Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Miss me with your "we are all sexually broken" hot takes. I'm asexual.

Tweet from Matt Smethurst (@MattSmethurst) from 6/6/18 "No one has ever gone to heaven for being heterosexual. We are all sexual rebels needing to be clothed in the radiant purity of Jesus Christ."
So I saw this tweet and decided I have to write about the Christian teaching "we are all sexually broken." I have some Things To Say because I'm asexual.

Here's how this idea goes. It comes up in the context of anti-gay Christians trying to make their homomisia sound like love. They say something like, "Yes, same-sex attraction is a temptation and acting on it is definitely a sin. But that doesn't mean we think we're morally superior to gay people. We have all sinned sexually- being straight doesn't make that okay, it's still a sin. We all have sexual desires for things that God forbids. We are all sexually broken."

(Note: "Broken" here is a Christianese word that basically means "sinful down to the core.")

Now, any queer Christian can tell you this is a bunch of nonsense because in reality there is a huge double standard. Straight people's "sexual sin" is seen as normal and understandable and doesn't get them kicked out of church, but LGB people's "sexual sin" is taken as a sign that there's something horribly wrong with them. And it's laughable to require gay people to be single forever and claim that's the same thing as requiring straight people to get married before they're allowed to have sex.

But what I want to talk about is how this teaching erases the existence of asexuals.

Back when I believed in all that teaching about "sexual purity," I felt so bad about how "impure" I was, and I even occasionally "lusted" and enjoyed it and felt guilty about that. I had crushes, I was so romantically attracted to boys, and tried to work hard to "guard my heart" even though I had these romantic feelings all the time. And sometimes, rarely, I even had thoughts of kissing a boy. Oh gasp, the horror! At least if it's a crush, it means the guy has some positive personality traits I find attractive, so I can pray about whether or not God is telling me he is "my future husband." But a desire for physical touch and nothing more, wow that is the height of sexual sin, isn't it? I remember at night, hanging out with friends playing board games, and this thought crossed my mind- "what if I kissed him." Oh what was wrong with me? Oh how "sexually broken." And I wanted to dwell on that idea, to actually make a choice to continue thinking about how I wanted to kiss him- and that was definitely a sin. There were other occasions where I thought a guy had nice legs and I thought about how it would feel to stand so close to him that my leg was touching his leg. I believed that was "lust" and I was so sinful for wanting those things.

That was my situation back then. Dealing with all that romantic attraction toward whatever boy was my current crush, trying to control it and not get "too emotionally attached" because then it would be "an idol" and I might stray from my devotion to God. And also occasionally, very very occasionally, a desire to kiss or touch a boy- and this was a completely different thing because it was toward boys I didn't even have romantic feelings for. And I liked it. Sometimes I would let myself spend several seconds fantasizing about that touch. And I was sure that was a sin. I was sure it meant I was "sexually broken."

Fast-forward to the first time I had sex (and I'm proud to say it was BEFORE we got married). And, well, I never had a desire for THAT before. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I'm asexual. All that "lust" I was fighting back when I was in purity culture, that wasn't actually sexual attraction at all. That was romantic attraction and sensual attraction.

I started to realize how there was a whole huge world of sexual desires that people typically have, that I never had at all. I never had a desire to masturbate- instead, I was afraid to touch my own genitals because in church I was warned about how "easy" it was for people to become "addicted to masturbation." I never had any desire to watch porn- but was afraid of "addiction" to that too. I dated a few guys but it never even occurred to me to wonder if I might be interested in having sex with them- but I was afraid and set up rules for myself like "don't sit on my boyfriend's bed" because church people warned me "one thing leads to another." I watched romantic comedies and felt extremely awkward during scenes where characters discussed sex or took their clothes off, and I thought everyone else felt awkward too- it never occurred to me that somebody made a deliberate decision to put this scene into the movie because some viewers would enjoy it.

When I said "sexual sin" it meant "choosing to spend several seconds imagining kissing a boy who is definitely not the one God picked for me." I didn't know that when other Christians said "sexual sin", they meant something more along the lines of "going online and clicking on porn, getting aroused watching it, and masturbating." I never even knew about arousal, you guys.

I never had the desire to have sex, but I lived in fear that my romantic desires were an indication that I could potentially be so sinful as to desire sex.

I never thought, "isn't it a little odd that I don't have a desire to masturbate?" Ha. No, of course not. Ha, what a joke. Masturbating was a horrible sin, you see, so of course if we are following God perfectly, we won't have a desire for it. And of course, I was not following God perfectly, because I occasionally noticed a boy's legs. I was concerned about that, not about my lack of sexual desire. Ha. Far from it.

So about this "we are all sexually broken" ideology. It's not true that everyone "sins sexually"; some of us are asexual and literally don't have sexual attraction at all. Though I suppose that even my asexual "sins" would count as "sexual sins" under purity ideology. But there are other asexuals who don't even have those other types of attraction either- they exist, and I am NOT OKAY with Christians' attempts to erase them.

But, actually, finding out I'm asexual has led me to see how "we are all sexually broken" is even more messed-up than I thought. Now that I'm an adult and not in purity culture any more, I have discovered that most people just view sex as a normal part of life for adults- regardless of whether or not they're married. Just a normal thing. It's normal to have sexual desires. It's normal to masturbate. It's normal to have sex- even if you're not married.

And I had no idea before. I'm asexual, so for me it's not hard to not have sex. But now I realize that for most people, that's not the case. Far from it. And the church has taken this extremely normal desire, which almost everyone has, and labelled it "sinful" and "broken." I never realized how unhealthy that was, not until I found out about asexuality and realized that other people weren't like me.

One last thing I want to say: I'm talking about asexuality and the idea of being "sexually broken," so I should mention that it's common for asexuals to feel that we are "broken" because everyone else is interested in sex and we aren't. That's wasn't my experience (when other people were interested in sex and I wasn't, I just felt morally superior to them) but it's very common for asexuals. No, being asexual doesn't mean we're "broken." We are fine.

And having sexual desire does not mean non-asexual people are "broken." This ideology- which tells people to feel guilty over their normal, natural desires- is what's broken.

---------------------------------

You asked and I answered~ In my 2018 Reader Survey, one of the top 5 topics you voted for was "purity culture." Hence this post. :)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cut Out the Middleman (or, why I am the master and commander of my own life)

Tweet from Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) from 6/12/18. "You are under qualified for the job of master and commander of your own life."
All right we have to talk about this tweet from Tim Keller. "You are under qualified for the job of master and commander of your own life."

He's saying people shouldn't run their own lives. We shouldn't be in charge- we should let God run our lives instead. We can't do it on our own; we're "under qualified" because we're weak and sinful.

You guys, I really used to believe this. Really, literally. I believed I wasn't able to make my own decisions. Every major life decision needed to be prayed over and I needed to figure out what "God" wanted me to do, because if I decided on my own that would just lead to disaster.

And it wasn't just about major life decisions. Every day I worked on my evangelism, trying to "show God's love" to people and get them "saved." I believed God was constantly active in my "unsaved" friends' lives. God had a plan for them and I wanted so much to be a part of it. I believed God had certain things in mind I could do to help them "get saved."

I worked so hard to try to "listen to God" and do what he (he!) wanted. And it was so hard to figure out! Sometimes I wished that God would just physically take control of me and have me do the actions or say the words, because that's the only way I would be able to do exactly the right thing that God wanted me to do. I imagined there was some perfect ideal set of actions I was supposed to take, that only God knew, and I was the weak link in the chain. I wasn't able to "listen to God" good enough to figure out what *exactly* I was supposed to do. If only God could have just cut out the middleman! If only God could just possess me and control my body to follow his plan perfectly. Wouldn't that make so much more sense? Why did God even give me the ability to control my own actions? I wished he hadn't. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it perfectly like he wanted.

Keller's tweet showcases the anti-self ideology that forms the backbone of the Christianity I used to believe. It defines the entire thing, and I got the receipts right here. I was taught that Adam and Eve's sin was that they wanted to control their own lives, rather than let God be in control. I was taught that people are weak and worthless and can't do anything right without God. I was taught that you're either a slave to sin or a slave to God- in other words, if you don't have a "personal relationship with Jesus" then you're controlled by your sin and can't choose to do what's right. I was taught to be suspicious of my own emotional needs and my own body's desires- whether it was for acceptance, friendship, safety, food, sleep, free time, my attraction to people- those things might just be my sinful nature trying to tempt me. I needed to "die to self" and obey God instead.

Here's the problem, though: If I'm not the "master and commander of [my] own life" then who is? Well, of course the answer would be God. But which god? See, I would have to pick which version of god to submit to. I pick. It will never not be my choice.

When I was little, Christians taught me all about what God wants us to do. They told me what God's position was on various issues- as if God's rules were obvious and the only question is do we obey or not. But then I found the internet and read things from outside the evangelical bubble. I found out there are other ways to do Christianity. Instead of "God says X, do I obey or not?" it was actually "these Christians say God says X, but these other Christians say God says Y instead, which one do I believe?" And that is a choice I have to make for myself. The idea of giving control of that decision over to God is completely unintelligible. It's logically impossible to let God decide what "letting God decide" means.

And at this point, I believe in a God, but I don't give them control of my life. I control my own life. Because I used to be in a personal relationship with a god, and that relationship steamrolled my own individuality and my own freedom, and I still feel the trauma from that. Because if it's actually me picking which god to follow, then doing what that god tells me to do, why not just cut out the middleman and do what I think is right in the first place?

And all Christians are picking which version of God they follow. Or, if they thought there was only 1 version available, that means they're letting their Christian role models pick for them. So let's be done with this crap about "you shouldn't control your own life." You are important, your needs and desires matter, and you are the best qualified for the job of managing your own life. Don't submit to any god who says otherwise.

---------------------------------

You asked and I answered~ In my 2018 Reader Survey, one of the top 5 topics you voted for was "evangelical Christianity." Hence this post. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The US is separating immigrant children from parents and it's despicable

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph travel to Egypt. Image source.
Here's a bunch of links about this. It's horrifying. Everyone needs to know about this and take action.

Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border

To Curb Illegal Immigration, DHS Separating Families At The Border

Immigration advocates demanding change after some asylum seekers are separated from families

She says federal officials took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center

Jeff Sessions Cherry-Picked a Bible Passage to Defend Trump’s Immigration Policy

‘Don’t You Have Any Empathy?’: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Confronted Over Families Separated at Border

The Trump administration is committing violence against children

Religious leaders who have spoken out about this (via @jackmjenkins):

Catholic bishops rebuke Trump’s asylum changes, suggest ‘canonical penalties’

Franklin Graham Blasts Trump’s Immigrant Family Separations At Border

PRESS RELEASE: AME Church condemns use of scripture by Attorney General Sessions to separate immigrant families

U.S. interfaith leaders urge government to #KeepFamiliesTogether

World Vision Urges U.S. Government to Protect Children and Families in Immigration Detention

How you can help:

Sign the ACLU petition "Stop the Government from Abusing Immigrant Children"

How To Help Migrant Parents & Children Who Are Separated At The Border

Here's how to help immigrant children separated from parents at U.S. border

Donate to eight organizations working to protect kids separated from their families by ICE

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Blogaround

A fluffy kitten standing among broken pieces of a vase and making an incredibly innocent face. Image source.
1. Why “You are loved” & “please reach out” are crappy things to post after someone has died by suicide (posted June 8) [content note: discussion of suicide] "I was in therapy for years and didn’t report symptoms, too, because I honestly didn’t know that other people didn’t experience the world the way I did."

2. It’s Time to Abolish ICE (posted March 9) "ICE as it presently exists is an agency devoted almost solely to cruelly and wantonly breaking up families."

3. Heaven as Secret Sins Film Festival (posted June 4) "The logistics of this are difficult to imagine, since everyone is going to have to sit through all of everyone else’s Secret Sins documentaries. That’s such a long, boring prospect that this almost begins to look like a kind of evangelical doctrine of Purgatory."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

2018 Reader Survey Wrap-Up

A man with a clipboard asks survey questions to 2 penguins. Image source.
Thank you to everyone who took the 2018 Reader Survey! You are all wonderful. My favorite parts from the survey responses:
  1. All your nice comments
  2. There was a box where you could write your religion (or lack thereof) and ALMOST EVERY SINGLE PERSON wrote a DIFFERENT thing. Including several spelling variations of "atheist." I lolled.
  3. A few of the comments said "you helped me figure out I'm asexual" which just makes my little ace heart so happy. <3
Anyway, the survey had a list of topics where you could pick the ones you want to see more of. I'll take the top 5 results and write a post specifically for each of them, some time over the next 2 months or so. Here they are:
  1. purity culture
  2. sex
  3. evangelical Christianity - Cut Out the Middleman (or, why I am the master and commander of my own life)
  4. the Christianity that Perfect Number believes now
  5. feminism
Excellent! Stay tuned for posts about those~

Thanks again to everyone who took the survey! And thanks for reading~

Monday, June 11, 2018

Perfect Number Watches VeggieTales "Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie" (2002)





















































*Look around you













































































It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE that children in Sunday school are taught about forgiveness without also teaching about boundaries. We should NEVER EVER EVER talk about forgiveness without talking about boundaries. NEVER. EVER.































---------------------

To see all my VeggieTales reviews: Perfect Number Watches VeggieTales (Master Post)

AddThis

ShareThis