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?

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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.

Exciting and Relevant History

Another book has been read! I’m on a roll this year since I decided to dedicate two hours a day to reading. And I mean dedicate. It’s the first thing I do each day. I can read for about an hour and a half straight before I need a break now. That’s a marked improvement from a few years back when fifteen minutes was my limit before my mind started to wander. After that first hour and a half (with coffee) first thing in the morning, I do my yoga practice, meditate, and then make breakfast. Then I can usually sit and read for another hour and a half. And that’s just my morning reading! I usually pick up the book again for a few minutes at a time during the day, especially while my son is at the gym. No, I’m not going in there! This body is made for reading, not sweating in front of other people half my age.

A couple days ago I finished “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson. I got it after watching “Inherit the Wind” and wanting to know more. I think I’ve written about this before. Movies, to me, are appetizers. They show me glimpses of what’s out there to know. I typically look up a movie I like to see if it were based on a book. If it’s a movie about a real person, I look for their auto-biography or biography if they didn’t write their own. If it’s a movie about a historical event, I look to find books about it that might give me more insight, the older and closer to the event the better.

“Summer for the Gods” was written recently so I would have bypassed it for an older one, but this book was recommended on a website because it gave both sides a fair shake. It wasn’t written from a Fundamentalist Christian or Evolutionist point of view. I could feel a bit of a leaning toward science instead of religion, but it was acceptable and reasonable. I knew the movie was a tad sensational and one-sided, so I was looking for something to balance it out.

This book was great because it started at what led up to the trial, how it went down, what changed because of it, and how it is still affecting us today. And it wasn’t boring! It read more like a novel than a history book. As a Christian, homeschooler, and a libertarian, I had no idea that this trial had so much to do with how I see things now. I highly recommend it!

In His Image

I’m reading (yes, I know I start most of my posts with “I’m reading…”) “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson after watching the movie “Inherit the Wind” a few months ago. Watching the movie, I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I did some looking around and found this book to be recommended for its clarity and balance, not to mention readability. I’m loving it. Not only is it giving me details about the Scope’s Trial, it’s giving me some great insight into the era leading up to it. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

I had a thought while reading this morning and it was prompted by this line, “’In Comte’s construction of history,’ Marsden observed, ‘humans were rising from a religious stage in which questions were decided by authority, through a metaphysical stage in which philosophy ruled, to a positive stage in which empirical investigation would be accepted as the only reliable road to truth.’”

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re in that “positive stage” anymore, if we ever were. Our questions and answers are still decided by authority, it’s just that we have given that authority to man and government approved scientists instead of the church and its approved clergy.

The way I see it, “made in the image of God” means we have been created independent, reasoning, compassionate, and strong. God did not mean for us to accept what other humans say without using our own minds. He did not create us weak minded or cold. He created us to be in a relationship. A relationship is a back and forth, give and take thing. It is not authoritarian. If He had wanted blind followers He wouldn’t have given us the free will to choose our path.

I believe God wants us to explore the world and the universe. He wants us to ask questions, have doubts, create hypothesis, and debate reality. It’s what makes us different than animals after all. If a notion someone has challenges the existence of God, let’s talk about it, explore the idea, and see where it takes us. I don’t believe God can be defeated by an idea we create.

When we strike down an idea right out of hand as something not on the table to discuss, we shut down the very part of us that drives us, the part that makes us “in the image of God.”

Roles

When I saw the ad for the show “Lucifer” I really wanted to watch it. And then I found out it had been on TV a while and I’d have to catch up, so I didn’t start recording it. Then I saw it was on Hulu! Yay! So now we’ve been watching it when we have time between Star Trek and World War II in Color. I know, we have strange tastes. Anyway… I love this show. I love the characters. I love the story. We have fun watching it. It’s just good.

This morning I thought of something interesting. Lucifer (in the show) is angry at God because he says God has made a role for him that he doesn’t want, punisher of the bad people in the world. And he hates that humans think of him as evil, mean demon going after people when all he is doing is punishing bad guys like God told him to do. His character is just so hurt and sad. It makes me want to give him a hug. He obviously needs a friend.

It’s not a very biblical view of Lucifer from what I’ve read and come to understand. But then there are some interesting things to look into here. If I go with what the show is portraying, I can say maybe this guy is wrong in his understanding of what has happened. God hasn’t chosen a role for him. He believes that’s the case and is acting it out, though.

Here’s what I think I know about the real Satan. He disobeyed God and tried to overthrow Him. God banished him from Heaven, and his followers. Satan is still angry and jealous of God and His creation and does his very best to lure us away from God, to put a wall up between us and true happiness. But it is his choice to remain jealous and angry. He could humble himself and ask for forgiveness. He doesn’t have to play the part of evil. He just does.

How many of us have that same feeling? We feel angry at God for the role He has given us in this world. We didn’t want to be born poor, male, in Maine, but here we are. We can be angry at God, jealous of our fellow humans in their relationship with God, envious of the things they have. These feelings are acted out and ruin our chances of happiness while we live in this world. Or we can humble ourselves and ask God to help us become closer to Him, to know what it is He wants for us.

We aren’t given roles in this life, we take them on. You name it, we can chose it. Good or bad. Positive or negative. In the end, it is up to us which we take on and work with. I can chose to be a victim in this world, of this world. Or I can chose to be the child of God, beautiful, powerful, happy, and content with what I have and could have in this world and the next.

Meditation & Prayer

Do you meditate? I had heard about meditation as stress relief for years before I actually tried it myself and now that I have, I can’t imagine not having that time each day. I only wish I had started doing it years ago, like maybe during high school!

Something I thought of recently was how similar mediation is to prayer. We don’t do meditation, we practice it and in the same sense I believe we should treat prayer in the same way. Let me explain.

I learned early that you can’t fail at meditation. No matter how long you sit there and focus on your breathing, you will eventually begin to let your mind wander away. At first, those wanderings come quite frequently. Each time we realize our minds have wandered, we take a breath and bring our focus back. It’s practice and with each repetition, we strengthen our focus muscles, just like any physical exercise. As we get better at it, we can use that throughout our day, not just during our meditation practice. As the day’s stress builds, our mind races, information overloads take shape, we can take a breath and refocus ourselves, calming our mind and make better decisions. It’s amazing.

Prayer is very similar. You cannot fail at it. Each day we come to our prayer space or time, we practice focusing on the Lord. We can light a candle, read or memorize scripture, write out prayers and gratitude, or just sit and relax in His care. This is our practice. We are building up our prayer muscles. Throughout our day, each time those stresses build or decisions need to be made, we can go back to that focus by remembering our morning practice or taking that deep breath and pray. Each time we do, the length of time between our prayers gets shorter and shorter. We become proficient at looking to God when we need help instead of letting the stress build up until we’re a blubbering mess ourselves.

Want to know where to start? There are loads of meditation apps out there. The first one I used was Calm https://www.calm.com/ It is not a Christian source. It’s definitely more of a Buddhist base but it does give you a good start if you don’t mind.

A Christian based one that I found very nice is Abide https://abide.is/ I haven’t used this one as much but I did enjoy it for a few months. I enjoyed the scriptural focus but felt I didn’t need as much guidance as it provided. After all, there are only so many apps I can pay for each month!

And for you skeptics out there, the ones that don’t want all the “hocus pocus” of spiritual enlightenment but would like to try out some meditations anyway, try 10% Happier. http://www.10percenthappier.com/ I’ve actually found this one to be the most help getting started and really learning how to use meditation on a daily basis. For those Christians out there, it’s definitely better than the Buddhist focused ones and it isn’t condescending either.

All these apps charge a monthly fee but have a free trial portion. I’ve found the fees to be reasonable and VERY much worth it.

Learn Nothing Day – 2017

My goal for the next thirty days is to write every day for an hour AND post it. So, if you think these posts come a tad random, that is the reason why. They are! I’ll keep them all tagged “dailies” for future reference.

Today is “Learn Nothing Day”, an event created by Sandra Dodd in an effort to show people that it is not possible to learn nothing on any given day. It does not matter if you are in school or out, in front of the TV, hiking in the woods, or quietly meditating on a beach. It doesn’t matter if you are new Mom rocking a newborn in front a fireplace or a old Dad mowing the lawn on a sunny day. Even if you are all alone in the world, you will learn something every day. It’s unavoidable! No one succeeds on “Learn Nothing Day.” We are all losers no matter how hard we try.

In honor of that day, I’ll fill you in on what I’ve already learned today and it’s only 9:15 A.M.! I’ll go backwards from the latest to the earliest pieces of the day.

I just learned that all black and green teas are “anti-inflammatory”. No, they don’t calm down arguments, or maybe they do. Can you argue over a cup of tea? But they can reduce the inflammation in your body that cause all kinds of disease. I’m glad I’m a fan of iced tea with my lunch and a hot cup of hot oolong in the afternoon.

About an hour before that, when I logged onto Facebook to see what my friends were up to (it’s currently raining and I just know all my fellow desert dwellers will be reveling in it), I was reminded that it WAS “Learn Nothing Day” and posted to remind everyone to celebrate. I also posted a link for those that may have no idea what I’m talking about. This one http://learnnothingday.blogspot.com/

So now THEY have already learned something in reading my post! Ha ha! Share the love!

During my “Christian Basics” online class, I read this question, “Will unbelievers have a second chance to believe in Jesus after He returns?” This has always been a tough one. The answer in their book is no, but maybe. There is no specific reference to whether or not they will, there is only conjecture and inference. My personal belief is yes and I really can’t know. When I was a very new believer I couldn’t accept that God would condemn all those in the world who had never heard of Jesus. What about all those who have died before Jesus came to save the world, those who have lived isolated and never heard of Him, those who have felt lied to and betrayed by humans in this world and never found anyone they could trust that would lead them to the truth? I think at Judgment Day, something will happen, something just and good, something we cannot understand now and will in the future. I will trust that God has a plan and that all is never lost for the innocent.

In my bible study by Beth Moore, called “Entrusted”, I learned something marvelous. “The church of the present – comprised of every Christian on planet Earth – has a rock-solid foundation but it doesn’t have walls.” Many would disagree with this statement but I’d say that this is the way the church, the body of Christ, should be. Hold on to that for a moment. “The body” is porous, it lets in and out impurities and nutrition, it is not isolated. It lets in and keeps what it needs to live and grow. It gets rid of that which it does not. So we should be as the body of Christ. We stand on a firm foundation of the love of God, but we do not hide ourselves away, isolated and stagnant. We breathe in the world around us, let it in, and let it wash over us. We keep that which we need, new members, love, understanding, patience, etc. And we let go of the ugly and profane. It’s a beautiful picture. The more I study the bible from other people’s perspectives, the more I find that it fits so beautifully in this life.

My Great Books of the Western World reading list put me to Lavoisier’s Chemistry this month…ugg…science. I’m so not a fan of chemistry and mathematics. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I think I’ve posted about that before. But this is pretty awesome. I won’t get into all the details just yet since I’m saving it for when I finish and review it, but let’s just say the writing is clear and easy to read and doesn’t leave you bogged down in too many details. Today I learned that people used to know about acids but not where they came from, just what they do. He developed a way of purposely creating them, which he explains in this book, and renaming them according to the element they came from. Sulfurous and sulfuric acid come from sulfur. -ous means less saturated with oxygen, smelly and more stable. -ic means saturated with oxygen, stronger, solid, and odorless. And that muriatic acid still holds that name because they didn’t know where it came from. I’m not sure if they know now or what. I guess I’d have to google it but I’m not learning anything today!

My day started with a cup of coffee and “The Question of God” by Dr. Nicholi, Jr. This is a very good book if you’re interested. From a Christian or Atheist point of view, it compares Freud’s view of the world to C.S. Lewis’. Both were influential in their time, both came from religious families and became atheist. Freud never returned to God and Lewis did. It’s fascinating to hear them compared, both what they wrote and how they actually lived. I was reading the chapter on sex this morning and found this nugget. “Lewis goes beyond Freud to argue that people who control their sexual impulses understand their sexuality more than people who fail at controlling them. ‘Virtue – even attempted virtue – brings light; indulgence brings fog.’” Freud argued that we need to not hide sexuality, we should embrace it. I’d tend to agree. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to control ourselves. As with any passion, it’s good for some things, not so good if over-indulged. Lewis once told a story about a society that sold tickets for “strip tease” sort of act where a person came out with a covered plate and slowly lifted the lid to reveal a piece of bacon. The crowd would go wild with excitement and people would hurt each other to get to it and keep it from others. I think we’d all agree that something had gone horribly wrong with their feelings about food. The same goes for sex. Something has gone terribly wrong today. I’m not sure what the fix is really. I’d rather not go back to Victorian era values of women and sex, but this view of “anything goes” does not seem to be creating a healthier and happier society either.

That brings be to the start of my day. It’s nearly ten o’clock now and I wonder what else I’ll have to try not to learn by the end of the day!