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Author Topic: Is my doctrine correct. Can I join an Orthodox church? How do I do it?  (Read 21281 times) Average Rating: 0
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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?
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 06:26:28 PM by Schultz » Logged

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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.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 06:33:02 PM by acts420 » Logged

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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.

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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.

Jason Davis
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 #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?

http://communio.stblogs.org/Christ%20tempted%20by%20Satan.jpg
Bible Study in progress.

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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.

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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,
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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.

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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.

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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.


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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...


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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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Jason
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