Premarital Sex Is Not a Sin?

acts420

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IsmiLiora said:
... 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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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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FatherGiryus said:
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.

FatherGiryus said:
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.


FatherGiryus said:
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.  



FatherGiryus said:
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).

FatherGiryus said:
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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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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acts420 said:
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.

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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acts420 said:
Melodist said:
It is in the early fathers.[quote author=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?[/quote]

Unfortunately, the original Greek text of that book exists only in fragments. The Latin translation made shortly after it was originally published has survived intact, though. It looks like the only Greek left for Book V, Chapter XI is a small paragraph. You can read it here, and can see the Latin and Greek by clicking the blue page links. The two relevant ones are 346-347 and 348-349.

God bless.
 

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FatherGiryus said:
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.
Thank you.  I read these writings prayerfully, with an open heart and mind.  I have haven't found where any of them "bewail the loss of virginity outside marriage" as you say they do.  What part of which source do you find does that?

As far as I can tell, they are simply expounding on the benefits of virginity for those who choose it (or, rather, for those who are gifted to be able to choose it).  Nonetheless, marriage is also wonderful for those gifted to enjoy it.  As St. Ambrose says in ch. 6 of the source you gave, "I am not indeed discouraging marriage, but am enlarging upon the benefits of virginity."

Those who choose to pursue marriage have not sinned, rather they are enjoying a gift given to them.  And from what I can read in Scripture, the loss of virginity that comes with choosing marriage can occur even before the "ceremony" of a wedding.  Look at the Song of Solomon.  The couple share's a bed in that book before the actual wedding, while they are courting. As to these particular writings, I have found no passages that say such sex in courtship is sin. 

If you can provide particular passages that actually say sex before marriage is a sin I will reconsider my opinion.

FatherGiryus said:
Pre-marital sex is the loss of virginity, first and foremost.  No Fathers recommend it, especially outside marriage.
No Fathers that I've seen recommend that couples wait until after the wedding ceremony either.  In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman, the virginity happened to be lost in the courtship phase of the "marriage" (before a wedding).  I'm simply claiming that is okay; that was not a "sin" on the couple's part.  You're telling me such behavior is sin.  The fact that whoever taught you Christianity told you so may be enough for you to believe it.  That's not the case with me.  I've already been burned by relying on such things in my Baptist past.  From now on I rely on Scripture and the witness of the early Fathers for my Christian beliefs.  And I have yet to find your beliefs about the sinfulness of sex during courtship in either of those places.

FatherGiryus said:
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?
Non-virgins who were honest about their status were not killed.  The punished woman was killed for misrepresenting her virginity.  Her harlotry was lying about her sexual status in order to gain a husband.  She was taking advantage of a man's sexual desires for her own gain no in much the same way a prostitute does. 

I know you think I'm a "troll" because I disagree with you.  That's fine.  You don't know me nor my heart; I know I'm not a troll.  And in fact, I would say it is much more "troll-ish" to cite duet. 22 as support for the belief that sex in courtship is a sin.  The passage very obviously relates only to women who lied about being virgins.  No woman was ever killed or proscribed to be killed in the Old Testament for having sex before marriage.  They were only killed if they lied about it in order to gain a husband.

The closest the Old Testament comes to prohibiting sex before marriage is the command that a man must pay the father of a virgin he sleeps with her before marriage.  However, that passage is in the context of restitution.  It is in Exodus 22, and the passages before it are all about restitution.  In fact, the verse right before it says someone who borrows an animal that is then injured must pay the animal's owner.  The father deserved to be paid for his daughter's virginity: that was the custom then.  Granted, the man also had to marry the woman if the father wished for it.  However, the running assumption under the same code was that he could divorce her the next day if he wanted to.

The short of it is this: In Scripture, I see promiscuity and an "orgy" lifestyle forbidden (romans 13:13).  However, I don't see premarital sex ever forbidden when it is in the context of courtship.  In fact, in the Song it is celebrated.  Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that your beliefs about sex in courtship are based on traditions found neither in Scripture nor in the early Fathers.

Sex is dangerous.  It is also wonderful.  That is why young people must be taught the proper balance.  Teaching courting couples to abstain from the enjoyment of sexuality during courtship puts their marital sex-life at risk in the same way that teaching them not to talk during courtship would put their marital emotional-life at risk.  Just as there are couples that get along well emotionally and others that don't, there are couples that get along well sexually and others that don't.  The time to figure such things out is before sealing the relationship forever.  That is the model in the Song of Solomon, and that model is never condemned in Scripture or the Father's as far as I can tell. 

Plus it just plain makes sense.  My first marriage was destroyed in part by the false doctrine that sexual pleasure must be abstained from during courtship.  My ex wife and I did not even so much as look at one another sexually until after marriage.  We then found out that we were never able to enjoy sex together.  We simply did not find one another attractive sexually in any way.  We tried for four years.  Since being divorced, we have found others that we can and do enjoy sexuality with.

That is four years I cannot get back.  On top of that, how many years were wasted prior to my first marriage!  I spent my first 26 years being "pure", casting aside relationships simply because she wanted to be intimate before the wedding. Any number of them could've ended up being as wonderful as the Song of Solomon. 

I can not be a part of a Christian church that would teach my children that which has caused me so much pain, and, potentially, destroy so much of their lives and relationships.  But even more importantly, no early Father and no passage of Christian Scripture teaches what you're telling me, so I don't want my children to be taught it either.

False traditions teaching people to abstain from this or that when God never said so plagued Judaism and have long plagued Christianity.  I know orthodox priests that teach young people to even abstain from dating!  They think marriages should be arranged.  Sorry... if it isn't in Scripture and isn't in the early Father's... I"m not buying it. 

Call me a troll if you want.
 

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acts420 said:
I know you think I'm a "troll" because I disagree with you.  That's fine.  You don't know me nor my heart; I know I'm not a troll.  And in fact, I would say it is much more "troll-ish" to cite duet. 22 as support for the belief that sex in courtship is a sin.
I'm sorry but you won't find martyrdom on the internet.
 

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Michał Kalina said:
acts420 said:
I know you think I'm a "troll" because I disagree with you.  That's fine.  You don't know me nor my heart; I know I'm not a troll.  And in fact, I would say it is much more "troll-ish" to cite duet. 22 as support for the belief that sex in courtship is a sin.
I'm sorry but you won't find martyrdom on the internet.
Say what?  I'm not a martyr or looking for it.  The guy called me a troll earlier.  I've been consistently defending what I see as the correct position, and I guess that is the definition of a troll in his eyes.  

And now your sarcasm.  Well... I can play that game too.  I'll tell you what ... you orthodox are super friendly to people exploring conversion, especially in this special section of this website for people with questions.  Keep fighting the good fight! 

I've had enough of this sort of attitude in my Baptist heritage.  I'm outa here.  Take care.
 

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acts420 said:
And now your sarcasm.  Well... I can play that game too.  I'll tell you what ... you orthodox are super friendly to people exploring conversion, especially in this special section of this website for people with questions.
That's right, it's for people with questions, not people looking for approval of their pre-determined answers.

If you look at questions asked by honest seekers, you can see people here are generally very friendly and helpful.
 

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acts420 said:
Michał Kalina said:
acts420 said:
I know you think I'm a "troll" because I disagree with you.  That's fine.  You don't know me nor my heart; I know I'm not a troll.  And in fact, I would say it is much more "troll-ish" to cite duet. 22 as support for the belief that sex in courtship is a sin.
I'm sorry but you won't find martyrdom on the internet.
Say what?  I'm not a martyr or looking for it.  The guy called me a troll earlier.  I've been consistently defending what I see as the correct position, and I guess that is the definition of a troll in his eyes.  

And now your sarcasm.  Well... I can play that game too.  I'll tell you what ... you orthodox are super friendly to people exploring conversion, especially in this special section of this website for people with questions.  Keep fighting the good fight! 

I've had enough of this sort of attitude in my Baptist heritage.  I'm outa here.  Take care.
I have not read all pages of this thread, only the first and last. Forgive me if I have missed something. And forgive me if my words seem harsh. I mean to be helpful.

First, the people on this site are remarkable friendly. I've dealt with many over the years both on this site, through emails, and a few in person. They have been most helpful. However our different experiences may be due to our different approaches in coming to this site. You have come here with some established doctrines you seem to wish others to submit to. I have come here to learn from others who have more experience than I.

FatherGiryus is right in that you seem to have a lot of Baptist left in you. If you are looking to be persuaded through someone quoting you a text then you will be disappointed in Orthodoxy. This is not the way it works. Scripture is valued highly but also along with tradition and the writings/teachings of the Church Fathers. They are not separate sources in the in Orthodox mindset but one larger, greater source than any of them could be alone. The Baptist/Protestant mindset of finding a verse and then privately interpreting it outside of any historical interpretations or church history is what has led to the multitudes of denominations. It just won't work.

Your judgment of churches by the failures of individuals will always lead you to disappointment. The scandals with Catholics priests, the buying and selling of offices in the Orthodox church in times past - these things are not doctrines of the church. I do understand the concept of judging "by their fruits you will know them" since I've done that in the past myself. It is what led me to years in the Mormon Church. The Mormons have some wonderful fruit. It doesn't make their doctrine truth however.

I am sorry to read of the problems with your first marriage. While your experiences are individual, your challenges are not. What I mean by that is that many if not all of us face something we are challenged by in the Orthodox Church. I do. I know some other posters do on here as well and I am willing to guess almost everyone does. It would make my life easier if a certain doctrine was changed. I have written on here in the past that I am gay (which I still am). I am celibate and have been for many years. I could find a church which approves (MCC). I could be bitter talking about wasted years as you have. I could try to convince those on this board that church doctrine should be changed to accommodate any well reasoned arguments I compose. It would be time and energy wasted on something fruitless when instead I could use that time on bettering myself. And there are amazing things to learn from tradition, the Church Fathers, and those alive in the faith today with more experience to guide us.

I gave up the notion sometime back that I know best. Many of us have that problem. We each become our own little "pope" in that we define infallible interpretation of scriptures and use logic and reasoning, along with modern day science to come up with our own set of religious beliefs. If that is what you are after, admit it. That is why some think you are a troll. You post on this site about joining but argue how unbiblical core beliefs are.

If I have misrepresented the Orthodox faith in any way, please correct me posters. I am a Catholic with a great interest in Orthodoxy.

I wish you the best in your journey.
 

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acts420 said:
Those who choose to pursue marriage have not sinned, rather they are enjoying a gift given to them.  And from what I can read in Scripture, the loss of virginity that comes with choosing marriage can occur even before the "ceremony" of a wedding.  Look at the Song of Solomon.  The couple share's a bed in that book before the actual wedding, while they are courting. As to these particular writings, I have found no passages that say such sex in courtship is sin.
acts420 said:
No Fathers that I've seen recommend that couples wait until after the wedding ceremony either.  In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman, the virginity happened to be lost in the courtship phase of the "marriage" (before a wedding).
I must say... that's certainly an interpretation of the Song of Solomon I've never heard before.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
acts420 said:
Those who choose to pursue marriage have not sinned, rather they are enjoying a gift given to them.  And from what I can read in Scripture, the loss of virginity that comes with choosing marriage can occur even before the "ceremony" of a wedding.  Look at the Song of Solomon.  The couple share's a bed in that book before the actual wedding, while they are courting. As to these particular writings, I have found no passages that say such sex in courtship is sin.
acts420 said:
No Fathers that I've seen recommend that couples wait until after the wedding ceremony either.  In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman, the virginity happened to be lost in the courtship phase of the "marriage" (before a wedding).
I must say... that's certainly an interpretation of the Song of Solomon I've never heard before.
That's probably because acts420 just now made it up. ::)
 

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NicholasMyra said:
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?
acts420 said:
Nicholas,

One can still back out.

...I think they should do as they feel led and comfortable.  
Arch-blasphemy. Imagine if your system were condoned, and one person in a couple was "dissatisfied" with his or her partner sexually; this person backs out, and leaves his or her partner, who is loving and committed to them, in the dust; a soul is crushed while this person searches out his or her idol, the ideal match for their fleshly preferences.

I have done things outside of marriage, Lord have mercy; I am not talking down to you in any way. But what you have tried to preach as doctrine spits on the longsuffering Love that Christ has for his Bride, and it transforms romantic love into a sort of love that even the demons possess.

 

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Dear Acts,

You have already made up your mind, so nothing that I have for you will be helpful.

I can see that you are still stinging from my 'troll' characterization of your posting, and I still think you are cruising for a fight rather than genuinely seeking conversion.  It is a common mistake for people seeking to enter the Church in part to justify their own opinions.  But, that really isn't 'converting,' but merely 'joining.'  The Orthodox Church requires genuine conversion, when we lay aside all prior opinions and beliefs to become part of the Body of Christ.

You went on a Convert Issues forum, that means you want to know what we teach in order to convert.  I think you know now.

Your questions have been answered and you know what the Church stands for.  You can call us wrong, but they you are not really interested in converting and your your purpose has changed.  You want to convert us.  That ain't happening.

Most of us have survived the opinions you now hold, and have no interest in going back.  I spent more of my live outside the Orthodox Church than in it.  I am no stranger to the ideas you have because I once held them.  Experience taught me otherwise.  You are young and will learn the hard way.  I pray that God protects you from some of what you are opening yourself up to, and heals you from your present torment.

The essays I shared with you discuss virginity.  As I said before, the Fathers aren't going to use your terminology, so you can think you are justified but you are really missing the whole point.

The fact is that most of human history has been lived out with arranged marriages, and somehow multiple societies found that they work.  Right now, we have all the sexual freedom we could imagine and people are just as unhappy as ever.

Sorry, but sometimes life is not fair no matter by what 'rules' you play.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Something bad happened to you, but that does not mean that the whole world is going to change.  The Church certainly isn't.

Go on with your life, and hate us if that's what you must do, though I don't recommend it.  You can look down on us and mock our beliefs, but we will not be upset.  More of us than you know have thought as you have and acted accordingly and reaped the sorrows in great sheaves.  In this day and age, the harvest is rich because the fields are wide.

If you are ever ready to return, the Church will still be here and still be the same.  Whether you like it or not, the Church does not change.

Meanwhile you can enjoy this: http://books.google.com/books?id=cMxzdmLEL8UC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Proverbs,+Ecclesiastes,+Song+of+Solomon+By+John+Robert+Wright,+Thomas+C.+Oden&source=bl&ots=pgC37hCnZH&sig=V5CMm7dbQylCtrYaYdHu_9acqS0&hl=en&ei=Mb_YS-_iHpCS8gTh0KGoBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=where&f=false

God be with you!
 

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acts420 said:
In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman,
Have you ever heard of allegory?  The Song of Solomon is an allegory in that the relationship between a man and a woman is analogous to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.  If we look at Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) Chapter 1, Verse 1, the footnotes of the Orthodox Study Bible says....

Thus, Solomon is a type of the King of Peace, Christ, throughout this allegory.  Christ Himself is portrayed by the Bridegroom (Isaiah 62:5), and the song is that of the marriage of the Lamb (Revelations 19:7-9)
Let's look at Chapter 1, Verse 2:

The Holy Church, long awaiting the Lord's coming, proclaims here her desire for intimacy with God.
Both footnotes are found on page 882 of the Orthodox Study Bible

Let me define allegory for you:

Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Right now, you're dealing with what you think is the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon; however, you're missing out on the symbolic meaning and how the Old Testament pre-figures the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.

When you calm down and feel ready to discuss the Song of Solomon as a symbolic prefiguring of Jesus Christ, then we can talk....  
 
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NicholasMyra said:
Arch-blasphemy. Imagine if your system were condoned, and one person in a couple was "dissatisfied" with his or her partner sexually; this person backs out, and leaves his or her partner, who is loving and committed to them, in the dust; a soul is crushed while this person searches out his or her idol, the ideal match for their fleshly preferences.
Hi all,

I have been lurking for a while now but felt a need to comment on this.

The situation Nicholas described happened to me after five years with a girl who I was convinced I would marry. Well, it wasn't so much that she was dissatisfied with me sexually -- she just found someone else to lust after.

I can say without any melodrama that the whole episode robbed me of all happiness and will to live. Three years on and I am still picking up the pieces of my broken heart. Only by God's grace and visitation am I alive this day.

For what it's worth, my view is that, by becoming Christians, we sign up for a life of suffering and faithfulness (and suffering in our faithfulness). Where does this try before you buy mentality Acts is speaking of fit in with that bigger picture?
 

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SolEX01 said:
Right now, you're dealing with what you think is the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon; however, you're missing out on the symbolic meaning and how the Old Testament pre-figures the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.
Is he really? Cannot one focus on the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon without forgetting, but also without discussing, its allegorical meaning?

SolEX01 said:
When you calm down and feel ready to discuss the Song of Solomon as a symbolic prefiguring of Jesus Christ, then we can talk....  
But that's not being debated here. Let's not confuse things by insisting that acts420 engage us in a study of the allegorical meaning of the Song of Solomon. His already spurious interpretation of the literal meaning of the Song is what we're questioning, so let's remain focused on that.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
SolEX01 said:
Right now, you're dealing with what you think is the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon; however, you're missing out on the symbolic meaning and how the Old Testament pre-figures the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.
Is he really? Cannot one focus on the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon without forgetting, but also without discussing, its allegorical meaning?
If acts420 is unable to reconcile the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon with what others have cited from Patristics regarding virginity, then discussing the allegorical meaning will help give him a different perspective and perhaps persuade him that the Song of Solomon should not be taken literally like any other sola scriptura interpretations of Scripture.

PeterTheAleut said:
SolEX01 said:
When you calm down and feel ready to discuss the Song of Solomon as a symbolic prefiguring of Jesus Christ, then we can talk....  
But that's not being debated here. Let's not confuse things by insisting that acts420 engage us in a study of the allegorical meaning of the Song of Solomon. His already spurious interpretation of the literal meaning of the Song is what we're questioning, so let's remain focused on that.
Maybe if I had said "the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church" rather than Jesus Christ alone?  ???  My comments were intended to debunk the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon, which is even confusing from a Patristic perspective, and mention the allegorical meaning.  Mentioning the allegory doesn't detract from the thread since a convert ought to know about the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church that He founded.  ??? :-\  ???
 

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Iconodule said:
acts420 said:
And now your sarcasm.  Well... I can play that game too.  I'll tell you what ... you orthodox are super friendly to people exploring conversion, especially in this special section of this website for people with questions.
That's right, it's for people with questions, not people looking for approval of their pre-determined answers.

If you look at questions asked by honest seekers, you can see people here are generally very friendly and helpful.
That sounds an awful lot like you're accusing me of being a liar (of not being honest) because I asked about theology, received your answer, and nonetheless decided to maintain a theological position that is different from yours.  In other words, it sounds an awful lot like you're a bigot.

I'm not looking for approval.  I'm looking for information.  And a little Christian charity wouldn't hurt either.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
acts420 said:
Those who choose to pursue marriage have not sinned, rather they are enjoying a gift given to them.  And from what I can read in Scripture, the loss of virginity that comes with choosing marriage can occur even before the "ceremony" of a wedding.  Look at the Song of Solomon.  The couple share's a bed in that book before the actual wedding, while they are courting. As to these particular writings, I have found no passages that say such sex in courtship is sin.
acts420 said:
No Fathers that I've seen recommend that couples wait until after the wedding ceremony either.  In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman, the virginity happened to be lost in the courtship phase of the "marriage" (before a wedding).
I must say... that's certainly an interpretation of the Song of Solomon I've never heard before.
It isn't really an interpretation.  It is more like a fact.  In the order of the book the couple lies with one another (they share a bed) after they begin courting but before they have a wedding ceremony.  I suppose you could call it an interpretation based on the assumption that the book is in chronological order.  However, we assume chronological order for pretty much every story in the Bible. Additionally, the story itself seems to be following the couple from the beginning of their love on through a wedding and beyond.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
Arch-blasphemy. Imagine if your system were condoned, and one person in a couple was "dissatisfied" with his or her partner sexually; this person backs out, and leaves his or her partner, who is loving and committed to them, in the dust; a soul is crushed while this person searches out his or her idol, the ideal match for their fleshly preferences.

I have done things outside of marriage, Lord have mercy; I am not talking down to you in any way. But what you have tried to preach as doctrine spits on the longsuffering Love that Christ has for his Bride, and it transforms romantic love into a sort of love that even the demons possess.

It's called a broken heart.  It happens all the time, even to people who have not had sexual intimacy.  I know a man who's heart remained broken for 7 years after a breakup with a girl he dated for two years and never had any sort of sexual intimacy with.  I know another who got dumped after 3 years by a girl he was sleeping with and was over her in much less time.  Hopefully you see my point.

I would instead say blasphemy is the belief that the order of the Song of Solomon "transforms romantic love into a sort of love that even the demons possess."  But to each his own.
 

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SolEX01 said:
acts420 said:
In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman,
Have you ever heard of allegory?  The Song of Solomon is an allegory in that the relationship between a man and a woman is analogous to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.  If we look at Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) Chapter 1, Verse 1, the footnotes of the Orthodox Study Bible says....

Thus, Solomon is a type of the King of Peace, Christ, throughout this allegory.  Christ Himself is portrayed by the Bridegroom (Isaiah 62:5), and the song is that of the marriage of the Lamb (Revelations 19:7-9)
Let's look at Chapter 1, Verse 2:

The Holy Church, long awaiting the Lord's coming, proclaims here her desire for intimacy with God.
Both footnotes are found on page 882 of the Orthodox Study Bible

Let me define allegory for you:

Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Right now, you're dealing with what you think is the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon; however, you're missing out on the symbolic meaning and how the Old Testament pre-figures the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.

When you calm down and feel ready to discuss the Song of Solomon as a symbolic prefiguring of Jesus Christ, then we can talk....  
Yes I understand the metaphor.  However, it is also a story in and of itself that celebrates marriage.  In that story, the couple lies with one another before the wedding. 
 

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I apologize if I seemed to dismiss the many people who have provided me helpful information in a kind manner.  My distress is at only those who have sarcastically insulted my character, namely FatherGiryus, Iconodule, and any one else who has publicly accused me of being dishonest.  A few bad apples are no reason for me to avoid the entire grove, so I'll continue to try to look at this thread in the future.  I simply will not converse with people who demean me.  Hopefully they will remain few.

I felt like I needed to have my mind made up on this issue as best as possible before pursuing the orthodox faith any further.  That may seem extreme, but this particular "theological" topic has caused an extreme amount of damage in my life.... that's just the way it is.  So, again to those who have kindly helped answer my questions... thank you.  I now feel comfortable enough to talk to a local priest about my Christian faith and about joining the orthodox church, and I look forward to learning more in person.

God Bless,
Jason

P.S. - Hopefully the priest I see won't be FatherGiryus.  And if it is, hopefully he won't take a picture of me, photoshop it with a troll hat, and then pass it around the church so everyone can laugh. "Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent--the LORD detests them both."  Proverbs 17
 

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acts420 said:
SolEX01 said:
acts420 said:
In fact, in Song of Solomon, the only book of the Bible dedicated entirely to the relationship between a man and a woman,
Have you ever heard of allegory?  The Song of Solomon is an allegory in that the relationship between a man and a woman is analogous to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.  If we look at Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) Chapter 1, Verse 1, the footnotes of the Orthodox Study Bible says....

Thus, Solomon is a type of the King of Peace, Christ, throughout this allegory.  Christ Himself is portrayed by the Bridegroom (Isaiah 62:5), and the song is that of the marriage of the Lamb (Revelations 19:7-9)
Let's look at Chapter 1, Verse 2:

The Holy Church, long awaiting the Lord's coming, proclaims here her desire for intimacy with God.
Both footnotes are found on page 882 of the Orthodox Study Bible

Let me define allegory for you:

Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Right now, you're dealing with what you think is the literal meaning of the Song of Solomon; however, you're missing out on the symbolic meaning and how the Old Testament pre-figures the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.

When you calm down and feel ready to discuss the Song of Solomon as a symbolic prefiguring of Jesus Christ, then we can talk....  
Yes I understand the metaphor.  However, it is also a story in and of itself that celebrates marriage.  In that story, the couple lies with one another before the wedding. 
1In the night on my bed
I sought him on whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but did not find him.
I called him, but he did not hear me.
2I will rise now and go about the city,
In the marketplaces and the streets.
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, but did not find him.

3The watchmen who do their rounds in the city
Found me, and I said to them,
"Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"
4 Scarcely had I departed from them
When I found him whom my soul loves,
I held him and would not let him go
Until I brought him into my mother's house,
Into the chamber of her who conceived me.

5I implore you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the hosts and powers of the field,
That you rouse not nor wake my love
Until he wishes.

Song of Songs (or Solomon) 3:1-5 as in the Orthodox Study Bible, page 885-886

Take a look at verse 4, a prophecy fulfilled when Mary Magdalene saw the Resurrected Jesus. (citing footnotes for Song of Songs 3:4 on page 886 of the Orthodox Study Bible)

Now look at verses 1-3 and imagine Mary Magdalene searching for Jesus following his crucifixion and ask yourself if there are any sexual connotations in those 5 verses.
 

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11I am by beloved's
And his desire is towards me.
12Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field;
Let us lodge in the villages;

13Let us rise early in the morning in the vineyards;
Let us see if the vine has flowered,
If the blossoms have appeared,
If the pomegranates have blossomed,
There I will give you my breasts.

14The mandrakes have put forth an aroma,
And fruits of all kinds, new and old,
Are at our doors.
O my beloved, I have kept them for you.


Song of Songs 7:11-14 on pages 890-891 of the Orthodox Study Bible

acts420, The footnotes for verses 12 and 14 (on page 890) indicate that the above passage is a prophetic description of evangelism by the apostles and the Church.  When a baby is born, even the baby is breastfed for the first couple of months of its life just as the early Church was breastfed by the successors to the Apostles, the martyrs, the Ecumenical Councils, early Patristic writings, et al.  Again, read the passages and ask yourself if there is really any sexual connotation in them.
 

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Well, now you are just sounding hysterical!  :laugh:

I would not know how to get a picture of you, and I certainly know nothing of Photoshop.  That would also presume that you meant enough to me to make it worth my while.  To be honest, I had entirely forgotten about you until I got a notification that the thread had booted up again.

Seriously, I mean you know ill will.  I do not think you are evil, but you are dishonest.  You are not being honest with yourself nor with the information that has been presented to you.  You accuse the Church of sinning against people by giving them false teachings, yet you bristle when someone hints that you are being less than honest in how you present your 'evidence.'

Perhaps this should have been said a bit earlier: Orthodoxy does not set out a bunch of rules that one is expected to perfectly keep.  In fact, the assumption is that the standard will always be out of grasp.  It is designed that way.  Why?  Because it keeps us from falling into the pride that we can 'will' our way into heaven without repentance.  Instead, we fall and ask for God's help.  he does not always help us maintain perfection, but He always accepts our return to Him when we fail.  If you think you can keep all of the Law, why would you need to repent?

Your problem is that you want a system that is perfectly suited to you.  It is selfish by nature.  We all do that when we hurt, because pain makes us self-oriented.  But, that does not give you the right to twist the Scriptures and Tradition just because you are wounded.  Truly I am sorry that things did not work out for you, but I don't think it has to be the end of the world and it certainly does not merit creating a whole new theology based on your bad experiences and modern culture.

We who pastor know full well the struggles people have with sex.  Most people, including a good many Orthodox Christians, fail to keep their virginity until marriage.  That does not mean that they are automatically condemned to hell and are to be hated.  But, it does mean that they have missed the mark and will have problems later if they do not repent and get back to a proper life.  That is where I come in: my job is to help people recognize the sin, confess it and be restored to the path towards Christ.

I have a very little tolerance when people accuse the Church of sin.  Sure, you are free to do what you want, and you certainly will do what you want.  But, your pain does not justify twisting the Apostolic inheritance.

By the way, before you have that chat with the local priest, do pick up an Orthodox Prayer Book and read our prayers.  We never talk about being innocent, but rather always accuse ourselves first.


acts420 said:
I apologize if I seemed to dismiss the many people who have provided me helpful information in a kind manner.  My distress is at only those who have sarcastically insulted my character, namely FatherGiryus, Iconodule, and any one else who has publicly accused me of being dishonest.  A few bad apples are no reason for me to avoid the entire grove, so I'll continue to try to look at this thread in the future.  I simply will not converse with people who demean me.  Hopefully they will remain few.

I felt like I needed to have my mind made up on this issue as best as possible before pursuing the orthodox faith any further.   That may seem extreme, but this particular "theological" topic has caused an extreme amount of damage in my life.... that's just the way it is.  So, again to those who have kindly helped answer my questions... thank you.  I now feel comfortable enough to talk to a local priest about my Christian faith and about joining the orthodox church, and I look forward to learning more in person.

God Bless,
Jason

P.S. - Hopefully the priest I see won't be FatherGiryus.  And if it is, hopefully he won't take a picture of me, photoshop it with a troll hat, and then pass it around the church so everyone can laugh. "Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent--the LORD detests them both."  Proverbs 17
 

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SolEX01 said:
Song of Songs 7:11-14 on pages 890-891 of the Orthodox Study Bible

acts420, The footnotes for verses 12 and 14 (on page 890) indicate that the above passage is a prophetic description of evangelism by the apostles and the Church.  When a baby is born, even the baby is breastfed for the first couple of months of its life just as the early Church was breastfed by the successors to the Apostles, the martyrs, the Ecumenical Councils, early Patristic writings, et al.  Again, read the passages and ask yourself if there is really any sexual connotation in them.
Not to mention this:

SolEX01 said:
11I am by beloved's
And his desire is towards me.
12Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field;
Let us lodge in the villages;

13Let us rise early in the morning in the vineyards;
Let us see if the vine has flowered,
If the blossoms have appeared,
If the pomegranates have blossomed,
There I will give you my breasts.

14The mandrakes have put forth an aroma,
And fruits of all kinds, new and old,
Are at our doors.
O my beloved, I have kept them for you.
acts420 said:
It's called a broken heart.  It happens all the time, even to people who have not had sexual intimacy.  I know a man who's heart remained broken for 7 years after a breakup with a girl he dated for two years and never had any sort of sexual intimacy with.  I know another who got dumped after 3 years by a girl he was sleeping with and was over her in much less time.  Hopefully you see my point.
I see that people make mistakes, I certainly have. I thank God that His Church does not attempt to sanctify them. When you fall, you get back up, you don't pretend you never fell.
 

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acts420 said:
It's called a broken heart.  It happens all the time, even to people who have not had sexual intimacy.  I know a man who's heart remained broken for 7 years after a breakup with a girl he dated for two years and never had any sort of sexual intimacy with.
Something doesn't have to be related to eating, drinking or sex to be fleshly, that would be a gnostic perspective. The Israelites whored against their Bridegroom by worshipping the Ba'alim, not by having human intercouse.

How does God treat the one He courts?

"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD."
-Hosea 2:19-20

How are we to love?

"And the LORD said to me, 'Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods..."
-Hosea 3:1

Glory to God! For His Mercy endures to the ages.
 

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acts420 said:
Iconodule said:
acts420 said:
And now your sarcasm.  Well... I can play that game too.  I'll tell you what ... you orthodox are super friendly to people exploring conversion, especially in this special section of this website for people with questions.
That's right, it's for people with questions, not people looking for approval of their pre-determined answers.

If you look at questions asked by honest seekers, you can see people here are generally very friendly and helpful.
That sounds an awful lot like you're accusing me of being a liar (of not being honest) because I asked about theology, received your answer, and nonetheless decided to maintain a theological position that is different from yours.  In other words, it sounds an awful lot like you're a bigot.

I'm not looking for approval.  I'm looking for information.  And a little Christian charity wouldn't hurt either.
Actually, I think you'll find that most people here ARE being charitable to you. They're being charitable by pointing out your un-Christian presuppositions and presumptuous behavior. Please don't take it personally, for no one here is truly trying to demean you as a person. (FatherGiryus has in fact shown himself to be consistently one of this forum's most thoughtful, charitable posters, which only makes your criticism of him look even more irrationally defensive.)
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Actually, I think you'll find that most people here ARE being charitable to you. They're being charitable by pointing out your un-Christian presuppositions and presumptuous behavior. Please don't take it personally, for no one here is truly trying to demean you as a person. (FatherGiryus has in fact shown himself to be consistently one of this forum's most thoughtful, charitable posters, which only makes your criticism of him look even more irrationally defensive.)
I'm happy to converse with anyone who calls what I believe "un-Christian".  I didn't come here to hear people call me a Christian.  I came to engage in charitable discussion to find out:
1) what beliefs of mine are orthodox and what aren't according to the people here
2) whether or not the "orthodox" view on the role of sexual intimacy in courtship has actual roots in early Christian teaching or, instead, has just been passed down from generation to generation as a extra-apostolic tradition, and
3) if I want to join the orthodox church, and, if so, how to do it

I don't take it personally if someone says they think my beliefs about courtship are not "Christian".  That is fine, and we can charitably disagree.  When people start calling me dishonest and a troll that is when the discussion is no longer charitable (on their end).  So I simply won't converse with them.  I am not here to trade or receive personal insults; that is a waste of my time and energy.

The reaction of people like FatherGiryus and Iconodule says more to me than their words anyway.  If they feel the need to dismiss me personally as a liar and a fraud because of the ideas I hold, then that means they're having trouble dealing with my ideas logically.  They apparently must resort to ad hominem attacks in an attempt to bolster their position.  That says a lot.

The fact remains that I've not been presented with any strong evidence that the prohibition on sexual intimacy during courtship is apostolic.  It seems to be about as apostolic as the prohibition on marriage for bishops (in other words, not apostolic at all).  Many Orthodox Christians claim to rely on Scripture and Apostolic Tradition for their beliefs; they claim the Eastern Orthodox tradition is the one that has maintained the original Christian beliefs.  Well... Scripture says bishops can marry, and the Apostles taught that bishops can marry.  However, many "orthodox" today nonetheless reject those ideas and instead rely on the cultural realities of past generations for to forbid marriage.  Similarly, Scripture never prohibits sex as a part of courtship and, in fact, assumes it in the one and only book of Scripture devoted entirely to celebrating a story about courtship and marriage.  

It seems pretty obvious to me that many orthodox suffer from the same problem many Jews at the time of Christ did.  They elevated their grandparent's traditions over and above the traditions God and the Prophets had instituted.  I don't say that to insult anyone; it is just what I have observed.  In fact, it saddens me a bit.  I believed what I was told about orthodoxy, and I assumed many of the beautiful traditions I see during the liturgy were apostolic.  I felt like I was taking part in services the way the Apostles did.  Now all of that is out the window.  It is very obvious to me now that some very important aspects of orthodoxy are simply later inventions.  I just don't know how much.

All I want is the truth.  I want to live and believe what Christ and the Apostles taught was best for me, not what a group of later people decided was best for them.  That doesn't make me a fraud or a liar or a fake.  It simply makes me a Christian who, at this point, doesn't agree with the non-biblical, non-apostolic, rules many (if not most) orthodox have decided to impose on themselves with regards to sex and marriage.  I will continue to explore the orthodox church.  If one will have me, I will join because I do believe the orthodox have maintained Apostolic belief much more than my previous Baptist churches did, and I want to learn more about those beliefs.  However, I refuse to blindly accept whatever someone in supposed authority tells me.  Not even Paul expected the Bereans to do that.  I've already wasted too much of my life blindly following other people's invented traditions.  That way of life has caused me enough damage.  From now on, I follow Christ alone.  If that makes me "dishonest" in Mr. Giryus' eyes... then I'm proud to be.
 

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acts420 said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Actually, I think you'll find that most people here ARE being charitable to you. They're being charitable by pointing out your un-Christian presuppositions and presumptuous behavior. Please don't take it personally, for no one here is truly trying to demean you as a person. (FatherGiryus has in fact shown himself to be consistently one of this forum's most thoughtful, charitable posters, which only makes your criticism of him look even more irrationally defensive.)
I'm happy to converse with anyone who calls what I believe "un-Christian".  I didn't come here to hear people call me a Christian.  I came to engage in charitable discussion to find out:
1) what beliefs of mine are orthodox and what aren't according to the people here
2) whether or not the "orthodox" view on the role of sexual intimacy in courtship has actual roots in early Christian teaching or, instead, has just been passed down from generation to generation as a extra-apostolic tradition, and
3) if I want to join the orthodox church, and, if so, how to do it

I don't take it personally if someone says they think my beliefs about courtship are not "Christian".  That is fine, and we can charitably disagree.  When people start calling me dishonest and a troll that is when the discussion is no longer charitable (on their end).  So I simply won't converse with them.  I am not here to trade or receive personal insults; that is a waste of my time and energy.

The reaction of people like FatherGiryus and Iconodule says more to me than their words anyway.  If they feel the need to dismiss me personally as a liar and a fraud because of the ideas I hold, then that means they're having trouble dealing with my ideas logically.  They apparently must resort to ad hominem attacks in an attempt to bolster their position.  That says a lot.

The fact remains that I've not been presented with any strong evidence that the prohibition on sexual intimacy during courtship is apostolic.  It seems to be about as apostolic as the prohibition on marriage for bishops (in other words, not apostolic at all).  Many Orthodox Christians claim to rely on Scripture and Apostolic Tradition for their beliefs; they claim the Eastern Orthodox tradition is the one that has maintained the original Christian beliefs.  Well... Scripture says bishops can marry, and the Apostles taught that bishops can marry.  However, many "orthodox" today nonetheless reject those ideas and instead rely on the cultural realities of past generations for to forbid marriage.  Similarly, Scripture never prohibits sex as a part of courtship and, in fact, assumes it in the one and only book of Scripture devoted entirely to celebrating a story about courtship and marriage.  

It seems pretty obvious to me that many orthodox suffer from the same problem many Jews at the time of Christ did.  They elevated their grandparent's traditions over and above the traditions God and the Prophets had instituted.  I don't say that to insult anyone; it is just what I have observed.  In fact, it saddens me a bit.  I believed what I was told about orthodoxy, and I assumed many of the beautiful traditions I see during the liturgy were apostolic.  I felt like I was taking part in services the way the Apostles did.  Now all of that is out the window.  It is very obvious to me now that some very important aspects of orthodoxy are simply later inventions.  I just don't know how much.

All I want is the truth.  I want to live and believe what Christ and the Apostles taught was best for me, not what a group of later people decided was best for them.  That doesn't make me a fraud or a liar or a fake.  It simply makes me a Christian who, at this point, doesn't agree with the non-biblical, non-apostolic, rules many (if not most) orthodox have decided to impose on themselves with regards to sex and marriage.  I will continue to explore the orthodox church.  If one will have me, I will join because I do believe the orthodox have maintained Apostolic belief much more than my previous Baptist churches did, and I want to learn more about those beliefs.  However, I refuse to blindly accept whatever someone in supposed authority tells me.  Not even Paul expected the Bereans to do that.  I've already wasted too much of my life blindly following other people's invented traditions.  That way of life has caused me enough damage.  From now on, I follow Christ alone.  If that makes me "dishonest" in Mr. Giryus' eyes... then I'm proud to be.
And what happens if you're wrong?
After all, you've invented your own traditions/interpretations, just like the people you are so angry with. They were wrong - so you could be. If you are honest, you will admit at least the theoretical possibility that you might get it wrong - and that the Church got it right.
You say you follow Christ alone - but you follow a Christ of your own making, a Christ who tells you to do what you want to do, that it won't hurt anyone, and you'll enjoy it, a Christ who wants you to be happy according to your standards and criteria.
 

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Dear Acts,

I have presented plenty of logical arguments:

1) the Fathers of the Church do not state anywhere that sex before or outside of marriage is sanctioned by the Church.  Therefore, you are reading into them something that is not there.

2) the Scriptures (Old Testament) make allowance for 'pre-marital sex' so long as the couple marries afterwards and does not divorce.  This would preclude your 'test-sex' remedy.

3) the Song of Songs has never been interpreted as an ode to pre-marital intercourse.

4) even if you were to find a citation to your liking, the Church still would not admit you to Baptism if you claimed the sin of extra-marital sex is a good thing.

5) your view that the theology of the Church does not suite your needs and therefore must be changed is unreasonable, since your situation at best would be an exception rather than the norm.

6) perfect keeping of the morality of the Church is an impossibility to all but the saints, and so the Church accepts the repentance of us sinners so long as we admit the sin.  If you deny the sin, then you cannot be received back.  This is hardly a cruel standard as you have charged.

7) your accusation of the Church as holding to non-Apostolic teachings is thusly an accusation of sin against the Church.  This is not acceptable.

8 ) you never established a Biblically- or Patristically-based methodology for discerning when 'pre-marital sex' is being used simply for sex rather than for courtship.  This indicates that you are not certain there is one.

9 ) I sensed you were trolling for a fight (fishing simile) because you continue to argue even after you got the answers we gave you.  You are still trolling, because you already know that you cannot be received into the Church with such irregular opinions regarding basic morality, and yet you keep making like you are going to act on the conversion process.  This is either a lack of honest on your part with yourself (hence the dishonesty charge) or you are trolling for more fights.

If you were honest with yourself, you would realize that your opinions are not in keeping with the Church.  If the Church is sinning, as you claim, then you ought to want to have nothing to do with it.  You would run.  But, you are not.  You are conflicted, calling the Church sinful yet continuing to toy with the idea of 'joining' once you can find that one person in the Church who may agree with you.  It is, at its core, dishonest prima facie.  This is not an insult, but a rhetorical label describing your thinking.

Now, you appear to enjoy the fight and invoking your woundedness, which makes me suspicious as well.  Truly wounded people shrink fom such fights.  They want nothing to do with them.  They are hurt and want the pain to go away.  You are angry.  This is different.  You are spoiling for a fight, which indicates that the real hurt went away sometime back and now you are acting on the passions as a result.

I am spending time with you on this thread because I am trying to plant seeds into your insight that will sprout later.  You are too angry to back down, and I understand that.  I don't have to 'win' and get you to repent, because I knew from the beginning you are too angry to do that.  What I am doing is sowing seeds.  They will make sense later, when you are faced with your next round of spiritual growth-opportunity.  You are young, and if God permits, you will have many long years ahead.  This will make sense later, just as it did to many of us.

So, there you have it: this all beings and ends with your post title, 'Is my doctrine correct...?'  You can invent all the doctrines you want, but you can't call them 'Orthodox' because the Church has its own.






acts420 said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Actually, I think you'll find that most people here ARE being charitable to you. They're being charitable by pointing out your un-Christian presuppositions and presumptuous behavior. Please don't take it personally, for no one here is truly trying to demean you as a person. (FatherGiryus has in fact shown himself to be consistently one of this forum's most thoughtful, charitable posters, which only makes your criticism of him look even more irrationally defensive.)
I'm happy to converse with anyone who calls what I believe "un-Christian".  I didn't come here to hear people call me a Christian.  I came to engage in charitable discussion to find out:
1) what beliefs of mine are orthodox and what aren't according to the people here
2) whether or not the "orthodox" view on the role of sexual intimacy in courtship has actual roots in early Christian teaching or, instead, has just been passed down from generation to generation as a extra-apostolic tradition, and
3) if I want to join the orthodox church, and, if so, how to do it

I don't take it personally if someone says they think my beliefs about courtship are not "Christian".  That is fine, and we can charitably disagree.  When people start calling me dishonest and a troll that is when the discussion is no longer charitable (on their end).  So I simply won't converse with them.  I am not here to trade or receive personal insults; that is a waste of my time and energy.

The reaction of people like FatherGiryus and Iconodule says more to me than their words anyway.  If they feel the need to dismiss me personally as a liar and a fraud because of the ideas I hold, then that means they're having trouble dealing with my ideas logically.  They apparently must resort to ad hominem attacks in an attempt to bolster their position.  That says a lot.

The fact remains that I've not been presented with any strong evidence that the prohibition on sexual intimacy during courtship is apostolic.  It seems to be about as apostolic as the prohibition on marriage for bishops (in other words, not apostolic at all).  Many Orthodox Christians claim to rely on Scripture and Apostolic Tradition for their beliefs.  Scripture says bishops can marry, and the Apostles taught that bishops can marry.  Many "orthodox" today nonetheless reject those ideas and instead rely on the cultural realities of past generations for to forbid marriage.  Similarly, Scripture never prohibits sex as a part of courtship and, in fact, assumes it in the one and only book of Scripture devoted entirely to celebrating a story about courtship and marriage.  It seems pretty obvious to me that many orthodox suffer from the same problem many Jews at the time of Christ did.  They have elevated their grandparents traditions over and above the traditions God and the Prophets had instituted.

I don't say that to insult anyone.  I say it because it is what I have gathered from the responses to my questions here.  All I want is the truth.  I want to live and believe what Christ and the Apostles taught was best for me, not what a group of later people decided was best for them.  That doesn't make me a fraud or a liar or a fake.  It simply makes me a Christian who doesn't agree with the non-biblical, non-apostolic, rules many (if not most) orthodox have decided to impose on themselves with regards to sex and marriage.  
 

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katherineofdixie said:
And what happens if you're wrong?
After all, you've invented your own traditions/interpretations, just like the people you are so angry with. They were wrong - so you could be. If you are honest, you will admit at least the theoretical possibility that you might get it wrong - and that the Church got it right.
You say you follow Christ alone - but you follow a Christ of your own making, a Christ who tells you to do what you want to do, that it won't hurt anyone, and you'll enjoy it, a Christ who wants you to be happy according to your standards and criteria.
I'm not angry at anyone for inventing traditions.  I'm angry at the people who have resorted to ad hominem attacks on my character, calling me a dishonest troll because I have decided against following their customs.  I'll happily converse with people who disagree with me, as most people here probably do.  I'll ignore only the people who insult me.  I know this is a sensitive topic.  So I want to be especially sure to try to keep it charitable.  If I don't ignore those who enjoy insulting and mocking me, then I may end up sinning against them in return.  The last thing I want is for this to turn into some sort of childish insult exchange.

As far as my "invention", I've simply noted the fact that the couple in the Song of Solomon shared a bed with one another in the story before they had a wedding ceremony.  That is a fact, not an invention nor a matter of opinion.  The opinion is that Christians can model their own courtship after the Song.  That opinion of mine could be wrong, sure.  Indeed, that is why I came here: to test my ideas against the knowledge and expertise of orthodox Christians.   Now, after reading more than a year's worth of responses, I feel like I've done that.

What if I'm wrong?  Well, if I am wrong, then God will judge me.  All I can do is follow my conscience to the best of my ability.

You say I follow a Christ of my own making.  However, you may want to look in a mirror.  Wasn't it Christ's very own Apostles that taught that bishops could marry?  Indeed it was, and it was later "orthodox" generations that decided to forbid their marriage.  I would wholly support a married bishop.  If that isn't "orthodox" then that aspect of orthodoxy is simply not Biblical nor Apostolic.  

Likewise, Scripture, in the Song, seems to allow and even celebrate sex during courtship.  No Apostolic Father or passage I've ever read forbids it.  If noting such facts makes me "unorthodox", then unorthodox I will proudly be.  I don't live my life according to my grandparents' opinions.  I want to know their opinions and take them into account.  However, ultimately I will live my life according to what I can best discern is God's opinion through the teachings of Scripture, of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the Apostolic Fathers.
 

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acts420 said:
You say I follow a Christ of my own making.  However, you may want to look in a mirror.  Wasn't it Christ's very own Apostles that taught that bishops could marry?  Indeed it was, and it was later "orthodox" generations that decided to forbid their marriage.
You've already been told that there is no theological reason why Bishops cannot marry. It is forbidden today because, considering the duties of a Bishop in the post-Apostolic Age, it is impractical and potentially abusive to wives and children.

You seem to be confusing Orthodoxy with some form of Reconstructionism; the fact is, the Orthodox Church does not reconstruct faith and praxis according to the early-church idols that men make in their minds; rather, it has preserved, defended and interpreted that faith for 1970 years.
 

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acts420 said:
Likewise, Scripture, in the Song, seems to allow and even celebrate sex during courtship.
For most people in earlier eras, there was no such thing as courtship, not as we understand it today, anyway. And not, though I may be wrong, as I think you are defining it. Marriages were arranged by families - the courtship was the negotiation between families.

 No Apostolic Father or passage I've ever read forbids it.
See answer above. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. As many people have pointed out to you, the Fathers write about virginity. I've heard that it's rather difficult to maintain virginity while having sex.

 If noting such facts makes me "unorthodox", then unorthodox I will proudly be.
Those are not the beliefs and teachings of the historical Church. They are your own.

 I don't live my life according to my grandparents' opinions.
Neither do I - otherwise I would still be Lutheran.

 I want to know their opinions and take them into account.  However, ultimately I will live my life according to what I can best discern is God's opinion through the teachings of Scripture, of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the Apostolic Fathers.
While ignoring and discarding the beliefs, teachings and praxis of His Church, the Church of the Apostles and the Church of the Apostolic Fathers, in favor of your own opinions/interpretations.

Neat trick, btw.
 

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acts420 said:
As far as my "invention", I've simply noted the fact that the couple in the Song of Solomon shared a bed with one another in the story before they had a wedding ceremony.
Christ (e.g. the Bridegroom) was laid to rest in a tomb, a kind of chamber or bed.

acts420 said:
That is a fact, not an invention nor a matter of opinion.  The opinion is that Christians can model their own courtship after the Song.
Christians can model their lives to constantly seek Christ; to evangelize; like what has already been said.

acts420 said:
hat opinion of mine could be wrong, sure.  Indeed, that is why I came here: to test my ideas against the knowledge and expertise of orthodox Christians.   Now, after reading more than a year's worth of responses, I feel like I've done that.

What if I'm wrong?  Well, if I am wrong, then God will judge me.  All I can do is follow my conscience to the best of my ability.
Do you want to wait until the Last Judgment to be judged that pre-marital sex was not appropriate or do you want to absolve yourself of any sins of pre-marital sex before being received into the Orthodox Church?  To be received into the Orthodox Church, you would have to cast aside and denounce everything that is not Orthodox.

acts420 said:
You say I follow a Christ of my own making.  However, you may want to look in a mirror.
I used to believe and state that pre-marital sex was justified (against my conscience) until I realized how wrong I was.  Thankfully, the Sacrament of Confession exists to receive absolution for these errors and their consequences.

acts420 said:
Wasn't it Christ's very own Apostles that taught that bishops could marry?  Indeed it was, and it was later "orthodox" generations that decided to forbid their marriage.  I would wholly support a married bishop.  If that isn't "orthodox" then that aspect of orthodoxy is simply not Biblical nor Apostolic.
Did someone say that hereditary issues of Bishops passing down inheritances (especially titles) to male children Priests and Bishops are one reason that celibacy of Bishops became the norm?  The Church is allowed the flexibility to adapt to real-world circumstances even though the Church is not of this world.  Bishops who married in the USA absconded their sees and titles (which is why there are a bunch of vagante Bishops claiming "apostolic succession" from 2 or 3 Bishops who absconded their sees for the lovely diner waitress).

acts420 said:
Likewise, Scripture, in the Song, seems to allow and even celebrate sex during courtship.  No Apostolic Father or passage I've ever read forbids it.  If noting such facts makes me "unorthodox", then unorthodox I will proudly be.  I don't live my life according to my grandparents' opinions.  I want to know their opinions and take them into account.  However, ultimately I will live my life according to what I can best discern is God's opinion through the teachings of Scripture, of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the Apostolic Fathers.
From the Wisdom of Solomon Chapter 1:1-5 and verse 13 from pages 893, 894 & 896 of the Orthodox Study Bible (Note that the Wisdom of Solomon was the last authored book of the canonical Old Testament).

1Love righteousness, you who judge on the earth.
Think about the Lord in goodness
And seek him with sincerity of heart;
2Because He is found by those who do not tempt Him,
And He is manifest to those who do not disbelieve Him.
3For dishonest reasoning separates people from God,
And when His power examines someone,
It convicts the undiscerning;
4For wisdom will not enter the soul that plots evil,
Nor will it dwell in a body involved in sin.
5For a holy spirit of discipline flees from deceit
And sends away undiscerning reasoning;
It will put wrongdoing to shame when it comes near.
13Blessed is the undefiled barren woman
Who has not known sexual promiscuity;
She shall have fruit in the visitation of souls
 
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