10, 000 Reasons Why Celibacy is Sheer Agony

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Celibacy, by shooeygooey

People like Meagan Good (and the Jonas Brothers?) made celibacy look cool, but you and I both know that it is so hard! And here are the reasons why:

##1 People think you’re crazy.

University was a major eye-opener for me. Everyone was having sex. Picking someone up at the club for a one-night stand wasn’t weird and if you had a boyfriend then obviously you were sleeping together. When you reach a certain age, being the celibate one or the virgin seems crazy and weird. But hey, dead fish go with the flow.

#2 You’re constantly assaulted by images of almost-naked women and men.

There’s a TV show that’s dedicated to showing women in bikinis washing cars, even running marathon episodes- why?! On TV, online, on billboards, in magazines – sex sells and it is everywhere. Keeping your mind free of lustful thoughts is near impossible.

#3 You feel panicked at the thought of being within five metres of your crush.

Someone must invent a word for that thing where your eyes are involuntary drawn to someone who is across the room, especially when you’re pretending that you’re completely oblivious to their presence. It’s infuriating. Social contact with super-hot humans really does damage to your powers of resistance.

#4 You have regular occasional meltdowns in private.

You’re at a wedding. Your buddy and her beau just made their vows to each other – beautiful. You excuse yourself just after the best man’s speech to go to the bathroom. As you look down to wash your hands you see just how un-ringed your ring finger looks. And just like that something is in your eye and you’re sniveling and trying not to go into the ugly cry.

#5 Sermons about sexual sin feel like they’re targeted at you.

You know that you know that you know that there is no way that the Pastor could know the temptation that you’re facing right now. But why does it feel like he’s been looking straight at you the whole time and saying everything that you needed to hear? You can’t say ‘Amen’ lest you sound too interested in the topic, you can’t be too quiet cause that’s really suspicious.

#6 You’re the victim of “He wants to be a priest/ she wants to be a nun” jokes.

Chastity has it’s benefits – zero risk of: STIs, pregnancy or the kind of false intimacy that having sex with someone you’re not in a legal commitment with can create. But people have a way of making you feel like a fool (at best) or a religious fanatic (at worst) for choosing not have mind-blowingly awesome sex with the person you’re married to.

#7 Your spirit fails you at the thought that Armageddon could come before you’ve done the deed.

*Bloodcurdling scream*

#8 You worry that God will call you to a lifetime of singleness.

People keep their money in savings accounts because of the interest that they’ll earn from it. Suffer now, profit later. The one thing that makes celibacy bearable is the faith that one day, one sweet day, you’re going to hit the jackpot baby! And the one gift that you never want to find under the Christmas tree is the gift of singleness.

#9 You have to endure the embarrassment of people talking about their sex lives.

If you want to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, stay away from: elderly humans, drunk humans and humans at bachelor parties/ bridal showers. Things get awkward when people start sharing their battle stories and friendly tips. Note: Bridal showers and bachelor parties are particularly hazardous given the presence of elderly and drunk humans all in one place.

#10 You dread the thought of having to reveal your behind the scenes footage.

To stay celibate you need accountability partners. Accountability requires two things: courage and vulnerability. You need people’s help to keep you from compromising. It takes courage and vulnerability to confess your struggles to God and to people you trust. The fact that you know it’s good for doesn’t make it any easier.

These are 10 reasons and I bet you could add 9, 990 of your own. If celibacy is sheer agony then why do we punish ourselves? Why not just let go and let flow, no strings attached? I see here’s a mystery hidden in the answer to this question:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed in us.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8: 18- 23

Bondage to Decay and Hope of Freedom

No doubt, choosing celibacy in obedience to God comes with its own form of “suffering” and “groaning”. But we need to begin to see it in its larger context and find our place in the spectacular tapestry of redemption that God is weaving. This verse reveals the tension between our bondage to decay and our hope of freedom and glory. Our physical bodies are corrupted and yet we subdue them in anticipation of the freedom that awaits us. 

As you wait in hope, remember this:

But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8: 24-25

Wait patiently.

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?

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 :: “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.

Did God Make a Mistake? Same Sex Attraction and Gender Identity, Gcobisa’s Story

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*This is a continuation of my series of blog posts about homosexuality and the issues surrounding it. Use the tag “Homosexuality” to lead you to my other posts on the subject.

*Warning: This post contains references to sexual abuse and sex. Here is another story from a friend who graciously agreed to share her story with us. Again, I have some questions at the end of this post that you can engage with. Please feel free to ask some direct questions, the author has kindly agreed to answer any questions you might have!

When I was about six/seven years old I was molested by two boys while we were playing hide and seek, and ever since I was awakened to the sexual side of me, only thing is, my sexual awakening was not for boys, but girls.

Somehow I knew what I felt was wrong but it was so intense. I grew up as a tomboy, dressed in baggy clothes etc. I always felt out of place because of what I knew inside, I was in the closet for a very long time because I was scared of what people would say about me, I was obviously different.

Sometimes I’d wonder if God had not made a mistake, that maybe I was a boy stuck in a girls body.

I even used to think that when I grow up I would leave South Africa and go to America and have a sex change.

My first girl to girl sexual encounter was when I was nine years old, she was about the same age and had come to sleep over at my house. sleeping in the same bed, that night she told me stories of how she had witnessed some girls having sex with each other and asked if we could try it out. I was scared yet at the same time excited because this is what I had been wanting to try out for the past two years of my life. It felt good, so we did this until we were about 14/15, she had a boyfriend and then suddenly told me she couldn’t do this anymore.

I won’t lie, I was crushed, not because I loved her, but because I didn’t know anyone else who would meet me in that area of need.

I was half in half out of the closet because I hated feeling the way I felt for girls, but something in me told me that’s who I was as much as I tried to deny it on the inside.

So I ended getting into relationships with boys because I was too scared to come out completely. Sad thing is, when I was having sex with them, I often imagined I was with a girl or just switch off emotionally.

In November/December 2007 I met a girl and I fell for her hard, I told myself right there and then that she’s gonna be my reason for coming out. I was going to stick with her, I wanted to marry her. But before I could gather enough strength and courage to come out, the Lord got a hold of me, something strange stared happening in my life. I felt like I was dying and inside me was a voice telling me to go to church. So I asked her if we could take a break in our relationship because I needed to figure out what was happening with me, well let’s just say she put the up after break. After about two months of struggling with this inner voice, I obeyed and went to church and my life has not been the same since.

The first thing I said to God was, “God if you are real, if you are the God you say you are then I don’t want to feel this way, I want these feelings to go away. I want to be the person you created me to be.”

No I didn’t stop liking girls immediately, but I did feel like a truck load of weight had been taken off my chest. I’ve been saved/born again five years now and I’m happy to say I no longer find myself sexually attracted to women. I know the woman I am and am getting to know the woman I am. It was not easy, I had hiccups along the way, but I kept pressing on through prayer, fasting and reading the word of God and choosing to believe in what He has said in His Word and the finished work of Christ on the cross. Though I am not yet perfect in my ways and My identity is still being uncovered in Christ and will continue until He returns again, I have been set free from the chains of homosexuality and sexual immorality.

One thing I must say though is how I was disturbed by the ignorance of the church towards the issue of homosexuality. It’s either they are being bashed or ignored.

I would see homosexuals walk in and out of church week after week and no one seemed to be bothered and if they were, they were gossiping about them rather than sharing with them what the love of God has done for them through the cross in Christ Jesus.

I know it’s often said that we are a fatherless generation, but come to think of it, we are orphans, because even though our mothers are there physically and financially, most of them are not there emotionally and do not have time to teach us how to be women. This is also in the church, we need the older women to avail themselves, pray and mentor us and teach us how to be, not just godly women, but women.

Questions:

Has this story helped you to understand same sex attraction and gender identity? Explain.

Do you think it is possible for a person to change?

What role do you think the church can play in addressing issues of sexual abuse?

Do you think that women not knowing “how to be women” is an issue in the church?

Thanks for reading.

shula