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The New Site

Our new site is up, but you may have entered the site through the old pages, especially for the Seven Deadly Sins.

Welcome!

We are still moving pages to the new system, but soon you will be able to add comments and find everything easier than before, with search capability and much more. There are quotes at the bottom of the pages, too. Some links will point to the old format, but the Home link will point back here.

Special thanks to Michael for the cool new graphics in the banner!

Please check back to see our progress, and try some of the links on the left.

Peace,
Ed

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Pornography in Marriage

Is pornography in marriage considered lust when one partner doesn’t agree with it and does this create a reason for annulment or separation of the marriage if this was not known about the partner before the marriage? Is the partner obligated to participate in sex because there is a marriage vow? If the partner does participate, is this also lust for the partner?

Hi, thanks for writing. The deeper problems would seem to be that sex doesn’t have the proper place in marriage, serving primarily as a means to pleasure for one spouse at the expense of the other. Sex in marriage is supposed to be an expression of the mutual love, but can be the use of one partner by the other. If one spouse (or both) went into marriage with the idea that it would be a way of having a “”sex slave””, then possibly no marriage exists, but that would be a matter for the annulment process. Each of us has to follow our conscience. The use of pornography is against the Gospel, and so is having sex with a spouse while fantasizing sex with someone else. If a spouse finds this use of pornography disordered and wrong, but participates out of respect for their spouse, it certainly isn’t lust, but it isn’t right, either. And in time, the spouse being pressured into pornography or deviant sex acts will probably become angry and resentful, and the marriage will probably not survive. At the very least, the frequency of sex is going to decrease so that the usual outcome of a dead sex life after 10 or 15 years of marriage will be the result. I don’t usually recommend counseling, but it would probably be a good idea, provided the counselor respects the sanctity of marriage as a Sacrament. If you are Catholic, a visit to a priest would be a good start. Confession is a good start as well, even if you aren’t the one doing wrong in this area. It is possible that you will go to a priest who believes pornography is acceptable (they exist in quantity), but keep searching until you find one that really follows Catholic teaching. If one or both are not Catholic, I’d still recommend a priest, as the Catholic teaching on sex in marriage is still the strongest without treating sex as a “”necessary evil””. And you can write to us (my wife and I) here at any time. Personally, I’ve struggled with sex in marriage, because the temptation to seek the pleasure and forget the purpose is very great. Our own use of Natural Family Planning (not using artificial birth control) has been a great help in this area, because it builds self-control into the sexual part of marriage. Sex is a wonderful, pleasurable and life-affirming part of a healthy and Sacramental marriage. I hope some of this helps. For further reading, I very much recommend reading Ephesians 5:21-33 together. Here is a link: http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?passage=ephesians+5:21-33 Also, the Catechism can be of help: http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/matri.html

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Masturbation and Alcohol

I have question about what is commenly called ”masturbation”.Nowadays some people say masturbation is not sin.They try to put their point as follows;The Bible did not mention about it even though it was a common practice since old days. Is it considered as ”sexual immorality”? Can this man lose his salvation if he continues to do so? What is your suggestion on this point?

As God says, “”My ways are not your ways,”” and St. Paul says, “”The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.”” People are anxious to justify themselves by saying various sins aren’t a problem, but they are. Clearly it is sexual immorality, and there is an easy test in two parts:
1) Does it prevent or hinder prayer?
2) Would Jesus do it?
If we think about it, the Bible doesn’t mention everything in detail, and the Old Testament permitted things not allowed by Jesus, as in multiple wives and divorce. Sex belongs in marriage only. Everything outside marriage gets classed as “”sexual immorality”” and it isn’t always spelled out. Pornography isn’t mentioned either, but it existed in Roman times.
As to losing salvation, this isn’t a question I can answer, because I’m Catholic. From our point of view, it is possible to prefer something else to God, and to refuse to repent. This is a refusal of Grace, and a rejection of God, if it is a “”grave matter”” and done with full knowledge and intent. This all sounds very legalistic, though, and it really a matter of relationship and love: God wants us to be pure, and give ourselves only to Him. When we prefer a selfish indulgence and misuse of our bodies to God, we are denying something to God that He rightly deserves: our love. In addition, sexual immorality of any kind makes us less attuned to the Holy Spirit, and more likely to fall into error and away from the real Gospel.
Mainly, masturbation gets in the way of the Gospel, and isn’t Christlike. It roots us in the way of the world, and reduces us to the level of brutes, not images of God.
At the same time, God loves us and gives us the grace to overcome sin, and forgiveness when we fail. At least one great writer from the early Church (Philoxenes) says sexual sins and temptations remind us that we don’t love God perfectly, and keep us from fooling ourselves. So we needn’t fear, but simply try our best and accept the grace God gives us.
I hope this helps, please let me know if there is more I can do.

i am realy truely blessed with your answers sofar,but i am learning now to ask you about yourself so that i would know what to ask.Are you realy dedicated for this service to help people,from which denomination are u from,,,,
today i have question about what does the bible say about drinking alcohol as a christian. some people say Jesus did his first miracle ,jhon chapter 2,converting the water to wine.so they thing that it is not against the context of bible,they also mention verses from the book of proverb that it gives joy to your heart.Isn’t it conroversial,,,,
I think you may have some thing to say on this but i am afraid you may not answer my question on basses of ”western culture” but just the bible.

Hi, thanks for writing again!
As to drinking alcohol, the Bible certainly does not oppose it, but the Gospel demands that we not get drunk. Drunkeness invites us to sin, and lessens our ability to be Christlike. Here is a good page on this issue:
http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ376.HTM
It isn’t controversial for me, because the current prohibition in some denominations (as against dancing and music) are simply modern additions to the Gospel, and I’m not bound by rules that don’t come from God. At the same time, St. Paul counsels us not to damage the conscience of another, so if I’m around someone who doesn’t drink alcohol for religious reasons, even a Muslim, I will not drink it out of love for them, and I won’t try to convince them to drink. They might do it against their conscience, and that would be wrong.
As far as dedication, I answer up to 500 or so e-mails a year, and our site will get about 50,000 visits this month, but my paycheck at a regular job pays for the web site and everything else here. We have been very blessed by God, and I hope to keep the site up as long as He wishes it. I wish I could spend all my time in teaching the Gospel to others, but very few people want to hear it or live it. I am blessed to teach a few hours a week, and I get to teach my own children and friends, of course.
As I belong to Christ, I’m not bound by “”western culture””. I’m made free by Jesus Christ, and I look to him for the way to live. Like nearly all Christians before 399 A.D. (and much later), my guidance comes from the teachings of Christ as witnessed by the Apostles and by the interpretations of the Gospel by them (Acts 2:42). I’m Catholic. If my answers come from God, you will know, and the denomination won’t matter. Please pray that I do what I should.

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Reflection on Matrimony

Adapted from R.C.I.A, Sixth Sunday in Easter, 1996



Another look at Christian Matrimony…
There are three parts (potentially) in the Sacrament of Matrimony:


  • Pre-marriage life – dating, courtship, engagement, wedding
  • Married life – career, community, sex, parenthood, stress & change
  • Widowhood – pre-marriage again, memories, prayers for deceased spouse

Single people are witnesses to the Sacrament of Matrimony when they practice holy chastity, and support married couples with prayer and community. They are also witnesses for the Kingdom of God by refusing to marry a lesser spouse to avoid loneliness or have children. They show by the way they live the single life that in heaven people “”are not married or given in marriage.””


Married people live out the Sacrament when they are a sign on Earth of the love between Christ and the Church. This sign is most powerful when the husband and wife love and respect each other with a Christlike charity. Of course, this means that no abuse of any kind can exist, no neglect (even for the sake of career, the Church or love of sports). Faithfulness in marriage includes both sexual fidelity and faithfulness as friends. Obedience to Church teaching in the area of sexuality includes the avoidance of artificial birth control, harmful/abusive sexual practices and pornography. The marriage is above all Christ-centered, and firmly planted on the Rock which Jesus established.


Suggestions:


Get the Vatican II documents and read Lumen Gentium, or Light to the Gentiles.


Helpful Church documents on Matrimony and the single life


The local bookstore, “”Our Ministry,”” can help you get these…


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, You can search it for these topics and sections:


2231 Single life


2353, 2391 Sex before marriage, including while engaged


2362 Sex in marriage, esp. Discourse by Pope Pius XII


1622 Preparation for marriage


1623 Sacrament conferred by the couple


2365 Real fidelity


2368-2371 Birth control


See Matrimony in the index for many more…


“”Gaudium et Spes”” (“”The Church in the Modern World””, 7 Dec 1965)


You can find this in the “”Vatican Council II”” book, Costello Publishing company


Sections 47 through 52 are wonderful to read.


47 Marriage and the Family in the Modern World


48 Holiness of Marriage and the Family


49 Married Love


50 The Fruitfulness of Marriage


51 Married Love and Respect for Human Life


52 Fostering Marriage and the Family: a Duty for All


For more detail on the teaching against artificial birth control, read the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (“”Of Human Life””), Pope Paul VI, 1968. Marywood has classes on Natural Family Planning, which works and is encouraged by the Church.

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Lord, I know too much

Lord, I know too much.


I pour my heart out to you


in other people’s words


because I know them


but my own heart


I know not.


I am filled


with facts,


quotations,


commentaries


and books about prayer.


Where does this knowledge end


and my faith begin?


I am afraid


that when my knowledge


is stripped away


by illness or death


there will be nothing left.


Lord,


please drive out


the books


from this temple


as you once cleared


another Temple.


Fill this heart


with your Glory,


so I can know you.

William E. Rushman, January 1998

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Lent and Liberation

Giving up our servitude for Lent



While Lent is a time of fasting, abstinence, almsgiving and prayer for more than a billion people in the world, these practices are not always examined and their full value is easily missed. This is especially true for fasting and abstinence, seen as something we do for God, but liberating for us. Another view of these sacrifices is that we trade something good for a greater good, and gain freedom through the effort. In fact, fasting and abstinence can help us find material and spiritual freedom.

Isaiah, writing more than 2,600 years ago, said fasting was more than giving up food; God desires that we free those bound, share our food, shelter the oppressed and homeless, clothe the naked and live out our obligations to others (cf Is. 58:6-7). But in a reverse action Donne would appreciate, enriching the lives of others improves our lives because we are all part of the same human race. Giving up or reducing material pleasures such as food or entertainment can result in greater freedom and a richer life by showing us what we don’t need. Thomas Merton applies the Zen definition “”when hungry we eat, when tired we sleep”” to modern life in reverse: “”we eat even when we aren’t hungry.”” Our voraciousness consumes plants, animals, land, trees and other people’s freedom at a rate matched only by the waste we discard. To limit our use of good things is to be liberated from our own appetites, and so the invitation to fast is an invitation to freedom.


We are physically dependent on certain essentials, such as food and water, so it may seem a cruel irony that we cannot be fully free from all needs. But Lent is a Christian season, and Christ came to free us not from physical bondage (yet), but from the bondage of sin. Christians believe in a physical transformation at the end of time, but the work of spiritual liberation has already begun, and we have only to join the Resistance. As spiritual beings, our desire to overconsume makes no sense. To ravage and foul our world (personally and globally) is to deny our belief that the life of the spirit is more enduring and of more value. The more we immerse ourselves in the material world, the more it obscures the spiritual, and the more we forget who and what we are: made in the “”image and likeness”” of God. At the same time, judicious use of our personal and natural resources can be an expression of this identity, just as an artist uses their sense of proportion and restraint in communicating meaning in sculpture, painting, dance or music.


We are advised by Isaiah (and many others, in many religions) to abstain from injustice and sin, and this is a call to be free spiritually. It is so easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of thought: racism, us vs. them, pessimism, anger or pride. Fasting from these is more difficult, but in these areas we have the greatest potential for victory in this life, for total liberation is possible. Justice, magnaminity, joy, kindness, humility and love are gifts to us from God, but we have to desire and embrace them, and this can’t be done with arms full of hate and pride.


If it seems that our sacrifices in Lent are actually to our benefit, and not really a gift to God, good. God knows, loves, gives, liberates and transforms. He requires nothing from us, but provides everything, including life itself. We are made in God’s image, according to Scripture, and in reducing our desires and needs with the help of grace, we become more like our creator.


Other Links On Lent:


Another View of Lent


Lent FAQ


http://usccb.org/comm/archives/2002/02-014.htm

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