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Author Topic: Premarital Sex Is Not a Sin?  (Read 45495 times) Average Rating: 1
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« on: March 06, 2011, 01:18:29 PM »

Alex, 

Thank you for your thoughtful response.  However, I don't think Tobias is the "model for marriage" any more than Genesis 24 is (the story of Issac and Rebekka).  In Tobias, they decided to wait until 3 days after the ceremony to be with one another.  The fact that they did so does not mean everyone has to.  No orthodox priest would require that.  The priest would require that they wait until after the ceremony.  However, such a priest would not have any clear foundation in Scripture or the Father's for that requirement either (as far as I can tell).  I would say the tradition he follows is not truly Orthodox (in that it doesn't stem from teachings of the Apostles or of the Fathers).  It is a man-made invention, the same types of "traditions of men" the Pharisees piled onto the shoulders of their followers.

Also, unlike Tobias, Song of Solomon is a book almost entirely devoted to courtship and marriage.  If any book was intended to serve as a specific guide for couples considering how to go about courtship and marriage, I would say it is Song of Solomon. 

I'm left with these thoughts.  I can't find anywhere in Scripture that prohibits sex as a part of courtship.  I also can't find any writings of early church father's that do the same.  I understand it is traditionally forbidden in the orthodox church.  However, as I've explored orthodoxy I've discovered that it also has other traditions that are unnecessary restrictions on God's people that were not taught by Christ and the Apostles.  Take, for instance, the requirement for bishops to be celibate.  I think that is quite obviously a requirement that goes against the practice and doctrine of the Apostles. 

These sorts of "made up" traditional rules and doctrines are the exact type of thing that led me away from my Baptist heritage.  I came to orthodoxy because I wanted to find true Christianity.  However, I now suppose there is no such thing as a "perfect" church.  The church is made of human beings, and human beings are all flawed.  I suppose I will just try to be the best Christian I can be and live by what I believe to be the Truth. 

I know of no other church closer to the doctrines that I find in Scripture other than the orthodox church, so I suppose I will continue to attend orthodox churches.  Who knows... maybe some day she will correct herself.  From what I've read, many leaders have openly questioned the celibacy requirement for bishops.  Maybe someday they will also question the restrictions that they have imposed on courtship also.


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

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

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

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

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Alex
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2011, 06:54:08 PM »

Does this "premarital courtship sex" you believe in bond the pair for life, or can one still back out to sexually "try on" others? If the latter, what differentiates this "backing out" to have sex with other people from, say, adultery?
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2011, 12:37:42 AM »

Nicholas,

One can still back out.  If one couldn't back out then sex would be marriage, not a part of dating or courtship.  I'm not advocating that people go around and sleep with a bunch of people.  Obviously that can lead to a whole host of problems, and I have read in Scripture that promiscuity is sinful.  In fact, I"m not even advocating that people do sleep with one another during courtship.  I think they should do as they feel led and comfortable.  I'm just saying that I can find no place in Scripture or the early church Fathers that says sex is sinful as a part of courtship.  One of the things that turns people off about the church is the restrictions it places on sex in what otherwise seems to be a healthy context (serious courtship).  Ironically enough, another thing that I've found turns people off is the restrictions on bishop's marriage.  And the more I look into them, the more I am convinced that both of these things are inventions of later generations that are now hurting the church.

I was taught over and over in the Baptist church I grew up in that sex before marriage is a sin.  Eventually I realized that a lot of things that church taught me were wrong (for instance, that all you have to do to "get to heaven" is believe in Jesus).  Once I started to realize how mislead my former pastors were, I questioned everything they had taught me.  I became very skeptical of people who claimed to be able to teach me what God wants me to believe.  I realized that I had to re-learn Christianity.  I did this by reading and re-reading Scripture, and assuming nothing other than what is taught in its pages (while also respecting what the early Father's said the Apostles taught).   One of the things that became obvious to me that I was taught incorrectly about was  the "sinfulness" of pre-marital sex. It just isn't taught in the Scriptures or the early Fathers as far as I can tell.

I was very excited when I discovered the orthodox church.  The way they worshiped, the things they believed about salvation... it all seemed very much in line with what I read in Scripture.  I wept the first time I experienced a liturgy because I felt like I had finally found the church I had been looking for for so long.  However, the more I explored it the more I have realized that the very things that turned me off of Protestantism, Non-Apostolic traditions and restrictions that have developed over time, have also infected Orthodoxy.

I suppose I just need to be myself, live what I believe, and enjoy orthodoxy for the wonders of Christianity that it *has* preserved instead of focusing on the things that disappoint me about it.

Does this "premarital courtship sex" you believe in bond the pair for life, or can one still back out to sexually "try on" others? If the latter, what differentiates this "backing out" to have sex with other people from, say, adultery?
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 12:55:11 AM »

Nicholas,

One can still back out.  If one couldn't back out then sex would be marriage, not a part of dating or courtship.  I'm not advocating that people go around and sleep with a bunch of people.  Obviously that can lead to a whole host of problems, and I have read in Scripture that promiscuity is sinful.  In fact, I"m not even advocating that people do sleep with one another during courtship.  I think they should do as they feel led and comfortable.  I'm just saying that I can find no place in Scripture or the early church Fathers that says sex is sinful as a part of courtship. 

Look up the word "fornication."  You'll find it (or should).  Until you say "I do," you don't.

One of the things that turns people off about the church is the restrictions it places on sex in what otherwise seems to be a healthy context (serious courtship).

LOL. Define "serious."

Ironically enough, another thing that I've found turns people off is the restrictions on bishop's marriage.  And the more I look into them, the more I am convinced that both of these things are inventions of later generations that are now hurting the church.

The Church can bless your marriage. She can't bless your fornication.

I was taught over and over in the Baptist church I grew up in that sex before marriage is a sin.  Eventually I realized that a lot of things that church taught me were wrong (for instance, that all you have to do to "get to heaven" is believe in Jesus).
 
The prohibition on premarital sex wasn't one of those things.

Once I started to realize how mislead my former pastors were, I questioned everything they had taught me.  I became very skeptical of people who claimed to be able to teach me what God wants me to believe.  I realized that I had to re-learn Christianity.  I did this by reading and re-reading Scripture, and assuming nothing other than what is taught in its pages (while also respecting what the early Father's said the Apostles taught).   One of the things that became obvious to me that I was taught incorrectly about was  the "sinfulness" of pre-marital sex. It just isn't taught in the Scriptures or the early Fathers as far as I can tell.
Then you are not looking. You threw the baby out with the bathwater.

I was very excited when I discovered the orthodox church.  The way they worshiped, the things they believed about salvation... it all seemed very much in line with what I read in Scripture.  I wept the first time I experienced a liturgy because I felt like I had finally found the church I had been looking for for so long.  However, the more I explored it the more I have realized that the very things that turned me off of Protestantism, Non-Apostolic traditions and restrictions that have developed over time, have also infected Orthodoxy.

We haven't changed for scores of generations before you. We can't change for you.

I suppose I just need to be myself, live what I believe, and enjoy orthodoxy for the wonders of Christianity that it *has* preserved instead of focusing on the things that disappoint me about it.
Well, then there's still hope for you.

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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2011, 01:00:08 AM »

acts420, you might wish to examine the text of the Orthodox wedding service. There are constant references to "preserving the marriage-bed undefiled", as well as some good advice in the Epistle, from Ephesians ch 5:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.


The submission of the husband to the wife, and the wife to the husband, does not only refer to sex, but it does not exclude it either. A careful reading and reflection on this epistle, and in the marriage ceremonies in general, will soon put paid to the idea that pre-marital sex is somehow acceptable.

Here are links to the Orthodox betrothal and marriage services:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/betrotha.htm
http://www.anastasis.org.uk/crowning.htm
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2011, 01:37:03 PM »

Acts420, you seem to be saying we have not only a right (in the sense that it is not sinful), but in fact a duty to engage in premarital sex to ensure compatibility.  My question about this is rather simple:

If this is in fact Biblical teaching, how did this work in the days before contraception?
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2011, 08:41:07 PM »

Look up the word "fornication."  You'll find it (or should).  Until you say "I do," you don't.
I don't see how that helps me at alll in my search for New Testament and early church father references to premarital sex as sinful.  The first recorded use of the noun in its modern meaning was in 1303 AD, with the verb fornicate first recorded around 250 years later.  See The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.   The word derives from Latin.  The word fornix means "an archway" or "vault" and it became a common euphemism for a brothel as prostitutes could be solicited in the vaults beneath Rome.  More directly, fornicatio means "done in the archway"; thus it originally referred to prostitution.

One of the things that turns people off about the church is the restrictions it places on sex in what otherwise seems to be a healthy context (serious courtship).
LOL. Define "serious."

From the LOL I take it you're not.

We haven't changed for scores of generations before you. We can't change for you.

That is easy to say.  However, the prohibition on marriage for bishops is a just one example of how cultural norms and other factors have in fact changed the original church from what it originally practiced.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2011, 08:50:17 PM »

Acts420, you seem to be saying we have not only a right (in the sense that it is not sinful), but in fact a duty to engage in premarital sex to ensure compatibility.  My question about this is rather simple:

If this is in fact Biblical teaching, how did this work in the days before contraception?

No, I don't think it is anyone has a duty to engage in premarital sex.  I do think they risk incompatibility if they don't.  On the other hand, they risk other things if they do.  Also, compatibility in that area may be more important to some couples and persons than to others.  I just think each person and couple has the right to make that choice on their own since neither premarital sex nor premarital abstinence is prohibited in Scripture or, from what I can tell so far, the early fathers who have passed it down to us.

Before contraceptive devices and chemicals were used, couples used coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal.  Onan is recorded as doing it in the very first book of the Bible.  Of course, he was slain.  However, that was not because he used birth control as many Catholics have tried to get me to believe.  It was because he essentially lied to his father about giving a child to his dead brother's wife to preserve the family line and instead simply used her for sex.  Coitus interruptus, if used properly, can actually be a very effective method of birth control.

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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2011, 08:55:01 PM »

acts420, have you had the chance to examine the links and texts I provided in my earlier post?
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2011, 08:58:43 PM »

Thank you LBK,

I fail to see anywhere in the passages you cite that refers to premarital sex.  One could read it and come away with the idea the premarital sex is forbidden, but another could read it and see no reference whatsoever to premarital sex.  

Heb 13:4 is where the phrase "preserving the marriage-bed undefiled" comes from.  Many Christians have referred me to that passage in order to show that premarital sex is a sin.  However, they are simply assuming that premarital sex is something that "defiles" the marriage bed.  Once someone rejects the assumptions of his pastors (as I was forced to do in my Baptist heritage) and looks only to the Scriptures and the early fathers for interpretation, that passage takes on a vastly different meaning.  The only reference to someone ever "defiling the marriage bed" in Scripture is adultery (1 Chr 5:1, Gen 35:22), not premarital sex. Never once is "the bed defiled" referring premarital sex elsewhere. The belief that pre-wedding sex "defiles" marriage only comes to us from traditions that, as far as I can tell, have no origin in the original church.

acts420, you might wish to examine the text of the Orthodox wedding service. There are constant references to "preserving the marriage-bed undefiled", as well as some good advice in the Epistle, from Ephesians ch 5:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.


The submission of the husband to the wife, and the wife to the husband, does not only refer to sex, but it does not exclude it either. A careful reading and reflection on this epistle, and in the marriage ceremonies in general, will soon put paid to the idea that pre-marital sex is somehow acceptable.

Here are links to the Orthodox betrothal and marriage services:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/betrotha.htm
http://www.anastasis.org.uk/crowning.htm
« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 08:59:30 PM by acts420 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2011, 09:02:23 PM »

That is easy to say.  However, the prohibition on marriage for bishops is a just one example of how cultural norms and other factors have in fact changed the original church from what it originally practiced.

Episcopal celibacy is a purely disciplinary for the good order of the Church. This can be changed if called for by the Curch.

Celibacy outside of marriage is a doctrinal issue concerning marriage as an image of Christ and the Church. This is an eternal truth.
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2011, 09:16:48 PM »

The garbage about "sexual compatibility" reduces human persons to masturbation devices. Unlike love, which transcends physical feelings, a relationship made or broken by how enjoyable the sex is, is about as shallow as it gets. That is selfish lust, plain and simple.

And your argument from perceived silence is nonsense. We are not sola scripturists, nor do we set the Fathers against each other. We obey what the Church teaches, led by the Holy Spirit, and the Church teaches that your activity is sinful fornication. There is no point in arguing it. If you don't like it, then you don't have to become Orthodox. But don't bear false witness about the Church, because that's starting to approach the territory of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

And anyway, we can deduce that premarital sex was considered sinful because of how Joseph reacted to the Theotokos' pregnancy out-of-wedlock. If sex was no big deal, then neither would pregnancy, because the use of birth control was also forbidden. Your bizarre theory requires far more exegetical gymnastics than the Church's unwavering teaching.
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2011, 09:17:05 PM »

I do think they risk incompatibility if they don't.  On the other hand, they risk other things if they do.  Also, compatibility in that area may be more important to some couples and persons than to others.

What happens if two people are "compatible" when they marry, and then a number of years later find themselves to be less satisfied with each other?

Also, this POV promotes promiscuity and carries the implication that one should "try out" as many partners as possible to find the one they are most "compatible" with.

Also, if two people are never with anyone else but each other (that is if they follow Christ's teaching), then there will be no compatibility issues because there will be no outside experience to judge performance by.
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2011, 10:32:18 PM »

What happens if two people are "compatible" when they marry, and then a number of years later find themselves to be less satisfied with each other?

What you've described is normal.  Couples typically experience ups and downs in terms of their relationship, in all aspects.  Still, such a couple would likely still be more satisfied with one another than a couple that ended up being extremely incompatible to begin with.  Or they may not be.  We could argue this all day. My only point is that unless original Christianity prohibited premarital sex, individuals should choose what is best for them here and not be pressured one way or the other by being told what is "sin" when it really isn't.

Also, this POV promotes promiscuity and carries the implication that one should "try out" as many partners as possible to find the one they are most "compatible" with.

I don't think it does.  Severe incompatibility problems can simply be ensured to not be at issue this way.

Also, if two people are never with anyone else but each other (that is if they follow Christ's teaching), then there will be no compatibility issues because there will be no outside experience to judge performance by.

That is not true.  That is like saying two animals will definitely get along well if neither of them have been in the company of another.  A lion and a sheep may get a long, but on the other hand you might end up with a mess. 

Or that is like saying if two people never talked to anyone else, they will have no compatibility issues with the first person they talk to.  That just is not necessarily the case.  Some people get along very well, find similar things interesting, have similar senses of humor, etc., etc. and some people just plain don't.  It is just a fact of human relationship.

The fact is, people have sexual likes, dislikes, and issues just like they have with anything else.  For instance, different people have different sex drives... sometimes extremely different.  Someone with an extremely high sex drive will probably wish he knew his or her partner was going to want sex once a year right off the bat.  Sure, the average is more typical... but both types of people on the extremes exist and could end up married.  Sure, marriage is about sacrificing for the other's wants.  But no one wants to sleep with someone who they know honestly just doesn't want to have sex.  Well... I take that back, some people do enjoy that.  But most don't.  The point is, argh... most of the time waiting for after marriage works out fine.  However, there are instances in which it presents major problems for the couple that could've easily been avoided (and that would've naturally been avoided had the couple not been taught a made-up tradition about the evil of sex in courtship that, as far as I can tell, has no origin in the early church). 
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2011, 10:36:05 PM »

That is easy to say.  However, the prohibition on marriage for bishops is a just one example of how cultural norms and other factors have in fact changed the original church from what it originally practiced.

Episcopal celibacy is a purely disciplinary for the good order of the Church. This can be changed if called for by the Curch.

Celibacy outside of marriage is a doctrinal issue concerning marriage as an image of Christ and the Church. This is an eternal truth.

I disagree.  I think episcopal celibacy was instituted in error, and it remains in error.  I think it very much is a doctrinal issue that reflects extremely poorly on marriage, on Christ, and on the Church also. 
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« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2011, 10:41:00 PM »

What happens if two people are "compatible" when they marry, and then a number of years later find themselves to be less satisfied with each other?

What you've described is normal.  Couples typically experience ups and downs in terms of their relationship, in all aspects.  Still, such a couple would likely still be more satisfied with one another than a couple that ended up being extremely incompatible to begin with.  Or they may not be.  We could argue this all day. My only point is that unless original Christianity prohibited premarital sex, individuals should choose what is best for them here and not be pressured one way or the other by being told what is "sin" when it really isn't.

Also, this POV promotes promiscuity and carries the implication that one should "try out" as many partners as possible to find the one they are most "compatible" with.

I don't think it does.  Severe incompatibility problems can simply be ensured to not be at issue this way.

Also, if two people are never with anyone else but each other (that is if they follow Christ's teaching), then there will be no compatibility issues because there will be no outside experience to judge performance by.

That is not true.  That is like saying two animals will definitely get along well if neither of them have been in the company of another.  A lion and a sheep may get a long, but on the other hand you might end up with a mess. 

Or that is like saying if two people never talked to anyone else, they will have no compatibility issues with the first person they talk to.  That just is not necessarily the case.  Some people get along very well, find similar things interesting, have similar senses of humor, etc., etc. and some people just plain don't.  It is just a fact of human relationship.

The fact is, people have sexual likes, dislikes, and issues just like they have with anything else.  For instance, different people have different sex drives... sometimes extremely different.  Someone with an extremely high sex drive will probably wish he knew his or her partner was going to want sex once a year right off the bat.  Sure, the average is more typical... but both types of people on the extremes exist and could end up married.  Sure, marriage is about sacrificing for the other's wants.  But no one wants to sleep with someone who they know honestly just doesn't want to have sex.  Well... I take that back, some people do enjoy that.  But most don't.  The point is, argh... most of the time waiting for after marriage works out fine.  However, there are instances in which it presents major problems for the couple that could've easily been avoided (and that would've naturally been avoided had the couple not been taught a made-up tradition about the evil of sex in courtship that, as far as I can tell, has no origin in the early church). 

Can you account for how this "made up tradition" made its way into every branch of Christianity that can trace itself back to the apostles? The idea of allowing sex outside of marriage is even relativiely new for Protestants. You keep claiming that someone just out of nowhere inserted this belief into Christianity, when the truth is that it was always there, has always been believed, and up until extremely recently, the allowance of sex outside of marriage was never believed by anyone anywhere.
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2011, 10:57:09 PM »

The garbage about "sexual compatibility" reduces human persons to masturbation devices. Unlike love, which transcends physical feelings, a relationship made or broken by how enjoyable the sex is, is about as shallow as it gets. That is selfish lust, plain and simple.

Have I called your beliefs garbage?  No.  I've tried to be civil.  I'll say this though... to even separate sex from marital love is ridiculous.  Even Paul says that sexual desire is a hugely important component of marriage and reason for marriage.  No, it isn't the only component of marriage nor the only reason to get married.  Nonetheless, it is very important.  To call the belief that sexual compatibility is important "garbage" and "selfish" is just plain ignorance of reality.  No one in their right mind, viewing the way human sexual relationships work, would come to your conclusion unless they were raised in an environment where people of authority told them they had to work that way or else God would punish the parties involved.

And your argument from perceived silence is nonsense. We are not sola scripturists, nor do we set the Fathers against each other. We obey what the Church teaches, led by the Holy Spirit, and the Church teaches that your activity is sinful fornication. There is no point in arguing it. If you don't like it, then you don't have to become Orthodox. But don't bear false witness about the Church, because that's starting to approach the territory of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

My argument from silence is not at all nonsense.  It is perfectly reasonable to expect that if premarital sex were a sin it would say so somewhere in the Bible or in the early father's writings.  Less common sexual sins like homosexuality, adultery, or even prostitution are plainly condemned.  The most common sexual "sin" in all of history (premarital sex) is never once called sinful.  If I were you, I'd listen to you're own advice.  "Don't bear false witness about the Church, because that's starting to approach the territory of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit."

And anyway, we can deduce that premarital sex was considered sinful because of how Joseph reacted to the Theotokos' pregnancy out-of-wedlock. If sex was no big deal, then neither would pregnancy, because the use of birth control was also forbidden. Your bizarre theory requires far more exegetical gymnastics than the Church's unwavering teaching.

No, that doesn't let us deduce that premarital sex is sinful (or even that it was considered sinful).  Joseph and the Theotokos had not slept with one another.  Some couples abstain even when they are allowed to one another do so out of personal choice, not out of a desire to avoid sin.  Her pregnancy was a huge deal to Joseph because he knew it wasn't his. 

Exegetical gymnastics?  I think you need to look in the mirror.  Josheph's and the Theotokos' story says nothing about sinfulness of premarital sex.  You shouldn't be having to do these exegetical gymnastics.  Again, many sexual sins are plainly described as such in Scripture, whether homosexuality, prostitution, adultery, etc.  Premarital sex would be also, if it were sinful.

My whole point is that I don't see "unwavering teaching" in the Church on this topic through time.  Certainly it is unwavering *now*.  But these ideas you're telling me are unwavering were quite simply not taught in the New Testament or early church, as far as the evidence shows.
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2011, 11:03:05 PM »

Can you account for how this "made up tradition" made its way into every branch of Christianity that can trace itself back to the apostles? The idea of allowing sex outside of marriage is even relativiely new for Protestants. You keep claiming that someone just out of nowhere inserted this belief into Christianity, when the truth is that it was always there, has always been believed, and up until extremely recently, the allowance of sex outside of marriage was never believed by anyone anywhere.

If it was always there, wouldn't it be in Scripture or the early Fathers?  Other plainly obvious sexual sins are still very clearly called such.  Premarital sex is never once clearly called sin.  I don't think it "was always there" as sin.

As far as your question, I suppose this made up tradition must have slipped into common Christian thinking and belief sometime after the Apostles and early Fathers and before the great split around 1000 A.D.   
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« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2011, 11:53:59 PM »

My dear brother acts420,

What then can we make of the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife:

"So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside"

Also St. Ambrose says:
"No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce’; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another"
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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2011, 12:37:25 AM »

Can you account for how this "made up tradition" made its way into every branch of Christianity that can trace itself back to the apostles? The idea of allowing sex outside of marriage is even relativiely new for Protestants. You keep claiming that someone just out of nowhere inserted this belief into Christianity, when the truth is that it was always there, has always been believed, and up until extremely recently, the allowance of sex outside of marriage was never believed by anyone anywhere.

If it was always there, wouldn't it be in Scripture or the early Fathers?  Other plainly obvious sexual sins are still very clearly called such.  Premarital sex is never once clearly called sin.  I don't think it "was always there" as sin.

As far as your question, I suppose this made up tradition must have slipped into common Christian thinking and belief sometime after the Apostles and early Fathers and before the great split around 1000 A.D.   

It would have had to have been much earlier than that. The Oriental Orthodox who have been seperated from us since 451 hold the same view, and I'm not sure but I believe the ACE who has been seperated from us since 381 hold the same view too.

It is in the early fathers.

Quote from: St_Justin_Martyr
But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children; or whether we decline marriage, we live continently. And that you may understand that promiscuous intercourse is not one of our mysteries,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.xxix.html

Quote from: St_Irenaeus
[The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”, etc. Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God. And then, again, he proceeds to tell us the spiritual actions which vivify a man, that is, the engrafting of the Spirit; thus saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, benignity, faith, meekness, continence, chastity: against these there is no law.” As, therefore, he who has gone forward to the better things, and has brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, is saved altogether because of the communion of the Spirit; so also he who has continued in the aforesaid works of the flesh, being truly reckoned as carnal, because he did not receive the Spirit of God, shall not have power to inherit the kingdom of heaven. As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”. He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xii.html

It is in Scripture.

1Cor 6:15-20
Quote
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Can you find anything in the NT or early fathers that actively supports your claim?
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« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2011, 11:07:15 AM »

Acts420, you seem to be saying we have not only a right (in the sense that it is not sinful), but in fact a duty to engage in premarital sex to ensure compatibility.  My question about this is rather simple:

If this is in fact Biblical teaching, how did this work in the days before contraception?

No, I don't think it is anyone has a duty to engage in premarital sex.  I do think they risk incompatibility if they don't.  On the other hand, they risk other things if they do.  Also, compatibility in that area may be more important to some couples and persons than to others.  I just think each person and couple has the right to make that choice on their own since neither premarital sex nor premarital abstinence is prohibited in Scripture or, from what I can tell so far, the early fathers who have passed it down to us.

Before contraceptive devices and chemicals were used, couples used coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal.  Onan is recorded as doing it in the very first book of the Bible.  Of course, he was slain.  However, that was not because he used birth control as many Catholics have tried to get me to believe.  It was because he essentially lied to his father about giving a child to his dead brother's wife to preserve the family line and instead simply used her for sex.  Coitus interruptus, if used properly, can actually be a very effective method of birth control.

So what if it is ineffective, and what if you determine her to be incompatible sexually?

Do you still marry the one you have impregnated, or do you continue on in your search for compatibility?

Same question applies to typical birth control, by the way -- I asked about pre-contraception because coitus interruptus is less reliable than typical forms of birth control.
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« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2011, 11:23:44 AM »

The fact is, people have sexual likes, dislikes, and issues just like they have with anything else.  For instance, different people have different sex drives... sometimes extremely different.  Someone with an extremely high sex drive will probably wish he knew his or her partner was going to want sex once a year right off the bat.  Sure, the average is more typical... but both types of people on the extremes exist and could end up married.  Sure, marriage is about sacrificing for the other's wants.  But no one wants to sleep with someone who they know honestly just doesn't want to have sex.  Well... I take that back, some people do enjoy that.  But most don't.  The point is, argh... most of the time waiting for after marriage works out fine.  However, there are instances in which it presents major problems for the couple that could've easily been avoided (and that would've naturally been avoided had the couple not been taught a made-up tradition about the evil of sex in courtship that, as far as I can tell, has no origin in the early church). 

I was trying to make a point with my questions earlier, but this really just gets to the heart of it.  As bogdan said, you are reducing human beings to masturbation tools.  Read what you wrote above -- what is the driving factor?  What you want.  What you need.  What your drives and desires are.  Sure, you throw in the phrase "sure, marriage is about sacrificing for the other's wants," and then IMMEDIATELY comes the "but....."

No, rather, marriage IS sacrificing for the other's wants.  That means if your wife doesn't want to engage in your desires and "drives," you don't force yourself on her and you don't decide the two of you are incompatible.  You rather deny yourself so that she may be happy, and she will do the same for you in proper time.  That's what marriage is -- MUTUAL care and self-sacrifice.

The real issue here is two-fold, but it really boils down to one problem -- you are viewing both issues in a self-centered fashion. 

First, you are reading the sexual relationship in marriage through your own eyes.  What makes a couple compatible, to you, is whether the other person wants exactly what you want when you want it.  That's not a healthy relationship at all.  In a marriage, couples work through these issues by BOTH conceding.  In love.  And in that case, the one is not engaging in relations with someone who "doesn't want to," but is in fact engaging in relations with someone who wants to because she is giving of herself rather than feeding her own selfish desires.  Likewise, you refrain from relations when she doesn't want to not because you are being "denied," but because you deny yourself for the good of your spouse.

Second, you keep speaking of the "original Church," but you are ignoring the fact that the original Church is here speaking to you.  We haven't gone anywhere.  You claim the Church's teachings on fornication are an innovation, but your facts are wrong, as has been pointed out to you, and further your assumption that the Church surely would have taught about this at length if it were an issue is wrong.  It is entirely possible that, like ordination of women or infant baptism or a host of other things, it wasn't an issue because, well, it wasn't an issue.  Everyone agreed on it.  You are here in the 21st century basically second-guessing over a thousand years (even by your reckoning) of Church teaching by claiming you are closer to the New Testament Apostolic Church than the numerous Church Fathers who have spoken on the topic.  The real question, if you are correct, is why didn't the Church go into a tizzy when the new teaching (as you claim) was "introduced" into the Church?  Why didn't the bishops speak against it?  Why didn't the Fathers write against it?  Where are your texts from the Fathers denouncing this innovation?

At the end of the day, the problem you are having is you want to be the authority, both on when sexual relations should occur in a marriage and on whether sex before marriage is prohibited to the Church.  The only way around this problem is to submit to the Church, and love your wife as Christ loved the Church.  Neither of those solutions starts with you expressing your wants or desires or making yourself the authority over what is right and wrong.  At the end of the day, the problem you have is you want to be at the center of both issues.
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« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2011, 11:24:14 AM »

Although the Old Testament lacks our modern terminology for sex, and tends to put a lot of time in on topics that we now take for granted (for example, even the most liberal of Christian tendencies still does not acknowledge bestiality), one really cannot say that the OT leaves the door open to premarital sex.

Here’s an example:

"If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22: 28-29)

No, God does not directly say ‘premarital sex,’ but commands that premarital sex must result in a marriage, and one that cannot be divorced from!  Had she been ‘betrothed,’ the punishment would have been death for him and for her, except in the case of rape.

To understand the Divine attitude towards sexual contact with more than one partner, we must look to God’s commands regarding the Levites:

“They (the Levitical priests) shall not marry a harlot or a woman who has been defiled; neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God.  You shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God; he shall be holy to you; for I the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.  And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.

“And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  A widow, or one divorced, or a woman who has been defiled, or a harlot, these he shall not marry; but he shall take to wife a virgin of his own people, that he may not profane his children among his people; for I am the LORD who sanctify him." (Leviticus 21: 7-15)


Here, we are looking for a definition of the term ‘defiled’ which is not otherwise described.  It is juxtaposed to ‘virgin’ and lumped in with divorcees, widows and harlots.  Since only a virgin is a virgin, then a defiled woman is a ‘not-virgin,’ which thus assumes that she has had sex, unless you are willing to tamper with the definition of virginity, in which case we simply can’t have a discussion on the matter at all because words don’t mean anything.

The commands for the Levitical priesthood are not binding on Israel, but they are indicative of Divine view of sex.  Premarital sex is ‘defiling.’  The woman is defiled and the man is a defiler, not a desirable state for either one, since both will have to answer to God for the defiling of His Image.

This leaves us with the question of why the topic of ‘premarital sex’ is not spoken of in a direct manner.  The answer is cultural: those societies understood the importance of sexual continence before marriage.  That’s why societies with looser sexual restrictions tend to not have prostitutes, since they are unnecessary if sex is easy to get.  Even societies with relatively loose rules regarding prostitution still regard sexual conduct before marriage as undesirable.  In fact, prostitution is generally seen as a form of either slavery or purposeful defiling, even if permitted.

Premarital sex is not a happy subject, because sex is not a happy subject.  Even now when we have very loose standards, I doubt one could prove that people are any happier.  Divorces, and unpleasant ones at that, are all too common.  People are gulping anti-depressants and addicted to ‘drugs’ (including non-drug ‘drugs’ such as food, gambling, etc.) at an alarming rate.  Western countries have shut down reproduction with the dissolution of the family, where children become an ‘option’ like whether or not to buy a Jacuzzi.

Student dorms and night clubs are full of lots of opportunity for one to express one’s sexuality, but they rarely produce long-term happiness and security.  In the end, you can mess around a lot and still end up very lonely, which leads to more temporary relationships and more despair.  Studies prove that ‘sexual compatibility,’ living together before marriage, open relationships, etc. do nothing but increase one’s opportunities for one’s unhappiness.

Sex is powerful stuff, and only a Divinely-inspired marriage is equipped to handle it.  It is a sad day indeed when the Church would abandon it.
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« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2011, 11:43:54 AM »

Although the Old Testament lacks our modern terminology for sex, and tends to put a lot of time in on topics that we now take for granted (for example, even the most liberal of Christian tendencies still does not acknowledge bestiality), one really cannot say that the OT leaves the door open to premarital sex.

Father, I pointed out these passages to him (look at page 3). Then he disappeared from the forum for a year  Smiley

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« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2011, 11:50:34 AM »

Well, at least he's coming back for more!

Let's not forget that each person converts differently.  Some quickly and some slowly.

In the end, everyone becomes Orthodox because everyone has to deal with the truth at death.  If one is prepared to meet Christ Jesus in truth, then one converts with joy and accepts rest until His glorious Second Coming and the Last Judgment.  If one is not prepared, then one 'converts' in the sense that he can no longer escape the truth and go back to his false beliefs, though the truth becomes a source of torment.

I hope he keeps struggling with his conscience, since this opens the door to conversion.


Although the Old Testament lacks our modern terminology for sex, and tends to put a lot of time in on topics that we now take for granted (for example, even the most liberal of Christian tendencies still does not acknowledge bestiality), one really cannot say that the OT leaves the door open to premarital sex.

Father, I pointed out these passages to him (look at page 3). Then he disappeared from the forum for a year  Smiley


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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2011, 10:04:00 PM »

Man that original post sounds like something I could have written a few years back. The fact that premarital sex as sin is not spelled out in scripture was something I clinged to with all my life. I really don't understand now, why I was so worried about premarital sex being wrong or not other than to justify my lifestyle. We can follow every rule literally spelled out in the Bible and still not be saved. There is a spirit, however, that we must abide in to be saved and honestly having sex with someone outside of marriage is not in keeping with the spirit of Christ. Sorry, but it really is that cut and dry. Why have sex? Why not wait? The only answer can be, because that person doesn't want to wait, they want to do what they want to do. And I can find plenty of scripture and writings of the Fathers that tell us how important and effective self denial is. It teaches us that God's will be done, not our own. Or does one get satisfaction from feeling they have a truth the rest of the Christian community missed? This was my main pitfall. I wanted to feel like I knew better, but sadly I didn't.

I pray for Acts420. May God enlighten you and have mercy on us all.
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« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2011, 10:27:56 AM »

I really don't understand now, why I was so worried about premarital sex being wrong or not other than to justify my lifestyle. We can follow every rule literally spelled out in the Bible and still not be saved. There is a spirit, however, that we must abide in to be saved and honestly having sex with someone outside of marriage is not in keeping with the spirit of Christ. Sorry, but it really is that cut and dry. Why have sex? Why not wait? The only answer can be, because that person doesn't want to wait, they want to do what they want to do.

Exactly. Well said. That is the heart of the matter!
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« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2011, 12:45:09 PM »

Well said, and I would only add that this 'exegesis of self' behind the justification of non-marital sex is behind all other heresy and militant mis-exegesis.

Religion is a very dangerous game, since it can lead to all kinds of self-justification and excuse, which end the process of repentance.  So much of Orthodoxy rests on 'gray areas' (look at what the canons do and do not say about sex) precisely to avoid Pharisaical or Shariac attitudes.  Uncertainty leads to repentance, whereas certainty utterly blocks it.  Being certain that we have a 'green light' to do something, according to the fallen mind, means we can do it without restraint.  Thus we have a less-than-clear-from-a-modern-perspective answer (i.e. looking at sex from an overall Biblical view versus a flat command), and suddenly this becomes certainty that we can do as much as we want because there is no 'clear' prohibition.

The problem is that a 'clear prohibition' would stunt our investigation of the topic.  We can turn off our brains.  we don't need to struggle.  We don't need to repent.

I do believe God wants us to think about what we do.  I think He desires us to come to Him with genuine concern about making the right decisions.  I am certain He desires us to deliberate in light of His mercy and love.  If we had a fatwa for everything, we would have to think about nothing.  But, we would lose a great deal of the intimacy that our struggles to find the right path gives us.  We need to take up the Cross and do our best, all the while being prepared to hear that we have done it wrong and need to repent and start over.  It is injurious to the ego, but the ego is precisely what fights against our salvation.  It needs to the crucifixion of repentance.  This is the self-denial of which Mr. Gardner speaks, the restraint we must have while we seek what is good, even if it means holding off from action until we have a better idea of what we are getting ourselves into.

As an additional note: selfless and restrained sex is in many ways more difficult than abstinence.  The Church's emphasis on virginity is, in addition to being biblical, entirely practical.  Once it is experienced it is impossible to forget and even more difficult resist unless one has done a loooooooot of it.  I have met people who are sexually 'burned out' from years of promiscuity.  They are not so much continent or content as simply tired, like a hunter who gives up chasing his prey.  It is sad.  It also leads to escalations that can drive one right off the map.



Man that original post sounds like something I could have written a few years back. The fact that premarital sex as sin is not spelled out in scripture was something I clinged to with all my life. I really don't understand now, why I was so worried about premarital sex being wrong or not other than to justify my lifestyle. We can follow every rule literally spelled out in the Bible and still not be saved. There is a spirit, however, that we must abide in to be saved and honestly having sex with someone outside of marriage is not in keeping with the spirit of Christ. Sorry, but it really is that cut and dry. Why have sex? Why not wait? The only answer can be, because that person doesn't want to wait, they want to do what they want to do. And I can find plenty of scripture and writings of the Fathers that tell us how important and effective self denial is. It teaches us that God's will be done, not our own. Or does one get satisfaction from feeling they have a truth the rest of the Christian community missed? This was my main pitfall. I wanted to feel like I knew better, but sadly I didn't.

I pray for Acts420. May God enlighten you and have mercy on us all.
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« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2011, 03:04:41 PM »

Look up the word "fornication."  You'll find it (or should).  Until you say "I do," you don't.
I don't see how that helps me at alll in my search for New Testament and early church father references to premarital sex as sinful.  The first recorded use of the noun in its modern meaning was in 1303 AD, with the verb fornicate first recorded around 250 years later.  See The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.   The word derives from Latin.  The word fornix means "an archway" or "vault" and it became a common euphemism for a brothel as prostitutes could be solicited in the vaults beneath Rome.  More directly, fornicatio means "done in the archway"; thus it originally referred to prostitution.
If you are going to nitpick, then none of your English words are going to predate Nicea I.   πορνεία predates the NT and early Church Fathers quite a bit, and as the use in the LXX and other literature shows, including premarital and other extramarital sex.
http://books.google.com/books?id=eEITN4tLxtoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:CGyOpNrzHj0C&hl=en&ei=Zah3TdeuAcnprAHTmZW8CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CFkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false

One of the things that turns people off about the church is the restrictions it places on sex in what otherwise seems to be a healthy context (serious courtship).
LOL. Define "serious."
From the LOL I take it you're not.
As serious as an argument that the New Testament and early Church Fathers were indifferent to premarital sex can be.

We haven't changed for scores of generations before you. We can't change for you.
That is easy to say.  However, the prohibition on marriage for bishops is a just one example of how cultural norms and other factors have in fact changed the original church from what it originally practiced.
We had both unmarried Apostles, and unmarried bishops in the days of the Apostles, who wrote the New Testament, and many of the early Church Fathers are counted among their number.  That is how it was originally practiced.  Just like the prohibition of premarital sex, in the sex saturated culture of the 1st century not unlike the modern one.
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« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2011, 01:06:11 PM »

Dear Anba Bola,

I don't understand your analogy to Joseph and Potiphar's wife.  She was married to another man.  If he slept with her that would be adultery, not premarital sex in the context of courtship.

As far as St. Ambrose, thank you very much for that reference.  Finally, I get something to work with!!  Is there somewhere online that I can read the context of that quote?  What book and chapter is it from?  

From the other sites I see that cite it, it seems the general consensus is that he was referring to married men:  that a married man must not cheat on his wife.  That makes sense given the next line: and "do not seek divorce" either.  He seems to be saying married men must not cheat, and must simply get a divorce to avoid cheating either.  

That being said, I could be wrong.  I am open to the interpretation that you're giving his words.  I would just like to see the entire context where St. Ambrose wrote that so I can better understand for myself what he was saying.  

My dear brother acts420,

What then can we make of the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife:

"So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside"

Also St. Ambrose says:
"No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce’; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another"
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« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2011, 01:27:11 PM »


As far as your question, I suppose this made up tradition must have slipped into common Christian thinking and belief sometime after the Apostles and early Fathers and before the great split around 1000 A.D.  

It would have had to have been much earlier than that. The Oriental Orthodox who have been seperated from us since 451 hold the same view, and I'm not sure but I believe the ACE who has been seperated from us since 381 hold the same view too.

Buddhists in China, Muslims, and many other religions and cultures around the world also believe premarital sex is wrong.  These cultures developed this way for many practical reasons.  However, the only reason I can say premarital sex in courtship is a sin is if God has said it is a sin. For whatever reason, the beliefs of these cultures seemed to have worked their way into Christianity.  However, I haven't yet found any early clear authoritative source from the origins of Christianity (Scripture or the early Fathers) that served as the origin of those beliefs about sex.  So I assume they came from the culture just like they in so many other places around the planet.  All other sexual sins are plainly listed all over the place in Scripture.  I don't see why this one would just be completely left out.  The only time I do see premarital sex in courtship in scripture, it seems to be celebrated (Song of Solomon).


It is in Scripture.

1Cor 6:15-20
Quote
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

You're relying on the English translation, but the word translated  "fornication" (premarital sex, in English) there was "pornea" in the original language.  It did not mean premarital sex in the original language, as far as I can tell.  Pornea simply meant/means "illicit sex."  What sex is illicit is not made clear by the word itself.  One has to search the rest of the Scriptures.  That is where my point that Scripture never condemns premarital sex outright becomes so important.  Scripture clearly condemns adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, promiscuity (origies, a lot of different partners, etc.), bestiality, etc. at various places.  It never once condemns sex in the context of courtship in any clear fashion that I've seen.  In fact, it seems to even celebrate it in the most celebrated book of courtship and marriage in Scripture (Song of Solomon).  In that book, the couple shares a bed during their courtship and before their marriage ceremony.



It is in the early fathers.

Quote from: St_Justin_Martyr
But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children; or whether we decline marriage, we live continently. And that you may understand that promiscuous intercourse is not one of our mysteries,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.xxix.html

Quote from: St_Irenaeus
[The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”, etc. Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God. And then, again, he proceeds to tell us the spiritual actions which vivify a man, that is, the engrafting of the Spirit; thus saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, benignity, faith, meekness, continence, chastity: against these there is no law.” As, therefore, he who has gone forward to the better things, and has brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, is saved altogether because of the communion of the Spirit; so also he who has continued in the aforesaid works of the flesh, being truly reckoned as carnal, because he did not receive the Spirit of God, shall not have power to inherit the kingdom of heaven. As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”. He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xii.html

Thank you for this quote.  I'm interested in learning more about it.  

For the reasons stated above, I would like to know what the original word that this translator has translated to "fornication" was.  I've seen a lot of places where translators pick "fornication" more out of a desire to put forth their personal beliefs than out of a desire to be as faithful as possible to the original language.  If the word is the same one from the Corinthians quote above, a better translation would replace "fornication" with "illicit sex", IMO.

Is there somewhere I can look to find the original word used?


Can you find anything in the NT or early fathers that actively supports your claim?

No, but that is my point.  There seems to be a silence (though I'm interested in the quotes you've given, and I look forward to exploring them more).  But, for now, as to this particular point, I don't think we should assume all behaviors are sinful unless the NT or the early fathers expressly say it is permissible.  If that were the case, none of us would ever trim our fingernails.
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« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2011, 01:33:58 PM »

My point is, for various reasons, many cultures around the world (and around where Christianity formed) held that sex should be confined to marriage.

There is a simple reason for this. God's law is imprinted on all men's hearts and all people, to one degree or another, feel their conscience call them out in regards to premarital sex. People create other gods and religions because they mistake the true God's call of repentance and twist it or believe half truths. This isn't other cultures sneaking into Christianity, it is the truth of God on our hearts being visible to all.
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« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2011, 01:40:02 PM »


As far as your question, I suppose this made up tradition must have slipped into common Christian thinking and belief sometime after the Apostles and early Fathers and before the great split around 1000 A.D.  

It would have had to have been much earlier than that. The Oriental Orthodox who have been seperated from us since 451 hold the same view, and I'm not sure but I believe the ACE who has been seperated from us since 381 hold the same view too.

Buddhists in China, Muslims, and many other religions and cultures around the world also believe premarital sex is wrong.  These cultures developed this way for many practical reasons.  However, the only reason I can say premarital sex in courtship is a sin is if God has said it is a sin. For whatever reason, the beliefs of these cultures seemed to have worked their way into Christianity.  However, I haven't yet found any early clear authoritative source from the origins of Christianity (Scripture or the early Fathers) that served as the origin of those beliefs about sex.  So I assume they came from the culture just like they in so many other places around the planet.  All other sexual sins are plainly listed all over the place in Scripture.  I don't see why this one would just be completely left out.  The only time I do see premarital sex in courtship in scripture, it seems to be celebrated (Song of Solomon).


It is in Scripture.

1Cor 6:15-20
Quote
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

You're relying on the English translation, but the word translated  "fornication" (premarital sex, in English) there was "pornea" in the original language.  It did not mean premarital sex in the original language, as far as I can tell.  Pornea simply meant/means "illicit sex."  What sex is illicit is not made clear by the word itself.  One has to search the rest of the Scriptures.  That is where my point that Scripture never condemns premarital sex outright becomes so important.  Scripture clearly condemns adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, promiscuity (origies, a lot of different partners, etc.), bestiality, etc. at various places.  It never once condemns sex in the context of courtship in any clear fashion that I've seen.  In fact, it seems to even celebrate it in the most celebrated book of courtship and marriage in Scripture (Song of Solomon).  In that book, the couple shares a bed during their courtship and before their marriage ceremony.



It is in the early fathers.

Quote from: St_Justin_Martyr
But whether we marry, it is only that we may bring up children; or whether we decline marriage, we live continently. And that you may understand that promiscuous intercourse is not one of our mysteries,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.xxix.html

Quote from: St_Irenaeus
[The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”, etc. Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God. And then, again, he proceeds to tell us the spiritual actions which vivify a man, that is, the engrafting of the Spirit; thus saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, benignity, faith, meekness, continence, chastity: against these there is no law.” As, therefore, he who has gone forward to the better things, and has brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, is saved altogether because of the communion of the Spirit; so also he who has continued in the aforesaid works of the flesh, being truly reckoned as carnal, because he did not receive the Spirit of God, shall not have power to inherit the kingdom of heaven. As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”. He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xii.html

Thank you for this quote.  I'm interested in learning more about it.  

For the reasons stated above, I would like to know what the original word that this translator has translated to "fornication" was.  I've seen a lot of places where translators pick "fornication" more out of a desire to put forth their personal beliefs than out of a desire to be as faithful as possible to the original language.  If the word is the same one from the Corinthians quote above, a better translation would replace "fornication" with "illicit sex", IMO.

Is there somewhere I can look to find the original word used?


Can you find anything in the NT or early fathers that actively supports your claim?

No, but that is my point.  There seems to be a silence (though I'm interested in the quotes you've given, and I look forward to exploring them more).  But, for now, as to this particular point, I don't think we should assume all behaviors are sinful unless the NT or the early fathers expressly say it is permissible.  If that were the case, none of us would ever trim our fingernails.

Acts, your study of words, translations, and their roots is good; pursuit of knowledge helps us better know our God. Please, though, ask yourself: Why it is so important to you that premarital sex not be sinful? Even if it was not sinful, would you give it up for God? The things that are closest to our hearts are the things we should try and sacrifice the most. And what about the optics to others? You admit that most people from all cultures think it is wrong, and you won't change their minds, so would it not serve the body of Christ better for one to not appear to be in evil lest we cause another to stumble?
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« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2011, 01:41:29 PM »

Dear Acts,

If you are seriously looking for Patristic sources, there are a few.  But, you can't look for them under 'pre-marital sex,' but rather under 'virginity.'  Remember, the terminology of the ancients is different.

Here are a few sources:

St. Gregory of Nyssa
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2907.htm

St. Augustine of Hippo
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1310.htm

St. Ambrose of Milan
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/34071.htm

There is a book on the topic by St. John Chrysostom, but it is not available for free:
http://books.google.com/books?id=_j60PgAACAAJ&dq=john+chrysostom+virginity&source=gbs_book_similarbooks

As you review these sources, you will see that the saints bewailed the loss of virginity outside marriage, and even St. Paul recommended abstinence if such a gift is given.

Pre-marital sex is the loss of virginity, first and foremost.  No Fathers recommend it, especially outside marriage.

Misrepresenting virginity was so important in the Old Testament is was punishable by death:

"If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings an evil name upon her, saying, `I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity,' then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate; and the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, `I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he spurns her; and lo, he has made shameful charges against her, saying, "I did not find in your daughter the tokens of virginity." And yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him; and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. (Deuteronomy 22:13-22

Her 'harlotry' was merely not being a virgin at marriage.

I think you get where this is going, yes?

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« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2011, 01:48:11 PM »

You admit that most people from all cultures think it is wrong, and you won't change their minds, so would it not serve the body of Christ better for one to not appear to be in evil lest we cause another to stumble?

You haven't spent much time in most 1st world mega cities, the US, or Western Europe?

It is seen as a good both in terms of pleasure and creating a bond between people, a sport, and a way of determining "compatibility" if and when the couple decides to get married.
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« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2011, 02:10:03 PM »

You admit that most people from all cultures think it is wrong, and you won't change their minds, so would it not serve the body of Christ better for one to not appear to be in evil lest we cause another to stumble?

You haven't spent much time in most 1st world mega cities, the US, or Western Europe?

It is seen as a good both in terms of pleasure and creating a bond between people, a sport, and a way of determining "compatibility" if and when the couple decides to get married.

Yes but I think this is a relatively new development within the past 200 years or so with the secularization of society. 

In 1969, two-thirds of Americans said premarital sex was wrong and 21% said it was acceptable.

Yes the tides have turned (so says the article) but I still stick to my point. Plus it was Acts that originally asserted that many cultures throughout the world share the view that premarital sex is wrong.
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« Reply #36 on: March 11, 2011, 02:23:06 PM »

Acts, your study of words, translations, and their roots is good; pursuit of knowledge helps us better know our God. Please, though, ask yourself: Why it is so important to you that premarital sex not be sinful? Even if it was not sinful, would you give it up for God? The things that are closest to our hearts are the things we should try and sacrifice the most. And what about the optics to others? You admit that most people from all cultures think it is wrong, and you won't change their minds, so would it not serve the body of Christ better for one to not appear to be in evil lest we cause another to stumble?
Exactly. Acts, I am an inquirer and I cannot fully grasp or understand a few of the Orthodox rules and traditions. It would be a lie to say that once I discovered the faith, absolutely everything fell in place.

Coming from a Protestant church, I do understand why they pray to saints and revere the Theotokos. But for me right now, it feels downright foreign to do such a thing. However, I do trust the Church on this issue and continue to pray that I will come around to this practice one day. Could this be a similar situation for you?

I don't want to sound callous, but why is this SUCH an issue? Do you foresee your priest hounding you about it during confession (if you did engage in premarital sex)? I had a friend who was one of the poster children for abstinence at her church. She talked about it with all of the other college girls and myself especially, when I began to date my now-husband.

When she was engaged, she decided that she and her husband were already married in God's eyes. She would spend HOURS trying to justify this to me (citing different cultures and Christians who engage in sex prior to marriage), even when I didn't bring up the topic. My husband and I waited to consummate the marriage until our wedding night. I never talked to her about this but she still brought up the topic several times.

For me, I felt like she was struggling with guilt, because she believed her entire life that she should have waited. Perhaps she feels that she is fully justified, but it hasn't stopped her from talking to others, reading on the topic, and finding every single way to support her position. The fact that this thread has already reached 4 pages...kind of reminds me of that. Is this one issue worth that much to get hung up on?
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« Reply #37 on: March 11, 2011, 03:10:42 PM »

I think the thread has gone on so long not out of prudishness or a sense of puritanism, but rather the contention as to what our Tradition teaches.

As a priest, I know that many if not most of my parishioners will fall in this regard.  It is not difficult in this day and age.  Haranguing them is different from telling them what the Tradition teaches.

The original poster, however, is not satisfied with the answers he has received and so the debate goes on.  It is a debate for sure, since the original poster continues to respond.  If he felt oppressed or overly bothered, he would simply stop responding.

Having hung out here for a while, I would have to say that a length of a thread does not necessarily indicate any particular truth about the thread or the hang-ups of the posters.  Sure, there are obvious indicators, but they are more readily discerned by content rather than the number of responses.

In this case, there appears to be a concern as to whether the Church teaches that losing one's virginity outside of marriage is acceptable.  This thread will go until either everyone gets bored or a mutual agreement is reached.  So far, my bet goes on the boredom factor, since all parties thus far seem to have made their minds up long before logging on here.  Perhaps my cooking is getting to me, but I swear I smell troll.  Wink



Acts, your study of words, translations, and their roots is good; pursuit of knowledge helps us better know our God. Please, though, ask yourself: Why it is so important to you that premarital sex not be sinful? Even if it was not sinful, would you give it up for God? The things that are closest to our hearts are the things we should try and sacrifice the most. And what about the optics to others? You admit that most people from all cultures think it is wrong, and you won't change their minds, so would it not serve the body of Christ better for one to not appear to be in evil lest we cause another to stumble?
Exactly. Acts, I am an inquirer and I cannot fully grasp or understand a few of the Orthodox rules and traditions. It would be a lie to say that once I discovered the faith, absolutely everything fell in place.

Coming from a Protestant church, I do understand why they pray to saints and revere the Theotokos. But for me right now, it feels downright foreign to do such a thing. However, I do trust the Church on this issue and continue to pray that I will come around to this practice one day. Could this be a similar situation for you?

I don't want to sound callous, but why is this SUCH an issue? Do you foresee your priest hounding you about it during confession (if you did engage in premarital sex)? I had a friend who was one of the poster children for abstinence at her church. She talked about it with all of the other college girls and myself especially, when I began to date my now-husband.

When she was engaged, she decided that she and her husband were already married in God's eyes. She would spend HOURS trying to justify this to me (citing different cultures and Christians who engage in sex prior to marriage), even when I didn't bring up the topic. My husband and I waited to consummate the marriage until our wedding night. I never talked to her about this but she still brought up the topic several times.

For me, I felt like she was struggling with guilt, because she believed her entire life that she should have waited. Perhaps she feels that she is fully justified, but it hasn't stopped her from talking to others, reading on the topic, and finding every single way to support her position. The fact that this thread has already reached 4 pages...kind of reminds me of that. Is this one issue worth that much to get hung up on?
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« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2011, 03:15:57 PM »

LOL true, this is an internet forum, land of the long-winded and home of the argumentative!

The tone still reminds me of my discussions with my friend.

And thanks for that picture; I'm not going to get any sleep tonight.  Grin
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« Reply #39 on: March 11, 2011, 05:20:23 PM »

It was the best pciture I could find of myself.   laugh


LOL true, this is an internet forum, land of the long-winded and home of the argumentative!

The tone still reminds me of my discussions with my friend.

And thanks for that picture; I'm not going to get any sleep tonight.  Grin
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« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2011, 07:35:40 PM »

... I don't want to sound callous, but why is this SUCH an issue? Do you foresee your priest hounding you about it during confession (if you did engage in premarital sex)? I had a friend who was one of the poster children for abstinence at her church. She talked about it with all of the other college girls and myself especially, when I began to date my now-husband.

When she was engaged, she decided that she and her husband were already married in God's eyes. She would spend HOURS trying to justify this to me (citing different cultures and Christians who engage in sex prior to marriage), even when I didn't bring up the topic. My husband and I waited to consummate the marriage until our wedding night. I never talked to her about this but she still brought up the topic several times.

For me, I felt like she was struggling with guilt, because she believed her entire life that she should have waited. Perhaps she feels that she is fully justified, but it hasn't stopped her from talking to others, reading on the topic, and finding every single way to support her position. The fact that this thread has already reached 4 pages...kind of reminds me of that. Is this one issue worth that much to get hung up on?

This is such an issue because of how it affected my previous marriage, which ended in divorce 1 year ago.  I remained a virgin until I was married at 26 years old years old.  My wife and I *immediately* noticed severe incompatibility with regards to sex.  I know that some adjustment, or even some major adjustment, is often necessary.  Without going into details, I will just say we had major, major problems in the area of sexual compatibility.  

We tried counseling, both through our church and through licensed professionals.  Nothing really helped.  We tried for 4 years, and neither of us were ever satisfied.  

It was during that 4 years that I began to realize, somewhat unrelated-ly, how my Baptist tradition had mislead me for so long with regards to salvation.  I began to read Scripture apart from the modern traditions that surrounded me, and found a doctrine that was very different from my Baptist roots.  That brought me to Orthodox, because I only saw the orthodox and the catholics teaching in line with Scripture regarding how works contribute to our salvation.  I knew the Catholics couldn't be right because of their deeds (celibate priests molesting children all over the face of the earth, and higher up bishops hiding it and moving priests around).  

Anyway... back to why this premarital sex thing is an issue for me.  My ex-wife's divorcing me had to do with a lot of things, including my switch from Baptist churches to Orthodox ones, and also a relocation because of my job.  However, the massive problems we had ever satisfying one another sexually also played an enormous role.

I then decided that perhaps I was taught wrong about premarital sex in courtship also.  So I did the same thing with Scripture regarding premarital sex in courtship that I had done with salvation.  I looked for all the sexual sins in Scripture.  I found them all very plainly, in the original languages... except for premarital sex.  Promiscuity was prohibited, it seemed, but not sex as a part of courtship.  In fact, to my amazement, I discovered the couple celebrated in Song of Solomon shared a bed before getting married.  I had read the book so many times previously, but my eyes had been blinded to that fact because of the traditional teachings about sex I had been immersed all of my life in.  But now I finally saw it... plain as day... right there in Scripture.

So, to answer your question, no I'm not motivated to answer this question because I fear having to admit any sort of premarital sex.  I want to answer this question because God forbid I ever teach my children lies about the sinfulness of premarital sex and destroy their future marriages just as mine was destroyed.  There is a reason that the couple in the Song is celebrated.  They did it the right way, it seems, and enjoyed a wonderful lifelong passion with one another.  Also, I want my next marriage to be one where there is sexual compatibility.  And if God's way of ensuring that is the model He has given and celebrated in the Song of Solomon, then I want to follow that model.

All that being said, I've finally been given some sources from early fathers I can explore (a year after starting this thread in large part to ask for them).  I will now do explore those sources.  Thank you so much to everyone on this page who finally provided me with them.  And no, FatherGirus, I'm not a troll.

thank you for helping me as I continue to seek out the truth,
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« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2011, 08:37:04 PM »

Well, I think you were trolling, especially since you wrote this:

I want to answer this question because God forbid I ever teach my children lies about the sinfulness of premarital sex and destroy their future marriages just as mine was destroyed.

You know what the Orthodox Church teaches.  You have posted here with your mind already made up, meaning that you already have all the 'right' information.  Nothing of what you are posting is really seeking the truth, but rather confirmation of what you believed before hand, which you already knew to be "unique beliefs" which you list in your initial post.  Again, you know that what you are choosing to believe is contrary to the collective witness of the Church.

No matter how many quotes you may find or not find, your beliefs are not compatable with the Church, which was the original goal of your post.  You may satisfy your need for affirmation (the first part of your stated intention), but this will not lead to your admission into the Church (the second part of your stated intention).

Thus, it is something of a troll.  I think you might very well enjoy the fact that no one is answering your questions to your standards, though you still have not engaged much of what has been offered to you.  So, it smells like a troll rather than a genuine search for the truth.

Your situation is tragic, but I don't think you can make an argument from your experience that premarital sex during 'courtship' (an institution not described in the Bible, written in a time when most marriages were arranged) is all that helpful.  The rise in extra-marital sex coincides with the divorce rate.  Statistics are against you on this one, laying aside the teachings of the Church.

The Church is not making people unhappy.  The world is making itself unhappy seeking its own ends.

Living together, 'hooking up' and all the rest goes on outside the Church, and divorce and misery are aplenty.  You are not a fool, you can see with your own eyes.

The real problem is that you worked very hard to play by 'the rules' and it didn't work out.  That happens a lot, I'm afraid.  It is called the Cross.  Perhaps your Cross was to bear a marriage that was sexually unhappy.  That happens quite a bit, I'm sorry to say, but mostly because the expectations of both parties are way off from one another.

So, what happens if you sleep with a woman and find her 'amazing,' and then she has a car accident and is left paralyzed or deformed?  What then?  Would you divorce her?  Search the Fathers now and see what you will find.

Your story is as tragic as it is common.  I am not belittling you, but pointing out that sex is not a happy topic even for the most free amongst us.

No matter how many Patristic sources you read, this thread will bring you no closer to the Church until you drop your beliefs and come in 'naked' of your assumptions and presumptions.  If you keep them and have no intention of changing based on what you find next, then this is all just a big troll where you can dangle bait and then say, 'No, the Bible I read doesn't say that!'

There is still a lot of Baptist left in you.  That needs to go if you want to enter the Church.
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« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2011, 09:38:36 PM »

Well, I think you were trolling, especially since you wrote this:

I want to answer this question because God forbid I ever teach my children lies about the sinfulness of premarital sex and destroy their future marriages just as mine was destroyed.

You know what the Orthodox Church teaches.  You have posted here with your mind already made up, meaning that you already have all the 'right' information.  Nothing of what you are posting is really seeking the truth, but rather confirmation of what you believed before hand, which you already knew to be "unique beliefs" which you list in your initial post.  Again, you know that what you are choosing to believe is contrary to the collective witness of the Church.

No matter how many quotes you may find or not find, your beliefs are not compatable with the Church, which was the original goal of your post.  You may satisfy your need for affirmation (the first part of your stated intention), but this will not lead to your admission into the Church (the second part of your stated intention).

Thus, it is something of a troll.  I think you might very well enjoy the fact that no one is answering your questions to your standards, though you still have not engaged much of what has been offered to you.  So, it smells like a troll rather than a genuine search for the truth.


Just because I had come to some conclusions before coming here doesn't mean I'm a troll either.  I'm here to test my conclusions in the fire that (I was hoping) is Orthodox Christian's knowledge of early Christianity.  Thankfully, after a year of waiting, I've finally gotten some early quotes that will help me explore this issue more.

Yes, I had decided that premarital sex probably wasn't a sin based on Scripture.  Nonetheless, I came here because not only am I open to converting to Orthodoxy, I'm open to converting my mind on the sex issue as well.  I'm still exploring it, and that is why I wanted help from early Father quotes.

Okay... so you think I'm trolling.  I think you're trolling because you are calling out a guy who has come to the "convert questions" section, obviously hurting from being taught lies by Baptists and from past relationship problems, and are implying he is not genuine and is a troll.  So look in the mirror.


Your situation is tragic, but I don't think you can make an argument from your experience that premarital sex during 'courtship' (an institution not described in the Bible, written in a time when most marriages were arranged) is all that helpful.  The rise in extra-marital sex coincides with the divorce rate.  Statistics are against you on this one, laying aside the teachings of the Church.



As far as the statistics, I've already cited a study in this thread showing that the divorce rate for couples that slept with one another before and after marriage remains the same as for couples that abstained before marriage.  Regardless though, any study can be manipulated.  I'm not here to find out how helpful or unhelpful premarital sex in courtship is.  I already know how helpful it would've been in my experience.  I'm here to find out if it is truly a *sin*, taught as such from the beginning of Christianity, or if it is a tradition that slipped into Christian culture a bit later.



The Church is not making people unhappy.  The world is making itself unhappy seeking its own ends.

Living together, 'hooking up' and all the rest goes on outside the Church, and divorce and misery are aplenty.  You are not a fool, you can see with your own eyes.

The real problem is that you worked very hard to play by 'the rules' and it didn't work out.  That happens a lot, I'm afraid.  It is called the Cross.  Perhaps your Cross was to bear a marriage that was sexually unhappy.  That happens quite a bit, I'm sorry to say, but mostly because the expectations of both parties are way off from one another.

So, what happens if you sleep with a woman and find her 'amazing,' and then she has a car accident and is left paralyzed or deformed?  What then?  Would you divorce her?  Search the Fathers now and see what you will find.


No, I wouldn't divorce my wife if she got paralyzed.  Do  you think I'm a monster simply because I suspect Christians may be allowed to follow the model of courtship celebrated in the Song of Solomon?  Lord have mercy.  




Your story is as tragic as it is common.  I am not belittling you, but pointing out that sex is not a happy topic even for the most free amongst us.



Sex is a happy topic for many people I know, and especially for many couples I know who had sex during their courtship and immediately learned that they thoroughly enjoyed sex with their partner.  I, instead, waited for marriage and immediately learned that neither of us enjoyed sex with the other one (and never would, for 4 years).


No matter how many Patristic sources you read, this thread will bring you no closer to the Church until you drop your beliefs and come in 'naked' of your assumptions and presumptions.  If you keep them and have no intention of changing based on what you find next, then this is all just a big troll where you can dangle bait and then say, 'No, the Bible I read doesn't say that!'


Ah... I see... so, I won't find the truth until I blindly accept everything you say.  This is because you decided to accept everything the people before you said (and so on and so forth for hundreds of years), and you feel you have the truth in this matter.  

No thanks, Father.  Been there, done that.  It was called being a Baptist.  God gave me eyes and ears of my own for a reason.  

There was a time when orthodox clergy were bought and sold on the open market and no less corrupt than many Protestant clergy have been in the past.  You claim that doctrine itself was never corrupted.  Well... that is an interesting claim.  Nonetheless, I'm going to put your doctrine to the test, and if I find it lacking support in the Scriptures and the early Fathers, and if the Spirit leads me to instead believe what I read in his Word and see testified to by the ancient Fathers... then I simply will not believe you and your traditions.  If you feel more comfortable closing your eyes and ears and letting the generation before you decide for you what you must believe to be pleasing to God... I wish you the best with that.

I won't be responding to posts here for a little while.  I'm going to explore the quotes from the early Fathers that were (finally) provided for me, and see what I find.

Thank you again to everyone who has been helping me and praying for me.  May God guide all of us along the Way, toward the Truth, that we may live the Life he has for us.
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« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2011, 01:57:34 AM »

I think you are missing the point of what I'm getting at.

What you are trying to do have a conclusion, then find evidence for it.  This does not work in science, nor for religion.  Ultimately, you will only find what you want to find.

I have opened my eyes, and I have seen the Truth in the Church, and I have seen the folly of abandoning the wisdom of generations of experience.  When I converted, I had to be willing to give up all my opinions and self-conceived notions.  That included sex, since I thought that anything was fair game until marriage.  I gave it up because I arrived at a point where I wanted the truth more than I wanted to be right.

If you are indeed still in pain from your experience, so much so that you must remind me even after I acknowledge this to be the case, then are you in the best frame of mind to engage in such research?  I speak to you in a plain manner because I assume you can handle direct talk.  If this is not the case and you are still too fragile, then you are probably not in a good place to be passing judgment on a Church that has far more years in the game than you do.

I said you are still a Baptist because you are still engaging in the mentality of that group even though you are no longer a member.  By trying to 'proof-text' a few quotes you think you can ignore the fact that the Church for centuries had advocated virginity.  There is no talk of 'pre-marital sex' because they assume you would know that you can't be a virgin and engaging in sexual exploration.

What's more, you will have an even greater problem proving that the Spirit is truly leading you and not you own impulses.  I imagine before you thought the Spirit led you to wait for marriage, but now you think it will lead you somewhere else? 

I write these things because I care enough to.  I don't want to see you fall into the pattern of self-will as I have seen so many.  You can mock the clergy and the Church (something about being bought and sold?), but then you also want to convert?

You are deeply conflicted, and I would hazard to guess that you are in no shape to be theologizing until you have it in your heart to forgive your Baptist brethren for what they have done for you and come to the realization that more self-will is not going to heal you.  Only God can.

This conflict, where at once you denigrate our Tradition and then talk about converting, led me to believe you are trolling for conflict.  Go back and read your own posts and see how you speak of the Church and us.

Sexual experimentation is not going to bring you the right spouse, only God can.  In some cases, that 'right spouse' seems all wrong, but marriage is a Cross, not a sexual arrangement.  There are so many more important characteristics, ones that open us to God's healing and mercy in ways that therapy and counseling can't.

I've read the Song and I simply don't see anything other than love between a married couple.  It does not say 'courtship.'  So, yes, I am saying that it is a sin to defile a woman and not marry her according to the Scriptures, and that if you do so you will later regret it if you do not marry her. 

In the end, you will do what you want and you will certainly find what you want to find.  That is what I am warning you about.

God be with you.

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« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2011, 10:14:02 AM »

You claim that doctrine itself was never corrupted.  Well... that is an interesting claim.

Do you believe that there is a church that has consistently maintained and taught the whole truth about Jesus Christ and what He handed down to His apostles?

As an Orthodox Christian, I believe that the Orthodox Church is the answer to this question, but that's not my point in asking it. My point is wether or not such a church exists at all that fits that description.

Quote
Nonetheless, I'm going to put your doctrine to the test, and if I find it lacking support in the Scriptures and the early Fathers, and if the Spirit leads me to instead believe what I read in his Word and see testified to by the ancient Fathers... then I simply will not believe you and your traditions.

What if you never find a church that believes everything exactly the same as you? Is it possible for any one person to have all the answers and if no one is in complete agreement with them, then they are they only one that is right?

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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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