Christians Aren’t Called to “Have Great Sex” – They’re Called to Have Bad Sex

A couple of years ago, Relevant Magazine did an article telling their Christian audience that they were not “called to have great sex in marriage.”

I read it because a friend that was in a serious relationship had recommended it, but I was very bothered by what I found.  The article presented some truths for sure, one being that sex is not what marriage is all about, and this is right of course, if you marry only for sex and don’t seek a partner that has good character then you are in for a difficult marriage (and the good sex will quickly disappear).  But in Relevant Magazine’s attempt to help marriages, they missed the point of sex being one of the most important things in a marriage, and often the glue that holds a marriage together.

Why was the article written to help marriages in such a way that it actually discourages Christian couples from having “amazing” sex?

It was a response to a very strange article by a millennial woman, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, about how her virginity (her desire to remain abstinent until marriage), actually ruined the sex in her marriage.  Relevant Mag links to her article, and tries to say that:

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.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/christians-are-not-called-have-amazing-sex#go0He8SXx5qZE8bh.99

In more careful reading of the linked article written by Jessica about how her virginity ruined her future marriage, it was fairly shocking for my husband and I to read the level of disdain she held toward her young husband, even on their honeymoon.  She had no interest in sex, no desire to learn about how to make it better, no desire for it with her husband (even though she did desire it while they were dating), and in my husband’s words, “she completely undermined the possibility of their marriage by checking out of their sex life.”  She admit it herself that she caused the problem, it was like she became an a-sexual being overnight, and wanted nothing to do with being sensual – to her marriage’s detriment!  But then she blames the abstinence movement for her lack of motivation to learn together with her husband, or to try new things.  As soon as she divorced her husband, she writes that she became sexual again.

This was not a case of the abstinence movement being “dishonest” about the challenges couples who marry without sexual experience will face, this is a case of a person in a marriage who is not putting forth the right attitude, desire, and effort to create a good sex life.

Her entire focus, however, is that her abstinence pledge that was supposed to create a “strong marraige,” only led to a “quick divorce.”

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Relevant Mag needed to point out the real issues couples who wait until marriage to have sex may have, but also the attitude, willingness, and desire to fix her marriage sex life (or even participate in it) that was completely missing from Jessica as a Christian woman.

Instead of the message being: abstinence creates issues, and you’re not called to have great sex anyway; it could have more effectively been:

Abstinence may create issues, that happens when both partners don’t know much about a subject (sex), but in a good marriage, you will constantly face trials like this in many different areas (money, in-laws, job changes, deaths, miscarriages) and have to figure out how to overcome them.

It comes down to a willingness to learn and love each other.  Instead of checking out of your sex life just because it isn’t what you imagined, working to create a beautiful sex life, is the path to take.

 

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Great Christians Intentionally do Great Things

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I’ve had a chance to listen to a few sermons from Chip Ingram, a man I used to listen to on my morning drive to work everyday in the car – boy do I ever miss the way he’d show me God’s character in such depth!  Listening to his voice is like hearing an old friend.  He’s recently had a series about Great Christians and specific things they do.  It’s not intended to be legalistic rules or anything, but to give you ideas if you’re serious about deepening your walk with God in this life.

One of the things he’s talked about that great Christians do, is they make great sacrifices.  He gave an example of a couple that were in China, who were doing the dangerous work of spreading the gospel there.  They were found out and the authorities came to their home asking who was the pastor – it was common there to have women actually be pastors.  The wife told them she was the pastor so that her husband (the real pastor) would be spared.  They took her, beat her, and imprisoned her.

When Chip asked the man how he dealt with that – with the anger and rage from knowing his wife had to undergo that kind of punishment, the man responded in a completely surprising way.  He said that when his wife was let go and brought back to him, she wasn’t upset or angry for the treatment she received. Instead she was reflective on what a great honor it was to suffer so much for the gospel of Christ.

I thought that example was such a beautiful picture of a wife loving her husband and God, as well.  Loving him enough to protect him from danger and harm, because of all the good he does for God.

In our everyday lives, sacrifice can seem like it’s impossible to do – especially to that extreme, but even the sacrifices that we choose to make have a great impact on our faith and the people who know us.

I remember going to my Christian school as a young girl, and my parents making sure I knew that the teachers there were making a sacrifice for us and for God by working there instead of at a public school where they would obtain more income.

I also knew that my parents made a great sacrifice financially by sending me to a Christian school.  These sacrifices I saw adult Christians make left a lifelong-lasting impression on me of what people of great faith do for God, for children, and even for strangers.

It taught me that nothing was as important as knowing God and following His will for your life.  It taught me that having that kind of mindset led to altering your life around that instead of money, success, or other earthly temporary pleasures.

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Another thing that resonated with me that Chip said about great Christians, was that they read great books.  I have to admit, I tend to love books and collect them for our personal library in our house, but I don’t spend as much time as I truly desire in reading them and re-reading them.  This past couple months of 2016, I’ve made it an intentional pursuit to read more great books – and hearing Chip commend this habit made me smile – it’s so true!  In just reading a couple of really great books so far, I’ve been touched deeply on matters of faith and how I display it.

Reading Stepping Heavenward, a book written by Elizabeth Prentiss in the 1880’s, was such an amazing little book!  It’s written in a journal style following a young girl’s life as she becomes a woman, wife, and mother.  There were probably 100 lessons I found from it alone!  Again, such an amazing read if you’re a wife or mother and want to know a true representation of what that means in God’s eyes!

And sweet Oswald Chambers!  Apparently he didn’t write many of his wise sayings down himself, however his wife took it upon herself to write down the great teachings her husband would say.  The devotional collection that is so intense and deeply thought-provoking was collected and written by his wife.  This is so encouraging to me – since I have a husband who has incredible insight into many different things – ideas and great thoughts I would never come up with, but he doesn’t want to waste the very limited free-time he has in writing them down.  Maybe I can help him there (lol)!  Reading through it (it’s designed for every day of the year to have something to read and reflect on), has been wonderful.

If you have any ideas of great books to read, books that have changed your perspective on life or God or were enjoyable, please let me know!  

 

There is Wisdom in Being Peaceful (Avoid Arguments, Mind Your Own Business, Seek to Live a Quiet Life)

The Beth Moore’s women’s bible study group I’m in just continues to give and give – there is so much to be said for when you seek wisdom, and put yourself in a place where you’re likely to receive it, you will chase it as it unravels like a rolling yarn ball.  A few weeks ago, we studied the verse 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.

I’m sure we’ve all seen why this verse is important, we may have just not connected the dots (or even knew that such verse in Scripture existed).  But hands down, it is off-putting to see any person, but especially a “Christian” going against this verse in their social interactions with others.  I’ve been terribly guilty of this before, out of sheer ignorance that it was really wrong for me to be debating issues with a persuasive agenda in mind (what other agenda is there when it comes from a debate? None).

Definition of Debate1) a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward; 2) argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner

Synonyms: discussion, discourse, parley, argument, conterargument, dispute, wrangle, war of words, argumentation, disputation, dissension, disagreement, contention, conflict, negotiations, talks

There were times 2-3 years ago, that I thought I needed to debate against Catholicism, because I honestly wanted to help those dutiful believers under that religion that strays so much from biblical truth, to see how wrong some of their doctrines truly were.  There are times when debate may be necessary in cases like that, even in pointing out false or unfounded doctrine; however, the way I was personally going about this “mission” was terribly misguided and ended up hurting many people, possibly even pushing people away from what I was trying to get them to look at.

I wasn’t exactly rude (except if you count in a very pushy, arrogant way! Ie. sometimes debating itself is rude in certain circumstances), but I was too wrapped up in the debate itself to care about the effects it would have on my personal relationships with the very people I proclaimed to “care about.”

Just like how we are not supposed to argue about extra-biblical preferences or opinions such as “Should Christians Participate in Halloween?” or “Should Christians Have Christmas Trees Since They Were Used By Pagans?”  I also feel that we should be extremely cautious in treading on the ground of where another believer feels personally convicted, as per all of Romans 14, where we are constantly reminded “not to argue” about personal convictions (even over controversial topics). 

This is not to say that argument or debate has no place, but merely when it comes to certain topics that aren’t pertaining to a person’s salvation or biblical truths.  We are called to accept other people who may be “weak in faith” or may simply have differing opinions from us.  When I looked at the Greek meanings and footnotes of great authors on this chapter,

I found at the same time that we are called to accept them, we are also warned repeatedly, to not try to “persuade” them using examples or “debate,” that to accept their opinions and personal convictions was exactly that.  To just accept.  To try to even persuade them was sinning. We are free in having our personal convictions over many many non-essential topics, however we are most certainly NOT free to debate them as we see fit.

Why don’t we have the freedom to just debate over anything?  It seems clear that Paul is talking about Christians debating other Christians – there are already both saved – and debates over such trivial things can have potential to be extremely divisive at times.

We are called to pursue peace and unity within the body… having debates over non-essential issues often do more harm to keeping “unity” than they do to flourish believers’ relationships with each other. 

Romans 14 goes on to include the word “criticizing.”  When we try to persuade others from their convictions, we are in effect criticizing their current beliefs, in my opinion, the very root of it is a very prideful thing in which we are automatically assuming that we understand something better than them, and that’s why we feel a certain desire (or enjoyment from) debating on an issue.  The reality is maybe we DO understand something “better than them,” maybe our faith truly IS a little stronger so that we understand that we have more freedom to feel a certain way on a topic – however, that is why this chapter is in defense of those who have a “weaker faith.”  It is their faith at stake then, not ours, and we should be very guarded and cautious in what we choose to debate about in effort to help them grow (on their own) in their faith.

It might be enjoyable for the person who is acting in pride in thinking their debate and personal opinion is important to hear, but it is most definitely NOT enjoyable for the other party involved, who ends up feeling judged because this fellow Christian is not able to merely accept that they have a different opinion or different conviction.

The 3 main things Beth Moore was pointing out in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 were to:
1) Seek to live a quiet life

2) To mind your own business

3) To work with your own hands

These all fit in line with following Romans 14, seeking to live a quiet life requires one to be responsible – to argue and debate only when it is truly called for and needed.  This is for a very important reason and greater mission we should be aware of… Beth points out in the next verse (vs 12) that the 2 reasons Paul wanted us to focus on these 3 things in life were:

1) So that we may win the respect of outsiders, and walk properly in their presence

2) To not be dependent (financially or emotionally) on anyone – being a burden unnecessarily

People are actively watching what we do as a Christian… all the time.  Even if you think you live a responsible public life, we are also called to have greater integrity in also living a responsible private life in our own homes, otherwise, the reputation of Christ is still at stake!

I recently had a very strange experience with friend who wanted to constantly debate in public over my own personal convictions – to the point where the arguments were lasting for days, other people were taking note, picking sides, and generally getting the wrong idea of what the initial topic was supposed to be about.  It was causing some believers to feel justified in judging certain types of people, and also affecting non-Christians who were more than likely feeling judged by seeing the argument play out in the wide open environment of social media.  Nothing good seemed to be coming from it at all, never-mind the multiple miscommunications due to it being over social media and not in person, or in private.  This is not to say that we don’t have to freedom to post or have our own personal opinions, but choosing to publically debate over them (or even privately at times) is not always the best idea.

We carry the reputation of Christ, and we truly need to be careful in what we choose to publically debate about because of Paul’s warning that we need to “win the respect of outsiders.”  To think that it doesn’t matter what other people think, or how something may look to others (even online), Beth points out, is an irresponsible Christian ethic.  I have already been through this lesson many times before, and I’ve definitely had negative consequences when I reveled in my freedom to debate whatever I wanted.

Beth talked about how we can lose our perspective, make certain issues more important than maintaining healthy relationships, or lose sight of the goal of unity between believers in effort to debate our point or opinions.

Literally, some hills are just not worth dying on… and we should hold ourselves responsible for carrying the reputation of Christ.

Hope this encourages you as much as it enlightened & reminded me of those commands!  Here’s to living peaceably, a quiet life, minding my own business, and keeping perspective when it comes to debating.

The Necessity of Faith & The Devastation of Losing It

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For a little over two weeks, our city was rocking with an ongoing party that is celebrated every spring in commemoration of the battles of San Jacinto and the Alamo.  We affectionately call it “Fiesta” or party.  It always occurs in April… and it is always full of day and night parades, kid activities, delicious foods, dancing, loud blaring live music all over downtown, honking everywhere as people are stuck in what seems like eternal traffic jams, and epic drinking that occurs downtown at night.

This weekend my love and I let our son spend the night with his Nanny (aka Grandma) so that we could go to the night parade – one of the last Fiesta events this year.  We’d never been to any of the festivities at night, and although we’d heard how drunk the city gets, we completely underestimated the massive amount of drunk people we would encounter.  This event alone was said to have brought out hundreds of thousands of people into our downtown area – 600,000 in 2011.  To say it was nauseatingly packed is an understatement.  But it was also fun, and full of excitement!

We watched some of the parade with it’s beautiful festive floats and costumed Royalty, and then decided to make our escape to the Riverwalk underneath the street level.  It was peaceful and romantic there, with only a few families and lovers seeking solace from the crowded streets above.  We relaxed at a bench along the quiet, dark river, and watched a wedding reception across the way.

On our way back, we passed a view of our city from across a bridge over looking the river and some towers lit up in fiesta colors reflecting in it – the view made for a beautiful picture so we decided to stop.  A man started approaching on our right, and I told my husband it needed to be a fast picture….  He came right up to us and said something we both couldn’t understand.  My husband, being Batman, immediately was aware enough to know this could’ve been a set-up… strange man comes out, obviously drunk, mutters something intelligible, gets us off guard, and then his comrades come out to rob us.

Aware he would pull me away if it was truly dangerous, we talked to this man for awhile.  He asked us if we believed in an alternative.  Alternative what?  An alternative faith… like in something else – anything else… other than God.  He was young, probably 30’s, and dressed well… I was reminded that everyone seems to get drunk at Fiesta.  All shapes and sizes.  He was educated, and talked about population problems he learned at our University, all the poverty in the world, and how there was just no way there could be a solution to solving anything.  He constantly asked us questions about what we believed concerning God, sin, and problems in the world, particularly the over-population problem he learned about at University.

I majored in the science field, and I worked with colleagues that also believed in the over-population problems.  I talked with him about how I knew that the people behind the teachings were usually Atheist, and the solutions they posed were inhumane.  I told him some of their solutions: mass abortions, mass killing of the elderly that were too sick to care for, or who elected to be killed, or communist control of how many children certain population areas can have (like China), which of course, would be controlled by forced abortions.  You could even go the Hitler direction and commit genocide of a group that is becoming in your eyes, too populous.

He was disgusted by these suggestions, but I pointed out that there really are no other solutions other than these, which is what those who back this teaching want.  They are the same group publishing articles in Europe about the ethicalness of after-birth abortions – also known as infanticide, prior to them coining this “after-birth” term.

He asked my husband various questions about his walk with God – and why it all made any difference.  My husband let him know parts of his testimony, and I could tell the man was struggling with understanding.  The man then asked us probably the hardest question we’ve ever faced, would we give everything away – everything we owned – if God required that of us?  My husband answered quickly, yes, all that he had was because of God – nothing belonged to him.  I was honest and said yes, but that it would be extremely hard.  We talked some more about God and Him being there for us through some of the hardest times, emotionally and financially.  Who knew that we would be witnessing there on the street to this man?  He had been sooo depressed and numb when we had started talking to him, but we left him warm and smiling with him apologizing for being drunk and taking some of our time.  We exchanged warm hand shakes and I think just the fact that someone had listened to him – had cared enough to hear him out on his concerns – helped him in a small way.

We never got the picture.  But we got to touch someone else’s life with our love.

On this Holocaust Rememberance Day, when so many fellow Jews, elderly, diseased, and mentally retarded were so carelessly and intentionally murdered, under the guise for The Greater Good, I can’t help but connect it to what we heard last night.  Without faith, life is very depressing.  Faith is the unwavering assurance and belief in what we hope for, in things that we haven’t yet seen.  When you lose faith and hope, life becomes over-whelming… purpose doesn’t seem to exist… human life loses it’s dignity and becomes disposable.

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