Abstinence vs Safe Sex

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we tell girls at the pregnancy clinic when they come in for a pregnancy test. It’s something that weighs heavy on my mind.

I started volunteering there to help stop abortion. Killing people seems to be wrong in just about every religion. You can even argue that killing babies before they are born is wrong from a secular, humanist standpoint. I watch these women do their best every day to warn others about abortion and what it does to the baby they are carrying and themselves. It may seem like raising a child or having one and giving him or her to another family to raise is difficult, but it’s nothing compared to the emotional trauma you will go through if you decide to kill that child before it is born at any stage of development. We can justify it to the ends of the earth, dress it up in flowery and medical language, but our human minds know by instinct what we’ve done, and the dissonance runs through the rest of our lives whether we face it or not. What we do at the clinic is try to show women that they are capable of doing great things, so that aborting that child is the furthest thing from their mind not the first and easiest option to an unexpected pregnancy.

But that’s not what’s got me thinking this time. Recently, I’ve learned more and more about what we tell girls about sex and their bodies. We promote abstinence from sex before marriage as the one and only option, whether or not they are Christians. And we do it by attempting to scare them into abstinence by telling them they will get horrible incurable diseases that they will unknowingly spread to others and possibly die from. Not only do I believe this is not true, I just don’t think it is effective.

What would I do? What do I tell my son or daughter? I have told them that sex is a beautiful, awesome and, yes, a super fun thing to do. But like Peter Parker’s uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” As Christians, we believe that sex between a husband and wife is the only place you can do it and be safe. If we stay faithful to our spouse and take the vows we made seriously, we satisfy that need to be physically close to another human while protecting that person from harm both physically and emotionally.

But what if you are not a Christian? What if you don’t have a religion at all? Does telling them that sex outside of marriage is forbidden by God effective? Does attempting to scare them into not having sex work for anyone? I don’t think so. But there does seem to be an alternative.

What if we used secular, humanistic methods instead when talking to people that aren’t of our own faith? What if we gave them the medical facts about sex instead? We could counsel them on monogamy, sex with one stable partner at a time. We could counsel them about how to avoid bringing a child into the world before they are ready to provide a stable two-parent home for them, other than killing it after it is conceived. We could counsel them on the importance of staying medically clean, that there are ways to protect themselves from disease and that they should be seeing a doctor often to be sure they are still clean and if they aren’t, to be treated before they spread that disease on to their next partner. Personally, I would have liked to hear more about other kinds of birth control when I was younger.

A doctor tends to be busy and one-sided. As volunteer counselors, we have the time and the sensitivity to help people explore what’s out there. We could be helping them to better understand their bodies, their needs, and pointing them to places to get more information. These things would be far more effective in preventing the spread of disease, future child abuse and neglect, and killing the unborn.

But as a Christian, shouldn’t I be promoting what God has commanded for us? Of course! But I say treat the symptoms first, so no worse harm is done, and then start looking at the cause. When we are sick, we take the medicine to bring down the fever before we find out what is causing it. We should be living happy, content, and fulfilling lives, so much so that when people see us they wonder what it is that gives us that peace. I’d rather start by telling a lost young person about the love I find in Jesus and how my relationship with the Father has given me a new sense of pride and responsibility in this world. When that young person begins to have that same relationship, they begin to feel the love that compels them to behave in different ways. That’s when we start to talk about what a real earthly relationship is supposed to be like. That’s when the drug use, the alcohol, and the promiscuous sex can stop. I want them to know God loves them even on drugs, even if they are angry, and even if they are prostituting themselves. Once we begin to really feel that love, we begin to love ourselves.

When we love ourselves, we act in better, more loving and responsible ways. Until these children hear and feel the love of God in their lives, can’t we try to mitigate the damage they can do to themselves and others?

Private Homeschooling Under Attack?

I wrote this today in response to a bill recently introduced in my home state. I’m reposting it here on my personal blog because it’s an issue near and dear to my heart. There is more specific information about the bill in the link at the end of this post.

“Why not have a Fire Marshall inspect your home if you are going to use the private school laws to home school? The private school I send my children to has to have an inspection.”

I’ll tell you why, because this private school is my home, with only my children as students. It is not a business. I do not charge people money to be here. I do not watch or educate other people’s children. I do not say to people, “Come here and I will keep your children safe and educate them while you are at work for only this many dollars a month!” The only people living and learning here are my family. Regardless of how old my children are or where they go to school, I still have the right to a private home free from government regulation. This is the United States of America.

Let’s think about this bill for a minute.

If your children are under compulsory school attendance age, under six years old, you would not have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

If your children attend the local public school during the day, leave at 7am and come home at 4pm to spend the night, you don’t have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

If your children are enrolled in a public charter school and spend most of their days at home, you don’t have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

But if you satisfy compulsory education laws in California by creating a private school, pay for and use your own curriculum, keep your own records, and educate your own children, you should have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home?

Should your home be just as fire safe as the local public or private school down the road? Sure. And I bet it already is. If you own your own home, the house was probably inspected when you bought it, when you refinanced, or when you upgraded your home owner’s insurance. If you rent, there are regulations about renting in California and you are most likely pretty safe there. “Fire Safety” addressed in this bill is already covered.

And how about the notion that the Fire Marshall coming in and inspecting your home once a year would keep children safe from abusive parents? Do you really think so? Teachers are trained and regulated. Doctors, dentists, and therapists are trained and regulated. Gym teachers and sports coaches are trained. Background checks and fingerprinting are done on all of these people. They all take classes each year to notice signs of abuse. They see the same children on a regular basis and they are all legally required to report abuse when they suspect it. But children continue to be abused, many times by the very highly regulated people that were charged with reporting it.

So what good would a Fire Marshall inspection on home-based private schools do? Next to none. In fact, it would probably do more harm than good. If you believe that if you have nothing to hide, then nothing can be reported against you, you are naïve. When an authority goes looking for trouble, they will find it. That’s not being a conspiracy theorist. It’s just human nature and it happens on a daily basis. It may not have happened to you, but it happens every day. When it does, it’s destructive and tears families apart in much the same way abuse does. It’s why we have laws that protect us from searches like these. It’s why we have “innocent until proven guilty.” Laws that make it hard for the police and other authority figures to search you or your property are there to protect the innocent from being harassed.

The state of California’s constitution gives everyone the right to an education. As a parent, I’ve chosen to educate my children privately without the financial help of the state government. My children are receiving an education. It may not be the one that the government wants for them, but that does not make us suspect and subject to search. Do we really want to treat parents as criminals simply because they chose to educate their children outside of state control?

For more information about this bill and to stay on top of the latest legislation, please visit The California Homeschool Network’s website HERE. Please consider becoming a member as well!

Train of Thought

I just don’t seem to have much to say today. I’ll just list out some things I’m thinking about.

I’m stressed at the lack of opposition to government regulation on all fronts. When did we become so trusting of government officials? I hear from the same people, “Politicians are all crooks.” AND “We need more government oversight and control.” I find that very strange.

My babies are almost grown. Distressing and exciting at the same time. It feels rewarding to have a job nearing some kind of completion.

My house is a mess and I need to clean it up…maybe later. I just started a new book. For now, the dishes being done will have to do.

Our area decided to have a bit of winter this week and we went from a high of 75 degrees to 40 degrees in one day. It’s stayed that way all week. I woke up to 23 degrees! I’m not a big fan of cold, especially windy cold.

And the one big thing. A long time ago I came to the realization that there are very few actual “have to’s” in the world. I mean DAMN few. Yes, if I don’t clean up the kitchen it will be hard to make dinner, but I don’t actually HAVE TO clean up the kitchen. I could just eat out, move things aside, wash a dish to put my chili in or ask my son to do it. The only thing I have to do is die.

Realizing that everything is a choice is pretty liberating. I’d even say relaxing. But it also adds some trouble. When you just don’t feel like helping a friend or doing a load of laundry, while you don’t HAVE to, you probably should, and you have to use your willpower to get it done. It’s always something.

The Hero With A Thousand Faces

“The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell was recommended several times in Tim Ferriss’ book, and since I love mythology, I had to read that next!

The thing I love most about mythology is how similar all the stories are. I was a little worried about reading this book at first because we Christians like to pretend that our faith has no mythology, that religion and mythology are completely separate. This book describes ancient mythology along with Judeo Christian and some Muslim mythology as well and shows the patterns we humans keep coming up with. It is not condescending, and I very much enjoyed it.

It’s amazing how similar our ancient stories are across the globe and throughout time. He shows how stories reflect the human condition, that we all search for meaning in the world, that we all interpret the divine through our own experiences. There was a lot of storytelling, which I love. It didn’t just mention that this culture had a story about a dog, it told the story. Some were so bizarre! I can’t help but think those ancients were pretty strange folk.

And the epilogue really made me think about the future. Where are we going? With all our new technology and scientific research, is the idea of a spiritual God dead? Can we “create” a new religion of science and state? Can we survive on the idea that man is just another animal on this planet? I just don’t think so.

The further we look into our world and the further we look out into the universe, the more infinite it becomes. I’ve always imagined God continuing to move farther and farther out, creating more and more for us to find because His creation keeps getting smarter. And like a Father watching his young son explore his toes, He beams with pride.

I was recently listening to a podcast about different dimensions and the existence of God. It reminded me of a Star Trek episode (what doesn’t, right?!). It was TNG, they were moving some field of two-dimensional beings that they could only experience from a certain angle, but the beings couldn’t fathom three dimensions at all. They could feel the effects of the third dimension, but not know what was happening for sure because they could not experience it. They probably made up complicated analogies about what they believed was happening that got closer and closer to the reality as they progressed their thinking. And there were probably naysayers there that insisted there were only two dimensions and that everything could be explained in two dimensions if they just looked hard enough.

And here we are, us third dimension folk, wondering if the forces we feel in our lives are beyond our dimension, from a world outside of our senses, one that IS time instead of moving through time like us. And the scientists grumble about us looking beyond the world we can see and touch.

Will we ever experience that reality? I believe so.

Confession

I don’t like poetry. And, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of fiction either. Strange, isn’t it? The fiction I do like is a plain good story, like a great movie that makes you laugh, cry, or run screaming from the room. But I don’t like to have to figure out what the author meant by certain scenes or having to read about who the author was and what his contribution to society was, or what she was trying to portray through the story. I just like to read stories and know people and places through them. Simple.

Poetry? Forget it. Unless it’s just obviously pretty or makes me sigh, I really couldn’t care less about it. Sometimes I read a line of a popular poem (or hear a lyric from a song) and it hits me. I think, “Wow. That’s awesome.” But to read poetry and try to figure out what it means? It’s boring.

What do I like? History, biography, philosophy. I like books that tell you something, straight out. “I think X is like Y on crack.” Or “In that same year, so-and-so was bundling up and heading out to chop firewood.” I like books of information. I put all those pieces of information together like a big puzzle and try to make sense of this world. It’s fascinating.

Why in the world am I writing about this today? Because I’ve been reading more fiction lately and I just realized it. The stranger the book, the higher it is rated in “literary circles,” the more I don’t like it. And I just realized something else…I don’t like “art” either! I mean, I like pictures and I like pretty buildings and stained-glass windows. I kind of like statues if they are in a garden. But just art for the sake of trying to say something? Nah.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

My evening meditation, just before bed, starts with a page of “The Daily Stoic” and then five minutes of focused breath. Last night, I read this one:

“Whenever you take offense at someone’s wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings, such as seeing money as good, or pleasure, or a little fame – whatever form it takes. By thinking on this, you’ll quickly forget your anger, considering also what compels them – for what else could they do? Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion.” – Marcus Aurelius

I love “The Daily Stoic” because it explains the quote. Some of them I get the meaning of right away, some I’m totally lost, and some (like this one) I understand part of but not completely. I was thankful for the paragraph of clarification this time because it’s something we all could really use.

When was the last time you did something evil? When have you deliberately insulted someone, or didn’t call because you just felt like pissing them off? You’ve probably never done anything to hurt someone on purpose, but someone was still angry with you. You hurt their feelings by your words or actions. You forgot to call or just didn’t have the energy to come to a party.

Don’t you think almost everyone you encounter feels the same way? I may be offended by a lack of a Christmas card or a careless remark on Facebook, but that person most likely is not deliberately trying to hurt me.

We can think of this each time someone really irritates us and it will ease our hearts. When someone cuts you off on the freeway? It was probably a lack of focus. I’ve done that. When someone doesn’t move out of your way when you come up the grocery aisle? They probably didn’t see you because they are so focused on what they are doing.

I’m still not sure what he means by “Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion.” Any ideas?

“Do you even lift, bro?”

Yesterday, I finished reading “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clark and sighed. Wow. I forgot how much I love sci-fi. This book was so good, that I was rushing through and when I got to the last twenty pages, I shut the book and waited until the next day to finish it. I wanted to savor the end, but I was being drawn through it like a magnet.

This morning I picked up my next book, “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and doubted if anyone else is out there reading. I know they are. I read things they post on the internet, but they seem so far away. Like distant planet far. What would it be like if everyone I knew loved to read? Could we go for coffee and talk? Would we read similar things, or share the differences? I’m discouraged when I say, “Oh, man! That reminds me of an awesome book I read recently!” and someone says, “When do you read? I just don’t have the time.” It’s as bizarre to me as hearing someone say, “I just don’t have the time to take a shower and eat.” And it makes me as sad as hearing someone say, “I think reading is for people that just don’t have a real life.”

I do realize that everyone is different, some people just aren’t readers and they are pretty cool people. I know. I’m living with them! I guess I’m just feeling lonely in this world. I don’t read to escape life. I read to expand my world, to nourish my soul, to understand humanity. To not read is to cut myself off from my soul. Is there anyone out there doing the same thing? There has to be. Otherwise, there would be no books to read, right?

Feeling Ugly

A new bill was introduced today in an attempt to regulate private homeschoolers. After a long walk and talk session with a friend this morning, I was already a little down about the state of things in our country and now this.

I’m writing in the afternoon, which is not my best time. I’m usually upbeat and inspired in the morning. That’s when I sit down to write something fabulous. Yep. That’s me. Fabulous. At least, that’s how I feel when I’m letting words flow onto the screen. The afternoons, well…I’ve had time to have the shine rubbed off a bit.

I made the silly mistake of checking Facebook and my email an extra time today and now I’m sitting here…discouraged.

Do we really think that if we only make one more law, one more inspection, one more regulation, people won’t be able to hurt themselves or others? How much power are we willing to give a government entity over us in order to feel safe? Apparently, a lot. And then we can all sit around and cry about how “they” won’t let us live our lives and “they” are taking over everything and doing bad things with it. I guess that’s better than taking responsibility for our own lives.

Sorry. I think I’ll go make a cup of tea and watch the sun set over the desert before I make dinner.

Those Crazy Stoics

“Heraclitus would shed tears whenever he went out in public – Democritus laughed. One saw the whole as a parade of miseries, the other of follies. And so, we should take a lighter view of things and bear them with an easy spirit, for it is more human to laugh at life than to lament it.” – Seneca

When I read things like this, I’m always amazed at how little has changed over thousands of years. Humans have been running around in circles for centuries. You’d think it’d make every day feel futile, but it brings me peace. It makes me take a step back and look at life in a different light, one that isn’t so serious. I can work hard all my life, get all my ducks in a row, but still just die at the end and enter the gates of heaven with nothing in my hands but my memories. Why not make some good ones instead of lamenting the state of things around me?

I find this quote rather comforting today. This past week something happened that really pushed my angry buttons. It’s pretty life changing and dramatic, trust me. The city has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to put up a raised divider on the highway to help decrease accidents. I’m not sure how this helps though. This has been going on for a while now. A new one pops up every year. Our town has stores all along both sides of the highway and most have their own driveway or parking area. Now if you want to turn left into one of these businesses you must pass it, find a place to make a U-turn on the highway, and come back to turn right. I’m not sure how this is supposed to be safer, but I am just your average citizen and I probably just don’t understand.

Well, it irritated me to see them going up through town before, but now it’s affecting me personally and I’m the one trying to make a U-turn. Not fun. I’ve found a place to turn left into and turn around in their parking lot, but it adds five minutes to my ten-minute commute. Yesterday, I literally sat there waiting for over five minutes to find a space between cars to turn. What is this town coming to?!

See? I’m sitting here grumbling about it. I came into the office grumbling yesterday. It didn’t do me any good. I can’t change it. And, on top of that, it is a pretty trivial thing to grump about. But most things are, aren’t they? The little things pile up on us and suddenly we feel their weight and groan. Maybe putting those little things down instead of carrying them along would be a better idea. That way when the big thing comes along I will have the strength to deal with it instead of being already spent on the little things.

Share the Love

Two quotes from what I read in The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell this morning.

“The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, that He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are His children.”

And “The World Savior’s cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.”

Why are we so reluctant to demonstrate this truth? I honestly believe it’s because it is so difficult to give up our human ego. It’s tangible and makes us feel safe. I’m reminded of a man I met while visiting a church this past weekend. I was representing the pro-life pregnancy clinic in our town. He said, “I just try not to think of this stuff (meaning abortions being done). It makes me too angry and I just want to kill them.” I was shocked into silence and then said, “It makes me sad too.” That’s all I could say. Sitting here, twenty-four hours later, I know what I would want to say if I heard those words again. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” “They have been deceived and our only call is to show them the love of Christ so that they know the truth of ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

Why are we (Christians) so quick to condemn others? It breaks my heart. And then I read this one,

“If the God is a tribal, racial, national, or sectarian archetype, we are the warriors of his cause; but if he is a lord of the universe itself, we then go forth as knowers to whom all men are brothers.”

That’s where we go wrong as Christians. We read the bible, call Him OUR God, and take up His cause ourselves. We are not judges of this world. I am not His warrior, I am His child just like you, whether you know it or not. I have sinned no less than anyone else born in this world, in God’s eyes. I see the gift of salvation and I know I am not worthy of it. It is given in love and I accept it.

Everyone sins every day in a multitude of ways. Love your fellow men. They are children of God and do not realize it. I want to be an example of God’s love in every act, every word, every thought.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13