The American Heritage Dictionary defines fornication as “Sexual intercourse between a man and woman not married to each other.” The Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines it as “illicit sexual intercourse.” This means the Bible’s definition could include adultery. Matthew 5:32 is a good example of this: “But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

The world’s view on fornication today is one of indifference. Not that long ago fornication was considered a sin and thus shameful, but today it is presented as acceptable and even normal behavior. It is glorified in novels, on television, in movies, and in other forms of media as well. Yet God has never changed His mind about this sin. From the very beginning He ordained sex to be between a husband and a wife and for one to deviate from this is a sin against God. It is so serious to God that He commanded the church at Corinth to excommunicate a professing Christian who was guilty of this sin. 1st Corinthians 5:1 states, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you.” In the rest of the chapter the apostle Paul exhorted the saints to judge this sin in their midst. He ends with these weighty words in verse 13, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” In 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 this sin is listed among other sins that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God. They read, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived. Neither FORNICATORS, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (NKJV).

Regarding “writing love letters without any physical relationship,” one needs to be extremely cautious. If one is simply making their feelings of affection made known to another, it may be harmless. But if one resorts to sexual innuendos or graphic language, it could easily excite the flesh and lead to acting out their desires in sexual intercourse. There are some today who engage in “phone sex” (sexual explicit phone conversations) or “sexting” (sending sexually explicit photographs or messages on a cell phone), which are sinful, even if they don’t lead to acting out their desires in fornication. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “But fornication and all UNCLEANESS or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither FILTHINESS, nor FOOLISH TALKING, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting” (NKJV). I believe the words uncleanness, filthiness, and foolish talking could all fall into the category of using sexual explicit language that is unbecoming for the child of God. Our words, whether spoken or written, should result in glorifying God and blessing the one who is spoken or written to. 1st Corinthians 10:31 speaks to the former: “Therefore…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Ephesians 4:29 speaks to the latter: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  (206.7)  (DO)