Sunday, August 26, 2012

The murkiness of having to many Shades Of Grey

Disclaimer:  No I have not read the book and No I do not plan on reading the book.  Plus this post may not be appropriate for children.  And I am sorry for the LONG ramblings.  I have not quite resolved the issues yet.  Still have the questions.  That results in long posts.

I am sure that you have heard of it by now.  The summer reading sensation entitled "50 Shades of Grey".  I first heard about the over-hyped phenom in Macleans - an article that discussed the issue of this book and a young adult book called Between Shades of Grey coming out at about the same time.  If you need a book to read, I recommend the later, as it exposes the cruelty of Stalin and his Siberian exiles.  It has also been nominated for the Carnegie medal for juvenile fiction.  I have not read it yet but it is on my list of to read books.

But I digress.  My next big reading foray into the 50 Shades Hype was through one of my new favourite websites maintained by Relevant Magazine.  First I read this article entitled "When Sex Goes Grey: How 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is turning the clock back on a Humanitarian Crisis".   I agreed with most of what the author said about how the glorification of BDSM dulls our conscience against violence against women and domestic abuse.   I am a comment reader and what got to me were some of the comments written by others who had read this article and who are followers of Christ.  I am going to edit the ones I post so that they are not too graphic and my response is in italics.

"Not that I completely disagree with you, but to really know what you're talking about, you should read all 3 books. Ana fights back & doesn't allow herself to be abused."
    So we want to promote the idea that we should put up with violence in the hope of changing our partner?    

"Genuine power dynamics in a sexual relationship and sexual violence have nothing to do with each other. A man acting in a dominant role to a woman's submission has nothing whatsoever to do with domestic violence. Real kink is not violence. . . 

If you want to pull "Fifty Shades" you have to pull every romance novel ever written -- almost all of which present a far more genuinely chauvinist view of female sexuality. "
Pulling every romance book off the shelf - probably not a bad idea.

"What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own relationship and in their own bedroom is their business. The keyword here is "consenting". " 
So everything is permissible as long as both parties consent?  I have had questions about this for years and years actually.  As a Christian, what is sexually acceptable after marriage?  Since I am not married, I have not had to find the answers yet but I have wondered.

"Though it is not the work of a literary genius, it does display how a woman can confidently take control of her sexuality without shame. .. So often women are marginalized for expressing their eroticism while men are celebrated. Women, in both Christian and secular communities are taught to be ashamed of their sexuality and ..." Anastasia's character demonstrates how a woman can express herself in a non-mainstream, sexual way and still maintain her femininity. How many women are afraid and ashamed of the desires that are inside of them; why must they feel that there is something wrong with them?
I kind of agree with what is being said here.  As a single Christian women, I feel that sometimes I have buried my sexuality as I am afraid of it.  But do I need to turn to secular stories to reclaim it?  How can  I reclaim it in a Scriptural manner?
So I spent a few days contemplating these questions.  Christ transforms us and as our sexuality is part of who we are, he must transform that as well.  So how does Christian sex and sexuality look different before, during and after marriage?  I know that before marriage we are supposed to abstain and remain pure, but then what?
Then Relevant had another article asking "Is There Room For Erotica in Christianity?"  It discusses how erotica often addresses a need in our lives - maybe to fan the embers of sexual desire within a marriage or to promote sexual conversations.  Then they ask the questions that had been burning in the back of my mind: "But since when does what a person uses to meet a need necessarily equate to what a person actually needs?"  The article discusses how the church at large has dropped the ball on teaching about sex and how Christian sex is different than the world's version.  Even for myself, it wasn't a Christian comment that spurred me to think about what Christ's desires in my sexuality, but rather a popular secular novel that I will not read.  I am afraid that without proper teaching,  'Saving sex for marriage' [will become] 'waiting until marriage to objectify my partner.'
I was relieved that I was not the only one asking these questions about how Christ's sacrifice redeems sex (back to what it was meant to be) and how Christian sex is different than worldly sex (other than remaining pure before marriage).  And yet the article did not answer all of my queries and wonderings.  So I feel like I have started on a journey of questioning and discovery.  And I have invited my friends to come along with me.  Yes some of the same friends mentioned in my previous post.  In fact one of them has practically emptied her church library of all books pertaining to sex.  So as step one of my journey I have resurrected a book club tradition among friends and recommended that we read "Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity" by Lauren F. Winner.  Use the link; don't google it.  You may get results that you are not so happy with.
With porn in the mainstream, I think that it is time for Christians to reclaim true sex, true marriage, true sexuality.  For in Christ is where truth ultimately lies.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blessed With Friends Like These

I spent the weekend at The Girl's Annual Gull Lake Campout.  I and 8 of my single gal friends got together to catch up, continue inside jokes and start inside jokes.  I could list some of those jokes here but "Hot Bush Pie Maker" would not be hilarious except for those in the know.  After the campout, another friend of mine from a different circle and different time in my life, drove an hour and a bit to bring her family and others to come and see me.  Once again, I got home and felt so homesick for people who truly know me - my past, sense of humour, passions etc.   I love my friends and family because:

- we can joke and laugh together about the dumbest things.  Oh my sore abs.
- we can discuss deep topics such as dissatisfaction, unrequited love, hopes and dreams.
- we want the best for each other.  I spent part of my car ride praying for the best for each of you.
- we share a common faith and common perspective on life within that faith or at least share common experiences
- I can be extrovert-like with them around

So when I was feeling at my most low, I heard this song that I would like to dedicate to my friends.  Thanks "Band of The Day" for introducing me to this song.

So while I was unpacking, I discovered a token of the friendship, hiding in the backseat of my car, underneath the oodles of messy camping gear.  I knee deep down inside that  I would end up with it, and decided to display it prominently in my house as a reminder that I am loved and known.

Looks pretty good sitting there doesn't it?  The picture unfortunately does not do the ugliness of the eagle head justice.  So which one of my friends would like to invite me over for a visit?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Paths of Discontentment

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer . . .;
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Richard The Third Act 1, scene 1, 1–4

Lately I have been feeling discontented.  I have wondered to myself, "Is this all there is to life?  Work, play, giving a little?"  I have been longing for change of pace, change of scenery, change of single status.  I believe that this discontentment is from God because as I am asking questions, He too is asking things of me, "Is this all there is to your life?  Work, play, giving a little?  Are you using the gifts I have given you?  Are you living out your calling?  Are you longing for me?"

Today I realized that my discontentment can lead two ways.  Yesterday, I was at a wedding with a dance and alcohol.  I nominated myself as designated driver and had the privilege of observing the comaderie that alcohol created, the flirtations and "freedom" that resulted.  Frankly I felt lonely in my sobriety and jealous of the friendships/flirtations of others.  I wanted to partake of the lifestyle.  I felt discontented with who I was.  This morning I realized that the discontentment that I have been feeling could result in me longing for worldly things - things that don't last.  

So today I heard God saying, "Yes this discontentment comes from me because I want you to pursue me and heavenly things.  What are you pursuing right now - more education?  more love? relationships with others? more ways to have an impact?  None of these are bad things but I want you to pursue me.  I will relieve your discontentment.  I will fulfill these other things as well.  But pursue me."

So I am at a crossroads, a daily crossroads.  In my discontent what will I pursue?  What will I use to fill the emptiness?  Whose strength will I rely on?  Whose plan will I follow?