I am under the impression that any marriage, whether or not involving a believer, that has not violated Yahweh's will, especially his law against adultery, is valid before him. His law is his law, and is applicable to all, irrespective of whether one is a believer or not.
Therefore, if an unbelieving woman is married to a man, that marriage of hers is valid, and she is not fornicating - assuming that the man who marries her is not violating Yahweh's law against adultery in marrying her. As long as this man is alive, she cannot lawfully - Yahweh's law - marry another man, as she is bound to her first and living husband as long as he is alive. Even if he divorces her, validly or invalidly under Yahweh's law against adultery, she is still not allowed to "marry" another man. If the divorce was invalid before Yahweh's law, then she may be reconciled to her husband, if he is willing to be so reconciled. If the divorce was valid, due to her adultery, she is to live out the rest of her days as a single woman partaking not in any sexual relationship with anyone.
If, after her divorce, she becomes a believer, though her past sins are forgiven her, including any adultery on her part, Yahweh's law that she marry not again while her husband lives is still not negated. Her sins are forgiven with respect to her salvation. But the law barring her from marrying another man while her first and only valid husband is alive still stands. Therefore, even though she is now a believer, she is still not to marry while her husband lives - for such a relationship would still be adultery. She is therefore to live as a single woman.
In this regard she should ask Yahweh in faith to supply her with sufficient of the fruit of the holy Spirit of self control to enable her to so live as a single person without commiting fornication (adultery), dedicating herself to serving Yahweh exclusively, without the distraction of also serving a husband. In this manner she will live an exemplary life as a believer who does not engage herself in adultery, for she will remain faithful to Yahweh's law that a wife marry not another man while her first husband is alive.
Please consider the rhetorical-positioning of this concept:
Considering that marriage is defined at consummation, if every "unmarried" woman with a whom a man would ever be "one flesh" is always thereafter then his "wife", what is the rhetorical-positioning of that concept?
It is this: with that rhetorical-position, then there can be no such thing as "fornication" or as an "unmarried harlot" in the first place. There can be no "fornication" because such an act of becoming "one flesh" could only be called a "marriage". Likewise, there can be no "unmarried harlot" because such a woman could only be called a "married adulteress".
That is, every act of being "one flesh" with a woman could thus only be one of two things: Marriage or Adultery. Either the act of becoming "one flesh" is the consummation of Marriage from then on after, or the act is Adultery because the woman is another man's wife.
And, likewise, every woman who participates in such being "one flesh" (in this situation) can only be one of two things: Wife or Adulteress. Either the act of being "one flesh" is the time when she is becoming a Wife from then on after, or the act makes her an Adulteress (if she is to be called another's wife at the time of this later act of being "one flesh" with this man here in this situation).
But the Scriptures make it clear that there are two different things, "fornication" and "adultery" ---NOT that they are the same thing.
The Apostle Paul would not be duplicating his words if "fornication" and "adultery" were the identical act. Consider 1_Corinthians 6:9, "fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers" ..."shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God". (It's also important to note how "idolators" is inserted there BETWEEN "fornicators" and "adulterers" ---but more on that in the 6th Post of this 6-Part Post to you here.) And again, we see the same use of both words also in Galatians 5:19.
Indeed, "fornication" and "adultery" have two distinct and separate meanings. The act of "adultery" is the act of a man being "one flesh" with a (previously married) "woman that breaketh wedlock", while the act of "fornication" is the act of a man being "one flesh" with a woman of whom he does not take/keep as a wife (whether or not she is married).
But didn't we see a few moments ago that consumation is the definition that a marriage has indeed occurred? So what does that then "do" to the understanding (in the previous paragragh) that "fornication" is the act of a man being "one flesh" with a woman of whom the man does NOT take/keep as a wife? Is he married to the woman or not? Is "fornication" therefore the consummation?
Without understanding the definition of "fornication", one can only end up being rhetorically-positioned into that puzzling dilemma of a dichotomy!
But, fortunately, the answer is clear before us in the Word of God. (Thank the Lord! Whew! :-)
If "fornication" is the consumation by which a woman MUST supposedly there after be a "wife" (if she's not an adulteress for being previously married), then the only woman who can ever be defined as a "harlot" must therefore ONLY be an "adulteress". That rhetoric-position says that there can be no such thing as an UNMARRIED "harlot", only "adulteresses".
How does that say that? It does so by saying that the woman was married at her very first act of being "one flesh" with a man, her very first copulation, her very first consummation. Accordingly, from then on after, she is the wife of the man with whom she surrendered her virginity. And if she is ever "one flesh" with any other man, she is to then be identified simply as a "harlot". (While that could be surely said to be true, there is still much more to it than that.)
Actually, Scripture calls the act of a married woman being "one flesh" with another man as an "adulteress", not simply or only a "harlot".
Therefore, that tells us that, just as "fornication" and "adultery" are two distinct words with separate meanings, so too do the words "harlot" and "adulteress" likewise have two separate meanings.
An "adulteress" is clearly a married woman who breaks her wedlock by being "one flesh" with a man other than her husband. But a "harlot" is a woman who simply becomes "one flesh" in the act of "fornication" ---not just adultery.
And we, of course, see that this is true in the Scriptures. (Praise YHWH!)
"What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (1_Corinthians 6:16-18.)
Clearly, Paul is writing to the believer who is "joined unto the Lord". He also makes the "harlot" and "fornication" connection, without implying anything about "adultery". The act of "fornication" is NOT being therein described as the sin which steals another man's wife (which is indeed the major basis of the sin of "adultery"). Indeed and instead, "fornication" is only being therein described as a sin against one's own body, which was a sin of defiling the "temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you" (as per Verse 19). And because of that, this would tell us that the "harlot" being therein referenced is not necessarily an "adulteress". Does it not tell us that?
After all, would Paul suggest that a man could possibly be joined with another man's wife and then say that the only sin of that would be about defiling the temple of the Holy Ghost?
Would he have been suggesting that, because consummation is the act of sealing marriage, then the supposed "adulteress" (when Paul therein referred to the woman as "harlot") was then supposedly the man's "wife" at that point because she was joined unto him as "one body" ---even if she was already another man's wife? Is it Scripturally possible for a man to be the husband of another's wife, and would Paul have suggested that possibility?
Of course not. (And God forbid.)
If the "harlot" was another man's wife (if the word, "harlot", was to supposedly only mean "adulteress"), would not Paul have also included the explanation that stealing another man's wife is also the great sin there?
Of course he would have done that --- if "fornication" really did mean only "adultery" and if "harlot" really did mean only an "adulteress", which they clearly therefore must not so exclusively mean.
Moreover, Paul wrote therein (in Verse 18) that the sin of "fornication" is different from all other sins which are OUTSIDE the body, while "fornication" is a sin against one's own body. And surely, "adultery" is more than just a sin against one's own body: it is actual theft of another man's wife and all the correlated issues thereto, which is a very serious matter indeed, and surely which is a sin that is OUTSIDE the body (because it's a sin against another)!
Thus does this all reveal to us that there is a clear difference between "fornication" and "adultery", and a clear difference between "harlot" and "adulteress". In each pair of words there, while the latter can be the former, it does not necessarily have to mean that the former must likewise be the latter.
"Adultery" can be an act of "fornication", but "fornication" is not always exclusively "adultery". And an "adulteress" can surely be a "harlot", but a "harlot" does not always have to mean exclusively that she is an "adulteress".
Therefore, yes, we see by the Scriptures that it is indeed possible to "fornicate" with an "unmarried harlot" while not simultaneously be committing "adultery".
© April 8, 1998, TRUTH BEARER
P.O. Box 765, O.O.B., ME 04064