by Scott Croft Before continuing with this column, please review the preamble included at the beginning of Scott's first article in this series, "Biblical Dating: An Introduction." * * * A promise is a promise.Last time I appeared on this site, I said that I would lay out my position on biblical dating and then turn it over to all of you to determine the rest of the column's topics by your questions. As many of you will know from the Boundless blog, The Line, the last piece generated many posts and comments, from the challenging to the supportive, the general to the specific.I’ll announce the numbers again after the phone lines open after our first break. Go to ancientfaith.com/ancientfaithtoday, and you’ll find the link to the chatroom on that page, and you can chat with others from around the world actually as you listen. We’ve let people who do not share the vision of Christ articulate a vision of human sexuality which is degrading, and we’ve been silent. First, when we talk about matters involving sex, we should do so with a certain sense of awe. Let’s talk about some juice.” What I really want them to do is to get into the thought-process with me of “What is the significance of my attraction to members of the other sex? ” Once we have a sense that when we’re dealing with the sexual potentiality, with sexual power, this is something of immense importance for our personal life and for the public, then we can make the affirmation that the significance of the act. It’s not that we think that sex is bad; it’s that we think that sex is so important and it’s so powerful that we don’t just treat it like a common thing like taking a piece of gum or something. As soon as they have the onset of sexual desire, they begin naturally, as they grow to love someone of the opposite sex, they want to be united to that person, and they begin to touch them and feel them, and the next thing you know, they’ve had intercourse together. And they have given their heart to someone, they’ve had a relationship, they’ve played married, and then the relationship has shattered; their heart has been broken. Josiah: You know, brother, I’m not worried; I’m just reserved. A good bishop and a good priest is someone who himself has heavily invested himself in being formed by Christ in the mind of the Church. I would simply say, right off the bat, that this priest is practicing what I would call malpractice. Let’s call compassionately everyone to the standard of Christ, and when we fall, let’s repent, but let’s not change the standard or we won’t be able to repent. Sergei Sveshnikov who wrote a book called , and he suggests that this ambivalence is due to the fact that most of the Orthodox Church teaching about human sexuality and marriage comes from our holy Fathers or elders, most of whom were ascetics and monastics, with obviously a clear bias towards celibacy. It means that you are body, soul, and mind to God at all times. Josiah: This is true, and she’s the model in principle for every Christian and every aspect of Christian life, because she is the model of every virtue. I would say this: that the best way to draw near to these young people that you’re working with is to let them enter your life. Alexander Elchaninov, a great Russian priest who published a famous book called in the middle of the 20th century, he describes the role of parents in that book, and he says the greatest gift that a father and a mother can give to their kids is an authentic interior life. The best way to model Christianity, to teach Christianity to your kids, and in this case to those who are your wards in Church school, is to actually live it, to let them see. We shouldn’t hold every Church Father to the standard of saying everything just the way we want. The Fathers can be relied on, and we can trust our lives to them. The real workers are our people who are getting ready for the next life, and they have pushed aside the dominance, the tyranny of raising children. But as you know, in our church before you get married, you’re encouraged to go to counseling, and they tell you to use natural family planning. I guess what I’m wondering is: what is the Orthodox Church’s position, do you think, on natural family planning? Natural family planning does not separate on principle pleasure and responsibility. Orthodox Christians believe that human life begins at [conception]. If, in fact, we involve doctors in the creation of life, we have stepped outside of the God-ordained means for doing that. I don’t want to put myself in the position of the legalities that I found myself in and this is a question that has been on my mind quite a bit, so I’m hoping you can answer my question. If they don’t, if they choose to go outside of the Church and get married by the state, they are not allowed to receive Communion until they bring that natural and now civil union into its Christian existence, into its Christian stature. We’re not saying it’s that, but it’s not Christian, and it must be, because these are Christian people. It’s not as though a jeweler walks over to a mountain, sticks in his hand, and pulls out this beautiful gold. For most of us in this life, that fire is parenting and marriage, learning to endure what we didn’t think we could endure. Steve Early is our moderator of the chatroom tonight. We appreciate your clicking “like”; it gives us visibility on your page. Before we say the moral preservation of society, it’s time for us to step up, make sure that we’re thoroughly educated in the teaching of the Church, because this is not something that just happens by osmosis. One of the messages that society is trying to push upon us today, secular society, is that sex is just a physiological reality. It’s like going to the bathroom, for goodness’s sake. If we approach sexual education in our churches the same way, we’re really giving consent to that false premise. So we should speak about sex with a certain awe, even with a certain flair, I might say, if I could be so bold. I love teasing my young people in my parish, and even my own kids—I love a lot of them—about this subject and letting them know… Then the chances that that relationship will succeed are about zero. What that means is that, for those persons, they have given their heart to someone, which is what sexual union is an expression of… The relationship ends, and then they go through the process of trying to mend their heart again. I would say first that the priests are spiritual physicians, and if we can draw the parallel, we all know in the practice of medicine that there are good doctors and bad doctors. This is spiritual malpractice, and it’s also just stupid on top of that. So my questions are these: What about this line of thinking? That is, celibates setting standards for sexuality and family in marital relations as Fr. Anything less than that is a compromise of virginity. The mother of God chose to live this way; so did John the Baptist, and our excellent monks and nuns do. But uniquely the monastics have found in the mother of God—and I should also say in St. They’ll learn repentance by your repentance; they’ll learn compassion by your compassion. Some of the Church Fathers say things that perhaps, as censured by other Fathers, were extreme. Jerome, for instance, was known for and was even censured by other Fathers who lived contemporaneously with him, for saying things against marriage which were very nearly Gnostic and heretical, and he had to make a self-correction. The fact that the Fathers are always encouraging and praising monasticism is not because they disdain marriage, because there is an organic connection between marriage and monasticism. Father, let’s take a call first, and then we’ll take a break. They still love their grandchildren, of course, but we can positively give up the earthly pleasures of sexual union when we know the . So me and my wife have been faithful to doing that since 2002 when we got married. But I kind of feel that, natural family planning, sometimes I feel like I’m using it as a means to an end. What natural family planning tells you is that if you don’t want to have a child, then you don’t sleep with your wife when she’s fertile. (Etc., etc.) fertilization, no use of [abortifacient] contraception. Josiah: Well, Kevin, I would question you immediately that you aren’t trying to be controversial, but I’m so glad you are being controversial. Josiah: This is not one of the contemporary issues like bio-technology, like address, but contraception’s old. As a matter of fact, more than the Church, every Christian tradition castigated artificial contraception until the 1930s. Josiah: Let me answer that as best as I can; God help me. This is why things like the child in her womb, which is a part of the maternal act: now you have that child essentially being born with two mothers, and this is why, so often, there is a legal challenge by the surrogate mother at the end of the gestation period, because she’s become attached to the child in her womb. Our arrangement with the state is an occasional one, meaning that throughout the history of the Church we’ve had a different relationship with the state. That gold becomes beautiful through heat, pressure, a kiln, sometimes lasers. The Lord constantly finds, puts us in positions where we need him, where we’ve reached the end of our rope, our energy is gone, and then we turn to him in our emptiness, and we say, “Lord, I can’t do this,” and he says, “I know. They were having fun, spending more and more time together, sharing more thoughts and feelings, and naturally feeling closer.They spent a lot of time together enjoying mutual interests like movies, sports, and spiritual activities. Physically, they were becoming more affectionate also. They enjoyed the closeness, never thinking they would get into trouble. They were both committed to their values of abstinence before marriage.
, and thank you for joining me on our first program of 2014. We’re streaming live, and we’ll be opening the lines and taking your live calls at about half-past the hour tonight, so we can establish a foundation first for tonight’s program, but that gives you an hour and a half to call in. The call-in number is 1-855-AF-RADIO, 1-855-237-2346, as the announcer mentioned. When we have so much wealth of God-inspired guidance to give to human beings, we’re very culpable for our silence. What we end up doing is developing a relationship that is a set-up for human misery. Young people find themselves attracted to a member of the opposite sex, they haven’t been taught really what to do with those feelings, how to cultivate them in the most helpful way, so they naturally follow these things out. They develop the interest; they start to court and date at an age far too young for their success. Josiah: It’s a bodily expression of having given something larger than the body. Nikodemus says, they go to sleep holding the canons of the Church; they sleep with a , and they get up with it, because they know that in the pages of these sacred texts is the guidance to how to heal people, just like a physician has to study diseases; you have to know how to treat them. Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. You’ll still hear the program through the telephone as you’re waiting to come on. As you know, because you read up on this and you’re a specialist in this area, there is one contemporary Orthodox writer, Fr. That doesn’t mean every monk is a shining, radiant example of celibacy. Basil the Great—this is not actually recorded in his writings, but St. Basil as saying that—“Though I have never known a woman, I am not a virgin.” This is what St. Because virginity is something much higher than a state of bodily existence. By the grace of God, what was yesterday will not be tomorrow. It’s the same with regards to these fundamental states of life: marriage and monastic life. It also means that , the universal witness of the Fathers on these issues is what we must look for. These are teachers of such magnitude that they really provide a foundation for a Christian ethic. Any contemporary theologian, especially not a bum like myself—no one has the right to judge the Church and say she’s out of balance. So this idea that somehow the Fathers slavishly imported Greek Hellenistic concepts, this is simply nonsense. Forgive me, I know this is my experience, but everywhere I go, I find this. I’ve been moving for I think about three years now I’ve been on I guess a journey to Orthodoxy or however it may be properly put. Let me tell you why I would bless natural family planning, and why I think the Church does so in counter-distinction to artificial contraception. The couple may want to consult a doctor to confirm that the form of birth control that they are considering is not abortifacient, producing abortions. This is the problem with the improper use of science. Let’s go ahead, though, first, and take a pre-recorded message call that came in from Cheryl. My question really is: Does one have to be married in the eyes of the state, have to have a state-sanctioned marriage license, in order for the Church to perform a marriage and to consider a couple married in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the Church? This is why the Church insists that her people get married under her care, under her pastoral care. That beautiful gold and that diamond doesn’t just appear. Many wanted to know, did I really mean no physical intimacy? Isn't it sex outside of marriage that Scripture explicitly prohibits?How can you say definitively that other things are wrong? Shouldn't our physical relationship "progress" as other aspects of our relationship deepen? I understand most physical stuff is wrong, but what about just kissing? With respect to pre-marital, romantically oriented kissing, we're clearly talking about an area about which reasonable believers can (and do) disagree.Beginning with innocent affection, they moved on from there.Jenny felt as if it had happened almost without her.