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By contrast, a teleological view interprets porneia, aselgeia and akatharsia in terms of the quality of the relationship (how well it reflects God's glory and Christian notions of a committed, virtuous relationship.) The debate also turns on the definition of the two Greek words moicheia (μοιχεία, adultery) and porneia (el:πορνεία, with meaning of prostitution, from which the word pornography is derived).

An example is John Witte, who argues that the Bible itself is silent on the issue of consensual, premarital sex between an engaged couple.

In 1611 King James Version, the first English translation of the Christian Bible Fornicated as an adjective is still used in botany, meaning "arched" or "bending over" (as in a leaf).

John Milton plays on the double meaning of the word in The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty (1642): "[She] gives up her body to a mercenary whordome under those fornicated [ar]ches which she cals Gods house." The Pauline epistles contain multiple condemnations of various forms of extramarital sex.

When one of the partners to consensual sexual intercourse is a married person, it may be described as adultery.

For many people, the term carries an overtone of moral or religious disapproval, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures.