Purity Balls promote unrealistic expectations

July 14, 2007 at 2:54 am 126 comments

Father-Daughter DancingThere is a new phenomenon often associated with evangelical Christian churches that is very disturbing. I am talking about the latest trend called Purity Balls.

A Purity Ball has all the ingredients of any nicely prepared formal ball. There are flowing gowns and black tuxes, practiced dancing to lively music and white candles sparkling throughout the ballroom. This is all very lovely.

Those attending a Purity Ball are young women with their fathers as their dates, and as they swirl about on the dance floor, it is no doubt a sight that would warm even the coldest of hearts. At first glance, it would appear that this event is simply an opportunity for dads to have some quality time with their little girls and perhaps get to know them a little better.

However, it is what happens toward the end of the event that causes me to lose that warm fuzzy feeling. At a predetermined time, each one of the girls reads to her father from a printed card that was placed on the table in front of her seat, at which time she promises her father, before God, that she will remain pure by abstaining from sex until she is married. The ages of these girls range from as young as 11 all the way into their twenties.

I have no problem with teaching abstinence to our children as a way to avert them from the pressures and dangers of a sexually active life until they are ready to assume the responsibilities that accompany such a weighty decision.

However, practically speaking, we all know that young men and women will explore those feelings and urges developing at an alarming rate during puberty. It is a natural and biologically driven desire that pushes teens to want to see what their quickly developing bodies can do.

Case in point, 88 percent of those who pledge abstinence at these Purity Balls wind up breaking their pledge and having sex before marriage, according to a study by Peter Bearman, the Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Sociology, and Hannah Bruckner of Yale.

I too have quite a few issues with these Purity Balls. Firstly, why are there no such balls for the boys? It is so hypocritical and highly unrealistic to expect the young women to remain chaste if the young men are not expected to do the same. This is a perfect example of the double standard set by society for women.

Secondly, this pledge of purity further perpetuates an unhealthy relationship between parents and children concerning sex. When a young woman takes this oath of purity, but changes her mind and decides to have sex, she will feel completely reticent about speaking to her parents about her decision.

Thirdly, while young men are seldom taught sexual restraint during their formative years, young women are taught to feel guilty for their sexual explorations. A broken promise to their father adds additional guilt to a natural experience. Meanwhile, neither the girls nor the guys are being taught how to act responsibly with their sexuality.

Lastly, it seems to me that these Purity Balls, where the girl pledges her purity to her father until she is married and belongs to another man, are simply a contemporary nod to the old patriarchal system that encourages the ideology that men are somehow the ones who decide what is best for a woman.

This sends the wrong message to our daughters when we are trying to teach them to be independent, freethinkers who thrive in today’s world and who can get along fine with or without a man by her side. Every woman should be the master of her own body and the decision about whether to have sex or not should be hers alone – hopefully after her parents have educated her on the weight of such a decision and responsible sexual conduct.

Let’s talk about reality for a minute and leave aside our archaic notions of pre-marital sexual activity as outlined in the Bible. In reality, every single day thousands of teenage girls (and boys) are having sex. To expect an oath of abstinence until marriage from a young woman is as unreasonable as expecting it from a young man.

However, it is not the sexually active young man who gets tagged with unflattering labels. This is another social double standard. With whom do right-thinking parents think these young men are having sex? They are having sex with the young women, of course. The sooner we realise that our teens are having sex, and lots of it, the soon we can start acting like conscientious parents.

As such, would it not be more practical to teach these youngsters about responsible sexual conduct instead of placing unreasonable expectations on them that create feelings of failure and guilt about an action that is biologically natural?

Would it not be socially proper to create an atmosphere at home that is open for teens to talk to their parents about their sexuality instead of leaving their children to explore such an important part of their life as a trial and error experience?

We can be such prudes sometimes with our own sexuality that we shy away from the important task of educating our teens about sex. In the meantime, they are learning about it on the street – the worst place ever. The street does not teach our girls about sexually contracted diseases, what steps to take to prevent pregnancy or how to fend off an unwanted sexual advance.

We do not need a new trend that unrealistically insists on purity until marriage, we need to live in reality and teach our daughters – and our sons – about responsible sexual conduct. If we keep our heads in the clouds and believe teens will remain pure until they are married, we do them and society a terrible injustice.

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126 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 3:14 am

    “Firstly, why are there no such balls for the boys? It is so hypocritical and highly unrealistic to expect the young women to remain chaste if the young men are not expected to do the same.”

    I attended a Bible college where, needless to say, students promised the college, by signed contract, that they would not engage in premarital sex or sexual activities (including watching porn). Of course this is impossible to enforce, but one of my closest friends had a not-so-nice experience with this contract. Although the majority of the students probably broke contract (I know only by hearsay), my friend felt the need to proclaim her breach of contract.

    The result? The female, my friend, was expelled. The male, a class A jackass, was not. In fact, he only needed to promise to do some counseling and he got off scot-free. Of course this happened in the final 6 weeks of her second year and so she was robbed of her tuition and future degree. This is a relatively moderate Bible college in Canada, a nation known for its “tolerance” and “cautious theists” as one blogger put it.

    I was the sole advocate for my friend during the disciplinary hearing. We both sat in a circle with over a dozen faculty and staff that interrogated her, poking and prodding into her personal life. When the Dean of Students, who had final say, stated that she was in breach of contract (which she incidentally did not sign) and went against the rules of the school as laid out in the handbook, I ask him upon what biblical basis could he expel this student. I came prepared for any scriptural reference he might give – instead, he said the Bible did not matter, it was only the school handbook that mattered.

    But thats what it really is about, isn’t it? A secondary “handbook” to which Christians subject women and repress sexuality.

  • 2. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 4:08 am

    Oh yea, I forgot to add the greatest quote ever. I asked later why the male should not receive the same punishment. The Dean of Students, a guy so old that probably proves that man walked with the dinosaurs, said “it is the onus of the female to censor the male’s advances.” This was the entire basis for the discrepancy in punishments. He came on to her, she didn’t stop it, so it was her fault for being an attractive female who wasn’t going to stop (and knowing the male in question, would have probably date-raped her anyway).

  • 3. Stephen  |  July 14, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Thinking Ape:
    That’s a heck of a tale. It puts those Bible college officials in precisely the same place as the Taliban and other Muslim extremists: blaming women for men’s inability to control their sexual urges.

    Stellar1:
    First, let me say that we don’t have purity balls in Canada, to my knowledge. It’s an example of the extremist variant of Christianity that thrives in the USA.

    Second, I find it significant that the girls make this promise to their fathers. It implies a return to the notion of women as chattel: they are the property of their fathers so long as they are unmarried, at which point they become the property of their husbands.

    Burkas and chastity belts are not far off on the horizon.

  • 4. lostgirlfound  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thinking Ape: Bravo! I’ve long held the premise that, if we are more than animals, both the male and the female of the species should carry “equal” responsibility (this in cases of consensual sex, of course). I have two boys and two girls, and am encouraging them and teaching them equally the value of abstainance … but not making them “commit” to it, and keeping the lines of communication totally open if they choose. I also teach them about respecting other human beings, the earth, themselves, etc. That’s why my 13 year old daughter can tell me she thinks a guy is “hot, but I’m not interested in anything else” and not be embarassed or feel the pressure to “be good.”
    I read somewhere that, when sex is opening discussed in the family unit (in the positive), 80% or something like that of the children reflect the parent’s attitiude.

    Stephen: Psychology tells us that a girl often gets her “ideal” of what a boyfriend/husband should be from her father. When there’s a healthy relationship (honest conversation — not without boundaries — but healthy), when a dad tries to be the kind of man he would want his daughter to look for (full of integrity, lovingly caring for his wife, etc.) it’s a good thing. But you’re absolutely right — this archaic view that “the woman’s to blame” and that she “belongs” to anyone is ignorant and patriarchtical and just wrong. Even according to true biblical scholars. Organized religion fails at this point constantly.

  • 5. karen  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:19 am

    I completely agree with your point, Stellar1, and I too find these kinds of events very disturbing for all the reasons you listed. That goes double for the entire purity movement, which seems to start when girls are still in diapers.

    Plus, there’s just something creepy on several levels about girls pledging their virginity at a dance where they are their dad’s “dates.” It seems rather … incestuous, to me.

    Compare it to the now-antiquated notion of a “coming out” party, where dad presents a girl as ready to join society and she dances with real boys her own age. That also has the paternal ownership notion but at least dad is acknowledging that she’s an individual and ready to date now.

    The purity movement seeks to repress women forever, or at least until they are turned over into the care of another male. Yuck.

    TA, that is a absolutely awful story! I can’t believe the injustice. Sick. Good for you for standing up for your friend. Was that incident part of what got you questioning your upbringing? That certainly would’ve done it for me!

  • 6. healtheland  |  July 14, 2007 at 11:11 am

    “Let’s talk about reality for a minute and leave aside our archaic notions of pre-marital sexual activity as outlined in the Bible.” You know, you are right. That is EXACTLY what CHURCHES are supposed to do: cast aside the Bible. “In reality, every single day thousands of teenage girls (and boys) are having sex.” That is the modern reality. As recently as 40 years ago, that was not the case. What happened was sexual activity among minors skyrocketed. Proof of this is teen pregnancy rate. In the 1970s, it was rare for even 16 – 17 year old girls, juniors and seniors in high school, to become pregnant. Now it is not uncommon for 11 and 12 year olds to get pregnant, and sometimes 10. Look, when I was growing up in the 1980s, the medical community actually thought that it was physically impossible for girls that young to get pregnant at 11 or 12; when it happened it actually made the news. Oprah Winfrey actually dedicated a whole show to it, where she (as you might expect) blamed the phenomenon on girls being molested by their fathers (when the truth was most of these girls were themselves out of wedlock and had no relationship with their fathers). I know that I am not the only one who remembers this, it is just that people don’t feel comfortable talking about it because it brings up so many “politically incorrect” issues (though I suppose wrongly blaming fathers like Oprah Winfrey did is absolutely fine). Another thing: “comprehensive sex education classes.” They didn’t always exist you know. Why not? Because there wasn’t a reason to. Comprehensive sex education classes were created to address the problem of teenage pregnancy that did not exist prior. First, it was taught in senior high school. When it did not work, they said “OK, we need to move it to junior high to catch them before they get sexually active in in grades 11 – 12.” But then, sexual activity among grades 9 – 10 started. So then, they moved the comprehensive sex education classes to junior high to stop the teenage pregnancies in grades 9 – 10. Then, the junior high kids started turning up pregnant. So, they moved the comp sex ed back to middle school. And now middle – schoolers are having sex. Now there is actually a move to start putting comprehensive sex education in middle school; if I am correct the states of New Mexico and California have approved it already. Now just 30 years ago, you could have gone to a medical doctor or anyone in the health or developmental psychology field and talked to them about the notion of having sex education in kindergarten to prevent kids in the early middle school grades from experimenting with sex, they would have told you that you were insane. They would have said that while kids at that age were sexually curious, there were physical, mental, intellectual, psychological, etc. barriers that would act to prevent children from having sex well before their teens: either they wouldn’t have the desire to, or they would be unable to act on desire that they had. Well now lo and behold – they are catching 5th graders having intercourse, and doing so PUBLICLY WITH SOME KIDS WATCHING AND OTHER KIDS ACTING AS LOOKOUTS. I guess the lookouts had either seen it before or personally experienced it before. Why? Because there is a verified news story out now about two six year old boys caught having sex with each other at camp, behavior that they learned from observing 8 year olds. That is the progression of society I guess.

    Now let me make this clear: I am no fan of abstinence education in public schools. But abstinence education was implemented in the mid 1990s after comprehensive sex education had failed in our public schools for decades! The “replace abstinence education with scientifically proven comprehensive sex ed” is a lie, and everyone knows it, and they use abstinence ed as a coverup. Well, I remember Jocelyn Elders trying to work to redo comprehensive sex education to, you know, actually try to make it work, in Clinton’s first term, long before the GOP even took over Congress and passed the abstinence education bill. It was her advocating that girls should pleasure themselves rather than consort with boys that caused Bill Clinton to fire her, remember? Why are people lying over the fact that teen (and pre – teen) sexual activity has skyrocketed since the 1960s, our skyrocketing STD rates prove it (there was no need for Texas to implement its uniform cervical cancer vaccine program in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or even 90s), and that comprehensive sex education, which we had for the vast majority of that time (abstinence education has only existed for barely 10 years if that, and another thing that is not commonly reported, a great many school districts have refused to adopt it because it is not mandatory!) completely failed to stop it? Again, I oppose abstinence education in public schools, so my goal isn’t to promote that. Instead, I am wondering all these people are LYING. What do you get out of it? Is it an ideological thing or something? Who does it help? Are you going to blame abstinence programs for fifth graders having sex in a classroom? So … what do you tell them? Use a condom? Was that why they were arrested in the first place? It wasn’t safe sex? You know, the Oprah Winfrey show is a pretty highly rated show. I cannot be the only one who remembers that episode where she blamed absentee fathers for the large number of preteen pregnancies that popped up in the mid 80s, driving everyone to distraction and forcing someone to come up with an “acceptable” explanation for it. I also cannot be the only one who remembers that the said Oprah Winfrey episode aired years before there was any abstinence education program in any public school, and I bet there weren’t any “Purity Balls” in churches back then either. The two things that completely failed in my junior high and high schools in the 1980s: the comprehensive sex education programs and the even dumber Nancy Reagan “just say no to drugs” campaigns. Makes you think that just maybe schools should leave the morals and values nonsense alone and actually concentrate solely on teaching kids how to read, write, and compute, and perhaps even to think for themselves. A crazy idea, I know, but just crazy enough to where it might actually work.

  • 7. Heather  |  July 14, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Along with agreeing what everyone has said here, I almost wonder if ‘Purity Balls’ accomplish the very thing they’re trying to avoid. With that kind of emphasis on sex, it’s almost making sex that much more tempting. Plus, by saying how bad pre-marital sex is, the daughter seems that less likely to practice safe sex, or seek out her parents if problems arise.

    It’s also putting unrealistic expectations onto teenage girls. Teenagers are hormone bombs, basically, and not always in a position where they hormonally feel in control. To reduce it to a simple pledge is just … silly. Are there teenagers who can practice abstinence? Of couse. But considering the amount of studies out there that show abstinence-only education fails miserably, the study listed in this post show that Purity Ball pledges fail, and yet the parents participating in Purity Balls still continue.

    Lastly, it makes sex be this strange, magical thing that almost occurs in a vacuum, and in a negative sense. I wonder how many of the parents of these daughters just reduced it to “Pre-marital sex is bad and a sin before God” without any other information. Such as the emotional factors that accompany it, and why it’s good to wait. What sex symbolizes, and so that’s why it’s good to wait. All of the stds out there, which factor in why it’s good to wait. Purity balls just don’t seem to treat sex as a natural human experience.

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Heather sez:
    “I almost wonder if ‘Purity Balls’ accomplish the very thing they’re trying to avoid.”

    You might have a point here. I’ve never heard of ‘Purity Balls’. When I was in my private Baptist high school all those many years ago, the girls never did balls or pledges to dad. We were just told not to touch girls – period. It was to the point that we had to avoid sitting next to girls on the bus – if a boy absolutely could not avoid sitting next to the girl, a Bible must be placed between them. When they said no touching, they meant NO TOUCHING! Any violation would get us a paddling. I can state as fact that the 16-17 year old boys never got a paddling, but the 16-17 year old girs got them often from the principal who also served as head pastor(must… stay… on ….. topic) Anyway, being mischevious kids that we were, we were looking for any rule to break, this non-touching of the opposite being among them.

    I suppose there is also the allure of the forbidden. I remember sneaking out of the house at 3 AM just so I could drink a beer that I had hidden behind our house – other kids feel the same about sex. It is dark, it is mysterious, it is behind a veil – who can resist that kind of intrigue?

  • 9. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Sorry to Stellar1 for writing a tangent onto her story – I just find that what you said about the Purity Ball issue brings out a horrible dichotomy between how evangelicals treat males and female sexuality, and how is pervades every aspect of life.

    Karen, I am currently writing an article called “Christian Deconversion & the Five Stages of Grief.” It may be a little long for this site, but I am sure I will have a truncated version for d-C. In it I explain that this situation was really the impetus of the “anger” stage in my deconversion process – I had been doubting long before that and I had already turned away from fundamentalism (after studying the Sermon on the Mount for a semester, it made it really hard for me to be a political conservative).

  • 10. The de-Convert  |  July 14, 2007 at 11:56 am

    TA,

    Sounds like a great article. Maybe if it’s too long, you can make it a series. Just a suggestion.

    Paul

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Thinking Ape reminisces:
    “The Dean of Students, a guy so old that probably proves that man walked with the dinosaurs, said “it is the onus of the female to censor the male’s advances.”

    The Dean was probably getting this wisdom from Deuteronomy 22.

    verse 23,24:
    “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and {another} man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”

    See, the thinking here is that if the girl does not cry out while in the crowded city, she must have wanted the advances, so she should share in the death by stoning with the man. But this also should have told the Dean that the men should have been punished too. So maybe he was just a misogynous old man.

    But the law is good! See, there is a way out for the betrothed woman here!

    verse 25-27:
    “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.”

    See? If it is out in the field where there is nobody else around, then nobody can hear the girl’s cries for help. Note to rapist – only do it in the city. And gag the girl first. But in TA’s story, the college girls are not betrothed. This next law concerning unbetrothed girls is closest to what the Dean should have followed:

    verse 28-29:
    “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty {shekels} of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. ”

    Hey wait a minute, this has nothing to do with sex! If the girl is not betrothed and a man rapes her does he get stoned in this case? NO! Instead, his punishment is to pay the girl’s father some money and marry the girl. Period! So, the thinking here is that the raped girl is damaged goods, and the dad will never be able to sell her off. Dad is stuck having to take care of the girl for the rest of her life, which costs lots of money. So instead of having to take care of her, the rapist is forced to pay dad the dowry and take the girl of dad’s hands! The result is the raped girl is forced to marry the rapist and live under his care the rest of her life! That’ll teach her.

    Hey, wait a minute, none of this has anything to do with sex! These laws regarding women are set to resolve nothing but PROPERTY ISSUES!!

    Is this the stuff your old Dean revered?

  • 12. stellar1  |  July 14, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    TA,

    I am not the slightest upset about your comment. I thought it was very interesting…to say the least. You are more than welcome to talk as much as you want on my blogs. :)

    I gotta run for a bit, but I’ll get tot the rest of the comments later.

  • 13. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    healtheland:
    wow thanks for the read. I am in agreement with your ultimate conclusion – morallity should be left out of schools and left as parents’ responsibility. I am an old fogey that way. But I have no teenaged kids, so what do I know?

  • 14. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    HeIsSailing said, “I am in agreement with your ultimate conclusion – morallity should be left out of schools and left as parents’ responsibility.”

    In a perfect world, I would agree. The problem, however, glares at us ex-fundamentalists in the face: what if parents don’t step up? Because they don’t. There are very few fundamentalist parents that teach their kids about sex, other than the morality of it. The only lessons I received were the “sex is beautiful – but meant for two people within the confines of marriage” and the “sex is a like a Ferrari, and you don’t have a license, so don’t even bother sitting in the driver’s seat” talks.

    So if our parents are teaching kids about the psychological repercussions of sex, the maturity gap, safe sex, etc., who is? I learned about all that stuff from my first girlfriend – a non-Christian (yes, I actually dated a non-Christian while being a fundy, and no, I didn’t have sex with her). Personally, I think there are some things about sex that must be addressed in the classroom because fundamentalist Christians are just as likely to have sex in their teens as anyone else (there was a study out earlier this year on that). If parents nor schools aren’t telling their kids about safe-sex, then I would expect to see an African-style AIDS epidemic in North America.

  • 15. pj11  |  July 14, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    TA said: “what you said about the Purity Ball issue brings out a horrible dichotomy between how evangelicals treat males and female sexuality, and how is pervades every aspect of life.”

    I hate to sound like a broken record … but you’re making sweeping generalizations again that are quite offensive to a huge number of evangelicals! Some of us have thought these issues through using properly-contexualized passages of Scripture along with a healthy dose of common sense. We’re not all sexually repressed … and we’re not all prone to double standards between the genders.

    I have a 14-year old daughter and 11-year old son … and it’s tough being a parent these days! The issue of sex is openly talked about with our daughter and we’re now beginning to have specific conversations with our son. We haven’t forced our daughter to sign a contract of abstinence. Our focus has been to carefully show her the potential physical and emotional pitfalls of entering into a sexual relationship … how it changes everything and it can’t be taken back once that decision is made. We’ve talked at length about the relationship between sex and love and how those two get confused in our culture today. Naturally, we’ve discussed the nature of marriage in the eyes of God and how he is pleased by spiritual fruits such as purity and self-control. We always stress the stewardship responsibility of caring for our bodies – the way we eat, exercise, avoid harmful substances, and the way we express our sexual feelings. Without too much detail, we’ve tried to let her know that mom and dad have a healthy sexual relationship and how that’s beautiful in God’s eyes. Another big focus has been to show our daughter what a blessing it would be for her to give her future husband a great gift on her wedding night … to be able to say to her husband some day, “you’re the only one I ever want to be intimate with.” For now it seems the line of communication between my daughter and I is open and healthy. We haven’t deceived ourselves into believing this multi-pronged attack is foolproof … but we’re hopeful. We’ll watch to see how our plan plays out and adjust if necessary with our son as the years progress. No double standard.

  • 16. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    “…properly-contexualized passages of Scripture…”

    aka picking and choosing what is now acceptable…

    and I’m not going to debate your parenting, mainly because it won’t matter.
    when faced with the real situation, all the parenting in the world doesn’t matter – it only matters which is stronger: the guilt placed on the child for doing the wrong thing or the sexual urge.

  • 17. Heather  |  July 14, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    HIS,

    **was to the point that we had to avoid sitting next to girls on the bus – if a boy absolutely could not avoid sitting next to the girl, a Bible must be placed between them. When they said no touching, they meant NO TOUCHING! **

    Did your old school place this much emphasis on other Biblical matters?

    **Hey, wait a minute, none of this has anything to do with sex! These laws regarding women are set to resolve nothing but PROPERTY ISSUES!!**

    And that’s what really creeps me out about Purity Balls. IT’s like the father is claiming ownership on the daughter’s virginity. Why is it pledged to the father? Why not the mother? Or why not both parents? And why do they need this type of public statement about preserving virginity? This makes about as much sense to me as the — I think they’re called promise rings? I’ve seen a few of my single Christian friends wear them. I understand the pledge they are taking, but why is wearing the ring necessary? It seems to go against the whole let a yes be yes and a no be no. And it’s another thing that only seems directed towards women.

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Heather asks:
    “Did your old school place this much emphasis on other Biblical matters?”

    Well, let’s see… I remember a history test I once took. Mao Tse Dong had just died, so the question on my test was, “Where is Chairman Mao right now?” The correct answer was, “hell”. That is the only time I remember anything remotely doctrinal entering our secular studies. Geology, biology, physics and chemistry were simply not taught, so no problems with evolution, the age of the universe or those pesky dinosaurs…. hmmm. what else?…. I think the only other Biblical matters that concerned them was no touching girls, no dancing, no rock n roll, no movies, and no pants for the young ladies (yes they tried to enforce these outside school hours). Well, those aren’t exactly Biblical matters, but I think they wished those were in the Bible!!

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    “I think they’re called promise rings? I’ve seen a few of my single Christian friends wear them. I understand the pledge they are taking, but why is wearing the ring necessary? ”

    I am not familiar with these, but maybe the idea is to wear a promise ring as a vow to avoid pre-marital sex, and this ring is to replaced by an engagement, then a wedding ring? So it keeps the young lady anticipating the day when she will someday be engaged, and as a promise to herself to stay virginal? I dunno… makes sense to me. But I am not a young woman either.

  • 20. pj11  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    TA said: ““…properly-contexualized passages of Scripture…” aka picking and choosing what is now acceptable …

    TA: Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Are you still frustrated over our last exchange on a previous post? You know what it means to contextualize a passage of Scripture … it has nothing to do with cherry-picking verses. It means, for example, properly understanding the context of the verses from Deuteronomy 22 which HlS quoted above. It’s silly to quote such verses and then say, “see, this is what evangelicals believe.” It’s clear to anyone who has taken a beginner’s course in hermeneutics that Deuteronomy 22 is part of the Law given to the theocratic community of ancient Israel (c. 1500 B.C.). It places no specific demand on the church in the 21st century … we are not a particular people in a particular region living in a theocratic state. The church is not Israel (a dispensationalist view). The author of Hebrews made it clear: a New and greater Covenant arrived with our high priest, Jesus Christ, and it has rendered the old covenant “obsolete.” (Heb. 8:13).

    So, to contextualize a passage for application today starts with identifying passages which have a direct bearing upon the church. Then we search for the meaning of the passage in its original context (authorial intent), taking into consideration the historical audience and culture. Finally, once we’ve drawn out the author’s intent in its historical context, we attempt to bridge the gap between the first century and today to draw out the necessary principle for application. It’s an arduous process and it’s not a perfect science … that’s why good hermeneutical tools are necessary for the task. Does that help you?

    TA said: “I’m not going to debate your parenting, mainly because it won’t matter. when faced with the real situation, all the parenting in the world doesn’t matter – it only matters which is stronger: the guilt placed on the child for doing the wrong thing or the sexual urge.”

    Let me quote you for the record … “parenting doesn’t matter.” Wow. When you have kids, are you going to just let ‘em run the streets and have unlimited freedom? Are you going to attempt to teach them anything? Is this the atheist parenting manual?

    I can tell you from experience that the “guilt” you’re talking about doesn’t work. I don’t use guilt to manipulate my children’s behavior. I try to pass along sound wisdom and help them think critically about the choices they maket. They are going to have to choose their own path. The sexual urge will be strong in every child. Some choose the path of self-respect, integrity, and patience while others give in to the pressure. I don’t think using guilt or ignoring your responsibility as a parent is the answer!

    Try again, TA!

  • 21. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    “Wow. When you have kids, are you going to just let ‘em run the streets and have unlimited freedom? Are you going to attempt to teach them anything? Is this the atheist parenting manual?”

    The same reason I ignored the last post is the same reason I will ignore this one. You accuse me of jumping on some bandwagon of anti-Christianism, while you yourself purposely misconstrue what I say. If I try to clarify what I meant, you will only twist that as well. I apologize if I do not give evangelicals the benefit of the doubt, but I call them like I see them, and you sir, help me.

  • 22. Heather  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Pj11,

    **Let me quote you for the record … “parenting doesn’t matter.” Wow. When you have kids, are you going to just let ‘em run the streets and have unlimited freedom?**

    That’s taking TA’s quote out of context. Where from this can you get that TA would let his kids run around with no rules or supervision? What he’s saying is that in this particular situation for certain people, the driving forces behind what choice is made are the guilt produced from the wrong choice, or the sexual urge. If your experience determines otherwise, that’s great. But some people’s experiences do match up to what TA describes.

  • 23. Heather  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    HIS,

    ** Mao Tse Dong had just died, so the question on my test was, “Where is Chairman Mao right now?” The correct answer was, “hell”. ** I forgot to mention this the last time, but wow. This was on an actual test? Was it multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank?

    **maybe the idea is to wear a promise ring as a vow to avoid pre-marital sex, and this ring is to replaced by an engagement, then a wedding ring?** I think so. The reason why it doesn’t make sense to me is because it actively draws attention to an area that, under the promise-ring viewpoint, is supposed to be private. Yet this is almost announcing a virginal status. Why can’t it just be that a Christian woman decides not to have pre-marital sex and just leave it at that? (This was a question in general, not directed towards you specifically).

    It also doesn’t make sense to me because I have yet to see man wear a promise ring. Why isn’t the same outweard appearance placed on them?

  • 24. Thinking Ape  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Quoting myself: “is the same reason I will ignore this one.”

    Sorry, this was unfair. Migraines make me an unpleasant person and this heat is getting to me. If there is any worth to be found in this discussion, I would definitely like to continue, but so far it doesn’t appear that way. As for the previous discussion, I have not ignored – I am trying to find the box with all of my papers and journals from the last two semesters. Once I find it, I can adequately answer your questions.

  • 25. pj11  |  July 14, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    TA: I’m sorry you’re having migraines … didn’t mean to set you off. Your post (16) really, really set me off, so I reacted. My apologies.

    My wife and I have poured our lives into our daughter for 14 years now … blood, sweat and tears. If someone says, “when it comes to a real situation (involving sex), your parenting won’t matter” … that diminishes all of our hard work … it’s very personal.

    Also, your comment about cherry-picking Scripture was a cheap shot … by now you know that I’m not the average uneducated churchgoer. I was hoping you’d give me more respect than that.

    Please forgive me … can we call a truce and keep it civil from this point forward?

    pj11

  • 26. M.B.  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    The only comment that comes to my mind besides “YUCK !” is this: sexual inexperience should not be called “purity”; calling it that way implies that sex leads to impurity.

    Sex in and of itself is neither impure nor evil; it is not a good thing either. Sex is a just a morally neutral biological fact. Teenagers have sex because their bodies are designed to do so, period. Since it has nothing at all to do with spirituality or morality, let’s stop using the word “purity”, which has a heavy religious meaning, and replace it with the realistic word “abstinence”.

  • 27. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    pj11 sez:
    “properly understanding the context of the verses from Deuteronomy 22 which HlS quoted above. It’s silly to quote such verses and then say, “see, this is what evangelicals believe.” ”

    Whoa! Hold on there, I never said anything like that!! I quoted out of Deut 22 because Thinking Ape’s old student dean sure seemed to revere it. I never said ALL evangelicals believe that!! I was a good dispensationalist for a very long time, I know what ‘age of grace’ means, and I understand most Christians don’t hold to Old Testament Law anymore. I also know that many Christians think much of the old testament law SHOULD still be followed, and they have their reasons, but that is besides the point.

    Look, everything we say on this site regarding Christianity is going to have exceptions. You have accused us of making sweeping generalizations here several times, and you are probably correct (although in this case you are way off target). But rarely do I see a statement that says, ‘all Christians believe this way’ or ‘all Christians act that way’. If something looks like a generalization, I think it is understood that there is a ‘but there are exceptions’ clause implied. If anything, we correct Biblical errors and hateful statements made by immature, kneejerk and ignorant atheists. Everyone here comes from diverse backgrounds and percieves their religions in different ways. Christianity has more flavors than Baskin and Robbins, and we all left or are questioning the faith for different reasons. All I can do is share my perspectives from what I have experienced and hope that somebody can relate to what I have to say, and that is all any of us can do here on this site. I have learned a lot here by reading all sorts of opinions, insights and testamonies from christians and non-christians alike.

  • 28. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Heather asks:
    “I forgot to mention this the last time, but wow. This was on an actual test? Was it multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank? ”

    Oh gosh, you are asking me to remember something from a another lifetime ago, but I seem to think it was a fill in the blank. All I remember with absolute certainty is the question itself, which I remembered because even then I thought it was really bizarre, and …

    … I also remember that I answered the question correctly!

    heh – no physics, no geology, no astronomy, no chemistry and no biology, but I did learn that Mao Tse Dong is in Hell. Shows you the extent of my edumacation.

  • 29. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    MB sez:
    “Let’s stop using the word “purity”, which has a heavy religious meaning, and replace it with the realistic word “abstinence”.

    Although I disagree with much of your reasoning (I think teenage sex IS a moral issue, and requires responsibility between teen and parents), I like your conclusion. Removing the word ‘purity’ is a good one to remove in the sexual context.

  • 30. bry0000000  |  July 14, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Perhaps my reasoning for the following is because my project over summer is studying power relations, but for me this is just another example of a religion attempting exert power over others by defying biology, which I believe is testament to the power of religion over people.

    Also interesting is that Christianity views many biological truths and impulses as satanic thought and action.

    Regards,
    bry0000000

  • 31. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 12:06 am

    “Also interesting is that Christianity views many biological truths and impulses as satanic thought and action.”

    bry: I’m curious about this perspective … can you elaborate and give me a source from which you gathered this idea? Thanks.

  • 32. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 12:13 am

    HlS said: “I quoted out of Deut 22 because Thinking Ape’s old student dean sure seemed to revere it.”

    Actually, HlS, it appears from post #11 that you just assumed his student dean revered that text … “the Dean was probably getting this wisdom from Deut 22.” TA started with a personal attack (“he’s so old that he probably walked with the dinosaurs”) and then you followed up by putting words in the old guy’s mouth. Sounded slanderous and unfair … and beneath you guys.

  • 33. HeIsSailing  |  July 15, 2007 at 12:57 am

    pj11, consider this statement:
    “it is the onus of the female to censor the male’s advances”

    This, in my humble opinion, is reprehensible morality. It places all responsibility and blame on the female, and no guilt or responsibility on the male. I assume you are wise enough to see how misogynistic this attitude, and the story behind this statement, is. This statement, according to TA, came from the Dean of Students from his Bible college.

    Where did the Dean get this attitude? I can only guess Deuteronomy 22 as a possibility. That is the best fit in Scripture that I can think of. I quoted the entire passage above for everyone to see. That passage contains a series of three laws which have the same ugly, misogynistic attitude towards women. Do you really think that at any time, in any culture, in any dispensation, it is morally correct to execute a betrothed woman by stoning for not crying for help during a rape? Let me again quote the Dean:

    “it is the onus of the female to censor the male’s advances”

    Say what you want about our dispensation of grace, but that sounds to me like Deut 22.

    Do you really think that at any time, in any culture, or during any dispensation it is morally correct to punish the rapist of an unbetrothed woman by having the rapist pay a fine and let the victim live with and be cared for the rapist for the rest of her life? I sure hope not, but there it is in Scripture, not just allowed by God but *mandated*. It also sounds to me like that was the attitude of TA’s Dean, who obviously was just trying to follow scripture to the best of his own interpretation.

  • 34. bry0000000  |  July 15, 2007 at 1:10 am

    pj11 said:

    “bry: I’m curious about this perspective … can you elaborate and give me a source from which you gathered this idea? Thanks.”

    Gladly. Nature and basic biology are my sources. Sorry for not including examples earlier. I’m not singling out any one religion because there are plenty of ancient and modern religions that do the same thing. Christianity is the one I’m most familiar with and therefore the one I’m most comfortable discussing. Allow me to elaborate.

    Biological impulse: Sexual desire versus religious mandate of pre-marital chastity. Ignoring the fact that marriage is a religious institution and therefore susceptible to its own fallacies, we have biological urges that mandate either
    a) The reproduction of the species
    b) The gratification that sexual satisfaction gives to the individual.
    Again, these are intrinsic biological impulses that most humans possess.

    At the time of the conception of Christianity (which is argued to have begun with the rule of Emperor Justinian), sciences that documented biological and natural urges were in a state of incompletion and poorly distributed. Once these sciences were further developed and better distributed, Christianity was unable to refute (and still unable) their legitimacy through a system of logic because of a conflicting structure of beliefs (revealed truth versus logic). I believe it is at this time that these biological impulses were labeled as influenced by Satan in many churches.

    I really doubt you are curious about my perspective as much as you are eager to attempt to refute it, am I not correct?

    Regards
    Bry0000000

  • 35. aquaboogie  |  July 15, 2007 at 1:33 am

    Just a quick correction (?). I think there are purity balls or a similar ritual for boys, though they’re probably far less common. I remember my mom, who wants her kids to be Christian, telling me that she wanted me to get a “pledge ring” or something like that (I’m a guy), which represents my promise to my family that I would not have sex until marriage. She didn’t mention a fancy dress ball, though. :)

  • 36. Thinking Ape  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Regarding my friend, the Dean:

    I was still an evangelical Christian at the point of this situation. I in no way believe that a majority of Christians share this dean’s viewpoint. He is, I believe, a very rare case. My knock on his age was a combination on his views that he was raised with that would completely unacceptable in almost any church today and that this man set out to ruin lives in the name of Jesus, including a later attack on me. I apologize if you were offended, I meant to attack his outdated views, not his actual age.

    The real problem that I saw was not so much the Dean’s decision, but rather that the committee went along with it and then several of them made the affair public and shamed the female involved.

    Regarding parenting:
    I myself am a father of a little girl. My comment was meant to be a realistic reflection on what every person I knew at that Bible college went through, including myself. If you can teach, as I hope to do with my daughter, that there are deeper psychological and ethical considerations, then I commend you. The problem, however, is that children of moderate/conservative Christians will have to overcome the deep fear of disappointing their parents if guilt is not going to be involved. Of course children will not feel guilt if they don’t do anything, but what happens when they do? I cannot speak for atheists or any other religious perspective, since I did not grow up any other way (or around many other youth).

    There is, as you say (I think you did, well, at least you implied it), no easy sexual education. I suppose it is my own personal view, which resulted in my somewhat over-the-top dichotomy the seemed insulting, that parents can only do so much, but when it comes down to it, what matters is that we do not psychologically entrap our children with boundaries of acceptance and disappointment. I have witnessed in my own extended family the transparent and so-called “unconditional” love waver upon the notice of an pregnancy out of wedlock. Is this something that is recommended by the church as a whole? Of course not. But it is common within the church.

    Regarding cherry-picking:
    Yes, it was a cheap shot and I hate using migraines as an excuse, but I really didn’t want to get into it. Contextualizing scripture is different, but is related to and usually leads to cherry-picking and moral relativism. Was your original comment regarding contextualizing towards sexual issues or male-female dichotomies? (I don’t think I ever talked about the Deut. passage) While I believe most Christians continue to hold fast to the former, the I do believe cherry-picking is almost always involved in the latter.

    Regarding civilized discourse:
    I am going to take some exedrine (sp?), let my wife have her way with me, and meditate (not necessarily in that order). I should be ready to behave after that.

  • 37. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:15 am

    HlS said: “pj11, consider this statement: “it is the onus of the female to censor the male’s advances”

    Yes, I find this morally reprehensible. I’m shocked by it, but I will take TA’s word that the Dean of Students actually said it.

    Here’s the problem with your reply, HlS … note in post #1 how TA quoted the Dean: “he said the Bible did not matter, it was only the school handbook that mattered.” In light of this, why would you ascribe a particular passage of Scripture to his motives without any evidence whatsoever that he used ANY Scripture to defend his position?

    TA makes fun of the guy for being old (as if old = idiotic). Then you slap an obsolete 3,500 year old passage of Scripture on his motives without any just cause. That is slanderous and you both should apologize.

    I know this site enjoys working people up against Christianity … but you don’t need to toss out basic civility and respect to make your point.

  • 38. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:28 am

    bry said: “I really doubt you are curious about my perspective as much as you are eager to attempt to refute it, am I not correct?”

    Oh, bry … you assume the worst in me! No, actually, I was just shocked by your original assertion and wanted to hear more about where you got the idea that Christianity views biological impulses as satanic. Your answer told me more about the biology than the theology.

    Historical Christianity does not view human impulse as satanically-driven. Beyond the Fall, man’s nature is viewed as corrupted by the original sin – he is no longer able “not to sin.” His impulses are now inclined toward the things of the flesh and he is no longer able to incline himself toward the Creator without prevenient grace being extended by God. Man and woman bear the responsibility for their sin … they will be judged for their choices, not Satan.

  • 39. bry0000000  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:57 am

    The satanic thing was just a remark on contemporary Christianity perspective, but I believe contemporary Christian thought to be every bit as legitimate as historical Christian thought because I believe none of them hold any stake in truth. Historical Christianity, therefore, cannot be any more orthodox than contemporary Christianity as none have an established position in truth. In fact, none have made it out of the epistemological construct of belief, but that is a digression from the topic.

    What interests me about your comment is the concept of original sin, especially as a method of the exertion of power. The concept of original sin can be likened to the sales pitch of an infomercial in which we are convinced that we are without the product and therefore incomplete along with the product for sale is something we cannot live “correctly” without. The difference is that by rejecting the concept of original sin we don’t risk not having a clean carpet, the best set of knives, or the world’s best juicer, but instead risk the damnation of our soul as the consequence of not buying. By including everyone in your concept of original sin, Christianity lures people into looking beyond logic by using fear as a catalyst (a very effective catalyst, might I add).

    Unfortunately, the lack of divinity contained in Christianity cannot withstand the already intrinsic and absolute power of biological forces. This creates tension in Christian households when humans engage in natural biological activity that contradicts Christian morality. Stellar1 addresses this in her article when she discusses the stigma women face when they succumb to biological urges to engage in sexual activity (before marriage) by acknowledging the unfair proportion of power in favor of biology over the manmade construct of religion.

    Additionally shocking is how blatantly you contradict yourself. You say Christianity does not view human impulse as satanically-driven, then go on to say the desires of the flesh, that of biology and nature, will constitute sin because of original sin. Sin ->Evil and Evil’s source is Satan.

  • 40. Thinking Ape  |  July 15, 2007 at 3:11 am

    pj11 says, “TA makes fun of the guy for being old (as if old = idiotic).”

    Umm, no, old does not equal idiotic, and I never implied that. He was an old man with old-fashioned views that social historians would probably be able to show that were commonplace during his childhood, and continue to be resonate among elderly conservative Mennonite circles. I apologize only for not being clear about what I originally meant by “old”.

    The point is, he was old. He was also an idiot. They are exclusive, but his idiocy came from his outdated views. These views were one of those “Christian” traditions that sprung up by a bunch of sexually repressed medieval men who cherry picked their way through the Bible to subjugate women further than it already did. My friend’s idiocy came from her one night stand of stupidity. My idiocy came from choosing to attend that college.

    P.S. “slanderous” necessitates falsity in what I say – did I exaggerate, yes, but I assumed people knew he didn’t walk with the dinosaurs. Additionally, in a legal sense, slander needs to have a victim. Since I do not disclose who I am, who he is, what bible college I went to, it is virtually impossible for anyone to know who the, now retired, Dean was. Unfair and immature, probably – slander, hardly.

  • 41. bry0000000  |  July 15, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Thinking Ape said:
    “Unfair and immature, probably – slander, hardly.”

    -But humorous? Definitely.

  • 42. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 4:03 am

    TA: Your replies are growing more mean-spirited each time … could you not find the Excedrin bottle?

  • 43. pj11  |  July 15, 2007 at 4:14 am

    bry: Thanks for your response … I’m anxious to respond, but I’m too tired right now. More tomorrow …

  • 44. Thinking Ape  |  July 15, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Idiot = stupid = lacking common sense = placing a handbook that he wrote before the well being of others. Unless you find such offense to the word “idiot”, I said nothing offensive (my friend and I laugh now at our past stupidities).

    And quite honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much use. You obviously have little use for any humour and you take everyone way too seriously. Good luck on your continuing evangelizing.

  • 45. karen  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    P.S. “slanderous” necessitates falsity in what I say – did I exaggerate, yes, but I assumed people knew he didn’t walk with the dinosaurs. Additionally, in a legal sense, slander needs to have a victim. Since I do not disclose who I am, who he is, what bible college I went to, it is virtually impossible for anyone to know who the, now retired, Dean was. Unfair and immature, probably – slander, hardly.

    True, dat. You can’t slander someone who’s anonymous.

    And for the record, I do sense anger in your recollection of this event, but I wouldn’t call it “mean-spirited.” To me, mean is picking on someone or something that doesn’t deserve it. I can hardly blame you being angry in this case.

    First, it’s a reprehensible incident all around that (I’m guessing, given your age) didn’t happen very long ago and wound up affecting you personally with real negative repercussions. Not hard to imagine you might still be angry about it.

    And there’s nothing wrong with anger, after all.

    I look forward to your series on the stages of grief, by the way. I likened my own journey out of religion to those terms also.

  • 46. HeIsSailing  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Pj11 sez:
    “Then you slap an obsolete 3,500 year old passage of Scripture on his motives without any just cause. That is slanderous and you both should apologize.”

    You have got to be kidding me. All motives aside, would it make you feel better if I just called a spade a spade and said that anybody with the misogynistic attutude of TA’s Dean is simply a jerk? Does removing any speculation toward motive remove the slander?

    Or is the real issue here, not slander towards some man, but towards the Scripture I quoted that, obsolete or not, contains the same backward, misogynistic attitude?

  • 47. Steelman  |  July 15, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    pj11 said: “For now it seems the line of communication between my daughter and I is open and healthy. We haven’t deceived ourselves into believing this multi-pronged attack is foolproof … but we’re hopeful. We’ll watch to see how our plan plays out and adjust if necessary with our son as the years progress. No double standard.”

    While this nonbeliever wouldn’t use scripture or God to back up what he tells his kids about the pitfalls of engaging in premarital sex at an early age, I agree with the rest of your methods for trying to guide them safely through their adolescent years. I can only imagine the kind of pressure you and your daughter are under; pastors and their children are much more under the congregational microscope than others.

  • 48. tribalchurch  |  July 16, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Thinking Ape,

    Did I go to college with you? Oh no. Mine proud alma mater’s in Chicago, and they weren’t known for tolerance.

    But they were known for their Adam/Eve sensibilities. You know, if sin abounds, then the girl is always the tempter. After all, we must never cause our “brother to stumble!”

    Stellar1,

    Thanks for the post.

  • 49. Noogatiger  |  July 16, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Purity Balls?

    I wonder how many of the Dad’s asking their daughters to make this pledge have pure balls themselves. I bet most of them don’t.

  • 50. Noogatiger  |  July 16, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Meaning in my last post.
    How many of the Dad’s had pre-marital sex?

  • 51. karen  |  July 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Meaning in my last post.
    How many of the Dad’s had pre-marital sex?

    LOL – I got it the first time. :-)

    And let’s not forget to ask how many of the Dad’s have had extra-marital affairs. You may have heard of the Louisiana politician who styled himself a “champion of family values” whose name was found in the Washington, DC madam’s “little black book.”

    Of course, he was forced to declare himself a sinner last week and do some public repentance.

    Then there’s Rev. Ted Haggard, seeing a male prostitute and doing drugs while leading the American Evangelical Assn. And countless other Purity Policemen who’ve been exposed (pun intended) as hypocrites.

    That’s what makes this whole expectation on young women so disgusting – the hideous double standard involved.

  • 52. Dave  |  July 16, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    I just wanted to say that I have read through a lot of the responses here and it is very easy to get worked up over posts where tone cannot be conveyed. In reality, many of you would likely get along quite well at a party and even share a lot of the same values when you get right down to it. When words left on a page are all we have to go on, it is easy to misjudge each other.

    Regarding Purity Balls, I think they are a bit silly. I don’t think it is a bad thing to make a moral vow or try to hold yourself to a moral standard though – regardless of how difficult. Sure, you may fail, but if why would we not engage an activity because we may fail? Or even would probably fail?

    But there I would disagree with many here. Yes, sex is a biological impulse and yes it is a beautiful, natural thing. But now, that doesn’t mean we have to give into it before the time is right. We use restraint on our sexuality all the time – some things are acceptable in public for instance. I think the decision to not make a sexual advance on someone at the office, though you may really want to, is a moral restraint, for instance. I myself am a Christian and I am doing my best to follow Christ. Of course I mess up, but I did make it on the abstinence thing (and by no great willpower of my own!). My wife and I both shared our first time and I find that a rare and beautiful gift we were able to give each other in the end. I want that for my kids (I now have too – proof that sexuality in context is fine by me!).

    I want that for my kids no matter how many kids are “doing it” around them. Just because the majority is going one way does not make it the necessary choice, or the right one (you all know that in other situations I am sure). I value the sexual restraint my wife and I had and I want that gift for my two children very much. I see MANY reasons to lead them in this way, before I even need to open the Bible once.

    And I’m sorry, but 11 year olds having sex creeps me out at least as much as Purity Balls, so let’s not throw out all sexual morality just because some have got it so wrong. As I said earlier, there are many biological urges that we can control – and should. (like our diet, the natural inclination for revenge and retaliation [as already confessed to above a few times] and many more).

    Thanks for listening and sharing all of your views so openly.

  • 53. Dave  |  July 16, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Correction – I now have “2” kids – not too. Apparently I need to grammar check before posting!

  • 54. Heather  |  July 16, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Dave,

    **, sex is a biological impulse and yes it is a beautiful, natural thing. But now, that doesn’t mean we have to give into it before the time is right. ** I don’t think anyone here is saying that teenagers should casually have sex. I would agree with you in that abstinence is the safest policy. But given the hormonal drive, as well as the media’s focus on sex and how it sells, it just seems to me unrealistic to not provide information on safe sex, because there’s what one rationally decides, and there’s what happens in the ‘heat of the moment.’

    As the study shows, 88% of those who took the pledge broke it, and I’m wondering how many of those 88% had unsafe sex because the parents felt the Purity Balls accomplished the purpose. Or the parents just said “Sex is bad, don’t do it” or that precautions fail, so the kids didn’t even other using condoms.

    You succeeded in the abstinence, and I think that’s fantastic (note: this is not a sarcastic statement0. We would all agree that it is best to hold one’s self up to a moral standard — but it’s also important to approach that moral standard reasonably, and recognize that some (or many) teenagers will not, and provide them with the right education so they don’t further endanger themselves through stds or pregnancy.

  • 55. pj11  |  July 16, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    TA says: “And quite honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much use. You obviously have little use for any humour and you take everyone way too seriously. Good luck on your continuing evangelizing.”

    Gave you a couple of days to calm down … everything OK now? There’s no reason for such hostility, TA. It’s ironic that you find ME humorless and too serious … take a look back at some of your posts. Lighten up, man.

    And, by the way, I have no desire to evangelize on this site … just defend the historic Christian faith. Remember, I’m a Calvinist … my Bible says I have no power to push anyone into the Kingdom … only God can regenerate a heart of stone.

  • 56. pj11  |  July 16, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    bry said: “Additionally shocking is how blatantly you contradict yourself. You say Christianity does not view human impulse as satanically-driven, then go on to say the desires of the flesh, that of biology and nature, will constitute sin because of original sin. Sin ->Evil and Evil’s source is Satan.”

    bry: sorry for the delay … busy day at church yesterday and again this morning. A quick correction on your understanding of evil and the Fall …

    Satan is not the source of evil in historic Christianity. Technically, evil is not a “thing,” it’s a privation. It’s the absence of goodness (see Augustine’s work on this). At the time of Adam’s fall, evil had not yet been introduced into creation (God had declared everything “good). Adam & Eve possessed a nature best described as “positively holy.” In other words, they were inclined to choose goodness, but they also had the ability to choose the opposite. Satan’s role in the fall is often overstated. He is the tempter, but he is not the efficient cause of the fall … man made the choice to disobey God’s instructions and he is judged accordingly. It is man who bears the responsibility for introducing evil into the created order, not demons.

  • 57. pj11  |  July 16, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    HlS says: “Or is the real issue here, not slander towards some man, but towards the Scripture I quoted that, obsolete or not, contains the same backward, misogynistic attitude?”

    Yes, HlS, this is exactly the issue … you’ve slandered my God by misapplying Scripture in the context discussed. You probably care little that my God is slandered, but it bears pointing out from my perspective.

    You call the Scripture in question “backward,” but once again you fail to interpret within the historical context. Not only were God’s regulations in 1500 B.C. not “backward,” they were ultra-progressive for the Ancient Near East! God’s Word has always been progressive at the time of it’s writing (which is the proper context for interpretation). Applying contemporary cultural norms to an ancient text is fallacious.

  • 58. Stephen  |  July 17, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Stoning kids to death for disobediance is progressive? I understand your desire to defend your beliefs, but that’s just absurd. There are a rare few words in the “Old Testament” that could be considered progressive, if you looked hard enough. But you can’t say that “God’s” regulations were ‘ultra-progressive”. I dont know how the Old Testament could be any LESS progressive, for the most part.

    A young lady at my parents’ church is wearing one of those “purity rings” and made a promise to her father that she would remain pure, yada yada yada until the time came for him to “give” her away. I found it a touch creepy myself.

  • 59. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Stephen – Of course the O.T. is not progressive by your standards in the 21st century. How could Moses write to his ancient audience using cultural norms of the 21st century? Think man! To understand the Bible you must be able to think historically and contextually. Do you know anything about the Ancient Near East c. 1500 B.C? I strongly recommend you withhold your conclusion until you’ve done the necessary research.

  • 60. Thinking Ape  |  July 17, 2007 at 4:47 am

    Oh please tell us oh enlightened pj11, what would you compare the cultural norms of the time? Perhaps the code of Hammurabi, which predates even the earliest dates of Exodus authorship by 300 years and has many identical laws? Yet the laws concerning wives (Nos. 128ff) appear relatively fair compared with many of the Mosaic terms. Of maybe culture degraded since the fall of the Babylonian empire.

    But of course you can think like a 16th century BCE desert wanderer. I strongly recommend you withhold anything unless you are willing to expound your infinite knowledge upon us.

    Growing tired of your immature arrogance and lack of respect you have. How old are you really?

  • 61. YH  |  July 17, 2007 at 5:47 am

    “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”
    — Numbers 31:17-18 (NIV)

    It seems to me that the above command of vengeance, attributed to Moses, can be considered “progressive” only if measured against the values of cannibals and beasts.

  • 62. The de-Convert  |  July 17, 2007 at 8:44 am

    pj11,

    Yes, HlS, this is exactly the issue … you’ve slandered my God by misapplying Scripture in the context discussed. You probably care little that my God is slandered, but it bears pointing out from my perspective.

    I’ve always contended that if God is a loving, compassionate, merciful Father in heaven then the BIBLE itself has slandered his character and God should sue all the Bible authors for slandering him by attributing to him genocides, murders, the condoning of rapes, slavery, and a host of other atrocities.

    See http://literalbible.blogspot.com/search/label/Killings?max-results=100

    Paul

  • 63. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    TA: Why so hostile? I think this is an important dialogue. Most atheists point to the OT law as a primary reason why the Bible is unreliable. I’m simply trying to defend it. This shouldn’t threaten you in any way because you’re secure in your position. I’m sorry you’re growing tired of me. For what it’s worth, here’s my diagnosis … you enjoy having uninformed Christians come to your site so you can run intellectual circles around them. It makes you feel better about your non-belief and you can yuck it up with your friends about how foolish we are. But when a theist comes here who provides a challenge, you quickly get frustrated and lash out. You call ME humorless and arrogant and lacking in respect. If that’s true, are you the pot or the kettle?

  • 64. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Now, to the point in question … I’ll keep it very brief for the sake of space. I’m glad you pointed to Hammurabi – it’s a valid example of a progressive culture in the ANE. Actually, you could go back further (about 500 years before Moses) to Ur-Nammu, the Sumerian king, who had a code of laws. Fritz Kraus, a Swiss scholar, has persuasively shown that the law codes of Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi were not used in actual cases being decided … they were more likely scientific treatises on the law which originiated among the intelligensia in their ancient schools. Still, the Ur-Nammu code was original due to its use of financial penalties for some cases of bodily harm. If you look closely at either of these “progressive” codes you will still find incredibly primitive laws which involve justice in the form of mutilation and death … most of it we would repudiate today. It’s no different with the Law of God given to ancient Israel to govern their theocratic state. Progressive in nature, yet still primitive and cruel according to our 21st c. standards.

    Now, as to the “progressive” label, you need to look around a little more and see what else was going on in the ANE. Some of the most progressive cultures were centered in Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylon, later Persia). However, go over to Anatolia and Syro-Palestine (Hittites, Amorites, Phoencians, Arameans, Philistines), or Transjordan (Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites) and you won’t believe how brutal life was. Human sacrifice, infanticide, cult prostitution, rampant slavery, proprietary ownership of women, and more. Life was short and cheap. Women possessed no rights and had no protection. My point is simple … the Law given by God to Moses for His people was indeed progressive for that day. Keep it in historical context. God had every intention of someday declaring it obsolete with the coming of the Davidic King and the mediator of a new covenant. The Law is over … it’s been fulfilled in Christ and superseded by His high priesthood. So let it go. If you want to discuss the morality of the Bible, let’s focus our attention where it belongs … on the writings of the apostles in the NT. That’s a worthy discussion applicable to our lives today.

  • 65. Thinking Ape  |  July 17, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    pj11,

    1) Upon holding out an olive branch of peace, your immediate response was an affirmative and then instantaneously continued on with a contemptuous attitude.

    2) In your last response to me you ignored anything I had to say of significance and instead focused on my comment that you take everyone way too seriously.

    3) In the previous response to Stephen you needlessly belittled and questioned his intelligence on unfounded grounds.

    4) You get offended because someone slandered your god? Sir, your god offends me. If I am to believe your Bible as true, your god promotes raping prisoners of war, encourages tribal genocides for the sake of land grabbing, directly murders every firstborn in Egypt for the sake of a mass exodus, and rivals the epicurean gods of the olympiad for his frivilous treatment of human beings – we are, after all, only here to serve his glory.

    5) You can stop painting yourself as some grand Christian apologist. No, I do not take pleasure in talking to uneducated Christians. But what is even more frustrating are indoctrinated evangelicals who will always refer back to their talking points. I reminds me of my many talks with Mormon boys that come to my door every once in awhile – their indoctination is so powerful that they can defend almost any position. This is no different than a seminary education.

    6) Your idea of the ANE is dichotomous and contradictory. You randomly plugged in mention of Ur-Nammu, yet either we know very little about this code, it is incomplete, or it was never meant to be comprehensive. You seem to agree that there is some “progressive” features to the code of Hammurabi – and as I pointed out, their wives were not treated merely as property (check the code of Hammurabi, certainly not Sweden, but much more protection than in the Mosaic laws). I agree, however, that this era of history was not “progressive”, but I was merely pointing out that “god’s word” was not any more progressive than the surrounding cultures – showing me that these other cultures were horrible doesn’t advance your argument. Simply saying “My point is simple … the Law given by God to Moses for His people was indeed progressive for that day” does not make it true. They were no different by law or practice than any others around them.

    7) Why not throw out the OT if we need not talk about it? Is it not a reflection of the character of YHWH? The “law is over” only for Pauline Christianity and its mainstream derivatives that, by sheer number, could pervert the truth of a Jewish movement.

  • 66. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    TA,

    (1) Just matching your intensity.
    (2) Sorry … just thought your comment about my serious nature was needed correction.
    (3) Didn’t intend to belittle Stephen … if I did, let him say so, then I will apologize.
    (4) Sorry God offends you … it’s not His eternal plan to please you or prove Himself to you. If He is, He is. Submit to Him or reject Him, you own the consequence either way.
    (5) Not indoctrinated – I didn’t grow up in the church like the Mormon boys you point to.
    (6) I guess we’ll have to disagree on the nature of ANE culture, but I think history and scholarship are on my side.
    (7) The Law has been rendered obsolete and that’s not just a Pauline concept.

    Now, are you ready to discuss the morality of the Bible as reflected in the apostle’s writings … or do you want to just rehash the argument about the OT?

  • 67. Steelman  |  July 17, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    pj11 said in response to HIS: “You call the Scripture in question “backward,” but once again you fail to interpret within the historical context. Not only were God’s regulations in 1500 B.C. not “backward,” they were ultra-progressive for the Ancient Near East! God’s Word has always been progressive at the time of it’s writing (which is the proper context for interpretation). Applying contemporary cultural norms to an ancient text is fallacious.

    Stated conversely: Deriving contemporary cultural norms from an ancient text is fallacious. In regard to a number of the OT prohibitions and punishments, I think we’d agree that my converse statement is true; we shouldn’t go around stoning people for working on the sabbath, for example. I take contemporary cultural norms, in this context, to mean the ones that we both agree are good; such as democracy, equality among races, freedom of religion, etc.

    I’m wondering how you draw the line on the appropriateness of ancient regulations for today’s society. You state that those from 3500 years ago are inappropriate, yet consider those that are 2000 years old correct. Granted, the NT isn’t as much of a rule book compared to the OT. However, the admonitions for fair treatment and proper obedience, to Christian masters and Christian slaves respectively, in Ephesians 6 seem to endorse a practice that is no longer considered appropriate.

    This brings up a few questions:

    1) Since it took 1800 years to finally decide that Ephesians was old enough (?) to no longer be accepted as a cultural norm, what else in the bible is it now appropriate to ignore? How do we decide what to ignore or retain?

    2) If God always writes progressively, why didn’t he instruct the author of Ephesians to call for the abolition of slavery? Better yet, why did he allow the practice in the first place (I believe it may have started with one of Noah’s sons catching the old man drunk and in the buff)?

    3) Why did God wait so long (all of human history, up to just 2000 years ago) to give us his most progressive possible mandates on how we should treat one another? Why couldn’t we have all been “brothers” thousands of years before that? Surely much suffering and warfare could have been averted had he spoken sooner. And why hasn’t he spoken since (Muhammad, Joseph Smith, et al notwithstanding)?

  • 68. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Steelman: Thanks for some productive questions. Let me start by addressing the slavery question in general. As you know, Christian apologists have had to defend on this issue for a long time now. The answers do not change and I probably won’t add anything new to the debate.

    Slavery is an emotional issue that has been rendered almost untouchable by our culture today … it’s like invoking Hitler’s name in a question. You can’t win if you do anything but scream “It’s wrong!” But, as with so much of the Bible, proper historical context is the key to good interpretation and greater understanding. In this case, understanding what “slavery” was like in first century Roman territory is critical. It’s especially critical because, here in America, when we think of “slavery,” we immediately think of the horror of New World slavery. It places an emotional presupposition in our minds. Comparing Roman-era slavery and New World slavery is really apples and oranges.

    The NT-period “slavery” in the Roman Empire is not similar enough to New World slavery for the slavery objection to have its customary force. The slave system described in the NT period is very dissimilar to New world slavery, especially as it relates to the more horrific and troubling aspects of slavery: lifetime sentences, forced/violent enslavement, no chance for improvement in conditions, no legal recourses against owners, poor living conditions, lowest possible social and economic status etc. As such, its ethical character relative to New World slavery is very different. It was a much more neutral, flexible, varied, and ambiguous institution. Due to the wide variety of situations, blanket ethical pronouncements against it (or for it) would have been inappropriate. The complexity of the historical situation also argues against the feasibility of any “unilateral abolition.” Given what slavery was like in Paul’s day, we should not be morally surprised at the absence of a blanket manumission statement by him, or at the absence of a major Empire-wide anti-slavery campaign on the part of the emerging church. The institution itself is not considered inconsistent with the gospel of freedom, and the NT clearly denies the idea that a master “owns” a servant (only the Lord owns them both).
    Given this character of the institution, passages such as Ephesians 6 (also Colossians, Titus, and 1 Peter) address the obvious problems with praxis and roles. The NT does not expect unconditional obedience to masters; indeed it required disobedience in cases of moral wrongdoing (similar to cases of required civil disobedience). The NT writings are socially progressive in the sense that they demand a high moral standard from masters in the way they treat their slaves (for God will judge earthly masters according to their actions, and there is no difference between free and slave in His eyes). In addition, while the NT authors argue for slaves finding contentment in their earthly status, they demonstrate a decided preference for manumission (1 Cor. 7:21).
    In summary, we cannot correctly accuse the NT of “condoning slavery” in any traditional sense. The data that we DO have in the NT lays clear groundwork for refuting New World Slavery (almost all of which was based on slave-trading and piracy). By the time slavery loses its ethically ambiguous character as an institution (i.e., in the slave trade of the New World period), it cannot legitimately use Paul to defend itself, for it had mutated into something quite unlike Roman slavery in the NT.

  • 69. Yueheng  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    pj11:

    You wrote:

    However, go over to Anatolia and Syro-Palestine (Hittites, Amorites, Phoencians, Arameans, Philistines), or Transjordan (Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites) and you won’t believe how brutal life was. Human sacrifice, infanticide, cult prostitution, rampant slavery, proprietary ownership of women, and more. Life was short and cheap. Women possessed no rights and had no protection.

    I think this is ironic considering that the tribal deity YHWH of the OT contributed signficantly to all the qualities you mentioned that made life “brutal”. People could die for picking up a piece of charcoal on the Sabbath. They could be executed for wanting to believe in gods other than YHWH. YHWH’s followers engaged in genocide and enslaved women captured in war. You assert that the Law given by God to Moses has to kept in historical context and that God had every intention of someday declaring it obsolete with the new covenant. Does this also apply to all the instances in the OT when God commands the murder of women and children? Could it be that at one point in history, it was morally acceptable to kill children for belonging to a tribe of non-believers but this has now become obsolete?

  • 70. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Steelman says: “what else in the bible is it now appropriate to ignore? How do we decide what to ignore or retain?”

    Good question … technically, we don’t “ignore” anything – not even the slavery issue. Using what we call a “historical-grammatical” approach to interpretation, we first look to identify what the author intended to convey to his audience in that historical context. In order to do this, we start by identifying any presuppositions we bring to the passsage which might hinder a proper interpretation. Next, we check for historical and cultural issues which might impact the passage, we look at the literary context, we take into consideration the genre of the writing, we look at various language and translation issues (lexical and grammatical), and I personally diagram the passage syntactically and semantically. All of this is done to obtain the authorial intent of the writing.

    Once that’s done, we can then try to bridge the gap from the first century until today. This is where it gets hairy because it’s not a perfect science and interpreters can disagree. The steps shown above ought to determine whether a particular instruction in Scripture should be considered (1) binding on the Christian today in a literal sense; or (2) addressing an issue in that specific historical context which does not translate into a binding commandment upon the Christian today. This is where disagreements arise, mainly because of the presuppositions we bring to the text (what we “want it to say”). For example, the issue of a woman wearing a head covering in 1 Cor 11 – binding today or a cultural issue stuck in the city of Corinth in the first century? Most believe it can be left in the first century for a variety of historical reasons. In the case of slavery, how should the Christian bridge the culture gap and apply these principles in his/her daily life? Not everyone agrees, but many have used the general principle as a framework for employer/employee relations today. I’m not saying that’s exegetically valid, but it is a common response. As I said, the interpretive process is not an exact science … and that’s why “good Christians” disagree and denominations continue to multiply!

    I don’t know if that helped you at all … it will probably cost me dearly as the lurking atheists attack the process and claim we can’t know anything for sure. So, have at it! :-)

  • 71. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Steelman says: “why hasn’t he spoken since (Muhammad, Joseph Smith, et al notwithstanding)?”

    Again, good question. I can’t speak for God … I can only tell you what He’s already revealed to us in Scripture. The answer is best found in Hebrews 1: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son …” In other words, God has already sent his final and greatest revelation: Jesus Christ himself. There is no other revelation necessary. We have everything we need for salvation and for living a life that pleases the Creator. It’s down to this … submit to Christ or reject Him.

  • 72. bry0000000  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    pj11 says:

    “Satan is not the source of evil in historic Christianity. Technically, evil is not a “thing,” it’s a privation. It’s the absence of goodness (see Augustine’s work on this). At the time of Adam’s fall, evil had not yet been introduced into creation (God had declared everything “good). Adam & Eve possessed a nature best described as “positively holy.” In other words, they were inclined to choose goodness, but they also had the ability to choose the opposite. Satan’s role in the fall is often overstated. He is the tempter, but he is not the efficient cause of the fall … man made the choice to disobey God’s instructions and he is judged accordingly. It is man who bears the responsibility for introducing evil into the created order, not demons.”

    In this, we can see the problem with mythical stories: they can be construed any way they want to be. The above perspective certainly explain St. Augustine’s desire to take joy in seeing all non-believers burn in hell (see “City of God”… do you see that as progressive thought?).

    The other problem so blatantly revealed in your above example is the construct of Good and Evil in order to make man, not just Adam and Eve, but all men, adhere to God. Because Good and Evil are actually man-made constructs intended for purposes of adherence, it is simple to shift the “evil” blame on whoever you want to suit your purposes.

    In short, your religious system isn’t truth. It is just a mythological belief that evolved into a system of control. If it helps, it was a hard pill for me to swallow when I learned it to.

    Regards

  • 73. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Yueheng: As I told TA above, I’m not going to rehash the OT issue. It’s been asked ad nauseum on this site and answered (not just by me, but by theologians over hundreds of years!). The Law has been superseded. If you want to have a productive dialogue about the morality of the Bible and how it relates to our lives today, let’s stick to the NT as Steelman and I have done above. Thanks.

  • 74. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    bry said: “Because Good and Evil are actually man-made constructs intended for purposes of adherence, it is simple to shift the “evil” blame on whoever you want to suit your purposes.”

    I disagree, bry, about good and evil being man-made constructs. Good and evil seem pretty self-evident to me … they don’t need a lot of explaining because I see them in the world each day. But I respect your right to stand on that position.

    In terms of “blaming,” I don’t have the luxury of shifting blame anywhere I want for my purposes. Because I believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to mankind, I’m compelled to refer to it as my standard for truth. It is Scripture that tells me that man bears the responsibility for allowing evil into the creation and it is Scripture which tells me that man will be judged for his choices, both good and evil … I didn’t make it up. I realize you don’t have the same belief in revelation and I respect your right to reject the Bible as God’s revelation.

    bry said: “In short, your religious system isn’t truth. It is just a mythological belief that evolved into a system of control. If it helps, it was a hard pill for me to swallow when I learned it to.”

    Nobody controlled me, bry. I was an agnostic who found Christ and submitted to him of my own accord … I wasn’t scared into it and I wasn’t manipulated into it. Even now, I don’t feel controlled by God, I feel deeply loved by him. I know that’s hard for you to believe. Let it be myth to you … it is truth to me.

    Blessings …

  • 75. Thinking Ape  |  July 17, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    pj11 says,
    “(6) I guess we’ll have to disagree on the nature of ANE culture, but I think history and scholarship are on my side.
    (7) The Law has been rendered obsolete and that’s not just a Pauline concept.

    Now, are you ready to discuss the morality of the Bible as reflected in the apostle’s writings … or do you want to just rehash the argument about the OT?”

    I am sure that is how you like to make a conclusive argument, “I think history and scholarship are on my side”. It doesn’t really matter to me what you say you think – it is whether you can validate it with anything. I gave numerous examples why I do not agree with you, simply responding with a “nuh uh” isn’t good enough.

    Likewise, numerous scholars have shown that there were various ideas about who Jesus was right from the time of his death. Within fifty years from Jesus’ death there were varying ideas concerning his teachings and nature, with three major trajectories. Only one of these three, the only one that could have survived due to its inclusiveness, to render the law obsolete, despite what others believe Jesus actually said, was the Pauline line, which relied heavily on the Luke-Acts narrative and which would eventually become the Catholic church. Of course the Matthew/James trajectory, although popular, could not survive due to its exclusive nature, but several of their works were re-interpreted to fit the mainstream (not too many Ebionites around). I won’t even get into the proto-Gnostic Johannine gospel or Thomas since that trajectory was long wiped out.

    I must also remind you that I never once brought up the idea that Christians should use the OT as a moral base. I was only correcting specific things I found a problem with. As for the morality of the NT, I do not believe it is a uniform collection of works. I find much of what Paul is purported to have written offensive, but I believe that some of the “worst” things he wrote were obviously later redactions. This discussion, however, is extremely technical and might be better saved for another thread.

  • 76. bry0000000  |  July 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    “I disagree, bry, about good and evil being man-made constructs. Good and evil seem pretty self-evident to me … they don’t need a lot of explaining because I see them in the world each day. But I respect your right to stand on that position.”

    That’s a bit of a non-response, isn’t it? Of course you see them in the world each day. That has NOTHING to do with what their origins are.

    “In terms of “blaming,” I don’t have the luxury of shifting blame anywhere I want for my purposes.”

    Ah, but the beauty of a doctrine which has no stance or value in absolute truth affords you that luxury, and you are utilizing it quite well, whether you realize it (by originating that (as the originator of the theory) or not (by reciting someone else’s as your own).

    “Nobody controlled me, bry. I was an agnostic who found Christ and submitted to him of my own accord .”

    This is a bit of a straw man, but it may be my fault for not explaining my position enough. Of course a mythological God didn’t enter your head and force you to convert. But of your own natural accord? Clearly, you should be able to recognize that there are subtle man-made forces that strongly influence our decisions, minor or major, such as advertising.

    My main point is that when we grow up with the culture of Christianity strongly rooted in society, it is easy for people to accept it as a norm and a truth even though there is little logical standing for Christianity. You say you found it through your own accord. I disagree.

  • 77. bry0000000  |  July 17, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Also, pj11, this may help some:

    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/Nietzsche/genealogy1.htm

    (Notice at the end the passage by St. Augustine. What a Christian!)

    Also,

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

  • 78. bry0000000  |  July 17, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Sorry for the triple post, but I got Augustine and Aquinas backwards.

  • 79. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    TA said: “I gave numerous examples why I do not agree with you, simply responding with a “nuh uh” isn’t good enough.”

    Is that how you spell “nuh uh?” I’ve learned something here today! :-) Do you really want a reserach paper on the ANE posted here? I have sources … you have sources. Frankly, I’m too tired to pull out my old books and fight this battle. We’re not going to agree, so let’s just move on and spare the readers any more pain!

    TA said: “Within fifty years from Jesus’ death there were varying ideas concerning his teachings and nature, with three major trajectories.”

    What are your sources for this? (And I’m referring to ancient sources, not the Jesus Seminar meeting from last year).

    TA said: “I believe that some of the “worst” things he wrote were obviously later redactions.”

    To whom are these redactions “obvious?” And what are these “worst” things? Give me a brief sketch, please.

  • 80. pj11  |  July 17, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    bry said: “Of course you see them in the world each day. That has NOTHING to do with what their origins are.”

    Let’s make this practical … (1) when you see ordinary people killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad, is this “evil?” If so, what is the source of that evil? (2) when you see someone bring over a meal to a friend who’s suffered a tragic loss, is this “good?” If so, what is the source of that good? I’m genuinely interested in the atheist’s perspective on this.

    bry said: “Ah, but the beauty of a doctrine which has no stance or value in absolute truth affords you that luxury, and you are utilizing it quite well”

    Thank you … I will take that as a compliment. Do you hold to any absolute truth?

    bry said: “Clearly, you should be able to recognize that there are subtle man-made forces that strongly influence our decisions, minor or major, such as advertising.”

    Conspiracies everywhere … we have NO free choice … we’re all programmed … ?? Dude, I submitted to Christ after years of religious studies and recognizing that Christianity had the most coherent system … it wasn’t advertising or Big Brother that forced me against my will (subtle or not!)

    I enjoy your posts, bry. Thanks.

  • 81. julie-girl  |  July 18, 2007 at 1:03 am

    My post may seem completely off target with where the conversation has ended up, but the subject of the Purity Ball is interesting to me. While I was growing up, sex was either a shameful act or a beautiful and holy one depending on your timing and who was involved. Obviously, these extreme views of sex can be damaging and I won’t even go into the guilt that I endured thinking I was an evil person for experiencing normal reactions for a girl coming of age.

    I am hopeful when I hear of parents (religious or not) opening lines of communication with their children about sex. I agree that the current state of sex ed isn’t really working; but I don’t agree that teaching abstinance is realistic either. In my mind the best bet would be to present enough facts and information to the kids so they can make the right decision. If they choose abstinance, fabulous. If they choose sex, make sure they have the materials to make it safe.

    I was raised in a non-denominational Christian home and when I turned 13, my mom took me out to lunch to talk about saving my sexuality for my future husband alone. She told me about the mistakes she had made and how she wanted something better for me. Then she gave me a ring as a symbol that I would stay a virgin till marriage.

    As I grew up and became curious, I felt guilty for my questions about sex and my attempts to find answers. Any attempt at conversation with my mother reinforced my sense of guilt; I would never talk to my father about sex, much less pledge him my purity. Awkward!

    I chose to have sex outside of marriage after I de-converted. My family promptly cut off all ties to me, and though we have since reconciled, they still don’t approve of my life or my choices.

    The church, our schools, and the rest of society needs to approach sex differently. I agree with many other posts that religious events like the Ball, the Promise Ring, or whatever it is that is used, can come across as old-fashioned, unrealistic, and at times, a little creepy. Children are growing up and facing decisions about sex every day. They need a safe place to ask questions, gain information, and not be judged for their choices.

  • 82. Thinking Ape  |  July 18, 2007 at 1:37 am

    pj11 says, “Frankly, I’m too tired to pull out my old books and fight this battle. We’re not going to agree, so let’s just move on and spare the readers any more pain!”

    and thens says,

    “What are your sources for this? (And I’m referring to ancient sources, not the Jesus Seminar meeting from last year).”

    and then says,

    “To whom are these redactions “obvious?” And what are these “worst” things? Give me a brief sketch, please.”

    Apply the first to the latter two – its fairly common knowledge, see any of Ehrman’s scholarly (or mass market if you wish for easy reading) works for a comprehensive list of sources.

    “Obvious” – Pastoral Epistles. All three. Everything. Pauline tradition, not Pauline authorship. Again, technical but almost unanimous among religious scholars, even Christian ones.

  • 83. bry0000000  |  July 18, 2007 at 1:44 am

    pj11,

    Was that straw man argument intentional, or are you just infused with your Christianity to the point where you can no longer argue coherently? It has to be a result of your shortsightedness if you see the result of my argument as us having no free will. I think it is from that same short-sightedness that you automatically discount persuasive (and acknowledged) social forces such as group mentality (and advertising!) that influence decisions. You have free will, but society presents you with choices that aren’t necessarily portrayed in their true light.

    But don’t take it from me. Follow the link I gave you (not the movie, but watch the first quarter of that if you can; the rest of it isn’t great). I’m sure that will answer your questions.

    The other thing I’m curious about is this: Is it problematic to have no system of ethics rooted in truth? How about existential purpose? Why?

  • 84. pj11  |  July 18, 2007 at 2:25 am

    Come on, TA … “common knowledge?” “almost unanimous?” If I used those terms, you’d shred me in a heartbeat. Could it be that you’re only reading what you want to hear?

  • 85. pj11  |  July 18, 2007 at 2:35 am

    bry: You ignored my questions … and I really did want to hear the atheist perspective on good and evil and absolute truth. I’m not being sarcastic. For my edification, will you respond to my questions in post #80?

    Regarding my straw man argument … I think the subliminal voices at the mall caused me to write that last post. I’m so infused with Pauline theology that I’ve lost my coherency. Aaaaagghhhh! Hey, TA said I was humorless, so I’m trying! I get your point … there are all kinds of sociological forces which impinge on our decisions. So what forces pushed you to believe in nothing?

    Regarding your curiosity … you know where my ethics are rooted and you know how I define truth. So tell me about your ground for ethics and truth?

  • 86. Thinking Ape  |  July 18, 2007 at 2:54 am

    pj11, you certainly love to pick and choose what anyone says. REad for yourself. You obviously don’t care much for Robert Funk’s boys, I don’t blame you. But if you sincerely aren’t trying to be gadfly, check Erhman’s sources. and then check those sources, and then those – you know how to do research. When someone says “common knowledge”, it is simply that. It means that you could probably check the JBL and find support for it anywhere. It means you could check a university classroom and find it there. It means you could check any textbook, and see it there – even if it is dishonestly pushed aside and not dealt with at all by some fundamentalist apologist (i.e. Gordon Fee).

    I am finding myself surprisingly not astonished that these ideas are foreign to you. These are extremely elementary issues in contemporary biblical scholarship that have been dealt with extensively – it would be one thing if you disagreed with them, but quite another to claim to be some sort of apologist and not ever have heard of them.

  • 87. Loper  |  July 18, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    pj11–first, lemme say I enjoy all of your comments. You take as well as you give, but I gotta say I wonder as to why you press bry for some statement about where his ethics come from (post 85). You can’t suggest, seriously, that ethical behavior can only emanate from god-belief.

    Or can you?

  • 88. bry0000000  |  July 19, 2007 at 2:43 am

    pj11 says:

    “So what forces pushed you to believe in nothing?”

    I thought you would have tried just a little harder to avoid straw man arguments, but you waste no time in posting another one. What ‘forces’ caused me to believe in nothing? When did I ever say I believe in nothing? I believe that there is no god whatsoever, but I am a firm believer in the deterministic nature of humans and humanity. I reject the Christian model of legitimacy because I recognize it as illegitimate. In rejecting that, and all religion (on the basis that divine existence as of yet defies the ability to logically self-assert itself), I reject any sort of religious morality which includes any sort of religious morality that atheists smuggle into atheism. I very well could be wrong that no universal ethical system can exist outside the sphere of belief, but I am adamant about rejecting a system of ethic as a product of resentment OR as merely a desire to help others adhere to social norms.

    As to what forces of power led me to that assertion, I cite the Genealogical approach to the analysis of ethic which places a value on factual analysis and thus succumbs to the power that derives from the desire for discovery of what exists in the realm of truth. As to why I place value or desire in truth (and thus revealing the power structer that led me to succumb to it), call it humanistic determination, or perhaps a natural desire for truth intrinsic to us all.

  • 89. pj11  |  July 19, 2007 at 3:32 am

    Loper said: “I enjoy all of your comments. You take as well as you give”

    Hi, Loper! Thanks for the compliment … I’m doing the best I can against long odds.

    Loper also said: “You can’t suggest, seriously, that ethical behavior can only emanate from god-belief.”

    No, I’m not suggesting this at all. Truth is, I find bry to be particularly interesting and I’d like to learn more about his philosophical grounding. It’s for my personal edification so that I can dialogue with atheists more accurately.

  • 90. pj11  |  July 19, 2007 at 3:47 am

    bry – Thanks for your response. Sorry about the straw man arguments, but they do get a response … and I appreciate it.

    I’m glad you believe in some things. Sounds like you’re searching for truth and a system of ethics … excellent. Best of luck!

  • 91. A Thinking Man  |  August 17, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Fantastic posting Stellar1. Thanks.

  • 92. Ben  |  August 17, 2007 at 10:48 am

    These purity balls seem like such a good thing. It would seem that by going to one you give yourself a 90% chance of getting laid.

  • 93. Jim  |  August 19, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Stellar1,

    I can’t possibly read all of these comments. So I’ll just make a few regarding the original.

    First off, I think the name of the event is most unfortunate. I’m just saying.

    Secondly, I’ve been an evangelical Christian for most of my life, and have never ever heard of these events or practice. I wonder how prevalent they are. Maybe I’ll hear more about them if I have a daughter someday.

    One HUGE assumption I believe you’re making, to the detriment of your argument, is that this Purity Ball completely encompasses everything the parents are teaching this child about sex, and no further education or discussion takes place. You’re assuming this event takes place on its own, when it is just as likely that this occurs within the context of other communication regarding this important topic.

    I would assert that it is more likely this takes place within the context of life and other discussions that would help round out the perspective of both parents and their daughters.

  • 94. Thinking Ape  |  August 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Jim,

    One HUGE assumption I believe you’re making, to the detriment of your argument, is that this Purity Ball completely encompasses everything the parents are teaching this child about sex

    It may be a huge assumption, but it is quite fair. I went to a fairly small evangelical Bible college. I had many meaningful discussions with my fellow students concerning the issue of sex. The only real constant in their sexual education was that none had any significant parental education concerning the topic. Whether you think this is unfortunate or not, this is the truth: youth, Christian or not, do not learn about sex from their parents. Parents drop the ball either by their inability to communicate, their negligence, or by their complete irrelevance. The limit of my own sexual education from my parents was:

    Sex is a beautiful thing, but between a husband and wife and don’t do anything that may lead to it before you are ready.

    End of story. I later got grand analogies of the teenager and the Ferrari, but basically all things that said the same thing. The problem is that there is no room for discussion and it is NOT ON THE ONUS OF THE CHILD! The problem is that if their parents are so screwed up with their own sexual repression than what hopes do the kids have?

  • 95. Jim  |  August 19, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    ThinkingApe,

    Good point. Thank you for agreeing that it is a huge assumption to make.

    Since the Purity Balls (again, a most unfortunate name) seem to be a utilized event somewhere in the evangelical world, hopefully they can be persuaded to add some additional opportunities for education and the like. It sounds like it could help.

  • 96. Marc Nicolas  |  September 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Are you opposed to these purity balls? Do you think that it is unrealistic for a woman to plede her virginity at such a young age? Is it unheard of to vow to your father abstinence until marriage? If so, a new talk show in NY would like to hear your views on purity balls, please respond if you are interested to Marc.Nicolas@tyratv.com

  • 97. The de-Convert  |  October 22, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Did anyone ever respond to Marc? I wonder if they did their show on this subject.

  • 98. The de-Convert  |  September 3, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    What are your thoughts on the recent news item on Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter Bristol pregnancy? I find it sad that because her mom’s support of Abstinence education, this young lady probably did not feel the liberty to speak to her mom on this issue and now is pregnant at 17 with pending marriage plans. When will fundamental Christians realize that their teenagers will have sex and that it’s better to offer them education on responsibility, etc. vs. preaching a message that does not work.

    BTW, I also find it ironic that there are so many news stories on how the media needs to not focus on this story when in fact the very story on not focusing on the story is focusing on the story.

  • 99. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    BTW, I also find it ironic that there are so many news stories on how the media needs to not focus on this story when in fact the very story on not focusing on the story is focusing on the story.

    Soon this will cause a tear in the fabric of the media-space-time continuum, and “the media” will become an even more bizarre entity.

  • 100. Ubi Dubium  |  September 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I feel very sad for the young lady caught in the middle of this. Because her mother is an ideologue, she probably did not have the option of terminating the pregnancy, even if she had really wanted to. And although they say “she is marrying the father”, I have heard nothing about whether she actually wants to marry this boy, or whether she is just being pressured to “do the right thing”, which might turn out to be a tragic mistake. And now her difficult circumstances are thrust into public scrutiny. I wish this young lady well, and I hope that she will have the maturity to make good choices in life, instead of just bowing to the will of a fundie church. And I hope Palin pulls out of the race (for all our sakes), and spares her daughter any more of this.

  • 101. Ubi Dubium  |  September 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Snuggly:

    Soon this will cause a tear in the fabric of the media-space-time continuum, and “the media” will become an even more bizarre entity.

    Or, perhaps this has already happened.

  • 102. ordover  |  September 3, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    This would make an excellent topic for the forum, or Community Site.

    *POKE*

  • 103. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    What are your thoughts on the recent news item on Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter Bristol pregnancy?

    On this I stand solidly with Barack Obama,
    “I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off limits,” he said. “People’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

    A moment later he added, “You know, my mother had me when she was 18.”

  • 104. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    When will fundamental Christians realize that their teenagers will have sex

    What the %^* tablet of stone was this written on? I seem to have completely missed it. So did most of my friends. We all have teens that aren’t having sex. We must be doing everything all wrong, elsewise our teens would surely be boffing their minds out. Some of you with teen kids who are screwing around, tell me how we can fix this big error of ours.

    and that it’s better to offer them education on responsibility, etc. vs. preaching a message that does not work.

    Abstinence works 100% for preventing pregnancy and disease and jealous old lovers and ……. Unlike the ‘irresponsibility’ approach.

  • 105. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    she probably did not have the option of terminating the pregnancy

    Sure she did. The abortion clinics don’t ask questions or seek parental approval.

    And now her difficult circumstances are thrust into public scrutiny.

    Damned wrong to do. See Obama quote above.

    I hope that she will have the maturity to make good choices in life,

    So far she hasn’t.

    And I hope Palin pulls out of the race (for all our sakes),

    Again, see Obama quote.

  • 106. Obi  |  September 3, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Attempting to inhibit a completely natural biological function is so horrendously silly that it makes me laugh whenever I see a pr-abstinence and “pro-life” (although that usually goes hand-in-hand with support for the death penalty) fundamentalist Christian talking about how sex should only be between a married couple. Not only that, but they’re naive enough to believe that abstinence education will even do anything (hah), and thus don’t teach about condoms or contraceptives. It’s so funny seeing people stuck back in the Stone Age…

    As a teenager, I say safe, free sex for all.
    ;)

  • 107. Ubi Dubium  |  September 3, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Leo –
    Sure she would have had the legal option to terminate, if she was willing to sneak off to a clinic. But I can’t imagine she would have parents who would support her right to decide for herself.

    And the reason I hope that Palin pulls out of the race is not because of anything about her family. The media should leave that subject alone. The reason is that Palin’s candidacy is an embarassment due to her ideology and inexperience. It would just have the nice side effect of taking the media attention off of her daughter.

  • 108. ordover  |  September 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    We all have teens that aren’t having sex.

    That’s what my parents thought. They would have proudly said, “Our teen doesn’t have sex.” (Heck, they’d still say proudly that I “waited for marriage.”) But I had teenage sex alright, despite my promise ring and abstinence pledge. I just kept it from them. It was startlingly easy to do.

    Luckily my boyfriend had the wherewithal to buy some condoms.

    Christian kids get into trouble because they convince themselves that they can overpower their sexual urges with prayer and thoughts of Jesus. They aren’t prepared to deal with sex when they find out how powerful that drive is. They never have condoms around just in case, they never are prepared for that moment when their abstinence willpower gives out.

  • 109. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Palin’s candidacy is an embarassment due to her ideology and inexperience

    Why is her ideology embarrassing? And experience? She’s got about as much as Obama. Of course I think Obama’s a blithering idiot for the most part.

  • 110. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    orDover:

    I never thought prayer and thoughts of Jesus were going to help much, and will power gives out too often. I figured that letting the kids know of the possible consequences would go a lot further toward convincing them to stay away from situations where they might have opportunity.

    Oh and one other thing the wife and I have done all along. We DO NOT have out kids go to any of those damn, stupid, “Christian” sex talks. That includes purity balls, abstinence ed, films, talks by expert ‘X’, and so on. I think one of the reasons Christian parents have their kids go off the rails is that they expect the church to do all the morality teaching.

  • 111. Quester  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Attempting to inhibit a completely natural biological function is so horrendously silly that it makes me laugh whenever I see a pr-abstinence and “pro-life” (although that usually goes hand-in-hand with support for the death penalty) fundamentalist Christian talking about how sex should only be between a married couple

    I hope you manage to inhibit your natural biological functions enough that you avoid having sex with, sneezing on, or voiding your bowels upon, random passers-by. If not, I am glad I live in a different country than you.

    I didn’t have sex until I was married, and then only with my wife. I got married at age 28. It was easy. I just watched my friends brag about the sex they were having and how it didn’t affect their lives or their relationships, then later come crying to me that their lives and relationships were falling apart and they couldn’t figure out why.

    Sex is a choice, not a necessity, and self-control is occasionally useful when it comes to making choices.

  • 112. LeoPardus  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    orDover:

    BTW, your parents sound as if they are bit like mine. I.e., clueless. Mine were/are so busy looking through their rose-colored glasses that they managed to raise three kids who variously drank, did drugs, vandalized, robbed, screwed around, messed up their own love lives and families, and departed the faith largely because of my parents terrible example. [Note: All three of us didn’t do all those things and no one of us did them all.]

    My parents still think they did “All they could”.

  • 113. Ubi Dubium  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Quester:

    I didn’t have sex until I was married, and then only with my wife. I got married at age 28.

    You’re a rare exception. It’s great that you could do that, but I think that if we expect all teens to be able to live up to your example we’re going to be sadly disappointed. We need to teach responsibility and consequences, and give our teens as much information about how to protect themselves as possible. If the only message we give them is “don’t” then they will be ill-equipped for dealing with the reality of their raging hormones. I’d much rather my teen have a head full of information, a good dose of common sense, a prescription for the pill and a pocket full of condoms than any “purity ring”.

    Leo:

    Abstinence works 100% for preventing pregnancy …

    Well… don’t be too sure. According to the gospels, even “abstinence” failed once! :)

  • 114. Ubi Dubium  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Leo

    Why is her ideology embarrassing? And experience? She’s got about as much as Obama. Of course I think Obama’s a blithering idiot for the most part.

    Well, this thread is really about sex ed, not the rest of politics. But every political position I have seen her take is so far to the right that she makes McSame look like a flaming liberal. (And that’s coming from an admitted flaming liberal!) Her experience is being mayor of a town of 6000, and then 20 months as governor of a sparsely populated state. McCain used to argue that he was a better choice because experience was so important. He’s just totally undermined that argument.

    I think that any continuation of a political discussion should be moved to the forums. Open a thread, if you care to.

  • 115. Cooper  |  September 3, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I really like this McCain fellow.

    http://www.riflemanconnors.com/

  • 116. Obi  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Quester said, “I hope you manage to inhibit your natural biological functions enough that you avoid having sex with, sneezing on, or voiding your bowels upon, random passers-by. If not, I am glad I live in a different country than you.

    *sigh*

    Here’s to hoping that you actually know what I meant.

  • 117. john t.  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Leo

    You seem like a happy camper……………………..

  • 118. ordover  |  September 3, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    BTW, your parents sound as if they are bit like mine. I.e., clueless.

    I wouldn’t say they were clueless, but they were indeed idealistic. They trusted my Christian values would get me through. And who knows, maybe they would have if I would have stayed a Christian, although I doubt it. But I wasn’t a Christian at that point. I was 18 and in a serious relationship, so I made the decision that taking it “to the next level” was okay.

    My parents trusted me to make the right decision. I make the decision I thought was right, regardless of the fact that it went against their moral values.

    Interesting, when my younger sister reached dating age there was a breech of privacy and my mom found out that she had been messing around with her boyfriend. She asked me if she thought it would be a good idea to put her on birth control. I said yes, considering the fact that my sister had done things at 15 that I hadn’t done until I was nearly 18, and also considering the fact that she wasn’t likely to break up with her boyfriend any time soon. My mom debated it, and decided to “leave it in the hands of God” and trust that her Christian morals would prevail. Now that is something else, something coming near to willful ignorance. She knew my sister was having trouble “staying pure” and had already had a pregnancy scare, and she decided that instead of talking to her about it and taking preventative measures she would just hope that all of that “save sex for marriage” stuff would have an affect, that morals would trump biology.

  • 119. john t.  |  September 3, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Sex is a choice, not a necessity, and self-control is occasionally useful when it comes to making choices.(Quester)

    As far goes your self control, as far goes your freedom.

  • 120. Quester  |  September 3, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Dubium,

    We need to teach responsibility and consequences, and give our teens as much information about how to protect themselves as possible.

    I absolutely agree with that. Educate and inform all you can, just don’t throw your hands up and say, “teenagers will have sex, what can you do?” Educate them and teach them how to evaluate their choices. Sex is not inevitable, nor is it shameful. Neither are education and self-control. Healthy balances need to be found.

  • 121. Quester  |  September 3, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Obi,

    I was assuming you meant biological functions can not be consciously controlled. Did you mean something else?

  • 122. LeoPardus  |  September 4, 2008 at 11:04 am

    We need to teach responsibility and consequences

    Agreed. Unfortunately what I hear too much of is “be irresponsible and don’t worry about consequences”.

    give our teens as much information about how to protect themselves as possible. If the only message we give them is “don’t” then they will be ill-equipped for dealing with the reality

    Mucho agreed.

    don’t be too sure. According to the gospels, even “abstinence” failed once!

    LOL! Or maybe Mary just came up with the greatest cover story of all time.

  • 123. LeoPardus  |  September 4, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Ubi Dubium:

    I agree on leaving the politics to another place. If anyone wants to open a thread on the forum site, I may pipe in. I won’t bother opening a thread myself since I don’t care about converting anyone to my political position anymore that I care about converting anyone to my religious position.

    Still I can enjoy exchanging views and information.

  • 124. LeoPardus  |  September 4, 2008 at 11:22 am

    orDover:

    I hereby declare that your parents wear the same rose-colored glasses as mine.

    Sheesh! “I know my daughter is screwing around, but I’m SURE her Christian morals will kick in any time now.” Lawdy!

    Here’s one from my mom that shows her rose-colored idiocy. My sister left her husband to shack up with his best friend (Al), who left his wife to shack up with sis. They’d been “cheating” for some time. My mom’s idiotic worry….. “But Al isn’t even a Christian!”

  • 125. Joann  |  March 18, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I think it’s a bit sexist not to have Purity Balls for mothers and their sons. I mean, why should it be the woman’s responsibility alone to maintain her purity, while the guys think that, because they are male, they have it easy and can do whatever they want? And who said a young teenage girl wanted to get married? What if she decides she doesn’t need a husband or even a child to feel like a woman? In my case, I remained pure because of childhood sexual abuse. I’m 43 now, still single and proud of it, and I am very happy to say that no man will EVER control my body and make me feel guilty for the things that I choose to do with my body! I am my own person, and I will NEVER let a man touch me, control me, make me feel guilty, or tell me what to think, feel, say, or do. Women shouldn’t have to be held responsible for a man’s happiness (and vice versa), and neither should a woman feel guilty about or be punished for man’s sins.

  • 126. Eve's Apple  |  March 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    As a SINGLE person who has been on the frontlines of the abstinence wars, I agree with Joann. It is sexist–and unrealistic–to put all the burden on women yet say very little to men about their responsibilities and obligations. I think that it is being unfair to our young people and is setting up young women to fail. By telling young women that they can have their cake and eat it too (date and practice abstinence) the abstinence movement is perpetuating a cruel lie. Tell me, why is it that almost none of its leaders are single?

    Don’t get me wrong. I strongly support abstinence for teenagers. I feel that sexual activity ought to be delayed until one is capable of taking care of oneself. I also support sex education, giving teenagers the facts. I’d much rather see teens practicing safe sex than to get diseased or be trapped in a life of poverty because they were too busy FUCKING to learn useful life skills. No, not everyone is poor because they chose to be, but there are choices that do lead to poverty, and we need to stop pretending we don’t know what they are. If a teenager graduates from high school not knowing how to read or write coherently but knows how to use a condom that’s not exactly a screaming success in my book.

    But then, I am asexual and have never been subject to the so-called raging hormones that these kids supposedly have. So I guess I really don’t know what I am talking about.

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Attention Christian Readers

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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