By Wendell Tenison


Most would-be bible scholars prefer that literal fornication and adultery are one and the same. This scenario presents too many problems seeing that the scripture makes a clear distinction. They are not consistent in their interpretations, whereas, on the one hand they say, they are the same, but on the other, they are different. That being true, the same would apply to the spiritual. As noted in the companion article "Spiritual Adultery" in this web site, spiritual adultery is considered as being a friend with the world. However, spiritual fornication goes far beyond that.

James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Galatians 5:19-20 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.....Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,""

A clear distinction is made between adultery, fornication and idolatry.

1 Corinthians 6:13 "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body."

1 Corinthians 6:18 "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."

Far too many people get caught up in their emotions of personal dislikes for whatever thing it is and totally disregard what God has to say about the matter. They are going to have their way or else. There is absolutely only one sin against the body and that is fornication.

1 Cor 6:9-10 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,.....Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Here again, there is a distinction made between fornication and homosexual activities.

Jude 1:7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Here homosexuality is attributed to fornication, but we shall see at the end of this discussion that there are several other sins that also fit the description.

The Lord Jesus Christ used many parables to impart spiritual lessons by way of the illustration of literal things. This is a common practice today whereby, we also explain more complex matters by simple things that are easily understood. It is my belief that literal fornication can be best understood first by understanding the spiritual. Why? Because there is much more evidence in the bible regarding spiritual fornication.

God Almighty used an explicit allegory in Ezekiel 23:1-21, to reflect the great spiritual whoredoms of two women represented as Samaria and Jerusalem. Idolatry is also considered adultery.

Ezek 23:37 "That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them."

Never in the entire bible does the scripture identify the adulterer as married or single, but only the wife as an adulteress in the sin of adultery. However, the two exceptions is that God is identified as the husband of Israel the wife. Spiritually we are married to Christ and the wife (the Christian) can commit adultery against her husband Christ. Where the fleshly man is concerned, it does not make any difference whether married or single, the sin is the same.

Jer 3:8-9 "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also......And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks."

Jer 3:14 "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"

Jer 3:20 "Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD."

Jer 29:23 "Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD."

Ezek 16:32 "But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!"

Hosea 4:13-14 "They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery......I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall."

Some of the more recent translations of the bible add a great deal of confusion to the subject by improperly translating the word "fornication" as "sexual immorality." Of the thirty two places in both testaments of the KJV, all are found as fornication. In the NKJV, seventeen are rendered "sexual immorality" and fifteen "fornication" None in old testament are rendered "sexual immorality" in the NKJV. Why? Obviously they do not pertain to divorce.

"Sexual immorality" covers a myriad of sins and therefore, divorce is further enhanced by reason of a selection from this broad spectrum of sins. The words used by the NKJV range from, harlotry, fornication and sexual immorality, of which in some places are not consistent with the context of the scripture. Therefore, the use of the modern versions in this matter of properly understanding the meaning of fornication only leads one into circles.

Only counting just on one hand, how many sermons on spiritual adultery and fornication have we heard? My guess is none.

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© 2002 by Wendell Tenison