September 27, 2005

A 26 Year Old Virgin

Does such a thing exist? Since I lost my virginity at 15 years old, about 6-8 months after attending a ' Why Wait' rally, I can't lay claim to that title. I will say, that I do regret being so young and not waiting. I now have the job of raising four sexually healthy kids that will hopefully remain pure until marriage. It's not easy with the normal hormonal urges one experiences, and the constant bombarding of sexual images kids see at very young ages, even when we censor music, movies and TV.

Rebecca St. James is proof though that 26 year old virgins do exist. She has a passion for talking to young people about saving sex until marriage. She is involved with the True Love Waits group. There is more information about this movement at Love Matters. When I was 15 it was called "Why Wait". In my group of friends that went, I think only a few kept their committment to remain virgins until marriage. Just from the friends I kept in contact with from El Cajon Christian Junior High, I think there was at least 3 of us that were teen moms. I have often wondered, why I went the direction I did, while others didn't. I look back and try to see where I went wrong. I do know that I didn't have a plan for abstinance and in realizing that I know how important it is to have a plan rather then just an ideal.

One thing Rebecca writes in an interview with Decision publication, which is put out by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is how much her family has helped support her in her faith and decisions. There was a lot of open communication and support in her home. Now, I'm not going to blame my choices on my family. However, having been from a broken home at the age of one, made fatherless at the age of two, only to end up being raised by an emotionally abusive mom and neglectful mom, I was definately lacking in support, a feeling of being love and accepted. I was also asked to leave the Heritage Christian Junior High for my grades after attending only one semester of 8th grade. So I watched most of my friends go on to the high school. Since my mom was lukewarm about her faith then (after having gone to my grandparents church, Shadow Mountain Community Church for about a year) I was pretty much cut off from any source of Christian fellowship and support. My mom did her own thing, let me do what I wanted, go where I wanted, and she wasn't interested in my life. She wasn't plugged in at all.

At that point, a matter of fact, I saw her as nothing more then a hyprocrite. Even when I had gone to the youth group at SMCC, then called Scott Memorial Baptist, I just felt invisible. I think my getting kicked out of 9th grade at a public high school for truancy was a cry for help in subconcious way. When will she behave like a mom? When will she act like she cares? When will she be engaged in my life? Want to listen?

I ended up going to a continuation high school, where some of the kids were kicked out for much worse things then I. That is where I met my husband, both of us were 15. I know there are some young people, that regardless of abusive households and a lack of a church family, go through high school without involvement in drugs, sex, and all the rest, but by the time the end of 9th grade had come, I wasn't one of them.

Frankly, there aren't many kids at all, regardless of their faith and homelife. I do appreciate what singers like Rebecca St. James are doing though, and groups like True Love Waits. I think however, to maximize effectiveness, many pieces have to be in place, the most important being the family atmosphere. Another support group is Girls Of Grace which is a wonderful organization conceived by the Christian music group, Point of Grace. My girls are currently reading their book, Girls of Grace - Faith, Family, Friends, and Boys.

I will try provide the family environment for my kids that I didn't have. Covering them in unconditional love, prayer, acceptance, and support. I will also talk, talk, and talk about sex. As well as love, marriage, self esteem, and learning to love who they are early on. When it comes down to it though, they will make their own choices.

All I can do then is cling to the promise of Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Does this mean they won't rebel, test the limits, experiment? No, I am sure they will. I can almost bet on it. Do Adolescents: Run Amuck? Yep, it seems so. Preachers kids are often known for being worse then other teens. I enjoyed reading Those Adolescent Preacher's Kids by Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A I think speaking the truth can help relieve some of pressure parents have when they work in the ministry. Being a ministers family is like living in a fishbowl and their children are going to make mistakes too and test the limits, or even the faith of their parents.

I was friends with a Preacher's kid in 8th grade. She was definitately out there, pushing it, even doing some really dumb things. I remember when my mom was so proud that I was friends with this PK who was visiting her dad for the summer. Years before, her father had an affair with a woman he was counseling. He resigned as Pastor and her mom divorced him and moved back to Ohio.

When my friend stayed over, she whined all night about sneaking out. When I finally gave in she lit up a cigarette, then walked right up to the car of about 5 college-aged men that were heckling at us. She had a potty mouth on her for sure, and was beyond boy crazy. I practically had to drag her away from the car, asking her if she was trying to get us hurt. That was the summer before 9th grade so I can only guess how her high school years went.

Lord help me, because He knows I need it with a 15 year old boy and two girls, almost 13 and 12. My youngest daughter is already pointing out the 'hot' guys already. I just keep praying, talking, listening and trying to help them develop a plan to not only maintain physical and mental purity, but also self respect. Even when they groan, "Mom, please stop. I don't want to hear anything gross."

Even though they may groan about the subject, children do need and want to know it's OK to ask questions about sex. It's OK to be curious. It's OK to have feelings. As a mom, I need to remember I'm not raising kids, I'm raising future adults. Yes, I do want my children to remain sexually pure before marriage. Yet, I don't want them to develop a complex or negative view of sex like so many people I've known. I want them to have a very healthy attitude about their God given sexuality. This is why I'm so happy to see organizations that are trying to keep it real, help young people develop a sense of self worth, respect for others and a plan for sexual purity and healthy living.

September 25, 2005

Sex in the Bible Pt 2

The theory that when men have their physical needs makes for happier men who are willing to do just about anything might explain why my own husband can be so lovey-dovey and accomodating after sex. Now, I don't think Stormie was implying that a woman should have sex with their husbanads to get what they want. Nor do I think that is a good reason to have sex. I think the fact that the wife also has a pure need is being overlooked here. Either she's never experienced 'mind blowing' sex, she's too shy or inhibited, there's a medical problem, or her husband is not attending to her needs as well.

Let me add that unless a women learns what she likes, and tells him, how will he fully know how to satisfy her? Sex should not be a chore. If a person believe's it's something God made for a married couple to enjoy, and experience oneness, it's not going to happen if only men are allowed to be viewed as having a 'need' or needing a 'physical release'.

Studies show both men and women benefit from regular, orgasmic sex. We're happier, live longer, and have more energy. I think part of the deterent is how difficult it can be for some women to be a super mom by day, and sex kitten by night. Some of us have never even come to believe they can be saucy and still be a "proper" and "wholesome", quilt-making, cookie-baking, boo-boo kissing mommy.

That is why I love S Factor website. I bought Sheila's book, and I must say, it truly is a good work-out. If you need to give your sense of sensuality a jump start her book might be helpful. We're all different though and nothing works for everyone. In her book, Stormie continues to tout the importance of making sex a priority in the marriage. "Whether all conditions are perfect or whether you feel like it or not isn't the point. The point is meeting the needs of your husband and keeping communicaiton lines open." I realize this is a book for women, about their husbands, but oh dear, oh my.

Not sure what to say here. Yes, I agree. I also object. I think the keeping communication lines open should happen before meeting the needs of your husband, even if you don't feel like it part. If the wife habitually doesn't feel like it, then I think having sex, just to meet the needs of the other will breed resentment. Unless the woman doesn't have major intimacy issues and she has a biblical attitude that at those times she's not meeting his needs, out of love. It's a fine line though when you look at 1 Corinthians 7: 3-5. I think there is this inbalance going on.

Where you hear the mantra that sex is good, we were made to enjoy each other, to produce a family, to experience intimacy. Yet, still, so many still view it as just a little bit dirty. In a marriage, communication is so crucial. To get past our hang ups and be able to really let go and have fun. I really do think there are too many women that resist their sexuality and sell themselves short in this area for reasons other then time, fatique, and hormones. It has often been thought sex is for men. None of these reasons were discussed in that bible study group I attended.

Behind the eyes of all those women I saw questions, concerns, and the urge to raise their hand. Too much embarrassment and awkwardness likely kept most from speaking up. That Bible study was extremely quiet, quick, and mechanical. Probably much like some of the sex lives of couples all over. Unless, their sex lives were absolutely fabulous and they didn't feel the need to share how wonderful it was, and pass around any tips. If that's the case, how stingy of them. When a woman did share some of her thoughts, you could hear how uncomfortable and unsure she felt.

In Christian groups like that, we often water down our questions and our responses are very generic. Most of us are aware that many women are likely to have trouble experiencing an orgasim. Sadly, too many women just accept this is how they are, and fail to see they can have one, if they try a few things differently. Not once was this subject brought up. In evangelical circles, often times the ideas of doing things 'differently' is a concern. Is this, this, or that, even right for a christian to be thinking of, let alone doing?

A neighbor friend once spoke with me about doing things differently. I have noticed that for some reason, people often seem to feel comfortable opening up to me about personal matters. I have been told things about their life that I'd rather not know. I guess maybe I'm a good listener and I try not to judge people. I will never forget the time I was checking the mail and my neighbor came over to me. We had adjacent townhouses. I knew that she was a workaholic and that her husband went away to their cabin alone on weekends to fish. She admitted she wasn't making much of an effort for alone time. She told me the following, "one morning, I woke up and he's standing in my bedroom naked, wanting sex. I knew it had been a few months, so I couldn't push him away again." She said shared more graphic details then that. After getting over the horrendous mental image of this womans husband nekkid, standing in her room, (yes, separate rooms due to her snoring) I said something like, "oh my." At the time, I couldn't think of anything else to say. Ewww, seemed a little insensitive. Basically she had become so frustrated at not enjoying sex at all that she just avoided it. She was raised a 'good Lutheran' and told me she felt a bit dirty trying to meet his 'needs', even though she felt it was 'wrong' to deny him. So one day she comes over, and finally tells me that she has never had an orgasm. She is in her mid 30's and she's whispering to me, "I have heard that if a woman self pleasures, she might be able to have one and figure out have to have one during sex. I was thinking about, she's whispering even softer by this point, getting something to help. What do you think? Is this wrong? How do I go about it?"

I should mention, we are standing between her garage and mine, and she nervously starts fumbling through some preschool curriculum in boxes. I began to help her as I felt less eye contact would be nice considering how awkard she felt. I told her I didn't think it's wrong to try and make this area of her marriage better, but I knew nothing about the toys or whether or not "self pleasuring" was wrong. She was on her own there. She was flat out disappointed with sex. I really wish I had the resources I have now to print out for her at the time. She just kept turning him away because it was extremely unsatisfying and unappealing to her. He had no idea though, and he should know. After all, I think most men want to satisfy their wives. Don't they? Isn't it a turn on for them when his wife is turned on?

For her, it was being too shy and inhibited to talk about it, let alone admit she's not getting anything out of it. It was her 'wifely duty'. She felt so desparate and frustrated, she actually starting pouring her heart out to me, a neighbor! She also had a need, and wanted better sex, but didn't know how to get it. Here is a great article, if you are really struggling with the issue of what is 'permitted' as a Christian wife. I just want to say, that I'm not going to agree with %100 of everything in the links, like these authors are the end all, know it all, about what is best for you. One of the questions that has been brought up a lot is oral sex. Ah, surely, some of you are blushing by now I am sure. The above article does mention the topic of oral sex between a married couple. You can go look, it's OK.

I want to recommend a different website, The Marriage Bed. It is a Christian site. However, they are frank and some of you are going to read through the pages and be a bit uncomfortable. Maybe not. Again, I'm not going to say I think everything they say is %100 perfect, as I haven't even read every inch of their website. I really do think this site is a great start though for couples truly learning to experience satisfying love-making. If you have heard the expression, 'that was almost as good as great sex', and you can't figure out what the big deal is, then I hope by being so open and person, you'll start to pursue the answers for yourself. One thing I like about The Marriage Bed is it discusses a lot of the questions many are embarrassed to ask. If Anna had this resource back then maybe she wouldn't have been whispering abouther dispointments to a friendly neighbor. Topics such as abstinance before marriage, tips for the clueless bride and groom, sex during pregnancy, non sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy, biology, romance, toys, variation, and dysfunction are covered. There is so much more information there making it TMB, probably one of the most comprehensive Christian sexuality websites. I wish more woman could be open and supportive with each other when it comes to the sex. Women have needs too and it's OK try and make sure they're met.

Everyone can stop blushing now.

September 24, 2005

Sex in the Bible

If you blush easily or get offended by openness about sexuality you might want to skip reading this.

I watched the last part of a documentary called, Sex in the Bible, on the
History channel . Awhile back I watched a 3 part special focusing on sexual behaviors, attitudes, and trends through the last few centuries. I tuned in as the history of sex in cultures is an interest of mine. If you don't know why Victorian wives were considered frigid, you really should study for yourself. I found it was interesting. I think for women of faith there is a lot of hang ups about what is 'right' and 'proper' in the bedroom. I have noticed many sexual restrictions are put upon Christians that aren't even in the Bible. The show covered how the Puritans used to teach that sex for any reasons other then procreation was unnesscary.

Or that any sexual position other then 'the missionary' was wrong. Can you take a guess why it's even called, 'missionary', to begin with? The 'rear entry' postiton was taught by many of the churches to be an absolute abomination. I think mankind struggles with enough 'fleshly sins' without adding on our own. It was very enlightening and sad both at the same time. I'm sure there are other sites and books out there as well that are educating about the struggle many have when trying to reconcile their Christian piety and their sexual desires.

Those of you that know me, know I'm not usually shy about the topic of sex. I've talked about the subject with many friends, and fellow Christian gals. Yet, not everyone is as open as I am and I appreciate that as well. I remember when I was attending a women's Bible study group at our church, and when the subject got around to sex, the Pastor's wife had to miss the meeting for some reason or another. The assistant Pastors wife led the group instead. I couldn't help but wonder if it was because she was painfully uncomfortable talking about sex with a group of women in her church. She's just the type that is very quiet, shy, and reserved. I couldn't even imagine her talking about sex in front of us.

The assistant's Pastor's wifem focused on the following scripture: In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 the apostle Paul writes: "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

She reiterated what the verse said, talked about how sex is a stress relief for hard working men, and we should work hard to accomodate this physical need not only for the closeness it brings husbands and wives, but because it helps them avoid building up of lust from lack of self control. She spoke a bit about trying to take care of ourselves, dressing modestly in church and daily life to help protect the marriages of others. Anotherwords, we don't want to expose too much skin for the wandering eyes of the men at our church. Christians are not invunerable to infidelity, and she hinted to some families within the church that had been dealing with the issue. I was fairly new to the church, so I wasn't aware of whom, nor did I want to know. I wondered though, why she only mentioned how we shouldn't dress outside the bedroom, instead of ways we could dress inside the bedroom to make fun.

Not once, did she ever speak about a woman allowing herself to experience the pleasure of sex. How good sex is a stress relief for a woman as well. Not once did she talked about our needs, and how to tell our husbands what they are. It was more about, fullfilling the needs of the husband, for his physical release.

Many years ago I picked up the book, The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian. In the chapter, His Sexuality, she writes, "we're hitting the top priorties in a man's life right away in this book. I feel if we can contribute to our husband's happiness in these areas most dear to their hearts, we will have greater success making inroads in other areas that are crucial to their well-being."

Now, this is a book for wives to learn how to pray for their husbands, and to learn more about what a man really values. A good man wants to be appreciated, valued, be a good provider, to name a few. She goes on to talk about her 20 year experience praying with different women about their marriages that were failing or struggling. She notes that often times the sexual relationship was a low priority in their minds. As mothers we wear so many different hats. I know during the times that I was nursing a baby, my sex drive was naturally lower then other times. Sometimes, after listening to whining all day, nursing non stop, poopy diapers, and sniffly noses a 'romp in the hay' is about as appealing as last years fruitcake. Unless you like dry, stale, boring sex.

In fairness sometimes it is hard to find the time. There are more moms working outside the home then not. There are long work weeks, commutes, and lots of kid activities taking up time. Sometimes the best form of birth control (assuming you don't object to birth control) is having other kids around. I think there was a comedian that joked as soon as parents hook up there's always a knock at the door. There most be some kind of pharemone that wafts down the stairs prompting a child to run for dear life to intercept, God forbid they should be replaced with another child. Since in our house we have sleep issues, by the time everyone is asleep it can be as late as midnight. It gets pretty frustrating. If this sounds like you, you might need to
nab the thieves that have stolen your intimacy .

I also wanted to mention that women have so many body issues. Many of us, especially after having babies, don't feel all that hot looking. I have really known some Christian women though, who are down right uncomfortble about dressing 'sexy' in bed for their husbands. I shouldn't wear that, because, I'm a mom or it's trampy. Your not your husbands mom though. I'm not an expert, I'm not trying to be a counselor here, so I'm not going to try and guess how to work through those kinds of issues. Men are visual creatures though, and from what I've read, and from what my husband says, they just want to see you, and enjoy you. If you didn't look like Cindy Crawford before you married, and he was still all over you, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think just learning to take some time for yourself first, and finding out what makes you feel sexy is so worth it.

Stormie, also writes along those lines."When your husband communicates to you what he has in mind, as only a husband can do, don't roll your eyes and sigh deeply. Instead, say, "Okay, give me fifteen minutes." (Or ten, or twenty, or whatever you need.) During that time do something to make yourself feel attractive. "

She goes on to list many examples, one of which is wearing lingerie that you will feel comfortable in. Obviously, if you rarely wear anything other then flannel pooh-bear pajamas, then a thong set isn't the best start for you. Now, I'm knocking comfy pajamas, but they aren't exactly sexy or mood setting for when you want to be in the mood. But, if you do want to explore the 'saucier' side of yourself and have fun but you object to sites using live models then I have some resources for you. There is,
The Act of Marriage. There is also an online store called, Intregrity Intimates. If you want to try out some fun things, then Drug is a good online store that's is not going to have images and pop ups that scare you away. If you're blessed enough to actually get some nice quality alone time, and really want to spice things up a bit, may I suggest Kama Sutra? Who doesn't like a nice massage? I think most shy types will be able to shop at those sites with ease, without worry about too much 'kinkiness'.

Stormie goes on to say that many of these women she has counseled with have let weeks, months, and even a year go by without real sexual relations. I would not be truthful if I said we have never had times where we were lucky if it was once a month. There were, however, very legitimate reasons, that can be, and were resolved. I can't imagine being in a marriage though without good and frequent intimacy. Stormies writes that many of these women though, were just not making it a priority.

It was just more about mothering, working, and to-do lists then experiencing the joy of sex. Ah, but maybe there was no joy in it for them. She then reveals how surprised the women often were when disaster struck their marriage. They thought everything was fine even though their husbands were being neglected in an important part of his being. I want to say though, if a marriage is experincing a lack of sex for months, then there are two people being neglected. For some reason, the woman is also denying herself one of the most pleasurable gifts God has made for mankind. Add to that, the lack of communication that so many of us have regarding sex in our relationships. One thing Stormie says that is so true, "for a wife, sex comes out of affection. She doesn't want to be affectionate with a man who makes her feel angry, hurt, lonely, disappointed, overworked, unsupported, un-cared for, or abandoned."

Did I just hear an, Amen, sistah? It has been said that for women, foreplay starts at breakfast.Then she goes on to say, "but for a husband, sex is pure need. His eyes, ears, brain, and emotions get clouded if he doesn't have that release. He has trouble hearing anything his wife says or seeing what she needs when that area of his being is neglected. Wives sometimes have it backwards. They think, we can have sex after we get these other issues settled. But actually there is a far greater chance of settling the other issues if sex comes first." (Emphasize was Stormies) If you want to have a point of view from a guy,
then here is a great read. You might also want to read, 12 Tips on Sex in Marriage for the Christian Wife, by Michael Camp.

August 18, 2005

Prayer for Josiah

I received this comment today:

"Melissa,I am Josiah Atchison's Aunt, Dawn Burchfield. My son came across your site today and I was moved by your kindess and support. Thank you so much for posting this on your site. FYI, Josiah went to the emergency room yesterday (8/17) and the MRI showed a 40-50% increase in the tumor. He will be in the hospital for several more days. Please pray for healing, peace, comfort & wisdom for Dan & Maria. Again, thank you and God Bless! Your sister in Christ, Dawn"

Here is my original blog post about Josiah:

For an up to date look at Josiahs progress and prayer requests visit his father's blog.

Please be praying for this little man and his family.

August 15, 2005

To be Conservative, or not to be ...

I heard today that Lubbock, Texas was voted the #2 most conservative town in the nation. I used to live in that area, and old friends are doing a little happy dance of pride over this fact. Abilene, Texas was voted #3 (another area in which I used to reside).

So, it got me to thinking (I know what you're saying, "Oh no!"). I have lived my entire life, smack in the middle of the BELT BUCKLE of the Bible belt. Out here "everyone" goes to church. At my small, Christian college, students would sometimes skip church, wake up late, DRESS for church and then head to the cafeteria (so no one would be any the wiser). There were no arguments about the Ten Commandments or prayer in school, because everyone was okay with it. Church, church, church, church, CHURCH! That was our battle cry!

Yet our bark was worse than our bite. You see, when I look back at the places I've lived, I can easily rate the Lubbock area as the #1 openly racist place I've experienced in my state. The Abilene area would be a tight #2.

People in those areas would laugh in the face of recycling.

They support family farms, but only for the purposes of "their family members in farming" making more money. They weren't concerned with our health or the environment.

They blindly trust everyone in politics that label themselves a "Christian," and lambast anyone who doesn't.

They're Republican.

The list goes on ...

Most of them, by reading this, might actually be horrified if they come to the realization that I have voted Democrat in the past (can you hear it? The audible gasp?). I'm a closet who-the-heck-knows. I prefer the labels "Christian" ... and "American." Beyond that, it gets hazy for me.

So, in the America that I know, should I be proud to live in an ultra-conservative area? What exactly does that mean, and is it a good thing? Does it throw us all back to an Old Testament tail spin, just trying to keep up with the law? Does it tilt us too far in one direction? Don't you love how I do that - just throwing out the questions and putting the ball in your court? It's a gift, ya' know.

My new favorite quote is from a fellow blogger, Boomerific, who says, "I'm a bad liberal, and even worse conservative."

That's me.

What are you?

August 11, 2005

Women Discipling Women

It has been said that Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am curious about how many of us Christian women have been discipled, taught and mentored by older women in the faith.

In Titus 2:3 it tells us, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. "

What does this mean to you? I ask this because although I have certain women in the faith that have provided me with wisdom, experience and reassurance, I can not say that I have had a Titus 2 woman to guide me.

Over the years I've relied on scripture, prayer and faith that God will continue to help me be the woman in Christ He intended me to be and that I'll be able to train my daughters to do so as well.

I've also welcomed and appreciated the young women in my church that have taught my daughters Sunday school or led them in AWANA. I see how my daughters have looked up to these young ladies and my prayer is that as these women continue to mature in their faith they will be able to provide my daughters with the Titus 2 woman I never had.

What does it mean to be a Titus 2 woman?

Have you been discipled be a woman? If so, please email me and share your experiences. I'd love to put them up.

What sort of problems do you feel are common within the church as far as women discipling women?

What sort have pressure have you felt, if any, to be that Titus 2 woman? Or to subject yourself to the leading of another Christan woman?

How do we mentor in truth and love, even though we may feel the woman or young lady is the mold of what we think a Christian woman should be?

Please email me with your experiences.

August 09, 2005

Please Welcome Christine

Christine will be a contributor of BNCL. I'm very thankful she accepted my invitation.

Here's Christine's blogger profile.

I think you can see why I'm excited to have her on board.

Now, I have to apologize for the lack of posting. I've received several emails from those that are anxiously awaiting updates.

I shall start updating more regularly. Over the next few weeks I also hope to add more contributors and improve the blog design.

Thank you for welcoming Christine and please keep checking back.

June 16, 2005

Bigotry in the suburbs

Yesterday my son, who just turned 15, experienced the racist attitudes of one of our white complacent citizens.

We are a 'white' family living in a mostly 'white' suburb. In reality, most of us are descendants of European immigrants. One of the things I miss about my native town of San Diego is the cultural diversity. I miss the music, foods, smells, celebrations, and traditions of the peoples of San Diego. I think this is why I dig all the cultural festivals in the metro city I'm near.

Missing the cultural experience is one reason why I kept 2 of my 3 oldest in a city schools as part of the district transfer when we moved to our suburb. One those 2 is now in the local school & enjoys friends of all backgrounds due to the 220 program. If a white child in the suburbs wants to go to a citywide school they have to apply for a special district transfer, and vice versa for a black student wanting to attend a suburban school.

One of my children is still in a that citywide school, and I just LOVE seeing all the little faces of children from different ethnicities. The small metro city I live near is home of a gazillion festivals, most of which are meant to celebrate a wide variety tribes and tongues & we go to as many as we can. My oldest son's favorite is Asian moon fest. I'm partial to Irish fest, being of Irish descent. There's a fest for everyone.

My children have been exposed to racist attitudes, jokes, & stereotypes through other kids, the media, but nothing really personally. When my son was skating around town yesterday a grouchy woman did the predictable and threatened to call the police. When he informed her that they had just talked to the police and their skating up the sidewalk was perfectly legal she was even more predictable by getting nasty & carrying on about "no good skaters". He told her they weren't criminals, dope pushers, axe murderers, or hoodlums & she was being paranoid. They just want to skate on the sidewalk & they aren't hurting anyone in doing so.

My son and a few other boys also happened to mention that if members of the village would vote YES to the purposed skate park, she would see a lot less of them skating by her store. Her reply was, "then we'd get more blacks coming in here."

My son was quite annoyed by this point & even more so by her statement. He informed her that he knew of very few African American skaters in the area, and even still, so what? I also wonder. So what? So, what if more black kids came into our town? And the problem is?

Sadly, I know that such attitudes also exist in the Church. I've heard the belief that black people are a result of a curse on Ham, that they are related to "ape men" of evolutionary beliefs, and that interracial marriage is forbidden. (wrong, the Bible instructs to not marry into a different faith)

Not true, not true, not true. In fact, how can we marry interracially, when humans marry humans? I never understood this as a child, and I was so glad to learn I wasn't the only one when I stumbled across a website a few years ago called
Answers In Genesis. They've done quite a bit to help in racial reconcilation, dispelling myths, ignorance, and bigotry. AiG has put together a great section called racism questions and answers. There's some good stuff to be read there.

I implore us all to remember that we're one race. The human race. We may have different shades of melanin, hair color, eye color, and physical characteristics, but we can all be traced back to one man and one woman. We're one blood. Through Adam, God made all the nations. (Acts 17: 24-26) I believe that today's tribes also come from a man named Noah & his family.

Oh how I want to know why do we still have so much hate and fear alive and kicking in today's world? In today's churches?

Racism is wrong. Period. I'm especially sick to see racism & bigotry in Christians. We need to purge racist thinking from our hearts, minds, and churches. If we think we our "race" is somehow better then someone else's, let us remember God's word.

Colossians 3:
11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Let us also remember what the greatest commandments are.

Matthew 22: 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Now, there is some powerful truth. So who is your neighbor?

Everyone is your neighbor. Every man, woman, and child, of every race, creed, and religion.

June 05, 2005

Sunday Funny-Baptist Bra

BAPTIST BRA-- A man walked into the Women's Department of Macy's in New York City.

He told the saleslady "I would like a Baptist bra for my wife, size 36B."

With a quizzical look the saleslady asked, "What kind of bra?" He repeated "A Baptist Bra" - She said to tell you that she wanted a Baptist Bra, and that you would know what she wanted."

"Ah, now I remember" said the saleslady. "We don't get as many requests for them as we used to. Mostly our customers lately want the Catholic bra, or the Salvation Army bra, or the Presbyterian type."

Confused, and a little flustered, the man asked, "So, what are the differences?"

The lady responded. "It is all really quite simple. The Catholic type supports the masses. The Salvation Army lifts up the fallen, and the Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright."

He mused on that information for a minute, and asked, "So, what is the Baptist type for?" They," she replied, "make mountains out of molehills."

June 03, 2005

Legalistic vs Nonlegalstic?

Does it have to be that cut and dry? I'm reading a book called:

Stealing Jesus- How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity by Bruce Bawer.

The author admits that he's struggled with the question of whether he can remain gay and be a christian. He's found peace at the Episcopalian church.

I'm only into a few pages, but so far I've agreed and disagreed on both sides. He throws around a lot of labels, and finally decides to use the terms legalistic Protestant and nonlegalistic Protestant. I'm looking foward to really breaking down his comparsions and seeing how you all feel about them.

Some of my questions are-

Can you be an evangelical and be in a church of love?
Must being an evangelical in a fundamental church mean your in a church of law?
Can a fundamentalist evangelical be for social justice as well?
Can there be a middle ground?
Does believing in the Bible literally mean that you're missing God's great truths of love, compassion, mercy, and grace?
If you're a fundamentalist evangelical does that mean you're legalistic? Does it mean you worship a God of wrath rather then love?

Here's a quote, "If, for conservative Christians, outreach generally means zealous proselytizing of the "unsaved," for liberal Christians it tends to mean social programs directed at those in need."

So does this mean "liberal Christians" don't care about the eternal residence of "all God's Children," as the book refers to how "nonlegalistic Protestants" view all mankind?

Are the American fundamental evangelical churches really "churches of law," rather then "churches of love".

And why aren't so many "Bible believing," churches also proponets of social justice? What exactly even decines social justice? Wouldn't obeying God's word about caring for the poor, widows, fatherless, homeless etc be social justice?

Or does the term social justice have a more "liberal" --humanistic secularism ring to it?

Here's how he breaks down the differences of what he calls legalistic and nonlegalistic Protestants:

  • "Legalistic Prostestantism sees Jesus' death on the cross as a transaction by means of which Jesus paid for the sins of believers and won them eternal life; nonlegalistic Protestantism sees it as a powerful and mysterious symbol of God's infinite love for suffering mandkind, and as the natural culmnation of Jesus' ministry of love and selflessness.
  • Legalistic Protestantism believes that Jesus' chief purpose was to carry out that act of atonement; nonlegalistc Protestantism belives Jesus' chief purpose was to teach that God loves all people as parents love their children and that all humankind is one."
  • Legalistic Protestantism understands eternal life to mean as heavenly reward after death for the "true Chrsitians"--the "Elect," the "saved"--who accept Jesus as their savior and subscribe to the correct doctrines; nonlegalistic Prostestantism more often understands it to denote a unity with God that exists outside dimension of time and that can also be experienced in this life.
  • Legalistic Protestantism holds that God loves only the "saved" and that they alone are truly his children; nonlegalistic Protestantism holds that God loves all human beings and that all are his children.
  • Legalistic Protestantism sees Satan as a real creature, a tempter and deceiver from whom true Christians ar defended by their faith but by whom atheists, members of other religions, and "false Christians" are deceived, and whose instruments they can become; for nonlegalistic Protestantism Satan is a metaphor for the potential for evil that exists in each person, Christian or otherwise, and that must be recognized and resisted.
  • Legaistic Protestantism believes that individuals should be wary of trusting their own minds and emotions, for these can be manipulated by Satan, and that questions and doubts are to be resisted as the workd of the Devil; nonlegalistic Protestantism believes that the mind is a gift of God and that God wants us to think for ourselves, to follow our consciences, to ask questions, and to listen for his still, small voice.
  • Legalistic Protestantism sees "truth" as something established in the Bible and known for sure by true Christians; nonlegalistic Protestantism sees truth as something known wholly only by God toward which the belief statements of religions can only attempt to point the way.
  • Legalistic Protestantism reads the Bible literally and considers its the ultimate source of truth; nonlegalistic Protestantism insists that the Bible must be read critically, intelligentaly,, and with an understanding of its historical and cultural contexts.
  • Legalistic Protestantism encourages a suspicion of aesthetic values and a literalistic mentality that tends to thwart spiritual experience; nonlegalistic Protestantism encourages a recognition of mystery and beauty as attributes of the holy."

Bawer continues to mention that some legalistic Protestants or fundamentalists who try to hide from the world to remain pure, deeming all of culture evil. Then he mentions some legalistic Protestants are merely conservative Evangelical trying to live out the Great Comission to an unsaved world.

As a BNCL that would define herself as a conserative evangelical with fundamental theological leanings, I'd have to say some of his comparions don't hold water with me.

I do believe God loves all people. I do believe he's a God of love and mercy. I do believe he creatd us with a freewill and a mind to think for its own. I do believe he wants us to read the Bible intelligentaly and to ask questions. (2 Tim 2:15

But I admit I also see legalistic leanings in conservative evangelical circles. I do see we divide ourselves down the middle, sideways, and every which way.

I have experienced the judgement, and looks when I haven't quite fit the expected image or mold that many feel I should have. I've also felt the air of exclusivity as christians that have it "right," compared to other denominations. I have witnessed a propensity to withhold service, charity, and compassion on many of societies peoples. I wouldn't say it's the norm, but I have seen it. I mean, churches USED to be where you went if you were in lack of food, clothing, and other needs.

BNCL's, what do you all think? Have you read this book? Where do you fit?

June 02, 2005

Nominate a BNCL...

Do you know a BNCL that should be nominated to be interviewed? Please nominate a woman that you feel is a good example of a BNCL, and make sure to include her blog.

Then we'll tag her for an interview, and consider linking her blog here.

If your a BNCL, would you like to be added as a contributor? If so, let me know!


June 01, 2005

Who says God hates fags?

And would He even call them that word? I haven't written about the topic of homosexuality on my blog, but I've discussed it many times on debate boards and religious forums.

Christine has blogged about it though, and it was like she read my thoughts. I've been saying the same thing for years. I hope you read her post. It was full of truth and love.

Every time I see signs that say, "God hates Fags" I just cringe. God hates sin. We're all sinners falling short of the glory of God. Have you ever watched a performance where you actually felt embarrassed for the performer? That's what I feel whenever I see those signs, and hear people professing Christ spewing hate and ignorance out of their mouthes. I feel embarrassed for them, and that anyone would see their hate and think they represent all christians.

No one ever came to Christ when a 'christian' showed them condemnation, lovelessness, and hate. When we purposely try to belittle, degrade, and offend others, we're not heeding scripture.

Even worse, when we know a gay person who has come to Christ and is dealing with temptations to act on their feelings, and we treat them with disgust, disdain, and offend them, we're making a big mistake.

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Whereas the Bible does make it clear that homosexuality is a sin, and a way of life that God doesn't intend for us, the Bible also makes it very clear gay persons are objects of Christ's sacrificial love, and that He died for their sins the same as ours. We are made in the image of God, how can we look at other humans beings with such repulsion? I'm not better then anyone else, I'm just forgiven. I don't deserve the grace and mercy given to me, I'm truly awed and humbled by God's love, faithfulness, and compassion.

I'm a sinner, and like Paul, I could be considered a chief of sinners. According to God's word, I've been a liar, thief, adulterer, fornicater, murderer, and so forth.

Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, ...shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:9-11

It has been said, "No Jesus, no change. Know Jesus, know change."

Only Jesus can set us free. Only Jesus can provide change. We can be His hands and feet while on this earth. We can show His love to everyone, or we can kill them with our words.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

The post that started it all

The name for this blog came from Christine, in a comment she left on my blog. I was poking some fun at myself and playing off of some of the stereotypes that I notice people assume about me as an Evangelical.

Maybe I'm not an Evangelical generated some familair responses. I am still going through some of the emails I recieved from that post, and it's disheartening to hear of so many stories of dejected christians.

I'm not sure what exactly I'll do with this blog, but I am hoping to interview other BNCL's here, and link to their blogs as well. I'm even more committed to living a life full of love, compassion, understanding.