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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Why Is Fornication Such A Big Deal? » Why Is Fornication Such A Big Deal?

Why Is Fornication Such A Big Deal?

Rusty - July 9, 2005

Over at Ned’s blog, VivaNedFlanders there was an interesting discussion going on regarding Ned’s experience as a premarital fornicator. He’s now married to that person and has never been with anyone else. He asks, “what’s the big deal?”

Good question.

Before we proceed I’d like to offer a couple caveats:

First of all, I’m not interested in the answer, “Because God says so.” I understand He says so, but then the discussion is over with and that’s no fun. I want to understand WHY God says so.

Secondly, unless you can come up with a really good reason God would make us promise something for no good reason, neither am I interested in the answer, “broken promise”. Besides, I can’t imagine His will for us to be faithful to only one person is just a “test”. There’s got to be more than that.

Thirdly, this is not a justification of any kind, I have not fornicated and am not looking to, I just think it’s an interesting issue that isn’t often discussed without those first two answers being thrown around.

I see it this way: we are divine creatures who are given divine powers to beget more divine creatures. The order of Heaven (or the Universe, or Kolob, or whatever you want to call it) is that the male creature and the female creature may continue to do this forever only if they make some sort of promise (which is a reflection of their true will) to do it together. The physical (and in many ways spiritual) act of creating is only to take place when those promises have been made. The result of which is a loving relationship between male/female and also between parent/child. And that’s what Heaven is, it’s loving relationships.

Not watertight, I know, but I took a shot. Where I come into trouble is that Ned and Maude could have made a promise as well, just not a state-sponsored one. Before I was married I used to wonder what I would do if I were stuck on a desert island with my girlfriend (not wife). I concluded that because I was the governor of the island I would act as the judge and sign the legal documents and marry us. That way there’s no fornication going on.

What’s your take?

(Note: this topic has the potential to delve into the obscene, the too-much-information, the lewd, and the too-sacred-for-a-blog… so please don’t go there, I don’t want to have to delete comments.)


  1. If fornication was based on love, I think you have one argument, if it’s based on lust then you have a different argument.

    A love relationship also contains a responsibilty aspect. A relationship based on love and responsibilty would nuture any offspring.

    A lust relationship has no responsility, it’s about personal gratification. Not a very good basis for children.

    So from a God standpoint, I guess it’s better to say “NO” period.

    Comment by don — July 9, 2005 @ 6:32 pm

  2. First he invites me over, then he outs me as a sinner. I see how it is, Rusty.

    Anyway, if I may venture to answer myself, my biggest problem with fornication is that it can result in pregnancy. I think all children deserve to have two parents, if at all possible. Obviously, sometimes this isn’t possible, and one is infinitely better than none. I think unplanned pregnancies create a lot of terrible marriages.

    If you take away the pregnancy thing, I think the subject becomes a lot less black and white. As I mentioned on my website, I find it hard to condemn fornication if it takes place inside a serious, committed relationship with proper protection.

    In the church we often say these are sacred powers. It’s hard to reconcile this with the sex=bad messages that we constantly send to the youth. I think we can highlight the bad parts of sex (unwanted pregnancies, STDs) without demonizing the rest, but it’s hard. I think that the church has a real problem talking about sex, because it has adopted an unrealistic and unhealthy attitude towards it.

    Comment by NFlanders — July 9, 2005 @ 6:34 pm

  3. This is a question which I have never heard a good answer for. In my sex talk:


    I argue, following Vincent Punzo’s example, that premarital sex is bad because it involves an attempt to separate the emotional and most personal aspects from the physical aspects of the act, thus depersonalizing both yourself, to a certain extent, and your partner to a larger one. This certainly makes sense to me, but it hardly reaches the intended finish line for I have to cut all kinds of corners, especially in my definition of marriage, in order to pull it off.

    One argument could be made, I suppose, that our keeping sex out of permanent relationships, helps us avoid becoming too attached to people who it would be best if we didn’t become too attached to. But again, this doesn’t reach near as far as we want it to.

    To be quite frank, I have a hard time seeing a serious couple (they don’t have to be commited for life or anything like that) who enjoy eachother’s company for so many reasons other than physical gratification engaging in protected and non-procreative sex to be a serious sin, if it is one at all.

    I get pretty tired of people taking the example of Corianton who was on a mission, apostatized, went to a prostitute thereby contributing to the overall rejection of the gospel message in the community as necessarily meaning that any sex outside of marriage is next to murder. I don’t think so at all.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 9, 2005 @ 6:42 pm

  4. First,
    There is no such thing as sex that isn’t risking pregnancy. That means depriving some children of their right to be born to a father and mother. If you wait until you have chosen someone to whom you want to be married for other reasons, it’s not a problem.
    Sexuality is the result of emotions, lust or love. It also creates emotions. I firmly believe that the connections formed by the act of sexuality are poweful, and until you are ready to be faithful to one person, it is best to avoid such relationships so as not to affect other future relationships. We can say that we can just get past such things, but it isn’t so simple. Otherwise, what would be the harm in pornography? It doesn’t have the possibility of creating children, but it does stimulate powerful emotions that can affect current and future relationships.
    The classic talk here is Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments by Elder Holland, from which I will just quote: “To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember–’you are not your own’) and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole heart and your whole life and your whole self is its own form of emotional Russian roulette.”

    Comment by Steve H — July 10, 2005 @ 3:06 am

  5. Since the primary purpose of mortality is to prepare for eternal life, and since it is impossible to obtain eternal life without a successful temple marriage, and since it is much harder to achieve a successful eternal marriage with some partners than others, perhaps the most important decision that anyone makes in life after the decision to follow Jesus, is the decision to marry a particular person. And that decision must be made with a clear head and the wisdom that comes only from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

    When we fornicate we interfere with that decision making process. Fornicating can easily cause someone to fall hopelessly in love with the wrong person. I know this by sad experience.

    The act of putting together an eternal marriage is of unthinkably great importance. It doesn’t just affect the present. It has eternal ramifications that can ultimately impact thousands or even millions of descendants.

    Nothing could be more foolish, or have longer lasting, negative, eternal consequences than marrying the wrong person because of a lack of sexual self-discipline.

    Bsides, even if a fornicator lucks out and marries the right person, a lack of sexual self-discipline enormously increases the risk that it will cause a divorce. Even worse than marrying the wrong person, is marrying the right person and then getting a divorce.

    I think the problem with fornication is the eternal ramifications.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — July 10, 2005 @ 10:59 pm

  6. Steve,

    It’s true, sex presents a risk of pregnancy, in MOST cases. Some are sterile. Some are too old. Not only that, but I don’t think we are too far from fool proof birth control. What then?

    It also remains very unclear why a committed relationship necessitates marriage. Why must it be committed for life? Why not simply committed as in being exclusive?


    Your arguments present a decent case for why fornication CAN be bad, but it fails to address the issue of why it IS bad. Clearly the church considers Ned’s pre marital activities to be evil (sorry about that Ned), and yet his case doesn’t fall under your description at all. Not only that, but some people could extend your arguments to kissing or even dating. Maybe it would be best if we simply didn’t have any emotions at all. I know this isn’t what you are saying, but you are pointed in that direction. We say, let your heart (emotions) guide you to truth, unless we are talking about something we consider bad (like sex). Such a position fails to address why premarital sex is bad.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 11, 2005 @ 11:29 am

  7. Jeffrey,
    We don’t say let your heart (emotions)guide you to truth, we say, let your heart (the spirit) guide you to truth. There are all sorts of emotions, and they are not the most reliable indicators of what we are to do, unless we understand how the spirit is related to our emotions. In most cases, very strong emotions, while they can be enjoyuable, and very good in the right circumstances, can also impair our ability to make the decisions in the right ways, prayerfully, by the spirit.
    By the way, I’ve never hard the brethren speak of sex as bad, just mean t for certain situations. I’m sorry if someone taught you sex was bad. I know some people think it wise to teach that, but it really does distort the issue.

    Comment by Steve H — July 11, 2005 @ 12:52 pm

  8. One thing I can attest to is that abstinance till marriage has made for a lot of problem marriages at church-owned schools. So many young people are these 18-20 something yearold virgins that rush into a marriage, though they often tell themselves it’s for the right reasons, simply to finally get over those craving desires and they think it was the right thing because they are pounded at to get married.
    This reminds me of those stories of the BYU kids who go to Vegas to get married for a day, have a wedding night, then get a divorce the next just to satisfy their desires.
    However, all the arguments here on both sides I think are very poignant.

    Comment by Bret — July 11, 2005 @ 6:16 pm

  9. Ya know, Bret makes another really interesting point about the BYU/Vegas marriages. Whether or not that is folklore or not, it shows the opposite extreme of what Ned did. Yet, I wonder which one the Lord would consider worse. If it’s the marriage certificate the Lord is after, the Vegas option seems to be okay in His eyes. If it’s the commitment issue, Ned’s situation seems to be okay in His eyes.

    Comment by Rusty — July 11, 2005 @ 7:16 pm

  10. I was going to remain silent having already given my advice and additional comments over at Ned’s blog. But the BYU students and Vegas trial marriages thing was going on a generation ago when I was there so some extent. Although, I didn’t know of any such marriages only lasting a day. They either went on to temple marriage by not revealing they were already married, later announced they were married (sometimes if they got caught screwing), or went back to Vegas for a quickie divorce if things didn’t work out. I even seem to recall Dallin Oak’s making a passing reference to the phenomenon once. People I hanged w/ tended to be sexually active and most of us thought the whole Vegas trial marriage thing was stupid, but it certainly wasn’t folklore back then.

    BTW, while I distanced myself from the church during/after my post mission fall from grace, I knew some couples who were banging before temple marriage. Wasn’t my thing, but it happened.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — July 11, 2005 @ 10:47 pm

  11. In addition to whats been said about the risks associated with fornication, the plain fact of the matter with respect to relationships is you get out what you put into it. If the attraction in a relationship is predominantly physical/sexual, then that relationship is very tenuous and will fail when the sex is no longer exciting or the physical appeal is gone because of age or whatever reason. The consequences in this case are obvious.

    Being married is difficult and requires a lot of work, self-sacrifice, and spiritual and emotional intimacy in order for it to be long-lasting and constructive. Starting a relationship based on the intermingling of high-powered mind-disabling hormones and superficial appearances does absolutely nothing to foster emotional or spiritual intimacy, and it fosters selfishness, not selflesness. That undercuts a marriage, or any relationship, right from the start.

    Its like building a house on a foundation of lingerie.

    Comment by Kurt — July 12, 2005 @ 7:14 am

  12. Kurt said, “Its like building a house on a foundation of lingerie.”

    Kurt, I nominate you for the quote-of-the-month award.

    Comment by will — July 18, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

  13. So I googled what:” is ramifications of fornication?” because I am reading Matthew 5:31 and because I am struggling. I have had two sexual relationships in my life one with a boyfriend and one with my husband. I have been married almost 2 years and have known my husband almost 7 years. I still feel like the bad choices I made with the other relationship affect me today. Then I read that if you marry a woman who is divorced you commit adultery. The I learn that Paul considers entering into a physical relationship marrying the person. I fell like in the situation with my ex-boyfriend this is true, it wasn’t a one night stand. We were not legally “by the state married” but we were by the flesh .
    This has caused so much pain, confusion and disappointment in my life. I sure this is one of the reason God wants us to avoid it. He want us to make sure we have a commitment first. It so easy to ASSUME that because you are together that you will stay together(and I know this is why the institution of marriage has a bad name right now in time, but I think that is changing)

    I guess what I am look for is other women’s stories on their struggles. I want to know their experiences of how they dealt with their bad choices. Because what I am going through is very personal and I wish I could talk with some one else.

    Comment by Christy — March 6, 2009 @ 7:13 am

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