Dear Second Chance, Christ is in our midst!
Thank you for your moderation. I posted this about 3 minutes before midnight East coast time (9pm West coast since I'm on the West coast for work). I modified it as late as 9:30pm West coast time. I hope it is still acceptable so this discussion can continue.
I already did answer Peter's questions to the best of my abilities at the time. I cited a work of scholarship, I cited Scripture, and I answered his questions as best I could. He insists that I quote more authorities to show that the cultural traditions that prohibited premarital sex also said that being alone with a single woman is immoral, etc. However, I've already cited one specifically, one less specifically, and the 3 that one claims to have relied on. Peter hasn't even cited a single source at all to show that my source is wrong. He just assumes I made my source up and asks me to prove otherwise (or one could say forces me under threat of closing off my discussion). I did offer proof; I cited a source. He can look it up if he wants to verify it, and then he can cite another source if he wants to oppose it. That's how discussion works. He has refused to do so, and has implied that I'm academically lazy to boot!
How about, in the name of fairness, we now lock the thread until Peter can at least cite a single source in response to mine if he thinks mine is not true? Seems like that would be a fair way to go about this considering I spent my time and money, and perhaps lost a client or two, doing Peter's academic work for him. But alas life is not always fair.
Not only has he not cited a single source against the one I provided, he won't even answer my most basic of questions! He insisted that the Church says premarital sex is a sin against God. That was news to me. I've never heard the Church teach any such thing. So I asked him, "when has the Church spoken about premarital sex? How do you define the speaking Church?" His response? "I'm asking the questions here." Nice. Very nice. This seems like it may be the type of situation where no matter how much Scripture and history I cite in support of my position, he will always accuse me of not answering his questions and never answer mine. We shall see though. I'll hope for the best.
Someone, though not Peter, did cite a source. Specifically xariskai cited H. Reisser as saying, "In later Jewish Rab. language zenut (porneia) is to be understood as including not only prostitution and any kind of extra-marital intercourse ( Pirqe Aboth 2:8 )." That is a citation to one late Rabbi's teachings. So one late Jewish Rabbi believed extramarital sex was proneia. Keep in mind that his entire argument rests on that one later Jewish Rabbi (so far). For that is the only evidence he's given that premarital sex was considered porneia by the Jews under the Old Testament. And since the New Testament, like the Old, never specifically says "do not have sex before marriage," all of xariskai's New Testament citations are likewise dependent on that one Rabbi (so far, since that is all he has cited). For when he cites F. Hauck and S. Schulz saying, "the NT is characterized by an unconditional repudiation of all extra-marital and unnatural intercourse," they are assuming "porneia" means "premarital sex." The only reason xariskai has given me to believe they are correct is one late Rabbi. That's not very strong support.
Well, I've already cited a Rabbi and a scholar who say many early Rabbis didn't think premarital sex was transgression, porneia. I think the burden of proof has switched back to the other side. But, again, life isn't fair. So... I will now comply with this moderator request.
Dear Peter, when I said "the same cultural traditions" I did not mean that the exact same Rabbi in history that taught that premarital sex was wrong also taught that being alone with a woman was wrong. What I meant was that Jewish cultural traditions also taught that being alone with a single woman is wrong. What I'm saying is that the underlying authority being relied on is the same in both cases: cultural traditions. So I will show that it is cultural transgressions that condemned sex before marriage as wrong and many other things also (things we believe are right).
Brothers and sisters, I understand that my beliefs are offensive to many. Remember that even Christ offended many in the people of God when he blessed St. Photini, the "Samaritan woman at the well," and did not condemn her living situation (although he had repeatedly told adulterers to "stop sinning"). If what I'm saying is offensive to many that does not make it wrong.
I said: Jewish researcher Ariel Scheib says, "The Bible never explicitly states a woman and man may not have sexual intercourse prior to marriage; therefore, no sanction was imposed for premarital sex, but it was considered a violation of custom (tradition)..." He cites as his sources Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions. PA: Jewish Publication Society, 2004; Kolatch, Alfred J. The Jewish Book of Why/The Second Jewish Book of Why. NY: Jonathan David Publishers, 1989; Wigoder, Geoffrey , Ed. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Facts on File, 1992.
Scheib cites Dr. Ronald L. Eisenberg, the critically acclaimed author of Jewish Traditions: A JPS (Jewish Publication Society) Guide by Ronald L. Eisenberg (Jewish Publication Society Oct 4, 2004). Since Peter thinks the source I cited may be lying or unreliable, and since he doesn't want to bother verifying the source himself, I've aquired Eisenberg's work. On p 57, Eisenberg states, "according to Biale, polygamy was permissible during biblical times and a man was not forbidden from having sexual relations with an unmarried woman as long as he could theoretically marry her." He explains that if he did not marry her, he risked being condemned by the community and sometimes even flogged. All of that depended on the community. This was community law; he was not considered guilty of a sexual transgression against God. The woman was also not guilty of any sexual transgression or prohibition. In other words, it was frowned on culturally by many, and in some areas even punished, but it was not considered sin. He states that the halakah (a collection of cultural traditions) condemns nonmarital sex as zenut, "porneia", because it was promiscuity. However, the Talmud uses the term zenut to describe not sex before marriage but sex "not in the pursuit of marriage." (Eisenberg's words) In other words, the Talmud was more lienient. All of these rules regarding sex before marriage were not considered "revealed" but rather cultural. The "Biale" he cites is acclaimed Jewish historian Rachel Biale, Women and Jewish Law (Schocken, 1984),
Since Peter thinks the sources I cited may be lying or unreliable, and since he doesn't want to bother verifying the sources himself, I've also acquired Rachel Biale's work. Women and Jewish Law (Schocken, 1984). So now I'm acquiring sources 3 levels deep, verifying the sources of the sources of the sources I cited. And Peter has not even cited one source, yet somehow has forced me to do this. In any event, Here is what Baile has to sai
p 44 - "There is a clear conflict between the letter of the law and the requirements of family and society." (she says this in the context of saying "sex before marriage is not prohibited by the Torah (the old testament)" but was "frowned upon" by society.
p 138 - "although oral sex is [similarly] not considered a transgression, a strong aversion to such "unnatural" practices are throughout Rabbinic writings."
p 137 - "When we examine the Halakhah we find a tension between the view that any marital sexual practice is legitimate as long as the ejaculate is not outside the vagina and a common rabbinic view that prohibited any sex apart from the "missionary position." The "ministering angels" were said to tell rabbis that other sexual positions (woman on top, oral, etc.) caused people to be born deaf, dumb, blind, etc. because of the "deviant" nature of their practices."
p 175 - "Certain sexual acts such as incest and adultery are considered transgressions [these were said to be transgressions in the Torah, the Old Testament]. Others, such as sex between unmarried persons... are restricted [by customary prohibitions] but not considered sexual transgressions."
p 190 - In biblical law a man who has sexual relations with an unmarried woman has committed no offense. ... The Talmudic prohibition of private, intimate contact with a woman other than his wife (yihud)... considerably restricted this freedom for men. Still, a man who had such extramarital sex, if he did not marry the woman, had not committed a sexual transgression.
He may have been flogged in some communities, and not in others, but "his offense was of much less magnitude than sexual transgression." "[Likewise] a woman may have sexual relations outside of marriage without having committed a sexual transgression."
p 192 - "The problem of sexual relations between a man and a woman who are both free of marital ties is complicated. The rabbis wish to discourage such relations on the one hand, but on the other hand there is no specific sexual transgression involved in such circumstances. The biblical prohibitions which form the basis of the sexual code in the Halakhah only prohibit incestuous and adulterous relations. The rabbis attempt to reslove this dilemma in two ways. As a general rule they taught that such relations must not be with promiscuity (zenut) in mind (sex only for pleasure) but must have purpose towards marriage. Secondly, the rabbis forbid a man and a woman to spend time together in privacy unless they are married or blood relatives (called yihud). Thus they sought to prohibit the circumstances that would permit the sexual relations the law allowed.
" She explains that among these are the prohibition of yihud/yichud, which in Halakha (Jewish religious law) is the prohibition of a man and a woman who are not married to each other to be alone. Another was a prohibition on touching a person of the opposite sex, referred to as "Negiah."
These were cultural rules developed by Jewish religious authorities to prevent couples from using the freedom God had given them in regards to premarital sex (certainly a dangerous freedom no doubt, but also one God gave for a very important reason I believe).
p 192 she says... "contrary to popular notions that sex outside of marriage is a product of the modern sexual revalution, halakhic codes and responsa indicate its presence in traditional jewish society. ... there is no doubt that it is not a new phenomenon." This supports my arguments from the Old Testament that premarital sex had to have been going on, since it is regulated (with bride prices paid for premarital sex with a virgin and not for a non-virgin) but not punished.
Now did one Rabbi think all sex before marriage was porneia? Sure, I'll believe that. I won't make xariskai prove that his source wasn't lying (though it would be more than fair if this thread were locked until Peter could prove that, since he makes me prove such things). But the point is, there were Rabbis that believed it was sexually deviant for a woman to be on top of a man, even in marriage.... and many other things I've listed.
Since Peter think the source I cited may be lying or unreliable, and since he doesn't want to bother verifying the source himself, I've also aquired Kolatch's work, (Alfred J. Kolatch) The Second Jewish Book of Why. NY: Jonathan David Publishers, 1989. He states on p 147 that Jewish Scripture "never prohibited premarital sex." He says "talmudic authorities were not quick to condemn premarital sex as long as the goal was marriage"... "recognizing how strong man's desire for sexual gratification and how powerless he sometimes is to control it."
And of course, many others including the Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach, agree. Boteach is the author of The Kosher Sutra, HarperOne Press, 2009 and Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy. New York: Broadway Books/Random House, 1999. He says, "Many people are surprised to learn that the Torah does not prohibit premarital sex. I challenge you to find any passage in the Jewish scriptures that forbids a man from having consensual sexual relations with any woman he could legally marry. It's just not there! (..) This is not to suggest that Judaism approves of pre-marital sex or promiscuity. (..) Jewish law prohibits an unmarried, unrelated man and woman from (even) being alone long enough to have sexual relations. But these laws come from the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch (custom, tradition), not from the Torah."
So to sum this up... in the people of God under the Old Testament, regardless of harsh or lenient rules in the culture or in specific communities, the authorities were generally not willing to teach that premarital sex was a "transgression" (a weighty word) before God. Some tried to direct people towards marriage by preventing men and women from being alone together or from touching one another. Others tried to prevent it by saying the sex was "porneia" unless the goal and intent of the relationship was to move toward marriage.
Keep in mind that the Apostles were Jews. The church Fathers were under the Apostles. This is why I ask where in the early Fathers premarital sex is ever condemned as sin. Because it seems to me that it has never been understood to be "transgression" according to the Scriptures.
Marriage is encouraged in Scripture. However, the loss of virginity and sex before marriage sex are never prohibited nor called a sin by the Word of God. Christians today need to think long and hard about this approach our heavenly Father has taken towards sex and marriage, why He takes this approach, and how His approach differs from ours. What a shame if His reasons are because He knows how best to purify the church. Just imagine the twisted irony if when people call it a sin in an attempt to keep people from doing it they're actually pushing people toward it! After all, the holy St. Mary, Mother of God, was a Jew. She was not taught that it was "transgression" by her historical religious authorities nor by Scripture. She could've had premarital sex with St. Joseph just like she could have had sex with him in marriage, if she had chosen to. Yet in her zeal for wisdom and God's best for her life, she preserved her virginity even through marriage and unto death!
I'll say it again: Christians today need to think long and hard about this approach our heavenly Father has taken towards sex and marriage, why He takes this approach, and how His approach differs from ours.
In light of what I said in my previous post, here's my challenge to you:
Dear Father, Christ is Risen!
95% of the "academic points" listed in the original post of that thread had absolutely nothing to do with premarital sex. It seems to have been a carpet bomb cut and paste job from some online textbook. The relevant 5% of the original post (the part that could be seen to perhaps refer to sex before marriage) noted cultural traditions that claimed all extra marital sex was illicit. However, the same cultural traditions have said being alone with a single woman was illicit and many other things through history.
1. Quote those authorities who assert that the cultural traditions that prohibited premarital sex also said that being alone with a single woman is immoral. I want to know that you're not just making this stuff up.
2. Define in detail these "many other things through history".
Acts420--These questions are most reasonable. Here we are on page 19 of the thread and I think it is time for you to produce the answers to PtA's questions. Please do so by Saturday this week. I am locking this thread until then so that you are not distracted by other posts. Thanks, Second Chance