I spent seven years as a singles pastor.  Can you imagine the issues I had to deal with regarding sex? How far can we go before marriage? What if we are engaged? What happens when we have already crossed that line? Is it okay to try living together if we don’t have sex? As well, I knew the issues of lust and temptation that come from magazines, internet sites, and promiscuous thoughts in general. While I was at seminary, I remember the head of the counseling department saying that by his estimation, half the male students were struggling with internet pornography. Half! If half this body of guys sold out to Jesus, selling everything they own to go to seminary, were this deeply involved in sexual struggles, how much more so the singles at my church?

Many of these are difficult questions. More difficult than one realizes, until pushed for an answer. We are dealing with sexual sin among sexual people. We are bound to attempt to find as many loopholes as possible.

The Claim that Fornication is Not a Sin

One day I was blindsided by a question that, before then, I had considered a softball. A man walked up to me after my lesson and said that he had some good Christian friends (and by “good Christian friends” I mean he considered these friends to be good Christians), who questioned him about the issue of sex before marriage. They had suggested to him that, contrary to popular thought, the Bible does not anywhere condemn what is known in our language as “fornication.” They said that the word “fornication,” when it is used in the Bible, does not mean sex before marriage, but sexual immorality in general. According to their studies, the sexual immorality condemned in the Scripture does not include fornication.

After some quick research, I discovered that what they said was true . . . at least part of it.

My Sordid History with Fornication

Now, let me be up front here. Before I married Kristie, I did not do to well in the sex before marriage department. I regret it quit a bit. I don’t think I ever actually committed adultery, but for the most part I worked on a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” basis. I was a Christian at the time and the guilt was bad. However, I took some comfort in thinking that I had not crossed the actual adultery line (at least as far as I knew). Why? Because I knew that the Bible had a lot to say about adultery. You know, it was all that “take them out and stone them” stuff. But, while the guilt was bad, it was not as bad as it could have (or should have) been. After all, who was I hurting? God made me a sexual being. I was not coloring outside of the lines that much. After all, what does he expect? It is quite a killjoy to create sexual desire and then say, “You cannot touch.”

So, back to my question: Is fornication really a sin?

Translation of Pornia

It is true that in the Bible, the word for fornication does not necessarily refer to sex before marriage. The Greek word translated “fornication” by the King James Bible is pornia (from which we get our word “pornography”). It refers to any unlawful sexual activity. BDAG (the standard and best Greek Lexicon) defines it as “unsanctioned sexual intercourse.” The sanctioning of a sexual activity is defined in the Old Testament by what it is not more often than what it is. In other words, we learn what is lawful with regard to fulfilling our sexual desires by creating boundaries of foreign territory considered sinful. Much of this law is covered in Leviticus 18. Take notice of the boundaries here:

Lev. 18:6-21, 23
6 “None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the LORD.

7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness.

8 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.

9 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home.

10 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness.

11 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, brought up in your father’s family, since she is your sister.

12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s relative.

13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s relative.

14 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt.

15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.

16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.

17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity.

18 And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.

19 You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.

20 And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her.

22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

That pretty much covers the law with regard to sexual sin, right? After all, to “uncover the nakedness” of someone is a euphemism about sexual relations. However, one thing that is left out here is sex before marriage. It does not say, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of someone who is not your wife.” Yes, there are a lot of parameters, but it looks like we might have found ourselves a loophole toward a sexual revolution in Christianity! Not so fast, singles. While it is true that this particular passage does not speak specifically to the sex before marriage issue, sex before marriage is nonetheless condemned in Scripture as sin.

You won’t believe the scholars you can sit under today!

Fornication in the Old Testament

Let me be honest. From what I can see, the Old Testament does not seem to come down too hard on men having sex outside of the bonds of marriage. It is another story for women. Notice here:

Deut. 22:13-14
“If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,'”

This introduces a situation where a man finds out that his wife was not a virgin before they got married. If the charge was found to be true, then the women was to be stoned (Lev. 22:20-21). At the very least, this demonstrates that, for women, the laws against sexual immorality included sex before marriage.

Passages such as Lev. 19:20 further confuse the matter, giving males more liberty.

However, the liberty is not carte blanche for men. Notice here:

Deut. 22:28-29
“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”

Here, either through rape or consent (this is debated), we have an unwed woman and a man who sleep together. The woman has lost her virginity to the man. Due to this, the man is forced to pay a “fine” or properly marry the woman to cover her shame and make sure she is provided for. This shows that sex before marriage for men was not without its consequences in the Old Testament.

Fornication in the New Testament

The issue of sex before marriage becomes much more clear in the New Testament, as it is more explicitly forbidden to both men and women.

(This is not the time to discuss why the Old Testament is not more clear on this issue. It is my assumption that, like with so many other things, God, in the progress of revelation, did not express his full ideal in the Law of Moses, but conceded to some cultural norms like he did with slavery and polygamy.)

The word “fornication,” as I said above, does not necessarily mean sex before marriage. However, I do believe it is implied many times for two primary reasons.

1. Christ’s condemnation of lust

Mat 5:27-28
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If sex before marriage was not forbidden, why does Christ say that lust is? Implied here is that everything from lust to adultery is forbidden by the sixth commandment. Sex before marriage definitely fits right in between.

2. Paul’s admonishment to marry rather than burn

1 Cor. 7:8-9
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to stay single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

The idea of “burning” here has to do with sexual desire. Here Paul tells all unmarried people that if they cannot control their sexual desires, they need to get married. Why? Because Paul assumes that one cannot fulfill this sexual desire outside of the marital bed. While Paul would love for them to remain single (1 Cor. 7:7), he believes that sex outside of marriage is a destructive sin and cannot be used as a gratifying release of our sexual passions.

Conclusion: Yes, Fornication is a Sin

While there are other passages that can be used to build the case that sex outside of marriage is indeed sinful, I believe that these are strong enough to bind Christian consciences.

God created sex. God created our sexual desires. Sex is good within the borders of marriage. For those of you who think that God is a killjoy for limiting sex to such a situation, please remember a couple of things: 1) God created sex! How could he be a killjoy? Think about it. The very act about which you are complaining is an act he created. 2) God knows better than you do what will satisfy you. It takes an act of faith to believe this, but it is not too big a step to take. 3) Most married Christian men and women who, like myself, did not have a very successful single life would love to turn back the clocks and do it all over again. And this is not because we are not forgiven . . . we are. It is because we know the intimacy which is lost when you have already given yourself to another. Our advice to you would be to wait. If it is too late, stop and wait. It is never too late to trust God in this matter. As cliché as it may sound, he really does know best. Fornication is really a sin.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    198 replies to "Is Fornication Really a Sin?"

    • Fred

      The main point here is to keep from premarital sex, lust of flesh, fornication and all it concerns. Stop looking for loop holes to getting to do it or to justify your actions. Before the Lord it is sin. Break off your fallow ground to allow good seeds to grow into your life.. Thanks for good advice patton

    • Diane

      In all of these comments, it seems to be “all about me”. “Oh it’s allright to have sex before marriage, as long as you really want to marry the person.”
      For me, everyone seems to forget the social and societal aspects of the whole question. What about asking: is it love to live out my lust without the commitment? Does this honor God? What happens in a society where sex is not confined to marriage? What about human trafficking? This terrible abuse? Selling women? Selling children and boys to use and destroy for one’s own selfish desires? Is this not a consequence that results from thinking that sex does not belong in marriage?

    • Anthony

      I can’t believe all the nonsense I just read both in this article and on these comments. Fornication is indeed a sin. And you, yourself confirmed this through Matthew 5:27
      A minister, pastor, priest should know this all too well. There is no such thing as a tough question for a man or woman that lives their life according to our Lord. Right is right, wrong is wrong, not maybe if you go about doing it this way or that way.
      This is a perfect example of one attempting to sugar coat the truth with deception. Lust is a huge factor for the chaos that goes on in this world today. Eliminate pornography of every single kind (magazines, movies, Internet, book stores, strip clubs, prostitution, etc) and greatly reduce the sin of lust in the minds of both men and women. As long as this country cries freedom to be foolish, this country condemns itself. Not by my words but by the very words that comes from our Lord through Scriptures.

      • Charles Hamilton

        I dont think you read the article because he clearly states that it is a sin

    • Anthony

      To clarify the conflict some have here back in 2012, fornication and covet are two different circumstances. Fornication is two people having intercourse that are not married (plain and simple). Covet is a person desiring to have something that is not theirs, that belongs to someone else, including family members, regardless of your reason why you want them.
      Adultery is that which a man or woman commits when they look at another person with lust in their hearts, or have intercourse for the simple pleasure of lust and not for creation. Yes, even a husband or wife can commit adultery by lust for their flesh (when they get sexually aroused by listing for another and use their spouse as a way of relief). There is no difficult question that can’t be answered by Scriptures. The problem exists with people who wish to manipulate the words of our Lord to comfort their own wicked thoughts. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • John

      ” Yes, even a husband or wife can commit adultery by lust for their flesh (when they get sexually aroused by listing for another and use their spouse as a way of relief). There is no difficult question that can’t be answered by Scriptures. ”

      That’s not in the scriptures. You totally just made that up.

    • John

      ” Fornication is indeed a sin. And you, yourself confirmed this through Matthew 5:27″

      But.. But… But…. Mt 5:27 is about adultery, which is a whole different issue to fornication. If this verse wanted to instruct about fornication, why would it discuss adultery?

    • Anthony

      Nothing made up John. Lust is lust, regardless if you are single or married. Christ said should you even look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery. You can not go by all that Paul has written in his letters because he made many comments to satisfy the people of the region he was addressing at that given time. Paul was no different than Moses and people need be aware of they when reading the Bible. Christ made it clear to the Scribes and Pharisees that due to the hardness of their hearts Moses gave them the right to dismiss their spouse. But this is not the word of our Father in heaven above. Man is to leave his parents and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.
      You can claim I made it up but I do not wear blinders on. Lust is lust, even in marriage.

    • Anthony

      Fornication is two people having intercourse outside of marriage. Ask yourself the reason why people have sexual relations outside of marriage. It is because they lust for the flesh of another, not for love or to create new life. Adultery is also labeled as lust for the flesh of another as Christ made that clear. Therefore fornication, adultery and lust all carry the same burden upon the soul.

    • psue

      We have a 20 year old son that is dating a girl for 4mo.. Ever since they have been friends they have slept together akmost every day. (Fallen asleep, cuddling) and they say they are not having sex. They are adamant about sleeping together. They both live at separate homes. It is ok at her house but not ours. We as his parents say it is a sin to sleep together without being married and they need to stop. They want chapter and verse where it says it’s a sin. We would appreciate your response on what you would say to them.

    • Alex

      I think it’s as John said, in the ancient world, there simply wasnt a lot of casual sex going on. There was either marriage or prostitution and not a whole lot in between.

      It should be noted that the situations described in Deut 22 are related to betrothal. When the betrothed virgin is found with a man in the city, they are both stoned because if it had been rape, she could have screamed and the neighbors would put a stop to it. Betrothal was a much stronger relationship than our modern engagment; betrothed people were practically married already, so if the virgin is sleeping with some other man, it would be considered as serious offense as adultery – thats why the punishment is the same.

      The senario with the virgin who is not betrothed is a protection for her. If the man is going to sleep with her, then he must take responsibility and marry her and not divorce her. Otherwise, as a non-virgin, her marriage prospects were grim, and if she concieved a child from that union, even worse. Such an arragment would be what we’d call a “shotgun wedding” today and in most cases would be a good situation for the virgin. In this case they arent put to death as there was no betrothal in place.

      Regarding the Matthew 5 passage, it directly address adultery, not “fornication”. That’s not to say that fornication is not unwise or possibly sinful; but it’s not a good idea to read into a verse what’s not there. The english word “lust” also has a broader and highly sexual connotation which wasnt really present in the original language, so I think it’s important to note that this kind of lust is the same thing as the coveting in the 7th commandment.

    • Anthony

      Let us not live with blinders on. Fornication, same as adultery. Christ did say if you even so look at a woman with lust you commit adultery. Fornication is a form of lust, not love.

    • Charlie Fink

      I agree that fornication is a sin, but what about the heart? If Paul is saying it is better to get married than to burn with sexual passion and not being able to control sexual desires, then what about those who can’t get married right away? What about those who don’t have anybody, currently, are Christian and can’t seem to find anybody for the time being who have been single their whole lives? What about them? Like me?

      • Peter Newman

        You get the sense that Paul was not that keen on sexual relationships between men and women. Marriage – assuming it is available – is a last-resort remedy for the weak, lustful and desperate. The cool people can get by without it – celibacy is much the better way to go. And those struggling with sexual desire for whom marriage is not a possibility? Well I guess they don’t matter or even exist. Certainly not worth a mention.

        • C Michael Patton

          Ah, don’t lose perspective Peter. That are many many who are married and can’t get any too. We are all in the same frustrated boat, Paul or no.

    • John

      “What about those who don’t have anybody, currently, are Christian and can’t seem to find anybody for the time being who have been single their whole lives? What about them? Like me?”

      Errr, then you’ll burn with desire, quite likely. That’s what Paul says.

      I don’t see Paul here saying that’s a sin. I see Paul saying it’s undesirable, for obvious reasons.

    • Monique

      Matthew 5:27–28: Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· οὐ μοιχεύσεις. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

      “You heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman in order to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

      Standard Interpretation(s)
      The ordinary interpretation of this passage is that lust is equivalent to adultery; that is, if a man sexually desires a woman, he has already committed adultery with her in God’s eyes. This interpretation is reflected in the following translations:

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NIV)

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NASB)

      “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NLT)

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NRSV)

      Many churches (especially within Evangelical circles), emphasize this verse to adolescent boys, warning them that if they so much as think of a woman in a sexual manner, they’ve already sinned, that they’ve already effectively done the deed with her. Such an interpretation often works hand-in-glove with the common idea that Jesus “intensified” the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, setting a higher standard in order to show that no person could actually live up to God’s standards, showing that a person could only be saved by recognizing the impossibility of righteousness and then receiving forgiveness (a subject that will soon be addressed on this blog). So the common teaching is that sexual lust is absolutely evil—equivalent, even, to the actual act of sexual sin.

      Another very popular way of reading this verse is to understand “lust” as indicating misplaced or overly robust libido; that is, “lust” is seen as illicit sexual desire. For example, here’s a recent (and quite common) response to the question of what lust is from a message board conversation I had some time ago: “I take lust to mean wanting something more than you should in an unhealthy way.”

      This conception of “lust” often overlaps with the prior interpretation, to the effect that the young man is told, “Of course you will recognize that a woman is beautiful—that’s natural and unavoidable—but the moment your thoughts become sexual in nature, you’ve lusted, and that’s as bad as actually committing adultery.” Despite its popularity, this interpretation is imprecise, even flat wrong, and leads to surprisingly harmful consequences, making it a great candidate to start this series.

      Lust or Covet?
      The first thing to understand in this passage is that Jesus is in no way intensifying the Law here, nor is he saying anything new. What’s that, you say? The Law doesn’t forbid lusting after a woman? Well, as it turns out, the Greek word usually translated “lust” in this passage (ἐπιθυμέω; epithumeô) happens to be the same word used to translate the Hebrew word for “covet” (‏חמד) in the Tenth Command in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), which says:

      οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου. οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ πλησίον σου οὔτε τὸν ἀγρὸν αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ βοὸς αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ ὑποζυγίου αὐτοῦ οὔτε παντὸς κτήνους αὐτοῦ οὔτε ὅσα τῷ πλησίον σού ἐστιν. (Ex 20:17 LXX)

      “You will not covet your neighbor’s wife. You will not covet your neighbors house or his field or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or any animal which is your neighbor’s.”

      Sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says in this passage, doesn’t it? They’re even more alike once one realizes that the Greek word for “woman” and “wife” happens to be the same. In this passage, Jesus reminds his audience that the Law not only prohibits adultery, it prohibits coveting. This is not so much an intensification of the Law as it is a reminder of what the Law already says. And just as the Law itself was intended to be fulfilled, Jesus intends his words here to be followed (and that following them is entirely possible).

      Another important point is that the command does not forbid recognition of quality or even desire itself (such would be nonsense) but something else: it forbids the action of coveting (hence the verbal form). “Lust” or “desire,” even the sexual variety, is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, nor is it equated with sin, only with the potential to sin (cf. James 1, where lust leads to sin but is not itself sinful). It is also important to note the distinction between the verbal form and the nominal form: when the Hebrew חמד or Greek ἐπιθυμέω are used as verbs in the OT, it denotes desire directed at obtaining the specific object in question and not merely the existence of the desire itself. This fits well with the Tenth Command, which is perhaps best understood as forbidding fixing one’s desire upon obtaining something that is not rightfully one’s own. In order to explain this point more adequately, a fuller discussion of the meaning of “lust” (Gk. ἐπιθυμία; epithumia) in the New Testament and the culture of that period is necessary.

      Drives and Desires
      One misconception that should immediately be eliminated is that “lust” (ἐπιθυμία) is a specifically sexual term. In fact, the word simply refers to a strong, passionate desire, used either of sexual desire or of a strong desire for something non-sexual. Stepping back further, in Platonic thought, ἐπιθυμία (epithumia) is the lowest part of the human soul—representing the connection of the soul with the fleshy, bodily part of the person.

      • Fellow Soul

        I can view a beautiful piece of artwork in a museum, and at the same time, not want to steal it for myself.
        However, we must be honest, maybe it is better to understand how the brain works.

        Yes covet is much stronger than finding something pleasing to the eye. Covet means I *decide* I want it, even if I have no way to currently acquire it, or I might know I cannot have it. I want it.

        The brain will make a specific target and start to work on its acquisition, or it will sample the similar things of desire in creating a generic target for future selection. If you are married already, your heart should have a specific target your wife or husband. If you are single you are allowed to gather information for a generic target, but you should not create a specific target of a married man or woman.

        If it is your eye that causes you to sin remove it, it is better to lose and eye than have your whole body thrown into hell. So what does this mean? Sounds a bit harsh and brutal.

        It is saying hot temptation is powerful. You should understand your weakness, and avoid this hot temptation knowing your weakness, even if being in hot temptation is not directly a sin, the fact that you know this will lead to sin should get you to make the wise sacrifice to remove yourself from hot temptation.

        Prevention of sin is painful, but necessary!

        Amen & Shalom.

    • Fornicator

      I find this discussion so bizzare. God made humans as He saw fit; in his own image according to some. If God didn’t want humans to fornicate he wouldn’t have given them the instinct to do so.

      If he made us to have an insatiable need to fornicate while not actually wanting us to do so, then he is either a weak God or a sadist and thus unworthy of our worship.

      • Fellow Soul

        Man may eat of every tree in the garden, but not of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you should not eat of this tree. Here in Free Will was created.

        We have free will, the exercise of which is the definition of your soul and its Testament. You do not know who you are until you act. Every decision defines who you are. Your soul is able to decide, you are not a clock, even if most of the body is a clock, and only 1% is Soul, it is this 1% that matters, that defines you. Sexual urges are part of the clock, you do not sin to have them. You sin when you decide HOW to address them in your Soul.

        Fornication perverts the blessing of marriage. You should find a partner to marry, it gives you more than sex. But yes find a partner that helps you be a better person.

        Do not accuse Our Heavenly Father of being a sadist or being unworthy of worship, you should have more humility , yes some things are not immediately obvious to us, but put some effort in believing that working in faith you will find the answer. Yes you are right sex is good, but as with anything in life, there are constraints that serve the design of GOD, and there are ways to pervert it.

        Fornication is like eating sugary treats that rot your body, yes GOD created sensors in your mouth that fire pleasure in your Soul when chemicals bind to sugar receptors, so then I can eat candy all the time is your reasoning, listen to yourself. I wonder if this is sincere or just apathetic.

        To those who wish an sincere answer, one is submitted.

        Amen & Shalom.

    • Brian

      so fornication is a sin? so what was so right with the incest that went on back in the Bible times. If im not mistaken, they replenished the earth through incest and a lot of people married within their bloodline somewhere. Look at the story of Isaac. so is incest right and fornication wrong or what’s what?

    • Kurdt

      If you all put this amount of effort into studying the Bible’s instructions on owning and beating slaves, you might realize that it is not fit to be studied as any sort of moral handbook.

    • Rod

      Seems to me that the act of intercouse is marriage? I mean if the penalty for being observed fornicating is that the man must marry the woman, then that wouldn’t that say that in the eyes of God (even when not caught by other people- since God sees all) that if you fornicate then you are married? From a pragmatic standpoint wouldn’t it make sense that the act of sex is really a marriage between DNA of two people in the act of reproduction? And so wouldn’t that bond be something like marriage when dealing with offspring? You can say well condoms and pills can be used as contraceptives to prevent child birth these days, but that destroys the original intent of what the whole context of sex is about from a creators viewpoint? Isn’t it to foster the development of children? And wouldn’t marriage be instantaneous if not caught even by the eyes of men, if the lord sees all and say’s the punishment is marriage? Its marriage in his eyes folks. Consummation is the act of marriage! So the next time this man thought he was fornicating with another different woman, then instead he would be adultering in the eyes of God. And same with the woman too!

      The idea that God would be ok with using sex as a recreation like an amusement park, is quite offensive just by commonsense alone. The idea outside of silly theologist that can’t ascertain the value behind all this without one lines out of the bible, is to raise children in an environment that is conducive not just to their procreation but economical and emotionally supportive environment. Geez and you all need to be pastors or bible quoters to get this? Whats wrong with you people?

      Now if the intent was to marry a person anyway (engaged) and you slipped up and had premarital sex, then in the eyes of God you haven’t commited a wrong. Because in his eyes you are married, the very act of fornication is consummation into marriage. And from a sexual reproduction viewpoint doesn’t this also happen? The ceremony to occur later then wouldn’t be punishment it would just be symbolic of the prior act right? If it was never your intent to marry the girl you slept with but have sex, then it would be punishment if another person catches you and makes you marry her in ceremony? Its my thoughts that you can only be a fornicator once, thereafter you become an adulterer by not stepping up to the plate. For some of you people….come on… use your commonsense! Please!

      God gave you reasoning for a reason ( a big juicy brain), and you have to kind of integrate between the lines in the bible. You can’t do that if you use your penis to try to contort the bible into a self serving support thought. If you can’t think without your penis/reproductive organs doing the thinking, then you shouldn’t be preaching. That means you are hopelessly lost and are blind yourselves. Who needs the blind leading the blind?

      Another note, I hate to tell preachers they shouldn’t be preaching for a livable wage either. No one needs hirelings for helping sheep. You need to earn a living just like the rest of us, being carpenters and such and doing the job of pastor out of love of God for no personal gain. What good does it do to be a theoretician that has never dabbled with real life of picking weeds or holding a job? Answer: No Good as they can’t learn the lessons or laws of God through works. The tithe turned salary turns into the reward, and what one gets in a reward here he cannot get in heaven.

      God Bless,

    • Donnica

      Now I am on a journey of becoming a Christian. But I’m sexually active with two children NO marriage, by choice I’m only 27 now I had my first child at the age of 20 and the second at the age of 23 I wasn’t ready for marriage. I want to be some day. But if ,God intended for no sex before marriage why were/are there so many of us born out of wedlock and still going on today. And were those of us that aren’t married suppose to have stayed virgins until death, because no one knows the time our life will end so many kris won’t even live long enough to get married and then there’s those who just doesn’t wanna be married. And lastly ,Paul said if we can not control our sexual desires then we should just get married, so should we just get married to have sex w/o sinning?

    • Phil Hertsberg

      Dear C Michael Patton,

      Thanks for your article on Fornication.
      I would like to know if tongue-kissing is oral sex or a type of sex.
      My Pastor says it is not allowed as Christians.
      What do you think and where can I find biblical texts that implied it a sin?

      Kind Regards,
      Phil Hertsberg
      [email protected]

    • Amos G

      I think that we have to take a look at history what life was then. And now,the laws, the customs of the people then.because to .me I think that most of the law is to protect. Women as it was then.

    • C Michael Patton


      Good to hear from you!

      I would say that wisdom and good conscious must be our guide. I would never say that someone who has used tongue in their kiss has committed any type of fornication. I would say that the Bible does not speak to this issue.

      That would be like saying that handholding is okay so long as the fingers are not interlocked.

    • Kurt

      “I would like to know if tongue-kissing is oral sex or a type of sex. My Pastor says it is not allowed as Christians.”

      You’re pastor is correct. French kissing is the work of the devil and every time you slip your tongue into a woman’s mouth an angle dies.

    • Barri

      Let me help you out here . Anything outside the first commandment is sin . I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart . Yes that makes us all sinners . and there are lots of other ways of being outside the first commandment . If one might keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Wouldn’t it be better to repent of sin than try to obfuscate around it ? Sure most of us won’t last an hour before we have sinned again , but obfuscate around this only leads to that . I don[‘t see how anyone could miss this .

    • Barri

      Holding hands is fine , if your worshiping God . The commandment says Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. That means all the time . Fall a little short of that daily ? Everybody does . Yes when kissing , holding hands or whatever , you wouldn’t be tongue kissing if you were doing that Preachers should teach the truth . Not how to lead a lust filled life that is scriptural . . How much greed is exactly scriptural , how much envy , hate , ego ??? I think all are answered here . None … If it happens thats because you are a sinner and need to repent and seek forgiveness so devoutly that your heart is set to go and sin no more . As you continue to fail at this you may get what it really means to be a sinner . It sounds like everyone in the modern church should be walking on water with all of that righteousness and faith … Could we get some video’s ? No wonder people reject the Bible without ever even reading it .

    • Dammy

      An affair between a married man and an unmarried woman is not considered adultery in the bible. It is only between a married woman and any man or a married man and married woman. why is that?

      • Fellow Soul

        Greetings Dammy:

        Marriage is sacred, whether by a man, or a woman. Adultery is to mean breaking the marriage bond thus created between a man and a woman. It is true in the old times, men may have had multiple wives for procreative purposes, but this is not ideal. Today the modern expectation is one to one.

        An affair would apply to both a man and a woman. What makes this sinful is that it breaks the blessing of marriage.

        Please understand the Bible is not perfect, we must make allowances for interpretation and for the context.

        Amen & Shalom.

    • John

      dammy, probably because polygamy is assumed, so to get wife #2 you’ve got to start something with an unmarried woman.

    • Phil Hertsberg

      Hi Dammy, your comment makes no sense. Can you provide Bible verses that states “An affair between a married man and an unmarried woman is not considered adultery”?

      This is your comment: Author: Dammy
      An affair between a married man and an unmarried woman is not considered adultery in the bible. It is only between a married woman and any man or a married man and married woman. why is that?


      DANNY CAN YOU BE CLEAR WHEN YOU SAY “Desire for your mate does not. The term does not fit in that context.”


    • Shelby

      All of this b.s. is because people are so hung up on sex. Sex is something that is totally natural and meant for us to enjoy. What is wrong with doing what you want and not placing all this guilt on it. Forget the guilt, make your own rules and live by them. Enjoy sex, that’s what it’s for.

    • Shelby

      I’ll say it for you Phil, if you don’t get it–FORNICATION IS NOT A SIN!!!!!!!

    • Fredro

      Nice post!

    • Donella

      You did a excellent job! This post seem very nice.

    • Richard

      There have been no comments here for years. This was a very helpful article… but I still see no scripture actually condemning fornication. Even if we look at the versus about lust – that is in the context of adultery. If you lust after a women, you commit adultery in your heart… So that’s for married people. If you’re married and lust you commit adultery.

      Paul saying you should marry or you burn with passion is NOT saying God condemns the sex outside of marriage.

      Even if we look at Deut 22:28-29 from the article, it is specifically referring to virgins. So that tells me sex outside of marriage is bad for your first time.

      So if someone marries as a virgin, has sex (obvously), then the wife cheats so divorce is ok. Now can the man have sex with other women he’s dating so long as they’re also not virgins?

      That’s what I can gather so far from scripture.

    • Fellow Soul

      It is not good for Man to be alone.
      God created them Man and Woman, at last here is the flesh of my flesh.
      God created the bond of marriage and blessed it, so that nothing should defile it.

      Most the the comments here seem to revolve around what we should not do,
      but I would like to highlight what we should do.

      Most should find a righteous and trustworthy partner in marriage.

      Sex is a wedding gift given to bride and groom, to bond them and create a special intimacy. This allows this closeness to aid both, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a bond, a blessing to Man, you should do nothing to defile it, it is sacred.

      Sex is not simply one act, it is a routine of acts creating this special bond both physical and psychological.
      Keep in mind Virgin was often just to describe a woman now of sexual maturity who now is ready for marriage betrothal. It was not meant to describe a person who abstained from sex by discipline.

      When a man is of sexual maturity his body turns on for seeking a marital partner or wife. This is not just in the nether regions, but also in the mind in the form of crushes. It should be your goal to address these needs by finding a good woman. When such a bond of marriage is made these issues are resolved. Find a holy woman who does not prevent your holiness.

      Life however does not always allow this today, so what is allowed? Anything that is not considered perversion of marriage. I will put Paul to the side as his influence on Christian thought eclipses even Jesus himself which is absurd.

      Lets talk about the elephant in the room, Masturbation & viewing Pornography & Fornication.
      What about these acts prevents the blessing of marriage? There you have your answer.

      Do nothing to prevent or diminish or delay or defile marriage.

      Does the act of masturbation do anything against marriage? There you have your answer. Not necessarily, but be mindful that it does not undermine the pursuit of marriage.
      Does the act of viewing pornography do anything against marriage? There you have your answer. Viewing naked bodies is not pornography, it is acceptable, but be mindful that what you view you do not covet. What is not acceptable is an industry created that desecrates marriage. Sexual intimacy must be sequestered and not overt in the public square. You can consume but be mindful that it does not undermine marriage of you, or the purveyors of such art. A woman married should not be a purveyor by intent.
      Does the act of fornication do anything against marriage? There you have your answer. Yes, it should be avoided, but it is more in undermining the end point of marriage and creating children out of marriage. Opening your Christmas gifts early will reduce the specialness of Christmas, be mindful.

      Perversion is where you remove something essential, so food perversion is where we take out fiber and nutrients but leave only sugar, you have perverted it. So it is with sex without the bond of marriage, you have removed the joint sacrament which is to be together.

      May the Holy Spirit fill in the gaps here by the offering of the Holy Lamb of God, Jesus.
      To Our Heavenly Father who made us in His image, be all glory upon Him alone. Amen & Shalom.

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