Russell Moore has written an excellent article for Touchstone Magazine on the topic of Christian Honesty about the Harm of Fornication. I liked it, of course, because it went along so well with this piece I wrote on sexual immorality and adultery versus holding the marriage bed in honor. I also liked it because he addresses the very same problem I've complained about on so many topics regarding the changing of the English language.
You see, if you're not careful, you can lose meaning by allowing the changes in the English language that come so regularly. The word in question in Moore's article was "fornication", a word we typically only use today to ridicule Christian virtue. No, no, we don't use that one anymore. "Premarital sex" is better. That says it much better. But, as Moore points out, there is a problem with that term. It suggests that "sex" is the same whether it is "premarital" or "marital" and the problem is the timing, not the sex. "Sex in marriage" = good; "sex before marriage" = bad. "Sex" = no real content. In that subtle but, as it turns out, massive shift in meaning, we have lost the meaning.
It is true that the actions involved in "premarital sex" and "marital sex" may be the same physical action, but that misses the point. You see, fixing the sex that was premarital by marrying doesn't actually fix the sex. That's because we've missed the point. Fornication is much, much more than that ... and so is sex. Even the term "sexual immorality" for fornication comes closer but misses the mark. Indeed, we have come so far from the original intent that the whole concept is completely bizarre to us today, even among believers. In Ephesians 5, Paul compares marriage with the union of Christ and the Church (or, rather, vice versa). In 1 Corinthians 6 he speaks of the spiritual union that occurs in sexual relations that exceeds the physical union. In both cases, Paul refers to Genesis 2's "The two shall become one flesh." When we speak in marital terms of the union of Christ and the Church, what does that even mean? The fact that we don't know says that we've lost the meaning.
The article is very good and I don't think I can improve or expand on it much. Suffice it to say that "fornication" is much bigger than we realize. It is a much broader term than "premarital sex". It encompasses all sexual immorality. But since we've lost the biblical impact of God's intent for sex, even that has become obscure. Read the article. Give it some thought. It might be beneficial for you. I learned from it.