Saturday, November 21, 2009

Premarital Sex: Does St. Paul Permit and Sanction It in 1 Corinthians 7:36? (vs. Scott Nemeth)


Scott Nemeth: 40-year-old unmarried non-virgin, and proud of it

Scott Nemeth is a person who seems to want to be identified online as one who has "proven" that premarital sex, or fornication, is permitted by the Bible. Hence he states in his profile:

I'm someone who has studied the topic of premarital sex in the New Testament in great detail. Over the years I've known that this whole topic was weaker in the original Greek writings of the New Testament than we are traditionally taught. This fact has given me enough doubt to feel OK about sexual activity I've had outside of marriage. More recently I decided I was done feeling just “OK” about this issue though and I was determined to know the absolute truth about premarital sex in the original writings of the New Testament with 100% certainty. The results of this study were surprising. Not only is the topic of premarital sex weaker in the Greek; there is hardly any puritanical standard described within the original writings of the New Testament. In fact the original writings tell us outright that premarital sex is NOT a sin. Check 1 Cor 7:36 in the KJV. I created this blog to discuss and provide news and information regarding the can of worms I'm opening.

He goes about his task on his blog, Not Another Generation. Near the top of the sidebar, he makes the following claim, complete with the obligatory reference to the dreaded "Christian Right":

The 3 Quick & Dirty Facts that the 'Christian' Right will never tell you about premarital sex in the Bible.

[ . . . ]

#2 The literal order of words of 1 Cor 7:36 put sex before marriage and it is declared to NOT be a sin. This is true in the Greek as well as the KJV, but it gets 'censored' in the modern translations.

He seems to regard this passage (if any one is to be chosen) as the "clincher" or knockout punch for his position of biblically condoned sexual activity outside of marriage. In a post devoted to it, he states:

The literal order of words in this verse, both in the original Greek and also in the King James Version put sexual activity before marriage and it is declared to not be a sin. When you realize the implications of the literal order of words of 1 Corinthians 7:36 it is hilarious to see how various modern translators attempt to deal with it. . . .

Bible translations do seem to be getting increasingly puritanical, at least depending on who the intended marketplace is. . . . Just remember, the Greek word for marriage is only used once, and it is the LAST word of this verse.

I first learned of Scott when he stopped by my blog (anyone is welcome to, including those holding any and all opposing views) and wrote (appropriately, under one of my main dialogues about premarital sex):

According to your views I'm supposed to be a 40 year-old virgin because I've never been married. Get real. The Scriptures do not condemn premarital sex, in fact it appears to be a blessing. Check out my blog or website and I'll show you the 3 Quick & Dirty facts that the 'Christian' Right will never tell you about premarital sex in the Bible.

I replied:

If you want to experience sex in the way that God intended, get married. What is so difficult about that? If you want to become that close to another person, then you should go the whole way and become united in soul and spirit, and make a commitment. This is not rocket science. It's basic common sense, confirmed by experience. Even your average love song "gets" it. There is a reason why a prostitute is a despised person; even despises herself.

The sexual revolution did not make this country a paradise and everyone astonishingly happy. That was all a big lie. I bought it for many years too. But now the results are in and we don't have the luxury of delusion, wishful thinking, and of selfish hedonism.

The Bible doesn't sanction sex outside of marriage. It's plain as day. But people manage to rationalize almost anything out of Scripture. I think you should be honest about it and just admit that you don't care about what Scripture teaches if you want to go this route.

I doubt that your arguments are even serious, given the frivolous title, but I'll check it out, out of curiosity. It might be fun to offer some sort of refutation.

After scanning his website, I reiterated:

Yeah; it looks interesting. I'll try to make some time for this in the near future, especially if you're willing to engage in a serious debate about what we each think the Bible actually teaches.

* * * * *

So here I am again writing about the Bible's view on sexuality: always a controversial endeavor in this day and age. Let's look very closely at 1 Corinthians 7:36, in context, and with consideration of the original Greek and many translations of it, and see if the Apostle Paul explicitly sanctions premarital sexuality, as Scott claims. I think many readers will be in for a big surprise at what can be discovered therein. In some ways, I was myself (I never fail to learn a lot whenever I delve into the Bible).

You'll note above that Scott considers the passage especially compelling for his position in the KJV. He alludes to that more than once. He thinks there is some sort of conspiracy among Bible translators, to become "increasingly puritanical." So let's examine the KJV rendering: not just the single verse, but the surrounding context and the complete scenario that Paul is dealing with:

1 Corinthians 7:36-38 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. [37] Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. [38] So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Did you notice something unusual in there, particularly in 7:38 (I helped a bit with my bolding)? I didn't realize this, either, until I studied it more closely today (it was one of those marvelous "biblical discoveries" I love to find). The passage is not even talking about a man and his future bride (betrothed, engaged, or at the least, seriously in love). Paul is referring, rather, to a father and his daughter, in the context of a culture where marriages were usually either arranged by the parents, or at least took place only with their permission and consent.

The key is the phrase "giveth her in marriage" -- which makes no sense in terms of the relation of a man and future wife. It is the father who "gives in marriage." We use this terminology even today in the wedding ceremony. So something is awry here, at least in some translations. Scott is correct about that, but he is wrong as to the motivation behind the differences, and the meaning of the passage itself.

If indeed the passage is about a father and daughter, rather than an engaged couple, everything changes. For Scott's argument to have force, he now must believe that the Bible sanctions incest between a father and a daughter, before they get married to each other (huh??!!). I believe he wouldn't try to defend such an ethically atrocious position, so his argument proves too much and must be discarded.

One must understand what refers to what in the passage. Paul is saying that a father who gives his daughter in marriage does well; if he does not, it is even better. It is a "good and better" contrast, such as he does earlier in the chapter regarding the higher path of remaining celibate and single (7:1, 7-8, 25-27, 32-35, 38) vs. getting married (also a very good thing: 7:2, 9, 28, 38). Paul's main point in all cases, is that everyone should live as they are called by God to do: whether married or single (7:7, 17, 20, 24). But the single state is to be celibate, not involving the sin of fornication (7:2, 9; cf. 6:9, 15-20).

So why the confusion in some translations as to whether this "virgin" is a betrothed future wife of a man or his daughter? The original Greek may explain some of that. The literal phrase in 1 Corinthians 7:37 is terein ten heautou parthenon: translated by A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures in the New Testament as To keep his own virgin daughter. In Jay P. Green's Pocket Interlinear New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979, p. 398), the hyper-literal rendering of the Greek is "to keep the of himself virgin[ity]."

That this verse refers to a virgin daughter of a man is verified by Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine (listed under Virgin / Parthenos):

(d) those concerning whom the Apostle Paul gives instructions regarding marriage, 1 Cor 7:25,28,34; in 1 Cor 7:36-38, the subject passes to that of "virgin daughters" (RV), which almost certainly formed one of the subjects upon which the church at Corinth sent for instructions from the Apostle; one difficulty was relative to the discredit which might be brought upon a father (or guardian), if he allowed his daughter or ward to grow old unmarried. The interpretation that this passage refers to a man and woman already in some kind of relation by way of a spiritual marriage and living together in a vow of virginity and celibacy, is untenable if only in view of the phraseology of the passage;

Joseph H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (reprinted by Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977, from the 1901 edition, p. 489, Strong's word #3933) concurs:

one's marriageable daughter, 1 Co. vii. 36 sqq.

What about the business of "giving the daughter"? According to Robertson:

Paul commends the father who gives his daughter in marriage (gamizei). This verb gamizw has not been found outside the N.T. see on Matthew 22:30.

Matthew 22:30 reads (RSV):

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (cf. Mk 12:25; Lk 20:34-35)

Note also the related passages:

Luke 17:27 (RSV) They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (cf. Matt 24:38)

This is the same notion as in 1 Corinthians 7:38. Note the contrast between "marry" and "given in marriage." It is two different concepts. The first refers to the man and wife, as subject; the second to the father "giving" his daughter (away) in marriage.

The Greek word in Matthew 22:30, Luke 17:27, and 1 Corinthians 7:38 alike is ekgamizo (Strong's word #1547), from the root gamos [marry] (Strong's word #1062). Likewise, in Mark 12:25 it is gamisko (Strong's word #1061); literally, given in marriage. And Luke 20:34-35 uses the cognate ekgamisto (Strong's word #1548). Thayer's lexicon confirms the meanings of all these:

to give a daughter in marriage: 1 Co. vii. 38 . . . Mt. xxii. 30 . . . Mk. xii. 25; Lk. xvii. 27; xx. 35 . . .

(p. 109, under #1060a)

to give away . . . in marriage: a daughter, 1 Co. vii. 38 . . . ; Mt. xxiv. 38 . . . Pass. to marry, to be given in marriage, Mt. xxii. 30 . . . ; Lk. xvii. 27 . . .

(p. 193, under #1547)

So we know what the basic meaning of the passage is now, and it has nothing even to do with Scott's scenario of sanctioned sexual intercourse of betrothed couples (sorry to disappoint you, Scott, or take away your fun!). It has to do, in point of fact, with parental permission or arrangement of marriage: father to daughter.

Note also a number of older Bible commentaries, that unanimously hold to the same interpretation.

I suppose Scott could posit a conspiracy among Bible lexicons, too (as well as among translations). Weirder things have been believed. In my opinion, several translations have missed the proper meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:36-38, according to what we have learned above, using the appropriate Greek language aids. But several others have not. It's a mixed bag, and so one has to go back and study the words and phrases involved, as we have indeed done, in order to draw any sort of solid, rationally-based conclusion.

I have some thirty or so Bible translations in my library (and found others online as well). Here are the ones that translate 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 according to what I have presented and argued above:

NASB But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

God's Word translation No father would want to do the wrong thing when his virgin daughter is old enough to get married. If she wants to get married, he isn't sinning by letting her get married. 37 However, a father may have come to a decision about his daughter. If his decision is to keep her [at home] because she doesn't want to get married, that's fine. 38 So it's fine for a father to give his daughter in marriage, but the father who doesn't give his daughter in marriage does even better.

ASV But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry. 37 But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well. 38 So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.

ERV But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry. 37 But he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power as touching his own will, and hath determined this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, shall do well. 38 So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better.

Weymouth If, however, a father thinks he is acting unbecomingly towards his still unmarried daughter if she be past the bloom of her youth, and so the matter is urgent, let him do what she desires; he commits no sin; she and her suitor should be allowed to marry. 37 But if a father stands firm in his resolve, being free from all external constraint and having a legal right to act as he pleases, and in his own mind has come to the decision to keep his daughter unmarried, he will do well. 38 So that he who gives his daughter in marriage does well, and yet he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

World English Bible But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he desires. He doesn't sin. Let them marry. 37 But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, does well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin in marriage does well, and he who doesn't give her in marriage does better.

Webster's Bible Translation But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin, if she hath passed the flower of her age, and need so requireth, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Douay-Rheims But if any man think that he seemeth dishonoured, with regard to his virgin, for that she is above the age, and it must so be: let him do what he will; he sinneth not, if she marry. 37 For he that hath determined being steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but having power of his own will; and hath judged this in his heart, to keep his virgin, doth well. 38 Therefore, both he that giveth his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better.

NKJV But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

Third Millennium Bible But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age and need so require, let him do what he will--he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well, but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Wuest's Expanded Translation . . . in the case of his virgin daughter . . . his own daughter . . . he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage is doing well, and he who does not do so will do better.

Amplified 38 So also then, he [the father] who gives [his daughter, virgin] in marriage does well . . .

Williams Now if a father thinks that he is not doing the proper thing regarding his single daughter . . . Let the daughter and her suitor marry . . . he has made the decision in his own heart to keep her single . . . the man who gives his daughter in marriage does what is right . . .

Jerusalem Bible Still, if there is anyone who feels that it would not be fair to his daughter to let her grow too old for marriage . . . the man who sees that his daughter is married has done a good thing . . .

Confraternity Therefore both he who gives his virgin in marriage does well, and he who does not give her does better.

Knox Thus, a man is well advised to give his ward in marriage, and still better advised not to give her in marriage.

[footnote: But there seems to be no authority for translating the verb in verse 38 'to marry'; it always means 'to give in marriage'; cf. Like xvii. 27, a context which St. Paul may ave in mind.]

Moreover, the NIV footnotes give an alternate version that coincides with the above (oops! that wrecks the "Puritan" conspiracy of the NIV, to even mention this):

NIV (alternate suggested reading) If anyone thinks he is not treating his daughter properly, and if she is getting along in years, and he feels she ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. He should let her get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind to keep the virgin unmarried-this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who gives his virgin in marriage does right, but he who does not give her in marriage does even better.

The NEB does the same:

NEB (variant reading) Or a virgin daughter (or ward). . . . Or, let the girl and her lover marry . . . Or his daughter . . . Or gives his daughter in marriage.

As does the CEV:

CEV (variant reading) If you feel that you are not treating your grown daughter right by keeping her from getting married, then let her marry. You won't be doing anything wrong.

The following translations have the competing interpretation (in my opinion, much less plausible, based on the Greek and cross-referencing), of a man and his future wife, irregardless of parents:

RSV If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry--it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

NRSV
If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well. 38 So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

NIV
If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

TNIV If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting beyond the usual age for marrying and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin--this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
ISV If a man thinks he is not behaving properly toward his virgin, and if his passion is so strong that he feels he ought to marry her, let him do what he wants; he isn't sinning. Let them get married. 37 However, if a man stands firm in his resolve, feels no necessity, and has made up his mind to keep her a virgin, he will be acting appropriately. 38 So then the man who marries the virgin acts appropriately, but the man who refrains from marriage does even better.
Darby But if any one think that he behaves unseemly to his virginity, if he be beyond the flower of his age, and so it must be, let him do what he will, he does not sin: let them marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, having no need, but has authority over his own will, and has judged this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he does well. 38 So that he that marries himself does well; and he that does not marry does better.
Bible in Basic English But if, in any man's opinion, he is not doing what is right for his virgin, if she is past her best years, and there is need for it, let him do what seems right to him; it is no sin; let them be married. 37 But the man who is strong in mind and purpose, who is not forced but has control over his desires, does well if he comes to the decision to keep her a virgin. 38 So then, he who gets married to his virgin does well, and he who keeps her unmarried does better.
Good News Translation (Today's English Version)In the case of an engaged couple who have decided not to marry: if the man feels that he is not acting properly toward the young woman and if his passions are too strong and he feels that they ought to marry, then they should get married, as he wants to. There is no sin in this. 37 But if a man, without being forced to do so, has firmly made up his mind not to marry, and if he has his will under complete control and has already decided in his own mind what to do - then he does well not to marry the young woman. 38 So the man who marries does well, but the one who doesn't marry does even better.
New Century Version If a man thinks he is not doing the right thing with the girl he is engaged to, if she is almost past the best age to marry and he feels he should marry her, he should do what he wants. They should get married. It is no sin. 37 But if a man is sure in his mind that there is no need for marriage, and has his own desires under control, and has decided not to marry the one to whom he is engaged, he is doing the right thing. 38 So the man who marries his girl does right, but the man who does not marry will do better.

Living Bible But if anyone feels he ought to marry because he has trouble controlling his passions, it is all right, it is not a sin; let him marry.
New Living Translation But if a man thinks he ought to marry his fiance because he has trouble controlling his passions and time is passing, it is all right; it is not a sin. Let them marry. 37 But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. 38 So the person who marries does well, and the person who doesn't marry does even better.

Beck If a man thinks he's not acting properly toward his girl . . . If, then, he marries his girl . . .

Phillips Modern English But if any man feels he is not behaving honourably towards the woman he loves . . . if he decides not to marry the young woman, he too will be doing the right thing.

NEB Thus, he who marries his partner does well, and he who does not will do better.

REB Thus he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who does not marry does better.

NAB (revised, 1986) So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better.

CEV But suppose you are engaged to someone old enough to be married, and you want her so much that all you can think about is getting married. Then go ahead and marry.

Moffatt . . . if any man considers that he is not behaving properly to the maid who is his spiritual bride, if his passions are strong and it must be so, then let him do what he wants -- let them be married; it is no sin for him.

Goodspeed But if a man thinks he is not acting properly toward the girl to whom he is engaged . . .

William Barclay's translation is unique in that he decided to incorporate both interpretations together, in verse 38 (rather than footnote one):

. . . if a man gives his virgin daughter in marriage (or, marries his fianceee, or marries the girl he had decided to live with and to remain unmarried), he does well; but if he does not, he will do still better.

In conclusion, I submit that the lexicons are very clear that an unmarried daughter is being referred to here, and that the phrase "given in marriage" (ekgamizo [Strong's word #1547] in 1 Corinthians 7:38; cf. gamisko [Strong's word #1061] and ekgamisto [Strong's word #1548] ) is particularly decisive for this position. I also suspect (though I don't assert) that the more modern translations are unduly biased against the ancient concept of arranged marriages; hence the bias shows up in how they handle and interpret and translate these Greek texts, whose literal meaning is not a mystery at all.

Lastly, in Scott's campaign to legitimize unmarried sexuality and give it the NT stamp of approval, he neglects other indications in the same general context, that this is not what Paul has in mind at all. For example:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (RSV) Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. [2] But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Paul here clearly, I think, recommends marriage as the resolution of the problem of sexual temptation. Marriage is the place wherein sexuality is morally consummated and the natural desires channeled properly, in the overall safety of a commitment. This is the complete opposite of Scott's contention, which would have Paul argue that there is no temptation; there is simply desire (and desire that cannot possibly be controlled: so he thinks), and this ought to be consummated regardless of whether one is married or not. We must re-write the Bible, then, so it fits into Scott's wishful thinking schema:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (SNV) Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man to touch a woman, whether he is married to her or not. [2] And because of natural desires, each man should have sex with his own girlfriend and each woman have sex with her own boyfriend.

The same dynamic occurs seven verses later:

1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

Paul presupposes that (sexual) self-control is the norm and the goal. Failing that, the solution is to marry, not to indulge anyway, regardless of marriage, as if there is nothing wrong with that. Marriage and "aflame with passion" (i.e., in an unmarried state) are antithetical to each other. Scott would have it be just the opposite, and so we clearly need a new Bible rendering to reflect his arbitrary opinions:

1 Corinthians 7:9 (SNV) But if unmarried couples cannot exercise self-control, they should have sex. For it is better to be aflame with passion and engage in sexual intercourse unmarried, than not to (which is impossible to do, anyway). It is better to do this than wait till one is married.

If we want to change the Bible at will, of course anything is possible. Most people who disbelieve its contents are not that brazen, however, so they take the more subtle route of misinterpreting the Bible and neglecting the meanings of words therein (a shortcoming that can easily be rectified with the aid of language aids).

45 comments:

Steven Buehler said...

A review of my Greek notes suggests that the language here is confusing and could suggest both ideas depending on interpretation. The use of 'huperakmos' in 36 has multiple meanings: 'past the prime age', 'of marriageable age', and also 'given to strong physical passions' (which is the more usual meaning). To put 'any man' to mean a father requires that we define 'parthenon' to mean daughter, which it usually doesn't.

The commentary I have: "If 'huperakmos' has here its more usual meaning, then 'any man' and 'his virgin' probably refers to an engaged couple which would explain Paul's concern for their not sinning. It is verse 38, however, which Paul provides the strongest case for the father/daughter option."

I'd refer the reader to "The Complete Biblical Library," Vol. 7, pp. 349-351 (Springfield, MO: World Library Press, 1991), ISBN 0-88243-367-9, which is very instructive on the confusion in this section.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for the great comment. I agree that v. 38 and "giveth in marriage" clauses are the strongest evidence for father-daughter. That's the great difficulty in the contrary position, far as I can tell.

Martin said...

In any case it seems abundantly clear that what Paul is discussing is marriage or no marriage not sex in marriage or sex out of marriage. The "do as you like" means to marry or not (whether given or taken is a different question).

The Scott said...

Don't be dazzled by the many words and sanctimonious opinions of "experts". If the literal order words in 1 Cor 7:36 do not allow for premarital sex then we have a much bigger problem. It means we have a heavenly father who is trying to fake us out and trick us in to hell. The literal order of words of 1 Cor 7:36 are what you can hold God to...not the opinions of "experts".

Further if the 'Christian' Right intended to give you even a remotely accurate message against premarital sex they would put it under chambering in Rom 13:13 and not the words translated as 'fornication'. There are two original Greek words translated as fornication. The fact that two words are translated the same in to the English tells you that these words are being EXAGGERATED until they have the same definitions.

Abstinence Preachers tell you premarital sex is a sin, but they don't lift the slightest finger to help you bear the burden. They have no need to because they didn't live it either. The Catholic church has proven itself regarding the Abstinence Message...Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers.

Christians who wish to escape the bonds of false-teaching hypocrites and clueless ignoramuses should visit my blog and learn the truth from a brother who has been there. Abstinence Preachers talk-the-talk but then crack jokes about real-life 30 and 40 year-old virgins. I'm the one who has respect for those who walk-the-walk. I'm the one who gives REAL advice to those who choose Abstinence Until Marriage.

-The Scott

Dave Armstrong said...

Does that constitute your entire reply to my reasoning?

The Scott said...

I can go on but really I don't see much point. I sufficiently cover most of what you're saying through my website and blog and most people simply don't care if premarital sex is a sin or not. Those who wish for me to address a specific question can contact me through my email.

I also have a fair and reasonable debate format proposed on my FAQ page if someone chooses to go that route as well.

thescott@notanothergeneration.com

Dave Armstrong said...

I can go on but really I don't see much point.

Me neither. I engage in rational argumentation on this blog, and it is clear you have no interest in that, or else you would have offered a rational counter-reply that could be scrutinized in turn. After all, you came here and first challenged me, and I replied. Thus, you appear to be little more than a propagandist and special pleader for sexual license.

Here we presuppose the inspiration of the Bible, and seriously grapple with its meaning.

I suspected right away that you were hardly serious in these arguments you make, and your reaction has spectacularly confirmed it. Your bluff was called.

You endanger your soul by rationalizing the serious sin of fornication. I have tried to show you why the position is untenable from the Bible but you're not interested. So all we can do is pray for you. Be well.

I can detest the position you espouse, as a falsehood, and dangerous illusion, without despising you as a person. I wish you the best, and the argument I made was in your best interest, too (because it came from the inspired revelation of God: Who loves all of us and desires our salvation), if only you would have considered it.

Dave Armstrong said...

Meanwhile, you have made it your goal online to call evil good, and that is a serious matter that had to be opposed, which is the main reason why I wrote my lengthy response: to help prevent anyone who reads both sides of the argument from falling into the same serious sin that you espouse and glorify.

It's one thing to indulge in sins privately, but when one takes to the public "airwaves" to defend and rationalize them, it's a different ballgame, and the arguments are fair game for critique.

Dave Armstrong said...

most people simply don't care if premarital sex is a sin or not.

Yeah, I know. I was the same way in my first 23 years. But how is that relevant to anything? Since when are ethics and morality and right and wrong determined by a majority vote? Were slavery and racism right because a majority in America once believed in them? Were the Nazis right when they were voted in, in Germany? Etc.

You made arguments on your site favoring premarital sex, and claiming that the Bible sanctioned it, so you yourself are going beyond the "everybody is doing it, so it's right" mentality, or else you wouldn't bother. You wouldn't have a website at all. What would be the point?

But you feel you have discovered this momentous "truth" in the Bible, so you are running with that ball and spreading the "good news": the gospel of supposedly biblically-sanctioned free sex.

Yet when someone makes a different argument, you fall back on the cliches about nobody caring anyway, and the traditional view being antiquated and unrealistic.

Most unimpressive, I must say . . . but I can't say that I was disappointed, because I completely expected that there would be no ongoing discussion here. It went exactly as I thought it would.

The Scott said...

Thus, you appear to be little more than a propagandist and special pleader for sexual license.

Ok, I can accept that; if I have to I'll even make the 'lamest' excuses in the world. I've known people who seriously considered, attempted, and in once case even committed suicide over the issues I discuss because their Pastor, church and family told them things like their life would be an abomination to God.

I don't expect most people will take me seriously or care if they do. The only people who I hope will take me seriously are those who are at the "end of their rope" regarding these so-called "sexual-purity" issues. Thankfully, in my experience such individuals do appreciate my point-of-view. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of me.

And Dave, I'll be praying for your disbelief.

-Scott

Dave Armstrong said...

If someone is in despair over sexual sin, the loving thing is not to tell them that it's not a sin and "eat, drink, and be merry" (and have sex to your heart's content), but rather, that there is a better way without sin, and that sexual sin could possibly lead to damnation rather than fleeting earthly happiness, let alone ongoing joy and peace.

The Christian message is positive: "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (even celibacy!!), "what is not possible for men, is possible with God," "we are more than conquerors," etc.

Falsehoods never helped anyone. You may soothe a guilty conscience looking for rationalization for a time, but not in the long run.

Fornicators and those indulging in other sexual sins either know full well that what they do is a sin (hence can't ever really enjoy it, because their conscience is divided) or else they are beyond knowing what is right and wrong anymore, from the force of habit or addiction or continued rationalization, which is a dangerous, scary place to be in.

But like I said, we need not condemn people. We can try to persuade them that what they are doing isn't good for them, either in this life or the next.

I understand loneliness (I was extremely lonely for seven years: age 18-25); I understand sexual drive and the secular arguments for free sex: I used to believe them myself. I went through a deep, despairing depression for six months when I was 18-19. So I can relate to people in any and all of those boats. But I think I can offer them something much better than the mess of pottage from the ruins of the sexual revolution, that has made few people happy, and millions miserable.

We even know from many surveys that Christian couples who hold to the traditional view have a better sex life than the free sex folks, who often end up (like Jim Morrison or Marvin Gaye) impotent or frigid.

That is because commitment and committed love make for far better sex. Sex is in the right perspective then: where it should be. Worrying about commitment, insecurity, and obsession with mere "performance" does not do that.

Randy said...

I've known people who seriously considered, attempted, and in once case even committed suicide over the issues I discuss because their Pastor, church and family told them things like their life would be an abomination to God.

There is a good chance there was something wrong with what these people were being taught. But the fact that they may have made mistakes does not give you the right to lie to them. We must have faith that the true word of God is right for us. God loves us and He knows us intimately.

This happens a lot. People get involved with a teacher that is to extreme in one way and they run to a teacher who has gone to the other extreme. It just shows how we need a trustworthy teacher. That is why God gave us His church.

I don't expect most people will take me seriously or care if they do.

Just look at the bible and what it says about false prophets or false teachers. That is what you are. You lie to people about the word of God. It is a serious matter.

Dave Armstrong said...

Scott actually believes these things. I don't think he is deliberately trying to lie.

I thought, as I always do, that good dialogue might have the result of persuading him otherwise, but as we see, he wasn't interested.

All anyone can do is talk things through when there is disagreement. When people cut off that avenue then they cut off any hope of being dissuaded, if indeed their position is in error.

I think it is dangerous for that reason, to cut off dialogue, because it presupposes that we can never be wrong, which is at bottom both silly and arrogant.

The Scott said...

Dave,

It seems the irony of your point-of-view is that you do not actually value sexual abstinence. You write of loneliness and how you USED TO have different views...before you were married. Yet you've chided me because I'm "not a 40 year-old virgin and proud of it".

Can't you tell the world what a blessing abstinence has been in your life? If not then why? Can't you hold your head up high and tell us how proud you are to have been abstinent. Why not? Is it because you are a hypocrite who did not actually walk-the-walk you advocate? Or is it feigned sanctimonious pity? It seems you imply I'm some sort of sex-freak who advocates extreme sexual activity as if there is no middle ground between abstinence and all-out freakdom. The truth is one of my most popular blog articles is the one I wrote for those who choose the LEGITIMATE LIFESTYLE OPTION of sexual abstinence. I've had my share of it and I offer REAL advice for those who choose it, not phony sanctimonious pity or hypocritical self-righteousness.


It's been implied that I call evil good, but you describe your own version of good as evil when you wallow in the miserable loneliness of your early adulthood. You offer your audience TWO different paths, BOTH leading to misery: Abstinence and Promiscuity. I offer my audience the same two paths and everything in between as joyous, spiritually valid, and acceptable. Perhaps that is the real difference between us.

-Scott

Steven Buehler said...

Scott—

I WALKED THE WALK. My first time was the night I was married. And you know what? We were both glad we waited. And I was not a practicing Catholic at the time, either. It's one of the few things you can only give away once and never get back once you've given it away.

The major problem with your suggested translation is that it is pulled completely out of context of the circumstances of the church in Corinth to whom this text was written, and of Paul's intentions in writing the letter to begin with. Your interpretation of the Song of Solomon assumes that the bride actually has sex with Solomon before marrying Solomon (there is ample scholarship suggesting the bride is talking of a forbidden lover *other* than Solomon).

I'd be *very* interested in seeing which sources you are referring to in your scholarship of this passage.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Scott,

So now you want to have a conversation. When I actually responded to your biblical arguments you weren't interested.

It seems the irony of your point-of-view is that you do not actually value sexual abstinence.

Difficulty and whether something is right and wrong or not are two entirely different things. This is another misconception you are laboring under. Loneliness and lack of sexual activity are also two different things. But whether something is difficult or not does not determine its moral status.

Your position is clear: you think it is impossible to be celibate. I don't believe that at all. I didn't even believe that when I thought premarital sex was fine and dandy.

You write of loneliness and how you USED TO have different views...before you were married.

Loneliness is a separate issue, as just argued. I believed as you did up to age 23. I lived a celibate life for three years after that till I got married at age 26.

Yet you've chided me because I'm "not a 40 year-old virgin and proud of it".

You were "chided" because you are wearing a sin as a badge of honor, trying to justify it from the Bible, and being patronizing toward the traditional position, as if no one in their right mind could either live by it or believe such a thing.

There is no contradiction in my positions at all. You only think there are because you are neglecting crucial distinctions.

Can't you tell the world what a blessing abstinence has been in your life?

Sure, I'd be happy to. I have a fabulously happy marriage now because (eventually) I lived in the Christian fashion before I got married, rather than falling into a polygamous or "serial relationship" mentality. That's how God intended it, so the seven years of loneliness were well worth it, to wait for the right person to come along and then commit to them.

If not then why?

It was a blessing. Like most worthwhile things in life, it was very difficult, too: just as the Christian life is in general. It's the "narrow way." It's not designed to be easy and carefree, but rather, service to God and fellow man, to get us to heaven, and to have joy and peace in this life.

Can't you hold your head up high and tell us how proud you are to have been abstinent.

Why should I be proud about something that God gave me the grace to do? I give all glory to Him. I can testify that it worked in terms of my life because I have been very happily married now for 25 years. That's my testimony and I am happy to share it if someone asks, as you did.

Why not?

I just did, so this is a non sequitur.

Is it because you are a hypocrite who did not actually walk-the-walk you advocate?

I did walk it, so it's another irrelevant point. I was abstinent the entire time I believed that it was right to be so, based on the Bible and also a lot of common sense and the negative fruits of the sexual revolution.

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

Or is it feigned sanctimonious pity?

Huh? I mentioned my own past experience simply to show that I understand a lot of these viewpoints and difficulties from firsthand experience.

You can try hard to put me in a box of your own making, as the proverbial judgmental, "puritanistic" Christian but it won't work.

It seems you imply I'm some sort of sex-freak who advocates extreme sexual activity as if there is no middle ground between abstinence and all-out freakdom.

I didn't say that. All I said was that your opinion that the Bible says premarital sex is okay, is wrong and tragically mistaken. If you cause others to stumble by accepting these views, God will hold you accountable for it.

The truth is one of my most popular blog articles is the one I wrote for those who choose the LEGITIMATE LIFESTYLE OPTION of sexual abstinence.

That's good. But it doesn't make your position about what the Bible teaches right, or get you off the hook. All that is, is "live and let live" and the liberal / libertarian notion of tolerance: letting everyone live as they wish. It makes perfect sense from that paradigm.

I've had my share of it and I offer REAL advice for those who choose it, not phony sanctimonious pity or hypocritical self-righteousness.

Right. You can think what you wish of me. No skin off my back. You couldn't defend your "biblical" arguments; didn't even try, and now, failing that, you opt for personal attack. YAWN.

It's been implied that I call evil good, but you describe your own version of good as evil when you wallow in the miserable loneliness of your early adulthood.

Wow; you really are massively confused on this. Loneliness is not the same thing as celibacy. There is an overlap, though: the lonely person usually craves sex, too (and as a young man, that was natural). Saying something is difficult or that one can relate to a single person and the desires and cravings is not at all equivalent to saying one should not be celibate because it is difficult.

It could be said of celibacy what Chesterton said about Christianity: "it hasn't been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

You offer your audience TWO different paths, BOTH leading to misery: Abstinence and Promiscuity.

I don't "offer" anything: I am simply defending what I believe to be (quite plainly) the biblical teaching (since you brought up that topic and wanted to challenge me). It does lead to happiness. The sexual revolution sure as hell didn't lead to massive happiness and joy. The results are all around us. The Christian way works. It always has worked. But it isn't tried to even see if it does, because people buy a pack of lies.

I offer my audience the same two paths and everything in between as joyous, spiritually valid, and acceptable.

Based on flimsy, almost nonexistent biblical arguments, that you refuse to defend (because, I say, you can't). Why don't you just drop the pretense of the Christian packaging and be a secular advocate of free sexuality, as I used to be? I didn't pretend that it could be justified by the Bible, as you do.

Perhaps that is the real difference between us.

The main difference is that I take the Bible seriously enough to intensely study and defend it, and you do not. That's obvious in how you blew off my response, that I took the better part of a Saturday composing.

You'd rather engage in mind-reading and puerile attempts to locate hypocrisy where there is none.

Dave Armstrong said...

Note also my original statement that you have twisted and distorted, in the cynical attempt to turn me into a rank hypocrite:

I understand loneliness (I was extremely lonely for seven years: age 18-25)

I wasn't talking about sexuality per se there, but loneliness. I was trying to say that understood that singleness and lack of sex is extremely difficult. I lived it. I still believe it is the right thing to do and the best path.

If one is called by God to be single and celibate, then of course it is best for them. I believe in that instance that God will take much of any sexual desire away, but not all.

If one is called to be married (as I clearly was!) then it is also best to be celibate until that day, because all sexual activity changes us and has consequences: often deleterious to later relationships.

I was lonely because I was too isolated from people. I had to get involved in more regular activities. Work and school alone (living at home during college) weren't enough.

As it is, at age 22 I found a new church (Protestant in those days) and had a revival of my spiritual life. I made several new friends there (both male and female) and hence was not nearly as lonely as I had been after high school till that time. Basically my college period was the loneliest time in my life, which is ironic.

So it was really lack of friendship and shared activity that made me so lonely. Once I got in a good group of new friends, and a church singles group where I met my wife, I was a lot less lonely.

I contend that loneliness has far more to do with lack of companionship and friends than even with sexuality.

Since I wasn't talking directly about sex when I made the statement, again there is no hypocrisy either in my position itself or how I lived it out. I was a consistent advocate of free sex and I have been a consistent Christian, of this belief about sexuality now since 1981.

The Scott said...

Steve, my sources for the Song of Solomon are the word of God itself. To my knowledge most scholars reject chapter 2 of the Song of Solomon as premarital sex on a theory that this book of the Bible is NOT chronological. Your forbidden lover argument is new to me. I see no spiritual reason to accept the theories of men as fact though.

Tommie Nelson in his Song of Solomon series describes chapter 2 as the honeymoon for the couple, not forbidden love. If I remember he dismisses this as premarital sex on the theory the book is not chronological.

-Scott

The Scott said...

So now you want to have a conversation. When I actually responded to your biblical arguments you weren't interested.

Did you email me? I attempt to provide a common contact point because I don't go checking up on all posts I make to blogs. I usually post my views and move on because most blog operators do not approve my comments for some reason. I do thank you for an interesting conversation.

Your position is clear: you think it is impossible to be celibate. I don't believe that at all. I didn't even believe that when I thought premarital sex was fine and dandy.

That's a laugh, you're not paying a bit of attention to a thing I'm saying...but it's not surprising. Most ministry leaders couldn't give a crap about the lives of unmarrieds within their own church. I never said it was impossible to be celibate. I say it's not necessary or a spiritual requirement to be celibate until marriage. I also warn people that abstinence can be spiritually dangerous 1 Cor 7:5.

I responded to this article pointing out technical facts about 2 entirely different words being translated as 'fornication' and that this indicates these words are being exaggerated. That those who insist on giving a message against premarital sex would be best served putting that under chambering in Rom 13:13 instead. I think that's a completely reasonable avenue of discussion, but you seemed to dismiss it as as irrelevant. Sorry if I bothered you with these annoying "irrelevant" points.

You say you find my points to be a cliche and a disappoitment, oh well. I'm not here to impress you, or get your "permission" for anything. I'm thankful to be alive and to boldly share my message with the world, no matter who it upsets.


Happy Thanksgiving,

-Scott

Dave Armstrong said...

And a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too.

Dave Armstrong said...

Did you email me?

No. You came here; commented, under my past dialogue on premarital sex. You didn't mention a thing about needing to e-mail you.

You posted at 6 PM on Friday, 11-20-09. I replied at 7:35 PM with a general comment, then said I would try to make tome to reply to some of your arguments at 7:43.

See:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/03/dialogue-is-premarital-sex-wrong-vs-c.html

Then I wrote this post on Saturday Nov. 21st, taking most of the day to do it when I had intended originally to edit a book my son has written (bad choice made there!). You "responded" to my elaborate argument with one short paragraph, a second where you switched the topic to a completely different issue (the definition of "porneia" - that you now bring up again) and then started in on your usual bashing of Christians who preach a traditional message on sexuality.

I asked: "Does that constitute your entire reply to my reasoning?"

You said, "I can go on but really I don't see much point."

So that was the end of it. Obviously you had no interest in a rational dialogue or defending your position under scrutiny. Now you want to launch personal attacks and psychoanalyses, while I defended you when someone said you were a false prophet.

I attempt to provide a common contact point because I don't go checking up on all posts I make to blogs.

That's fine, but it wasn't made clear to me. Your blowing off of my paper makes all that irrelevant anyway.

You failed in your task here. You tried to make a lousy biblical argument, were soundly refuted, and now you can only obfuscate. That don't cut it on this blog. I engage in dialogues and I expect my dialogue partners to at least have the gumption to rationally defend their assertions under scrutiny (above all when the Bible is involved) and to issue some counter-argument to my contentions besides personal attacks.

You picked the wrong blog to visit and comment on if you have no interest in dialogue and reasoned analysis and discussion of competing views. Perhaps you didn't realize where you were and what I try to do here, but now you sure know.

Maybe many other Christians ignored you, but I ain't them and don't speak for them. I ain't guilty of this massive hypocrisy you see in what you call the "Christian Right." I'm a Catholic apologist: in this case defending a perspective that is held in common by observant traditional Christians of all stripes.

Dave Armstrong said...

I responded to this article pointing out technical facts about 2 entirely different words being translated as 'fornication' and that this indicates these words are being exaggerated. That those who insist on giving a message against premarital sex would be best served putting that under chambering in Rom 13:13 instead. I think that's a completely reasonable avenue of discussion, but you seemed to dismiss it as as irrelevant.

And I suppose now you expect me to take another entire day responding to you on the "porneia" question (perhaps the day after Thanksgiving) only to be "replied" to with one ridiculous paragraph, a topic-switch, two paragraphs of preaching your message, and then a series of misguided, factually-challenged personal attacks and goofy charges of rank hypocrisy based on one sentence where all I said was that I went through a tough lonely period in my life?

You had your shot and failed miserably. But I won't waste more of my time with this. It is precisely this sort of nonsense and hogwash is what gives both Internet dialogue (ha ha) and apologetics a bad name.

One can only cease and desist and move on, looking for someone who understands how real dialogue proceeds, as opposed to mutual monologue or mud pie fights.

You can have the last word if you like. Isn't free speech wonderful?

Randy said...

The "porneia" question is quite common among those trying to justify premarital sex as Christian. The trick is to argue for the narrowest possible definition of the word. When you remove the early church fathers and just look at scripture you can make a case for a pretty narrow definition. I don't think it is the most reasonable definition but it is at least defensible.

The trouble is that nobody in the Christian tradition goes there. Even counting protestant traditions it is impossible to find any respected Christian thinker who would exclude fornication from the definition of porneia.

It amounts to dishonest scholarship. Just looking for intellectual cover for your own disobedience. I know we are to make the most charitable assumptions about people's motives but I really have a hard time seeing this any other way. If someone's desire to engage in a certain behaviour is skewing their judgement in interpreting scripture then the charitable thing to do is to try and make them see that.

The Scott said...

Randy,

I don't think it is the most reasonable definition but it is at least defensible.

I'm glad you can agree it is defensible, even if you think I'm being unreasonable. I have to say that I find putting premarital sex under the porneia word is just plain unreasonable. I make that case based on how the word for a fornicator is actually used in the New Testament.

You're not even supposed to eat with a fornicator. Further you are supposed to cast such a person out of your church.

1 Cor 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

1 Cor 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

1 Cor 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

If churches actually followed these scriptures I would end up winning the debate defacto because there wouldn't be anyone left. Christians have more unity on actually having premarital sex then on almost any other issue.

The idea you're not supposed to even eat with someone just because they had premarital sex would be laughable if some people didn't take this seriously. For those who insist premarital sex is a sin I say it is much more reasonable to put it under cambering in Rom 13:13.

Dave declares me to be a failure, but TWICE now he had dodged this point...hmmm.

When you remove the early church fathers and just look at scripture you can make a case for a pretty narrow definition.

In essence you're admitting the 'fornication' doctrine does NOT come from the Bible, it comes from the opinions of men. In your view which of these men MUST I agree with to be a "good" Christian? What other issues MUST I agree with them on as well?

-Scott

The Scott said...

Dave,

I'm glad you included the URL of your response to my original comment so people can go read it and realize what an insensitive twerp you truly are.

You say this:

You picked the wrong blog to visit and comment on if you have no interest in dialogue and reasoned analysis and discussion of competing views.

You're original response to me implied getting married was just plain easy, yet in later posts you whined about how lonely you used to be. IF you were lonely why didn't you just get married? What is so difficult about that? YOUR WORDS, not mine. Then you started firing a list of baseless accusations about me that would have made Satan and one ex-girlfriend of mine proud. Let's enumerate them: Liar, deluded, wishful thinker, and hedonistic.

Since this is the kind of "reasoned analysis" and "discussion" you offer I hope every unmarried Christian out these comments in your blog. They might not agree with me, but they'll be pissed as hell with you. You don't need a Bible Dave, you need to go back and relearn kindergarten.

Like others I've known, you write as one who has no clue of the lifestyle you advocate. This is why I assume you are yet another sanctimonious hypocrite and that not all is as meets the eye with you.

-Scott

Dave Armstrong said...

Dave declares me to be a failure, but TWICE now he had dodged this point...hmmm.

Quite obviously I'm running scared: scared out of my wits in the face of your profound argumentation.

Dave Armstrong said...

See folks, this is what you get when you try to reason with one who is special pleading for some sin, and using the Bible to do so.

And for those who agree with Scott on this: if his position is so utterly biblical, then ( you need to ask yourselves) why didn't he defend it after I offered a lengthy critique, rather than simply lob insults, obfuscate, and change the topic?

Dave Armstrong said...

Then you started firing a list of baseless accusations about me that would have made Satan and one ex-girlfriend of mine proud. Let's enumerate them: Liar, deluded, wishful thinker, and hedonistic.

Just to clarify yet more distortion of my words (yeah I know I said he could have the last word, but that was presuming that he would actually bow out gracefully and not throw out more baseless accusations).

Here is what I actually wrote, that is being referred to:

"The sexual revolution did not make this country a paradise and everyone astonishingly happy. That was all a big lie. I bought it for many years too. But now the results are in and we don't have the luxury of delusion, wishful thinking, and of selfish hedonism."

Note the distinction between the following two propositions:

1) The sexual revolution was a big lie.

2) Scott Nemeth is a liar.

Huge difference there. Now, by implication, I suppose that if Scott sees himself as a proponent of the sexual revolution in every jot and tittle, then by extension I am calling him a "liar" in a limited sense, but even then not necessarily. But Scott himself would say that this is not what he is advocating. It's apples and oranges. I was making a sociological comment about cause, as I often do.

Far from calling him a "liar," I specifically defended him against the charge in this very combox: "Scott actually believes these things. I don't think he is deliberately trying to lie."

But Scott now chooses to ignore that fact and continue to say that I called him a liar, when I did not at all.

He has been distorting my words and thinking quite illogically all along. I don't think he is a liar; I think he has a thinking problem, and it is in turn being used to justify sin. It's a symbiotic relationship: the thinking affects the sin and the sin affects the thinking.

The other three things also do not apply directly to Scott. In case he doesn't get the reasoning again in that instance (which looks exceedingly likely), I'll break it down for him:

Dave Armstrong said...

[cont.]

1) The sexual revolution did not bring about massive societal happiness.

2) Now the results are in, so we have to conform our views of reality with that, not with wishful thinking of what was hoped and longed for (complete sexual happiness and "freedom" for all and blissful, joyful ecstasy forevermore).

3) Scott is defending a view that has strong tie-ins with this background premise, but he doesn't necessarily hold to every tenet of the sexual revolution (silent assumed premise: so obvious it didn't need to be initially stated).

4) I was an advocate of it too in the past ("I bought it for many years too"), so I was including myself (in my past opinions) in the criticisms.

5) "We don't have the luxury of delusion, wishful thinking, and of selfish hedonism."

In other words, since the results are now in, we can't continue to make excuses and rationalizations as if they weren't. We should look at what this sort of thinking has actually produced in society; then perhaps we will see the wisdom of traditional biblical sexuality in a new and far more favorable light.

Again, I was talking about society here, not Scott. But he took it personally. And that is what destroys conversations. He wants to make it entirely personal and emotional, whereas I was trying to be sociological (here) and argue from the objective biblical data in my reply paper (the same thing he was ostensibly trying to do in his paper I replied to).

But it quickly degenerated to personal insult because Scott didn't understand my reasoning above and how it worked.

Perhaps he will understand it now that I have explained it in extreme depth.

Or perhaps not. I'm already a rotten "sanctimonious hypocrite" and "need to go back and relearn kindergarten" so unfortunately I think it is far too late to return to mere rational discourse! LOL

But as always, I am writing this for all my readers, not just Scott, so whether he gets it or not, it has been worth it to clarify and comment on why Internet "discussions" so often turn into fruitless farces on a one-to-one level. On a pedagogical, "learn from the experience" perspective, however, this whole thing does have some value, so we can learn how those with differing opinions approach topics and conflicting perspectives.

Randy said...

I'm glad you can agree it is defensible, even if you think I'm being unreasonable. I have to say that I find putting premarital sex under the porneia word is just plain unreasonable. I make that case based on how the word for a fornicator is actually used in the New Testament.

I said it was defensible if you ONLY looked at how the word is used in the New Testament. I also said that is not a reasonable thing to do. We need to look at how the word is used in a larger context. We also need to look at how the word is understood by the early church. Many of those people spoke Koine Greek as a first language. Ignoring what they think and trying to extrapolate a meaning based on a few verses is unreasonable.

The business of not eating with pagans is cultural. It means have a lesser fellowship with them. Don't count them as members of the body of Christ. How we live that out has changed since the first century.

Quite frankly, I wonder if you are at all consistent about such a literal interpretation. Do you require women to cover their heads in church? If you go at scripture in that way you end up with a lot of rules. You don't strike me as a guy that is big on rules.

In essence you're admitting the 'fornication' doctrine does NOT come from the Bible, it comes from the opinions of men. In your view which of these men MUST I agree with to be a "good" Christian? What other issues MUST I agree with them on as well?

It comes from the bible as it is intended to be read. I can know it is intended to be read that way because Christians have always read it that way. So it is not the bible OR human opinion. It is the bible AND human opinion. Plus the Holy Spirit has guided that human opinion so it is really more than that.

Scott said...

Thanks Randy,

I said it was defensible if you ONLY looked at how the word is used in the New Testament.

OK agreed.

I also said that is not a reasonable thing to do.

Your opinion not mine. I guess you'll have to consider me to be an unreasonable person.

The business of not eating with pagans is cultural. It means have a lesser fellowship with them. Don't count them as members of the body of Christ. How we live that out has changed since the first century.

1 Cor 5:11-13 was just cultural? May I dismiss Paul's alleged teaching against 'fornication' as cultural as well? After all most people did get married a lot younger back then than our cultural traditions today. Or is it only reasonable for you to dismiss scriptures as 'cultural'. Or am I being unreasonable?

Quite frankly, I wonder if you are at all consistent about such a literal interpretation.

I don't always view doctrines in a pure literal fashion and like you I accept some things as being cultural. Many try to make a literal issue out of 'fornication' so I point out the literal usage for the benefit of others.

It comes from the bible as it is intended to be read. I can know it is intended to be read that way because Christians have always read it that way.

Another point of disagreement. I believe the Word of God is written in plain language for the common man and that it is accurate and complete. I don't need to be a detailed student of history to understand it. And no it has not always been read the same way. Look at all the different denominations. Reformers and other 'Church Fathers' picked an choose which books they would and would not use. The Bible has at times been interpreted to justify racism and persecution of Jews. The reader will have to decide for themselves whether the Bible mean what it says or if the Bible just means what the majority of Christians believe about it.

According to the publishers, most Bibles are intended to be an "Artistic Presentation" of the Word of God. They admit this when they put a copyright on their translation. You can't copyright facts, true stories, or public information. You can only copyright fiction, opinions and presentation.

Lastly I'll point out that there are highly sexualized accounts of the early church. However, most churches do not like to discuss them. I don't get in to these historical accounts but there is another website which does. The operator and I don't agree on everything, but we do exchange notes at times. The website is www.GoldenRule.name.

Thanks for an interesting disagreement.

-Scott

Randy said...

Your opinion not mine. I guess you'll have to consider me to be an unreasonable person.

You could try and interact with my reasons. If you don't I consider that unreasonable.

1 Cor 5:11-13 was just cultural? May I dismiss Paul's alleged teaching against 'fornication' as cultural as well?

This is why we need help in interpreting scripture. The phrase 'may I dismiss' indicates you have an agenda and are not really seeking God's truth regardless of what it is. It is not a trivial task to separate the Christian principles from the cultural expression of them. When we do it we can be biased by our physical desires or our own culture. We need sacred tradition to help us.

Another point of disagreement. I believe the Word of God is written in plain language for the common man and that it is accurate and complete. I don't need to be a detailed student of history to understand it

But you just pointed out a case where the text was unclear. If you say it is clear you must accept the plain meaning of it.

And no it has not always been read the same way. Look at all the different denominations. Reformers and other 'Church Fathers' picked an choose which books they would and would not use. The Bible has at times been interpreted to justify racism and persecution of Jews. The reader will have to decide for themselves whether the Bible mean what it says or if the Bible just means what the majority of Christians believe about it

Is the bible the word of God? If it is it should be communicating the truth of God which should be unchanging. People can get the bible wrong because they twist God's word to their own destruction. The reformers and the racists did this. They were simply wrong. The question is how can we avoid doing the same thing? The answer is reading scripture with the church. That is what you fail to do. That is why you can get the answers you want rather than the answers God wants for you.

CrimsonCatholic said...

According to the publishers, most Bibles are intended to be an "Artistic Presentation" of the Word of God. They admit this when they put a copyright on their translation. You can't copyright facts, true stories, or public information. You can only copyright fiction, opinions and presentation.

I apologize for the pedantry, but that just isn't true. The requirement for copyright is that the work is an "original work of authorship," which is a great deal broader than fiction, opinions, and presentation. Even organizing facts in a way that involves some original expression based on conscious selection or organization (as opposed to mere alphabetical or numerical arrangement) are copyrightable; reporting on facts, true stories, and public information certainly can be copyrightable. So your premise that claiming copyright protection implies that the content is not factual, true, or free of artistic interpretation is absolutely untrue, and your conclusion therefore does not follow.

Tim said...

Hi Dave, hello Scott.

My name is Tim. I'm a 17 year old kid who doesn't have all the answers. I am a Catholic, I'm not a biblical scholar. I have a connection with God, I do not have a special connection with God- by that, I mean I am not unique.

It is possible that your dialogue may be enriched by my opinions- I am, after all, the embodiment of many of the examples that both of you are making. Scott, for several years I have been looking at sites such as yours, trying to find justification for premarital sex. I am, after all, a teenage boy. I have read dozens and dozens, if not hundreds and hundreds, of arguments and counterarguments.

What I have concluded is that the question proves the answer. The idea that we need to justify ourselves is a credit to our subconscious doubt... and what more is our subconscious than our soul?

I have never heard God's voice, but I have read his message. God professes us to lead a good life. He tells us not to kill, not to like, not to cheat. Sometimes, he becomes very specific. Both of your blog entries prove this- you have specific quotes and excerpts.

Nonetheless, it is knowing that there is a God, and that we are his people, that is important. Both of you believe this. With Dave it is clear- he has centered his life on a connection with God. Scott, you too believe in God, that is evident- otherwise, I don't believe that you would use biblical citations as evidence.

And, knowing that there is a God, we have qualms about killing, cheating, lying, and stealing. We do not need specific citations to tell us that these things our wrong- we are told by our consciences, we are led by our souls. We are also told by our souls that premarital sex is wrong- that small inkling of doubt is tells us just that. Yes, at 40 years old, Scott, you may have become inured to that inkling of doubt. That is natural- stealing, lying, cheating- any sin can become perpetual, and then it seems natural. At one point, though, you had a doubt, and because of that you searched for an excuse. I have done the same thing, but I haven't found one. Your blog simply doesn't ring clear to me.

I am very unhappy to accept that premarital sex is wrong, for obvious reasons. Please don't attack my age- regardless of what you may believe to be sexually ripe, 17 is more than enough to have sexual desires. In the last three years I've had a relationship with three girls who would be more than willing to share their bodies with me. I am still chaste, and I do believe that I will remain so until marriage or until death. That is a tough pill to swallow, but not impossible.

My point in saying this is not to brag about self-control. To the contrary, it is to prove that God's message is stronger than everything except the human mind. We can pervert God's message. Scott, you have done that. It is not too hard to ignore God's words. If we listen, though, God's message is stronger than our bodies. He can help us- whether we be teens, boy or girl, or adults, God will help us.

Sometimes we doubt that God isn't there. It is these times that we look for excuses, that we indulge in unacceptable behaviors. Faith, though, and that little voice in the back of our heads, is what we have to keep us on track.

We can turn the voice off. But do we want to?

Dave Armstrong said...

Very well said, Tim. Thanks! You're set your life on a good course, and (by statistics) have a much greater chance of lasting happiness when you get married. Keep spreading the word!

Martin said...

Tim makes a very strong argument indeeed. I think the "moral argument" like this is the best.

2Heather25 said...

Wow I came across Scott's website kinda by chance and was quite literally shocked by what I read! I suppose i shouldn't be in this Post-modern age though...

Anyway I just want to say thank-you to Dave for making a consistent and loving message.

I am a protestant and one of the comments suggested the reformers twisted scripture in order to make the reformation valid-i wholeheartedly disagree with that! But I am glad that at least for this subject we are in agreement :)

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments. You're welcome here anytime. God bless!

Maroun said...

2Heather25 said... I am a protestant and one of the comments suggested the reformers twisted scripture in order to make the reformation valid-i wholeheartedly disagree with that!
Well,it`s either,all the christians for 1500 years twisted scripture,or the reformers..
Now we as catholics,we believe and rightly so,that it`s impossible that God left all the christians in error for mor than 1500 years till the arrival of the reformers,but on the contrary,the first christians were right and the reformers are wrong.
It`s as simple as that
GBU

Rocky said...

I concluded the same about the passage some time back, probably upon reading Wuest's comment and the certainty of the phrase: "let them marry". I just noticed that Adam Clarke challenges all of this including the Greek words, but that's not why I'm writing.

I'm writing to ask you to explain how Scott concluded that 1 Cor. 7:36 justified pre-marital sex since his blog is now non-existent. I don't see it in the verse regardless of how you interpret it.
Help. Thanks.

By the way, I would agree with him that there is no sin of premarital sex in the Bible.

Jordanes551 said...

As the old saying goes, heresy begins below the belt.

By the way, I would agree with him that there is no sin of premarital sex in the Bible.

Then how come it is regarded as a sin in the Law of Moses -- in some cases even a capital crime?

Dave Armstrong said...

Scott's argument is presented (and refuted) sufficiently here, no?

Rocky said...

I never actually understood what he was saying unless he was arguing for the "platonic" spiritual marriage argument and the couple had begun "crossing the line"... but, regardless of his errors on this text, I think it is demonstrable that there is no sin of premarital sex presented in either Old or New Testaments. Certainly the word "porneia" doesn't reference it.

Dave Armstrong said...

Right.