As an actor who often speaks out about his Christian faith, Chris Pratt isn’t convinced that Hollywood is anti-religious.
“I think that there’s this narrative that exists out there that Hollywood is anti-Christian or anti-religious, but it’s just not the case,” the “Jurassic World” star told The Associated Press this week.
On the contrary, Pratt said, Hollywood’s culture encourages people to embrace whatever is authentic to them.
“They are kind of not anti-anything. They are kind of pro whatever is authentic to you. And I like that,” the actor said. “Because it’s authentic for me to be pro-Christian, pro-Jesus. That’s my thing. I like it.”
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Pratt said that no one in Hollywood has ever tried to shame him to his face about his faith. Even if they did it behind his back, he said, “I’m not going to change.”
The actor has often used his appearances on award shows to share his religious beliefs. In June, while accepting the Generation Award at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards, Pratt offered his listeners some spiritual advice.
“God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do,” Pratt said while listing what he called nine essential life rules.
He also advised the audience to be careful with their souls, serve others and learn to pray.
“You are imperfect. You always will be. But there is a powerful force that designed you that way,” the actor said. “And if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift.”
Pratt told AP that he knows this kind of message might not be for everybody. But he thinks there are people out there who are yearning to hear it.
“And nothing fills my soul more than to think that maybe some kid watching that would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about praying. Let me try that out,’” he said.
Pratt, who was raised Lutheran, spoke about his Christian awakening in a January 2017 Vanity Fair article. As a struggling young actor, the Minnesota native moved to Maui, Hawaii. He lived in a van parked on the beach and worked as a waiter at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Though his surroundings were idyllic, Pratt recalled feeling lost.
One day, when he was sitting outside a grocery story, a stranger came up and invited him to church.
“He said, ‘Jesus told me to talk to you …’ At that moment I was like, I think I have to go with this guy,” Pratt told Vanity Fair. “He took me to church. Over the next few days I surprised my friends by declaring that I was going to change my life.”
Pratt said he became a committed Christian two days later and even helped the stranger, who apparently worked for a Messianic Jewish organization.
One month later, according to Esquire, Pratt was discovered by a director at Bubba Gump Shrimp. He was cast in a short film, which eventually led to bigger acting gigs.
Last year, Pratt was spotted in Los Angeles attending Hillsong Church, which is part of an evangelical Christian group of churches known for attracting quite a few celebrities, including Justin Bieber and Kourtney Kardashian.
He feels speaking publicly about his faith has become his calling, Pratt told AP.
“That’s like the only way I feel like I can repay what has essentially been a giant gift in my life,” he said.
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After Killing of Clergyman, Priest Narrowly Escapes Death in Southeastern Nigeria
JOS, Nigeria, August 19, 2019 (Morning Star News) – After the killing of a Roman Catholic priest and a parishioner in southeastern Nigeria earlier this month, another clergyman on Thursday (Aug. 15) narrowly escaped an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen about 40 miles away, sources said.
Armed Fulani herdsmen on Aug. 1 killed the Rev. Paul Offu in Awgu town, south of Enugu city in Enugu state, as he was returning to his church site after a visit to other congregations he was overseeing, according to Enugu Diocese officials. The herdsmen shot his car as he drove along Ihe-Agbudu Road, forcing it to a halt, and then dragged him out and shot him to death, diocese spokesman Emmanuel Nkemjika Igwesihi said in a press statement.
The herdsmen took parishioner Kenneth Igwe in the ambush. Police found his corpse on Aug. 5, according to Igwesihi.
“The Rev. Fr. Paul Offu was shot dead by some Fulani herdsmen who took him into the bush around 2 p.m.,” the Rev. Ben Achi, director of communications for the diocese told Morning Star News by phone. “He was accosted by the herdsmen and was shot dead.”
About 69 kilometers (42 miles) north, herdsmen on Thursday (Aug. 15) ambushed another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Chimezie Ani, near Caritas University, a Catholic university in Amorji-Nike, as he drove toward Ugwuomu, the priest told Morning Star News.
A Florida court has overturned a circuit judge’s ruling that women should not be expected to adhere to a waiting period before obtaining an abortion.
In a victory for pro-lifers, the First District Court of Appeal effectively re-legitimized a 2015 law requiring women to wait 24 hours before making a final decision to undergo a termination procedure. The case will now be passed back to the Leon County circuit court for reconsideration.
Writing the majority opinion alongside Judge Harvey Jay, Judge Timothy Osterhaus argued that, as per state guidelines, a 24-hour waiting period is needed to ensure “informed consent” from the woman seeking an abortion.
“Rather than singling out and burdening abortion procedures with arbitrary requirements, the state’s evidence indicates that the 24-hour law brings abortion procedures in Florida into compliance with medical informed consent standards and tangibly improves health outcomes for women,” Osterhaus added, according to the Miami Herald.
In January, the now-retired Leon County Circuit Judge, Terry Lewis, argued that the waiting period law was unconstitutional, violated privacy rights and acted as an unnecessary hold-up for women seeking to abort their baby. Lewis also issued a summary judgment without holding a full trial – something the appeals court deemed unfair.
The appeals court majority argued that because a “disputed genuine issues of material fact remain, appellees [the law’s opponents] are not entitled to final summary judgment.” It added that “further consideration of appellees’ constitutional challenge,” must now take place.
“Women claiming particular harms from the 24-hour law based on their specific circumstances may challenge the law’s application to them. But those would be as-applied constitutional challenges. No such challenge has been made here,” Osterhaus noted. “For this facial challenge, the correct legal test is not whether the 24-hour law violates the constitutional rights of some women in some circumstances, but whether it violates the rights of all women in all circumstances.”
Former Florida governor, Republican Rick Scott, signed the waiting period measure into law back in 2015.
At the time, Republican state Representative Jennifer Sullivan, who sponsored the legislation, said that the law “means women will be empowered to make fully informed decisions,” according to Reuters.
“It’s just common courtesy to have a face-to-face conversation with your doctor about such an important decision, she added, “especially for such an irreversible procedure as an abortion.”
For Dave Munson, founder and owner of Saddleback Leather, furthering the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t just a pleasant catchphrase — it’s a belief he applies to all areas of life.
“I believe in doing ministry wherever God puts you,” he told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. “Study the Bible, and get to know God, seek after Him. And then, whichever ministry He puts you in, whether it’s in a church or bank or accounting office, just be obedient, and He will bless that.”
A former youth pastor and YoungLife leader-turned-CEO of one of the top leather goods company in the country, Munson’s story is anything but ordinary — in fact, it all began in the back of a beat-up pickup truck.
After attending a Bible college in 1999, the Texas native decided to move to Juarez, Mexico to work as a volunteer English teacher at a Christian school.
“You could say it was pretty rough living,” he chuckled. “My dog Blue and I lived in a $100-a-month apartment with no hot water for three years.”
It was there that he discovered a need for the perfect bag: A durable, weather-resistant one that could withstand even the toughest Mexico summer. As Munson put it, “something like Indiana Jones would carry, something that would last forever.”
After sketching his ideal bag, Munson hired a local leather craftsman to bring his vision to life. Once he received it, he knew he’d created something special.
“I took my bag to the U.S. and everyone wanted one. Every day, someone asked me where I got my bag,” he recalled. “So, I went back down to Mexico and had 8 more bags made and just sold them in the back of my Land Cruiser. I just kept getting more and more requests. People were crazy for them.”
For Munson, the goal in selling bags was simple: “I figured, ‘if these bags are popular enough, they could support my ministry.’ That was the mentality behind all of it,” he said. “I really didn’t think it would be so successful. The purpose for designing bags was so that I could do ministry, because I didn’t want to waste my life.”
Munson’s bags began to sell at a rapid rate — and the rest is history. Today, Saddleback Leather — a company with the tongue-in-cheek motto, “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead” — is a wildly successful company. Their bags, wallets, and other leather products have an 100-year warranty, a guarantee reflected in their overwhelmingly positive online reviews. Saddleback Leather has also been highlighted in Forbes, Fox Business, and a slew of other magazines.
Although headquartered in Texas, the company’s Mexico factory employs 260 workers, all of whom have access to English classes, daycare, and other opportunities.
“We’ve had at least 125 people get saved there at the factory,” Munson shared. “You have to love them with two hands; one, with acts of compassion, and one with the Word of God. We try to impact our employees by showing them God’s love. So, daycare is free for our employees. Their children are learning English, learning about the power of God in creation, learning about Jesus and how much He loves them.”
Munson and his wife Suzette, alongside Saddleback Leather, launched a second company a few years ago called Love 41 Opens a New Window — a company dedicated to fighting genocide and poverty in Africa. All of the proceeds from the online store’s sales go to support the work of Africa New Life Ministries as well as JDRF, Mercy Ships, Africa New Life Women’s Center Vocational School, and other organizations.
“If Saddleback wasn’t ministering to people, if the Kingdom of God wasn’t growing through it, if people weren’t being blessed, I would get rid of it,” Munson told GH. “My life’s goal is the Great Commission; it’s to lead people to the Lord and for God to use me. Everything we do at our company is in His name.”
When asked what advice he’d offer young entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in a way that honors God, Munson’s advice was simple.
“If that desire is on your heart, then just start a business,” he said. “God is most glorified when we’re working in the areas where we reflect Him more. Find your strengths and use them. Work is not the result of the fall; we were made and designed to work, so God is glorified when we work.”
He added, “It doesn’t have to be paid by a church or working for a Christian thing for it to be a ministry. Wherever God puts you, whatever that may be, is your ministry.”
The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most well-known stories around the world. With a slew of historical evidence, there’s little doubt — even among critics — His brutal death actually occurred. However, the question then arises: “Did Jesus actually resurrect from the dead, as documented in the Scriptures? Or did something else happen with his body?
Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed throughout the Bible: The Gospel of Luke records in chapter 24 verses 2 and 3, “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The Apostle Paul also tells us that if Christ has not been raised, our faith is useless. But Jesus has been resurrected. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is they victory? They have been swallowed up in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Here are five facts from notable Christian leaders to prove Christ’s resurrection is real.
Lee Strobel, best-selling author of numerous books including The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, previously explained that the well-documented execution of Jesus is evidence of His resurrection.
“We have no record of anyone surviving a full Roman crucifixion. The evidence for the execution is so strong historically because not only do we have multiple sources in the New Testament, we have five ancient sources outside the New Testament that confirm and corroborate His execution,” he explained. “I found that there is no dispute among scholars that Jesus was dead after being crucified.”
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical experts analyzed the crucifixion and concluded, “Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.”
Early Acceptance of Christianity
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said that the early acceptance of Christianity — and especially the resurrection — argues for the validity of the message.
“Unlike what liberal scholars used to tell us, that the Bible was written, especially the Gospel, many decades after the events of Christ, even the most liberal scholars will tell you now that the Gospels were written within a few years of the events that they purport to tell,” he explained.
“So, the fact that the resurrection account came right after Jesus’ life and was widely embraced by people I think argues to its authenticity. As experts tell us, a fictitious event, has to be reported maybe several hundred years after an event before it can gain credibility and corrupt the original source. People in the beginning were willing to die for this truth that Jesus was raised from the dead.”
The Empty Tomb
Jeffress said a key piece of evidence outside the Bible for the truth of the resurrection is the empty tomb itself.
“People will say, ‘Well that’s in the Bible.’ No, it’s actually outside of the Bible as well,” he said. “We know from external, extra biblical sources that Jesus actually lived; we know that one of the early claims of Christianity was that He was raised from the dead, and the fact is, for 2,000 years, nobody has been able to produce the body.”
The pastor contended that because Christ’s body has never been found, the question arises: What happened to the body if it wasn’t resurrected?
“Some people say it was stolen; well who stole it? The Romans and Jewish leaders had no motivation to steal it, they wanted to stamp out Christianity before it even started,” he said. “The apostles lacked the courage to steal it, they all deserted Christ before his death. Peter, the most courageous apostle, denied the Lord three times before His crucifixion.”
“If it wasn’t the apostles, if it wasn’t the Roman or Jewish leaders, the question is, who moved the stone?” he continued. “I think these are two extra biblical arguments that argue for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”
Strobel said that eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are the most convincing proofs that point to the resurrection.
“We’re lucky in the ancient world if we have one or two sources to confirm a fact,” he said. “But for the conviction of the disciples that they had encountered the resurrected Christ, we have no fewer than nine ancient sources from inside and outside the New Testament, confirming and corroborating His appearances. The resurrection really confirms His identity of being the Son of God.”
He later argued: “Reports that come so quickly, you can’t just write them off as being a legend. We have one report of the resurrection, including named eye-witnesses, that has been dated back by scholars to within months of the resurrection of Jesus. That is historical gold.”
The Establishment and Growth of the Christian Church
Blogger and DesiringGod.com contributor Matt Perman says that the existence of the Christian church is strong proof for the resurrection.
“[Even] the most skeptical NT scholars admit that the disciples at least believed that Jesus was raised from the grave,” he writes. “First century Judaism had no conception of a single individual rising from the dead in the middle of history. Their concept was always that everybody would be raised together at the end of time. So the idea of one individual rising in the middle of history was foreign to them. Thus, Judaism of that day could have never produced the resurrection hypothesis.”
“Psychologists will tell you that hallucinations cannot contain anything new–that is, they cannot contain any idea that isn’t already somehow in your mind. Since the early disciples were Jews, they had no conception of the messiah rising from the dead in the middle of history. Thus, they would have never hallucinated about a resurrection of Christ. At best, they would have hallucinated that he had been transported directly to heaven, as Elijah had been in the OT, but they would have never hallucinated a resurrection…So we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith.”
Why is the resurrection of Christ important? Best-selling author Josh McDowell says that for Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is the “cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.”
“No matter how devastating our struggles, disappointments, and troubles are, they are only temporary,” he explains. “No matter what happens to you, no matter the depth of tragedy or pain you face, no matter how death stalks you and your loved ones, the resurrection promises you a future of immeasurable good.”
There’s so much talk these days about so-called “Millennials.” Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. They are “digital natives,” and the defining events of their lives include the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, the War on Terror, Harry Potter, the Great Recession, and the birth of social media. Oh, and by the way, they love avocado toast.
They are also the “biggest” generation: Some 78 million strong. In the next five or six years, they will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce.
On the whole, Millennials tend to be skeptical of absolutes, and anyone or anything claiming to be the authority on life and the world. Thus, they tend to be skeptical about the Bible. Only 9 percent of Millennials claim to read the Bible on a daily basis, and only 30 percent believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God.
All of this leads to an acute challenge for many in older generations: How to pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren. I’m happy to tell you there’s a new book that can really help.
Two Millennial Christian thought leaders, Michael and Lauren Green McAfee, seeking to overcome the skepticism of their peers about the Bible, have written a new and engaging book, “Not What You Think: Why the Bible Might Be Nothing We Expected but Everything We Need.”
Michael is director of community initiatives at the Museum of the Bible. His wife Lauren, who now works at the Hobby Lobby corporate offices, helped get the museum up and running. So they both have a deep, sincere passion to share their love for the Bible.
The first part of “Not What You Think” is devoted to explaining exactly who Millennials are: their demographics, aspirations, preferences, etc. One of the key characteristics we must understand is that Millennials came of age at a time when the very notion of truth was, well, fuzzy at best.
“Our era is one in which truth has moved from objective reality to personal response,” they write. “Our generation generally hesitates to accept truth outside of personal experience and opinion.”
This is the first huge obstacle for approaching Millennials with traditional Christian apologetics, which depends on the absolute and objective Truth claims revealed in the Bible. And yet, this is where these millennial authors succeed as they invite their fellow Millennials to engage Scripture. While being upfront and honest about the truth claims of the Bible, they make the case that the Old and New Testaments, unlike other religious holy books and texts, are not primarily a set of rules. Instead, they present a grand Story woven together by God through various authors over a millennium and a half. It’s a story that God invites us all to join.
Throughout their book, the McAfees argue convincingly—and in detail—that both Testaments, from Genesis through Revelation, point to the God-Man, Jesus. Thus, the Bible not only invites us into God’s cosmic drama, it invites us into a relationship with the Creator of the universe.
“What if,” they write, “truth is not just a point of view . . . not just a list of rules—yours, ours, or anyone else’s? What if truth is not the ever-changing consensus of the crowd but instead is a person whom you get to know and who knows you. This person’s story is told in the Bible. His name is Jesus.”
This is exactly the kind of book that will not only help you communicate the importance of Scripture to younger generations, it’s a book you can actually give to younger generations. And, it’s a great resource for Sunday School classes and small groups to learn more about the “biggest” generation, while also learning about how to better reach them.
At middle school church camp, we were given a lesson in abstinence: chewed-up gum, stuck onto a piece of paper. Try as you might, you couldn’t get the gum off. The paper became useless; something you’d toss in the trash. It would never be the perfect, clean, white sheet it’d once been. The wad of gum had defiled it. The wad of gum was your virginity.
I think the analogy was a really inaccurate one, not to mention a damaging one. It emphasized two things: 1) my value is conditional on whether or not I am a virgin, and 2) I am broken or lesser if I am not one.
I am a Christian, and I believe wholeheartedly that premarital sex isn’t something God wants for us. God’s idea of intimacy is one that is foundational in Him and within the boundaries of a committed relationship. Still, as a Christian, I refuse to stigmatize premarital sex. Here’s why:
The Bible never actually forbids premarital sex. (I’m not “bending the rules,” and I’m not trying to find biblical loopholes. There actually isn’t a single verse in the Bible that forbids premarital sex.) It’s true that the New Testament talks a lot about “sexual immorality.” But what is sexual immorality? Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us a clear definition. We’re left to interpret for ourselves, leaving a lot of room for error in our less-than-informed interpretations.
Leviticus 18 is the closest thing we have to a definition of sexual immorality. What the chapter does forbid is incest, bestiality, and homosexuality. Premarital sex isn’t on the list. Even if we consider the 7th Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” it’s not so easy to jump to conclusions. By definition, the commandment is preventing lusting after someone if either person is in a relationship. It’s essentially telling us, “Stay faithful, don’t cheat, and be loyal.” We might make the leap that the command implies, “Stay faithful to your future partner by waiting until marriage,” but in a word-for-word translation, it is not saying to avoid premarital sex.
There’s also the idea that biblically, a woman’s value was contingent on her status as a virgin. A man had to pay a woman’s father so that he could take the woman as his wife, and the dowry was determined by her social class and virginity, among other things. If a man slept with a virgin, he was to pay her father money in exchange for having taken her virginity; if he did not pay, it was considered stealing from the woman’s father. So the “sin” of premarital sex had nothing to do with the act itself, but the devaluation of the woman as if the man had stolen from her father (look at Deuteronomy 22:28 for evidence).
Still, even if it’s not explicitly stated in the Bible, we can infer as Christians that God probably doesn’t want us engaging in premarital sex. He made humanity in His image, and He doesn’t want us to be lustful, prone to temptation, or caught up in messy, uncommitted relationships. He wants the foundation of any Christian relationship to be Himself, and He wants us to save the really beautiful moments for the right time and the right people.
But we seem to forget far too often that Jesus modeled love, acceptance, and compassion for people who’d committed every kind of wrongdoing. He hung out with prostitutes, thieves, and the sexually immoral, knowing full well that the things they had done were sinful, but loving them anyway. In fact, he repeatedly preached that the lost, the broken, and the hurt would be the first to inherit God’s kingdom. Our mindset as Christians (which literally means “little Christs”) should not be, “How can I love you when you’ve done this?” but rather, “I love you because and in spite of this.”
We need to stop teaching young girls that their virginities are like crumpled-up flowers, irreversibly damaged once they’ve been crushed. The great wonder of God’s love is that it discards what is damaged and replaces it with something new, perfect, and clean. Aren’t we all redeemed and whole in God’s eyes? Who are we to stigmatize someone else’s sin when we — like them — are sinners, and we — like them — have been forgiven by undeserved grace?
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There is no passage of the Bible that references premarital sex as a sin against God. The association between sin and premarital sex is a new Christian idea. The only possible reference to premarital sex being a sin in the Bible is in the New Testament. This premise although, is generally dismissed by theologians because the Greek word pornei, or sexual immorality is commonly incorrectly translated into the English word fornication.
In Biblical times women were the owned property of a man. Men ruled over women and their children. Women had very few, if any, rights, and men often bought women from their families or at an auction, usually at age twelve and a half. The fathers owned the women (daughters, wives, concubines, handmaidens, servants etc.) and if you wanted to have intercourse with one of his properties, then you had to ask his permission.
If a father sold a daughter, he would get more money for her if she was a virgin. Non-virgins were less expensive to buy. If a man purchased a daughter at a virgin price, and she was not, or she did not bleed during intercourse, then he could return her to her father and get his money back.
Most marriages were arranged for financial reasons. Many couples never even met until the day of the marriage. On the day of marriage the proposed husband would give a dowry, or monetary compensation, to the father of a bride. The price of the dowry was different from woman to woman, was determined by the father, and was based on the woman’s beauty, ability to bear children, strength, household skills, and status as a virgin.
In the Old Testament, many verses that people cite for being against premarital sex are actual verses against stealing another man’s property.
In Exodus 22:16 – 17, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay the bride-price for her, and she will be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.” According to this, the only reason any wrong was done is because the father of the woman lost money when the man and the woman consented to having premarital sex without her father’s knowledge. This passage showed that through premarital sex, the man is actually stealing from the woman’s father, the difference in value between her as a virgin and her as a non-virgin. It does not show that premarital sex is wrong.
In Deuteronomy 22:28 – 29 it says, “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.” This shows that forced premarital sex, or rape is also stealing, but unlike the book of exodus, this trespass provides a punishment, as the male rapist not only stole from the woman herself but from the woman’s father as well.
Another example of premarital sex in the Old Testament is given in Deuteronomy 21:10. This is a case in which a man takes a woman captive and then if he wants to make her his wife he must follow the conditions it sets forth, and then have intercourse with her. Then, if she is found to be desirable he has the option of marrying her or sending her away. This passage not only possibly condones premarital sex, but maybe even divorce as well.
Even the 10 Commandments don’t forbid premarital sex. Most Christians would classify premarital sex under the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” but adultery is defined as: voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. If neither persons are married, it cannot be adultery.
If the man performing the premarital sex was married and the woman was not, in biblical times this did not matter. The reason for this was that in biblical times adultery was defined as a situation in which there was the danger of a married woman being impregnated by another man. This is also why sex with a prostitute is/was not adultery, even if the man is married. In the Hebrew understanding of the Adultery Commandment of Moses, Adultery, as understood by what Moses said, was only wrong for married women, never a married man.
Even Solomon, a great prophet of the Bible who was said to be favored by God had seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines. The Bible shows that polygamy, rape, incest, and orgies were not only accepted, but were often rewarded by God and were common practice of “great men of the Bible,” none of whom were ever spoken out against in the Bible.
Christ’s teachings at the Sermon on the Mount were that the only law is the law of love. He showed this by reversing four of the Old Testament laws which conflicted with loving people. Therefore, anything that was unkind, not by mutual consent, etc. would be immoral for a Christian, but obviously it would not be immoral to love sexuality before marriage or because of different but natural sexual orientation.
The New Testament says nothing about premarital sex. Some versions though do mistranslate the Greek word pornei, which means sexual immorality, into the English word fornication, which means sexual intercourse with someone who one is not married to.
Pornei, meaning sexual immorality, included such things as having sex with a woman during menstruations, adultery, temple prostitution, and pederasty.
Adultery although, is not the same sin we know today, in which it is common for a man and a woman to be considered equal. The Hebrew understanding of adultery was that it was wrong for a married woman to have sex with another man since that violated her husbands property rights to his wife. It was not wrong for a man because a woman had no such property rights. A married man could have as many wives as he could afford as long as he did not marry another man’s property.
Temple prostitution was actually the practice of the prostitutes in the Temples of Corinth selling their services as a part of the worship of a pagan fertility goddess, which was what Paul was warning against when he spoke of uniting the members of Christ with a prostitute in I Corinthians 6:12-17. This passage was not even specifically about prostitution, which was still legal and very popular in modern day Israel, but prostitution used as a form of pagan worship. He was speaking out against idolatry, not prostitution.
Pederasty was one of the worst of all sexual sins and it took on many forms. The practice of pederasty falls into three different categories. The first form is that of a sexual relationship between an older man and a young boy. Second is the practice of having a sexual relationship with slave prostitutes. Third is having a sexual relationship with an effeminate male prostitute, commonly called a “call boy” or Gigolo. Other such practices included two heterosexual males degrading one another by anal intercourse after capturing them in a battle. Another practice was heterosexuals’ using anal intercourse to drive away other heterosexual strangers they didn’t like. An example of this would be the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19:1-5. “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom, both young and old-surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
This story had absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Sexual orientation is a modern concept and was not labeled as such in biblical times. It is far better understood in the modern era. This was a story of hospitality, as displayed by Lot. The men had surrounded the house for the sole purpose of gang raping the unwanted travelers, and Lot, the owner of the house, even offered his virgin daughters to calm the mob and save his guests. This not only shows that pederasty was at times culturally accepted in biblical times, but it also proves that women were thought of as property and little more. That’s not saying either one of the above is OK. It was just practiced.
In every case of premarital sex in the Bible there is no punishment for the sexual act. The only penalty is the man had to pay compensation to the father for the woman’s change in market value.
Today however, because most women are of a comparable status to men in most parts of the Christian world, there is no market value for daughters in Christian cultures. Given this, it stands to reason that the only penalty for having premarital sex is now gone. In fact, a document authorized by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church stated that the passages in the Biblical book SONG OF SONGS are “in praise of sexual love, celebrating youthful passion, with no reference to marriage… It affirms that sexual love is in itself good and beneficial.”
If the notion of God allowing one practice during certain periods of time and not during others seems absurd to you consider God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, saying that if David’s wives and concubines were not enough, He would have given David even more. (2 Samuel 12:8 ) Indeed the whole polygamy / bigamy thing can be rather confusing as it relates to God’s expectations around sex and marriage.
Today many women have the same social and political freedoms that men have always had. But to say that responsible premarital sex, or fornication is somehow wrong, shows little more than ignorance to biblical teachings. Many of the sexually repressive teachings that developed in the middle ages are still being followed today. These teachings are based on oppressive Christian traditions that have no biblical basis other than ignorance.
As we shall see from further discussion the key word above is “responsible.” It remains obvious when one examines the entirety of the Bible that marriage is God’s desired endgame for partners in a committed, loving, sexual relationship.
A final note to those who might quote the “one man, one woman” passage in Matthew 19. Jesus is talking about the act of marriage here, not premarital sex. Jesus didn’t say one word about premarital sex.
Since Jesus was a Jew he was undoubtedly very familiar with the Torah. Let’s examine Judaism’s attitude toward premarital sex as well. It’s rather intriguing.
After that we’ll wrap up with some additional thoughts at the end.
The Torah does not outlaw premarital sex
It doesn’t outlaw many other types of sexual relationships either. Nonetheless, marital sex is considered ideal, and premarital sex is traditionally not approved of.
The negative attitude toward premarital sex, to a large degree, reflects the overwhelmingly positive attitude toward sex within marriage. Marriage is referred to as kiddushin, which comes from the Hebrew word for “holy.” In Judaism, holy things are things that are set apart and made special and unique.
When sex is reserved for marriage, it too is considered holy. Most Jewish authorities disapprove of premarital sex because it does not take place within the context of kiddushin.
What of a long-term committed sexual relationship in which two people–though not married–have designated each other as their exclusive partner? This question has been raised by some liberal Jewish thinkers; however, both the Conservative and Reform movement (officially) reject the possibility of attributing kedushah (holiness) to such a relationship.
As mentioned, the Torah does not directly prohibit premarital sex. Indeed, at times, rabbinic authorities and traditional sources have been lenient in this area. In medieval Spain, Nahmanides permitted sex with an unmarried woman who was not involved with another man. Nonetheless, for traditional Jews, premarital sex is not without halakhic (legal) complication. The Torah prohibits sex between a man and a woman who is menstruating (known as a niddah). This prohibition is in place until the woman’s period is complete and she immerses in a mikveh or ritual bath. This restriction applies to both married and unmarried couples, though it is considered inappropriate for a non-married woman (except for a soon-to-be bride) to immerse in a mikveh. Thus sex between an unmarried man and woman can violate a Torah decree.
Interestingly, the Torah does sanction one type of non-marital sexual relationship: concubinage. A concubine or pilegesh is a woman who, though involved exclusively with one man, does not receive the legal benefits of marriage. In biblical times, concubines were kept in addition to a wife or wives. In recent centuries, Jewish authorities have, for the most part, dismissed the validity of concubinage. An interesting exception is the 18th century legal authority Jacob Emden, who suggested re-instituting the practice. Today, liberal authorities like Arthur Waskow are once again exploring the viability of this concept.
Other liberal authorities have pointed out the need to develop a new sexual ethic to address the reality of premarital sex. Waskow, a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, suggests altering our expectation of marriage to “make it easy for sexually active people from puberty on to enter and leave marriages.” Even the Conservative and Reform movements, who still stress the ideal of marital sex, acknowledge that Judaism’s position on human sexuality is not consonant with the trends of contemporary life. Both denominations have suggested that premarital sexual relationships–where they exist–should be conducted according to the ethical principles that govern married sex: namely with the respect due to all humans as beings created in the image of God. In addition, Conservative rabbi Elliot Dorff has stressed the importance of modesty, fidelity, health and safety in non-marital sex.
Let’s learn more about Dorff’s notion of “the importance of modesty, fidelity, health and safety in non-marital sex.”
The two roles Judaism assigns to sex are procreation and marital companionship. Sexual activity and procreation, of course, can take place outside the context of marriage, but classical Jewish texts do not see that as proper. Marriage (kiddushin) is holy precisely because a man and woman set each other apart from all others to live their lives together, taking responsibility for each other, caring for each other, and helping each other live through life’s highs and lows. They also take responsibility for the children they bear. The willingness to assume these responsibilities is critical both for their own pleasure and growth and for the perpetuation of the Jewish community and the Jewish tradition.
Marriage is also important in Judaism because it provides a structure for achieving core Jewish values in our intimate lives–values like honesty, modesty, love, health and safety, and holiness.
Marriage is no guarantee that we will succeed in this, but it does help us attain those values. Thus Judaism is not being irrational, prudish, old fashioned, unrealistic, or mean in demanding that we limit our sexual intercourse to the context of marriage; it is rather responding to concerns that are at least as real and important in the fragmented society of today as they were in the more stable society of times past.
Sometimes, though, people do not meet an appropriate mate despite a conscientious search, and sometimes marriages end in divorce. Moreover, because Jews commonly go to college and graduate school, they are often not ready to assume the responsibilities of marriage until well after they mature biologically. Some can nevertheless adhere to the Jewish tradition’s ideal of restricting sex to marriage, but others fall short.
Although Judaism clearly would have Jews restrict intercourse to marriage, singles in our society generally do not abide by that norm. Under such circumstances, it is important to understand that the violation of one Jewish norm does not entitle an individual to ignore all others; it is not an either or situation, in which one either abides by all of what Judaism has to say about these matters or follows none of it.
On the contrary, precisely those values that lead Judaism to advocate marriage–honesty, modesty, health and safety, love, and holiness–still apply to sexual relations outside marriage; they are just harder to achieve in that context. Indeed, precisely because unmarried couples cannot rely on the support of a marital bond to foster those values, it is all the more critical that if they engage in sexual intercourse, they must consciously strive to live by them. Even though their behavior will not be ideal by Jewish standards, to the extent that they can make those values real in their lives, they will be preserving their own humanity, their Jewishness, and their own mental and physical health, as well as that of their partner.
Since sexual intercourse can lead to conception, sexual activity outside marriage raises questions not only in the realm of Jewish morals but also in the arena of medical ethics. Specifically, couples who conceive out of wedlock face the question of whether to abort the fetus, to carry it to term and give it up for adoption, or to raise it under the parentage of one or both members of the couple.
Jewish norms would, first of all, mandate sex education for preteens, teenagers, and adults. The topics should include not only the anatomy of sex and the mechanics of intercourse and contraception but also the overarching concepts and values that should inform a Jew’s approach to sex. In addition, it should be emphasized to teenagers in particular that their sexual activity should not be determined by peer pressure and that there are forms of sexual activity short of intercourse that can be quite fulfilling but preclude the possibility of pregnancy and its complications.
Moreover, for all ages, an adequate curriculum in sex education from a Jewish perspective must pay considerable attention to the health and safety risks involved in sex with multiple partners. This is especially important these days, since a number of sexually transmitted diseases that could be cured by antibiotics until the early 1990s have now developed strains that are resistant to the drugs currently available. Moreover, AIDS, at least as of now, is both incurable and lethal. Because these medical developments pose increased danger to those involved in sex outside marriage, and because condoms offer some measure of protection against those diseases, an adequate sex education program must provide condoms and other contraceptive devices with clear instructions on how to use them.
Some fear that if rabbis and Jewish educators frankly discuss sex outside marriage and even make contraceptives available, people will conclude that Judaism is not serious in prohibiting premarital sex. There is undeniably some danger of such misunderstanding. If Judaism is to affect the world as it actually is, though, contemporary applications of its norms dare not ignore the widespread behavior of Jews and others within our society. According to the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other studies, fully 72 percent of high school seniors, and 90 percent of twenty two year olds, have had sexual intercourse. Therefore, failure to distribute condoms and other contraceptives invites abortion, AIDS, and the other medical risks of unprotected sex with multiple partners for many, many people.
The Jewish tradition mandates that sex be restricted to marriage for very good reasons. Jewish law also requires, however, that we save lives and limit abortion. We must therefore earnestly engage in sex education, urging young adults to refrain from sexual intercourse before marriage for the many good reasons Judaism provides, but we must also deal realistically, supportively, and therapeutically with the many who fall short of that ideal to preserve their health and their very lives.
Wherever your thinking falls in all of the above admonishments does that mean you should resolve to head out and do the football team or the cheerleader squad as fast as possible? Absolutely not.
Sex is a powerful thing. It’s easy to hurt people with sex including yourself. People get attached when they give themselves in this way and if it doesn’t work out they can be terribly heartbroken. It’s a serious choice and it should be taken seriously. Since the most important law in Christianity is the Law of Love this must apply to sex too. Don’t use people. Don’t hurt people. Don’t hurt their feelings. Don’t lead them to think you feel one way when you really don’t just to get sex. Don’t view them as an object. Don’t push them to do something they may not be ready for. Sex must be mutual. Truly care for them before even considering sex. Care for them on a deep level so that you would never dream of hurting them. Be kind and giving to them. Have things in common that you consistently enjoy doing with one another. Don’t treat each other poorly or rudely. If you get in an argument resolve it quickly. Be monogamous. Don’t cheat. Don’t say bad things behind one another’s backs. Take care of each other’s emotions and well-being. Have each other’s backs. Be best friends. Desire that your relationship lasts and use reliable birth control.
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