3 ¶ But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Love in verse 2 is qualified so as not to include fornication and other exploitive sins. Fornication, from the Greek word which we get the word, “pornography,” refers to any sexual sin outside of a relationship between a man and a woman for life, that relationship being the basis for civilization.
As one of our presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, said in his autobiography when he was lifting up the legal rights of women, “The relationship of man and woman is the fundamental relationship that stands at the base of the whole social structure.”
Fornication would include adultery, of course, and viewing pornography is little different than actually committing the act. There are other things that can, but not necessarily do, lead to fornication such as the, “work-spouse,” where an emotional bond is created between a man and a woman that work together that is similar to the husband-wife relationship. It is a form of emotional adultery and is one of the issues that have arisen with both men and women in the work force. I am not implying that women in the workforce are wrong or that women shouldn’t have equal legal and political rights with men. I am just saying that it is something to watch out for like, due to the powerful bonding possible in the act of breaking bread, having a meal alone with another person with whom you have something in common, on a regular basis can be dangerous if not viewed in the proper context. Families are drawn closer together by sharing a meal, a church body is drawn closer in fellowship by sharing a meal, soldiers are drawn closer together by sharing a mess (a meal), and a man and a woman who work together need to be careful about that bond that can form.
1Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
Uncleanness, something that defiles, is usually a reference to improper sexual thoughts of an adulterous nature or simply an attitude that can lead to fornication.
Covetousness is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
The ancient Hebrews were warned not to want things that weren’t rightfully their own between them as part of the Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Clearly, fornication can be a consequence of covetousness. Our entire economic system today is driven by consumer demand, not production, and is based on wanting what you don’t already have. Our modern advertising industry, created by Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Ed Bernays, in the early twentieth century, took advertising, or propaganda as he called it, from what a product actually did for you to how it made you feel about yourself. Everything is sold in our culture and no one is ever expected to be happy with what they have. This leads not only to irrational purchasing of cheap, plastic junk but also to pornography, romance novels, and, eventually, fornication. It is all related. Not being satisfied is American culture’s greatest psychological achievement as in the idea behind bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie, “Stay Hungry.”
Sadly for America, the family went from being the basic unit of production in the early years of our republic to the basic unit of consumption today just as our greatest gift to the world went from Freedom of Religion and Conscience to “I’m not happy with what I have.” The same people who freed the world from the political power of a state church also gave the world blue jeans and rock and roll advertised by people whose income and success depended on people simply not being satisfied.
The next group of attitudes that are not consistent with being a Christian have to do with speech. Filthiness is foul trash. It is called lewdness, scum, and unclean in the Old Testament. In Revelation the phrase used is, “filthiness of her fornication,” referring to the woman on the scarlet colored beast, full of blasphemy. Any person who has spent time in a public place like a professional sporting event or a vacation spot where alcohol flows freely will know what filthiness of speech is about, laced with profanity and vulgarity by lost people who think they are clever, macho, cool, or sexy but who are just bound for destruction. It must not be so among those who think of themselves as followers of Christ.
Foolish talking and jesting, having a laugh at someone else’s expense, are not consistent either with a Christian witness. This would include dirty jokes. Since the context of these verses are matters of a sexual nature in speech and deed it’s important to understand that the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul is not condemning things sexual at all, in their proper place, between a husband and wife.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Paul has already pointed out that a married couple’s individual bodies belong to each other for satisfaction and enjoyment in verses where while acknowledging that celibacy like his own is good he also acknowledges that there is nothing wrong with the act of marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
It is just as sinful, as it was not uncommon or too many years ago, for women to feel that marital relations were something to be endured rather than enjoyed. If a woman views her physical duties to her husband to be repugnant and a man views his physical duties to his wife to be a mere necessity based on a biological urge that they can’t control then it is best they not marry at all and just stay celibate like Paul. However, Paul says also;
7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
Of course, the meaning is, “burn with passion.”
So, basically, this set of verses in Ephesians, tells us that taking something meant to be a joy and a bond, Holy and proper between man and woman in marriage and trashing it by improper affections and foul language regarding it is not to be even mentioned among Christians.
Anyone who defines themselves as a player, a swinger, always looking for a conquest, a Casanova, or a Don Juan, a covetous person always wanting someone else’s wife or husband, with a foul mouth and mind, is not going to get saved in that state. They will not have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God and will not turn to Christ until they have repented of who they are, changed their mind completely, and submitted to God and away from their uncleanness.
All of these sexual oriented sins are a sign of unthankfulness as being thankful is put in opposition to them in the text. Wanting something or someone you don’t have whom God has not given you is a sign of ingratitude and baseness.
So, I would add one more thought in keeping with the contents of these verses. If you, Christian, did not ask God for your mate and did not wait upon God for His answer then you can relate all of the trouble you’ve had of whatever nature in your marriage to your devilish self-possessed attitude.
If you, Christian woman, went out looking for a man or you, Christian man, just sinned with every girl you were attracted to until circumstances arranged for you to move in together with one then you will suffer because it was not of God. If you have raised your children so poorly as a Christian that they are out on the dating scene then you need to be on your knees in prayer for them as anguish and even divorce are probably in their future.
I am always amazed at how Christians who didn’t raise their family with daily prayer and Bible reading or didn’t teach them about courting and the evils of dating but who had good outcomes anyway are so arrogant and blind that they will say, “well, I didn’t do those things and everything worked out okay,” instead of, “thank you, Lord, for having mercy on me in my wickedness.”