What Does The Christian Bible Say About Fornication & Adultery

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What Does The Christian Bible Say About Adultery & Fornication

Theologians love to take a piece of scripture and analyze it in all its parts.

They will look at words in the original scripture that we call the Bible today and compare it other ancient languages, such as Greek and Aramaic, both spoken at that time.

For example, there's this one verse by the Apostle Paul in a letter he wrote to people in a place called Corinth. 

Paul rebukes them for going to brothels saying that by doing so they are marrying the prostitutes by the act of fornication. 

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He quotes a verse from the Old Testament, "the two become one flesh' and applies it to their current situation. 

Some people take these things literally when it's meant to be a metaphorical interpretation of sexual sin, according to the Bible.

Sexual sin is a hot topic since before the time of Christ. In fact, people were stoned for committing the act when caught. 

There are laws today on the same topic that define divorce and even whether or not a person can be married.

From wondering if sex between unmarried persons makes them spiritual wed to figuring out what is cheating, there's a lot to learn about the terms adultery and fornication.

You don't have to be a scholar or a non-Christian to struggle to understand the Bible. Christians do too!

The references are outdated and the phrasing is hard to decipher.  The time was different from today.

Adultery and fornication have aged into new definitions, so we have to go back and decode their new meanings.

Adultery Vs. Fornication

Both involve a sexual act between two consenting adults, and they might not. 

Adultery is when one or more of the consenting adults is married to someone who is not the person they are engaging in sexual activity with.

If neither person involved in sex has been married before or isn't married to each other, that's fornication.

Single, non-divorced person meets another single, never been a married person on Tinder and hook up for the night, they would fall under this category.

But the legality of the Bible can take it to an even greater extent, it includes the way a person thinks or views someone. Yes, hungry eyes can be considered a form of sexual sin, too. 

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Where does the Bible talk about forgiveness of each?

It's a lot of information to unpack especially when religious people start to compare both meanings to Jesus and the Church, or God's relationship with humans and the chosen people of the Holy Book.

They both seem to mean the same thing but they are actually quite different from one another because one happens outside of a legal marriage and the other when you're legally wed but having an affair with someone else. 

So, one person can be married and committing adultery while the person that they are cheating on their partner with is not an adulterer due to their singleness. They are a fornicator. 

How complicated can two meanings get?

Here are some interesting facts about these two most confusing words in the Bible.

1. Intimacy is only permitted within marriage. 

If you are not married and engaging in an intimate act, according to the Bible, it falls into one of two categories: fornication or adultery.

But there is so much more to each of their meanings. Each word is so closely defined, that sometimes the lines between their definitions get blurred.

We know that in the Bible, sexual activity is a huge morality no-no unless two people are married, to one another, without having had a spouse before.

The Bible pontificates that we should all be saving our bodies for our (one and only) husband or wife.

Adultery and fornication describe when a person is doing just the exact opposite. 

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2. Moicheia is Greek for adultery.

The word "adultery" comes from the Latin language.

Adultery comes from the word, "adult", meaning to alter or corrupt.

The person who is married is the one committing this act against marriage and, in biblical terms, 'sexual sin'.

In the Bible, it can mean a lot of different things. In modern times, we see adultery as an extra-marital affair.

When in a marriage, one spouse has sexual relations with someone who isn’t their husband or wife.

In the bible, however, there are many additional definitions and uses for the word. It could mean “Lewdness or unchastity of thought or action”.

This essentially means any thought or act of a sexual nature. It could also refer to faithlessness in religion.

This definition, however, implies that the adulterer had a commitment to their religion, as a marriage, and when they experimented with different religions, that was an act of adultery.

When they lost faith in the religion that had already committed to.

3. Fornication is 'porneia' in Greek.

Fornication is said to come from many different origins.

 The first time it was used in the Old Testament Bible it meant cheating but not in a sexual sense.

It was used to describe people straying away from their love of God and turning to idols for worship.

The word, 'fornication' also comes from a word that means 'to burn'.

In ancient Rome, prostitutes waited outside in the rain under what was referred to as a fornix, which later became synonymous with a brothel.

Perhaps that's where the term originated. It could have been used to describe how men burned with passion.

In the modern era, it is usually considered sexual relations between two people not married to each other.

Biblically the definition is a little bit broader. It can refer to a man or a woman acting in a promiscuous manner, in any form, not just sexual activity.

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4. Anything outside of a relationship to God is cheating.

An unfaithful Church is committing an act of intimacy outside of its marriage to God when it uses power to gain political influence, money for itself, and puts things other than God at the center of its mission.

The Bible also the term fornication when talking about idolatry, aka 'idol worship', but depending on the religious sect, this can mean a whole bunch of different things. 

For example, evangelical churches don't believe in having saints in the chapel, they consider this a form of idol worship. Catholic churches don't believe in remarrying couples who have been married before, it promotes both adultery and fornication. 

Then there's the accepting of the tithe from non-members, and other doxologies that are too numerous to explain.

For example, in the Old Testament fornication is used to describe the act of the Israelites renouncing God and Christianity for the worship of other gods. 

5. Any impure thought or action is wrong.

The good news is that this does not extend to things like craving a piece of chocolate cake or really wanting to go to bed with a pint of ice cream and binge-watching your favorite Netflix show.

So, look at your pizza any way you want to, but if you eat more than one whole pie by yourself, that's possibly gluttony (which is an entirely different subject!)

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6. Unlawful sexual behavior is fornication.

This is mostly any sexual activity that is against the law.

This should be pretty self-explanatory but in case it isn't, this refers to things like prostitution, paying for sex, incest, sexual activity with a person that is too closely related to you, and masturbation.

Funnily enough, Masturbation is considered by some the exact definition of fornication. It is consensual sex between unmarried people. You cannot marry yourself now, can you? 

7. If you break your relationship with God by sinning, you're cheating on him.

Lying, cheating, stealing, loving your dog so much that you don't go to church, don't read or pray, or spend time talking to God all fall under sinning because you're breaking up with him (in a nutshell).

This is one reason why marriage in both the Catholic and Christian denominations is a symbol of a relationship with Christ. Partners spend time together.

Partners who get emotionally attached to something else are having an emotional affair. It's pretty much the same thing.

You are betrothed to god when you become a born-again-Christian or take the sacrament of faith if you're Catholic.

They both biblically are used to refer to the act of forsaking their own religion and beliefs and replacing them with something more religiously convenient or trendy.

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Kaitlin Kaiser is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.