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Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Dating/Singleness (with Anonymous Girl)

fivequestionsonDating/Singleness

with Anonymous Girl

The post below is a deeply vulnerable and honest response to the five questions.  Because it is a little longer, I included an excerpt here with a link to the remaining questions. You won’t want to miss the end!

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with dating/singleness.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

In high school, I fell in with the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “True Love Waits” crowd, of my own volition.  I dated a boy for 6 months, but we never kissed.  (Years later, he came out as gay, but that wasn’t a shock.)  In college, my idea was that I wanted to be friends with a guy before I started dating him.  I had serious crushes on a few guys, but they never seemed interested in me, and I wasn’t too concerned about dating.  Dating was only for when you were actually interested in getting married and had time to invest in such a relationship, and I knew I wasn’t ready for that in college.  
 
Post college, my time opened up dramatically, and I was really mad at God that I wasn’t dating anyone.  I thought that was a perfect time to meet someone, date them, and then get married.  Nothing else in my life was working, so couldn’t God at least throw me a bone on that front and let me meet my husband?!  I went through some serious depression (due to a lot of issues), and eventually started my life moving in a better direction, with more hope.  Still no one worth dating came across my path.  From time to time, someone VERY interesting to me would appear, reminding me that somewhere out there, there IS someone interesting whom I will meet and marry, at least I hoped so!
 
At 25, I moved to California and developed a huge crush on a new acquaintance.  Who two months later started dating my polar-opposite roommate.  And two months after that, they were engaged.  I was hurt and disillusioned, figuring that I obviously didn’t have a clue what kind of man could ever be interested in me.
 
Since then, my perspective on God, on life, and on love has changed drastically.  This helped me to understand better what kind of a man I’m looking for, and that someone who previously I wasn’t interested in could actually fit me well.  I tried eHarmony for 4 months and was bitter and angry that none of the men I was interested in messaged me back, and only men I was clearly NOT interested in messaged me.  A year and a half later, I tried another 4-month stint on eHarmony with a much more open mind.  If the profile interested me at all, I initiated conversation, and anyone who messaged me I replied to, even if I wasn’t the least bit interested in them.  I at least got one coffee date out of it, but nothing more.  
 
At 28, I had my first kiss with a man who was a friend of mine, and I FREAKED OUT.  We remained friends, and 6 months after the kiss, we finally talked about it, and realized that maybe there was something real between us.  I dove head first into that relationship, learning a lot about how relationships work (it was my first since high school, barring a few looking-back-that-was-a-date dates). But just a few weeks in, he got a new job in a city 6 hours away and we knew that was a closed door. It was definitely the right decision.  I know we could have made a relationship work, but it would have been a LOT of work, and we probably aren’t the best complement to each other.  But I learned a lot about myself, and had a lot more confidence in myself that I was actually attractive to someone, and that I could actually be a good girlfriend to someone!
 
And then, 6 months after that, I started dating a very good friend of mine.  We had been pseudo-dating for 6 months, spending a lot of 1-on-1 time together, doing somewhat romantic things.  Most of the time we were hanging out, I looked around and realized that anyone who was watching us would think we were on a date, but we weren’t.  He finally asked me on a “date date”, and I was thrilled. I really liked him, and was excited that something that felt so natural and started with the foundation of a close friendship was actually panning out into a real dating relationship!
 
I was so excited, I told my 20 closest friends.  I had a LOT of confidence in the relationship because we already knew each other so well.  I knew he was a keeper because it would take us at least to the 6-month mark to learn something about each other or the relationship that we didn’t already know.  We even talked about how awesome it was that we started out as such good friends and that was the perfect foundation to build a future together.  A few weeks into the relationship, he asked if I wanted us to be a “couple”, which I readily agreed to.  One week after that, he said he “wasn’t feeling the romance of the relationship”.  I was floored, and we haven’t really spoken since.  He was kind about it, but I’m still very confused why, if he wasn’t actually attracted to me romantically, he asked me out to begin with.  That was several months ago, and while I miss his friendship and the time we spent hanging out, I don’t really miss him.  That’s probably a sign that maybe we weren’t right for each other, anyway, but knowing that doesn’t make me any less lonely.
 
I think the hardest part is that in my life, I have some professional ambition, but the only thing I KNOW I want out of life is to be a wife and mother.  When everything else is confusing, it is really easy to focus on that one aspect of my life, and blame God for my being single.  I don’t necessarily regret the freedom I’ve had, nor do I want to trade places with my friends who are already mothers.  I just wish I were a step or two closer to that being my own reality. I’ve had seasons where I’m very content being single – having the freedom to drop everything and go out of town for the weekend, or extend a business trip for a few days of vacation.  But there are other seasons where all I can think about is finding my husband.  I scan the pews at church, looking for cute men of an appropriate age, then checking out their left hands and being disappointed that “all the good men have been snatched up!”
 
So I don’t really know what to do about all that, except trying to keep an open mind, a grateful heart, and a full schedule so I don’t sit at home and mope about how lonely I am.  🙂
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

 I’ve never been an overly girly-girl, probably as a reaction to the fact that I’ve never been the “hot” or “cute” girl, and being 5’9″ and 200 pounds, I’m bigger than average.  I’m usually okay with that, I am just acknowledging that it takes a certain kind of man to find someone with my body shape and size attractive.  I don’t believe I’m ugly, I’ve just come to terms with the reality that I’m not a stunner, either, and that looks do matter to men, to probably a greater extent than they do to me.  (Just about any man in the -2/+10 year range who is 6’3″ or taller is attractive in my book!)
 
I had a season in the post-college stage where I thought my gender was invisible. Read the rest of this entry
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Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Dating/Singleness (with Stacey)

fivequestionsonDating/Singleness

with Stacey Schwenker

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with dating/singleness.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

I was single throughout high school and did not date or have a boyfriend until college.  Then I went through a long string of boys that felt very back-to-back (2 of them were and some could say I was not honorable to one guy as I began a relationship with another).  When I began seminary, at the age of 25, I began what has been a long period of singleness.  Through this time I have pursued both wholeness/healing (actively seeking counseling and other ways to emotionally and relationally grow) as well as my vocational goals (mostly in ministry).
 
At my current age of 31 and three-quarters, I have mixed feelings about dating and singleness.  Mixed mainly because some days I feel consumed by how horrid the situation is and I am convinced that I shall be alone forever.  While other days I feel calm and collected and convinced of how wonderful I am and how wonderful God is, so that surely I shall not be alone forever.
 
I question whether my personality, past, or theological achievements (obtaining a Master of Divinity) make me unappealing to men.  Yet the desire to share life with another is just enough hope to continue to pray for a partner and believe that God will bring me someone (if that’s even good terminology…).
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

Again, mixed feelings.  Mostly I put a lot of effort into my body.  Not in the sense that I obsess about it and try to look amazing, rather it’s quite the opposite.  I listen to it and try to eat healthy and exercise regularly.  I care about its well-being and taking care of it.  I put more energy into becoming a person who seeks after God and can be a fair friend than I do about my physical image.  Even so, I have deep and ugly fears that my body is something that is keeping men away from me.  I don’t pluck my eyebrows and I have thicker thighs. 
 
My thoughts about my body have come from a complexity of stories melded together.  Most likely I came to the current story from three main places.  First, is with my family and how I learned to value myself with a body.  There’s definitely an overtone of being thin that is present and my father is regularly ridiculed by and in front of the entire family for being overweight.  It’s taken a long time to fight judgmental voices that became a constant in my head and plagued me with most outfits and certainly every hair-do. 
 
Second, is with my boyfriends.  Depending on the day I’ll tell you that I’ve had 3 or 4 significant relationships.  Two of them were great and celebrated my body with generosity and complete embrace.  One of them seemed great but turned out to be more selfish than loving.  The other one was kind of a jerk the whole time and rejected me regularly.  It became a game of seduction where I sought to be a master.  Even now I am struggling with the repercussions of feeling continually unwanted and unwelcomed by any prospective man.  As if I am too much or too little.  Mostly it feels like both at the same time.
 
Third, is how my body has changed over the years.  It’s been 7 years since I’ve dated anyone and my body is not how it was then.  Honestly, I worry about not being attractive and fight against the lie that this has been causing my singleness.  I feel more and more comfortable in my skin.  Yet somehow men do not come to me.  What’s a woman to do…?
 

3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?

There isn’t enough space on this computer to adequately answer this question!  I will say that I am completely conscientious, honest, and present with everyone in my life.  I strive to love and honor them.  I strive to admit when I am wrong and make amends.  I am weary of my need to attach to someone (I’m a co-dependent) and have to fight hard to have balance and health in my relationships.  Though, I do fight hard.  I’m not flippant anymore and I am willing to work.  Mostly, the affects have been positive.
 

4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?

I’ve certainly experienced a lot more growth.  Honesty does that.  I’ve let God get closer than I could have imagined.  And I also see how much further I have to go.  Because I write weekly (and publically) about this aspect of my life – relationships and spirituality – I’ve spent a great deal reflecting on it. 
 
And I see things to be so inter-connected.  I consider my motivations and the larger networks at play in my life.  For example, I can’t think about dating without thinking about how busy I’ve let me life become, the I consider my vocational dreams, then I think about my ability to trust God, then I consider patience, and then faith verses works, and on and on.  Ultimately, the more I consider the more peace I have and the more I feel God’s presence. 
 
Perhaps the greatest benefit has been being peeled back like an onion in the presence of God.  I feel more known with God since I am actively writing about my singleness and wondering where God is in all of it.  Though, it doesn’t take away the questions, loneliness, or fear entirely.  But it does bring more meaning to my life and a greater calm.
 

5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?

We must be patient and never lose hope.  God is a creative God and will bring us unexpected things.  We can knead the dough we’re given and see what will rise. Invite Him into where you are.  Reflect on what you are doing.  We have the potential to do so much, right now!  We must not let any lies or fears get in our way.  I truly believe that when we pursue Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts.

 

Crazy Hair
 

What about you?

Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com.  You can also post anonymously if you wish.

 

Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Dating/Singleness (with Tammy)

fivequestionsonDating/Singleness

with Tammy Waggoner

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with dating/singleness.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

Hmm. I’ve been single for 31 almost 32 years. For the most part I consider my relationship with singleness like riding a roller coaster. There are times where I’m perfectly fine, I look at families or couples and I’m happy for them without a hint of bitterness. But I admit to times where I am absolutely bitter toward everyone else that has exactly what I want.
 
It’s funny because I was a boy chaser even when I was a kid. In Elementary school I used to trade boyfriends like pudding cups at lunch. I would chase boys hoping that one would be my boyfriend.  In High School that didn’t change much, I was now chasing them around the church and kissing them in the red room (a day care room with a bright red EXIT sign). In college I was still boy crazy and went to parties kissing boys and sitting on their laps. I was a tease but I always had a man on my arm and at bars I always had a dance partner.
 
In my adulthood I have dated using less out there forms of trying to be in a relationship. I’m internet dating which brings its own stigmas and problems. 
 
I know that I am complete in my singleness. I am a complete person who sometimes gets lonely and misses the fun of being in relationship during the in-between times of relationship. I’m not looking for someone to complete me just a partner in crime.
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

My self-image is pretty intact. There are moments when I doubt my ability to catch a mate but that rarely has to do with my self-image or my body image. Most of the time it has to do with how much of myself I should show at the beginning or even at the superficial stage of a relationship. My body image is pretty healthy but I do have certain parts of myself I wish I could change.
 
The one thing that I wish I could change is my brokenness. I have a past that is full of damage and brokenness and scars and there are times when those scars seem insurmountable. But other times they feel behind me. So it’s a toss up. Not quite like a roller coaster, more like I take two steps forward and seem to take one step back so that I am constantly getting somewhere while also being stuck in the past, a contradiction no matter how you look at it. 
 
No matter my past and brokenness, I love me. I love my tattoo even if that make others turn away from me. I love my glasses even if they present my smarts on the outside, let’s get serious there’s no way to hide them. I love my breasts, their just the right size and I’m proud of them, for years it was like two bee stings :). I love my legs, they’re long and yet I’m short. I love my dainty hands and my hips and my eyes and some-days my hair, but that’s mostly because I’m growing it out and the in-between stage is annoying. I am completely happy with me, which I think makes me less likely to fall for any line or anyone because I am confident in who I am and what I offer and bring to a relationship from the inside out.
 

3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?

I kind of already answered this above but I’ll give it another go just in case :). Because my self-image inside and out is strong I represent a strong person. I relate to people from a real place with real understanding of who I am and I hope it doesn’t come off as arrogant but I’ve learned along the way that changing yourself for another person does nothing for you. In the end you lose part of yourself and miss out on something because you chose not to be yourself.
 

4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?

The brokenness that I was talking about earlier plays a huge part in my spiritual life. God through prayer and God through friends has taught me how valuable I am and he works at chipping away every part of my self that is still false. 
 
For this to make sense I need to reveal a bit more about myself. Abuse, of a sexual nature, has been a huge part of my life. I was abused as a child, in my college days and a little right after college. Abusers are never silent in their abuse. They are MEAN and if they say crap often enough and with enough VIOLENCE you begin to believe them. They put in your mind a false self, a self that allows them to chip pieces of you away. 
 
Over the past 5 years God has been guiding me through smashing these false pieces to oblivion. He still works with me on certain pieces that have held on a lot tighter. We work together to smash the false to let the real shine through. 
 
I am transparent with God so that together we can beat back the false pieces of me.
 

5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?

Advice. Hmm….don’t present a false self to anyone. Be yourself in any situation. If you spend your time presenting a false self to anyone then you won’t know when you are really being yourself. 
 
Also boundaries are really important. We don’t lay our entire selves out on the line for everyone at the beginning because people need to earn our trust. It’s not something we should freely give. In my earlier days, I used to broadcast my virginity (now that you know my past you know how false that was) or my desire to go to seminary because I thought I could scare people away from me. The problem with that is BAD or misguided people feed on that crap and it allows people into your life that have no business being there. 
 
Trust yourself that you are enough. For an entire season in my life I had a post-it note on my mirror that said you are beautiful and soon I began to believe it. Put reminders all over your space to remind yourself that you are enough and you are worth protecting and worth waiting for. Don’t settle for half your worth and keep forging and pursuing what you are worth, soon the roller coaster will reach another high point and your bitterness will falter and you will see your singleness for what it is: a time to get yourself right and prepare yourself to be with someone else without losing who you are.
Pinterest Bridesmaid dress
 

What about you?

Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com.  You can also post anonymously if you wish.

Saturday Sex-versations

My computer crashed this week, and I lost most of the interesting and well-written articles I had pulled for all you lovely readers this week.  I included below the ones I could recover, but I’m afraid the list is a little short this week.  To compensate, share your favorite conversation-starter article from this past week in the comment boxes and include the link so we can all benefit and stay informed together.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Fierceness of God In addition to expressing the nature of God’s protection over us, it also sheds light on the imago dei in women. Although men are traditionally construed as the “protectors,” I think we all know how fierce women can get with their children.

2) Are You There, World? It’s Me, Tina. Without Makeup. In a moment of pure insanity I thought, if my beautiful friend Claire can be honest about how many times she has weighed herself, I can be honest about what I look like without makeup.

3) Letter against gay marriage to be read in every Catholic church this Sunday The letter…restates the anti-gay-marriage campaign’s argument that “neither the Church nor the State has the power to change [the] fundamental understanding of marriage itself”.

4) Fit, not skinny I’ve decided to love my body no matter what the scale says.

5) Relationship Myth #2: If I Have to Tell My Partner My Needs… It is from this vulnerable place that we start to form the distorted thought, “If I have to share my needs, it doesn’t count because he/she should know me well enough to just know them.”

6) Rush Limbaugh and three evangelical blind spots Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Loose All female sins can be reduced to same one: a refusal to allow men to define and control female sexuality.

2) My Take: New TV series ‘GCB’ portrays Christians as caricatures Still, “GCB” challenges every Christian – including me – to consider our own faith journey and if our talk really matches our walk.

3) What the Hunger Games Taught Me (and the Church Should Have) About Men In our culture, men are given license to satisfy their desires for pleasure by using women, just as women are given license to seek pleasure in pampering themselves. This message carries way beyond Christian teachers—it’s everywhere.

4) Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling Let us capitalize on this national moment of frustration and revelation and commit to concrete action in promoting women as religious thought leaders in our faiths, culture and society.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) Foundations in Community–Part 1 The geese know that their best chance of survival is to travel in flocks, yet value the individual goose enough that they will not simply abandon them in crisis.  We could learn a lot from these geese.

2) Femsculine Christianity As we learn more about God, we can live out a Christianity that is both uncompromisingly feminine and genuinely masculine.

3) Brew Pubs, Putting Down Roots, and What the Incarnation Means for Local Living A local gospel must be important for a God who entered our physical space, Emmanuel, to dwell with us.

4) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity? Community is spread out. It occurs irregularly at appointed places such as schools, churches and athletic facilities that are miles apart. It offers little in the way of unifying cultural and civic institutions because there is no commitment to a place … because there is no “place.”

5) the underground railroad when we choose the path of leaving systems & structures that continue to keep us in bondage, we choose a lonelier, scarier road.

6) The Torah and Making Sacred Spaces Confronted repeatedly by frailty, isolation, mortality, and error, we find strength and solace in community and the achievement that community makes possible.

7) Down We Go: Practicing Equality Jesus broke down barriers of inequality. Now we need to play our part in it as well. Equality crosses more than just gender.

8) Taking Root: Creating The church recognized that because God’s attribute of creativity is so important and because people are made in His image, it is essential for humans to create. It’s a part of who we are.

9) The Myth of Religious Superiority [Y]et another group thinks Christianity is one way of salvation, a true way, but there are other ways too (pluralism).

10) Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) What the “After-birth Abortion” and “Personhood” Debates Have in Common “Merely being human,” they claim, “is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

2) Let’s Retire the Term “Slut” The term hurts women. Men use it to hurt women. Women use it to hurt women. We think it’s time to stop using it.

3) Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh: Let’s Retire the Word “Slut” [M]ost people — women and men — who call women prostitutes, whores, or sluts don’t do so because they think that’s the truth. They do it to defame, demean, and shame. They do it to keep women quiet and to keep women cautious in speaking about their own sexuality….

4) ‘Dawn of a new hope’ for whom? Systemic violence and impunity plague women in Ivory Coast “Women have a lower status than men, even though the constitution recognizes women’s equal rights. Domestic violence is very accepted as a way of educating and controlling women. Sexual violence is then possible because we don’t see women as protected and supported by the general community.”

5) Compassion in the Everyday Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially those who have the spotlight; reach out to those around you, wherever you are, and you will start to see your impact.

6) The best and worst places to be a woman 1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Saturday Sex-versations

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Story Is Everything How does kingdom of God reshape the story of sex? How does new creation plot sex in its story?

2) Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed “In truth, few of us are up to the task of effectively teaching our kids ourselves the things they need to know about sex.”

3) Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice [of yoga] can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

4) Why (and How) Abortion Should Be Talked about in Church Churches that speak of abortion without acknowledging that many women have experienced it as an injustice, not as a choice, drive women deeper into their pain rather than set them free from the captivity where they are both bound and gagged.

5) How Old Should You Be to Marry? It’s not just about meeting the right person, but it’s also about their personal maturity.

6) Aw, Hey, Fella Aw, hey, fella–/Whatcha gonna do/When a pretty lady’s/Not ashamed of what she’s got?/Better let her know/Just what nasty names you’re thinkin’/‘Cause it’s so much easier/Than changing whatcha think.

7) Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? The church needs to re-evaluate its relationship with singles, especially in light of the increasing numbers of unmarried adults.

8) Breastfeeding in Church, and Other Petty Crimes Breastfeeding is itself a work of art wrought by the Greatest Artist.

9) Day 13: Seek Intimacy Now Do I find it easier to be loved by God because someone else has said that the body I was created with is beautiful?

10) Birth Control: Burden or Blessing? This decision was meant to be hard—God meant it to be hard. He wants us to contemplate life with the utmost care and caution. He wants us to deeply consider the potential for life that we carry around in our bodies.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Women & Social Media Women are moving from passive purchasers to online authorities and tastemakers.

2) America’s Top Magazines: Still Not Hiring Women Do we really have to educate editors that women can bring new perspectives on major stories, and not just to stories about living as a single woman or going through a divorce?

3) Gender bias in books journalism remains acute, research shows Vida is instead trying to support women writers throughout their careers, and attempting to encourage people to examine their own biases.

4) Dear Oscar: Women Have Stories, Too When girls grow up seeing story after story that tells them they are sex objects, accessories or victims, they will learn that to be a “woman” is to play one of those three roles.

5) O Women, Where Art Thou? Certainly, something like a feminist intersectional analysis is rarely performed in the boardrooms and cafes of the Los Angeles film industry.

6) The Hidden Damage of Eating Disorders This inadequacy is due to the lie that resides beneath our cultural over-emphasis on physical beauty: “The only thing that is truly important or valuable about your identity is your appearance.”

7) People for the Ethical Treatment of Anyone but Women PETA’s use of nudity and sexuality has long been criticized as being exploitative of women, but many feminists say the new campaign crosses a line by trivializing domestic and sexual violence, further injuring an already-fragile demographic.

8) Why Do Only Women Whine? By stating that determined women are “whiners” their opinions instantly lose credibility in a distinctly sexist way.

9) you is smart. you is kind. you is important. the messages passed on to many of us through our families, relationships, and some of our church experiences are more like: “you’re somehow not enough.”

10) Does “The Help” Hurt? It is all too easy to accept caricaturizations of others that affirms our sense of justice while never addressing the inherent assumptions that come from living in a culture that is still largely “white normative”.

11) 3 Lessons Every Writer, Speaker, Blogger, and Musician Can Learn from Led Zeppelin Sometimes staying true to your art grabs the multitudes. But more often it does not. Staying true to yourself and faithful to your calling should always be the goal.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) This Easter Season, Remember: Church Growth is About More Than ‘The Marrieds’ These latest reports about childbirth and marriage suddenly show us that our typical evangelism efforts in churches are aiming at less than half of our nation’s population.

2) “I’m Dad, the Babysitter,” and Other Cultural Myths Dads are parents, not babysitters.

3) Tell Your Story, Tell It Well The church, if it wishes to speak into the culture around it, must regain its ability to tell testimonies. It must read its history and learn to tell its individual stories, and to tell them well, so that hearers hungry for a roadmap might find it in us.

4) More Than Enchanting: A Q&A with Jo Saxton I hope it changes the minds of women who have given up on God, their call on the church because of how difficult it’s been for them. I hope it changes the minds of those who have felt too inadequate to respond to God’s call.

5) Helen Lee: On Not Playing It Safe I still struggle with moments in which I distrust myself, in which I doubt myself, in which I would rather disappear into the background rather than put myself and my ideas forward into the public arena.

6) Reading the Magnificat During Lent [B]ut our faith is not something that concerns just us. We exist as a body and as members of the body of Christ the disciplines we engage in should always work towards the good of that body.

7) Resisting a Segregated Church Except for church, my life was one of post-Civil Rights integration.

8) Good Girls Never Change the World: Part 2 Esther more closely resembles the monarchs favourite prostitute than she does his married-in-a-church-before-God-and-all-our-friends-in-a-white-dress wife.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) Earth Care as Lenten Practice If fashioned from the earth, and blessed and called by God, how can we live into an awakened relationship with the earth?

2) Living Abundantly “We understand that we can’t think about food without referring to the narrative of creation and linking it with a deep understanding of how we have been created to be the bearers of the Spirit and part of the community of life on this planet, not its owners,” Claudio said.

3) Because Children Need a Defender For children suffering in silence…justice and healing may seem impossible. But they are not—not when there is a strong defender standing beside them in the fight for justice.

4) Finding a Home for Oklahoma’s Orphans While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, every follower of Christ is called to bring justice to orphans and can do something to change the outcome for these kids.

5) Criminalizing Homelessness? Fallout feared from anti-Occupy bill “It’s criminalizing the right to exist as a human being. It’s outlawing homelessness.”

6) Desmond Tutu: Tackling Child Marriage in India One of the most common features of all these women is that they are educated, but has it reduced their worth? No, their worth has been enhanced.

7) One Small Wardrobe, One Huge Cause “I’m using my body and what I wear to represent these women. I feel like they can’t speak.”

8) Black Evangelicals, White Evangelicals, and Franklin Graham’s Repentence They see those 2,000 scriptures about poverty and injustice. And this new generation of white evangelicals is committed to fight systemic and structural justice because of the Gospel.

9) Feeling a Sacred Trust But the idea that we are separate from our world is a dangerous delusion. Every breath of oxygen we take was first exhaled by a leaf. No animal, even us, can be safer or healthier than its habitat.

10) Altering Clothes, and Lives, with Design “You have these smart students who care about the community, the planet and using recycled materials, and we have these people here in Detroit who really want to work and need money.”

11) Picturing the hands of Christ I touch people on their hands and feet and bodies to be a reminder to them that they are not alone when they are ill or dying, especially when they are dying. It is a holy moment to be with people in death.

12) Our Hands Tell Our Stories We receive the body of Christ in upturned hands every time we kneel at the altar. And as we kneel and wait, our hands, so unique and revealing about our lives, are made equal.

Saturday Sex-versations

As part of the on-going series, the links below will take you to current conversations about sexuality and relationships as well as issues related to the other three categories of holistic body theology: community, cultural discernment, and service.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment.  (The numbers aren’t rankings. Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) Relate with Helen: Let’s Talk About Sex! ”Can you honestly say that you believe that your gift of sexuality is a good gift from God?”

2) Our Bodies Are What? Our bodies are beautiful.  They’re the image of God despite all their earthly imperfections. We might have defects, but we are still loved and cherished by God.

3) The (real) secret to hot sex  His message is antithetical to the sex advice found everywhere from self-help books to the supermarket checkout line: The secret to a fulfilling sex life is mental, not physical.

4) In New Book ‘Sexual Intelligence’ Sex Therapist Marty Klein Explains the Key to Improving Intimate Relationships and Sexual Satisfaction Dr. Klein reveals that how we think about sex is the primary factor that determines the quality of our sex lives and intimate relationships.

5) Sex in the Body of Christ Christian communities aren’t immune to the sexual revolution.

6) Poll: Americans support contraception coverage, divided over religious exemptions  A majority of Americans — including Catholics — believe that employers should be required to provide employee health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost, according to a new survey.

7) Ten Years of Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage   (Be sure to click through all six graphs.)

8) Jay Bakker on Homosexuality, Religion & Politics   Bakker’s philosophy is that God is loving and all accepting.

9) The Death (and Life) of Marriage in America The full answer for the delay and decline of marriage would touch on birth control technology…, liberal divorce laws…, and even washing/drying machines….

10) The Great Modesty Experiment So, following these rules as carefully as possible, considering my Christian brothers at every turn, I am left with one pair of jeans, and three shirts that fit the modest standards.

11) Surviving church as a single  34. Someone throws the “Paul was never married” card on you. = +2 points

12) Mercy: A Daily Practice of Digging for Truth Seeing God’s love keeps us from being dragged down by hurt and failure, events that are inevitable in our world.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) The Power of Choice in ‘Downton Abbey‘ But my favorite aspect of Downton is its emphasis on humans’ agency and accountability despite social and economic barriers. The characters are never excused for their choices by circumstance, class, gender, time period, or even the unfairness of the rules to which they so tightly cling.

2) Caucasian Christian Radio This preferential music that is called “Christian” is killing the gospel message by being exclusive, ethnocentric, and close-minded.

3) A Little More Ration for Fashion  [W]hat we wear on our bodies can be an obedient and worshipful response to these experiences of space and time and who we encounter in these experiences.

4) Victoria’s Secret Model Quits to Reserve Body ‘for My Husband’ “Thousands of girls that think that being beautiful is an outer issue and really it’s a heart issue.”

5) Can Fidelity Make a Good Movie? [T]he field of movies about marriage is much more diverse than the box-office belies. Viewers just have to be willing to look beyond a film’s self-advertising and see what can be revealed by digging a little deeper.

6) The Cultural IQ of the Church Christian leaders are lagging behind in attaining the cultural intelligence they need in order to navigate through this multi-cultural reality.

Community: Equality Issues (There’s so much happening this week in the wake of John Piper’s remarks that I thought it deserved its own category.)

1) Eight Traits of a Responsible Ministry  Change a word here and there, and what Piper says makes sense to me.

2) God Is Not Ashamed  When I challenged men to respond to John Piper’s claim that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel” with posts that celebrate femininity and affirm women in the Church, I never expected this.

3) Following the Leader Wherever She May Go I am deeply convinced that God calls both women and men into all vocations in the Church, gifting and empowering them to walk with one another in obedience to those callings.

4) In Response to Masculine Christianity: A Letter to My Daughter May you never mistake the pronouns of God with the character of God. May you never be so grateful for being created in the image of God that you seek to return the favor.

5) Is Christianity Supposed to Be Masculine? For Paul it would seem that a predominantly masculine Christianity would betray the logic that Christ is all and in all….[T]he traits that Paul mentions to describe the people of God…aren’t those that Piper mentions for his masculine Christianity.

6) Redemption and Strength in Men and Women I think God gave Christianity a redemptive feel, a feel of reconciliation, a feel of hopeful expectation through his desire to save wayward, broken people like us.

7) God the Father…and Mother? The father image shows us just how intimate God’s relationship with God’s people really is. But does this mean God is exclusively a father, and does not have any mother qualities at all?

8) Why the Church Needs Women [W]omen are living, breathing witnesses to the truth about human nature who in their very bodies direct God’s Church away from idolatry and heresy and toward true Christian faith and practice.

9) Sarcasm Alert: The Kitchen Has a Feminine Feel in the Bible   God wants men to stay out of the kitchen. Women are the unquestioned authorities in the kitchen.

10) In Search of Masculine Christianity The idea of a strong and aggressive (masculine?) Christianity, portrayed in [Studd’s book], had more to do with restraint, with sacrifice, with generosity, not bullying but serving, not hoarding [but] giving, not rampant conference attending but packing our suitcases for Christ’s sake and not coming home again.

11) A Balanced Perspective of Images for Ministry We discover texts that speak of our mutual motherly ministry. In other words, another dimension of ministry compares pastors/teachers to mothers.

12) Femsculine Christianity [Jesus] never said that his way was masculine or feminine. Rather, he persisted in breaking the oppressive barriers that had been set up against women. We must imitate him in this.

13) Digging Deep; Planting Trees And maybe in the planting we’ll end up with a forest so wide and beautiful the ditch will fill with flowers and old logs and we can sit and have conversations, conversations that are life-giving and life-up-lifting.

14) Unladylike If we want to be part of empowering women everywhere, understanding our value–and our equality in the eyes of God–is essential. It’s from this place that we can go on and transform our world.

15) Unladylike: A Review If we accept her tenet that women were made, fully and completely by a loving God, to do His (Her) good work, then the ways we resist come from Him (Her), too.

16) Breaking Through the Glass Sidewalk War zones are certainly not the only places women are bringing unprecedented change to their communities.

17) Don’t Read This Part of the Bible if You’re 30 or a Woman I am a feminist, and the Book of Ezekiel offends me.

Community: Other Issues

1) To Cade and the Eight Percent We wear political correctness as a badge of honor; but the rising statistics of pregnancies terminated after a Downs syndrome diagnosis reveal the hypocrisy of our celebration.

2) The Great Escapism   At first glance, living in local community seems to clash with the lifestyle of a church-hopping, apartment-renting, rootless and restless generation. But the benefits of plugging into local community are many….It’s time to invest where you are—no matter how long you’ll be there.

3) God Is a Verb that Acts Like Jesus The solution to individualism is not smaller churches; the solution to individualism is a decade or more of teaching and embodying the community nature of the Body of Christ….

4) Wherever Two or More Are Gathered…Online And yet, here we are, almost four years of daily interaction later, with a communion of 20 souls around the world.

5) Calling All Callings When we begin to understand this invitation from Jesus to join his mission of restoring all things, our enthusiasm for integrating faith and work will be heightened.

Service: Social Justice Issues

1) Down We Go: Diffusing Power The problem is when our churches, ministries, and communities inadvertently adopt the world’s thirst for power into our culture, our homes and the fabric of our lives.

2) The First Step Is Admitting There Is a Problem …and the evidence in the U. S. and around the world indicates that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that extreme income inequality is a significant problem and that something has to be done about it.

3) The Church and Extreme Poverty The Church is unrivaled in its capacity. If you want to respond to the massive challenges of global poverty, then the Church is the organization with the legs to get it done.

4) pawn shops, empty refrigerators & the long hill up i am idealistic enough to think that if somehow, some way, every person who lived below the poverty line had brothers & sisters in Christ to journey together with  for the long haul that over the course of time  life could be different.

5) The Best Ways to Fight Poverty–Really  That means that (1) churches should create their own anti-poverty initiatives (like microfinance), and (2) churches should lobby governments to do better.

6) The Washington Projects–Justus–Music Video Premiere  The goal of this video is to give the viewer a visual understanding of what these victims face on a daily basis, and to entice those taken captive by the imagery to become the change they wish to see.

7) Praying for the Johns “If men stopped desiring [to buy sex], then this wouldn’t be a problem,” Hightower says. “Praying for men’s hearts to change is very important.”

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