For because of the wine of the anger of her fornication all the nations have fallen [victim], and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the traveling merchants of the earth became rich due to the power of her shameless luxury.”—Revelation 18:3 (NWT)

I was wondering if anyone would be able to explain, in what way(s), "Babylon the Great" engaged in "Fornication"?

  • This answer completely depends on your interpretation of "Babylon the Great". – Jas 3.1 Oct 23 '12 at 2:19
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    Welcome to Christianity.SE and great question. On this site I hope you will get some good pointers about the doctrines relevant to this passage. If you are interested in a more detailed word study of this issue, you might consider asking a related question on Biblical Hermeneutics. – Caleb Oct 23 '12 at 9:55
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    Also, I was going to clean up the formatting and link to the verse you used, but I noted that the translations you used is the NWT (New Word Translation, specific to the Jehovah Witnesses) which deviates on a lot of points from regular translations. I don't think there is anything relevant to this question in the translation of this verse, but I wanted to point out that if you want an answer specific to JW doctrine/theology, you should edit your question to specifically ask for what the Jehovah Witnesses believe about the issue of a fornication of a nation. – Caleb Oct 23 '12 at 9:58
  • Short answer: if it's the Church, She was unfaithful to God. If it's something else, She engaged in idolatry of some kind. – fгedsbend Aug 7 '15 at 17:20

In layman's terms, fornication is often used as an allegory for idolatry. In the same way people are unfaithful to spouses by fornicating in the usual sense of the word, idolatry is "cheating on" God.

More at http://www.thewholetruthnow.com/2PORNEIA.htm and http://www.sabbathcovenant.com/doctrine/fornication_defined.htm

From the second link above:

In Revelation, we again see a clear link between the act of fornication and idolatry:

Revelation 2

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.... 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

John is clearly speaking out against the practice of committing the sexual act of idolatry and then eating meat sacrificed to idols in that act of worship.

If you do a word study on Fornication, you will see that it is condemned in context to Idolatry EVERY time. 100% of the references to fornication are in context to idolatry.

similarly, several times in Scripture, idolatry is described as "whoring after other gods" such as in

Judges 2:17 KJV

And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.

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The Church is called the Bride of Christ. Fornication indicates that the Church is not faithful to Christ, but it is promoting the worship of false gods.

Babylon the Great is a church that appears to the the True Church, but it is a counterfeit which is engaged in the promotion of false religions.

John Paul II, March 21, 2000: “May Saint John the Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan"

There is a video on the topic with references available here

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Most would-be bible scholars prefer that literal fornication and adultery are one and the same. This scenario presents too many problems seeing that the scripture makes a clear distinction. They are not consistent in their interpretations, whereas, on the one hand they say, they are the same, but on the other, they are different. That being true, the same would apply to the spiritual. As noted in the companion article "Spiritual Adultery" in this web site, spiritual adultery is considered as being a friend with the world. However, spiritual fornication goes far beyond that.

"James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.""

"Galatians 5:19-20 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.....Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,"""A clear distinction is made between adultery, fornication and idolatry.

"1 Corinthians 6:13 "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body."" "1 Corinthians 6:18 "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.""Far too many people get caught up in their emotions of personal dislikes for whatever thing it is and totally disregard what God has to say about the matter. They are going to have their way or else. There is absolutely only one sin against the body and that is fornication. 

"1 Cor 6:9-10 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,.....Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.""

Here again, there is a distinction made between fornication and homosexual activities.

"Jude 1:7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.""

Here homosexuality is attributed to fornication, but we shall see at the end of this discussion that there are several other sins that also fit the description. 

The Lord Jesus Christ used many parables to impart spiritual lessons by way of the illustration of literal things. This is a common practice today whereby, we also explain more complex matters by simple things that are easily understood. It is my belief that literal fornication can be best understood first by understanding the spiritual. Why? Because there is much more evidence in the bible regarding spiritual fornication. God Almighty used an explicit allegory in Ezekiel 23:1-21, to reflect the great spiritual whoredoms of two women represented as Samaria and Jerusalem. Idolatry is also considered adultery."Ezek 23:37 "That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.""

Never in the entire bible does the scripture identify the adulterer as married or single, but only the wife as an adulteress in the sin of adultery. However, the two exceptions is that God is identified as the husband of Israel the wife. Spiritually we are married to Christ and the wife (the Christian) can commit adultery against her husband Christ. Where the fleshly man is concerned, it does not make any difference whether married or single, the sin is the same.

"Jer 3:8-9 "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also......And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks."

Jer 3:14 "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"

Jer 3:20 "Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD."

Jer 29:23 "Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the LORD."

Ezek 16:32 "But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!"

Hosea 4:13-14 "They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery......I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.""

Some of the more recent translations of the bible add a great deal of confusion to the subject by improperly translating the word "fornication" as "sexual immorality." Of the thirty two places in both testaments of the KJV, all are found as fornication. In the NKJV, seventeen are rendered "sexual immorality" and fifteen "fornication" None in old testament are rendered "sexual immorality" in the NKJV. Why? Obviously they do not pertain to divorce. "Sexual immorality" covers a myriad of sins and therefore, divorce is further enhanced by reason of a selection from this broad spectrum of sins. The words used by the NKJV range from, harlotry, fornication and sexual immorality, of which in some places are not consistent with the context of the scripture. Therefore, the use of the modern versions in this matter of properly understanding the meaning of fornication only leads one into circles.

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