There is a myth in Christianity that if you live a sexually pure life God will bless you with a phenomenal spouse, a lasting, happy marriage, the worlds most incredible sex life, and a smiley face sticker. Yes, you can all have this, not based on all the good you do, but on what you do not do!!!!! So kill every sexual thought, feel guilty about having basic human drives and passions, veil your eyes to the opposite sex, and eventually the hottest Christian person on earth will fall in love with you and offer you their untainted virginity on your sacred wedding night. And just before your first time, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and three golden unicorns will come to you to award you a badge of honor. And let's not forget your wedding night will be the best sexual experience of your entire life ever, even though you are ridiculously inexperienced!
Perhaps it's because I'm and old person. Perhaps cynicism has choked out all of my idealism and what remains is a jaded realist whose perspectives collide, not with the Bible, but unbiblical Christian ideas that sound holy at first until they are unpacked. I grew up on this garbage. I heard countless testimonies of people who said they were tainted because they had sex. I heard tear-filled stories of men and women who were overwhelmed with guilt, bemoaning the fact that they weren't entirely pure on their blessed wedding night. They were washed up. Used. Worth less. If you are fed a steady diet of this how do you function as a complex human being with a healthy sexual libido? What's worse, how can you ever feel comfortable and secure having sex at all, even within the confines of holy matrimony?
To quote a previous blog,
"let me state vehemently that I am NOT “saving myself for marriage.” I have always thought that was, Um, stupid. It implies that if one does have sex that they are somehow tarnished and unworthy. There's a tacit snobbery in that arrogant line of thinking that, quite frankly, pisses me off. You're not holier or superior because you "saved yourself." In fact, the experienced person has more to offer in the way of, let's see, EXPERIENCE when it comes to sexually satisfying their spouse. Let's just keep it real people! Nor do I care at all what my (nonexistent) future husband thinks about my sexual choices. I’m not naïve enough to think that, should he exist, he is saving himself for me. I made my choice because I believe the Bible. Shoot me. I believe that God invented sex (not Trey Songz) and so He should know a thing or two about how it should be had. The context that He gave for sex, and the safest most emotionally intimate context, is marriage. And so my decision is to please God, and I could care less about my future husband, my church, my clergyman blah blah blah."
Well my thoughts and opinions have not changed. First "saving yourself for marriage" implies that the best you have to offer a future spouse is in between your legs. If you take time to really think about that it sounds absurd. Being a worthwhile partner involves having a huge capacity to love, an ability to manage conflict in an emotionally mature way, loyalty, honesty, and a healthy attitude towards sex that is based on satisfying another person. If you are emotionally immature, self centered, mean, vindictive etc. than having an unused vagina (penis) is meaningless.
Secondly, let's disabuse ourselves of the idea that someone out their is saving themselves just for us. This person is wearing a purity ring, attending abstinence class, and whispering prayers for their future spouse. The real of it is that no one in today's world cares! Sorry to burst your bubble, but this a very sexual world, and people are hardwired to have sex and never stop! I'm not giving this oversexed culture a free pass, I'm just stating the facts upfront. If you are over the age of 17, everyone really is doing it so suck it up. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't justify sin, but that's just the way it is. And the older you get the less chance there is that you will meet someone who even knows what sexual purity is, no less than believe in it! And if you are my age, jettison any ideas that you are ever going to meet anyone who values sex the same way you do or who shares your sexual ethic. What you will end up with is someone who has over a decade of sexual experience and you'll have to 'splain to him/her why you have no idea what they heck you are doing in the bedroom. Good luck with that! So if saving yourself for your future spouse is your motivation prepare to feel inadequate, compared, insecure, and exposed. And please know that your first time, however memorable it is to you, won't be that impressive to someone with years of sexual experience under their belt.
As Christians we have to stop romanticizing virginity. Virginity = inexperience. Can you name one situation on earth where inexperience is a good thing?
Which leads me to my conclusion. There are two reasons a person should wait to have sex. 1) Because God said so! To unpack that a little more, God invented sex and he understands that the most beneficial setting for sex is between two mature, loving people in the context of a healthy marriage. Because there is nothing casual about sex. Because people are not car parts, toys, or playthings, but souls created in the image of God and using people as objects to fulfill your own sexual desires is abominably wrong. Because almost everyone you see is someone else's future spouse and you DO NOT have the right to have sex with some else's husband or wife. In English we have a word for sleeping with other people's spouses: ADULTERY.
2) Secondly we are the direct result of every choice that we make. Everything we do has an effect on our minds, bodies, and souls. Contrary to popular culture, sex is spiritual and has a profound spiritual impact on the human psyche. This impact is permanent and irrevocable because God intended sex to PERMANENTLY bond men and women together.
To recap, this isn't virgin shaming. I'm writing this post for two reasons. 1) To make abstinence only people really examine their attitudes towards sex and step down from their high horses 2) To show that we don't get stickers for doing what is right! We do what is right simply because it is right. We church-folk need to acknowedge that doing the right thing comes with a cost. I'm 31 and I've never had intercourse. The costs are sexual frustration. insecurity, the chilling realization that I will never find a person who shares my sexual values or who has a similar sexual experience level, lost relationships, and feeling like an alien. The advantages are I can sleep at night knowing that I'm not violating God's moral code or my own personal ethics. The security of knowing that I don't have any STDs and that I never have to worry about a missed period. The freedom of not being forever spiritual linked to some cad who could never love me.
My choices are NOT about my future spouse. They are not about me saving myself, frankly I have more to offer than just sex. They are about doing the right thing even when it comes at a high cost.
So commit to a sexually pure life because it is the spiritually, physically, and emotionally healthiest decision, and because it's God's plan for all of us and He only wants the best for us. But please stop saving yourself for marriage--you're future (perhaps nonexistent) spouse doesn't care.
Dr. Sues tells the story of two make-believe creatures called Zax. One is a north-going Zax whose job is to continue to move north. The other is a south-going Zax whose purpose is, you guessed it, to travel south. Eventually these two extremists bump into each other and they refuse to budge. Neither will move an inch in any other direction sticking resolutely to rigid, nonsensical principles. They both reach an impasse and time quickly goes by. The world carries on all around them, while they stand in an eternal staring contest. We can use this simple story about the futility of being uncompromising to explain what the political system in the United States has devolved to. Except instead of traveling toward one another, each of our two political parties is deliberately trying to walk as far away from the other, and ultimately as far away from any middle ground, as possible. Radical ideas like forcing Mexicans to build border walls to keep Mexicans out of the United States and legalizing weed on the federal level are put on the table. Extreme stances on women's rights collide, with one side declaring that women should have no control over their bodies, while the other insists that there is no difference between the genders at all. And the list goes on and on and on. Like the Zax when one party does something the other party does not like, that party shuts down the government, literally creating a situation where neither side can move.
The extremism in BOTH political parties is a direct result of their refusal to cooperate with each other.
No one is willing to take the middle-road. Neither side wishes to capitulate even on the simplest of issues. Now each party is competing to prove how extreme it can be. Consider the present front runners of the 2016 Presidential race, Trump and Sanders.
Contrary to what Republicans delude themselves into thinking, Trump is not someone who represents a minority of the conservative vote: he--a loud-mouth reactionary with no plan and no platform except hatred, racism and insults--is the very personification of the Republican party. Sanders is on the other end of the extreme. A complete personification of everything that is wrong with the Democratic party. He is a loud mouth intellectual who's too smart to believe in God. A secular Jew, shouting platitudes, promising hand outs through socialism, pandering to potheads and atheists and pitting social classes against one another the results of which pushes liberalism to an extreme it will never recover from. Secularism, amorality, and an anything-goes mentality characterize the liberal party, while bigotry, corporate greed, sexism, and a Christ-less Christianity erode the conservative party. Both Sanders and Trump represent everything that is wrong with our political system. Look what we have become!
|They actually kinda look like Zax|
The worse part is that unlike Dr. Sues's fictional Zax, who ultimately only end up hurting themselves, our political parties have the ability to demolish America's standing in the world, destroy the principles we claim to believe in, and bring ruin to each and every one of our citizens. The costs are tectonic!
God Bless America.
At least once a week someone posts something on my newsfeed about "haters". These people passive aggressively refereed to as haters (I say passive aggressively because haters are often invisible entities never called by their real names and identified exclusively by their alleged behavior) are often plotting against others, putting up road blocks to deter a person's success, being harsh and critical, acting jealous or envious of another person, or simply disagreeing with someone's positions or opinions. Committing any of these transgressions could have a person labeled a hater--and in many instances rightfully so.
But it is the last descriptions of a hater that I want to zoom in on: disagreeing with a
|I think it's psychotic to think that people are siting
around waiting for you to fail.
person's opinions. I once had a disagreement with someone who I used to be friends with. She had made a benign comment about something as silly as a hairstyle and I commented that I disagreed with her. Immediately she posted that I was a hater, that she has grown and evolved since the last time we communicated and that my positions were irrelevant. When I commented that I thought she was a wonderful and creative person, but that I disagreed with her present opinion--not her as a person, she wrote a nasty post in response indicating that if anyone dared to contradict her he/she would be deleted. The situation escalated fast and I soon realized that I wasn't going to gain any ground with her. The point my old friend missed and that so many other do as well is that it is wholly possible to not like something someone is doing, to not like a view point or ideology they hold to, and still genuinely love the person.
But our society has dichoomized things that do not need to be mutually exclusive. Disagreeing with homosexual marriage automatically makes you a homophobe, believing that black lives matter somehow means that police lives do not, suggesting that you do not agree with a certain war indicates that you are against our troops, conceding to a pro-choice argument means that you are pro-death/pro-abortion and on and on and on. But this madness is completely illogical and I think we all intuitively know it; yet it is easy to become overzealous when we want to prove our point. It is also easier to label someone a hater (or any other bad word) than to appreciate a difference of opinion.
|Like for real, for real. |
Yes, there are really people out there whose goals are ultimately to derails us from living up to our full potential, and we should rightfully be wary of those individuals. BUT not everyone is out to get you. My way of love is to sometimes present hard truths to people who desperately need to hear them. But if you are my girl and I see you about to fall into a hole and I stand on the sidelines and do nothing, am I really your friend? If I see someone taking a road I once took that led to misery and emptiness and I relay my experience in the hope that he chooses another road that's NOT hate. The fact is that some people aren't haters at all, they simply hold a mirror up to allow you to see some mistakes you are making, a wrong path you are going down, etc. This isn't judgmental. In my eyes being judgmental is standing back idly and criticizing others without any real intention of helping them.That's not love. Suggesting that if a person makes choice A there are going to be consequences and not wanting the person to face those consequences changes the motivation. The intention--love or harm separates the "hater" from the friend. The willingness to stand by and pick up a person even if they reject your advice changes the nature of the disagreement to one based on love and not hate or judgment.
I hurt for folk who don't appreciate wise counsel. I feel sorry for people who too quickly hurl out epithets like "hater" to dissuade anyone from disagreeing with them. And I pity people who cannot evaluate a hard truth--or consider an unflattering picture of themselves. These people let ego and pride trump truth and lose people who care about them in the process.
I'm a single 30 year old female so it is expected that I be obsessed with all things marriage-related. I'm supposed to be planning my wedding even though there is not spouse in sight, choosing my wedding dress, and fantasizing about my groom, but, contrary to social norms, I don't do any of that. In fact, I have (sometimes) consciously and unconscionably spent my entire life trying NOT to think about marriage. The simple reason is that marriage scares the compete heck out of me!
Let me acknowledge that there are a thousand reasons I am single which fall into any of the following categories. 1) Relationships are a numbers game. Live in a space where the numbers are better for you and you win the game. Otherwise you lose. 2) The complete dearth of quality men. 3) I'm a commitment-phobe. Reason three is the one I choose to zoom in on in this post.
One of my optimistic friends called me right after I had attended my cousin's wedding. Naturally the topic of marriage came up. I expressed to him that I did not like marriage because it concentrated on two recurring themes: unconditional love and the concept of forever. I've been on roller coasters before. Everyone knows that the time to make a decision NOT to ride is before you even get on. Once the bars are locked and the train starts making its nerve-wrecking assent up its steep incline, any second thoughts are irrelevant. You have no choice now except to stay on for the rest of the ride. I often view marriage this way. Sure some aspects of it seem fun, but once you are strapped in, and the assent is steeper then it looked when you were merely peering at it from the safety of the ground, there's not a lot you can do but ride it out. You've reached the point of no return.
And marriage is truly the point of no return. Unconditional love says that no matter what this person does, or who he becomes, or how he treats me I will remain by his side. This idea--as romantic as it might sound, promises that you will love this person not as he is now, but for who he may become in the future. That's scary stuff! So even if this sweet, mild-mannered man morphs into a drug obsessed, pornography addicted, unemployed loser you will still love him. Or more extreme if your tall dark and handsome man gains 300lbs and hoard cats like those people you see on reality shows, you will stay by his side. Or if he beats you and gamble away your savings, or uses your toothbrush, or suddenly refuses to practice basic hygiene, and farts the alphabet in public, you stay and endure. This thought disturbs me because we don't know what we will become. Our ability to predict the future is about as accurate as our ability to select a good mate. The man who shot up those marines a few months ago may have been a real swell guy at one point, we don't know, but one way or another things happened and he ended up a homicidal whack job. With all this uncertainty we stand before God and family and pledge unfailing love to a fallible human being. I can't seem to wrap my mind around that.
I do not know why anyone gets married these days. The divorce rate should be evidence that at most marriage has failed as an institution or at least we have failed at it. Romantic feelings fade fast leaving you asking the question, "why did I get married?" Biologically programmed longings, neuro-chemical highs, and hormonal drives push us down the alter, but they are not strong enough to keep us married. The vast majority of marriages tend to end in divorce or exist on the ledge between misery and apathy. However, in a world where we jump right into things. Where we follow our hearts and hormones or busy ourselves so much that we don't make time for quiet introspection, we don't consider the harsh realities. Perhaps I'm crazy for gazing up at the intimidating roller coaster of marriage from the safety of the ground, considering its ups and downs, its safety, and its practicality, before making an all or nothing commitment to riding the unknown.
I approached the MAC counter with the same caution that one would approach a strange wild animal. I glanced back at the exit doors at the rear of the Macy's. While I have never had anything against makeup, as a minimalist and a highly conscientious person, I had concerns. I worried that by wearing and buying make up I would be selling out--that somehow I would not be being true to who I am. I had concerns about buying into the superficiality of an image-driven society.
Prior to turning 30 I can literally count the times I wore make up. A few poorly applied eye-shadows in high school. A light brow pencil and mascara for Junior Prom, and a full face of make up when I was in my early twenties in order to help my makeup artist friend with her portfolio. Otherwise the idea of spending several minutes in front of a mirror to paint myself did not appeal to me.
I think I have always had a war with fashion. On the one hand I like to look nice and polished just like any other person. I like shopping (though that interests wanes as I get older), wigs, hair extensions, and hair styles. I like changing up my look and my style. But I have also had periods in my life when fashion took me to dark places.When I was a child my mother spent buckets of money trying to help me achieve "good hair" which sent me the message that the way I looked not only mattered, but that it was paramount. After all, as a child I did not care what I looked like. I just wanted to play like the little Tomboy I was. This expectation to look pretty all the time caused me to focus entirely too much on my appearance and, worst of all, to compare myself to other people. When I didn't measure up to the real or imagined ideal of how I should look I became depressed. Fashion has also caused me to waste time. I recall a time being a poor overworked graduate student wasting my precious time making exfoliants and putting peroxide and baking soda on my teeth. I remember spending 3 hours washing, blow drying, and conditioning my hair. (One of the best decisions I made was chopping all my hair off in 2008 and then in 2009.)
Then there is the money I invested in hairstyles that would inevitably fall apart that next day because I was trying to force my hair to do something God never intended it to do. Oh who can forget the acne and the stream of elixirs and fixers that were supposed to cure it. If I could somehow get back the money I spent on products, hair, and nails I would have enough to retire and live sufficiently--and I'M a minimalist! Talk about poor stewardship of the resources God had blessed me with.
In addition to irresponsible spending and time wasting, beauty and fashion also clashed with my religious rearing. All my life I have been taught that I should care about my appearance, but not really! That everything was vanity. That beauty was fleeting. That Christians are called to be peculiar people and that we really should not be trying to draw attention to our appearance. That people should not see us, but Christ in us. And yet we see examples of a beauty pageant in the Bible (book of Esther) and of Solomon waxing eloquently about the beauty of his lover in the Song of Solomon. I sometimes wonder if we have missed the point. I wonder if there is a way to spend a few minutes to look beautiful and presentable to society--if there is a time and place for shopping and fashion without losing ourselves in excess and self-idolatry. Heaven knows I do not have any answers to the question how much it too much when it comes to beauty, but I think the answer lies in simplicity.
So then there is me now. I have accepted that acne and eye baggies happens, that curly hair tangles, that I do not and cannot look good everyday--I'm not even sure that it is a valid expectation and it certainly isn't a healthy one. In my race to be to work on time I do not have time to stand in front of the mirror and paint my face or style my hair elaborately. Nor do I literally want to lose sleep over it. I spend a few minutes shaving once a week or every other week--let the stubble come where it may. I get my hair "did" every three weeks or less, Eyebrows plucked once a month. The only products that I use regularly are those products necessary for personal hygiene (think toothpastes and soap). I wear make up only on weekends or days off and rarely a full face then. My wardrobe is nice enough to earn the occasional compliment, but simple enough for me to grab any shirt, any pair of jeans, and any pair of shoes and run out the door to live life, instead of fashion. And I certainly do not endorse or read any fashion magazines or give any particular thought to what's "in". If I like it, I wear it. End of story. And you know what? I'm happy that way. I wouldn't change it if I could.
Simply me. No make up or hair extensions
or fancy photography
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