I'm too excited to wait til tonight so I wanted to respond now. Firstly, I just want to say that I too want this to be a nice thread and I really hope we can all discuss our ideas respectfully and in a Christ-like manner.
The words 'devil' and 'satan' are different words, which I think we need to clarify from the start. "Satan" is a Hebrew word, "Devil" is a Greek word.
This is going to get long Can I say I don't think I am able to articulate what I believe as well as the person who wrote the following piece, that's why I am using their words. The words in blue are NOT words I have written myself, but were written by someone who thinks similarly to me. I know this information is heavy going, so I have included most of it, so those who want to know more can read it all and those who don't want to can just read as much as they like. I baulked at including the bit about Job, but I do think it's important. Job and Revelation are the two books I struggle with the most, they are just so complex. I am reading a book about Job at the moment and it is EXCELLENT. I love it, but it is heavy going and I still need to do some thinking. Also, this is just about "satan", I'll let you digest this and then I can come back and talk about the word "devil" This is what I believe...
“Satan” is a Hebrew word, and transferred to the English Bible untranslated from the original tongue. Cruden (himself a believer in the popular devil) defines it as follows: – “Satan, Sathan, Sathanas: this is a mere Hebrew word, and signifies an adversary, an enemy, an accuser”. If Satan is “a mere Hebrew word, signifying adversary”, etc., obviously it does not in itself import the evil being which it represents to the common run of English ears. This conclusion is borne out by its uses in the Hebrew Bible. The first place where it occurs is Numbers 22:22:“And God’s anger was kindled because he (Balaam) went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary (Satan) against him.”It next occurs in the same chapter, verse 32:
“And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine *** these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand (the margin note says "to be an adversary" – a Satan to) thee”.In this case, Satan was a holy angel. Understanding “Satan” to mean adversary in its simple and general sense, we can see how this could be; but, understanding it as the evil being of popular belief, it would be a different matter. The following are other cases in which the word is translated “adversary”, in the common version of the Scriptures:
“Let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary (Satan) to us.” (1 Samuel 29:4)In these cases, the translators have translated the word, and by this means have fenced off the notion of diabolical interference in the matters recorded, which would certainly have sprung up if the word had been “Satan” instead of adversary. In one or two other cases, however, they have not translated the word, but simply transferred it in its Hebrew form, unaltered, to the English version, thus mystifying the idea of the original, and giving countenance to the popular Satanic theory.
“And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries (Satans) unto me?” (2 Samuel 19:22)
“But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary (Satan) nor evil occurrent.” (1 Kings 5:4)
“And the Lord stirred up an adversary (Satan) unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.” (1 Kings 11:14)
“And the Lord stirred up an adversary (Satan), Rezon the son of Eliadah, who fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.”
“And he was an adversary (Satan) to Israel all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 11:23,25)
A notable instance of this is found in the narrative of Job’s trials. “Satan” here plays a conspicuous part, and of course the common English reader thinks of the creature variously denominated the Devil, Lucifer, Old Harry, the Old Gentleman, the Prince of Darkness, Old Nick, Old Scratch, Sooty, Old Horny, the Gentleman in Black, etc. He sees the monster with horns, hoofs, and tail, bloodshot eyes, and fiery sceptre, every time he encounters the word “Satan” in the narrative; and a vivid imagination will supply the clanking of chains, the hissing of fire and smoke, and the general accessories of Satanic dignity, according to popular conceptions. This is purely owing to a mistaken use of the word, borrowed from bygone days of intense darkness. If the reader will substitute “the adversary” for “Satan”, which is done marginally in the Authorised Version of the Bible, he will read strictly according to the original, and escape popular devilism.
But who was the adversary, it may be asked, who proved such a terror to Job, against whom he exerted such power? All the answer that can be made is, that there is no information as to who he was in particular. His title would show that he was an enemy of Job, and probably of the sons of God in general – a wicked, overbearing lord, whose envy and malice were only equal to the dominion he seems to have exercised. It is impossible to be more specific than this, in saying who he was. We can say who he was not. He was not the horned and sulphurous monster of popular superstition, for he did not come from “hell” to attend the assembly of the sons of God, but from “going to and fro in the earth”. He was not the “devil” of popular theology, who is so coy of spiritual influence that he flies when the Bible is presented, or the godly fall on their knees; for he came boldly into the blaze of the divine presence, among a crowd of worshippers. He was not the arch-fiend, who is represented to be on the alert to catch immortal souls, and drag them into his fiery hold; for he had his eye on Job’s estate and effects, and ultimately got his envious malice to take effect on Job’s body. The probability is he was a powerful magnate of the time – a professed fellow of the sons of God – but an envious and despiteful malignant, who looked on Job with evil eye, and sought to effect his ruin.
But, you say, what about the calamities of tempest and disease that befell Job? Was it in the power of a mortal man to control these? The answer is these were God’s doings, and not the adversary’s. “Thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause” (2:3). This is the language in which God describes Satan’s transaction in the matter. It was God who inflicted the calamities at the adversary’s instigation. This is Job’s view of the case: “Have pity upon me, O ye, my friends”, says he, “the hand of god hath touched me” (19:21). And the narrator, in concluding the book, says: “Then came there unto him all his brethren … and bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (42:11). But even supposing the adversary had actually wielded the power that affected Job, that would no more prove him a supernatural agent, than do the miracles achieved by Moses prove him to have been no man. God can delegate miraculous power even to mortal man.
The three other cases in which Satan is untranslated are the following:“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)With regard to the first, the adversary seems to have been God; for we read in 2 Samuel 24:1, “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and HE moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah”. The angel of God was a Satan to Balaam, as we have seen, and, in this case, God proved a Satan to Israel. Moved, doubtless, by the general perversity of the people, He impelled David to a course which resulted in calamity to the nation.
“Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.” (Psalm 109:6)
“And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 3:1,2)
In the second case, it is evident that Satan (margin, an adversary) is synonymous with “wicked man” in the first half of the verse. The second part of the verse is the first part repeated in another form, as is so frequently the case in Hebrew writing, e.g., “He shall wash his clothes in wine, and his garments in the blood of grapes”. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” On the same principle, a wicked man standing over the subject of David’s imprecations, was Satan standing at his right hand; of course, not the orthodox Satan.
As to the case of Joshua, the high priest, the transaction in which “Satan” appeared against him was so highly symbolical (as anyone may see by reading the first four chapters of Zechariah), that we cannot suppose Satan, the adversary, stood for an individual, but rather as the representative of the class of antagonists against whom Joshua had to contend. The nature of these may be learnt from the following:“Then stood up Joshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the Man of God … Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you … But Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even unto the reign of Darius king of Persia.” (Ezra 3:2,3; 4:1,5)
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01-03-2012 15:34 #21
01-03-2012 15:35 #22
The individual adversary seen by Zechariah, side by side with Joshua, represented this class-opposition to the work in which Joshua was engaged. Those who insist upon the popular Satan having to do with the matter, have to prove the existence of such a being first, before the passage from Zechariah can help them; for “Satan” only means adversary, and in itself lends no more countenance to their theory than the word “liar” or “enemy”.
The Hebrew word “Satan” was adopted into the Greek language; whence we meet with it in the New Testament, which, as the generality of readers well know, was written in Greek. It is here where the word is most jealously cherished as the synonym of the popular “angel of the pit”. People think, if they cannot prove the existence of the devil from the Old Testament, they certainly can from the New, most abundantly. A critical consideration of the matter, however, will show that in this, they are entirely mistaken. Satan, in the New Testament, no more means the arch-fiend of popular superstition, than Satan in the Old. This will be quickly manifest to the unprejudiced mind.
In the first place, if Satan is the popular devil, in what a curious light the following statement appears, addressed by Jesus in the first century to the church at Pergamos:“I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even WHERE SATAN’S SEAT IS: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, WHERE SATAN DWELLETH.” (Revelation 2:13)According to this, in the days of John the apostle, Satan’s headquarters were Pergamos, in Asia Minor. The fact is, the enemies of the truth were notably numerous, energetic, and powerful in that city, and indulged in relentless and successful persecution of those professing the name of Christ. This earned for the place the fearful distinction of being styled by Jesus “Satan’s (the adversary’s) seat”, and “the dwelling place of Satan” (the adversary). This is intelligible: but if the popular devil is in reality Satan, we are invited to contemplate the idea that the devil had forsaken hell in those days, and pitched his tent for a while in the salubrious city of Pergamos, whence to despatch his busy emissaries all over the globe!
Jesus, on a certain occasion, styled Peter “Satan”:“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33; Luke 4:8)Understanding “Satan” to mean adversary, we can comprehend this incident. Peter protested against the sacrifice of Christ. He thereby took the attitude of an enemy, for had Jesus not died, the purpose of his manifestation would have been frustrated: the Scriptures falsified, God dishonoured, and salvation prevented. In opposing the death of Christ, Peter was, therefore, Satan, in the Bible sense. This sense Christ actually defines: “Thou (Peter) savourest not the things that be of God but those that be of men”. To be on the side of men against God is to be Satan. Peter was, for the moment, in this position. He made himself part of the great adversary – the carnal mind – as collectively exemplified in the word that lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19) – the friendship of which is enmity with God (James 4:4). Jesus, therefore, commands him from his presence. But how about the popular devil? Was Peter Satan in the orthodox sense? He was, if the orthodox construction of the word is correct; for Jesus says he was. But Peter was a man who became Christ’s leading apostle. Therefore, the orthodox construction is the mistaken and ridiculous construction, from which we shake ourselves free, in recognition of the fact that Peter for the moment was a Bible Satan, from which he afterwards changed by “conversion” (Luke 22:32).
Paul says, “Hymenæus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20). This also shows that the New Testament Satan is not the popular Satan: for no one ever hears of the popular Satan being employed by Christian teachers to correct the blasphemous propensities of reprobates. It is presumable that Satan’s influence would have an entirely contrary effect; and accordingly clerical endeavours are generally directed with a view to rid sinners of his presence. At Methodist prayer and revival meetings – in which orthodox religion is carried to its full and consistent issue – the cry is, “Put the devil out”; and this prayer is uttered with especial vehemence over any hardened sinner who may be got hold of.
The process of “delivering unto Satan”, according to apostolic practice may be gathered from 1 Corinthians 5:3-5:“For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.The meaning of this is, simply, the expulsion of the offender from the community of the believers. This is evident from the verse immediately preceding those we have quoted: “Ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you”; and also the concluding sentence, “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (verse 13). This was the apostolic recommendation in all cases of recalcitrancy.
“A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.” (Titus 3:10)To repudiate the fellowship of any one, was to hand him over to the adversary, or Satan, because it was putting him back into the world, which is the great enemy or adversary of God. The object of this was remedial: “Have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14,15). In this way, Paul, by cutting off Hymenæus and Alexander, hoped to bring them to their senses, and arrest their contumaciousness. They were in the ecclesia, and speaking against Paul and others, and against things that they did not understand; and by the bold measure of excommunication, he hoped to teach them a lesson they could not learn in fellowship. It was likely to make a man think, thus to “hand him over to Satan” (the adversary). The object of it, in the recommendation to the Corinthians, was “for the destruction of the flesh” – that is, the extirpation of the carnal mind in their midst: for he says, immediately after, “A little leaven leaventh the whole lump. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened … Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7,13). By this policy they might hope to preserve in purity the faith and practice of the spirit, resulting in the salvation of the ecclesia as a whole. All this is intelligible. But if the New Testament Satan be the popular Satan, then the whole matter is involved in inextricable fog. The infernal devil is made to play a part in the arrangements of the apostles for men – a part, be it observed, which he is never called upon to perform now.
“Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly … If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14)
“Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
“I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” (Galatians 5:12)
“Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Who obstructed Paul’s travels? The enemies of the truth. On several occasions they watched the gates of the city where he was, to intercept and kill him, and he only eluded them by adroit expedients. “Satan”, or the adversary, was the general name for the whole of them; but when he comes to particulars, Paul mentions names: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also, for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Timothy 4:14). “As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). “Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus” (2 Timothy 2:17). The orthodox devil took no part in the opposition which Paul encountered from these men. Who ever heard of Bunyan’s “Apollyon” stopping him in the way, and defying him with arrows and terrors of the pit? Yet, if the New Testament Satan be the popular Satan, this ought to have been among his experiences.
“And after the sop, Satan entered into him” (Judas) – (John 13:27). Judas’s adverse or Satanic intentions with regard to Jesus developed themselves immediately after Jesus handed him a morsel of bread, dipped, after oriental custom, in the bowl on the table. Why? Because the handing of the sop to him marked him as the man who was to be traitor. Jesus had said, “One of you shall betray me”. The intimation excited a painful and eager curiosity among the disciples, who began to question to whom it was that Jesus referred. In answer to John’s whispered enquiry who it was, Jesus said “He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him … He then having received the sop went immediately out”. It was not surprising that Judas, thus identified, should no longer parley with his own evil designs. His treacherous inclinations took fatal decision. This was, in New Testament phrase, “Satan entering into him”, that is, the adversary rising within him. If the Satan in the case was the popular Satan, the hard question would present itself, Why was Judas punished for the devil’s sin? “It were good for that man”, said Jesus, “that he had not been born” – showing that the sin of Christ’s betrayal was charged upon the man Judas.
There is another case where the sinful action of the human heart is described as the inspiration of “Satan” (Acts 5:3). Ananias and Sapphira went into the presence of the apostles with a lie on their lips; Peter said, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back the part of the price of the land?” The meaning of Satan filling the heart crops out in the next sentence but one: “Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?” (verse 4); also in Peter’s address to Sapphira, who came in three hours after Ananias. Peter said unto her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the spirit of the Lord?” (verse 9). The action of Satan in this case was the voluntary agreement of husband and wife. But supposing we had not been thus informed that the lie of Ananias was due to a compact with his wife, from selfish motives, to misrepresent the extent of their property, we should have had no difficulty in understanding that Satan filling the heart was the spirit of the flesh, which is the great Satan or adversary, moving him to the particular line of action which evoked Peter’s rebuke. James defines the process of sin as follows: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15). Hence, the action of lust in the mind is the action of the New Testament Satan, or adversary. All sin proceeds from the desires of the flesh. This is declared in various forms of speech in the Scriptures, and agrees with the experience of every man. The following are illustrations:“Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness (this was the sin of Ananias), blasphemies.” (Matthew 15:19)
“The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7)
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
01-03-2012 15:36 #23
The great Satan, or adversary, then, which every man has to fear, and which is ever inclining him to a course opposed to wisdom and godliness, is the tendency of the mere animal instincts to act on their own account. This tendency is the spirit or inclination of the flesh, which must be vigilantly repressed for a man to keep out of the way of evil. The truth alone, which is the utterance and power of the Spirit, will enable him to do this. If he surrender to the flesh, he walks in the way of death. “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
The object of the gospel being sent to the Gentiles by Paul, was to “turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God”. Ignorance, or darkness, is the great power of the adversary lurking within us; for where a man is ignorant of God’s will, the flesh has a controlling power with him. The Gentiles are “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them” (Ephesians 4:18). Enlightenment, through the hearing of the Word, creates a new man within, who, in process of time, kills the old man “who is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22), or, at least, keeps him under, lest the new man become a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27). Introduce the active, plotting, intelligent fiend of orthodoxy, and the whole picture is changed and involved in bewildering confusion. But he cannot be introduced. Our experience forbids.
Look at the facts; men are prone to evil in proportion to the relative strength of the animal nature. Some men are naturally amiable, intellectual, benevolent, and correct; they cannot be anything else in the circumstances and with the organisation which they have. Others, again, are naturally coarse, rough, brutish, thick-headed, low, and selfish, through the power of ignorance and an inferior organisation, which prevent them ever ascending to nobility of nature. Jesus recognises this fact in the parable of the sower. The seed fell into different kinds of soil. One is styled “good ground”. In this, the seed grew well, and brought forth much fruit. In his explanation of the parable, Jesus defines the good ground to be “the honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15). This is in exact accord with experience. Only a certain class of mind is influenced by the word of truth. There are people on whom the preaching of the Word is wasted effort. Jesus terms such “swine”, and says, “Cast not your pearls before them; give not that which is holy unto dogs”. A much larger result attends the proclamation of the truth among the English, for instance, than among the Caribs of South America, or the Zulus of Africa. The soil is better, both as to quality and culture. Now, in view of this fact that good and evil, in the moral sense, are determined by organisation and education, what place is there for the Satan of orthodox belief, whose influence for evil is reputed to be of a spiritual order, and whose power is believed to be exerted on all, without distinction of education, condition, or race?
These general explanations will cover all the other instances in which the word “Satan” is used in the New Testament. All will be found capable of solution by reading “Satan” as the adversary, and having regard to the circumstances under which the word is used. Sometimes “Satan” will be found a person, sometimes the authorities, sometimes the flesh; in fact, whatever acts the part of an adversary is, scripturally, “Satan”. “Satan” is never the superhuman power of popular belief.
Congratulations if you read all that
01-03-2012 15:37 #24
Anyway, I asked my sister and she said about the Isaiah verse that the Christians translated the original Hebrew word of " morning star" into Latin which then becomes Lucifer, but from her memory it's about the Babylonians ( who invented the Zodiac apparently and worshiped planets and stars) and he is talking about banishing the king from Israel? The king is like the morning star, you see it first thing in the morning but it vanishes when the sun comes , the king ( the star) was powerful for
A moment but Israel was more powerful and overshadowed him
I wish my grandmother were alive she knew the hebrew bible backwards and loved debating different meanings!
But no, Jews do not believe in "Satan" like the Christians do
Last edited by Elijahs Mum; 01-03-2012 at 15:41.
01-03-2012 15:44 #25
01-03-2012 15:48 #26
So true! It's funny my grandmother encouraged us to question the Torah, she always said G-d wrote it that way to always keep us re-reading it, otherwise if it was easily understood no one would talk about it!
01-03-2012 15:51 #27Senior Member
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01-03-2012 16:46 #29
Elijahs mum - I would also love to be able to read and understand Hebrew! Thanks for your perspective.
Justwanttobeamummy- I love how your church operates! I'm really drawn to the idea of church without hierarchial leaderahip, but with a corporate/ communal operation. I always wonder if 'human nature' would take over, and if one person would try to elevate themselves above others. Do you find that this happens?
Thanks for the article, I found it very interesting & thought-provoking. I'm still not sure if it changes what I believe, to be honest, but it has definitely made me think about and assess WHY I see Satan as I do, and what the bible actually tells us. It does make sense reading the translation of 'adversary', and that an adversary can come in many forms. I also believe that we sometimes simplify concepts to put them into forms that we can understand easier, so maybe we do create the idea of Satan as a 'being' because it is more concrete and easier for us to understand?
Anyway, thanks for sharinf, there's definitely a lot to ponder over!
01-03-2012 16:53 #30
I'd be interested to see who accepts that the Bible is a book made up of other books of Myths.
Stories created by man to try and understand their lives and give it meaning..much the same as hundreds of societies have done.
Would it be safe to say that the stories help people live 'good' lives. That they don't REALLY TRULY know the answer to how the world started - but these stories that were the foundation of certain societes seem like a good way to explain the unexplainable?
That the personification of a 'force' is what a particular group of people are happy using as their motivator through life?
By FiveInTheBed in forum Religion / SpiritualityReplies: 7Last Post: 03-07-2012, 16:07
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