Archives For Sexuality

When I’m talking with someone who has been deeply betrayed by a friend, a family member, or a coworker, they often ask, “How can I ever trust him again? He said he was sorry, but how do I know if he is truly sorry about the damage he’s done or if he’s just sorry he got caught? I don’t want to get burned again.”

Those are tough questions, because there’s a lot at stake for both the betrayer and the betrayed.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship after a bitter betrayal almost feels like an insurmountable task. No one in his right mind would dare trust a spouse who was unfaithful, a coworker who stole his good idea, or a friend who lied about him behind his back. Would you?

But what if that person apologizes? Then what? How can you know if someone has truly repented?

As Jesus’ followers, we talk about repentance—that radical change of heart and mind that alters one’s perspective and reshapes behavior patterns to look more like Jesus.  It’s been a part of the Jesus story from the beginning. John the Baptist referred to it as “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).

Testing repentance is vital to rebuilding trust in a broken relationship. So what are some of the signs of a repentant heart?

King David—a man whose deceit betrayed his wife and his nation—said it best: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

One place to begin looking for “fruit” that reveals a deeply rooted heart of repentance is in how the repentant betrayer responds when questioned. A repentant person demonstrates a humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned. There is an openness that replaces deceit, a willingness to be accountable for his or her actions on multiple levels without resorting to blaming others or making excuses for failures.

It’s only through experiencing a consistency in both attitudes and actions that reflect repentance that the betrayed individual will over time begin to take the risky steps towards trusting again.

How much time? As much as it takes.

And the repentant person will humbly wait for as long as it takes, knowing that the celebration over restoration will be a sweet harvest for both parties—a harvest that repentance and forgiveness has made possible because of Jesus’ example.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Exploited Sexuality

Tim Jackson —  November 21, 2011 — 6 Comments

As a follow up to my post last week about the PSU sexual abuse scandal, I’ve been painfully reminded of how often we refuse to talk about things that really matter, things shrouded in secrecy that are just too uncomfortable for us to discuss without stepping on toes or seeming to be insensitive. Frankly, these are not topics of polite conversation.

But when we don’t talk about them, when we don’t bring them into the light, they continue to fester and breed like an untreated cancer in the clandestine shadows of secrecy. And people get hurt. Children get hurt. And none of us should ever be okay with that.

So we’re uncomfortable.

My first thought is: “I’m uncomfortable with it.” I take no joy in writing about this in a blog. I’d much rather be talking about last weeks Penn State football game with Ohio State than the sexual abuse scandal that still engulfs that campus.

My second thought is: “Too bad.” It’s about time we learn to deal with our discomfort and engage in the real battles for the hearts and souls of people who are at risk and being exploited. And if we’re honest, that means both the abused and the abusers.

And that makes me feel really uncomfortable. But that’s where people of faith are most needed to stand up and be counted as “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16) in a very dark and unsavory place.

Sexual abuse is just one of those banned topics in church.

Several recent blogs highlight the trouble we’ve had in being honest with ourselves and dealing with our discomfort in speaking openly about tough issues. Dan Allender’s blog, JoePa and Sermon Selection, frankly brings to light how uncomfortable pastors have been and still are when it comes to addressing the issue of sexual abuse in church.

Thom Rainer, in his blog to Church leaders, Sex Scandals, Penn State, and Protecting Our Children, writes about sexual abuse and doing everything we can as a faith community to prevent it from happening on our watch as well as dealing quickly and decisively when it is exposed.

But sexual abuse is only one strain of the world wide epidemic of exploited sexuality.

Sexuality has been hijacked by the enemy of our souls. Satan, as part of his cunning strategy for defacing the image of God in men and woman alike, demeaning and defrauding  sexuality in a myriad of ways. Remember, Jesus identified Satan’s lethal agenda as to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). Why would we not think that includes our sexuality?

Sexual exploitation, in all it’s forms–from advertising, media programing, the ever-widening spectrum of pornographic images, the vulgar and demeaning language that has become common place in music, social media, and on middle school campuses, sexual abuse, and the plague of human sexual trafficking–are a coordinated attack on the beauty of God Himself that He breathed into our sexuality.

I would contend that we have problems with sexual abuse because of the sexual tsunami that has reeked havoc on the world of gender, both male and female, in a post-Fall world. And this is nothing new.

The Bible records story after story of sexual exploitation (just to name a few: Gen. 19:4-13, 30-38; 38:11-26; Judges 19:22-30; 2 Sam. 11:1-27; 13:1-34; Luke 7:36-50; John 4:7-30; 8:4-11). These disruptive stories have all too often been ignored for the more palatable passages of scripture that are–shall we say–less disturbing.

But just stop for a moment and think about it.

Why would God intentionally record these stories of sexual exploitation in sacred text?

I can think of a few reasons why He’s not silent on this topic, and I’m sure there are more:

  1. Because He doesn’t want us to be silent on the topic.
  2. Because of His great love for victims of sexual exploitation.
  3. Because His intention is to bring healing and hope to victims of sexual exploitation.

If this it true, then people of faith can no longer remain silent on these topics.  We must be at the forefront of addressing them. Instead of reserving that discussion for a counselor’s office or a courtroom,  we must speak more openly and honestly about the destructive forces at work regarding the exploitation of both male and female sexuality on all fronts in our culture.

That’s my take on it all. How about you? Let me hear your voices. Speak up and let others know that it’s time to break the conspiracy of silence. Let’s join our voices together.

 

 

 

Sexpectations

Allison Stevens —  March 28, 2011 — 10 Comments

I’m reading the book He’s Just Not That Into You.  Please don’t stop reading my blog yet- I know – this book is sooo not from a biblical mindset. It’s written mainly by a man, with a woman who wrote for the television program “Sex and the City.”  I know, I know!  This is getting worse, isn’t it?!  I greatly dislike that show and what it stands for.  On the show, women act as if sex is just sex and that there are no good men out there and that women can give themselves away to anyone without any consequences. Well, duh, the consequences are that none of those women characters are happy!

But I can’t deny that the author has gotten me thinking about something when it comes to sexuality in Christian dating relationships.

In the book, the author says that if you’re’ dating a man and he doesn’t want to have sex with you, he’s just not that into you. He adds that whatever reasons the man gives for not wanting to have sex, (religion and faith included), is simply an excuse because a man you’re dating should want to “rip your clothes off.” If he doesn’t, then he’s not into you and he’d rather avoid telling you that than face the yelling, crying, or whatever fallout would occur if he told you directly that he’s not caught up with your hotness.

OK, a problem I have with that is that I know there are good guys out there who honor women by waiting for marriage to have sex. They get it. They know that sex is a precious thing to a relationship and it shouldn’t be given to just anyone. They want to be pure and want to marry a pure woman.

Granted, this “waiting” is easier for some than for others. But the standard is still the same. Sex is for marriage and it’s worth the wait.

So, I’m getting to my point here. What should a single Christian woman expect from a single Christian man?  Should she expect him to never struggle with lust? Should she expect him to always keep his hands to himself? Should there never be chemistry between them that causes them to end a date early?! Oh, boy, I hope not, on the last question, anyway.

The lack of a sex drive is not an indicator of spirituality. How we respond to the sex drive is what matters. Love is doing what’s best for the other person. And it is best to wait. Men know this; it’s just that sometimes they don’t want to wait. But men love the pursuit; they like to work hard to earn something, not just given it so easily. The harder they work at it, the greater the reward – not just for men, but for all of us.

God made us with natural yearnings for intimacy. But intimacy isn’t only about sex.  Sexual fulfillment can’t be found outside of a trusting, lifetime commitment.

So, unmarried girls, let’s be real here.  There will be times, at least I hope so, that the desire for your man and his desire for you will be so great that you literally have to walk away from each other! He just might have to go home early.  That’s just the way it is.

Super Bowl Commercials

Allison Stevens —  February 7, 2011 — 5 Comments

My beef this morning is the way the media portrays men as unintelligent idiots. I’m sick and tired of watching this kind of assault on manhood. 

I’m not a man, so why should I care?

Well, I have a son who I want to grow up to be a responsible, caring, moral man. I don’t want him getting the message that real men only think of sex, beer, sports, and 100 different ways he can escape life.

I have a daughter who I want to grow up expecting more than just a little boy in a man’s body.

And I have a husband who doesn’t fit the image of a man who’s one step away from a Neanderthal.

If I was a man, I’d be offended.  Help me out, guys. I know there are many of you out there who agree that you are more than what Doritos, Bud Light, and Pepsi Max say you are.

Many men can be faithful, thoughtful, intelligent, self-controlled, gentle and patient, too. Don’t get me wrong; they are also adventurous, risk-takers, fighters, and love a good challenge. Men are complicated; we can’t sum them up in a 30-second commercial for sure.  But we shouldn’t be complacent about the negative stereotypes of men that the media promulgates. Women, are we satisfied when we’re portrayed as dumb, gullible, and sex-starved?   I think not.  Let’s show our men the same level of respect.

Women and Men

Allison Stevens —  January 24, 2011 — 11 Comments

Is there any common sense to waiting for marriage to have sex?

I think there’s a lot of common sense about it. I just spoke with two separate women who went further, physically, with men than they had planned to or were emotionally ready for – and now one is filled with self-doubt and shame; the other is anxiety-ridden.

These women are beautiful, competent, caring, and successful. Any right-minded (or should I say ‘right-hearted’) single man would be thrilled to be with her. But the women’s self-esteem has taken a plunge now because of how far the physical relationship went without the commitment from the man. Now they wonder if the guy is in the relationship for the long haul. One of the men said he wasn’t sure. Hm. How convenient.

Sex is more than a physical act – at least to a woman who’s looking for a husband. And even to girls in high school who “make out” with guys and then hear that the guy isn’t interested in becoming boyfriend-girlfriend. She is hurt by that and wonders why she isn’t good enough for him.

I think it’s because she gave herself away too fast. Not that the guy who made out with her was a catch. Obviously, he has issues of his own. This isn’t just a female problem! Males are too willing to be passive and take the sexual activity that the woman is willing to give him, and then leave her behind. That is not a good, strong man.

But back to women:  When a woman gives her body to a guy before he’s committed himself to her, she puts herself in jeopardy of severe heartbreak and disappointment of not getting the most important desire in her life:  an intimate, committed, life-long relationship. A woman’s purity holds the key to her heart. If she gives that away too soon, a man can come in and take advantage of her vulnerability.

A woman pays a huge emotional price when she has sex before or outside of marriage. She can become fearful, anxious, lack confidence, and lose the meaning and purpose of her life.  Then, to relieve some of these painful symptoms, she may resort to continually giving a piece of herself away to an unworthy man, every time compromising what her true inner self tells her is right for her.

I love movies. Jeff’s reference to Open Range in his blog last week was a wonderful reminder of why I love movies. When done well,  I love the stories they tell. Interestingly enough, I recently showed that same movie, Open Range, to a group of guys at my church. After watching the movie, we spent about 45 minutes discussing what we witnessed as we entered the world of the old west for the previous 2 hours.

The conversation was rich and engaging. Guys just seem to connect with films. They see the good in men that they’d like to model their lives after. They see the bad that they need to avoid or fight against. They see how both the heroes and the villains treat the women in their lives. The complex issues that are played out in the telling of a good story are the same complex issues that men face in one way or another every day.

What I’ve discovered is that men tend to talk about areas where they struggle as men more easily after having watch a movie that exposes some of those struggles in the men whose story they’ve just experienced vicariously.

One of the comments that the men picked up on in Open Range came from a scene in a saloon. After two of his partners were brutally bushwacked, one murdered and the other clinging to life by a thread, Charlie Waite and Boss Spearman went into town to set things right.

Charlie Waite, the civil war sniper turned gun-hand turned free-grazing cowboy, challenged the townsmen for refusing to stand up to the evil cattle baron who ruled the town with an iron fist and owned the local Sheriff. They saw what was wrong, but they felt powerless to change it.

One of the men responded to Charlie’s challenge: “What? Me and my boys, we’re freighters. Ralph here is a shop keeper. What can we do?”

Charlie’s response was simple but clear: “You’re men ain’t cha?”. After expressing their fear of dying, he followed up with, “You may not know this, but there are some things that naw at a man worse than dying.”

What Charlie’s cowboy wisdom exposed was the tendency for men to confuse who they are with what they do. I hear that so often out of the mouths of men that I work with. “I’m a carpenter, doctor, plumber, salesman,  or engineer.” We men often hem ourselves in with a description of who we are as defined by what we do for a living. Don’t believe me? How many times have you seen a man lose his job and he doesn’t know who he is any more. Who are we without our work? We don’t know. And that’s why many men experience an identity crisis when they no longer are doing what they’re used to doing. They feel lost. They don’t know who they are as men.

(By the way, while this post focuses on men’s struggles, women tend to do the same thing, it just looks different. Women often identify themselves with the roles they play or the relationships they have: mother, housewife, nurse, lawyer, waitress, or manager. This is even more true as women continue to pursue careers outside of the home. Forgetting who we are is not an exclusive domain of men. It just tends to seep to the surface more obviously in men.)

God made men (and women) in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). We forget that timeless truth that has been true from the very beginning. We are male image-bearers or female image-bearers. There are no image bearers that are gender neutral. We’re either men or women, male or female.

The townsmen in Open Range forgot that they were men first . That’s who they were. What they did for a living, while important, was a distant second. And when men lose site of who they are, they live controlled by fear. And the Bible describes that as  a loss of heart.

So, today, who are you? Have you forgotten that you’re a man  (or woman) made in God’s image and worthy of love and respect because of who you are? Remember. Don’t forget.

Had no idea what to write about this morning until I read my online local newspaper this morning.  Headline:  Supporters of teacher who had sex with student flood judge.

A 32-year old teacher had sex with one of his 15-year old students (at a Christian school!) and he was sentenced to 8 to 40 years in prison. He cried in the courtroom saying how sorry he was for what he’d done.  He received over 100 letters of support from people around the country, asking the judge for leniency. According to the newspaper, principals, teachers, nurses, and youth workers wrote letters stating that this teacher was not a predator, not a monster, not a long-term threat, but could continue to have a positive impact on other’s lives. They apparently wrote that he is one of the best teachers they’ve ever seen and that their children benefited from having him as their teacher. One person wrote that he thinks he is a model of Christian faith, despite his actions. Parents and students apparently loved this guy; they didn’t know what side of the courtroom to sit on, they said, because they wanted to support both the teacher and the student. Right.

Did anyone care about how the victim and her family might feel?

Apparently not. The people gushed over this teacher. One woman said that she would have her children be in his classroom in a heartbeat. She thinks he’s just a man who lost his way and that nothing good will come from his being in jail.

No, no one who loves this man cares one bit about this young girl. The newspaper reports that the victim and her family feel ostracized. Of course they do!  They feel completely abandoned and alone. She’s left the school and attending another.

Isn’t it ironic that the victim is the one they’ve left by the side of the road and they run to the one who “beat her up” and left her there? Is it because he’s crying and saying he’s sorry? What, do they want her to stand up real quick, dust herself off, and say, “Oh, Mr. So-and-so, it’s OK, I know you’re sorry. I forgive you.”

What about this girl?!  She’s hurting!  He hurt her! What about her pain? I’m sickened and appalled at these people who call themselves Christians who are so open and public about their support of this man who hurt her! They’re willing to sacrifice this young girl so that they can protect this man. I don’t even know what to say about this except that this is evil at work.

They should be open about their support of this girl, not this man who took advantage of one of his students. The victim’s father asked a pointed question of the two pastors’s who wrote letters of support for the teacher. He asked if it was their 15 year old daughter that he had sex with, if they would have asked the judge for mercy.  Neither pastor responded. Hm. That says a lot doesn’t it. Where is the love?

Sexual assault, rape, incest, sexual abuse; these all carry with it such a deep level of shame. The blame immediately goes inward. And to make it all worse, people like the supporters of this teacher blame the victim. They blame the victim by publicly supporting the man.

Born this way

Jeff Olson —  September 17, 2010 — 24 Comments

At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards this week, Lady Gaga announced the name of her upcoming album—Born This Way. I think most understood her new album and comments at the VMA Awards to be an implicit statement about her lesbian ideology.

I want to say thank you to Lady Gaga. Not that I agree with her (although she’s free to state to her viewpoint).

I’m  grateful for the opportunity she’s provided—the opportunity to talk about another explanation for why people could feel same-sex attractions other than “born this way.”

While we can’t put the same hat on everyone, there is another explanation that takes into account several factors including the way people personally interact with a painful, broken world that can keep them from seeing the truth about who they are as a male or female.

You see, God has marked the soul of every human being with a gender identity. He created us in His image as “male and female” (Gen. 1:27; Mt. 19:4). And He fully intends for us to discover a deeper and fuller sense of ourselves as a man or woman. But for many reasons, some have significant struggles making this critical discovery about themselves. As result, unnatural passions can form.

It’s important to understand that sexual orientation is neither chosen nor set in stone as an adolescent enters puberty. The object of a boy or girl’s blossoming sexual desire is shaped and developed by what is unknown to them. Most adolescents who connect with and become familiar with their same-gender parent, siblings, or peers grow to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex because there is a lot about the other gender that is so unknown. This is the natural process of sexual development that God intended.

But sexual desire can turn in an unnatural direction at puberty for those who didn’t experience some degree of healthy same-gender relationships. Combined with other factors like physical or personality traits that made them feel inferior and different or over-identifying with the opposite sex, they struggled to identify with and didn’t have the opportunity to become familiar with the world of their own gender. For them the same-sex world remained a huge unknown. It became their opposite. And as the saying goes, “Opposites attract.”

For some adolescents, same-sex attractions occur quickly. For others it takes years. In either case, same-sex attractions grow out of an unfamiliarity with their own gender and a sense of what’s lacking in them as a male or female. That’s why most become attracted to those who seem to possess certain gender qualities they believe to be lacking in themselves. In that way, the sexual attraction is often less about the other person and more about what they perceive is missing in them as a male or a female.

Okay, I admit that’s brief and a bit clinical. Other factors can come into play and so much more needs to be said and thought through as to how these things can play out in a person’s story. But I hope enough was laid out to ponder and discuss the idea that sexual attraction for the same-sex is something that develops after a person is born.

The Masters

Jeff Olson —  April 9, 2010 — 8 Comments

One of my many favorite sporting events to watch in the spring is The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Of course, there is some added drama surrounding this years tournament with the return of Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer in the sport today.

In case you’ve been living a cave over the last few months, Woods stepped away from the game after the news about his numerous extra-marital affairs began to surface. Since then, he is reported to have come clean and has taken responsibility for his indiscretions.

There has been an ongoing debate over whether or not people are being too hard on a celebrity like Tiger. Some say he deserves to be run through the ringer. Others point out that other famous people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or John F. Kennedy were also serial womanizers. They question why we tend to look the other way when it comes to their sexual indiscretions and yet continue to be so harsh with Mr. Woods.

The current debate takes me back to the New Testament when a group of Jewish religious leaders tried to draw Jesus into a moral debate (John 8:1-11). While Jesus was teaching a crowd of people in the temple courts, they brought in a woman who had committed adultery, and publicly exposed her before the people.

Why they didn’t bring in the man she committed adultery with is any body’s guess.

After reminding Jesus that the Law of Moses called for her to be stoned, they asked Him what He thought. I love how Jesus handled the situation. First, he avoided the debate altogether by pointing the woman’s condemners back to their own sinfulness—“let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:8). After every one of her accusers turned and walked away,  he told her he didn’t condemn her either and asked her to leave her life of sin.  

As the moral failures of others continue to make headline news, may we follow Jesus lead and not condemn. And may it serve as a reminder to us that we all have our own weaknesses where sin can more easily infiltrate and ruin our lives.

Many spouses beat themselves up after their partner has had an affair. Somehow they begin thinking it was their fault. But what they fail to understand is that their unfaithful partners don’t have affairs primarily for sexual pleasure. What attracts people to affairs is that they become opportunities for them to experience pleasure without the responsibilities of relationship.