BJU Scandal: Do Right ’til the Stars Fall

Bob Jones University (BJU) has made the news recently, after firing the group (GRACE) they hired to conduct an investigation into the school’s handling of sexual abuse.  To get up to speed on what led up to this investigation, please read this very thorough article:


The investigation began in January of 2013. One of the tools used was an online survey, as outlined here. GRACE posted an update on the investigation in November of 2013. At that point things were going well, students had responded, and some 80 in-person interviews had been conducted. GRACE’s final report was scheduled for sometime in March of 2014. Then, on January 27th, 2014, BJU backed out of the contract and sent GRACE this message. On February 6th GRACE publicly announced the situation (much to BJU’s chagrin, judging from the response given by BJU) in this update:

With a very heavy heart, GRACE announces that on January 27th, 2014, we received a ‘Notice of Termination’ from Bob Jones University.
This ‘Notice’ took GRACE by complete surprise as there had been no prior indications from BJU that termination was even being considered. Furthermore, this termination occurred days before GRACE was to conduct the last interviews of this 13-month investigation and begin drafting the final report scheduled for publication in March.
Despite repeated requests, GRACE has not been informed of why the agreement was terminated.However, due to the fact that GRACE certainly wishes to keep all options on the table in order to complete what has been started, we have spent the last week in communication with BJU and we remain open to continued dialogue.
At this point, we are most concerned about the potential impact of this termination on those who participated in the investigation and are waiting for the final report. We grieve with those whose hopes will be crushed should this independent process remain incomplete. Please know that we heard your voice and it was not spoken in vain. GRACE offers its assurance that we will do our utmost to protect your confidences in the interviews and surveys from unauthorized use or disclosure. You have honored us with your courage and trust. We are privileged to have sat with each of you.
GRACE will post updates should the current situation change. Above all, we continue to have hope in the One who makes all things new and never lets us go.
The GRACE Team
February 6, 2014

BJU had this to say in reply:

… Over the last several months, we grew concerned about how GRACE was pursuing our objectives, and on Jan. 27, 2014, BJU terminated its contract with GRACE. …
BJU sincerely appreciates all current and former students who participated in this initiative thus far, and the University regrets any delay BJU’s cancellation of its agreement with GRACE may have on this important project.
We grieve with those who have suffered abuse in their past, and we desire to minister the grace of Christ to them. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength.

The situation has received outside attention from both local media and the not-so-local Washington Post. Bloggers, activist groups, and people who have previous connections to BJU (or similar groups) have used social media to spread the word, even starting a petition demanding BJU reinstate GRACE. Since learning about BJU’s termination with GRACE, I also learned about another Christian organization that had also terminated with GRACE in the past. The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) canceled its contract with GRACE two years into the investigation. ABWE’s reasons for terminating are listed here. GRACE’s response is found here. Blogger Tamara Rice – who was personally involved in the sex abuse scandal at ABWE – wrote about GRACE, ABWE, and the BJU termination in her post: The Realist Speaks: 5 Reasons the BJU Scandal Will Go Away.

On February 7th, BJU’s current president Stephen Jones gave this speech to students and staff at BJU.
Here are some important quotes from the speech (thank you John Shore for taking the time to type up these quotes):

We grew concerned that in the process GRACE had begun going beyond the original outlined intentions. And so we wanted to sit down and talk about them, because it had gone askew. And so we terminated our agreement with GRACE … . Since the termination we have intended to immediately negotiate a new contract with GRACE that would enable them to complete the review to achieve our objectives.
. . .  We have not shared the reasons for our termination … with GRACE or with anybody else, because that needs to happen at the table, so that we can fully explain it, and they can have the opportunity to hear it there the first time. … [Grace] is our partner in this.
We are committed to achieving our original objectives. …
I’m most greatly concerned today for the people who’ve been interviewed in the process. Which is one of the reasons we wanted to deal with GRACE … because there were people who shared horrific personal stories of abuse with GRACE. … GRACE has done a great job at making those people feel at home, and secure, and free to share those stories. … I just want to reiterate that we are committed to identifying and reaching out to those individuals.

Blogger John Shore‘s response to this speech sums it up pretty well:

In other words:
“We hired GRACE to look into allegations of sexual abuse at BJU. Just as GRACE was concluding its 13-month investigation, we decided that we were dissatisfied with them. We wanted to talk with GRACE about our unhappiness with them, but instead decided to say nothing to them before suddenly firing them. But we still very much want to work with GRACE. We fired GRACE so that we could immediately rehire GRACE. We have no idea why they would have a problem with that.
“We’re going to find out from GRACE who they talked to, and what those people said. Because we care.”

Now to the opinion part of my post.

BJU screwed up… majorly. Everything I’ve seen thus far from BJU has made me more suspicious of the school and its motives for canceling a sex abuse investigation weeks before its finding were to go public. I find this quote from the February 7th speech particularly damning (words in bold highlighted by me):

We grew concerned that in the process GRACE had begun going beyond the original outlined intentions. And so we wanted to sit down and talk about them, because it had gone askew. And so we terminated our agreement with GRACE … . Since the termination we have intended to immediately negotiate a new contract with GRACE that would enable them to complete the review to achieve our objectives.

What do I take away from this (and the whole speech)? BJU had very specific ideas of what they wanted GRACE to look at and/or find through an investigation. As soon as the investigation started to uncover things that didn’t fit with “our objectives,” BJU pulled the plug. Now, unless GRACE agrees to do only what BJU says it can, the investigation will have been for naught and the results will never see the light of day. The point of hiring a third party to look into the situation is to get an independent opinion that will not be controlled by the parties involved. What else does that speech tell me? It tells me that BJU will not publicly entertain the notion that sexual abuse was happening on its campus. The only reason BJU hired GRACE to conduct an investigation was to assess how the school handled students who had been abused elsewhere, usually at some previous point in their lives. Given the Baptist/religious/fundamentalist tendency to sweep such thing under the rug, no matter how old or new the accusations are, this investigation is important at all levels.

To those who point to ABWE’s concerns about GRACE as a way to defend BJU’s decision/actions… it’s not working for me. I’ve read ABWE’s accusations and I’ve read the other side’s opinion, and I find ABWE’s accusations far-fetched and fantastic in description.When sexual abuse is involved – particularly in religious, male-dominated organizations – I doubly question the concept of trying to prevent a “flawed report” from going public. Also, GRACE spent months getting the trust of the students – not something to be taken lightly. Survivors of sexual abuse will have trust issues, especially if they’re worried about potential backlash from administration. There is no way students will be as ready to trust a new attempt at an investigation after having their hopes dashed in this manner. Were I a college student at BJU (or any other similar institution) who had suffered sexual abuse, I would certainly be worried about how things would be handled and would fear I wouldn’t be allowed to remain a student if I were to speak out about the abuse.In light of my personal experiences, the experiences of people around me, and what I’ve read and heard, I have a hard time trusting any large fundamentalist organization to do the right thing rather save face. A college friend told me her sexual abuse story – it ended with the religious leaders involved sweeping it under the rug and telling her to keep quiet and get over it. Another friend was severely mistreated by the administration of the Baptist college she was attending – read the story here. So many more stories out there, all terrible and impossible to believe… but they’re true.

I don’t know how this story will end, but I doubt the full truth will ever come to light. BJU committed PR suicide with its handling of this event – I hope this has been big enough that people will not forget it. I hope that GRACE’s full report is allowed to be made public and BJU will not try to censor the truth to save face. I also hope that the victims of sexual abuse who are involved will get the support and help they need so they that they can find healing.

Update: News story posted by the NY Times on Febuary 11th. Abusers allege they were told by BJU counselors to keep their stories private because going to the authorities would hurt the cause of Christ.
Update as of 2/27/2014: GRACE reinstated by BJU

Advertisements

How IFB Has Shaped My Life: Part One

My IFB background has shaped every aspect of my life thus far. I used to accept fundamentalism’s dictation of my actions without question. Those days are long gone, of course, but fundamentalism is still doing its best to shape my life. Being raised in a lifestyle that involved attending church three times a week (and more if there were revival services), attending church-school five days a week (K-4 through 12th grade), and being heavily involved in the church and school as a family did an excellent job of instilling IFB principles into my very person. I attended and then worked at a summer camp run by Baptists; I then went on to a Baptist college where IFB principles were further entrenched into my thinking. When I made the decision to leave IFB and Christianity as a whole, I did not fully understand how much my former beliefs would continue to impact me in the future. Perhaps the largest way it has impacted me is in the areas of relationships, love, and marriage.

Conservative Christians focus on keeping themselves pure, which usually means no sex before marriage. My seventh grade Sunday School teacher had us (all girls) sign slips of paper promising to keep ourselves pure before marriage. At some point during my teen years my Dad took me out to a special dinner and then had a brief, awkward conversation with me about keeping  myself pure before marriage. I promised him that I would and he presented me with a purity ring. Camp speakers and staff spoke extensively about young people keeping themselves pure, lest we give ourselves away piece by piece until there’s nothing left for our future spouse. I took this phrase to heart and prided myself in the fact that I had not dated a long string of guys. I wanted to wait for the right one and date only him and then get married and live happily ever after. Doing things correctly was supposed to guarantee a blissful marriage, after all. Prior to leaving IFB, I had assumed I would meet a wonderful, Christ-centered man and then we’d embark on some dating/courtship hybrid that would end in sappy vows at the altar. My own parents had both dated and done things the “normal” way, but I knew that Dad hoped I would choose the courtship route. He bought into the concept of a father is responsible for daughter until he hands that responsibility off to her husband at the alter. I didn’t like or accept that at all, though, and he didn’t really push it. I think he’s too awesome of a guy to truly buy into male headship/ownership of females. He certainly never treated my mother like he owned her. Anyway.

In college I spent a lot of time reading and praying about godly standards for relationship. Sermons, chapel messages, classroom discussions, dorm discussions, and dorm devotions were full of thoughts and mandates about purity, dating, marriage, etc. In that sort of atmosphere there was no escaping the fact that most people are or will be in relationships; if they aren’t presently in a relationship, they probably wish they were. I was no exception and sincerely wished for a relationship. When I voiced those thoughts to friends I was told that I should be making the most of my singleness by serving God. “Serving God” meant focusing on prayers, reading my Bible, and working in a ministry of some sort (so I wouldn’t get discontent and go off on my own and find a suitable partner instead of waiting for God). Whole books and special studies are dedicated to using your single years for God’s glory while you wait for God to bring you a spouse or, heaven-forbid, learn to accept that you’re meant to focus on God rather than a husband. One pamphlet floating around amongst Baptists is particularly disturbing – Stay in the Castle. It tells the story of a King (God) who had a daughter (you). The daughter was told that her knight in shining armor (your husband) would come on a special, unknown day and seek her hand in marriage – she just had to be patient and wait. Well, the daughter, like any curious young woman tired of being locked up in a castle, slips off to the village one night and falls in love with the excitement going on there. The commoners aren’t so bad – she even meets a nice boy. She and the boy fall in love and decide to be married, despite her father’s sad disapproval of her defiant choice. Some months later, as her back aches because of the child she is carrying in her womb, she sees a glowing knight ride up to the castle, only to be sent away because his princess didn’t wait for him. Talk about emotional manipulation! Do what your father (earthly and heavenly) tells you so you don’t end up married to a poor drunk, lest you bemoan carrying his child and missing out on the life of luxury you should have had. Christian literature on relationships is pretty awful, in my experience, and any claims of Christian psychology should be viewed with great skepticism. Anyway. These things illustrate some of the major influences on my understanding of/views on relationships.

When I made the tumultuous decisions to leave Christianity, one of the first things I did was stop “waiting for God” and start to actively seek out a relationship. I met a man – who was not a Christian – and we began dating. He seemed to be everything I thought I wanted in a partner – smart, funny, kind, ambitious, confidant, etc. He was also my first real boyfriend, so I had little-to-no previous experience with a dating relationship. I knew that the relationship standards I had been raised with were not the norm for other people. What was the norm for “the world” ???? I had no idea. My new boyfriend  expected hand-holding, hugs, and kissing from the start. I was reluctant and taken aback by his expectations, but wasn’t sure if they were truly unreasonable or if I was just a prude. I looked to my Dad for guidance here, but he seemed to be of the opinion that my boyfriend’s way of thinking was not cause for alarm (which really surprised me and still seems odd to me now). I tried to ease up and relax some, but I did maintain certain boundaries. The boyfriend wasn’t particularly thrilled but agreed to respect my decisions. The way he treated me was far from respectful, but at the time I didn’t see it. He pushed and pushed to break down any barriers I set up. If I wasn’t as cuddly as he wanted me to be he’d pout and lash out at me verbally, telling me how things should be. If I became upset and later felt bad (which was often), I would apologize for being such a prude and then he would comment about how benevolent he was to put up with me. “Most guys would have already raped me,” he said, “but I’m was glad I’m not that kind of guy.” Being talked to like this made me feel like I was beholding to him for being so nice. I figured that, if other “normal” guys were like what he described, I must certainly have a good boyfriend. He was good at manipulating me, obviously, and was very clever with his words. Too clever, actually – he was/is a habitual liar and told me fantastic lies from the start. I was surprised when I discovered some of the lies he told, but the reasoning he gave for telling those lies seemed acceptable so I pushed it off as something normal people must do. He said and did a LOT of things that I pushed off as normal because he was very good at presenting himself as a relatively normal guy… and because I didn’t know what normal really was. He wasn’t normal, though, at any level. I would not discover just how abnormal he was until after we were married.

Looking back, I wish I had dated around in high school and in college so that I could experience what it was like to be in a relationship long before it actually was important (think marriage-important). Granted, my opportunities for dating were pretty much non-existent and guys didn’t seem interested in me. I didn’t even have great friendships with guys once I started to “grow up,” because friendships with guys were taboo. Being able to be friends with a guy is tough for me to this day. I was raised to think that if a guy was being more than polite it meant he was interested in you, romantically, and if you were more than polite to a guy you were showing your interest and being a bit forward. I had a few male friendships in college, but they were all with fundamentalists so that did little to help me gauge what was normal and acceptable in any sort of relationship. At least one of those male friendships was of a very close nature, and should have been helpful to me. It was very hurtful, though, to my understanding of the dynamic between a man and a woman, particularly between marriage partners, because of how he treated his wife (who was also my close friend). Verbal abuse and manipulation were very prominent in his relationships with other people – doubly so with those who were close to him; it was those very things that finally ended our friendship. But I didn’t learn from that experience, I guess, because I jumped right into a romantic relationship that was fraught with the same verbal abuse and manipulation I had previously escaped.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Ashlee

Meet Ashlee, a young woman who is an ex-fundie, happily married, and a Christian. Thank you for sharing your story, Ashlee!
_____________________________________________________

What do you consider your current worldview/religious beliefs to be?

Christian – Having a relationship with God and not the church. Politically, I would consider myself moderate.

How did you become involved with Christian Fundamentalism?

I was born into it. Until I moved out of my parent’s house I had no choice with what I wanted to do. My parent’s controlled everything.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism?

IFB – very conservative

How did Christian Fundamentalism affect your home life (relationship between parents, relationship between parents and children, relationship between siblings, discipline methods, lifestyle choices, etc.)?

I think it caused tension between my parents and me because I was always afraid of getting in trouble. Being a PK I always had to play the part of being the good Christian girl. I didn’t have the same thinking as my parents. I felt like I couldn’t be true to myself. I felt more like a fraud. Moving out of their house I feel like now I can be authentic. With the control they had over me I couldn’t think for myself. It was either the Bible way or the highway with them.
Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now?

My dad was head of the home and also the church, so I got strictness in both the home and church. I do not agree with males feeling like they can dominate the female. Being brought up in the IFB the men teach you that they have control over you. 

What were you taught about sex before marriage or sex in general? How has that affected your relationships (dating, marriage, or otherwise)? How have the teachings affected your opinion of your own body?

Growing up in a strict conservative Christian home the topic of sex was not brought up. I know in some Christian homes it was an open topic, and in others it was a very closed never talked about topic. I grew up with the subject never being brought into conversation. Why my parents chose that option is beyond me. Maybe they hoped if they kept their children “innocent” and naïve they would never have to worry about one of their daughters becoming pregnant. Being much younger than my oldest sisters I don’t know if my parents at some point had the intimate “sex talk” with them. Perhaps my mother was the one who gave that talk, and maybe waited until their wedding day, assuming they were both virgins. I learned from looking at porn and reading about sex and talking to certain friends. I think you should be allowed to do whatever you are comfortable with doing with your body. 
My mother was a funny individual who didn’t even give me the talk about girls getting their period. The first time not having a clue what was going on with my body I felt as if something seriously wrong was happening to my body.

Do you have any memories that stand out in regards to your experience with fundamentalism (you can share as many as you’d like)?

I remember always being scared talking to friends. Even about dumb stuff just being afraid of getting in trouble with my parents. The control my parents had over me was just wrong. A parent and child relationship should be based on love and not using an intimidation tactic.

When did you start to question Christian Fundamentalism? What led up to this?

When my parents told me I was going to a strict Baptist college without me having a say in the process because they didn’t approve of a guy. Although before that I always knew my parents were strict and the way they disciplined wasn’t right.
Do you notice areas of your life where fundamentalism is still impacting you?

Not really. I’ve kind of changed.

Did you ever feel abused* by any aspect of or adherent to Christian Fundamentalism?

I believe there was a lot of emotional and psychological abuse. My dad always told us to keep stuff to ourselves and not tell anybody stuff that was said. Which kind of screws with your head. Like why so much secrecy? Also, there were a couple of times he took physical discipline too far, and caused severe bruising.

What do you think Christian Fundamentalism gets wrong? What do you think it gets right?

It gets a lot wrong. Music, dress, rules, and much more. I really don’t think they get anything right. They lack in teaching God’s agape love, and focus too much on rules. The Baptist church seems too similar to the catholic church… both are focused on works.
How do you think fundamentalism has impacted the world’s view of Christianity? Should Christians be trying to change that view? If so, how do you think they can?

I believe the Baptist church has caused people to turn away from church because of their corrupt teaching. I believe God shows His love to His children. Baptists should turn away from looking the part of the good Christian.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining Christian fundamentalism?

I would advise them not to join. It’s more of a cult/religion.
What would you say to someone who is considering leaving Christian fundamentalism?

I would try to help them as much as I can. Especially if they were having issues with the pastor giving them problems and pressuring them to stay.

* “Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone” (source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline ). Abuse may have taken place in the home, church, religious school, etc. or could have stemmed from specific teachings and self-imposed adherence to such teachings. 

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.

Why is this woman having to write this letter in the first place? Why is her sexual orientation a sin? Because the writings of ancient Middle-Eastern men say so. Of course, these same writing talk about stoning witches, forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, and killing massive amounts of people because the Israelites “needed” their land. I’m speaking of the Bible, but you knew that already. Many, in fact most (in my experience), Christians are quick to pick and choose passages of Scripture to promote and preach on whilst conveniently ignoring the icky stuff. If you claim the entire Bible is perfect and inspired, why ignore any of it? Why aren’t you still calling for witches to be stoned? Why aren’t you preaching against clothing made of mixed fabrics? Why aren’t you segregating the menstruating women? Why aren’t you telling all women they cannot teach or be in any positions of leadership? Why aren’t you telling your women to stay silent during church? They can always just ask their husbands when they get home, like Paul said they should do. Ugh. The churches who hold to these ideas are few and far between, relatively speaking, and are considered crazy. As they should be.

Anything that demonizes something as basic and normal as sex needs to be reassessed. And anything that tells someone, “Nope, your body got it wrong. You can’t be attracted to that gender because that would be evil. You love them? Doesn’t matter. Why? Because an ancient text told us so. Get over it and get your heart right!” is the true evil here. If you don’t understand or like homosexuality, fine. I don’t see why you must proclaim it loudly and do what you can to make homosexuals (or their friends and family) feel dirty and like lesser people.

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.
I am also appalled because I used to be a part of churches who took similar stands on issues like homosexuality. Not all Christians or even Baptists would endorse putting homosexuals into concentration camp settings just to prove that homosexuals cannot reproduce, or if you take it to the logical end, to watch the so-called blot of homosexuality die out. Sadly, I know several people who would probably be fine with that scenario playing out. The Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, does refer to homosexuality as a gross sin, and labels it as a stoning offence (Leviticus 20:13). The Bible also says that Christians are to love their neighbors and be peaceful people (mostly in the New Testament). Christians have a hard time balancing out those two ideas, often being on one extreme side or the other. It’s issues like this that have led me to make the observation that the God of the OT is not the same God of the NT, despite Biblical claims to that end. The OT is full of harsh, brutal, intolerant and unloving acts that were commanded or committed because of what God supposedly said. The NT, particularly the teachings of Jesus, speak of love, equality (or close to it compared to the OT) and peaceful living. When I was a Christian, I read my Bible and became confused at the apparent contradictions I saw. I understood that it was the NT I was supposed to follow, since Jesus had essentially nullified the former requirement of following the law, but I also read that Jesus and God were the same person and did not “change.” Looking at the change in the message of the OT and NT from a historic perspective, it certainly shows that ideologies can progress towards tolerance and love over time, as humanity becomes more “civilized.” Modern Christianity seems to be proof of that, as it tends to focus on the message of love and peace that Christ did preach, while often ignoring other messages in the Bible that disagree. Those who try to embrace the ENTIRE Bible all at once, and not only follow it to the letter but also force their beliefs on everyone else – they are the ones who end up making the news. 

The pastor may have been trying to prove something when he mentioned that homosexuals don’t reproduce, but his logic is faulty. There are many heterosexual couples who cannot or do not reproduce either. Sex is pleasurable, for both the heterosexual and the homosexual. It seems that the Bible’s biggest beef with homosexuality is the inability to reproduce, and of course the idea that one of the men has to take “the role of the woman.” Oh wait, then how does this apply to lesbians too? Why is it not such a big issue if it’s women with women? I can only recall one passage in the Bible that specifically references lesbians, whereas several come to mind that specifically refer to gay men. The root issue here is not the pleasure of sex without reproduction so much as it is an issue with women and men being equal. It’s no secret that inequality was the norm during Biblical times, particularly the OT. “Leaving the natural use of the woman” is a phrase used in reference to men choosing to sexually love other men rather than women (Romans 1:27). I am a woman, and I do not see my womanhood as being a “natural use” for a man to please himself sexually. That phrasing seems to take the female side of things rather lightly, placing the importance on the male. If this is a translation issue, great, but most people who still hold to this view of sex and women are stuck on the KJV translation as being “God-breathed.” 

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. 


If you are reading this, then you had a mother and a father who joined themselves together and created you. Many of you had parents who were married, some were not married, some may not even know both of their parents… but you have sex to thank for your existence. Sex is a regular bodily function, and the parts of the body that are involved are just that – parts of the body. True, it is those body parts that allow humanity to continue its existence through the creation of babies – a power not to be taken lightly. The making of babies has been going on for a very, very long time (obviously), but the ways in which the act of lovemaking have been viewed during that time frame are quite varied. I recently was reading some on the culture of the Celts, including their views on sexuality, and found the openness of it all to be rather refreshing. It was assumed that young people would be sexually active long before they were hand-fasted (Celtic equivalent of marriage). Even their view of marriage was strikingly different. A couple could be fasted for a year, in which they would live together as husband and wife, and then after that year they could choose to part ways or make the relationship permanent. The Celts also allowed sexual freedoms to the married people, if they chose not to remain monogamous. I wouldn’t choose to embrace that idea myself, but I do think people should be allowed to live that way if they choose to, so long as their partner is in agreement with it. Basically, the Celtic approach to sex can be summed up in the word “freedom.” The Christian view of lovemaking is quite different. Sex is to occur only between one man and woman, and only after they have been married – any other occurrences are immorality/adultery and therefore sin. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses marriage and the sexual desires of Christians. He says several times that single people are better off, and that a man is much better off if he never has sex with a woman. Paul seems to be telling people that, if you are strong enough to repress your need for sex, you are making the best decision, but if you can’t, it’s okay, go ahead and get married and have sex… but you’ll really be better off if you don’t. After so many years of religiously-driven celibacy, it should be apparent why humans need to find outlets for their sexuality instead of repressing it. I wonder what happened in Paul’s life that left him thinking this way. He had to have been married at one time, since he was a high-up in the Jewish system… I wonder if he had a bad wife or something that left him blessing singleness. 
Anyway. 

Repressing anything results in problems surfacing later. If you hold in emotions, they will explode out later in chaotic and even harmful ways. If you hold in fears, guilt, and painful past events, you can greatly effect your mental health and consequently effect your physical health. If you don’t have a bowel movement, and instead hold it all in, you will back up your system and cause your body to poison itself. If you habitually force yourself to hold your bladder instead of relieving it, you will cause problems there. Why, then, is it somehow better for you to suppress the sexual appetite that you are born with? I get that the usual problem associated with pre-marital sex is a lot of kids that often lack things like a dedicated father, financial support, a mature mother, etc. Of course, marriage does not ensure those things exist… but it does increase the likelihood. People should be allowed to choose when they make love, and they should be in charge of deciding when they bring little dependent babies into the world. Teaching people that sex is normal and good – instead of something to pretend/wish away or not speak of – and teaching them how, why, and when to partake in it, seems to be the logical way to go. The same applies to the usage of alcohol, etc. Vagina and penis shouldn’t be dirty words that kids aren’t allowed to hear – they’re the names of body parts that are very important (for many reasons in addition to sexual function). Women’s menstrual cycles, private body parts, etc. should be normal things by now, not embarrassing, gross things.  Education and freedom has helped a lot of other problems (racism, bigotry, sexism, etc), so why not apply it to sex? Their is great power in knowledge, great power for good. If everyone was properly acclimated to sex, accepting its natural place in our lives and knowing when it is appropriate, rape and molestation would decrease, and unwanted pregnancies would probably decrease as well. Victorian prudishness creates ignorance, and that ignorance is certainly not bliss when some girl starts to experiment, maybe out of curiosity about this feeling she suddenly has, and ends up pregnant and scared and shamed by people around her. Fear, guilt, and shame should not be linked to such a beautiful act as making love.  

It’s late, so I will wrap this post up now, but I will probably touch on it again in the future.