An orientation for single sexuality: The ‘do’s’ of purity

http://www.themennonite.org/issues/16-10/articles/An_orientation_for_single_sexuality_The_dos_of_purity

Braun Karla sm

OMG, so many amazingly good quotes in this article:

This isn’t to say I’ve stopped believing marriage marks an important boundary for healthy sexual activity. However, I find my parameters not through a checklist of don’ts, but by discovering who and what God calls us—as embodied souls—to be and do.

I’m convinced that the best thing the church can do to encourage holy living is to help us follow Jesus, not a spouse.

I don’t need rules about (not) having sex: I need the church to help me reject the lie that desire is the most important thing.

…I’m not waiting—for a spouse, for sex, for my own little nuclear family. I’m learning what it means to be a Christ follower, distinct from the patterns of the world, active in service, in relationships with others.

Read full article here (highly recommended): http://www.themennonite.org/issues/16-10/articles/An_orientation_for_single_sexuality_The_dos_of_purity

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How Elizabeth Smart Is Taking On Rape Culture

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/17/2797181/elizabeth-smart-rape-culture/

Smart has taken steps to expand upon the issues at the heart of her statement about purity culture. In an interview in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker, Smart explains that abstinence-only education is one piece of a bigger puzzle. She notes that’s just one of the multiple factors that contribute to a society in which rape victims are shamed instead of supported…

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Image source and full article: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/17/2797181/elizabeth-smart-rape-culture/

the spiritual lottery (part 1) – the transaction

http://flavorandillumination.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/387-the-spiritual-lottery-part-1-the-transaction/

Whether they mean to or not (they probably don’t), messages like this paint God out to be nothing more than a machine – one that gives out based on what you put in. Seen from the other end, it’s a machine where if you don’t put in, you won’t get out.

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Image source and article: http://flavorandillumination.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/387-the-spiritual-lottery-part-1-the-transaction/

Christians Are Not Called to Have Amazing Sex [COUNTERPOINT!!!]

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/christians-are-not-called-have-amazing-sex

OMG, this post makes me so angry!

It starts well. Rachel Pietka begins by saying that

Although these conversations [that evangelicals are having about abstinence and sex] are evidence that Christians are forming a more candid, holistic and theologically sound discourse about sex, an area that still needs more attention is the far-reaching effects of abstinence rhetoric on marriage.

While the movement is great at detailing— and exaggerating—the benefits of saving sex for marriage, it is dishonest about the challenges abstinence presents to couples who eventually tie the knot.

Yes, totally – I couldn’t agree more!

Pietka then references a Salon post where the writer, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez talks about her own tragic story of abstinence-gone-wrong. It’s a story about sexual incompatibility, disappointment, and divorce. In her conclusion, Henriquez writes:

Without having sex before marriage, I blindly walked up an aisle and committed myself to a man who didn’t know me and gave my long-held virginity to someone with whom I had no more chemistry than a second cousin.

And here’s where the Pietka article flies off the rails into WTF-land. Out of nowhere, she makes the claim that

sexual compatibility does not matter to Christians when choosing a spouse…

Pietka doesn’t support this claim theologically, biblically, or any other way – probably because there is no support for it!

Now to be fair, what she’s trying to do is ensure that Christians don’t make good sex into an idol – “sex is not our God.” I’m down with that. However, when she goes on to say that in order to avoid sexual idolatry we need to be

willing to make a commitment to someone with whom we may be sexually incompatible, with whom we may never have good sex, because the purpose of marriage is not pleasure, but formation,

I want to tear my hair out. (And I like my hair.)

This. Is. Not. The. Gospel!

For one thing, Christ never said, “I came that they may have life, and have it indifferently.” No, he said that he came that we might have life abundantly!

And I have no idea where her claim that “the purpose of marriage is not pleasure, but formation” comes from. Even if we set aside the fact that she never substantiates this statement, it’s still indefensible. Because what kind of people are we being formed into if we’re called to live our lives in pleasureless marriages?

And then there’s this line:

Although sex is indeed God’s gift to us, Christians are not directly commanded by God to have great sex.

Well, yeah, okay, but the opposite is also true – that Christians are not directly commanded by God to have bad sex.

And then there’s this stunning statement:

Sexual incompatibility, therefore, is a cross that some couples bear, and Christian communities could lighten this burden if we made an effort to put sex in its rightful place. If sex were viewed as a gift that, like everything else in this world, is marred by sin, it may be easier for couples to accept that bad sex is neither a reason for divorce nor an excuse to stop investing in a marriage. As with other trials, bad sex is an opportunity to rejoice in suffering (1 Peter 4:13) and to be further conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

I mean, in a nutshell, what Pietka seems to be saying is, “Be abstinent, wait until you’re married to have sex, and then if the sex is bad after that, well suck it up because at least you don’t have to hang on an actual cross – just a sexually unfulfilling cross. Sucks to live in a fallen world, doesn’t it?”

And no, bad sex is NOT an opportunity to rejoice in suffering! It is an opportunity to open up new lines of communication with your partner so that both of you can find and experience the pleasure that God designed our bodies to feel.

As Old Testament scholar, Tremper Longman notes in his commentary on the Song of Songs,

God is interested in us as whole people. We are not souls encased in a husk of flesh. The Song celebrates the joys of physical touch, the exhilaration of of exotic scents, the sweet sound of an intimate voice, the taste of another’s body… The Song affirms human love, intimate relationship, sensuality, and sexuality.1

In closing, I’d like to say that while I appreciate Pietka’s idea that we can’t worship sex (good or bad) above God, what she neglects is the idea that people like Peter Rollins are pointing out: that anything can become an idol, even purity, even marriage, even God.

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Image source and the article I’m critiquing: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/christians-are-not-called-have-amazing-sex

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) [COUNTERPOINT]

This is a response to this post – http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/ – which reads, in part:

Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it? You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.

I know that sounds harsh and old-school, but that’s just the way it is under this roof for a while. We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.

Read the rest of that article here: http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/
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Counterpoint:

1) I can’t help but find it a bit ironic that the post is about women’s modesty but includes two photos of topless boys on a beach. Seems a bit like a double standard.

2) Rachel Held Evans says it way better than I could:
a) “We turn modesty into objectification when we hold women responsible for the thoughts and actions of men.”
b) “The truth is, a man can choose to objectify a woman whether she’s wearing a bikini or a burqa. We don’t stop lust by covering up the female form; we stop lust by teaching men to treat women as human beings worthy of respect.”
c) “It doesn’t take long for a woman to realize that no matter what she wears, the curves of her body remain visible and will occasionally attract the notice of men. If this reality is met only with shame, if the female form is treated as inherently seductive and problematic, then women will inevitably feel ashamed of their bodies.”

You can read RHE’s whole article here:
http://www.qideas.org/blog/modesty-i-dont-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means.aspx

The Naked Truth about the Christian Purity Movement

http://blog.tinaschermersellers.com/2013/08/15/the-naked-truth-about-the-christian-purity-movement/

The purity movement had millions of young earnest Christians believing that their sexual thoughts and experiences could separate them from God’s love. This was the heart of the lie and the heart of the violence to sexual and relational health. This is the first place of healing. NOTHING separates you from the love of God. Rom 8:38-39.

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Image source and article: http://blog.tinaschermersellers.com/2013/08/15/the-naked-truth-about-the-christian-purity-movement/