Ursinus on fornication

In Ursinus’ commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism he says that,

“Fornication takes place when those that are unmarried have connection with each other. Magistrates ought by virtue of their office to punish severely fornication and adultery” (p. 591).

Well, if two Christians marry by having connection with each other and they NEVER marry in the traditionally or culturally recognized sense, then Ursinus and all like him will have to say that these Christians are unregenerate, as no practicing fornicator will inherit the kingdom of God. But, where is the command in Scripture to get married according to the culture one lives in? Where is the command in Scripture to get married according to a specific church tradition? Again, we have the case of Jacob and Leah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Onan who was to go in to the tent (or something) and marry his deceased brother’s wife. Are these aforementioned people fornicators? If Onan is an unbeliever then of course, he is fornicating, but what about the others mentioned? Are they supposed to “flee fornication” by running somewhere in order to obtain a marriage license or seek out an ordained minister so that he may proclaim them as non-fornicators?

Those who believe that sex plus whatever else (oath, contract, license, etc.) equals marriage would say that a sex equals marriage view dishonors the marriage bed since it allows for two people to “shack up” lawfully. But we see in the Bible that those who “shacked up” in tents were to remain with each other for the rest of their lives. They were not to put away their wives save for the cause of fornication. So, on the contrary, it is the sex plus whatever else view that dishonors the marriage bed by defiling it. It is defiled and dishonored by having two or three (or more) sexual relationships and saying that the second or third person you are with is not an adulterous relationship. Or, if you finally decide to “settle down and get married” then you deny that you are presently defiling the marriage bed since, allegedly those other two or three relationships were not marriages.

This is huge for those who are professing Christians (whether of the Arminian or Calvinistic variety) who have had many sexual partners in their former days of irreligion and unconcern. Or, if they have been religious and moral their entire lives but fell once into the sin of fornication with someone other than the person they are presently married to. If I put myself into any of these people’s shoes (i.e., take their fleshly minded perspective on the issue (s) involved), then I admit it would be a very hard, difficult, and obnoxious thing to deal with (but this is what is part of producing fruit meet for repentance as John the Baptist told the Pharisees who were flocking to his baptism):

You had dealt treacherously with many women in your past that you are not presently with (Malachi 2:14). You are now with someone else since you have decided to get serious, get committed, and to cease playing the whoremonger and to stop acting like a gigolo. Following this, you get traditionally/culturally married, and you have been so for the last twenty years let’s say. And then, after all these years of supposedly “God-honoring” marriage, you read some article on OTC (http://www.outsidethecamp.org/marriage.htm) that implies that you have been a practicing adulterer for the last twenty years. Of course, you are quite angry.

Now when you were with “your first” you knew that most (if not all) religious people held that any sex outside of marriage is fornication. You justified and rationalized this fornication by saying that this girl whom you lost your virginity to is one to whom you were deeply committed.  You appealed ad populum by stating that many songs put forth this romanticized view that since this person means the world to you, therefore the sex is justified. Of course, the opposite thing can also be said to justify the sex, depending on the situation. For instance, one could say that sex is justified since the woman (or man) means nothing to the person. So, either way the emotions are put in the place of God’s law of marriage deciding whether or not the sex means anything or nothing, or whether the sex formed a one flesh union or not.

If a person is compelled by the Scriptural evidence to acknowledge that a one flesh union has indeed occurred, the emotions or intent  say whether or not this was a marriage that is binding. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:16 did NOT ask anyone about their intent to marry, or what they thought their union with a harlot (promiscuous woman) felt like emotionally to them (e.g., whether the sex meant, “everything” or meant, “nothing”).

Regardless of how one felt emotionally or volitionally; regardless of what the state or minister said, God through the Apostle Paul said that when they had a connection (i.e., a sexual relation; a sexual union), this formed/created a one-flesh bond (1 Corinthians 6:15-16).

And thus, to have sex with someone of the opposite gender — whether it is called “meaningful” or “meaningless,” makes no difference — is to form a one-flesh union with that person. The one-flesh union is clearly shown from passages such as Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, and 1 Corinthians 6:16 to be the marriage union. This is how God brings a man and his woman (wife) together, regardless of what “church tradition” or one’s “culture” says about it.

“Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, ‘The two shall be into one flesh'” (1 Corinthians 6:16).

Is it not abundantly clear that Paul is saying that a sexual union with a harlot creates a one-flesh bond? Even immature Christians (1 Corinthians 3) were expected to know this. In this passage, it appears Paul is saying to these babes in Christ that sex equals marriage (whether marriage bed honoring or marriage bed dishonoring/defiling) is a basic doctrine. Thus far, the reasoning that I’ve seen, looks like people know better but are suppressing this truth in unrighteousness. Case in point:

Andrew Cornes says that sex just can’t equal marriage, for if that were so, then how could Paul tell them to flee fornication. I have one word for Cornes’ reasoning there: Weak. Cornes wrongly assumes that all sex alone marriage unions must be pleasing to God; they aren’t of course, and that is why some unions must be fled from. Of course, there are better arguments leveled against the sex equals marriage view, but even as I try to make them seem more compelling in my mind than they actually are, they still end up being not really compelling.

“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness” (Galatians 5:19).

Just like Paul expected the babes in Christ at Corinth to know that sex alone with a harlot forms a one-flesh union with that harlot, so again, he says that adultery for example is something that is clearly revealed. But how clearly revealed is adultery when someone believes that sex alone does NOT form a marriage union (whether that union be unlawful, or lawful)?

There are probably millions of professing Christians for whom adultery is not, “clearly revealed.” A person may brag about being with ten or one hundred women, but multitudes of professing Christians would rejoice at this man’s “repentance” if he professed faith in Christ, and settled down and got married to only one woman. They would not call this man an adulterer, since their marriage tradition says so.

Multitudes disregard the fact that marriage is binding for life, and advocate remarriage after divorce as something that is not only tolerated, but strongly encouraged.

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