What is Fornication?

by Pastor Matthew Norville, Sr.


Fornication is sexual sin. Fornication is any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage. Some people have tried to limit the definition of fornication to only one specific sexual act (intercourse), and say that you can participate in any other kind of sexual activity other than this one specific act, and you are not committing fornication. But that is not the way that the Bible uses the word fornication. Any kind of sexual activity or touching outside of marriage is fornication according to the Word of God.

I Corinthians 7:1–2 says:

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

This passage of scripture is talking about a man touching a woman in a sexual way. This would be called “sexual touching.” This scripture calls sexual touching outside of marriage “fornication.” It is not talking about holding hands while praying in a circle or taking a woman by the arm or hand when you are helping her out of a car or across a street or something.

This scripture also says that, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” This means that if it is good for a man not to touch a woman (in a sexual way), it is bad (the sin of fornication) for a man to touch a woman (in a sexual way).

Proverbs 6:29 says:

“So he that goeth in to his neighbor's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.”

Does this scripture mean that if you get introduced to your neighbor's wife and you shake her hand that you are guilty of a sin? Of course not! This verse is talking about touching your neighbor's wife in a sexual way. If you were to do that, you would be guilty of the sin of fornication.

What is sexual touching?

Sexual touching would include—but not be limited to—things like kissing on the lips (A holy kiss on the cheek is permissible. Kissing on the lips is a sexual thing and should ONLY take place between a husband and wife.), holding hands like a husband and wife would hold hands, sitting on each others' laps, snuggling, and wrapping arms around each other (A brief “holy” hug is permissible.). If you wouldn't do it with your grandmother, you shouldn't do it with anybody else—unless you are married to them!

Oftentimes on TV and in the movies we see people—even children—kissing each other on the lips and holding hands like a husband and wife would and doing other sexual things as well. All these things are fornication. It is not cute. It is sin. And the Bible tells us the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Children never have any business doing anything sexual. Sexual activity is only for married adults. The Word of God says that for adults (The Bible uses the words man, men, woman, and women in referring to adults.) to avoid fornication, let them marry (I Corinthians 7:2).

Sometimes we see or hear of a girl kissing a boy that she is not married to and we hear people say something like, “What a little whore!” in referring to the girl, or, “What a little whoremonger!” in referring to the boy. These are true statements. A girl or woman who commits fornication is a whore and a boy or man who commits fornication is a whoremonger.

If you have ever been to a wedding, you will remember that at the end of the ceremony the minister says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” And then he says to the groom, “You may now kiss the bride.” The minister says this because now they are married and it is now permissible to kiss.

In Acts, chapter 15, in Antioch, Syria, the Christians had a dispute among themselves about whether or not people (Gentiles in particular) needed to be circumcised and keep the law according to the Mosaic Covenant under the New Covenant. The Christians determined that certain of them should go up to Jerusalem, Judea, Israel unto the apostles and elders about this question.

After some discussion with the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, it was decided and agreed that a letter should be sent back to the Gentile Christians explaining to them that they did not need to be circumcised or keep the law according to the Mosaic Covenant. But it was agreed that the letter should tell them that they should abstain from pollutions of idols and from fornication and from things strangled and from blood.

So a letter was sent which read in part (verses 28–29):

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from foods offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”

Of all the sins that could be mentioned here that the Gentile Christians could have been told to abstain from, fornication is the one mentioned. Abstaining from fornication is VERY important. Fornication is a sin against a person's own body.

I Corinthians 3:18 says:

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

There are many and serious consequences to committing fornication. Many times these consequences haunt people for the rest of their lives—if they even live out their lives. Many times people that commit fornication die young. The nursing homes are full of people that committed fornication. (I do not mean that everyone in a nursing home is there because they committed fornication, but there are very few people in nursing homes who have never committed fornication.) The HIV/AIDS epidemic is the result of fornication. (I know that everyone did not get HIV/AIDS by committing fornication. But it is a miniscule amount of the HIV/AIDS population (far less than 1%) that contracted HIV/AIDS without fornication or drug use being involved.)

I once heard on the radio a commercial about a woman who contracted the HIV/AIDS virus even though she had not committed fornication. But she contracted the disease from her husband who had committed fornication. So fornication was still involved in the transmission of the disease.

Because fornication is a sin, a person who commits fornication is in sin and God cannot hear that person's prayers and that person's faith can not work.

In conclusion, I leave you with I Corinthians 6:13–20:

13 Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods: 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.
14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

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This page last updated June 29, 2016.