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Author Topic: Is my doctrine correct. Can I join an Orthodox church? How do I do it?  (Read 20582 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 16, 2009, 11:10:38 AM »

Hello.  I am a Christian.  I recently realized the tradition I was raised in has a lot of 'christian' doctrine very, very wrong.  I think Scripture is leading me more towards the Orthodox faith.

Please read my testimony at my website, www.acts420.com

Then click on "doctrine" at the bottom of the page.  I have a few doctrines listed there, and I would appreciate if you all would tell me if I am orthodox in what I say.

I have some unique beliefs about premarital sex (it is not always a sin), drug use (cannabis/marijuana is a plant that God made, God said he gave us all seed bearing plants for food, therefore it is not a sin to use it in moderation just like alcohol, etc.), and perhaps some other topics where I think most churches wrongly judge and condemn a lot of innocent people.  Does this prevent me from becoming Orthodox?

How will I go about joining an orthodox church.  The church I'm most interested in in my hometown says this on their door:
8:30 am Orthros
9:45 am Sunday School
9:50 am Doxology
10:00 amDivine Liturgy

I don't know what orthros is, nor doxology, nor liturgy.  I think I know what Sunday school means, but is that for adults too?  Shall I just show up at the front door at 8:30 and ask someone? 

thank you,
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2009, 11:36:07 AM »

Welcome to the forum Smiley Generally speaking, Divine Liturgy is the main religious service that the Church would hold. I don't know if the Sunday School would be for adults or only for youth, this would differ from place to place. The only way you'd know for sure would be to call/visit and ask someone. As far as Orthros and Doxology, in this case those serve as a sort of way of gearing up for the service on Sunday (that may not be perfectly accurate, but that's the best way I can think of explaining it to someone outside the Orthodox faith). If you can't reach anyone by phone, just show up and see what happens.

Regarding joining the Church, there are a few different stages. First is just visiting and participating (singing, saying the nicene creed, etc.)  After a while, you can approach the priest about becoming a catechumen, which is sort of like being a student. After a period being a catechumen (which can be anywhere from weeks to years, depending on various factors), you graduate, so to speak, and become an Orthodox Christian.

Regarding your beliefs, are the pre-marital sex and pot use the main ones you're curious about, or are there other specific questions? If you post something here you're much more likely to get a response, than sending people to a website elsewhere (even one you have written yourself). Regarding the marijuana, I think you'd find various positions held by people within Orthodoxy. Probably it'd not be strictly biblical/traditional to outright support it's usage, if only because it is illegal. But as far as making it legal, I'm sure that many (though definitely not the majority) would be in favor of that.

Regarding sex, Orthodoxy is pretty consistent in speaking against pre-marital sex. You'd find different levels of insistence, but pretty much everyone (every cleric that I know of, anyway) would not be ok with it. Now, having personal opinions which differ from that of most Orthodox would not necessarily prevent you from becoming Orthodox. However, a priest might wonder if such differing opinions might be a sign of a larger issue (ie. failure to trust the Church, or to trust God to speak through the Church). But only the priest/bishop that you'd be in a relationship with could give you a final answer as to whether this or that opinion would be an issue as far as you becoming Orthodox.

It's interesting that you say that Scripture is leading you towards Orthodoxy, I was in a similar situation. I had been a Protestant, but eventually came to believe that many of the doctrines that I was holding to were incorrect. Eventually someone posed the question to me: did Christ (and the Apostles) found a Church or not?  If it had only been historically apparent that there was an early Church, I don't know what way I would have gone, or how long it would have taken. But I came to believe that the Bible itself indicated that a Church--and not just a loose "movement"--had been started, so off I went looking for that Church.

Now, as a disclaimer, I must say that I am not a practicing Orthodox Christian at this point. I used to be Orthodox, but I'm sort of floating in and out of Orthodoxy at the moment. I do attend liturgy, but that in itself doesn't make me Orthodox, so I don't call myself one.
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2009, 11:45:10 AM »

How will I go about joining an orthodox church.  The church I'm most interested in in my hometown says this on their door:
8:30 am Orthros
9:45 am Sunday School
9:50 am Doxology
10:00 amDivine Liturgy

I don't know what orthros is, nor doxology, nor liturgy.  I think I know what Sunday school means, but is that for adults too?  Shall I just show up at the front door at 8:30 and ask someone? 

thank you,

Divine Liturgy is the primary service for Orthodoxy, the one in which we partake of communion. Orthros and Doxology are shorter services. For your first visit, yes, you can just show up, either starting at 8:30 or just for the liturgy and then after the services talk to the priest.

Sorry, I'm at work so I can't take a look at your link, but I'm pretty sure my suggestion either way would be to go talk to the priest. The items you're mentioning above are disciplinary/moral rather than doctrinal and Orthodoxy tends to think a little bit differently about those things. You need to determine if the underlying foundation of Orthodoxy is what you should be building your opinions on or not before worrying about the placement of the roofing tiles.
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2009, 11:51:14 AM »

Hello.  I am a Christian.  I recently realized the tradition I was raised in has a lot of 'christian' doctrine very, very wrong.  I think Scripture is leading me more towards the Orthodox faith.

Please read my testimony at my website, www.acts420.com

Then click on "doctrine" at the bottom of the page.  I have a few doctrines listed there, and I would appreciate if you all would tell me if I am orthodox in what I say.

I have some unique beliefs about premarital sex (it is not always a sin), drug use (cannabis/marijuana is a plant that God made, God said he gave us all seed bearing plants for food, therefore it is not a sin to use it in moderation just like alcohol, etc.), and perhaps some other topics where I think most churches wrongly judge and condemn a lot of innocent people.  Does this prevent me from becoming Orthodox?

How will I go about joining an orthodox church.  The church I'm most interested in in my hometown says this on their door:
8:30 am Orthros
9:45 am Sunday School
9:50 am Doxology
10:00 amDivine Liturgy

I don't know what orthros is, nor doxology, nor liturgy.  I think I know what Sunday school means, but is that for adults too?  Shall I just show up at the front door at 8:30 and ask someone? 

thank you,

Hi Acts,

Welcome to the forum!

Briefly, Orthos is a morning service, also known as Matins. Doxology literally means "saying praise," and as far as I understand it is a short service immediately preceding the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is the celebration of the rizen Christ Who is, quite literally, "among us" (Mtt. 28:20), and Whose Body and Blood the faithful receive during the Holy Eucharist. It is the main event in the Orthodox worship. Except for the period of the Great Lent when the Church celebrates the Divine Liturgy according to St. Basil the Great, the common form of the Divine Liturgy is according to St. John Chrysostom (http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/liturgy/liturgy.html).

About the Sunday school, I guess that depends on a particular parish.

The best thing to do is to call or e-mail the priest of the parish you are planning to attend, and have him explain some basic things to you.

May the Lord bless your path to the Truth!

Best wishes,

George
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2009, 12:33:55 PM »

Not to be too technical, but, FYI, the Doxology marks the conclusion of Orthros, not the beginning of the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2009, 01:00:41 PM »

Not to be too technical, but, FYI, the Doxology marks the conclusion of Orthros, not the beginning of the Divine Liturgy.

Thank you! My apologies.
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2009, 03:13:42 PM »

Welcome to the forum acts420.

I'm not going to personally judge you on your lifestyle since I don't know you and such is not my place, full of sins as I am.  However, you should know the following.  The Orthodox church is not a country club where you pay dues and get to enjoy the privileges.  Coming into the Orthodox church means a change of mind, metanoia (in Greek) which is summed up in one word:  repentance.  Now, again, I don't know you so forgive me if I seem very uncharitable.  But if you desire to join yourself to the Bride of Christ, then that will happen on Christ's terms, not yours.  If you want to enter into the body of Christ and yet continue with things in your life that are incompatible with the life to make us Christ like, then don't do it.  Of course, we are all struggling with our sins.  If perfection were required to be Orthodox, then no one would be Orthodox.  But, from what and how I read your post, it seems that you are not willing to abandon certain practices of your life that are incompatible with Orthodox belief and practice.  I don't think the Orthodox church has taken an "offical" view on drug consumption since it doesn't feel the need to dogmatize on every thing under the sun like other churches do, but I can tell you that when it comes to sexual relations and when they are appropriate and when they are not, Christ, through the Church will of course forgive you, but only if you are repentant.  I think a lot of people forget that repentance is how both St. John the Forerunner and Christ began their ministries--"Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" 

As with anything, the responses on this board should be taken with a grain of salt.  Consult a priest.  Take time and above all and this cannot be stressed enough, pray.  That is also part of the Orthodox life.

Good luck to you.
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2009, 03:55:05 PM »

For your very first visit, it's probably best to show up around the time of the Doxology or even the start of the Liturgy itself. Just that in itself will be 1.5 hours or more, so that's plenty to digest. Everything will be totally new, so you don't want to overload yourself. Quality over quantity.

Definitely read this intro on the 12 things that you should know/expect before going to an Orthodox worship service: http://www.frederica.com/12-things/
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 05:02:51 PM »

Welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2009, 05:05:14 PM »

Welcome to the forum acts420.

I'm not going to personally judge you on your lifestyle since I don't know you and such is not my place, full of sins as I am.  However, you should know the following.  The Orthodox church is not a country club where you pay dues and get to enjoy the privileges.  Coming into the Orthodox church means a change of mind, metanoia (in Greek) which is summed up in one word:  repentance.  Now, again, I don't know you so forgive me if I seem very uncharitable.  But if you desire to join yourself to the Bride of Christ, then that will happen on Christ's terms, not yours.  If you want to enter into the body of Christ and yet continue with things in your life that are incompatible with the life to make us Christ like, then don't do it.  Of course, we are all struggling with our sins.  If perfection were required to be Orthodox, then no one would be Orthodox.  But, from what and how I read your post, it seems that you are not willing to abandon certain practices of your life that are incompatible with Orthodox belief and practice.  I don't think the Orthodox church has taken an "offical" view on drug consumption since it doesn't feel the need to dogmatize on every thing under the sun like other churches do, but I can tell you that when it comes to sexual relations and when they are appropriate and when they are not, Christ, through the Church will of course forgive you, but only if you are repentant.  I think a lot of people forget that repentance is how both St. John the Forerunner and Christ began their ministries--"Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"  

As with anything, the responses on this board should be taken with a grain of salt.  Consult a priest.  Take time and above all and this cannot be stressed enough, pray.  That is also part of the Orthodox life.

Good luck to you.

Well said, sir. 

Welcome to the forum, acts420!
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2009, 06:33:32 PM »

Welcome to the forum, acts420.

I think you're in a good place where you can begin to attend the Liturgy and find out about God's Church. I wouldn't worry about the other services just yet. Come to Liturgy, familiarise yourself with it, and learn from it. Get to know the priest at that parish, and talk to him about as many things as you can. You'll find there's much more to Christianity than you ever thought possible.
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2009, 06:49:40 PM »

Hello.  I am a Christian.  I recently realized the tradition I was raised in has a lot of 'christian' doctrine very, very wrong.  I think Scripture is leading me more towards the Orthodox faith.

Please read my testimony at my website, www.acts420.com

Then click on "doctrine" at the bottom of the page.  I have a few doctrines listed there, and I would appreciate if you all would tell me if I am orthodox in what I say.


First, I join others in welcoming you to OCNet and applaud your courage in laying bare your thoughts and exposing yourself to possible criticism.

I have not read every entry on your web site. However, what I have read and the very title of this thread indicate to me that you probably are not "orthodox" yet; not necessarily because of what you have said but because the way you have elevated your opinions to the status of "your" doctrines. Orthodox Christians would not claim ownership of any doctrine. Orthodox folks may agree or disagree with religious practices or pious beliefs but they just accept the doctrines promulgated by the Holy Orthodox Church, particularly through the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Please forgive me if I have offended you; my intent was to prompt you to further investigate Orthodoxy rather than to answer your questions or to convince you of anything in particular.

In conjunction with attending services and talking to local priests, you may want to consider reading one or two basic books on the Orthodox faith and ethos. The most accessible books are written by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Archpriest Thomas Hopko and Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory.  To start with, I would recommend:

By Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware):
- The Orthodox Church, 2nd ed. (Pelican, 1993 ISBN 0-14-014656-3)
- The Orthodox Way (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995, ISBN 0-913836-58-3)

By Father Hopko:
- The Orthodox Faith: An Elementary Handbook on the Orthodox Church by Archpriest Thomas Hopko (New York: Department of Religious Education of the Orthodox Church in America, 1972-1976). In four volumes: 1. Doctrine; 2. Worship; 3. Bible and Church History; and 4. Spirituality. These four volumes are being made available on the web at the Orthodox Church in America website.

By Father Schmemann (all from St Vladimir's Seminary Press):
- Great Lent: Journey to Pascha (1969)
- For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (1970)
- Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (1974)
- The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy (1977)

May the Lord bless your spiritual journey.
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2009, 06:54:19 PM »

Welcome acts420!
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« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2009, 09:47:39 PM »

My geography is not that great, but I think you may be near Fr. Anastasios' church.  You may want to contact him about visiting his parish.
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2009, 03:05:08 AM »

Hello.  I am a Christian.  I recently realized the tradition I was raised in has a lot of 'christian' doctrine very, very wrong.  I think Scripture is leading me more towards the Orthodox faith.

Please read my testimony at my website, www.acts420.com

Then click on "doctrine" at the bottom of the page.  I have a few doctrines listed there, and I would appreciate if you all would tell me if I am orthodox in what I say.

I have some unique beliefs about premarital sex (it is not always a sin), drug use (cannabis/marijuana is a plant that God made, God said he gave us all seed bearing plants for food, therefore it is not a sin to use it in moderation just like alcohol, etc.), and perhaps some other topics where I think most churches wrongly judge and condemn a lot of innocent people.  Does this prevent me from becoming Orthodox?

How will I go about joining an orthodox church.  The church I'm most interested in in my hometown says this on their door:
8:30 am Orthros
9:45 am Sunday School
9:50 am Doxology
10:00 amDivine Liturgy

I don't know what orthros is, nor doxology, nor liturgy.  I think I know what Sunday school means, but is that for adults too?  Shall I just show up at the front door at 8:30 and ask someone? 

thank you,

Welcome to the forums, Acts420.  That's a good verse, btw! Smiley

"for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2009, 12:51:57 PM »

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum Acts420!

We hope that you will find the Convert Issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where you can ask your questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination. We strive to provide direct and simple answers with sources if possible, to help you on your journey.

Make sure you contact your local preist who will be able to help guide you on your journey and answers some of you specific questions withthe voice of the Church Fathers. Again welcome to the Convert Issues Forum!

In Christ,
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2009, 10:07:23 AM »

Greetings Acts420,

            As a newly chrismated Orthodox Christian, it is good to see your interest in the church.  I would recommend attending liturgy for sure but I also learned much from attending some vespers services, Pascha sevices for the week and also Some name day celebrations.  One thing I was told by a parishoner in the church I joined was that the rules never change, which is a true blessing as so many new styles and trends seem to always come and go in the tradition (protestant) that I grew up in.  I would also recommend visiting churches from the various jurisdictions (OCA, Antiochian, Greek, etc.) if possible.  The Orthodox church has much to offer and can be a true blessing in your life.  May God bless you in your journey.
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2009, 11:10:20 AM »

^ Welcome to the forum, GrouchoMark.
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2009, 01:22:07 PM »

Welcome to the new posters!
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2009, 05:12:21 PM »

Hi Groucho, many years!  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2009, 08:36:24 AM »

Thank you everyone for your very kind responses.  I appreciate your willingness to help very much, and wish all God's grace and peace to you.
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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2009, 08:57:33 AM »

I know the Christ's church is not a country club, and this is because I know coming to Christ is not a country club.  I also know that repentance is absolutely necessary to be saved and to walk like Christ did.  At the same time, a lot of false doctrines have infected Christianity throughout its years.  We all know this.  Even in the 1st century the Apostles were fighting tremendous amounts of false doctrines.

Please understand my views on premarital sex are not an attempt to justify my lifestyle (indeed, you don't even know what my lifestyle is, as you very gracefully admitted).  My views are based on Scripture as I read it in the original languages.  It plainly teaches what I believe if you read it in the original languages.  This is something I can't deny.  My conscience before Christ will not allow me to do it.

I think we all know that Christianity, throughout its many years (and especially rather early) has included some very untrue and non-Scriptural views on sex and marriage.  Some church Fathers even believed that "marriage is the essence of fornication, so it is best to remain single."  That is a totally non-Scriptural and false reasoning.  St. Paul simply said he thought it was best to be single because marriage can bring a lot of trouble, but he said those who do marry do so as a gift from God.  He also said that, for some, it is best to marry.  Therefore, this shows us that traditions in the Church have produced, at times, some very un-biblical (and anti-Christian) views on sex and marriage.

I'm not sure I can be part of a church that teaches children that premarital sex is a sin.  I know there are much more important doctrines then that, and I do plan to study orthodoxy in person to learn them.  At the same time, I am not afraid to tell anyone that proclaiming premarital sex as "sinful" is the same type of thing the Pharisees did to Christ.  They added rules to God's commands.  Christ condemned their traditions, and He condemned them for following the traditions of God's teachers, scribes, and elders instead of following God's Scripture taught.  I honestly believe the doctrine that premarital sex is a sin destroys lives and marriages.  I think the biblical approach (the one the Apostles and Christ Himself held) is that sex is celebrated by God in courtship and marriage.  This is what Scripture teaches.  That is all Scripture teaches. 

We should instill in our children a healthy fear and respect for the tremendous harm that can come from unwise decisions concerning sex, but also we should instill in them the *fact* that God designed sexual intimacy (whether or not it involves intercourse) as the mode by which marriage itself is formed.  When you tell a child that premarital sex is a sin, then you are also telling them that premarital lust is a sin.  For if they ever read their bible, they will see that Christ clearly (in Matthew 5) explained that the lust for sexual immorality is just as sinful as the act itself.  Paul also tells us to flee from and not even experience "a hint" of sexual immorality. 

The problem with telling children to think of sex this way is that Scripture presents premarital sexual lust as that which leads to marriage.  See Song of Solomon.  They are extremely sexually intimate (and even share a bed) for two entire chapters before they get married.  On top of that, Scripture never calls premarital sex a sin.  Never even once.  I think couples have to be free to decide to either save sex for marriage or to experience it before marriage.  They also have to be free to decide exactly how much intimacy to experience before marraige.   I honestly think forbidding premarital lust and sex is the same thing as forbidding marriage itself (which 1 Timothy 4 says would happen in the church), because premarital lust and sex is what the Bible teaches us leads to marriage in the first place.  Again, see Song of Solomon.

To see more thoughts on this matter, and why I say I must believe this because Scripture teaches it, see http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html

Welcome to the forum acts420.

I'm not going to personally judge you on your lifestyle since I don't know you and such is not my place, full of sins as I am.  However, you should know the following.  The Orthodox church is not a country club where you pay dues and get to enjoy the privileges.  Coming into the Orthodox church means a change of mind, metanoia (in Greek) which is summed up in one word:  repentance.  Now, again, I don't know you so forgive me if I seem very uncharitable.  But if you desire to join yourself to the Bride of Christ, then that will happen on Christ's terms, not yours.  If you want to enter into the body of Christ and yet continue with things in your life that are incompatible with the life to make us Christ like, then don't do it.  Of course, we are all struggling with our sins.  If perfection were required to be Orthodox, then no one would be Orthodox.  But, from what and how I read your post, it seems that you are not willing to abandon certain practices of your life that are incompatible with Orthodox belief and practice.  I don't think the Orthodox church has taken an "offical" view on drug consumption since it doesn't feel the need to dogmatize on every thing under the sun like other churches do, but I can tell you that when it comes to sexual relations and when they are appropriate and when they are not, Christ, through the Church will of course forgive you, but only if you are repentant.  I think a lot of people forget that repentance is how both St. John the Forerunner and Christ began their ministries--"Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" 

As with anything, the responses on this board should be taken with a grain of salt.  Consult a priest.  Take time and above all and this cannot be stressed enough, pray.  That is also part of the Orthodox life.

Good luck to you.
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2009, 09:46:52 AM »

Quote: "I'm not sure I can be part of a church that teaches children that premarital sex is a sin."

Dear Acts420, - we believe in ONE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is the Orthodox Church. There is no other. So, any specifcs aside, one can either be part of this one Church, or be NOT.

If you read some of my posts on this forum (which would be, perhaps, a boring and unnecessary thing to do Smiley ), you will see that I, too, sometimes argue very passionately with certain things that are taught in the Church. Nevertheless, I cannot imagine NOT being a part of the Church. Leaving, separating oneself from the Church is not an option, IMO. Rather, I choose to be IN the Church and simply try my best to explain to everyone - including priests and bishops, if they wish to listen, - WHY exactly I believe in things that I believe, WHY exactly certain things that I hear from people in the Church make me uncomfortable and inquisitive. And I always make a clarification that even when I question these "certain things," I am not suggesting that anyone ACTS against what one hears from one's priest and bishop. If these "certain things" ARE to change, they will change in an orderly and canonical (conciliar) manner.

You are in my unworthy prayer. May the Lord illumine your heart and bless your path to the Truth.

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« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2009, 12:22:08 PM »

Acts420,

Have you looked up Fr. Anastasios yet?  He owns this site and he's a nice guy.   Smiley  I'm pretty sure he lives near you.  You might want to pm him, get together with with him and have a discussion about this.  He hasn't celebrated Christmas yet, so maybe you could attend a Christmas liturgy at his church.  Just a suggestion.
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2009, 01:43:30 PM »

Greetings and welcome to the forums!
I checked your website, it looks cool. Still, I had some problem concerning your essay (?) about pre-marital sex. You'll find your way around the forum, don't worry, your intentions are good.

God bless your journey. Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2009, 02:33:39 PM »

My dear friend Heorhij,
I thank you for your words, and I thank God for your faith.  I was terribly unclear in what I wrote, and I apologize for misleading you.  You seem to have misunderstood me because of my haste in writing.

I'm not saying I could never attend or be a member of a church that teaches that premarital sex is a sin.  By saying I could never be a part of a church that presents premarital sex as a sin, what I mean is that I could never be the part that teaches that nor could I ever allow my brother to teach that to my child.  I could never teach God's children that premarital sex is a sin.  If I were with the church and someone asked me about premarital sex, then I would teach any one, whether they were my elders, my peers, or my children, that premarital sex is not necessarily a sin.

I am bound by my conscience.  Love comes from a clear conscience, a pure heart, and a sincerity of faith that is proven by deeds.  With all of my heart, I believe the doctrine that says "premarital sex is a sin" is a sick doctrine that has great potential to actually forbid the very type of marriage formation process that God celebrates.  I'm talking about the marriage formation process that occurred in Song of Solomon.  If you sincerely believed what I do about premarital sex and marriage, and you had to act sincerely according to your conscience, then you also would refuse to ever teach that doctrine, nor would you allow someone to teach it without (at some point) gently telling them the truth in love so they would hopefully stop damaging people's lives and God's marriages.

I'm not saying I would never go to or join a church that teaches premarital sex is a sin.  Nor did I mean I would somehow take myself out of the one church.  Are not all who live in Christ the one church?

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  

May God grant you joy and peace in abundance, my friend.

Jason

Quote: "I'm not sure I can be part of a church that teaches children that premarital sex is a sin."

Dear Acts420, - we believe in ONE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is the Orthodox Church. There is no other. So, any specifcs aside, one can either be part of this one Church, or be NOT.

If you read some of my posts on this forum (which would be, perhaps, a boring and unnecessary thing to do Smiley ), you will see that I, too, sometimes argue very passionately with certain things that are taught in the Church. Nevertheless, I cannot imagine NOT being a part of the Church. Leaving, separating oneself from the Church is not an option, IMO. Rather, I choose to be IN the Church and simply try my best to explain to everyone - including priests and bishops, if they wish to listen, - WHY exactly I believe in things that I believe, WHY exactly certain things that I hear from people in the Church make me uncomfortable and inquisitive. And I always make a clarification that even when I question these "certain things," I am not suggesting that anyone ACTS against what one hears from one's priest and bishop. If these "certain things" ARE to change, they will change in an orderly and canonical (conciliar) manner.

You are in my unworthy prayer. May the Lord illumine your heart and bless your path to the Truth.


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« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2009, 02:37:47 PM »

P.S.

 - I attended the Greek Orthodox liturgy today, and I loved it.  I broke down weeping for joy I was so happy with it.  This even though I was told here that virtually all Greek Orthodox Christian elders will say premarital sex is a sin.  So again, I'm not saying I would never go to or join a church that teaches these things I disagree with.  I will just never be a part, I will never be *the* part, of such a church teaching that doctrine.  I will attempt to correct that doctrine if I ever hear a brother or sister, or a father or mother, or a daughter or son of mine try to pile it onto the backs of God's children.
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« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2009, 08:39:22 PM »

P.S.

 - I attended the Greek Orthodox liturgy today, and I loved it.  I broke down weeping for joy I was so happy with it.  This even though I was told here that virtually all Greek Orthodox Christian elders will say premarital sex is a sin.  So again, I'm not saying I would never go to or join a church that teaches these things I disagree with.  I will just never be a part, I will never be *the* part, of such a church teaching that doctrine.  I will attempt to correct that doctrine if I ever hear a brother or sister, or a father or mother, or a daughter or son of mine try to pile it onto the backs of God's children.
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the Liturgy. I really do hope that you will continue to attend. I have a bit of advice, though, if you're willing to accept it: Don't make the extramarital sex issue an obstacle for you to come to the Church. You will regret doing so. Just continue to come and absorb all that is Church life. You'll find that extramarital sex is, despite its prevalence in Internet discussions, a rather minor issue for our Church. I don't want you to think I'm telling you not to talk about it, because that's not what I'm saying at all, but if you don't bring up that issue, chances are no one else will either. It's just not a big deal to us. We do teach that it is a sin, and I doubt that we'll be changing our minds about it, but for us it's handled pastorally, on a case-by-case basis, in love and not in judgment. So I think that you could find a place in Orthodoxy, if you'll let yourself. I hope you don't prevent yourself from experiencing such a great life as you could have in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2009, 08:47:09 PM »

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With all of my heart, I believe the doctrine that says "premarital sex is a sin" is a sick doctrine that has great potential to actually forbid the very type of marriage formation process that God celebrates.

Of all the ideas about sex and marriage through the centuries, from arranged marriages for kids (they were nice enough to wait till the girl was about 13-14 before they actually forced the issue), to the idea among certain theologians that sexual relations even for justifiable reasons was something of a minor sin, you find this belief in particular sick?
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« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2009, 04:52:05 AM »

I think all of those historical things you mentioned were sick.  That shows how Satan and mankind have been, for thousands of years, damaging marriages and lives through ungodly rules piled onto God's commands.  However, the only one of the ideas you mentioned that is still going on today is the idea that premarital sex is a sin.  If you believed, as I do, that this doctrine is not of God and that it harms lives and marriages, then you would be against it too.  Trust me.

I don't know what you mean by "minor sin."  If you tell a person that premarital sex (and the lust for it) is "sin", and tell them that intentional sin is that which brings God's wrath... I don't think you can then tell them in the next breath that premarital sex is "minor."  Can you?


Quote
With all of my heart, I believe the doctrine that says "premarital sex is a sin" is a sick doctrine that has great potential to actually forbid the very type of marriage formation process that God celebrates.

Of all the ideas about sex and marriage through the centuries, from arranged marriages for kids (they were nice enough to wait till the girl was about 13-14 before they actually forced the issue), to the idea among certain theologians that sexual relations even for justifiable reasons was something of a minor sin, you find this belief in particular sick?
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« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2009, 04:56:24 AM »

This is wonderful advice.  Thank you.  Indeed, I will continue to attend, that is for sure.  I have recently discovered, and do now believe, that the Orthodox tradition is the oldest and most faithful Christian tradition that still has a large number of adherents. Orthodox theology is the most accurate to Scripture of any that I've seen.  That isn't to say it is perfect, by which I mean entirely error free.  I think all men stumble in many ways (James 3:2), and that includes those who try to faithfully pass on traditions.  Not enough people in this world are willing to truly depend on Holy Scripture along with their conscience, to "let God be true and every man be a liar." (Romans 3:4).  Many Protestants claim to do that, but they don't acknowledge the fact that they interpret Scripture based on their tradition.  I think many Orthodox also interpret Scripture according to their tradition, sometimes resulting in inaccurate beliefs.  However, at least the Orthodox admit they interpret according to tradition!  I love the honesty of the Orthodox, along with (what I have found to be) an incredible accuracy to Scripture compared to what I grew up with (Baptist/Presbyterian).

Yes, I plan on attending the Orthodox church for a very long time (and joining if they will let me) in order to soak up the abundance of Truth I know has to be there and to join in rejoicing in God's grace with my family, all of us God's children.

As I was walking into the church yesterday morning, I had this thought. I thought, "These people may believe what they do about premarital sex... but at least they understand this much:  at least they understand that love comes from a sincere heart and a pure conscience."  I'm not sure if that is accurate or not, but that is what I thought.  I have a feeling that, if my conscience is pure when I teach my children what I will about premarital sex, then very few in the Orthodox church would accuse me of evil.  That thought brought me great joy as I was walking into church.  I hate to put it this way, but it was almost akin to realizing that the Orthodox acknowledge we are all God's children, and that we can't take life too seriously.  Don't take that the wrong way.  I know theology and accurate doctrine are extremely serious matters.  What I mean is peace.  What I mean is that if we are truly trying our best, sincerely and with a pure conscience, then we can find rest in God's peace.  

God's peace to you,


I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the Liturgy. I really do hope that you will continue to attend. I have a bit of advice, though, if you're willing to accept it: Don't make the extramarital sex issue an obstacle for you to come to the Church. You will regret doing so. Just continue to come and absorb all that is Church life. You'll find that extramarital sex is, despite its prevalence in Internet discussions, a rather minor issue for our Church. I don't want you to think I'm telling you not to talk about it, because that's not what I'm saying at all, but if you don't bring up that issue, chances are no one else will either. It's just not a big deal to us. We do teach that it is a sin, and I doubt that we'll be changing our minds about it, but for us it's handled pastorally, on a case-by-case basis, in love and not in judgment. So I think that you could find a place in Orthodoxy, if you'll let yourself. I hope you don't prevent yourself from experiencing such a great life as you could have in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2009, 10:55:02 AM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.
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« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2009, 12:39:50 PM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.

Gee....what does it have to do with Shocked....LOL.
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« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2009, 02:11:08 PM »

That shows how Satan and mankind have been, for thousands of years, damaging marriages and lives through ungodly rules piled onto God's commands.

Satan has been consistently corrupting the Church's teaching on human sexuality from the beginning?
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« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2009, 04:53:24 PM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.

It has been my observation that even marriage often has very little to do with love (given the sky high divorce rates and the hatred that many spouses have for one another).  That doesn't make marriage a sin, does it?  

The only way premarital sex is a sin, as far as I'm concerned, is if Scripture says it is a sin.  I love holy traditions, but I don't have enough faith in traditions of men to think that God would not say premarital sex was a sin in Scripture and just leave that one up to tradition.  God lists all kinds of sex as sinful in the Old Testament.  He did not just happen to leave out the most common of them all (if it is a sin).
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« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2009, 04:58:12 PM »

That shows how Satan and mankind have been, for thousands of years, damaging marriages and lives through ungodly rules piled onto God's commands.

Satan has been consistently corrupting the Church's teaching on human sexuality from the beginning?

Satan has been constantly attempting to deceive anyone who looks for God's light from the beginning, yes.  See 2 Corinthians 11:14 - "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."  Jesus gave respect to the teachers of God's people, saying, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.   So you must obey them and do everything they tell you."  However, look how far off they had gotten; look how much the angel of light had deceived them! 

I'm not saying the Orthodox church is that far off... not nearly.  However, some Christians are, and some orthodox may even be.  The Orthodox tradition is not immune to Satan's deception.  I firmly believe that.
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« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2009, 04:58:25 PM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.

It has been my observation that even marriage often has very little to do with love (given the sky high divorce rates and the hatred that many spouses have for one another).    That doesn't make marriage a sin, does it?  The only way premarital sex is a sin, as far as I'm concerned, is if Scripture teaches it.  I don't have enough faith in traditions of men to think that God would not say premarital sex was a sin in Scripture, and that he would just leave that up to tradition.  God lists all kinds of sex as sinful in the Old Testament.  He did not just happen to leave out the most common of them all (if it is a sin).

Could you please define "fornication" as you understand it and as you understand the Apostle Paul to have used it?
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« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2009, 05:00:57 PM »

Quote
But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I. But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt.
Maybe this quote from apostle Paul, when read carefully, could help you.
To the unmarried there are only two chances if they are afflicted by lust... either marriage or being burned in passions (i.e. trying resisting them). Paul doesn't even offer the third chance of premarital sex: if you can resist your passions, then do it... if you can't, then marry. The only half way is sin.
I know it is difficult to admit. I'm 25, so I can understand how HARD it is to pass through these passions and resist them - especially since I'm not engaged in a relationship and I'm afraid I won't marry soon. Yet, I know that I prefer to compromise my life and resist my passions then violating my chastity. That's frustrating, and sometimes I realise it sounds extremely odd in the world surrounding me – consider the thoughts of girls when they know my personal convictions on sex. But I'm dedicating this to God. That's enough for me.
Maybe you should keep in mind that neither Orthodoxy nor Catholicism take sex as sinful or impure. On the contrary, sex is so sacred that it shouldn't be wasted in a profane context: it would be like bathing in a baptistery as if it were a swimming pool, or eating the Eucharistic bread as if it were ordinary food to feed your body and not your soul. In the same way, sex is as sacred as love is: marriage transforms the mechanical act of sex into a way one consecrates oneself to the partner. In the Old Testament times, when the grace of Christ hadn't spread over the Church yet, sex was more or less like in our modern society... a thing to be enjoyed per se. But it is clear that this was not God's plan, as God "made them male and female" and "the husband shall leave his father and unite with his wife, and they shall become one flesh". Sexuality in a couple is the same as the fruit for a plant... it's a vital part of matrimony, that which perpetrates the love of husband and wife and transforms it into a new life. How could a Christian not to choose to consecrate this act of love to the God who gave sexuality as a means to spread life, the greatest miracle in all creation?
Also, God created life for a purpose, and just saying "God gave us sex, let's enjoy it" is wrong. God gave us sex for a purpose, and He also gave us the instructions for a correct use of it. If your father gives you a car as a present, being you the new owner, do you think you're pleasing him if you make an illegal race in town and kill someone? No, that's not the purpose while your father gave you that car... He gave it to grant you a way to move in this world – maybe to go at work and back home. So it is for sex. God gave sex for a purpose, which is the edification of a family where love can be transformed into a new life. Everytime we violate this specific function of human sexuality, we betray God who gave us this gift.
Quote
All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meat for the belly, and the belly for the meats; but God shall destroy both it and them: but the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body
Quote
Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.
As for drugs, my personal opinion is that drug addiction is as wrong and detrimental as every other vice.
Quote
We must always bear in mind what was meant by God's instructions to "be sober" (as was discussed in the wine advice page). Drug abuse, like alcohol abuse, is nothing to play with, and Scripture very clearly warns about the dangers of excess. Excess in food or drink can cause terrible damage to your life and your soul. We should also keep in mind that some of the plants God gave us have evolved into deadly or extremely addictive substances. Some carry potential legal consequences also.
While I could spoke in favour of marijuana (I know many would be contrary to my opinion, but I know of many people who smoke marijuana without any specific addiction), I feel contrary to every other drug, even to tobacco, who give a true addiction (a smoker can't resist without cigarettes!). This is exactly in the same spirit as the citation of st. Paul I just quoted and the recommandations you extract from the Bible. Almost all drugs give addiction. You can't moderate them... it's a physical need which could burn your limbs to consumption, in a certain sense. If you find some other drug but marijuana which can't be addictive, I'll be pleased to know it, thanks.
Anyway, if you were attracted by the Orthodox Church, you must know that the Orthodox lifestyle is one of sacrifices – it is dedicating your life to God, entirely, independently that you live your faith in marriage or in celibacy... it is like transforming yourself into a living sacrament. Though I've stepped back from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism for dogmatic reasons alone (reasons which, anyway, live me with a great love for the Orthodox religion and all of its members!), I have interiorized the Orthodox mindset on ethics and I can assure you that I live my faith better then ever. If you have temptations, Orthodoxy is the best school to learn and resist them.
May God guide your path to salvation, as he did when he saved you from your godlessness (as I read in your biography on the webpage). Glory to God in the highest!
In Christ,   Alex

PS: if you don't believe in the traditions of men, you know what? EVERYTHING in the Bible comes from men, even the passages you base or list of beliefs on. Since you just can't "pick and choose" what you believe is inspired within a text (you don't have any critical instrument to do that), you have only the choices to reject them entirely or to embrace them in fullness. The choice is yours!
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« Reply #38 on: December 28, 2009, 05:04:46 PM »

Could you please define "fornication" as you understand it and as you understand the Apostle Paul to have used it?

Yes, my brother, I am happy to.  As far as the New Testament is concerned, the original Greek word that refers to sexual sin in the New Testament is "porneia."  Some translations translate that word as "fornication" in English in order to give the impression that premarital sex is a sin.  However, the most accurate translations say the word means "sexually immorality" generally.  This difference is due to the fact that some translators change words in English Bible's to suit their own personal preferences, and others do not.  For instance, see Isaiah 64:6 ("our righteousness is as filthy rags").  In many English Bibles, the word there is intentionally mistranslated "filthy rags" because the word actually means, get this, "menstrual rags".  I'm not kidding.  Look it up for yourself. 

Translators are totally unreliable.  Many are governed by their own traditional rules of etiquette and beliefs instead of being governed by a desire to be as faithful to the original language as possible.  This is one of the things that attracts me to the Orthodox, because they are at least smart enough to know that it's all about the original language manuscripts.

The original Hebrew means "menstrual rags" so our English Bibles should say that.  Likewise, the Greek word "porneia" is a general word referring to "sexual immorality" generally, so our Bibles should say that also.  This is very important to keep in mind, because it causes us to have to search the Scriptures to find out what sex, exactly, is "immoral".  That is something traditionalists (those who traditionally believe that premarital sex is sin) do not want us doing because, while the Scriptures repeatedly call all sorts of sexual activities sin, the Scriptures never once call premarital sex a sin anywhere in the entire Bible.

For more on this, a lot more in fact, and a debate I had with a Protestant Ph.d in theology on this topic, see:  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html

May God richly bless you,
Jason
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« Reply #39 on: December 28, 2009, 05:15:51 PM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.

It has been my observation that even marriage often has very little to do with love (given the sky high divorce rates and the hatred that many spouses have for one another).  That doesn't make marriage a sin, does it?  

That seems pretty much to be a non-sequitur, isn't it? Sort of like one of the leading causes of death in the US is car accidents - so perhaps we should all stop driving. My goodness,I don't know of many, if any, marriages that begin in hate or any people promise to hate one another in their wedding service, however much people may get it wrong.

Quote
The only way premarital sex is a sin, as far as I'm concerned, is if Scripture says it is a sin.

I'm sure you didn't mean to say or imply that all forms of premarital sex, no matter how abusive or exploitative are ok with you - or did you?
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« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2009, 05:27:30 PM »

You are correct that translation is oftentimes an art and can be unreliable.  That is why the Orthodox Church relies on the exegesis of the Church Fathers as an aid to understanding Scripture, even in its original Greek.  Indeed, if such explanation was necessary for those who understood the very words and dialect the Gospel was written in, how much more so for us who need to read it by way of a translation?  

Perhaps, then, we should look at how the Church Fathers, especially those who spoke the Greek that the Apostle Paul wrote in, exegeted the word porneia, and how they understood the sexual act outside of its mention in Scripture?  St. Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians that those who lie with prostitutes are joined to them as one flesh and become one body, which, it can be said, is the very definition of marriage itself?  So, from a certain point of view, the act of sexual intercourse itself creates a marriage, of sorts.  Indeed, this type of 'marriage' is enshrined in the ancient Irish Brehon Laws as the "Soldiers' Marriage".  

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« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2009, 05:31:03 PM »

I may just be old and cynical, but it's been my observation that premarital or extramarital sex often has very little to do with love.

It has been my observation that even marriage often has very little to do with love (given the sky high divorce rates and the hatred that many spouses have for one another).  That doesn't make marriage a sin, does it?  

The only way premarital sex is a sin, as far as I'm concerned, is if Scripture says it is a sin.  I love holy traditions, but I don't have enough faith in traditions of men to think that God would not say premarital sex was a sin in Scripture and just leave that one up to tradition.  God lists all kinds of sex as sinful in the Old Testament.  He did not just happen to leave out the most common of them all (if it is a sin).

God, through the Apostle Paul, also plainly lists "drunkeness" (and I do not think there's a problem of mistranslation here) as a sin. 

Do you have a problem with that, or would you like to explain that away?

I write this as a bit of a lush myself, and one who has engaged in quite a bit of pre-marital sex before I got married.  I, however, am not going to try to whitewash my sins with semantic acrobatics, but rather realize that I am a sinner and hope in the mercy of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.  I will not try to justify my missing of the mark.
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« Reply #42 on: December 28, 2009, 05:58:54 PM »

Welcome to the forum acts420!

I find it very interesting that you think so much of yourself that you feel that you can dictate to the Bride of Christ, the One, True, Holy, Apostolic Church who has been around for two millenia what the scriptures really mean.

Unlike many Protestant groups that are out there, the Orthodox Church was the Church that actually put the Bible Canon together at the Council of Carthage. So you see, we are quite familiar with the original language of the Bible, as we are the ones who put the Bible together.

Nevertheless, may I suggest you contact the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church you attended and let him know of your interest in Orthodoxy. I believe he will be able to answer any questions you may have, and will more than likely be able to read the Bible to you in the original Greek.
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« Reply #43 on: December 28, 2009, 06:11:14 PM »


I'm sure you didn't mean to say or imply that all forms of premarital sex, no matter how abusive or exploitative are ok with you - or did you?

No, my friend, I did not mean that.  Any sex can be sinful (premarital or marital) if abuse, exploitation, etc. is involved.  Likewise, however, any sex can be perfectly moral if done in love, out of a love for God and neighbor.  Premarital sex is not any more inherently sinful then marital sex is.  I have no doubt many sin by premarital sex... but the tool someone uses to sin is not necessarily sinful in and of itself.
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« Reply #44 on: December 28, 2009, 06:17:03 PM »

God, through the Apostle Paul, also plainly lists "drunkeness" (and I do not think there's a problem of mistranslation here) as a sin.  

Do you have a problem with that, or would you like to explain that away?

I write this as a bit of a lush myself, and one who has engaged in quite a bit of pre-marital sex before I got married.  I, however, am not going to try to whitewash my sins with semantic acrobatics, but rather realize that I am a sinner and hope in the mercy of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.  I will not try to justify my missing of the mark.

No, my friend, the Greek word for being drunk means being drunk.  Proverbs 23 describes those who "drink too much wine" (v.20). It says they feel like they are on a ship in a storm at sea (v.34, can't walk straight), they can't fell it when people are beating them (v.35, numbness to pain), they "see strange sights" (v.33, hallucination), and they imagine confusing things (v.33, they can't think logically). Most of us have seen people reach this point of intoxication. When you reach that point, you are disobeying God by enjoying in excess that which He designed to be enjoyed in moderation. And you'll feel sorry for it in the morning.

However, the word for "filthy rags" does not mean that in Is. 64.  It means menstrual rags.  That is an intentional mistranslation.  There are others in English Bibles, and "fornication" is one of them.  The word actually means sexual immorality.  And if you search Scripture, premarital sex is never called immoral.  It is never called a sin... never one time in all of Holy Scripture.  Also, Scripture seems to almost celebrate premarital sex (and at least premarital sexual intimacy) in Song of Solomon, the only book in the Bible entirely devoted to love, sex, and an in depth look into the formation of marriage.

May God richly bless you,
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