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After posting for two weeks straight about something uplifting, encouraging, and exciting, I’m kind of sad to be posting something “negative”. I haven’t posted a rant in awhile because I want to be a positive person. Right now I’m positively annoyed with receiving email petitions from well-meaning friends. I don’t sign email petitions – they are too easily faked, don’t really work, and are a waste of time. There are plenty of resources that say so, including Snopes.com and Truth or Fiction. com. The only thing they do is make me mad that people aren’t doing more on their own to bring about change they think is important. It’s easier to be one of the “1 million signatures needed”. You don’t have to get your hands dirty or build relationships. You don’t have to stand up by yourself and spend time actually working toward the cause you believe in, or take the time to make sure your communication is being received by the person who can actually make a decision to bring about the change you’re looking for. Signing an e-petition is a lazy way of saying, “I care, but not enough to actually DO something about it.”

No one in any position of authority takes email petitions seriously. Electronic signatures are meaningless, no matter how many hundreds of thousands are collected. There is NO documentation that this approach has ever worked. This site had some really interesting facts about why e-petitions are a waste of time, and here’s what they have to say about “Slacktivism”:

“Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without actually getting one’s hands dirty, volunteering any of one’s time, or opening one’s wallet. It’s slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot. Likewise, it’s slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.”

“For many, e-petitions satisfy the need to feel they are doing good and thus somewhat quell that nagging feeling they should be doing more to make the world a better place. As such, they serve a purpose as an outlet β€” those who “sign” such missives experience a personal sense of accomplishment in tandem with the warming sensation of having come to society’s aid. Good feels like it has been done in two directions β€” the signature helping a worthy cause, and the act of signing helping the person who was moved to add his name to the petition. E-petitions are sexy even when they don’t have a hope in hell of helping to accomplish their stated goals because they afford us an opportunity to bestow upon ourselves a pat on the back rather than continue to feel guilty about not doing our part. That nothing is really getting accomplished is almost beside the point; we believe we’ve been part of something worthwhile and so feel better about ourselves.”

That sounds about right.

In today’s case, the e-petition was titled, “Dr. Dobson & CBS Response”. Let me start by saying if you want to jump on board with something Dobson is trying to do, go to his website and join his cause. This e-petition begins by railing against CBS for discontinuing “Touched By An Angel” for using the word “God” in every program. The next sentence is about the atheist woman who is responsible for successfully eliminating the use of Bible reading from public schools. It goes on to say her organization has a petition that will “pave the way” for the removal of the reading of the gospel over American airwaves. And it boasts over 287, 000 signatures. The group is also campaigning to remove Christmas carols and programs from the public schools. The writer’s of this e-petition are praying for atleast 1 million signatures to defeat their effort. Great! A game of “I can get more signatures then you can”. Here’s the kicker…when you scroll down to the bottom, the petition my friend signed is to reinstate prayer in public schools and it’s supposed to be sent to President Bush at The White House by the 3000th signer. It was written to appeal to Christians through anger – talking about how “our” rights have been violated and we need to rally together. It was written without clear focus as to what it’s about – reinstating prayer wasn’t part of their convincing argument. It specified to send it to the President, but you know it’s NOT going to his personal email. What good does it do other than give the opinions of a group of people, some of whose signatures may have been faked? It’s junk mail that will be deleted by some administrative computer geek (no offense), or filtered as SPAM. The message part ends with “Together we can make a difference in our country while creating a way for the lost to know our Lord”. Good grief! What part of this creates a way for the “lost” to know “our” Lord?

The dumb thing is all over the place. There is so much more I could say but I’m done ranting for the day. I hope this post “paves the way” to people thinking before they pass along this trash to those who are actually getting their hands dirty and building relationships to bring about change. I love Jesus and care about our country and I don’t have to sign a petition or forward an email to my 10 closest friends to prove that I do, and neither do you.

Now copy and paste the logo I designed at the top of this post, and send it to all of your friends. I’m kidding!

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Sex, Part 3

You got to read some of my pet peeves in my first Sex post. It irritates me that my children see lots of flesh when we’re standing in line to pay for our groceries. I’m concerned for my boys because they don’t need those images in their minds or the consequences that could follow, and my girl because I don’t want her to grow up comparing herself to those airbrushed, perfect bodies.

I told the story in this blog post about the day I went to buy my son a calendar. There right next to Spiderman and Strawberry Shortcake was a Playboy Calendar and the swimsuit models of Sports Illustrated. Yeah I know what sport was being illustrated! I asked the manager to move them and she seemed irritated when I told her I thought it was irresponsible of the store in their placing those particular calendars down low and mixed in with calendars for children and teens. She told me she’d check into it, and I finished my shopping. Right before I left the store, she found me and smilingly told me that the general manager was moving the calendars at that moment and thanked me for giving my input. I could have just stormed out of the store and boycotted Borders and wasted precious time and energy convincing others to do the same. I could have been shocked at a secular store doing secular things and shrugged it off as them being heathens. I could have done a lot of things, but I chose to confront the problem and politely ask for it to be rectified. I was polite and right in my concerns. I didn’t expect them not to sell that stuff in their store, but I did expect them to use common sense and not market flesh to children. That’s not just a “Christian thing” you know. Evidently the manager didn’t know about the shelf stocker’s particular placement of the calendars and agreed they should be moved. Even if they had decided not to move them, I felt better because I didn’t remain silent on the issue. I got good results for not being a jerk…this time. πŸ˜‰

I’ve moved stuff like that myself, and I’ve turned magazines around so the cover faces the back of the rack, but I think that saying something to the person in charge of that stuff is more effective because of the awareness it brings. Even if I’m the first person to say something, they know that sort of thing is not o.k. with everybody who sees it. God gave me a voice and courage to use it so I can bring about change in my world. Sounds official doesn’t it? πŸ˜‰ He expects me to use it in love…that’s the key. Would the Borders manager have been spurred on to action if I had been a jerk to her? I think she saw me as a concerned parent and it made her think. Maybe she even wondered how she would have felt trying to protect little eyes from stuff like that. Maybe she was all about customer satisfaction and didn’t give me a second thought. I have no idea.

A few weeks ago, Benny took the kids to a health and fitness expo downtown. Max got to arm wrestle with the world champion arm wrestler. It was a cool day for them. When they got back to the car, there was a flyer under the windshield wiper advertising for a gentlemen’s club. Max asked Benny what it was for and Benny explained to him that it was a place where men go to look at women’s bodies, and that it made God sad. They had a short discussion about it and the seed was planted. I’m sure those conversations will continue, but right now his six year old mind doesn’t get it yet. He thinks that stuff is gross, and I pray that he holds that thought for life. It’s during those in-the-moment discussions I think our kids will learn about sexual purity.

How much damage has been done by adults that told their kids, “We’ll talk about it when you’re older” because they were too uncomfortable or didn’t know what to say? When kids ask, we better have an answer for them or they will get the answer from someone else; someone who might not have their best interest at heart. I learned “the ways of the world” the hard way. I won’t let my kids leave my home unprepared to face what they will confront. We just need to figure out how to tell them this stuff in an age appropriate way. Unfortunately, six is not too young in today’s world. I protect them from what I can, and I’m honest when they ask questions. It’s a start.

One last thing before I move on to adults tomorrow…

I read a funny story about a little boy who was at the doctor’s office with his mom. He was getting a physical done, and the Dr. had to check his privates. As soon as he touched him, the little boy yelled, “I’m going to tell an adult!” the doctor was shocked and the mother was embarrassed as she tried to explain to her son that it was o.k. and the doctor wasn’t going to hurt him. She said she was glad later that the lesson she had taught her son had sunk in. This story was only funny to me because it wasn’t me. I don’t want you or I to miss the point. Remaining silent on the sex issue is dangerous. We need to teach our kids that no one is allowed to see or touch their private parts…adults or other children. Don’t give me any of that crap about kids experimenting being harmless. Curiosity is normal, I get that, but there are kids touched by adults they trust, and some kids don’t know that it’s wrong…especially if they’ve never been told that it is. Kids that are touched themselves tend to touch other kids…see the cycle? Sexual abuse is nothing to be taken lightly. These things happen in some “Christian” homes too. Do you think Satan is not trying to work there?

Sexual abuse has been a generational sin in my family. I’m breaking that cycle of abuse. ALL of my aunts and uncles were abused, and my mom’s abuse effected how I was raised. Everything that I know and have experienced is effecting how I’m raising my own children. Talking with my mom about these things has been difficult, and she has been the best mom that she can be to me. I’m grateful for her openness. The abuse has continued into my generation, but it doesn’t have to go any further. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know how and when it is appropriate to talk about these things with my kids because they are so young. I haven’t had the luxury of it not coming to us from the outside like the instances I’ve already mentioned. My goal is to do the best I can to protect them and teach them a Godly lifestyle while living among those who don’t necessarily live that way whether they call themselves Christians or not. As a follower of Christ, we are not out of Satan’s reach, and he will test us, tempt us, and slaughter us or our witness when he gets the chance. This is too important of an issue for us to remain silent.

Next post: Sex is good…adults and temptation…and www.XXXchurch.com

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Sex, Part 2

I was at a party with some friends last night when we got into an interesting discussion about dating. My friend’s teenage daughter (a freshmen in high school) was sitting with us, and she was telling me that she was dumped last month by a boy who didn’t treat her well, but she still likes him. I told her she didn’t need to be dating anyway. It wasn’t my place because I’m not her parent, but I said it before I thought about it. Her mom said her sister-in-law had a rule for her daughter that she couldn’t date until she made a list of the qualities she was looking for in a boyfriend, and that the girl’s standards changed a lot and she was more choosy about who she would date because of it. My friend thought this was a great idea, but I pushed the conversation a little further than that.

I asked my friend’s daughter why she needed/wanted to date a boy. She said because it’s fun and you can do stuff together. I told her you can do that with a “friend”, so why the need for it to be a “boyfriend”? She just smiled and I said the only reason boys and girls want to be boyfriend and girlfriend is so you have someone you can be physical with. “Am I wrong?” I asked her. She shook her head and said “No”. As far as the list thing is concerned, I had a list like that when I was twelve! I also had a 17-year-old boyfriend. Please tell me why a 17-year-old would want to date a 12-year-old?! I know I’m pretty special (wink~wink) but I’m pretty sure it was the size of my chest. Also, it took me about 30 seconds to jot down a list that would fit whatever guy I was currently interested in, or I would justify him to my existing list. Here’s what I’m trying to say: Lists and Rules aren’t enough.

On the way to the party Benny and I had been talking about why my brain has been set on sex (mainly writing about it – haha) for the past week. He had read my post yesterday and said, “where’d that come from??” I explained where my thoughts have been and told him my frustrations with a silent (or skewed) society and church on the subject. I was angry that I grew up in the “Just Say No” days. “Just Say No” wasn’t good enough for me, and it’s not for kids today either. I wanted to know WHY I should say no. “Because I said so”, and “because God said so” weren’t good enough either. Neither was the pregnancy and STD speech …no teenager thinks that can happen to them.

At youth rallies I attended, sex, drinking, drugs and satanic music were the common themes. I wondered aloud if I really was taught the “why” but I didn’t hear it because the speaker lost me the second he started bashing everything he thought I might be doing. I still hate it when people assume things about me or generally lump me into a stereotype. As I’ve already divulged here, I was playing around with sex, but the other things weren’t even a temptation for me.

I also hate it when Christians use the Bible to prove something to people who don’t know the Bible and don’t yet have a reason to believe (or care) what it says. At that point in my life, I didn’t have any understanding of scripture or the depth of God’s love and desires for me. So why should I believe a brief-case toting youth minister who didn’t know me or my personal struggles, standing up on a stage talking down to me and threatening me with hell if I didn’t follow God’s plan for my life? I needed something a little more concrete than that…something more real to me. I think kids today deserve more than that canned approach. The only people I listened to were people I thought were genuine in their concern for me and those I had a relationship with. Honestly, sometimes I didn’t listen to them either. Being a teenager is tough, and learning about sexual purity in the middle of hormonal changes and rages isn’t helpful or practical. Those are lessons that should be taught LONG before they will be tested.

I believe kids aren’t learning and practicing sexual purity for a lot of reasons, the main one being it isn’t being taught in the home. I know there are always exceptions to this, but I know and love many Christians who have very worldly views when it comes to purity. A lady commented on my last post that she is single again after a painful divorce and even her Christian friends chide her and don’t think purity is even a possibility in today’s world. These are church friends, the ones who should be encouraging and supporting her. That tells me something about church isn’t working…but that’s a post for another day. I have friends who say they know their kids will experiment because that’s just normal and they can’t stop them. While that is true to a point, training for years before those days arrive would be a better offense than the “that’s just normal” defense. I don’t have all the answers, but I have plenty of ideas. My kids are already learning about modesty, purity, respect, and all those qualities God told me to ingrain in them.

Zoe comes to me and tells me when a shirt is too small for her. She’s 3 years old, so how does she know? Because ever since she started wearing big girl clothes as opposed to baby clothes, we’ve been teaching her that if it’s tight fitting or she raises her hands over her head and you can see her belly button – her shirt is too small. When she asked “Why?” (one of her favorite words) we told her that her belly didn’t need to be seen by everyone – that is skin we think should be covered. Am I worried that she’s going to be showing it off or someone is going to lust after her body because of the availability of her skin? Not at 3, but when she’s 12 and her body is developing…who knows? It won’t be our clothing rule that will keep her modest, it will be the day-to-day training ever since she can remember.

Clothing is a symptom, not the problem. The problem is in the heart. I need to speak to Zoe’s heart and teach her about God’s heart for her. There are teens out there who are modest and remained pure until their weddings.I know them. I know it can be done. I’ve talked with the parents and asked, “How did you do it?” Their answer? You have to start small…as in when they are young. This may not be a great comfort to you if your kids are already in their teens, and I’m not saying it is too late if they are. I do have to warn you that teaching sexual purity is not easy. I believe God calls us to do it and He gives us the strength to stand up under the persecution that inevitably follows: the rolling eyes, the comments about being prudish or old-fashioned, and looking a little ridiculous to those who don’t share our convictions.

If you’re the parent of a teen, please don’t use unwanted pregnancy and STD’s as your reasons for not wanting your kids to abstain from sex. Yes, those are scary and the consequences are far-reaching, but as a spiritual being, you know it is so much more than that! Giving your body (including the heart) away to someone who will be foolish with it is not only stupid and a sin, but it hurts. Tough consequences are not always physical. Books on self-help and recovery are a multimillion dollar industry. I wonder if that would be so if people in general-including Christians – would take sexual purity more seriously.

Parents: Hear me say this loud and clear: It is NOT the school’s job to teach your kids sexual purity. It is NOT the youth minister’s job (or his wife’s). It is NOT the job of the preacher at your church to do a sermon series on sexual purity and you pray really hard that your child is listening. It is YOUR job. No one can or should do this for you! Who loves your child more than you???

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Sex, Sex, Sex – Part 1

It’s for sale everywhere we look. And we are desensitized to it. I’ve lost count of how many strip clubs are in a five-mile radius of my house. I don’t live in upscale, clean and safe suburbia. It’s not always so in-your-face. Sex is for sale in the check out lane of my our grocery stores. I’m not talking about Playboy, but on the covers of the fashion magazines and tabloids. It’s in the calendar aisle of our bookstores and in the romance novels lent out from our libraries. Sex is everywhere. And it’s our job to remain pure and teach our children to do the same? The deck is stacked against us, friends.

With our friends on the streets, sex is currency. I’ll have sex with you if you find me food and shelter for the night. I’ll have sex with you if you get me a $3.00 bag of heroin and share your needle with me. I’ll have sex with you so I’ll feel loved – even just for a little while. I’ll have sex with you so you’ll be “my old lady” and belong to no one else. This stuff is real, I hear it straight from the street kids themselves.

The news is dotted with stories of elementary school kids experimenting with sex, and junior high kids having oral sex parties. If you remember from my Redeeming Love, Part 2 post, most kids today don’t think oral sex is sex at all. Like I did at their age, they are believing the lie that sex is intercourse and everything else is just playing, testing to see what it feels like, and getting a preview of the real thing. Sometimes when the real thing finally does happen, it’s no big deal because of the sensations you’ve already experienced and you wonder what the big deal was about waiting for “IT”. Been there, done that.

Sex was not created by Satan, as some of the conservative adults in my life growing up made me believe. God made sex and even included a whole book about it in His Word. It is a gift to be shared between two people who have made the commitment to a lifetime of sharing it with only each other. Sex is not just intercourse, it’s being intimate in any way with someone else. It’s touching and probing whether both people are clothed or not. It’s giving a piece of yourself away to your partner, and accepting a piece of them in return, or not.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines sex as : “The sexual urge or instinct as it manifests itself in behavior.”

Oral sex is anything sexual involving the mouth. Would that make kissing a form of oral sex? Why do we kiss? To show our affection? To gain pleasure? To give pleasure? To be physically connected to our partner? I’m talking kissing here, not the innocent thing we give each other on the cheek as a greeting or a goodbye, but mouth to mouth contact. Think about it. If kissing were no big deal, then why is it so wrong for an adult and a child to kiss? Or how about young children kissing? Disturbing isn’t it?

Our world says sex is just physical, and nothing more, that we can detach ourselves from it mentally. What a lie. Even if we think we can detach ourselves, our subconscious knows and we live with it inside of us, acting out in ways we don’t even realize.

Our world says we should be intimate with potential life partners to see if we’re compatible. This is the funniest and stupidest of all the lies. Since when does physical compatibility have anything to do with it? Guess what? If there is a problem with physical compatibility, there are ways to ease or correct that problem. People use that as an excuse to experiment and play with fire.

Our world says it’s no big deal to show our bodies off. Some Christians buy into that too. NOW do I have your attention?

What does it say to a pre-teen or teen when their parents or other adults in their life encourage them in their pursuing of the opposite sex?

What does it say when we (adults) encourage them to “date around” and not get too serious with just one person? We hope they find “the right one”, just not too young or too soon. And when they do think they’ve found the right one and things go badly, we tell them there are other fish in the sea. We waver between not wanting them to have experiences too soon, and encouraging them to play the field. That’s messed up. What if they have found the right person for them and they want to get married and start their life together? I know what you’re thinking – it depends on their age, right? What if they’re both sixteen? Would that scare you and be unacceptable? How about 18? They’re legally adults and can vote and fight in a war at that age. How about 21?

What does it say when we think it’s romantic when they get that first kiss? Or when they hold hands and he plays with her hair when they sit near each other? It looks so innocent, but have your forgotten the fire that burns under the skin when you are touched by someone you desire? For guys, Benny calls it setting off their launch sequence.

What does it say about the Christian sub-culture when we look just like the world? Women and girls with tight and/or short skirts with lots of leg showing? Tight fitting shirts that accentuate breasts and waistlines? Or low-cut, cleavage showing clothing? Isn’t that advertising the goods? Guys aren’t without blame with their baggy pants that hang below their underwear, (not that it is attractive to girls) and their looks of approval to the women and girls mentioned above. It’s everywhere. Yes, even at church. I have separated teens that were getting too cozy with each other during the sermon. And do you think affairs never happen with church people?

There is not a corner of our society that you can find without the influence of sex.

Or is there?

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