Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#207 Marrying young

posted by Stephanie Drury

duggar2.jpgChristian culture gets married young. The reason isn’t entirely clear, but the general consensus is that it drastically lowers the risk of fornication. You just can’t fornicate if you’re married, and that takes care of that.

Fornication is Christian culture’s natural enemy. Bible colleges (aka “bridal colleges” – what did I tell you?) require students to sign a convenant stating they won’t drink, swear, be gay or have premarital sex. But even Christian students at secular universities roil under biblical sex mandates. When you combine guilt with evangelical horndogs you get a lot of marriage proposals and short engagements.

duggar1.jpgEven apart from the sex issue, Christian culture highly recommends getting married. The overarching message is “once you find the person God has chosen for you then everything will fall together, your life will finally start, your ministry will really get off the ground, and your problems will be solved.” The notion that your problems could really just be getting started isn’t even in their frame of concept.

When your earnest Christian ass graduates college without a boyfriend or girlfriend, you are peppered with questions by family members and people at church about when exactly you will get yourself an eligible Christian companion. Then once you have a boyfriend or girlfriend you are peppered about getting married already. The peppering is combined with concern that you are not “living right” and possibly Doing It outside the confines of marriage. The unspoken message is deafening.

The ideal marrying age in Christian culture is 22, when you’re fresh out of college and haven’t even been to Europe, lived away from home apart from a dorm, or paid one installment on your student loan. To people outside of Christian culture this is sheer madness. But the people in Christian culture are relieved that the fornication window is finally closed and they can now set busily about writing Facebook statuses that they’re married to their best friend.

josh-anna-2-100709.jpgSoon after the guileless, low-budget Christian culture wedding you can expect them to start popping out babies. If they’re not trying to get pregnant by their second anniversary, they may not be full-fledged evangelicals.



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Mon

posted January 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm


I had an Evangelical friend who told me she “felt old” for being unmarried at 22. Another friend got married at 21, strategically planned to fall literally days after college graduation (and only because graduation fell mid-week). You’re absolutely right that the general consensus is that life begins at marriage, so they believe.
Generally I find the weight Christians emphasize on marriage to be intriguing. Given their literal interpretation of the bible, you’d think they wouldn’t rate their lives around it considering that Jesus was unmarried (at least as far as the bible implies) and the mentioning of marriage among the apostles was vague and in passing. I’ve long since come to the conclusion that this does, in fact, all revolve around sex; which is sad considering there are so many other facets involved in marriage. Between the purity balls, short proposals (brillant point), and early marriages, the irony of the Christian preoccupation with sex never fails to both fascinate and amuse.



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CW

posted January 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm


As a person who is currently being “peppered” with questions regarding when my boyfriend and I will be getting married I appriciate the humor put forth in this article. I’m shocked every Sunday morning over the very random and unwelcome questions from fellow church members regarding when I am getting married. People who I doubt know my last name or my occupation are asking about my love life!! While I am polite enough to give a nice non-answer (“when the time is right” or “when it happens everyone will be informed”) my basic instinct is to say “That’s none of your freakin’ business” because really its not.
I’m also 26 years old so they are probably also going to concern themselves with my fertility since I waited soooooo long to get married.
Prior to being in my current relationship I recived many unsolisited comments about how “God just isn’t done working on him yet” or “You’ll meet him when you least expect it” . Heaven help me if I ever repeat those remarks to a fellow 20-something single Christian.



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Beth

posted January 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm


Don’t get me started on this. There was a point in college where three of my five roommates were engaged. The other two had never even had boyfriends (we were all about 21) and I had just been dumped by a jerk who was my first (ZOMG FORNICATION!!!). That was not a good time in my life. To this day I hate engagement stories because of this. My boyfriend is under strict instructions to basically just be like, “hey, wanna get married?” and hand me a ring. I’ll even hate my own engagement story.



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ben

posted January 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm


it’s funny when i was attending college the “campus christian ministry” kept talking about meeting the “right one” before you leave college, i thought this was funny, since every year the students that attend, are there to earn a certificate..of marriage, and not the nice little thing called a diploma, then after a year or 3 later you hear that the got a divorce.



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cm

posted January 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm


Damn I love this blog. Perfecto!



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J. Christine

posted January 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm


At what point are you allowed to lose your virginity for the sake of your own sanity? I was a bad girl and lost it when I was 15, but I know people who are “waiting” for the right one… What if they never come, or if the expectations are so high, they miss it. How many end up being 30-40 yr old virgins? I am extremely curious. Is there a discrete anti- virgin service for these folk? one where they can get pseudo married and then annulled in the same night just so they can “not be fornicators”???



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Quinn

posted January 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm


This is spot on! One of my evangelical relatives got married a few days after college graduation. He seemed to think he was going to turn into a pumpkin if he got married after age 22. One big reason that he (and other evangelicals) do this, I believe, is because unmarried adults are treated like adolescents in Christian culture, no matter how old they are or what other responsibilities they have.



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Linnaea

posted January 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm


22 seems a little late, its “ring by spring and outta the halls by fall” at the bible collages I know.
Don’t forget to add not kissing until married.



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Whit J.

posted January 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm


Hey- regarding when it’s ok to just go ahead and lose your virginity for your own sanity’s sake, I think most conserviative Christians would say “no, you need to wait until you are married.” More progressive Christians, like myself, would, I think, say that there is no one-size fits all answer to your question. In my case, I was 23, out of college, in seminary, and worried that I would never lose my virginity. The older girl I was dating took the lead, and I proposed to her afterworlds out of guilt for having sex before I was married. This was a REALLY bad idea because I’m actually gay. Fortunately, I didn’t actually marry the poor girl. I’m now 27, and a contented batchlor. I’m celibate right now, and not sure about the long haul. I do have to say that whether or not I end up taking a personal vow of celibacy, I’m glad that I will have experienced both sex with women and sex with men first.



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VS

posted January 19, 2011 at 9:43 pm


Spot. On. I was 20 and still in Bible college when I got married. We were both virgins when we got married. Somehow our marriage has survived for nearly 10 years in spite of a period about four years into it where I went crazy and started having affairs. I spent two years in therapy trying to figure out what went wrong (still not sure), but if my husband had not been as good a person as he is we wouldn’t have made it.



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VS

posted January 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm


Oh, and when I mentioned to an older man at church (a friend’s dad) that I was engaged, his reaction was “Oh that’s GREAT! Are you going to be a stay-at-home mom?”



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butterhorn

posted January 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm


by the looks of his expression in the pregnant picture, there is a hot male photographer tempting this kid to come out o the closet



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Matt Green

posted January 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm


The whole virginity issue is totally overblown in both the secular and the religious spheres. Religious folk harp on it to the point it becomes a crude, external indicator of holiness (after all, using metrics to assess holiness has always worked out *so* well for humanity in the past). Meanwhile, some secular people (especially males) believe virginity is almost shameful past a certain age.
The amusing thing is that both groups put so much credence into something that really doesn’t tell us much about the person as they are now. That is, it isn’t something that defines them. Only the culture dictated that virginity had enough significance to make them a good/bad person. And those are the sorts of horrible, dehumanizing beliefs that I believe we as Christians are called far, far away from. People are not the sum total of the attributes assigned to them.
Western society is extremely confused about identity, and it tries to remedy that by pulling these sorts of stunts.



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MiMi

posted January 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm


I agree with this entirely.



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Jeremy

posted January 20, 2011 at 1:32 am


This whole thing just reminds me of an Onion article from back in the day: “Horribly Awkward First Sexual Encounter ‘Worth The Wait’ For Christian Newlyweds”. It’s brilliant



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Sarah

posted January 20, 2011 at 6:43 am


Matt Green, Fabulous comment. This year I’ll be a 30-year-old virgin, and I’m just learning not to be ashamed of it. The whole concept has been so hyped my entire goddamn life that for years I was totally hung up on keeping the v-card to make God happy, which made dating really awkward past a certain point, particularly because I tend to be an up-front, this-is-what-you-get sort of person; but as I’ve moved away from Christian culture and its preoccupations, I’ve found it equally obsessed over in “secular” society, just from the opposite angle. I mostly just keep my status to myself now, and am pretty open-ended about the possibilities (I don’t have any external conditions that I’ve preset as necessary, like engagement or marriage, but at the same time I guess I could say I’m even pickier now than I used to be), but non-Christian-culture friends’ reactions when they find out are sort of bizarre. Mostly they can’t believe I’m comfortable with myself and outgoing and interesting and relatable; and often they’re kind of wistful and tell me they wish they’d waited, so it seems like the expectations are poisonous all around. Like you said, our society, Christian or otherwise, tends to have no idea what to do with an authentic, self-realized identity, and forcing oneself into behavioral constructs tends to be the default solution. It’s kind of ridiculous, and dehumanizing and sad.
And being almost 30 and not dating anyone makes me SOOOO glad I’m not a churchgoer anymore. By 30 a person’s only options for Sunday school classes tend to be “singles groups” consisting of people who have more or less given up and are relegated to spinster-status in the congregation’s minds.
And Stephy, LOVE that last picture. He’s totally got the creepo expression going on. Like, “heh heh, look how virile I am, that’s MY SPERM inside that belly.” Meanwhile she’s got that painful, omigod-what-the-fuck-did-I-get-myself-into smile. That poor girl.



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Serena

posted January 20, 2011 at 8:53 am


Matt, Sarah – great points.
My problem is not so much the marrying young – at 25 and 27 we still seemed “young” to a lot of our secular friends, “old” to some church friends, and just right to us. But I worry that
marrying young + babies RIGHT AWAY = no time actually spent appreciating one another and forging a partnership that will stand the test of time.



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Stephen Charles

posted January 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm


We were pretty skinny when we married young, so as all-around goofy and ironically obsessed with sex as they can be, I also really have to hand it to my evangelical in-laws when they warned us on our wedding night to be careful not to make a fire with all those sticks rubbing together. When it’s funny it’s just funny.



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Kari Ann

posted January 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm


It’s funny, because I fall into several of these categories: I attended a Christian liberal arts college, I got married the week after school let out my senior year (though I was on the 5-yr plan and had another year to go, but still), and I was a week and a half shy of my 22nd b-day. But that just happened to be the time and situation that that worked best for my husband and I.
I think that’s the crucial difference: it’s one thing if the couple’s decision to get married (length of engagement, age, time of year, etc.) is something they choose together because it’s what works out best for them as individuals and as a couple.
It’s a completely different thing –and far more detrimental, IMHO– when the marriage decision is due to pressure: the pressure to have sex “legitimately”, the pressure to get married, the pressure to be like everyone else, the pressure that everyone is telling you that it’s “God’s will”, and why the hell don’t they just hurry up and get married anyway, because we’ve got expectations, dammit, and they need to meet them or they’ll cause a rift in the IdealBelief-RealLife Continuum…
When people make important life decisions based on pressure instead of personal choice, that becomes an inherent flaw that often ends up destroying the very decision/commitment the person was pressured into.



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Kari Ann

posted January 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm


And I just noticed in the 2nd photo, Josh and Anna are wearing MATCHING SHIRTS.
**barf**



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mjh

posted January 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm


I was a 31-year-old virgin who decided she was sick of waiting and left the church dating pool (which is virtually non-existent) to find someone to do it with. In my early 20s I was cool with waiting, but as time went on, I was just increasingly tired of being a virgin and feeling like I was missing something that all these other people got to experience.
It’s complicated and kind of messy (the relationship, not the sex, ha), but I’m not sorry I did it. However, I am still “single” at church for all intents and purposes, and although I have some great 20-something friends to hang out with now, I dread the day (if it comes) that I’m relegated to 40-year-old-invisible-single-woman.



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R

posted January 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm


I agree with Serena that marrying young + kids right away is what really worries me. In true evangelical fashion, I got married at 21, two weeks before my college graduation. In not-so evangelical fashion, 7.5 years later we’re just now reaching the “so … kids?” point. While I don’t think everyone needs to wait that long, in our case I’m so glad we did. I can’t imagine adjusting to marriage and parenthood (not to mention adulthood itself) all at once. It just seems like stacking the deck against yourself.



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Anne-Jayne

posted January 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm


As a recent Bible university “failure.” (I got my BSc instead of my Mrs.) Some of the comments have really hit home with what I am experiencing now. The church (at least mine) doesn’t have any ministry geared towards singles over the age of 25.
Many churches have youth groups or college and careers groups but after you graduate from university, if you aren’t married and ready to join the couples Bible study, you kinda fall through the cracks. I am still “young enough” to blend in with the college crowd but I really feel the difference in maturity and my concerns are very different from those of a student.
But whose to say ministry in church always has to be segregated according to age and relationship status??? Perhaps it would be better if we had more mixed aged ministry so we can all benefit from eachother’s experiences and appreciate one another as individuals and not age groups. If I can’t ever remember hearing people from my grandparent’s or parent’s generation talk openly about their struggles and about their faith how do you expect me to ever do this?



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Lynn

posted January 21, 2011 at 12:18 am


Christian Culture’s views on marriage, singleness, and sex is what caused me to rethink a lot of Evangelical Christian values. I didn’t fully see the negative results of such a worldview until I aged out of the acceptable single-girl age range and had to re-evaluate my expectations and what I thought about single people past their mid-twenties.
In Bible college, we would see our classmates get married frequently, and what most of us were thinking was, “They’re so lucky, they get to have sex.” And I think most members of Christian Culture pity the single person most of all, because they are viewed as unfortunately sex-deprived. And since masturbation is viewed as a sin, this results in a very bizarre dichotomy where God’s children are supposed to be completely sexless beings unless and until they sign a legal certificate of marriage, whereupon their sex life is supposed to explode and be more amazing than any secular relationship ever could be.
One of my old friends from Bible college that didn’t earn her MRS has a blog wherein she moans about her sadness at being still single at 28. She says this stage of her life is a period of mourning, and she isn’t sure what God’s purpose for her life is. In her mind, her life really hasn’t begun yet and it never will until she gets married. It’s so sad that young Christians aren’t able to enjoy being single and 20-something.



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Hairy-Spice

posted January 21, 2011 at 2:42 am


My real opinion here is that ‘the church’ controls young peoples’ lives with this marrying young thing. The whole marriage thing is pushed on young inexperienced people so that ‘the church’ has them in control for the rest of their lives.
This is how it plays out: Young man trying his damnedest to live right. His hormones have kicked in the way God has designed them to, and he’s told to fornicate and do what his body is urging on is wrong and disgusting. He’s too young and naive and doesn’t know any better, so when he starts to masturbate to deal with the urges he feels like he’s in a dark corner and hates himself and knows nothing but shame.
Then a nice girl his age turns up and ‘the church’ tells him that she’s the one that God has chosen for him. Again, he’s barely finished high school and has never lived outside of his parents’ house, so he doesn’t know any better. He asks her to marry him because he’s already made God mad with the masturbating thing and this is the answer to all that anyway, right?
The pre-marital counselling starts. He is so full of shame over his masturbation thing that’s been happening in the darkness, that he can’t openly answer questions that are put to him. He reveals tidbits to the unqualified councillors and they don’t even notice what he’s going through, they’re so thrilled to be seeing these kids getting married. He expresses the fact that he doesn’t know if he’s in love and he’s told love isn’t a feeling but a choice. He explains that marriage will be the answer to his problems and he’s not told anything contrary. Did I mention that the pre-marital councillors have no qualifications to be doing anything of this sort?
The marriage happens. All is good in the world and sex is plentiful. One year later, the first baby pops up. The young man puts his dreams and education and career on hold to support his new family. Now he’s working twelve hours a day so that ‘the church’ can get paid and he can still bring home enough to feed his wife and kid.
The years pass and more kids come into the equation and his dreams and plans go on the back burner for anther ten years as he needs to work harder to feed more kids, all the while ‘the church’ get’s their cut of his sweat and blood.
Young man get’s to be a middle-aged man with a wife and four kids. He hasn’t had a real vacation in fifteen years. He’s breaking his back working two jobs and every day he gets off he’s expected to be helping out in the music group at church and the men’s prayer meetings. And he finally gets to a point where he realises that he’s never heard God’s voice personally and now that, for the first time in his life, he’s thinking for himself, but it’s too late. He has a wife that thinks she loves him. He has four kids that are in high school that need his money more than ever. He has a mortgage and a car he’s paying off.
He has nowhere to go because ‘the church’ has told him for over a decade that his only real friends are in that building, and with a wife and kids and two jobs and church responsibilities, he hasn’t had the time or energy to build any long lasting relationships with anyone.
So the only place to go is ‘the church.’ He’s trapped in a loveless marriage because his wife and kids rely on him. He’s stuck forking over a percentage of his wages because ‘the church’ says God told him to (and let’s be honest; it’s never just 10%. ‘The church’ is always preaching for “above and beyond” giving).
And he lives out the rest of his years miserable, sitting in the back of church with crushed dreams and depression because ‘the church’ manipulated a couple of kids so they could get a pay cheque out of them for the rest of their lives.
Welcome to my life; my ruined and wasted life thanks to ‘the church’s idea of marrying young.



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Joseph Gangreen

posted January 21, 2011 at 7:54 am


So so true. I know so many Christian couples who have got married young, and so fast too, within at most, a year of going out. I think it to be ridiculous (though I never voice my opinion to these people as you know they’ll spiel out some patronising rubbish like “when you find the right person, you’ll fall in love and you’ll do exactly the same thing”).
They do it for the sex, let’s face it. They might not know it, but that burning sensation in their loins, is what it is.



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ransacker

posted January 21, 2011 at 10:46 am


Dang Hairy-Spice…….You make me feel better that I got married and started a family on the cusp of forty. I know your story and empathize. I was very close to becoming you when I was almost twenty. I felt like it was going in the direction that you articulated and walked. Alot of the same events, feelings and circumstances. I wish you the best in finding a way to deal with it.



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Gaypet

posted January 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm


Just one of the legion of ways I never fit into CC. I never wanted to get married. And at 42 I’m still not.
Someday I may marry someone for their social security. But I can’t see why else I ever should.



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Another Sarah

posted January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm


*stepping up on to my soapbox*
Sometimes it amazes me how much of Christian Culture seems to come back to a strange obsession with sex. I experienced it when I was younger when I received endless scary lectures from a CC friend about the evils of sex before marriage… she stopped lecturing when she got pregnant.
When I started going to church (one of those non CC churches) in university, the common comment I got from friends was “so you’re not going to have sex???!!???”.
Sometimes being Christian seems to be all about sexual practices. There are two approved categories: married and having sex; not married and not having sex. If you can’t claim either of those categories, God (ie.”the church”) is disapproving of you.
Christian culture seems to put a person’s sexual “status” at the core of being Christian. So many CC decisions seem to be based on one’s sexual identity: clothing (don’t want to tempt the men into fornication), relationships (got to find the person with whom you can have the right kind of sex), marriage (marry early so you can have sex), family planning (have lots of sex in marriage to have lots of children).
So the having of or abstaining from sex, instead of God, seems to become the centre of Christian life in this crazy messed up way.
This is disturbing to me as the most sane description I’ve been given of a Christian view of sex is that sex becomes a problem when it surpasses God as the centre of your life. Sex is just supposed to be one aspect of your life and becoming too focussed on sex (as animals do with that all encompassing biological urge to reproduce) is idolatrous.
CC, in making so much of being Christian be about when and with whom one can have sex and how overtly sexual one is allowed to be, gives sex supreme importance. By seeking to control sex, Christians seem to be controlled by it.
It’s not supposed to be the focus, God is.
We’d probably all have healthier relationships with God and each other if we relaxed about sex and allowed it to be just one of many things in our lives instead of the centre.
*Stepping down off my soapbox*



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Kent

posted January 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm


All of the comments in favor of going ahead with the deed before marriage begs the question “what does the Bible say about it”? I’m asking you to throw out anything a Church may have ever told you. But does the Bible say fornication is wrong or not?



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Hairy-Spice

posted January 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm


Enlighten us, Kent.
What does an ancient, archaic book taken out of cultural and historical context say about it?



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shelly

posted January 22, 2011 at 12:03 am


@Kent: The word fornication, based on its Latin root word “fornicati”, means “illicit sex”, or “sex with a prostitute” (the Latin word refers to a place where prostitutes plied their trade). It’s just been twisted to mean “the act of sex between two people who are of age and are not married”. So, no, sex between two people who are of age and are not married and aren’t prostitutes isn’t wrong.
But if you look at the Bible, there are at least two examples of unmarried people (as defined today) who had sex, even had children: Adam and Eve, and Jacob and *both* of his wives’ mistresses. It also states Solomon had multiple wives and hundreds of concubines — women kept for the sole purpose of having sex. So did his father, David (“a man after God’s own heart”!). And God didn’t punish any of them for that. (David was punished because he committed adultery (remember Bathsheba was originally married to someone else).)
Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of the references within Mosaic law, hold on a second. Remember that, in ancient times, women were considered property. Exodus 22:16-17 is condemnation of a man who has sex with a woman who *isn’t* a virgin; his penalty is, simply put, to pay up. Also see Deuteronomy 22:13-21. It’s really about dishonouring one’s father (remember one of the Ten Commandments was “Honour your mother and father”), vis-a-vis a woman lying about her virginity. (Notice there’s no penalty against a man who isn’t a virgin. Again, men and women were not considered equals at that time.)



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David

posted January 22, 2011 at 7:36 am


Good post! The point is well taken. I would just say that sexual morality was clearly very important to Paul, so Christians need to look at why that was the case then and from there determine why it should or should not be taken seriously now.
@shelly and @kent: The word that Paul uses (in for example 1 Thes 4:3) that is frequently translated as “fornication” is porneia. Porneia is probably better translated “sexual immorality,” which would have included sex outside of marriage to Paul.



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Abby Normal

posted January 22, 2011 at 8:21 am


@Hairy Spice
Your post was incredibly depressing and, assuming none of it was embellished, it almost sounds like you need to get some help.
Regardless of whether you had kids for the “right” reasons at the time, you have kids now. And most kids are smart enough to tell when their dad thinks that they’re part of the reason his life is now “ruined and wasted”. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a piss-poor way to have to grow up.
Get into some sort of counseling (non-church based, of course) or something. Even if you feel you were brainwashed into having a family, they’re depending on you now, and a father and husband that just sits in the back of the church and quietly seethes about his “wasted life” is no good for them or himself.



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Hairy-Spice

posted January 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm


@Abby Normal.
Yeah. I’ve thought of it a few times. And even spoken to a few people. But what can they do? Either tell me to suck it up, be a man and take responsibility, or tell me to leave. I did leave for a while. Do you know how much Child Support is for four kids? Over half my pay cheque. I couldn’t live. And besides. I hurt them all doing it. Just because I was conned doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to them. I’m just trying to be the best person I can, regardless.
And to every who seems to thing sex before marriage is still taboo;
I’m also wondering if your churches still make women cover their heads when they go to church. Do they have to still remain silent and sit on the other side to the men? Do you shun pork?
I think it’s funny how ‘the church’ picks and chooses what suits them as ‘the word of God’ and writes off the stuff they don’t like is culturally insignificant. But as I said, because ‘the church’ controls people through sex, that’s why they keep that one, regardless of the original’s author’s intent. They see it as a sexual thing when, if you look at the context (a bunch of folks wandering around the desert) it was probably more a practical thing to keep disease and pregnancy under control.
Like most thing in the bible, christians seem to skim over the important stuff and dwell too much on the unpractical stuff.



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Tracey

posted January 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm


I don’t know whether this is true for anyone else, but I remember when young couples at my church would get engaged my mother would sneer, “They just can’t wait to have sex so they have to rush off and get married.” Always confused the heck out of me . . .



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Gaypet

posted January 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm


@Hairy-Spice: you seem to be in a hard spot and I am sorry for your difficulties. You are not really saying that you didn’t have a choice tho, right?
I ask because when you say things like, “Do you know how much Child Support is for four kids? Over half my pay cheque. I couldn’t live. And besides. I hurt them all doing it”, I wonder a bit about your focus. I can see the “And besides” if it were regarding the money. But you have it regarding your kids pain. It sounds a bit like you focus mostly on feeling like a victim. I get that. I do that sometimes. But we still make our choices and need to try to do better than our parents did. I’m sure you are doing better. Just making sure your kids know that sex is natural and fun and will be more enjoyable if you learn from lost of different people is a step in the right direction.



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Hairy-Spice

posted January 23, 2011 at 12:29 am


@Gaypet
Yeah, you’re right. I made my choice. But I was a dumb kid, and was no way ready for it. I thought I was doing the right thing. But as I said it was made with all this propaganda being jammed down my throat.
And yes, I’m taking responsibility for this now. I’m being a man and providing for the family. I argue with the missus all the time about what I tell the kids. I tell them that sex is a special thing. I tell them to guard their hearts. I tell them that it’s not just a willy-nilly thing to just throw around. But I don’t tell them that sex before marriage is evil and disgusting and sub-human as is the way of ‘the church.’
And if one of them comes to me and says they wanna get married at 18 or 21, I’m gonna have a lot to say about that too.
And yeah, at times I have a victim mentality. Especially when my facebook friends post articles like this. Opens up wounds, you know?



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Phree Thinka

posted January 23, 2011 at 1:59 am


@butterhorn – you are hilarious.
22 was the magikal number in my head when sitting under countless mind controlling sessions in church… i’m so glad i said “thanks but no thanks” 3wks before the cheezy wedding day when i was 22. It was so scripted, plastic, processed…I praise the good Lord for delivering me from what would have been a horrible decision.



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Still Breathing

posted January 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm


My 23 year old Christian son is getting married to a girl of the same age this year – do I tell him they are too young? Of course he would reply that his motheer was 19 when she married me and we are still together 30 years later.



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Abby Normal

posted January 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm


@Still Breathing
It’s all relative. My parents were married when they were both 18 and will be hitting their 40th anniversary pretty soon.
Personally, I don’t think there’s a “right” age for marriage. However, I think emotional maturity is a much bigger deciding factor than age in years. In my parents’ case, they both were much more independent at 18 than the average 18-year-old these days–neither went to college and they both moved out of their parents’ homes and started working full-time right after high school.
On another tangent, I was thinking about Sarah’s? comment further upstream and I agree that the “secular” world does seem to have it’s own (different) expectations about sex. I remember getting a physical shortly before getting married (at 23! gasp!) and my doctor darn near fell off her stool when I told her I was still a virgin. (Up until that time no one had told me you were supposed to lose it before a certain age!)



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Gaypet

posted January 24, 2011 at 12:22 am


@Hairy-Spice
I do know. And good for you for not passing on the madness. Abuse is a hard thing to overcome and not pass on. I do my best everyday too. And am always, in every waking moment not to mention my nightmares, sure it is never enough. Good luck to you and yours. :)



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Gaypet

posted January 24, 2011 at 12:32 am


@Abby Normal (which, if I have not said it lately, is my favorite user name EVER)
The “secular” worlds expectation of sex is simply about evolution and what the human animal does in every other part of the world where sex is not considered a-nasty-horrible-shameful-ugly-thing-you-only-do-with-someone-you-love. When the human animal reaches sexual maturity it is reasonable to assume that sex will happen sometime in the near future. Unless there is a lot of repression and religious nonsense. Then it may never happen. Or take years.



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Abby Normal

posted January 24, 2011 at 9:01 am


@Gaypet
There’s “sex is the thing that the human animal normally does when reaching sexual maturity” and “sex is an act that you must have experienced before the age of 16.5 years or risk being a maladjusted freak for the rest of your life”.
The former is a logical assessment, but I think the latter is all too common as well, and (in my opinion) just as damaging as the “sex is a nasty, shameful thing” business.
Somewhere in between is the notion “sex is beautiful, intense, and mysterious and therefore shouldn’t be wasted on just any random schmoe”. I like to believe that this is the rationale behind waiting until marriage (at least it was for me), but that it gets taken to extremes and bogged down in legalism in the hands of evangelicals.



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Kent

posted January 26, 2011 at 9:36 am


Thanks Abby, your comments have been refreshing.



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Eli

posted January 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm


I agree with those who have mentioned balance as being the key. Sometimes early marriage sucks, but nope, it doesn’t always when the reasons are the right ones.
And Mr. Harry-Spice:
I am very sorry that you find yourself in such terrible circumstances. However, please don’t think you are doing your family any favors by staying if you are going to be so miserable in doing so. That isn’t taking care of your responsibilities. Part of taking care of your responsibilities is taking care of yourself and becoming a whole person so that you can approach others with love and care. If all you can think about is how horrible your life is and how miserable you are, you aren’t really able to love them either, and trust me, they know it.
You can certainly choose to stay miserable. But remember that is your own choice that you are making now. Not one anyone forced you into or deluded you into. You could also choose instead to find out who you are and learn to love yourself and life. You could do that by either: communicating and working hard to work with your wife and family (and self) through issues and learn to appreciate and love both yourself and them for who you all are, and build a marriage you WANT to be a part of now. OR, you could do that by leaving and finding joy in a different way, and allowing them the freedom to do the same. In any case, staying just because you should but being miserable hurts them too.
Sorry if that comes off somewhat harshly. And honestly, you can throw my opinon out if you’d like to. Just thought it was worth it to share the thoughts, in hopes that it could help you remember you can choose to come alive again right where you are at. I’ve lived (and still sometimes do) a half-dead life. It isn’t really living.



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stephanie drury

posted January 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm


Hairy-Spice,
I feel so sad that the counselors you talked to told you to “suck it up, be a man and take responsibility, or leave.” Good therapists and counselors don’t tell you to do anything, they only listen and ask questions. It’s kind of the litmus test of therapy: do they tell you to do stuff and just modify your behavior? That’s crappy therapy because you’re not dealing with the heart of the issue, just the symptoms. A good counselor will be empathic and hurt along with you and ask you pointed questions to help you see the situation from other perspectives and help you have kindness towards yourself.
For whatever it’s worth, your story makes my heart hurt too. All of us are here because we’ve been victims of Christian culture and twisted teachings. Hang in there and please keep coming back to chat or chime in!



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Tony D.

posted January 27, 2011 at 11:40 am


A bit tangential, but I’m always amused when Protestants say, “Never mind what “the Church” has told you, what does “the Bible” say?”
But where do we get the idea that there’s anything special about the Bible, *except* from the Church? It didn’t just fall out of the sky, you know.
(Sorry if this sounds troll-ish. I do love this blog and am glad it’s here for those who have been wounded by CC. By the grace of God I was not.)



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Eli

posted January 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm


Well, Tony. The church as it began (you know, with the death of Christ and pentecost and all that?) is not the same thing as the church today. It just isn’t. I don’t recall Paul or Peter or James or anyone else mentioning needing lots of money to build a building to bring people in that they would never personally know.
Just a thought. And the if the church claims the Bible is true but doesn’t follow it, kinda makes you wonder, dunnit?
OH. And Harry-Spice: Please just ignore me and listen to Stephy. Her comments were much more compassionate and not (at least they didn’t read this way to me) informed by being hurt by her parents.



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Kent

posted January 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm


A good counselor will do a lot more than “only listen and ask questions.” While those things are certainly important, it doesn’t end there. Good advice is priceless, and needed through out our lives. That pertains to every aspect of lives, legal, relational, educational, occupational, spiritual etc… It is quite prideful to say I don’t want or need direction or advice from anyone.



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Quinn

posted January 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm


Kent,
I don’t think people go to counseling because they don’t need any direction. Listening and asking questions isn’t a passive process. The reason that counselors don’t just tell people what they should do is that this would take away from the learning process. The therapist helps the person uncover what it is that s/he needs to do or wants to do. Ultimately, it’s up to the person to make decisions for his/her life.



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stephanie drury

posted January 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm


Quinn…exactly.



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Kent

posted January 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm


“The therapist helps the person uncover what it is that s/he needs to do or wants to do”. And that many times means interjecting with advice. Due West is still Due West no matter how you “feel” about it.



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Eli

posted January 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm


Kent –
I think I get what you mean. And SOMETIEMS advice is ok in counseling. But a good counselor doesn’t often tell you what to do, because the point of good therapy is to help YOU discover what you should do. It doesn’t make total sense to me why this works, but it does. I’m going to this kind of therapy right now and it is helping more than anything. The questions they ask aren’t just casual questions. They are pointed, to make you think. But if they gave a ton of advice it would take away from you learning and discovering and changing. Does that make sense? Certainly, the conversation bit is important, but there can be conversation without them telling you what to do.



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stephanie drury

posted January 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm


Hey Kent,
Instead of interjecting with advice, good therapists ask “Why do you think that’s true?” and “What would it look like if you tried this? What could that be like?” but they don’t give advice. Lots of counselors DO give advice but I really feel that’s pandering and unhealthy. When a counselor says “don’t go near that guy again, he’s bad for you” that is much more peripheral than saying “what are you getting out of being with this person? What do you feel would happen if you cut off contact?” etc. The problem with saying “due north is due north” is that when it comes to human experience, there isn’t a due north and that’s the beauty and the tragedy of it. We have to wrestle with this stuff to fully live. When we follow “due north” advice we miss out on the beauty and the pain and we miss out on truly living.



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Tony D.

posted January 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm


“The church as it began (you know, with the death of Christ and pentecost and all that?) is not the same thing as the church today.”
Not if you’re Protestant it isn’t; that was my point.



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Christina

posted January 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm


Why does that top picture look like a Duggar Trading Card to me?



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Sarah

posted February 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm


Eli,
I’m so glad you’re going to good therapy. That kind of therapy saved me. And you have such authentic and genuine comments. I really like your last one. Thank you.
Kent, giving advice is a lot easier than asking questions. And there’s a huge difference between behavior modification and truly internalized healing and peace. And as Stephy said, there’s no recipe for truly internalized healing and peace, and this is a beautiful thing. It also necessitates counselors who are there to help you learn to see, not tell you where to look.
Tony, hilarious comment. Although the Catholic church certainly underwent an evolution, too.



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Tony D.

posted February 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm


“…the Catholic church certainly underwent an evolution, too.”
Sigh, Vatican II…one man’s “open the windows and let fresh air in” is another’s “lower the barricades and let the rot seep in.”



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The Maverick Jester

posted February 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm


harry spice, I have no advice to give you. It sounds as if you’re paying the costs for bad decisions made early in your life. Of course, those bad decisions were partly caused by the beliefs about sex and marriage that your church taught you. You’re in a bad situation and I feel very sad for you.



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The Maverick Jester

posted February 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm


The Duggars annoy me because they present a picture perfect idealization of their belief system. Josh Duggar married at twenty, and his wife is pregnant with their second child. For most people with no college education, that would mean a life of poverty unless they worked their butts off. Joshua, though, had the funds to open his own car lot so he is financially secure.



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Hairy-Spice

posted February 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm


That’s okay Mav. I didn’t come here for advice.
I guess I came here to try and Tell young people not to be stupid. But it sounds like majority of the people commenting here have their head screwed on right.
And just to clarify, the problem isn’t marrying young. The problem is telling young folk who dont know any better, that marrying young is what God wants and will solve all your sex problems when it’s all just an elaborate manipulation to trap you in a life and church that you won’t want down the line.
Some folks marry young but they’ve lived a little and know why their doing. Most haven’t and don’t. My sister in-law went through the same thing. When they announced their engagement at 20, strait out of bible college, strait out of high school, I said it was too soon. These were two kids that hadn’t had a chance to live or love. Two years later, divorced.
If ‘the church’ cared about anything BUT their bottom line, they’d be warning againstvthis soul-crushing and life-destroying practice. But the thing is; most Christian couple won’t divorce. They’ll stay together because if you divorce you’re scum and you’ll go to hell. And that’s what ‘the church’ is relying on. That you’re so scared of hell that you’ll tow the party line and keep paying their bills, cause you got nothing else



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T...

posted February 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm


Half of the problem I encounter is that I’m somehow less of a woman because I’m single. It must be that I’m not such an eligible bachelorette. And I must be devastated by the above.
Clearly my want for a relationship could have nothing to do with my actual desire to be exactly as I am. I must be desperate to marry my hot best friend (and let’s be honest, can one KNOW someone in a six month “courtship” and six month engagement? Are you really besties?). When really I just don’t think i could handle it right now. I’m busy. And not sure I’m ready to change things for someone else. If it happens, so be it. But I’ve no desire to search high and low for something I’m not sure I want yet. And I certainly won’t be forcing anything, nor will i compromise my standards of a good man just to meet the status quo.
And just because I’m not dating or looking to date does not mean A.) I’m really a lesbian. B.) I don’t trust Jesus C.) I’m infertile. Emotionally and physically, of course. D.) That I need to read Proverbs 31 until i’ve memorized it. or E.) That I need pity because I’m clearly woebegone as a result of my being *whisper* single STILL.
Bollocks, my dears, I’m happy as a clam, and not looking to force anything. If we want the divorce rate in the church to be lower than the world’s (if we want the right to harp on “the sanctity of marriage”), maybe we shouldn’t link merit/value and marriage. While marriage, I hear, is great, it’s also a lot of work. And not many kids are ready to marry- i mean, their frontal lobes aren’t even fully developed! Let’s slow things down, evaluate a person, in earnest, before an engagement. Enjoy the dating process. And realize marriage is a lot of work, so stop pushing me toward it, dammit. ;)
The end.



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RedRover

posted February 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm


Hmmm…. lots of thoughts and not sure how to put them all down. First, I discovered this blog while googling for different perspectives on what is Christian Culture. This blog was a great find. While many of the opinions expressed (in both blog and commentators) are not fully flushed out or lacking in balance, there are many valid critiques on, what I call, Chicken-soup-for-the-soul Christianity. For this I am grateful.
On the subject at hand, I would have to say that there is equal obsession with sex and relationships in secular culture as there is in C-S-F-T-S culture. I have been asked more often in secular settings if I have a boyfriend than I have in Christian (though I am often asked that in Christian settings as well). It is incomprehensible to the youth that I work with that an old lady like me (28) has never had a boyfriend. I believe that Christian Culture is directly linked to secular culture in this way. It has a habit of taking and re-labeling the trends of secular culture. Another group re-acts in a different way by viewing culture as an evil and shunning it completely.
If you don’t believe me when I state that western culture is just as if not more obsessed with romance than “Christian Culture” look at the bundle that is spent on Valentine’s Day. Look at the majority of song lyrics on any radio station.
Also, I would like to put in a word about the Duggar’s. I realize that their lifestyle appears alien, but it is lazy logic to say that which is different and alien from myself must be either bad or stupid. It is natural view but not a logical one. It is also natural to put down other culture’s and lifestyles to make one’s own seem better and more right. It is not logical though, and forgive me for making a moral judgment, but it is not right. I commit the above fallacies often, which is why I think I may be forgiven for saying what I do is not right.



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rebecca

posted March 3, 2011 at 10:22 am


I got married at 19, my husband was 21. Both from a strict Christian upbringing, both virgins. I think we got married Right away because we wanted to be together, like physically in the Same place at the same time more than an hour a day. We obviously couldn’t move in together and even him being at my place unsupervised was frowned upon. So we got married, and by completely accidentally I got pregnant 2 months later. And although my daughter is perfection and I would never wish for a life without her, I wish so Much she would have come 5 years later. Now we have been married 8 years and never had a time to just be us. I think the propensity for Christians to jump into marriage and start shooting out babies is such a mistake. Your relationship doesn’t get the chance to be one of a husband and a wife…its immedietly mother/father which is a completely different dynamic. I’m looking forward to what I call our newlywed years which will be when my kids move out! We’re going on a honeymoon dammit



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Quinn

posted May 16, 2011 at 10:07 am


RedRover,

I don’t think that the other posters are saying that the Duggars’ lifestyle is alien and therefore wrong (after all, the Duggars’ philosophy of marriage dovetails perfectly with CC philosophy). Rather, I think the criticism is a reaction to the idealization of their lifestyle in CC.



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CRidilla

posted July 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm


I have to agree with whoever was 30 and unmarried, I’m 25 and not married yet (and don’t want to be now). I used to attend an Evengelical Church but thankfully never got involved with their Youth Group. My life is too crazy to comtemplate marriage !
What I was always curious about is how does marriage make you happier? You have to give and take, I’m just not ready for that and also not ready for taking care of someone 24-7.



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sila

posted March 17, 2013 at 12:15 am


I agree with you Hairy-Spice with all your comments. I’ve seen in my church about 7 engagements/marriages just from end of 2012 to March 2013. 2 marriages 2012, one with child and one pregnant now; 2 marriages 2013; 3 engagements 2013. I was wondering just this morning at church after they announce one engagement again why are all these young people getting engaged and getting married one after the other. It never happened before. So I decided to do a search after I got back from church and I end up in here. I would think that young Christians should put their focus on what God has called them to do instead of hurrying into marriage. Although it’s tempting but I think they need to exercise self-control and should more eager to serve the LORD than going after their own desires. Getting married at a later age say from 25yrs would be a good idea or if it’s the God’s will for them to do so. It is like they see everybody doing it so why can’t they do it too.



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Brooks

posted March 27, 2013 at 9:39 am


Wow, what a great post! Thanks for the perspective. Are you sure you’re not writing about my sister specificly? She’s 20, he just turned 21 (maybe he wanted a fiance for his birthday present). There have been talks about marriage for quiet sometime but we never really took it seriously, we knew he was saving up for a ring. We just found out she’s engaged Friday and want to be married by January, before she graduates from collage with only 1 semester left. I don’t understand it, no one in the family does not even his. My parents are going along with it even though they don’t agree, we were all under the impression they would wait after college. I know her happiness is most important, but sometimes God doesn’t put our happiness into consideration. I’m trying look at this from their perspective as a believer but am finding it very difficult from a logical common sense kind of view. I just don’t know if they’ve thought about everything that goes along with marriage let alone about growing up to become mature adults. I know we shouldn’t determine for someone what’s best for them, but she’s my baby sister. :( Any advice would be appreciated, thank you.



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Brooks

posted March 27, 2013 at 10:49 am


Oh and I forgot to mention that when we asked her why the rush she throws 1 Corinthians 7:9 in my face, which tanslates to me as sex but she says it’s not.



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Pingback: Marrying Young – from “Stuff Christian Culture Likes,” by Stephanie Drury | Christian Pundit

stephy

posted April 11, 2013 at 11:56 am


Hey, I’m going to post this as email of the day at the Facebook page, okay? That way people can commiserate with you and give some advice… xo



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Cameron

posted November 12, 2013 at 1:06 am


I agree that the Church Culture (CC) has developed a fixation on sex and I think the church has failed miserably at teaching young people about deeper issues regarding marriage and sin. The church focuses too much on teaching young people to abstain from sex before marriage but misses the point that people should learn not to idolize sex and be filled with lust. The world mainly uses sex as a way to sell and the church needs to emphasize more on teaching people to avoid media that encourages pre-marital sex. Sex in and of itself is not a problem to be addressed as is the idolatry of it.

I like how churches these days will preach up and down against fornication and adultery but when it comes time for a church picnic at the lake, a majority of teen girls and even adult women are wearing bikinis. At something like this no one at church bats an eye. Some people in CC will argue about the existence of scripture regarding modesty and there are explicit verses in 1 Tim. that point to it.

People are right that the Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn sex before marriage, however, we are told in Genesis that “for this reason a man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh”. Another verse in scripture says that even if a married man sleeps with a prostitute, the two will become one flesh. It makes me think that the Bible is saying that sex is a powerful act beyond just a physical release. The media and humanistic culture have perverted the true meaning of sex over numerous generations. Forgive me that I don’t have the actual verse numbers to add to these references.

As a never-married 34 year old man, I’ve been tempted to strike out and find someone for a one night stand or just a friend with benifits. What stops me is the possibility that I may open the door to a lot of future trouble for myself or the fact that I’m using someone in an intimate act just for my own pleasure and nothing deeper.



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Renee

posted February 17, 2014 at 2:39 am


Wow. I feel so alone in the regular world sometimes. I just had my 19th wedding anniversary and am 38 years old. The math speaks for itself. So glad I ran into this. I have great kids and a great husband and it seriously is a miracle we are still together because we got together for seemingly one reason… SEX. He was a Christian? Check. His parents were Christians? Check. He had a job? Check! Ok, kid… have at it! The year before I had to be home at night by 10:00! Where is the logic? Like another poster here, I went nuts about 4 years in and over a period of 4 months had 2 affairs. Six years later he found out and didn’t leave. Why? Not sure. Probably had something to do with the whole church pressure thing. I go through spells where I just want to leave. I felt duped, tricked, and all because I felt guilty about having sex. Seriously. I’ve tried to teach my kids differently. The world is different and it is highly unlikely you will die of premarital sex. Why won’t the church fix this? It is so maddening



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ContentSingleChristian

posted March 15, 2014 at 7:41 pm


Church culture is OBSESSED with this. Not just obsessed but idolize this man-made belief. We know most Christians would get marry just to have sex, really. How many of those Christians who are married actually have a Revelation of what marriage and sex are for? Very few. If you are marrying that person to gratify the desires of your flesh, then I have nothing to say but pray that your marriage will survive. It sounds like a very boring-no-purpose marriage, really.



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auf Wiedersehen
My contract with Beliefnet is up and I'll be back on my own ad-free domain again. Beliefnet has been really lovely to me and I appreciate their letting me write whatever I want without trying to censor anything. I will be back on my blogger domain sometime this week, after I figure out how to export

posted 7:56:21pm Feb. 21, 2011 | read full post »

#210 Mandatory chapel at Bible college
Most Christian colleges require students to attend chapel services. Chapel is not an option, it's part of the curriculum. If you don't fulfill your chapel quota, you don't graduate. Though Christianity purports to operate under the auspices of grace and generally claims that church attendance isn't

posted 7:06:31pm Feb. 11, 2011 | read full post »

#209 Perceiving persecution
Christian culture is vigilant about persecution. Jesus said being persecuted goes with the territory of following him, and some of those followers are really on the lookout. Christian culture sees persecution in all sorts of things and they often say they're under attack. The institution of marriage

posted 6:16:31pm Feb. 03, 2011 | read full post »

#208 Missionary dating
When someone in Christian culture meets a delicious non-Christian they will usually assume a missionary position with them. Missionary dating is when you date a non-Christian for the express purpose of proselytizing so as to instigate their conversion. Youth group leaders heartily disapprove of mis

posted 6:16:57pm Jan. 27, 2011 | read full post »

#206 "You are now entering the mission field" signs
89% of evangelical church parking lots contain one of these signs. The signs are never positioned so that you see them while you're driving into the lot. They're placed so you can only see them as you're driving away. The implication is that you were not in the mission field while you were on c

posted 6:43:21pm Jan. 04, 2011 | read full post »




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