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Homosexuality Discussion Continued..


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I can accept that. My point is that this judgment, and that's exactly what it is, was contrived thousands of years ago. Like before the abacus. I may be biased since my mom's best friend is gay and was there when I was born and has never missed a birthday or Christmas of mine in 29 years. Or it may just be that I don't give a ****. Which I could attribute to an evolutionary phenomenon, but won't; that would just be sorcery.

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I was trying to figure out what, if you were a very bright six year old, happened to you, but then I remembered that many programs that cause IQ gains in young children frequently see those gains disappear by the time the child gets older, so perhaps that explains it. :silly:

It happened when I found religion. :D

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Did Zguy28 get promoted to divinity while I wasn't looking?
Well the Scripture says we will be exalted.... :halo:


So if I have two homosexual female bikini models, in my bed, kissing, drinking wine, hanging out, I should avoid that behavior? :silly:


Don't be a slave to the flesh. Most people don't realize they are slaves to various sins such as porn or other sexual immoralities.

Christ can set you free.

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Well the Scripture says we will be exalted.... :halo:



Don't be a slave to the flesh. Most people don't realize they are slaves to various sins such as porn or other sexual immoralities.

Christ can set you free.

A slave to the flesh?

Looking at porn isn't a sexual immorality. Its only human nature to have the urge to look at porn from time to time.

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No, you really haven't. :)

I've just finished reading the rest of this thread after what you would call a night of sin (Girls booze sex drugs rock-n-roll...Fat Tuesday why are you on a Tuesday?) so this may not be the most coherent post but I hope you understand its meaning.

TB, you've fallen into the classic argument that I've had a 100 times over when discussing religion with people that profess to have faith. If we continue to talk you will eventually come to tell me that you have faith and that's what makes you believe this. I asked you some very pointed questions about the material that is in the bible that isn't vague or needing interpenetration and you never answered me. You say you did but you haven't yet. Maybe I simply need to reword my questions....

First, you're totally right. Those verses are meant to be taken 100% literally. Of course, they're also legal statutes of the Biblical state of Israel, which last I checked, I don't live in. And neither do you, for that matter.

Where I live has no importance on this does it? Do I have to live in Maryland to be a fan of the Redskins and Blue Crabs? I think not. Do I have to live in Iraq to know what it's like over there? I don't think so.

Those verses were pointed out to you to ask you several questions and I'd appreciate an answer to them instead of glossing them over and brushing them off because you don't want to answer them:

1. Does every single passage in the bible need interpretation? And if so who are you to interpret what the meaning is in the bible? Did you graduate with a degree in religion given to you by God himself? Or are you smarter and know more then the men who wrote the book that you'd know what they meant when they wrote it? How can you know what these men meant in there hearts when it was written thousands of years ago?

2. You should realize that you are living your life by taking something from the bible and following it and at the same time you do not listen and take advice from something in the bible and do not follow that. To me that is simply cherry picking and choosing what you feel is right for you and doing what's easy based on your own life. I don't agree with that. Please explain who are you to judge someone who does the same thing but picks something else to ignore in the book that you choose to follow? Since the bible is to be cherry picked over by different people it makes sense to me that not everyone would come away from it with the same thoughts or perspectives. How can you have something that is left up to interpretation and expect everyone will come away from it the same?

3. If your going to use the argument of time and say things are different now then the way they were then isn't it possible that some things are also no longer relevant besides what you say is? For example the definition of adultery isn't as you say it is, and one should not read into the bible and make up words that aren't in the book as you have stated here.

No where in the bible does it say that married men shouldn't have sex with another non married woman, it's not in the book. In the time the bible was written the definition of adultry was the sin of tresspassing on another man's property. Its rules in Jewish law were not the same for men as it was for women. Single women were the property of there fathers and concubinage (women as breeders) and polygyny (men could have many wives, but a woman only one husband) were acceptable. Solomon had 700 Wives + 300 Concubines and God didn't rebuke him for that, he rebuked him because the fact that many of his wives were non-Hebrew and these foreign wives brought idols in for worship from their pagan cultures, which was contrary to God's teaching. David committed adultery, only because Bathsheba was married. She was not one of his own women. The other 7 wives and 17 concubines that David was sleeping with were given to him by God as a blessing. If God believed that adultry was what we believe it is today then why did he do that?

Yet you've concocted an elaborate idea that if you take one thing from one era and put it with another, and look at our current day and time it suddenly is in the book. One plus one does not always make 2 and what you did here doesn't work but its done in every church in the country. In addition if you claim that society makes the rules for what words mean and that it changes over time, then you must see that in time some actions like homosexuality will become normal and allowable. Men in the middle east pray more to their higher power more then most and have sex with other men all the time. If society says that the definition of adultery were to change to something ridiculous like say to have sex with an animal while married does that mean that we can manipulate the meaning and have sex while married with other women again? You tell me boss, where does the definition change end?

Second, you've ignored the larger point that even if we might err in our interpretation of Scripture, that has no bearing on its truth. For years, people thought that maggots grew out of rotting meat, spontaneously. Did their error mean that there wasn't a correct answer? Of course not, as Redi showed. Imperfect human understanding in no way has any bearing on factual truth.

Nope I didn't you have. You need to read the bible more and interpet less. As far as "proof" the entire Christian belief is based on what we call "faith" because no one can prove that Jesus rose from the dead but yet we all believe he did. I'm cool with the idea that he rose again, but others want proof and unfortuantly there really isn't any. Factual proof never meant much in religion

No, you didn't. You cited Wikipedia, but you didn't bother to check the source for that claim, which is a group called "Liberated Christians" who say that

And they have no source at all.

Quoting from a biased source (yet another group trying to find justification for clearly Biblically prohibited behavior, including all forms of adultery) that has no backing is not what I would call "making your point". :)

Why does that matter? If you want to look at "sources" then what about Paul who wrote while in prison in Rome: Ephesian, Philippians, Colossians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Or about The Apostle John who wrote the Book of Revelation while in prison on the Island of Patmos? Last time I checked jail birds weren't the best role models and people to take advice from. They were also clearly biased. We all are

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A slave to the flesh?

Looking at porn isn't a sexual immorality. Its only human nature to have the urge to look at porn from time to time.

Then you have a difference of opinion with Jesus.

Pornography is a sin that entraps so many people its ridiculous. Its addicting.

Why do you watch porn? What do you hope to gain from watching it? Could you stop watching it forever if you wanted to?

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Then you have a difference of opinion with Jesus.

Pornography is a sin that entraps so many people its ridiculous. Its addicting.

Why do you watch porn? What do you hope to gain from watching it? Could you stop watching it forever if you wanted to?

yea but why would i want to? there is nothing wrong with it.

just like i will go to strip clubs every so often and help donate to college funds. nothing wrong with that either.

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Lots of times, which is nice, because scholars can compare the thousands of manuscripts, compare them, and come to solid conclusions as to the exact wording of the originals.

Could it be also that the 40 or so divinely inspired people who had the word of god told to them misheard them too? And thus, the verses are incorrect from the beginning?


Seriously though - I just wanted to thank you for always clarifying your side. I think you add great value to these threads.

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I have no problem with homosexuality but I think for the most part it is a fallacy and is for attention. I want someone to please explain to me why if girls are lesbians, they usually go after girls that look, dress, and act like guys? Sounds to me like you are looking for a guy but guys are not really into you. Why do homosexual guys go for feminine guys? I mean seriously if you are into the same sex, wouldn't you go for people whose demeanor and dress are reflective of that sex? Wouldnt guys go for dominant males and girls go for prissy girls? The only time you see two prissy girls together is in porn for the most part.

Like I said, I have no problem with it I just do not understand it at all.

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I sum it up like this:

The church has a biblically mandated obligation to proclaim the gospel and to be a light to the world. This includes proclaiming what is right and moral according to God's revelation (AKA the Bible) and also what is wicked and immoral.

Now that being said, the Bible also teaches that while we are to be that light, we also do not judge those outside the church. The Apostle Paul said "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?" when speaking of immoral people who are not part of the church.

EDIT: here is the full context of Paul's letter in case anyone has questions.

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

I'm not questioning your idea, just what you are actually saying. COuld you expand alittle :)

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You say you did but you haven't yet.

Actually, I did. Here it is again:

There are three kinds of Old Testament Laws: Civil, Ceremonial, and Moral. Sometimes they overlap.

Civil Law is the Law of Old Testament Israel. It's things like taxes, criminal penalties, etc. It overlaps Moral Law a bit, because sometimes it proscribes a Civil punishment for violation of a Moral Law.

Cermemonial Law is the Laws designed to keep the Jew ceremonially "clean". This includes things like diet, what to do with mold, and the like.

Moral Law are the Laws that talk about right and wrong. This includes most of the Ten Commandments, as well as the underlying actions behind violations of Civil Law.

Now, let's look at how each of these applies to the Christian (I have no idea how orthodox Jews like Dr. Laura reconcile this in their minds):

Civil Law no longer applies to us, because we do not live in the Biblical State of Israel. I'm not going to be sending grain to the Temple.

Ceremonial Law no longer applies to Christians because Jesus was the ultimate Sacrifice that made all things clean.

Moral Law is still in full force.

So, I can walk to Fuddruckers on Saturday and eat a bacon-cheeseburger while wearing a moldy poly-cotton shirt, but I'm not allowed to lie to my wife about it later ("Really, honey... I was exercising. I just went for a walk!"). :)

Those verses were pointed out to you to ask you several questions and I'd appreciate an answer to them instead of glossing them over and brushing them off because you don't want to answer them:

I didn't brush them off. Each of those passages were part of the legal code God handed down to be used by the State of Israel. They don't apply to us today because we don't live in that state, anymore than I have to follow the laws of Germany while I live in the U.S.

1. Does every single passage in the bible need interpretation?

No, I think most verses are pretty clear. Generally, when there's a disagreement on doctrine, it's more often because of what the Bible doesn't say than it is a disagreement over what it does.

Some parts do, though, and in that case it is the duty of each individual Christian to do his or her best to understand.

2. You should realize that you are living your life by taking something from the bible and following it and at the same time you do not listen and take advice from something in the bible and do not follow that.

No, I am not. I am doing my absolute best to follow every part of the Bible, in context. Ironically, it is the people that say "why are you eating shellfish?" that are picking and choosing, because they read Leviticus without reading the New Testament. In that example, Jesus and Paul are very clear that nothing one eats can make one unclean. This change is because Jesus fulfilled the need for ceremonial cleanness by being the ultimate sacrifice.

So, reading the Bible as a whole is the way to go.

3. If your going to use the argument of time and say things are different now then the way they were then isn't it possible that some things are also no longer relevant besides what you say is?

I never used that argument.

No where in the bible does it say that married men shouldn't have sex with another non married woman, it's not in the book.

This is wrong. As I mentioned to zoony, both Matthew 18 and the Greek words used indicate that Jesus extended the definiton of adultery to married men.

If God believed that adultry was what we believe it is today then why did he do that?

As Jesus said in the passage I quoted earlier, God allowed things He did not approve of because the Israelites' hearts were hard. Divorce would be one of those things. That would be another.

In addition if you claim that society makes the rules for what words mean and that it changes over time,

Never claimed that.

As far as "proof" the entire Christian belief is based on what we call "faith" because no one can prove that Jesus rose from the dead but yet we all believe he did.

Actually, I happen to think that I can provide evidence (beyond faith) that Jesus rose from the dead and that God exists, so I'd say you're wrong there too. :)

Why does that matter?

It matters because when I look for a source, I want something more solid than a Wikipedia entry backed by a random website with no credentials or sources of its own. Maybe I'm just picky. :)

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TB, what evidence can you provide that shows Jesus rose from the dead?

The evidence is in two parts. Part one is general reasons to believe God exists. Part two is Christianity specific. So, let's look at part one:

The Existence of God: The General Arguments

Speaking generally, there are several philisophical arguments that convince me that God exists. Before I get into those, I want to just discuss very briefly how philisophical arguments work.

For a philisophical argument to be considered valid, the conclusion must follow inescapably from the premises. Each of the arguments I present below is valid, in the sense that if one accepts each of the premises as true, one must accept the conclusion as correct.

For a philisophical argument to be considered sound, each premise must be more plausibly true than its negation. I believe each of the premises of these arguments are, in fact, more plausibly true than their negations.

Since the arguments are logically valid if you, the reader, wish to reject one of the arguments I present here, you must show that one of the premises is not more plausibly true than its negation, proving the argument unsound. Otherwise, the argument stands.

So what good philisophical arguments are there for the existence of God?

First, there is the Leibniz Cosmological Argument. Gottfried Leibniz was one of the greatest Philosophers and Mathemeticians in history, and one of the most famous questions he asked was "Why is there something instead of nothing?"

His thinking on this question led him to an argument, one version of which runs like this:

  • 1. Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
    2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
    3. The universe exists.
    4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence.
    5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.

To keep this post as brief as possible, I will direct the interested observer to this Q&A piece by Dr. William Lane Craig (who is the source for the above formulation). In that piece Dr. Craig briefly discusses the premises and defends against objections that are raised against them, though I will, of course, be happy to answer any objections here as well.

Next, there is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Basically, this is a very simple (but powerful) argument that can be summed up as follows:

  • 1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The Universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the Universe has a cause.

Theists and atheists alike have always agreed that there must, at the beginning, be an uncaused cause. Theists have always said that was God. Until recently, atheists could say that no, the universe is eternal.

The best science of the day, though, now tells us that the universe came into existence about 15 billion years ago. Further, the Borde Guth Vilenkin Theorem shows that any expanding universe (such as ours) cannot extend infinitely into the past.

From there, as Dr. Craig writes in The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe:

Given the truth of premisses (1) and (2), it logically follows that (3) the universe has a cause of its existence. In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time. For example, a man sitting from eternity may will to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent. Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator.

Again, (relative) brevity should win out, so please follow the link for more details, which is especially appropriate in this case because Dr. Craig is the primary driving force behind the discussion of this argument in today's philisophical circles.

Moving on, there is the Fine-Tuning Design Argument. One of the most puzzling things about our universe is that the more science advances, the more it becomes clear that our universe appears to be amazingly fine tuned for life.

Dr. Robin Collins (the foremost proponent of this argument) discusses this in his THE FINE-TUNING DESIGN ARGUMENT:

A few examples from the literature of this fine-tuning are listed below:

1. If the initial explosion of the big bang had differed in strength by as little as 1 part in 1060, the universe would have either quickly collapsed back on itself, or expanded too rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible. [see Davies, 1982, pp. 90-91. (As John Jefferson Davis points out (p. 140), an accuracy of one part in 1060 can be compared to firing a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and hitting the target.)

2. Calculations indicate that if the strong nuclear force, the force that binds protons and neutrons together in an atom, had been stronger or weaker by as little as 5%, life would be impossible. (Leslie, 1989, pp. 4, 35; Barrow and Tipler, p. 322.)

3. Calculations by Brandon Carter show that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 1040, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible. (Davies, 1984, p. 242.)

4. If the neutron were not about 1.001 times the mass of the proton, all protons would have decayed into neutrons or all neutrons would have decayed into protons, and thus life would not be possible. (Leslie, 1989, pp. 39-40 )

5. If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, life would be impossible, for a variety of different reasons. (Leslie, 1988, p. 299.)

The fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life is not controversial, as we see in How bio-friendly is the universe?, an article in the International Journal of Astrobiology 2 (2) : 115–120 (2003) by P C W Davies:

There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned’ for life.

The question then becomes, why the universe is the way it is. The odds of any one free paramater (like Collins discusses above) being the way we need it, just by random chance, are so infinitesemal as to be meaningless, to say nothing of all of them together. Collins frames his argument like this:

  • 1. The existence of the fine-tuning is not improbable under theism.
    2. The existence of the fine-tuning is very improbable under the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.
    3. From premises (1) and (2) and the prime principle of confirmation, it follows that the fine-tuning data provides strong evidence to favor of the design hypothesis over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.

Generally, two objections are raised to this argument, and neither are really effective in my view.

The first is that fantastically probable events occur every day, and that's true. If I flip a coin a million times, whatever result I get would be fantastically improbable. The problem with that is that it (and all other fantastically improbable events raised as an objection) assumes that all results are equal, as in the case of the coin flip. The results in the case of the universe, though, are not equal. Looking at the free parameters discussed by Dr. Collins, any of the other "settings" would prevent life. To return to the coin flip example, if I held a gun to your head and said that unless one particular result came up, I'd kill you, and then that result came up, would you breathe a sigh of relief that you were just lucky, or would you assume that I had somehow fixed the game in your favor? (Just ask onlike poker players, who assume cheating over far less ;))

The second objection is what's known as the "anthropic principle", which is basically "of course we're here, if we weren't, we wouldn't know it". However, as Dr. William Lane Craig illustrates in his The Teleological Argument and the Anthropic Principle, that doesn't really make sense:

This can be clearly seen by means of an illustration (borrowed from John Leslie{16}): suppose you are dragged before a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. The command is given; you hear the deafening sound of the guns. And you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 marksmen missed! Now while it is true that

5. You should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead,

nonetheless it is equally true that

6. You should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive.

Would anyone really remark "Well, of course I'm alive! If I weren't, I wouldn't be around to note it! Random chance!"?

For more on the Teleological argument, as well as responses to criticisms of it, please follow the links, and for a more scholarly treatment, heavy on the statistics, try Dr. Collins' How to Rigorously Define Fine-Tuning.

My favorite general argument for the existence of God (and the one I find to be the most powerful), though, is the Moral Argument. Imagine a world in which Jeffrey Dahmer, rather than being condemned by society as the monster he is, is instead lauded as a hero because he advances the cause of social Darwinism by removing the weak from the gene pool. If there is no God, no source of objective morals and duties, then we have no grounds to condemn him. Society has decided that he is good. What grounds do we have to disagree? Without some higher standard, our condemnation loses any force, and becomes yet another opinion.

The upshot of this is, in the words of Neitszche "If God is not, all is permissible".

The reason I think that this is one of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God is that it matches with the human moral experience. Most everybody agrees that there are, in fact, certain things that are absolutely right and absolutely wrong. We want to condemn Jeffrey Dahmer, regardless of whether or not his society embraces him. It doesn't matter to us that all of Spartan society "voted" that death by exposure is the appropriate measure to take for a deformed child- we want to call it murder. If Adolf Hitler had won WWII, and brainwashed or killed everyone that disagreed with the Holocaust, leaving the entire world in agreement that this was perfectly good and acceptable, we still believe that it was evil, no matter what this imaginary society says.

To put the argument succinctly:

  • 1. Objective moral values and duties cannot exist without God.
    2. Objective moral values and duties and duties exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

I believe that premise 1 is self-explanatory and fairly non-controversial. On the atheistic worldview, morals and duties arise from men themselves, perhaps as a result of blind evolution, yet any moral or duty created by man can be changed by man, and evolution is interested only in survival, not objectivity, meaning that any morals and duties that evolved can simply evolve again, which is hardly objective.

Premise 2, as I said, matches our moral experience and is agreed upon by most everyone.

Thus, premise three follows inescapably.

The Summation: One note here, I haven't once mentioned the Bible or Jesus, and yet we're at a place where simple logic points us to an all-powerful, personal creator that exists outside time and space (the Cosmological Arguments), that carefully fine tuned that universe to support life (Teleological Argument), and that is moral (Moral Argument).

All-powerful, outside time and space, personal, moral... Hmm... Sound familiar? ;)

Each brick adds to the wall of evidence. One particular brick might not be enough to convince, but together it makes a very strong proof, and I haven't even gotten to the best one yet, which I will save for my second post. :)

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I'm glad someone asked, I had just spent several hours touching these up and adding (and removing) stuff. Here's part two:

The Existence of God: Christianity Specific

Now, one thing that I will immediately confess is that the wall of logical arguments we have built here brick by brick doesn't really say anything directly about which God it is. Here is where I turn to the central event of Christianity, the Resurrection. If it's true, then it validates Jesus' claim that he was God, and so proves Christianity to be true, and God to thus exist (obviously). If I have to, I can address the nonsensical "Jesus-myth hypothesis", but here and for now I will assume that my readers haven't fallen down that particular silly rabbit-hole.

Part One: Approaches to the Evidence

One of the first things I always hear in response to the evidence I'm about to present is that I'm "just quoting the Bible", or "Just because the Bible says it's true doesn't mean it is!", to which I'd have to reply no, and I'm not saying that's the case, respectively. :)

What the reader needs to understand is that below, I am using the approach of the historian, not the theologian. The historian has tools he can use to look at even the worst and most biased of sources, and from them arrive at factual information.

A.N. Sherwin-White (here's his Wikipedia entry) was an eminent historian of ancient Rome at Oxford University. He wrote Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, among other works. My next couple of quotes will be from that book.

On page 186 he writes (emphasis is the author's):

So much for the detailed study of the Graeco-Roman setting of Acts and Gospels. But it is fitting for a professional historian to consider the whole topic of historicity briefly and very generally, and boldly to state a case. Though for two short periods of our history we are lucky enough to have two major contemporary historians of remarkably objective character in Thucydides and Polybius, we are generally dealing with derivative sources of marked bias and prejudice composed at least one or two generations after the events which they describe, but much more often, as with the Lives of Plutarch or the central decades of Livy, from two to five centuries later. Though connecting links are provided backwards in time by series of lost intermediate sources, we are seldom in the happy position of dealing at only one remove with a contemporary source. Yet not for that do we despair of reconstructing the story of the tyranny of Pisistratus or of the tribunates of the Gracchi.

Sherwin-White goes on to say that the New Testament texts are much better than those, being vastly earlier and much better attested, but that's not my point this time.

My point here is simply that historians can and do pull historical facts from the worst, most biased, legend tainted sources, and so it is possible to derive facts from the texts of the New Testament, without treating them as holy or special, but just by applying those same methods.

Michael Grant (here's his Wikipedia page) was another eminent classical historian, and in his Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels writes on page 201:

A short way back, exception was taken to the view that everything the evangelists say must be assumed correct until it is proved wrong. Should we, therefore, accept the opposite opinion, which has been locked in an agonizing struggle with it for two hundred years, that all the contents of the Gospels must be assumed fictitious until they are proved genuine? No, that is also too extreme a viewpoint and would not be applied in other fields. When, for example, one tries to build up facts from the accounts of pagan historians, judgement often has to be given not in the light of any external confirmation- which is sometimes, but by no means always, available- but on the basis of historical deductions and arguments which attain nothing better than probability. The same applies to the Gospels. Their contents need not be assumed fictitious until they are proved authentic. But they have to be subjected to the usual standards of historical persuasiveness.

Grant definitely follows through with this in his book, taking a very skeptical stance. For instance, he rejects as genuine any fulfilled prophecy, assuming that it was either written after the event or inserted later.

So, I'm not asking the reader to treat the Bible as a holy book, or divinely inspired, or anything like that. I am simply asking instead that we approach the texts of the New Testament as historians, like Grant and Sherwin-White, and see what facts we can uncover from the data.

As we will see, it's quite a lot. :)

Part Two: Jesus Claimed to be God

The high Christology of the early Church came from Jesus himself. One example of this comes from the Parable of the Tenants.

Mark 12 (ESV)

The Parable of the Tenants

1(A) And he began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted(B) a vineyard© and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and(D) leased it to tenants and(E) went into another country. 2When the season came, he sent a servant[a] to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3(F) And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4(G) Again(H) he sent to them another servant, and(I) they struck him on the head and(J) treated him shamefully. 5(K) And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6He had still one other,(L) a beloved son.(M) Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 7But those tenants said to one another,(N) 'This is the heir. Come,(O) let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8And they took him and killed him and(P) threw him out of the vineyard. 9What will the owner of the vineyard do?(Q) He will® come and destroy the tenants and(S) give the vineyard to others. 10(T) Have you not read(U) this Scripture:

(V) "'The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

11this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"

12And(W) they were seeking to arrest him(X) but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they(Y) left him and went away.

Before we look at what this saying of Jesus is, uh, saying, I'd like to take a moment to explain why I chose this passage.

One of the things Jesus scholarship tries to do is determine what, if anything, can be determined about the life, works, and sayings of Jesus in an historical sense. Scholars only take seriously those things that can be verified via one or more historical criteria. It doesn't mean that other things in the text didn't happen, necessarily, just that they can't be proven.

It turns out that the Parable of the Tenants is accepted as an authentic saying of Jesus by scholars, even the most radical (such as the infamous Jesus Seminar, which famously voted and found only about 20% of the sayings of Jesus to be authentic).

There are a number of reasons for this. The saying is early, and multiply and independently attested. It is unlikely to be a later Christian invention, because, among other reasons, it includes no mention of ressurection. It also has been found to be very accurate in terms of actual absentee landowner practices of the day, historically, and it reflects and employs stock images found in rabbinic parables of the day, so it coheres with a Jewish mileu.

So, it's pretty much accepted that this is a provably genuine saying of Jesus. As Dr. Craig Evans (his Wikipedia page) notes in his Fabricating Jesus on page 138:

When understood properly and in full context, everything about the wicked vineyard tenants- including its context in the New Testament Gospels- argues that it originated with Jesus, not with the early church.

But what is Jesus saying? In this parable, as in other rabbinic parables of the day, the Vineyard is Israel and the owner is God (a common reference because of Isaiah 5). The tenants are the Jewish religious leaders (which is why they are angered). The servants are the prophets of God, sent to Israel, but beaten, turned away, and sometimes killed (as the history of the Old Testament shows).

And then we come to the son, Jesus. The son in this parable is the owner's only son. He is unique. He is more important than the servants. He is last to be sent.

This passage clearly shows that Jesus thought he was the unique Son of God, unique in relationship, above all the prophets. Further, in this passage, he predicts his own death at the hands of the Jewish authorities, outside the walls of Jerusalem.

All of this was blasphemy to the Jewish leadership, as can be seen from their reaction, and is why they eventually had him killed.

Another reason to believe that the historical Jesus had a divine self-understanding is found in Grant's Jesus on page 160 (emphasis is the author's):

But Jesus' specific claim that, as inaugurator of the Kingdom of God, he was able to forgive sins seemed, as the Pharisees and scribes had already noted in Galilee, to lend a sinister overtone to his own assertion, or the assertion of his disciples, that he was God's son. For since Jews regarded the forgiveness of sins as the prerogative of God alone, the claim to confer this forgiveness, especially if supported by a claim to the Sonship of God, implied that he himself was divine; in which case the sacrosanct Jewish monotheism was deliberately breached.

So, we have two historically supported authentic sayings of Jesus, accepted as genuine by even the most skeptical scholars, that tell us that Jesus had a divine self-understanding.

I can add more if needed, but for (relative) brevity's sake, I will provide this link to Glenn Miller's excellent list of all of the explicit and implicit claims of Jesus of Nazareth and his followers that he was God.

The question then, really, is was he right. Which brings us to...

Part Three: God raised Jesus from the dead

There's actually quite a lot of evidence for Jesus' Resurrection in a variety of forms, and countless books and articles have been written on the topic (and I will provide some links for further reading, if interested, at the end), but again, here we are only making use of facts that can be derived by the solid historical method, and in this section, I will further limit myself by only using facts agreed upon by the vast majority of critical scholars, a method used by people like Craig and Dr. Gary Habermas.

Of course, scholarly consensus only allows us to know that we are on firm ground, and is not a replacement for actual evidence, so for each fact, I will also present a couple of the best arguments for it, and of course I will expound on any point if asked.

Fact #1 Jesus died by crucifixion

Grant notes on page 162 that:

Then follows the horrible conclusion of the story, the Crucifixion. This again must be true because no one would have invented such a degraded end, a fatal objection to Jesus' Messiahship in Jewish eyes.

An important fact to keep in mind for later is that Crucifixion was, indeed, a cursed death in the eyes of the Jews (which all Jesus' disciples were). Here, Dr. Grant is using the Criterion of Embarrassment, an important historical tool, but that's not the only reason the Crucifixion is seen by scholars of all stripes as fact.

As Dr. William Lane Craig notes inThe Evidence for Jesus:

According to the gospels Jesus was condemned by the Jewish high court on the charge of blasphemy and then delivered to the Romans for execution for the treasonous act of setting himself up as King of the Jews. Not only are these facts confirmed by independent biblical sources like Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, but they are also confirmed by extra-biblical sources. From Josephus and Tacitus, we learn that Jesus was crucified by Roman authority under the sentence of Pontius Pilate. From Josephus and Mara bar Serapion we learn that the Jewish leaders made a formal accusation against Jesus and participated in events leading up to his crucifixion. And from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, we learn that Jewish involvement in the trial was explained as a proper undertaking against a heretic. According to Johnson, "The support for the mode of his death, its agents, and perhaps its coagents, is overwhelming: Jesus faced a trial before his death, was condemned and executed by crucifixion."{11} The crucifixion of Jesus is recognized even by the Jesus Seminar as "one indisputable fact." {12}

Fact #2 Jesus was honorably buried by Joseph of Arimathea

Grant again appeals to the Criterion of Embarrassment, on page 175:

After the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimithea, a member of the Sanhedrin who did not share its unfavourable opinion of Jesus, sought and obtained permission from Pilate to grant the body private burial, thus rescuing it from the two common burial-grounds reserved for executed criminals (1). This story is likely to be true since the absence, which it records, of any participation by Jesus' followers was too unfortunate, indeed disgraceful, to have been voluntarily invented by the evangelists at a later date.

Further, historians assign more reliability to reports that have multiple attestation (more than one source reports something) and to reports that are early (close to the actual events). In the case of the burial of Jesus, we have upwards of 5 independent sources, dating as early as 7 years (or earlier) from the event.

As Dr. Craig notes in his 2006 debate with Dr. Bart Ehrman:

We have four biographies of Jesus, by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which have been collected into the New Testament, along with various letters of the apostle Paul. Now the burial account is part of Mark's source material for the story of Jesus' suffering and death. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and which the commentator Rudolf Pesch dates to within seven years of the crucifixion. Moreover, Paul also cites an extremely early source for Jesus' burial which most scholars date to within five years of Jesus' crucifixion. Independent testimony to Jesus' burial by Joseph is also found in the sources behind Matthew and Luke and the Gospel of John, not to mention the extra-biblical Gospel of Peter. Thus, we have the remarkable number of at least five independent sources for Jesus' burial, some of which are extraordinarily early.

To expound a bit upon this, the Pauline report Dr. Craig is referring to is the kerygma (a formula used by the early church to state beliefs) in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, which scholars have dated to within 18 months to 5 years of the Resurrection, because while Paul wrote this letter perhaps 20 years later, he very likely received this formula when he first met with Peter and the others, which happened at the much earlier date. Consider this from Dr. Gary Habermas (his Wikipedia page) in his Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying?:

Paul probably received this report from Peter and James while visiting Jerusalem within a few years of his conversion.[46] The vast majority of critical scholars who answer the question place Paul’s reception of this material in the mid-30s A.D.[47] Even more skeptical scholars generally agree.[48] German theologian Walter Kasper even asserts that, “We have here therefore an ancient text, perhaps in use by the end of 30 AD . . . .” [49] Ulrich Wilckens declares that the material “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.”[50]

Also, as noted in the Craig-Ehrman debate, Joseph of Arimathea, as a Jewish member of the Sanhedrin, is highly unlikely to have been a Christian invention for another reason besides embarrassment. Dr. Craig puts it thusly:

There was an understandable hostility in the early church toward the Jewish leaders. In Christian eyes, they had engineered a judicial murder of Jesus. Thus, according to the late New Testament scholar Raymond Brown, Jesus' burial by Joseph is "very probable," since it is "almost inexplicable" why Christians would make up a story about a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right by Jesus. [1]

Finally, there is no competing burial tradition.

To sum it up, as Dr. Craig notes in the Evidence article:

According to the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University, the honorable burial of Jesus is one of "the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus."{15}

Fact #3 Jesus' disciples genuinely believed that they had experiences with the risen Jesus, despite having every reason not to

As Grant notes on page 176 of Jesus:

The Ressurection is the subject of some of the greatest pictures ever painted, but there is no actual description of it, and nobody claimed to have seen it happen. Yet those who believed that Jesus had appeared to them on the earth after his death have their alleged experiences recorded in a number of passages of the New Testament. Their testimonies cannot prove them to be right in supposing that Jesus had risen from the dead. However, these accounts do prove that certain people were utterly convinced that that is what he had done.

Some excerpts from the Habermas article:

From considerations such as the research areas above, perhaps the single most crucial development in recent thought has emerged. With few exceptions, the fact that after Jesus’ death his followers had experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus is arguably one of the two or three most recognized events from the four Gospels, along with Jesus’ central proclamation of the Kingdom of God and his death by crucifixion. Few critical scholars reject the notion that, after Jesus’ death, the early Christians had real experiences of some sort.
An overview of contemporary scholarship indicates that Fuller’s conclusions are well-supported. E.P. Sanders initiates his discussion in The Historical Figure of Jesus by outlining the broad parameters of recent research. Beginning with a list of the historical data that critics know, he includes a number of “equally secure facts” that “are almost beyond dispute.” One of these is that, after Jesus’ death, “his disciples . . . saw him.”[83] In an epilogue, Sanders reaffirms, “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.”[84]
Bart Ehrman explains that, “Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.” This early belief in the resurrection is the historical origination of Christianity.[91]
As we have mentioned throughout, there are certainly disagreements about the nature of the experiences. But it is still crucial that the nearly unanimous consent[92] of critical scholars is that, in some sense, the early followers of Jesus thought that they had seen the risen Jesus.

This conclusion does not rest on the critical consensus itself, but on the reasons for the consensus, such as those pointed out above. A variety of paths converge here, including Paul's eyewitness comments regarding his own experience (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8), the pre-Pauline appearance report in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, probably dating from the 30s, Paul's second Jerusalem meeting with the major apostles to ascertain the nature of the Gospel (Gal. 2:1-10), and Paul's knowledge of the other apostles' teachings about Jesus' appearances (1 Cor. 15:9-15, especially 15:11). Further, the early Acts confessions, the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, the transformed lives that centered on the resurrection, the later Gospel accounts, and, most scholars would agree, the empty tomb. This case is built entirely on critically-ascertained texts, and confirmed by many critical principles such as eyewitness testimony, early reports, multiple attestation, discontinuity, embarrassment, enemy declarations, and coherence.[93]

Further, the disciples not only believed it, but they were willing to die for those beliefs, as recorded both in the records of the New Testament as well as extra-Biblical writings like Josephus and Polycarp.

What's more is that the disciples had absolutely no reason to believe that Jesus would return from the dead. As Grant noted earlier, they were shattered by Jesus' shameful death. As Jews, his crucifixion seemed to argue that he had been cursed by God. Further, Jews of the day had no conception of the ressurection as an event that occured in time. To those Jews that believed in ressurection, it was to be a general event for all the righteous at the end of time.

Consider this from a short article Dr. Larry Hurtado (here's his faculty page, as he doesn't seem to have a wikipedia entry), That Curious Idea of Resurrection:

How early Christians grappled to accept the idea that Jesus returned from the dead.. The relevant excerpt:

The ancient Jewish and early Christian idea of personal resurrection represented a new emphasis on individuals and the importance of embodied existence beyond the mere survival or enhancement of the soul, although there was debate about the precise nature of the post-resurrection body. Some seem to have supposed it would be a new body of flesh and bones, closely linked to the corpse in the grave but not liable to decay or death. Others imagined a body more like that of an angel. But whatever its precise nature, the hope of resurrection reflected a strongly holistic view of the person as requiring some sort of body to be complete. With ancient Jews, early Christians saw resurrection as an act of God, a divine gift of radically new life, not an expression of some inherent immortality of the soul. That is, the dead don't rise by themselves; they are raised by God and will experience resurrection collectively as one of the events that comprise God's future redemption of the world and vindication of the righteous.

So we see that the disciples had absolutely no reason to expect that Jesus would return from the dead, and every reason not to. Further, as Jews, they did have accepted frameworks for the dead, such as visions of the person in Abraham's Bosom.

Fact #4 The conversion of James, the brother of Jesus

James was a skeptic who did not accept Jesus' ministry. Yet, after Jesus' crucifixion, James went from skeptic to vocal leader in the early church who believed so strongly that he was martyred for his faith, as recorded by Jospehus and others.

This point is agreed upon by virtually every critical scholar for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is the Criterion of Embarrasment. It was embarrassing to the early church and to James that he rejected Jesus, and if they were making up the story, they probably wouldn't have put that in.

Fact #5 The conversion of Paul, an enemy of Christianity

We know more about Paul than perhaps any other Biblical figure because of his prolific letters, which comprise a treasure trove of historical data. From these letters, as well as other sources, we learn that Paul was a Jewish official who brutally oppressed the early Christians, sometimes putting them to death, until one day he experienced what he saw as the risen Christ, and became a fervent Christian, enduring repeated beatings, torture, and martyrdom.

An important thing to note about Paul is that although he was not around for the actual events, he did interview and fact-check with the disciples, so he would have been able to judge the validity of the claims of the early Christians. This also makes his letters the excellent source of information that they are.

Fact #6 The empty tomb

To be totally honest, unlike most of the other points I have presented, this one does not enjoy nearly unanimous support by the community of scholars. However, as noted in the Habermas article, roughly 75% of critical scholars accept one or more arguments for the empty tomb:

Of these scholars, approximately 75% favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25% think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority.

So, we're still on pretty solidly accepted ground, here.

As Grant writes in Jesus on page 176:

Even if the historian chooses to regard the youthful apparition as extra-historical, he cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb. True, this discovery, as so often, is described differently by the various Gospels- as critical pagans early pointed out. (3) But if we apply the same sort of criteria that we would apply to any other ancient literary sources, then the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.

There are several points that support the historicity of the empty tomb (Dr. Craig lays out eight here, for instance), but I'll just mention the three I find most convincing.

1)The Disciples and early Christians preached the risen Jesus in Jerusalem, the very place He was buried. The Roman authorities and Jewish leaders found this rather inconvenient, and could they have produced the body, they would have, ending the whole thing right there before it could even begin.

Further, it seems inconceivable that the disciples could convince anyone (including themselves) that Jesus had bodily risen from the dead if they could just pop over to the tomb and see the body still there. And someone would have, if for no other reason than that Second Temple Judaism burial practices involved removing the bones from the tomb after a year or two, for placement in ossuaries to await the ressurection at the end of time.

2)As with the story of the burial of Jesus, we have very early and multiple independently attested sources indicating that the tomb was empty.

3) Perhaps the most persuasive argument is the fact that the Gospels report that it was women who found the tomb empty. Again, we can apply the Criterion of Embarrassment.

The story of the women finding the empty tomb is highly embarrassing and difficult for the early Christians for two reasons.

First, it shows the Disciples in a rather bad light. Even though mere women (keep in mind that this is first century Palestine we're talking about) remained loyal and had gone to the Tomb to annoint Jesus' body, the Disciples at the time were huddled in a room, in hiding, having lost their faith, and basically being totally pathetic and faithless.

Second, under Jewish Law, women weren't even allowed to be witnesses in court. Highly embarrassing, as the primary witnesses to the event were totally worthless by the prevailing cultural standards.

In any case, though it does not enjoy quite the same support among critical scholars, the strength of the evidence makes me comfortable asserting the historicity of the empty tomb. As Dr. Craig notes in the article I linked above:

Taken together these eight considerations furnish powerful evidence that the tomb of Jesus was actually found empty on Sunday morning by a small group of his women followers. As a plain historical fact this seems to be amply attested. As Van Daalen has remarked, it is extremely difficult to object to the fact of the empty tomb on historical grounds; most objectors do so on the basis of theological or philosophical considerations.{87} But these, of course, cannot change historical fact. And, interestingly, more and more New Testament scholars seem to be realizing this fact; for today, many, if not most, exegetes would defend the historicity of the empty tomb of Jesus, and their number continues to increase.{88}

Inference to the best explanation: the argument

Having listed these six facts, what are we to do with them? (Here of course, I diverge from the majority of critical scholars, though in logic, not in evidence. :))

In order to determine what most probably happened, historians use a technique known as “Inference to the Best Explanation”. This technique says that the theory which best fits all the facts, without being ad-hoc, is the most likely to be true, and while I would agree that naturalistic explanations should be given priority in historical investigation, no non-adhoc naturalistic explantion fits all the facts.

For example, the idea that the early Christians experienced guilt-induced visions for failing their leader fits the fact that they had some sort of experience with the risen Jesus, but cannot explain the empty tomb, or the conversion of Paul and James, who had no reason to feel guilty. It also fails because as we have seen, the disciples had no reason to expect to meet the risen Jesus, and every reason not to. If they had been hallucinating, they would have sen something they expected, such as Jesus in Abraham's bosom.

Another idea might be that the disciples were lying (and perhaps stole the body). This would cover the empty tomb, but does not account for the fact that the disciples genuinely believed they had experienced the risen Jesus, to say nothing of the fact that liars make poor martyrs. It also doesn't explain why Paul and James would be on board.

All other naturalistic explanations similarly fail, or are so ad hoc as to be useless.

On the other hand, we have seen that there are good reasons to believe in God generally, so we should at least include the possibility that God exists and took action in our pool of live options.

Further, Jesus made claims and statements that indicated a divine self-understanding, so explaining the Ressurection in that context is not ad hoc.

Finally, let's look at the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead. Such a thing, we have seen, can be in our pool of live options. It is not ad hoc, because Jesus had a divine self-understanding. The disciples claimed it was true. It fits all the facts.

It is easily the best explanation, outstripping all rival hypotheses.

God really did raise Jesus from the dead.

This verified his claim to divinity. Jesus was (is) God.

Further Reading

That's just one approach. For more, I recommend the following articles. Dr. Craig is my favorite author on the subject, and they are more scholarly. I also list some more popular level stuff.

Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Dr. William Lane Craig (probably the best)

The Evidence for Jesus, also by Dr. Craig

The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction? by Pat Zukeran

Cruci-fiction and Resuscitation: The Greatest Hoax in the History of Humanity? by Russ Wise

Evidence for the Ressurection by Josh McDowell

Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History? by Edwin M. Yamauchi

Beyond Blind Faith by Paul E. Little

Finally, one very good book on this subject is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He used to be an atheist and a reporter for the Chicago Tribune (so he's a good writer). In the book, he goes around the country and interviews a variety of top-notch experts on issues surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and his claims. I've already sent a few copies to Extremeskins members, but the offer is general.

PM me your address, and I'll send you a copy, free of charge. :)

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yea but why would i want to? there is nothing wrong with it.

There's nothing wrong with it unless.....

You get caught in the act,

You use family members objects,

You admit it to friends,

You think about your mom,

You think about any family members,

You do it in public where you might get caught,

If you do it to gay pron if your hetero,

If an animal has any thing to do with it,

If you do it on kitchen appliances,

Your priest finds out,

You video tape it,

Leave any evidence that might incriminate you,

If you do it in any room besides the bathroom,

this could be fun.:D Take it away

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woah, thats going to take me a while to read all that

That's okay, it took me a while to compose it. Thanks for taking the time to read it. :)

I'm actually glad someone asked, because I just spent several hours editing and updating those two posts (stealthily, in a previous now dead thread).

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That's okay, it took me a while to compose it. Thanks for taking the time to read it. :)

I'm actually glad someone asked, because I just spent several hours editing and updating those two posts (stealthily, in a previous now dead thread).

Great day Tech, you said a mouthful. All I know is on Dec 23, 2012 I'm gonna be holdin' my kids and rubbin' a rosary like nobody's business.:D

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Then you have a difference of opinion with Jesus.

Pornography is a sin that entraps so many people its ridiculous. Its addicting.

Why do you watch porn? What do you hope to gain from watching it? Could you stop watching it forever if you wanted to?

I have mixed feelings on porn. On the one hand, it is usually displays intercouse devoid of love/affection, and the actors/actresses are often exploited, in some fashion. Many come from broken homes, etc. and its the only work they can find. I think many have problems with finding fufilling relationships down the road. Irregardless of how much money they make, would you want your sister/daughter/brother/son doing that? Yeah, me neither.

On the other hand, it help individuals who are uncomfortable with their own anatomy and that of their spouse lose their inhibitions. Particulary if you come from a culture in which that stuff is repressed or embarrassing. What men and in particulary women find pleasureful has often been a subject that just isn't discussed.

I never got addicted, but at one point I just decided I had pretty much seen everything there is to see. (Well maybe not everything, on the other hand theres some stuff I just don't want to see ) I also never bought any porn, just d/l'd the free stuff.

Condemn away.

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