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What is…
fornication

Greek: πορνεία —transliteration: porneia —meaning: fornication; sexual immorality; illicit sexual intercourse in general; adultery; unchastity; incest; surrendering (or selling off) sexual purity; whoredom

Hebrew: זָנָה —transliteration: zanah —meaning: to commit fornication; to commit adultery; be a harlot/prostitute

also known as: sexual immorality, immorality, promiscuity

Definition

Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other is a common type of fornication. Adultery is also fornication, as is homosexuality.

“The Greek word for ‘fornication’ (porneia) could include any sexual sin committed after the betrothal contract. …In Biblical usage, ‘fornication’ can mean any sexual congress outside monogamous marriage. It thus includes not only premarital sex, but also adultery, homosexual acts, incest, remarriage after un-Biblical divorce, and sexual acts with animals, all of which are explicitly forbidden in the law as given through Moses (Leviticus 20:10-21). Christ expanded the prohibition against adultery to include even sexual lusting (Matthew 5:28).” —Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.

Seriousness

In every form, fornication is sternly condemned by the Mosaic law among God’s people, the Israelites (Leviticus 21:9; 19:29; Deuteronomy 22:20-11, 23-29; 23:18; Exodus 22:16). (See ADULTERY.)

Fornication is also mentioned many times in the New Testament (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; John 8:41; Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; Romans 1:29; 1 Cor 5:1, 6:13, 18, 7:2; 10:8; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3; Jude 1:7; Rev. 2:14, 20-21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2,4).

Unmarried sex

  • Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
  • How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
  • How can I deal with temptations? Answer

  • My boyfriend wants to have sex. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Answer
  • See many more answers in our section… Sex, Love and Relationships

Sex, Love and RelationshipsLearn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.

Adultery

Homosexuality

  • What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
  • What about gays needs to change? (It may not be what you think.) Answer
  • What should be the attitude of the Church toward gays and homosexuality? Answer

Symbolic fornication

The word “fornication” is sometimes used in a symbolic sense in the Bible, for example, meaning a forsaking of God or a following after idols (idolatryIsaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 2:20; Ezek. 16; Hos. 1:2; 2:1-5; Jeremiah 3:8-9).

Article Version: November 8, 2019