edited December 1969 in Faith Issues

What do you give up by way of cultural activities?

In my house my wife, who is not a Christian, watches a lot of tv. Although I vowed not to watch any I can't just turn it off when she is there. Also, on one occasion she wanted me to accompany her to the movies, as did my son on another occasion;distinctly none lenten activities.

Are there any experiences with non-Orthodox relations/friends where we do what we don't want in order to keep the other happy?

God bless you


  • Well I live in a place surrounded by non orthodox and in my opinion, one has duties toward friends and family.
    I don't mean to say you should spoil your fast for them, but in my situation I do things that I wouldn't usually do during the fast so that I can be there for my friends..
    But of course everyone's situation is different...

    There is this story about a monk who had vowed not to drink any wine, yet he didn't want to upset his fellow monks or make them feel as if he's a saint while they're not, so when he went to visit them and they offered him a drink, he didn't refuse. Yet he would make up every sip with one day without water...

    So maybe, you might compromise in some things and then be extra strict with other pleasures...

    God bless
  • The way I feel about fasting is that the only person that should be inconvenienced is the person who is choosing to fast.

    I don't think its fair if we fast and the people around us are expected to make sacrifices. For example I may choose to abstain from food when fasting and my job performance suffers because I am weak and unable to work.  That would not be right and I don't think that it will acceptable to God.  Or I may choose to fast and expect others to accommodate my fasting be it cooking special foods or other things, this would not be right either.

    When you fast the only person that should be sacrificing is you not those around you.

    During lent we can also do other things that will be pleasing to God besides just fasting and depriving ourselves of one thing or the other.

    Proverbs 21:3 "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice"

  • i agree with these responses, our main aim is to win others to Christ, not to be great at fasting. i also have to 'compromise' and not fast as much as i'd like because of others, and i am always encouraged by the story of the monk above :)
  • What are you guys talking about. I FULLY disagree with what was just said. Give a while and I'll explain why.
  • [quote author=mabsoota link=topic=7779.msg101405#msg101405 date=1238449254]
    i agree with these responses, our main aim is to win others to Christ, not to be great at fasting. i also have to 'compromise' and not fast as much as i'd like because of others, and i am always encouraged by the story of the monk above :)

    Mabsuta, I do not think I agree here with you. How could one compromise, depending on what one means here;his/her faith so that others are not offended or feel guilty? I do not exactly know what you mean by  'not fast as much as i'd like because of others'.Do you mean ,some days of the lent you break the fast when you are with your friends?  For example, I meet some people ,many of them non-christians, and I clearly make it known to them overtly or covertly that I am in the season of the  great lent.When they offer me food that are not compatible with the lent, I first decline wityhout giving reasons, but when they insist,I let them know that i am trying to fast and they do understand it.

    I already had a simliar situation as the monk in the example. I went for a visit to some place and on the occasion, I was invited to break lunch with friends.Without any objection, I joined them,because I thought I should appreciate the trouble they went through in preparing the best food.Since that experience, I always make sure, before I visit some place,that it is not a fasting period or that I make it known before hand that I am fasting and people should not be troubled to prepare anything.

    I guess Aidan's issue is within his own family and I think he could set a guidline there that makes everyone happy.

    Other than that, compromising may weaken our spritual resolve.
  • Thanks Mozes.

    [quote author=grace08 link=topic=7779.msg101386#msg101386 date=1238356912]
    Proverbs 21:3 "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice"

    first, please don't use the word "fair" becuase we can always respond with the "yo mama" attack.
    second, you took a verse out of the whole bible, leaving all the rest, and you took one that can't be even considered literally because it's a poetic verse. in the essence of the verse, can you define for me "sacrifice"???!

    God said, Mt 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
    you tell me the definition of that verse.


    to answer the whole post. there is NO COMPROMISE. Our GOD is a zealous God. HE wants all of me and you; not part of your time, not part of your life...etc, but ALL. There can never be a dichotomy in this.

    Now if you are trully living in His realm and following His will with all your heart, then you will never go wrong; you'll never be faced with any problems that would make you to try to find a "compromise" between anything and GOD.

    now, aidan, with all do respect, you lack something that is making you think that. you are telling us that you are out of God's realm simply because you didn't fellow some of his simple commandments. saying that, i don't think fasting or not would be the biggest of your problems "living" with God, if you'd like to think so.
  • ok, i would like to clarify.
    there are some things we are told to do during lent like avoiding eating animal products. i am not suggesting we go off and have a burger with our mates. (sorry for talking about it, i get hungry too, looking at that word!)
    there are other things which, in my opinion, don't have to be done, such as not eating till a certain time, not watching tv, not going out to eat vegetarian food, however people may want to honour God by refraining from such things.
    then, i think that if they are excessively pious (by this i don't mean 'holy' but 'doing religious deeds') it can actually put their friends and family off. so, for example, i would rather not go to a restaurant during lent and put up with the 'she is weird' comments when i have my chips and salad (coz it's a european restaurant and they have no idea about vegan food) and watch my friends eat... well i won't say but you can imagine nice things. i would rather stay home, have a simple meal and pray the agpeya. but instead, i go out with my friends so that they learn that my faith is not about fasting but about accepting the glorious sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for us and living to honour God and share Him with others.
    what is most important during lent is having the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). this is more important than being able to say 'i fasted from animal products and gave up.... as well'.
    so i get your points, mozes and mina, however i hope you will see from the above that i don't disagree with you.
    may God help us all to honour him with our right motives as well as with our literal fast.
  • I agree Mabsoota, the worst thing is to view fasting as merely refraining from certain foods and from any food for a certain period.
    Fasting is so much MORE than food... and the compromise meant here is NOT choosing between God and others, it's choosing a different way to serve God and please Him so as to be the light to others...

    God bless
  • that doesn't "justify"....fasting is about more then food but food IS the most of it because it is part of our body. controlling it controls our body.

    The watching tv, not veggie food...etc, there are cases depending on the person. the fast is the fast and the parts of abstaining from food which for some reason you guys don't like......which doesn't make sense!!!

    Mabsoota, you too mabsoota if you as me. you are feeling to much compassion for others. which is not wrong, that's great. it's just that if you get into a situation to explain your Christianity, you'll choose the easy way out and not to. you might not think so, but that's what you just said!!! You are sitting with friends and you start eating veggie food, they should understand why...and if not, here is your chance to speak with the Spirit and explain your faith; another kind of evangelism. not taking that chance is a sin. i am sure you know what i mean.

    [quote author=mabsoota link=topic=7779.msg101424#msg101424 date=1238502775]
    what is most important during lent is having the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). this is more important than being able to say 'i fasted from animal products and gave up.... as well'.
    so i get your points, mozes and mina, however i hope you will see from the above that i

    well let's talk about it. the fruits of the Spirit come as a result of actions. we are not given them freely without doing things. they are in fact, FRUITS of the Spirit. so by having the Spirit work in us fully, we get these fruits as a result of that. And part of the works of the Spirit is fasting and keeping God's commandment. WHY, because that SPIRIT we are talking about is also our God.

    don't disagree with you. sound like it!!

    may God help us all to honour him with our right motives as well as with our literal fast.

    please don't use the concept of "literal fast"...fasting is FASTING and all cases.
  • i do share my faith.
    to the extent that it annoys people
    but i take your points
  • Abstaining from food for a certain time is not an "extra" part of fasting, but an integral one. The amount of time can vary depending on your spiritual level and in consultation with your father of confession.
  • Let us be a little careful with one another. The reason we fast is not to eat less, that is the mechanics of it. The reason is to offer God a sacrifice of our will. Unfortunately there are a great many people in the world who are forced to fast much more strictly than any of us, and every day, because they have no food at all.

    That is not to say that we should be easy on ourselves at all, but it does not seem to me, nor have I been taught, that fasting is the reason we fast. We fast as an act of worship, and sometimes this worship of God and this sacrifice of our will does require us to break our fast. If we do so with a good conscience then the best thing is to raise it with our father of confession for his advice. If our conscience condemns us in any case then we know that we have made the choice for the wrong reasons.

    As to letting others know that we are fasting. I am not sure that this is usually appropriate. The Lord Jesus is quite clear,

    "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you".

    This seems to me to require that those outside, and even inside, the Church should not know that we are fasting. It does seem to me that we should be very careful indeed about telling any non-believer that we are fasting. I am sure that this passage is not an absolute prohibition of telling someone we are fasting, but it seems also to fit in with the clear teaching of many of the Desert Fathers and others that there are occasions when it is better to break the fast when it is necessary (and that is a matter of judgement and the advice of one's foc) and then to fast more strictly when we are able to do so quietly, privately and secretly.

    The fasting rules of the Orthodox Church are varied and always have been, and therefore it does not seem to me that we should go beyond the personal advice of our own spiritual fathers and we should apply this only to ourselves. This is not the place for me to share what my father of confession says to me, or what I might say to others, but again I will say, the aim of fasting is not fasting, it is to control the will and to sacrifice our will to God. Sometimes, only sometimes, not as a matter of course, it is better to fast later and more strictly than to make a show of our fasting. This is what the Fathers teach. Whether we have made the right judgement or not is for our own fathers of confession to advise us.

    Father Peter
  • i just think we need a balance between sharing with our words and sharing with our correct lives, that is forgiveness, not gossiping, not lusting etc etc. i think some people are put off  Christians who spend so much time in church and in fasting that they don't think of the genuine emotional needs of their other friends.
    to put you straight, i do fast as i should, and going to church is my favourite occupation. i recently went away for 5 days to a country where i hardly speak any of the language and i went to church twice, even though the people i was with were not interested in going. so i am not saying we should abandon fasting, prayer etc. i am saying we should also be sensitive to those around us.
    when i say i share my faith i mean i do that a lot and get into trouble for it. however i also take time to listen to the other person's beliefs and try to understand why they think like they do.
    so fast, yes, but also ask your FOC for prayer and guidance about how to approach these issues with spouses/ friends.
  • thank you for your wisdom, father peter, sorry you posted as i was posting otherwise i might not have bothered to post!
  • Can I share something with you all. My wife gets very distressed during fasting periods. She feels I am not part of the family. Many meaty meals cannot easily be adapted to vegetarian ones as I have requested, so I prepare them separately sometimes. Whatever happens she feels I am separating myself.

    Another thing I have nowhere to go far from the tv and the idiotic noise (as it seems when I am fasting) really irritates. She likes to watch undemanding programmes.

    One more thing. She wants to go on holiday meaning I miss important lenten services. I go with her but would rather be attending services.

    Please pray for me
  • we are praying, brother.
    try some of these specially invented one-spouse-fasting-only lentern cooking ideas.

    1. japanese/chinese food
    put rice in the pan or rice cooker
    prepare lovely stir-fried veg and add some plain tinned beans towards the end of cooking time (divide in 2 portions and add beans only to 1 if spouse does not eat beans)
    in a separate pan meanwhile, fry a egg or two or a nice bit of meat. sprinkle with a pinch of your favourite spices while cooking.
    serve appropriate things to appropriate people and garnish with seaweed.

    2. italian food
    start boiling some pasta
    in another pan put frozen mix veg or stir-fry veg and add beans towards the end, this time a tin of beans in tomato sauce or chili beans
    in a 3rd pan fry an egg part-way, then add half the cooked, drained pasta and mix well.
    add a dash of olive oil and/or herbs to both portions of pasta and serve.

    3. african food
    start cooking some casava (nearly all packets have instructions, its v v easy) or if you don't have that, some polenta (=mealy meal =mamaliga)
    fry or grill some chopped meat.
    in 2 separate pans heat up some tinned beans, both with added chopped garlic and 1 with the meat.
    in another pan (if this is getting too much, cook no 1 again tonight!) stew some nice veg. (fry the onion first, add a pinch of barbcue spice, add some green veg or mix frozen veg)
    serve the beans (+/-meat) and veg on plates and put the casava in the middle of the table for each to take as much as they like.

    4. west european food
    buy a tin of your fav beans (look in the mexican, indian, turkish+ iranian sections of supermarkets or specialist stores as well as arabic shops)
    cook some nice veg with herbs or spices. put some to one side for you, then impress your spouse by making a nice omlete with his/her veg. put a little extra oil in the pan with2 tablespoons of veg and crack 2 eggs into the pan. stir it all once and then leave to set. if's it's cooking too fast underneath, finish it in the grill or turn it over carefully to cook the other side.
    the spouse will want some of your veg too, because they look nice. that's just life, give then extra veg  ;)
    whilst yr doing the veg, microwave 2 large potatoes (or do for an hour in oven if no microwave)
    serve the heated beans on top of the potatoes, with the veg +/- omlette by the side, and add a side-salad if you want your spouse to feel really special.

    i hope you find, like me, that your spouse warms to lent when she sees it as 'doing fun and diferrent things in the kitchen together' and will maybe even help out with the cooking.

    btw holidays, go, make an effort to enjoy yourself and sneak out every so often to church. i was extremely impressed with the village catholic church on our last holiday, they had services every day. and maybe you can teach them something about orthodoxy.
    God bless you  :)
  • Thanks for that Mabsoota idea and God bless you
  • Aidan,

    Let me share a verse from 1 Corinthians with you:

    "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy."
    1 Corinthians 7:14.

    All that I am saying in here is that your fast is a blessing for the whole family. In fact, your faithfulness to your fasting and to attending the lent services (for which you should be congratulated and admired for) despite the inconveniences is a good thing.

    Your prayer for the family and your good example will win them over to Christ. You are the image of Christ in the house.

    I personally suggest, that in your love to the family, you accommodate for them as much as possible while trying to do your earnest in fasting, whether by food or anything else, as Fr. Peter alluded to. I've been in a similar situation many times, where I am away with work, and the food is served to us in  boxes, and I have little choice in what I eat. In that, I focus on other things that I can do, like eating the food, but not the dessert, eating the food, but not heat it up first, or perform more prostrations.

    I confess, I didn't do extra prostrations, but it's an idea that popped in my head now.  :-\

    May God bless you, strengthen you in His faith and reward your faithfulness.
  • Greetings!

      Many thanks to all and especially to Fr. Peter for the advice provided.     

      I can relate to Aidan and believe some of us here have our spouses who row in the other direction when it comes to accepting and trying to live the Orthodox way of worship and routine.

    I had just this sort of dilemma recently when I was annoyed over my wife's opposition to my observing lent. Not realizing that getting worked up especially during the lent would defeat the very purpose, I hastily posted this..... ;           …...hoping for words of support from guys here. For some reason, there were no posts in response, which got me introspecting.

    1.Wasn't I being hasty in judging her?

    2.Wasn't I being selfish and self-righteous by expecting her to adapt to my needs, cook for me separately and manage the household chores with 2 small kids screaming for her attention?

    3.Wasn't I being prideful by making a big issue of my fasting and observing lent while harboring  grudge inside me? I had mistaken her opposition as an attack on my way of worship.

    I had failed to look at things from her perspective.

    What I am now learning with every passing day is that creating a fuss, exchanging unpleasant words or bearing grudge serves no purpose. In the context of a family, I believe a compromise has to be worked out, to maintain peace.

          There have since been some positive developments at home which I believe the Lord has to be thanked for. I now realize that fasting is not so much about “us” unless its about trying to fix our flaws which are many, if we look hard.  By prayerfully seeking His guidance, swallowing our pride and in humility willing to be led, He works things out in strange but amazing ways.

    God bless,
  • hi rpm,
    thanks for sharing with us. i didn't see your previous post, as i sometimes have times when i don't open the tasbeha website so often. partly because i work too many hours, and partly because i want to spend more time with my husband  ;)
    i really think the church (i mean the universal one, not just ours) does not give us enough teaching on this topic of doctrinal conflict within marriage. so i will share a few of the things i have learnt. these things are mainly written for couples when both are (or say they are) Christian. some of them will also apply to people whose spouses are not Christian, and others apply also to unmarried people who may have conflicts with people they know.

    we must watch out for the strategies of the enemy (1 peter 5:8)
    what an effective way to neutralise Christian witness if spouses are too busy disagreeing on how to share Christ with others to actually do it. so there are several things we should do:

    1. remember it's not personal.

    sounds weird to think that if your spouse just said your religion is stupid that it is NOT a fight between you and her/him, but in fact what just happened is that, in their weakness, your spouse was not paying attention and the enemy just put his words in her/his mouth. it is your enemy, the devil you must resist.
    so resist the enemy by NOT continuing as if it's personal. so don't then tell your spouse she/he is going to hell and listening to the devil. even if it's true. honestly, it won't help.
    remember that most likely, what is happening is that you are becoming proud and thinking you are a holier person or closer to God than your spouse. that is pride and is sinful.
    otherwise, you lost the battle! the enemy just go both of you sinning, hurting each other, and neutralised your Christian witness.

    2. be very very very humble.

    you already doing this, keep it up.
    so when there is a dispute, gently explain your way of worship and then recognise that you may be wrong (even orthodox Christians can be wrong!) i know that a lot of the non-orthodox Christian stuff on the internet is dodgy (especially the belief that if you are a believer you will be prosperous and not suffer) but it is not all dodgy. so, if your wife is actually living a better Christian life, being calm, hard-working, humble and full of love for God and others, then maybe she chanced upon something good. hey, it's better than her emptying the credit card buying jewelry or looking at sinful things!

    saint paul had a problem with dodgy preachers-preaching Christ out of selfish ambition (sounds so much like some of those internet preachers!) in philippians 1:17-18, and he did not fight them or try to stop them. and i think we can be sure his theology was even better than ours  ;)
    also when he had to contend with false prophets (not real Christians) he 'fought' them by merely continuing preaching as he already was doing (2 corinthians 11:12). note he didn't write a book about why they were mistaken in their theology, he did NOT let himself be distracted by the enemy who so wants us to all (not just spouses but all Christians) get distracted from sharing the word of God and living a holy life to get busy fighting each other and fighting dodgy heretical preachers.

    3. give practical help.

    you already noticed that expecting her to cook 2 dishes was a bit much. i hope other men also use the holy week as a chance to help in the kitchen  ;)
    read ephesians 5:22-33
    sorry, guys you have to love your wives as Christ loved the church, really sacrificial, painful love. it means getting home from work tired and immediately helping with the kids, or cleaning up someone else's mess. ignore the theological differences for a minute and SHOW your correct theology by reflecting the love of our Lord and Saviour.
    women, submit to your husbands. yes it means giving in more easily during an argument and not sulking and shouting when you can't go to church. really God will bless you for your peaceful and loving witness for Him. but then, when your good life impresses him so that he doesn't mind your religious activies, and you get to go to church, go, go, go! don't worry that he's still a bit grumpy, get out there and delight in the fellowship of the body of Christ. and if he watches dodgy internet preaching while you are out, point 2 above, applies.

    i want to add here, that if someone is being beaten or the kids are getting hurt, this is not necessarily the time to submit to your husband. also husbands, if it gets really nasty and your wife takes the kitchen tools to hit you with, you need professional help. this is outside the scope of my post.

    4. discuss your beliefs.
    theology is important, despite points 1 to 3, so when the fight has calmed down and you remember you love each other and God then pray together and then have a calm discussion about your beliefs. really, this is a really lovely thing to do with your spouse, and you can both deepen your love for God this way.

    5. i hinted at this in 4.

    don't start by arguing about the agpeya (canonical hours) vs personal prayers. just do it.
    so maybe pray whatever hour is appropriate and then add your personal petitions. or pray what's on your heart and then pray the 'our father'. don't argue about it! do it! all Christian traditions pray, so don't let it become another weapon in the enemy's fight against you.
    if you are really uncomfortable and can't bear to be vulnerable in front of your spouse, pray something really simple like 'thank you, almighty God for all your good gifts, especially the gift of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. thank you also for my good wife and please help the kids to love you so much that they will be full of your peace'. so even if you only pray 2 minutes a day, it's far better than not at all.
    ephesians 6:18 'pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests'
    in other words, just do it!
    if your spouse is not a Christian or refuses to pray, remember to pray for him/her when you are by yourself or, maybe tell him/her ' i am going to pray for you, would you like to listen to what i say? it will only take 5 minutes, but it's important to me.'

    sorry this a long post, but i've been thinking about this for about a year now and can't squeeze all my thoughts into a small space!
    may the Lord our God guide us and protect us as we share our lives for Hid glory in this holy week, and thanks again, rpm for your wise thoughts.
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