"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness..." (Galatians 5:19, KJV, emphasis mine, ER). One of the defining moral characteristics of the past fifty years here in America would have to be the progressive diminishing of any sexual inhibitions whatever! At this writing, two additional states are considering (California and Washington), and will probably be permitting same sex marriage in the near future. Many today are simply not marrying, and living with a succession of partners. About 40% of our children today are born into a single parent family. In the New Testament, (~Galatians 5:19~), we have a list of sexual sins that God calls "The works of the flesh." There are four things that the apostle Paul includes in this list, and we are going to look briefly at each.

     Adultery in the text simply means "sexual intercourse of two persons, either of whom is married to a third person." That is from the Britannica World Language Dictionary, and that is the same basic meaning in the original Greek of the New Testament. The Bible clearly condemns this in other passages as, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). There was a time when unfaithfulness to one's spouse was considered a terrible thing. Today many think nothing of the unfaithfulness of their partner. In fact, there are some who have so-called "open" marriages, where both give the other liberty to have sex with others, and they are expected to do so! The word "fornication" today means something altogether different than in the New Testament. Today it is used to describe intercourse between two persons, neither of whom are married. In the Greek of the New Testament, it comes from the word porneia (from which we derive the word pornography) and was a broad term that encompassed any illicit sexual activity! Arndt and Gingrich Greek Lexicon defines it as "...prostitution, unchastity, fornication, of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse." The Old Testament prohibitions would have to be used to define these. Leviticus chapters 18 and 22 include incest, homosexuality, bestiality as well as sexual relations between those who are unmarried. Although homosexuality is specifically condemned in other places in the Old and New Testaments (~Romans 1:26-27~; ~1 Corinthians 6:9~), it would also be included under the definition of "fornication."

     The word "uncleanness" describes a general condition of impurity. It would also include the lustful attitudes that prevail when one person looks at another and describes them in ways that would include the desires to be with that person sexually, even though not married to him/her. I've even heard of Christian women who describe men as "hotties"! Such attitudes would be contrary to that of the godly Christian woman, girl or man! (See Matthew 5:28; 1 Peter 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 5:1-2). The inspired apostle makes it clear that the Christian (regardless of gender) is not to possess the "works of the flesh" but rather the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-24).

     "Lasciviousness" is a stronger word than uncleaness. Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines the original word as "...unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence... wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females, etc." Most English Dictionaries define it in much the same words. This writer would suspect that the half-time shows of the Super Bowl, and MTV scenes along with much of the "Rap" music, dance, and culture would fit this definition. Anything; words or deeds that would tend to stimulate sensual desires that cannot be legitimately consummated would fall under the umbrella of lasciviousness! Christians are to strive to be pure, and as the wise man advises "For as he thinketh within himself, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus put it this way, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders" (Mark 7:21). As Christians, let's strive to keep our hearts pure!

Ed Rodgers, De Leon, TX