Well, I got things rolling with The F-Word Prologue; now let’s get down to brass balls….er, brass tacks.
Because fornication is a popular sport worldwide, and curious minds want to know where I stand (or lie, as the case may be, preferably on silk sheets) on the issue of getting naked and sweaty with someone to whom you aren’t married.
Before I really get into fornication in depth (and who doesn’t like to go deep when it comes to fornication?), we need to establish what it is at its most basic.
I would assume people know, but just in case:
for·ni·ca·tion | Pronunciation: fȯr-nə-ˈkā-shən | Function: noun | Date: 14th century | Definition: consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other
OK, so that fornication thing that the Bible is so down about is sex without benefit of being in wedded bliss. It is distinguished from adultery, which is sex with someone you’re not married to, but when one or both of you are married to someone else. So, you know, if you’re single you can go for the double play and have sex with someone who’s married and wallow in a couple sins.
Uh, oh. We already have a problem. Because now I have to start by addressing just what the hell constitutes marriage these days—and yes, we do have to frame this according to the modern day because things are far more complex socially than in the really old days from centuries or millennia ago. Hell, they’re way more complicated than they were in the 1950s.
Because, if we don’t have a handle on what marriage is, we’re already in trouble. And it isn’t as easy as saying, “If you had a wedding, you’re married.” That’s legal. That’s a social contract. That’s of the world. Marriage in the spirit is what we’re talking about, and that’s what’s important, because God works in the world of the spiritual. Sin is committed through physical acts usually, but the damage in spiritual. So it’s the souls of the people having sex we have to worry about, and whether they are connected through marriage.
Miz Pink, in some of her earliest posting around here, spent a couple days talking about divorce (Splitsville and Splitsville 2)—I highly recommend you read those first then come back.
OK. Done? Great.
Her “Splitsville 2″ post is especially telling. And I agree with her 100% that she didn’t really have a marriage with her first “husband.” It doesn’t matter than they said some words and traded some rings. The reasons for the union were faulty and unsound. There was no foundation there and, frankly, no real commitment to try to build one and move their metaphorical house onto it. They were married according to the law, but really, they weren’t connected and, in my humble opinion, still committing fornication.
Now, to be honest, I am a big believer in getting up and saying some vows before people and before God. Why? Well, let me quote the theory of the “gold standard” here. In most professions, there are gold standards. For example, in the world of medical care, a certain diagonstic test, medicine, treatment plan or surgery may be the best for a certain problem. It is the gold standard because it gets the most positive impact for the most number of people most of the time.
But let’s remember the word most. Not all. Most.
We should aim for the gold standard of a church marriage where you bring God, family and friends together for the wedding.
But it would arrogant of me to say that it’s the only way or that it’s the right way for all people.
There are people who live together for years and function in every way as a married couple, but for whatever reason don’t want to be locked into the legalities or do things a certain way just to please the parents or the pastor or the meddling friends. Hell, this is typically what committed gay couples are forced to do.
Simply saying some vows before an altar doesn’t make it a true connection. People marry for lots of reasons: to be contrary, to be spiteful, because they’re confused, because they’re pregnant, because they’re infatuated, because they’re high as a kite or drunk as a skunk, and so on.
How many times in your life have you told someone you loved them, either because of an orgasm, sexual afterglow or just a romantic moment by candlelight or something? And then you realize—minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years or decades later—that not only don’t you love this person now, but you quite likely never did.
The capacity for humans to lie to themselves is tremendous.
Of course, so to is the capacity for self-serving justifications. A person could say, well, I’m married in my heart to this person so we should be having sex, and it’s not fornication at all. You could, and maybe you’re even right, but how often have you told yourself that same thing before, and how many times will you do it again?
OK, enough of that for now. I haven’t definitively answered what marriage is, and frankly there is no really clear and ironclad way to do it. Marriage is a connection of mind and spirit between two people. It is a sharing of yourself. It is, in fact, the giving up of a large portion of yourself to the other person (and that other person better be doing the same). It is commitment and rebirth, it is reward and sacrifice, it is freedom and surrender.
You might not have to wear a tux or a gown to make it happen, but be honest with yourself. Are you really married, whether you have a ring on your finger or not?
If you aren’t, sex with that other person is fornication.
(Next time, we’ll get more into why God might care and some of the other nitty-gritty of what is or isn’t fornication.)