In the article on this website “Unmarried Christians Can Have Sex” my friend (I shall call him “Mark”) makes the argument that neither the Old new New Testament’s condemn premarital sex and that the Greek word “porneo” does not mean “fornication” but rather “prostitution.”
Here is my response.
The world has changed around us. I don’t only mean that sexual mores have changed. Of course they have – they always change. The sexual mores of every culture are slightly different. The reason that the mores are different is because the situations are different. In Isaiah 4:1 the Bible says.
Isa 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach
This is predicting a time when war has decimated the number of men so much that polygamy becomes necessary. One of the wonderful things about the eternal Word of God is that it applies in any cultural circumstance, not just one. So the appropriate interpretation of scripture will apply in the tribal polygamous interior parts of Africa, in Scotland of the 11th century where bride-stealing was normal, in the frontier of America and in the modern western world.
Our world has changed from our parents considerably. First of all, let’s admit I’m talking about WHITE young people here, I don’t know very much about the minority communities of the time. In 1950 (white) America a man got a factory job straight out of high school or a white collar job after 4 straight (uninterrupted) years of college. Either of these jobs could support a wife and 2 to 5 kids. So people got married at 17 to 24 and stayed married the rest of their lives. It was fairly easy to preach to these young people that they should be virgins on the night of their marriage because abstaining from sex until that time in a crowd of young people who are raised the same is not that impossible. A typical Christian and moral young man would kiss his first girl at age 16, start engaging in heavy petting throughout high school, start getting hand jobs from his steady girl friend/fiance in his twenty’s and then get to the mother-lode somewhere around his wedding night (probably a little before).
Of course, there were also a lot of “oop’s” but these were either taken care of by shotgun weddings (if the boy did the “right thing”) or “homes for unwed mothers” with adoptions for the others.
But marrying at 24 is now a very bad thing according to our culture. All of the studies show that “young” marriages don’t last. So can we apply the standards of the 1950’s to today’s young people.
No – we should apply the standards of the Bible – because the Bible is the only word that matters – not the traditions of the current evangelical community – nor the current practice of the world around us.
As my friend states in the accompanying article, the early apostles faced exactly this situation in Acts when the early Christians began to preach to the Gentiles. The traditions of the Jews were wildly different from the practice of the surrounding pagans, and the surrounding pagans lives were vastly different from God’s righteousness. So they said this – We will not apply the traditions of our fathers to the Gentiles, but we will apply the traditions of righteouesness – The Gentiles must abstain from Idols – from things strangled – and from fornication.
My friend, Mark, says that this “fornication” here is simply re-stating the first 2 issues. That fornication means prostitution and the apostles are simply saying that Christians should worship idols, eat idolatrous meat, or patronize whores (or be whores)
But I think that he is putting to narrow of a definition on the greek word “porneos” – I think that these non-religious experts explain how the word became to encompass more than pure commercial sex – it started generalizing into slave sex and then generally people who had a lot of sex. Even in English people will use the word “whoring” to mean more than pure prostitution. Have you ever heard someone say, “She’s a total whore” or “She’s whores around so much she probably has all the STD’s”. When people say these things, they don’t mean that the woman is selling it – but rather that she has sex with a lot of different people.
So, I believe that the apostles were saying to the Gentiles. We believe that it is necessary for you to adopt the sexual behavior taught by the Old Testament.
Now, the Old Testament is actually pretty liberal about sex in comparison to current evangelical sexual mores. The rule, effectively, is that getting caught having sex before marriage means that the man will have to marry the girl and give her father 50 shekels of silver (a lot of money).
So, in other words, sex is for married people – or at least people soon to get married.
I had some young men in my church a few years ago who had the same current attitude toward sex as the world. One of them managed to have sex with a dozen or more virgins before he finally got around to one that he liked. Now, I don’t know about you, but I call that “whoring around.”
On the other hand, I don’t really expect a couple who are not yet in a financial shape to get married, but they are in a long-term dating relationship, to remain perfectly abstinent. To do so would be to deny nature and expect something from them that nature (and nature’s God) simply doesn’t expect.
Maybe we ought to teach our young people that sex is something to be delayed and, if possible, to be enjoyed with only one person in your life. At least it ought to be enjoyed only with long-term relationships, not something you jump into on the first or second date – like the current practice of the world is.
Meanwhile – the meaning of the word “ADULTERY” has not changed since God first wrote it with his finger on the stone at Mt. Sinai.
I don’t know – what do you think?