God Will Ruin Your Sex Life

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Urban ruins, Grahamstown, South Africa

Last week I spent a few days in Grahamstown, South Africa for my graduation. It was a weird experience because everything felt so familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I found my way around easily but I still could not shake the feeling of ‘foreign- ness’. I was hit by waves of nostalgia and deeply buried memories were creeping up on me: that’s where I banked my money; here’s where I bought my stationery; and there’s where my friends and I ate on a shoestring budget. But even though I recognised those places well, they didn’t have the same significance to me, I had moved on.

Each one of us has a different story to tell about our sexual past. Some of us have moved on, others still struggle. When I talk to people about their sexual history most still have a lot of emotion attached to it, usually guilt or shame. People feel guilty when they have done wrong. On the other hand, shame is an emotion that is often attached to having a wrong done against you.

I want you to think of your heart as a city. Like any city it’s divided into different areas with buildings, streets and landmarks. Now that you have a clear picture of it, make your way through the streets until you get to the area where your sexuality lives. What have you built there and how do you feel about it? Maybe you look at this area of your city with guilt or perhaps you feel ashamed.

Depending on your sexual history you might feel happy, sad, excited, disappointed, indifferent or even thirsty (ah, the thirst). The reality is that most of us haven’t built this area of our cities well; it’s not a place that anyone would be proud of. Our buildings are a mess and we have no idea how to fix them. We want to forgive ourselves for the wrong that we’ve done. We want to forgive and let go of those who have done us wrong. We want to move past the past and not make the same mistakes.

We want to begin again but where do we start? It’s a process that’s summed up in 3 words: demolish, salvage, rebuild.

Demolish The reason why many of us struggle to move on from our sexual past is not because it’s too horrible to move past or because God’s punishing us for it – it is because we still hold onto the reminders of what we did or what happened. I call these things “shrines”.

A shrine is a place associated with a particular person or containing memorabilia of a particular person; or a place of worship.

For example: your letters from the ex that you slept with; the Facebook photos of that person that you’ve fantasized about; the deep dark secret that you keep and refuse to confront. But please note, it’s not the thing itself that’s the real problem, it’s the emotion that you attach to that thing or person and the memories associated with it.

Before you can truly move on the shrines in your life need to be identified and demolished.

Salvage
Sometimes when a building has been condemned and needs to be demolished, a salvaging team will come in and rescue parts of the building. These building materials are not destroyed because they are still useful. The purpose of salvaging is to prevent waste. In the process of moving on from your sexual past, you need to salvage every lesson that you can from your experience. Don’t waste it.

This is important, because until you are able to identify the lessons learnt, you are in constant danger of falling into that same trap. Salvage these lessons for you but also for the purpose of sharing them with other people. Incorporate them into your story, write them down and share them with those who need to hear them.

Use your experiences, especially the bad, as an opportunity for growth. Don’t waste them.

Rebuild
This is the best part, and probably the hardest. The demolition phase is hard at first but once the decision is made you start to feel quite euphoric. Here’s what I mean: you realise that your lust issues are partly caused by the fact that you’re always watching sexy movies so you go on a movie deleting spree and cancel your Dstv subscription. It feels good! By the time you get to the salvaging stage your fire’s burning out and you’re feeling a little disillusioned.

This is the stage where you’re most vulnerable, your walls are down, you don’t have your shrines for comfort and all the looking back has you feeling a little nostalgic. After we’ve gone through that whole process the temptation is to “rebuild those things that I tore down”(Galatians 2:18), falling back into our old patterns of sin. But here’s what you need to remember:

1 God does the demolishing, by His power and not yours.

“I’m about to destroy your sacred god and goddess shrines… Every place where you’ve lived, the towns will be torn down and the pagan shrines demolished.” Ezekiel 6: 6-7 (MSG)

2 God does the salvaging; He will be your comfort and your strength.

“I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, A place filled with exuberance and laughter.” Isaiah 51:3 (MSG)

3 God does the rebuilding.

“I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes. The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations; the mansions will be splendid again.”

Jeremiah 30:17-

God will ruin your sex life. He wants to demolish those things which shouldn’t be there. He wants to help you salvage the lessons you need to learn. And he wants to rebuild your sex life into something that’s beautiful and pure.

Thanks for reading.

Shula



 

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TCT :: I have no idea what to call this post about masturbation

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By Malebo Moloto

“I’m not ashamed of the things I dream,

I find myself flirting with the verge of obscene,

Into the unknown, I will be bold,
I’m going to places I can be out of control.

And I don’t want to explain tonight, all the things I’ve tried to hide,

I shut myself from the world so I can draw the blinds and I’ll teach myself to fly.

I love myself, it’s not a sin, I can’t control what’s happening.

Cause I just discovered imagination is taking over, another day without a lover,

The more I come to understand the touch of my hand…”

The touch of my hand….that what Britney Spears coons over a beat! Masturbation!! Masturbation!! Masturbation!!! What is it about that word that makes me giggle like a school girl? Most people aren’t willing to even say the word, much less have a discussion about it. But today, we are going to talk about this taboo topic no matter how much we are embarrassed, giggly or outright grossed out. Let’s talk about it and open the platform for healthy dialogue on a topic that everyone, yes everyone, wants to know about.

I’m hoping that in our conversation will lead to us having a clearer understanding of the role, or lack thereof, of masturbation in the life of Christian. I hope that Scripture will not be used out of context or become victim to personal interpretation, but that it will be a definitive and powerful source of truth. Now the Bible does not discuss masturbation, as in nowhere in the Bible is the word mentioned or even forbidden, so the natural starting point would be to define what masturbation really is. In laymen terms, it’s the act of pleasuring yourself sexually either with “the touch of your hand” or other…um, electronic methods (stay with me, I’m giggling as I write this too) and other ways that lead to sexual release in any way. Now worldly wisdom tells us that masturbation is a healthy way of life, as a single guy or girl, and even in marriage. It is encouraged as a way of self-exploration, self-love, self-knowledge, if you will.

For me, the term “healthy sexuality” presupposes that we have a good idea of what our sexuality is and does, and I would argue that, for the most part, both our culture and church have fairly distorted models of what sexuality is supposed to look like. Part of the reason that we struggle with the question of masturbation is because we have trouble living in the tension of our desires. It’s easier to fall back into the black and white rules that we’re often offered as answers to our struggles instead of doing the hard work of encountering our desires and longing for relationship with God.

For the most part, we’ve been given two sets of rules to follow when it comes to our sexuality: it’s either we respond to it like an appetite, like hunger, we feed it; or to avoid it completely or as something to be expressed only in covenanted conjugal relationships.

This false dichotomy and both of these paradigms tend to end up in dysfunction. We either find ourselves at the mercy of our “needs” which leads to a low grade despair, or divorced from the life and pleasure that sexuality brings, living in a kind of discontented numbness.

What I’m getting at is that sexuality is not wrong, desire and sex where all created by God and it’s a beautiful thing. When thinking of masturbation, we have to think about it in terms of lust, since the word itself is not found in the Bible. Lust is a strong desire, and in this case, a strong sexual desire. It’s a strong overwhelming desire for something or someone.  It is self-indulgent as it seeks just to please self. Now since the Bible doesn’t mention that masturbation is a sin, that doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast rule to completely say it is not wrong.

In my opinion (since that’s what this is), I am more interested in what gets someone to masturbate, more than the actual act. What’s of significance is what causes people to masturbate because we cannot simply provide a “yes” “no” answer without exploring the root of the issue.

For the manifestation in the physical, your thought life would have already taken you down the rabbit hole till it manifests itself physically.

Now, there is a school of thought that says masturbation can be done with a pure heart and mind and I respectfully disagree. Scripture tells us that, “you have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who has looked a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus here tells us that before you even commit the act, by letting it take root in your mind, you have committed the sin. Therefore, it starts in our thought life, that is where it takes root and that leads to sin.

Also, masturbation is self-centred, as it seeks only to please self.

The issue is also the nature of masturbation. It’s all secretive and shameful and leaves people feeling guilt, even to the point of not being able to be in the presence of the Father because you have condemned yourself. The issue is that, for some people it can become a crutch in order to avoid healthy interactions and relationships with people, a way to shield them from being hurt.

For some people it is because they are lonely, bored etc. It is not as simple as saying it is about fulfilling desire and that there are no consequences because for a lot of people masturbation is an escape. It’s a way of dealing, without dealing……it comes down to wholeness.

The issue with masturbation or any other “thing” for that matter, is that it comes down to what is missing and what you think this “thing” will fill, what way do you think it will make you feel whole or complete.

So, I think that it goes beyond the act, because by already thinking it, you have already committed it. It goes to being pure in thought, heart and motive. We must make sure that our thought life aligns with the word of God and that we take hold of every thought that exalts itself above Him and make it submit to the word of God.

President George Q. Cannon, a former counsellor in the First Presidency of the Church, said:

“If a man be pure in thought, he will be correspondingly pure in action; but if he allows his mind to roam in unrestricted freedom through the various avenues of evil or to dwell unchecked upon the contemplation of forbidden indulgences, it will not be long before his feet tread those paths and his hand plucks the tempting but deceitful fruit.”

So may take on it is that masturbation is the manifestation of a sinful thought life.

What say you?

TCT :: 8 Things I Will Teach My Daughter About Sex

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by Zuko Mgwili

“By and by, I noticed Wemmick’s arm beginning to disappear again, and gradually fading out of view. Shortly afterwards, his mouth began to widen again. After an interval of suspense on my part that was quite enthralling and almost painful, I saw his hand appear on the other side of Miss Skiffins. Instantly, Miss Skiffins stopped it with the neatness of a placid boxer, took off that girdle or cestus as before, and laid it on the table. Taking the table to represent the path of virtue, I am justified in stating that during the whole time of the Aged’s reading, Wemmick’s arm was straying from the path of virtue and being recalled to it by Miss Skiffins.” – Great Expectations.

Fatherhood, can there be any greater honor/privilege (apart from being married to the love of your life), that God, in his infinite wisdom, grants a man, than that of being a father. Oh, how I relish the prospect, and if God would be so kind as to give me a daughter, here are some thoughts I would share with her about sex.

1. Sex is good.

All God’s gifts are good, and sex is from God; it’s His idea. He gave it to his human creatures not only for procreation, but also for our pleasure. A husband and his wife are to delight and be intoxicated with each other in sex.

2. Desire is good.

Your desire for sexual intimacy is good; do not feel shame about it. It is telling you that your body is ready for sexual love. Do understand that the proper context for sexual expression is marriage.

3. Sex is not God.

You will have some people think of you as strange for saving sex for marriage, for subscribing to some “repressive, antiquated” notions about sex. Some will even ask, “How are you able to survive without it?” or “Everyone is doing it, what’s wrong with you?”. The culture all around worships at the altar of sex; it’s everywhere, with all its gross distortions. Sex is to be enjoyed as the gift that it is, within the confines of God’s law, but it is not God. You can live without it.

4. Hollywood sex is not real sex.

Don’t take your cues and ideas about sex from Hollywood; the well choreographed sequences, where lovers seem to effortless lose themselves in sexual ecstasy, do not necessarily reflect real life. Your first sexual encounter will most likely be a clumsy, awkward affair. Do not loose heart, as you and your husband grow to know each other sexually, you will over time indeed experience perfect rapture.

5. Sex is enjoyable.

Premarital, extramarital or marital, sex is enjoyable, but the best sex to be had is marital. A good marriage relationship established on Christ, where trust, faithfulness and love are not lacking, is an excellent foundation for passionate love making to happen.

6. Sexual power.

Be aware of the kind of sexual power as a young woman you have over men. Do your best to possess your body in an honorable manner, so that your are not a cause for stumbling for your brothers in Christ.

7. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

You are God’s. You are called by His Name. His love for you is far greater than you can imagine or comprehend. You have the Creator of the Universe dwelling in you by His Spirit; what an awesome idea. You are not your own, therefore observe God’s law about sexual behavior; his laws are for your good.

8. Sexual conduct as a witness.

You bring glory to God when you handle your sexuality honorably. Great harm has been caused to the witness of the Gospel, as a result of scandals of sexual immorality in the Church. For the sake of Kingdom of God, do conduct yourself in a manner worthy of one called by the name of Christ.

Do you have any other blush-inducing pearls of wisdom you would share with your daughter about sex? Please do mention them in the comments section below or if you want chastise me for having mentioned the word “sex” and “ecstasy”, please do also comment. 🙂

Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti

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In high school our choir teacher Mrs Smith taught us a song that quickly became one of our favourites. It was only later that I discovered that it was a song about the ‘battle of the sexes’ and it was only then that these lyrics made sense:

Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you!”

Looking back, it would probably have been better if we had a boys choir doing the boy part and the girls doing our part. Altos trying to do bass is awkward. Girls do not make good boys in plays and vice versa.

Men and women (boys and girls) are different and our bodies are the clearest evidence of that. Contrary to what some like to argue there are some innate differences that male and female are born with, we are not just “socialised” into our respective genders. For Trench Coat Thursday I want to explore these differences and hopefully make some interesting TCT-esque observations on the way. Here we go!

“Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti.”

Unfortunately, I did not coin this phrase (I wish I had)! It is the title of a book by Bill and Pam Farrell where they discuss the differences between the way women and men process information, communicate and relate. Men are like waffles because they tend to compartmentalise things, whereas women tend to make connections, everything is linked to each other, like spaghetti.

Did you know that there is a scientific basis for this? Females have 10 times more white matter than males do, white matter is what enables us to make connections between different parts of the brain. In relationships, the implications are huge. It means that often, a conversation between a man and a woman is like a game of broken telephone. He says, “Have you gained some weight this holiday?”, she hears: “You’re fat. Everyone’s staring at you because you look like a Jersey cow.”

Or am I just speaking for myself?

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.”

If you are a woman who has sometimes felt like she is talking to an alien when you are taking to man then you may not be that far from the truth. So says the writer of the bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. After writing what must have been a three page email, I have often found myself irritated by the two-word replies that I get from my guy friends: “OK thanks.” What about all the questions I asked? Apparently, “OK thanks” translated means: “Everything you said sounds good to me. Thanks for letting me know…” etc.

The fact that women express themselves better is not just because we spent our lives watching talk shows and reading while the boys played video games and kicked a ball outside. In a female foetus, the part of the brain that processes language is more developed than in a male foetus, and that difference persists in adulthood. If we trace things back, evidence shows that girls speak earlier than boys and that girls tend to be better at languages in school than boys are.

“Men Are Like Microwaves, Women Are Like Slow Cookers.”

If there is one thing that I have heard repeated over and over in sermons about the difference between men and women’s sexuality, it is the above. Put differently, men have a broadband connection, women have a dial up one. I think that this point is relevant for single and married people. If I have not made it clear, I believe that sex must be between a man and woman who are married to each other.

As a single person who is not having sex it is important to know the different ways that sexuality works between the sexes. Women have a larger limbic cortex which is responsible for emotional intelligence. You will find that a woman’s sexuality is very much connected to her emotions. Women, have you noticed how you can find a man completely unattractive at first but as you get to know him better the attraction grows. Conversely, women will tend to find emotionally stunted men unattractive as time passes even of they found him physically attractive initially. Knowing this, for women (and men), emotional boundaries are really important. Remember that where there is inappropriate emotional intimacy, physical intimacy will quickly follow.

Men have a bigger hypothalamus and this is the part of the brain that regulates ‘mating behavior’. That expression is too primal for my liking! Anyway, the hypothalamus is responsible for sexual behavior and the fact that it is bigger in males is part of the reason why men tend to have a higher sex drive than women. It is the part of the brain that releases hormones that are responsible for physical attraction. This is important to note for a man because his need to have self control in the sexual arena is more urgent than it is for women, do not take it for granted. It is also important, I think, for driving men into marriage and out of bachelorhood. If women knew how very important sex was to men I think they would not give it up so easily when men apply a little bit of pressure. When faced with the option of lifelong celibacy vs lifelong commitment, most men probably view the former with trepidation.  Take a note of Paul’s wisdom when he says:

“… it is better to marry than to burn with lust.” 1 Corinthians 7:9

Women, do not give it up before marriage. Men, no ring-a-ling, no thing-a-ling.

“I would catch a grenade for you.”

I will be honest, I am a sucker for Romantic Action movies. I just made that genre up. In a movie, the more at risk the man’s life is on the woman’s behalf, the better.  And guess what, men were created to take risks! Again, it is not just a result of socialisation. The chemical composition of  a male’s brain is such that when they face a risky situation the pituitary gland is more like to excrete large quantities of endorphins, the pleasure hormone. As a result, challenging situations are more pleasurable for men than they are for women.

Of course, not every man or every woman will conform to these categories. If you are a woman who identified with characteristics associated with men, or vice versa you are atypical and that is okay! The point is that male and female have been created differently by God (Genesis 5:2), it is not just a ‘religious statement’ but a reasonable one.  Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist put it this way:

“There is no unisex brain. Girls arrive already wired as girls and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they’re born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality.”

I really enjoyed this week’s TCT topic, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.
Shuls

Notes:
Research is from a National Geographic interview that was done with Dr Louann Brizendine for the show “Brain Games”. If you are looking for more of her research, Google her and add “The Female Brain” and/or “The Male Brain” to find her academic publications.

TCT:: 8 Things I Will Teach My Son About Sex

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Every day, we are fed false ideas about what manhood is, most of them centred around a man’s sexuality. One of the things I am really excited about is raising boys to be men who understand the power of their sexuality and do not abuse it. Here are 8 things that I would teach my sons about sex:

1. Virginity is not just a girl thing.

Believe it or not, virginity is not a disease that you need to be cured of, it is a good thing. And it is really manly! Any man can give in to his urges, it takes a real man to discipline himself and say no. But remember, virginity is not the same thing as sexual purity. Purity happens when God transforms your heart and by His power and enables you to stay on the straight and narrow.

2. The measure of a man is not the measure of his ‘ego’.

As you get older you will hear jokes about shoe sizes and will notice “Dr Makabimba from the Congo” posters. Do not be deceived. What makes a man a real man is the state of his heart, your body will fade and wither. “Guard your heart because that’s where life starts.” Proverbs 4:21

3. Sex is not essential to life. You will not die without it, I promise.

4. But “the thirst” is real.

5. So if you want it then you better put a ring on it.
“Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring fed well.” Proverbs 5:25

Sex is good and beautiful and it was created by God, He sets the ground rules for when and where it happens. The answer is simple: between a married man and woman. No ringy, no thingy. And when you commit you are doing it for life to that one woman so choose wisely.

Having said all of that, more than anything I want my son to be a man who knows how to:

6. Talk that talk.
“Remove perverse speech from your mouth; keep devious speech from your lips.” Proverbs 4:2

Your words must communicate your respect for women, you’re not a rapper, don’t call women names. As for sexual jokes, to be honest they just sound stupid, avoid that nonsense.

7. Try a little tenderness.
“Do not envy a violent man, and do not choose to imitate any of his ways.” Proverbs 3:31

A man’s strength is a gift that is to be used to benefit others, to be given wisely. Never EVER take forcefully or use your strength to take advantage of another, there is no excusing this.

8. R-E-S-P-E-C-T (take care TCB).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7

Aretha said it right. Firstly, be a man who respects God, this is where wisdom starts. Secondly, respect yourself as a man and treat others with respect. Women are not conquests that you “take down” or objectify. Real men regard women as their equals and treat them accordingly.

As usual, I would love to know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

Shula

Behind Closed Doors :: Is your private life R18 or Fam?

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Doors, by Shula

Over the years, hundreds of scandals have broken involving celebrities, politicians and clergy/ preachers. The scandals are juicy and larger-than- Hollywood, tales of how money, power and sex corrupts.

We watch in fascination as their secrets are revealed: philandering presidents, crooked “tenderpreneurs” and perverted priests. This kind of news breaks every day, squeaky clean reputations spoiled forever.

If your behind the scenes footage was released on YouTube, what would we see? An uncomfortable question! Some of us have stuff going on that we cannot reveal to even our closest friends, especially in the sexual arena.

We portray one image outwardly but if the curtain was drawn back, it would reveal a scene that would make Hugh Hefner blush.

My intention today is not to make you feel embarrassed or ashamed but to open our eyes to the fact that what goes on behind closed doors does not stay there, it comes out eventually and if it does not hurt you, it will hurt those you love.

Here are the details of an ancient scandal, as told by Jerusalem Today (a local paper):

“One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof. From his vantage point he saw a woman bathing. The woman was stunningly beautiful. David sent to ask about her and was told, “Isn’t this Bathsheba… wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived, he went to bed with her…

Then she returned home. Before long she realised she was pregnant.”
2 Samuel 11:1-

Can you imagine the panic in Bathsheba and David’s heart at that moment?

What followed were two cover up attempts: firstly, he sent for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband and gave him friendly advice to “go down to your house and wash your feet”. Theologians say “wash your feet” was a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Evidently, this was an attempt to make it look like the pregnancy was Uriah’s. When that did not work (Uriah for some reason was not keen), David ordered that Uriah be put in the front line so that he would be killed in battle.

I can guarantee that when David was taking care of his father’s sheep, he never thought that he could ever do such a thing. Lust can make you do crazy things.

No one is immune.

If David could fall into the trap of a sexual secret, so can you. But you do not have to. There is one crucial, critical, vital question that we need to ask ourselves:

What kind of people am I choosing as my doorkeepers?

A doorkeeper (DK) is that person who is close enough to know what is going on inside of you and influential enough to sway your decisions about what you keep out or let in, because you trust them. Your DKs will either help you guard your sexuality or allow you to abuse it. Look around you, which DKs do you see?

1. Messengers

These are people that you have influence over, but they have minimal influence over you. The nature of the relationship is similar to one between an older and younger sibling. It is close but one person clearly exercises more “power” over the other. David’s messengers or “spies” could not challenge him when he asked them to investigate Bathsheba or to bring her to him. They had to do what he said without asking questions.

2. Joab

In David’s story, Joab was the guy that David ordered to send Uriah to the front line, he was the commander of David’s troops Joabs are the people you trust to advise you, you trust them with your life. They love you to death but do not have the courage or wisdom to challenge you or correct you when you are wrong. They want your approval and will often be heard saying, “Just do you boo!”

3. Nathan

This is the guy who had the nerve to come to the king and call him out for what he had done, he did not mince his words, he did not make it look pretty. Nathan is the person that you can trust to tell you to check yourself when necessary and will dish out some tough love. When you do wrong she will call you out on it and help you get back on the straight and narrow where you will find grace and forgiveness.

Which DKs do you have, messengers, Joabs, or Nathans? Ultimately, whether we are kings or servants, we will be held accountable for the choices we make. But surrounding ourselves with the right people will go a long way in keeping things safe for family viewing behind closed doors.

Thanks for reading.
Shula

TCT :: “Let’s get physical!” and other spiritual songs you don’t sing before communion

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“All of me, loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections.” John Legend

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Apparently pomegranate juice has similar effects as viagra?

It’s my favourite day of the week – Trench Coat Thursday! I’m excited, judging by the number of views on these TCT posts, you love TCT too!

I have not been great at keeping up with the latest songs but I did some catching up over the holidays. A song that I have come to really like is John Legend’s “All of Me”, he sings it beautifully. His wife of a few months, Chrissy Teigen, stars in the music video and it features some very intimate scenes between them, including one where they are both in the shower.

If you’ve seen it, which one of these are your thoughts on the video?
Aww, they’re so cute together!

Whoa, he’s/she’s hot…

Dude, get a room!

All three of those crossed my mind but the one I’ve settled on now is something along the lines of: oh my goodness, God, when I get married I want THAT! I feel the same way when I listen to songs by Alicia Keys or even Justin Timberlake when they get to singing about this stuff. It’s not the crude songs about sex that are appealing, but the ones that talk about more than that, the relational aspect: the beauty, passion, devotion, even the pain. A part of me feels bad about feeling that way because, well,  the songs aren’t godly and neither are the singers.

But why does that music stir something in our hearts? Why is John Legend’s song so profound, speaking of more than the physical, sounding almost spiritual?

“The sweet, fragrant curves of your body, the soft, spiced contours of your flesh
Invite me, and I come, I stay until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.
You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” 

Wow. More words from another love song:

“He’s one in a million. There’s no one quite like him…
His eyes are like doves, soft and bright, but deep set, brimming with meaning, like wells of water…
His voice, his words, warm and reassuring.
Fine muscles ripple beneath his skin, quiet and beautiful.”

Quiet and beautiful… When my friends and I first heard these words out of a Mills and Boons novel ,a Cosmo mag, a Maxwell song, the Bible, we had to sit down for a little bit and just breathe.

When I get that feeling I want sexual meaning.

The reference for those is Song of Songs 4 and 5 in the Message Bible. The fact that sexual passion is in the Bible gives us a clue to the fact that sex means something to God. And if we were created in His likeness then it ought to mean the same thing to us, right?

In his book Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, John Piper talks about how God’s relationship with His people is described using “sexual metaphors” (my term). Yes, there are the parent-child and master-servant metaphors, but very significantly, the bride-bridegroom and husband-wife ones are used in graphic detail. Ezekiel paints the picture of a woman who is found naked and vulnerable, fragile and exposed and God says “I took care of you, dressed you and protected you… You became mine.”

Sexual metaphors are also used to describe God’s people’s unfaithfulness to Him – adultery, betrayal, promiscuity – God’s anger and judgment and then His grace : “I’ll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I’ll marry you and neither leave nor let you go. You’ll know me, God, for who I really am.”

Every love song is a worship song.

Because whether we believe in God or not we are all living for something. It could be power, money, or sex. But sex was never meant to replace God, it was meant to point to Him:

“God created us in his image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions, so that when he comes to us in this world there would be powerful words and images to describe the promises and pleasures of our covenant relationship with him.”

Sex is one of God’s most beautiful and meaningful ways through which we can understand God more fully.

Sexuality is not just physical, it is a spiritual act too. And we need to understand that the issues we love to talk about: virginity, premarital sex, porn, masturbation, homosexuality vs heterosexuality and adultery go beyond politicking, “religion” and even human rights. They go to the core of who God is and who He created us to be.

There is One who really did give His all to you and is worthy of you giving your all to Him.

Thanks for reading.
Shula.

References:
J Piper and J Taylor Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (2005) Crossway Books: Illinois, USA

Scriptures taken from THE MESSAGE.

TCT:: D.D.I.Y ~ Wait, don’t do it yourself

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“Keep your drink just give me the money. It’s just you and your hand tonight.”

Pink

This is a post about masturbation. If this is a subject that you would rather not get into, you have been warned!

Celibacy is kind of cool these days. Not just monogamy, actual celibacy. And not just with religious people. I’ve heard about quite a few ‘non-religious’ people who have decided to be celibate until marriage, for whatever reason. A few years after I started University I started to feel frustrated about my sex life. For four reasons:

I have to wait until after I got married to have sex.

Waiting is hard.

Whether I get married is not something that I have absolute control over.

Waiting is hard.

I am starting to learn to come to terms with the fact that there are lot of things in my life that I do not have control over. Sure, I can put myself out there, make friends with men and make my intentions for marriage clear but when I get married is not something I can control for myself. And even though the stats say that most people get married rather than remain single – how can I know that I’m not part of the small percentage of the people who will never say ‘I do’?

:: self sufficiency and self-reliance.

A lot of you feel the same way as I do, frustrated, but waiting in expectation. And because of all the desires surging on the inside of you, you feel like you can’t be blamed for occassionally taking things into your hands. Literally. You may even say things like, “At least I’m not sleeping around.” or “Well, I’ve only done it once this month.” and you probably have a million billion excuses as to why you were justified this time around. And then maybe after the guilt sets in, you go of a self-imposed guilt trip where you make promises and vows to God about how you will never ever do it again.

“By myself I can do nothing.”

Those words are simple, but profound. Profound because those words were said by Jesus. If you want some context, have a look at the book of John, chapter 5. I want to focus on is this: Jesus was making a point of His reliance on His Father for everything that He did. If you are a believer in Christ’s deity then you will not struggle to understand how profound that statement by Him is! Christ Himself, who claimed to be God, said that He could do nothing by Himself! He chose not to rely on Himself, He described Himself as not self- sufficient!

Profound.

The message that masturbation communicates to us is this: you do not need anyone else to be sexually satisfied, you are enough. It puts the power in our hands and teaches us that sexual pleasure is something that can be had independently of another person, for yourself. I take issue with this because

:: good sex is more about giving than getting.

Yes, I do know that my ability to speak with authority on this is seriously impeded. Indulge me for a while longer. Take a friendship: the healthiest and most mutually beneficial friendships are ones where the one is not looking to see what they can get out of the relationship but commits themselves to giving to the other. It makes sense that the same would be true of sex. Masturbation and porn have a way of training us to look out for our own pleasure and not that of another. If you have been playing singles tennis for most of your life, it’ll be a huge struggle for you to adjust to playing doubles.

Service?

I wrote above about my frustration with God about my sex life and I went through a time of serious struggle regarding how one is supposed to live according to God’s high standards. But I believe that God is always right, even when I do not understand or when it is hard to obey Him so I kept trying to find ways of keeping myself from falling back into the sinful patterns I would find myself in. But then I realised that

:: in my attempts to do right I was still falling into the trap of self reliance.

We were never meant to live this life on our own steam. Weirdly, when it comes to God, the first step to victory is surrender. Our surrender needs to come from a place of seeing how much we have fallen short and how in need of God’s grace we really are. By ourselves, we really can do nothing. Nothing that is pleasurable, lasting and beautiful, in the powerful in the true sense.

Wait, don’t do it yourself.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

TCT :: #TheThirst – once upo(r)n a time

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“You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess, it’s a love story baby just say ‘Yes!'”
Taylor Swift

This post contains adult content. Not suitable for children. And maybe a little bit awkward for you.

For resources on sexuality, scroll down to the bottom and click on the links I have shared.

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite bedtime (and daytime) stories was ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I loved the pictures of the different scenes and would memorise them so that I could imagine them later and retell the story in my own way. That story was particularly emotionally intense and even as a little six year old I could feel how the Beauty’s fear turned into love and how his own heart was changing – so redemptive, so romantic!

Today, on the rare occasion that I decide to watch something that is not non-fiction, my first choice is always a serious dramedy (?!) where the main characters start off hating each other and then fall in love at the end. Bliss. Or one where the two lovers are an unlikely pair: a blind musician and a high flying patent lawyer – yes please!

I have a soft spot for love stories of the soppy kind, where the man pursues the woman and she runs away but he catches her against all odds! Not only do I love stories like that, I want that for myself! Weirdly enough, I have found that most of my women friends want it for themselves too. I say that it is ‘weird’ because, typically, the kinds of conversations I have with my friends are about how we can be beautiful, strong, intelligent women who lead in our areas of influence. We talk about paternalism, the influence of feminism, racism and the empowerment of women. We talk about how Jesus Christ shapes our view of these things.  And we talk about relationships. All. The. Time. Most recently, we have been talking about how we are dying to have someone declare their undying love or even express a vague interest but there is no one, even on the horizon. Nada, zilch.

Or at least no one we would seriously consider.

No, the guys who holler at us from construction sites do not count.

We are all willing to admit that we have reached the age where there is the beginning of a gap in our hearts, a loneliness, a growing longing to have someone fill it.

This is a post about understanding how women first get into reading and/or watching stuff of a sexually explicit nature and how they get hooked on it. The first thing I want us to understand is that, for most women, that kind of material fills an emotional gap. This is an important generalisation. From chatting to my man friends and doing some research, the trend seems to be that for men, sexually explicit material is mostly a physical thing for them. This distinction is important because it helps us understand why women get into porn and therefore how they can get out of it.

I have some thoughts I would like to share with you, here they are:

A commercial product.
There are people who make a living out of studying your tastes and preferences and advising producers about what you want. Disney knows what it’s viewers want to see, so does Playboy. Porn plays on our sexuality- our legitimate and illicit desires. While most people do not have their first contact with X rated stuff intentionally, their second, third and fourth time are usually because you’re starting to seek out the stuff for themselves.

How do people get into the habit? Sadly, most of the people that I know got into watching porn or looking at pictures when they were still in primary school. For my guy friends that I have spoken to it is a kind of rite of passage when they hit puberty- firstly drooling over pictures of hip hop video girls and Victoria’s Secret models and, if left unchecked, moving on to the hardcore material. It is “normal” for a guy to do that kind of stuff.

I think that (with some exceptions), most women get hooked on sexually explicit material for reasons that are less straightforward than reasons why men do (but I can only speak from a limited perspective). The kind of product that women get into is, to take an example, what “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the other books in that series offer. Illicit stuff woven into a story- two people who fall in and quickly out of love, heartbreak, betrayal, passion.

As awkward as this is for me to write about, allow me to explore this a bit more. Porn is often talked about as being a ‘guy problem’ and I would say that is mostly true in the sense that the majority of people who consume porn are men. I think that one of the reasons for this is that most men are generally more visual in their sexuality, whereas, as I said, most women are more emotional. Let me use really simple (and maybe silly) illustrations to explain. How many times have you been talking to a man and you notice that his eyes keep darting down to your chest? No, he is not looking at your cross necklace that is encrusted with cubic zirconium. I am not saying that it is good or right for man to do that, I am saying that he does that because he is visual. On the other hand, how many women do you know who will be talking to a man and keep inadvertently glancing at his broad shoulders or abs? I know a few but not many.

Of course, a woman knows when a man is hot – we have eyes! We can appreciate physical beauty when we see it. But most women will become physically attracted to a man because they feel an emotional connection to him- for better or worse. Please note that I say most women. There are many women out there who are as visual as men and whose physical attraction is closely linked to what they see, but not many! A woman will very rarely feel attracted to a man she does not feel emotionally drawn to already and many women are surprised when they start feeling an attraction towards a man friend they once considered physically unattractive, even ugly.

Not everyone who has a first look at porn gets hooked on it but how come some people do? For most women our reasons for getting hooked are not purely physical and even if it may have started off as a physical thing, many of us form some kind of emotional attachment to it. I have some key words that may help you understand.

Pressure/ Stress

University students go through intense academic pressure and most of us are really badly equipped to handle it. We do not know how to process the mental and emotional stress that comes with trying to get this degree. Also, it is that much harder to resist the urge when you are tired. Some people watch series and drink excessively. And others watch porn. For a consumer, it provides two things: an escape from reality and a release from the pressure. A person can go for months without watching or reading or looking at pictures and when the pressure mounts and becomes too much they give in and go on crazy binge, frantically searching, downloading and taking it all in. I am not the best equipped to talk about the hormones that are released into your body because I do not know much about Biology. But I do know that is a drawing point.

If you have a porn issue and have never learned to healthily handle stress then it will always be something that is a trigger.

Loneliness and PMS

Like I said before, a lot of the things that I am writing about here are from personal experience and from things that my friends have told me. I am not theorising. If you are woman you would have noticed that there are certain times of the month when this thought hits you:

I am never going to have a boyfriend, let alone a husband. My friends don’t appreciate me and my life is not going anywhere. (sigh). Woe is me! I have so many people around and I feel so alone, I am going to be alone for the rest of my life!

And then you slip into this deep emo mood where you reflect on the deep meaninglessness of life. But then a few days later you discover that you are just on your period. I am not trying to say that all women turn into emotional wrecks or mad cows when they are hormonal, I am saying that if you are someone who has a porn problem, you are vulnerable during this time. Your hormones and emotions are ridiculously, embarrassingly, crazily slightly out of control and it is really hard to summon the willpower to think straight and say no.

The thing about stress, loneliness and PMS are that these are thing that will always be in your life. You will go through times of intense pressure even after you have left the job you are at right now or after you are done with school. Not everyone’s ‘go-to’ fix is porn – yours might be food, or something else that I have not thought of. Ask yourself: What are my triggers?

The point of this post is to help you understand how porn is designed to get you hooked and what it is about you that keeps you falling back into it. And if you or a friend of yours are struggling, this should help you see when you are most vulnerable. This is only the starting point though. In my next post I am going to dig deeper and look at the root of why some of feel stuck in the porn cycle.

Please, leave a thought in the comments sections (anonymously if you wish), I would love to know what is on your mind.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Some good, good stuff on sexuality (not just porn):

Boundless Webzine: http://www.boundless.org/relationships/Sexuality#P=0

Relevant Magazine: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/tags/sexuality

TCT :: #TheThirst – Bow Chicka Wow Wow

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Warning: adult content.

As I type this, I am sitting in the University’s main library wondering if anyone can see the many tabs in my browser all with the word “porn” in their title. This is awkward. I spent at least half a day trying to find a post title that would not have people who caught you reading this not look at you the same way. Thank me later.

Many people have sat in this library, turned their screens away from potentially curious eyes and downloaded R rated movies, YouTube videos and explicit images online, to be watched later in the privacy of their rooms. With a boyfriend, with a group of friends, with a one night stand, by yourself. Everyone is doing it.

Okay so maybe not everyone is doing it but there is at least one man in South Africa that we all know about now. At the beginning of the week news broke about the Competition Commission boss who was busted for racking up a massive bill from viewing porn online. The story was reported here. Would you disagree with me if I said that there must have been at least half a dozen government officials who wiped the sweat off their brows and sighed in relief because it was not their porn habit that had been exposed? He is surely one of many people who goes out on extended business trips and watches that kind of stuff- on their iPads and laptops and smartphones – easy, ‘free’ and anonymous access.

When porn gets a hold of you, it holds on tightly. It is powerful. One of the reasons why it is powerful is because it is usually consumed in secret. For more on that, check out my post Dirty Little Secrets and Their Hidden Power. I know this from experience and from conversations had with close friends (mostly women, would you believe!). Very rarely does one come across porn intentionally, most just “stumble upon” it. You may have been channel surfing in the middle of the night, or walked in on someone watching it, or even been introduced to it in a school bathroom by your group of guffawing andcgiggling teenage friends.

And while some argue that porn is not all that bad and is even a legitimate alternative to promiscuous sex, can you deny that every time that you have consumed any kind of porn your conscience would not let you rest? In fact, part of the reason why people do it in secret is because ‘something’ in them tells them it is not right. The purpose of this first post on this topic is to ask you some questions about your views on porn, I’m going to address each of them later on, here they are:

What is porn exactly – is it the stuff I get embarrassed about when I’m sitting with my elderly parents or is it the hardcore stuff?

Is porn just ‘a guy thing’?

Is porn wrong in the moral sense?

Outside of the moral stuff, what is the effect of porn on an individual or society?

Is there such a thing is porn addiction and if there is, is it possible to get over it?

Over a number of posts I will be sharing some thoughts, resources and stories related to this topic. I know you will probably find it awkward but I would love for you to contribute to this conversation by sharing these posts and leaving comments (anonymously, if you prefer.) If you have any resources that you would like to direct me to, I would love your input!

I am really excited about this!

Thanks for reading.

shula.