“Abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed is undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). The word ‘fornication’ refers to all kinds of sexual intercourse outside of marriage (including homosexual activity), and adultery is fornication that violates a marriage. Some versions translate the one Greek word “fornication” as “sexual immorality”.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). In fornication and adultery, people take advantage of each other, they “use” each other.

The laws God has established regarding sexual activities are to preserve the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of man.

What is required, according to Scriptures, to preserve personal purity and the sanctity of marriage? First, men and women are to remain virgin until marriage. All sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden by God and are referred to as fornication, a sin that had the death penalty under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant one can be forgiven and purified by the blood of Christ. It is a sin, however, that is extremely damaging to those concerned, to society and to marriage as an institution.

After marriage one is to have sexual relations only with the marriage partner. Sexual relations with any other is adultery, which also earned the death penalty under the Old Covenant. We read in Hebrews 13:4 that God wants marriage to be preserved from the damage caused by these two sins. Immorality harms people physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

The root meaning of the Greek word “fornication” is “filthiness”. A boy and a girl who keep themselves pure until marriage and remain faithful after marriage, are a separate island. They never come in contact with the filthy cesspool of venereal diseases that are passed around from person to person by immoral people.

Venereal diseases are sexually transmitted diseases. Such a disease, because of its characteristics, is transmitted from person to person almost exclusively through sexual intercourse. Transmission usually requires either that the pathogens remain at body temperature (otherwise they die) or direct blood to blood contact. Sometimes such diseases are also transmitted through injection with a dirty needle or from mother to child in the womb or at birth.

The World Health Organization states: "Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are very common. The most widely known are gonorrhea, syphilis and AIDS (HIV infection), but there are more than 20 others. According to current WHO estimates, there are more than 333 million new cases of STDs every year throughout the world. About one million new infections occur every day."

Several sexually transmitted diseases are incurable, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and genital herpes. Others, although curable, cause lasting damage. Several of these diseases show no symptoms for a long time after infection.

These diseases would disappear if people obeyed God. According to the word of God, both men and women are to remain virgin until marriage, and a married couple are to remain faithful to each another. Even in a world where immorality is rampant, people who obey God have virtually no chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The marriage bed is holy, but fornication and adultery are filthy.

According to the law of the Old Testament, Israel would be kept pure because those who committed fornication or adultery were stoned to death.

Forgiveness is possible under the New Testament on the basis of remorse and repentance. If you have committed fornication or adultery, you can repent and be forgiven. Your soul can be purified by the blood of Christ. You can determine that from now on you will keep yourself pure.

Even though you are forgiven, you have placed yourself in great danger with regard to sexually transmitted diseases. You should see a doctor and have tests made to be sure that you have not contracted an infection that you might pass on to your present or future marriage partner, or your children. Your former immorality can also have adverse effects on your marriage even though you have been forgiven.

This means that you must strive to be the kind of person whom someone with high moral standards would want to marry! And it means that you must be extremely careful whom you marry! Find someone who has the same high moral standards based on faith in God that you have. If a potential marriage partner has been immoral, be sure there is evidence of true repentance and that the person has changed.

It can still happen that one is deceived or betrayed, but we must make every effort to avoid marrying someone who does not have a high standard of morality. People who have sex with each other before they marry, are people who are willing to have sex outside of marriage, which makes them more susceptible to committing adultery after marriage than someone who had high moral standards before marriage.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise. Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive