Sunday, June 24, 2007

Emotional Immodesty Revisited

I got a lot of feedback on my little "Emotional Immodesty" blog that I wrote last month. Not so much through comments, but through conversations that it sparked with my friends. One particular girlfriend and I were talking about it, and she posed the question (more or less), "If men have pornography to satisfy their visual sexual temptations, then what would the equivalent be for women?" And I just blurted out, "Soap Operas". She laughed, but I stand by the gist of the response.

To quickly review, men are generally more sexually stimulated visually, while women more emotionally. So as my friend was saying, if men turn to porn, what to women turn to? I think we turn to fantasy.

Romance novels and soap operas come to mind first. Although this may surprise you, I have watched Days of our Lives for over ten years. Well, I've been on and off. Much more off than on for the past several years. So I feel I'm qualified to speak on this subject. :) Traditionally, soap operas are about stories. About drama and difficult decisions and passion. (I say "traditionally" because in recent years the shows have become much more sexualized, I think). So women watch these shows in droves, right? Why? Because we love the emotion. We like to wonder what we would do in those situation of being caught between two lovers, and maybe honestly hoping it happens to us one day.

And if you ladies are thinking, "Oh but I don't watch that trash!", I think the same concept can apply to romantic movies in general. Or how about those "medical dramas" which are really soaps in disguise?

But the question is, what do these types of emotionally manipulative shows and other media teach women about love? I believe that it basically does the same damage that pornography has done to men. It teaches girls that love is driven by passion and excitement, and rarely if ever found in the mundane dealings of day to day. It develops and fosters fantasy that will never live up to reality.

And then the poor boys? They're left trying to measure up to some perverted image of what it is to be a good man. Much like women left in the wake of a pornography and sex saturated culture.

I preach to myself as much or more than anyone else. I think if women receive the brunt of chastisement about dressing properly, then boys receive the brunt when it comes to indulging their fantasies. Feminine propriety isn't just about dressing appropriately, it's about guarding your heart. Not just from boys practicing emotional immodesty, but from indulging yourself in fantasies of what you wish love would look like.

Love is different than you think, it's never in a song or on a TV screen.
-- Derek Webb, Caedmon's Call

Friday, June 22, 2007


Well, it wasn't enough for The Onion to make fun of my boy, Grant. Now the Daily Show has taken aim at a legend among Oklahoma meteorologists, Gary England. You can read his Wiki bio there, but long story short he's a very impressive figure in meteorology, and he still forecasts on one of the local stations. For the record, he's the one I watched a few months ago when I spent the evening in my bathtub. :) Anyway, I saw the clip of Jon Stewart making fun of this commercial and started laughing so hard I choked.

I hadn't seen that commercial yet, and at first couldn't believe it was real. But oh, it is. I know weather isn't something to joke about in Oklahoma, but come on. :)

Then when I wikipedia-ed Gary England, I saw this Gary England drinking game and again laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. Maybe you have to have lived in tornado alley to appreciate it, and maybe even in Oklahoma, but it'd a good way to pass the storm. :) Considering the weather we've had here lately, I think I'm going to go dust off my storm season shot glasses... err, I mean "weather preparedness kit" and get ready for the next party... err, I mean storm. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I'm Trying to Keep Alive

It's been almost a month since Penny Lane moved in, and many people have been asking me how she's doing. She's doing great! She was rescued from the shelter and is living a secure life of comfort, ease, and attention. The real question how is the cat owner doing? :) I'm fine. Overall she's a good cat-- very affectionate. She follows me from room to room, sits beside me while I wash the dishes or whatever, and is very cuddly. But remember how I said that when I walked into the shelter and she's the one who jumped up and started meowing at me? Well, indeed, be careful what you want, because she is a crier. I've had to train her with the use of a spray bottle to not sit outside my door and cry all night. I think she's a lot healthier now, too. Her coat is shinier and smoother. She's gained some weight. We're doing fine. :) Here are some cute pictures:

This is how Penny spends most of her day.

As gatinhas! Okay, that joke only makes sense in Portuguese. :)

Looking innocent. Don't buy it, folks. :)

A very accurate picture of her coloring.


Speaking of things I'm trying to keep alive, my garden is also okay. More than half of the plants have survived, which I take to be a success considering it is my first attempt at a flower bed.

As you can see, the south side is doing very well--

The north side didn't fare so well, only one coleus and the impatient survived-

But my greatest success is one spirited weed that has thrived in the middle-

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Welcome Heretic Hunters!

Lately one of the most popular search terms to reach my blog has been "Campbellite Heresy." Did you realize that my blog is the second search result on google for that term? :) (In case you're not a hard-core or long-time sojoblog reader, then let me direct you to this post).

What could be the number one hit, you wonder? Pastor O'Neal's Study Helps. In case you don't want to go look at it, let me give you some of the highlights. (Really you should look at Pastor O'Neal's website for some truly... umm... spectacular web design. :) )

Because I know my readership and their constant quest for spiritual and academic nourishment, I want to provide you with the resources of Pastor O'Neal, with titles including (but not limited to!):
  • The Biblical Way to Hate Queers
  • Hatred, the Missing Element of Discipleship
  • Why Christmas is Full of the Devil
  • The Holy Bible Vs. the Campbellite Heretic
  • Bad Music is Killing Our Fundamental Churches
  • The Biblical Use of Sarcasm and Name-Calling
  • Dating is for Dummies; Courtship is for Christians
  • Blunders and Boo-Boos of Baptist Briders
  • The Shocking Truth About Deacons
  • Hair - The Long And Short Of It
  • Tips For Training Tots And Toddlers
  • Why Your Wife and Daughter Should Not Wear Pants
  • Why I Am Not a Southern Baptist
  • and last but not least--
  • Why I Love the Local Church
Pastor O'Neal even gives descriptions of each book (available for only $2 with a minimum order of $10), so I suggest you go and get yourself some religion.

And in case you're wonder who might authorize Pastor O'Neal to preach as boldly as he does, well, he proudly displays his badge of being in the "Fundamental Top 500."

I'm so glad to know high quality of company I keep among Campbellite Heretic blogs. I wonder what new hits I'll get from this post... :)

But really, if you did end up here honestly seeking evidence to fight heretics, let me point you to some helpful reading material.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Father's Day

I'd like to wish a happy father's day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, caregivers, and any other men who serve as protectors, providers, and role models. Although our culture doesn't outrightly "approve" of the absentee or distant father, it certainly perpetuates the disturbing idea that it is quasi-normal. Thank you for standing against the culture and standing for what's right. We need more men like you.

And especially to my own dad-- I'm still this happy to be your daughter. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Communal Chastity

The past couple of week I've been re-reading Lauren Winner's, "Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity". It's a very good book although it is a tad cerebral, but I think it's justified considering the vulgarity with which our culture treats sexual topics. One of the final chapters is on the importance of Communities of Chastity (chastity here being defined as the discipline of keeping sex in appropriate spiritual contexts, hence every Christian practices chastity). In this chapter she discusses celibate communities, but the principles are very appropriate and applicable for non-celibate Christian communities as well.

For monks and nuns, the practice of celibacy begins with a vow. The men and women of religious orders come before their community and profess celibacy to God. Their community helps sustain their sisters and brothers in their vow. Somehow the True Love Waits pledge cards signed in adolescence only dimly approximate this. Perhaps the cards seem flabby because they are so often misunderstood as an individual pledge of the will, and not as a promise made by and with the entire Body of God...

The essential insight of celibate members of religious orders is that transformation-- including but not limited to, the disciplining of sexual desires-- happens in a community. Without the presence and commitment of the community, it would be impossible for people to change; it would seem naive to expect people to be different from their parents, or different from what their culture tells them to be. So like most spiritual disciplines, chastity is better practiced in community than alone. It is not enough for a Christian to decide to be chase; the church must be a community that works toward chastity, a community whose structures and rhythms make chastity seem plausible and attainable.

Here, we can take our cue not only from monasteries, but also from twelve-step groups; Alcoholics Anonymous creates a place where radical change of behavior makes sense because it creates a community. It sustains relationships that are organized around the vision of changed lives. The church, too, needs to be a community where chaste behavior makes sense, where people commit to a shared vision of lives transformed by the gospel, where transformation is expected.

To me, this embodied the concept I've been trying to develop in describing the blessing of my friends. I still cannot fathom how grateful I am to have been graced with people throughout my life who have served as these communities of Christian accountability for me. When I was living in environments where there was little Christian (or moral) influence, I would call my friends just to reinforce our beliefs and our shared goal towards holiness.

Communal support and accountability are critical in walking the Christian path, whether in the area of chastity, workplace ethics, physical wellness, or relationship health. I am eternally grateful for the blessing of community and true friends I have had who've helped me keep the vision of our common goal throughout my life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: 'Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.'
--Augustine of Hippo

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
--Matthew 11:28-29

Oh love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.

I give Thee back the life I owe that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.

--George Matheson

The world is a wearisome place, and I constantly rejoice in a Savior and family where I am free to be at rest. In His presence and in the presence of our brothers and sisters, we can rest from the judgment of the world, the need to prove our worth, and every other burden the world places on us. Rest for your souls... Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Is Chemistry where it's at?

A couple of months ago I wrote about eHarmony, which turned out to be a pretty popular subject. I received more hits on my site from the word eHarmony than I have from any other word! :) Apparently I came across pretty harsh against poor old eHarm, as I have taken to calling it in my head. Several people have since spoken to me about the success stories they know of and I never meant to say no good can come from eHarm, I just don't like their manipulative side.

But lately I've been thinking about internet dating again because of those devestatingly clever ads that are being run from a company called They claim to be the home for all people unloved by eHarm. You can see the funny ads here.

So I went to the site to see what it was all about. On the front page is a link to the following article. It it long, but if you have time I think it's an interesting read. The original text will be in italics and my comments will be in bold. Enjoy!


Is Marriage Dead, by Dr. Helen Fisher

When asked why all of her marriages failed, anthropologist Margaret Mead replied, "I beg your pardon, I have had three marriages and NONE of them was a failure." Really? Then what exactly did your vows say?

Why do Americans believe that one life long marriage is the only real road to happiness and success? Granted, I view marriage from a Christian perspective, one that views a marital union as a covenant with God and one's spouse, and reflective of the love and comment Christ shares with us. My bad.

Marriage has changed more in the last 50 years than in the past 5,000. Yet many cling to traditions that evolved among our farming ancestors.

When our forebears began to settle permanently to the land, they began to need to cement their social ties. What better way than to wed your daughter with my son? One married someone with the right social, economic and political connections. Virginity at marriage, strictly arranged marriages, till death do us part, the belief that women are less sexual than men, and many other traditional beliefs about women, men and marriage arose.

The Greek, Roman, Chinese and early Christian philosophers and theologians regarded ones love of kin, God and civil duty as far more important than love for a spouse. Strong marital commitments were not regarded as the foundation stone of society until the 20th century. I can see where she got that out of the "early Christian philosophers", but it's clearly a skewed and incomplete view of Christian theology.

Today love, communication and companionship have become central to a partnership. We are shedding many of our past agrarian beliefs and returning to patterns of sex, love and marriage that our ancestors practiced a million years ago traditions that are
highly compatible with our ancient human spirit. Interesting.

Forward to the past: this trend began with the Industrial Revolution. As men and women began to leave the farm for city work, they no longer needed to marry to maintain time honored social ties. And by 1800 more and more had begun to choose their spouses for themselves, live together before wedding, and divorce and remarry to make happier partnerships. Yes, premarital sex and cohabitation, divorce, and remarriage has made so many people I know so darn happy.

This Marriage Revolution continues. Today some 91% of American women and 86% of American men would not marry someone unless they were in love with him or her, even if this person had every trait they were looking for in a spouse. People in 37 other cultures agree; they want the chemistry of passionate romantic love.
To me, this paragraph is the thesis of what is wrong with marriage is America today.

Divorce is also becoming common. The American divorce rate is currently 43%, much like that of several other Western countries. But people are changing their attitude about marital separation, seeing it less as failure and more as the first step toward finding true happiness. Seriously, I cannot think of a single person I know or have seen who is truly happy to have gotten a divorce. Even if it is a terrible situation of abuse or infidelity, I don't know anyone who is happy to be divorced. I'm sure they exist, but I don't know them.

Romantic love within marriage, divorce, remarriage: these trends are not new. For millions of years in ancient Africa both men and women commuted to work to hunt or gather fruits and vegetables. The double income family was the rule. The sexes were economic, social and sexual equals. And men and women married and remarried whom they chose. As women re-enter the paid labor force in droves, we are reassuming these ancient life ways.

Today, for example, most men and women experiment with sex and love long before they wed. Many live together before they tie the knot. Some have children first, then marry. And many have two or three spouses across their lives. All are traditions from prehistory.
Yes, prehistory was known as a glorious time of free love, abounding happiness and women's liberation.

In fact, we no longer live in a traditional marriage culture. Older women are marrying younger men. Inter-racial marriages have increased dramatically. Homosexuals can now form legal bonds in several states. Older people are remarrying rather than settling with their children. Living together, commuter marriages, visiting marriages, polyamorous marriages, childless marriages, singlehood, bearing children out of wedlock, registered domestic partners, divorce, remarriage, step families: In short, we can no longer expect most people to spend most of their lives in one traditional style marriage.
I will concede to everything being our new reality until she gets to the colon. Maybe I can't say that for "most people", mostly because of crappy philosophies like this woman's running rampant.

But are we happy? The New York Times recently reported that 51% of American women are currently living without a spouse. Is this reason to panic? On the contrary, it may be reason to celebrate. I'm part of that statistic, so I can't say it's a bad thing, but reason to celebrate? I dunno.

Take the widows. In past centuries most women died young; today they are enjoying their senior years. What's wrong with that? Others are still young. Unchained from the narrow routines of farm life, they can finally postpone an early marriage to explore their opportunities in a wider world. What's wrong with that? Last are those who have divorced. Finally, these women have the economic means to leave bad marriages to make good ones. Really? Is that why re-marriages after divorce has statistically higher divorce rates than first marriages?

In fact, demographers and historians say that women in the western world are experiencing happier marriages today than at any time in history probably for two reasons. Foremost, many women (and men) can afford to walk out of bad marriages to make better ones. AGH! Second, with the current emphasis on companionship within marriage, people today expect more from their partnerships and are working harder on their relationships than at any time in history. Now there's an idea!

Despite these obvious, largely beneficial, and largely worldwide changes, Americans cling to their outmoded beliefs about traditional marriage. I wonder if they know what they espouse?

In historical times, most husbands had the sole responsibility for the family's economic worth, while most wives were uneducated and confined to kitchen, church and nursery. Virginity at marriage was required; divorce was almost impossible; and a double standard for adultery prevailed; even rape within marriage was excused. Yes, those are bad things.

I think it is time to practice the democracy we preach. Prince Charming. happily ever after. till death do us part. The belief that there is only one true love for each of us. These fantastical beliefs may be as damaging as the fantasy of the perfect female body. Most of us cant live up. So lets embrace what we see around us men and women following their own paths in their primordial drive to love. Till death do us part is a fantastical belief? Primordial drive to love?!?!

And love is a drive. Deep in the human brain lie three circuits that evolved to foster reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love, and attachment to a partner. Each is associated with different brain chemicals and each interacts with the others. This, for example, is why casual sex is often not casual. Any sort of sexual stimulation activates dopamine systems in the brain and can trigger feelings of romantic love. And with orgasm comes a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin, chemicals the can create deep feelings of attachment to a partner. These brain systems will never be extinguished. So maybe romantic love, life long partnership, and sex drive should all be linked, huh?

And marriage is not dead. In fact, United Nations data on 97 societies indicates that over 90% of men and women in most societies wed by age 45. But it is metamorphosing into many supple, varied patterns. Most important is the rise of the 21st century marriage form, what sociologists call the symmetrical, companionate or peer marriage: marriage between equals.

Okay, marriage between equals I can handle.

Its time to enjoy our freedom to be ourselves. Yes, our sinful, selfish, fallen selves.


I gave eHarmony a hard time, but at least eHarm is programmed more or less on the basis of a Christian marriage system. Apparently Chemistry is about finding your primordial love drive.