By Phil T. Arnold
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword, her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell” (Prov. 5:1-5). What words can be found to amply warn men and women both young and old about the consequences of the sin of fornication so that they might not “give (their) honor to others,” cause their “flesh and . . . body (to be) consumed,” and come to “the verge of total ruin” (Prov. 5:9,11,14)? Fornication is certainly not a sin above any other sin nor is it beyond the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and the mercy and grace of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Yet, fornication is a sin of uniqueness (I Cor. 6:18) that often carries with it its own peculiar set of temporal consequences.
The supreme motive for avoiding any and all sin should center around the impact of our iniquity upon God and our relationship with him. Sin separates us from our eternal Father (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin, by his children, breaks the heart of God (Hos. 11:1-4,8). The sin of the Christian causes our Lord and Savior to be nailed once more to the tree and subjects him again to the ridicule and shame of the world (Heb. 6:6). Because our supreme love for the eternal Father and loving Savior and recognizing these results of our sin, the thought of sin ought to sicken us, the act of sin ought to be unthinkable, and the toleration and practice of sin be in-harmonious with our very being. If and when we do sin (be it fornication or any other sin), we ought not to “be swallowed up with too much sorrow,” but rather be moved by godly sorrow to repent and confess our sins (2 Cor. 7:10; Acts 8:22; 1 Cor. 1:9), recognizing Jesus Christ as our advocate (1 Jn. 2:1-2) and source of cleansing (1 Jn. 1:7). Only then can the eternal consequences of sin be avoided (Rom. 6:23a). Yet, even when such forgiveness occurs, the sin of fornication may set in motion that which cannot be recalled and leave scars that will be with us, while not for eternity, for life. Why not take warning and avoid the pain and shame that even forgiven fornication can and often does bring?
Fornication often has many social consequences. Our nation is reaping the harvest of the sexual (fornication) revolution and it is bringing this nation to its knees. The loss of godly influence, the lowering of our national morality, the disintegration of marriages and families, unwanted and non-parented children, justifying the taking of innocent life (abortion), a myriad of sexually transmitted diseases are all consequential casualties in this fleshly warfare of sexual indulgence and self-gratification. Truly, “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
Obviously included in this is the fact that fornication often brings many family consequences. Here is the one sin for which God allows the dissolving of the marriage relation-ship (Matt. 19:9). That alone should cause us to consider the serious effects that this sin of fornication can have upon the family. Even if repentance, forgiveness and the restoration of trust could accomplish the necessary reconciliation to maintain the marriage relationship (which would be preferable), the shame and pain can impact all from spouses, to parents, and to children. Marriage partners are burden-ed. While the innocent party forgives, they may have a constant hurdle in seeking to forget. And while the fornicating spouse may be forgiven, their continued self-imposed guilt can be used by Satan as a device to lessen their relationship and lead them back into sin of one kind or another (2 Cor. 2:7,11). Parents are grieved by the pain their children who commit fornication bring upon themselves and by the shame brought upon the family name. And children of parents who commit fornication may be devastated the most. There is often a loss of confidence in the institution of marriage itself, a distrust in forming their own relationship, a weakening of faith in God and difficulty in maintaining conviction concerning his truths about divorce and remarriage, and in general simply a greater sense of insecurity. Why lay such burdens and bring such pain upon those whom we truly love the most?
Fornication often bears congregational consequences. We sometimes speak of the sin of Christians bringing “reproach upon the church.” While any sin can accomplish such, few, if any sins, are as good at getting this job done in the eyes of the world as the sin of fornication. How many congregations have been robbed of their most influential leaders and teachers because the sin of fornication overcame an elder or a preacher or members of their families? How many future elders and/or preachers may never be able to serve in such a capacity in the church because of the workings of the consequences of fornication? How many churches will be divided and/or will have their candlestick removed because some refuse to stand for the truth and deal with the consequences of the sin in bringing the fornicator to repentance? If we love the Lords church and his cause in this world, we must hate the sin of fornication and the fruit that it bears.
Fornication can also lead to henneneutical consequences. Would we be experiencing as great a problem (or any problem) in understanding the plain biblical teaching concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage if it were not for the sin of fornication. When that sin leads to the dissolution of a marriage and the pursuit of another marital relation-ship by the put away. fornicator, emotions often override intellect and personal involvement or sympathy produces a hurdle to proper interpretation and application of divine truth. Why would we want to place ourselves in the circumstance of having to redefine terms, strain interpretations and create our own theories to justify what the Bible identifies as sin and to maintain fellowship with the unrepentant sinner and the false teachers who uphold them? Why would we want to lay an added burden upon those who love us of choosing between their love for us and their love for the truth? Yet, this is often exactly what is done as a consequence of the sin of fornication.
Satan may use the world in all its influential means and media to portray fornication as a most
beautiful passion that leads to fulfilling oneself as a person and living “happily ever after.”
It may be portrayed as glamour and romantic, natural and even innocent. He may suggest
that it can be done in secret, no one will ever know, everybody is doing it, and just one time
wont hurt. (All the general appeals of the wolf in sheeps clothing.) He may try to convince
us that it is our body, our business and others will not be affected. Yes, fornication may be
advertised as being as sweet as honey, but in the end its fruit is as bitter as wormwood
(Prov. 5:3-4). In spite of Satans romantic camouflage, the reality is that fornication is sin;
sin that can beget a multitude of other sins from deception even to murder (as in the case of
David in 2 Sam. 11); sin that can destroy nations, families, congregations, lives and even souls.
If David could have only stopped to consider the consequences that his relationship with
Bathsheba might possibly bring, I cannot conceive that this man after Gods own heart
would have chosen to taste of this most bitter fruit. The bitter fruit of fornication can bring
an abundant harvest of rottenness beyond description, and it can all be avoided by simply
heeding the warning of God “flee fornication!”
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 14 p. 21-22
July 15, 1993