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Shacking Up and Fornication – Final Thoughts

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I figured I’d share my final thoughts on the issue. I’ve taken a lot of criticism for challenging the accepted church tradition of the word meaning “sex before marriage”, but I continued to explore the Bible to find the ACTUAL meaning behind the word. I looked at the Hebrew, the Greek, and the root of the English word, the Latin language. All of these languages played a role in the translation of the King James Bible into English.

Please keep in mind that this entire study has been a progression of thought and not one single conclusive argument. If you want to read any of the previous studies you can find them below:

  1. The Truth About Shacking Up
  2. Fornication vs. Sex Before Marriage
  3. Sexual Situations According To The Bible

In this final post on the subject there are five words that we are going to look at:

  • Zanah (Hebrew)
  • Porne (Greek)
  • Porneia (Greek)
  • Porneuo (Greek)
  • Fornix (Latin)
  • Fornication (Latin)

In the following sections I’m going to look at the context of these words using nothing but the Bible in context to the surrounding situations.

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The Hebrew

The Hebrew word “zanah” is used several times in the Old Testament to refer to the activity in question. It is translated as whore, harlot, prostitute, and fornication. Below I will capitalize and bold the words that “zanah” has been translated to:

“And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an HARLOT?” – Genesis 34:31

“Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit FORNICATION, and compelled Judah thereto.” – 2 Chronicles 21:11

In Genesis 34:31 Dinah (Jacob’s daughter) has just been raped and the king is trying to pay off the family for doing so. Thus the statement, “shall he deal with our sister as with an HARLOT?” Dinah did not willingly have pre-marital sex, she was raped. If we apply the “pre-marital sex” blanket definition to the word, it would imply that rape victims are guilty of pre-marital sex. Do you believe that? It seems that the kings attempt to pay in exchange for what he did is what led to the “HARLOT” comment.

Keep in mind that this event took place with someone from a foreign nation.

2 Chronicles 21:11 is actually the first place that the word “fornication” is used in the Old Testament. Standing alone it is hard to make a definitive decision as to the meaning unless we approach it from a biased position. If we continue reading to verse 13 we find the following expansion on Jehoram’s sin, in which we once again encounter the word “zanah” translated in two more forms:

“But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a WHORING, like to the WHOREDOMS of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself:” – 2 Chronicles 21:13

This event involved the conquering of the Edomites and Libnah, but nothing is said of them intermingling with them sexually. The custom was to take women and children as the spoils of war so it is POSSIBLE that they did.

So far in the Old Testament we have seen one word translated four different ways, all of which refer to sexual events. One is clearly a reference to offering payment to cover up the crime of rape. Taken in context, the other three refer to being a whore or prostitute, which also involves the exchange of goods for sex. It is 100% possible for married men or women to prostitute themselves. The occupation of harlot was not and is not exclusive to unmarried men and women.

Keep in mind that this event took place with people from a foreign nation.

The Greek

The three Greek words used in the New Testament are porne, porneia, and porneuo. If we take a look at the text we find the same circumstances as those in the Old Testament. Once again I will capitalize and bold the words in question.

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from FORNICATION, and from things strangled, and from blood.” – Acts 15:20

The word used here is “porneia”. Notice that fornication appears in the midst of acts that are all associated with the worship of pagan deities. This is just one of a few indications that fornication is tied to idolatry in some way.

Keep in mind that these event took place with people from a foreign nation.

“As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from FORNICATION.” – Acts 21:25

Here Luke once again uses the word “porneia” in connection to idolatry. Let’s look at the context in which Paul uses the word fornication:

“It is reported commonly that there is FORNICATION among you, and such FORNICATION as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” – 1 Corinthians 5:1

Here Paul uses the same word “porneia” to refer to an act between a MARRIED woman and her son in law. This example excludes this particular use of the word being exclusive to pre-marital sex.

Keep in mind that these events involved adopted idolatry practices from other nations.

“Nevertheless, to avoid FORNICATION, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” – 1 Corinthians 7:2

Many Christians believe that this is Paul’s way of saying, “get married and don’t have pre-marital sex”, but when we research Corinth, we find something very interesting going on. Corinth was the headquarters for Aphrodite worship. She was the goddess of lust, love, and sex. As one aspect of the worship of Aphrodite, the men and women would trade partners sexually (swingers). In 1 Corinthians 5:1 Paul seems to be addressing the trading of wives between father and son, something that not even the Gentiles were doing at the time.

Keep in mind that these events involved adopted idolatry practices from other nations.

“Neither let us commit FORNICATION, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” – 1 Corinthians 10:8

Here Paul uses the word “porneuo”. He is referencing an Old Testament event in Numbers 25. The men of Israel were having sex with the women of Moab and worshiping Baalpeor (Lord of Peor), a Moabite god. As a result everyone in participation was killed. What we have here is a New Testament use of a word that refers to an Old Testament event that involved sex and the worship of another god. Once again, fornication is linked to more than just pre-marital sex.

Keep in mind that this event involved adopted idolatry practices from other nations.

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to FORNICATION, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” – Jude 1:7

Here Jude uses the word “porneuo” to compare the sin of the angels in Genesis 6 to the sin in Sodom and Gomorrah. Many people believe that the only sin in Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality, but let’s keep in mind that they also went after the angels visiting Lot (strange flesh). Genesis 6:2 confirms that the angels referenced by Jude were taking wives. Only three sexual scenarios are mentioned in the Bible that connect to this verse:

  • Homosexuality
  • Men trying to rape angels
  • Angels taking women as wives

Pre-marital sex is not mentioned in the events surround Genesis 6 or Genesis 19. How can we rightfully apply the pre-marital sex definition to any of these events without making an assumption based on preconceived notions? If you are of the same belief that I hold, which is that these fallen angels were being worshiped as gods, the pattern may seem to be taking shape.

Keep in mind that these events involved beings that were worshiped by the pagans as gods.

Let’s explore two more examples from the Greek and then I’ll wrap this up. The last two come from the book of Revelation:

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit FORNICATION.” – Revelation 2:14

Here John uses the word “porneuo” in reference to Balaam. His story can be found in Numbers 22-25. If we apply the blanket definition of “pre-marital sex” we encounter a problem. The Hebrew word “zanah” is used in Genesis, which means people were well aware of “zanah” before Numbers 22. Without any preconceived notions, let’s revisit the events in Numbers 25 as mentioned above:

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” – Numbers 25:16

As we see it was by the counsel of Balaam that the children of Israel began to worship Baalpeor, the event that Paul referenced in 1 Corinthians 10:8. Balaam is later killed by the Israelites in Numbers 31:8. Once again we see a link to idolatry and not pre-marital sex.

Keep in mind that this event involved adopted idolatry practices from other nations.

“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit FORNICATION, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” – Revelation 2:20

Finally we have a reference to a woman named Jezebel teaching Christians to commit fornication (porneuo) and eat things sacrificed to idols. Once again there is an obvious connection to the worship of false gods. God promises to judge her because she does not repent of her actions.

Keep in mind that this event involved adopted idolatry practices from other nations.

If you continue on in the book of Revelation, you will find references to Mystery Babylon committing fornication with the kings of the earth. Many believe Mystery Babylon to be a final world religion created in defiance of God. If that is true, it is at least one more example of the connection between fornication and idolatry that does not involve pre-marital sex. After all, how can a religion have sex?

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Religion and Relationship

The Latin

Our current word “fornication” is actually the English version of two Latin words: Fornix (archway) and Fornicatio (done in the archway). Archways in Rome were where prostitutes would hang out. The conduction of the business transaction was referred to as “fornicatio”. How do fornix and fornicatio go from referring to archways to pre-marital sex? I believe the Catholic Church was directly involved in order to take the focus away from many of their clearly idolatrous practices, and put it on something else. If you have never done so, please read the Catholic list of Ten Commandments and you will see that all references to creating graven images and bowing down to them have been removed completely.

If the original Ten Commandments were left in place and the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words were not changed to mean “pre-marital sex” many people would link the practices of bowing to statues, praying to dead people, and other rituals to idolatry. Instead the focus of the Church is now firmly on pre-marital sex, and many idolatrous practices have crept into the Church via Catholicism. Throughout this post I told you to keep a few things in mind. When we look at the Catholic Church we see the blending of the Church with practices from other nations in order to make it “easier” for the pagans to convert to Christianity.

Question: If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why would His Old Testament focus change from idolatry to pre-marital sex suddenly in the New Testament?

Again, this is just my opinion based on the Biblical text. Feel free to ring in with your comments.

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