By Steven J. Wallace
My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your nearest kin, that they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night. And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot and a crafty heart . . . she caught him and kissed him . . . I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you. I have spread my bed with tapestry, colored coverings of Egyptian linen. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love . . . With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter . . . (Prov. 7:1-10, 13, 15-18, 21, 22).
Unfortunately, many make the same decision as the young man and woman whom Solomon peered at through his window that night. Likewise, God looks down through heaven’s window upon the sons of men and sees a world that is obsessed with and seemingly fanatical over sexual gratification. One can see the marks of this craze through nearly every outlet of society. Look at the advertising community; it is overwhelming obsessed with exploiting the woman’s body for sales. Television sitcoms frequently aim the blunt of their jokes in the area of a sexual nature. One cannot pass through the supermarket without easily seeing magazines of nearly nude woman on display. Many movies thrive on some kind of fornication to sell their movie. Imagine if they would make a sensor that would automatically cut out, not only all the filthy language, but also all the fornication and sexual situations that actors frequently find themselves in? Most two hours movies would probably be cut in half.
When we talk about the danger of fornication, it is essential that we define what we mean. By “danger” we mean the pitfalls and consequences of such a sin. By “fornication,” we mean unlawful sexual intercourse (i.e., premarital, extra-marital or adulterous, homosexual/lesbian, etc.). It should be understood that lawful sexual relations are honorable only between a man and woman who are lawfully married. Any other scenario is sinful. The notion that a husband and wife commit fornication when they have sexual relations is an erroneous assumption that flies in the face of Scripture. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). The marriage bed is not a bed of defilement but is honorable for the procreation of mankind (Gen. 1:28) and for the gratification of sexual affection (see 1 Cor. 7:1-5). Note that Paul informed the Corinthians of a way to avoid sexual immorality — marriage. Also notice that the spouse is to “have,” render the “affection,” give one’s body to the other marriage partner, and not “deprive” the other of this right. A spouse who deprives the other of sexual gratification is not only asking for marital problems, but is also violating God’s word and robbing or “defrauding” (KJV) one of his right. Husbands and wives need to remember that they promised to “have” and to “hold” one another, and then they should actually have and hold one another (cf. Prov. 5:15-20). An unlawful marriage, on the other hand, always results in an unlawful sexual union, adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Likewise people who are unmarried and yet practice sexual relations are in a state of rebellion against God’s word (1 Cor. 6:16-18). While we live in a sex crazed world, the word of God still says, “Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord . . .” (1 Cor. 6:13b).
The dangers of fornication are real. Too often a young man or woman who has a promising career throws it all away because he/she is in love with love rather than each other. Likewise parents who have more dollars than sense force their daughter to have an innocent and pure life brutally aborted simply because of appearance’s sake. Fornication also wrecks families when a husband or wife throws the family’s welfare aside to follow the lust of one’s heart for a fleeting moment of passion with another. A church may be left in shambles when a preacher, deacon, elder, or teacher is found out for being sexually involved with another member or so forth. Reputations are shattered, good examples are gone, and influence is lost in the muck of such scenes. The wise man was correct when he penned, “For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread . . .Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent? (Prov. 6:26-29).
Fornication is a real problem that even the “strong” have succumbed to (Prov. 7:26). One can simply ponder on David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), a man of faith (Heb. 11:32), and one who valiantly opposed and victoriously overcame the enemies of God, yet one who was overcome by lust and committed a grievous transgression, giving Jehovah’s enemies reason to blaspheme (2 Sam. 11:1-12:15). While David repented and was forgiven, the rest of his days were not the same. Do not be deceived, dear reader, fornication is dangerous. What makes it so dangerous, however, is not the physical consequences that may befall such a one (as if they were not dangerous enough) but the actual severance from God Almighty, from the Father of spirits and his Son, Jesus, the Lord of all life. Fornication is not “alternative” or “wise” or “acceptable”; it is sin and rebellion against God’s holy word that comes with ugly consequences. “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, and her steps lay hold of hell” (Prov. 5:3-5). Fornication damns the soul and will keep one out of heaven if not repented of (Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
What then can one do to avoid the tragedies of walking down such a pathway of doom? First one should seek to watch over the heart. Solomon wrote, “Keep (watch over, NAS) your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life . . . Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet . . .” (Prov. 4:23, 25, 26a). When inflamed with evil passion, we need to stop and think about the way that we are going. The fact of the matter is that we train our heart to become what it is. Peter wrote of some as having their “. . . heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children” (2 Pet. 2:14). If we want a heart that is trained for purity then we must meditate on pure things (Phil. 4:8). Beware, harlotry enslaves the heart (Hosea 4:11).
Second, we must live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Tit. 2:11-12). It is one thing to train our heart for righteousness, but we must become practitioners of godliness. This means that we must utilize some discretion about the environment which we subject ourselves to. Recognize that dance halls, and “parking” with our date are breeding grounds for all sorts of sexual immorality. Men and women need to acknowledge that suggestive or immodest dress portrays a statement about themselves. Often we are creatures of desire. When we see something that we like and it looks good, we seek ways to get it (cf. Eve in Gen. 3:6). When you dress in a suggestive or provocative way, you are laying a stumbling block for those who have eyes to see; there is such a thing as the “attire of a harlot” (Prov. 7:10). Don’t only be concerned with clothing, but also bodily movement and speech. The Bible takes note of the way that a woman can tempt a male. “Her mouth is smoother than oil . . . the flattering tongue of a seductress . . . Nor let her allure you with her eyelids . . . the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet” (Prov. 5:3; 6:24, 25; Isa. 3:16). Men are very easily visually stimulated.
Third and finally, just flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18). If such a situation ever presents itself to you, don’t linger around and try to reason with it, just flee! Run for you life and escape! Flee like Joseph did in Genesis 39.
Christian, fornication is sin that is destructive to the soul. Don’t lead a double life. If you are presently living in this sin, get out of it and then pray God that you may be forgiven (Acts 8:22). If Jesus peers through the window of your heart, what does he see, one void of understanding or one who seeks his great counsel? “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke . . . Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (Prov. 13:1; 31:10).
1002 Bloom Ave., Grandview, Washington 98930
February 3, 2000