Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rants of a Happy, Grumpy Woman: the Part 2 I didn't know I needed

Growing up in American Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, the one thing that was drilled into my brain to be acceptable was this: sex. Once I reached that golden age of 16, everything in the youth group was geared toward preparation for spouse, marriage, and the resulting children. If an adult was prolonging single status, all they needed to "be right with God" was a regular sex life in holy matrimony. If an adult was in a legal marriage, all they needed to "be right with God" was for that regular sex life to produce children. If an adult had a spouse and one child, all they needed to "be right with God" was to tally up the numbers in the child-bearing department.

Off course, the churches were never that crass to say it bluntly like that. Often it would be questions to older teens and adults like "Are you seeing anyone?", "Are you married yet?", "When are you going to have a baby?", and "When are you going to have another one?" From the pulpit, fiery messages on finding mates, roles in family, and keeping pure until marriage would happen at least once a week in the three-a-week service routine.

For sex to constantly be on the brain as a church-going young person was not unusual, but when I would ask questions of the adults in my life, many acted as if it was unusual that a post-pubescent youth would ask about THAT topic. But in a culture that spent more time preparing it's young people for potential sexual relationships than for working in the kingdom of God what could be more usual than asking questions about sex? "The most important day of your life second only to salvation is the day you marry"...okay, so it's unusual that I'm thinking about sex when a sexually active relationship is at the top of your list for my purpose as an adult?

About six years ago, I started prayerfully studying and researching the concept of sexual orientation. As a celibate young woman, I often felt ostracized in the churches I attended because I was reaching that 30 year milestone without a husband. Highly suspect in most congregations, and highly outsider when every social event and Sunday School class for female adults focused on who I was sleeping with or what my womb had produced: women's classes were labeled wive's classes or mother's classes. Yes, there was an occasional college class but those consisted of young adults age 18-22. I had aged out of traditional college Sunday School classes.

I did have a fiance once upon a time. But we had never had sex. This is abnormal, even among Bible-believing Christians, as practicing heterosexuality is a virtue. The excuses so-called Biblical counselors handed me were "you were sexually abused as a child; this is why sexual activity is a problem for you" and "you will have to get that right in your life before God will even bring you a husband because that's a duty of a wife: sex". The excuses peers gave me were "it's because you're religious" and "you were abused as a kid".

People were telling me who I was and how I felt from all sides of the human sexuality debate. So I went to see a licensed Christian counselor about the matter of the sex abuse I endured as a child and sexual harassment I endured at age 20. While there were mental and emotional matters I needed to sort through, after 5 years, I can tell you my being a Christian nor my survivorship from sexual abuse is to blame for my aversion to sex.

There is a thing called sexual orientation. The Scriptures don't deal with it because this concept only began emerging in the 19th century. What the Scriptures deal with is sexual acts. This is why the Bible addresses the following as sexual sins: fornication, adultery, concupiscence (lust), lasciviousness (wanton behavior).

What about Sodom? Sodom? Yes, Sodom. The Bible never tells us what orientation these men are; it only tells us their actions of wanting to gang rape Lot's visitors. Gang rape is reprehensible by any humans whatever their orientation may be.

What about Romans chapter 1? Yes, Paul's conclusions. Paul addresses the behavior of temple prostitutes. Some of them seem to be described as today's homosexuals and I'm sure those prostitutes also included heterosexual persons as the Bible is well-versed in today's heterosexual sins. It is most reprehensible, spiritually, to worship unknown gods in group sexual activity.

When I researched and learned sexual orientation, I talked to my Christian counselor as well as read books by Christians: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and Wesley Hill. I discovered I happen to be on the asexual side of life. Asexual is a term for people who are predisposed to finding sex unappealing.

This made so much sense to me: why I could kiss my former fiance and that act not leading to intercourse because my body didn't crave it. Definitely different from what many of my peers experienced and talked about when kissing a member of the opposite sex and different from what I heard preachers preach about the opposite sex: "Holding hands and kissing only leads to sex".

But it didn't strike me to wear this label "asexual", because I did and do experience attraction mentally and emotionally. Which is when I found the term demisexual. This is probably why celibacy isn't a difficult part of my life while for many adults it can be a challenge and for Christian adults, a challenge they often take to God.

As a demisexual oriented person, I can feel love and satisfaction just being in the platonic company of friends. This still doesn't mean I wouldn't want to get married someday. If I found another person who had a similar orientation, who's to say what the future holds?

I truly wish more Christians would research sexual orientation and sexual acts. I fear that because many in society have a label for their attractions, many Christians will dismiss at best and harass at worst those people who don't come across as straight. The church should be a place that doesn't discriminate on identity.

To preach a human is going to hell because of their sexuality is simply not true. Humans are beings. Straight is neither right nor wrong. Gay is neither right nor wrong. Anything in between like bisexual or pan-sexual is neither right nor wrong. The rightness and wrongness comes in the actions: do they serve self or the loved one? Preaching should be condemning rape, molestation, and sins against the partner. How can a state of being be a condition for heaven or condition for love? If there is a state of being condemned to hell, do babies that die go to Hell?

Do some people who feel same-sex attraction or aversion-to-sex attractions want to change? Do they feel that these attractions are unwanted? Yes, some do, and it is their right to seek counseling. But what is not appropriate is suggesting these people go to conversion therapy (a form of shame using violent recourse on those who do not have straight attractions).

On Monday, September 18, 2017, my prideful, Christian heart was able to speak to my peers, faculty at Stout, and community members about my ignorance and pride in once considering straight to be a prerequisite to the kingdom of God. I was even able to correct my use of the word "Sodomite" in my first book. (I have since updated A Letter to My Friend on my Goodreads author page under my author review-note *my updated views are not necessarily the views of the publisher or the preachers that forwarded that particular book*)

I regret the hurt caused to the Stout community by an advertisement recommending Conversion Therapy, yet I am experience healing since this issue has come to light: Sexual Orientation and Religion:

https://storify.com/Olliebrown/street-level-ministries-stout-homophobic-controver


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rants Of A Happy, Grumpy Woman

It's funny to me when others assume one has strict moral standards because one is happy to acquiesce to those principles or one is drunk on authoritative control over the masses or simply because they feel more superior than all of society because they can, like a mindless drone, follow orders. Having values that society interprets as "conservative", whatever that word means anymore, has never been about what makes me happy, what I desire or feel pleasurable about, nor has it ever been about some unseen reward waiting for me in glory someday or about the praise and adoration of elders or peers. My personal morals have been all about me and my soul and it's communication with a Holy Spirit from a crucified and resurrected Savior from a loving and merciful God.

Sexuality is a moral issue to me. Human sexuality in particular is very sacred, personal and life producing whether in the physical presence of children or the spiritual and emotional tangibility of making love. Just like the next young adult female, I innately want to explore and share my sexuality with another like minded human being. (This desire is normal for teenagers as well, however my teen years were spent focusing on my survival due to the trauma of childhood sexual assault. It was not until around two years of therapy as an adult that I realized my sexuality wasn't dirty or tainted but a natural part of being human.) It's a very tender, personal part of me and having not been able to completely engage with another in this way has led to frustrating and scary sadness. 

I don't make the decision of abstinence, until I am in a safe and mutually respected, responsible and loving relationship, lightly. It's downright miserable to choose the lifestyle entitled "virgin". It's not for those who have flippant, whimsical morals for they would just justify liaisons. Virgin shouldn't be a claimed status due to reserving one's body for another. Virgin should be claimed with power and dignity because one takes into account their own body, hopes, thoughts, feelings and dreams and says "no" to all that is manipulative and controlling and abusive. The reason for virginity isn't to satisfy the perverted ends of others. It's a choice for those who are looking to discover and embrace their sexuality on their terms. When I do decide to have sex, it will be because my thoughts, my feelings, my values and my body are cherished. It's really not un-lovability or brokenness on my part why I have chosen virgin, though it may feel like it at times. It's really a sad commentary that there are many like me and no other person has yet to treat those like me nor myself with the God given love we deserve, and would rather offer exploitation of our innocence based on their so called concern for our physical health and lust for our flesh. Don't offer to teach me lessons based on your perceptions and wants, rather find someone with your moral values and stop forcing me to be someone I'm not. How long I stay a virgin is not up to you or anyone else but me and my God.

Everyone's feelings of what comes "naturally" to them in sexual attraction is so diverse that it's such a flimsy argument to just go with whatever one feels his or her body desires. I have come to despise the labels of straight and gay and the logic behind going with whatever makes you happy. The Bible wasn't just written in the 21st century so it doesn't even address the concept of sexual orientation. God condemns sexual practices,  never the person and his or her orientation. With this mindset, heterosexuality has just as many moral issues as homosexuality. Sexual practices in the Bible are condemned because they stem from pride and lust and this includes defilement inside marriage, rape, pedophilia, incest, adultery, pornography and fornication. This is a huge list of opposite gender disparities as well as same gender disparities.  Christians say the Bible says and God says blah blah blah a lot, including myself. This is just my rant of how this culture and more importantly to me, church culture, is lifting up heterosexuality as the answer to America's problems. Genesis 19 and Judges 19 show what a mess Israel made of their own women citizens by believing this lie. While I believe it is beneficial to search out one's sexuality, a person's sexuality is never the answer to identity or social issues. Looking inside oneself has benefits, for the soul resides in our inner thoughts, but sometimes searching and researching in outside sources lifts up a mirror to our most vulnerable self. My biased opinion is to reflect the Bible onto one's mind and heart for oneself and see what conclusions a body comes too. 

Intolerant Tolerance

I am intolerant.
I am intolerant of disrespect.
I am intolerant of harassment.
I am intolerant of abusive behavior.
I am intolerant of dishonesty.
I am intolerant of harmful behavior in my personal space and the space of others.
I am intolerant of treating human lives like trash regardless of age and location.
I am intolerant of media bias.
I am intolerant of the redefinition of words.
I am intolerant of the vilification of groups of people.
I am tolerant of opinions, preferences and choices of other people because I tolerate living at peace with all men but when another's behavior inflicts pain and discomfort on my world, my community, my neighbor and myself I become intolerant out of the dignity and sanctity of the rights of living souls.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Poem

I Am Not Your Sacrificial Lamb
by Rebekah S. Palmer

alabaster worm leering
in my face
"put your mouth over it"
I tell him no
afraid he is going to
pee in my mouth
my five year old mind
DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
what is happening
he keeps begging
promises he won't pee
in my mouth
I decide to do what
he asks
just to get out
of spending what must be years
in this closet

I can't remember if this
happened one time
or twenty
I started letting
my feelings
drain
from my body
in these kinds of
situations.

at age FIVE
I was taught the lesson
a man's sexual desires
are ubiquitous

he pushes me away
and out
at the sound
of my brother's
footsteps
I work on forgetting
this ever happened
but as I grow older
too many comments
by too many boys
bring me back inside
that dark closet
dank, putrid sweat
is still in my nose
after all these years...

I start to speak out
only to be silenced
because adults are
embarrassed
confused
guilty
protective
shameful
insecure
oppressed
worried
well...

now I'm the adult
and I'm telling
sharing
revealing
writing
opening
undressing
my life
no secrets

at age 5...a teenage babysitter
at age 11...a teenager on a school bus
at age 16...a male teacher feigned concern over my disabled body
at age 21...the head deacon of a radical denomination forces fondles
at age 24...a male peer demanded sexual activity
at age 27...online requests and harassment for sex
at age 28...a date refuses to stop when told no

authorities need to stop predators
from using their victims as
an excuse for their sins


 https://twloha.com/

*The below YouTube videos contain triggering content such as adult scenes and language. Watch at your own discretion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra-Om7UMSJc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocDlOD1Hw9k

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friendship

In my daily devotional, I found a wonderful description of what being a friend is all about:

What's a good friend for?
Propping open hearts and airing moldy moods.
Lighting up dark hallways through sad and lonely memories.
Hanging high aspirations and replanting hope.
Hauling heavy worries and pulling stumps of anger.
Shading tender shoots of joy that venture upward through the muck.
Grounding flighty passions during electrical storms of temptation.
Shielding fragile egos from the harsh winds of criticism.
Mending broken dreams and sharing golden moments.
A good friend is a friend for good.

Who needs a friend anyway?
Only those who need someone to laugh with.
Only those who need someone to listen,
someone to love,
someone to care.
Only those who need someone.
Only those who need.
Only all of us.

-Ann Luna

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Poem for the New Year

LORD THANK You for another day,
Within this life of mine.
Give me strength to live it well,
Whatever I may find.
Bestow from Your abundance,
Whatever I may lack
To use the hours wisely,
For I cannot have them back.

Lord thank you for another day,
In which to make amends
For little slights or petty words
Inflicted on my friends.
For sometimes losing patience
With problems that I find.
For seeing faults in other lives,
But not the ones in mine.

Lord thank you for another chance
In which to try to be
A little more deserving
Of the gifts You've given me.
For yesterday is over,
And tomorrow's far away,
And I remain committed,
To the good I do today!

-Grace E. Easley

Hope is wishing a thing to come true.
Faith is believing that it will!