In the Church of Jesus Christ here below fornication, when it is found, is usually found among the youth rather than among the adults.
Adultery, as we have seen, is practiced by the ‘married and is the introduction of the third party, which is a foreign element, between those who before God are one flesh. But fornication is the same sin as it is practiced by two who before God are not one flesh but take the liberties of being one flesh. Fornication is using the powers and members of the body, which God has given that we may serve Him, to satisfy our flesh instead.
God has made us to be male and female and given each his own peculiar powers and members. There is absolutely nothing wrong either with the members or the power invested in them. In Hebrews 13:4 we read, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” There is a time and a way and a place where those who before God have agreed to be one flesh can serve God with what He has entrusted to them for service in His kingdom. And God made us man and wife, male and female, for the sake of bringing forth the covenant seed. In the Church a man must take a wife with that basic purpose of marriage in mind. In the world nothing can be done right. The unbeliever cannot marry for the proper purpose. He cannot even refrain from murder for the right reason. He may abhor lying and condemn stealing, but he cannot do this because he desires the glory of God. He can only be humanistic and see that it is good for man to refrain from these sins; which he will only call social evils. But in the Church, where the believer and his seed is found, all things will in principle be done because of love to God and with the desire to glorify Him.
Now it is understandable, though not excusable, that our covenant children fall into this sin of fornication. In their early teens their sexual powers begin not only to develop but to make themselves known. Let it be clearly understood that this is God’s work in them. There is absolutely nothing evil in sex as we already pointed out in quoting Hebrews 13:4. God does not put some filthy thing in us. God does not invest our covenant seed with some wicked power. He begins to prepare them for the ability and desire to bring forth the future church here below. And we repeat that they have this power given to them for that reason and with that in mind. Actually it is a wonderful thing to observe and to witness with a pure mind. Not only do they gradually, and sometimes quite suddenly, put away childish things and show a different interest in the other sex, but their bodies develop and grow and there is outward evidence that these powers are developing. God does not hide that from the parents, nor from the children themselves. And it is a matter for thanksgiving to see the children of the church here below develop and grow to be able to become the mothers and fathers in Israel. We must not be evil minded witnesses, but neither must we be unscripturally Victorian.
It certainly would be advantageous if parents would feel freer to teach their children the matters of this development rather than to let them learn it from the world and from youths of their own age, whose interest in these matters is only carnal. But as a rule this is not the case and they are willing either to let their children pick up the knowledge of their sexual powers wherever they can or to expect the teacher in school to do so. Now we will grant that the school is the extension of the home, and the parents hire the teachers, through a society, to give their children the instruction that they cannot give themselves. But in the school you have the added difficulty that the sexes are met together, and what a parent might be able to do at the same time with his son and daughter would not be received the same way by children of both sexes from several families with different backgrounds. Nevertheless the children should be taught and not be self-taught or wrongly taught. Their development and growing powers should be made known unto them in connection with the fact that their bodies were and are, in this growing development, temples of the Holy Spirit. The beauty and wonder of their new strength and power rather than the filthiness of the world’s misuse should be shown them. And by all means their calling to reserve and preserve and shield these powers for service before the living God should be shown them. Filthy speech in the home, suggestive actions and deeds should be kept out of the home. And we may add that these have absolutely no place either at the wedding reception and feast! So many otherwise beautiful weddings are spoiled that way, and a master of ceremonies or toastmaster who keeps things pure and clean at the wedding reception deserves to receive not only a word of commendation but also one of thanks.
There is also the matter of magazines and that extremely dangerous television whereby we do bring the adultery and fornication of the world to the attention of our children. Of course they are going to meet it elsewhere. And we cannot and may not lock them up in a monastery cell. But it makes a world of difference whether they meet these things first in the home and with tacit approval — at least without any spoken disapproval — of the parents in the home. What with the widespread paper-back novels that either glory in adultery openly or are written to arouse in the readers a sinful consciousness of it, parents cannot be too careful and diligent in approving and of disapproving that which their children read. And remember that a lasciviously written novel is as dangerous if not more inflaming and dangerous than any mere picture. What is more, every single one of the novels of the world presents the whole matter of courtship, love and marriage from a wicked and godless point of view. Show me even one that proceeds from the principle ofI Corinthians 6:18-20 to which we referred before! What unbeliever ever has as his starting point and as the “moral” of his story that “he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body?” Which unbeliever is able to write a book that has for its aim instructing his fellowmen that we with our sexual powers and members are not our own but are bought with a price with the calling to glorify God in our bodies? The love of husband and wife in the unbelieving and unregenerated is nothing but a vicious circle that gets nowhere and produces nothing truly good. It is like the ox that treadeth out the corn, walking ever in a circle and getting nowhere. Tomorrow it is the same thing. Eat, sleep, work! Walk in a circle! Their married life is as a wheel that is lying on the ground and turns from right to left or left to right but gets nowhere. The married life of the child of God, and the sexual powers and members of the youth, under the regenerating grace of God, are like a wheel that is standing up and turns from the earth on which it stands to the heavens where is the Christ Who bought them with the precious price of His blood. For Him they remain virgins. And a wheel standing up that turns from the earth to the sky in its activity GETS SOMEWHERE! It goes forward in His fear. It makes progress in glorifying the Christ to Whom we are betrothed. It takes Him into consideration. It uses its powers and members for His sake. And therefore the covenant youth will keep his vessels in covenant subjection.
There is also that matter of dress as well as of undress. It is not always and only a matter of suggestive exposure (or shall we say disclosure?) but also of design. And by design we do not simply mean dress style. We mean exactly that dress styles are designed to excite, suggest, entice and even encourage. The many perfumes with their daring and suggestive names are not the only elements in a woman’s life that have names for a specific sinful purpose. And these are not advertized for the wife to make herself attractive and alluring to her lawful husband. Neither the scanty dress nor the deliberate lines are designed for the young woman to be appealing to the new man of a young man. Where is the dress designed by the world that is aimed to harmonize with the truth that the body that wears it is the temple of the Holy Spirit? All too often — and sad to say also in the sphere of the church-the dress declares that this is the temple of an adulterous spirit and of one that is more interested in pleasing the lust of man than to receive the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The plunging neckline must now be supplemented by the sleeveless dress with, of all things, a square arm hole! And that square arm hole is not meant to make it easier to slip that dress on and to take it off again. We can only ask, “What is next?”
The miniskirt will probably disappear after it has served its purpose and no longer produces its desired effect. And man will have to come up with something new. As we suggested above, this does not necessarily mean that there will be more disclosure and more actual nakedness. The world is not at all afraid or ashamed to admit this. The Oracle of Toronto, Marshall McLuhan, is not a bit hesitant to state, “There has been a dimming down of the visual. We are now in the all-involving tacile mode.” And the dress is designed to attract attention, to advertise direct thought and attention. The fishnet stockings, the sleek black silk dress and sex-dislaying wear make that temple of the Holy Spirit far more attractive for evil purposes than the savages ever experienced in their naked customs.
And in this installment —we plan, D.V., another with youth in mind next time—we wish to call attention to that extremely important matter that is stated in the Heidelberg Catechism in regard to the seventh commandment, and that is so easily ignored by parents in regard to their children, but also by parents themselves. We read that God commands us to preserve our bodies as pure and therefore “forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and what ever can entice men thereto.” We refer to that last phrase, “And whatever can entice men thereto.”
It is the young man that gets the young woman in trouble, we often hear. And perhaps in many cases this is true. Rape is a way of life in some men. But let the (young) woman be sure that she has not lead the (young) man on by her dress, behaviour, gestures, speech or failure to give a firm discouragement of his advances. We have no interest in excusing or exhonerating either the young man or the young woman. And it is none of the business of the church council when they come to confess to try to determine whose fault it was. Unless it is actual rape, it is the fault of both. But the point we make now is that there is so very much truth in that statement of the Catechism that we sin when we entice men to fornication as surely as when we commit the act ourselves.
As we rush toward the end of all things and the last manifestations of the harlot who rides on the beast, it is high time that some reform and return to modesty in dress and practice is found in the church. And that means that as men we cease clamoring for these suggestive and enticing elements. Again we are not interested in deciding whether the blame should be upon the women who dress to please the lusts of man or the man who indicates that the woman must so conduct herself in order to be acceptable to man. It is of the nature of the woman to desire to be accepted of man. And this can be without sin. But whether we set the sinful standards or whether we capitulate and accept them in the hope and fear that it will not involve us in that which we know is wrong, we have by the enticement and the desire to be enticed already committed the sin in our hearts.
In His fear we know ourselves as the bride of Christ and will keep ourselves as virgins for His sake. Instead of being glad for The Pill, we are thankful to God for The Book. And we strive according to its teachings to be attractive and pleasing and faithful before His face. Try that out, young people, and put a sudden stop to friendship with those not interested therein, and you will be safe and continue as a virgin for Christ’s sake.