Fornication, Premarital Sex and the Easter Bunny

That’s Fornication!

I keep having people tell me about this thing called fornication and how bad it is.  So I asked myself, what does the word “fornication” really mean? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “fornicate” means”

“(Of two people not married to each other) have sexual intercourse.”

In the Bible the word “fornication” is typically used to translate the Greek word “porneia” into English.  The best translation for “porneia” is “sexual immorality” because the word describes things that are forbidden by the Law.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t get us much closer to what the word means and what it actually means and what people think it means are two very different things.  In fact, the word is a misnomer.  In case you were wondering, the dictionary defines the word “misnomer” as:


noun: misnomer; plural noun: misnomers
  1. a wrong or inaccurate name or designation.
    ““king crab” is a misnomer—these creatures are not crustaceans at all”
    synonyms: inaccurate name/label/designation, wrong name/label/designation, inappropriate name/label/designation

    “scientists say “killer whale” is a misnomer for what is one of the gentlest marine creatures known to man”
    • a wrong or inaccurate use of a name or term.
      “to call this “neighborhood policing” would be a misnomer”

What is wrong with the word fornication?

This is best understood by learning how this word came to be, which requires a bit of church history.  The short version is the major thought leaders of the early church, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory, were all a bunch of perverts.  They hated sex and especially the idea of sexual pleasure, which they considered the most foul and wicked of all activities.  Even within marriage, sex could be considered a sin (although a venial one), so outside marriage sex must be a mortal sin.

They hated sex so much they threw out the Bible’s instruction and standards on marriage and replaced them with a combination of Pagan belief, Stoic philosophy and Roman law.  While the Bible says that sex is the act that creates a marriage, the perverts in the early church decided that marriage was by consent only and sex had nothing to do with it.  That was the beginning.

Later, the church took control of marriage for political purposes and they required that any marriage be made under the auspices of the church, in public, with an exchange of vows which required public commitment by both parties.  This too was in absolute violation of the Bible’s instruction but they didn’t care, they were the church and they could do whatever they wanted to.  If you didn’t like it they’d declare you a heretic and kill you.

This created a problem because there is no prohibition anywhere in the Bible that forbids what is now known as “premarital sex”.  The reason is simple.  When a virgin has sex for the first time, that is her marriage ceremony and with that act she’s married.  Whether she knows it or not.  If she has sex with any other man, that’s the crime of adultery.  The reason there is no Biblical prohibition on “premarital sex” is because sex is how marriage begins.  Sure, you can have a wedding celebration and exchange vows, but the marriage occurs when the couple has sex.

The church knew this and they have always known this, but they are sneaky and quite devious.  They could not admit that sex makes one married so there was no way they could call sex with a virgin marriage or call sex with the town bicycle adultery.  They had to have something else and they settled on the Biblical prohibition in the New Testament that forbid Christian men from having sex with prostitutes.

That is where the word fornication comes from and the leaders of the church claim that any sex outside of marriage is fornication and it’s a sin.

Romans 4:15 and 5:13 are specific in telling us that where there is no law there is no transgression and no sin is imputed. In other words, there has to be a rule that can be broken before you get a violation, and lacking a violation of some prohibition, there is no sin imputed. With that in mind, let’s see if the church got it right.


Examining The Evidence

Is it a sin if two people who are not married to each other get together and have sex? In some cases, yes. The crime of adultery is a man having sex with another man’s wife. The crime of incest is two close relatives having sex together. The crime of sodomy is two men having sex. Each of those, however, is a specific sin, the sins of adultery, incest and sodomy and in each case the situation is one in which the two people having sex cannot marry each other. That’s important.

Is it possible two people who are not married to each other could get together and have sex without being in sin? Again, in some cases, yes. The reason is there is no prohibition anywhere in the Law that says a man cannot have sex with any woman who is eligible to marry him. If a man (whether married or not) has sex with a virgin, he has consummated his marriage to her and that is not a sin. If a man has sex with a widow, a legitimately divorced woman (a woman who was divorced because of her immorality) or any other woman who is unmarried but not a virgin, it is not a sin because there is no prohibition on such activity.

The simple rule is if the man and woman could legitimately be married to each other, having sex is not a sin and it doesn’t matter if the man is already married or not because a man can have more than one wife.  Christians hate, hate, hate this.

The reason it’s not a sin is because the way God designed things, the man (any man) has the authority to initiate marriage to any woman he is eligible to marry at any time. However, this word “fornication” was part of a restructuring of the language and it reflects what the church taught about sex and marriage, not what the Bible teaches.  The reason is the church usurped the man’s authority to initiate marriage and claimed there had to be a ceremony in order for there to be a marriage.  That meant that sex prior to the Easter Bunny definition of marriage had to be classified as a sin called “premarital sex.”

The Law did not contain any prohibition, anywhere, on a man having sex with a woman eligible to marry, regardless of whether he was single or married, but I recently had a fellow arguing with me on this subject. He claims “premarital sex” is a sin and he used Deuteronomy 22:21 as the centerpiece of his argument. The problem there is the woman who was sentenced to death in that passage was a betrothed woman who was found to NOT be a virgin on her wedding night.

The thing is, the very next passage (verses 22-23) describes a man who has sex with a betrothed virgin getting put to death because “he violated his neighbors wife.” That’s one way to say adultery, but the fact is that a betrothed virgin was legally married.

To complicate matters, the English translation of verse 21 says the woman is to be put to death because she committed a great folly and “played the harlot” in her father’s house. I’ll skip over the confusion the word “harlot” creates for now (it convinces people that “premarital sex” is some kind of sin) but I’ll cover it later. The word translated as “played the harlot” in Deuteronomy 22:21 is the specific term liz-nō-wṯ and there are only 5 occurrences of this word, which is a form of our old friend “zanah.” The question is what “liz-nō-wṯ” actually means, so we first look at the other usages of the term and the five times “liz-nō-wṯ” is used are:

1) Leviticus 20:5 (Defined in the text as Molech worship)
2) Leviticus 20:6 (Defined in the text as using mediums and spiritists)
3) Leviticus 21:9 (Contextually implied as being sexual idolatry)
4) Numbers 25:1 (Defined in the text as Baal worship)
5) Deuteronomy 22:21 (A woman found not to be a virgin on her wedding night)

So the question is, why, when the facts support a conclusion of adultery, did Moses use the term “liz-nō-wṯ” which is defined in the other uses as idolatry? Is it possible that in her acts of adultery the woman is signifying her rejection of God, His Law and precepts of purity? This follows the idea that idolatry is spiritual adultery in the same way that adultery is physical idolatry. Idolatry is giving something that belongs only to God to someone or something else and adultery is a wife giving to some other man something that belongs only to her husband. In both cases there is an obligation that is being violated.

There are actually two ways in which the woman in verse 21 could be guilty of adultery, one of which is if she gave her virginity to another man after she was betrothed (she committed adultery against her betrothed) and the other if she gave her virginity to a man prior to becoming betrothed. If the latter case, not only did she commit adultery when she had sex with the man she purported to marry, she caused him to commit adultery because she was already a married woman.

Keep in mind that proving adultery is extremely difficult because it requires two witnesses and not only that but a finding of adultery would require a determination be made as to who her husband really was. If a woman is to be put to death for adultery it is in the interest of justice to put the man guilty of adultery to death as well, which might lead to a situation in which the man who innocently married her would be found guilty of adultery and be subject to the death penalty.

But, wait! Is there truly a need to push the adultery issue when this is such a can of worms? She is also technically guilty of idolatry in giving to someone else that which rightfully belonged only to the man she had agreed to marry (idolatry) and that is also a death penalty offense.

Perhaps that’s the reason why Moses used the term “liz-nō-wṯ” to describe her crime, a term that is specifically defined as idolatry. The problem with calling this adultery is there must be a victim and the question is, who is the victim and who is the other guilty party? Will the woman tell the truth and even if she did, could she be believed? Only God knows the truth of the matter, so the term “liz-nō-wṯ” does an admirable job of describing the situation in which regardless of who she committed adultery against or with, what she did was give herself to someone other than he to whom she belonged and thus in the context of idolatry she was in violation of a death penalty offense without the messy problem of proving who she was actually married to… one in which the completely innocent victim of her adultery might have to pay for her crime with his life.

It seems to me the clear instruction for judges in this matter is with the facts as presented, this is a situation in which it does no good to try to dig down to the bottom of things. Legally married, she’s found not to be a virgin, so should the case be judged as adultery (in which there is the possibility of an innocent man being put to death) when a suitable alternative exists? Where would the two witnesses come from and how could adultery be proven otherwise? As presented, there is only one witness against her (the cloth) that testifies to her guilt so she cannot be convicted on the charge of adultery unless there is another witness. On the other hand, as to the charge of idolatry we have two witnesses, the cloth and the offended husband who did not receive what was owed to him and knows it because he was there. Obviously, since both crimes are death-penalty offenses, it is better to protect the innocent than go on a witch-hunt for the guilty and that’s what Moses appears to have decided, which is probably why he characterized her crime as “liz-nō-wṯ” which is translated into English as “playing the harlot” but defined in the text as idolatry.

What modern Christians like to see in this text is “harlotry” and “fornication” but the text absolutely does not support this at all. What the text supports is a physical act of adultery with circumstances that allowed her to be convicted of idolatry without allowing a witch-hunt that may very well have seen an innocent man put to death. That is a very real possibility because if an unmarried woman is screwing around in her youth while living in her father’s house, what is the worst thing that can happen to her? Marriage. On the other hand, once she’s betrothed, what happens if she’s caught screwing around? The penalty is execution as an adulteress (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Simple logic says that once she’s betrothed the woman will probably be very careful not to step out of line. She’s had her fun, got away with it and now she’s set to latch onto her beta provider.

In this case of the woman found not to be a virgin on her wedding night, she probably lost her virginity prior to her betrothal and that means her betrothal was a sham (she was already married) and the man she purported to marry committed adultery in the process of discovering she was already married (not a virgin) which makes him guilty of adultery through no fault of his own.

Folks, what we DO NOT see here is an example of premarital sex. We see a case of adultery that would be a nightmare to prosecute and the witch-hunt necessary to discover the truth in this matter (her real husband has nothing to lose- he actually did nothing wrong in this episode) would likely get an innocent man killed so instead of adultery she was convicted on the available evidence on a charge of idolatry and sentenced to death.

While Deuteronomy 22:21 is not describing premarital sex, the position of the church with respect to premarital sex is real.  It took a lot of study, but it’s found among ancient holy writings in the famous story about the ceremony of the Easter Bunny with his basked of colored eggs.  This is the instruction where the early church got the requirement for a marriage ceremony and the story explains why people aren’t supposed to play with the eggs (especially the blue ones!) before the ceremony.    Seriously.  That sticky white stuff from the eggs just goes everywhere.  I was having a rough time finding the source for this doctrine on premarital sex but the guy with a funny hat told me all about it and everybody tells me it’s not possible for him to make mistakes when it comes to this stuff(1) so I guess it must be true.  After all, it seems like everybody in the church believes it.

  1. The Roman Catholic Church claims the Pope is infallible in all matters of faith and doctrine for the church. I didn’t say it came from the Bible.
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12 Responses to Fornication, Premarital Sex and the Easter Bunny

  1. Renee Harris says:

    If. A woman is married (by force) at the age 3. And can’t find her husband but want to have sex without sin?

  2. Renee Harris says:

    Ok so that was a dumb question. But but you’re definitely not been given a virginity is not realistic. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never had sex with another person. However whatever happened before my memory kicked in I’m still responsible for

  3. OKRickety says:

    The best translation for “porneia” is “immorality” because the word describes things that are forbidden by the Law.

    … because porneia describes a behavior that is sinful, one that is contrary to the Law.

    Based on this, a man can divorce his wife for her doing any behavior forbidden by the Law, because the “exception clause” in Matthew 5:32 says he can divorce her for porneia.

    Porneia can be defined much more specifically. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says it is “properly, illicit sexual intercourse in general” (that is, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc., and incest), or “metaphorically, the worship of idols”. In the first instance, porneia describes a category of sins, but not all sins.

    Which meaning do you intend for porneia? The “proper” or the “metaphorical”?

    For whatever reasons, English translations for Matt. 5:32 and most other instances of porneia use fornication, unchastity, sexual immorality, etc. rather than “illicit sexual intercourse”. That is unfortunate, as these other words allow misunderstanding. I think there are some scriptures where porneia is used metaphorically, but I do not have a list.

    I know you are complaining about others’ definition of fornication, but bringing up porneia isn’t helping because it does include fornication.

    Note: I am not asking you to repeat your arguments about what constitutes adultery, fornication, marriage, etc.

    • It didn’t make it into the post, but the origin of the word fornication was fortrix (arch) which is where prostitutes would loiter, the arch also being the sign of a bordello. In that respect as the word fornication applied to prostitution, given the prohibition on a Christian using prostitutes, fornication describes a forbidden and sinful sexual activity for Christians.

      I know you are complaining about others’ definition of fornication, but bringing up porneia isn’t helping because it does include fornication.

      The problem with the term “fornication” is that it is a word the church *wants* to use to define “porneia”, but it’s a problem. Porneia is best defined as immorality, sexual immorality or marital unfaithfulness. However, there is a double standard for men and women, in that (if we are talking about divorce under the Law- which does not apply to Christians) virtually every form of marital unfaithfulness has a specific name, such as adultery. The word fornication is more specific to unmarried persons and once you remove the sins such as adultery, incest and sodomy, there isn’t much left in terms of sex between unmarried persons that is a sin except (and only for Christians) having sex with a prostitute.

      The use of the word “porneia” with respect to marital unfaithfulness is complicated because it isn’t strictly limited to sex. A woman who has what we would call an “emotional affair” would be guilty of giving to another man what rightfully belongs only to her husband and that is a violation along the lines of “adultery of the heart” as described in Matthew 5:28. In that respect, a non-sexual act of marital unfaithfulness falls more into the area of idolatry than adultery because there is no sex involved. However, this is getting into some serious hair-splitting and that’s just my opinion. An equally good argument can be made that a woman who (being a woman) allows her emotions to get out of control but restrains herself and remains physically faithful to her husband has not sinned, but that takes us back to Matthew 5:28.

      The reason I stated that “porneia” is defined as a violation of the Law was to distinguish it from the word fornication, which describes sex between persons who are not married, which is not necessarily a sin. In fact, as commonly used the word “fornication” does not describe sinful activity. “Premarital sex” with a woman the man is eligible to marry (except for sex with a prostitute) is not a sin. However, to give you an idea of what kind of bizarro world we live in, keep in mind that most of what people would call “premarital sex” as well as the vast majority of so-called “marital sex” is actually adultery.

      The church doctrine that the ceremony creates the marriage and sex does not and cannot create a marriage is similar to the idea that because the law allows abortion, a woman can have an abortion and not be guilty of murdering her unborn child. Perhaps some Christians think they could argue that with God one day, but the fact remains that when one stands before God one is judged by God’s rules. Murdering a baby via abortion is a one-time act that could be repeated whereas marriage is a change in status and thus adultery is the sin that keeps happening every time the married woman has sex with someone other than her husband and it causes the man in question to commit the same crime.

      God said that sex with a virgin initiates the marital covenant with her and she is thus married to the man who got her virginity. Period. Her father has the authority to annul that marriage in the day he hears of it, but what father knows that or understands that his daughter was lawfully married in the day she gave a man her virginity? That means there is a very sticky problem with this “pre-ceremony” sex, as illustrated in Deuteronomy 22:21 (which was the subject of this post) in that while the crime of adultery is obvious, sorting out just who is married to whom can get difficult. The woman, once married, remains married until her father annuls it(1), her unbelieving husband divorces(2) her for “porneia”(3) or her unbelieving husband leaves her(4). If the man who got her virginity and is thereby married to her is a Christian(5), the only way out of that marriage is if her father annuls the marriage or if he dies.

      This means that virtually every non-virgin woman you meet in the church is married whether she knows it or not. It means that virtually every single “married woman” in the church who is not officially married to the man who got her virginity is living in adultery with a man who is not her husband. It also means there are a LOT of men who are unknowingly committing adultery with another man’s wife.

      1. Numbers 30:3-5 (Father can annul any agreement or vow of daughter)
      2. Deuteronomy 24:1 (Divorce allowed by Moses)
      3. Matthew 19:9 (Jesus said divorce is allowed only for “porneia”)
      4. 1st Corinthians 7:15 (If the unbelieving spouse leaves, the believing spouse is free)
      5. 1st Corinthians 7:11 (Christian husband is forbidden to divorce his wife)

      • Renee Harris says:

        What age can a woman be marry?

        • You enjoy asking hard questions, don’t you?

          There is no age listed in Scripture as being appropriate for marriage, but in the historical context it was sometime past the point of menarche. From what little we know of the ancients, this occurred at a physical age somewhere around 13-15 years old.

          We know from current studies that females begin puberty at an earlier age when their father is not present, and we also know that the current environment is saturated with estrogen mimickers (especially foods containing soy) that cause females to begin puberty at an even earlier age. There is even a body of evidence that suggests that a highly sexualized environment can trigger menarche at an earlier age. Today it is not unusual for females to begin menstruation at 10 years of age or even earlier.

          However, none of this has any bearing on when a woman (I use the term in reference to a female who is capable of bearing children) is actually ready for marriage and that was up to the father as it was *his* judgment as to when his daughter was eligible to marry that mattered.

          All you have to remember is that according to Scripture, the guy you give your virginity to is your husband. If your father doesn’t like it he can annul your marriage, but only in the day he hears of it, if at the time you were living with him under his authority.

          And you still haven’t told me how much your father wants for you.

          • Renee Harris says:

            You enjoy asking hard questions, don’t you?
            Yes my philosophy professor hates me lol
            My father does not have price for me … But I’ll be 30 soon so ….

  4. Renee Harris says:

    Can a girl be marry before age 1?

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