Beliefnet's teen advice columnist, Pastor Paul, chatted about religion and spirituality issues affecting teens on April 23, 2001, on Yahoo.bnet_ellen: Hey everybody, thanks for joining us tonight for a chat with's Pastor Paul. He's here to talk about anything and everything that has to do with teens and religion and spirituality. Welcome Pastor Paul!bnet_pastor_paul: Hey all! Great to be with you here today.bnet_ellen: So, tell us a little about yourself before we begin with the questions.bnet_pastor_paul: Well, I am working as a Protestant chaplain at Columbia University in NYC and I produce the music page at Beliefnet, and that has been great. We interviewed Moby and Bono and Mos Def, to name a few. I have been a minster for 5 years and love writing the Ask Pastor Paul column that is on in the teens area. minister--duh, sorry.bnet_ellen: Great, well let's get started with some questions...bnet_pastor_paul: Hey there are a ton of questions already on what Wicca is, so I think it is a good idea just to give a brief explanation.bnet_ellen: Wicca is an earth-based religion--falling under the larger umbrella of Paganism. Wiccans worship a Goddess and a God and revere nature. They believe in "magick" (spelled that way to differentiate it from stage magic), and some do cast "spells," but these practices shouldn't be confused with Satan (a Christian concept) or black magic.
Wiccans believe that magick is a divine energy that exists in everything, and spells channel these energies to create positive change. They are not hexes and curses, as popularly depicted.bnet_pastor_paul: That said, lets answer the first question.tantriced_one: Many of my friends are wiccan, is there a way i can get into a religious debate, and not turn it into a dirty argument?bnet_pastor_paul: That depends on you. Do you start out in a place of judgment or in a place of interest and friendship? My feeling is that any two people can get along, even if they disagree, as long as there is mutual respect. You should tell them sincerely why you are whatever faith you are and ask them to sincerely explain their religion to you.Janelle00: I was raised in a family that attended church for years, but when my little brother died, everyone quit. Now I am in my late teens and realize that something is missing, but I'd feel strange going by myself to church. What should I do about this?bnet_pastor_paul: First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. I am also saddened that the church did not supply a place of comfort enough that your family wanted to stay and go through the grief with that congregation. You might start by going back to the church your family left, unless there is real bad blood there. If that doesn't appeal to you, you might go visit a church with a best friend or someone you trust. And may God bless your return.Jc2Jake: What do you think about the rapture?bnet_pastor_paul: Oh, well, in case some of you don't know, the "rapture" is a belief in the end time of the earth when Jesus returns and will judge humankind.
Here is the official definition...bnet_ellen: A term employed in the New Testament of the Bible to refer to the eschatological (end time) event during which Christians who are living on earth will be "caught" up to meet the Lord in the air.bnet_pastor_paul: I actually don't concentrate much on the rapture, preferring to do my best to live well now. I am not so concerned with that belief, but I know that for some this can be very comforting, meaning that God will come and change the world and make it a better place, and for others it can be incredibly anxiety provoking and not a positive belief at all. As I said, I don't really concentrate on it.carmellunique: Hello. I am 19 years old and I got saved in my last year of high school and it has been very hard for me to stop having sex. I lost my virginity last year, my first year in college, and i felt bad and asked for forgiveness, but each time i am with a guy, I want to have sex with them and wind up doing it, please can you give me some advice as to controlling my sexual flesh and what the bible has to say about sex?bnet_pastor_paul: Well, I am going to take it that you believe that sex before marriage is wrong and you want to stop. Not everyone thinks that way, but is sounds like you do. You may need some counselling on what sex means to you and whether you are confusing sex with love. You could talk to a pastor or else even a counselor who specializes in sex issues.
By the way, God forgives you each time you ask, so please don't feel like God has given up on you. God is always there.merylp81: My friend isn't religious but she is looking for spiritual advice. Who do you recommend teens go to for spiritual guidance if they're not of a particular faith?bnet_ellen: Well, of course ;-) Check out the teens section at for a whole bunch of stuff from every spiritual path.bnet_pastor_paul: OK, in addition to Beliefnet, your friend could also start attending worship with her Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc., friends. I feel the best way to learn about religion is to see it in its ritual form, and to meet the people who practice it. From there she will begin to learn lessons of spiritual life.cheribabie17: If you go to church every sunday, and believe in god and all, but you dont listen to christian music every time you turn on the radio, does that make you a bad christian?bnet_pastor_paul: Well, if it does, then I confess: I almost never listen to Christian music unless it is really good music. I have learned more about my faith from U2, Ben Harper, and Moby than from any of the "Christian Rockers." Not to dis Christian rock, but God moves in mysterious ways.puck92509: I am a wicca in a very christian home and i cant be open about it, do you have any ideas on how i can cope better, because keeping everything inside is driving me nuts.shadow_tiaga: I am a pagan and my family is christian, should I tell them my beliefs or keep them to myself?