“Fornification”

Heidi and ColbyMonday night I happened to tune in for an intriguing episode of MTV’s hit show “The Hills.” I haven’t seen the show in a long time, so it was ironic that this particular episode featured an awkward interaction between the main characters and some evangelical Christians.

In case you don’t follow the show, the episode went like this–one of the main characters, Heidi, is in a volatile relationship with her live-in boyfriend Spencer. However, her ex-boyfriend comes into town to visit, so the tumultuous duo decide to have dinner with the ex and his own current girlfriend.

Now here comes the plot twist: the ex-boyfriend is now at Bible college. He and his girlfriend are conservative evangelicals, so the interaction doesn’t involve the typical ex-boyfriend awkwardness that one might expect. Instead, the episode follows the Christians’ noble attempt to witness to Heidi and Spencer.

After a few scenes in which the Christian couple takes various moral stances, such as refusing to drink alcohol at dinner because “nothing good comes of it”, they eventually convince Heidi and Spencer to join them in a Bible study. And that’s when things get really interesting.

Prior to the study, Spencer had asked them, “Is there really a verse in the Bible that says premarital sex is wrong?” Initially they didn’t seem to know the answer to this question, even though they had just defended their decision to remain abstinent until marriage. But now that they’d had the time to do some research, they had an answer.

The Bible does address the issue of premarital sex, they respond. Then the Christian girl explains to Spencer, “In the Bible, the word used for it is ‘fornification.’”

And with that, my heart immediately sank.

Now I’m going to be honest with you–I generally hate scenarios like this on television, because the Christians almost always come out looking like idiots. But in this case I was genuinely cheering for these two! They seemed very sincere in their desire to honor God and be a witness to Christ, and I was rooting for them. I wanted them to succeed!

And to some extent, I think they did. They’re honesty and integrity seemed to have quite an impact on Heidi, despite the pronunciatory slip-up. They certainly did their best, and God will bless their efforts.

However, such stories are all too common within the Church. Christians will be uncompromising in their beliefs, morals, and lifestyle choices, all in the name of Christ. But when pressed in the slightest bit, it quickly becomes apparent that they haven’t the slightest idea about what Scripture actually says.

In the instance I just described, the young lady was a stalwart defender of sexual abstinence, yet she seemed to be encountering the word “fornication” for the first time. Given that this particular word serves as one of the strongest statements against premarital sex in all of Scripture, her unfamiliarity with it is worrying. In Greek, the word clearly refers to extra-marital sexual relationships, but her belief in abstinence did not appear to be based upon this information at all.

If we are to have any credibility in the world around us, we need to know why we believe what we believe–not vaguely, or even philosophically, but Scripturally. Especially if we are going to be outspoken or dogmatic about an issue.

If you are a strong proponent of the pro-life movement, then you need to know the Scripture supporting it. If you are going to avoid clubs or drinking alcohol, then you need to have the related Scripture readily available. If you’re not going to sleep with your boyfriend, then be sure you know what Scripture has to say about it when your friends ask you why.

If we fail to back our beliefs with Scripture, then our beliefs aren’t particularly “Christian” at all. They are instead abstract moral philosophies, no different from any other ethical or religious system in the world.

But our beliefs and behaviors ARE different. We are not to obey the Word of God out of obligation or because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We follow the Word of God because it not only honors Him, but because it provides us with the only path to freedom from the trappings of this world.

When we defend our positions with Scripture, as opposed to opinion, we may still be met with rejection. For some, the truth of God will be foolishness no matter how it is presented. But we are not responsible for them. We are only responsible for ourselves, and as long as we bear the name of “Christian,” we better well know what Christ actually said.