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Author Topic: Is my doctrine correct. Can I join an Orthodox church? How do I do it?  (Read 22370 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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« Reply #45 on: December 28, 2009, 06:25:27 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.

Fair enough. Smiley

Quote
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,

Firstly, I believe we've moved past the issue of translation, especially that of Is. 64, which is neither here nor there in regards to this discussion.

Secondly, you are interpreting the Bible on your own, which is not Orthodox.  We have the Church to help us understand, and the Church has always said that premarital relations are, at least, not the norm and therefore fall short of the mark of perfection we, as Christians, should strive for.

I will bite, however, and ask what is "sexual immorality" in your view?
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« Reply #46 on: December 28, 2009, 06:30:16 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.

Thank you for the warm welcome, my sister.  

I could likewise accuse you of "thinking so much of yourself" that you think you are able to recognize which traditions of the Church are of God and which are not.   But I will not do that.  I think we should not accuse one another of being proud simply because we disagree on this topic.  I respect your beliefs, and I will listen to your reasoning.   Certainly you don't think the Church has forever and always been immune to having false doctrines seep into it, sometimes very deeply into it such that many are mis-informed, do you? 

The Pharisees probably said to Christ and the disciples also "we are the one's that put the Bible together."  That is not good logic to rely on, I'm sorry.  *God* put the Bible together... and he used the Pharisees back then, and the Church now.  Many in the church can err just like many of the Pharisees did.  This is because Satan masquerades as an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14), and that means the light you see and the light I see everyday. This is of course spiritual light, not physical light. Satan and his demons are real, and they try very hard to trick believers (or anyone who is looking for God's light). (see 1 Timothy 4:1). They are extremely good at it, with thousands if not billions of years of practice.

An extremely important way for us to tell the difference between God's light and Satan's darkness (masquerading as light) is to get into the Scriptures apart from any traditions we have ever been told about it. Jesus always resisted Satan with the Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11), and He constantly condemned the deeply ingrained and age-old traditions of the Bible teachers (see Mark 7:7-9).  This is despite the fact that he told his disciples to "obey everything" the Bible teachers taught them (Matthew 23).  Christ did not mean that literally, for he allowed the disciples to disobey them in Matthew 12 even though obedience to their erroneous laws would not have been a sin.  What this boils down to is that the traditions of our teachers are not always right, and sometimes they can be very wrong.  And when they are not right, we do not have to follow them.  

Even Paul himself praised the Bereans for checking Scripture against what he himself was telling them (see Acts 17:11). Paul understood that even though his own teachings looked like spiritual light, they first had to check them against what Scripture said.  When I refuse to call something a sin because Scripture doesn't call it a sin, I am following the example of Christ and the apostles.  If that means I am not following your church, then "Let God be true, and every man a liar." (Romans 3:4).  

This is the truth, I have the Spirit too.  Everything I have said here has been said out of a sincere love for the Truth and His body.
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« Reply #47 on: December 28, 2009, 07:02:26 PM »


... you are interpreting the Bible on your own, which is not Orthodox.  We have the Church to help us understand, and the Church has always said that premarital relations are, at least, not the norm and therefore fall short of the mark of perfection we, as Christians, should strive for.

I will bite, however, and ask what is "sexual immorality" in your view?

As to the 'mistake' I am making by interpreting my own Bible... please see what I wrote to the kind lady just above this post.

As to what is sexual immorality in my view, it is either
1) all of the sins that are listed as immoral in the Old Testament that involve sex (which would include sex during menstruation), or it is
2) all the sexual sins Christ and the Apostles specifically taught against (which seem to be adultery, prostitution, perhaps homosexuality-although that one is not clear from the New Testament alone), or it is
3) any use of sex that is not motivated by sincere love for God and neighbor. 

I personally think it probably a combination of 2 and 3.  Whichever it is, none of those include premarital sex.  Premarital sex is not taught as sin anywhere in the Old Testament or the New Testament. 

I'm generating a lot of responses on this topic, some of them by people who seem offended at me.  I do not mean to cause a disruption.  I'm going to stop looking at this thread for a while.  I'm very thankful for your help in getting me started at the Orthodox church, and I'm looking forward to continuing to attend and speaking to the priest there.  That is the main reason I started this thread.

I'm sorry if I've offended you concerning this specific topic, but this is the truth as has been revealed to me.  I must stand by it.  Again, please see this link (and the debate I had with a "Scripture alone" Protestant, a Ph.D in Theology) to examine more in depth all that Scripture ever says about premarital sex.   http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html  You can get in touch with me through that website if you want to talk with me further personally.

God bless you.
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« Reply #48 on: December 28, 2009, 08:16:18 PM »

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.
Seriously?

I've yet to meet one who didn't!
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« Reply #49 on: December 28, 2009, 08:19:53 PM »

Certainly you don't think the Church has forever and always been immune to having false doctrines seep into it, sometimes very deeply into it such that many are mis-informed, do you? 
The Church, no?

Some of those who believe they can speak for her, oh yes. Most certainly.

One need look no further than the heretical belief of Sola Scriptura to see that.
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« Reply #50 on: December 29, 2009, 04:43:51 AM »

Dear Acts420,
you thought you could become Orthodox, yet you persist in your own views. This not Orthodoxy. A Church based on Tradition, as Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, won't accept personal views which contrast with the teaching of her authority. Tradition is the only exegete of the Scriptures. Private reading is encouraged, but not private interpretation, because the Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils, have interpreted the Scriptures for us when they could still read and understand the Bible in its original language. You prove to be extremely proud in affirming that you can understand the Scriptures differently then those who read it as their mother tongue 2000 years ago! It is not in the Greek dictionaries of our days that you can find an Orthodox understanding... most of them are written by Scholars who limit their understanding to how a word is used in the Scripture, but that's insane... the language lives outside of the Scripture, and it is just an instrument to write the Bible. If you want to know how the early Christians understood Greek (and indeed they spoke koine Greek as their primary language!) then read some of the Church Fathers. NONE of them ever interpreted that "fornication" as you do. Fornication (=porneia) means every single non-marital (thus pre- and extra-marital) act, and the Church Fathers didn't say this according to their own interpretation (how could men coming from such a vast empire, immersed in different cultures, receiving traditions from different apostles, ever agree on such a point? And yet they did) but on the explicit meaning of the word porneia as used by Greek koine speakers through the first millennium AD. DON'T PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THE BIBLE, or you'll become another founder of protestantism. Protestantism can put words in the Bible which are not there and even be convincing. Virtually, without a guide EVERYTHING could be extracted from the Bible, even the idea that we should marry our sister-in-law if our brother dies childless (levirate marriage), or that we should stone homosexuals to death, or that we should destroy all pagan temples and their idols. If you insist in reading the Scriptures in this fundamentalist way (yes, it is still a fundamentalism, although in the liberal party) without any true authority to do it, you become exactly like the Gnostics and Ebionites of the 1st century AD... just another interpreter, but not an inspired one.

My impression is that you just want to be a Christian and yet fell justified in your well-acquired behaviours and mindset, so you try to put your own Weltanschauung in the Bible and manipulate His words for your convenience. Forgive me for this hard words, it is not my intention to criticize, and I say this because Jesus wanted us to correct each other in a brotherly way, as I hope others could still do with me (I am a sinner and I make mistakes too!). Among the apostles, even James the Less did the same error when he supported is Judeo-Christian wing against Paul, yet the church condemned that view... so follow the attitude of James who submitted to the will of the Church rather then insisting on his own prejudgmental views.
My suggestion is that you humbly read the first Church Fathers, starting with Ignatius of Antioch up to John Chrysostom. If you don't, then you are believing that Jesus abandoned His church (which contrasts with His own promise "I shall be with you till the end of the world") and there's no true Christian Church in the world... in this case, found your own church, it'd be easier, because I found no church with all the characteristics you are looking for.

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #51 on: December 29, 2009, 09:05:30 AM »

DON'T PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THE BIBLE, or you'll become another founder of protestantism. Protestantism can put words in the Bible which are not there and even be convincing.
Excellent post, Alex.

I pray the wisdom contained in your words will not be lost on those who need it the most.
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« Reply #52 on: December 29, 2009, 10:21:39 AM »

DON'T PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THE BIBLE, or you'll become another founder of protestantism. Protestantism can put words in the Bible which are not there and even be convincing.
Excellent post, Alex.

I pray the wisdom contained in your words will not be lost on those who need it the most.

I second that (post of the Month)!

It is quite clear from the society in which the NT was written, that extramartial (and that includes homosexual) sex were understood to be under the rubric of "porneia," and were explicitely condemned as such.
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« Reply #53 on: December 29, 2009, 10:52:11 AM »

3) any use of sex that is not motivated by sincere love for God and neighbor. 

So who gets to decide what is motivated by sincere love for God and neighbor and what is not?

Who gets to judge whether someone's actions are motivated by sincere love for God and neighbor or other emotions and desires?

The fact is, we are all expert rationalizers and justifiers of our own behavior. We want what we want when we want it, and we can think up all sorts of noble sounding reasons for having what we want, no matter what the consequences to ourselves and others. We do it all the time, in matters great and small.



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« Reply #54 on: December 29, 2009, 11:03:23 AM »

Thank you for the warm welcome, my sister. 

I could likewise accuse you of "thinking so much of yourself" that you think you are able to recognize which traditions of the Church are of God and which are not.   But I will not do that.  I think we should not accuse one another of being proud simply because we disagree on this topic.  I respect your beliefs, and I will listen to your reasoning.   Certainly you don't think the Church has forever and always been immune to having false doctrines seep into it, sometimes very deeply into it such that many are mis-informed, do you?


First, I would like to correct you on a few matters. The Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church includes Scripture. Second, our Tradition is not something we "made up," but something that was handed to us by the Apostles. ("Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you." 1 Corinthians 11:2, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." 2 Thessalonians 2:15)

Also, it's not that I "think so much of myself," it's that I think so much of Christ and His Church that I rely on the Church's authority. As St. John Chrysostom said, “Poor human reason, when it trusts in itself, substitutes the strangest absurdities for the highest divine concepts.” This is why we must rely on the Church and her authority.

Furthermore, any false doctrines that were introduced to the Church were rejected by the Ecumenical Councils. This is the purpose of the Councils; to reject heresy.

The Pharisees probably said to Christ and the disciples also "we are the one's that put the Bible together."


Any Pharisee worth his salt wouldn't have said it because it would be patently false and they would know it. Moses and the other Prophets wrote the Old Testament.

*God* put the Bible together...


I hate to break it to you, but the Bible did not fall from the sky in a leatherbound edition with the words of Christ in red.

The Holy Spirit worked through the Council of Carthage to assemble the Bible Canon used by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (please be aware that Martin Luther intentionally removed books from the Bible when he put together his translation of the Bible.) The Bishops which the Holy Spirit worked through were from the Orthodox Church.

An extremely important way for us to tell the difference between God's light and Satan's darkness (masquerading as light) is to get into the Scriptures apart from any traditions we have ever been told about it. Jesus always resisted Satan with the Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11), and He constantly condemned the deeply ingrained and age-old traditions of the Bible teachers (see Mark 7:7-9).  This is despite the fact that he told his disciples to "obey everything" the Bible teachers taught them (Matthew 23).  Christ did not mean that literally, for he allowed the disciples to disobey them in Matthew 12 even though obedience to their erroneous laws would not have been a sin.  What this boils down to is that the traditions of our teachers are not always right, and sometimes they can be very wrong.  And when they are not right, we do not have to follow them. 

Even Paul himself praised the Bereans for checking Scripture against what he himself was telling them (see Acts 17:11). Paul understood that even though his own teachings looked like spiritual light, they first had to check them against what Scripture said.  When I refuse to call something a sin because Scripture doesn't call it a sin, I am following the example of Christ and the apostles.  If that means I am not following your church, then "Let God be true, and every man a liar." (Romans 3:4).


It is good to check scripture. If you do so you will see that the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church is in accordance with Scripture. Why? Because our Holy Tradition includes Scripture. The below quote from St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary in South Canaan, PA clearly explains what Holy Tradition is:

Quote
One of the distinctive characteristics of the Holy Orthodox Church is its changelessness, its loyalty to the past, its sense of living continuity with the ancient Church. This idea of living continuity may be summed up in one word: Tradition. As St. John of Damascus says, We do not change the everlasting boundaries which our fathers have set, but we keep the Tradition, just as we received it [On the Holy Icons, II, 12]. To an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means the Holy Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons, etc. In essence, it means the whole system of doctrine, ecclesiastical government, worship and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages [Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p.204].

We take special note that for the Orthodox, the Holy Bible forms apart of Holy Tradition, but does not lie outside of it. One would be in error to suppose that Scripture and Tradition are two separate and distinct sources of Christian Faith, as some do, since there is, in reality, only one source; and the Holy Bible exists and found its formulation within Tradition.

As Orthodox, however, while giving it due respect, we realize that not everything received from the past is of equal value. The Holy Scriptures, the Creed and the dogmatic and doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils hold the primary place in Holy Tradition and cannot be discarded or revised. The other parts of Holy Tradition are not placed on an equal level, nor do they possess the same authority as the above. The decrees of the Councils since the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) obviously do not stand on the same level as the Nicene Creed, nor do the writings of, for example, the Byzantine theologians, hold equal rank with St. John's Gospel.

Here we must also distinguish between Tradition and traditions. At the Council of Carthage in 257, one of the Bishops remarked, The Lord said, I am Truth. He did not say, I am custom [The Opinions of the Bishops on the Baptizing of Heretics, 30]. Many traditions that have been handed down are merely cultural variations, theological or pious opinions, or simply plain mistakes. [One need only recall the whole problem of the reform of the Russian liturgical books under Patriarch Nikon and the ensuing Old Believer schism to see the truth of this.]

Orthodox loyalty to Tradition [the things of the past] is not something mechanical or lifeless, however. Tradition is a personal encounter with Christ in the Holy Spirit, as Bishop Kallistos affirms. Tradition is not only kept by the Church it lives in the Church, it is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church [The Orthodox Church, p.206]. Thus Tradition must be seen and experienced from within. Tradition is a living experience of the Holy Spirit in the present. While inwardly unchanging (since God does not change), Tradition constantly assumes new forms, supplementing the old, but not superceding it.

Our Lord tells us that when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13) and this promise forms the basis of Orthodox respect for Holy Tradition. Thus, as Fr. Georges Florovsky expresses this idea: Tradition is the witness of the Spirit; the Spirit's unceasing revelation and preaching of good things.... To accept and understand Tradition we must live within the Church, we must be conscious of the grace-giving presence of the Lord in it; we must feel the breath of the Holy [Spirit] in it.... Tradition is not only a protective, conservative principle; it is, primarily, the principle of growth and regeneration.... Tradition is the constant abiding of the Spirit and not only the memory of words [Sobornost: the Catholicity of the Church, in The Church of God, pp. 64-5].
source: http://www.stots.edu/article.php?id=26


I would encourage you to read The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (now +Metropolitan KALLISTOS). Excerpts from the book may be found here: http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/history_timothy_ware_1.htm

This will give you a good primer as to what the Orthodox Church is, and what she is all about.

God bless,

Maureen
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« Reply #55 on: December 30, 2009, 10:45:35 AM »

I read this article today and immediately thought of this thread.  I don't know if that's a good or bad thing Wink

Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal

Quote
Temple prostitution: a modest proposal
by Peter Speckhard, associate editor

November 2009 Forum Letter

Every now and then a new way of looking at things not only solves a problem but opens up unexpected opportunities for that one solution to lead to a whole host of related solutions. The recent decisions of the ELCA regarding homosexuality solved the problem faced by gay couples seeking church weddings. But even better, the new way of looking at the issue could solve several more perennial problems in the church with one grand innovation.
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« Reply #56 on: December 30, 2009, 12:27:41 PM »

I read this article today and immediately thought of this thread.  I don't know if that's a good or bad thing Wink

Temple Prostitution: A Modest Proposal

Quote
Temple prostitution: a modest proposal
by Peter Speckhard, associate editor

November 2009 Forum Letter

Every now and then a new way of looking at things not only solves a problem but opens up unexpected opportunities for that one solution to lead to a whole host of related solutions. The recent decisions of the ELCA regarding homosexuality solved the problem faced by gay couples seeking church weddings. But even better, the new way of looking at the issue could solve several more perennial problems in the church with one grand innovation.

What a great piece of satire and so apropos! Thanks for posting the lead. I hope folks will take the opportunity to link to the entire article and have a chuckle or two.
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« Reply #57 on: December 30, 2009, 12:57:10 PM »

Welcome to the inquirer.

You have a long road ahead.  The first cross you will have to bear is open-mindedness to the fact that you may be really, really wrong.  Until you crucify your opinions, you can't be Resurrected.

That does not mean that you are asked to have 'blind faith,' but instead be open to the possibility that, after 2000+/- years the Church might actually know what its talking about and provide evidence that where there is premarital sex, there are problems.  If you think we are lying, just look at Western Europe.  Premarital sex is a way of life, they have virtually stopped having children, abandoned the Church and are heading for a demographics disaster.

Next, if premarital sex is OK, then there would not be the differentiation between 'adultery' and 'fornication.'

Lastly, and this is the biggest, is the modern idea that young people in the prime of their sexual drive are compelled to avoid marriage because they are 'too young' or 'too immature.'  I think this is perfect silliness, because I am seeing maturity slip away because young people are never allowed to take the steps, including marriage, to grow up.  They are now dependents until they are in their 30's, which make them ideal candidates to Caesar's 'loving embrace' (such as "Universal ______________ Care," fill in the blank as you like).

Don't rush into the Church.  Be ready to accept it all, not just the 'highlights.'
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« Reply #58 on: December 30, 2009, 01:04:31 PM »


Lastly, and this is the biggest, is the modern idea that young people in the prime of their sexual drive are compelled to avoid marriage because they are 'too young' or 'too immature.'  I think this is perfect silliness, because I am seeing maturity slip away because young people are never allowed to take the steps, including marriage, to grow up.  They are now dependents until they are in their 30's, which make them ideal candidates to Caesar's 'loving embrace' (such as "Universal ______________ Care," fill in the blank as you like).




I agree as someone who got married at 30.  I really wish I hadn't waited, because I have grown so much in these last four years that I see the previous decade as a bit of a waste in comparison.
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« Reply #59 on: December 30, 2009, 04:28:28 PM »


Lastly, and this is the biggest, is the modern idea that young people in the prime of their sexual drive are compelled to avoid marriage because they are 'too young' or 'too immature.'  I think this is perfect silliness, because I am seeing maturity slip away because young people are never allowed to take the steps, including marriage, to grow up.  They are now dependents until they are in their 30's, which make them ideal candidates to Caesar's 'loving embrace' (such as "Universal ______________ Care," fill in the blank as you like).




I agree as someone who got married at 30.  I really wish I hadn't waited, because I have grown so much in these last four years that I see the previous decade as a bit of a waste in comparison.

And I agree too. "He's too young" or "She's not ready" are just words parents use to justify their children remaining home with pa and ma. I also think that marriage in these cases would be the best way to have people mature, no matter how old you are. I can see around me a generation of young men and women just looking for emotions and not for solid relationships. It is very difficult to relate with these people, and at least in Italy a choice such as mine (full chastity up to marriage) is seen as folly. I have even been said "You should've become a priest" which is absurd. How's that? Is it possible that chastity equals priesthood in those little minds brainwashed by a stupid culture of edonism? It is frustrating, but at least I know I pass this for the sake of the Kingdom of God!

May God rescue this pervert generation...

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #60 on: December 30, 2009, 05:49:02 PM »


Lastly, and this is the biggest, is the modern idea that young people in the prime of their sexual drive are compelled to avoid marriage because they are 'too young' or 'too immature.'  I think this is perfect silliness, because I am seeing maturity slip away because young people are never allowed to take the steps, including marriage, to grow up.  They are now dependents until they are in their 30's, which make them ideal candidates to Caesar's 'loving embrace' (such as "Universal ______________ Care," fill in the blank as you like).




I agree as someone who got married at 30.  I really wish I hadn't waited, because I have grown so much in these last four years that I see the previous decade as a bit of a waste in comparison.

And I agree too. "He's too young" or "She's not ready" are just words parents use to justify their children remaining home with pa and ma. I also think that marriage in these cases would be the best way to have people mature, no matter how old you are. I can see around me a generation of young men and women just looking for emotions and not for solid relationships. It is very difficult to relate with these people, and at least in Italy a choice such as mine (full chastity up to marriage) is seen as folly. I have even been said "You should've become a priest" which is absurd. How's that? Is it possible that chastity equals priesthood in those little minds brainwashed by a stupid culture of edonism? It is frustrating, but at least I know I pass this for the sake of the Kingdom of God!

May God rescue this pervert generation...

In Christ,   Alex

I had lived in Naples for a few years and you are right, there was widespread pre-marital sex. However, it was controlled in a particular way: A couple usually got engaged at a fairly young age (say mid teens) and would not get married until the man was usually in his late twenties, and after he had completed military service, had a steady job, as well as the couple (with their parents' support) owned transportation and a flat, fixtures and  furniture. So sex was permitted while the couple was engaged only. And if the engagement was ever broken, the girl's chances of marriage was seriously diminished (I was told that this happened only rarely).

I do not know if this was a transition period into full hedonism but it made sense to most of them.
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« Reply #61 on: December 30, 2009, 06:29:25 PM »

Dear Second Chance
this is a typical characteristic of Southern Italy, where religion is an "instrumentum regni", to use a Latin expression from Nicolò Machiavelli. Southern Italy is well known in my country for superstition and false morality... in truth, it is a question of pride and honour that presses the families to accelerate the path to marriage for the young couples who, in particular, find themselves to become parents because of pre-marital sex. Anyway, the same situation can't be found in Northern Italy: I live in Bergamo, one hour from Milan by car (as you surely know having lived in Italy for a while). Here, at least, there's no hipocrisy... pre-marital sex is openly tolerated and surely the parents don't press for matrimony. While this shows a lack of religiosity, at least I find it more coherent. Unfortunately, the right position (pre-marital sex being not tolerated) can't be found anywhere in my country that I'm aware of. And surely, this ethical degeneration is increasing year after year, so you possibly saw only the beginnings of the process (which is still in course, anyway).

In Christ,
Alex

PS: the recent scandals from the politicians that govern us are somehow a symptome of this crisis, sigh!
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« Reply #62 on: December 30, 2009, 07:35:23 PM »

Dear Second Chance
this is a typical characteristic of Southern Italy, where religion is an "instrumentum regni", to use a Latin expression from Nicolò Machiavelli. Southern Italy is well known in my country for superstition and false morality... in truth, it is a question of pride and honour that presses the families to accelerate the path to marriage for the young couples who, in particular, find themselves to become parents because of pre-marital sex. Anyway, the same situation can't be found in Northern Italy: I live in Bergamo, one hour from Milan by car (as you surely know having lived in Italy for a while). Here, at least, there's no hipocrisy... pre-marital sex is openly tolerated and surely the parents don't press for matrimony. While this shows a lack of religiosity, at least I find it more coherent. Unfortunately, the right position (pre-marital sex being not tolerated) can't be found anywhere in my country that I'm aware of. And surely, this ethical degeneration is increasing year after year, so you possibly saw only the beginnings of the process (which is still in course, anyway).

In Christ,
Alex

PS: the recent scandals from the politicians that govern us are somehow a symptome of this crisis, sigh!

Somehow I like the outcome in Southern Italy (as it was over 17 years ago): at least pre-marital sex was monogamous on the part of the girl and possibly the boy. Also the relationship between the boys and girls seemed to be much more chivalrous and romantic. When I traveled in the rest of Western Europe, there was less monogamy, chivalry or romance--just crass sex. In any case, I do agree with you that pre-marital sex is wrong. Period. 
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« Reply #63 on: December 30, 2009, 08:48:53 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.

QFT
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« Reply #64 on: December 30, 2009, 09:51:52 PM »

...we are the ones who put the Bible together.

I find it strange that people would say things like that, when the Orthodox theologians still argue over the issue. I mean, "put the Bible together' seems to me to imply that, well, the Bible is put together and complete. It's not. But I guess we shouldn't let things like facts get in the way of a good aplogetical argument, right? Continue on! angel
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« Reply #65 on: December 30, 2009, 10:19:16 PM »

Acts420, don't know if you know St. Boniphatius's life.  Smiley I think it might be of interest to you. I'd say, that the Church is a therapeutic community, the only -proper- one, to be honest. So, if you wish to be empowered to win some kind of passion that haunts you, this is the only way. And the Uncreated Grace, given the circumstances(will), could clear the scars of the past in no time... The "man of the flesh" truly and sincerely becomes "man of the spirit"...

Quote
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).
In Old Testament, we could say that the great men had and could have... "girlfriends"(I'm sorry if is sounds a bit vulgar). Monogamy (within marriage) was not required by the Law which was abolished by Christ...Anyway, some priests seem to overestimate this issue and isolate it. This is why a major theologist of our times, when asked about premarital relations, said "come and see", the same as  Philip said to Nathanael... And I think he was trying to avoid moralism and legalism.
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« Reply #66 on: December 31, 2009, 06:33:30 AM »

Dear Second Chance
this is a typical characteristic of Southern Italy, where religion is an "instrumentum regni", to use a Latin expression from Nicolò Machiavelli. Southern Italy is well known in my country for superstition and false morality... in truth, it is a question of pride and honour that presses the families to accelerate the path to marriage for the young couples who, in particular, find themselves to become parents because of pre-marital sex. Anyway, the same situation can't be found in Northern Italy: I live in Bergamo, one hour from Milan by car (as you surely know having lived in Italy for a while). Here, at least, there's no hipocrisy... pre-marital sex is openly tolerated and surely the parents don't press for matrimony. While this shows a lack of religiosity, at least I find it more coherent. Unfortunately, the right position (pre-marital sex being not tolerated) can't be found anywhere in my country that I'm aware of. And surely, this ethical degeneration is increasing year after year, so you possibly saw only the beginnings of the process (which is still in course, anyway).

In Christ,
Alex

PS: the recent scandals from the politicians that govern us are somehow a symptome of this crisis, sigh!

Somehow I like the outcome in Southern Italy (as it was over 17 years ago): at least pre-marital sex was monogamous on the part of the girl and possibly the boy. Also the relationship between the boys and girls seemed to be much more chivalrous and romantic. When I traveled in the rest of Western Europe, there was less monogamy, chivalry or romance--just crass sex. In any case, I do agree with you that pre-marital sex is wrong. Period. 

Thus the situation has really changed since then! I don't see any more romance in the few Southern Italians I met in my life (including one of my former girlfriends) while I can agree that this existed in the past (there's a lot of well-done movies from the 50s to the 80s relating to the lifestyle in Southern Italy prior to the modern progressive ethical decay!) and romanticism was an important part of it. And it is good to agree that pre-marital sex is wrong and shouldn't be justified in any way.
In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #67 on: December 31, 2009, 12:27:43 PM »

I spent some time in Naples as a young man, and I think the best thing to say about it is that it was a unique and altering experience.  If you have never ridden a Moto Guzzi with three other people on it while zooming through hilly, cobble-stone streets, well... you just have not lived.  It was the extreme sport of the time. Wink

At any rate, the opener on this topic has to do with premarital sex.  Scripturally speaking, there are both OT and NT citations that make this a pretty clearn and consistent teaching...

Exodus 22:16 - If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 - If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.

Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

1 Corinth 6:9 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,...


The teaching is pretty clear that if you mess around before marriage, then you get married.  That's something most kids would recoil in horror from, but it is the Law and the Law is not abolished under Christ but fulfilled.  This is why St. Paul teaches this aspect of the Law.

However, in all fairness to our friend the inquirer, the deeper issue for Orthodox Christianity has to do with sex as being a 'sacramental' part of Marriage, which is an iconic representation of Christ and the Church.  Sex is a holy act, even if it seems driven by animal passions.  The drive for sex is complicated, which can be seen in the weirdness of sex crimes, that have less to do with natural attraction and more to do with unrelated passions and illness.  The same can be true of marriage, but the restrictions of marriage at lleast provide a hope for treatment of the disorders of the soul through a loving and patient spouse rather than a 'dance club hook-up' or 'one night stand.'

Too often, premarital sex is merely masturbation with another person, both of the participants merely using the other's body for stimulation of the self.  There is no love in it.  Then, you have the usual assortment of teenage hormones.  These lead to poor judgment of 'mate material' and all sorts of embarrassment.  Premarital sex as experimentation is simply dumb: two inexperienced partners teach each other nothing  in comparison to what one learns from genuine, long-term intimacy.  It can't be learned without time, and time takes marriage.  Perhaps the 'Author' of the Scriptures knows what He's talking about....





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« Reply #68 on: December 31, 2009, 12:37:48 PM »

I agree as someone who got married at 30.  I really wish I hadn't waited, because I have grown so much in these last four years that I see the previous decade as a bit of a waste in comparison.

I sort of agree with you, but then I also think that maybe waiting isn't such a bad thing (especially with our longer life expectancies nowadays). Who people are when they're newly-minted adults, and who they are when they've been adults for a half dozen years, can be very different. As an example, my wife was about 20 and I was about 23 when we got married, but had we met 5 or 6 years later, we would not have even dated, let alone married.
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« Reply #69 on: December 31, 2009, 03:00:33 PM »

As an example, my wife was about 20 and I was about 23 when we got married, but had we met 5 or 6 years later, we would not have even dated, let alone married.

It's best not to dwell on such minutiae.

 Wink
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« Reply #70 on: December 31, 2009, 03:22:30 PM »

As an example, my wife was about 20 and I was about 23 when we got married, but had we met 5 or 6 years later, we would not have even dated, let alone married.

And yet, here you are with your beautiful children!  Glory to God!
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« Reply #71 on: January 01, 2010, 04:11:16 AM »

It's best not to dwell on such minutiae.

Asteriktos, I pray I did not offend with my quote.  It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but may have been foot-in-mouth instead.  Please forgive me for my impulsiveness. It had more to do with me (i.e., I was probably speaking to myself), seeing things a little differently after all this time. But like Alveus Lacuna said -- I look at what we do have as a result of our union, including our seven kids, and I'm THANKFUL.  Smiley
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« Reply #72 on: January 01, 2010, 04:25:26 AM »

And yet, here you are with your beautiful children!  Glory to God!

Well yes, that is a good point; whatever happens, I'm certainly glad that my children were born.


Asteriktos, I pray I did not offend with my quote.  It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but may have been foot-in-mouth instead.  Please forgive me for my impulsiveness. It had more to do with me (i.e., I was probably speaking to myself), knowing that with the info. I have about myself now, after so many years of marriage, I might not make the same decision regarding my choice of mate. But like Alveus Lacuna said -- I look at what we do have after all this time, including our seven kids, and I'm THANKFUL.  Smiley

Oh no, it didn't offend me at all. Actually, I try to say things tongue-in-cheek on the forum as well, though I realise that the humor probably doesn't come across as light-hearted as I intend it to be. But I was fine with what you said. Interestingly, the original quote was not meant to be taken straightly to begin with. Here's some context for the quote...

Quote
Benjamin Sisko: "Who's watching Tolar?"

Elim Garak: "I've locked him in his quarters. I've also left him with the distinct impression that if he attempts to force the door open, it may explode."

Benjamin Sisko: "I hope that's just an impression."

Elim Garak: "It's best not to dwell on such minutiae."

Btw--7 kids? You must have your hands full Smiley
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« Reply #73 on: February 07, 2010, 09:01:08 AM »

Thank you Alex for your comments.  I would like to respond.

You prove to be extremely proud in affirming that you can understand the Scriptures differently then those who read it as their mother tongue 2000 years ago... read some of the Church Fathers. NONE of them ever interpreted that "fornication" as you do.

You have cited not a single church father to me in order to show me that they disagree with me.   Why should I believe you?  What is more, you seriously misunderstand my beliefs.  I will explain that below.  Please read what I say carefully or else you will be responding to a strawman (an argument I'm not making).  If you want to actually know my beliefs before criticizing them, you will have to read what I have written about both sex and marriage.  Here are the links, but I will try to summarize the articles below as much as possible for you so you don't have to read them.  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/marriage.html

The summary of it is that the Song of Solomon is a story about marriage, and the couple plainly and obviously explores sexuality with one another during courtship (chapter 1).  They don't have sex immediately.  However, they eventually do lie with one another before their wedding ceremony, immediately warning us to wait until the right time for this (2:6 and 2:7, wedding ceremony is end of chapter 3).  Therefore, I believe their unification (their 'one flesh', their 'marriage') occurred in private, before they announced it to the world.  I am not saying that sexual promiscuity is okay.  I am saying what Scripture says:  the process of becoming "one flesh" _is_ the formation of marriage.  

The process of becoming married is a process that runs its course over time, constrained by patience and the conscience, and it includes both personal, emotional, and sexual exploration before the ceremony.  At the right time, with a pure conscience, the couple unites with actual intercourse (laying with one another always indicates intercourse in Scripture).  They celebrate and announce this later with nuptial ceremony and celebration.  That is God's story about marriage, given to us in the Song, and my conscience leads me to believe this Scripture if the Church Fathers don't disagree with me.

Granted I have not read the Fathers as thoroughly as you, most likely, but I have read them some.  That is why I'm asking you to cite them if you think they so strongly disagree with me.  I would be willing to bet that a lot of church fathers understood "marriage" to be the unification of a couple at the right time, with the right intent, for the right purpose, and that they did not judge a couple if the "ceremony" came later.  And the truth is, in many cases we don't have enough of the father's writings to accurately know their exact definition of marriage (that is to say, to know if they thought a ceremony created it or simply celebrated it).  Scripture, the Song, indicates that the ceremony celebrates the union... the ceremony does not actually create it between the couple, it announces it to the world.

Prove me wrong, since you so confidentially call me "proud" for my beliefs.  Cite Fathers that clearly and obviously disagree with me.  If you can't do that, you are asking me to believe you, *your* traditions, and not those of the Orthodox Church.

My impression is that you just want to be a Christian and yet fell justified in your well-acquired behaviours and mindset

Your impression is one of pre-judgment.  I have never told you what my behaviors are, you have merely assumed to know them.  I will tell you now, since you are so obviously prejudicial.  I am not having sexual intercourse with anyone, and I will not have sexual intercourse until I'm with the one I am to marry.  Scripture leads my conscience to that conclusion.  Even though Scripture does not say pre-wedding sex is a sin, sex is only celebrated in Scripture in the development of marriage (Song of Solomon).  On top of that, Scripture does say sexual promiscuity is a sin (Romans 13:13).  All of this leads me to know that sexual intimacy is meant for courtship and, ultimately, sexual intercourse is for marriage.

I just define marriage according to God's story about marriage in Scripture, the Song, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me.  Marriage is the sex at the right time, with the right conscience, with the right commitment, followed later by a celebratory ceremony.  You define marriage according to your traditions.  Well, friend, sometimes traditions are wrong.  Every Orthodox priest acknowledges that fact.  Not all traditions in orthodox churches are the Tradition of the Fathers, right?

As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit, sexual exploration (not necessarily intercourse) is an important part of courtship.  Also, sexual intercourse is to occur when the couple, in the right conscience, with the right intent, decides it should occur.  They marry of their own accord.  Then they celebrate and announce.  I believe this because I believe the Song, God's song to us about marriage formation, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me here.

Thank you for your comments, and thank you all for your help.  God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.

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« Reply #74 on: February 07, 2010, 09:43:32 AM »

Thank you Alex for your comments.  I would like to respond.

You prove to be extremely proud in affirming that you can understand the Scriptures differently then those who read it as their mother tongue 2000 years ago... read some of the Church Fathers. NONE of them ever interpreted that "fornication" as you do.

You have cited not a single church father to me in order to show me that they disagree with me.   Why should I believe you?  What is more, you seriously misunderstand my beliefs.  I will explain that below.  Please read what I say carefully or else you will be responding to a strawman (an argument I'm not making).  If you want to actually know my beliefs before criticizing them, you will have to read what I have written about both sex and marriage.  Here are the links, but I will try to summarize the articles below as much as possible for you so you don't have to read them.  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/marriage.html

The summary of it is that the Song of Solomon is a story about marriage, and the couple plainly and obviously explores sexuality with one another during courtship.  They don't have sex immediately.  However, they eventually do lie with one another before their wedding ceremony, immediately warning us to wait until the right time for this (2:6 and 2:7).  Therefore, I believe their unification (their 'one flesh', their 'marriage') occurred in private, before they announced it to the world.  I am not saying that sexual promiscuity is okay.  I am saying what Scripture says:  the process of becoming "one flesh" _is_ the formation of marriage.  The process of becoming married is a process that runs its course over time, constrained by patience and the conscience, and it includes both personal, emotional, and sexual exploration before the ceremony.  That is God's story about marriage, given to us in the Song.  I have to believe what I read in Scripture if the church fathers don't disagree with me here.

It is odd that you depend on the Old Testament.  Read Ezekiel 23.  And Deuteronomy 22:13-20, 23-9.

Quote
Granted I have not read them as thoroughly as you, most likely, but I have read them some.  That is why I'm asking you to cite them if you think they so strongly disagree with me.  I would be willing to bet that a lot of church fathers understood "marriage" to be the unification of a couple at the right time, with the right intent, for the right purpose, and that they did not judge a couple if the "ceremony" came later.  And the truth is, in many cases we don't have enough of the father's writings to accurately know their exact definition of marriage (that is to say, to know if they thought a ceremony created it or simply celebrated it).  Scripture, the Song, indicates that the ceremony celebrates the union... the ceremony does not actually create it between the couple, it announces it to the world.


Marriage is a Holy Mystery, and is referred as such in Scripture. The imaginery is one of fidelity, not "shopping around" and "exploring."  Besides the Mediterrenean man's mentality on virginity precluding any need for dwelliing on this subject, the Fathers talk a lot on marriage and the ceremony: it is explicit that the blessing makes the union, not just celebrate it.  This has been a point of contention between us and the Vatican: unlike the Vatican we do not hold that the couple "marry themselves," nor is consumation required to effect Holy Mystery.

Quote
Prove me wrong, since you so confidentially call me "proud" for my beliefs.  Cite Fathers that clearly and obviously disagree with me.  If you can't do that, you are asking me to believe you, *your* traditions, and not those of the Orthodox Church.

If and when I have time.

Quote
My impression is that you just want to be a Christian and yet fell justified in your well-acquired behaviours and mindset

Your impression is one of pre-judgment.  I have never told you what my behaviors are, you have merely assumed to know them.  I will tell you now, since you are so obviously prejudicial.  I am not having sexual intercourse with anyone, and I will not have sexual intercourse until I'm with the one I am to marry.  Scripture leads my conscience to that conclusion.  Even though Scripture does not say pre-wedding sex is a sin, sex is only celebrated in Scripture in the development of marriage (Song of Solomon).  On top of that, Scripture does say sexual promiscuity is a sin (Romans 13:13).  All of this leads me to know that sexual intimacy is meant for courtship and, ultimately, sexual intercourse is for marriage.

I just define marriage according to God's story about marriage in Scripture, the Song, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me.  Marriage is the sex at the right time, with the right conscience, with the right commitment, followed later by a celebratory ceremony.  You define marriage according to your traditions.  Well, friend, sometimes traditions are wrong.  Every Orthodox priest acknowledges that fact.  Not all traditions in orthodox churches are the Tradition of the Fathers, right?

Someone needs to read Corinthians.

Quote
As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit, sexual exploration (not necessarily intercourse) is an important part of courtship.  Also, sexual intercourse is to occur when the couple, in the right conscience, with the right intent, decides it should occur.  They marry of their own accord.  Then they celebrate and announce.  I believe this because I believe the Song, God's song to us about marriage formation, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me here.

Thank you for your comments, and thank you all for your help.  God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.

Jason Davis
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« Reply #75 on: February 07, 2010, 05:32:37 PM »

You find it "odd" that I rely on the Song to understand marriage!?  Odd that I seek guidance from that beautiful and holy story, God's own story written down for our guidance, the only book entirely about marriage and sexual intimacy in the entirety of God's Holy Scripture!?  "Odd?!" 

I will rely on Scripture until the day I die.  Unless the Father's plainly and clearly disagree with my understanding of Scripture in these regards, my conscience will condemn me if I follow you instead of what the Spirit has revealed to me in Scripture. 

Thank you for asking me to read Ezekial 23.  I read it.  It is seems overwhelmingly obvious to me that it is about sexual promiscuity and prostitution, both of which we agree are sinful.  Ezekial 23 does not seem to be at all about marriage formation in any sense, as far as I can tell from the context.  The sexual exploration involved in the courtship recorded in the Song's story is exclusive and with the intent to form a marriage.  So I fail to see your point re Ez. 23, and I think a comparison between the two is like comparing night to day. I also fail to see your point in the other verses, all of which I read.

I appreciate you not having time to cite Fathers that disagree with the understanding I have expressed, the concept of marriage formation I see expressed in the Song.  We are all limited in time, and as for you, you have already shared a lot of information with me that I did not know (especially about the Vatican/Orthodox disagreements in these regards).  I'm thankful for your help.  Thank you for sharing and informing me.  I know you wish the best for me, and so I thank you.

That being said, unless it can be shown I am in disagreement with the teachings of the historical orthodox church (and not just modern traditions, common or uncommon), I have to follow the process of marriage formation that the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Song and in my heart and mind.  "Odd" or not, my marriage will be my responsibility, God willing, and so may God help it to be the picture of Christ and the Church, formed only in the way God intends, so that He might use it to show himself to me, my children, and to my church.

"Wisdom Arise!" and raise us up.  God save us, and guide us by Your right hand.

love, joy, peace,
Jason



Thank you Alex for your comments.  I would like to respond.

You prove to be extremely proud in affirming that you can understand the Scriptures differently then those who read it as their mother tongue 2000 years ago... read some of the Church Fathers. NONE of them ever interpreted that "fornication" as you do.

You have cited not a single church father to me in order to show me that they disagree with me.   Why should I believe you?  What is more, you seriously misunderstand my beliefs.  I will explain that below.  Please read what I say carefully or else you will be responding to a strawman (an argument I'm not making).  If you want to actually know my beliefs before criticizing them, you will have to read what I have written about both sex and marriage.  Here are the links, but I will try to summarize the articles below as much as possible for you so you don't have to read them.  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/sex.html  http://www.unc.edu/home/jasondm/marriage.html

The summary of it is that the Song of Solomon is a story about marriage, and the couple plainly and obviously explores sexuality with one another during courtship.  They don't have sex immediately.  However, they eventually do lie with one another before their wedding ceremony, immediately warning us to wait until the right time for this (2:6 and 2:7).  Therefore, I believe their unification (their 'one flesh', their 'marriage') occurred in private, before they announced it to the world.  I am not saying that sexual promiscuity is okay.  I am saying what Scripture says:  the process of becoming "one flesh" _is_ the formation of marriage.  The process of becoming married is a process that runs its course over time, constrained by patience and the conscience, and it includes both personal, emotional, and sexual exploration before the ceremony.  That is God's story about marriage, given to us in the Song.  I have to believe what I read in Scripture if the church fathers don't disagree with me here.

It is odd that you depend on the Old Testament.  Read Ezekiel 23.  And Deuteronomy 22:13-20, 23-9.

Quote
Granted I have not read them as thoroughly as you, most likely, but I have read them some.  That is why I'm asking you to cite them if you think they so strongly disagree with me.  I would be willing to bet that a lot of church fathers understood "marriage" to be the unification of a couple at the right time, with the right intent, for the right purpose, and that they did not judge a couple if the "ceremony" came later.  And the truth is, in many cases we don't have enough of the father's writings to accurately know their exact definition of marriage (that is to say, to know if they thought a ceremony created it or simply celebrated it).  Scripture, the Song, indicates that the ceremony celebrates the union... the ceremony does not actually create it between the couple, it announces it to the world.


Marriage is a Holy Mystery, and is referred as such in Scripture. The imaginery is one of fidelity, not "shopping around" and "exploring."  Besides the Mediterrenean man's mentality on virginity precluding any need for dwelliing on this subject, the Fathers talk a lot on marriage and the ceremony: it is explicit that the blessing makes the union, not just celebrate it.  This has been a point of contention between us and the Vatican: unlike the Vatican we do not hold that the couple "marry themselves," nor is consumation required to effect Holy Mystery.

Quote
Prove me wrong, since you so confidentially call me "proud" for my beliefs.  Cite Fathers that clearly and obviously disagree with me.  If you can't do that, you are asking me to believe you, *your* traditions, and not those of the Orthodox Church.

If and when I have time.

Quote
My impression is that you just want to be a Christian and yet fell justified in your well-acquired behaviours and mindset

Your impression is one of pre-judgment.  I have never told you what my behaviors are, you have merely assumed to know them.  I will tell you now, since you are so obviously prejudicial.  I am not having sexual intercourse with anyone, and I will not have sexual intercourse until I'm with the one I am to marry.  Scripture leads my conscience to that conclusion.  Even though Scripture does not say pre-wedding sex is a sin, sex is only celebrated in Scripture in the development of marriage (Song of Solomon).  On top of that, Scripture does say sexual promiscuity is a sin (Romans 13:13).  All of this leads me to know that sexual intimacy is meant for courtship and, ultimately, sexual intercourse is for marriage.

I just define marriage according to God's story about marriage in Scripture, the Song, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me.  Marriage is the sex at the right time, with the right conscience, with the right commitment, followed later by a celebratory ceremony.  You define marriage according to your traditions.  Well, friend, sometimes traditions are wrong.  Every Orthodox priest acknowledges that fact.  Not all traditions in orthodox churches are the Tradition of the Fathers, right?

Someone needs to read Corinthians.

Quote
As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit, sexual exploration (not necessarily intercourse) is an important part of courtship.  Also, sexual intercourse is to occur when the couple, in the right conscience, with the right intent, decides it should occur.  They marry of their own accord.  Then they celebrate and announce.  I believe this because I believe the Song, God's song to us about marriage formation, and no one has shown me that the Fathers disagree with me here.

Thank you for your comments, and thank you all for your help.  God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.

Jason Davis
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« Reply #76 on: February 07, 2010, 05:47:12 PM »

As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit,...

Well, now there's the problem for any Orthodox Christian.

Arguing according to one's conscience is kind of like making decisions using a coin (i.e. it has a probability of answering correctly when consulted on a two-way proposition, but only by a factor of half).  You really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority.  It does not work either in science, for which we have the very helpful differentiation between a 'hypothesis,' a 'theory' and a 'law.'

Our intellects are never to be trusted in that they often lead us to sin, since we often 'understand' our ideas to be 'good' even when they turn out to be sinful.

It sounds like Jason has really made up his mind, so I'm not really going to argue with his conclusions because he has designed his methodology in such a way that it is virtually inpenetrable even by fact.

There is also the sticky problem of proving that the Holy Spirit is indeed leading or if it is another kind of spirit or even no spirit at all and purely imagination.

So, if you want someone to prove what his beliefs, are you able prove that you are indeed speaking directly with the Holy Spirit? 


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« Reply #77 on: February 07, 2010, 06:10:22 PM »

You find it "odd" that I rely on the Song to understand marriage!?  Odd that I seek guidance from that beautiful and holy story, God's own story written down for our guidance, the only book entirely about marriage and sexual intimacy in the entirety of God's Holy Scripture!?  "Odd?!"

Anything without reference to the NT is odd when trying to prove dogma.

Quote
I will rely on Scripture until the day I die.  Unless the Father's plainly and clearly disagree with my understanding of Scripture in these regards, my conscience will condemn me if I follow you instead of what the Spirit has revealed to me in Scripture. 


That's why we depend on what the Spirit has revealed to the Church (look at the end of the Epistle of St. Peter on that, in particular the "twist to their destruction" part).

There are other spirits who reveal things in scripture.
LOL. Sure God's the one "helping" your exegesis?

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Bible Study in progress.

Quote
Thank you for asking me to read Ezekial 23.  I read it.  It is seems overwhelmingly obvious to me that it is about sexual promiscuity and prostitution, both of which we agree are sinful.  Ezekial 23 does not seem to be at all about marriage formation in any sense, as far as I can tell from the context.
 
Then your reasoning is clouded.  His story clearly shows that the infidelity flowed from the fornication.

Quote
The sexual exploration involved in the courtship recorded in the Song's story is exclusive and with the intent to form a marriage.  So I fail to see your point re Ez. 23, and I think a comparison between the two is like comparing night to day. I also fail to see your point in the other verses, all of which I read.

Ah, intent. We all know where good intentions can lead....

Amnon had good intentions too, so in love with Tamar...or so he thought....didn't end up that way.

I appreciate you not having time to cite Fathers that disagree with the understanding I have expressed, the concept of marriage formation I see expressed in the Song.  We are all limited in time, and as for you, you have already shared a lot of information with me that I did not know (especially about the Vatican/Orthodox disagreements in these regards).  I'm thankful for your help.  Thank you for sharing and informing me.  I know you wish the best for me, and so I thank you.

That being said, unless it can be shown I am in disagreement with the teachings of the historical orthodox church (and not just modern traditions, common or uncommon), I have to follow the process of marriage formation that the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Song and in my heart and mind.  "Odd" or not, my marriage will be my responsibility, God willing, and so may God help it to be the picture of Christ and the Church, formed only in the way God intends, so that He might use it to show himself to me, my children, and to my church.

"Wisdom Arise!" and raise us up.  God save us, and guide us by Your right hand.

love, joy, peace,
Jason[/quote]

If Fr. Girgis doesn't beat me to it, I'll post not only the Fathers but personal experience on the matter....



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« Reply #78 on: February 07, 2010, 06:11:01 PM »

As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit,...

Well, now there's the problem for any Orthodox Christian.

Arguing according to one's conscience is kind of like making decisions using a coin (i.e. it has a probability of answering correctly when consulted on a two-way proposition, but only by a factor of half).  You really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority.  It does not work either in science, for which we have the very helpful differentiation between a 'hypothesis,' a 'theory' and a 'law.'

Our intellects are never to be trusted in that they often lead us to sin, since we often 'understand' our ideas to be 'good' even when they turn out to be sinful.

It sounds like Jason has really made up his mind, so I'm not really going to argue with his conclusions because he has designed his methodology in such a way that it is virtually inpenetrable even by fact.

There is also the sticky problem of proving that the Holy Spirit is indeed leading or if it is another kind of spirit or even no spirit at all and purely imagination.

So, if you want someone to prove what his beliefs, are you able prove that you are indeed speaking directly with the Holy Spirit? 




Isn't there something against blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?
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« Reply #79 on: February 07, 2010, 06:17:42 PM »

I agree with you as to, "you really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority."  That is why I am relying on Scripture much, much more than just my own conscience, and that is also why I am seeking for guidance from the Holy Fathers and spiritual leaders I respect.  If I disagree with you, please don't take that to mean I disrespect you. 

You say I have "designed" my methodology, but it seems to me that many orthodox Christians, if not all of them, also consult Scripture, the Fathers, their spiritual father, traditions, and, finally, their own consciences as they seek to live the Truth.  The fact that this methodology has lead me to a different conclusion than it has lead you to does not mean I have "designed" the methodology, does it?

As I understand Scripture, and as I am lead in my conscience by the Spirit,...

Well, now there's the problem for any Orthodox Christian.

Arguing according to one's conscience is kind of like making decisions using a coin (i.e. it has a probability of answering correctly when consulted on a two-way proposition, but only by a factor of half).  You really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority.  It does not work either in science, for which we have the very helpful differentiation between a 'hypothesis,' a 'theory' and a 'law.'

Our intellects are never to be trusted in that they often lead us to sin, since we often 'understand' our ideas to be 'good' even when they turn out to be sinful.

It sounds like Jason has really made up his mind, so I'm not really going to argue with his conclusions because he has designed his methodology in such a way that it is virtually inpenetrable even by fact.

There is also the sticky problem of proving that the Holy Spirit is indeed leading or if it is another kind of spirit or even no spirit at all and purely imagination.

So, if you want someone to prove what his beliefs, are you able prove that you are indeed speaking directly with the Holy Spirit? 



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« Reply #80 on: February 07, 2010, 06:25:12 PM »

My former church was very strict in its rules for dating couples. It was strongly encouraged not to engage in any physical contact before the marriage-which I see as a very good form of discipline and obedience. Interestingly, I often noticed that it was those couples who did not obey the guidelines of the church and who were being physical before they had the right to do so whose marriages often ended up in failure. I saw this happen time and time again.
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« Reply #81 on: February 07, 2010, 06:32:14 PM »

That's why we depend on what the Spirit has revealed to the Church (look at the end of the Epistle of St. Peter on that, in particular the "twist to their destruction" part).

There are other spirits who reveal things in scripture.

Yes, I agree.  That is why I have consulted the Fathers (in the short time I have been a student of orthodox Christianity) to help me dismiss or confirm what has been revealed to me in Scripture.  

Ez. 23 is about sexual sin, and the sins it lists are prostitution and sexual promiscuity.  Song of Solomon is about sexual, emotional, and personal intimacy, and the sexual activities it lists (kissing, then, with time and patience, progressively more intimacy) occur in the context of exclusive marital courtship.  I can't find anywhere in the Fathers or in the rest of Scripture that calls that process of marriage formation a sin, and it seems to be the process God has given to us in Holy Scripture.

Concerning these "other spirits" that reveal things in Scripture, it seems to me that 1 Timothy 4 clearly warns us about one of the things they will try to do to harm the church.  The Apostle told us that those spirits will convince many who are in the faith to believe falsehood and then forbid things that God created and has blessed as good, if received in the right way.  And he specifically warns us that such restrictions will hinder the formation of marriage.  

If the process of marriage formation God has given to us is the process outlined in His story about marriage (the process of progressively more sexual intimacy in the context of exclusive personal and emotional exploration, constrained by time and the conscience, and with the goal of marital courtship) is truly how marriage is formed, then I can't think of much that would hinder or wreak havoc on marriage more efficiently than forbidding that process and calling it "sin."  

love, joy, peace,
Jason
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« Reply #82 on: February 07, 2010, 07:19:31 PM »

I agree with you as to, "you really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority."  That is why I am relying on Scripture much, much more than just my own conscience, and that is also why I am seeking for guidance from the Holy Fathers and spiritual leaders I respect.  If I disagree with you, please don't take that to mean I disrespect you. 

You say I have "designed" my methodology, but it seems to me that many orthodox Christians, if not all of them, also consult Scripture, the Fathers, their spiritual father, traditions, and, finally, their own consciences as they seek to live the Truth.  The fact that this methodology has lead me to a different conclusion than it has lead you to does not mean I have "designed" the methodology, does it?

The problem is not that you use the Scriptures, but rather how it is you decide how to use them.  That's the problem of your methodology.  Your methodology still originates with you and your conscience (i.e. your opinions), which you believe are Divinely inspired.

No one can argue above God Himself.  Therefore, if you say, 'This I heard from God,' then who am I, who is less than God, to argue with you?  You have sealed the door to any change.  Therefore, it isn't worth my time to discusss the matter with you, because you believe you have heard from a Higher Authority than anyone on this list.

In this context, there is no reason to discuss the reason, because of how you have constructed your criteria for truth.  It isn't a matter of respect or no respect, but purely a matter of practicality.

There is a further problem that, if you have been Divinely led in one direction, and all the rest have strayed, then we must wonder at why God has allowed so many to fall away into error.

Now, there is something to keep in mind, and that is that Orthodox Christianity has few dogmas, which are all summarized in the Seven Ecumenical Councils.  Beyond that, we have general consensus and also areas that are still debated.  Sexual activity is generally confined to disciplinary canons once we understand the consensus of the Church.

You ask for the Fathers, and I will tell you that I have read only a tiny selection of the Fathers, those which have been selectively translated into English and are commonly available.  The actual collection of recognized Patristic sources fills multiple library book cases and has been largely untranslated.  That's just the Greek version.  I'm sure the Russians have more.  Therefore, folks like me turn to the disciplinary canons.

Canonically speaking, sanctions are meted out for specific acts such as fornication, masturbation, etc.   If you require me to fetch my Pedalion, then it will take a week or so to answer because citations take time and I have little these days.

In the canons, we have a picture that does not describe how to date or court, but it does tell you how to penance the results when all goes wrong (such as the above).  This is the essential problem: how do I, as a pastor, help people manage their God-given sexual urges so as not to send them off the path to Heaven?

I cannot, in good conscience (to use your methodology), advise a young couple that 'making-out' is OK when I know that it poses substantial risk of going too far.  Am I to tell them the mechanics of how to 'make-out like a Christian'?  Sorry, this isn't Islam or Judaism.  I can't give them a fatwa, but I can tell them to avoid as much as possible anything that will lead them beyond their own strength.  After all, if I 'bless' them to make out all they want and one time it leads to fornication, how have I helped?  Instead, I did not warn them of the power of human sexuality, and so I share in their downfall.

However, I have something greater than my own conscience to guide me.  I have obedience.  My bishop would never allow me to offer such advice to anyone, and so I could not say such a thing even if I wanted to.

By the way, do you know much about Greek culture?  The reason I ask is that 'marital formation' of the type you describe (i.e. unsupervised dating with any degree of intimacy) is really modern.  In fact, when I lived in Greece, I was warned that all dating was supervised and three dates constituted formal engagement, which was only broken by death (literally... shotguns and all).  I don't imagine the Fathers warned couples about kissing, since it would be assumed that if they were even allowed to be together in such a circumstance that marriage was already a bygone conclusion.

So, to a certain extent, I think if we are looking to Patristics sources for advice on modern dating and 'marital formation,' we need to approach the topic much as we would look to the Fathers for advice on, let's say, internet porn.  We need to learn about ourselves and our traditional problems and how they can best be dealt with.

Anyway, I'm not going to argue with you one way or the other because you have asserted that you have what you have from God and that is simply not something that opens to dialog.

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« Reply #83 on: February 07, 2010, 07:37:55 PM »

That's why we depend on what the Spirit has revealed to the Church (look at the end of the Epistle of St. Peter on that, in particular the "twist to their destruction" part).

There are other spirits who reveal things in scripture.

Yes, I agree.  That is why I have consulted the Fathers (in the short time I have been a student of orthodox Christianity) to help me dismiss or confirm what has been revealed to me in Scripture.  

Ez. 23 is about sexual sin, and the sins it lists are prostitution and sexual promiscuity.  Song of Solomon is about sexual, emotional, and personal intimacy, and the sexual activities it lists (kissing, then, with time and patience, progressively more intimacy) occur in the context of exclusive marital courtship.  I can't find anywhere in the Fathers or in the rest of Scripture that calls that process of marriage formation a sin, and it seems to be the process God has given to us in Holy Scripture.
Indeed. But that happens after the priest's (i.e. God and the Church's) blessing.

Quote
Concerning these "other spirits" that reveal things in Scripture, it seems to me that 1 Timothy 4 clearly warns us about one of the things they will try to do to harm the church.  The Apostle told us that those spirits will convince many who are in the faith to believe falsehood and then forbid things that God created and has blessed as good, if received in the right way.  And he specifically warns us that such restrictions will hinder the formation of marriage. 


Read the Gospel: fornication isn't marriage.

Quote
If the process of marriage formation God has given to us is the process outlined in His story about marriage (the process of progressively more sexual intimacy in the context of exclusive personal and emotional exploration, constrained by time and the conscience, and with the goal of marital courtship) is truly how marriage is formed, then I can't think of much that would hinder or wreak havoc on marriage more efficiently than forbidding that process and calling it "sin."  
I can: Calling fornication marriage.

Btw, this is an issue here in IL law, because IL law doesn't recognize common law marriage, and open and notorious fornication (and adultery) are illegal (at least on paper).
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« Reply #84 on: February 07, 2010, 07:40:21 PM »

May God richly bless you.  You said,
You have sealed the door to any change.  Therefore, it isn't worth my time to discusss the matter with you, because you believe you have heard from a Higher Authority than anyone on this list.

I have sealed no door at all.  I have stated my beliefs and the reasons behind them, and I have said I am open to hearing your opinion for guidance.  Most of all, I have asked for help finding guidance from the Fathers of the orthodox church.

I cannot, in good conscience (to use your methodology), advise a young couple that 'making-out' is OK when I know that it poses substantial risk of going too far.


It is now your methodology too, apparently.

Am I to tell them the mechanics of how to 'make-out like a Christian'?

Tell them God's story about marriage.  The only "rule" it has about the proper progression of more and more intimacy is to be patient and abide by the conscience, "not awakening love until it so desires."  Sometimes, as much as we want to make up rules to tell our children, it is best if we simply give them the wisdom of God to make the right choice.  For instance, if I told my children "driving over 45 mph is a sin", that could actually harm him if it were raining or children were in the road (and he drove 45mph instead of 25mph) or if he were rushing to the hospital for an emergency (and he drove 45mph instead of 60mph).  The conscience of the couple is a driving force in the Song for a reason.

I have obedience.  My bishop would never allow me to offer such advice to anyone, and so I could not say such a thing even if I wanted to.

Well, from what I can tell there are priests who would say that making out in courtship is fine.  So you have your obedience, I will have mine.

to a certain extent, I think if we are looking to Patristics sources for advice on modern dating and 'marital formation,' we need to approach the topic much as we would look to the Fathers for advice on, let's say, internet porn.

Agreed.  Although there was no internet, the princples regarding sexual promiscuity and prostitution still apply.  I also think the principles of exclusive courtship, with the goal being marriage formation, with the disciplines of self-control, patience, and proper timing apply.  In other words, the conscience-driven progressive emotional *and* sexual exploration process in the Song of marriage formation still applies to the Church today.  You it does not apply, yet you have not shown me any historical Church authorities that agree with you.

I'm not going to argue with you one way or the other because you have asserted that you have what you have from God and that is simply not something that opens to dialog.

I have asserted no such thng.  Rather, I have opened myself up to dialog and to correction, especially correction from historical Church authorities that I am seeking to learn more about and follow.

God bless you.

love, joy, peace,
Jason
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« Reply #85 on: February 07, 2010, 07:44:56 PM »

May God bless you,

Fornication isn't marriage, I agree.  Where we disagree is that you seem to be calling the process in the Song of Solomon "fornication."  I don't believe that is fornication, and you have not shown me any historical church authorities that claim it is.

And if the process of marriage formation given to us in Holy Scripture is illegal in your State, I would advise you to follow God's Word if it ever comes into conflict with State law.  Marriage is an extremely important picture to the world of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32), and we should form it in the way God has described even if ungodly laws try to forbid such marriage.

God bless you.

love, joy, peace,
Jason

That's why we depend on what the Spirit has revealed to the Church (look at the end of the Epistle of St. Peter on that, in particular the "twist to their destruction" part).

There are other spirits who reveal things in scripture.

Yes, I agree.  That is why I have consulted the Fathers (in the short time I have been a student of orthodox Christianity) to help me dismiss or confirm what has been revealed to me in Scripture.  

Ez. 23 is about sexual sin, and the sins it lists are prostitution and sexual promiscuity.  Song of Solomon is about sexual, emotional, and personal intimacy, and the sexual activities it lists (kissing, then, with time and patience, progressively more intimacy) occur in the context of exclusive marital courtship.  I can't find anywhere in the Fathers or in the rest of Scripture that calls that process of marriage formation a sin, and it seems to be the process God has given to us in Holy Scripture.
Indeed. But that happens after the priest's (i.e. God and the Church's) blessing.

Quote
Concerning these "other spirits" that reveal things in Scripture, it seems to me that 1 Timothy 4 clearly warns us about one of the things they will try to do to harm the church.  The Apostle told us that those spirits will convince many who are in the faith to believe falsehood and then forbid things that God created and has blessed as good, if received in the right way.  And he specifically warns us that such restrictions will hinder the formation of marriage. 


Read the Gospel: fornication isn't marriage.

Quote
If the process of marriage formation God has given to us is the process outlined in His story about marriage (the process of progressively more sexual intimacy in the context of exclusive personal and emotional exploration, constrained by time and the conscience, and with the goal of marital courtship) is truly how marriage is formed, then I can't think of much that would hinder or wreak havoc on marriage more efficiently than forbidding that process and calling it "sin."  
I can: Calling fornication marriage.

Btw, this is an issue here in IL law, because IL law doesn't recognize common law marriage, and open and notorious fornication (and adultery) are illegal (at least on paper).

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« Reply #86 on: February 07, 2010, 07:55:36 PM »

Hey Acts420,

I am similar to you in that I have a viewpoint on various pastoral and 'ethical' matters which are not particularly common throughout Orthodoxy. For example, I don't believe that sex before marriage is necessarily a sin, and I don't think homosexuality is a sin (in fact I think homosexuals should be allowed to pursue their love sacramentally, through marriage). I'm also a Universalist. Such views are shared by some in Orthodoxy, and have been throughout history, but not by the majority. However, Orthodoxy is well-known for being united in a common core apostolic faith, which is outlined in the creed and the ecumenical councils, but aside from those matters of doctrine being a bit of a free-for-all. For example, Orthodoxy contains both creationists and evolutionists, people who are for the ordination of women and those who are against, those who support monarchy and those who support democracy, people who support gay marriage and those who do not, etc. We have unity in diversity.
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« Reply #87 on: February 07, 2010, 08:01:06 PM »

You it does not apply, yet you have not shown me any historical Church authorities that agree with you.

...Rather, I have opened myself up to dialog and to correction, especially correction from historical Church authorities that I am seeking to learn more about and follow.


Wait!  Now you have confused me.  You just said the Holy Spirit has led you to your conclusions regarding what the Scriptures say, but this is not sufficient?

What do you care what we think if you think God Himself has led you to the conclusions you have?  What use are more Patristic quotes?  How can anyone correct you if you think what you already have comes from God?

See my point?

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« Reply #88 on: February 07, 2010, 08:27:34 PM »

May God bless you,

Fornication isn't marriage, I agree.  Where we disagree is that you seem to be calling the process in the Song of Solomon "fornication."  I don't believe that is fornication, and you have not shown me any historical church authorities that claim it is.

I don't have to: I've lived in the Middle East and almost got married there. I have no confusion about what "marirage formation" is in the Near East (where the Song was written, and where such songs are still traditional), and to know that it doesn't include fornication.


Quote
And if the process of marriage formation given to us in Holy Scripture is illegal in your State, I would advise you to follow God's Word if it ever comes into conflict with State law. 

Happily, in this instance and at least on paper, IL law is perfectly in harmony with Holy Scripture.  Now if we can just get that statutory ban on gay marriage into the constitution...


Quote
Marriage is an extremely important picture to the world of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32), and we should form it in the way God has described even if ungodly laws try to forbid such marriage.

Built on fornication?  The catechumens don't get communion until they are baptized/chrismated.  The bridegroom doesn't get....until.....

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« Reply #89 on: February 07, 2010, 08:37:55 PM »

I said it seems that the Spirit has led me, through Scripture, to what I believe.  I have also said I am open to correction.  We all make mistakes, don't we Father?  James 3.  I am admitting I could be mistaking something else for the guidance of the Spirit.  However, as it stands, I believe I am in the right here.


Wait!  Now you have confused me.  You just said the Holy Spirit has led you to your conclusions regarding what the Scriptures say, but this is not sufficient?

What do you care what we think if you think God Himself has led you to the conclusions you have?  What use are more Patristic quotes?  How can anyone correct you if you think what you already have comes from God?

See my point?


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« Reply #90 on: February 07, 2010, 08:39:49 PM »

Hey Acts420,

I am similar to you in that I have a viewpoint on various pastoral and 'ethical' matters which are not particularly common throughout Orthodoxy. For example, I don't believe that sex before marriage is necessarily a sin, and I don't think homosexuality is a sin (in fact I think homosexuals should be allowed to pursue their love sacramentally, through marriage). I'm also a Universalist. Such views are shared by some in Orthodoxy, and have been throughout history, but not by the majority. However, Orthodoxy is well-known for being united in a common core apostolic faith, which is outlined in the creed and the ecumenical councils, but aside from those matters of doctrine being a bit of a free-for-all. For example, Orthodoxy contains both creationists and evolutionists, people who are for the ordination of women and those who are against, those who support monarchy and those who support democracy, people who support gay marriage and those who do not, etc. We have unity in diversity.

Thank you so much Feanor.  I really needed to hear that.  I suspected that to be the case, but I was not sure yet.  God bless you.  Thank you for sharing this with me.

love, joy, peace,
jason
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« Reply #91 on: February 07, 2010, 09:08:34 PM »

I said it seems that the Spirit has led me, through Scripture, to what I believe.  I have also said I am open to correction.  We all make mistakes, don't we Father?  James 3.  I am admitting I could be mistaking something else for the guidance of the Spirit.  However, as it stands, I believe I am in the right here.

Yes, we all make mistakes, but I think it is very, very, very bad to say in one breath that you believe you are communicating with God, then say that you might not be!

If you are going to invoke the name of God, you had better be darned serious about it!  There is something in the Scriptures about not taking the Lord's Name in vain.  It's called a Commandment.

You cannot say that God is guiding you unless you can prove it.  Otherwise, you are taking His Name and His Spirit as a trifle.

Frankly, as sinful as I am, I would be too scared to say such a thing as you have said!  And to say it repeatedly is even more frightening.

Look you can believe you are brilliant, spectacularly so, but that's much different from stating that you believe you are directly communicating with God.  This is so serious that the Old Testament says:

Quote
Deuteronomy 18:20 - But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

You have presumed to come forward and speak as a prophet, since you are holding forth a teaching that you say comes from the Holy Spirit.

Are you a prophet?  Has God sent you here in invoke His Name?

When you come and say you have a teaching from the Lord, and you teach as from the Lord, then you are speaking as a prophet.  However, a prophet must be sent (see above).  Have you been sent?

I know you feel strongly about what you believe, but don't confuse your strong feelings with God.

This is serious business, my friend.  You are proposing to speak for God, and I would like to see your credentials, if not for your sake than for my own.


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« Reply #92 on: February 07, 2010, 09:32:06 PM »

According to Old Testament law, if two non-married persons were discovered to have had sex, they had to be married immediately. The idea of sexual "courtship" prior to marriage was not countenanced.

Part of Orthodoxy is sacrificing one's pride and putting aside convictions that seem very reasonable to us but which are contrary to the teachings of the Church. We need to lay down our brilliant ideas and "insights" and humble ourselves. We separate ourselves from the Church by defying her teachings. Believing oneself to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, even before being joined to the Church or familiarizing oneself with the teachings of the Holy Fathers, is an extremely perilous attitude.

The notion that the Church is a "free-for-all" outside of the Creed and the Ecumenical Councils (as Feanor erroneously says)  is simply an extension of Protestant sola scriptura to include some extra texts. Many standard beliefs and practices of the Church are not explicitly addressed in these sources. There are some issues about which there is diversity of opinion among the Fathers; premarital sex and homosexuality are not among them.

I welcome you into the Church, Jason, but one does not come to the Church with a set of pre-conceived doctrines and say, "Let's see how the Church matches up with my beliefs." Rather, you should try to conform yourself to the mind of the Church which was founded by Christ. If you don't believe we are that Church, if you believe that some special revelation has been given to you that surpasses the truth of Orthodoxy, then there are many Protestant sects that will indulge such notions. Just remember that it is not the Holy Spirit that indulges our pride, but some other kind of spirit. 
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« Reply #93 on: February 07, 2010, 10:55:27 PM »

ALL of the fathers also believed in young-earth creationism, too. I can say with certainty that none of the early church fathers ever believed that humans had formed over millions of years of evolution from simpler organisms in an extensive evolutionary chain extending as far back as the first single-cell organisms swimming around the primordial ocean. None of them. However, we now know they were wrong, and the majority of educated bishops (and priests and monastics) believe in evolution. Doctrine can, and does, change as we learn more about the world, science and the human condition.
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« Reply #94 on: February 07, 2010, 11:15:30 PM »

ALL of the fathers also believed in young-earth creationism, too. I can say with certainty that none of the early church fathers ever believed that humans had formed over millions of years of evolution from simpler organisms in an extensive evolutionary chain extending as far back as the first single-cell organisms swimming around the primordial ocean. None of them.

Well, your wrong there. Origen had some interesting ideas, St. Augustine had some accommodation with the natural philosophers, and St. Basil explored the possibilties of interpretation of Genesis.  Btw the seminal principles of SS Hilary, Gregory Nazianzus and Augustine have been compared to evolution, if that's an issue for you.

The idea that "science" is something new that the Church didn't confront/accommodate/take into account.... until the 19th century is an image born of ignorance.

Quote
However, we now know they were wrong,

Actually, no, we don't.

Quote
and the majority of educated bishops (and priests and monastics) believe in evolution.

I don't know the number.  I do know that there are educated bishops (and priests and monstics-and regular laity) who do not.

Quote
Doctrine can, and does,

I think you mean dogma, and no, it doesn't.

Quote
change as we learn more about the world, science and the human condition.

Thomas Kuhn points out the interesting fact that in many ways Einstein's physics are closer to Aristotle's than to Newton's.
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« Reply #95 on: February 08, 2010, 01:58:32 AM »

According to Old Testament law, if two non-married persons were discovered to have had sex, they had to be married immediately. The idea of sexual "courtship" prior to marriage was not countenanced.

Part of Orthodoxy is sacrificing one's pride and putting aside convictions that seem very reasonable to us but which are contrary to the teachings of the Church. We need to lay down our brilliant ideas and "insights" and humble ourselves. We separate ourselves from the Church by defying her teachings. Believing oneself to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, even before being joined to the Church or familiarizing oneself with the teachings of the Holy Fathers, is an extremely perilous attitude.

The notion that the Church is a "free-for-all" outside of the Creed and the Ecumenical Councils (as Feanor erroneously says)  is simply an extension of Protestant sola scriptura to include some extra texts. Many standard beliefs and practices of the Church are not explicitly addressed in these sources. There are some issues about which there is diversity of opinion among the Fathers; premarital sex and homosexuality are not among them.

I welcome you into the Church, Jason, but one does not come to the Church with a set of pre-conceived doctrines and say, "Let's see how the Church matches up with my beliefs." Rather, you should try to conform yourself to the mind of the Church which was founded by Christ. If you don't believe we are that Church, if you believe that some special revelation has been given to you that surpasses the truth of Orthodoxy, then there are many Protestant sects that will indulge such notions. Just remember that it is not the Holy Spirit that indulges our pride, but some other kind of spirit. 

Very well said.

I do think there's a bit of self-validation going on.  I don't think he's here necessarily to get correction, which accounts for his appeal to his 'prophetic' insight.

One of my favorite memories was receiving a very late scholarship application at the Protestant seminary I once worked at.  On the back of the application, the student wrote: "God told me that I am supposed to come here and that the seminary would give me a scholarship."  The intended reply was, "God told us we are out of money... and we are."

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« Reply #96 on: February 08, 2010, 08:23:13 AM »

ALL of the fathers also believed in young-earth creationism, too. I can say with certainty that none of the early church fathers ever believed that humans had formed over millions of years of evolution from simpler organisms in an extensive evolutionary chain extending as far back as the first single-cell organisms swimming around the primordial ocean. None of them.

And none of this is important or meaningful in explaining the majesty of the creation or man's place within it.

The Fathers had an exalted understanding of the creation, informed by the Holy Spirit and their personal experience, which looked at the visible world as interpenetrated with the invisible world. This allowed them to understand the Creation in a far more complete and accurate way than modern science. Modern science is based on dualism or materialism, and looks at the visible world as something independent of the spiritual realm, thereby creating an utterly distorted picture. Darwinian evolution is consistent with this distorted, mutilated worldview; the ancient understanding of the creation is consistent with the complete worldview God has imparted to us. The "young-earth creationism" of the Fathers had nothing to do with modern fundamentalism, which is also indebted to dualism. I think everyone everyone interested in the relationship of the Christian worldview to modern natural philosophy should read Philip Sherrard's Human Image: World Image.

The point about evolution though is really a non-sequitur. You seem keen on revising the divine revelation according to the dictates not only of modern natural philosophy, but of modern politics. There is no modern science claiming to prove that pre-marital sex or homosexuality are not sinful- such things would in fact be impossible to prove or disprove from the materialist perspective.

If you think that modern ideology and science are a superior source of theological and moral teaching to the Fathers, then, as I said to Jason, there are many Protestant sects that will indulge you.
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« Reply #97 on: February 08, 2010, 08:27:10 AM »

Father, May God richly bless you.  You may have misunderstood me.  When I say the Spirit seems to be leading me in this direction, I am referring to the guidance of God I am receiving from the Scripture.  The Spirit is also our teacher, and while he does not speak to me audibly (so I can't say "God said to me that I am right"), he does guide us and comfort us.  It is not dangerous for me to say "he seems to be guiding me," nor for me to say, "he seems to be comforting me."  This is especially true given that I am open to correction.  Scripture commands us to, "test the spirits," (1 John 4:1) and we are all to help one another along those lines.

I thank you for your help, and I thank you for your sincere concern for me.  But for me to say God's Word (and His Spirit) "seems to be leading" me in this direction is a perfectly holy and reasonable thing for any Christian to say, especially as he seeks help from his family in testing his beliefs against those of the Church Fathers and of Scripture.  

It is no different than if I were to say, "God seems to be opening a door for me in San Francisco," because I sent out 500 applications nationwide, had a burden in my conscience to serve people in San Francisco, prayed that San Francisco would be the only job offer I got so I woud not have to make the difficult choice of moving away from my family, and then the only job offer I got was in San Francisco.  If I say that it seems to me God has opened a door in San Francisco, that is not "taking God's name in vain," I'm sorry.  That is just speaking truthfully about the situation from my perspective while also making it clear that I am not saying God has necessarily spoken anything directly to me.  I could be wrong, perhaps Satan has led me to San Francisco, or perhaps I've led myself there and the job offer was just just a coincidence.   But from my perspective, it seems like God has led me there.

I don't know where you get your definition of "take the Lord's name in vain" from, but it is fairly obvious that you and I go by different definitions of that phrase.

love, joy, peace
Jason



I said it seems that the Spirit has led me, through Scripture, to what I believe.  I have also said I am open to correction.  We all make mistakes, don't we Father?  James 3.  I am admitting I could be mistaking something else for the guidance of the Spirit.  However, as it stands, I believe I am in the right here.

Yes, we all make mistakes, but I think it is very, very, very bad to say in one breath that you believe you are communicating with God, then say that you might not be!

If you are going to invoke the name of God, you had better be darned serious about it!  There is something in the Scriptures about not taking the Lord's Name in vain.  It's called a Commandment.

You cannot say that God is guiding you unless you can prove it.  Otherwise, you are taking His Name and His Spirit as a trifle.

Frankly, as sinful as I am, I would be too scared to say such a thing as you have said!  And to say it repeatedly is even more frightening.

Look you can believe you are brilliant, spectacularly so, but that's much different from stating that you believe you are directly communicating with God.  This is so serious that the Old Testament says:

Quote
Deuteronomy 18:20 - But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

You have presumed to come forward and speak as a prophet, since you are holding forth a teaching that you say comes from the Holy Spirit.

Are you a prophet?  Has God sent you here in invoke His Name?

When you come and say you have a teaching from the Lord, and you teach as from the Lord, then you are speaking as a prophet.  However, a prophet must be sent (see above).  Have you been sent?

I know you feel strongly about what you believe, but don't confuse your strong feelings with God.

This is serious business, my friend.  You are proposing to speak for God, and I would like to see your credentials, if not for your sake than for my own.



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« Reply #98 on: February 08, 2010, 08:35:47 AM »

Thank you for the wisdom you have shared with me, Iconodule.  May God richly bless you.

I disagree with you about the Old Testament law.  It did not say a couple who was discovered having sex had to be married immediately.  Why do you say it says that?

Take Exodus ch. 22 for instance. For sex with a virgin a payment of the regular "bride price" (since dad owned her virginity) was required to be paid to dad. This payment system is all throughout the Old Law, and it was common for things that were not sinful. In this case, this payment was the same exact payment as was made for a marriage. But the couple did not have to marry, and there was no punishment for her (or for him). If she wasn't a virgin, there is no payment and nothing is done at all to either of them.

I once discussed with (or 'debated') with my former pastor J.D. Greear (Ph.D, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) on this topic. He is a very generous and loving man. However, he is totally wrong here. To defend his traditional belief that pre-wedding sex is a sin, he actually argued that the payment of the bride price for a virgin helps to show what they did was "sexual immorality." However, the same Old Testament lists all sorts of payments to be made for restitution, and JD would not call any of those situations "sinful." For instance, the Old Testament orders the payment of the price of an animal to your neighbor if you borrowed his animal and the animal died (for whatever reason) in your care. That was not a "sin", but it was just restitution.

Indeed, even marriage resulted in the same exact payment as was made for pre-marriage sex! So the end result of J.D. Greear's logic is that marriage is a sin too, since there is a "payment" required if someone married! J.D. Greear and those who follow his traditions have virtually no support in Scripture alone. They twist and reach for anything in the Bible that justifies their tradition. By doing so they show their own error. I personally think God would have said pre-wedding sexual intimacy was a sin clearly in Scripture if it always was. His Word is abundantly clear with regards to all the other common sexual sins Scripture has condemned at one point or the other. In fact, you would expect him to have called it sin even *more* clearly then all the others, because it is by far the most common.

But Scripture alone seems to encourage sexual intimacy as a means of courtship (and sexual intercourse as eventual union, pre-ceremony).  Song of Solomon.  Scripture alone seems to forbid sexual promiscuity (Romans 13:13).  I can find nothing in scripture alone that ever calls pre-wedding sex (if done with the right intent, if used for the purpose God intends it for... the formation of marriage) a "sin."

I say "Scripture alone", because the man I debated (JD Greear) held to "Sola Scriptura."  And of course I have held to that belief until recently also.  I no longer hold to Sola Scriptura per se, but am now trying to seek guidance from the Church Fathers (and my orthodox brothers and sisters) as well.  "Sola Scriptura" led me to orthodox doctrines concerning salvation and many other things.  So I am sincerely seeking the truth here.  

On the other hand, I know that ungodly traditions can infect even orthodox churches and regions.  Right?  I'm asking you this seriously.  I want your answer because I don't know for sure.  Is it true for me to say that ungodly traditions can infect even orthodox churches and regions?

I have been severely burned, harmed severely in my soul, by following the traditions of my pastors.  Granted I grew up in a false church, but you have to try to look at this from my perspective.   I believed in Christ, but then I believed distortions of Scripture for 15 years because I placed more faith in the word of my "parents", the pastors before me, than I placed in the words of Scripture. I placed more faith in the word of my "family", the people of God, than I placed in the Word of my heavenly Father, Scripture itself.

What does Christ say about this? "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27). Christ is not saying we must hate them personally, with anger. For He also taught us to take care of the people around us to get eternal life. (Luke 10:25-37) In fact, when Christ said to hate our "family", he wasn't even talking about hating them as physical persons, he was talking about hating their spiritual reality. The disciples misunderstood Christ often, thinking he was talking about this physical world. Christ came to teach us about the spiritual world. He made this clear in John 6:63 when the disciples took him to be talking about the physical world when he said, "eat my flesh." He corrected them, saying, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

Here, Christ is saying we must hate them spiritually, by not following their word when it goes against Christ's. "Hate your father, follow me." He then says we are to hate even your own self. Even our own words are prone to error, for James says we all "stumble in many ways" (James 3). Our father's and forefather's word is just as prone to error as our own. Our heavenly Father's Word is Truth. His Word is all that matters; no one's word matters but except His alone.  That being said, we have to give special consideration to those things the Church as a whole, those early Fathers spread over a wide area, believed in these matters.  I am starting to believe we must not go against their understandings if they also have support from Scripture, for they were much closer in time to the Christ and the Apostles than we.

Now, finally, by God's grace, I believe there is Truth in orthodox Christian Tradition, and I am seeking spiritual help from Orthodox Christianity in refining my beliefs.  That is why I am asking especially for help finding out how the Church Fathers defined marriage.  As far as I can tell, any orthodox christian knows a local priest can be wrong, and even knows that many local priests can be wrong.  God help me to never be mislead by a local pastor ever again as long as I live.

Christ plainly told us, and then showed us by example (Mark 7) that we must not wholly rely on the traditions of our forefathers to to judge right from wrong, or clean from dirty.  Distortions of Scripture, of God's Word, have been used to deceive the people of God ever since Eve. Distortions of Scripture have been passed down to people through the family they love since the very beginning, even since Adam first loved his wife's opinion more than God's Word.  God have mercy on us all.  

I respect the Fathers, especially the consensus of early Fathers, more and more as I read Scripture apart from my Protestant tradition and realize the Fathers were in the Truth.  So I am learning that it is very critical, if not essential, to know what they believed and did.  That is why I am here.  But unless someone can show me they clearly defined marriage formation in the opposite order of God's Song on marriage, I am going to have to believe the Song instead of local priests.  That is where I stand right now, and I am very young in the orthodox faith.  I am open to correction.

love, joy, peace,
Jason

According to Old Testament law, if two non-married persons were discovered to have had sex, they had to be married immediately. The idea of sexual "courtship" prior to marriage was not countenanced.

Part of Orthodoxy is sacrificing one's pride and putting aside convictions that seem very reasonable to us but which are contrary to the teachings of the Church. We need to lay down our brilliant ideas and "insights" and humble ourselves. We separate ourselves from the Church by defying her teachings. Believing oneself to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, even before being joined to the Church or familiarizing oneself with the teachings of the Holy Fathers, is an extremely perilous attitude.

The notion that the Church is a "free-for-all" outside of the Creed and the Ecumenical Councils (as Feanor erroneously says)  is simply an extension of Protestant sola scriptura to include some extra texts. Many standard beliefs and practices of the Church are not explicitly addressed in these sources. There are some issues about which there is diversity of opinion among the Fathers; premarital sex and homosexuality are not among them.

I welcome you into the Church, Jason, but one does not come to the Church with a set of pre-conceived doctrines and say, "Let's see how the Church matches up with my beliefs." Rather, you should try to conform yourself to the mind of the Church which was founded by Christ. If you don't believe we are that Church, if you believe that some special revelation has been given to you that surpasses the truth of Orthodoxy, then there are many Protestant sects that will indulge such notions. Just remember that it is not the Holy Spirit that indulges our pride, but some other kind of spirit.  
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« Reply #99 on: February 08, 2010, 08:45:47 AM »

I do think there's a bit of self-validation going on.  I don't think he's here necessarily to get correction, which accounts for his appeal to his 'prophetic' insight.
I think that is a bit unfair. This may be your personal opinion of the poster, but is there really a need to share it with others? acts420 has stated clearly that he is open to hearing others opinions, but badgering someone and attempting to take on the role of their "online Spiritual Father" and then denigrating them when they disagree with you is not offering an opinion.

Arguing according to one's conscience is kind of like making decisions using a coin (i.e. it has a probability of answering correctly when consulted on a two-way proposition, but only by a factor of half).  You really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority.
Nonsense. A person should never grieve their own conscience unless they want to be a hypocrite. Of course, a conscience needs to be matured and formed in Christ through His Church, but it still has to be the person's own conscience.

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« Reply #100 on: February 08, 2010, 09:30:48 AM »

Now, finally, by God's grace, I believe there is Truth in orthodox Christian Tradition
Glory to God!

One thing in your posts leapt out at me, and that is the frequent use of the term "pre-marital sex". Here is my opinion. Personally, I believe that in one way, there is no such animal from a Christian perspective, and that the act of sex creates a union, as Scripture says: "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:16) What St. Paul seems to be saying is that if two people have sex, this act in itself makes them united in the eyes of God and in their own eyes as in marriage "the two shall become one flesh". God knows human nature better than we know it ourselves, and I think He's on to something here.  Let me explain. When two people give themselves completely to one another in the act of mutually consensual sex, this intimacy creates a union between them. They have made themselves as vulnerable to each other as any human being can possibly make themselves.  For one of them to then unite with a different person is adultery, that is, a betrayal of that first union. If the act of sex is a unitive act as the Apostle says, then really, we should only have sex with that person with whom we will be united for the rest of our lives, and for this reason, Our Lord blessed Marriage by His Presence at the Wedding at Cana. Marriage is a public declaration that this is the person you wish to be sexually united with. Couples who intend to marry therefore would do well to abstain from the sexual act, until they have declared publicly that that is what they intend to do. Its not about sex being "dirty", in fact, it is the exact opposite. It is because sex is such a holy and precious thing -a Sacramental thing- that it needs to be treated respectfully. But the Church understands that people make mistakes, and sex with the person you will not spend your life with is one of them. The passion of "sexual urge" is one of the most powerful passions we have to deal with, and what's more, it has nature on its side. This is why the Orthodox Church offers healing in the Sacrament of Confession to those who have been hurt by it, and seeks to help us to control our passions rather than let them control us.
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« Reply #101 on: February 08, 2010, 09:33:46 AM »

Jason, the passage I referred to was Deuteronomy 22: 28-29:

Quote
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days

Emphasis mine. He is required to marry her, not simply pay a bride price. Note that "he hath humbled her"- losing virginity before marriage is a disgraceful thing.

Go back a little and look at Deuteronomy 22: 13-21. If a married woman is shown not to have been a virgin, before her husband lay with her, she is stoned to death. The parents had to prove her virginity with "tokens", that is, with a sheet on which the couple lay on their wedding night- it would not be possible to have such a token if there were premarital sex.

Wrong ideas can enter into the Church, sure. But the understanding that sexuality is only appropriate within marriage isn't one of them.

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« Reply #102 on: February 08, 2010, 09:48:09 AM »

Iconodule, May God bless you.

The Hebrews I know tell me that passage you cite (if he lays hold of her... he must marry her) is referring to when a man rapes a woman ("lay hold of her").  That translation makes more sense to me given that Ex. 22 says a couple who has premarital sex does not have to marry.  As horrible as it seems for her to have to marry a rapist, I trust God he had a good reason for giving that law.  Women were treated very differently then, and it may have ended up being best for her in the long run.  He had to take care of her for the rest of her life, something many women back then did not have.

I agree that losing virginity is a disgraceful thing in Scripture.  So is being barren.  Neither are ever called a "sin" in Scripture.

As far as the girl who "was discovered" to not be a virgin on her wedding night, they killed her for lying about her virginity to get a man to marry her.  Ask any Hebrew and you will find they did not kill all non-virgins.  In fact, Ex 22 (which I discussed in my post to you above) shows that to be the case.  The parents proved virginity with tokens if she was accused of lying about her virginity.

I am not trying to say everyone was having premarital sex.  It seems to me that the picture of wisdom and righteousness God gives us in the Song is the reservation of sexual intercourse, through patient exploration in dating, for the person you marry.  Then you celebrate later with a ceremony.  That is God's Song to us, His story given to us to equip us, about marriage.

love, joy, peace,
Jason

Jason, the passage I referred to was Deuteronomy 22: 28-29:

Quote
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days

Emphasis mine. He is required to marry her, not simply pay a bride price. Note that "he hath humbled her"- losing virginity before marriage is a disgraceful thing.

Go back a little and look at Deuteronomy 22: 13-21. If a married woman is shown not to have been a virgin, before her husband lay with her, she is stoned to death. The parents had to prove her virginity with "tokens", that is, with a sheet on which the couple lay on their wedding night- it would not be possible to have such a token if there were premarital sex.

Wrong ideas can enter into the Church, sure. But the understanding that sexuality is only appropriate within marriage isn't one of them.


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« Reply #103 on: February 08, 2010, 09:52:38 AM »

A question for acts420: if your fiancee were to have high standards of chastity and desired to preserve herself as completely as possible for after the wedding, would you respect her desires, or would you reject her for someone who was willing to "explore" sexually before the marriage?
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« Reply #104 on: February 08, 2010, 10:12:07 AM »

Thank you ozgeorge; may God richly bless you.

What you are saying does make a lot of sense to me.  At this point, I would not say that the "one flesh" creates any sort of a marital union in and of itself.  I do think it creates a union, a very important and dangerous one, and one that God seems to only celebrate in the context of marriage (Song of Solomon).   But I don't think Paul's point in saying we become "one flesh" with a prostitute is that we are married to her.  There is a unification that occurs before "one flesh", and that I think is what forms the marriage.  "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 

Paul could be simply saying we are taking what is meant for marriage and degrading it.  Or he could be saying we are taking what is meant for procreation (one flesh, one child from the two) in the context of marriage and risking out-of-wedlock birth.  In fact, he is probably saying all of those things, but I don't think he is saying that "one flesh" (alone) with a prostitute would "marry" us.

"Laying together", as I see it done in the Song, is to be done at the right time, with the right intent, with pure love and (most likely) the desire and intent to form a marital bond.  It is celebrated, in Scripture, after patient, careful, slowly progressive sexual and personal exploration (ch. 1-2) and after a commitment to one another made at the right time and the right person to unite with.  See 2:6 (laying together) followed by 2:7 (imploring us all to wait for the proper time and the proper person).  Then the ceremony is at the end of ch. 3.

I understand this belief of mine is very much uncommon amongst orthodox Christians today.  That being said, I'm not sure that necessarily means it was uncommon amongst orthodox Christians in the first generations of Orthodox Christianity.  That is what I need to figure out. 

I don't take this lightly, and I'm not trying to justify anything that I am doing in my life right now.  But I'm 30 years old, single, and moving to San Francisco soon to start my career.  I will most likely encounter opportunities to date and, God willing, eventually marry.  I know that marriage is supposed to be the picture, the icon (if I can say that), of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32).  I take my testimony to God extremely seriously.  God knows I want to do marriage right, if I'm going to get married, so that my children will see Christ and the Church every day they see their mother and I.I

It is going to take some time for me to sort through the wealth of new information Orthodox Christianity is going to hand me.  By God's grace, He will lead me to the Truth as I continue to seek Him.  Thank you for your kind words and your generous help.

love, joy, peace


Now, finally, by God's grace, I believe there is Truth in orthodox Christian Tradition
Glory to God!

One thing in your posts leapt out at me, and that is the frequent use of the term "pre-marital sex". Here is my opinion. Personally, I believe that in one way, there is no such animal from a Christian perspective, and that the act of sex creates a union, as Scripture says: "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:16) What St. Paul seems to be saying is that if two people have sex, this act in itself makes them united in the eyes of God and in their own eyes as in marriage "the two shall become one flesh". God knows human nature better than we know it ourselves, and I think He's on to something here.  Let me explain. When two people give themselves completely to one another in the act of mutually consensual sex, this intimacy creates a union between them. They have made themselves as vulnerable to each other as any human being can possibly make themselves.  For one of them to then unite with a different person is adultery, that is, a betrayal of that first union. If the act of sex is a unitive act as the Apostle says, then really, we should only have sex with that person with whom we will be united for the rest of our lives, and for this reason, Our Lord blessed Marriage by His Presence at the Wedding at Cana. Marriage is a public declaration that this is the person you wish to be sexually united with. Couples who intend to marry therefore would do well to abstain from the sexual act, until they have declared publicly that that is what they intend to do. Its not about sex being "dirty", in fact, it is the exact opposite. It is because sex is such a holy and precious thing -a Sacramental thing- that it needs to be treated respectfully. But the Church understands that people make mistakes, and sex with the person you will not spend your life with is one of them. The passion of "sexual urge" is one of the most powerful passions we have to deal with, and what's more, it has nature on its side. This is why the Orthodox Church offers healing in the Sacrament of Confession to those who have been hurt by it, and seeks to help us to control our passions rather than let them control us.
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« Reply #105 on: February 08, 2010, 10:17:32 AM »

Jason-

Let's suppose they're right that the Deuteronomy passage is about rape. The Exodus passage you refer to pretty much says the same thing, except it more explicitly involves seduction and consensual sex.

Quote
And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

This means that he must marry her, unless the father "utterly refuse" to give her unto him.
To say that this means that he didn't have to marry her is a gross distortion. The only case in which he does not marry her is if the father refuse to give her unto him. It's not the young man's choice (or the maid's).

Quote from: acts420
As far as the girl who "was discovered" to not be a virgin on her wedding night, they killed her for lying about her virginity to get a man to marry her.  Ask any Hebrew and you will find they did not kill all non-virgins.  In fact, Ex 22 (which I discussed in my post to you above) shows that to be the case.  The parents proved virginity with tokens if she was accused of lying about her virginity.

She was killed because she lay with a man other than the one whom she married. There is nothing in the passage to suggest that lying about virginity is the chief issue. Instead, it says, "because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house." (Deut. 22: 21)

The Song of Solomon is interpreted by the Fathers as chiefly a spiritual allegory. What passage in particular do you believe explicitly approves premarital sex?

To say that something must be explicitly categorized as "sin" in the scriptures to, in fact, be a sin, is to take a rather legalistic view of sin and to ignore the rather all-embracing and insidious nature of sin itself. Come to think of it, I don't think you will find gluttony or avarice labeled sins in the Bible either.
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« Reply #106 on: February 08, 2010, 10:25:07 AM »

"Laying together", as I see it done in the Song, is to be done at the right time, with the right intent, with pure love and (most likely) the desire and intent to form a marital bond. 
I actually agree with this, The only difference between what I said and this sentence of yours are that I would not include the words in parentheses. I would write it thus:
"Laying together", as I see it done in the Song, is to be done at the right time, with the right intent, with pure love and the desire and intent to form a marital bond.
If the act of sex should be done only with the intent to form a marital bond, then wouldn't it make more sense to wait until that marital bond is formed? Otherwise, how can either partner be sure that this is what the sexual act they undertake is leading towards?
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« Reply #107 on: February 08, 2010, 10:42:39 AM »

A question for acts420: if your fiancee were to have high standards of chastity and desired to preserve herself as completely as possible for after the wedding, would you respect her desires, or would you reject her for someone who was willing to "explore" sexually before the marriage?

A good question Rosehip, thank you, and may God richly bless you.

At this point, my own conscience would condemn me if I formed my marriage in any way other than the way it is formed in the Song about marriage God has handed to us in Scripture, Song of Solomon.  So if by "preserve herself completely" until after the wedding you mean "not have any type of intimacy beyond what we would share with a brother or sister" (ie nothing more than holding hands, quick side hugs, and that sort of thing), then I would have to reject her as a marriage partner.  That probably sounds cold or cruel, so please allow me to explain why before you judge me.

Ephesians 5:32 says marriages are created to mysteriously illustrate to us, and to the world, the relationship between Christ and the Church. People are to come together as do Christ and the Church in order to show us Christ and the Church. Christ and the church were predestined to be together (Romans 8:29, Ephesians 1:11), to be "perfectly matched", to be one as Christ is one with the Father (John 17:21). I believe people are to marry who likewise are "matched" personally, emotionally, and sexually, as the couple in the Song of Solomon is. That is not a "perverted" or "sex-fixated" thing to say. That is just what marriage is supposed to be, according to both common sense and Scripture.

This is because they are supposed to represent to their children, their church, and to the entire world the "match made in heaven", the predestined, "chosen-before-the-world-began" match between Christ and the church. That is part of the "mystery of marriage and the church."  I believe there is a reason the wedding in the Song occurs after patient, careful, slowly progressive sexual and personal exploration (ch. 1-2) and after a commitment to one another made at the right time and the right person to unite with.  See 2:6 (laying together) followed by 2:7 (imploring us all to wait for the proper time and the proper person).  Then the ceremony is at the end of ch. 3.  I think the reason for this is because married couples are to be matched up well both emotionally, personally *and*sexually.  Patient, careful exploration in all of those areas leads to good matches.

Some people hear me say this and immediately say, "I have experienced the pain that 'fooling around' brings," and "the Spirit was convicting me not to do it and I did it anyway, and it hurt me badly."  I tell them that I know the pain and heartache that comes from getting too intimate too early in courtship, and with the wrong person. But we must never toss the baby out with the bathwater! "Fooling around", at the right time, with a pure conscience, seems to be holy and celebrated by God in Scripture. In fact, it is one of the things that God's Song seems to say forms, develops, and leads to true marriage!  I believe those who say such things to me should realize their mistake was not following the Spirit's conviction.  I believe 2:7 in the Song means that God will help us to know when it is (and when it is not) the right time to progress further toward marriage in our courtships. 

I myself have experienced conviction to not be intimate with girls I dated, and I have been greatly helped when I have followed them.  I have also been convicted to be more intimate with others, to move toward the next level of courting (personally, emotionally, or intimately) at the right time, and I think that was helpful also.  That is just me speaking, I have no authority to speak for anyone else.  And also, as I have said, right now I believe in reserving intercourse for after the commitment of marriage.

But God help me if I lie to my children about how God forms marriage just because I have been hurt! That would be like telling them, "Driving X mph is always a sin," because I was once in a car accident. The truth is, regardless of speed limit, our conscience will sometimes demand us to drive slower (kids by the road) or faster (driving someone to hospital).  We need to tell our children that even though we feel better just giving them an absolute rule.  They are better off if we tell them the truth, give them wisdom, and trust them to God.

In the Song, the *conscience* plays a huge part in the timing of the advancement of their sexual intimacy. After more intimacy, they implore us to "wait for the right time" (as in SoS 2:7). There is no formula for that. It is conscience. As much as you want to give your children a "formula" of "rules" to protect them, you have to trust this process of marriage formation is by God's design for a good reason.

I know the reasons you want me to teach your rules about pre-wedding sex are good; I know your intent is good. ,But, right now, I have to trust God here.  I have to trust that He has an extremely good reason for not putting the rule in Scripture that you want me to teach.

I know a couple that were both hurt terribly, in large part by the lies about courtship that I think have infected modern Christianity across all denominations and across many local churches. They did marriage by the "conservative Christian Church's" word instead of by God's Word and then suffered through years of a very confusing, very mis-matched "marriage" as a result. They believed their pastor's word instead of trusting God's pattern in the Song. So, unlike the many hypocrites who teach that premarital sex is a sin and then fill their dating life with the lust for it, they actually *did* treat it like it was a sin.  They did nothing with one another besides hold hands.

Because of that, after their wedding, they merely had a "chance" to become lovers. Until after their wedding, they had not even begun one important process that God's story of marriage says is supposed to lead to marriage. It is common sense that not everyone enjoys spending tons of time together, nor does everyone enjoy sexually intimate things with one another. That's why God's story of marriage has the couple begin exploring all of those things early on, slowly and deliberately, to discover if they wanted to marry.

Of course there are typical male/female differences, but besides that, if you take any two people, a man and a woman, they may enjoy 90% of the same things sexually. On the other hand, they may enjoy only 5% of the same things sexually. Again, that is not a "perverted" or "sex-fixated" thing to say. I'm talking about things like intimate kissing, or methods of touching and massage, etc.  Everyone has their preferences just like everyone was born with preferences in styles of communication and everything else.  We are to marry people we match with, that we enjoy being around.  That is just what marriage is supposed to be, according to both common sense and Scripture.

Sexual exploration in dating, at the right time, is no different than personality exploration in my view. God's story to us of marriage formation is driven by both personal and sexual exploration at the right time, constrained by patience and the conscience. The Song's way would never result in a marriage where 95% of what turns one partner on turns the other partner off, and visa versa, either personally, emotionally, or sexually.

In the case of that couple, the flip of the dice didn't turn out well at all. While they were good friends, they each hated what turned the other on, and they never enjoyed sex with one another. This went on for years. They wondered why 'God' had done this to them, but the truth is, they had done it to themselves by believing their local church's word instead of God's Word. Counselors, therapists, the whole 9-yards... all of it did nothing to fix their situation. That is because their situation was just the natural result of when you arrange marriages. While they grew to love one another as friends, their erotic love never developed in the way God's story about marriage describes.

The cold hard truth is that they never would have "married" one another if they had known that would be the case.  If they would have simply tried to kiss a few times, erotically, they would have realized the mis-match immediately and seriously re-considered the continuation of their courtship.  They both admit this.  And if they had followed God's pattern of marriage, they would have known very early in their relationship that they were not a good match in that respect.

I think that is why God's story about marriage in Scripture is in the exact opposite order of the traditional order. God has *never* promised to take two random people and give them joy from being united personally, emotionally, or sexually, and I think traditional-bound Christians who teach that careful, pre-wedding sexual exploration is a sin are actually damaging marriages and the picture of Christ and the church that marriage is supposed to be.

God's story about marriage is written in its order for a reason. God's children are supposed to marry someone they thoroughly enjoy being with one another on every level: personal, emotional, and sexual.  Dating couples sometimes break-up for a variety of reasons, whether personal incompatibility, emotional incompatibility, or sexual incompatibility. I believe the man-made rule that God does not allow "fooling around", the enjoyment of sexual lusts patiently and with self-control, in courtship forces couples who may not enjoy sexual types of intimacy together to get "married" anyway.

I believe that wreaks havoc on a very important aspect of one of the things that God loves most: marriage, that symbol to us of Christ on the church.   My conscience, as it stands, will not allow me to form a courtship with someone who would not allow herself to explore intimacy with me.  I want my children to see a couple that is matched up in every way, as the couple in the Song is.  I think that will give me the best chance to have a successful marriage and to raise children who, God willing, understand Christ's love for the church.

love, joy, peace,
Jason

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« Reply #108 on: February 08, 2010, 10:55:42 AM »

Iconodule,
She was not killed "because she lay with a man other than the one whom she married."  Again, Ex. 22 shows that women who lay with men other than the one's they married were *not* killed.  It is not a gross distortion to say they didn't have to marry.  The fact is, they didn't have to marry.  She was free to ask her father to keep her, and the father was free to do so.  The fact that it was up to the father (and I'm assuming it was, the passage does not make that 100% clear) does not make what I said untrue.  In the Duet. case of the girl who was "discovered" to not be a virgin, she was not killed "because she lay with a man other than the one whom she married."  Again, Ex. 22 shows that women who consensually lay with men other than the one's they married were not killed.  And, in fact, they did not even necessarily *have* to marry the one they lay with.

Also to be considered is that women were property back then.  They no longer are (if you ask me)... I don't know what most orthodox believe as to that matter though.

I agree that Ex 22 is the same thing, except it is consensual sex.  I think one reason the rapist had to marry her was because he *took* her virginity, and he *took* from her a liklihood of ever find a husband to provide for her.  Therefore, he had to provide for her.  No marriage was required in Ex. 22 because she willingly gave her virginity away, and so she had to face whatever consequences would come to her.

As far as the Song, I think 2:6 and 2:7 shows them laying with one another at the right time, with the right intent and conscience.  On top of that, I see nothing in Scripture that ever calls pre-wedding sex a sin.  Rather, sexual promiscuity is a sin (Romans 13:13).

Jason-

Let's suppose they're right that the Deuteronomy passage is about rape. The Exodus passage you refer to pretty much says the same thing, except it more explicitly involves seduction and consensual sex.

Quote
And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

This means that he must marry her, unless the father "utterly refuse" to give her unto him.
To say that this means that he didn't have to marry her is a gross distortion. The only case in which he does not marry her is if the father refuse to give her unto him. It's not the young man's choice (or the maid's).

Quote from: acts420
As far as the girl who "was discovered" to not be a virgin on her wedding night, they killed her for lying about her virginity to get a man to marry her.  Ask any Hebrew and you will find they did not kill all non-virgins.  In fact, Ex 22 (which I discussed in my post to you above) shows that to be the case.  The parents proved virginity with tokens if she was accused of lying about her virginity.

She was killed because she lay with a man other than the one whom she married. There is nothing in the passage to suggest that lying about virginity is the chief issue. Instead, it says, "because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house." (Deut. 22: 21)

The Song of Solomon is interpreted by the Fathers as chiefly a spiritual allegory. What passage in particular do you believe explicitly approves premarital sex?

To say that something must be explicitly categorized as "sin" in the scriptures to, in fact, be a sin, is to take a rather legalistic view of sin and to ignore the rather all-embracing and insidious nature of sin itself. Come to think of it, I don't think you will find gluttony or avarice labeled sins in the Bible either.
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« Reply #109 on: February 08, 2010, 10:57:11 AM »

"Laying together", as I see it done in the Song, is to be done at the right time, with the right intent, with pure love and (most likely) the desire and intent to form a marital bond. 
I actually agree with this, The only difference between what I said and this sentence of yours are that I would not include the words in parentheses. I would write it thus:
"Laying together", as I see it done in the Song, is to be done at the right time, with the right intent, with pure love and the desire and intent to form a marital bond.
If the act of sex should be done only with the intent to form a marital bond, then wouldn't it make more sense to wait until that marital bond is formed? Otherwise, how can either partner be sure that this is what the sexual act they undertake is leading towards?

It would make sense to wait until after the ceremony, but I don't think the ceremony is what creates the bond.  I think marriage is created by the couple before God.  I believe a couple on a deserted island with no church to speak of and no ability to have a ceremony could still unite in a holy and proper marriage.
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« Reply #110 on: February 08, 2010, 10:58:01 AM »

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This is because they are supposed to represent to their children, their church, and to the entire world the "match made in heaven",


I have to admit, I don't think I've ever heard the "match made in heaven" theory taught in Orthodoxy. What I have heard is that marriage is hard work, sacrifice, martyrdom, and working out one's salvation together with one's spouse. Please, if this is not correct, I ask any of my Orthodox brothers or sisters to correct me.

So, if this pre-marital sexual exploration-as-test-to-determine-compatibility is so important (on one hand I can see your point), why were almost all the marriages of those couples I observed who practised this ending in divorce? It wasn't just I who saw this, many others often commented on the phenomenon.

Why did a spirit of pride always seem to accompany these acts of defrauding (stirring up lust before, in the eyes of the Church, the marriage had been blessed). Indeed, St. Barsanuphius of Optina said, "Behind pride, and literally in its steps, the sin of fornication always follows."

To me, a chaste avoidance of trying to explictly stir up lust in one's betrothed is a form of respecting him/her, and a form of discipline, modesty and maturity.



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« Reply #111 on: February 08, 2010, 11:10:31 AM »

As far as I know, even Orthodox Jews do not use the Song of Songs as a reason to engage in pre-marital sex. Traditionally, both male and female are virgins before the marriage ceremony.
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« Reply #112 on: February 08, 2010, 11:18:49 AM »

It would make sense to wait until after the ceremony, but I don't think the ceremony is what creates the bond.
And I agree. Firstly I agree that it makes more sense to wait until after the ceremony, and secondly, as I said, a wedding (the ceremony) is the public declaration of the couple of their intent to be united and the blessing of that union which must, of course, be "consummated".  But that union is not a temporary arrangement, it is a union for life- and beyond. In the Orthodox Church, if you are widowed and want to remarry, the Church permits this out of Compassion for human weakness and sin, but encourages fidelity to the spouse who has died but is still alive in Christ, thus, the second marriage rite is a penitential rite.
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« Reply #113 on: February 08, 2010, 11:28:27 AM »

Thank you for the wisdom you have shared with me, Iconodule.  May God richly bless you.

I disagree with you about the Old Testament law.  It did not say a couple who was discovered having sex had to be married immediately.  Why do you say it says that?

Take Exodus ch. 22 for instance. For sex with a virgin a payment of the regular "bride price" (since dad owned her virginity) was required to be paid to dad. This payment system is all throughout the Old Law, and it was common for things that were not sinful. In this case, this payment was the same exact payment as was made for a marriage. But the couple did not have to marry, and there was no punishment for her (or for him). If she wasn't a virgin, there is no payment and nothing is done at all to either of them.

The refusal to let them marry was the punishment: the text says that the money is paid if he refuses to let them marry.  This was to plug up any loop hole.  You don't explain how your "understanding" works with the verses in Deuteronomy (which are also Scripture).



Quote
I once discussed with (or 'debated') with my former pastor J.D. Greear (Ph.D, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) on this topic. He is a very generous and loving man. However, he is totally wrong here. To defend his traditional belief that pre-wedding sex is a sin, he actually argued that the payment of the bride price for a virgin helps to show what they did was "sexual immorality." However, the same Old Testament lists all sorts of payments to be made for restitution, and JD would not call any of those situations "sinful." For instance, the Old Testament orders the payment of the price of an animal to your neighbor if you borrowed his animal and the animal died (for whatever reason) in your care. That was not a "sin", but it was just restitution.

Again, the presumption is you did something.  Again, to protect the owner from "accidents" happening not on his watch.

Quote
Indeed, even marriage resulted in the same exact payment as was made for pre-marriage sex!


No, in the marriage, you get to keep the bride.

Quote
So the end result of J.D. Greear's logic is that marriage is a sin too, since there is a "payment" required if someone married! J.D. Greear and those who follow his traditions have virtually no support in Scripture alone. They twist and reach for anything in the Bible that justifies their tradition. By doing so they show their own error. I personally think God would have said pre-wedding sexual intimacy was a sin clearly in Scripture if it always was. His Word is abundantly clear with regards to all the other common sexual sins Scripture has condemned at one point or the other. In fact, you would expect him to have called it sin even *more* clearly then all the others, because it is by far the most common.


I saw the film on Ted Bundy recently. Very disturbing.  Now, besides the women he killed, Bundy also had two girlfriends and a number of things he was doing to them (like reinacting his necrophelia: btw, does Scripture ban that?) I would think morally objectionable, although I can't specifically put my finger on "Thou shall not force thy girlfriend to act like a corpse as you relive your murders..."

You also seem to think that the Bible came in a vacuum, a typical Protestant misconception.  Doing it before you said "I do" was a no no was a given that didn't need to be specified. So it didn't happen often, but when it did, the consequences were clearly spelled out, e.g. Judah and Thamar.

Quote
But Scripture alone seems to encourage sexual intimacy as a means of courtship (and sexual intercourse as eventual union, pre-ceremony).  Song of Solomon.  


Interesting how you are trying to turn an allegory and poetic into a law code on marriage.  You're going to run into difficulty:e.g. 4:12 when he says "My sister Shocked my bride is an enclosed garden."

Quote
Scripture alone seems to forbid sexual promiscuity (Romans 13:13).  I can find nothing in scripture alone that ever calls pre-wedding sex (if done with the right intent, if used for the purpose God intends it for... the formation of marriage) a "sin."

How many had decided to consumate a marraige when they got ingaged, and then the marriage never took place.

Quote
I say "Scripture alone", because the man I debated (JD Greear) held to "Sola Scriptura."  And of course I have held to that belief until recently also.  I no longer hold to Sola Scriptura per se, but am now trying to seek guidance from the Church Fathers (and my orthodox brothers and sisters) as well.  "Sola Scriptura" led me to orthodox doctrines concerning salvation and many other things.  So I am sincerely seeking the truth here.
 

I think Fr. Girguis has dealt with that.

Quote
On the other hand, I know that ungodly traditions can infect even orthodox churches and regions.  Right?  I'm asking you this seriously.  I want your answer because I don't know for sure.  Is it true for me to say that ungodly traditions can infect even orthodox churches and regions?

They can inflect, but the Church cannot succumb, because she alone has the antibodies to prevent that, i.e. the Holy Spirit and His mouthpieces, the Fathers (and Mothers, btw).

This I have to say is a new one. I've never heard chastity referred to as "ungodly."  Scripture certainly has a different view.

I have been severely burned, harmed severely in my soul, by following the traditions of my pastors.  Granted I grew up in a false church, but you have to try to look at this from my perspective.   I believed in Christ, but then I believed distortions of Scripture for 15 years because I placed more faith in the word of my "parents", the pastors before me, than I placed in the words of Scripture. I placed more faith in the word of my "family", the people of God, than I placed in the Word of my heavenly Father, Scripture itself.

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What does Christ say about this? "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27). Christ is not saying we must hate them personally, with anger. For He also taught us to take care of the people around us to get eternal life. (Luke 10:25-37) In fact, when Christ said to hate our "family", he wasn't even talking about hating them as physical persons, he was talking about hating their spiritual reality. The disciples misunderstood Christ often, thinking he was talking about this physical world. Christ came to teach us about the spiritual world. He made this clear in John 6:63 when the disciples took him to be talking about the physical world when he said, "eat my flesh." He corrected them, saying, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

Yes, the original Protestants, you didn't like what was being taught. John 6:66.

Btw, you believe in the Real Presence?

Quote
Here, Christ is saying we must hate them spiritually, by not following their word when it goes against Christ's. "Hate your father, follow me." He then says we are to hate even your own self. Even our own words are prone to error, for James says we all "stumble in many ways" (James 3). Our father's and forefather's word is just as prone to error as our own. Our heavenly Father's Word is Truth. His Word is all that matters; no one's word matters but except His alone.  That being said, we have to give special consideration to those things the Church as a whole, those early Fathers spread over a wide area, believed in these matters.  I am starting to believe we must not go against their understandings if they also have support from Scripture, for they were much closer in time to the Christ and the Apostles than we.

Now, finally, by God's grace, I believe there is Truth in orthodox Christian Tradition, and I am seeking spiritual help from Orthodox Christianity in refining my beliefs.  That is why I am asking especially for help finding out how the Church Fathers defined marriage.  As far as I can tell, any orthodox christian knows a local priest can be wrong, and even knows that many local priests can be wrong.  God help me to never be mislead by a local pastor ever again as long as I live.

Christ plainly told us, and then showed us by example (Mark 7) that we must not wholly rely on the traditions of our forefathers to to judge right from wrong, or clean from dirty.


Uh, no.  The issue is who you are following, not the question of following.  Even the Pharisees sit in Moses' sit, even Christ said that.

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Distortions of Scripture, of God's Word, have been used to deceive the people of God ever since Eve. Distortions of Scripture have been passed down to people through the family they love since the very beginning, even since Adam first loved his wife's opinion more than God's Word.  God have mercy on us all.  

I respect the Fathers, especially the consensus of early Fathers, more and more as I read Scripture apart from my Protestant tradition and realize the Fathers were in the Truth.  So I am learning that it is very critical, if not essential, to know what they believed and did.  That is why I am here.  But unless someone can show me they clearly defined marriage formation in the opposite order of God's Song on marriage, I am going to have to believe the Song instead of local priests.  That is where I stand right now, and I am very young in the orthodox faith.  I am open to correction.

Fr. Girguis has dealt with that too.  Again, treating a love song (i.e. fantasy: you know how the future "shall" is used throughout) as a moral code....Dangerous.

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« Reply #114 on: February 08, 2010, 11:34:39 AM »

Quote
This is because they are supposed to represent to their children, their church, and to the entire world the "match made in heaven",


I have to admit, I don't think I've ever heard the "match made in heaven" theory taught in Orthodoxy. What I have heard is that marriage is hard work, sacrifice, martyrdom, and working out one's salvation together with one's spouse. Please, if this is not correct, I ask any of my Orthodox brothers or sisters to correct me.

No, you are correct.  If you listen to all the talk about marriage "self-fulfillment" etc. bandied about in the popular culture, no wonder (as the researchers admit) the high divorce rate.

Dating is about worrying about what you want. Marriage is about worrying about someone else.  Few nowadays want to admit the difference.

Quote
So, if this pre-marital sexual exploration-as-test-to-determine-compatibility is so important (on one hand I can see your point), why were almost all the marriages of those couples I observed who practised this ending in divorce? It wasn't just I who saw this, many others often commented on the phenomenon.


Yes, living together before marriage at least doubles (and I've see studies saying it triples) your chance of divorce.

Quote
Why did a spirit of pride always seem to accompany these acts of defrauding (stirring up lust before, in the eyes of the Church, the marriage had been blessed). Indeed, St. Barsanuphius of Optina said, "Behind pride, and literally in its steps, the sin of fornication always follows."

To me, a chaste avoidance of trying to explictly stir up lust in one's betrothed is a form of respecting him/her, and a form of discipline, modesty and maturity.

Only in the context of a commitment (and going steady is not a commitment) does it make sense.
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« Reply #115 on: February 08, 2010, 12:35:49 PM »

I do think there's a bit of self-validation going on.  I don't think he's here necessarily to get correction, which accounts for his appeal to his 'prophetic' insight.
I think that is a bit unfair. This may be your personal opinion of the poster, but is there really a need to share it with others? acts420 has stated clearly that he is open to hearing others opinions, but badgering someone and attempting to take on the role of their "online Spiritual Father" and then denigrating them when they disagree with you is not offering an opinion.

He has offered his opinion here as not just his opinion, but as a teaching from God.  Sure, he can have an opinion, but when it is presented as a prophetic revelation it's very different.  Frankly, I'm not really interested in convincing him one way or another about his opinion, since he seems really set in it, but I think NO ONE of us has the anointing to invoke personal Divine Revelation.

I am not acting as an "Online Spiritual Father" any more than anyone else may take on a topic here.  I have not called him to obedience as a priest, though I have asked him as a normal person to prove he is a prophet.  I would also like you to rest assured that no one here ought to think that I am willing to take on 'Spiritual Children' through the internet.  Not interested.  I have enough problems already, and such an arrangement is totally inpractical.

There is a difference between thinking that God may be leading one to take certain personal actions, like taking a trip or making a phone call, and teaching His doctrines.  St. Paul makes this very clear when he talks about teachers.  If I teach something and say, 'This is where I read it,' then I hold the book and its author as an authority.  When I say, 'God is telling me that this is true,' then I am teaching according to Divine Revelation.

If you notice, Oz, I have not taken on his opinion as much as his statements regarding his Divine Revelation.  If he had simply said, 'I believe this very strongly,' that would have been sufficient.  But, he continues to appeal to Divine Revelation, which is generally taught in the Orthodox Church as being a sign of either the highest level of sainthood or spiritual delusion.

Arguing according to one's conscience is kind of like making decisions using a coin (i.e. it has a probability of answering correctly when consulted on a two-way proposition, but only by a factor of half).  You really can't use your conscience as a stand-alone authority.
Nonsense. A person should never grieve their own conscience unless they want to be a hypocrite. Of course, a conscience needs to be matured and formed in Christ through His Church, but it still has to be the person's own conscience.


I have known very few people who have lived purely according to their own consciences.  I have had to violate mine numerous times for the sake of obedience.  When I was in the Navy, the only argument I could make against an order was the UCMJ rather than my conscience.  One of my most powerful memories was having to deal with a life-or-death matter haunted me for years, one in which my conscience and my orders were very much at odds.

The conscience is tricky, Oz, because it is not always accurate.  Sure, we need to listen to it, but we also need to violate it when it is not working properly.  So, sometimes being a hypocrite is the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves and others.  After all, what would the world look like if everyone acted strictly according to their own thoughts?

Anyway, I appreciate the fact you are standing up for those who speak their minds, but just as you have taken me to task, I am taking him to task.  Simply put, I think it is dangerous for anyone to teach doctrine (i.e. he is teaching his doctrine regarding pre-marital pre-coital activity) using Divine Revelation as an authority (i.e. 'God is telling me this is what He wants publicly taught... in His Name').

He could believe the same things and talk about them without invoking God as the origin of his interpretation and probably would not have responded at all.

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« Reply #116 on: February 08, 2010, 01:13:58 PM »

Father, May God richly bless you.  You may have misunderstood me.  When I say the Spirit seems to be leading me in this direction, I am referring to the guidance of God I am receiving from the Scripture.  The Spirit is also our teacher, and while he does not speak to me audibly (so I can't say "God said to me that I am right"), he does guide us and comfort us.  It is not dangerous for me to say "he seems to be guiding me," nor for me to say, "he seems to be comforting me."  This is especially true given that I am open to correction.  Scripture commands us to, "test the spirits," (1 John 4:1) and we are all to help one another along those lines.

I thank you for your help, and I thank you for your sincere concern for me.  But for me to say God's Word (and His Spirit) "seems to be leading" me in this direction is a perfectly holy and reasonable thing for any Christian to say, especially as he seeks help from his family in testing his beliefs against those of the Church Fathers and of Scripture.  

It is no different than if I were to say, "God seems to be opening a door for me in San Francisco," because I sent out 500 applications nationwide, had a burden in my conscience to serve people in San Francisco, prayed that San Francisco would be the only job offer I got so I woud not have to make the difficult choice of moving away from my family, and then the only job offer I got was in San Francisco.  If I say that it seems to me God has opened a door in San Francisco, that is not "taking God's name in vain," I'm sorry.  That is just speaking truthfully about the situation from my perspective while also making it clear that I am not saying God has necessarily spoken anything directly to me.  I could be wrong, perhaps Satan has led me to San Francisco, or perhaps I've led myself there and the job offer was just just a coincidence.   But from my perspective, it seems like God has led me there.

I don't know where you get your definition of "take the Lord's name in vain" from, but it is fairly obvious that you and I go by different definitions of that phrase.

love, joy, peace
Jason


Dear Jason,

I hope you will read the post above that I gave to Ozgeorge.  I hope this will clarify the matter further.  I'm going to be very busy this week, and so I doubt I will have the time to respond after this point.  Especially with Great Lent a week a way.

At any rate, here's the rub: believing God is leading you to make a personal decision is one thing, but believing God has called you to publicly teach a doctrine as from Him is another.  Sure, I think many of us can share your experience of being led to go somewhere or do something through guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The truth is that it is a specific act that only effects the actor (generally speaking).

But, if you teach a doctrine as a matter of Divine Revelation, and another person believes it because they believe you have heard fom God, and it turns out you are wrong, who does God hold accountable for the harm done?  There are desperate people out there, and we must be mindful of them.  St. Paul calls them the 'weak,' but he does not denigrate them.  Rather, he admonishes us to be cautious.

I can very easily dismiss your opinions as delusional, whether you think you are hearing from God or not, but there is a critical difference when you public teach something that you think is Divine Revelation.

What is worst, to say '__d d__n it' or to say 'I have a word from the Lord' that is not in fact the truth?  Which person takes His Name in vain?

In conclusion, I would be more careful about saying that God is teaching you directly until you have all the confirmation you need.  If you have suspicions that God is leading you to this or that, I recommend you keep it to yourself lest, if you are wrong, that you do not drag others down with you.

If you have an opinion, it is perectly OK to express it, but do not pull God into the matter until you are 100% sure you know it is Him through LOTS of confirmation.

Anyway, God have mercy on us both, and I wish you a profitable Great Lent (if you do Lent, that is Wink ).

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« Reply #117 on: February 08, 2010, 05:02:00 PM »

Iconodule,
She was not killed "because she lay with a man other than the one whom she married."  Again, Ex. 22 shows that women who lay with men other than the one's they married were *not* killed. 

No, it shows that some of these women, under certain circumstances, are not killed when their promiscuity has been revealed and they have not been married to anyone else. Once again, the passage in Deuteronomy says she is killed "because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house." Lying, of course, compounds the problem, but lying is not given as the reason. If it were so, it would say "to play the liar."

Quote
It is not a gross distortion to say they didn't have to marry.  The fact is, they didn't have to marry.  

Yes they did, so long as the father willed it. To say that they didn't have to marry is to take the exception and make it into the rule. It is a gross distortion of scripture. The maiden's opinion on the matter would matter very little. If the father did not will it, that would be a reproach to the young man. Again, premarital sex was considered shameful and the default response to it in Israeli society was to require the couple to marry. 

And what man would want her after that? This is a society where women were expected to be virgins until marriage- that much is made obvious by the big fuss made in Deuteronomy about women who are revealed not to be virgins upon marriage. If premarital sex were a normal aspect of courtship, no one would bother with the tokens of virginity or be terribly surprised if his wife were not a virgin. Virginity before marriage was considered the norm. This is an obvious fact you seem to be dodging in favor of some odd logical contortions.

If premarital sex were a normal part of courtship, then it needn't be kept secret and the male would not be expected to pay a dowry upon discovery. Why should he pay a dowry if he's just testing the waters, and that's what couples are supposed to do? That would make finding the right mate a rather expensive process, don't you think? How many marriage dowries would you want to pay for this promiscuity before giving up and settling down?

The Orthodox Church considers sex to be for the purpose of procreation. Sensual pleasure is a secondary aspect; indulging sex purely for this latter purpose, even within marriage, is frowned upon. Birth control, even "natural family planning", is discouraged or forbidden, and these methods were not available in Old Testament times, at least not in any way comparable to today.   

Quote
As far as the Song, I think 2:6 and 2:7 shows them laying with one another at the right time, with the right intent and conscience.  On top of that, I see nothing in Scripture that ever calls pre-wedding sex a sin.  Rather, sexual promiscuity is a sin (Romans 13:13).

The passage reads "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please."

The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate a couple of things before this passage prove your point. First, that the Song of Solomon is meant to be a literal guide to the marriage process, and that we are supposed to pattern our marriages on this poem. The Fathers saw it primarily as a spiritual allegory. Secondly, that this love poem follows a completely linear narrative from courtship until marriage, and that the passage refers not to the future and is not a phantasy. Thirdly, you have to show that the above passage is to be taken literally and referring necessarily to sexual intimacy before marriage, and that Christians are thereby exhorted to follow this pattern before marriage. You've got your work cut out for you.

Meanwhile, if you were to approach an Orthodox priest and tell him about your views, he would likely explain to you what the Church teaches. You, as an honest person, would have to respond that you believe differently, and that you base your view on one brief, ambiguous passage in a richly symbolic love poem that the Church has traditionally treated as an allegory. An impasse would be reached.
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« Reply #118 on: February 08, 2010, 05:12:17 PM »

I have to admit, I don't think I've ever heard the "match made in heaven" theory taught in Orthodoxy. What I have heard is that marriage is hard work, sacrifice, martyrdom, and working out one's salvation together with one's spouse. Please, if this is not correct, I ask any of my Orthodox brothers or sisters to correct me.

I agree marriage is hard work, sacrifice, and all of that.  However, I believe the purpose of the compatibility testing in the Song (personal, emotional, and sexual) as a part of courtship is to make marriage easier.  The rules mankind has imposed on couples (outside of God's authority, I believe) telling them to only hold hands (or whatever rule they give) make marriage *harder* with regards to one important aspect of compatibility.  That makes temptation more likely, and I don't believe that is God's will.

So, if this pre-marital sexual exploration-as-test-to-determine-compatibility is so important (on one hand I can see your point), why were almost all the marriages of those couples I observed who practised this ending in divorce? It wasn't just I who saw this, many others often commented on the phenomenon.

What did the couples that you observe practice?   Just erotic kissing, or just... you see the point.  I don't think we can observe exactly what couples did (what lines they crossed) and make judgments from that because only they know that information.  Besides, even if the couples had sex, I don't think the phenomenon you observed in your experience is reality in the world.  If a couple has sex before their wedding (but just with one another, not with anyone else, in other words, the Song's courtship as I understand it... culminating in intercourse only with the eventual spouse) then they have no higher rate of divorce.  See a study by Jay Teachman (2003), Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, and the Risk of Subsequent Marital Dissolution Among Women, Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (2), 444–455.  The study showed "women who are committed to one relationship, who have both premarital sex and cohabit only with the man they eventually marry, have no higher incidence of divorce than women who abstain from premarital sex and cohabitation. For women in this category, premarital sex and cohabitation with their eventual husband are just two more steps in developing a committed, long-term relationship."  That makes sense from my perspective.   Indeed, I wouldn't be suprised if couples that did no "fooling around" at all (no sexual compatibility testing) have higher divorce rates than couples who do.  But studies are always flawed anyway.  I have to follow the Word of God and my conscience as best as I know how to.

As far as I know, even Orthodox Jews do not use the Song of Songs as a reason to engage in pre-marital sex. Traditionally, both male and female are virgins before the marriage ceremony.

I'm not sure they are both virgins before the ceremony.  If they are according to tradition, remember, not all Jewish traditions are correct.  Jesus condemned many traditions in Mark 7, and indeed he never praised a single Jewish tradition that I know of.  He seemed to always rely on Scripture as his authority, and rightly so.  The Fathers can help us understand it, and that is why I'm seeking for help from them, but it is our highest authority, I believe.  I don't know if that is orthodox, but that is where I'm at right now.

As far as what Scripture in the Old Testament says, it simply never required virginity at the ceremony. For instance, Jewish researcher Ariel Scheib says, "The Bible never explicitly states a woman and man may not have sexual intercourse prior to marriage; therefore, no sanction was imposed for premarital sex, but it was considered a violation of custom (tradition)..." He cites as his sources Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions. PA: Jewish Publication Society, 2004; Kolatch, Alfred J. The Jewish Book of Why/The Second Jewish Book of Why. NY: Jonathan David Publishers, 1989; Wigoder, Geoffrey , Ed. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Facts on File, 1992.

Many others, including the Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach, agree. Boteach is the author of The Kosher Sutra, HarperOne Press, 2009 and Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy. New York: Broadway Books/Random House, 1999. He says, "Many people are surprised to learn that the Torah does not prohibit premarital sex. I challenge you to find any passage in the Jewish scriptures that forbids a man from having consensual sexual relations with any woman he could legally marry. It's just not there! (..) This is not to suggest that Judaism approves of pre-marital sex or promiscuity. (..) Jewish law prohibits an unmarried, unrelated man and woman from (even) being alone long enough to have sexual relations. But these laws come from the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch (custom, tradition), not from the Torah."

Scripture seems to be on my side in this matter, and if God wanted us to do marriage in the opposite order of the Song, I think he would have made it clear in Scripture.  He certainly was able to make all the other sexual sins (prostitution, homosexuality[old testament at least], adultery, etc.) clear in Scripture.  He chose not to make this one clear.   I think he did so for a reason, the reason the Song gives us.

love, joy, peace,
Jason
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« Reply #119 on: February 08, 2010, 05:42:42 PM »

I see. Well, one thing of which your words convince me  is that St. Barsanuphius of Optina was one wise man... Wink. Guess he, being at one time a young man with, er, similar fixations, understood human psychology very well indeed...
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« Reply #120 on: February 08, 2010, 05:43:22 PM »

Quote
The summary of it is that the Song of Solomon is a story about marriage, and the couple plainly and obviously explores sexuality with one another during courtship (chapter 1).  They don't have sex immediately.  However, they eventually do lie with one another before their wedding ceremony, immediately warning us to wait until the right time for this (2:6 and 2:7, wedding ceremony is end of chapter 3).  Therefore, I believe their unification (their 'one flesh', their 'marriage') occurred in private, before they announced it to the world.  I am not saying that sexual promiscuity is okay.  I am saying what Scripture says:  the process of becoming "one flesh" _is_ the formation of marriage.  

The process of becoming married is a process that runs its course over time, constrained by patience and the conscience, and it includes both personal, emotional, and sexual exploration before the ceremony.  At the right time, with a pure conscience, the couple unites with actual intercourse (laying with one another always indicates intercourse in Scripture).  They celebrate and announce this later with nuptial ceremony and celebration.  That is God's story about marriage, given to us in the Song, and my conscience leads me to believe this Scripture if the Church Fathers don't disagree with me.

I don't need to present you the teachings of the Church Fathers. Suffice it to show you that Scripture says it all. LOOK at the true model for marriage in the Bible for the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches: it's in the Book of Tobias, chapters 7 and 8.
In chapter 7, verses 13-17, Tobit is married to Sarah by the hands of her father Raguel. Only after that they were allowed to have sex - and to tell the truth, Tobit and Sarah didn't do this until the third day (due to reasons relating the plot of the book, and not to be applied to all cases). As you can see, sex before marriage was at least UNUSUAL if you like - and the model of pious marriage involves chastity before wedding.

In case you don't know, both RCism and EOxy include Tobias as an inspired Book... but maybe your Protestant way to look at Scriptures will make you deny the validity and authority of this book, in that case how can you aspire to be Orthodox?

In Christ,

Alex
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« Reply #121 on: February 08, 2010, 06:02:47 PM »

In case you don't know, both RCism and EOxy include Tobias as an inspired Book... but maybe your Protestant way to look at Scriptures will make you deny the validity and authority of this book, in that case how can you aspire to be Orthodox?

Tobit is my favorite Old Testament book. Nonetheless, many eastern Church Fathers rejected it from their canon, including later fathers such as St. John of Damascus. Well, you can take that up with them in heaven I suppose. Wink
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« Reply #122 on: February 08, 2010, 06:19:19 PM »

In case you don't know, both RCism and EOxy include Tobias as an inspired Book... but maybe your Protestant way to look at Scriptures will make you deny the validity and authority of this book, in that case how can you aspire to be Orthodox?

Tobit is my favorite Old Testament book. Nonetheless, many eastern Church Fathers rejected it from their canon, including later fathers such as St. John of Damascus. Well, you can take that up with them in heaven I suppose. Wink

What matters are the Canons, and not the special views of some Church Father. The Council of Carthage says it clearly that Tobit is a book of Scripture; and it was ratified (for the Orthodox) in the list of valid Synods in the Trullan Council, so it is a part of your Canon of inspired books. As a Catholic, of course, I am bound to it by the Council of Trent - the Orthodox have an important voice in the 1666-1667 Council of Jerusalem listing it among the Scriptures. Also, the quotes from that book include Polycarp, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Rufinus of Aquileia, Leo the Great and Gregory the Great. I think the list might even be longer, but don't have the time to check it LOL
Nobody of the Fathers rejecting it as inspired will go to hell: to tell the truth, they just doubted inspiration but not authority (Athanasius quoted it as authoritative though rejecting his canonicity... evidently the concept of Canon was different then than it is now!)

In Christ,

Alex
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« Reply #123 on: February 08, 2010, 06:27:06 PM »

Unfortunately, you'll need to do a little more research and a little less apologetics. Smiley For example (to cover one point you raised), the Trullan Council (Canon 2) accepts multiple Biblical canons. Oops! That's some more people you can complain to once you get to heaven.

EDIT--regarding quotes, you could start here  angel
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« Reply #124 on: February 08, 2010, 06:47:25 PM »

On the contrary, I perfectly know that even if, to tell the truth, I'm not affected by it. The Trullan Council isn't even held as authoritative in the Roman Catholic Church, whom I belong... Anyway, the LXX is the norm in Orthodoxy, and the LXX contains Tobit... I don't know of any Orthodox on this site defending against Tobit as a canonical book, so... we can just assume they held it as Canonical, afterall.
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« Reply #125 on: February 08, 2010, 08:31:54 PM »

Irrespective of its canonical status, the book is considered authoritative, just like many other writings which, while perhaps not considered scripture, have a binding authority for us.
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« Reply #126 on: February 09, 2010, 02:30:46 PM »

Irrespective of its canonical status, the book is considered authoritative, just like many other writings which, while perhaps not considered scripture, have a binding authority for us.
Which is precisely the reason why I decided to quote it in favour of Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #127 on: April 12, 2011, 12:44:03 AM »

As a courtesy to this section's moderator, I have split off the latest debate on premarital sex and moved it to Orthodox-Other Christian Discussion.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=35214.0
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« Reply #128 on: April 12, 2011, 01:33:14 AM »

thanks
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