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.”
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.
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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Your prospects for a happy marriage may be tied to people other than your soon-to-be spouse. For example, the more people who come to your wedding, the better it bodes for your marital bliss. But the more serious premarital relationships you had before, the less likely you are to be happily married later.
A new report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, “Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults,” highlights those and other findings on how decisions and experiences before marriage can help or hurt future marriage quality.
Individuals who had more sexual partners or more experience cohabitating are not as likely to have high-quality marriages compared with those who had less, said Galena K. Rhoades, study co-author and research associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver. She said experience may provide benefit in some realms, like employment, but not in the case of marital quality.
The study does not prove cause, emphasized Rhoades and her co-author, Scott Stanley, research professor, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver and senior fellow for both the National Marriage Project and the Institute for Family Studies. The results, they said, “may reflect the fact that certain types of people are more likely to engage in certain behaviors.”
The researchers analyzed data from the national Relationship Development Study, tracking more than 1,000 Americans 18 to 34 who were not married but were in a relationship in 2007 and 2008. They followed them for five years, through 11 waves of data collection, then looked closely at 418 who married. The study was controlled for race and ethnicity, years of education, personal income and how religious subjects were.
The report notes a changed sequence of events when it comes to marriage. Courtship once led to marriage, sex and having children, but today as many as 90 percent of couples reportedly have premarital sex, and close to 40 percent of babies are born to unmarried parents. Couples are also more likely to live together before marriage.
The individual relationship histories of two people who will later marry is important, helping shape how satisfying their married life together will be, the study found.
Men and women who had other sexual partners before marrying each other reported less marital satisfaction than those who slept only with each other. In addition, marital satisfaction was higher for women who had fewer sexual partners, and marital dissatisfaction was greater in proportion to the number of partners.
Having been married previously also corresponded to lower marital quality.
The average respondent had five sexual partners before marriage. Only 23 percent of those who got married had had sex only with the future spouse.
“It’s not that when you say ‘I do’ all the other options disappear from life or mind, but you have decided that this is the one. The key factor is how you manage your sense of alternatives and how good you think those alternatives are,” Stanley said.
He and Rhoades speculate that having had more partners provides fodder for comparison and reminds one there are other choices. Plus, someone with a greater history of relationships also has experienced breakups — and may have developed skills not only to cope with them, but to facilitate them.
Children from previous relationships also sometimes complicate future marriage, the research found.
“In general, couples who wait to have sex later in their relationship report higher levels of marital quality,” the study said. “There are many possible explanations for this link. One is that some people who are already more likely to struggle in romantic relationships — such as people who are impulsive or insecure — are also more likely to have casual sex.”
It’s also possible, the study noted, that relationships that began as hook-ups may involve partners not as well matched on factors that promote happy marriages, such as shared values, interests and perspectives.
Slide vs. decide
Talking things through and making deliberate decisions helps couples over the long term in ways that drifting along does not.
“Decisions matter,” the study said. “At times of important transitions, the process of making a decision sets up couples to make stronger commitments with better follow-through as they live them out. This is undoubtedly why all cultures have rituals that add force to major decisions about the pathway ahead. We tend to ritualize experiences that are important. Couples who decide rather than slide are saying, ‘our relationship is important, so let’s think about what we’re doing here.’ Making time to talk clearly about potential transitions may contribute to better marriages.”
Couples who slide without deciding where the relationship is heading may find it harder to get out later when they’re sharing furniture and space and have signed leases, among other things. “In short, living together creates a kind of inertia that makes it difficult to change course,” the report said.
People may be “stuck with someone you might not have otherwise married,” Stanley said.
Cohabitating couples face the pressures of dating and the issues of married couples, effectively “sandwiching” them from both sides as they navigate everything from rent to relationship issues. It’s a lot to deal with, Rhoades said, and those “couples are more at risk for trouble.”
The study also found that people who had some form of marital preparation, such as relationship education, had higher marital quality. Rhoades said people need to talk about their relationships and make deliberate decisions, and that couples who live together should consider relationship education.
When it comes time to make some of those deliberate decisions, the report highlights three factors that “represent a grave problem that could become even worse down the road”: different commitment levels, premarital infidelity and physical aggression. Each factor should “lead to serious consideration about a relationship’s future.”
Big wedding, big reward:
“This study finds that couples who have larger wedding parties are more likely to report high-quality marriages,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and professor of sociology at University of Virginia, in a written statement.
“One possibility here is that couples with larger networks of friends and family may have more help and encouragement in navigating the challenges of married life. Note, however, this finding is not about spending lots of money on a wedding party; it’s about having a good number of friends and family in your corner.”
The researchers speculate that a well-attended public ceremony may reflect “a clear decision to commit to one’s marriage.” They wrote that “wedding ceremonies ritualize the foundation of commitment.”
They originally thought the association between guests and marital quality was about having good financial resources, but the association remained when they controlled for income and education. It is possible the very public nature of the commitment strengthens marital quality, they said.
Before you continue reading another article, we wanted to let you know that that we are paying Christians up to $100 for a single opinion today.
In their second round of debates, Democratic presidential candidates called for aggressive measures to slow climate change. As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has said, “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”
Politicians realize that many voters care about this issue. A 2018 survey conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities categorizes 69% of Americans as at least “somewhat worried” about climate change, the highest level these programs had recorded since 2008.
But climate is still an uncomfortable subject for many people. I study environmental communication and the obstacles people encounter when discussing climate change. My new book, “Communication Strategies for Engaging Climate Skeptics: Religion and the Environment,” considers Christians and the variety of ways they incorporate the environment into their faith.
Studying Christianity provides important insights into how to talk productively about climate change with a variety of audiences. I interviewed Christians from many different denominations and found that they don’t all think alike when it comes to the environment. Some reject environmentalism, some embrace it, and others modify it to fit their beliefs.
CHRISTIANITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
In 1967, historian Lynn White Jr. argued that Christian beliefs promoted the domination and exploitation of nature, and therefore were incompatible with environmentalism. Almost half a century later, polls showed that fewer than 50% of all U.S. Protestants and Catholics believe the Earth is warming as a result of human actions.
There are notable exceptions, such as Pope Francis, who called for action to slow climate change in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’.” Another prominent advocate for action is U.S. climate scientist and evangelical Christian Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. A growing number of Christians are joining the Creation Care movement, which combines Christianity and the environment. But as recently as early 2018, they were outnumbered by Christian climate skeptics.
Atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian married to a pastor, has taken climate science to a broad public platform. In 2016 she discussed climate change with former President Barack Obama and actor Leonardo DiCaprio at a White House ideas conference. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Christians hold a diverse range of attitudes about the environment. I divide them into three categories – separators, bargainers, and harmonizers – based on my study of religious organizations (The Cornwall Alliance, The Acton Institute, and The Evangelical Environmental Network), and interviews I conducted. I chose these three groups because they exhibit primary characteristics of the three categories.
Separators believe that faith and the environment are at odds. They tend to think environmentalism threatens their faith. One separator who I interviewed argued that climate scientists use “good causes to further evil agendas.” This person thought environmentalism was an evil force.
Bargainers adopt some aspects of environmentalism, but reject or modify others. One bargainer I interviewed said, “The climate is changing. It’s been changing for millions of years and will continue to do so.” This person changed the definition of climate change to fit the belief that climate change is natural and nothing needs to be done to address it.
Harmonizers see environmentalism as an important part of being a good Christian. Although they are not climate skeptics, they may or may not actively engage in the environmental movement. One harmonizer I interviewed said that environmentalism “begins on an individual basis.” Another argued that you only “have control over your individual actions.”
Harmonizers sometimes limit their environmentalism to personal behaviors. Most of the harmonizers I interviewed did not call for political or public action to solve climate change.
Before you continue reading another article, we wanted to let you know that that we are paying Christians up to $100 for a single opinion today.