FYI (for girls and boys)

So in the wake of one lady’s attempt to get her son’s Facebook friends to cover up (complete with bonus pictures of her topless sons), as well as one friend’s wife’s attempt to bring a little clarity to what it feels like as a Christian teen trying her best not to be seen as a hussy temptress, I’ve been thinking a lot about what responsibility women do have to their bodies.

Here’s the thing:  women have heard it all.  “Don’t be a stumbling block.”  “Don’t cause your brother to sin.”  “You have a responsibility.”  “If a guy sees your breasts he won’t respect you, you’ll forever be an object to him.”

I can’t help but remember one time when I was wearing a pair of hole filled jeans my brother had given me, and a band tee that was two sizes too big.  I remember walking around at a (Christian) music festival feeling pleasantly asexual, when one leering guy loudly said to one of his friends, “girl tries to hide it but I bet if you peel away the layers there is one sweet body wrapped up in there.”

God, I was so embarrassed.

I never wanted to be a sexual object.  When I was young, a so-called friend of my brothers grabbed the neck of my tshirt and pinched my ass and ogled my breasts.  It scarred me in a serious way.  Some girls, after something like that, choose to be sexy to feel in control.  I chose to be asexual until I was in college.  I’d dress in baggy clothes and keep my body hidden and blush for any attention at all.  Yet, guys still talked about my body.  Guys still asked to see my breasts.  Guys still obviously lusted for me.  So what was I doing wrong?

I would be openly, violently opposed to any male advances to the point that guys called me a lesbian.  Yet once, one drunk friend got me pinned in a corner and kissed me.  What was I doing wrong?

I was being female.

I realize now that it was all I ever did wrong.  I was a girl in a world that tells girls that their bodies are a problem.  Yet I cannot stop being a girl.

Here’s the problem:  when you tell a girl to cover up her body to keep men from stumbling, you are telling her that her body is a stumbling block.  Her body, which you also say was made to glorify God.  You give her conflicting messages, saying in one breath that her female form is a source of shame but also telling her that she should glorify God through childbirth.  As if the end result is holy (she will bear children) but the function itself is vile (she has an attractive body which she will give to a man in order to conceive.)

It simply doesn’t make sense.

Women cannot control men’s attraction.  Even by covering up.  The knowledge that the female body is possessed of breasts and a vagina does not fade just because they are out of sight.  Pure attraction, involuntary attraction, the longing of one body for another to touch, doesn’t fade no matter what clothing is involved.  The only responsible way to handle that primal, human, urging is by teaching our children what it means and how to control it in themselves.  Blaming it on females is recklessly irresponsible; especially, given the knowledge that males are not the only ones who experience it.  (Yet we do not caution our men to hide the traits which women most find appealing.  Imagine if we told our young boys to speak in high pitched voices, avoid growing muscles, and to disdain showing any affection or appreciation towards girls in order to protect girls from feeling lust!)

Women’s bodies should not be seen or treated as a source of shame.  Yes, I understand that in the Garden of Eden, after eating the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, both Adam and Eve felt shame in their nakedness and God clothed them.  Yes, that is all good.  But didn’t God at the same time throw layer upon layer of curses on them?  Are those curses, and that shame, things that we as redeemed people should embrace?  Absolutely not.  We have freedom from those curses, we seek out a more perfect state of being, one in which we can taste the taste of Eden and walk unashamed at the side of God.

Let me be absolutely blatant:  This fervent, senseless shaming of young girl’s bodies is a stumbling block to achieving that blessed state.

I would never unfriend a young girl who posted a coy selfie.  I would never tell my daughter that it is her fault if young boys see her as a sexual object, and I would never tell my son to blame a young girl for his attractions.  No.

No.

No.

I will tell my daughter that her body is a blessing and a beautiful gift.  That it can give her joy, it can give her future lover joy, it can offer comfort and safety and warmth.  Her body is capable of creating the miracle of life and her breasts are glorious gifts that can give sustenance to a child.  I want my daughter to rejoice in her body.  Will I explain to her about society’s expectations, and dressing in a way that people show respect?  Yes.  But I want her to understand that there’s a difference between dressing in a way that shows respect for your body and others and dressing to hide yourself.  Those two are not the same and should not be treated as such.

A woman who wears shapeless dresses and lives in terror of being seen as the sexual being that she is does not show herself, or others, respect by doing so.  She shows fear.

And I will explain to my son that the things he feels are not to be blamed on the people that incite them in him.  It’s not other people’s fault when he is sad or angry or bored, nor is it their fault when he is sexually excited.  They are his feelings, his to understand and his to control. Those feelings, when shared with others, can be a blessing or a curse.  I will teach him not to curse others with his sexual urges.

So, remember that your body is a gift, the feelings it can create in others and yourself are also a gift.  There is no reason to be ashamed of having that capability or feeling.  What matters is how you take responsibility for yourself.  You cannot take responsibility through blaming or shaming.  Women, dress yourselves with grace and love.  Men, treat your attraction with grace and love.

And don’t be ashamed.

Who is worse: She who twerks, or he who is twerked upon?

I know.  Everyone is sick of Miley Cyrus.  Like Bald Britney and High Lindsay Lohan, Miley has captivated our national dialogue with her painfully wedged boy-shorts and hypnotically horrible twerking.  I joked with a classmate that maybe it was all a misunderstanding.  Miley’s manager said, “you need to really work on your stage act” and Miley was like “twerk on stage?  Got it.”

Hahahaha.  (Gotta laugh through the tears, man.)

So why am I blogging about this over-wrought issue?  Well, first, there’s this:  Miley is not the first girl to twerk, or even twerk to the point of nausea.  This is nothing new.  Nameless, faceless booties twerk in dance videos all the time and there is no uproar about how it is destroying society.  It seems like the only time twerking is so horribly wrong is when it’s Miley doing it on stage at the VMAs.  Even the songs she twerked to, songs that glorified drunken sexuality and whoring (although not *quite* in so many words) are not new songs, so why the uproar now?

Because it’s Miley, of course.  She’s supposed to be sweet and innocent.  Her face has been plastered all over children’s clothing lines, trapper keepers and backpacks and posters on wall.  She, as an image, is supposed to MEAN something.  Now that meaning is threatened, and all the little girls that idolize her see something else.  And they wonder what it means and why.  So I can understand being just as upset as people where about Mary Kate and Ashley Olson’s drug use or Lindsay Lohan’s whatever-the-heck-that-was.  I do, I understand.

Only women have twerked before in the public eye, and sexual songs have been sung.  I’m sorry, but as a society we need to accept that those messages are out there, and while it may feel more egregious when it’s Miley Cyrus sending them it’s not.  When there’s a public outcry over Miley Cyrus twerking what it sends isn’t a resounding message that such behavior is harmful; it sends a double standard.

After all, men have been twerked on before.

Let me back up a minute:  Miley wasn’t the only one on stage.  But the guy she was twerking all over is rarely being called out for his part in the performance.  There are very few voices condemning Robin Thicke for allowing Miley Cyrus to make such a spectacle of herself all over him.  We can’t point our finger at Miley and say, “grotesque!  Objectification!” but HELLO, let’s point our finger at Thicke and say, “Objectifying!  Shameful!”

As with every other video where a woman, a complete being with thoughts and needs and desires, is boiled down to a scantily clad twerking ass.

I’m serious.

Because otherwise, we’re saying it’s fine for women, their glorious bodies, and their complex selves to be made as nothing more than a tool for men’s desire, unless it’s Miley Cyrus at the VMAs.

We’re saying it’s okay for men to want this and glorify this and to pay some women to do this, but not Miley Cyrus.

And why is it not okay for Miley?

And for all of the men that get off on it, what do we say about them?

It’s okay, as long as it’s a woman who is nameless and faceless.

I realize I may be beating a dead horse, but it really bothers me.

It’s okay to objectify women as long as we never are reminded of who they are and who we wish they could be.  It’s okay for women to be made into sexual objects as long as we are not reminded of the childhood and innocence they lose in order to do so.  It’s okay for women to make spectacles of themselves for men’s pleasure as long as we don’t have other goals for them.

And our daughters get the message that it’s okay for men to want to make them objects.  It’s good, it’s desirable for a man to want you to make yourself a sexual object for him.  But you shouldn’t, because people will be ashamed of you.

Which, to a rebellious teen, sounds like a challenge.

It sounds like a dare.

rape should be blamed on the rapist.

So a few days ago, a friend of mine linked to an interesting picture on Facebook.  It was of a topless woman who had written “STILL NOT ASKING FOR IT” on her breasts and abdomen.  I won’t post it here, because I know some of my readers find nudity distasteful*, but it sparked a very interesting debate.  I’ve seen it shared a few other places since, and every time the comments are just breathtaking.

You wouldn’t wear a chum suit to swim with sharks.

There is this idea, beneath the surface of almost all of the comments, that women’s bodies are a dangerous weapon that once unleashed turn normal respectable men into mindless automatons of desire with undeniable destructive force.  There are two issues to be addressed there:

  1. Men are not savages, and society should not give them permission to behave like such.  Showing men a pair of perky breasts should not turn them into raping machines.  If they cannot control themselves in the face of a flash of skin here or a lowcut top there or a pretty lady in high heels and a skirt walking through the park in twilight, this really isn’t the lady’s problem.  It’s the man’s.  If the men in our society cannot bear the sight of a little boobs or butt without losing their minds, I think that we should either blame society or men, not women.  That’s sort of like saying, “I know I promised not to eat any more sugar but then there were chocolate bars in the checkout lane and I completely lost my mind and woke up the next morning with a Hershey’s mustache surrounded by shredded wrappers.  I blame Safeway.”  Uh, no.
  2. Women’s bodies aren’t chum.  They aren’t a shredded bucket of viscera whose only purpose is to attract sharks.  Imagine for a moment that a man was painting the side of his house in only a pair of tight shorts and the woman who lived there invited him in for a cup of lemonade, roofied him and raped him.  Do you think society as a whole would say, “man, you really shouldn’t work with your shirt off.  You KNOW what those rock hard abs do to women.”  No.  Because there is a double standard, and women’s bodies are the only ones treated like a weapon.  Women are told to be demure, to be “good”, to keep their breasts and buttocks covered, to not wear too high of heels, etc, etc, etc, to “protect themselves” or to “protect men from temptation”.  Then, women are told that they should be sexy to keep their husband and they must dress attractively to be respected and on and on and on, because apparently our bodies aren’t our bodies, they are a tool.  A tool that must know when to be used and when not to.  A tool that is constantly meant to be in the service of others.

I don’t normally cuss on this blog, but I can only think of one word to sum up my feelings on this subject:

bullshit.

Let’s make one thing clear; the only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she says, “give it to me, I want it.”  Simply having a pair of breasts isn’t asking for it.  Even showing you her breasts isn’t asking for it.  Her body isn’t consent, period.  I know people who think the act of sexual intercourse is in and of itself consent, which is such an utter crock of insanity I hate to even write about it because it makes my heart bleed.  It really does.  Women have a right to decide when they want to have sex and when they don’t.  I once jokingly told someone that it’s a little different when you’re married, because there’s this assumption that your bodies are there for each other.  I was talking to a guy, as a matter of fact, and his response was that while some guys might think it’s cool for their girl to just stick her hand down their pants and say “give it to me” it really doesn’t work that way.

And you know what?  It doesn’t.

We live in a world where privacy is something that you can have or give away with the click of a button, it’s a commodity that is bought and sold without so much as our knowledge.  Our bodies may be our last line of defense.  Our bodies may be the last place where we can truly feel ownership of ourselves, the last thing that isn’t being bought and sold and grasped at for profit.  And for women, that feeling of ownership and peace has never really truly fully been there.  We’ve always understood that our bodies belong to our children, to our husbands, to our world as a whole.  Our beauty has always been something we’ve been told to use to our advantage, if we’ve got it, or if we haven’t that’s always been something that has set us apart.

But violence.

Violence.

To tell us that our bodies deserve violence because they are appealing, that it is our duty to avoid violence by hiding our bodies…

NO.

Let’s make everything very, very clear:  No one’s body belongs to anyone else, even if you are married.  You give access to your body, but it must be a gift and it must be given freely.  If a woman is less than dressed, that’s not consent.  If she’s passed out on the couch, that’s not consent.  If you have some control over her, as her boss, as her lover, as coercion, that’s not consent.  If you didn’t ask and she didn’t say please, one of those two things has to happen.  And the reverse is true, ladies: men don’t want it by default.  Don’t go around sticking your hands down their pants.

We don’t have a right to each other’s bodies.  Nothing but permission gets that for us.

I know in the romance novels he always gets that look in his eye and she just knows and they fall on each other like wolves in heat and it’s so whatever, but that’s not life.  I know in the movies they never talk about it either.  It’s ridiculous.  We’re adults, and we’re responsible, and this is the real world where consent is necessary.  If you’ve got someone willing to communicate with you about sex, by all means communicate.  And if you don’t, you should very seriously think about whether or not your sexual life is really what you imagine it is, because there are plenty of people out there afraid to say no, afraid to say slow down, afraid to say I don’t want this.  They are afraid because society has taught them that if someone goes after their body it must be their fault for taking the lid off the chum.

So don’t treat each other like chum.  Honor and love and respect each other.  Treat the gift of a lover’s body like the miracle and art that it is.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say.

 

* Side note:  I see nothing shameful in nudity.  God created Adam and Eve naked, and they only felt ashamed after experiencing sin.  I, personally, believe that our bodies are a good creation, and in their purest (nude) form are not an embarrassment but a testimony to the art and pleasure of our Creator.  

Let me tell you what Hell is.

The text read:  “Im going to burn in hell ne way.”

*beep beep*

“Life is pain.  Why live?  Pain forever, then hell.  I want it over with.”

I got his address off of Facebook, we’d become friends only days before when he’d been given a copy of my novel.  I wasn’t sure what had inspired him to reach out to me.  All I knew was that I’d stayed home from church that day because I was sick, and here he was.  Reaching out.  Not wanting to die alone.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I texted him back.  “There is love.  There is hope.   If you go to hell I’m going with you.”

Painful seconds passed.

“I’m almost to your house,” I wrote.  “Calling you.”

I will never, ever, forget the pain in his voice when he answered his phone.  When we’d met a few days before, he had been the kindest, gentlest, most soft spoken person I’d ever known.  He had been so quick to laugh, and although he obviously was living with a great deal of pain his spirit shone through.  The voice I heard through the phone was almost robotic in it’s monotone and so desperately lacking in spirit.  “Just stay alive another minute,” I told him.  “I’m turning, where are you?”

He came out on the front porch and agreed to go with me.  I took him to a mental health clinic that was fortunately only a few blocks away.  Even so, it was one of the longest car rides of my life.

“God doesn’t hate you,” I said.  “God loves you.”

“You know what they say?”  He replied, “I would’ve never been gay unless God totally rejected me.”

“For F—‘s sake, you said you’ve known you were gay since you were six!  What did a six year old do to get wholly rejected by God?”

“It doesn’t matter, does it?”  He wiped away tears but it was like wiping at the Columbia, it just kept rushing out.  “I mean, I can’t not be gay and no one cares, I mean, they don’t care no matter what.  It’s like, ‘well sure you’re depressed, it’s what comes from sin.’ And like, ‘the wages of sin is death’ so like if I kill myself, that’s justice.  That’s justice.”

“And here I took you for someone pretty smart,” I responded.  “You know homosexual acts are listed right with gossip and idle talk and drunkenness.  If your suicide is justice half that freaking church needs to put a blade to their wrist.”

“I can’t believe you just said that.”

“Well I’m kind of pissed that you almost died on my watch.  I could say more.”

He just stared at me.

“God is love, right?  You remember my favorite passage.  It’s all over the book.  The people that won’t help you because you are gay can’t be speaking for God because it’s not loving to turn away from someone’s pain.  Whatever they said it doesn’t matter.”

“You didn’t hear them, Ell.  All of the verses, and it’s like, ‘hey, it’s in the Bible.  We’re just being obedient.'”

“Shut the eff up, man, or I’ll pull over and slap you.”

“Ell!”

“I don’t want to hear that crap in my car even if you are quoting someone else.  Forget it.”

“I don’t understand, I mean, I thought you were a Christian.”

“Of course I’m a Christian, that’s why I can recognize bull when I hear it.  The fruit of the spirit is goodness and patience and love and whatever the other ones are.”

“Ha!”

“I’m a little distracted by how pissed I am and can’t do the brain thing, forgive me.”

“What were you saying?”

“Love.  That’s the fruit of the spirit.  If the fruit of their obedience is your death, it’s not my God they are obeying.”

“Oh,” he said.

“And honestly I’m feeling more Christlike right now than I have in years.”

* * *

A few weeks later we would be emailing back and forth, and I would say this.  “What you said about Hell.  I can show you hell.  It’s a kid going to a church because he’s on the brink and he needs someone to love him, and they show him the door.  I don’t know where Jesus is right now, but he is weeping.  And he still loves you.  Don’t give up.”

Here’s the thing:  I don’t care what your personal conviction is about homosexuality.  What I care about is my friend, and other people like him.  Sadly, he’s not the only kid I’ve ever heard tell that story and I doubt he’ll be the last, even though I fervently pray it’s not the case.  I’ve talked enough blades off of wrists for my lifetime.

Here’s the thing:  gay people aren’t the enemy.  Homosexuality is never singled out in the Bible.  It always appears hand in hand with other sins:  hubris, for example.  Drunkenness and gluttony.  Idolatry.  Idle talk and gossip.  What infuriates me more than anything else in the whole debate about sexuality is that you see people saying “we can’t let gays get married because it goes against the Bible” but the same people aren’t trying to pass laws to outlaw idle chatter, gluttony, or even premarital sex.  How is it okay for Christian organizations to be pursuing keeping sodomy laws on the books while their employees chat about who Julie is dating on their breaks?

I’m sorry, guys, that may strike you as an extreme example but I am being completely serious.

The Bible doesn’t make a distinction between the sins it lists.  Being gay is no worse than being a gossip, and both things are equally condemned in the church.

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.  (1 Corinthians 5:11)

At the end of the day, what makes a sexually immoral person such a target as opposed to all of the other sins on the list?

And then we get into discussions about the law and about how opposing gay marriage is just obedience to God.  Let me tell you something:  God never once commanded us to make laws regarding the morality of people outside the church.  In fact, He said something more like:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Their sin is none of our business.

The more Christians speak out against gay rights, the more they talk about the sin issue, the more they put out literature talking about how Gay people are sold to sin and more likely to abuse children and get drunk and have “depraved sexual relations” that “go against God”… the more I think about people like my friend, with the razor to their wrist, thinking that there is nothing to do but die.

Let me tell you what Hell is:

It’s a church so focused on sin that it’s forgotten how to love.

We have absolutely no business talking about the sexuality of those not in the church.

It goes against the Bible.

And for those inside the church, we should talk about it quietly, in confidence, not blast about it on the internet for every suicidal 19 year old gay boy to see.

Just.

Stop.

For the love of God, think about what you are doing.

Brave, Gender Identity, and my personal hatred of stereotyping.

So yesterday I saw something very interesting.  It was an article about whether or not the heroine in the new movie Brave is gay.  The argument was that she wasn’t interested in marrying one of the three ill-matched potential husbands her parents had lined up for her, was athletic, and liked hunting.  So, obviously, gay.  As the writer of the article argues, clearly she could be gay because she’s not interested in her traditionally proscribed gender role.  I had to do a Scooby double-take for that, because for some reason none of my gay friends have ever explained to me that the motivating drive behind their self-identifying as homosexuals is their lack of interest in traditional gender roles.  Here I thought that being gay was defined by one’s sexual indentity, not choice of hobbies.  How naive!

I’m bothered by the whole idea of Merida being gay.  Not because I think it’s a bad thing for anyone to be gay, but because I think it’s a bad idea to work off of mistaken stereotypes.  Merida’s struggle to define herself as strong, capable, and worthy is cheapened if the only reason she doesn’t want to get married is because she’s gay.  Making her a stereotype deadens the impact of her experience.  Not only that, but it more narrowly defines what a straight girl ought to be.  Are women not allowed to be athletic unless they want their sexuality questioned?  Are they not allowed to be brave?  Individualistic?  Are they not allowed to balk at tradition?

Human sexuality is a huge and complex thing.  Sociologists for decades have been pointing out that rather than being a distance between two poles of “gay” or “woah buddy definitely not the slightest bit gay”, sexuality is instead a plane of many spectrums, which as many possible manifestations as there are people.  Most humans, it’s been demonstrated, find themselves as a mixture of the attributes we assign to genders.  Women aren’t just “feminine”, they have some feminine and some masculine traits.  They can be athletic and domestic, compassionate and decisive, and the list goes on and on.  The same is true of men.  They don’t have to be physically strong brutes who negotiate like bulls and scorn the idea of washing up or cooking dinner.  I know men who can throw punches like it’s Fight Club and then cook a mean pasta primavera and help their significant other with the laundry.  (Straight men.)

Here is when the traditional side of me pipes up and says, “but men and women are fundamentally different!  Everyone knows this!”  To a point that is definitely true.  It seems impossible to argue that there isn’t something objectively masculine or feminine about the genders.  For the purposes of this particular discussion, though, I’m throwing that out of the window.  Why?  Because God was both masculine and feminine, and so was Jesus.  Jesus, the man who athletically overturned the tables of the moneylenders and also called himself a mother hen.  If God himself births creation like a mother and rears it like a father, who are we to say that just because He created us as Male and Female that somehow masculine and feminine were isolated and divided evenly between those genders?  Personally, I think that after the fall everything got a bit muddled up.  I think that masculine does need feminine to soften it, otherwise it becomes brutish.  I think that feminine does need masculine to strengthen it, otherwise it becomes too indulgent.  I think that we, as genders, need each other to create equilibrium in the world.  But I don’t believe that we are defined, individually, by our physical gender.  I think that we define ourselves by how we live it out.

In any case, when I take my daughter to see Brave I’m not going to tell her that Merida makes her own choices because she’s a lesbian.  I’m going to tell her that Merida was brave because she wasn’t afraid to be herself.  Then, I will tell my daughter to be brave and be herself.  I will buy her popcorn, and that will be the end of it.

Things don’t have to be any more complicated than that, for now.

Being honest about sex (without bringing God into it)

I’m a Christian.  (Shocking, I know.)  I waited a long time to have sex, in fact I waited for my husband.  I realize that in some circles this makes me seem uptight and prudish and irrelevant.  Understand:  I didn’t wait to have sex because I was scared,  I didn’t save my sexuality as a precious gift, I didn’t sign a promise card when I was a teen and hold myself to it as if breaking my promise would mean immediately burning in the pits of hell.  I’m a practical person, and thus I had practical reasons.  Today I will share those with you instead of my regularly scheduled programming.

It’s a big issue- it’s important- and it deserves more frank conversing than just saying “save yourself.  Because.  Or else.”

  1. Sex may be “earth shattering”, but that’s not always a good thing. Having sex is about more than just physical pleasure- it’s about boundaries and knowledge.  It’s about revealing yourself wholly to another person, it’s about allowing them complete and uninhibited access to yourself.  The first time you go on this journey is a pulse-racing experience- not because it feels awesome, but because it can be absolutely terrifying.  What if he/she laughs at my birth mark, thinks I’m too fat, is repulsed by my private areas… do I have an odor?  Should I have an odor?  Is everything working the way it ought to?  And it’s not just about the things that are potentially embarrassing, it’s about (hopefully) the first time someone sees you as you are, and embraces you.  This first journey should be taken with someone worthy  of being that first person- because if you’re going to climb Everest you want to have the right guide.  Your memories of those moments will never be able to be altered.  Your first sexual experience could very well color every subsequent one- whether it is with fear, embarrassment, shame, or pleasure.  Set yourself up for success- for a sexual life that is full of grace and hope, pleasure and fulfillment.  It probably goes without saying that giving (or getting) a handjob in the car while terrified of someone you know finding and exposing you is not the best way to go.
  2. Your first  sexual experiences will look nothing like what sex will be like in the future. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it?  In order to illustrate my point, let’s talk about learning how to knit.  When you first start learning how to knit (or any new craft) first you have to take little steps.  You have to learn the broad strokes of terminology and craft.  You have to make something stunningly stupid, like a flat scarf you’ll likely never wear.  And you have to keep making dull and unimpressive things until you get good enough at it to do something really amazing.  Sex is the same way- your first time will be clumsy and awkward.  Your second and third time will be, too.  For some women it takes years of learning their body’s language before sex consistently has a “mind blowing” effect.  It also takes a partner who listens to you, communicates openly, and is willing to set aside their own pleasure in an effort to find yours.  Good sex requires a level of maturity, compassion, and respect for others that isn’t commonly found.
  3. Sex is a privilege, not a responsibility. Overheard at a local mall:  “I’ve been dating him for like a year, I feel like I kind of owe him sex.”  Sorry, sister, but no. You don’t ever *owe* someone else the privilege of seeing you fully, of being given total access to your body and heart, the honor of receiving you completely.  Anyone who pressures you into giving yourself before you are ready doesn’t deserve you.  Sex isn’t something that is earned by buying you dinners, giving you gifts, or sitting through a certain amount of dates or phone conversations.  It’s not a “stage” of a relationship that is reached after climbing steps in the proper order.  It doesn’t go, “proper amount of dates, kissing, meeting each other’s family, sex”, or any other order.  If relationships are built on a “pyramid” model like dietary suggestions, sex doesn’t even appear on the pyramid.  It exists on it’s own plane, separate from every other stage of a relationship.  (<sarcasm> It doesn’t even have to come prior to having kids- you could always adopt! </sarcasm>)  What I’m saying is that sex is not something your partner earns- it is something you choose to offer based off of nothing other than your desire to have complete intimacy.  Any partner worth sleeping with will understand this, and will wait for you.
  4. Sex isn’t just about physical pleasure, it’s about intimacy. You will likely never hear a preacher say this from the pulpit, but:  If what you want is an orgasm, masturbate.  Sex is not just about achieving orgasms.  Sex is about so many other things.  It’s about power and submission, it’s about requests and obedience, it’s about sacrifice and acceptance.  It’s about forging a bond with another human being, about creating a world that exists nowhere other than between two people.  It’s about learning to love, about being loved, about offering and accepting love.  If all you want is to feel good, you can do that on your own.  If what you want is someone else adoring you- let them by you flowers and write you a sonnet.  If what you want is to have them show their commitment to you (or for you to show your commitment to them) get married.  Sex is something far too important, too precious, to waste on a relationship that won’t last.  Trust me on this one- the sex you have with someone who you’ve been married to for seven years, someone you’ve suffered with and rejoiced with and loved and hated, makes all sex that came before seem not worth having had.
  5. Having sex means taking responsibility for your life. The world of sex is a world that has a lot of pitfalls.  I’m not going to exaggerate the failure rate of condoms or other birth control, but let’s be honest.  If you’re not having sex you don’t have to worry about pregnancy.  You don’t have to worry about STDs.  You don’t have to wonder when in a relationship you need to disclose your sexual past or tell the person you’re interested in that you have had genital warts.  Having sex complicates things- and life is already complicated enough.  Waiting to have sex means having one less thing you need to be concerned with.  I know precious few people who did have sex as teenagers who don’t confess that the sex they had as teens wasn’t worth the extra worries.  Before you have sex, you have to ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with the risk of disease.  If you know what you would do should you happen to get pregnant.  If the person you are considering having sex with is the kind of person who will be forthright with you about their own health and sexual past.  If this relationship ends- are you ready to be honest with your next significant other about the sex you’re thinking about having now?  It’s not as if you can have sex, go to your local church, sign a new promise card and pretend you’re still a virgin.  Some people do this, but it’s dishonest and petty and shows just how unprepared for sex they really were.
  6. Having sex means doing your homework. I’m not talking about vocabulary or biology- except inasmuch as learning about birth control and your own biological rhythms is about biology.  Sex may be as simple as stripping naked and inserting A into B, but there’s a whole lot of background information that needs to be absorbed.  Like, what kind of birth control will work for you?  Condoms are an easy first choice, but some men don’t like the way they feel and they can cause discomfort for women (especially those first few times).  A girl can always go on the pill, but it won’t protect you against disease.  That means there are a lot of choices to be made, choices that absolutely should not be made in the heat of the moment.
  7. Sex is like glue. It is.  It’s one thing to look at another person and think, “I like them.”  Or, “they matter to me.” Or, “I want to have them in my life.”  It’s another thing entirely when the night before that person was completing you, was giving you pleasure, was seeing you naked and accepting you fully.  The intimacy sex brings makes it harder to part from your partner.  In a marriage this is a good thing.  It means that you’ll be quicker to try to resolve a fight before nightfall because you want to go to bed happy.  It means that compassion comes easier, belonging is more desirable, intimacy more refreshing.  But outside of marriage?  It can make you want to blind yourself to flaws that you ought to be more concerned with.  Don’t glue yourself to someone unless you’re sure you want to be stuck to them.

That’s all I have to say.

Note:  I realize that everything written here is rhetorical and based off of only my observations.  I never pretended this blog was about more than just one girl’s opinions.

A God-given right to sin.

I recently received a comment that made this argument:  God made men in his image.  God despises homosexuality.  Therefore no one is born gay.

This is an argument I’ve heard before.  “God didn’t create anyone to be gay.”  Nor did God create anyone with the intention that they be a liar, or a cheat, or depressed, or impoverished, or ill, or unfriendly, or bigoted, or…  Well, here’s the thing.  Human beings are, in fact, all of those things.  Aren’t we?  We all have our foibles and our falling short.  And yet… didn’t God create us to be human?  The first man and woman, they were made in His image.  They were Very Good.  But God gave them a choice, to obey or follow temptation.  They didn’t obey, and since then, there’s been a falling away.  Like a copy made of a copy made of a copy made of a copy, humanity may resemble what once was called Very Good, but we’re splotchy and distorted and far from a perfect representation of God’s image.

Like a statue that has weathered a thousand storms, we are made in the form of the artist’s intent, but long ago there was a falling away.  There’s a lot of bird poo and insect skeletons and discoloration and the odd missing limb here and there.  Yes, God made Adam and Eve in His divine image- but you and I bear the image of the fall.

There’s this little nagging detail:  God gave humanity the right to fall away for a reason.  To be holy must be a choice, made freely, not an indictment.  And I strongly believe that inside of each one of us there is a vision of the person God desires us to be.  We don’t need to be reminded of our faults.  A liar knows it’s wrong to lie, those who hate derive no pleasure from it, those who eat to excess have their waistlines to remind them why it’s wrong- every sin bears its fruit, and in a very real way we are forced to consume the product of our fallen lives.  Throughout the Bible one sees a very simple truth constantly reiterated:  the path of Righteousness bears its own reward, and any other path bears its own punishment.

In my eyes the journey to salvation is not undertaken because one hates where one used to be and despises all that dwell there, but because where one is going is such a wonderful place.  It may be a small distinction, but it’s an important one.

In any case, God may not have “created” someone to be gay- but he did create them to be human.  And as maddening as this truth may be, we all have a God-given right to sin.

*small editorial note: sometimes I have to write as if I’ve made the assumption is that being gay is inarguably wrong, which I apologize for.  Constant Readers know it’s a bit more complicated than that.