In both Proverbs 5 and 7, as well as in I Corinthians 6, the warning against fornication is directed to the young men of the church. But our society has made "advances" over the society when the Bible was written, so that today the warning must be directed also to the young women. The warning must not be limited, though, to the unmarried. Fornication for the married person (sex outside the marriage bond) is always a temptation.
Fornication has been common since the beginning of time. Not the oldest profession, it is one of the oldest sins of any society. It was so common in Paul's time that when he wrote the letter to the church at Corinth he needed to say, "now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord." This same warning needs to be sounded in our day, where there have been advances in sin over the society in which Paul lived, so that today sexual promiscuity is even publicized and glamorized.
What makes this sin so common is its allure. Many strong men have been slain by the whorish woman ("who flatters with her words..."), and many strong women have been slain by the temptations of the amorous man, whose mouth is full of promises. The temptation to succumb to this sin is powerful, and nearly universal.
Fornication is not the worst sin, nor the only sin. We may not forget that. Some hit the roof when they hear of a teenage girl becoming pregnant, but say nothing when the truth of the gospel is corrupted or the church's unity harmed with gossip. This is not right.
But fornication is a sin. And there is something uniquely wicked and foolish about this sin. The Bible points that out when it says that whoever commits fornication sins against his own body (I Corinthians 6:18). This is part of what makes fornication a unique sin. Another aspect is the violence this sin does to the reflection of the marriage of Christ and His bride, the Church.
Since this is a sin, it must be called that. The 20th century is noted for its euphemisms, its refusal to call something by its real name. We've all heard this. That's why we hear very little about fornication or adultery, our society preferring rather to speak of being "sexually active" or "having affairs." We ought to call this sin what it is: Fornicating.
God wants us to avoid fornication because it is sin. That may sound strange, for that's no reason to avoid premarital or extramarital sex for non-Christians.
Apart from the sin, there still are reasons to avoid fornication. One reason for sexual purity is to avoid AIDS, herpes, and other dreaded diseases. Fornication causes emotional wounds, and troubles in marriages. Think of the shame that accompanies unfaithfulness to one's husband or wife, or that comes with premarital sex.
But for the Christian, the main reason is that Jesus Christ forbids it. Jesus forbids it because our bodies are dwelling places of His Holy Spirit, and are actually "connected" with Him in heaven (I Corinthians 6:5-15-17). The man or woman (young or old) who loves Christ for giving him salvation, for saving him from death and hell, for giving him so great a salvation, will not unite himself with someone outside of marriage, because that would be uniting Christ Himself with a harlot (I Corinthians 6:15). This grieves the spiritually-minded Christian.
Whoever commits fornication without repenting "destroys his own soul" (Proverbs 6:23).
This must be taught our children, and taught from their youngest days: sex is for marriage; sex is ruinous outside of marriage; fornication destroys the existing marriage; fornication dishonors God.
Parents ought to teach children to fear fornication as they fear any imaginary monster. Their children must know about the deceit of fornication, the allure of fornication, the power of fornication, the destruction of it. They must hear what God says in Proverbs 7: "He goeth after her . . . till a dart strike through his liver . . . Many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell . . ." Flee, youth, for your life!
Children don't learn this by listening to what most have to say today. This is one reason the Protestant Reformed Churches preach about the folly of most television viewing and movie attendance: these promote, glorify, and glamorize sex. Even the advertisements on most innocent and profitable programs are sexually oriented, so that the children's opinions about sex are warped.
The children don't learn this by listening to most music on the radio today. Most of rock music's lyrics, as well as its beat, are designed to arouse the sexual passions. The name "rock and roll" itself was coined to describe the music that fits the "rocking and rolling" of fornication. (For this reason, too, it's impossible to understand how the words "Christian" and "rock" can ever be joined.)
Children don't learn to fear fornication by dancing the dances of the world. What young person is interested in dancing that has no sexual allure? Parents who are serious about teaching their children the dangers of fornication will prohibit their children from dancing. If this sounds radical, we need to hear that the Bible calls Christians to flee fornication (I Corinthians 6:18). That's more than saying "Don't commit fornication" or "Keep yourselves clean from sexual sins." It's saying, "Run from this sin with all your life; avoid everything that would lead you into it."
Fleeing fornication, the child of God will also avoid the parties where there is over-drinking, for alcohol loosens the inhibitions and restraints, and removes the fears of this dangerous foe.
Especially, parents teach their children about this sin by giving them the positive example of their own behavior in marriage: they remain married to the wife of their youth; they don't flirt with other's spouses; they show affection toward their spouse in the home; and are chaste in all their behavior before the children.
For young people, the shelter from this destructive sin is the shelter of marriage. God says in I Corinthians 7, "To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." Some three thousand years ago, God had one of the kings of Israel write: "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love." This is the Christian's joyful deliverance from all the miseries of fornication!
And when fornication has been committed, there is forgiveness with God and deliverance from its great power, through faith in Jesus Christ!