What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Debating issues regarding sexuality

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Checkpoint
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What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #1

Post by Checkpoint »

It seems to me it is seldom if ever specifically defined in scripture, although the term is used more than a few times.

Does it, for example, include polygamy?

How about sex before marriage?

Or homosexuality?

Adultery is a sin, but is it also fornication?

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #61

Post by bluethread »

Peds nurse wrote: [Replying to post 56 by Yahu]

I do have a question Yahu. Where is all the grace in all this? Are you bragging that your moral standards are higher than what Jesus did? The woman caught in adultery, was she shunned? I seem to recall that she was forgiven, and adopted as a child of God. What about the prostitute at the well? She wasn't shunned, but given grace and shown love. If a person's standards are so high that it causes isolation, what's the point of having them?
To be fair to Yahu, Yeshua was not a husband or a judge. Hosea does give us an exceptional story of grace in a similar situation. However, it's exceptional nature makes it the exception that proves the rule. A rule that is not the common practice is no rule at all.

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #62

Post by Danmark »

bluethread wrote:
Peds nurse wrote: [Replying to post 56 by Yahu]

I do have a question Yahu. Where is all the grace in all this? Are you bragging that your moral standards are higher than what Jesus did? The woman caught in adultery, was she shunned? I seem to recall that she was forgiven, and adopted as a child of God. What about the prostitute at the well? She wasn't shunned, but given grace and shown love. If a person's standards are so high that it causes isolation, what's the point of having them?
To be fair to Yahu, Yeshua was not a husband or a judge. Hosea does give us an exceptional story of grace in a similar situation. However, it's exceptional nature makes it the exception that proves the rule. A rule that is not the common practice is no rule at all.
Hosea provides an excellent example, yet you try to turn Hosea on its head by calling it "the exception that proves the rule." Is there really no perversion of scripture too outrageous for you to subscribe to, to attempt to bolster this lame theology and celebration of evil in the name of the Lord?

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Re: Grace

Post #63

Post by Yahu »

Danmark wrote: This is the opposite of what Yahu describes.
His post touts a proud, even bragging attitude about being better than others and rejecting those who have made certain mistakes, condemning them.
Unfortunately we see too much of this modern day Pharisaical attitude. We see it particularly in the popular media version of 'Christianity.' We see it too in some of our secular leaders, those who talk about 'losers' and offer worse epithets and labels for their competitors. This is the opposite of true Christianity.

Jesus spoke of forgiveness, particularly forgiveness for the unlovely, the unpopular, even the despised. My sense of the Jesus of Nazareth was of a man who spoke not only of kindness, love, and forgiveness, but the of the kind of forgiveness that does not judge; it just forgives and encourages change.

I may not buy the supernatural aspect that too many, see as the crux of Christianity, but I do not see why we all, whatever our views, cannot embrace the 'Grace' that Jesus of Nazareth preached and lived.
I disagree.

I was just stating that I hold to sexual standards that are in line with scripture as I understand them, not with traditions of man of modern commonly taught doctrines that are not based on Yah's actual laws on sexual behavior.

For example, scripture is clear that marrying a divorced woman is adultery yet the church ignores those scriptures yet attacks those that actually follow the biblical law. That was a common error of the Pharisees.

Scripture forbids remarrying a wife that has married someone after the separation which is the case I was in. Considering my ex-wife wasn't even faithful to her next husband and had an affair with one of my friends while married to her 2nd husband and had multiple lovers after that husband was sent to prison before she attempted to return to me. She even turned up pregnant a second time by another man while attempting to restore our relationship. There was a limit to how much grace I could keep extending to her. I put her out of my life at that point.

I also have not been able to follow all of the sexual laws as I should have. I have an illegitimate son by a girl that had a fiance stationed in Europe. I should have never gotten involved with her. That son, even though he is named after me, doesn't even know I am his father. I have never met him.

My point is, I try to hold to biblical standards on sexual behavior BUT they differ from commonly held standards in modern churches.

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Re: Grace

Post #64

Post by Danmark »

Yahu wrote:
Danmark wrote: This is the opposite of what Yahu describes.
His post touts a proud, even bragging attitude about being better than others and rejecting those who have made certain mistakes, condemning them.
Unfortunately we see too much of this modern day Pharisaical attitude. We see it particularly in the popular media version of 'Christianity.' We see it too in some of our secular leaders, those who talk about 'losers' and offer worse epithets and labels for their competitors. This is the opposite of true Christianity.

Jesus spoke of forgiveness, particularly forgiveness for the unlovely, the unpopular, even the despised. My sense of the Jesus of Nazareth was of a man who spoke not only of kindness, love, and forgiveness, but the of the kind of forgiveness that does not judge; it just forgives and encourages change.

I may not buy the supernatural aspect that too many, see as the crux of Christianity, but I do not see why we all, whatever our views, cannot embrace the 'Grace' that Jesus of Nazareth preached and lived.
I disagree.

I was just stating that I hold to sexual standards that are in line with scripture as I understand them, not with traditions of man of modern commonly taught doctrines that are not based on Yah's actual laws on sexual behavior.

For example, scripture is clear that marrying a divorced woman is adultery yet the church ignores those scriptures yet attacks those that actually follow the biblical law. That was a common error of the Pharisees.
[emphasis applied]

That is perfect irony. What you are advocating is precisely what the Pharisees did and Jesus spoke against. You are advocating swallowing the camel while straining at gnats. I believe you have missed the entire point of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5 [and 15], to those who relished the letter of the law while violating its spirit. The whole point of his ministry was to get people to stop doing the very thing you advocate: using their traditions and laws to get what they want rather than have a loving spirit. His point about lust, adultery and marriage was that these men who divorced their wives by following the letter of the law with a 'certificate' were failing to love their wives. To emphasize this he said we are all adulterers just by lusting. This is an impossible standard.
You turn his deeper meaning on its head when you use 'the law' to be mean and unloving to people and to reject them because of their past deeds.

Jesus spoke directly to this in the 15th Chapter of Matthew.

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.� 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,�[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’�
What Defiles a Person
10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.� 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?� 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.� 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.� 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.�


For further reference, it is important to remember that these words of Jesus immediately followed the "Beatitudes" which emphasized a spirit of humility and forgiveness:

27 “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. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Divorce
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #65

Post by Danmark »

bluethread wrote:
Peds nurse wrote: [Replying to post 56 by Yahu]

I do have a question Yahu. Where is all the grace in all this? Are you bragging that your moral standards are higher than what Jesus did? The woman caught in adultery, was she shunned? I seem to recall that she was forgiven, and adopted as a child of God. What about the prostitute at the well? She wasn't shunned, but given grace and shown love. If a person's standards are so high that it causes isolation, what's the point of having them?
To be fair to Yahu, Yeshua was not a husband or a judge. Hosea does give us an exceptional story of grace in a similar situation. However, it's exceptional nature makes it the exception that proves the rule. A rule that is not the common practice is no rule at all.
The minor prophet Hosea's marriage to a whore at God's command is not so easily interpreted. It is likely that this is allegorical; however there are many competing views:
https://claudemariottini.com/2013/01/28 ... het-hosea/

What Peds Nurse said about grace is vital. The New Testament, at least the words attributed to Jesus [if not all of the Bible] is about grace and about following the true spirit of the law; in short, about being kind and not using 'the law' as an excuse to be mean, or to be mean by a strict, literal interpretation of the law.
It is this modern day 'evangelical hypocrisy,' this emulation of the Pharisees Jesus condemned, that is the most potent force for people leaving the church.

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #66

Post by Peds nurse »

[Replying to post 65 by Danmark]
Danmark wrote:It is this modern day 'evangelical hypocrisy,' this emulation of the Pharisees Jesus condemned, that is the most potent force for people leaving the church.
Very well said, Danmark! Not only is it the reason for people leaving the church, it prevents them from ever crossing its threshold.

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #67

Post by Peds nurse »

bluethread wrote:
Peds nurse wrote: [Replying to post 56 by Yahu]

I do have a question Yahu. Where is all the grace in all this? Are you bragging that your moral standards are higher than what Jesus did? The woman caught in adultery, was she shunned? I seem to recall that she was forgiven, and adopted as a child of God. What about the prostitute at the well? She wasn't shunned, but given grace and shown love. If a person's standards are so high that it causes isolation, what's the point of having them?
bluethread wrote:To be fair to Yahu, Yeshua was not a husband or a judge.
Hello bluethread! Hope you are having a wonderful day!

I guess we believe different things here, because I believe that Jesus is the judge.

I will openly admit that I have not read every exchange. I know there is talk of prostitution, and keeping one's self in pure form. However, what I read of Yahu's posts, is not one of humility and grace, but rather arrogance and pride.


bluethread wrote: Hosea does give us an exceptional story of grace in a similar situation. However, it's exceptional nature makes it the exception that proves the rule. A rule that is not the common practice is no rule at all.
Can you please explain your reference to Hosea? I want to make sure that I understand before I comment.

Thanks, have a great day!

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Re: Grace

Post #68

Post by Danmark »

Yahu wrote:
I was just stating that I hold to sexual standards that are in line with scripture as I understand them, not with traditions of man of modern commonly taught doctrines that are not based on Yah's actual laws on sexual behavior.

For example, scripture is clear that marrying a divorced woman is adultery yet the church ignores those scriptures yet attacks those that actually follow the biblical law. That was a common error of the Pharisees.
....
My point is, I try to hold to biblical standards on sexual behavior BUT they differ from commonly held standards in modern churches.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

Luke 18:10-12

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

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Re: What does the Bible mean by "fornication"?

Post #70

Post by peacedove »

Checkpoint wrote: It seems to me it is seldom if ever specifically defined in scripture, although the term is used more than a few times.

Does it, for example, include polygamy?

How about sex before marriage?

Or homosexuality?

Adultery is a sin, but is it also fornication?
The term fornication comes from the Latin fornix, referring to the arch, the arch of the brothel. So, properly, it means prostitution.

The Greek term porneia comes from the word sell, and refers to selling sexual services, i.e. prostitution.

The Hebrew zanah likewise means prostitution.

So it does NOT generally include polygamy, premarital sex, homosexuality nor adultery.

However the terms are used in extended senses. But in what direction is the extension, and how far does it go? Or are there multiple extensions?

Those are complex questions and the answer depends partly on the time and cultural/linguistic background of the speaker or writer.

Tamar, the widow, was found to be pregnant when she had no husband and had been denied access to her husband's brothers. Although she got pregnant by pretending to be a prostitute, she is charged with, in effect, being an unmarried woman who somehow got pregnant to an unknown man. This sin was zanah, meaning prostitution. So, simply getting pregnant as an unmarried woman seemed to be enough. Cash payment and promiscuity don't seem to be required.

The unmarried young woman who was supposed to be a virgin, but who was found not to be on her wedding night, is said to be guilty of zanah also (Deut. 22). Again, cash payment and promiscuity don't seem to be required. It is sufficient that the never married woman who was supposed to be a virgin had lost her virginity to some other man before she had her first husband.

Zanah is never used for the sin of the married woman, other than prostitution itself, i.e. the sexual sin of the married woman, short of prostitution, is NEVER referred to as prostitution. There is, of course, another term for the generic sexual sin of the married woman: adultery.

A married woman could commit adultery AND zanah only by ACTUAL prostitution, as was the case of Israel and Judah, women married to YHWH, who turned to ACTUAL prostitution with the foreign nations and their kings and gods. Another case is following conquest, one's wife could be made a prostitute (e.g. Amos 7:17). Other than this kind of case, a married woman never commits zanah.

Other illegal sexual relationships or marriages are not referred to as zanah. Sexual relationships or marriages with close relatives and those of former spouses are never described as zanah. However, as such relationships are not valid lawful marriages, if the woman concerned is unmarried, it may be described as zanah, i.e. illegal sexual relations with an unmarried woman. For example, if a man 'marries' or has sexual relations with his (late) father's wife, that is not a valid marriage, and the (late) father's wife, is a widow, an unmarried woman, and so her unlawful sexual relations is a species of zanah / porneia (e.g. 1 Cor 5:1). If the father was still alive and if she were still married to him, her sin would not be zanah / porneia, it would be adultery.

This is basically the Hebrew / Jewish use of zanah and porneia. Adultery and homosexual conduct are generally not included. Even male prostitution isn't really included, such being described as dogs rather than zanah.

Adultery, in this context, this early Hebrew / Jewish context, was the unlawful sexual relations of the married woman. Such are unlawful for the reason that they are in breach of the duty of exclusive fidelity to the husband. The husband having sexual relations with an unmarried woman is not adultery. If she were married, it would be adultery (against her husband, not against his wife). Likewise, if the married woman takes another woman as a wife, it is not adultery against his first wife.

As time goes on, and as we move away from Hebrew / Jewish context, things change. Jesus said a man who divorce his wife and took another woman committed adultery AGAINST HER (Mark 10:11). This is an extension of the concept of adultery, applicable under re-instituted and required monogamy in marriage. In the Roman / Greek world, prostitution was equally male prostitution as female prostitution, and adultery was equally a man's unfaithfulness with his wife as a wife's unfaithfulness to her husband. And Greek / Roman usage extended porneia to any illicit sexual activity, rather than limiting it to specifically the sexual sin of the unmarried woman.

However, the vast bulk of the biblical literature is based on Hebrew / Jewish usage. So, in short, when the New Testament uses porneia, it means prostitution, or in an extended sense, the sexual sin of the unmarried woman, and it probably does not extend to adultery, homosexual conduct or even male prostitution.

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