Q: I'm a non-denominational Christian man. A colleague of mine is a very staunch Adventist, We regularly enjoy thought-provoking discussion and study. I'm happily married with two children, and my Adventist friend has a girlfriend. We work in aviation and go to remote regions. Sometimes his girlfriend joins us and stays with my colleague in the same hotel room. When I mentioned to him that I believe this is inappropriate unless they marry, he said I was being Pharasaical and that this was just my opinion, not the word of the Lord. He maintains other biblical laws with strict reverence, yet disregards this situation. I'm beginning to think that maybe I have it wrong. Is waiting to sleep together until marriage still a biblical principle we should follow? I feel as a society we are so rapidly losing our moral ethics and standards. I would be very interested to see what you think, as learning about Adventism has been a large part of my life these past few years. — Matt, from undisclosed country
A: Matt, thank you for expressing your concern. As Seventh-day Adventists, we look to the Bible as our guide, and the Bible is quite clear about fornication (sex outside of marriage). The seventh commandment states, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and as Jesus made clear, the Ten Commandments are much broader than simply the "letter" of the law but also touches the thoughts and the heart.
Specifically, regarding the seventh commandment that prohibits adultery, Jesus said that "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Our Creator knows that thoughts and feelings precede actions, which is why the Bible stresses guarding our heart (Proverbs 4:23). In Matthew 15:19, Jesus lists sins that proceed from the heart. Notice He singles out the seventh commandment by broadening it to include "fornications": "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders [sixth], adulteries [seventh], fornications [seventh], thefts [eighth], false witness [ninth], blasphemies [third]."
You might find it interesting that the Greek word for "fornications" in the New King James Version, is porneia, which is translated "immorality" by the English Standard Version. It is a very broad word that refers to any sexual activity outside of marriage. And according to the Bible, "sexually immoral" people will not be in the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8).
You are certainly right to be concerned about your friend and colleague, and I encourage you to continue praying for him. If the opportunity arises when you are studying together, you may want to share the above texts with him, along with other Bible texts that promise forgiveness, and the hope of victory when we surrender our will to God. Some of these powerful texts include:
- "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).
- "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NKJV).
- "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24, NKJV).
God's grace forgives us and cleanses us, as David's beautiful prayer for forgiveness recorded in Psalm 51:1-3, 6-13 indicates, and these are just a few of many such powerful texts!
Finally, remember that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and although your Adventist friend is struggling with this particular sin in his life, we all experience temptation in one form or another.
I want to encourage you, Matt, to get in touch with a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in your area and to continue to study the Bible with him. For a brief overview of what we believe as Seventh-day Adventists, click here for our Fundamental Beliefs. May the Lord continue to lead, bless, and encourage you!