Saturday, February 27, 2016

Women In the Church

1Timothy 2:11-12 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”

I have long wanted to discuss the roles in women in the church since this has been quite a controversial and taboo subject in Christianity. There has been many debates regarding women’s role in the church. These debates have gone way back and include whether women should be ordained clergy, deacons, elders, leaders etc. This has divided Christianity into two branches, complementarianism and egalitarianism. 

The complementarians who normally believe in different gender roles in the home and church believe the bible forbids women from being ordained clergies and elders and some more hardcore groups believe the bible also forbids women from being deacons as well although the more softcore groups of this branch believes the bible permits this. While the egalitarian side holds the opposite position believing that bible doesn’t restrict women’s roles at all in fact, they support the idea that both men and women are gifted to pursue any calling in the church. I read some reasoning from male pastors that preaching the gospel is manly trait and manly men are only fit to be ministers. I read others reason that leadership ability is more suited for men and that includes church leaders.

Others gave grown up in society where they taught that men are only preachers and therefore are uncomfortable with anything that goes against what they grow up with like women being ordained pastors.  Chauvinism in the Christian community plays a role in these attitudes and misconceptions of women’s abilities sometimes as a disguise of biblical doctrine but is this really the Godly way.  Why would God want to restrict women’s abilities in the clergy?  For what purpose would God have for placing such limitations on women?  Many would reason is that God just calls for man only to be in the clergy as it’s states in the bible and it’s not for us to question the bible but part of my journey as a Christian is to question something that is traditional if I find it questionable and try to find any reasoning behind by exploring and researching the theory any further and come up with new conclusions that are genuine and true to the real biblical doctrines I’m learning about.  

As I mentioned a couples times in my blog, I don’t completely place myself in either of complementarian nor the egalitarian branch, as I’m more focused on going beyond either branch in order to embrace the true biblical doctrines and true ways to live like Christ and to honor and be a glory to Him.  I also mentioned before, I have always accepted and embraced some of the gender differences between the sexes and that God created these differences in order for men and women to complement each other, however I don’t think these differences restrict women in any way within the church. Maybe to really understand women’s roles within the church, is to discuss earliest history of women’s roles and how important these roles really were throughout church history. 

Since the Ancient times, women have been prophets or prophetesses throughout history. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron was a prophetess who plays an important role throughout Moses’ life in the book of Exodus.  Another prophetess was the popular Deborah from the Book of Judges who was judge that predicted Sisera’s army being defeated and Sisera himself being defeated by a woman. Then there was Huldah who was mentioned in both chapters 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. King Josiah had sent his officials to her regarding book of law and she prophesied that destruction of Jerusalem because the citizens strayed from God by worshiping idols and other Gods and King Josiah responded by having all temples that worshiped false Gods and idols burned and executed the false priests and then the people made a new covenant with God. 

Another prophetess was Anna, an elderly widow who prophesied the newborn baby Jesus as the new Messiah, a savior for the people when Joseph and Mary brought him to the Temple for purification. This is mentioned in Luke 2:36-38 “There was also a prophet Anna, the daughter of Penuel of the tribe Asher.  She was very old, she lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then she was a widow until eighty-four years old.  There was also the prophet Isaiah’s wife in Isaiah 8:3 “Then I made love to a prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, “Call him Maher-shalel-hash-baz” and the evangelist Phillip’s four daughters in Acts 21:9 “He had four unmarried daughters who prophesized”.  During the early church, church meetings were held in private homes and some women were even the head of these church homes.

One such woman mentioned is Chloe in 1 Corinthians 1:11 “My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me there are some quarrels among you”.  Some scholars consider Chloe a leader in a church house, especially since Apostle Paul mentions Chloe’s household when usually he would have mention the man’s household.  This also indicates that Chloe was either a widow or never married but either way  she was an important figure for Paul to mention and clearly the head of her own household where church meetings were held and likely the leader of her church house. Nympha is also mentioned in Colossians 4:15 “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicia, and to Nympha and the church in her house”.  Apphia is mentioned as possible a co-leader of her church house in Philemon 1:1-2 “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home”. 

Some speculate that Apphia was possibly the wife Philemon and both were leaders in their church house together.  Although it is known that Jesus had several disciples who accompanied him on his missions, Paul has also mentioned several women with praise some were also fellow missionary workers including Euodia, Syntychia, Trypheno, Tryphosa, Persis, Thecla and Julia.  Standouts include Priscilla who along with her husband Aquila traveled with Paul as a missionary worker both held church meetings in their homes and Priscilla along with her husband taught the Apollos as mentioned in Acts 18:24-26. 

Apollos was a Jew who was had a lot of knowledge in scriptures but taught about Jesus but he only knew about the baptism of John so both Priscilla and Aquila invited back to their home to explain to him more accurately about God. Paul also praises Phoebe as a deacon in Romans 16:1-2 “I commend you to our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor for many people including me”. 

There has been many debates to whether Phoebe was a deacon or not as some translations uses the word servant instead.  Those who are against Phoebe being a deacon use the verses 1Timothy 3:8-12 since verses 8-10 and then 12 list instructions on how a deacon of the church must be with 12 even mentioning them to be faithful to their wives and manage their homes. While verse 11 mentions who the women in the church with some translation uses the word wives instead leading some to believe this verse was referring to deacon’s wives.  However, the Greek word used here is “gune” which can be translated to woman or wife depending on how it is used.  The Greek word for deacon used in Romans 16:1 and 1Timothy 3:8-12 is “diakonos” which is translated as deacon, servant, minister, waiter, administrator, attendant. 

In the New Testament diakonos refers to service to God.  Back to the verse 1Timothy 3:11, Paul didn’t use the words female deacons because there wasn’t feminine form of the word diakonos besides if the word gune referred to wife it wouldn’t be clear if Paul meant deacon’s wives or the wives of an overseer as mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1-2 “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of an overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach”.  Paul didn’t need to say female deacons because it was already clear within the context of the scriptures, he was referring to deacons beginning with 1Timothy 3:8-10. 

In verse eleven, he describes the female deacons and verse twelve describes the male deacons. Some scholars who have argued against women in the clergy have used other scriptures one being 1Corinthians 14:34-35 “Women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but they must be in submission, as the law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they must as their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church”.   Some churches have taking to mean women can’t say a word in church or ask any questions without her husband’s permission. Of course this is a ridiculous notion there no reason why the Lord would want women to be particularly silent in the church as women sing in choirs, our readers, give prayers or confessions in the church plenty of times. 

There is actually nothing sinful of about a woman speaking in the church.  Many on both sides of the debate agree that this verse has little to do with whether women should be in the clergy about is referring to an incident taking place in the Corinth city church. The most famous argument was the fact that during first century, women were more uneducated and during church assembly where they men and women sat in separate pews, certain women were disrupting services by shouting out questions to their husbands and Paul was simply telling them to not disrupt services but to ask their husbands at home. 

Another theory is that Paul is actually refuting an old oral Jewish law which forbade women from speaking in synagogue.  Paul was quoting these laws in verses 34-35 since he uses the Greek letter eta in 1 Corinthians 14-36 “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?”  This letter eta can be used to reject a notion and this was what Paul was actually doing.  Paul clearly allowed women to pray and prophesy in the church as pointed out in verse 1Corinthians 11:5 “But wife who prays and prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head was shaven”. 

The most popular scripture that has been used to argue against women in the clergy is the verse I used above 1Timohty 2:11-12.  Some even use this verse to argue against women teaching men in bible classes in biblical courses at colleges or even women evangelists preaching or lecturing to crowd with men.  More conservative Christians even use this to condone women have any position of authority over men including being their supervisors or bosses and becoming political leaders.  However, if women weren’t ever allowed to teach men over biblical and Christian matters, then this contradicts Priscilla who along with her husband taught the Apollos. 

Regarding Paul’s teaching, if he really meant the regular word authority he would have used the Greek word “exousia” but instead, he used the Greek word “authentein”.  This word has a stronger meaning and can mean have a violent, sexual or domineering meaning and it can also mean to murder.  During that time period the Ephesus city was the home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders, in which a cult had many worshippers who believed the city was founded by the mythical amazons and that women were descendants of these legendary women. This cult also taught female superiority and the women used this advantage by engaging in a domineering fashion towards men including sexually as male worshippers engaged in sexual acts with temple prostitutes for enlightenment. 

When Paul who was had wrote a letter to Timothy who was forming a church in this city, he used the word authentein to state that women shouldn’t teach to be domineering over men.  In later times, the King James version of this text used English translation of the word “authority”.  This cult also taught that Eve was created first and that she received her knowledge when she ate from the tree of knowledge and many worshippers also praised the fertility goddess Artemis for ensuring fertility to women and protecting them during childbearing. 

Paul also refuted this in the verses 1Timothy 2:13-15 “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  But women will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in love, faith and holiness with propriety”.   Paul was simply rebuking false teachings of this cult declaring with the new Christian doctrine, the people are members of Christ body and how they should function under Christ, submitting to each other out of reverence(Ephesians 5:21) and how husband and wives should relate to each other contrast the teachings of the cult(Ephesians 5:22-30).

Paul was never banning women from teaching or preaching to men the gospel nor banning women from becoming ministers, deacons or elders as many have claimed. Despite the debate among women in the clergy there has been plenty of women preachers existing over the centuries. The first well known female preacher is Elizabeth Hooton, a 17th century Quaker preacher the first of her kind who was converted by George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends.  She left her family and traveled preaching the gospel and suffered many abuses because of this, from being sent to jail and prison, beatings, abandoned and left to starve in the words.

Despite these abuses, she carried with her desire to preach until her death and was a strong and courageous woman.  In 1853, Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first woman to be ordained in a mainstream protestant church at the Cogregationalist church(later merged to became the United Church of Christ), however she left the church a year later do to discrimination and became a Unitarian.  In 1863, a woman’s rights suffrage Olympia Brown became ordained minister by the Universalist church and worked as full time minister.  She too would later became a Unitarian and worked part time in ministry in order to focus more on women’s suffrage.

Louisa Woosley who in 1888 become the first woman to be ordained in any Presbyterian denomination.  Edith Livingston Peake became ordained minister by the first United Presbyterian Church in San Francisco in 1893. Others include Helenor Alter Davisson who would become the first women to be ordained in the Methodist church although the church would later challenge the idea of ordaining women and Anna Howard Shaw who would become the first woman ordained in the Methodist protestant church that would later merged to become the United Methodist Church. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century there have been a number of women becoming ordained ministers. 

Today, there have been several Christian denominations that have officially allowed the ordination of women, the United Methodist Church in 1956.  The Episcopal Church in 1976, the Presbyterian Church USA allowed women to be elders in 1930 and ordination in 1956. There is also the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evangelical Covenant Church, United Church of Christ, Assemblies of God(USA), The Religious Society of Friends and numerous denominations in other countries have allowed ordination of women. Despite this, there is still plenty of Christians and churches alike who are still hesitant of allowing women in the clergy.

Many justify this for various reasons from misinterpreted views of biblical scriptures, the fact Jesus Christ himself was man and was the head of the church therefore, the many believe that man should be the spiritual leader of the church that mirrors that of Christ. However, over the past decades more Christians and churches are gradually supporting the allowance of women as clergy, elder and deacons without prejudice believing that the bible never forbade women to be involved in the clergy. 

God indeed didn’t view women as second-class citizens but fellow image bearers of God with God-giving gifts, talents and skills to any calling and path God calls them and that includes the ministry and equal standing on in His Kingdom.  There is no reason at all to not welcome women to serve in any calling in the church be it any ministry, missionary, charity or clergy where they can preach the gospel along with men and let go of these misguided misconceptions sometimes in the disguise of chauvinism

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

History of Christmas

Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit”

As Christmas is nearing, I would like to discuss the history behind the Christmas holiday.  When people think of Christmas, they think of winter, snow, a Christmas tree sprung out with decorations and lights glowing with presents underneath, people singing Christmas carols, exchanging gifts, good cheer and good will to our fellow man.  Children think of Santa Claus riding in his sleigh of reindeer coming down the chimney with bag full of gifts. However, most people think of December 25 being the birth of Jesus Christ in a barn in a town of Bethlehem.  However, I wonder how many people know how the holiday of Christmas really got started, and about the truth surrounding Jesus birth, that he wasn’t really born December 25 as perceived.  These things will be answered. 

It what surprise many Christians that some Christians don’t celebrate Christmas at all because of its supposed Pagan roots.  I couldn’t imagine at all the holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ to have pagan origins but there is some truth to it. During the Ancient times, centuries before Christ was born, European pagans celebrated during the winter solstice when the shortest days and longest night of the year when the sunlight is extended. A festival is held to worship the birth of the sun between December 21-25.  The Scandinavian norses celebrated Yule in which a festival was held in honor of the return of the sun, and fathers and sons would bring in logs and set them on fire feasting until the logs burned out. This celebration lasted from December 21 until January.  In Rome, pagans celebrated a holiday known as Saturnalia in honor of the God Saturn between December 17-25. 

Some Roman soldiers also celebrated December 25th as the birth of Mithra, a Persian sun god.  During this time, courts, schools and businesses were closed, slaves would become masters and peasants would rule the city. People could run around and damage property or inflict injury without the fears of being punished.  A festival was held that included drinking, gambling, gift-giving, role-playing etc.  Human sacrifices also took place on the 25th, when a victim was selected to represent the Lord of Misrule as the Romans believed murdering the victim, they were destroying the forces of darkness.  During the early days of Christianity, Easter was only celebrated as a main holiday.  It wasn’t until the 4th century that the birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated as a holiday. 

The problem was the bible never mentions the month or day of Jesus birth.  In fact, new scholars now conclude that Jesus birthday was not in December at all but likely in September because due to certain facts. That the shepherds were outside in the fields with their flock when Jesus was born yet shepherds wouldn’t be out during the winter season because it would have been too cold. Also the fact that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem to register in the census, but that wouldn’t take place in the winter season either.  Also, in the bible it states that the Virgin Mary’s cousin Elizabeth whom Mary was visiting was already in her sixth month of pregnancy of John the Baptist when Mary conceived which was likely in December making September likely the time she gave birth.  Pope Julius I declared December 25th, the birthday of Jesus Christ around 350 AD as a way to absorb it with the pagan holidays, rituals and customs. It was originally called the Feast of Nativity and spread out all over throughout the continents over the centuries. In 529 AD, Emperor Justianian declared the holiday a civic one.

The word Christmas came from the old English word Cristesmaesse coined in 1038 and later Cristes Messe in 1131 meaning the Mass of Christ.  By the medieval era, Christmas contained some of its pagan customs too an extant. People would go to church then celebrate afterwards by engaging in drunken raucous. Also a beggar would be crowned as the Lord of Misrule with the others as his subjects.  The poor would go the home of the rich demanding food and drink and if the owners refused, they would cause mischief upon the owners. The wealthy folks would pay their dept to society by entertaining the poor.  By the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell and his puritan followers decided to ban Christmas altogether until Charles II took the throne and restored it.  When the pilgrims arrived in America colonies, Christmas wasn’t celebrated and even outlawed in some parts of the country including Boston during the later part of the 17th century. 

Even after the revolutionary war, Christmas still wasn't widely celebrated as a holiday in fact, Congress held its first session on Christmas Day in 1789.  Christmas would become a federal holiday in 1870.  By this time Americans even adapted the current traditions of Christmas such as the custom of the Christmas tree that was started in Germany during the 16th century.  Other customs included giving gifts or putting presents under the Christmas tree, stockings, mistletoes, etc. For children, the legend of Santa Claus also known as Father Christmas in the United Kingdom riding on his sleigh of reindeer climbing down the chimney to bring toys for them emerged. 

Today Christmas is holiday celebrated all in many countries around world as secular holiday where people decorate their Christmas tree, go shopping for presents, host fancy dinners and exchange presents, sing Christmas carols etc.  However, real meaning of Christmas is so much more as it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Another important factor is love.  Christ love for all God’s children and we as children of God should follow Christ example by extending love, kindness and goodwill to all our fellow men and women.  It doesn’t matter if what kind of gift you buy how expensive or not it matters is in the heart, and mostly remembering Jesus Christ came into this world where he gave  to many people the biggest gift was Him dying for all our sins on the cross.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Truth About The Visits Mary Magdalene Made To The Tomb

John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance”

In my last post, I discussed the four gospels detailing the life and death of Jesus Christ. I now want to discuss the truth about Mary Magdalene’s visits to His Tomb and just how many visits she made.  In each of the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is a different account on Mary Magdalene’s visit to the tomb, where it was daylight or dark, how many other women were with her, if she saw one or two men at the tomb, whether she was alone when first saw that the stone had been removed in the tomb or was she with the other women.  All these details I will analyze.  

In Matthew 28: 1-10, mentions only Mary Magdalene and the other Mary(possibly Mary the mother of James) heading to the tomb where it mentions an earthquake and an angel comes down and rolls back the stone sitting on it and greets the two women has they arrive.  The angel then informs them that Jesus has risen telling them go inside the tomb to see that he isn’t there anymore and to tell the other disciples that Jesus is headed to Gallilee.  As they prepare they flee from the tomb, the women are greeted by Jesus and they soon ran to him and clasped his feet in worship as he instructs them to his disciples to go Gallilee where he will be.  In Mark 16: 1-8, mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome purchased some burial spices to anoint Jesus’ body Saturday evening after the Sabbath and on Sunday morning just at sunrise they headed to the tomb discussing who will roll away the stone at the entrance of the tomb.  However when they arrived, the stone was rolled away and as they entered the tomb, the saw a man clothed in white sitting on the right side telling them that Jesus had risen and showing where he used to lay.  He instructs the women to tell the disciples, including Peter that Jesus will be ahead of them at Gallilee.  The women leave the tomb and don’t say anything to anyone out of fear.  There is an added text of the gospel Mark 16: 9-20 where it mentions that the first person Jesus appears to is Mary Magdalene who tells the other disciples who don’t believe her.  Jesus also appears in different form to two disciples headed from Jerusalem to the country who also tell the others but they are not believed either.  Then Jesus finally appears to the eleven remaining apostles. 

Luke 24:1-12 mentions a group of nameless women headed to the tomb on Sunday early dawn to carrying the burial spices they prepared only to find the stone rolled away.  Inside the tomb, they see Jesus corpse is gone and instead there are two men who tell them that Jesus is not there anymore as he has risen.  The women flee the tomb and return to tell the eleven remaining apostles and the other disciples what they witnessed. The names Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joanna are mentioned among those who tell the disciples as well as other nameless women.  Peter headed to the tomb and found the linen clothes by themselves and returned home amazed.  Finally in John 20:1-18, details only Mary Magdalene arriving at the Tomb early while it was still dark to find the stone rolled away at the entrance and later told the what she saw to Peter and John( referred as the disciple that Jesus loved) claiming that they had taken Jesus’ body out of the tomb.  Then both Peter and John head to the tomb and once inside see that his body is gone find just linen clothes.  After they leave, Mary Magdalene stands outside the tomb crying and looks inside to see two angels clothed in white sitting where Jesus was lain one at the head and the other at the foot who ask her why she is crying to which she tells them that Jesus body has been taking away and she doesn’t know where he is placed.  Then she turns around and sees Jesus standing there but doesn’t recognize him thinking he’s the gardener even when He asks her why she’s crying and asks him where Jesus’ body is. It’s only after he calls her name that she recognizes him and cries out rabboni(meaning teacher).  Jesus tell her not to touch him since he’s not ascended to the Father yet and instructs her to go tell the other disciples that He’s ascending to the Father, God to which she flees and finds the other disciples and repeats what he said to her. 

These accounts somewhat similar and slightly different leaves it very confusing to the real truth what happened at Jesus’ Tomb. Mary Magdalene is mentioned in each of the gospels of being present when the Tomb is discovered empty but did she visit the tomb more than twice, like three or four times and what about her witnessing Jesus resurrection?  The gospel John puts where alone standing outside the tomb when she saw Jesus who wouldn’t allow her to touch him yet the gospel of Matthew has her with another Mary(possibly Mary the mother of James) when seeing resurrected Jesus after an angel removed the stone from entrance of the tomb and sat on it telling the women about Jesus haven risen from the tomb.  The gospel of Mark mentions Mary the Mother of James and Salome with Mary Magdalene finding the tomb empty and one man inside the tomb to tell them about Jesus.  The gospel of Luke only mentions a group of women at the tomb and two men greeting them to tell them about Jesus and later mentions the name other than Mary Magdalene, Joanna and another some other women telling the disciples about what they saw in the tomb.  The gospel on John only mentions Mary Magdalene going to the tomb implying she went alone and only mentions the names Peter and John as the disciples she told also implying the other disciples weren’t there besides she was alone when she first saw Jesus unlike in the gospel of Matthew. 

With some different details regarding Jesus tomb and his resurrection how can anyone know for sure what truly happened, what is true and what is false?  This doesn’t mean that four gospels are not truthful, taking into account that they were written by four different people and told from different point of views.  It’s possible that in each gospel, some details where left out that were added in the other gospels and not told in chronically order can make it quite confusion.  For example, the gospel of John may only mention Mary Magdalene going to the tomb but that doesn’t mean she went alone.  The gospel of Mark may only mention three women, but more women could have also been with the group heading to the tomb including the female disciple Joanna.  As for Mary Magdalene, she is mentioned on all four gospels and appears to be an important presence as she found the tomb empty and witnessed Jesus resurrection.  Also, considering the different accounts in the gospels regarding her presence, leads a possibility that she made more than two visits to the tomb.  In fact, many scholars have theories that Mary Magdalene made at least three or four visits to the tomb each giving their own perspective of what happened.  I will not dwell on their theories in this topic but come with theories on my own based on my understanding of all four gospels. One theory is that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb at least three times. 

From what we do know from Mark and Luke is that Saturday evening after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and other women that included Mary the Mother of James, Salome and probably Joanna, purchased burial spices to anoint Jesus’ body. Sometime later an earthquake occurred and the tomb was pulled aside.  I theorize that Mary Magdalene and the group of women, headed to the tomb early Sunday morning when it was still dark discussing among each other how they were going to move the tomb. By the time they arrived it was dawn and they discovered the tomb was empty went inside and saw two men dressed in white robes.  Although Mark 16: 5-7 mentions only man in the tomb who speaks to them, this doesn’t mean there wasn’t a second man with him as mentioned in Luke 24: 1-7.  The women leave and later tell the other disciples what they saw. What is interesting is the verse John 20:2 “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” This implies that Mary Magdalene believed that Jesus’ body was taken away despite the men in the tomb telling her and the other women that He had risen.  Perhaps the women were not aware that the men were angels and didn’t really believe their claims of Jesus rising from the dead despite it being predicted earlier.  Then it took Jesus appearing to the apostle Thomas the second time he appeared to the apostles for Thomas to truly believe he had risen from the dead.  Anyway, Peter and John were the only ones who went to the tomb and saw for themselves that it’s empty. 

Mary Magdalene makes her second visit to the tomb either following after Peter and John or arriving some time after they left which isn’t exactly clear.  Either way, by the time Peter and John left to tell the others, Mary Magdalene stands outside the tomb crying and looked inside only to see the two men again each sitting at the head and foot of where Jesus lain.  They asked why she was crying to which she told them that Jesus’ body was taken away and when she turned around, she saw Jesus standing there but she doesn’t recognize him at first and thinks he’s the gardener.  It isn’t until Jesus says her name that she releases who he is, however, when she is about to grasp his feet, he informs her not to touch him since he has not yet ascended to the Father.  Mary Magdalene runs to tell the other disciples.  I can only speculate that she didn’t find they disciples yet, or she told them and they wouldn’t believe her right away, as Thomas didn’t believe it until he saw Jesus for himself the second time He appeared before the apostles. Either way, it possible that sometime later, she returned to the tomb for the third time with the other Mary, possibly Mary the Mother of James to witness Jesus resurrection for herself. When they arrived, they found a man sitting on the stone telling them again about Jesus rising from the dead and when they turn away from the tomb to find the others, they both see Jesus which is the second time for Mary Magdalene and this time they are allowed to touch him as they clasped at his feet.  

Another theory is that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb four times with her first visit she went alone when it was still dark.  It doesn’t say if she entered the tomb but only found the stone rolled away but she would have later entered the tomb with the other women since in John 20:2 she tells others “we do not know where they have laid him”.  Anyway, her second visit would have happened when she and the group of women she was with headed to the tomb at dawn and the women discussed among each other who would roll away the tomb, implying Mary Magdalene didn’t say anything about what she witnessed maybe fear she wouldn’t be believed and wanted the women to see it for themselves. A third theory could possibly be that only Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome visited the tomb and were confronted only by one man as mentioned Mark gospels, and perhaps another group of women headed the tomb the Luke gospels that consisted of Joanna.  The possibility for this theory is that Mary Magdalene and the other two women left the tomb and told what they saw to another group of female disciples who decided to visit the tomb to see it for themselves that morning taking spices for anointing his body only this time they found two men inside the tomb.

Nobody can know 100% for sure exactly what really happened and may never know as I mentioned before these are all just speculations.  What really is important is the faith and belief that Jesus did rise from the tomb showed himself to Mary Magdalene and later the other disciples before meeting them in Galilee in the mountains before finally ascending to heaven for them all to see.  What is also important is Mary Magdalene played in important role in Jesus life as she was present during his crucifixion, was present at the tomb when his corpse was gone and was the first person witness His resurrection.  The four gospels each tell a story of Jesus life to his death, his rising from the dead and appearing to his followers that Christians hold valid today.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween And The True History Behind This Holiday

Psalm 101:3-4 “I will set no wicked before my eyes, I hate the work of them that turn aside; It shall not cleave to me”

Since Halloween is coming up this month I wanted to take the time analyze this holiday that is still quite controversial among the Christian community. There has been huge debate among Christians regarding the Halloween whether Christians should take part in its celebration or not. Whenever anyone normally thinks of Halloween, they think about people dressing up in scary costumes such as ghosts, witches, goblins etc., children going trick n’ treating in costumes at night and getting candy handed to them. Attending Halloween parties, or the haunted house to be scared, telling scary ghost stories or watching horror movies.  The fact remains, Halloween is just chance to do fun things like being scared, dressing in frightening costumes getting candy etc. 

Still for many Christians, they question if they should being participating in Halloween at all, with many rejecting the holiday altogether writing it off was ungodly and a devil’s holiday.  Others refuse to wear any costumes that they consider unsuitable like ghosts, witches, goblins or anything frightening. While others attend alternatives such as harvest parties or fall festivals.  For these Christians, Halloween such be avoided as it is dangerous and unholy and corrupts of Satan.  The Pope Francis himself has spoken out against Halloween as evil and anti-Christian and should be replaced with Holyween where children dress up as saints and pray. My own experience of Halloween growing up was nothing more than dressing up in costumes scary or non-scary and going around the neighborhood at night trick n’ treating and getting lots of candy.  I’ve even attended a Halloween party at a local church with friends and went enjoyed the haunted house where we got spooked by people dressed up in scary outfits trying to frighten us.  It was all fun and memorable so I can’t really comprehend why so many Christians are hung up on Halloween? 

Maybe it’s has with the fact many see it as a pagan holiday and therefore unbiblical.  I think maybe to get to the route of all of things I decided to research the origins and history behind Halloween.   Halloween’s roots goes way back in the ancient times 2,000 years ago in BC, as a Celtic holiday called Samhain celebrated that marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  It was believed that the spirits of the dead returned to earth on this night to be among the living. A festival was held at sunset on October 31 until sunset on November 1 by the Celtic pagans called druids in Europe.  The druids would light bonfires on these nights where they would sacrifice animals, bring harvest food, tell each other’s fortune and guide the souls of the dead to the underworld.  They would dress up wearing animal skins and heads to keep the evil spirits away, while they also left their doors or windows open for their spirits of their departed kinsfolk.

By the eighth century when Christian missionaries converted many of the druids to Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church decided to Christianize the Celtic holiday. Pope Boniface IV established All Saints Day in honor of the Christian saints and martyrs on May 13 in 609 A.D.  Then somewhere in 800s A.D., Pope Gregory III moved the holiday to November 1, the same day of the Samhain holiday also known as All Hallows Day or Hallowmas.  October 31, the evening before All Saints day became All Hallows Eve, called Halloween by the 16th century.  Pope Gregory IV put all All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day in the church calendar making it a universal celebration in the Catholic Church.  All Souls Day was later added on November 2 in 998 A.D. This holiday celebrated the remembrance of departed loved ones who have not been cleansed of their sins and in which people would pray for them to pass from Purgatory onto Heaven. 

By the medieval times, Halloween, a Christian holiday preserved some of the Celtic traditions of the past, continuing holding bonfires.  Other customs came about including a practice called “souling” which consisted of poor people and children going out at night to the homes of the wealthier people praying dead relatives of the home owners in exchange for treats called soul cakes.  Another custom was called mumming where people dressed up in scary costumes of ghosts, demons, witches etc. and performed antics such as singing, chanting, play-acting and mischief in exchange for food and drinks. This later evolved to singing a song, reciting a poem, telling a joke or playing a trick for fruits, nuts or coins.  During the colonial America, Halloween took form from customs of various Europeans and Native Americans which included celebrations of the harvest, play parties, telling ghost stories, telling each other’s fortune, dancing and singing and mischief making.

By the 19th century, more Irish, Scottish and British folks emigrated to America taking more of their traditions and customs with them.  Halloween began to be celebrated where people dressed up in costumes going to homes asking for food or money. By the turn of the century, Halloween less about ghost, witches, goblins and other scary superstitions, and more about people getting to together to celebrate with costume parties, apple bobbing and other games.  By the 1920s, Halloween had moved away from its religious roots becoming a more secular celebration that consisted of parades, parties and other featured entertainment. It also became more geared towards children as the trick or treating custom became known having evolved from the old rituals of mumming souling.  By the 1950s, Halloween became widely known as it is today, with children dressing in costumes and going trick or treating as the annual custom. Today, Halloween doesn’t have any relations to its Celtic Druid origins nor its later Christian roots it’s just a holiday for trick n treating for kids or attending Costume parties for adults. 

Other practices include carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, going to spooky haunted houses for fun, watching scary movies or telling scary stories etc.  Some churches have also participated in celebrating Halloween hosting costume parties or haunted houses and even a trick or treat alternative called trunk or treat where people park their cars with their trunk full of candy to pass out to children. Some churches continue to celebrate All Saints Day, the day after Halloween where children dress up as Christian Saints who where martyred at a party.  In Eastern Europe, candles are lit and placed on the graves of loved ones in honor of them. Some churches like the Catholic and Anglican Church also celebrate All Souls Day.  My personal conclusions, is that Halloween has nothing to do with the devil, spirits or anything evil. It is simply a holiday but mostly a tradition of fun where for children they go out dressed up for tricking n-treating and getting lots of candies and sweets and for adults it’s for costume parties and celebration.  Ghost stories, Haunted houses and scary movies are also part of the fun and there is nothing wrong with that. Children amd youths especially enjoy dressing up and spooky costumes getting scared in fact the scarier the more fun. 

Of course, there are downsides like those who use the holiday to justify destructive and criminal actions such as vandalism, harming others and any other destructive behavior. These are definitely reasonable concerns but for the most part Halloween can be an enjoyable experience for all people to enjoy. Christians can decide for themselves if they want to participate in the holiday but they shouldn’t be ashamed or condemned if they do as if it makes them less godly then ones who don’t.  It also doesn’t matter what type of costumes they wear whether they dress as witches, ghost, goblins or other scary costumes, whether they watch scary movies or not since they certainly don’t worship such things and children don’t take them seriously anyways and doesn’t necessarily interfere with their walk with Christ.   

Also, some can still choice to celebrate both Halloween and All Saints Day the following they day and teach their children about the martyred saints and honoring the departed loved ones.  Halloween comes only once a year and after it’s all over, people can get on with their lives with work, school, church, prayer and their devotion to Our Lord and then look forward to next year when they can enjoy Halloween again.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Who Really Wrote The Four Gospels of Jesus Christ?

John 1:17-18 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son, who himself is God and is in closet relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

This topic deals with the details and analysis of the four gospels of Jesus life, death, crucifixion and resurrection as the different visits to his tomb.  These four gospels consists of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with each giving slightly different accounts on certain details especially his resurrection and how many witnesses \who saw this miracle .  Because of this, there had been many speculations about the historical accuracy surrounding these events leaving some scholars confused.  Some scholars question who actually wrote these gospels, was it the name of the titles mentioned or was these gospels written some time later by other sources. 

The majority acknowledge that the gospels are not written in chronically order and because they’re written by different authors, that could play a role in why some of the accounts are different. The origins of the four gospels begin with 2nd century early church father and apologist Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul(now Lyon, France) who was a hearer of Polycarp, an actual disciple of the Apostle John.  According to Irenaeus, Papias of Hierapolis, another early church father and author who was also a companion of Polycarp and hearer of two of Jesus disciples, John the Presbyter and Ariston wrote down five books called “Expositions of the Oracles of the Lord”. 

These books contain reports on people he encountered who had known some of the members of the twelve apostles and of elders John the Presbyter and Ariston. The five books no longer exist but there are fragments preserved by Irenaneus and Eusebius, a Roman historian with citations taken by Eusebius on Papias’ report on what John the Presbyter recalled on both Matthew and Mark’s works.  First, Matthew, one of the twelve apostles had written a logia on Jesus’ teachings that Eusebius stated was written in a Hebrew dialect known as Aramaic. Eusesbius quoted “But concerning Matthew, he writes as follows ‘So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and everyone interpreted them as he was able”.  Some scholars believe Papias was claiming Matthew wrote two gospels the first one in Aramaic and the later one he translated in Greek since the Gospel of Matthew was written in the Greek language. Others believe Papias was referring to another author used some sources from Matthew’s logia and authorize the Gospel of Matthew. 

Eusebius also mentions Pantaenus, a 2nd century Greek theologian and leader of the Catechetical School of Alexandria who traveled to India as a missionary and found the Gospel of Matthew written in the Aramaic language which was left by Saint Bartholomew, another one of the twelve apostles who was also a missionary in India.  However, some scholars believe that Pantaenus had difficulty with the translation of the Saint Thomas Christians, a Christian community in India and confused the reference Mar Thoma(Bishop Thomas) with Bar Tolmai, which was the Hebrew name for Bartholomew.  It is believed that the Apostle Thomas traveled to India and was the one to spread the Christian faith there. Other scholars believe that Eusebius simply confused India with Arabia or Persia, however there is no clear certainly to that fact.  Regarding, Mark’s writings, it is claimed that he was a interpreter and traveling companion of Apostle Peter, who wrote down what he remembered about Peter’s teachings, although not necessary in order.

Ireneanus and other early Christian theologians and apologists including Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria also clamed Mark wrote down Peter’s teachings.  Mark is identified as Mark the Evangelist, who founded the Church of Alexandria, whom he became bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church and the Church of Africa.  Early Greek priest, theologian and historian St. Jerome also claimed he founded the Catechetical School.  Other sources identify Mark the Evangelist as also both John Mark who also traveled with Apostles Paul and Barnabas and assisted in their works and is mentioned several times in Acts of the Apostles, Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25, Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13-14 and Acts 15:37-40, and Mark cousin or nephew of Barnabas who is mentioned in Col. 4:10 and Philomon 24.  Mark is also mentioned in 1 Peter 5:13 as his son although more likely his spiritual son and 2 Timothy 4:11.  This is does become unclear as some sources also identify Mark cousin or nephew of Barnabas also as Mark of the Apollonias a Bishop of Apollonia. 

Furthur sources claim that Mark the Evangelist was also the naked man who ran during Jesus arrest mentioned in Mark 14:51-52, although other theories is he was Lazarus or Joseph of Arimathea.  He has also been claimed to be the man who carried water to where the Last Supper was taking place in Mark 14:13.  He is also thought to be one of the servants at the Wedding of Cana where Jesus transformed water into wine.  Another claim was that he was one of Jesus 70 disciples mentioned in the Gospel of Luke.  In fact, in 1854, two writings of Hippolytus of Rome a 3rd century theologian was discovered in the monastery in Mount Athos in Greece called “On The Twelve Apostles” and “On the 70 Disciples of Christ”.  The latter lists all the names of the 70 disciples including, Barnabas and Mark and the Evangelist, John Mark and Mark cousin or nephew of Barnabas.  

The problem with these theories, is that it would also contradict Papias’s report that Mark never heard or followed Jesus himself. They also list the three Marks as separate people.  These findings however, have been regarded as false and unreliable. There is no real evidence that Mark the Evangelist ever knew Jesus himself.  What is really interesting is the ending of the Gospel of Mark, Mark 16:9-16 wasn’t in the earlier manuscripts of the text and seemed to be added much later which would mean Mark the Evangelist didn’t write it. It isn’t known who wrote the longer version of the Gospel but its speculated the author/authors got there sources from the three other Gospels.  Regarding the Gospel of Luke, it is claimed the author is Luke the Evangelist, a Hellenistic gentile from the city of Antioch of Syria and the only gentile to have written one of the four gospels.  He was also physician as well as Paul’s disciple and companion who traveled with him on his missions.  He is also believed to have written the Acts of Apostles as well since in both these books, the author mentions Theophilus whom he’s writing the stories to.  

Irenaeus and Justin Martyr mentioned him in “The Apostolic Fathers” as a follower of Paul.  Others including Eusebius and St. Jerome also believe him to be the gospel’s author.  According to Epiphanus, a 4th century Bishop of Salamis, Cyprus, he was also one of Jesus 70 disciples.  Theophylact, a 11th century Greek Archbishop of Ohrid, named him one of the two disciples who meet a resurrected Jesus while traveling to Emmaus while 14th century Greek historian Nicephorus Kallistus claims him to be a painter who painted Jesus and his mother. Of course, there isn’t any evidence that any of these claims are true and in fact, it is very unlikely Luke ever met Jesus Christ himself.  It is claimed that he wrote down the gospel and the book of Acts from accounts of many eyewitnesses to Jesus ministry and from other documents including the gospel of Mark. 

The fourth gospel known as the Gospel of John, according to Irenaeus it is written by the Apostle John himself. It is also reported that the Apostle John wrote the gospel while he was in Ephesus some time after Paul’s death.  In his book “Against Hearsies”, Irenaeus refers to John as the disciple whom Jesus loved and also the disciple who leaned on Jesus breast.  This phrase is also mentioned in the Gospel of John in few verses, John 13:23, John 13:25 and John 21:20.  Irenaeus sends two letters one to the Florinus and another Victor the Bishop of Rome where he mentions Polycarp who knew John the Apostle and interacted with the other Apostles too and to whom Irenaeus received his sources.  Eusebius quotes passages from Irenaeus letters mentioning Polycarp.

However, there are some scholars who believe Irenaeus confused John the Apostle with John the Presbyter who was the true author of the Gospel of John but there isn’t any real evidence of this theory and many evidences point to the Apostle John. It also opens to debate by numerous scholars if the Apostle John also wrote the Epistles of John and the Book of Revelations.  Further discoveries of the four gospels lies within the reports of findings of ancient papyruses throughout history.   There was the discovery in 1901 in Luxor, Egypt of what is known as the Magdelen Papyrus three fragments of papyrus believed to be portions of the Gospel of Matthew, were written on both sides indicating they were written on codex rather than on scroll.  These fragments were purchased by a Rev. Charles Bousfield Huleatt who brought them to the Magdalen College Library, Oxford in England and classified as Papyrus 64.  In 1953, author Colin H. Roberts published the fragments.

Some years later, Roberts and other scholars discovered that these fragments were part of the same manuscripts of Papyrus 67, another fragment of the Gospel of Matthew located in Barcelona, Spain and Papyrus 4 a fragment that’s part of the Gospel of Luke located in Paris, France.  Another discovery was when a team of researchers found a papyrus wrapped as a mummy mask in Egypt though to a fragment of the Gospel of Mark made around 90 AD which will eventually be published. Then in 1952, was the discovery of an ancient Greek papyrus in Egypt at the headquarters of the Pachomian order of Monks known as the papyrus 75.  These writings were codex that consisted of part of the Gospel of Luke(Bodmer Papyri X1V) and the Gospel of John(Bodmer Papyri XV) possibly 3rd century old.  These writings were purchased by a Swiss Scholar Martin Bodmer and later sent to the Bodmer Foundation in Cologny, Switzerland and later published in 1954. 

Other ancient papyrus consists of the Rylands Papyri, a collection of thousands of Greek and North African fragments and documents in which includes the Rylands Papyrus 52 also known as the St. John’s fragment.  This first or second century fragment is a codex which contains small portions of the Gospel of John which is now located at the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England.  This fragment was purchased in Egypt in 1920, and in 1934 it was translated by Colin H. Roberts.  Despite variations of the authors of the gospels, there are some who don’t believe that neither of the gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.  In fact, some debate that true authors were anonymous who wrote them some time in the second century. Their evidence, they claim is due to the fact that the Apostolic fathers including Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius and Polycarp who wrote early Christian writings don’t mention any of the Four Gospels. 

Another evidence, is the claim that Justin Martyr who made 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament and 100 from the Apocryphal books but he doesn’t mention any quotes from any of the Four Gospels, although other scholars have contradicted this.  They also believe the Gospel of Mark received its main sources from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and the fact that neither of Gospels were mentioned until the later part of the second Century.  Despite these claims, there isn’t any real basis for these speculations, and there is plenty of sources and documents to support the true authorship of the Four Gospels that I’ve mentioned. 

The fact remains is that the Four Gospels all varying accounts of Jesus life from his birth, his ministry, crucifixion and resurrection in which we Christians are familiar with throughout tradition.  What really matters is that we use these Gospels as our source about Jesus teachings, follow his example to grow more Christ-like and show honor the man who gave up his life for our sins.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Should Christian Teens Date?

2 Timothy 2:22 “So flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace and along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

After discussing both dating and marriage in the Christian community, I now like to analyze the topic of dating among teenagers of the Christian faith.  There has been debating arguments about whether Christian teens should be allowed to date, when they should date or should they date only in groups or not.  Many Christians had various attitudes on this subject with some believing teen dating should be banned altogether until they are adults.  

The more conservative groups want to replace dating with courtship among youths. The popular perception is that dating his harmful for teenagers or they need special restrictions placed upon them. These can include dating only in groups even in college, never allowed to be alone together and that parents should never let them out of their sight for a moment. These kinds of restrictions can surely be daunting and some has to wonder where does such strict attitudes come from.  Especially since teen dating isn’t some new thing of this era bout been going on for many decades. 

By the 1950s, high school students even did was called multi-dating where they dated more than one person usually encouraged by their parents who may have felt they were too young to get so serious with just one person. Then if they really liked someone and wanted to get serious they go steady.  Sometimes going steady didn’t last too long during high school if they meant someone else they liked and decided to go steady with them.  Of course, during these time periods sex until marriage was still the accepted norm and the biggest step in a relationship was necking or petting.  People also tended to get married much younger as the common ages to marry were between the ages of 18-22.  It wasn’t just high schoolers having romances but children in middle school/junior school and even as young as elementary school were forming unofficial relationships. 

These type of relationships were usually innocent and not taken very seriously.  Middle school/junior high school students idea of “dating” considered mainly to pass notes, send love letters or valentine cards, holding hands, talk on the phone, wearing friendship pins, rings, or bracelets.  The boy may boy a girl a ring or bracelet from a vending machine.  They usually hanged out with each other and still did typical kid stuff and went steady which would last for a few months.  Their biggest step was having their first real kiss on the lips.  There have been plenty of classic TV shows and films involving childhood romances often portraying them as sweet and innocent.  So if teen dating has been popular for decades, why has the attitude changed these days?  Why do many Christians get so uptight about it now?  I think it has to due with the cultural norms and customs changing since the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. 

In today’s more hypersexual society, premarital sex has become more the norm even among teenagers.  In the U.S. 16 is the most common age that teens lose their virginity.  Teen pregnancy, Aids and STDS are quite high among teenagers.  To combat all of this, the more ultra-conservative Christian community has taken another extreme with the “I Kiss Dating Goodbye’ and “True Love Wait’s culture encourages courtship rather than dating which I mentioned a previous post about Christian dating.  Some of these groups even discourage friendships with the opposite sex out of fear it would be too tempting.  Just like with dating among adults, these types of extremes can actually hinder teenagers especially when they get older and have to deal with the dating world and are so unprepared to what to do and who relationships work. 

I can’t help but feel perplex when teenagers aren’t considered old enough to date yet are encouraged to engage in courtship when they are barely out of their teens which could also cause some problems in their marriages.  I personally think that dating among teenagers is not only appropriate but should be embraced as just a one of the many life experiences of growing up.  These experiences can be quite beneficial contrary to what many believe.  One benefit of dating is learning  how to form bonding relationships with the opposite sex with all it entails, the emotions, the ups and downs, the sacrifices etc.  Another one is discovering what he/she needs and desires in a partner, learning to draw boundaries in what is right for them and what isn’t.  Finally, dating can help teens learn more about themselves even if it means being challenged and stepping out of their comfort zone. They can find out what they can bring to the table, how much they can endure and what it really means to truly care for someone.  These skills can help teenagers in the dating word once they leave their teen years behind and reach full adulthood and enable them to find their future spouse. 

The many arguments against teen dating also consists of getting their hearts broken since dating at such a young age often doesn’t last.  However, sometimes relationships don’t last even for adults and people still often get their hearts broken.  Breakups in a dating relationship can be painful but it is also part of life and one of the pitfalls of dating and can happen to any single person. Unfortunately pain itself is a part of life in that a relationships but we can overcome pain. In a breakup we can recover from by starting to heal and learn to move on in time and even learn from the experience.   Just because something didn’t last doesn’t mean it was all bad or that it wasn’t beneficial.  Sometimes God could bring someone in your life even temporary and could even benefit you before you find the person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with.  The most common concerns for youths dating so young is the sexual activity. 

In this modern society, saving sex for the sanctuary of marriage is less common and it could be particularly problematic  for teenagers who inexperience what to do with their raging hormones, easily led astray by peer pressure and getting  the wrong information from peers and sometimes well-meaning adults alike about sex.  But there are other solutions on how to deal with this problem than banning dating altogether which is mostly done out of fear.  Acting out of Fear doesn’t often help the teen even if it may ease the parent’s state of mind it may even stifle them and/or cause resentments causing them to rebel especially after they leave for college and get out under their parent’s roof where they had much more options and may want to compensate for all the restrictions that were placed on them.  Besides there are so much better solutions to the problems in dating.  First it’s the parents job to give reasonable and fair rules, standards, and boundaries regarding their child’s dating by setting an age requirement. 

For younger teens there can be group dating, or mixed group outings however typically when the teen is between the ages 16-17, it’s probably best to allow single dating, so the they can get the experience.  Other boundaries can include going out only in public places, no parking in secluded areas, in fact parents may want to ban car dating until they feel their teen is mature and can be trusted to handle these situations on their own, maybe anywhere between ages 16-18(just my personal opinion) until then the parents can chauffer their kids around.  Also not allowing their child to bring his/her girlfriend/boyfriend to the house unless under parental supervision and the same rules can apply at their girlfriend/boyfriend’s house.  Banning the bedroom or any secluded rooms with a door or insisting either a third party has to present in the room or the door remains open at all times. Although some churches will say that teen couples shouldn’t ever be allowed alone together, I don’t recommend chaperoning their every move to the point of hovering over them. 

There needs to some form of trust between child and parent and just as kids need their own space to be around their friends they need space with their dating partner as well.  It’s unlikely the teen will do anything too far knowing their parents are under the same roof in another room who could hear them and walk in on them any moment.  Then there is the thing parents most fear, the sex thing itself.  Some churches and parents alike just feel they can just install to them that sex is saved for marriage and don’t want to dwell more on it.  Others even inflict shame or guilty over teen’s sexuality which causes them to fear sex or any intimate moment in a relationship.  It’s natural that parents don’t want to think about their kid’s sexuality and raging hormones but the reality is they do exist and parents can’t control these aspects of their children no matter how much they try.  Instead of trying hard to control their kid’s sexuality it’s best to le their kids know that there is nothing to be ashamed of.  It’ is important for them to know that their sexuality is normal with all the sexual desires and hormones and that we all have them but how they are responsible how they handle and control these desires ensuring they don’t allow themselves to give n to sexual sin. 

As for physical affection, it’s unrealistic to not expect teenagers not to engage in some form of intimacy including kissing, touching, holding hands, hugging etc.  It’s important that they are aware that physical affection is a normal and healthy ways caring couples express their feelings but that their needs to be some boundaries so they won’t be led to stray.  Rather than a long list of what not do, it may be better to help them come up with reasonable boundaries of what is appropriate and what isn’t.  Mostly importantly is encouraging them to control their hormones rather allow their hormones control their impulses by making wise judgments, showing self-restraint and will power which will also help make wise decisions during their adulthood when they are on their own.  Last but not least, dating should be a fun experience where boy meets girl and they go out, spend time together and have good time and the rest is history. 

Teenage years are the most exciting, frustrating, challenging and stressful but teens can make the most of them in whatever they do which includes experiencing the joy sand hard ache of romantic relationships for the first time.