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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Even there...

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
-Psalm 139:9-10

Image source.

“我若展开清晨的翅膀,
飞到海极居住,
就是在那里,你的手必引导我 ;
你的右手也必扶持我。”
- 诗篇139:9-10

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Male Equivalent to Modesty

Every so often, during discussions on "modesty" and how women need to cover up to help the guys, someone will throw out this caveat: "But men have to be modest too! So, guys should always wear a shirt."

Wait, seriously? So girls get this ridiculous list of badly-defined, impossible-to-follow rules- don't dress "provocative", don't wear something "revealing" or "too tight" or showing "too much" skin. Can I wear a dress? How long? Is strapless okay? Can I wear a tank top? Can I wear shorts? How short? Can I wear jeans? Leggings? How tight? Is the way I walk "causing men to stumble"? Are high-heeled shoes okay? And is it bad to want to be beautiful? Am I just being selfish and mistreating the guys by wanting to look nice?

And then the rule for guys is always wear a shirt.

Wow. That's a rule that is INCREDIBLY SIMPLE and ACTUALLY POSSIBLE to keep.

Seriously? This is "male modesty"? Just wear a shirt? While the only way to win at female modesty is to not be a girl?

The truth is there is no equivalent set of "modesty rules" you could make for guys to end up with the same effect they have on women. Women are bombarded with messages that our worth is in our appearance, in our attractiveness to guys. In general, women do a lot more to maintain their appearance than men do. Fashion, hairstyles, makeup, jewelery, cute shoes. Culture tells us we need to be beautiful and sexy in order to have value- but also judges women harshly if they look too "slutty." And then the modesty rules come in and complicate it even more.

That's not how men are treated. And that's why no set of "but men need to dress modesty so women don't lust" rules can result in the shame, fear, and self-hate that we get from the female "modesty rules."

Modest, but creepy. Image source.

So let me tell you what the male equivalent to modesty is:

Guys, you need to understand that women are visual. This means that if they see you looking a little bit creepy, they can't help but fear that you might harass or attack them. That's how they're wired. You know that generally men are physically stronger than women, and our culture glorifies male aggression and violence, sending the message that a guy should just keep pursuing a woman to get what he wants, not taking no for an answer. No wonder women are so easily afraid.

It's a constant battle out there for the girls. Everywhere they go, men are there, looking strong and a little bit creepy. (Halloween is the worst!) You wouldn't want to cause a sister in Christ to stumble and fear you, would you? That's why it's so important for men to not act creepy.

So, guys, here are the rules of uncreepyness:
  • Don't stand too close to a girl.
  • Don't stare at a girl.
  • Don't be alone with a girl.
  • Don't touch a girl.
  • Don't look creepy.
(Please take a moment and appreciate how vague these rules are.)

And I know this can be quite a sacrifice to make. Maybe sometimes you feel like it would be much more convenient to get on a crowded subway car, rather than waiting for the next one- but think of your sisters in Christ! What if, in the crowd, you happened to bump into a woman by accident, and she felt afraid? Is saving a few minutes really so important that you would cause a woman to stumble? Or maybe you would like to run over to the convenience store at night- but what if a woman was walking alone, and saw you in the dark and felt afraid? I know it's a sacrifice, but isn't it worth it to go without that convenience-store candy bar, in order to protect the woman's sense of safety?

These rules will be the toughest on guys who are naturally tall and strong and easily stereotyped as "creepy." So guys might start thinking, "I shouldn't work out. I shouldn't try to be strong and physically fit." God made men strong, but the purpose of that strength is to protect their wives and children. Don't go flaunting it in front of other women.

At church, someone will approach a young guy, just sitting there minding his own business, and say, "Excuse me, but your posture, your mannerisms are causing women to think fearful thoughts. Sorry but you need to leave."

And then guys will internalize this message: Your body, your existence, is a threat to women. 

And what if a woman accuses a man of attempting to rape her? People would say, "Look at this guy- always hanging out alone with women. Of course a woman would be creeped out and unable to control herself, and would accuse him of rape. He was asking for it."

That, dear readers, is the male equivalent to modesty.

Did you read it and think, "I have no idea what I am allowed to do"? Because of course you respect women and would never try to hurt them or make them afraid, but suddenly you've been told that every little innocent action you take must be reinterpreted through through this lens of "could this be seen as creepy?"

That's modesty. Am I allowed to be beautiful, or will that cause guys to lust? Are you allowed to be strong and confident, or will that cause women to fear?

Let me be clear that I am NOT advocating this ideology. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want guys to live like this, worrying day in and day out whether they may have accidentally "caused" a woman to think they're creepy. People can't live like that, always trying to please other people.

Women shouldn't have to live under "the modesty rules" and men shouldn't have to live under "the uncreepy rules."

You are made in the image of God. Your body, your presence, your existence are NOT a threat.

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

Linking up with Danielle's Modesty Synchroblog.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Don't Follow God By Myself

Image source.
Psalm 61 seems pretty typical, you know, the whole oh-God-come-save-me thing. I wondered what in the world I'd say about it in this week's Psalms Journey post.

But then I noticed a little phrase at the end of verse 5: "you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."

Wow, that's something I don't think about much. Being in a group with tons of others who follow God, and we all receive the inheritance he has for us. Cool!

American culture is very individualistic, and that's reflected in our understanding of Christianity. Gotta have a personal relationship with God. Stand up for Jesus, regardless of what other people think. Worship is just about you and God. Performing for an audience of one. If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell? Love God first, others second, and yourself third. Uncomfortable with the label "Christian" so you call yourself a "Christ-follower" to get a little distance between yourself and the church's sins. Jesus died for YOU. I wonder if he thought of me as he hung on the cross. God has a plan for your life!

So individualistic. And that's not necessarily bad- there's truth in there, about God's love and care for individual people- he doesn't forget anyone, lost in the crowd. But this is only one perspective on Christianity. Jesus is alive and living in every culture, and the gospel manifests itself differently in different cultures. WOW AWESOME!

In my experience, American evangelical Christianity very much emphasizes each individual's connection with God. And it's great, this is my culture, this is where I found God. But it would be very wrong to think that's the only right way to understand God and Christianity.

So anyway. Let me take some time to remember other Christians who have come before me and shaped my own faith. (Disclaimer: Yeah... I know this isn't what Psalm 61 is really about. I'm just taking one phrase out of context and running with it. Which is NOT how you do legit bible study. Don't try this at home, kids.)

I'm thankful for my parents, who read bible stories to me when I was little, who brought me to church, who bought me tons of Christian books because I LOVED to read. They've always been active at church and strong in their faith, and we've had tons of discussions about religion all throughout my life. I especially appreciate how devoted my mom is to studying the bible and leading bible studies, and how she prays for her kids every morning.

And the church where I grew up, the pastors, the Sunday School teachers. And the church I went to in college. So thankful for church.

And I remember all my Christian friends I met in college, friends who encouraged and challenged me and were there for me when I needed it. I am so glad that I could be a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship- I remember how pleasantly surprised I was to find the people there were so friendly and welcoming and really cared about me. And during the years I was there, we supported each other and prayed together and did our best to follow God and love people.

And I remember the hospitality I experienced when I visited China. From missionaries there and from Chinese Christians. They were all totally awesome and accepting, even though I had no idea how to do anything in China.

And people who translate the bible into English- wow, what would I do without them? Seriously though, what would I do without them? I wouldn't be able to read the bible at all. Of everyone on this list, the bible translators are probably the most important.

And of course I am so happy to be blogging and meeting so many awesome people in blogland. People write about their experiences and ideas, and I've learned so much and my ideas have been changed by it all.

I need other Christians. I don't follow God by myself. And of course, none of these people are perfect. If you read my blog, you know I have some criticism for some of the things I was taught. But it's okay- people don't have to be perfect or have all of their beliefs exactly right in order to make a positive impact. (I mean, seriously, I'm sure I'm wrong about a lot of things. When you read my blog, don't just accept everything- please ditch it if it's wrong.)

So thank you, thank you to all the Christians who have come before. Thank you to all my Christian friends. Thank you.

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

This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 61. To read other people's posts, click here: Under God's Wings.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blogaround

Image source.

1. NASA picks 8 new astronauts, 4 of them women, including 1st female fighter pilot in years (posted June 17) Cool!

2. Dear Churches: This is how to talk about clergy sex abuse (posted June 18) "Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army. ... If that does not suit you, then get out."

3. I Am Sorry (posted June 19) "I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly 'on my side' who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine."

Followed by this: Exodus International to Shut Down. "From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered."

4. History of Juneteenth June 19 is Juneteenth! "Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free." Awesome!

5. How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby? (posted June 19) "Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. ... In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment."

6. A Brief Note on Exodus (posted June 20) "When I read Chamber’s apology, prior to the announcement, I sort of smirked. I thought, are you being serious? Do you think a Press Release apology can make up for all the blood on your hands? For all those who spent years in your treatment and then, put a bullet in their head or jumped off a bridge or hung themselves?"

7. Why I Can’t Say Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin Anymore (posted June 20) "And despite all my theological disclaimers about how I’m just as much a sinner too, it’s not the same. We don’t use that phrase for everybody else. Only them. Only 'the gays'. That’s the only place where we make 'sinner' the all-encompassing identity."

8. I'm 8 Months Pregnant, But Haven't Told Anyone. Here's Why (posted June 19) "For the past 30 weeks I’ve been too scared to even assume another little bundle is coming home."

9. Surviving the Exodus . . . finding a radically new life. (posted June 21) "I concluded, as most of us did, that 'God indeed can heal, but he won’t heal me.'"

10. The doctrine of the Trinity ... it’s a trap! (posted June 23) Haha, this is pretty much exactly how I feel about the Trinity.

11. And I'll conclude this blogaround with this video, where Matthew Vines gives a talk on "the Bible and homosexuality." It is awesome. Seriously. If you haven't already watched it, you need to watch it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How "the gospel" almost stopped us from fighting human trafficking

Image source.
"See this person being sold into sex slavery? Well... uh... obviously treating people that way is a sin. And... you sin too."

Awkward? Yeah, and we all knew it. I was at a planning meeting with the other student leaders of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, trying to plan "Human Trafficking Awareness Week." (First of all, huge shout-out to InterVarsity! I totally love InterVarsity.)

There were maybe 4 of us at that meeting, trying to figure out how we could relate human trafficking to "the gospel." Because of course we wanted to use that week of events to work against human trafficking, but we also wanted to take every possible opportunity to "share the gospel" and get people to become Christians. So we needed to figure out how to transition into a gospel presentation.

The only problem was that we believed "the gospel" was ONLY about how every individual person is a sinner, and THE REASON this is bad is it separates them from God, so we need Jesus in order to repair our own personal spiritual relationship with God (and have him transform our lives and not go to hell and all that).

Individual. Spiritual. And no, I no longer believe that's what the gospel is. But years ago, at that planning meeting, we were totally stumped.

We had searched for information about human trafficking and found that it was totally a terrible thing that really exists in the world. Traffickers preying on victims, treating them as objects to be bought and sold. Obviously this is REALLY REALLY BAD and SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN. Yeah, but how can we relate that to a random passerby's spiritual disconnect from God, caused by their own individual sin?

Human trafficking is sin. And... uh... you sin too. [Then commence bridge-diagram gospel presentation.] That's all we could come up with. But all of us agreed it felt wrong and horrible, it felt like using a horrible tragedy, which has a very real and devastating effect on so many lives, as nothing more than a segue into what we actually wanted to talk about. Using it as a gimmick to start conversations about what was "really" important.

No, we couldn't share the gospel that way. Absolutely not. (Ironically, it was InterVarsity that introduced me to other perspectives on sharing the gospel- and at first I was highly suspicious. That must have happened after Human Trafficking Awareness Week...) So we decided all of us on the planning team would go home and pray about it, and see if we could come up with something. Or maybe we just won't have "Human Trafficking Awareness Week" at all.

I prayed for a long time. Hours. Oh man, I remember when I used to pray like that. Wish I could pray like that again. And I felt like God was saying, we can't just cancel "Human Trafficking Awareness Week." Because the victims of human trafficking are real people that God loves SO MUCH. This issue is so important to God's heart. We can't just cancel it because we couldn't figure out how to get an altar call out of it.

Image source.

We went ahead and planned the events for the week. We planned information sessions about human trafficking. We sold fair-trade snacks to raise money. We fasted and prayed for God to bring freedom. We had a whole bunch of events, and at many of them, we deliberately planned that there wouldn't be anything explicitly Christian- we wanted everyone to feel welcome and to get educated about it, and not feel like they were tricked into listening to a sermon too.

At the end of the week, we had our big finale. A speaker was coming to give a talk, and we would be having a contest to see which small group could raise the most money to donate to fight human trafficking. (For those not familiar with Christian jargon, a "small group" is a group of people that meets regularly and studies/discusses the bible or some other Christian thing. You gotta divide your Christian groups into "small groups" because how can you have a good discussion with like 50 people?)

And the morning of the event, I received an email, sent out to everyone on the planning team. It said that our speaker for that night hadn't realized that we intended for her to give a gospel presentation and "altar call" at the end of her talk. (Yeah, we just assumed since it was a large event, we needed to have the gospel "shared"- and maybe this was our way of passing off the whole "how in the world does human trafficking relate to the gospel" issue onto someone else.)

When she heard that those were our expectations, she apologized and said maybe she could make a few last-minute edits to her talk. But our planning-team leader said no. Just give the talk you already planned, and we'll trust God with the results. (Also, we made a mental note to communicate these things more clearly in the future.)

I think it went well. I think the whole week went well, and we did a good thing. Personally, in the years since "Human Trafficking Awareness Week," I've learned so much more about problems in this world and how they are so complicated. Maybe that week of events helped point me in the right direction in terms of loving others and caring about people whose experiences are unlike anything I can relate to. Maybe it helped me see how much God cares for those who suffer, who are victims.

We did a good thing. But I look back and laugh at how silly we were, how our beliefs about "the gospel" got in the way and almost stopped the whole thing from happening.

Because, seriously? We couldn't figure out how to get from human trafficking to the gospel? Seriously? Human trafficking is quite possibly the best example there is for WHY THIS WORLD DESPERATELY NEEDS THE GOSPEL. I mean, wow.

Because the gospel isn't about my individual sin and how that affects my own personal connection with God, and what I should do to fix that. That's one small aspect of the gospel, but wow, there is so much more.

The gospel is about justice and freedom and love and hope and how God will transform this whole world into what he intended it to be. The kingdom of heaven, a world free from violence and evil and abuse and oppression and HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

People are kidnapping and selling other people? OH MY GOSH, Lord Jesus come and set the captives free! Come bring justice to this world! Your kingdom come, your will be done. And whatever I can do to help, I will do.

And I know that, as I join in with Jesus' mission to bring healing to this earth, dealing with my own sin and my relationship with God is a very important component. But that's only a small piece of the gospel.

Image source.

Maybe I'm too hard on evangelical Christians. Ya know, I still want to be one, if they'll have me. And I think of me and my evangelical friends back then, trying our best to do the right thing. We believed so much in God's love. It had changed our lives. And we did our research on human trafficking and obviously it's something very very terrible that we should oppose.

Really. We were motivated by God's love. We knew this was the right thing to do. But... we were hindered by our beliefs about sin and hell and how the spiritual world is so much more important than whatever physical needs people currently have.

And can I just be blatantly honest here: Hell. It's the belief in hell that really screws things up. The belief that everyone who is not a (real) Christian will go to hell, a place of eternal infinite pain.

If that's true, why should we care about human trafficking? The victims deserve hell and the traffickers deserve hell. Any suffering going on right now is meaningless compared to eternity in hell. And anything Christians do is a huge waste of time, unless our purpose is to save people from hell.

Do you see how this might lead to a really skewed view of how to love people and how to respond to suffering and evil in this world? Shutting our ears to the cry of the poor because our emotions and empathy might distract us from our "real" mission...

But anyway, we didn't think it through that far. We believed in God's love. We loved to talk about God's love. And we believed in "the gospel" and saving people from hell. And now, years later, is when I'm realizing those things are incompatible.

(If you're about to write me a comment on how they're not incompatible, don't bother. I've been an evangelical Christian my whole life. I already know all those arguments. I used to be the one arguing for them.)

And after Human Trafficking Awareness Week had ended, maybe we felt bad for not "sharing the gospel" at any of our events. Yeah, all we did was talk about the realities of injustice in the world. All we did was raise some money to send to an organization. All we did was pray and try to feel God's love for those who are hurting.

And I look back on that and laugh, because it turns out we lived the gospel better than we knew.

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Linking up with Emily Wierenga's Imperfect Prose on Thursdays.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faith in What "Should Probably" Happen

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry- now restore us!
...
With God we will gain the victory,
    and he will trample down our enemies.

(first and last verses of Psalm 60)
In Psalm 60, David is really blunt. God has rejected him. He straight-up says it. (This makes me feel better- I often worry that I'm going to get kicked out of Christianity for saying how I feel about God.)

"You have shaken the land and torn it open... you have given us wine that makes us stagger..." and so on. He doesn't clean it up so it's churchy-sounding. He doesn't say "It seems like God has rejected us."

The heading for this psalm says it is about some of David's battles- which are mentioned very briefly in 2 Samuel 8 as military victories. Evidently, it wasn't going very well at first, prompting David to write this psalm about how God "no longer [goes] out with our armies."

So there's this theme of straight-up SAYING that God has rejected them. But throughout this psalm, we can also see a theme of hope, belief that in the future God will give them victory. "But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner... With God we will gain the victory..."

And I was really baffled- how can these two themes coexist in this psalm? God has rejected us, and God will give us victory. How can David believe that God will give him victory, if his current experiences PROVE that God doesn't always give his people victory?

They were already defeated, and that wasn't supposed to happen. God doesn't reject his people, right? And yet he did, seemingly. How can David believe that it will be different in the near future?

I think I know how.

Faith.

...

... wut.

Faith.

Whoa whoa whoa, hold up, Perfect Number. Faith? Remember how much you hate it when Christians say "faith" to take the easy way out when they don't have an answer for some apologetics question? As if it's somehow virtuous to believe things with very little evidence? That's nonsense.

Stay with me here. This is an entirely new definition of "faith" I've come up with.

David could say, with faith, that God would give them victory, because it's the kind of thing that should probably happen, based on what he believed about God. It's the kind of thing that one could expect, because it's consistent with God's character. (Verses 6-8 talk about God being the ruler of all the surrounding lands and nations. See, David believes God granting him military victory is consistent with God's character.) (And I won't get into the issues I have with the association between God and killing people- this is totally found all over the Old Testament... please note my objection in the log though.)

Of course, things happen ALL THE TIME which don't fit with God's character. Like the whole "God rejected us" thing. But, according to our beliefs, those things should be comparatively rare, right?

It's not a certainty. It's not a guarantee. Faith doesn't mean we believe this thing is 100% DEFINITELY GOING TO HAPPEN. Maybe it won't, which is fine- we only believe it's probably going to happen, so a negative outcome doesn't invalidate the entire foundation of our faith.

Basically, we should expect that God acts according to what we believe to be God's character. Sometimes he doesn't, which is baffling, but in general he does.

I absolutely do not intend to downplay suffering. That is reality. Happens to innocent people- it's not because they "didn't have enough faith" or something silly like that. Suffering is real, and so let's work to help each other and maintain a realistic view of the world.

But really, we should expect better of God than that. And we look forward to when God will come and right every wrong.

And faith is to expect that in the short-term too. Not with certainty, because we all know that bad things happen and the world is not the way God intended it to be.

Yet we must hope and pray that God will remember his own nature, his everlasting love and justice and power, and work in this world, in our own lives, to reflect that.

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

This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 60. To read other people's posts, click here: Don’t Base Your Theology on a Prayer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blogaround

So cute! And there's more where that came from: Image source.

1. Return of the Ewoks: Star Wars Themed Sushi (posted June 2) Ewoki sushi! This is amazing.

2. A Contribution to the Mathematical Theory of Big Game Hunting "We construct a semi-permeable membrane which lets everything but lions pass through. This we drag across the desert." As a math nerd, I find this whole page hilarious.

3. Why you shouldn't use a toss for overtime (posted May 10) "...we propose that football teams bargain over the yard line from which play starts by bidding on its location."

4. Loving Day in Real Life (posted June 12) "I was, however, aware that interracial couples had been illegal in many states until even the recent past. Reading the story of the Lovings reminded me how much I take for granted the work done to make my marriage a non-issue in the eyes of the law."

See also http://www.lovingday.org/

5. A Pastor and A Kicked Shut Door (posted June 5) "And it shoots a thousand inexpressible insults, a thousand sharp cuts. A thousand ways that say your words, your story, your pain, don’t matter at all."

6. Chinese spaceship blasts off from Gobi Desert (posted June 11) Cool!

7. War Photographer: Sarah Bessey (posted April 18) "I was full of ideas – I would write stories about my interactions with my neighbours! with my co-workers! with my friends! with strangers at the park! with the poor and marginalised in my city! ... Church people would learn from my arguments disguised as stories. ... In my rush to tell stories about missional living, I had dehumanized my friends and my neighbours."

8. Where's the Sanctuary? (posted June 5) "She told me she didn't know why she was there, she'd never stepped foot in a church before, she didn't know where else to go. She was lost, she said. Tears began to well in her dazed eyes, and the purpose of her visit came with them. ... If the Church is to lead people to the foot of the Cross, then we better have a damn good answer when the world asks, 'Um, excuse me. Where is the Sanctuary?'"

9. Smokin’ Hot Conversations: Amy Thedinga on the Seduction Myth (posted June 7) "Growing up in the church, I received this message a thousand different ways. ... You are a sexual vortex that I may get sucked in to."

10. Love Opens the Door: A Plea to American Churches Regarding Gay Scouts (posted June 13) "What disassociation from the Scouts would communicate to a community, (perhaps inadvertently), is that people with same-sex attraction are under no circumstances welcome in a Southern Baptist church, even if it’s through a separate community organization like the Boy Scouts."

11. This photo is awesome:



12. How Modesty Made Me Fat (posted 2011) "When you argue that what’s modest and what isn’t is a valid concern for women, you tell them that their appearance matters most. You objectify them. You tell them that whether or not you are sexually aroused by their actions or their dress is more important than anything they want to do or wear. You tell them that they must, at all times, be thinking about you when they are making decisions about their own lives. That’s arrogant. That’s immoral."

13. Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child (posted June 14) "In all six countries, we find that sponsorship results in better educational outcomes for children. Overall, sponsorship makes children 27 to 40 percent more likely to complete secondary school, and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education."

14. Questions from Christians #2: “Why do gay people want to redefine marriage? What’s their real goal?” (posted June 14) "You don’t have to agree with these guys in order to understand their pain."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Future? Past? It's All the Same in Purity Land!

Purity culture can be incredibly hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it. It's sort of about abstinence, and it's sort of about fear and shame, and it's sort of about avoiding emotional pain, and it's sort of about gender stereotypes, and it's sort of about waiting, and it's sort of about earning a happily-ever-after marriage... How does it all fit together?

Future husbands: your future wife does not belong to you, a blog post I read a few days ago, gets to the core of purity culture, and I'd like to elaborate on some of the ideas there. But first, go read the whole thing. It's really good.

Wedding of the future. Image source.

So here it is, the entire premise of purity culture: All of my romantic/sexual interactions belong to my hypothetical future husband. I owe him all of that. I owe him my virginity, my first kiss, all of that. If I say "I love you" to a guy, if I date a guy, if I have a really serious crush on a guy, years and years before ever meeting my hypothetical future husband, then I've wronged said husband and need to apologize. Because all of that was supposed to belong to him. (And I suppose it works the other way too- a guy's romantic/sexual life belongs to his hypothetical future wife. But seriously, purity culture is much harder on women than men.)

(Oh and did you notice? In purity land, everyone is straight, and gets married exactly once.)

According to this line of thinking, the ideal situation is I get married to the first guy I have a really really big crush on. Because to be so obsessed and smitten with someone means I've given him part of my heart. And then I can't give my WHOLE heart to my future husband.

Back when I believed in purity culture, I really believed that I must follow all the rules and force myself to not have feelings- I mean, it's normal for me to be attracted to people, that's fine, but from there it's a slippery slope to getting all emotionally invested, which is of course a betrayal of my future husband. (Ya know, assuming he exists.) So I better repress those feelings right from the start.

And you may notice so far in this post I've only talked about my feelings, not things I actually do. So let's move on to the "what I actually do" part. According to purity culture, if I go on a date with a guy, if I hold hands with a guy, if I say "I love you" to a guy, if I kiss a guy, if I have sex with a guy, etc etc etc, then I'm "giving him part of my heart." And if I end up marrying a different guy, well, I owe the dude I marry ALL the pieces of my heart, but I've let those other guys take what belonged to him.

To do ANYTHING with a previous boyfriend is a wrong against my future husband.

And of course this leads to girls feeling like "damaged goods"- like I'm dirty and impure and no boy could ever love me because of what I've done. Dude, I've felt like that in the past. I felt so terrible, wondering where I could ever find a guy who could forgive me for what I did with my ex-boyfriend. And I've never even had sex. But I've failed to be "pure" in so many other ways, according to purity culture.

Image source.

All right, full disclosure here: I do believe premarital sex is a sin. [edit, several years later: okay I no longer believe it's a sin] I know that there are Christians who disagree, which is fine, we can talk about that- I'm willing to say maybe it's not a sin in certain circumstances. And I definitely wouldn't judge other people for having sex, I'd definitely never treat anyone like they're "dirty" or something- that's just wrong.

But the reason that I'm not having sex (and that I'm overly careful/conservative in terms of dating and physical affection and such) is not because of what I owe my hypothetical future husband. No, it's because of ME and MY emotions. I don't want to be in a situation where my perceived physical/emotional connection to a guy doesn't match our real-life commitment to each other. (See also my post "How far is too far?" Finally a REAL answer.)

So it's about ME. It's not about some guy who may or may not exist, whom I may or may not have met yet.

Which brings me to the question, what do I owe my hypothetical future husband?

Or rather, in a marriage, what do the two partners owe to each other?

Love, commitment, loyalty. Helping each other, communicating, respecting each other, encouraging each other. Keeping their marriage vows. Etc.

I've never been married, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the thing that matters in a marriage is the kind of person you are IN THE PRESENT. Not a checklist of physical things you may or may not have done with other people a long time ago.

My past matters only to the extent that it shapes and affects who I am today. And that is what I owe a potential husband: being the kind of person who is a good partner for him now and in the future. Why would it matter what I've done in the past?

Image source.

But purity culture doesn't see it this way. Actually, purity culture seems to not understand the concept of time. Really.

All this talk about "my future husband" and how I'm supposed to be not doing all these things in order to be faithful to "my future husband." (Lots of girls praying for their future husband and writing him letters. I have TOTALLY done that. Because I like guys so much, but I thought I wasn't allowed to actually DO ANYTHING because purity. Hence the letter writing. Those emotions have to go somewhere.) Apparently, it is God's will that I marry one specific guy- we're destined for each other. (Like I said, in purity land everyone is straight and gets married exactly once.) And apparently I'm supposed to live as if I'm already married to him. 

Except I don't know who he is yet. What could go wrong?

I've even heard people say I shouldn't kiss a guy until I'm engaged because "you're kissing someone else's husband." As if time doesn't exist, and that just because he's (maybe) going to marry someone else in the distant future means we should think of him as being with that someone else throughout his entire life.

As if my true identity, the place I belong, the person God sees me as, is married to Mr. God-Picked-This-Guy-For-Me. And all my life before I get married (which of course occurs exactly 1 time over the course of everyone's lifetime) is just waiting, preparing to be that wife, wondering who God will have me be, wasting time because my life doesn't start til I get married.

(I remember there have been times I've thought about my last name, and how it isn't my real last name, but I'm waiting with excitement to find out what my last name will be. Hopefully something that sounds like a type of dinosaur.)

(And haha, this kind of reminds me of the question the Sadducees asked Jesus in Matthew 22. "What if there was a woman who was married 7 times because her husbands kept dying- so, who's wife is she at the resurrection?" and Jesus was like "this question doesn't even make sense.")

BUT ANYWAY...

Oh, and so many times I've imagined someday, sitting and talking with a guy who loves me, and he looks at me with so much hurt and says, "How could you?" How could I have liked another guy? How could I have had other boyfriends? How could I have shown so much physical affection for another guy?

And in my imagination, I would feel so bad for him, and I would try to make an excuse... "I didn't know you then..." What was I supposed to do with my feelings? How was I supposed to find a husband if I couldn't date?

And then he would look at me again, with so much sadness in his eyes, as if to say it was a pathetic excuse. Because our relationship and commitment to each other would be so real- how could I have ever lived as though it didn't exist?

And I'm not pure. I've failed.

Image source.


And because purity culture doesn't seem to understand the concept of time, it ends up comparing relationships, believing that one's current relationship must outdo previous ones in order to be "really" special. Like how many times have I heard that if you had sex with someone else EVER, then having sex with your spouse won't be "special." As if both relationships exist at the same time, and the only meaningful attributes to measure are the outward, tangible, physical things- and it is therefore impossible to determine which one matters more to you, which person you love more.

Seriously?

There are things I've done with my ex-boyfriend that I haven't done with my current boyfriend. There are things I've done with my current boyfriend that I didn't do with my ex-boyfriend. (And no, I'm not telling the internet what those things are.) But who cares? It was years ago, when I was with my ex-boyfriend. It doesn't matter now.

I mean, it would definitely be a problem if I was constantly talking about my ex-boyfriend and comparing my current boyfriend with him. That would be really hurtful to my boyfriend.

But, umm, I don't.

Really, it doesn't matter. Because I don't think about it. That was years ago. Like I said above, my past only matters to the extent that it affects who I am today. And what I owe my hypothetical husband is to be a good partner- so, that means not constantly telling him graphic details about previous relationships. I do not owe him my past to be a certain way.

The past is the past. There's healing. There's grace. There's redemption. There's learning and character-building. And there is freedom.

So... discussion questions:

Does it matter to you what your significant other has done romantically/sexually with other people in the past? Why?

If we throw out all the ideology about "saving yourself for marriage", and "not giving away part of your heart", etc, basically everything that says you need to NOT do things because you owe them to your hypothetical future spouse- if we ditch that idea, then what reasons do we have for or against doing romantic/sexual things? What principles should we use?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awkward Question of the Day

Let's suppose your clothes dryer breaks, so you bring your laundry over to the neighbors' house to use theirs. Which option is more awkward:
  1. Your neighbor folds all the clothes after they're dry- including your whole family's underwear. AWKWARD.
  2. You first remove all the underwear from the laundry, so the neighbor thinks no one in your family wears underwear. AWKWARD.
It's a real dilemma. A first-world problem. What would you do?

Image source.
(based on a true story)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Happened to Matthew?

So, longtime readers of my blog may be wondering what happened to the Matthew series. First of all, THANK YOU FOR BEING LONGTIME READERS! Awesome.

But anyway, yeah I'm supposed to be going through the gospel of Matthew at the rate of 1 post per week. And my last one was Pro Tip: Beheading People is Wrong, back on May 17. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Matthew. I promise I will get back to it. But lately I'm busy trying to flee the country get my life together for my move to China, and I just haven't been able to concentrate on the Matthew blogging and give it the attention it needs to actually do halfway-decent bible study. So yeah.

In the mean time, please enjoy this picture of an adorable kitty:

And there's more where that came from: Image source.

And here are the most popular posts in the Matthew series:

The Wise Men Found Jesus In Another Religion

I Would Only Follow a God Who Was Tempted

A Bunch of Names

Don't get your theology from Mickey Mouse

From Now On, I'm Breaking the Rules

Bear with me, friends. I totally promise I'll get back to Matthew when I have time (aka when I've moved in to an apartment in China? cross your fingers).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Can't Pray Like That

I read the first 5 verses of Psalm 59, and couldn't get past them:
Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.
See how they lie in wait for me!
    Fierce men conspire against me
    for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
    Arise to help me; look on my plight!
You, Lord God Almighty,
    you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
    show no mercy to wicked traitors.
Because I can't pray like that.

And I won't pray like that. And it feels wrong and evil and immoral to pray like that.

Because every day in the news, there are people dying from violence and accidents and natural disasters. God didn't save them- how can I ask him to save me?

People die for stupid reasons all the time. It's horrible. Why does God let it happen? They're people, just like me. There's no reason they're somehow more "deserving" of suffering than me.

And people suffer and die and face hardship and loss and pain worse than anything I've experienced, and God does NOTHING to stop it. Disgusting. Why would I want to associate with a God like that?

How can I ask God to help me? "God, help me- treat me better than you treated my millions of brothers and sisters. Come and intervene in my situation, instead of staying cold and distant like you did when they cried out. God help me with the little worries I have, the little problems I face, which don't matter in the grand scheme of things- help me with the little things, when you didn't even protect their lives."

I hardly ever pray for myself. It just feels so wrong. I usually just pray to give thanks for the good in my life, and I pray that God would bless my friends/family/random people.

Yeah I have problems. Yeah I want help. I want God's help. But... praying for that feels like throwing my brothers and sisters under the bus. And I just can't. That is, until I have an occasional moment of fear and panic and I'm willing to do anything for help, to throw out my morals and make a deal with the devil- to pray to the God who lets people die.

(I've said before that I don't trust God- but I do trust him to understand what I'm feeling and not strike me with lightning because of that last line there.)

Oh geez. Image source.

How can David pray, "Deliver me from my enemies, O God," when so many people are not delivered from their enemies?

What about Ahimelek the priest and his entire family? He helped David, providing him with supplies when he fled from Saul- then Saul came and had Ahimelek and his entire town killed.

What about Jonathan, David's best friend, killed in battle along with King Saul?

What about the Israelite soldiers who died fighting their fellow Israelites when Saul's son challenged David's claim to the throne?

What about Asahel, David's nephew, killed in battle?

What about Abner, who came in peace to help David secure his place as king, but was murdered by Joab?

What about Uzzah, whom God struck down because he touched the ark of the covenant?

What about Uriah, a mighty man in David's army, whom David killed in order to steal his wife, Bathsheba?

What about Bathsheba's and David's baby, who died as part of David's punishment for that whole adultery/murder thing?

What about David's daughter Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon? [trigger warning on that link]

Throughout David's entire life, he witnessed war and violence and death- and his friends and family weren't always spared. So how could he pray this prayer?

Was he just young and naive? This psalm was apparently written "when Saul had sent men to watch David's house in order to kill him." Sounds like 1 Samuel 19, right when David first needed to flee from Saul. Maybe at that point in his life, he hadn't yet seen friends suffer and die for stupid reasons. Maybe this is a naive prayer.

Or maybe not.

Maybe David knew the bad, the injustice that God allows, for reasons no one understands- but he also knew the good. Maybe David had seen God working, had seen prayers answered, had seen enough to know that God cared and God listened.

Maybe David wasn't just sitting behind his computer, cynical about the world. Maybe he wasn't afraid all the time, imagining worst-case scenarios, unable to trust anyone for anything because there are no absolute guarantees.

Maybe he experienced God's power working in the world, an incredible force for good. Maybe he didn't just completely ignore it because of the existence of suffering. Maybe he saw both the good and the bad.

And I really believe that's what will get me out of this dead end. This is how I will trust God again and have faith again. I've been developing this new idea slowly, over the past few months, about what "faith" means and how it's totally not what I thought faith was.

I've identified my problem: I've become fixated on the bad things, "the problem of evil," unable to move forward because the existence of those "bad things" completely destroys the foundations on which my trust and faith had been built. I believed in certainty. I believed God would always provide a way out. I believed Jesus was all I needed.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I'm relearning this. Slowly I'm grasping the idea that maybe faith actually does mean believing in something that's not certain.

It's hard for me to understand. Slowly, slowly.

But from time to time, I do pray for God's help.

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 59. To read other people's posts, click here: exchanging my walls for a fortress.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blogaround

Any pokemon nerds out there who laughed at this as much as I did? Image source.

1. 'Black virgin' condemned to die (posted June 3) [trigger warning: rape] "'They told me I am not a real man,' Kainat’s brother, Sabir tells the film-makers, Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann, '[that] you failed to follow your tradition, you failed to kill your sister.'"

2. I'm Biracial, and That Cheerios Ad Is a Big Fucking Deal. Trust Me. (posted May 31) "When my maternal grandmother came to pick us up from daycare, despite being on the authorized pick-up list, they made sure to call my dad to make sure this black lady was legit."

3. Women Aren’t Cake, Part 2: The Cake Is a Lie (posted June 5) "This cake is personal; this cake is targeting you. Getting this cake to respect your boundaries would take a restraining order. Equating this sort of cake-harassment to women who are wearing bikinis in their natural environment — the beach, the pool — is a tremendously false comparison, one that assumes that if a woman is wearing something 'immodest' she is doing it at men, deliberately, in a malicious attempt to sabotage their self-control."

4. 22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other (posted June 5) Man-aze.

5. It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad (posted May 30) "If you’re incompetent in caring for your children, please don’t drag my entire gender along with you."

6. Dear God, Let Me Be 'Skinny' Pregnant (posted June 3) "We place primary importance on a woman's appearance even during a time when her principal responsibility is to grow and nuture a child."

7. Why the Church can support “breadwinning” wives too (posted June 6) "It is inexcusable for pastors to take to their pulpits to demean families who are sharing the workload, sometimes barely making ends meet, and label them 'failures.' This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he criticized the religious leaders for 'tying up heavy burdens' and placing them on people’s backs."

Have a good week!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Can I Love Jesus Too?

Image source.

I used to love Jesus.

I used to talk about it all the time. How my life was fully dedicated to God, and I wanted to live for him. I used to pray and seek God and do everything I could to follow him.

And I want that again. I want to say "I love Jesus." And really value that, and live like it.

But...

But who would believe me?

You love Jesus? Oh right, I'm sure you do. Perfect Number, you're not fooling anyone. If you really loved Jesus, you would submit to him and his will in your life, rather than becoming a feminist, rebelling against God's role for you. And how you rejected the idea of a boyfriend or husband being your spiritual leader- I mean seriously? God established the family, but you're rejecting God's design and trying to get power for yourself. That's not very Christ-like. You love Jesus? You're not fooling anyone.

"But, but," I would protest, "it's not like that! I'm just being honest in saying that it doesn't make any sense that 'the man has to be the spiritual leader', and here are the reasons..."

Oh, really? "The reasons"? Now you're trusting your own reason rather than God's explicit command? Oh geez. God's ways are not our ways. We have to obey regardless of whether we understand his commands. Wow, and you have the audacity to claim that you LOVE JESUS. You're picking and choosing what you want to obey based on whether YOU like it or not. Like you think you know more than God.

"But, but... I... I really do love Jesus..."

No. If you loved Jesus, you would believe in his word, the bible. Some of the things you wrote about homosexuality and same-sex marriage... you're rejecting the bible and just going along with the culture. If you loved Jesus, you would support his definition of marriage. You've been deceived, you've let your emotions lead you. You talk about love but you twist the meaning, you twist Scripture.

"But, but, you don't know what it's like for gay people! Please, just listen... we need to support them..."

"Listen"? You gotta be careful listening to that kind of stuff. You've been led astray. It's so sad- you used to be so committed to God, so on fire for him. And now, somehow, you've been deceived and bought into the lie that you can be a Christian and vote for Obama, you can be a Christian and believe in gay marriage, you can be a Christian and a feminist, you can be a Christian and pro-choice... We can all see right through you. You might say you "love Jesus", but you don't. You're just taking the easy way out, you don't want to take up your cross, you're just going along with the culture. You're selfish. You want excuses for your sin. You're afraid to stand up for God.

"But... it's not like that..."

You say you're a Christian, but you're really a false teacher. And now you want to claim Jesus' name. I don't think so. If you really loved Jesus, you would agree with him. And everybody knows Jesus is a conservative American Republican.

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

But I really do love Jesus.

But all my life I've judged other Christians, judged who is and who is not a "real Christian."

I KNOW this about evangelical culture. There is SO MUCH JUDGING. This isn't me being paranoid- I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN people will say these things about me. Because my whole life, I've seen conservative evangelical Christians say these exact things- "he claims he's a Christian," "she's a false teacher," "they've been led astray." And I fully participated, evaluating little details of people's statements, looking for evidence that they are not "real Christians."

And now I don't make the cut anymore.

But would you believe me if I said the more I question and find out what else is out there, the more certain I am in my identity as a Christian?

Would you believe me if I said I love the gospel more than I ever have, now that I understand it to mean so much more than the spiritual consequences of individual sin? And now I truly believe it IS "good news", more than I ever have before?

Would you believe me if I said I'm more and more fascinated with Jesus as revealed in the bible, now that I no longer believe in having all the answers, now that it's okay that he can be baffling and challenging and amazing?

Would you believe me? Would any of my evangelical friends believe me?

Would Jesus believe me?

Will anyone believe me, or will I be like Severus Snape? [Harry Potter spoilers here] Always working to protect the good guys, but from behind enemy lines. Everyone was sure he was a bad guy, until after his death.

Image source.
I'll be Severus Snape, and Jesus will be Harry Potter. I love you, Jesus, but will you ever know? Will you ever believe me?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The WTF Psalm

Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
Okay, Psalm 58 seems to be off to a good start. Just your typical psalm about "bad people."
Even from birth the wicked go astray;
    from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
    like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
    however skillful the enchanter may be.
Umm, okay... they're like snakes who won't listen. I'm using that insult at the next opportunity I get.

Image source.
Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
    Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away;
    when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
Wow this is getting a little scary, asking God to break their enemies' teeth...
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
    like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
Oh my goodness. That crosses a line. Wow.
Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns-
    whether they be green or dry- the wicked will be swept away.
The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
    when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
What??? Okay we're all in full WTF mode now, right? I mean... just... wow... WTF?
Then people will say,
    "Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
    surely there is a God who judges the earth."
Okay then so that's Psalm 58, the WTF psalm.

Why are we celebrating and splashing around in "the blood of the wicked"? I mean, that is just MESSED UP.

Seriously.

Red blood cells. Image source.

Okay let's back up here. Who are these "the wicked" that David is writing about?

My initial thoughts, upon reading this psalm this week, came from my evangelical background. I assumed, because I've heard it preached so many times that "there is no one righteous, not even one," that "the wicked" is everybody. Or perhaps, everybody except the people who decided to follow God and then get counted as righteous because, you know, Jesus.

And if you've been reading my blog, you know I'm trying to get away from that way of thinking, because it's kind of horrible.

BUT ANYWAY. That's what I assumed the first time I read this. "The wicked" was anyone who's ever sinned... in other words, everyone. All non-Christians, actually, because Christians (and David) got their sins deleted.

And I'm reading about how David is cursing them, wishing they'd be "like a slug that melts away" and dude, this psalm is horrible and wrong.

But let's back up and see who David is ACTUALLY talking about. Back to verses 1-2:
Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
Corrupt rulers. Violence and injustice. That's what we're talking about here.

David was in a lot of dangerous situations- in battles, running from his enemies, being threatened, seeing his friends killed. Violence and injustice. He saw people killing each other to get power. He spent some quality time running from Saul, who wanted to kill David out of jealousy. Etc etc.

"The wicked" is not that annoying kid who kicked the back of your chair in first grade. "The wicked" is not that person you like to argue about religion with. "The wicked" is murderers, criminals who kill innocent people and get away with it.

Well, THAT is messed-up.

And now I get why David wrote the things in this psalm, wishing and praying for their death and destruction. And the final verse, "Then people will say, 'Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.'" Yes!

Because don't we see injustice and violence in the world and long for it to be righted, for the criminals and murderers and corrupt rulers to be caught and punished?

Don't we hope and pray for violence and injustice to end?

I'm still not on board with the graphic and gory curses in this psalm. But it's okay. David was being honest, and that's important. You don't have to censor yourself to pray.

So let's see this psalm for what it is. Not a death wish on everyone David didn't agree with, everyone who didn't believe in the "right" God. Not some awkward, cringe-inducing passage that we have to fearfully accept and not question, because it's in the bible. Not a glimpse of what we all "deserve" because of our sin. No, nothing like that. Instead, it's an emotional response to the violence and corruption David sees around him. It's a cry for justice- and I mean the normal meaning of justice, not the evangelical "everyone goes to hell" understanding of justice.

It's a deep longing that those who prey on others, who murder innocent people, who only care about power, would get paid back for what they've done. And I know I called it "the WTF psalm" but wow, I totally agree with that.

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This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 58. To read other people's posts, click here: the brutal language of Psalm 58.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blogaround

Image source.

1. The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself (posted May 28) "Biblical inerrancy is certainty grounded in fear and the need for control. Allow for any 'error' in the Bible, so the inerrantists claim, and how can you trust any of it? The answer to this supposedly challenging question is actually quite simple. Faith."

2. Broadway vs. community theater: Why pastors and presidents are not CEOs (posted May 23) "If you’re in charge of a business, then you simply fire the bunglers and the screw-ups, the Snouts and the Starvelings. Or you never hire them in the first place. What becomes of them after they’re fired, or if no one ever hires them? Not your problem. Not your concern."

3. I don’t write for an audience of One (posted May 29) "But the desire to share these thoughts and experiences—to be heard, to be understood, to be recognized, to be affirmed—is not inherently selfish. It’s good. It’s holy. It’s challenging. It’s fun."

4. Pregnant El Salvador woman denied life-saving abortion (posted May 29)

5. When I Needed an Affirming Church (posted May 29) "Because I can’t hear Him when I feel alien, alone, uninvited to the party. I can’t hear Him because I was wounded too many times and now, all I see are misplaced motives and suspect eyes. I can’t hear him when the walk of faith ahead is full of barricade after barricade thwarting my every step."

6. Greatest Wedding Photo In the History of the World (posted May 29) THERE IS A DINOSAUR.

7. What kind of Asian are you? I lolled.



8. Special K, The Fat Shaming Cereal (posted May 22) "I love long lazy summer afternoons, but according to advertisements like this, I shouldn't be able to enjoy this because I am fat."

9. You Can Have Your Hell: John Piper and the Brokenness of a Hell-Based Gospel (posted May 23) "We have given the specter of Hell such primacy in our Gospel that it has turned us into unsympathetic robots. We have made Hell necessary in a way that distorts, twists, and destroys the Gospel."

10. There's Probably Someone Somewhere Who's Said That (posted May 21) "'Said no one ever' comments showcase this same kind of self-focused, limited understanding of other people's diversity of thoughts and opinions that we see in children."

11. The Day I Stopped Believing in God (posted May 23) "If that is who God is, then He is a monster. And I do not want to worship him, and I will not love him."

12. The Opposite Of Empathy (posted May 17) "We don't want to think about a situation in which we would ever have to remove a part of our body that was seemingly healthy. And so when someone does this, our instinctual reaction is to find a reason why that decision was wrong, to preserve our belief that we will never have to remove healthy parts of our own body."

13. Immodesty and Lust: A Man's Perspective (posted May 7) "On this issue we men are our father’s—Adam’s—children. On no other issue do we men so unabashedly play our father’s card: God, it was that woman you put here..."

14. In which I know, I’m sorry, and I hope I was kind (posted May 29) "I judged the people who helped usher me into this new season of my life in Christ, and I found them wanting so I held them up in my mind or in public for mockery and slander."

15. Chocolate Cake Can't Consent (posted May 31) "It’s interesting to note the ease with which the author can argue that she wants men to see women as people, and not as sex objects, while comparing women to inanimate objects and without ever mentioning the term consent."

16. when i hope all men might be saved (posted May 30) "Maybe the gate stays open. Maybe until the very last one. Until the very last one is ready to walk through."

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