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Offline Kostya

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Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« on: August 15, 2015, 06:53:29 PM »
I'm a convert and I'm getting baptized on the 29th. I've been down a long, dark road that led to here, but glory to God, I'm here. I was raised Southern Baptist, was agnostic for most of my life until a few years ago, wasted a few years of my life in Freemasonry, and finally, I worked up the courage to meet with the priest at my current church, a Greek Orthodox Church, last year. Now, I'm on the eve of baptism.

I'm having to learn a lot. Prayer, Fasting, and all that. Fasting is not as hard for me as it is for some, because I'm a vegetarian, but prayer is hard to learn.

I feel like I struggle with a resentment that I try not to express, but is nonetheless there. Being raised in the SBC during the 90s, I had a rough experience. I don't know where to begin, really. Sales-pitch altar calls with "personal Lord and Savior" rhetoric, constant horrible talk about Catholicism, "culture wars," politicization of religion and church (and I'm not using this as an exercise in Republican-bashing. I hate the Democratic Party just as much, and I'm apolitical in American politics), mandatory patriotism and "supporting the troops," Zionism, worship of the USA as "God's chosen nation," blatant denial of sacraments, contemporary "Christian 'music'", you all have an idea of what I am talking about.

This is a resentment that I was handling rather well until recently. In fact, my priest just complimented me two weeks ago when we discussed it, saying that I was doing good by fighting the urge to be triumphalist. But now, two problems have made themselves apparent- both pertaining to sex and reproduction- where my past has come to haunt me.

As a preteen, I was told that masturbation was permissible. A lot of Evangelicals are against it, but a lot, possibly the majority, are fine with it. Even Dr. Dobson is cool with it. I've recently stopped, but still, it was a huge impediment for me during my time as a catechumen. Forgive me if this is something too nasty and personal to talk about, but I've been assured before by members here that sex is alright to talk about in the proper context, and I want to also make my statement against this poisonous lie Evangelicals are telling.

Most importantly, though, I'm disgusted by the idea of reproducing. It doesn't bother me when others do it, but I have severe, admittedly largely illogical oppositions to it. This wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't a huge point of contention between me and my future wife (who is Orthodox) who wants to reproduce. I just can't shake the archetype of the Evangelical couple who has 4+ kids to look holy (and I'm not talking about Quiverfull/Duggar types, either), or that beat their kids or mentally abuse them with Evangelicalism. As I said, it wouldn't be an issue if not for the Georgian Orthodox girlfriend.

If anybody has any experiences with this, please help me out. I don't want to be hateful, and I don't want something that ended a decade ago to keep haunting me, but it seems that evil never sleeps.
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Offline recent convert

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 07:39:50 PM »
As far as prayer is concerned, I try to pray for the salvation & well being of my neighbor (as well as my own) keeping the 2 great commands & the golden rule as guidelines in submission to God's will.

Re: masturbation, it is a common sin that we must acknowledge & struggle to repent of. It is a sin but do not get frantic over it.


As far as marriage & children, you really need to sort this out with your wife and speak to your priest.

May God grant you many years.

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Offline eddybear

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2015, 12:32:03 PM »
First of all, it is great news that you have reached the point of wanting to be baptised into the Orthodox Church.

In that context, I'm not surprised that issues are coming to the surface for you. That is what happens when the Holy Spirit is working in our lives, bringing us freedom from sins and/or things that hold us back.

On the issue of masturbation, I agree with the above post. Also, if you are aware of things that increase your desire, then try to cut those out at source. It is easier to remove sources of temptation than it is to try and resist the temptation once it has arrived.

On marriage and children, it is understandable given your background that you feel the way that you do. But have you considered that your background might actually make you a better parent? Having seen and experienced somes of the errors of evangelicalism, you would be far less likely to make them yourself. It is something you need to work through with your girlfriend and priest. I used to know a Christian married couple where one wanted children desperately, and the other was adamant about not wanting them. It caused a lot of tension and heartache.

Finally, I am sorry that your bad experiences still haunt you, and if I was at all harsh towards you in another thread, I apologise. I came away from an evangelical church with a lot of hurt and baggage, many years ago, and it does take time to work through. I can't offer an instant solution, but if you forgive those who have hurt you, and then forgive them them again and pray for them when the resentment bubbles up in your mind (which it will), and then do it again, and again, you will find it does get better. When I think what I have found so far in Orthodoxy, and what those who are still in evangelicalism are missing, I actually feel sorry for them, which helps me to forgive and pray.

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2015, 10:35:01 AM »
As a point of clarification, are you disgusted by sex in general, procreative sex, childbirth or the concept of having children? I couldn't quite figure out what exactly your disgusted with.
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2015, 11:40:02 AM »
The thing that I would tell you is that marriage in Orthodoxy is tied in with having children. A fruitless marriage would not be considered a marriage at all if there is no intention for children. It is one of Christian marriage's primary functions and expressions. Look through the marriage service and this is apparent. Also, the traditional Orthodox position is that birth control is generally sinful for the reasons that it is commonly used, bioethical implications, etc., although our teaching is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church on this in many of the underlying theological assumptions surrounding it, and it is not absolute in all situations.

The main thing to focus on in this issue of childbearing and rearing through an Orthodox lens would be this: when husband and wife come together in the marriage bed, there is a holy union which takes place. In this great mystery the couples are able to become co-creators with God in the creation of an eternal soul/body. Everything else we build and create in life dissolves and dissipates; moth and rust destroy. But when a child is created in the marriage bed, this is something which we work with God to fashion that will live on forever. We participate with God in giving the gift of life: another person that is able to live and breathe; to be in communion with God and fellow man. This is the most full expression of what it means to be truly pro-life.

If one does not despise existence, but rather marvels at it and the wonders of life, then consider that one can, in marriage, work with God to give this gift of existence to others.

If you are not called to childbearing, then perhaps at some point a consecrated life of celibacy might be your path. But if you despise the thought of "reproducing" (a pretty vulgar term I doubt is used in the translations of the marriage service), Christian marriage is really probably not for you. Regarding the way you speak about it, it honestly kind of reminds me of those who disparagingly refer to parents as 'breeders'. The terms we use sometimes reveal our own worldview more clearly. I think that this might be an area that will just take some time to acquire the mind of the church on. (Not to imply that I've reached it myself, just offering my reflections on your post.)

I hope that you find peace in this and other troubling areas, and that are able to participate in the full joy and grace of your reception into the Church.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 11:46:41 AM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Kostya

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2015, 02:14:07 PM »
As a point of clarification, are you disgusted by sex in general, procreative sex, childbirth or the concept of having children? I couldn't quite figure out what exactly your disgusted with.

I'm not disgusted by sex, though I feel a bit of guilt when I think about it, due to having done it in the years before I became a Christian. I'm logical enough to understand that something's not evil just because I used it irresponsibly. For instance, I don't blame alcohol for all the stupid things I did and people I assaulted when I used to drink a lot.

I have an immediate apprehension about the thought of reproducing myself, because the only parenting I've ever witnessed before becoming Orthodox was Evangelical parenting. You know what I mean. Whoop your kids, give 'em Ritalin, always be mad or suspicious about something, stay on them relentlessly about everything, call your son a queer if he doesn't play sports, that sort of thing.

I think the only case of reproduction that actually really moved me was observing the relationship between my future godfather and his kids. He treats them like human beings, never belittles them, listens to what they have to say, even in public.
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Offline Agabus

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2015, 02:22:01 PM »
I just can't shake the archetype of the Evangelical couple who has 4+ kids to look holy (and I'm not talking about Quiverfull/Duggar types, either), or that beat their kids or mentally abuse them with Evangelicalism. As I said, it wouldn't be an issue if not for the Georgian Orthodox girlfriend.
The kids issue needs to get worked out between the two of you before marriage.

But really, assess your situation — do you or your beloved plan to have children to look holy and then mentally abuse them with Evangelicalism? I know people have different hangups and some are more difficult to move past than others, but in this case you seem pretty committed to not being that guy anyway.
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Offline Kostya

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2015, 02:27:20 PM »
I just can't shake the archetype of the Evangelical couple who has 4+ kids to look holy (and I'm not talking about Quiverfull/Duggar types, either), or that beat their kids or mentally abuse them with Evangelicalism. As I said, it wouldn't be an issue if not for the Georgian Orthodox girlfriend.
The kids issue needs to get worked out between the two of you before marriage.

But really, assess your situation — do you or your beloved plan to have children to look holy and then mentally abuse them with Evangelicalism? I know people have different hangups and some are more difficult to move past than others, but in this case you seem pretty committed to not being that guy anyway.

You're right, I'm not that guy, and I never had any inclination in that direction.

One thing I've noticed in the process of becoming Orthodox, is that one's sins become more apparent, which is unambiguously a good thing. At the same time, I wonder if somehow I'm worse than that guy. I mean, I'm not Josh Duggar molesting his sisters, but still. I think everything will become clearer after I've been Orthodox for a while.
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Offline SherryTX

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2015, 08:32:44 AM »
The thing that I would tell you is that marriage in Orthodoxy is tied in with having children. A fruitless marriage would not be considered a marriage at all if there is no intention for children. It is one of Christian marriage's primary functions and expressions. Look through the marriage service and this is apparent. Also, the traditional Orthodox position is that birth control is generally sinful for the reasons that it is commonly used, bioethical implications, etc., although our teaching is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church on this in many of the underlying theological assumptions surrounding it, and it is not absolute in all situations.

I have not read that birth control is consider "sinful" from an Orthodox perspective (depending on what type). I have read that the Orthodox church hasn't really given an absolute on this (I don't know if there is any difference between the EO and OO on this issue). For example:
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Contraception

I have already had my fair share of kids, lol, so I am good.

Regarding the original poster: What others said DEFINITELY work this out with your future wife. I hate to say this, but if she wants children badly and you do not, then maybe it isn't an appropriate match.  I have known couples in this situation - where one figured they could change the other person's mind after they were married. It resulted in a lot of pain and a lot of tension. It may be better to break it off and spare each other such heartache.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 08:33:19 AM by SherryTX »

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2015, 09:00:09 AM »
As a point of clarification, are you disgusted by sex in general, procreative sex, childbirth or the concept of having children? I couldn't quite figure out what exactly your disgusted with.

I'm not disgusted by sex, though I feel a bit of guilt when I think about it, due to having done it in the years before I became a Christian. I'm logical enough to understand that something's not evil just because I used it irresponsibly. For instance, I don't blame alcohol for all the stupid things I did and people I assaulted when I used to drink a lot.

I have an immediate apprehension about the thought of reproducing myself, because the only parenting I've ever witnessed before becoming Orthodox was Evangelical parenting. You know what I mean. Whoop your kids, give 'em Ritalin, always be mad or suspicious about something, stay on them relentlessly about everything, call your son a queer if he doesn't play sports, that sort of thing.

I think the only case of reproduction that actually really moved me was observing the relationship between my future godfather and his kids. He treats them like human beings, never belittles them, listens to what they have to say, even in public.
My parents were very good and while they were quite strict and liberally used corporal punishment, I never doubted growing up that they did what they honestly felt was best for us. I know the type of parenting you are speaking of though. A number of my friends did have parents like that who were heavy on the "discipline" (more likely, abuse) and light on love. The only thing I can say as a now parent is that the great thing is, you have the opportunity to learn from your parents mistakes. Spankings and beatings were very popular in our circle growing up and I got a ton of them. None of my childhood friends that I still keep in contact with utilize any sort of corporal punishment in their parenting because we have seen the damage it can do. There are far more effective methods of instilling discipline in children than through negative reinforcement.  I would encourage you to look in yourself and work to remove those roots of bitterness. Children are a wonderful privilege and although they take work, raising them can teach you a type of love that you would never have known existed. You are not your parents, you can be a great parent, you have the opportunity to break the chains that you have suffered under and be the parent you always wished you could have. There is no greater privilege than that. I was very apprehensive before having kids because I didn't see myself as a "kid person", but after having two, I dread the day when I won't hear their voices squealing in the halls of my home.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 09:00:41 AM by TheTrisagion »
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Offline Kostya

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 02:22:11 PM »
The thing that I would tell you is that marriage in Orthodoxy is tied in with having children. A fruitless marriage would not be considered a marriage at all if there is no intention for children. It is one of Christian marriage's primary functions and expressions. Look through the marriage service and this is apparent. Also, the traditional Orthodox position is that birth control is generally sinful for the reasons that it is commonly used, bioethical implications, etc., although our teaching is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church on this in many of the underlying theological assumptions surrounding it, and it is not absolute in all situations.

I have not read that birth control is consider "sinful" from an Orthodox perspective (depending on what type). I have read that the Orthodox church hasn't really given an absolute on this (I don't know if there is any difference between the EO and OO on this issue). For example:
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Contraception

I have already had my fair share of kids, lol, so I am good.

Regarding the original poster: What others said DEFINITELY work this out with your future wife. I hate to say this, but if she wants children badly and you do not, then maybe it isn't an appropriate match.  I have known couples in this situation - where one figured they could change the other person's mind after they were married. It resulted in a lot of pain and a lot of tension. It may be better to break it off and spare each other such heartache.

A lot have people have talked like reproduction is the sole purpose of marriage, so I did my homework, which included reading that page on Orthodoxwiki. As with many smaller issues in the Orthodox Church, there seems to be a bit of leeway, or more accurately, Oikonomia. The conclusion I've come to is that reproduction is encouraged, but the Orthodox faith is by no means aggressively hyper-natalist, as in, "plan to have kids or be celibate." I suspect that this view has been brought in by former protestants who became Orthodox.

Ultimately, I'd rather just go on what my priest told me than scour the internet for evidence of the rule  that's not there.
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Offline SherryTX

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2015, 02:24:36 PM »
I don't have the link right now (sorry!), but I also read another page where one of the popes (I think Shouda? I could be wrong), was talking about taking into consideration that the world is over populated...thought that was interesting.

Offline Kostya

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2015, 02:32:18 PM »
As a point of clarification, are you disgusted by sex in general, procreative sex, childbirth or the concept of having children? I couldn't quite figure out what exactly your disgusted with.

I'm not disgusted by sex, though I feel a bit of guilt when I think about it, due to having done it in the years before I became a Christian. I'm logical enough to understand that something's not evil just because I used it irresponsibly. For instance, I don't blame alcohol for all the stupid things I did and people I assaulted when I used to drink a lot.

I have an immediate apprehension about the thought of reproducing myself, because the only parenting I've ever witnessed before becoming Orthodox was Evangelical parenting. You know what I mean. Whoop your kids, give 'em Ritalin, always be mad or suspicious about something, stay on them relentlessly about everything, call your son a queer if he doesn't play sports, that sort of thing.

I think the only case of reproduction that actually really moved me was observing the relationship between my future godfather and his kids. He treats them like human beings, never belittles them, listens to what they have to say, even in public.
My parents were very good and while they were quite strict and liberally used corporal punishment, I never doubted growing up that they did what they honestly felt was best for us. I know the type of parenting you are speaking of though. A number of my friends did have parents like that who were heavy on the "discipline" (more likely, abuse) and light on love. The only thing I can say as a now parent is that the great thing is, you have the opportunity to learn from your parents mistakes. Spankings and beatings were very popular in our circle growing up and I got a ton of them. None of my childhood friends that I still keep in contact with utilize any sort of corporal punishment in their parenting because we have seen the damage it can do. There are far more effective methods of instilling discipline in children than through negative reinforcement.  I would encourage you to look in yourself and work to remove those roots of bitterness. Children are a wonderful privilege and although they take work, raising them can teach you a type of love that you would never have known existed. You are not your parents, you can be a great parent, you have the opportunity to break the chains that you have suffered under and be the parent you always wished you could have. There is no greater privilege than that. I was very apprehensive before having kids because I didn't see myself as a "kid person", but after having two, I dread the day when I won't hear their voices squealing in the halls of my home.

My parents whooped me quite a bit, but thank God they were smarter than the average Baptist, and stayed away from crazier things like sports and the dumber side of Evangelicalism. There has always been an undercurrent of antagonism in our relationship, which now is much less than it used to be, but fizzles up when I mention things like Orthodoxy.
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Offline Eruvande

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2015, 03:13:59 PM »
Kostya, I'm not Orthodox, grew up in a largely secular household and became an evangelical Christian in my late teens. I was so determined when I got married to avoid the abuses of my secular upbringing that we went down the ultra-controlling evangelical route, until my health meant that we did some serious lifestyle reassessing and realized that we had fallen down the ditch on the other side of the road! I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's possible to be so concerned about messing it up one way that you fall over your own feet, if you get me. I don't know anyone who hasn't made mistakes in their parenting, but I do know that genuine love and humility is one of the most important things a parent can have. Well, they're the most important things anyone can have, really.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2015, 03:28:45 PM »
Kostya, I'm not Orthodox, grew up in a largely secular household and became an evangelical Christian in my late teens. I was so determined when I got married to avoid the abuses of my secular upbringing that we went down the ultra-controlling evangelical route, until my health meant that we did some serious lifestyle reassessing and realized that we had fallen down the ditch on the other side of the road! I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's possible to be so concerned about messing it up one way that you fall over your own feet, if you get me. I don't know anyone who hasn't made mistakes in their parenting, but I do know that genuine love and humility is one of the most important things a parent can have. Well, they're the most important things anyone can have, really.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2015, 03:29:27 PM »
Kostya, I'm not Orthodox, grew up in a largely secular household and became an evangelical Christian in my late teens. I was so determined when I got married to avoid the abuses of my secular upbringing that we went down the ultra-controlling evangelical route, until my health meant that we did some serious lifestyle reassessing and realized that we had fallen down the ditch on the other side of the road! I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's possible to be so concerned about messing it up one way that you fall over your own feet, if you get me. I don't know anyone who hasn't made mistakes in their parenting, but I do know that genuine love and humility is one of the most important things a parent can have. Well, they're the most important things anyone can have, really.
Yay! Eruvande is back!  :D

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Offline Eruvande

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2015, 03:57:17 PM »
Aww, you guys :)
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2015, 04:11:58 PM »
I missed that enigmatic coffee mug.  :laugh:
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Offline CarolS

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2015, 04:47:50 PM »
When I think of all the things I have done in 60 years of life, my children are my greatest achievement. Not because I was a perfect parent either. Somehow I think my kids, both adults now, are greater human beings than I ever could be.
Fortunately, children are born small and they learn about life as you grow and strive as parents. Being a parent absolutely changed me. From a spiritual standpoint, they are quite accurate mirrors reflecting your shortcomings. So look at parenthood as an opportunity to grow and.be challenged in the Faith.
While it is OK to have doubts about parenthood, it is critical that you are in agreement with your future spouse regarding having children or not.
Concerning masterbation (mentioned in original post), this can be a barrier to intimacy when you are married. Above pleasing/pleasuring yourself you should value the needs of your spouse
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Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: Evangelical upbringing haunting me
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2015, 04:04:35 PM »
I have an immediate apprehension about the thought of reproducing myself, because the only parenting I've ever witnessed before becoming Orthodox was Evangelical parenting. You know what I mean. Whoop your kids, give 'em Ritalin, always be mad or suspicious about something, stay on them relentlessly about everything, call your son a queer if he doesn't play sports, that sort of thing.

That's not "Evangelical" parenting. That's just bad parenting. I was in an Evangelical Congregational church for 25 years, both as a child and as an adult. What you describe is not normative for Evangelicals—even if those who practiced it in your case try to use their religion to justify it.
I have always found the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to be so much more moving in the original Ukrainian.