What is Fornication?

By Pastor Robert L Davis



The bible uses different words to describe ungodly sexual behavior. Two of the most commonly used words are fornication and adultery. These two words are generally thought to be the same by many saints, yet Jesus establishes that they are different in Matthew 19:9. Here Jesus uses both adultery and fornication in the same statement but with different meanings. An analysis of the two words will reveal why they cannot be considered the same.


When consulting the dictionary for the definition of fornication I found that definitions varied. One stated that it was adultery, while another added to adultery incest, and yet others added lusts or bestiality. I found that fornication was defined as many things yet the many things did not translate among themselves as being the same. Example being that adultery is considered fornication and incest is considered fornication, but adultery is not considered incest. The same held true for all of the things defined as fornication. Lust is not adultery, yet they both are fornication. If fornication could be described as these acts then the various acts themselves should be synonymous with each other, but they are not. It became apparent to me that what the dictionary was providing was not a definition but examples of fornication. The definition of fornication remained to be discovered.


To determine what fornication actually was I carefully examined what Jesus meant in Matthew 19:9 and attempted to reconcile that with the different definitions provide by the dictionaries. What I discover about fornication was that it has spiritual, psychological, and physical representations. I discovered from the definitions of adultery, incest, lust and others, that physical fornication was any sexual relation that deviates from what God has ordained for man. Fornication therefore is any deviant sexual behavior. Adultery deviates from sex within the confines of marriage. Promiscuity is deviant because it is sex outside the bond of marriage, which is ungodly. Incest crosses the boundaries of bloodline within the same family, which is forbidden. All of these deviant sexual acts fall underneath an umbrella of sin, which is called fornication. They are all examples of fornication, but not its definition. Fornication must be defined as deviation from Godís commandment regarding the joining of oneself in spirit, soul, or body.


We can see how fornication is manifested in the body, but it remains to be understood in the soul and spirit. The best example to explain what the soul does to commit fornication is to look at Matthew 5:28 in which Jesus explains to the people that it is not enough simply to abstain from the physical act of adultery. Jesus states that if a person look upon a woman with lust they have committed adultery already. What this means is that if the person imagines the sexual act in their mind, they have committed fornication, because the will and the mind are a part of the soul and man is a living soul. Thus what a man does in his mind is counted just as assuredly as if he does it with his body. The important thing to understand is that Jesus is giving this example using adultery but it applies to any other deviant sexual thoughts that occur. Thoughts of lust, adultery, or incest are considered fornication of the soul. This type of fornication must be taken very seriously because no physical act of fornication can take place unless it has first taken place in the mind and receive approval of the will. Therefore controlling our psychological deviancy will eliminate any physical deviant behavior. The soul is the free-will of man and it determines if the body or the spirit will manifest itself. It is for this reason that Satan prefers to attack the mind rather than the body. He knows that whatever he can instill in your mind will be manifested through your body. Moreover Satan knows that once an idea is planted, the mind will not only manifest it, but it will enhance the thought through the application of imagination, pride, and other vanities until it is increased in its perversity and frequency. Satan plants the seed in our minds and allows us to grow it into much more wicked acts than was originally planted. Movies, games, and other materials that implant deviant sexual behavior within our minds are the means through which Satan causes violence and immorality in our physical lives. Yet, there is still another side of fornication.


In Matthew 19:9 Jesus states that a man should not put his wife away save for the cause of fornication. He did not restrict putting the wife away to the crime of adultery alone, but He expanded it to include fornication. The fornication that Jesus was concerned with was the joining together of ones spirit to that of any other god than the true God. Jesus reveals that spiritual fornication is a reason for separating from ones spouse. This is a very serious condition that the bible speaks on in many places. We are told not to be unequally yoked with non-believers (2 Cor 6:14), and that if a believing husband has n unbelieving wife he should not put her away unless she desires to go (1 Cor 7:13). Spiritual fornication is when you join yourself to anything stronger than you have joined yourself to God. This means that if you have anything in your life that you are not willing to sacrifice for God then you have joined harder to that thing or person than you have to God. This is fornication. I continually use the word join because the act of sex joins two things together to form one. Fornication extends this definition beyond the body to include the soul and the spirit as well.  The love of money joins a person to the god Mammon (Luke 16:13). Friendship with the world makes one an enemy of God because Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). Spiritual fornication involves the heart as opposed to the mind or the body. When we have any god before God we commit spiritual fornication.


Thus fornication is the joining together with any person or thing that deviates from what God has commanded. More commonly we can say that it is any deviant sexual behavior, whether in body, soul, or spirit. It should be noted that I have not included homosexuality in this discussion of fornication. One reason is that I do not want to give fornication a bad name,. But the other is that homosexuality transcends even the deviant requirements of fornication. I mentioned at one point the sin of bestiality but it also falls outside the realm of the definition and is considered more an abomination than fornication. . Bestiality is the deviant sexual behavior regarding animals. The reason that these two things are not included in the definition of fornication is that they are not a deviation from a norm, they are altogether a rejection of the norm and the embracing of a practice that not even Satan and the fallen angels would engage in. Genesis six shows us that when the angels came down from heaven they engaged in sex with women, not with men or animals. Homosexuality is called an abomination in that it is unnatural, unfruitful, ungodly, and inconvenient. Homosexuality is more deviant than bestiality in that bestiality at least adheres to the norm of male and female intercourse, although it crosses the species barrier. Homosexuality deviates from even the most basic of natural or Godly laws, and as such is counted worse than fornication.


Thus, we have a more detailed view of what the word fornication means, so that when it is applied we might understand its different uses and meanings.




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