem to emphasize much regarding intimacy.

    I also noticed that Isaac and Rebecca were presumably intimate at their first meeting, and were considered man and wife from that moment on, and it was lawful to have several wives and/or concubines at the time (meaning that love was not a requirement for lawful intimacy).

    The Bible speaks up on faithfulness to your spouse, but is fairly silent concerning the definition of marriage. I have never found guidelines for what does or does not constitute marriage in the Bible, except Jesus remarking that marriage was originally intended to be between one man and one woman. It is possible that intimacy is the beginning of marriage itself. Perhaps fornication refers to the entire category of sexual sin. I have considered that maybe having a boyfriend or girlfriend is marriage. I don't believe that God ever confronted or punished anyone who slept with someone else (excluding perversions or adultry).

    I suppose that I am still conflicted about what to believe. I did feel guilty being intimate before marriage on several occasions, but I also believe that your conscience is deceptive. I know that it is possible to feel guilt about things that aren't wrong, so I've learned not to conclusively trust my feelings. Let me know if you come to a conclusion yeah?
  8. As with all subjects in God's word, we can use the statements of Jesus when He summarized the law as loving God with all your mind and heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

    You are correct about your conscience. The Christian experience re-shapes one's conscience in the fashion of "we have the mind of Christ". This does not occur in an instant of time, rather, it is the process of studying, thinking about, and practicing emulation of Christ which changes us into people who can be fully guided by conscience.
    One must use knowledge in addition to feelings in order to be properly guided. And, over time, as we continue as Christ's followers, our knowledge will find full resonance in our feelings.

    I think it is highly important to read and understand what the bible says. I think it is also highly important to know what the bible DOES NOT say. Just as you point out here. All of God's laws are FOR US, not Him. God
    is not diminished in any way, nor is He "hurt" by our sin. He is still 100% God, having all His power, His wisdom,
    His kingdom, either before, or after our sin.

    The ones who are diminished and hurt by our sin is US. Ourselves, and others.

    Faithfulness FROM our spouse is our desire and our need. Therefore, to obey Jesus in Matthew 7:12, we must provide faithfulness FOR our spouse. This meets the summarial law as stated by Him.

    We do not want to receive an adulterated partner into marriage, nor do we want to endure the hurt and devastation of a cheating partner. Therefore, to obey Jesus, we must keep ourselves away from fornication and sex outside of marriage.
  9. I agree with you. I also believe that one must carefully commit to avoiding an appearance of evil, so as not to lead others astray. It's definitely not an easy tenant to follow , that's for sure.

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