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erika
11-27-2006, 07:14 PM
For those of you who are offended by the notion of Christians having premarital sex, the statistics show they are doing it. My question is, does it have to come across pejoratively to be considered by Christian publishers? Must we paint premarital sex as destructive or could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction? Just wondering if such an idea would play in Christian markets.

Thanks!

Roger J Carlson
11-27-2006, 08:04 PM
For those of you who are offended by the notion of Christians having premarital sex, the statistics show they are doing it. My question is, does it have to come across pejoratively to be considered by Christian publishers? Must we paint premarital sex as destructive or could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction? Just wondering if such an idea would play in Christian markets.

Thanks!Christians commit every sin there is, so the statistics are largely irrelavant.

Exactly how do you want to challenge the classical Biblical interpretation? Do you intend to make pre-marital sex a "good thing" or an acceptable alternative? If so, I doubt that it would fly with Christian publishers.

On the other hand, you could probably have a protagonist who engages in pre-marital sex, but is of two minds about it, thus causing internal conflict. Though I think you'd have to resolve the conflict in terms of the classical Biblical interpretation in order to be published by a Christian publisher.

erika
11-27-2006, 08:19 PM
Thanks Roger. That's what I suspected and it answers my question. I was really looking at a character who is a sincere Christian and sleeps around, but is very ambivalent about it. In my opinion, it's too easy to have her morally conflicted. I thought it would be more interesting to have her just do it without feeling any guilt or shame. But again, didn't think that would play in the Christian market.

Scarlett_156
11-27-2006, 08:34 PM
In reading the New Testament, it appears that Jesus did not generally roll with a lot of married people. His mom was supposedly married but his stepdad is only around for the first part of the story and seems curiously absent until the end. None of his female friends seems to be married-- if they are it is not mentioned-- and the one who is mentioned the most "slept around" quite a bit, or so the story tells us. Jesus had considerably less tolerance for hypocrisy than he did for unmarriedness or promiscuity.

Perhaps if you could work a few of the above items into the narrative, whether your characters choose to have sex outside of wedlock or not, it might make the story and the ideas in the story a bit more compelling?

It's a fact that people who are really promiscuous generally regret it at least at some point in their lives, regardless of their religious beliefs. On the other hand, people who go through their whole life struggling against normal urges made intolerable by lack of sexual release often commit heinous sins and end up using their frustrations as an excuse.

If Jesus had not loved sinners, and if he had spent his whole life merely lecturing people for sleeping around, I doubt that we would know his name today.

Just my opinion, of course, and no offense intended.

Gravity
11-27-2006, 08:35 PM
For what it's worth, I think any Christian who "sleeps around" would be VERY morally conflicted about their actions; one of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to prick our consciences and direct us. And He never condones anything contrary to the Word. Any "Christian" who could engage in promiscuity without regret I'd say is a CINO. And God knows we have a slew of those around these days.

Oh yeah, I agree with Roger: no CBA house would touch a work featuring a protag with the above mindset. Bank on it.

Roger J Carlson
11-27-2006, 08:47 PM
If Jesus had not loved sinners, and if he had spent his whole life merely lecturing people for sleeping around, I doubt that we would know his name today. And yet he didn't hesitate to call it a sin either. In the story of the adulteress, in John 8, he didn't just say "Neither do I condemn you." He said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

erika
11-27-2006, 09:37 PM
For what it's worth, I think any Christian who "sleeps around" would be VERY morally conflicted about their actions; one of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to prick our consciences and direct us. And He never condones anything contrary to the Word. Any "Christian" who could engage in promiscuity without regret I'd say is a CINO. And God knows we have a slew of those around these days.

So by your logic, you can judge a Christian based on their outward actions (their fruit as it were)? In which case, how are you judging the fruit? Is a person who says, "Fags are going to hell" a sincere Christian or hateful biggot? You might say a misguided Christian. Very well, but if all Christians sin, then all Christians bear sinful fruit at times. How visible that "bad" fruit is seems to be your yardstick for gauging a person's faith.

So again, how do you define good and bad fruit? How does the Bible define it, as a matter solely of outward action or as contingent upon motive as well as deed? Jesus certainly seems concerned with motive which means you can't judge the deed without knowing the motive, so unless you're a mind reader, you can't always judge. Thus, I'd be careful about questioning another's faith. Unless of course, you're going over to Syria to preach the Gospel and knowingly martyr yourself. That would probably give you a little more credibility.

BruceJ
11-27-2006, 10:34 PM
The question of discerning fruit has several facets and can be discussed on more than one plane. Exchanges I've encountered have often devolved into shooting matches because of partial or poor clarification on what the marksmen's terms actually mean.

Discerning an individual's fruit necessarily involves outward action because that's what we see. Our actions reveal our motivations and are manifestations of what's in our hearts. The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" only travels so far. If I hold up a dictionary and ask you what it is, you'll probably say it's a dictionary and you'll be right unless I consciously choose to deceive you and glue the cover of a dictionary to an encyclopedia volume. Can we see what's in a person's heart? No, but you don't have to see into their heart if they're betraying what's there by their actions. In questionable circumstance they certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt, but there's still doubt.

Christians certainly sin ("Anyone who says he has no sin is a liar and the truth is not in him.")--take a look at Paul's dilemma in Rom. 7. I think a primary difference between Paul's self-confessed sin and the above character who is a promiscuous Christian (approaches 'oxymoronism' to me) is that Paul recognized his struggle as sin and characterized it as such. It doesn't appear this character does--he'd probably be more likely to march in the streets with protest signs to legitimize it. And a heart that is impervious to sin is not indwelt. A distinguishing mark seems to be whether this is a sin of continuity--a trait of a lifestyle--rather than an ad hoc failure.

How "bad" a sin (fruit) is loses importance because all sin separates us from God and therefore is ultimately bad (Jesus only mentions one "unforgivable sin"). However, if we confess our sin He is faithful to forgive us. Again, it doesn't sound like our character is confessing much.

Defining bad and good fruit can largely be cast in Gal. 5:19 and Gal. 5:22 (although this is not likely a comprehensive list). If we're being honest with ourselves in evaluating our own actions against these criteria (which is the first exercise), discerning the roots of another's action isn't really as tough as we sometimes make it out to be.

Just a couple thoughts on the topic...

Gravity
11-27-2006, 10:34 PM
Okay. Whatever. All I'm saying is, the CBA won't give your work a second look. The ABA is probably where you'd find a home with it. Good luck.

Nateskate
11-27-2006, 10:43 PM
The issue really isn't an issue. Paul addressed sexual immorality at the church at Corinth, so sexual promiscuity isn't a new issue. The underlying question seems more like, "How far can you stretch the bounds of Christianity and still call it Christianity?" So if exposing sin in the church is now novel, it once wasn't.

But looking at the question from the perspective of "hey everyone is doing it..." can it be that bad?- is sort of like drawing a line in the mud and trying to straddle it without falling in. An immature Christian might ask, "How far can I go -towards stretching the rules and still get into heaven?" A more mature Christian will realize that a person who asks that question, in reality, is already standing on a greeced bannana peel, a proverbial accident waiting to happen.

Jesus first teaching was not about rules, but about attitudes and values and priorities. It kind of seems like rules, but it deals with attitudes of the heart. "Blessed are the pure in heart..." There is a blessing attached to specific attitudes and a "Woe" attached to the wrong attitudes.

The question is pretty much saying, "My highest objective is not "Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", but how can I have my cake and eat it too? I want to know what I might get away with, without getting zapped. This thinking already assumes there is no such spiritual law as sowing and reaping. Hebrews 12 tells us that God chastens every one of his children - for our benefit. And it isn't pleasant.

The answer, "Everyone seems to be eating cake and getting away with it..." isn't the most spiritual argument.

erika
11-27-2006, 10:54 PM
Let me clarify for everyone. Originally, this was a question of book market's but something that Gravity wrote got to me. My issue now is this whole matter of judging faith based on outward action. How can you do that when that is precisely why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees?

Basically, what I'm hearing is that Christians sin, should feel guilt (conviction) for their sin. But wait, joy is also a fruit of the spirit. So I'm supposed to feel bad about being my naturally sinful self and rejoice in that self-loathing. Is that about right?

BruceJ
11-28-2006, 12:15 AM
Let me clarify for everyone. Originally, this was a question of book market's but something that Gravity wrote got to me. My issue now is this whole matter of judging faith based on outward action. How can you do that when that is precisely why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees?

Basically, what I'm hearing is that Christians sin, should feel guilt (conviction) for their sin. But wait, joy is also a fruit of the spirit. So I'm supposed to feel bad about being my naturally sinful self and rejoice in that self-loathing. Is that about right?

Erika,

I'm a bit confused, so forgive me if this is off the mark.

Regarding the first point, how else do you discern whether someone is a Christian other than by observing whether his/her actions align with Christian precepts? Why would a Christian's actions not align with Christian precepts? (1 John 1:5-10; 5:1-5, 18) "Judging" is a bit of trigger word in that it's often used in the sense of being judgmental, which Jesus did warn against ("Judge not lest ye be judged.") But that's a whole different connotation than judging as it relates to discernment. You have to discern things spiritual in order to live spiritually, and for the Christian this can't be done without the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-15). I don't remember seeing anything in Scripture where Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for "judging faith based on outward action." His condemnation of the Pharisees was for hypocrasy and legalism--for relying upon external show as a substitute for internal substance. Is that what you meant?

Your second paragraph is most puzzling--at least to me (maybe someone else has a better handle on it.) Your first sentence is true; when we sin we should recognize it and feel badly about it. That's what drives us to confess it and, hopefully, repent of it. We've grieved the Holy Spirit and that should grieve us. Joy is, indeed, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), but the round pegs need to be kept in the round holes. Yes, we should be watchful of our sinful selves (again, Rom. 7:15 with context) as we strive to be Christlike and avoid the pitfalls that our fallen nature often tends to lead us toward. But "rejoicing in self-loathing" is a curious conclusion to derive from this argument--or from Scriptural teaching. Biblical joy is derived from the certainty of the hope we have in Christ and the sanctification we undergo in becoming more like Him (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:3-12). Nowhere does the Bible advocate self-loathing (if I'm interpreting what you mean by that term correctly), let alone rejoicing in it.

Don't mean to come across harshly--I hope I haven't. Just kinda curious about the confusion over how we are to relate to sin vs. how we are to relate to Christ and our walk with and toward Him.

Nateskate
11-28-2006, 06:14 AM
Erika, I like you. I might as well say that in case my answers don't relflect that.

I'll make an observation about the way you phrase questions. It seems you are always standing on a double-edge- on one side you ask a really deep and meaningful question that needs to be asked, and on the other side is kind of a test. You phrase things like a complete curveball that sometimes sounds like more of a statement than a question - a declaration? Then you rephrase the question and it makes more sense.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for primarily one major reason. They didn't like mercy. "For God so loved...he gave..." His entire reason for coming to earth was to demonstrate God's mercy, and they were oppossed to the very concept, trying to establish righteousness based upon good works.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of Heaven is about attitudes, values and priorities, many that conflicted with the Pharisee mindset. They could avoid killing, but couldn't stop hating. Since Jesus equated 'hate' with murder, they were angry at him, because he made them feel guilty. All along they justified hating certain segments of society, and now he's saying, "Love your enemies..."

Jesus never negated the Law. He clarified it. He broke it down into two main parts that he called the "Weightier issues" - Mercy and Justice. "You tithe dill and mint, yet neglect the weightier issues...justice and mercy..."

James later clarifies this further, "mercy triumphs over justice..." meaning of the two, mercy was the better. (Something every Christian needs to learn) If we err, it should always be on the side of being too merciful.

The Pharisees kept placing stumbling blocks in front of mercy. So Jesus pressed the point - not by making it easier- but by making it harder for self-justification. "...if any man looks upon a woman to lust after her, he commits adultery in his heart..."

The point here was to show the self-righteous that they were just as much in need of mercy as everyone else.

Who never covets? Yet, we're told coveting is idolatry. Jesus was never justifying lust or hate, or coveting. Rather, Jesus was demonstrating why we needed a savior, and not just the people conventionally thought of as sinners, but religious people too.

The Pharisees were declaring a certain segment of society was "beyond mercy"- and called them "Sinners". Jesus was implying they needed to be saved from sin as much as the people they called sinners, an offensive thought to them.

Since "Mercy" was actually written into the Mosaic Law, Jesus kept baiting them to force them to see they were actually disobeying the Law. You can actually heal on the Sabbath as much as you could pull an animal out of the well on the Sabbath, without breaking the Law.

The issues you are talking about are very complex. And honestly, there is an answer, but far more complex than can be answered in less than a book.

We can't be flippant about our actions, weakness or whatever. For one, the laws of sowing and reaping are as indiscriminate as the laws of gravity. If we think we can get away with murder (going to the extremes with this to make a point) even if one gets to heaven, they reap all kinds of pain in this life- people won't trust them- people will look at them with scorn- they spend time in jail if they get caught and if not they spend life looking over their shoulders. With premarital sex, people get pregnant, people get diseases, people get hurt. Just from a common sense standpoint, wisdom should make us want to shoot far higher than playing spiritual russian rullette.(sp???)

Hebrews tells us to STRIVE to enter into peace. That sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. There is a "rest" in faith, but it doesn't come automatically.

If you look at the steps of growth outlined by Peter, "therefore...supliment your faith...with brotherly affection...with love..." Being a Christian is a process, not a steady state. We don't always know what is right to do, and then when we do, we go through the sometimes difficult process of "How in the world do I stop cursing...drinking...smoking...fill in the blank..."

...I'll stop here ...hands hurt

Point being, some of us really care and care enough to answer the toughest questions. I'm certain some of the people here will give less attitude in their answers, even if you just come out and bluntly say what's on your heart, no matter how difficult the question is. I think some people, myself included, aren't always sure what you are asking right off the bat. Then when you spell it out, I feel, "Why didn't I see where you were coming from?"

Nate




Let me clarify for everyone. Originally, this was a question of book market's but something that Gravity wrote got to me. My issue now is this whole matter of judging faith based on outward action. How can you do that when that is precisely why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees?

Basically, what I'm hearing is that Christians sin, should feel guilt (conviction) for their sin. But wait, joy is also a fruit of the spirit. So I'm supposed to feel bad about being my naturally sinful self and rejoice in that self-loathing. Is that about right?

Scarlett_156
11-28-2006, 06:51 AM
in John 8, he didn't just say "Neither do I condemn you." He said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

That's not a lecture, though. (He also said "go and sin no more" to sick people he had cured; the assumption I make about this is that we are all sinners to some degree...?)

Jesus's lectures were for those whom he considered truly sinful, i.e., the hypocrites. In the "woman married to multiple brothers" story he brushes aside the entire "whose wife is she in heaven?" question to point out that false quibblers over details jeopardize their immortal souls to a much greater extent than those who simply act, whether the act is right or wrong. He seemed to favor action, even erroneous action, over quibbling and bickering. (That's why I like the guy so much.)

Doubtless Christian readers and book-buyers would be interested in your subject as you present it-- given that it was well-written and otherwise interesting of course. The "Christian" publishers, however, would likely make some quibbling noises, lol! I would think this would tend to lead toward very wooden and predictable plots in Christian writing...?

Gravity
11-28-2006, 07:09 AM
Again. If a Christian is bound and determined to see how far he or she can push grace and still remain a candidate for heaven, there's not a man-jack on the planet that can stop them. The question still stands: if pleasing the Father is paramount, knowing that in pleasing Him our own joy is fulfilled, why would a Christian willingly want to continue doing something that hurts Him? And as collateral damage, hurts ourselves? I dunno. Maybe the orgasms are terrific, but can they be that terrific?

AnnieColleen
11-28-2006, 08:18 AM
Originally, this was a question of book market's but something that Gravity wrote got to me. My issue now is this whole matter of judging faith based on outward action.
Ok, I know the thread has taken a bit of a tangent here, but just thought I'd point out -- in fiction, the reader (and the author) generally knows more of a character's mind and heart than is possible to know in real life. If you want to put it that way, fiction allows something closer to a "God's eye view" of the characters.

If a character's actions and dispositions (promiscuity=action, without regret=disposition) are at odds with who/what the character is supposed to be (committed Christian), there had better be a plausible-to-the-reader reason in the story and a satisfying-to-the-reader resolution.

It's the same rule that applies across all fiction; unbelievable-to-the-reader generally equals losing the reader. Whether it's worth it, or what the desired readership is, is the author's choice, but those factors should be taken into account.

erika
11-28-2006, 08:54 AM
For all that's holy, I can't believe what I'm reading. Let me state this as clearly as I possibly can and if it offends, sorry.

My husband was raised Christian. He's the reason I go to Church and am a Christian now and we had plenty of sex before marriage. And I wasn't his first conquest (actually, I'm not sure who conquered who but that's another thread). And he will be the first one to tell you that he doesn't feel some deep shame about it. He is a caring and very loving man (obviously) and used to chastise me for saying GD and other such things when we were dating. You can allege that he's not a sincere Christian because he doesn't brood over his every sinful misstep. You can contend that he should've regretted our lustful beginnings, but he doesn't. And for another Christian to question his faith as a result is both inane and unBiblical. And here's why.

What does Jesus preach in the Sermon on the Mount? What is sin? Is it just hitting someone or is it harboring hatred for your fellow man? Is it banging some girl that you just met or fantasizing about her secretly while you lie next to your wife? Who has sinned? Jesus says all of the above which means that those little impure thoughts are still sins. But that's not the fruit you see, is it? No, the fruit is that person's fidelity to their wife, their addressing of their neighbor. If that fruit looks good, the person's loving God, right? They are faithful, right?

Case in point, after Bill Clinton's liason with Lewinsky got out, he was shown carrying a Bible on the White House lawn. Is this an example of a man's penitent faith or a not-so-clever con? Does it matter why he was carrying the Bible? According to Jesus, it matters to God why we tithe, why we pray out loud, why we abstain from work on the Sabbath. The why matters. And if motive matters yet we cannot possibly know another's true motivation, we cannot actually assess their sincerity or their faith.

Put another way, what does the Bible say is good fruit - helping the poor, orphans and widows? What if I donate money for a tax write-off? The fruit is still good, but what does such an action say about my faith?

And going further, how should we help the poor? Should we fund the government and encourage them to do it or rely on private charities? This is a political matter, one not covered by the Bible.

We are also told to love thy enemy so does that mean we should empty the prisons and pull our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? Again a political matter, but Christians are deeply divided over such issues. "You're not loving your enemy. You're killing him," some say. And yet Luther replies, "I'm not being a good neighbor if I watch others being killed and do nothing."

Since the dawn of Christianity, brilliant men have debated and divided over topics such as war/pacifism, works & grace and what really constitutes loving thy neighbor. So tell me, where's the clear roadmap? Do you really think you see the naked fruit or do you judge based solely on your own worldview and opinions.

There is a reason there are thousands of commentaries on the Bible and so many denominations. Because interpretations vary. So to those of you who take issue with my observations, I ask, are you alone right in your understanding of the Good Book? Do you grasp what St. Augustine did not?

Mac H.
11-28-2006, 10:39 AM
For what it's worth, I never figured out how modern Christians started to equate 'premarital sex' with 'adultery'.

They are clearly separate concepts - every modern translation (NIV etc) seem to understand that .. so why don't most modern Christians?

To quote one reference, which studied the marriage practises of Jesus' era quite extensively: "The patriarchal concern for family lines meant that adultery was limited to acts where there was the possibility of a married woman being impregnated by another man. What the man did by taking another wife, or concubine, or even a prostitute, was therefore not considered adulterous."

No matter how sexist or stupid the definition is by modern standards (the modern idea of adultery applies if EITHER of the parties are married) it simply doesn't respect the Bible's historical accuracy to suddenly redefine all references to 'adultery' to include 'premarital sex' ... even if it does fit the modern culture where many of us live.

We may want to have a prohibition on premaritial sex for many good and sensible reasons. But we can't rewrite the bible to include it .. even if there is a prohibition against a fairly similar activity.

A change is still a change.

In my mind, there are several possibilities:

1. Jesus didn't teach against premarital sex.
2. Jesus taught against premarital sex, but the writers of the Bible forgot to mention it.

I'm not sure that there are other possibilities. (Given that the culture of the time clearly understood 'adultery' as something different to 'premarital sex', a reference to adultery clearly isn't a reference to premarital sex)

There is no shame in Christians proudly having values that Jesus didn't teach. Many Christians believe in things like good hygiene, recycling, no premarital sex etc. But there's no need to rewrite the Bible to pretend that Jesus spoke on these subjects. Or to blame other Christians that hold other views.

Mac

Roger J Carlson
11-28-2006, 05:57 PM
We may want to have a prohibition on premaritial sex for many good and sensible reasons. But we can't rewrite the bible to include it .. even if there is a prohibition against a fairly similar activity.

A change is still a change.

In my mind, there are several possibilities:

1. Jesus didn't teach against premarital sex.
2. Jesus taught against premarital sex, but the writers of the Bible forgot to mention it.
Just a point of clarification. Jesus did teach against pre-marital sex. He just didn't call it that. It was called "fornication", which is a general term to describe sex outside of marriage.

Matthew 15:19-20 - For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man...

Also, Paul warned against fornication in Thessalonians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Romans, and Colossians. Luke warned against it in Acts.

I think there is ample Biblical evidence against pre-marital sex as well as extra-marital sex.

Roger J Carlson
11-28-2006, 06:04 PM
My husband was raised Christian. He's the reason I go to Church and am a Christian now and we had plenty of sex before marriage. And I wasn't his first conquest (actually, I'm not sure who conquered who but that's another thread). And he will be the first one to tell you that he doesn't feel some deep shame about it. He is a caring and very loving man (obviously) and used to chastise me for saying GD and other such things when we were dating. You can allege that he's not a sincere Christian because he doesn't brood over his every sinful misstep. You can contend that he should've regretted our lustful beginnings, but he doesn't. And for another Christian to question his faith as a result is both inane and unBiblical. And here's why.I don't think anyone here has said that you (or your character) should brood over past sins. But you specifically said your character is a "sincere Christian and sleeps around...without feeling any guilt or shame". I believe this is the point that several have questioned the sincerity of her Christianity.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to accept the forgiveness that God gives us. To continually brood over past sins is a sin itself. But we also have a responsibility to try to do better, knowing that we will often fail, but we continue to try nonetheless.

Nateskate
11-28-2006, 06:33 PM
Erika, the difficulty is separating statements from questions. You bring up good questions, but I think you're also making underlying statements about hypocracy, and at least what you see as inconsistency.

Do people sin- yeah. Should they feel horrible? The Bible speaks of repentance, which is different than remorse or regret. Repentance is changing direction, not wallowing in despair. Whatever it takes to get there, it speaks of a change in mind that leads to a change in actions. Some people grovel in anguish first, others do not, they just have this lightbulb experience and change course.

People that get caught in sin (presidents, ministers -whomever) may feel terrible that they now have to deal with the aftermath. That isn't repentance. Feeling bad about something may come from a really selfish place. But if they could go back, and knew they could get away with it again, if they would, then there was no real change of heart. They have remorse but not repentance. That is where hypocracy is.

Does someone have to feel terrible and horrible about their past sins? At times that is a sign of sincerity; but the more important issue is who is "lord". If we are lords, then we do what we want. If Christ is our Lord, then to a degree, we're not only thinking, "How does this make me feel?"

The issues expand from there, "How does this impact the other...did I harm them...How does this impact God...did it hurt God?" The Bible clearly tells us that we can "grieve" the Holy Spirit. That means he actually feels pain when we commit certain actions.

In David's repentance after Bathsheba, he said, "I have sinned against you" (Speaking of God) This was not only a sin between him and a woman. His actions impacted the region. He used his servants to fetch the woman. He used what he once called, "the armies of the ever living God" to kill her husband to cover up his sin. His sin defamed God's name in front of his enemies. Until David grasped the scope of his sins, he couldn't repent.

Everything is not only about us and what we feel. What of a president or minister who slept with 100 women or men. What of their spouces? What of their children? What lies did they tell? Who is now jaded? Who is now dealing with their own addictions set in motion by their selfish action?

The more spiritually sensitive a person becomes, the more aware they are of all the dominos set in motion by their selfish actions.

As for wars and other issues, this conversation could expand, but the issue is "What is the eternal weight of all that we say and do---and what is the eternal weight of all that we don't say or do out of selfishness."

If we look at this from a human perspective only, we may think, "Tough...so what!" But if we get a glimpse of this question from an eternal perspective, from God's perspective, then our little failings may impact other people's lives far more than we think.

The Bible says that there is life and death in the power of our words. What we fail to say, and the foolish things we do say, have an eternal impact. We impart hope or despair without knowing it, or fail to impart life because we are selfish and self-centered or care too much about what others think and not what God thinks.

My guess is that you have a sensitivity to hypocracy, which can be a good thing. You ask deep questions, sometimes phrased as an answer. But why did God give you this ability? How do you aim this gift? Obviously, if God shows you things it isn't to bring about futility. That isn't how God operates. But only God can show you this answer, and I think you need to find this answer.






For all that's holy, I can't believe what I'm reading. Let me state this as clearly as I possibly can and if it offends, sorry.

My husband was raised Christian. He's the reason I go to Church and am a Christian now and we had plenty of sex before marriage. And I wasn't his first conquest (actually, I'm not sure who conquered who but that's another thread). And he will be the first one to tell you that he doesn't feel some deep shame about it. He is a caring and very loving man (obviously) and used to chastise me for saying GD and other such things when we were dating. You can allege that he's not a sincere Christian because he doesn't brood over his every sinful misstep. You can contend that he should've regretted our lustful beginnings, but he doesn't. And for another Christian to question his faith as a result is both inane and unBiblical. And here's why.

What does Jesus preach in the Sermon on the Mount? What is sin? Is it just hitting someone or is it harboring hatred for your fellow man? Is it banging some girl that you just met or fantasizing about her secretly while you lie next to your wife? Who has sinned? Jesus says all of the above which means that those little impure thoughts are still sins. But that's not the fruit you see, is it? No, the fruit is that person's fidelity to their wife, their addressing of their neighbor. If that fruit looks good, the person's loving God, right? They are faithful, right?

Case in point, after Bill Clinton's liason with Lewinsky got out, he was shown carrying a Bible on the White House lawn. Is this an example of a man's penitent faith or a not-so-clever con? Does it matter why he was carrying the Bible? According to Jesus, it matters to God why we tithe, why we pray out loud, why we abstain from work on the Sabbath. The why matters. And if motive matters yet we cannot possibly know another's true motivation, we cannot actually assess their sincerity or their faith.

Put another way, what does the Bible say is good fruit - helping the poor, orphans and widows? What if I donate money for a tax write-off? The fruit is still good, but what does such an action say about my faith?

And going further, how should we help the poor? Should we fund the government and encourage them to do it or rely on private charities? This is a political matter, one not covered by the Bible.

We are also told to love thy enemy so does that mean we should empty the prisons and pull our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? Again a political matter, but Christians are deeply divided over such issues. "You're not loving your enemy. You're killing him," some say. And yet Luther replies, "I'm not being a good neighbor if I watch others being killed and do nothing."

Since the dawn of Christianity, brilliant men have debated and divided over topics such as war/pacifism, works & grace and what really constitutes loving thy neighbor. So tell me, where's the clear roadmap? Do you really think you see the naked fruit or do you judge based solely on your own worldview and opinions.

There is a reason there are thousands of commentaries on the Bible and so many denominations. Because interpretations vary. So to those of you who take issue with my observations, I ask, are you alone right in your understanding of the Good Book? Do you grasp what St. Augustine did not?

BruceJ
11-28-2006, 07:09 PM
For those of you who are offended by the notion of Christians having premarital sex, the statistics show they are doing it. My question is, does it have to come across pejoratively to be considered by Christian publishers? Must we paint premarital sex as destructive or could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction? Just wondering if such an idea would play in Christian markets.

Thanks!

Erika, you do ask good questions and I hope none of this is perceived as being an attack on you or your husband. I don't think anyone intends it as that--I certainly don't. However, both Roger and Nate are spot on.

As Roger noted, there is clear Biblical guidance on the matter of sexual impurity, which is inclusive of fornication, adultery, beastiality, pick your favorite vice. The reason I included your original question above in the quote is because of the phrase "...could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction?" Two thoughts on this: (1) there's a reason that certain creedal elements become "classical interpretation"; that is, they're derived from hundreds of years of intent scholarly examination by a collection of dedicated minds greater than mine--or any single mind--could ever hope to achieve. Does that make them infallible? No. Does it make them worthy of attentive, intellectually honest examination? Yes. They've stood the test of time and repeated challenges througout the centuries. Before we presume to challenge them, we need to make sure we understand them as fully as possible and respect them as the synergistic product of godly study, wisdom and prayer that they are, and; (2) with the clear Biblical stance on sexual activity in this particular case, we're not challenging "classical interpretation", we're challenging the Bible itself. We need to be careful with that. The fact that the medium is fiction is secondary.

Nate also raises a great point regarding the underlying motivation of the heart in taking a position on anything spiritual. Are we engaging in apologetics of personal behavior we don't want to let go of or rationalizing the same in our past, or are we genuinely seeking the truth on the topic--the truth that pleases God? Can we really envision premarital sex--given what the inspired Word says about it--as being pleasing to God? Can you picture Him smiling down on a scene of His children engaging extra-marital sex, pre- or otherwise?

All respect to your husband, who I'm sure is a wonderful person (no patronization intended, believe me), but appealing to a lack of contrition for previous actions by a Christian doesn't mean the actions must have been okay. It may mean the Christian has some growing up to do. I, too, was "raised Christian", but I didn't become a Christian until I was 19, just before I got married. If I had engaged in pre-marital sex with my intended, I would simply have been wrong in doing so. God doesn't change His standards based upon our desires or emotions, no matter how strong they are.

(Disclaimer: My apologies to Roger and/or Nate if I adopted their postings inappropriately to support my point.)

Gravity
11-28-2006, 07:53 PM
Bruce and Nate: you've both made the points I was trying to make, albeit with much more eloquence. Thanks. But I'll bet a box of donuts this topic isn't done yet...

erika
11-28-2006, 10:08 PM
Yall certainly don't have to worry about offending me, and as hard as this may be to believe, I really have no desire to offend or anger any of you.

But Nateskate's right about my being sensitive to hypocrisy. And it's such a common human condition, one we all share in from time to time. And I'm also not advocating premarital sex, just pointing out that for some people, it's not an issue. Whether these people simply disregard the Biblical admonition against it or just figure that grace covers all, I don't know. Probably depends.

I think it boils down to logic. Are God's rules arbitrary and therefore, often illogical? If yes, then at some point we have to choose between logic and blind faith. But then, reason allows us to come to an understanding of the Almighty in the first place and it is also the tool we use to interpret and understand the Bible. To think that we don't intellectualize the verses is ludicrous. Every single one us uses reason to discern the meaning of the parable, the true intent of the passage. At what point do we abandon that reason? At what point do we toss it angrily aside, as though it betrayed us all along?

I am way off topic here which is annoying, but I get so spun up about Christian dogmatics sometimes. Because dogma is people asserting and how can you make assertions about the unseen, unkowable God? Either you understand His ways or you don't. There really is no in-between. If you don't grasp the Bible completely, you're only grasping nonsensical pieces of an indiscernable puzzle, i.e. nothing. And if "His ways are not our ways", if we cannot know the ways of God, Bible study is pointless and theology a joke. But none of us really believe that. We search for answers because the answers are out there calling to us.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't necesarily disagree with any of you, but I also don't believe God is arbitrary. Thus, where logic and the Bible butt heads, I reexamine the Biblical interpretation because there can be no conflict between the two tools God employs to reveal Himself to us. You may disregard logic, but let's face it, you only do that sparingly because reason gets you through the day and leads you to Church.

All this deification of logic from a woman. Who would've thought? Anyway, that will probably explain both my questions, my thoughts and my writing issues. I really should stay away from the CBA market, yet I am drawn to it. Now that's illogical.

Nateskate
11-28-2006, 10:30 PM
Erika, one of the confusing things about Christianity is that being a Christian doesn't mean we will always see eye to eye with God. - I didn't become a Christian for that reason, I simply went through a process of completely thinking there was no truth in Christianity, to almost becoming a Jew (not eating pork and the whole thing) Then through the Old Testament I came to believe that Jesus was the Christ- the Messiah, and couldn't imagine it could be anyone else. But even when I came to believe in God, and Christ, I for one wrestled with God about stuff. There's a part of our nature that believes we know better how to run the Universe.

Peter tried telling Jesus the Cross was a bad idea and tried to convince him to just be a king. Now, Christ said, "Get behind me Satan (which means adversary)" Spiritual Peter thought he knew better than Christ, but that didn't mean he was right.

And later, when Jesus gave a hard saying, some people walked away, and Jesus said to Peter- and the rest- "Will you leave me too?" Peter said something profound. He didn't say- I agree with all you say, and love all you say- he said pretty much, "you have the words of life, where else are we going to go?"

In a sense he might have said, "Well, you're sometimes rather hard to follow, but I get the fact this is about eternal life, and I'm not going to risk throwing it away simply because I don't like some things you say."

By the way, whenever I wrestled with God, he always won.



Yall certainly don't have to worry about offending me, and as hard as this may be to believe, I really have no desire to offend or anger any of you.

But Nateskate's right about my being sensitive to hypocrisy. And it's such a common human condition, one we all share in from time to time. And I'm also not advocating premarital sex, just pointing out that for some people, it's not an issue. Whether these people simply disregard the Biblical admonition against it or just figure that grace covers all, I don't know. Probably depends.

I think it boils down to logic. Are God's rules arbitrary and therefore, often illogical? If yes, then at some point we have to choose between logic and blind faith. But then, reason allows us to come to an understanding of the Almighty in the first place and it is also the tool we use to interpret and understand the Bible. To think that we don't intellectualize the verses is ludicrous. Every single one us uses reason to discern the meaning of the parable, the true intent of the passage. At what point do we abandon that reason? At what point do we toss it angrily aside, as though it betrayed us all along?

I am way off topic here which is annoying, but I get so spun up about Christian dogmatics sometimes. Because dogma is people asserting and how can you make assertions about the unseen, unkowable God? Either you understand His ways or you don't. There really is no in-between. If you don't grasp the Bible completely, you're only grasping nonsensical pieces of an indiscernable puzzle, i.e. nothing. And if "His ways are not our ways", if we cannot know the ways of God, Bible study is pointless and theology a joke. But none of us really believe that. We search for answers because the answers are out there calling to us.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't necesarily disagree with any of you, but I also don't believe God is arbitrary. Thus, where logic and the Bible butt heads, I reexamine the Biblical interpretation because there can be no conflict between the two tools God employs to reveal Himself to us. You may disregard logic, but let's face it, you only do that sparingly because reason gets you through the day and leads you to Church.

All this deification of logic from a woman. Who would've thought? Anyway, that will probably explain both my questions, my thoughts and my writing issues. I really should stay away from the CBA market, yet I am drawn to it. Now that's illogical.

Mac H.
11-29-2006, 01:24 PM
Just a point of clarification. Jesus did teach against pre-marital sex. He just didn't call it that. It was called "fornication", which is a general term to describe sex outside of marriage. That's the odd thing.

For a start, Jesus didn't call it the English word 'fornication' - which by the 19th Century had included quite a bit. We don't even know the Hebrew word he used. All we know is that the earliest Greek Translation used the phrase 'pornea'.

What did 'pornea' mean in the 1st Century AD? (Assuming he used a Hebrew equivalent?) Well, depends who you ask.
Basically it seems to be variations of prostitution, adultery, incest and 'unnatural acts'.

The bizarre thing, however, is to see the logic people use to decide how to translate it. Many Biblical scholars talk about the 'Biblical usage' of words, as if they believe that the word has one meaning when used in the Bible, but quite another meaning when used in other references around the same period. If you don't believe me, google the phrase, and see the discussions on how to translate it. Most simply talk about the handful of times it is used in the Bible ... and don't make a single reference to any other source around the period !!!!

For example, Demosthenes used the word in some of his speeches around 330 BC. In that context, we translate the word simply as 'unnatural offences'. (Yeah, I know I'm a few Centuries out. It's the first reference I found)

I'll look into how 'pornea' was used around the time.

Mac

L.Jones
11-29-2006, 04:41 PM
Erika, you certain ask provacative questions. That's a good thing. It's made an interesting discussion.

Pragmatist that I am, would like to address the writing side of this, not the underlying moral issues.

You, like many, many authors, seem to wish to bend the medium to fit your work without regard for the realities of the marketplace in which that work must thrive.

"CBA" houses will not deal with this issue in a graphic way because they do not want to risk losing their niche demographic. A single book, a single scene in a book, perhaps even a single sentence in a book, can cause enough of an uproar in their readership and among booksellers to put into question all of their books. That's not a business risk they will want to take to satisfy your personal crusade or creative bent.


There is also a question of ethical responsibility for these publishers and they chose not to glorify certain choices because they do not want to cause anyone else to fall by making that choice seem too attractive. This is why when one has a divorced character in a book, for example, its not one of those "we just grew apart" divorces and the causes are sometimes explored as part of the characterization. The 'why' a character has done what they have done adds depth and motivation to that character. They do not have to have angst over it endlessly but, as in all fiction, they have to be self-aware of their choices.

So, the solution to your issue, it seems is to consider that your writing might better find a place with a secular publisher.
Or consider a non-fiction exploration of the subject matter.

annie jones (Sisterhood of the Queen Mamas - "Engaging... Laugh out loud funny" -Publisher's Weekly. Out now!)

Mac H.
11-29-2006, 04:54 PM
For example, Demosthenes used the word in some of his speeches around 330 BC. In that context, we translate the word simply as 'unnatural offences'. (Yeah, I know I'm a few Centuries out. It's the first reference I found)

I'll look into how 'pornea' was used around the time.Hmm..

The only decent review I've found so far is here:

http://www.metalog.org/files/malina.html

Excerpt below:
http://www.metalog.org/files/malina_8.gif

Yes, I'm cheating by including an image of the conclusion, rather than the logic, but follow the link to see the whole argument ...

I'll see what else I can find on the subject.

Most of what I've read has the maddening habit of simply debating 20th century dictionary definitions of the English words !

Mac
(PS: After reading the article, I'm reminded of a Moody Press book from 1940s Middle America on Basic Christianity. It uses the 'pornea' prohibition against mixed marriages to point out why it is morally wrong for Whites to marry Negroes. It seems that each generation simply interpretes the Bible to justify their own culture)

Roger J Carlson
11-29-2006, 05:29 PM
It seems that each generation simply interpretes the Bible to justify their own culture Perhaps like the current generation that wants to simply wish away uncomfortable truths?

Never mind. I won't debate you. I don't believe that scripture can only be discussed in terms of the original language, so we don't have any common ground. It would only be a battle of the sources, which is fruitless.

BruceJ
11-29-2006, 06:34 PM
I don't believe that scripture can only be discussed in terms of the original language, so we don't have any common ground.

Roger's right. Linguistics are a valuable tool in hemeneutics, but they're only one tool. Linguistical analysis involves a holistic approach that exceeds the parameters of the common 'word study' that has become so popular in the last century. Cotext, context, the writer's background, the recipient's background, the issue being addressed, the challenge of the hapax legomena--these are all part of the analytical linguistic effort and they need to be applied constantly and consistently. It's a rabbit easily chased but rarely caught to everyone's satisfaction.

Try to discern the meaning of words? Of course. Got to. But the exercise too often remains down in the hermeneutical weedbed and fails to rise to the proper level of application that delivers truth. The question is, what is the thread of consistency through Scripture that deals with sexual immorality--or better yet, sexual purity--and how does it genuinely relate to the topic of premarital sex? Avoiding that question is what often lands us down in the weeds engaging in academic exercises in lexical semantics.

Mac H.
11-30-2006, 02:49 AM
I don't believe that scripture can only be discussed in terms of the original language, so we don't have any common ground.You are right, I'm afraid. I've always figured that people who follow Jesus' teachings should look to find out what Jesus' teachings were. I've never understood the idea that others translating the words would somehow imbue the new words with some power so that the translation becomes 'truth' even if faulty.


Roger's right. Linguistics are a valuable tool in hemeneutics, but they're only one tool. Linguistical analysis involves a holistic approach that exceeds the parameters of the common 'word study' that has become so popular in the last century. Cotext, context, the writer's background, the recipient's background, the issue being addressed, the challenge of the hapax legomena--these are all part of the analytical linguistic effort and they need to be applied constantly and consistently. It's a rabbit easily chased but rarely caught to everyone's satisfaction.

Try to discern the meaning of words? Of course. Got to. But the exercise too often remains down in the hermeneutical weedbed and fails to rise to the proper level of application that delivers truth. The question is, what is the thread of consistency through Scripture that deals with sexual immorality--or better yet, sexual purity--and how does it genuinely relate to the topic of premarital sex? Avoiding that question is what often lands us down in the weeds engaging in academic exercises in lexical semantics.Exactly. Looking at the approach in the Old Testament / The Torah / etc is vital. So far:

1. Looking at the word itself doesn't support the idea that Jesus taught against it. (Only one tool, I know)

2. Looking at the 'thread of consistency' in the traditions of the time, the Old Testament/Torah etc .. I still can't see support for the idea that premarital sex is abhorrent. I can see why people looking for 'the thread of consistency' in the Bible can claim that racial mingling is abhorrent ... but not that sex under those circumstances is.

I can see why it is a principle that modern Christians have .. like good hygiene & supporting recycling it makes good sense. But I can't see that the Bible really argues it.

I agree, however, that it doesn't make much difference. Things that Jesus said absolutely clearly get ignored by almost every Christian on earth. (eg: "If someone asks for your coat, give it to them") People instantly rush in and explain that Jesus didn't really mean that, and you have to ignore the teachings and instead look at the greater good, and if the person is deserving etc.

They point out that if Christians really did that, they'd end up dying in poverty without any worldly possessions. Just because Jesus lived that way doesn't mean modern followers should.

Mac

BruceJ
11-30-2006, 08:18 PM
Good points back atcha, Mac! :)

Let's try a different approach. I alluded to it in my last post. Let's look at the question from the positive side of sexual purity vs. the negative side of sexual immorality. Would any of our answers change? What does the Bible teach on sexual purity (honest exegesis, now)? Can we genuinely describe Erika's character--which was the original question, I think--as adhering to the Biblical prescription of being sexually pure? If so, I guess her question is answered: apologetics (fictional or otherwise) for sleeping around as a Christian are apparently okay. If not, why try to legitimize it (fictionally or otherwise)? Remember, the original question dealt with challenging classical Biblical interpretation. That puts it into a realm beyond just being a story, because there's clearly an agenda involved.

Whatchy'all think?

Ralyks
12-12-2006, 09:51 PM
To the original question--no, no Christian publisher would accept such a character.

To the ensuing debate--This discussion of whether fornication is permissible to the Christian and what the Greek word means is interesting enough, but I will say to it what I say to every similar such question. Regardless of whether having extramarital sex is wrong or not, NOT having extramarital sex cannot possibly be wrong. So why not at least try to do the thing that cannot possibly be wrong rather than the thing that might be wrong? That which is right requires no real defense. No one ever feels the need to justify themselves for giving money to charity. "It was okay for me to give that $100 because the Bible says its okay to give money to poor people..." No Christian ever had to morally justify to himself why he waited until marriage. "Really, it's okay that I saved sex for marriage, because that part where the Samaritan woman fornicated wasn't normative for me..."

That said, I will nevertheless prolong the debate.

I believe the Old Testament punishment for fornication was marriage. :)

I jest, but, in some sense, like it or not, sex = marriage. If you have sex with someone, you have become one flesh. This is the mystery of sex. One's choice of sex partner should be taken no less seriously than one's choice of a marriage partner.

The reason this is an issue for Christians today is that we no longer get married, on average, at 17, 18, 19. The average age of marriage in the U.S. is well over 24. It's very, very difficult to resist sexual urges for that long. The society we live in is not the society Jesus lived in or the Old Testament prophets lived in. Those people did not date. At all. "Pre-marital sex", when it occurred, was most often rape or prostitution. Our world has changed. So we attempt to re-work the rules a bit to fit it better.

I don't doubt fornication is a sin. Sex is holy and to treat holy things casually is disrespectful to God. Anything that fails to measure up to the ideal is a sin. But let us recognize how much more difficult it is to obtain that ideal in our modern world than it was in Christ's time. I do regret that so many Christians seem to focus on fornication as the sin while failing to recognize the very real difficulty of having no sex outside of marriage in a society that delays marriage. And, even if we do agree that fornication is a sin, we still have to define fornication. What can a dating couple do? What can they not do? How can they touch? How can they not touch? How far can they go? Where's the line? Who sets the line? Obviously there is no specific line in the Bible. But we date in this society. We don't get betrothed. It is a morally complex question that requires struggle.

BruceJ
12-13-2006, 05:10 AM
To the original question--no, no Christian publisher would accept such a character.

To the ensuing debate--This discussion of whether fornication is permissible to the Christian and what the Greek word means is interesting enough, but I will say to it what I say to every similar such question. Regardless of whether having extramarital sex is wrong or not, NOT having extramarital sex cannot possibly be wrong. So why not at least try to do the thing that cannot possibly be wrong rather than the thing that might be wrong? That which is right requires no real defense. No one ever feels the need to justify themselves for giving money to charity. "It was okay for me to give that $100 because the Bible says its okay to give money to poor people..." No Christian ever had to morally justify to himself why he waited until marriage. "Really, it's okay that I saved sex for marriage, because that part where the Samaritan woman fornicated wasn't normative for me..."

That said, I will nevertheless prolong the debate.

I believe the Old Testament punishment for fornication was marriage. :)

I jest, but, in some sense, like it or not, sex = marriage. If you have sex with someone, you have become one flesh. This is the mystery of sex. One's choice of sex partner should be taken no less seriously than one's choice of a marriage partner.

The reason this is an issue for Christians today is that we no longer get married, on average, at 17, 18, 19. The average age of marriage in the U.S. is well over 24. It's very, very difficult to resist sexual urges for that long. The society we live in is not the society Jesus lived in or the Old Testament prophets lived in. Those people did not date. At all. "Pre-marital sex", when it occurred, was most often rape or prostitution. Our world has changed. So we attempt to re-work the rules a bit to fit it better.

I don't doubt fornication is a sin. Sex is holy and to treat holy things casually is disrespectful to God. Anything that fails to measure up to the ideal is a sin. But let us recognize how much more difficult it is to obtain that ideal in our modern world than it was in Christ's time. I do regret that so many Christians seem to focus on fornication as the sin while failing to recognize the very real difficulty of having no sex outside of marriage in a society that delays marriage. And, even if we do agree that fornication is a sin, we still have to define fornication. What can a dating couple do? What can they not do? How can they touch? How can they not touch? How far can they go? Where's the line? Who sets the line? Obviously there is no specific line in the Bible. But we date in this society. We don't get betrothed. It is a morally complex question that requires struggle.

Well written, sky, especially your second paragraph..and your fourth :) (this coming from one who's been blissfully married for 34 years...I still think it's clever!)

Also, unfortunately, your sixth paragraph is also true. We do live in an age that's different and waiting that long is tough--but God's standard does not change with our societal evolution. Truth doesn't change, merely the circumstances in which we apply it. (Not saying at all that you implied this, just commenting). There is a movement (witness Josh Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye) that is returning to the notion of courting instead of casual dating. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Good insight and glad you weighed in. Thanks.

Nateskate
12-13-2006, 05:27 AM
You are right, I'm afraid. I've always figured that people who follow Jesus' teachings should look to find out what Jesus' teachings were. I've never understood the idea that others translating the words would somehow imbue the new words with some power so that the translation becomes 'truth' even if faulty.

Exactly. Looking at the approach in the Old Testament / The Torah / etc is vital. So far:

1. Looking at the word itself doesn't support the idea that Jesus taught against it. (Only one tool, I know)

2. Looking at the 'thread of consistency' in the traditions of the time, the Old Testament/Torah etc .. I still can't see support for the idea that premarital sex is abhorrent. I can see why people looking for 'the thread of consistency' in the Bible can claim that racial mingling is abhorrent ... but not that sex under those circumstances is.

I can see why it is a principle that modern Christians have .. like good hygiene & supporting recycling it makes good sense. But I can't see that the Bible really argues it.

I agree, however, that it doesn't make much difference. Things that Jesus said absolutely clearly get ignored by almost every Christian on earth. (eg: "If someone asks for your coat, give it to them") People instantly rush in and explain that Jesus didn't really mean that, and you have to ignore the teachings and instead look at the greater good, and if the person is deserving etc.

They point out that if Christians really did that, they'd end up dying in poverty without any worldly possessions. Just because Jesus lived that way doesn't mean modern followers should.

Mac

Mac, part of what you say is right on the mark. "I've always figured that people who follow Jesus' teachings should look to find out what Jesus' teachings were. ...Things that Jesus said absolutely clearly get ignored by almost every Christian on earth."

Perhaps I wouldn't say they were ignored by every Christian on Earth. It just takes time to find the ones that don't ignor them; but then who is motivated to a) Be them? B) Find them? I know plenty who take these things seriously, but I've also done these things.

You still miss the point. The point isn't giving your coat and dying of frostbite. The point is acting in love and trusting God. Jesus said that if we had two coats, to give away the one. He did not command giving away both. But he also didn't say we couldn't.

Jesus said to Peter, "Do you love me more than these..." speaking of the other disciples. And then he told Peter that love would require a sacrificial act- to also lay down his life for others.

Jesus said that when Mary poured out her costly perfume, that she loved him more than the others watching on, those that judged her.

So, Jesus makes it clear, some can choose to love him more, and obviously, those that did will make the greater sacrifices.

As far as the topic of sexuality, when did Jesus ever ask any one of us to do something reasonable? He asked us to do something beyond reason, and that is to make love our highest aim. And he made love of God, then love of our neighbor as ourselves, secondary.

If love of God is our aim, then reason is out the window. Or I should say more clearly, that our reason is modified by "Thy kingdom come, and they will be done on EARTH as it is in heaven.

The entire world is hung up on sex. In order to understand sex, it may be a powerful drive, but life is about love. Everything else, sex included has to be seen in that context. Now, place love of God before "self", and unless you have the gift of celebacy, life is frustrating, period, no matter how you define relationships...etc.

Paul pretty much said he chose a celibate life, but that only those with the gift had any say in choosing celibacy. Jesus said pretty much the same thing. But then Paul said those who had the choice, and chose the second option, would have more troubles in this life, less freedom, not more.

I'll cut straight to the chase, since this is really about a "Christian" or "Christ's" perspective. Jesus focus was not on this world, but heaven, not focused on pleasures of this world, but the will of God. And ultimately he redefined everything in the sense of making "this world and the treasures of this world" secondary or even trivial compared to eternity. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfiet his soul..."

Well, lets fill in the blank. All the money. All the fame. All the sex with as many and as often as can be. All the stages, and accolades and applause, and all this world can give us, can't compare to what God wants to give us forever. So, what does it profit us if we can have everything we could imagine we'd want, all the time, but missed out on what was always far more important?

So, when Jesus speaks, he's always putting things in a context. He's never saying flat out, "Have a terribly boring and stodgy life..." Jesus came to give us a full life, and life more abundantly.

But to get what he has, he asks we give what we have.

So, yes, I've given away coats and money and time, and done all kinds of crazy things out of love. I've made a fool of myself and asked rich people to give poor destitute cancer patients vacations. I've asked them to fix up the houses of paraplegics and watched a multi-millionaire crawling around and fixing legs on broken tables. I've freely gone into prisons, mental hospitals, and hospital rooms, and held people with contagious diseases.

Now in all of these things, I've never felt like I wasted my life and threw it away on the kingdom of God. Laughs, if anything, God has constantly blessed me beyond all I could possibly deserve. And the longer I live on this earth, the more I realize Jesus was absolutely correct. The treasures on the otherside make what's here pale in comparrison.

But as to your thought on giving away coats and winding up destitute. Honeslty, love would take that risk. Sure, if it was between me being cold and someone I loved being cold, I'd absolutely want to make that trade.

Still, one day when I was looking at all that I had done; and wondering if I should have invested here or there, because I am not rich by any means, I was at that crossroads looking at my life and wondering if I'd gone this way or that. But the moment I was asking that, I was standing on a friend's 125 acre horsefarm, one that he told me I could use anytime I wanted. And I remembered staying at on a 6000 acre retreat, another place that another friend said I could use whenever I wanted.

The point was, I had very little to my name, and still do if you added up my net worth, I might look like a failure, like I wasted my life. But the moment you look at all the gifts God had given me, the friends, the opportunities, I'm wealthier than I ever imagined.

Now, I didn't make any sacrifices I made thinking God was going to drop some gift in my lap. That's not a sacrifice at all; but an investment. Love sacrifices. Wisdom invests. But according to 1 Corinthians 13: Wisdom without love is nothing. And I think you hit the nail on the head with some things you said, but you've got to see it all in context. Is it about getting all the brass rings we can and stack them in a pile in some room that will eventually collapse, or will we invest in souls that are eternal? I like the idea of you challenging people to do all that Jesus said to do. Keep it up.

Nate

Sean D. Schaffer
12-16-2006, 08:58 AM
For those of you who are offended by the notion of Christians having premarital sex, the statistics show they are doing it. My question is, does it have to come across pejoratively to be considered by Christian publishers? Must we paint premarital sex as destructive or could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction? Just wondering if such an idea would play in Christian markets.

Thanks!


I've not weighed in on this yet, because I didn't really know at the time I first read this post what I believed.

However, I did not see the last sentence when I first read this thread. I personally do not think a Christian publisher would accept a challenge to the classical Biblical interpretation. IMO, such a character would be better received by a secular publisher.

I am not fond of a lot of the things Christians do or teach, because having been raised Christian, I have seen too much in the way of false doctrines and hypocrisy within the Church. I still trust Jesus as my Lord, but I do not appreciate many of the things that are taught and done in His Name.

That said, I wish Christian publishers would be willing to accept such a character, simply because it's a realistic viewpoint of how the world really works. I have Christian friends who are promiscuous and have no reservations about it. Part of the reason for this is the way they were raised. The different views on 'devout' should, IMO, be discussed by Christian publishers.

Still, I do not see that happening in the near future.


To your question concerning whether or not to portray pre-marital sex as destructive, I don't have a real firm opinion. Basically, I know what my Bible teaches me, but I also know that modern society tries to negate what the Bible says. Further, I am of the opinion that much of what the Church teaches today is nothing like what Christ Himself, or His Apostles, taught. It should be pointed out that Jesus lived in a different society than we do, where holiness was considered far more important than it is in our society. It might also be pointed out that when Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven you", he received a lot of flak about that because it was believed that a man could not forgive sins.

I said all that to say this: if you really want to know how Jesus believed and what His opinions were about certain things, just reading your Bible is not enough. You need to know the society in which He lived and how it worked, and the Bible is not written in such a way as to portray everything that people did in Jesus' day. IMO, knowing the context of the society He lived in is of as much importance as what He actually did say. The same thing could be said for the people of Moses' time, or any other figure in history.

Other than that, I really have nothing else to say. I think, however, you should study the context of the society Jesus lived in, before casting judgment on what He said or what He meant when He said it.


Just my opinion, of course.

Bravo
12-16-2006, 09:05 AM
Other than that, I really have nothing else to say. I think, however, you should study the context of the society Jesus lived in, before casting judgment on what He said or what He meant when He said it.


I thought Jesus' teachings were supposedly universally applicable?

How do you choose which ones are and which one aren't?

Sean D. Schaffer
12-16-2006, 09:28 AM
I thought Jesus' teachings were supposedly universally applicable?

How do you choose which ones are and which one aren't?


Jesus was speaking to Middle-Eastern, Old Testament Jews, not modern Western Christians. If you super-impose today's society on what He said, you will not get the same meaning from His words as you would if you were looking at them from the viewpoint He knew and lived with every day.

So I will also ask you a question:

When Jesus said to people, "Your sins be forgiven you", did the society of His day look at what He said the same way as we would in our society, now?

Bravo
12-16-2006, 09:30 AM
Jesus was speaking to Middle-Eastern, Old Testament Jews, not modern Western Christians. If you super-impose today's society on what He said, you will not get the same meaning from His words as you would if you were looking at them from the viewpoint He knew and lived with every day.

That's problematic to me.

You would think certain laws and teachings like "thou shalt not fornicate" will be universal, no?




When Jesus said to people, "Your sins be forgiven you", did the society of His day look at what He said the same way as we would in our society, now?

I dunno.

1st) Please explain how our society today looks at that phrase.

2nd) Please explain why that matters.

Thank you

Mac H.
12-16-2006, 09:35 AM
Mac, part of what you say is right on the mark. "I've always figured that people who follow Jesus' teachings should look to find out what Jesus' teachings were. ...Things that Jesus said absolutely clearly get ignored by almost every Christian on earth."

... You still miss the point. The point isn't giving your coat and dying of frostbite. The point is acting in love and trusting God. Jesus said that if we had two coats, to give away the one.Precisely my point.

I find it odd that some Christians get emphatic over other Christians not following something that may or may not be the teachings of Christ ... while they totally ignore the things that they are sure are Christ's teachings.

I've often asked Christians who clearly have more than one coat for the coat they are wearing, but have not received a single coat.

Everyone has always had a reason. Something along the lines of 'Jesus didn't mean that .. it only applies if [a certain type of person] asks for your coat' or something like that. Nonsense. Jesus' instructions are quite clear. Almost every Christian on earth has added additional caveats to Jesus' instructions on this issue. So why is it so bad if other Christians add caveats to other parts of Jesus' teachings? Either both are wrong or neither.

Jesus also had very specific instructions on how to act if you are sued. Again, I've never met a Christian yet who actually follows those instructions. Everyone finds exceptions - for example they explain that frivolous lawsuits didn't exist back then (yeah, right) , and if Jesus was alive today he would be known for his fiscal responsibility rather than his generousity. (OK, I paraphrased a little)

If you ask someone for their coat, and they don't give it to you, then they simply are not someone who follows the teachings of Christ. And that person would be hypocritical to tell OTHERS not to ignore the parts of Jesus' teaching that they find difficult or financially irrational.

Mac

lilyteague
12-16-2006, 09:52 AM
You know, I think the acceptability by Christian publishers would kinda depend on where your character is going. It may not be necessary to show her wallowing in guilt and shame. Honestly, I couldn't say without knowing where she is heading in her Christianity.

Sean D. Schaffer
12-16-2006, 09:52 AM
That's problematic to me.

You would think certain laws and teachings like "thou shalt not fornicate" will be universal, no?


Okay, let's say it is universal. So then, the punishments provided by the OT for adultery--or fornication, as the case may be--would of necessity also be universal. The general punishment prescribed by the OT is death.

Should the Church therefore be handing out death sentences to everyone who commits fornication, especially considering what the Apostle Paul said in, I believe it was I Corinthians, about people in the Church who had at one time done those things?



I dunno.

1st) Please explain how our society today looks at that phrase.

Of course. Today's society thinks very little of a man forgiving sins. Big deal. Anyone can do that.

Do you know what the society of Jesus' day thought of a man forgiving sins? They called it 'Blasphemy', which was a capital offense. Punishable, of course, by death.

And if I remember my Bible correctly, the people did numerous times, try to put Him to death for blasphemy.


2nd) Please explain why that matters.

It matters, Bravo, because if Christ's teachings are universal, then we need to understand He did not come to destroy the Law of Moses. To Him, all of it was holy, not just certain portions. That included the Death Sentence for a child striking his or her parents, which was prescribed in the Torah. (the first five books of the Bible--sometimes called the Pentateuch)

If Christ's intentions were NOT to destroy the Law of Moses, then He obviously believed all the Laws were still in force, as were the punishments for them. The commandments of the Torah were the laws of the People of Israel, as Israel was originally a theocracy (God was the King, and his Prophets were the Judges of His Law).

What many Christians do not understand about Christ and His time, is that He lived in an Old Testament society, not a New Testament one. When Christ was alive, there was no New Testament. There was only what we call the Old Testament.

This might seem elementary, even insulting, to some people, because of how simplistic this information is. But if you want to believe that Christ was speaking to us, now, think again. He was speaking to a people with a completely different set of values than we have now. Would the average person in modern Western society consider using G-d's Name in a curse word an offense worthy of death?

Yet that is exactly what the people of His time and place did consider worthy of death.

The same thing was true for fornication and adultery. Yet do we, now, consider it worthy of death? I would wager probably not, on average.


Therefore, if you want to understand what Christ meant when He said something, you need to understand the society in which He lived, and not super-impose our society and its values on what He said.



Thank you


You're quite welcome.

Bravo
12-16-2006, 10:06 AM
Ian, I don't believe Jesus was god or that his laws were universal.

So, rather than appearing to prosletyze my view in the Christian section, let's just say that it seems like you have also come to the conclusion that he was for a specific time and place.

I'm curious to know what you think are universal morals and laws and how you came to discover them. Or maybe you haven't yet.

I dunno.

But for now, gnite.

:)

Sean D. Schaffer
12-16-2006, 10:21 AM
Ian, I don't believe Jesus was god or that his laws were universal.

So, rather than appearing to prosletyze my view in the Christian section, let's just say that it seems like you have also come to the conclusion that he was for a specific time and place.

I'm curious to know what you think are universal morals and laws, but for now, have a gnite.

:)


What do I believe are universal morals and laws? I personally hold to the belief that what was given to Mankind before Moses is universal to all Mankind. The laws given to Adam and Noah are examples of this.

My reason for this belief is that Moses gave the Ten Commandments and the whole Torah to the Jewish people specifically--or, as the OT says, the Israelites. I personally hold to the belief--and I am not trying to proselytize either, I'm just giving my opinion--that there were seven basic laws given to all Mankind that were considered universal. They did include prohibitions of sexual sins, and stealing, as well as cursing G-d's Name. But they were very basic in nature and to my knowledge, G-d did not expand upon them to Gentile peoples.

And just so everyone here understands where I'm coming from on this: I'm not saying that adultery or fornication is right, because it is obvious to me that G-d does not approve of it on the part of any people. Rather, my original post was directed to the Thread's OP. I know it might not have sounded that way, because I always read my posts after posting them and realized this myself upon reading it.

But what I am saying is that our society puts different implications on sins and the consequences thereof, than did the society to which the original laws of the Bible were spoken. I believe it is worthy of our time and effort to understand the society of the day, in order to truly grasp what a particular prophet or other spiritual leader said and what he or she meant when he or she said it.


Bravo, I hope you have a good night, as well. I'll talk to you later. :)

BruceJ
12-17-2006, 02:35 AM
It should be pointed out that Jesus lived in a different society than we do, where holiness was considered far more important than it is in our society...

Jesus was speaking to Middle-Eastern, Old Testament Jews, not modern Western Christians. If you super-impose today's society on what He said, you will not get the same meaning from His words as you would if you were looking at them from the viewpoint He knew and lived with every day.

So I will also ask you a question:

When Jesus said to people, "Your sins be forgiven you", did the society of His day look at what He said the same way as we would in our society, now?

Quite true, Ian; however, I think the conclusion may have the tail wagging the dog. Just because our society has abandoned many standards of holiness doesn't mean God has. Because we don't execute fornicators doesn't mean God has changed His mind that fornication is okay. Both of these conditions only point to how far away from God and Christ our society has travelled.

Jesus did indeed speak to the people of his day in terms, metaphors and symbols that they would understand ("context" in linguistic hermeneutics). That doesn't mean His concern was for them only. If His words and His message were limited to his contemporaries, that pretty much negates the Bible en toto as having any relevancy for our age, and therefore our knowledge of God who is reveal through Scripture, and therefore our faith which is defined through Scripture. If God has sustained the veracity of His Word through the ages to our day--and there's ample evidence in Scripture that He sustains what He makes/creates/inspires--I think we can quite well glean Christ's meaning for 21st-century Western civilization, as well as others.

As for your question, our society today has rejected His forgiveness of sins--along with the call to repentance that came along with it--just has His generation did, but for a different reason. His generation (at least the religious leadership, who reacted to His forgiveness of sins, as versus the whole society) rejected the notion that anyone but God could forgive sins (which was ironically Jesus' point). Today we reject the notion of sin completely and therefore don't feel we have anything to be forgiven for. So who needs Him?

God's truth and His standards do not change. He is perfect and they are perfect so there's no reason for them to change. The social climate in which to apply His truth changes, but not the truth. So to discount the necessity, or meaning, of holiness for our society just because we don't want to be holy doesn't mean we're any less accountable for that choice.

I also agree wholeheartedly that many in the Church have strayed far from His teaching and His disciples' teaching, as you observe. But I also think the first wayward step in that direction is diluting His Word and the expectations He reveals through it for any reason--contemporary societal pressures included. And that's not limited to our age, either. Alexander Pope had an interesting thing to say back in 1711 about conditions that had begun over a hundred years earlier:

"Then unbelieving priests reformed the nation,
And taught more pleasant methods of salvation,
Where Heaven's free subjects might their rights dispute,
Lest God Himself seem too absolute;
Pulpits their sacred satire learned to spare,
And vice, admired, found a flatterer there."

(Off the top of my head, there may be an slip or two...)

Kind of reminds you of 2 Tim: 4:3-4, eh? ;)

Sean D. Schaffer
12-17-2006, 03:38 AM
Bruce,

I think you're misunderstanding me. It was not my intent to say that adultery and/or fornication were right. I was simply trying to point out that the way many people of our day believe the Bible, is not, IMO, what the Bible actually says.

Of course adultery and fornication are sins. The Bible we read could not possibly be more clear than when It says "Thou shalt not commit adultery".

I wanted, rather, to challenge the idea of what the standard belief says in our day about the Bible. In the case of this particular thread, I believe it is wrong to reject a book because one of its main good characters has no qualms about being promiscuous. It's not that I believe promiscuity is good; rather, it is that I believe a character having no regrets about doing so is realistic to our day in Western Society. I think it is wrong for Christian publishers to portray all good characters as perfect, pious, wonderful Christians in every way, because there is no such person alive today in the first place.


That's all I'm saying. I had no intention of calling evil good.

BruceJ
12-17-2006, 08:21 AM
Ian,

Sorry and didn't mean to imply that you were advocating fornication. I certainly didn't get that impression and I hope that didn't come out in my last response (although it appears I did). My intent more was to address the notion I perceived in the quoted comments focusing on Jesus speaking to his contemporaries vs. the enduring value in His teaching for the ages. I only selected the example of fornication because it was the one under discussion in this thread. Again, sincerest apologies if it came across any other way.
:flag: :)

I really do agree with you that the modern (especially evangelical) church has missed the boat on the essence of Christ's teaching and what is being preached and practiced are in many cases a far cry from His preaching and practice. I guess I am a little more optimistic, though, in the standard beliefs of those denominations--and congregations within other denominations--that do dig very hard and exercise solid prayerful scholarship it trying to understand Christ's teaching both in its historical context and how it pertains to us today. Again, you're spot on that those congregations are, unfortunately, in the minority. With a challenge, though, goes the obligation of a solid, prayerful and scholarly alternative solution, which I fully expect you do offer with your criticism.

I think really the only aspect I still struggle with a little is the notion that Christian publishers should welcome unrepentent promiscuity in a Christian character simply because promiscuity is prevalent in today's society. It is true that this condition exists today, but I guess I'd need to hear more about how you would suggest casting such a character. If the protagonist of a Christian novel has as part of his/her character promiscuity and he/she suffers no consequences of that lifestyle choice, what is the message, especially to the less spiritually mature reader? Or were you presuming that there would be some consequences brought out in the book that show the fallacy of engaging in such a lifestyle, particularly for someone who professes to be a Christian? Again, I'm not attacking in any way here, I'm just groping for a little more information on how such a character might be cast in a Christian novel. It's really an intriguing notion as I think about it...

I also agree that the other extreme is no better; i.e., the "perfect, pious, wonderful Christians in every way". You're right: not only is it misrepresentative, but it's also lousy fiction. I don't see so much of that in today's Christian fiction, though--at least with the authors I'm reading. T. Davis Bunn, Angel Hunt, Francine Rivers, Ted Dekker and others like them don't shy away from foibles in their heroes, particularly in their later works. But the real-life consequences of those failings are also presented to the reader to, lest they get the wrong idea that there are no consequences for failure/sin, whatever you want to call it.

To recap, no offense was intended at all and my apologies to you for coming across poorly. I, too, have frustrations at the weird spin the Gospel gets in a lot of pulpits nowadays. I welcome your response/clarification on my thoughts and if I'm still missing the point. I've been known to do that on occasion ;) .

Jenny
12-17-2006, 10:24 AM
Wow, Erika. I've only just skimmed through this thread - you sure started a discussion. I guess everyone's pretty much agreed that a Christian publisher couldn't publish a book in which a Christian has pre-marital sex. They'd offend their main buyers/readers. But if you're drawn to publishing in the Christian market - and I've liked a number of your posts and questions raised around the topic of Christianity - why not try to write something within a Christian publishers guidelines? It'd be a case of seeing what their guideliens say and what their bestsellers are, their catalogue in general, and seeing where you could push the boundaries. What questions could you raise in your book and work through, and still get it published?

I'm not someone who challenges boundaries or weighs into arguments (except when I do, and then I don't so much argue as state my position and express loud disbelief that anyone could disagree!). I like books that simply affirm the goodness of most people and provide a happy ending. That said, writing such stories often means I struggle to inject sufficient conflict to keep the plot moving. Starting from the question of which boundaries you can push and how would probably give you a book with a strong conflict and a strong central character.

Sean D. Schaffer
12-17-2006, 10:07 PM
Thanks, Bruce. I took no offense, really. I was more worried that what I had stated might have come across in a wrong manner. I am going through a tough time right now in my life, and I worry that I might not have spoken what I meant all that clearly.

So don't worry about offense. I didn't take any.

:)


ETA:
Just in case anyone is wondering, I am not going to be posting on the Christian forum any more. This has nothing to do with offense; rather it has to do with a change in my own life and faith in G-d. I still love G-d, but I feel it would be inappropriate to remain on this particular part of the forum, for fear that I might start arguments or that bad things such as disrespect, might proliferate on the Christian forum.

Therefore I find it necessary to leave this particular portion of AW. I will still be on the other portions of AbsoluteWrite that I constantly frequent, but I will no longer be on the Christian portion of the forum.

Again, this is not because of an offense anyone here did. I just do not think that I, a man who has essentially changed my faith, should be on this forum talking about a faith I no longer believe in. To me, such talk would be hypocritical on my own part.

Steve W
12-17-2006, 10:33 PM
Jesus first teaching was not about rules, but about attitudes and values and priorities. It kind of seems like rules, but it deals with attitudes of the heart. "Blessed are the pure in heart..." There is a blessing attached to specific attitudes and a "Woe" attached to the wrong attitudes.

Hi,

I find this intriguing.

Is this a generally held Christian view? I'd assumed Christians took the Bible as a book of rules to be followed, whereas this suggests it could merely be a guide book and, as such, open to interpretation.

Or am I reading this completely wrong?

Cheers,
Steve

BruceJ
12-18-2006, 12:02 AM
Hi,

I find this intriguing.

Is this a generally held Christian view? I'd assumed Christians took the Bible as a book of rules to be followed, whereas this suggests it could merely be a guide book and, as such, open to interpretation.

Or am I reading this completely wrong?

Cheers,
Steve

Hey, Steve!

I don't mean to speak for Nate, as it's his quote you're referring to, but if I may offer my own perspective (it would be presumptuous of me to say that it's all other Christians'). As a Christian, I've never taken the Bible as a book of rules to be followed, although this is a common perception, I think, among non-Christians--myself included before I became a Christian (age 19).

The Bible rather is a book of relationships. The primary relationship is between the believer and God, although there are countless other relationships (good and bad) described between the Genesis and Revelation. And all relationships carry with them parameters of behavior. I conduct myself within my marriage relationship with my wife very differently than I do in my relationships with my children and with my work colleagues and with our friends next door etc. etc. I think rules/standards/expectations/parameters (pick your favorite word) are essential to a relationship because they define the relationship. A relationship between peers usually carries rules of engagement that are set by both parties because they are peers. In relationships between parties at different levels (e.g., boss-subordinate, parent-child, etc.) the parameters are usually set by the higher authority. Sometimes this includes a certain level of agreement/concurrence with the party at the lower level (e.g., employer-employee), and other times it doesn't (e.g., judge - litigant relationship in a courtroom)

In the God-believer relationship, God--as the ultimate, absolute authority (if He's not, He's not God)--has the right (even the obligation, perhaps) to set the standard for the relationship. He's in charge, but He's not a despot. He has outlined the primary standard/motivation of relationships within His church, among His people and with regard to Himself to be love. And He has exhibited that standard in His own treatment of His children. Same as the standards of behavior we set within our families and for our children is with their best interest at heart, His standards are established with our best interest at heart. We adhere to those standards out of respect, thanksgiving and love toward Him. This results in acceptable behavior (i.e., in accordance with His commandments) and good works, but, again, these are by products of a healthy relationship with God, not mechanisms by which to attain one.

Having said all that, from the perspective of the outsider looking in and hearing Christians talk about following Christ's commandments, it appears to be just people trying to follow a lot of hard rules. (And frankly, to the discredit of many churches today who focus on the legalism of following the commandments rather than the love motivation of keeping them, this misperception is bolstered.) So, to no fault of his/her own, the uninitiated walks away with the notion that religion is just following a bunch of rules. I think that's why it's so important that the Church communicates the motivation more than the motion regarding adherence to Christ's commandments.

Again, I hesitate to speak for Nate and he can correct me if I'm outside his meaning, but I don't think the proper conclusion is that the Bible is merely a guide book we are free to interpret it as we like. In fact, Peter wrote "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21). This puts Biblical interpretation--which is called hermeneutics--in the correct light. Honest hermeneutics dig for the intrinsic meaning God inspired in the text, not seeks to insert its own meaning. Scripture is in its essence a mode of communication and, as such, the onus is on the sender to impute the meaning in the message, never the receiver. The receiver's job is to understand the meaning the sender has already put into the message. Othewise the communication is absolutely meaningless--in this case, even as a guide book.

Did I muddy the waters or help any? In short, ignore the rules, focus on the relationship and obedience will be the natural outcome.

Pat~
12-18-2006, 12:39 AM
In short, ignore the rules, focus on the relationship and obedience will be the natural outcome.

'Perfect love casts out fear...'

Rules are fear-based; what God wants for us has always been relationship-based. Well said, BruceJ. :)

Bravo
12-18-2006, 12:44 AM
that's extremely well said.

that's pretty much my philosophy as well.

limitedtimeauthor
12-18-2006, 01:22 AM
Well, I was going to say some stuff, but now everyone has clarified and restated and made good points, so I'll just throw my two cents into the collection plate. ;)

ltd.

farfromfearless
12-19-2006, 03:14 AM
Thanks Roger. That's what I suspected and it answers my question. I was really looking at a character who is a sincere Christian and sleeps around, but is very ambivalent about it. In my opinion, it's too easy to have her morally conflicted. I thought it would be more interesting to have her just do it without feeling any guilt or shame. But again, didn't think that would play in the Christian market.

Guilt is an essential aspect of Christian theology. In fact is is the same in many religions. As for being morally conflicted - that is in essence what it means to be ambivalent. Your character IS morally conflicted in this case, well at least according to how you've defined it. Ambivalence is conflict, which is essential to a good story. How can you write a moral story without exploring the basis for the moral to begin with? That is to say, you can have all the shades of grey you want, but without black or white, you're painting a monochromatic picture.

Ralyks
12-19-2006, 09:01 PM
Okay, I will chip in one more time. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but I, personally, am not capable of mentally grasping how it is possible for a sincere Christian to engage in promiscuous, extramarital sex without feeling any guilt or shame. Without even consulting the Bible, without even contemplating laws and prohibitions, it is clear that sex is a powerful thing. It is as close and as intimate as two human beings can ever become physically. It can create life. It can create death. It makes two people one flesh. I have trouble grasping how a sincerely spiritually-minded person could look upon such a powerful force casually, as if it were a purely recreational thing. It's just not something I can wrap my mind around. I know a lot of church-going Christians do this (okay, well, I don't know any personally who are promiscuous, but I hear a lot exist). But I can't reconcile Christianity and promiscuity mentally. I can't conceive of a spiritual mindset that views sex as being as about as significant as enjoying a cup of ice cream.

Now, I will admit that I do not know how much of my attitude is owing to religion and how much to romanticism. Frankly, I felt this way about sex before I ever became a Christian. So it may be largely my personality that prevents me from understanding how someone can reconcile a casual attitude toward sex with a serious attitude toward God. Yet it seems to me as though there is a strong cultural force encouraging us to regard sex as but one entry in a catalog of life's pleasures, which is opposed to the spiritual force encouraging us to regard it as something far richer, far more complex, far more powerful, and far more significant.

I praise God for sex, and I praise God for wine, but one means considerably more to me than the other.

BruceJ
12-19-2006, 09:24 PM
Okay, I will chip in one more time. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but I, personally, am not capable of mentally grasping how it is possible for a sincere Christian to engage in promiscuous, extramarital sex without feeling any guilt or shame. Sex is such a powerful thing. It is as close and as intimate as two human beings can ever become physically. It can create life. It can create death. It makes two people one flesh. I have trouble grasping how a sincerely spiritually-minded person could look upon such a powerful force casually, as if it were a purely recreational thing. It's just not something I can wrap my mind around. I know a lot of church-going Christians do this (okay, well, I don't know any personally who are promiscuous, but I hear a lot exist). But I can't reconcile Christianity and promiscuity mentally. I can't conceive of a spiritual mindset that views sex as being as about as significant as enjoying a cup of ice cream.

I'm with you, Sky.


I know a lot of church-going Christians do this...

Matt. 7:21-23

dobiwon
12-22-2006, 10:08 PM
Okay, I will chip in one more time. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but I, personally, am not capable of mentally grasping how it is possible for a sincere Christian to engage in promiscuous, extramarital sex without feeling any guilt or shame. Without even consulting the Bible, without even contemplating laws and prohibitions, it is clear that sex is a powerful thing. It is as close and as intimate as two human beings can ever become physically. It can create life. It can create death. It makes two people one flesh. I have trouble grasping how a sincerely spiritually-minded person could look upon such a powerful force casually, as if it were a purely recreational thing. It's just not something I can wrap my mind around. I know a lot of church-going Christians do this (okay, well, I don't know any personally who are promiscuous, but I hear a lot exist). But I can't reconcile Christianity and promiscuity mentally. I can't conceive of a spiritual mindset that views sex as being as about as significant as enjoying a cup of ice cream.


Sky,
I agree totally with you. For me personally, sex is such a special bond between two people that I can't even begin to think of making love with anyone else other than the person I chose to spend the rest of my life with, let alone with uncountable others. For me, it would cheapen this wonderful gift that God gave to my wife and me as part of our marriage.

-Don

Nateskate
12-26-2006, 07:29 PM
Mac, I appreciate the conversation. I hope you do as well.

It's an interesting take you have. But actually, the emphasis of Jesus teachings, is on the giver's responcibility to be like God who gives to the just and the unjust. "Love your enemies...do good to those who spitefully use you."- but this verse is misunderstood. It doesn't mean squander all our resources on those who spitefully use us, (you have to give to me or you're not obeying Christ) but rather its an instruction to not be vendictive. If someone used us, but now it turns out they have a need, we should not ignore it out of spite. So giving a thirsty enemy of cup of cold water is not buying him a box of whisky because he wants a box of whisky. This would apply in a case as when a foriegn soldier wound up wounded and you had the means to patch them up rather than leave them to die.

So, in a post war Europe, with all these divided factions, peacemakers could bring healing. If there is a perpetual "Payback", then that is impossible, and you have what is taking place in some parts of the world. Remember, when this was written, Roman soldiers and mean tax collectors were both beating people and ripping them off. Jesus was telling his followers to be agents of positive change- which is to be more like God. "Be like your Father in heaven...who gives...to the just and the unjust..."

Be generous, be merciful, be loving, give sacrificially. Yes, we should do this.

The New Testament looks at it from this view- be Christlike. Christ came to serve. Christ gave his life. Christ sacrificed. Do the same. Prefer others over yourself- don't think of your needs only. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church...etc.

However, it does not empower us to demand compliance. So, the focus is kind of "you do what you're supposed to do..." not, "Hey, people you owe me, so if you have a coat I have the right to demand one."

I also have a right to make sure you need a coat and aren't just testing me or pulling a fast one.

That's an important distinction to make for various reasons. The primary one is "Stewardship". In Matthew 25- the same chapter that tells us to give water/shelter/companionship...all the social things, it also implies that we are given stewardship, not ownership. All we have we have to give an account for.

So, if someone comes up to me and says, "Give me your coat or you're not a Christian," they've actually misunderstood the fact that I'm not an owner, but a steward, and they are demanding I give them Christ's coat. But that is besides the point. The actual point is that I have to be smart about what things I do, including what I give.

The point is, as a Steward, I'm not compelled by other's demands, but rather by the principles that "Christ gave". I may not give you a coat, because I can sense where you're coming from. You don't have a need, but you're actually trying to prove some point.

The same Bible says that if someone refuses - stress- refuses as opposed to can't or is unable to find work because of economic issues- if someone refuses to work, neither let him eat ( of the corporate food stock that is shared by the community ) In other words- don't be a codependent enabler. If an alcoholic (not to judge alcoholics) take money that is a provision for food- and I buy their food- I'm not necessarily being a generous giver. They had their provisions and wasted them.

It's kind of like the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. The five wise said, "If we give to you, we might not have enough oil for our own lamps-
"If we give them away to those who didn't use wisdom". Now, some might argue if they were Christians they would have been compelled to give. But again, Stewards have to prioritize.

I believe in generosity, but I also believe in wisdom and wisdom doesn't say "How high" when someone else says "jump!"

I'm only making this distinction. Some Christians may be stingy and selfish and either disobediant to Christ's wishes or not understand them. But others may understand and simply see through a veiled test of their generosity. This has happened to me in the past, where someone was basically demanding I comply with their wishes or I wasn't being "Christian", which is completely misunderstanding the dynamics.

For the record, I know many generous Christians who are giving sacrificially as Christ said to do. So, if you do not, then keep seeking- if you're earnest about finding.

Nate


Precisely my point.

I find it odd that some Christians get emphatic over other Christians not following something that may or may not be the teachings of Christ ... while they totally ignore the things that they are sure are Christ's teachings.

I've often asked Christians who clearly have more than one coat for the coat they are wearing, but have not received a single coat.

Everyone has always had a reason. Something along the lines of 'Jesus didn't mean that .. it only applies if [a certain type of person] asks for your coat' or something like that. Nonsense. Jesus' instructions are quite clear. Almost every Christian on earth has added additional caveats to Jesus' instructions on this issue. So why is it so bad if other Christians add caveats to other parts of Jesus' teachings? Either both are wrong or neither.

Jesus also had very specific instructions on how to act if you are sued. Again, I've never met a Christian yet who actually follows those instructions. Everyone finds exceptions - for example they explain that frivolous lawsuits didn't exist back then (yeah, right) , and if Jesus was alive today he would be known for his fiscal responsibility rather than his generousity. (OK, I paraphrased a little)

If you ask someone for their coat, and they don't give it to you, then they simply are not someone who follows the teachings of Christ. And that person would be hypocritical to tell OTHERS not to ignore the parts of Jesus' teaching that they find difficult or financially irrational.

Mac

Nateskate
12-26-2006, 07:47 PM
Honestly, that's great and I think that's the way we should be. But I want to make one distinction, because I grew up outside of a Christian home, and some things were not necessarily "natural" to me. Perhaps being a guy, and starting as a non-Christian guy, I wasn't all that happy when I realized what the Bible actually said. I was single and looking forward to certain things, and actually wrestled with God, metaphorically. He won of course.

Still, I realized that Christ never said, "If it feels natural do it." And that distinction is necessary for those who for a variety of reasons, think Christians don't have the same desires as they have. There is a view, "Well, that may be good for you; but that's not how I feel. I feel sex is normal and good..."

Paul said that it was a law in his body that it didn't want to do what he knew he should do and vice versa (Paraphrasing Romans 6-7) He used the illustration of Coveting, which was a commandment. "Thou shalt not covet..." The Law "Thou shalt not covet" was not a bad Law, it was just one he couldn't keep, because the Law doesn't change our natures. It only exposes whatever is in our natures.

Galatians says, "The Spirit WARS against the flesh and the FLESH wars against the Spirit..." so that we don't do that which we want. Well, we by nature will want things we shouldn't do or have.

Whether it's lust or coveting or greed, people have different bents; but the point is that a part of our hearts may NOT feel like doing what God wants us to do. In fact it may strongly not want to do what we know is right to do.

So when Paul used "coveting" as an illustration, probably more people would struggle with coveting or judging or gossip than lust, because that is more their native inclinations. But all the same, for some people they might not by nature feel there is anything wrong with lust issues, any more than others might feel about coveting. In fact, by nature, we all covet to some degree. So a part of us is always fighting against doing what God wants.

The standard Christ gave is this, "If any...would be my disciple, they must take up their cross daily and DENY themselves..." It's a hard standard, but its important.

Taking up a cross does not feel "natural" Denial doesn't feel natural.

What feels natural isn't the guide to how we live our lives, but if he is Lord of our lives, then we have to overcome our nature.

Obviously, I'm sure you know this, but some might not and I feel it's important to make that distinction for those who are less familiar with Jesus teachings.





Okay, I will chip in one more time. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but I, personally, am not capable of mentally grasping how it is possible for a sincere Christian to engage in promiscuous, extramarital sex without feeling any guilt or shame. Without even consulting the Bible, without even contemplating laws and prohibitions, it is clear that sex is a powerful thing. It is as close and as intimate as two human beings can ever become physically. It can create life. It can create death. It makes two people one flesh. I have trouble grasping how a sincerely spiritually-minded person could look upon such a powerful force casually, as if it were a purely recreational thing. It's just not something I can wrap my mind around. I know a lot of church-going Christians do this (okay, well, I don't know any personally who are promiscuous, but I hear a lot exist). But I can't reconcile Christianity and promiscuity mentally. I can't conceive of a spiritual mindset that views sex as being as about as significant as enjoying a cup of ice cream.

Now, I will admit that I do not know how much of my attitude is owing to religion and how much to romanticism. Frankly, I felt this way about sex before I ever became a Christian. So it may be largely my personality that prevents me from understanding how someone can reconcile a casual attitude toward sex with a serious attitude toward God. Yet it seems to me as though there is a strong cultural force encouraging us to regard sex as but one entry in a catalog of life's pleasures, which is opposed to the spiritual force encouraging us to regard it as something far richer, far more complex, far more powerful, and far more significant.

I praise God for sex, and I praise God for wine, but one means considerably more to me than the other.

Pat~
12-26-2006, 11:15 PM
I praise God for sex, and I praise God for wine, but one means considerably more to me than the other.

In the sacramental sense, both have an incomparable degree of meaning to me. ;-) (Both are highly symbolic of our union/communion with God.)

Well said, Skylar and Nate--these have been refreshing posts to read.

crazynance
01-09-2007, 08:59 AM
Thanks Roger. That's what I suspected and it answers my question. I was really looking at a character who is a sincere Christian and sleeps around, but is very ambivalent about it. In my opinion, it's too easy to have her morally conflicted. I thought it would be more interesting to have her just do it without feeling any guilt or shame. But again, didn't think that would play in the Christian market.

Maybe that is the 'addiction' they are trying to get free of.. [pardon the dangling] There are books about addicts of every type trying to get clear of their problem, and they all seem to have setbacks after they are 'saved'. Why can't sex be the issue in this Christian's life?

Ralyks
01-12-2007, 12:22 AM
Obviously, I'm sure you know this, but some might not and I feel it's important to make that distinction for those who are less familiar with Jesus teachings.

Thanks for clarifying, then. No, I certainly did not mean Christians never have to combat thier nature or resist very real urges. I was talking about the mindset not the desire. The mindset sometimes battles the desire.

bylinebree
01-22-2007, 11:50 PM
It looks like erica got her answer and moved on - but this is a hot topic, isn't it?

Christians sleep around for the same reasons nons do, pre-marital or not. It is against our core Biblical beliefs, but it happens. It should be addressed. I did read a novel, a contemp Christian one, about a preacher's wife who sinned with a handyman during a very hard time in her life. She repented and stayed with her husband, and clearly had to live with what she had done. But she found redemption and forgiveness.

It's a shame that Christian publishers must white-wash everything, because promiscuity and Christians happens; it's what the Christian does afterwards and how they grow, that counts. I have a solid Christian friend, a wife and mother who is very conservative, who confessed she found most Christian lit very "bland." So do I, though I still read it.

I also have a dear friend who loves the Lord but still makes mistakes in her attempts to learn how to date, after a long and abusive marriage that she left. She wants love so badly but just doesn't understand how to get or give it yet; her bad marriage warped her, it seems. She seems to tie approval or love with sexuality, but I am not a psychologist.

It's a work in progress for her. She's slept with (and hinted at 'going too far' with other guys also) in her quest to find The Right Man. Even the Right Christian Man! Go figure. She feels guilty and unworthy, and is still struggling.
It is heart-rendering. I know so many others who have "fallen." The point is that they got up, found the Lord's help, and went on.

It reminds me of Paul's cry in Romans: 'O wretched man that I am...who will deliver me from this body of death?' It's rhetorical, for the answer is Jesus Christ, of course -- maybe not in an instant, but through a process.

BruceJ
01-25-2007, 04:56 PM
It looks like erica got her answer and moved on - but this is a hot topic, isn't it?

Christians sleep around for the same reasons nons do, pre-marital or not. It is against our core Biblical beliefs, but it happens. It should be addressed. I did read a novel, a contemp Christian one, about a preacher's wife who sinned with a handyman during a very hard time in her life. She repented and stayed with her husband, and clearly had to live with what she had done. But she found redemption and forgiveness.

It's a shame that Christian publishers must white-wash everything, because promiscuity and Christians happens; it's what the Christian does afterwards and how they grow, that counts. I have a solid Christian friend, a wife and mother who is very conservative, who confessed she found most Christian lit very "bland." So do I, though I still read it.

I also have a dear friend who loves the Lord but still makes mistakes in her attempts to learn how to date, after a long and abusive marriage that she left. She wants love so badly but just doesn't understand how to get or give it yet; her bad marriage warped her, it seems. She seems to tie approval or love with sexuality, but I am not a psychologist.

It's a work in progress for her. She's slept with (and hinted at 'going too far' with other guys also) in her quest to find The Right Man. Even the Right Christian Man! Go figure. She feels guilty and unworthy, and is still struggling.
It is heart-rendering. I know so many others who have "fallen." The point is that they got up, found the Lord's help, and went on.

It reminds me of Paul's cry in Romans: 'O wretched man that I am...who will deliver me from this body of death?' It's rhetorical, for the answer is Jesus Christ, of course -- maybe not in an instant, but through a process.
Agreed, Byline, that the issue of sexual impurity should be brought to a resolution in repentence. I think Erica's original thrust was "why?". She saw no contradiction between the Christian walk and promiscuity.

I'm afraid, though, that I still resist the notion that Christian publishers "white-wash" everything. I've shared thoughts on that notion in the Blasphemy - what qualifies? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=49348) thread. Are there vanilla Christian novels out there? Absolutely. In the secular arena there are novels that push the other extreme and they're no better from a literary standpoint (or any other, for that matter). However, authors like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti don't shy away from the darker side. But they also respect the sensibilities of the Christian market and the notion that there are differences between the Christian walk and that of the world's; therefore, there should be a marked difference between how a Christian approaches entertainment, education, etc. A Christian author doesn't need to describe a sex scene in steamy detail to deliver the image that one has taken place--nor does s/he have to use a four-letter word to convey the idea that someone is cursing. We can credit our readers with enough intelligence to know what both sex and swearing are without punching them in the face with it.

Anywho, this is in no way an attack on your post; please don't take it as that. I wholeheartedly agree with every sentence of it, with the half-exception of the "white-wash" reference. I really think there's room for more discussion on the subject.

bylinebree
01-26-2007, 07:52 AM
Agreed, Byline, that the issue of sexual impurity should be brought to a resolution in repentence. I think Erica's original thrust was "why?". She saw no contradiction between the Christian walk and promiscuity.

Anywho, this is in no way an attack on your post; please don't take it as that. I wholeheartedly agree with every sentence of it, with the half-exception of the "white-wash" reference. I really think there's room for more discussion on the subject.

And if I had more energy, I would discuss it more. But for now, I am mostly lurking and reading. Maybe I can get into this more, later. Sorry.

Come Back Kid
02-13-2007, 10:00 AM
Gravity:
Not to offend but "Grace" is a gift from God because of the sacrifice Jesus made. I don't think it can be pushed. If you were able to give such a costly gift, to your children, would you even consider taking this Gift back "because it was pushed?" After all, He did say,"Once you are mine, I'll never lose you." I can't find "pushed" in there.

PS Would it matter to you, if a strong demon, was doing the pushing?
Love,
Jim

Come Back Kid
02-13-2007, 10:06 AM
Also, to you, Bylinebree, Very well written.
God Bless,
Jim
" I've been in a back slidden condition but never been a borderline Christian."
Me

bylinebree
02-14-2007, 10:44 AM
HI, I am back again! Whew. Is anybody still there on this thread??


Agreed, Byline, that the issue of sexual impurity should be brought to a resolution in repentence. I think Erica's original thrust was "why?". She saw no contradiction between the Christian walk and promiscuity.


Although this is the ideal, I think it's more compelling and believable to leave SOME of the characters in a story as NOT repenting. To have all the bad-guys either die or convert is too trite -- even all the good (or moral) guys! I do like to see the hero/heroine well on the path to redemption, if not fully "redeemed" by the end of the book, though.

Bruce, how does one "convey cursing" without using some actual curse-words? Are we so afraid to be real with antagonistic characters, that we're squeamish about what they'd likely say? To write it is not to condone it. If it's not overdone, I think it rings more true to be honest and use them (not to an HBO level necessarily) than it is to have the bad-guy say something like "Gosh darnit, I'm going to have to blow your brains out now."

That sounds & looks silly. Who are we writing for, anyway? This is one reason I'm not majoring on the CBA market -- though I'd like to be a part of it and do have some novels targeted for them.

White-washing: I meant to say that Christian lit TENDS TO be this way, of course there are exceptions. But the one Dekker book I read, though it did portray the cruelty and murder of innocents realistically, still used repetitive and cliche-type language to convey the main character's (a priest) vision of the Lord. By the end of the book I was almost groaning. Maybe it wasn't Dekker's best.

I am a great believer in God's Truth, and that Truth standing up for itself in the end if it is portrayed well. There is such power in that.
As a writer, that is my goal.

Sorry, didn't mean to get off-track from the sexual immorality issue.

And thanks, ComeBack Kid:)

BruceJ
02-14-2007, 07:48 PM
Although this is the ideal, I think it's more compelling and believable to leave SOME of the characters in a story as NOT repenting. To have all the bad-guys either die or convert is too trite -- even all the good (or moral) guys! I do like to see the hero/heroine well on the path to redemption, if not fully "redeemed" by the end of the book, though.
I agree, Byline, and I wouldn't view a book in which everyone repents as being realistic, either. But again, that wasn't Erica's question, if I read it correctly. She has an MC who is supposed to be a Christian and who sleeps around with no sense of guilt/wrongdoing. There's a paradox there that's not resolvable as it's depicted. I also agree with your last sentence above, that the MC should be "on the path to redemption" (whether they arrive or not by the last page), but that doesn't appear to be part of the Erica's formula.


Bruce, how does one "convey cursing" without using some actual curse-words? Are we so afraid to be real with antagonistic characters, that we're squeamish about what they'd likely say? To write it is not to condone it. If it's not overdone, I think it rings more true to be honest and use them (not to an HBO level necessarily) than it is to have the bad-guy say something like "Gosh darnit, I'm going to have to blow your brains out now."

That sounds & looks silly. Who are we writing for, anyway? This is one reason I'm not majoring on the CBA market -- though I'd like to be a part of it and do have some novels targeted for them.
How about, "He cursed."? I can portray that a character vomits without describing the color and size of the chunks and nothing is lost in the reader's mind. Discretion is neither fear nor squeamishness--it may simply be sensitivity to the reader's sensibilities. Nor do I contend that spelling out curse words is condoning them (don't think I said that).

Your observation "If it's not overdone, I think it rings more true to be honest and use them (not to an HBO level necessarily)..." I think really qualifies our entire exchange. There's a subjective line we all draw regarding sensibilities. "HBO level" appears to be somewhere beyond where you draw your line, but why? Someone else could join the thread and ask you "what's wrong with HBO?" and you'd find yourself on my side of the discussion. It really is pretty subjective and I certainly don't judge you for where you've drawn yours--I'm simply defining where I've drawn mine and why I've drawn it there.


White-washing: I meant to say that Christian lit TENDS TO be this way, of course there are exceptions. But the one Dekker book I read, though it did portray the cruelty and murder of innocents realistically, still used repetitive and cliche-type language to convey the main character's (a priest) vision of the Lord. By the end of the book I was almost groaning. Maybe it wasn't Dekker's best.

I am a great believer in God's Truth, and that Truth standing up for itself in the end if it is portrayed well. There is such power in that.
As a writer, that is my goal.
Again, I find myself in a agreement with you. There is a lot of religous writing that leans too far in that direction in my estimation, too--just as there's a lot of secular writing that leans too far in the other direction, again, in my view. It's that subjective line again. But the authors of books like these are appealing to an audience, too, and there really are people out there who express themselves that way (not the caricature, but the character of the expression).

I guess my line is drawn where it is in a large part my appreciation for subtlety. I really appreciate a writer who can slide nuances, morals, feelings, etc. in under the radar and pull you into the scene rather than slapping you with its crassness--you recognize the crassness once you're there. I feel respected by the author in that s/he assumes I'll "get it" without having to spoon feed it to me. It's the same with humor. Call me old-fashioned, but the most hilarious sitcoms were in the '60s and '70s (ala Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi, etc.) before television decided the only way to make us laugh was with shock humor focusing on sex, body functions and profanity. Reactions were tickled from us through the art, not yanked from us by a fart.

Your final comment is great and, again, I agree wholeheartedly. The Truth can and has stood on it's own merit and in it's own power. God needs no apologist. I respect your position although I don't necessarily share all of it. If we seek to glorify God in our writing, the words will follow.

bylinebree
02-17-2007, 12:23 AM
How about, "He cursed."? I can portray that a character vomits without describing the color and size of the chunks and nothing is lost in the reader's mind.


:ROFL: Good point and thoughtful commentary! You're right, I did go back and see that I got off-track of Erica's original point about a Christian character.
Thanks.

It's true that what offends one reader is fine with another, or is blaise to yet another person. I guess the "markets" try to find a median and cater that -- then on the fringe-end of their main market perhaps they experiment with more radical trains of thought.

I agree with the paradox of the Christian sleeping around and not feeling guity -- the Bible is really clear on immorality like this. I've seen, in others and myself, a growth in such matters over the years.
For example, when I was a teen in the 70's (oh lord does that date me!) it was normal to date. Staying pure was preached but not overtly, and there was no "I choose to wait" campaign. I was a believer, but dated ALOT and did not cross that line of sexuality.
Then, my own daughter grew up in the "Love Can Wait" group and her Youth Pastor taught them it was fine not to date, in fact to wait until they were older and could handle a serious relationship (after high school even). This was a totally new concept to me. She took it seriously and didn't date at all, just did group stuff with her buds -- they all mostly did.

So, all this to humbly say that IF a Christian character had this viewpoint and behavior, perhaps out of ignorance or being in a less mature stage of "baby Christian" she might indeed act & believe this way. It could be a very engaging story to see her progress from one to the other.

Purity goes so much against the grain of our whole culture, it's a hard line to toe. But well worth it, ultimately.

BruceJ
02-18-2007, 04:55 AM
For example, when I was a teen in the 70's (oh lord does that date me!) it was normal to date.
I graduated high school in 1971. You're a mere babe in arms to me! ;)

Staying pure was preached but not overtly, and there was no "I choose to wait" campaign. I was a believer, but dated ALOT and did not cross that line of sexuality.
Me, too. It wasn't easy (all you have to do is take a look at my wife, who I met in 1970 and has put up with me for 34 years of marriage now... :D ), but it was worth it.

Then, my own daughter grew up in the "Love Can Wait" group and her Youth Pastor taught them it was fine not to date, in fact to wait until they were older and could handle a serious relationship (after high school even). This was a totally new concept to me. She took it seriously and didn't date at all, just did group stuff with her buds -- they all mostly did.
Bless her heart! You're a good mom.


So, all this to humbly say that IF a Christian character had this viewpoint and behavior, perhaps out of ignorance or being in a less mature stage of "baby Christian" she might indeed act & believe this way. It could be a very engaging story to see her progress from one to the other.

Purity goes so much against the grain of our whole culture, it's a hard line to toe. But well worth it, ultimately.
We are of one mind. Thanks for the post.

Bravo
02-18-2007, 09:25 AM
i like that "love can wait" idea.

i never heard of that before.

kdnxdr
02-18-2007, 10:27 AM
The main objective of being a christian is to become more and more like Christ. If we come after Him (follow Him) then we are to take up our cross and die daily. We are to 'put to death' the deeds of the flesh. Whether or not those concepts seem feasible to us, whether or not other christians practice their faith isn't what we use to weigh the validity of God's principles and laws.

Fornication is a sin, that can condemn a person to eternal seperation from God where a person is exists for eternity in outer darkness where there is gnashing of teeth. And, lots of people are fornicating. The scriptures say that "wide is the road to destruction and many there on it."

To be cleansed from our sins, we are provided, by the atoning work of Christ, the opportunity to repent. The word says that if we confess our sins one to another, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse up from all unrighteousness. His blood, that was shed on Calvary, washes us clean. However, if one persists, after repentance and confession in commiting the sin that has been forgiven, we are "recrusifying Christ, and that can't be done. His work was done once and for all. The operation of grace/forgiveness/cleansing holds but we still have a will that is ours to operate by choice; we can choose to come out from under the blood covering. If we, as sinners, cannot humbly confess to our sin and contritely ask for forgiveness, then, we cannot be forgiven.

I believe it's in Mathew where excommunication is addressed. It goes something like this: if a christian sins, a fellow christian goes and confronts (in love); if the sinning christian rejects the rebuke of the fellow christian, the fellow christian brings another fellow christian and confronts (in love); if the rebuke is rejected, a third confrontation with yet others. If the sinning christian has rejected all those attempts to confront for the purpose of bringing about repentance, then the fellow christians are exhorted to cease from socializing with the sinning christian until such time that the sinning christian repents and is restored to the church.

Willful sinning can lead a person to heart of stone (indifference) and reprobation. (I believe that's in Romans)

HOUSE ON A ROCK
02-24-2007, 12:22 PM
Roger is correct...a christian publisher is very unlikely to condone a strictly positive view of premarital sex within one of its novels. However you can still use it as a story element without promoting it. Plenty of christian novels use different sins to gain tension and conflict...how else could they?

But if you are a christian writer, why would you wish to "challenge" the biblical teaching on premarital sex at all. To challenge the bible is to challenge Christ himself, after all; a sin within itself. (Rebellion)

However, as stated before, there could be no conflict within Christian Fiction without utilizing sin within the framework of the story to produce it. Every conflict within the Bible itself is the result of sin, though the bible clearly does not condone it.

God Bless,
The Preacher

Nateskate
02-27-2007, 10:54 PM
Thanks for clarifying, then. No, I certainly did not mean Christians never have to combat thier nature or resist very real urges. I was talking about the mindset not the desire. The mindset sometimes battles the desire.

Hi Skylar. I hope what I said didn't seem oppositional. It's not meant to be, and not a defense of justifying those things. When I was a kid I was beset with loneliness, and was made to feel like an imposition. There was no wonderful peer group. I was jealous of people who felt good and felt good about themselves. And therefore, I think like many in this world, need to self-medicate will increase if someone doesn't find love and acceptance. A desire to medicate with something, anything, sex or drugs or anything that numbs pain, is overwelming for some people.

But also being raised in a "non-religious" environment, you get different mixed-messages about right and wrong. And so as I transitioned out of atheism, and had an encounter with God, I was not a "whole" person.

No, I wasn't having sex every week. In fact, I was not having sex at all- laughs. I was a pathetic mess. But I wanted to have a girl on every arm and finger to prove to everyone I wasn't a mutant.

I'd become a Christian at a time where my life was transitioning all over the place. I was looking for a harem when I was in high school, but didn't even date one girl, and didn't know the first thing about life. And I can't explain it, but after becoming a Christian, it was like suddenly overnight the fairy godmother sprinkled me with handsome dust and atheletic prowess. I was suddenly a scholarship athlete in a rock band, and became like Josh Hartnet in Forty Nights (Not a Christian movie/and I'm not recommending it). And I can't explain this either, telling a girl you like her, want to spend time with her, but don't want to sleep with her was akin to dumping catnip in the cat bowl.

And my first thoughts were not, "Oh, this is great." Rather I was miserable. It felt like someone fixed the broken faucet and I was no longer permitted to drink the water.

I'm sure people who are affirmed and loved had way more balance, and were more likely to have healthy dispositions. Good thing God has patience and a sense of humor. I'd hardly come into Christianity with flying colors. And when I finally discovered churches and altar calls, I was up there all the time, because as much as I wanted to be this pure and wonderful Christian with glowing thoughts, even if I wasn't bedding the now hot and cold running women coming to my dorm, it wasn't because I wasn't tempted. And I felt (in my youthful ignorance) that if I was really a Christian, I wouldn't be thinking these thoughts.

HOUSE ON A ROCK
02-28-2007, 02:25 AM
Hi Skylar. I hope what I said didn't seem oppositional. It's not meant to be, and not a defense of justifying those things. When I was a kid I was beset with loneliness, and was made to feel like an imposition. There was no wonderful peer group. I was jealous of people who felt good and felt good about themselves. And therefore, I think like many in this world, need to self-medicate will increase if someone doesn't find love and acceptance. A desire to medicate with something, anything, sex or drugs or anything that numbs pain, is overwelming for some people.

But also being raised in a "non-religious" environment, you get different mixed-messages about right and wrong. And so as I transitioned out of atheism, and had an encounter with God, I was not a "whole" person.

No, I wasn't having sex every week. In fact, I was not having sex at all- laughs. I was a pathetic mess. But I wanted to have a girl on every arm and finger to prove to everyone I wasn't a mutant.

I'd become a Christian at a time where my life was transitioning all over the place. I was looking for a harem when I was in high school, but didn't even date one girl, and didn't know the first thing about life. And I can't explain it, but after becoming a Christian, it was like suddenly overnight the fairy godmother sprinkled me with handsome dust and atheletic prowess. I was suddenly a scholarship athlete in a rock band, and became like Josh Hartnet in Forty Nights (Not a Christian movie/and I'm not recommending it). And I can't explain this either, telling a girl you like her, want to spend time with her, but don't want to sleep with her was akin to dumping catnip in the cat bowl.

And my first thoughts were not, "Oh, this is great." Rather I was miserable. It felt like someone fixed the broken faucet and I was no longer permitted to drink the water.

I'm sure people who are affirmed and loved had way more balance, and were more likely to have healthy dispositions. Good thing God has patience and a sense of humor. I'd hardly come into Christianity with flying colors. And when I finally discovered churches and altar calls, I was up there all the time, because as much as I wanted to be this pure and wonderful Christian with glowing thoughts, even if I wasn't bedding the now hot and cold running women coming to my dorm, it wasn't because I wasn't tempted. And I felt (in my youthful ignorance) that if I was really a Christian, I wouldn't be thinking these thoughts.

I heard a preacher once say "I'm as sinful as the day before I got saved"...what he meant was that he still had just as much capacity to sin and temptation to it. However, the bible clearly states that we are no longer slaves to sin. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer (2 Timothy 1) and he helps us in the war within our members. Paul tells us in Phillipians that there is coming a day when "our VILE BODIES shall be transformed like unto HIS glorious body."
Right now, however, the flesh lusts against the spirit and vice versa-- a war within our members and a constant fight to mortify these bodies spiritually to obey Christ and be conformed to his image.

The Preacher

Nateskate
02-28-2007, 06:53 PM
I heard a preacher once say "I'm as sinful as the day before I got saved"...what he meant was that he still had just as much capacity to sin and temptation to it. However, the bible clearly states that we are no longer slaves to sin. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer (2 Timothy 1) and he helps us in the war within our members. Paul tells us in Phillipians that there is coming a day when "our VILE BODIES shall be transformed like unto HIS glorious body."
Right now, however, the flesh lusts against the spirit and vice versa-- a war within our members and a constant fight to mortify these bodies spiritually to obey Christ and be conformed to his image.

The Preacher

Hi P, I don't think such a proclamation as that preacher made is very hopeful.

Understating or overstating the complexities of the issue can both do harm, and I was only speaking in relation to comments relative to how people can begin at very different places. I didn't have this tremendous sense that certain things were so harmful, and I was being honest at where I was at that place in life. We can't expect everyone to agree with us on every point, not that we aren't right on many points.

But this notion that everyone is just going to think fornication is harmful isn't reality. Some may in fact be convinced it's healthy and have an entirely reasonable sounding argument why. But again, they wouldn't be familiar with the notion that "what is joined together" -which the Bible says takes place- means that sex is never just sex.

And so as people learn that there is much more taking place than a release of sexual tension, in fornication, but two spirits are getting linked together, and then when that relationship breaks, it's akin to tearing off a piece of your own spirit or this other person's spirit- which causes certain future problems- they might begin to re-evaluate jumping into the "Hey, who are we hurting" bandwagon.

God's ideal for us is "Wholeness", which is not always acheived by the fun paths. We might not have this insight when we argue with God, and I did argue with God. At least as a young man who was finally getting female attention, I was frustrated and had these immature feelings (which I see as immature now) I was thinking- "why did that have to be in the Bible? Bummer!"

I wasn't thinking, "God knows best and understands our spirits far better than we do, and the longterm outcome of linking and breaking, and how that might numb our ability to feel and set up frustration as a part of us is set on a course to look for something (that other spirit) that we can't have any longer.

I was once a very angry young man filled with bitterness. Now I'm not. In many ways I'm not the same person I was back then. It's important to suggest progress is not only possible, but expected. Otherwise, and I've seen this, entire churches dumb down to the lowest denominator. They become futility factories.

Then again, the flip side is that Christianity does not work without a continuous flow of avenues towards mercy and grace. We need mercy(undeserved forgiveness) and grace (undeserved gifts/favor), minus the judgmental attitudes and pride, for the church to be healthy.

Somewhere in-between two extremes -growth takes place and is expected. There is that realization that whenever I reach one rung of the growth ladder, there are other rungs to climb and this process continues as long as we live in this body.

Dancre
03-07-2007, 04:42 AM
Ok, I thought I'd throw in my two cents regarding the original question:

My question is, does it have to come across pejoratively to be considered by Christian publishers? Must we paint premarital sex as destructive or could the classical Biblical interpretation be challenged in fiction? Just wondering if such an idea would play in Christian markets.

First of all, Christian publishers follow the Bible, not society. Gal 5:19-21 say those who practice sin, such as fortification, will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The publishers will reject your manuscript in a heartbeat.

AS for Challenging the Bible, remember, Christianity isn't a religion, it's not a theology, or an idea. It's a relationship between God and His children. If you love God, you'll obey Him, period.

If you want your Christian character to have sex, then I suggest you concentrate on the relationship between Jesus and the MC. God isn't some judgmental beast who throws guilt out on everyone who makes the first mistake. He is a loving God who cares for His own. He wants the best for His children and He knows what is best. He's my Father. That's why He sent Jesus to die for us, to make a way into the Throne room, where we can stand before God, bathed in His love. So I suggest if the MC does have sex, then the Holy Spirit will be convicting (not condemning) him/her of the sin. You could have the MC miss the Lord Jesus and His sweet presence. (The saddest people in the world are backslidden Christians.) You could have the MC going through the consequences of the sin then in the end, she/he comes back to God's Amazing Grace.

Just remember, a Christian novel is about the relationship between God and His child, not making a challenge of the Bible. Christian books are about redemption and discovering God's sweet presence.

But if you just want to say, I'll do what I want, then no, the Christian publishers will send you the happy, little rejection slips. And if you wish to 'challange the Bible', then I doubt the true Christians will want to read your book. Just my thoughts.

kim