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As a Christian I have a difficult time understanding... - Page 2

post #21 of 251
Well like others have said, my denomenation is one of love and above all else, love and acceptance as Jesus taught us is the most important. I constantly find myself saying "But I'm not one of THOSE Christians" which is pretty sad on various levels.

Our denomenation does do baptisms, but they don't believe that that will save you from hell. Our national church supports same sex marriage and various congregations perform them. I don't know what the official stance on sex before marriage is, but I'm willing to bet there are a heck of a lot of people in our church and who have been ordained to have participated in hanky panky before their wedding. And pride, well various ministers do wear robes, but I can bet that they're not worth a lot. Recently our church has gone through a big uproar because the funding to our outreach mission has been cut dramatically, our church is very big on doing work to help others without trying to convert. Much of the ideal is to work through our faith and that worship is best done through completely selfless volunteer work.

I'm not saying this to brag or be contrary, but I definitely do agree with all of your points and they are near and dear to my heart, which is the reason why I belong to this church. Apparently a lot of people in my country do because it's the largest protestant denomenation in my country.
post #22 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
*** I can't believe that something as beautiful as making love to a your soulmate can be sinful and needs forgiveness, just because you are/were not married in Church....
I agree with you on most of your points, but I'll share my thinking on your first question. I think a lot of the questions you raise have to do with what our expectations are from religion/God. Is religion something to give us peace and personal fulfillment? Is religion supposed to give us moral guidance, individually and collectively? Both? Something else? If you look at religions like Judaism and Islam, it seems that at least one of their purposes was/is to provide a way to structure society in a moral way.

So if you look at Christianity in that context, I think the prohibition on sex outside of marriage makes sense. There are possible consequences to sex--emotional attachment, pregnancy, disease. From a historical perspective, I think the commitment and legal constructs of marriage provided/provides a safe structure for these consequences to occur in a way that is better for society. Historically, sex without marriage quite likely meant unplanned pregnancy at a time when women were much less able to provide financially for themselves and their children, which led to all sorts of societal ills (poverty, abandoned children, infanticide, etc.). Today, of course, that may not be as much of an issue for many (but not all) of us in the West, but it certainly is still the situation in much of the world. So sex outside of marriage can be a sin in that its consequences can be harmful for society.

On a personal level, I think that sex outside of marriage can be a way of using someone sexually. Even if you love someone, if you're not willing to commit yourself to that person in marriage, you are still holding parts of yourself back. There's still an element of selfishness in what is supposed to be complete giving. Now, someone pointed out that people get married for all kinds of unloving reasons, which is true, but I think most churches that view marriages as sacraments would not consider those valid marriages because of the lack of proper intent.
post #23 of 251
Expanding on a previous thought----
so is it fornication if you have sex at any other time than when it's possible conceive? Like when you aren't ovulating. Or after menopause? Or if you are infertile?
post #24 of 251
Quote:
*** I can't believe that something as beautiful as making love to a your soulmate can be sinful and needs forgiveness, just because you are/were not married in Church....
Er, that isn't a Christian doctrine. Marriage is civil; you can be married anywhere you like, or forgo the ceremony entirely if that's the civil tradition where you live. Adam and Eve weren't married in church...

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*** I can't believe that a kind, loving, and generous person that was not baptised will end up in some horrible place just because they have not accepted Christianity as their religion as I have.
Why not? Do you not believe that this is what the Bible teaches? Or do you hold God to a moral standard other than and higher than Himself? If so, what is that standard, and how is it absolute and objective?

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*** If pride is one of the biggest sins, then how can it be that all priests wear fancy robes, and the higher the rank is, the fancier the attire?
Quite.

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*** If homosexuality is such an awful sin, then how can there be so many kind and wonderful people who find happiness for themselves and others in this difficult life? Why in the world should they feel bad about who they are if God created them that way in the first place?
Committing any one sin does not preclude one from being a kind and wonderful person. Nor does the Bible claim that one should feel guilty about any kind of temptation one is given. If you believe God is wrong to condemn homosexuality, I repeat the question above: by what alternative objective moral standard do you find God immoral?
post #25 of 251
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
If you believe God is wrong to condemn homosexuality, I repeat the question above: by what alternative objective moral standard do you find God immoral?
I believe that God only judges people based upon whether they were kind to others or not, I don't think he cares about sexual preference, since I can be the most wonderful, loving and forgiving person on earth, and not be heterosexual, so why would my sexuality matter to God? Why would he care if I'm in love with a man or a woman, as long as I deeply care about the person? It's not a question of morality, or temptation, it's just a question of biology, as I understand it. Otherwise it would be pretty cruel of God to set up 10% of population for the life of misery to pretend to be someone they are not, kwim?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Why not? Do you not believe that this is what the Bible teaches? Or do you hold God to a moral standard other than and higher than Himself? If so, what is that standard, and how is it absolute and objective?
I believe in the absolute standards of love, generosity, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. Accepting other religions doesn't make one immoral. Being unkind, selfish, and greedy does (that's what I believe).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Er, that isn't a Christian doctrine. Marriage is civil; you can be married anywhere you like, or forgo the ceremony entirely if that's the civil tradition where you live. Adam and Eve weren't married in church...
I believe that premarital sex is frowned upon in Catholic Church (correct me if I'm wrong?), and I was saying I don't believe that it is sinful and needs God's forgiveness when born out of love.
post #26 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasingPeace View Post
I agree with you on most of your points, but I'll share my thinking on your first question. I think a lot of the questions you raise have to do with what our expectations are from religion/God. Is religion something to give us peace and personal fulfillment? Is religion supposed to give us moral guidance, individually and collectively? Both? Something else? If you look at religions like Judaism and Islam, it seems that at least one of their purposes was/is to provide a way to structure society in a moral way.

So if you look at Christianity in that context, I think the prohibition on sex outside of marriage makes sense. There are possible consequences to sex--emotional attachment, pregnancy, disease. From a historical perspective, I think the commitment and legal constructs of marriage provided/provides a safe structure for these consequences to occur in a way that is better for society. Historically, sex without marriage quite likely meant unplanned pregnancy at a time when women were much less able to provide financially for themselves and their children, which led to all sorts of societal ills (poverty, abandoned children, infanticide, etc.). Today, of course, that may not be as much of an issue for many (but not all) of us in the West, but it certainly is still the situation in much of the world. So sex outside of marriage can be a sin in that its consequences can be harmful for society.

On a personal level, I think that sex outside of marriage can be a way of using someone sexually. Even if you love someone, if you're not willing to commit yourself to that person in marriage, you are still holding parts of yourself back. There's still an element of selfishness in what is supposed to be complete giving. Now, someone pointed out that people get married for all kinds of unloving reasons, which is true, but I think most churches that view marriages as sacraments would not consider those valid marriages because of the lack of proper intent.
This is a good way of explaining it. I think it's easy to look at these traditions as nothing more than a bunch of rules dreamed up by some power-hungry church leaders to suppress the people's freedom, but if you look at it from another perspective... if you look at it, not as *rules,* laws, lists of forbidden activities... but instead view it through the lens of advice for our (the people's) own benefit... it seems different. The traditions concerning sexual activity in particular have been the subject of much scorn and derision in recent years, but the wisdom behind the traditions still remains. Sexual activity creates a bond between two people. There is often the possibility of creating a child (birth control is not infallible) and there is also the possibility of creating a strong emotional and spiritual bond between the partners. Marriage (which doesn't have to be civil marriage or a church ceremony, necessarily) protects that. It enables people to be completely open and safe with their partners without fear of desertion or harm. It isn't about sex being intrinsically bad or any such thing, but a recognition that sex is very *powerful.* It is a mechanism for creating new life, and a mechanism for uniting people in an inseparable bond, both of which, from a traditionally Christian point of view, bring us closer to God. So it is not something to be taken lightly, or done as recreation as our society would tell us that it is.

Now, as regarding "punishment" for such things... that is not my concern. More accurately, that is not my paradigm. It is much more, I believe, helpful and enlightening to look at these doctrines and traditions not as "this is a rule which must be followed in order to avoid punishment" but rather as "this is a way to have a more peaceful life and become closer to God."

That probably makes no sense, right?
post #27 of 251
Grrr, I replied and it got eaten when MDC went down, prompting a well-meant but unsympathetic comment from DH about how he always writes his blog posts in Notepad. Anyway.

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I believe that God only judges people based upon whether they were kind to others or not, I don't think he cares about sexual preference
If you don't mind me asking, why do you believe that? If the God we're discussing is the Christian God, ie. as revealed in the Bible, then surely what we believe about Him comes from there. And the Bible says God does care about sexual behavior (sexual preference, ie. the temptation to act sexually with anyone, male or female, is not a sin--giving in to the temptation, whether that be through illicit homosexual or heterosexual sex, is--according to the Bible). Do you have any Biblical evidence to support your position?
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since I can be the most wonderful, loving and forgiving person on earth, and not be heterosexual, so why would my sexuality matter to God? Why would he care if I'm in love with a man or a woman, as long as I deeply care about the person?
This is a rather odd argument. 'As long as I'm [attribute God likes], why would He care if I'm committing [sin God condemns]?'. Doesn't really make sense. If I'm tender, sensitive and ecologically friendly, that doesn't excuse me from being an arsonist. The Bible never claims that homosexuals are 100% evil, fang-wearing homicidal maniacs; that's not the issue. As for why God condemns homosexual behavior; I don't know. But He does; it's fairly clear from Scripture; and, just as with any Biblical restrictions on sexual behavior (pre-marital sex, adultery, incest), 'caring deeply about a person' is not considered warrant.

Quote:
It's not a question of morality, or temptation, it's just a question of biology, as I understand it. Otherwise it would be pretty cruel of God to set up 10% of population for the life of misery to pretend to be someone they are not, kwim?
I don't know anywhere near enough biology to jump into the 'is it or isn't it genetic' issue. But as I said, the Bible isn't concerned with orientation/prediliction/temptation when it comes to sin--any sin--but with behavior. It is perfectly possible for a Christian homosexual to live a celibate and Godly life. Yes, it is hard. But it is also hard for the Christian heterosexual who struggles with celibacy due to circumstances which prevent him from being married. Or for the Christian who struggles with the temptation towards paedophilia. Or to the Christian wife whose sexual needs are not being met, who is tempted to fulfil them elsewhere. God nowhere owes us a sexually fulfilled life; and the hard truth is, He has made it harder for some of us than others. In sex, as in all areas of life--physical, intellectual, social. Cruel? Does He owe us more?

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I believe in the absolute standards of love, generosity, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. Accepting other religions doesn't make one immoral. Being unkind, selfish, and greedy does (that's what I believe).
That doesn't really answer my question. 'Absolute standards of love, generosity, forgiveness and self-sacrifice' is a meaningless statement. Love and forgiveness aren't entities or persons or physical things. They're mental concepts, and the existence of absolute mental concepts necessarily implies an absolute mind (hey, this is a kind of girlified version of the Argument from Reason; coolio). So if you believe they're absolute, who came up with them? God? But if He defines or embodies them, you're back at square one, having to believe what the Bible says about Him (if we're still talking about the Christian God, of course). Or if not God, who?
Quote:
I believe that premarital sex is frowned upon in Catholic Church (correct me if I'm wrong?), and I was saying I don't believe that it is sinful and needs God's forgiveness when born out of love.
Yes, it is frowned on in the Catholic Church, as well as most other denominations. (I'm not Catholic, just for the record). Again I ask: why don't you believe premarital sex is sinful? On Biblical evidence? Or according to some moral standard other than the Christian God (which must be absolute, objective and personal?).
post #28 of 251
Quote:
Er, that isn't a Christian doctrine. Marriage is civil; you can be married anywhere you like, or forgo the ceremony entirely if that's the civil tradition where you live. Adam and Eve weren't married in church...
It isn't a Christian doctrine that one should be married civilly before engaging in sex? I don't know of any mainstream Christian denominations that recognize commitment ceremonies or similar. I know Church of Christ and UU do, but I'm thinking more like Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. Sadly, civil marriage and marriage within a church have become one in the same.

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding you?
post #29 of 251
Sorry, that wasn't very clear. Yes, in general, marriage is considered to be a civil matter (as it was instituted for all mankind, not just for Christians), so under normal circumstances, in a country which had civil marriage ceremonies, yes indeed. But I *think* most denominations would allow for exceptions to the 'civil ceremony' rule--say, if a couple were trapped on a desert island, for instance. Personally, I think a couple in that circumstance would be quite Biblically 'married' by living together in a permanent, committed relationship. Or, if you happened to be living in a culture where marriage was indicated by moving one's hammock over in the communal sleeping-house--by all means, move the hammock. I'm just saying there isn't anything sacred about four walls and a white dress. But it turns out I misunderstood the nature of Oriole's question anyway, as she wasn't talking about the Church/civil marriage distinction, but about nonmarital sex; so it doesn't matter.
post #30 of 251
subbing, so i remember to come back when i have more time. these questions are ones that i have been having much internal debate about recently.
post #31 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by daricsmami View Post
I don't know of any mainstream Christian denominations that recognize commitment ceremonies or similar. I know Church of Christ and UU do, but I'm thinking more like Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. Sadly, civil marriage and marriage within a church have become one in the same.
The Episcopal Church does, as does the ELCA (which is Lutheran).
post #32 of 251
I'll just say : to everything lilyka said and most of what Smokering said.

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I don't "read" the smilies, and I'm trying to show that my intentions are peaceful, that I don't mean to start an argument, just a discussion.


Yeah, sure you don't.
post #33 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
It is easy to love ourselves and easy to love each other and even easy to say we love Christ but he was clear that if we loved him we would pick up our cross and follow him and follow his commandments (ultimately his fathers commandments). He never promised us a happy easy life. Anyone can show love. anyone can be kind. these things benefit us greatly. And we are rewarded for them in this life. Loving and serving God is about so much more than being loving and being Kind. it is about Him. and granted, loving others is loving him but it is so so much more.

marriage is sacred. and sex i sacred and belongs only in the confines of marriage. what people outside the church do is none of my business but if someone is truly your soul mate i don't see how they could dishonor your faith or be willing to risk your salvation. or if you truly love Christ how you can choose a mere mortal over Him and his law (of course that is ideal and we all stumble and choose daily to put a million things before God and then we repent . . . .but the key is knowing you blew it rather than thinking you know better than God)

Christ is willing and able to save whom he will. But those who rebelliously reject Him and selfishly put themselves and their desires above His and think they know better than Him should not bank on Gods generosity. but in the end perhaps His mercy will extend even to those who felt they were too good for Him or were to busy to give him the praise and honor he was due. I have no doubt that God will fully embrace those that are truly his regardless of where circumstances in this life took them. But i also think there are a lot of people who claim to be followers of Christ but are willing to sacrifice nothing for him, follow him no where and give nothing to him. there are people who claim to believe and yet act as if they are immune from everything he said. Loving others is not enough. loving yourself is not enough. feeling good about Jesus is not enough. the rich young ruler believed in Christ. he knew the law and had kept it. by all accounts he was a good guy who believed in Jesus. yet he refused to follow him. and Jesus response was "nice meeting you. good bye." I don't have a problem with Gods judgment. He created us for his glory. what he ultimately decides to do with us is His business.

I can't speak for all priests but our priests do not wear fancy robes as a sign of pride. Each piece of their vestments reflect an attribute of Christ or in some way call to mind his glory and love. They are a sacrifice and an offering often paid for at great cost by the priest or the church (parishes often take up collections for gift giving occasion or if they priest refuses to accept cash they will give a gift certificate to go towards vestments). All of the vestments I have ever seen for sale are hand made by monastic communities. So even the work put into them is an offering and sacrifice to God. each stitch loving and prayerfully sewn on. As the priest dress in their vestments they offer specific prayers, so even dressing in them is an act of worship. Everything in our churches is a reflection of Gods glory and an offering and sacrifice to Him. if you look at the old testament God called for beauty, he called for our riches and our talents to be poured out as acts of worship. Our priest do not parade around town in their vestments. They rarely even wear them elsewhere in the church. (such as the fellowship hall) they are for the holy places only and for holy work only. Around town our priests dress in black, usually plain unadorned robes. In America they often wear a black suit with collar or black chinos/button up shirt with collar. Things like crosses, hats, and misc other pieces denote what kind of priest or bishop they are, how much education they have, if they can hear confession, etc. . . .And again these are generally worn only for church business (priest wil often wear a largish cross out but this is to denote that they are a priest and available for whatever priestly needs you have.) Our priest always wants to be quickly known as an orthodox priest. he wears his long black robe, and his very priestly beard but it is not about pride. quite the opposite. He wants people to know that if they have any questions, need anything and have been unable to find a priest that he is here for them. It also reminds him that the spot light is always on and even when he is grocery shopping or driving his car mowing his lawn he is a reflection of Christ and His church and needs to conduct himself accordingly. The vestments are surprisingly practical but everything, even the practical is a reflection of Gods glory and requires us to bring our best. I am sure some people see it as pride but this would be unreasonable judgmentalness on their part without knowing someone for sure. and I am sure some people feel prideful. but pridefullness is a funny thing and some people can manage to get all uppity about how humble they are (or appear to be) so beauty offered up to God is in no way any more of an indicator of pride than drab clothing worn vainly. i still remember the first time i saw the vestments. the churches I grew up in the pastor was dressed up if he was wearing nice jeans and a polo shirt. when I saw the vestments and the serious nature of the preists as they went about their business (in our church they do not interact with the congregation much - compared to a protestant pastor. they have their job to do we have our job to do, the choir and readers have their job to do and we all mesh to make one glorious offering of praise . . .but um . . I am off track . . . the first time I saw the vestments ) I thought "here are some people ready to bring a sacrifice of praise before God!! They looked like men on a mission. doing very serious business before the throne of God.

Homosexuality, like any fornication is a sin because it separates sex from its intended place. But it is no worse than heterosexual fornication (any sexual impurity or anything that takes sex from its proper place in marriage and from doing what God intended it to do. some people would say that this includes using birth control so that you can separate the joy of sex from the heavy responsibility and ad balance that God put with it). It is not always easy being where God put us and celibacy is never easy. But sometimes we are called to walk a hard road. if we can let go of sex being this ultimate goal and ultimate happiness in life and embrace God and His will as the ultimate happiness and goal in life then I think celibacy would come a lot easier and happiness being where God has placed you (even if that means no sex - and there are lots of people not entitled to sex) would be easier. and this is coming from a person who may never get any ever again and is not real happy about it. So I am struggling to be happy where God has placed me.
Lilyka- I agree with your posts completely. So many times I hear people saying they left this church or that because the churches beliefs didn't jive with their own. Instead of following God's laws they want God to follow their laws and rules. If you could do whatever you wanted as long as you did so in a loving manner there would be no need for Christ's sacrifice or God's laws of protection and love.
post #34 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Potty Diva View Post
Lilyka- I agree with your posts completely. So many times I hear people saying they left this church or that because the churches beliefs didn't jive with their own. Instead of following God's laws they want God to follow their laws and rules. If you could do whatever you wanted as long as you did so in a loving manner there would be no need for Christ's sacrifice or God's laws of protection and love.
Are you kidding me?

Is it at all possible that humans, as flawed as we are, have gotten some of this wrong over the centuries?

I'm going with yes.
post #35 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
I understand we disagree, obviously what I say won't change your mind, but in your reply here, I don't see an answer to my question: shouldn't only judgement of a person be how kind and loving they are towards others? Nowhere do I mention selfish desires, I'm talking of selfless people who do good every day of their lives, and maybe faithfully follow some other religion, Budhism, or Judaism, for instance. I'm sure they don't do it for rebellious reasons, as I don't follow my faith for rebellious reasons. So what would they be punished for if they spread kindness and love in their lives, kwim?

I don't demand that my child loves only me, and will not punish a kind person just because they don't bow down to me. I can't imagine God being more demanding and proud in this than I am. I judge people based upon how kindly they treat others, and I want to believe that that's the only judgement God will use with others, none other makes sense to me, because it makes God too... proud and too.. human, kwim? It's the opposite, I think of him as the most patient and loving being there is, which means he can't reject those who have sacrificed their lives for others simply because they followed another spiritual path.

For example... If a Jewish person leads the life of kindness and selfsacrifice for others, if he/she forgives the enemies, doesn't hold grudges, and cherishes his/her family, and doesn't allow pride to cloud his/her relationship with other people, I don't see "my God" punishing that Jewish person just because they didn't acknowledge Christ in their life...

I'm not sure if I"m making sense, but I'm trying. The point is, God that I believe in cares only for whether or not people did good and genuinely tried to become better people, regardless of what religion they followed.

Why does a kind, self-sacrificing, loving Christian deserves eternal paradise any more than a loving, self-sacrificing, kind Budhist? If the answer is "because they didn't go to church on Sunday", then it's not good enough of an answer to me. ANY good (and you can interprete "good" any way you see fit) person deserves a paradise, do they not?..
Becasue in the end and ultimately, they have denied God. The kindest most wonderful, thoughtful, kind, and giving person can still be denied Heaven. This is my understanding of scripture.
post #36 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by daricsmami View Post
It isn't a Christian doctrine that one should be married civilly before engaging in sex? I don't know of any mainstream Christian denominations that recognize commitment ceremonies or similar. I know Church of Christ and UU do, but I'm thinking more like Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. Sadly, civil marriage and marriage within a church have become one in the same.

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding you?
Not to say there aren't any, but I, personally, am not familiar with any Christian sect which specifically requires civil marriage. Marriage in the church, yes. But I have not heard of one requiring civil marriage as a matter of doctrine (many, of course, as a matter of policy, will not host or preside over non-civil wedding ceremonies, but this is policy, not doctrine).
post #37 of 251
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Originally Posted by frog View Post
Are you kidding me?

Is it at all possible that humans, as flawed as we are, have gotten some of this wrong over the centuries?

I'm going with yes.
This is my feeling on going directly from the bible as well. We're told the bible was divinely inspired, but when it comes down to it, it was written by men and then translated many, MANY times, also by man. I don't know that I can really trust it as the absolute word of truth coming from the loving G*d (or, whatever it is... I'll say G*d for clarity, though) that I can feel in my life. I wonder how corrupted it is.
post #38 of 251
How can anyone go off of "feelings" to define truth? I don't understand that one.
post #39 of 251
What has become corrupted over time is not the word of God, but man and his/her desire to mold and shape things to their own personal likings.
post #40 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Potty Diva View Post
Lilyka- I agree with your posts completely. So many times I hear people saying they left this church or that because the churches beliefs didn't jive with their own. Instead of following God's laws they want God to follow their laws and rules. If you could do whatever you wanted as long as you did so in a loving manner there would be no need for Christ's sacrifice or God's laws of protection and love.
I totally agree here.

Now let me skip back and answer the OP's question(s) with my thoughts...
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