Is Sex Before Marriage Forbidden in the Bible?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Kimberly:

Hi Lee! I was wondering if sex before marriage is forbidden in the Bible. . . and if it is, why? I have a hard time understanding what could be so destructive about two people who genuinely care about each other having safe sex. I’ve been leaning towards the thought that sin is anything that keeps you away from God’s love. . . if this is true, then how would premarital sex fit into the equation? If you’re not hurting anybody, can it be so wrong? What about having multiple partners?

Just for the record, this is the same Kimberly who posed the Spiritual Conundrum that I responded to in the article, “It’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average!

Sex is a highly sensitive subject these days. Saying almost anything clear and definite about it is bound to offend somebody.

But . . . Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life is not designed to win any popularity contests. It’s intended to offer a deeper Biblical and spiritual understanding of many issues that we face in today’s world. So we’ll just charge right into it—and you, dear reader, can make up your own mind.

The reality is that the Bible is nowhere near as clear about sex before marriage as many Christians seem to think it is. In fact, though the Bible does generally condemn sexual immorality, there is no clear prohibition against premarital sex in the Bible.

So the short answer to Kimberly’s question is:

No, sex before marriage is not forbidden in the Bible.

No matter how upsetting this may be to some people with traditional moral values, that’s the fact of the matter

However . . . before you jump right into the sack, there’s more to it than that . . .

For more on the Bible and premarital sex, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships, The Bible Re-Viewed

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh, Ebola, and the Real Meaning of Christ Dying for Our Sins

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, 1956-2014

Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, 1956-2014

On August 19, 2014, Ameyo Adadevoh died of Ebola in an isolation ward in Lagos, Nigeria.

Her death was not in vain.

Professionally, she was known as Dr. Stella Adadevoh. It was her quick thinking and heroic actions that saved her country from the fate of the neighboring West African nations of Guinea, Libera, and Sierra Leone, where thousands of people have died from Ebola, and the disease still rages on.

Nigeria, by contrast, had only twenty cases of Ebola and eight deaths. It was declared Ebola-free on October 20.

Dr. Adadevoh gave her life to save her country from the ravages of Ebola. For that, she has become a hero in Nigeria.

For us elsewhere in the world, her story not only tells an inspiring tale of human triumph even in death; it also offers a human example of the real meaning of the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “Christ died for our sins.”

For more on Dr. Adadevo and her Christ-like sacrifice, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Current Events

Why is Evil Sexier than Good?

Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Now, don’t tell me you haven’t had the same thought. Sweetness and light is all very wonderful. But for some real excitement, nothing beats the dark and dangerous.

At least, that’s the message of popular culture—and someone must be eating it up! Certainly there are good-looking good guys and gals in popular movies and novels. But if the hero is very sexy, the villain is even sexier.

On the male side of the ledger, the villain has that brooding, swaggering, bad-boy persona. He’s the one that the women swarm around. They’re magnetically attracted to him like moths to a flame—and he uses them for his pleasure just as fast as they come.

On the female side of the ledger, all eyes snap to the femme fatale. She’s incredibly sexy, she knows it, and she flaunts it. She wraps infatuated men around her finger until they’ve served her wicked purposes, then tosses them aside all battered and broken up.

Cinematographers know all about it. They know that if they made a movie with nothing but good guys, it would fall flat at the box office. So they spice it up with sex, violence, and villains, and the crowds flock to see it.

Why?

Yes, we know that the bad guys will end out dead or in prison. We know that the wicked woman will be thrown to the dogs before the final credits roll. We can justify it to ourselves by saying we just want to see the crooks get their comeuppance.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that there’s more to it than that.

Why do we keep coming back for more sex, more violence, more murder, and mayhem?

Why are we humans so fascinated with evil?

For more on the attractiveness of evil, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth

Why did God Wait So Long to Come Down as Christ?

Here is part of a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Achilles:

Why would God wait to come down as Christ and not do that from the outset? It’s as if God woke up one day and said – you know – this isn’t working – I better go down there myself – if you want something done right – do it yourself – which is ludicrous…

Thanks again for the great question, Achilles!

For the full Spiritual Conundrum, see the previous article, “Can God Fail?” In that article, I took up this question: Can God—who is timeless, all-knowing, and omnipotent—fail to accomplish something that God sets out to do?

In this article, I’ll take up the remaining question in the Spiritual Conundrum that Achilles submitted: Why did God wait so many thousands of years to come down to earth as Jesus Christ instead of doing so right from the start?

Here is the basic answer:

There’s a right time (and a lot of wrong times) for everything. God waited until the right time to come to earth as Jesus Christ.

Why was two thousand years ago the right time?

Like many other topics covered here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life in response to readers’ questions, this is a huge topic! We can’t possibly cover every aspect of it in one article. But here are a few key points that we can cover:

  1. Humanity goes through spiritual stages.
  2. God comes to us when we are at a low ebb because:
    • Before that we won’t listen to or accept God,
    • Before that we are not ready to understand God’s message, and
    • That’s when God can face and overcome all human evil.
  3. When God became human, it turned the tide of human history.

Let’s dig into it.

For more on God’s timing, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Can God Fail?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Achilles:

I just read in one of your articles that before Jesus – God had sent many priests and prophets in an ATTEMPT to… And right there is where you lost me – a perfect and infallible being doesn’t ATTEMPT to do anything – if God is timeless and all knowing – why ATTEMPT to do something he knows will fail? Why would God wait to come down as Christ and not do that from the outset? It’s as if God woke up one day and said – you know – this isn’t working – I better go down there myself – if you want something done right – do it yourself – which is ludicrous… An attempt intrinsically implies a failure – how does an omnipotent being fail – the answer? It doesn’t – ergo – literal Christianity is hogwash

Thanks for the great questions, Achilles!

The reference is to the article, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?” In the section titled “The Long and Winding Fall,” I wrote:

God had sent many priests and prophets in an attempt to turn us around. Each time, it helped temporarily. But more and more, we just ignored God’s messengers.

When human history hit its all-time low, God saw that there was only one way to reverse the spiritual decline and save the human race from spiritual destruction and death. God had to come to earth in person, conquer the forces of evil that were engulfing the world, bring the spiritual world back into order, and reopen the channels for love and truth to reach people on earth.

This is precisely what Jesus was doing during his thirty-three years on earth.

First, about the idea that “literal Christianity is hogwash,” I wouldn’t put it quite that way. However, I agree that attempting to take everything in the Bible literally leads to many problems and contradictions. For more on this, see my article, “From Literal Slavery to Spiritual Freedom.”

And about the idea that God doesn’t attempt to do things, I see your point. It’s true that the reality of God’s action is much greater than that word implies. However, for our limited, human minds to see and grasp anything at all of the infinite, unlimited reality of God, it’s necessary to put things in limited, human words. Otherwise it would go far beyond our comprehension.

The reality is that God is engaged in a continual effort to achieve many prioritized goals—and yet will not violate God’s own goals, God’s own laws, and God’s own nature in order to achieve those goals.

If you’re scratching your head about that one, read on. If you want real answers, it will become clearer as we go along.

So let’s take up the two questions embedded in the conundrum:

  1. Can God—who is timeless, all-knowing, and omnipotent—fail to accomplish something that God sets out to do? (We’ll cover that question in this post.)
  2. Why did God wait so many thousands of years to come down to earth as Jesus Christ instead of doing so right from the start? (We’ll cover that question in the next post.)

For more on omnipotence and failure, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Your Crowdsourced Mind

Have you ever had a mean, angry, or impure thought and beat yourself up about it, thinking that you are the worst person ever?

Have you ever done a good deed, or had a brilliant idea and patted yourself on the back for it, thinking of yourself as better than the crowd of ordinary people out there?

The crowd

The crowd

If so, welcome to the human race!

We humans commonly think of ourselves as being evil or good depending on whether our thoughts, feelings, and actions are evil or good in our own judgment.

The reason we think that way is that we don’t understand how things really work—or if we do, we don’t really believe it.

Specifically, if we’re religious or spiritually oriented, we probably believe in our head that everything comes from God. But when it comes down to that great (or horrible) idea we just had, or that good (or evil) deed we just did, do we really believe it? Our natural tendency is to think that everything we think, feel, and do is our own.

The reality is that nothing we have, nothing we are, nothing we think and feel, and nothing we say and do is actually ours. None of it even comes from us. Ultimately, it all does come from God.

But before it gets to us, it is crowdsourced. All of our thoughts, feelings, motives, and attitudes come from the spiritual crowd that surrounds us all the time.

For more on spiritual crowdsourcing, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Afterlife

Power Corrupts? Absolutely Not. Arrogance Corrupts Power.

The issue of white privilege and black disadvantage has lately gained much-needed attention in American and international media due especially to:

Two more incidents have also cropped up recently in the news and on social media:

In each case, a black man was shot by a white man (or Hispanic, in the case of George Zimmerman).

Officer Sean Groubert shoots Levar Edward Jones

Officer Sean Groubert shoots Levar Edward Jones

Obviously, these cases involve racial politics—and they have evoked strong responses from the black community. Whites in America are often blissfully unaware of the double-standard, and often simply assume that race has nothing to do with stories such as these. Meanwhile, black Americans live every day with the knowledge and the fear that they or someone in their family could be unfairly and even lethally targeted simply because they are black.

Though some of the individual cases are complicated, the general picture is clear enough: blacks—especially black men—are often subject to harsher responses from police and other authority figures than whites who are engaging in the same actions.

This pattern of harsher treatment of blacks than of whites is an example of abuse of power. Of course, it is only one of many examples of abuse of power. But since it’s been prominent in the news, it offers an opportunity to look at the bigger picture of why we humans mistreat one another when we get into positions of power over one another.

Hold on. That’s not quite accurate.

Yes, I know, Lord Acton (1834-1902) famously said:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But as catchy and oft-repeated as this aphorism is, it’s based on a mistaken idea. Power does not corrupt people as Acton thought. Rather, it is people who corrupt the power. Fortunately, not all people.

We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at the most recent incident-gone-viral of a man getting shot for “driving while black.”

For more on power, arrogance, and unselfishness, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

Seasons of Life

In January of 1969, a photo was published that forever changed our view of the earth, and of our place in the universe. The photo was taken on Christmas Eve day, 1968, by the crew of Apollo 8—the first humans to orbit the moon. It showed a marbled blue and white gibbous earth rising above the barren, brown, crater-pocked surface of the moon.

"Earthrise" - Apollo 8, Dec. 24, 1968

“Earthrise” – Dec. 24, 1968

The photo was quickly dubbed “Earthrise.” It has become one of the most famous pictures ever taken. For the first time, it showed the people of earth the beauty and fragility of our planet as a whole, floating in the blackness of space. The stark, lifeless surface of the moon in the foreground showed just how precious is the abundant life on our own planet.

Based on this indelible visual image, we realized on a gut level that whatever conflicts and divisions we may have among us here on earth’s surface, our planet is one. Seeing the entire earth in a single view put it all into perspective.

And yet, here on earth the struggles and challenges of each day still loom large for us. They fill up the horizons of our ordinary vision. When we’re up close and personal with the task of getting through this day, this week, this month, it’s easy for the years to slip by without ever seeing the big picture of our life.

How would it change our perspective if we could see our whole life, from birth to death and beyond, in one view, just as the “Earthrise” photo showed us our whole planet in one view?

For more on seasons of life, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History, Spiritual Growth

What is a Real Apology and How does it Help Your Soul?

Apologies have been in the news lately.

Many apologies by celebrities and other public figures fall seriously short in sincerity and believability. They’re more of a CYA response than a real apology.

But sometimes apologies are real.

Mike Fiers apologizing for hitting Giancarlo Stanton with a pitch

Mike Fiers apologizing

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Giancarlo Stanton hit by a pitch

Last Thursday in major league baseball, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers hit Miami Marlins batter Giancarlo Stanton in the face with an 88 mph fastball, causing facial fractures, lacerations, and dental damage. He likely ended the ace hitter’s season. Clearly rattled, in his very next pitch Fiers hit the next batter in the hand, before being taken off the field.

Though tempers flared while all this was happening, afterwards Fiers issued a public apology for the unintentional injuries he had caused. You can read about it and watch an associated video here.

Mel Greig, Australian radio DJ

Mel Greig, DJ

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Jacintha Saldanha, 1966-2012

Another public apology occurred on Friday during a long-delayed inquest into the death by suicide of Jacintha Saldanha. In December 2012, Saldanha hanged herself after mistakenly passing on to the floor nurse a prank call from Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The DJs, posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, had called the hospital where Prince Charles’s daughter-in-law Kate Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness during her first pregnancy. When the floor nurse revealed private details of Middleton’s condition, and the story went viral, it proved too much for Saldanha.

For our take on the story soon after it happened, see “It Takes a Village to Make a Tragedy.” Now, almost two years later, DJ Mel Greig traveled to England to personally offer a tearful apology for her role in Saldanha’s suicide. You can read the story here.

What does make an apology real? Back in June of this year, actor, filmmaker, and comedian Jonah Hill did it right.

For more on real apologies and the soul, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Spiritual Growth

Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood

When it comes to the Christian sacrament of the Holy Supper, it’s all about eating and drinking. That’s true whether we look at it physically, philosophically, spiritually, or interpersonally.

Let’s look at an earlier story of Jesus feeding the people, from the Gospel of John, chapter 6. I encourage you to click the link and read the chapter first.

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, by James Tissot

For more on eating, drinking, and spiritual meaning, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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