By Daniel H. King
Fornication has always been a sin, not only against God and holiness, but also against one’s own body. Throughout this period of sexual madness that our nation and the world has been experiencing, that is one fact which has been largely ignored. Paul noted this in making his argument against the licentious ways of the Corinthians: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body; but he who commits immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
According to Paul’s observation, no sin quite so intimately requires the total involvement of the physical anatomy as does immorality. Additionally, it puts the body completely at risk. The Bible attests that from very early times God has associated this sin with danger and even death. The twenty-fifth chapter of Numbers tells how the Israelites “began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab” (v. 1), and “Israel joined himself unto the Baal of Peor. ” Canaanite religion was a fertility cult and was inherently sexual in nature. People worshiped Baal and Asherah by means of union with cultic prostitutes (both male and female). There is ample attestation of this in the Scripture itself and also in outside sources such as the cuneiform texts from Ras Shamra, the excavated city of Ugarit, on the coast of Syria. Israel was tempted to join in with the worship and did so to his hurt. Immorality is dangerous! The Bible tells how Moses and the priests struck down some who engaged in this evil. But, almost in a footnote, it ends the story of the incident with these words: “And those that died by the plague were twenty and four thousand.” Imagine that! Twenty four thousand persons perished by a plague because of their immorality! Undoubtedly this plague was some sort of sexually transmitted disease. The brothel/shrine at Peor was not a safe place to visit!
Our young people need to be constantly warned that there is danger in sexual sin. While God has blessed the marital union (Heb. 13:4 – “the marriage bed is undefiled”), he has cursed pre- and extra-marital involvements: “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4b). Too many of our foolish intellectual leaders are attempting to salvage their so-called “sexual revolution” by encouraging “safe sex,” i.e. sex with a protective condom. In reality, the only “safe sex” is that between two persons who are married and faithful to one another. We who believe Scripture must not hesitate to remind ourselves and others that the curse of God is upon those who commit sexual sin. Even if one takes the risk and gets lucky (does not contract a disease or seems not to pay the price of this folly), still the wages of sin is ultimately death (Rom. 6:23). It spells spiritual death now, and eternal separation from God in the world to come, regardless of the present physical repercussions or lack of them.
But those physical consequences may only be ignored at fantastic risk to one’s health and happiness. At this stage in our history venereal diseases are running rampant. Gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, lymphogranulorna venereum, granuloma inguinale, nongonococcal. urethritis (chlamydial infection), hepatitis infection (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and “non-A, non-B” hepatitis), venereal warts (human papillomavirus), venereal herpes (herpes genitalis), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), etc, are all threats to public health. Herpes and AIDS are incurable; AIDS is always fatal. Contrary to public opinion, curing these diseases is not easy for the scientific community, nor is the solution merely to throw unlimited funds into research (as many in the homosexual community seem to think, especially with reference to AIDS; besides, why should the U.S. taxpayer be forced to pay for the socially irresponsible behavior of a few?). Not only are the causative organisms in these various diseases different structurally but they also represent distinct classes of micro-organisms: spirochetes, cocci, bacilli, and viruses. Hepatitis is a virus. It is not specifically a venereal disease, but is spread through sexual intimacy with infected persons. It can be fatal, lead to chronic hepatitis or even cirrhosis of the liver. Herpes and AIDS are also viral organisms, and so are the most difficult to prevent or interdict with medication. To date it has proven impossible to eradicate these various diseases because they are constantly being transmitted to new hosts by sexual activity of infected persons, knowingly or unknowingly.
The AIDS virus in particular strikes fear in the hearts of even the most casual in their views toward sexual “freedom.” The slow and excruciating death, punctuated by debilitating infections and unrelenting cancerous tumors, and the knowledge that there are no survivors, should be sufficient to give anyone pause before considering a “casual sexual encounter.” It seems that in this mysterious virus God has created a scourge worthy of the plague at Peor – calculated to punish those who have no respect for his Law!
Except in rare cases, there is no reason for the moral person to fear these deadly venereal plagues. The Lord has made a way to protect his people from such. In their faithfulness to God and their marital partner, or through simple self-control, Christians guard themselves from these infestations. As Jehovah said in the Old Testament, “the Lord will . . . afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt, which you have known” (Deut. 7:15). On the other hand, if we yield to immoral behavior, we should be forewarned that “he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Gal. 6:8). As Moses warned Israel: “Then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues – great and prolonged plagues – and serious and prolonged sicknesses . . . and they shall cling to you” (Deut. 28:59-60).
The irresponsible mass media, in particular television and modern popular music, treats these very real dangers mostly as if they did not exist. Dramatic presentations have movie heroes like James Bond hopping from bed to bed with one beautiful woman after another, seemingly without consequences. Many young people have already discovered, to their frightened dismay, that this is how babies are conceived (though it is seldom so in the movies). Song lyrics make unlawful sexual encounters sound wistfully romantic. Again, however, they totally ignore the real-life implications of such doings. America’s spiraling illegitimacy rate attests to the fact that conception and birth are still the very natural result of heterosexual intimacy. Abortion, with its mental and physical scarring, is the stop-gap measure invented to rid our lives of these children conceived in “one night stand, non-committal relationships.
And then there are the diseases! We must not forget those diseases! Hollywood seems to, except when doing some concert on behalf of its AIDS victims. And even then the most its leading lights can contribute is a few dollars, a warning against “unprotected sex,” and more railing against the government for not somehow relieving us of this scourge. Dear friend, the only way we are going to put a halt to this AIDS epidemic is if we again respect the law of the Lord and limit sexual activity to the normal, male-female, marriage relationship. Otherwise, it will run its course when it has killed off, in toto, those infected with the virus. Do not be unwise enough to be one among them! It may be many years before some researcher stumbles upon the key that will unlock the mystery of a cure for this awful disease. If that happens, the many other serious health and life threatening side-effects of immorality will not have gone away.
We must know, even today, that “he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). If we are guilty of this sin, we are not only transgressing an ordinance of Heaven, but we are hurting ourselves, potentially destroying our own bodies!
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 11, p. 322, 329
June 4, 1992