Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Josh Harris, Sexual Abuse, & My Opinion of Courtship (5-27-13)

Kudos to Josh Harris (of I Kissed Dating Goodbye famedom) for taking a stand on sexual abuse in the church. Read the story here. Really appreciate what he has publicly said, particularly this part:
My hope is that a person would hear me and think, “Okay, if the pastor can admit that in front of the church then I can call the police and tell someone what is happening to me. I can get counseling. I can tell my story, too.” It’s very difficult because it feels like such a shameful thing, but we need to learn how to talk about sexual abuse in the church. We need to teach people who have been abused that it’s not their fault.
I respect Josh Harris for making this stand; I know what a huge issue this is in churches, and what he has done will hopefully make a difference. i I think this is a deplorable turn of events for all involved. Allow me to explain why.

I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a teenager. It was one of two books my mother provided me with on relationships and sex. Well, they weren't really about sex so much as avoiding it like the plague until you've said your marriage vows, but anyway. Even as a fundie teen who cared deeply about staying pure and someday having a godly relationship, I thought the message of Harris' book was off. It's been so long since I read it that I can't remember what in particular it was that bugged me, but it was enough that I put the book on a shelf and never picked it up again. I think part of my issue was the premise for the book - dating is bad. I like(d) old fashioned things, but falling back to courtship in the way prescribed didn't seem healthy. Fast forward a few years to when I'm reading Created to be His Help Meet and other Quiverfull literature. Even then I took issue with the concept of true courtship. Despite my feminist thoughts, many notions about courtship, marriage, and relationships in general were poisoned by the ideology I'd read about and even heard from teachers and pastors over the years. I consider the teachings poison because they lead to unhealthy relationships. I speak from personal experience.

Abstinance & Raw Potatoes (5-23-13)

Check it out here.

Believe it or not, this is the logical end to most purity teaching that goes on in evangelical homes, churches, schools, and camps. If you tell someone (for a long enough period of time) that something is bad, don't expect them to suddenly flip a switch and be able to view it as good. Many a marriage has fallen on the rocks because a spouse (usually the wife) can't shake the sensation that sex is dirty and somehow evil, therefore it is a source of guilt, shame, and stress.

Article: Sloppy Seconds Sex Ed (5-17-13)

Please read the article here.

I sincerely hope more Christians will take up this message and use it to prevent further damage from abstinence-only teachings. I grew up hearing similar things from people whom I respected (camp counselors, preachers, teachers, etc.); the teachings did impact my ability to view sex as a normal, healthy part of life. The teachings have impacted countless people over the years. I know a few of those people personally.

A Letter That Made Me Sad & Angry (3-26-13)

This letter is flying about on facebook amongst my IFB friends. I read it and was appalled. The woman who wrote it has chosen to believe that a fundamental aspect of her biological make-up – her sexuality – is a grievous sin.

IFB’s and those who are similar to them are notorious for making sex and sexuality out to be a great evil (unless you’re a man). I myself was affected by that teaching. But the woman who wrote this letter has to deal with more than “just” sex. She is a lesbian. A homosexual. As most IFB’s I know would say, she is a “pervert.” Such ideology makes me sick. This woman is expected to ignore her sexuality and never find pleasure in sex (because to have sex with another woman would be an abomination!). She will probably be expected to find a way to “fix” herself and rewire her brain to find men arousing, not women. She will be expected to either never find a companion to spend her life with, or to choose a man and marry him. For a lesbian (not a bisexual), being with a man, even if she loves him, can be unsatisfying, scary, and possibly feel more like rape than making love. And for that husband, how will he feel? What awkward, possibly awful place will he be put into? Both partners in a relationship deserve to find happiness and satisfaction in their sex life – it is a basic human need and one of the reasons we form such relationships.

Again... Really? (5-22-2012)

Here we go again! North Carolina has yet again made it into the public eye through the actions of a Baptist pastor. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC spoke out rather forcefully about the Biblical wrongness of homosexuality and has warranted the attention of national media. Here are two links to the story: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/pastors-anti-gay-anti-obama-sermon/?hpt=ac_bn2 and http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/256113/81/Pastor-wants-to-isolate-gays-until-they-die-out 

After reading the lengthy quotes from this pastor's sermon, I am appalled at his ideology.

Some Quotes & Some More Thoughts on Sex (4-30-2012)

‘‘The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things—bad language and whatever—it’s all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition,’’ George Carlin in a 2004 interview. 
‘‘There’s an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body…. It’s reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have.’’ ~ George Carlin

The first statement is very interesting to me - I've never heard anyone draw that conclusion before. The second statement is what initially caught my attention. I couldn't agree more with him, as you will know from reading my previous post. The first time I took Biology class, it was embarrassing, seeing those body parts for the first time and reading about the functions for which they are used. The principal of the Christian school I was attending taught that chapter to us, because of the silliness that teachers knew would ensue from discussing the topic of sex. I imagine silliness and embarrassment are part of any classroom discussion about sex, be it Christian or non. I think that shows that our society has made the wrong choice in how it approaches the topic of sex. 

A Change for the Blog

Love & Sex, the other wing of this blog, is being closed and I will move those posts onto this blog. So, if you suddenly see a glut of posts on the topics of love and sex, you'll know why.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Article: What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear

What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear

After reading the comments the author chose to highlight, I came to the conclusion that these people were mostly referencing fundamentalist Christians. Many fundamentalists find great joy in the notion that their lives and tactics are odious to unbelievers. How do you (the non-fundamentalist) have a discussion with someone who feels that way? - You don't.
I found this comment to be incredibly insightful:
“The main thing that baffles and angers me about Christians is how they can understand so little about human nature that when, in their fervor to convert another person, they tell that person (as they inevitably do, in one way or another), ‘You’re bad, and wrong, and evil,’ they actually expect that person to agree with them. It pretty much guarantees that virtually the only people Christians can ever realistically hope to convert are those with tragically low self-esteem.”– E.S., Denver

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Is What Fundamentalism Looks And Sounds Like

A KJV-only pastor bashing men who don't stand up to pee. Why? Because real men stand up, and God wants you to be a real man. The funny/sad things is, this man could have been any number of men I heard preaching at my school, church, or in other Baptist churches I attended.
His blog can be found here: Steven L. Anderson. His wife blogs at http://stevenandersonfamily.blogspot.com/ . I show the entire link because I think it does a good job of illustrating the way the husband dominates his family. I suppose it could just be because the husband is more famous or something, but after reading through their blogs I sincerely believe they want their identity to be dominated by the husband. This family is very Quiverfull, patriarchal, the whole shebang. The wife, Zsuszanna, is quite passionately devoted to the patriarchal ideals that dominate her world - this is clearly seen in her writing. From what I've gathered she is originally from Germany and was raised as a Catholic. Steven witnessed to her while visiting in Germany when he was eighteen, she eventually converted to Baptist beliefs, and they were married very shortly after that. Baptist fundamentalism appealed to her so she dived right in and marrying a loud-spoken, KJV-only (1611 version, baby!), hyper-conservative guy and the rest is history. They are against voting, against any form of family planning/contraception, and a long list of other things that only make sense in the world of religious fundamentalism.
I'm so glad I left this world before marrying into it and being further entrapped in its hold.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Article: My Time As An Agnostic

I've posted from Defeating the Dragons a few times here and have come to the conclusion that you should just spend an entire day reading her blog, because everything there is worth reading. This post really struck me as I read it, particularly in light of my own de-conversion and my recent post on agnosticism.

Article: My Body Is Not A Stumbling Block

Defeating the Dragons has written another amazing post, this one about the fundies' obsession with modestly-dressed women. Please go read it here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Does It Mean to be a Buddhist?

I have the good fortune of knowing someone who is Buddhist - not something I ever anticipated when I was still a fundie. Anyway. Ryan was kind enough to answer some questions for me and told me I could quote him here, so I shall. He's done extensive research on Buddhism, so I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge. My questions will be in italics.

There are three main branches of Buddhism. The first, Theravada, is the oldest branch that adheres to the historical Buddha's teachings. The second, Mahayana, includes most other forms of Buddhism: Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren, etc. They adhere to many of the Buddha's teachings but added some deities and new beliefs. The third, Vajrayana, is a form of Mahayana but is often considered a third branch because it's fairly different. It's highly ritualized with lots of deities. The Dalai Lama follows Vajrayana. I'm most interested in Theravada. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Does It Mean to be an Athiest?

I initially approached this study with some anxiety. Atheists are often ill spoken of, particularly by fundamentalists, due to how in-your-face they can be about their disregard for all things religious and spiritual. I personally have come across several such atheists in the blogosphere - it's not pleasant. There are even other atheists calling out the unpleasantness (as I discussed here). Not all atheists are unpleasant, though! I've also come across nice atheists, like my friend Erin, who is very respectful and non-judgmental about the beliefs of others. She agreed to discuss her atheistic world view with me so I could share it here.

What does atheism mean to you? When did you decide you were an atheist?
To me atheism just means the lack of belief in an intelligent creator. I never actually realized I was an atheist, it just developed over time as a logical conclusion to philosophical questions.
Have you taken any flak for being atheist? 
I have taken flak for being atheist. I was personally attacked by the mother of one of my very close friends who committed suicide. She called me a bad influence and said I wasn't original or unique and was going through a stupid phase. It was probably just brought on by grief and anger but her son was also an atheist and being one of his best friends I knew that. The funeral was an insult to his memory because they pretended he'd been a good Christian his whole life when it was against everything he believed in.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Realization About Spirituality

A thought struck me earlier today and I haven’t been able to shake it, so I will write about it. 

My spirituality has never been allowed to be about me.

The strict Baptist upbringing of my first two decades did not allow for anything that even hinted at selfishness. We weren’t Puritans by any stretch of the imagination, but we were taught that our lives weren’t about us because they belonged to God. We were born because God had a purpose for us. This purpose might include many things (pain, ridicule, sacrifices as huge as dying), but it ultimately culminated in bringing glory to himself. All that we said or did was supposed to please him and bring glory to his name and cause. How we worshipped, what we wore, and even the secret things we pondered late at night belonged to him. To do things because you wanted to was selfish and sinful. Rebellion was “as the sin of witchcraft,” (1 Samuel 15:23) after all. Most of the Christians I have known toss around the phrase, “it’s God’s will” or “the Holy Spirit is leading me to do this” or something similar to that to justify the decisions they make. I’ve seen those phrases used to justify some pretty terrible things, but that’s a topic for another time. 

Fundamentalism removes the individual’s self. An individual (in the sense I’m speaking about) is comfortable in their own skin and is quite happy to find his/her own way in life. An individual is empowered and free. Individuals don’t last in fundamentalism (unless they become cult leaders or the like). Fundamentalism must break down people’s sense of self, tell them it’s evil (play on past guilt, etc.), and then insert a controlling measure (strict adherence to particular teachings, lifestyle, dress, etc.). The Bible often uses the imagery of sheep needing a shepherd to illustrate humanities’ need for the Christian God. Sheep are very stupid animals, or so I’ve been told, and will get themselves into all kinds of trouble without the guidance of a shepherd. People often act like sheep; sometimes we like being told what to do rather than having to make our own decisions and then being responsible for them (and sometimes it’s necessary, to a degree). Individuals don’t fit well in flocks of sheep, though.