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I've been attending church for about a year and was baptised last summer, but I have been struggling with keeping the faith burning in my heart since Christmas.

I don't understand the commentary on the OT readings today surrounding sexual relations and the church attitude in general. The commentary says that v. 19 & 20 forbid sexual relations outside marriage. Reading from the NIV, v. 19 forbids sexual relations during a womans monthly period, v. 20 forbids sexual relations with another mans wife. (I'm doing this from memory, as I can't comment and read the verses on my mobile device at the same time, so they might be the other way around!). So neither of those verses actually say, "Don't have sexual relations outside marriage. V. 19 links back to yesterday's readings on blood, v. 20 links back essentially to the 10 commandments of don't commit adultery. The last 2 verses are pretty clear on forbiding male homosexuality and bestiality. The preceding ones seem to deal with incest. Those two deal with the ceremonially unclean and adultery. I can't see where you get the sexual relations outside marriage from? In fact throughout the entire bible from what I have read (I did read the YOB from March last year) the only references are to sexual immorality.

Can anyone point me to the actual verse that says not to have sexual relations outside marriage? I must admit this is only a small question out of the many I have had whilst reading through the Bible, I don't want to offend anyone, but find its questions like these that I have trouble getting answers to and that start sowing the seeds of losing faith because I hear what people say, and just can't seem to find the black and white words to confir that in the Bible. End of comment for today, my thumbs ache after typing all that on a Blackberry sized keyboard!
Thanks
Steve.

In reference to your question about sexual relations outside of marriage. One of the commandments specifically says "thou shalt not commit adultery". In addition to that from the old testament, Jesus speaks to adultery as even the thought of lusting after another woman if a man was married. These are no inferences. It is really quite clear that there are to be no sexual relations outside of marriage.

Mike,
just a point about how living simply does not necessarily mean earning less. My father started a company and when he did he thought how his priorities should be God first, family second, and self last. He took the number of hours in a week, and counted backwards how much time for God (church, study, prayer, etc) then for his family, then for sleep, etc and found he could only spend 40 hours a week at work. He then started with those times for the Lord and family as a commitment. He then trusted God to take care of all the things in his business that he couldn't do in those hours he was not there. Almost any entrepreneur will tell you that you cannot start a serious company in only 40 hours a week but my dad just gave that to the Lord.

I can attest to the fact that he was home every night at exactly 6pm to be with us his family and he never brought work home to compete and let me tell you that often took great faith on his part that the Lord would help, especially in tough times. The Lord then gave his company tremendous success, I mean it even went public and continued to grow, as it was God who really brought the increase as my dad was faithful to God. Even after going public while serving as CEO & Chairman (though my dad rarely used the title Chairman - he used to tell me God was Chairman of his company) my dad still kept to 40 hours a week except for the occasional business trip. I mention this because the "earnings" from this became absolutely tremendous and my dad was able to start a foundation that today (and I hesitate to say this but) gives money away annually in the 7 figures to a lot of "weak" people and to help evangelize the world for Christ. Can you imagine what impact that simplicity has had? Especially while never robbing us the family or God of either's respective time.

I say all this to make the case that you can be simple and actually make more "earnings," just it has to be God's way, through God providing, and that earning more might even be a worthwhile goal as God then can use you through those earnings in a very powerful way to expand and serve the Kingdom of God mightily doing His will to take care of the weak. To further the goal of being simple the temptation may be to "make less" but in my opinion that misses it as I have seen people making less and still not able to live simply. Instead trust the Lord and then "commit all you do to the Lord and He will bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5).

I find that once you give to someone who is weak and unable to care for themself you instantly want to be able to give more. Earning less may actually rob us of this great opportunity to serve the Lord especially when we, who God has given the ability to earn more, can. We just need to do it within the bounds of putting the Lord first and our family second. I know giving money away is not the only thing but there is so much need out there for it (so many people around the world need financial help, or need services (medical, justice, etc) that can only be provided with financial resources - and there are so many great ministries, yet alone not to mention giving to evangelism) and I believe we can do so much with God in such a huge way almost unimaginable to us, all the while keeping our priorities right. My dad would point to Proverbs 3:9-10 as a way to live simply and then be able to provide for the Kingdom in ways you never dreamed.

Oops, just wanted to add, you asked for the specific versus about sexual relationships outside of marriage, here they are..
Mathew 5:38; Mathew 10:11,12,19; Mathew 19:5.

Hello Everyone,

Steve--many blessings on your decision to follow Christ! I can tell you that when I became a Christian at 23, it was not as if all of my questions were neatly resolved and I instantly followed God in every way. I still had gobs of questions and there were many areas of my life I did not yield to Him.

I believe that a true conversion experience is a complex life-changing event (especially if you come to Christ as an adult). Your decision may happen in a day, but the working out of your faith, your growth in Him has just begun! It's a marathon--a process that will continue until we die and are perfected in Him.

I still remember when I first became a Christian (16 years ago now), I was struck by the fact that I had to rethink the way I looked at the world in every significant way. This was definitely a process. In some ways, I kept trying to reconcile my old "self" with the new. The Lord was faithful to shape me and reveal things to me bit by bit. It would have been too much if He gave it to me all at once!

some of the more difficult areas of Christianity and the Bible, I had to submit up to God again and again. Some answers were easier and quicker than others. Some very sloooow; they came only after a number of years and sometimes after I had stopped asking that particular question! I moved on and was asking a new questions then He sometimes answered my old ones ; ). I think He has a sense of humor like that.

My experience is also that we have to be careful with the spirit in which we approach the Word. We can read things into the text or out of them--depending upon the condition of our hearts and willingess to see. Remember that the Pharisees knew their scriptures well.

My best advice (and this was advice given to me) would be to keep your yes on Jesus. Keep Him front and center and keep your communication with Him fresh and real. Cling to Him. Pray to Him when you read His word and ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and eyes.

If you approach Him and His word with thirst and honesty, I know that He will give you peace about your question and many others that will come along.

You are on the right track with asking questions--seeking answers and help from others. Also, learn how to "dig" through the Word with a concordance or cross-reference. A subject-themed concordance (like a "Life Application" handbook) was very helpful to me when I first became a Christian. It helped me think through areas I had questions about and put the scripture in context.

My second piece of advice would be to find a strong and trustworthy Christian mentor. Someone a bit older than you who is steady in their faith. They don't have to be a "friend" but God will use that relationship and they will become a truer friend over time than many "friends" you would choose. You can learn so much from a solid brother or sister in Christ. Also, they can pray for you and be a sounding board for you as you navigate through difficulties.

Finally, here are some more scriptures for you to consider. I pulled them from my old "Handbook of Bible Application" ; ) My experience is that wisdom has a gentle voice that speaks quietly but definitively over time.

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"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit."
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

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Here is the passage Kim mentioned:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. --Matthew 5:27-30

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And one more...

"The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

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I find the word choice in that last passage compelling...we are to FLEE from sexual immorality--pretty strong words there! I also like that passage because it points out the positive goal in all of this--it's that we are to HONOR God with our bodies. It's part of being different and set apart.

When I struggled with this issue, I thought of it more in terms of abstract "do's" and "don'ts" I didn't understand why God would request such a thing of me--it seemed legalistic. But, it is more about God wanting the very best for us--sexual sin gets us into a heap of trouble--it's not the VERY best, and it doesn't glorify Him.

I hope all this blathering helps some--it's just an honest response from a fellow pilgrim. I'll make a point to pray for you, brother : )

Hello Again,

Kary, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed and was strengthened by your father's story.

What a great illustration of putting God first. I think so many men struggle with this (and women too, but especially men in their work). I think women often put their family first, but not their husbands or God.

Anyway...I did not have parents who modeled faith to me. I am strengthened by stories like your father's because they model how it should be.

God Bless!

Kary

Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life with us. It made me think am I putting my GOD first every time. There are days when worries and other life situation take precedance and I forget to put my GOD first.

Your story has inspired me and I am definitely looking to make that change

Thank you Elizabeth and Arielle. I felt compelled to share as I feel I was so amazingly blessed by this element of my life (my mom was (is) just like that too growing up for us) that I try as much as possible to allow it to bless others in some way even if just by sharing it others are encouraged and inspired. I believe my parent's reward in Heaven will be huge as much for this aspect of their life as for anything else, if not more. It really kept me from getting into all the trouble that all (and I mean all) of my friends got into growing up. My parents weren't only my parents to me they became my mentors and my best friends, and this helps me tremendously now with my own wife and kids.

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