By Dr. Rick Chesher
The times we live in are really different than any other time, in my lifetime when it comes to sex and sexual immorality. Am I saying that in days gone by that there wasn’t sexual immorality? No what I am saying is that it wasn’t as openly discussed and practiced as it is today.
As a Pastor, I am always asked questions about some of the things going on in the world today, and I am asked what my take on these subjects are. When asked these questions, as a believing Pastor, I only have one true answer for anyone asking, and that is, what does the Bible say on the subject.
Recently, I was approached with the question, is it ok to have sex with someone outside the bounds of marriage as long as you or the other person are not married? Seems as if that is a simple question, one that should be able to be answered with a simple no! But that was not good enough when I looked at Scripture, especially the Law and the Prophets. Some of the language seems a little unclear about what is really being discussed.
Most of these problems exist because of translation problems, for instance, if we look at the word “adultery” in the Old Testament we find that word coming up very early in Scripture, it shows up in Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. The Hebrew means a woman who breaks her martial covenant with another man, and of course as we will also see that a man can be guilty of this as well, which is outlined in Lev. 20:10.
But there is another word that can mean adultery, and it means much more as well. This word is translated fornication and is found in 1 Chron. 21:11, and the first translation of the word means adultery, and then goes on to expand on that to say that rarely is this an involuntary act, and is attached to idolatry and means to whore around. It is used in connection to Israel being the spouse of Yahweh. You can see this in, Is. 23:17 and Ez. 16:26.
But there is another word translated fornication, and is found in Ez. 16:29 and is translated to be harlotry and whoredom. Now if we go back to Lev. 21:9 we will see that the word used here for whoredom is the Hebrew word for fornication, so we see that fornication is in the Torah. And this word is interchangeable with the idea of adultery, and then we will see that we can find the word back as far as Gen. 38:24.
Now in Gen. 38:24 it is about Judah and Tamar, if you remember Tamar married Er, one of Judah’s sons, Er died and left Tamar a widow. So Tamar was given the next son to be her husband, he died as well. The third son was too young to marry so Tamar was to wait, but Judah defaulted on that promise. So Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and had sex with Judah and Tamar became pregnant with Judah’s child. The word used here is the same word that can be used for both adultery and fornication.
Okay, with this knowledge we must ask the question, does the Torah address whoredom? The answer is yes it does! Look at Lev. 19:19-29, in this section we could name it, “Keep My Statutes” because that is really what it says, and if we go to Lev. 19:29, Israel was told not to give their daughters to be a prostitute and cause her to whore. Once again that word whore is the same word which can mean to commit adultery, or to commit fornication, and the penalty if they do is the land will become wicked. Wow, the land will become wicked, and it means heinous and wicked. Now this is in Torah, and we haven’t even talked about what Yahshua had to say about fornication.
But one thing, in my opinion, is clear is that it is not okay to do something that Yahweh Himself renounces and calls sin, even if He is talking about our relationship with Him. He looks as our relationship with Him to be the standards for all relationships in the community.
Now I know that for some the Brit Hadashah, meaning the New Testament and from here after in this paper called the New Testament, does not carry the weight of the Old Testament. This is a ridiculous idea because the One that is Called our Savior, Messiah, and is referred to as Eloheem is the One Talking and teaching His disciples, especially in the Gospels.
Let’s look at Matt. 5:31-32, in these verses we find Yahshua speaking to a crowd, and this discourse is all part of the “Be Attitudes” if you will. Yahshua in these verses speaks of divorce, and He says something I think is very interesting. He says that “But what I say”, and the reason this is important is that He takes authority over what had been previously been taught, meaning His is showing that He has that authority to translated or identify what is really the intent and heart of Yahweh.
We see this authority in Matt. 19:8, the Pharisees met Yahshua as He came into Judaea, while He was healing some people, and they wanted to test Him, asked Him why Moses said that they could write their wives a certificate of divorce and put their wives away? Yahshua was clear with them that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, and goes on to explain that, that was not what was intended from the beginning. But He also allows divorce for the cases of fornication. The Greek word used in both of these passage is translated whoredom, or being a whore, and includes idolatry. The reason I point this out is that when idolatry is included in this definition it would include our relationship with Yahweh.
So according to Yahshua and the New Testament writings we see that the idea of fornication can be practiced first: with our relationship with Yahweh in the form of idolatry, Second: in the form of adultery where it fornication takes on the form of whoredom according to Scripture, and Third: in the form of just whoredom as we look at this idea of just giving ourselves to someone else to be for the purpose of fleshly pleasure outside of Biblical marriage.
But let’s continue in some of the letters of the New Testament. Look at Gal. 5:19-21, Paul starts off by saying that the works of the flesh are manifest, and we could say it this way, that the works of the flesh are externally made known. This is important because that which we think we are covering up is made externally know to those around us. Next Paul gives us the things that are works of the flesh, and if you will look adultery and fornication are the first two on the list.
Now I want to go a little deeper into the definition of fornication here. The reason is that this word fornication actually covers adultery, harlotry, incest, idolatry, and Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testaments says it covers all illegitimate sex, meaning illegitimate sex as defined in the Bible. The Greek word is porneuo and is where we get our English word porno.
So as you can see there is much said about fornication, but it is the translated words that are used that cause it to seem different. But when you dig in study people will be able to discern what Scripture is really saying on these subjects. This why I say that the only place I can go to answer some of these questions being asked today.
If we look at the Bible we are able to see a pattern of Yahweh’s idea of the legitimate relationship between man and women, and I would say between man and Yahweh. Look at Gen. 2:24, which Yahweh Himself performed the first wedding between a man, and a women. It is interesting at this point that Yahweh, when He performed this marriage He said that a man should leave His father and mother and cleave unto his wife. The reason I find this interesting is that Adam was created and had no father or mother. I believe it is because Yahweh meant this to be a pattern for all mankind in the future. It was after this ceremony or during this ceremony that Yahweh explained the two would become one flesh.
Look at Mark 10:6-8, once again Yahshua is talking about this idea of divorce, but I would like to look at a couple of things that I believe are important. In Mark 10:6, it says that from the beginning Yahweh created them male and women, this is important because from the beginning people have been created either male or female which debunks the idea that Yahweh made people gender neutral and let them decide.
Now look at Mark 10:7, it says “for this cause” this is an important piece of this sentence because it goes back to Mark 10:6, that Yahweh created them from the beginning to be man and women, and it is for this reason, shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. This shows that Yahweh had a specific purpose in mind for creating everyone either male or female.
And in Mark 10:8, once again the two will be one flesh, and in Mark 10:9 it says because Yahweh did that man should not separate the two. The word “asunder” in the Greek means “to not make room between” which would mean that they are not to be separated in any way. This passage also goes along with Matt. 19:4-6. And I believe that it is important to consider that this is Yahshua who has be given all authority in heaven and earth is the One giving authority to this teaching.
Look at 1 Cor. 7:2, Paul points out in this verse that the way to avoid fornication, and this is the same word as we have been discussing which means harlotry, adultery, incest, idolatry, a man should have his own wife and a women should have her own husband. Showing that any sex outside of marriage is not what Yahweh intended and is in fact sin. And that is Paul’s point for us to avoid sin by doing things within the confines of Yahweh’s intensions.