Re: fornication: Whores and Concubines

Re: fornication: Whores and Concubines

by The Rev. Grant Mauricio Gallup gallup@TMX.COM.NI

Fornication is said to be derived from the Latin fornix -- an arched vault; from the far-fetched idea that whores and lowlife folks lived and f--ked under low-vaulted roofs. I think it may come from the Greek porne -- prostitute, and meant originally sex with a prostitute. Someone devoted to etymology may track that down, or up.

Fornication usually means human sexual intercourse between men and women outside of wedlock or concubinage. Archbishop Cranmer, for instance, was not a fornicator simply because he had sex with a female human being outside of wedlock. He was saved from the label fornicator by the fact that his lady was his concubine, before the law permitted him to marry her. It is not true that he kept her hidden in a box, but it's a great story. See Diarmid McCullough's biography of Cranmer for fuller details. (He, by the way, was big stuff in the GCM in England.) Our Holy Founder, Henry VIII, also kept Anne Boleyn as his concubine before he made her his Queen, and then himself her Widower.

Concubine (thence, concubinage) derives from Latin as well, from com (with) + cubare = to lie down. So a concubine is someone you lie down with. Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (and of Islam, thereby) was Abraham's concubine. Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines a concubine as a woman living in a socially recognized state of concubinage with a man, or a mistress, or A MAN LIVING IN A STATE OF CONCUBINAGE TO ANOTHER MAN OR TO A WOMAN.

The Bible nowhere forbids concubinage, that I know of, and in fact it's the way most Roman Catholic laity have what they call marriages here in Nicaragua--very few indeed have been legally married. But concubinage is more or less stable; it is not one night standing. It in fact describes the situation of most Gay and Lesbian unions--the only thing that keeps them from being marriages is a legal technicality and church rules requiring celibacy. Perhaps it is time to adopt it, and refuse the accusation of fornication. If it was good enough for Abraham, and good enough for our Holy Founder, and good enough for Archbishop Cranmer, why isn't it good enough for us?



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