Fornication Meaning In The Bible

Fornication in the Bible refers to sex that is considered sinful or inappropriate by religious standards. The term originates from the Latin word fornix, meaning arch or vault. In ancient Rome, brothels were sometimes built into arches underneath elevated thoroughfares. Since this was a less-than-desirable place for commerce of this kind, fornix came to signify an improper place or action.

Fornication Meaning In The Bible

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

-1 Corinthians 6:18 KJV

Bible Definition of Fornication

From the King James Dictionary, Fornication is defined as “Sexual immorality. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. But FORNICATION, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesian 5:1-4)

What Is Fornication?

The following text is from Russell Moore’s blog post “Premarital Sex?”:

Christians talk a lot about premarital sex. And I think that’s a mistake. I don’t think it’s a mistake because the issue is unimportant but because the grammar is skewed. The word “fornication” is almost gone from contemporary Christian speech. It sounds creepy and antiquated. Instead, we talk about “abstinence” and “premarital sex.”

According to Russell Moore, the loss of the words “fornicate” and “fornication” implicitly cedes the moral imagination to the sexual revolutionaries because the words “fornication” and “premarital sex” aren’t interchangeable. Fornication isn’t merely “premarital.” Premarital is the language of timing, and with it, we infer that this is simply the marital act misfired at the wrong time. But fornication is, both spiritually and typologically, a different sort of action from the marital act. That’s why the consequences are so dire.

Fornication pictures a different reality than the mystery of Christ presented in the one-flesh union of covenantal marriage. It represents a Christ who uses his church without joining her, as a covenant and permanently, to himself. The man who leads a woman into the sexual union without a covenantal bond is preaching to her, to the world, and to himself a different gospel from the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he is forming a real spiritual union, the Apostle Paul warns, but one with a different spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15).

The Dangers of Fornication

This is important because the Scripture makes clear that “fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8). The language of “premarital sex” can enable conscience to evade repentance. After all, if the problem is one merely of “timing” or of “waiting” then the problem is resolved once one is married. The event was in the past.

This makes fornication even more dangerous, in this sense than adultery. Both fornication and adultery are acts of infidelity. But a man who has committed adultery, if he is repentant, understands something of how he’s broken trust, attacked a covenant. He can see that even when his wife has forgiven him, he must invest years in rebuilding trust. He can understand why his wife concludes that if he’ll cheat with one woman, why would he not cheat with another? He must work to show himself faithful.

The fornicator can be deceived into thinking that marriage has solved the problem. He doesn’t see the ongoing nature of the problem. Often he finds it difficult to lead his wife spiritually or to fully gain her trust. The root problem is a sin committed together, driving the couple apart.

Fornication and Adultery

Moreover, she knows, especially if he professed to be a Christian before the marriage, that his libido is stronger than his conscience. If he’s able to justify his fornication, he will justify his adultery. They are not two separate things, but two different phases of the same thing: immorality in contrast to the self-giving and uniting covenant of marriage.

We ought not to be ashamed of the Christian language of “fornication,” but instead to be ashamed of fornication itself.

That doesn’t make us more censorious. When we speak honestly, we are able to speak with more liberating power to sinners, including sexual sinners, in our streets and sidewalks, and pews. The blood of the cross can cleanse any sin, but no one comes to the cross without repentance. When we speak bluntly and honestly we lead people to the cross—to repent, not just to rebrand.

(Excerpt from Russell Moore’s: Premarital Sex?)

Bible Verses about Fornication and Sexual Immorality

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. ~ Hebrews 13:4

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. ~ 1 Corinthians 7:2

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ~ Galatians 5:19-21

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. ~ Mark 7:20-23

You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. ~ John 8:41-42

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. ~ Colossians 3:5

Fornication Meaning In The Bible

The Bible does not speak of ’pre-marital sex’ in any place and the usage of the word fornication does not mean ‘pre-marital sex’. There is ‘pre-marital sex’ in the world but in the Bible, in the eyes of God, there is no ‘pre-marital sex’.


This is because when two people have sexual intercourse, they become one flesh thus man and wife in the eyes of God.

A marriage in the eyes of God is constituted by two becoming one flesh. See what constitutes a marriage and how two become one flesh.

Deut 22:28-29: If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found. Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

The first time you have sex, you become man and wife in the eyes of God with whoever your sex partner is, and thus you are supposed to do what custom dictates. If it’s paying bride price pay and do not divorce one another all your days because divorce is sin.

See what the Bible teaches on divorce

Reason Paul said,

1 Cor 7:36: But if any man think that he behaves himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sins not: let them marry.

If you’re virgins, never had sex, and the need so require, do so (have sex). You have not sinned but married one another.

Reason the first person you have sexual intercourse with becomes your husband/wife in the eyes of God. And that is not a sin as also stated by Paul (1 Cor 7:36) but a starting of a marriage.

Marriage is not constituted by a ceremony, a ring, a certificate, etc but by two becoming one flesh. See what constitutes a marriage.

Any other person you have sexual intercourse with after the first person is committing adultery. See what the Bible teaches on adultery.

Therefore, since a marriage starts when two people for the first time become one flesh, there is no ‘pre-marital sex’ in God’s kingdom and the Biblical usage of the word fornication does not mean ‘pre-marital sex’.

Fornication meaning sexual immorality as used in the Bible

As earlier revealed, one meaning of ‘fornication’ as used in the Bible is sexual immorality.

Sexual immorality includes all forms of sex that do not conform to accepted morality. Adultery is one form of fornication. See what the Bible teaches on adultery.

Remember that some Bible versions use the word ‘sexual immorality’ instead of the word ‘fornication’ but the original word is ‘fornication’.

To avoid fornication (sexual immorality) every man and woman should have his/her own husband/wife.

1 Cor 7:1-2: 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.

Your own husband or wife means that s/he is the only sex partner you have.

And you (both) should render due affection to one another

1 Cor 7:3 let the husband render unto the wife due affection: and likewise also the wife unto the husband

Reason a husband has no authority over his body but his wife and vise-versa.

1 Cor 7:4 the wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife.

This is to ensure that the woman gets the sexual satisfaction she deserves/wants and vise-versa.

Reason Paul said that you should not deny each other sex unless you both agree.

1 Cor 7:5: Do not deprive one another, except it be with consent for a time … so that Satan does not tempt you not for your lack of self-control.

And it is better to marry, have your own sex partner, if you cannot exercise self-control than to burn with passion.

1 Cor 7:9: But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

All this is to avoid fornication (sexual immorality).

If every person has his/her own husband/wife, none of them ruling over their bodies but their partners for sexual satisfactory, fornication (sexual immorality) can be avoided.

When Jesus talked about divorce, He used the word ‘fornication’ (sexual immorality) not adultery.

Mt 19:9: And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.

If you say fornication as used by the Bible is sexual intercourse between two unmarried people, then from the above verse how can a married person commit fornication?

Biblical fornication means sexual immorality including adultery.

The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit not for fornication (sexual immorality).

1 Cor 6:13 Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Flee fornication (sexual immorality) 1 Cor 6:18

Put it in your mind that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of heaven

1 Cor 6:9: Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.

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