Pride and Purity

I grew up in a Christian home, and was taught that sex was something that was to be saved until united with a spouse under God’s covenant of marriage.  Which is absolutely right.  But there is something a little wrong that seeps in with the talks about saving yourself for the love God has intended for you.  What seeps in is that Purity is something to be done for it’s own sake.  It turns virgins into mythical unicorn-esque beasts made of magic and rainbows just because we can keep a lid on our sexual urges.  It makes us seem better than those who didn’t make it to the marriage bed virgins.  Which is wrong.

You see, the myth that creeps in with the truth that sex is something to only be done in the confines of Holy Wedlock, is that that’s what makes purity special, you have this magical gift to bestow on your spouse on your wedding night.  Which is not only a little inaccurate, considering as physically the first time is prone to be both painful and reportedly awkward.  We miss the real point in purity, which isn’t proving to the world we have a handle on our hormones, but rather proving to our spouse that we were loyal to them before we knew them.  Our restraint in our single days is an example and proof that we can resist temptation out of our love for the one we wed, so when temptations and struggles come after the wedding, we’ve been prepared for this, for we persevered in fidelity even before we ever met the one we married.

Fidelity is the true purpose in purity.  It’s not bragging rights, a better-than-you air, or our pride, or a present to our spouse.  I mean it is a present, it’s the present of love saying, hey, I loved you before I knew you, loved you enough to fend off my biological clock and the butterflies I got with people who I thought might be the one before I met you.  Saving yourself for marriage is saying I loved you enough to ignore the peer pressure, to mocked and called a prude because I have been devoted to you all of my life.

And fun fact for my fellow virgins, just because we’re saving ourselves doesn’t mean God’s given us a guarantee that our spouse will have done the same.  We’ve all sinned.  But when we deify virginity to some magical status it leads to serious superiority issues (been there, done that, probably have the t-shirt somewhere saying I’m A Virgin so I’m Better than You).  Let me shout this to all the people in the back JUST BECAUSE YOU WAITED TIL MARRIAGE DOESN’T MAKE YOU A MAGICAL SPOTLESS UNICORN OF RADIANT PURITY! Did you ever lust in that whole time while you waited for the one to come along and lead you to the altar?… Point made. But when virgins get put up on pedestals, exalted by our brothers and sisters in Christ or just people in general who think we’re pretty awesome for keeping a lid on the hormones and ignoring the peer pressure, we get to thinking that our virginity makes us superior. Which in turn could lead us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and our arrogance could make us stumble.  Think about it, we could be sitting up on our purity pedestal and see someone who could be the guy or gal God has destined for us, but by being blinded by our pride go, “nope, they’re not in the virgin club, can’t continue/start a relationship with them”.  Like any virtue, if we get to thinking that we accomplished that virtue on our own, and don’t remain humble, pride can come in and blind us to other things of equal importance.  Because we have all sinned, and we all need God’s guidance, we’ve all fallen.  Some struggle with lust, some struggle with pride, some with fear and some with doubt.  But to let our one area of sin where we “innocent” lead us to view ourselves as above our brothers and sisters in Christ who have fallen in that same area, it puts a barrier between us ministering to them as we should.  And as for the marrying non-virgins thing, when we give mystical qualities to our virginity then we also leave the door open for the person we marry, who if the stumbled in that area, feeling inferior to us, which isn’t true at all, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” and there is nowhere in the Bible that says virgins get a special place in the Kingdom.  Your virginity does not make you better than any of your brothers or sisters in Christ.

And PSA to my fellow sojourners in singleness, and those in dating situations questioning whether purity is worth the struggle.  It is.  Our purpose in life is to show love, Christ’s love specifically, a selfless love that binds itself to God’s will for our lives.  God willed that intimacy only occur amongst those joined in marriage.  But more than that, imagine how loved your spouse is going to feel because you’ve kept yourself for them, that your loyalty is that strong, that your fidelity is that steadfast.  Do it for them, not for the praise or the pride in knowing that you’ve succeeded where so many fail, save your body for the one God planned you to give it to.  It’s His will, and as His children we know that all of his plans are perfect.  So whether you’re meant to be an example of loyalty to God’s will and inspire others with your single life sticking to purity, or whether you’re to raise up a family in God’s paths and can relate to them when they come to you with their struggles with staying true to God’s will when the world and their own hormones are crying out for them to turn their back on God’s perfect plans you will know that you followed your good Father’s will for your life in that area at least.  And we must try to be as diligent about aligning all the other parts of our life with God’s Holy and perfect will for our lives as we are about our purity.

Pride in the Past (but not all of it)

LIBERTY! EQUALITY! FRATERNITY!

The three words that the French Revolution revolved around establishing for all of mankind.  We still fight to uphold them today.

I’m here to talk about Equality and Fraternity right now, because there is a distortion of what those two are about these days.  The idea that equality is somehow only for a certain people group, and that others don’t deserve the same rights as others.  That certain peoples whose ancestors were mistreated by certain others’ ancestors somehow strips the rights from the descendants.  This problem exists not just between races and classes but between the genders.  We’ve strived to make everything so equal that it’s now become imbalanced, just in a new direction.

A little girl can wear an attitude T that says “Girls rule the world” but if a boy were to wear a shirt saying the same thing there would be outrage at the parents for raising a sexist chauvinist.  A woman of African descent can wear a shirt that says “Black Girls are the Best” (I’ve seen both of these t-shirts in real life!) but if I, a white Northern European descended female were to wear anything that said “White girls are the best” I’d be glared at, mobbed as racist, and probably kicked out of the store.  The only time white people are allowed to be like I’m so proud of my heritage is on Saint Patrick’s Day, we can wear the “Nothing better than an Irish Girl” shirts and no one is going to judge.  Try wearing anything glorying in your heritage any other time of the year?

I’m not saying the African-Americans shouldn’t get to wear their pride on their shirt, I’m just saying that equality means I get to be proud of my roots too.  I shouldn’t have to be shamed because some of my forebearers made less than great choices and fought wars, owned slaves, or treated others different because race, gender, money, ancestry.  Their prejudice doesn’t erase the things they accomplished for good.  I’m proud of my English roots because it was in the soil of England that the Reformation took root and spread to the New World.  Did those same Englishmen that brought their Bibles to the Americas also kill and misuse the Native Americans, yes, and I’m not proud of that.  But for every hero there’s a darker side in History, no one is perfect.  And this is where the Fraternity comes in.  We love one another as brothers despite skin color, gender, or ancestry.  The revolutionaries of the French Revolution were very much about seeing you for who you were, not your ancestors, they had the sons of aristocrats aiding their cause as well as the sons of illegitimacy and ignorance.  Nothing is all good, the French Revolution is a prime example of this, it shattered the darkness that had suffocated France for centuries, it also caused wanton bloodshed because of ancient hatreds and resentment against the wealthy.  It started leaving the world in wonder, and ended leaving it horrorstruck.  Prejudice and the corrupt nature of man lead to its fall and the rise of equally awful things and the return of monarchy and then imperialism, but those things don’t ruin the good that it did accomplish.

I’m a woman, and I’m proud to be one.  But does that mean men can’t be proud of their gender too? No! Just because some men in the past made bad choices, doesn’t mean the entire gender has to suffer for the wrongs of their fathers.  They can be proud that due to their gender much of the world as we know it exists as it does.  Is everything in the world good? No! But as a wise man once said “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

Fraternity, brotherly love, it’s a biblical theme.  And if people were to just see the precepts in God’s Word as a guide, the hatred of today would go away.  The Gospel has brotherly love at it’s core, and when you love your brother equality comes without thought, for how can you not view as an equal someone you love as your own kin?  If the revolutionaries of France had done this, and not allowed egotism and prejudice to blind them, the Terror would not have occurred.

So how about instead of being offended because someone is proud of the fact their grandfather was a hero and saved twenty of his comrades under heavy fire, just because said grandfather was a Confederate in the Civil War, or was a Bolshevik, or a Zulu warrior, we accept that bravery is admirable, and self-sacrifice the greatest glory this life can afford, and don’t judge individuals, now or in the past by the errors of the people group they belonged to, the cause they fought for, the country they originated in, or by their ignorance.  We can look at our own past and find direct family members that we’re proud of, or accomplishments of our people group as a whole, we can empathize with those different from ourselves rather than see what is “wrong” about their cultural heritage and use it to fuel our prejudice.  Our own ignorance of others is the greatest ally that hatred has in our hearts.

And that leads to another core belief at the heart of the French Revolution, eradicating ignorance.  When all are equally educated then you can see others as equals because you both share the common ground of knowledge and a thirst to extend that knowledge.  The more you learn about a people group the more you understand their cultural heritage and why they made the mistakes they did, had the mentality they possessed, and why some aspects of their identity have survived in their posterity.  It helps to see them as equals, because when you study your own heritage you see what your cultural identity gave to you, and you have the choice to rid yourself of some of the bigotry you may have acquired, but also to amplify the virtues your lineage has given you.  When you banish ignorance it is easier to make yourself who you wish to be, not what your culture expects you to be.  Because ignorance is what breeds hate, violence, prejudice, bigotry, superiority complexes, egotism, resentment, jealousy, and so many other vices.

Know more so you can be more! Be more than your own past, or the past of your people! And uphold the words the French rallied to over 200 years ago.  I would recommend supplementing those words with the Gospel, even if you never come to know Christ as your personal Saviour (though I pray you do), there is much wisdom and insight on loving those around you to be found in the Gospels.

Deeper meaning in Dumbo

I haven’t seen Dumbo since I was quite young, so when I rewatched it for my Disney marathon today it really struck me, watching it with adult eyes.  Now I’ve heard people criticize it for being outdated, racist, etc.  But I have never seen a better representation of special needs children than Dumbo.

Almost every struggle little Dumbo faces is one faced by a special child.  The snickers, the condescension, people trying to use them for publicity. It’s really the story of circus performers, but they focused on an elephant.  Because circus performers of old were usually the odd and outcast, the hunchback, the ones with a peculiar physical debility that others could capitalize on.

But back to Dumbo being the greatest representation of special needs, there’s the struggle of a mother whose “friends” can’t deal with how unusual and special her child is so they turn their backs on her, leaving her alone and unsupported to raise him, and then blaming her child for all the hardships she faces.  There’s the struggles of not fitting in.  And the hero who comes along and believes that what others make fun of you for is the very thing that makes you wonderful and special.  I was just really struck by how a movie most people who currently cry out for representation in Disney features would deem offensive solely because one of the crows’ name is Jim is the best representation of special needs children and their struggles.  This cartoon is seriously underrated.

Knock it off with the knockoffs!

Alright 21st century knockoff culture rant starting in 3… 2.. 1! Blast off! (can’t say I didn’t warn you!)

I want to know where creativity has went? We’re resuscitating B rated movies from thirty years ago because our culture is so dead.  I mean seriously the only thing that made the original Red Dawn bearable was Swayze and Sheen’s duo, and even with that it was a dreadfully campy movie! Every third movie is a reboot or continuation of something that came from thirty or more years ago.  They’ve tried to relive the glory days of film by doing Biblical epics (like Noah) but they don’t respect the sanctity of the work and they cut corners that were never cut before and expect to equal the splendour of what came before.  Where has imagination went? they just take old films and add more sex and violence and think that makes it better.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars! I really do, grew up with starry eyes for Luke Skywalker! but leave the continuations to the fanfiction writers and leave well enough alone.  Stop beating a dead horse.  Think up something new!  We just had a Creed movie after how many Rocky movies? it’s getting silly and almost insulting to the original works.

We can ask where originality went, more than likely it got drowned in a cinema culture that’s saturated in violence and sex and gaudy special effects with no substance.  I want to see a Renaissance where inspiration is found in the classics, not the need to redo, continue, or modernize them.  The artists of the Renaissance didn’t rewrite Homer and Virgil, they were inspired by them to create works of art of their own.  Statuary and painting, poetry and philosophy, they flourished in the 15th through 18th century, spanning Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, because they were inspired by the past, not determined to take it, rewrite it, modernize it for their times, and essentially drag it through the mud.

We want to glorify the wrong things in today’s culture, sex is our new god and thought is discouraged in favour of self-seeking pleasure, vicarious living of our wildest vices are fed to us by Hollywood and we plunge head first into a world where nothing is noble and pure because our flesh is weak and then we excuse it as just a movie.  Everything that is sinful is glorified and all things pure are put down as lame and uncool or at the least unbelievable and unrealistic.  No one waits for marriage! no one resists the temptation to take advantage of someone else for their own gain! Cinema has taught us to be selfish.  And has done so at a low cost, simply taking old movies that had some quality (at least some of them) and making cheap knockoffs with less quality and less moral and more vice and more gaudy special effects with little or no substance.

There goes Johnny

Johnny Manziel, Heisman winner, leader of the team that beat Bama, professional quarterback, and walking disaster.

The boy ends up in my news feed every other week it seems, he’s always up to something stupid and damaging to his career.  And while there’s no excuse for acting out like he does, there are some reasons that in conjunction with his immaturity make a combustible situation for Johnny Football.

I sympathize for the boy, I almost pity him for the riches he grew up in, easy living leads to lack of determination down the line.  And as a college age kid I really feel what is driving him.  Adulthood is hard, like really hard.  I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to be my age and thrown under all the pressure that he is with all the opportunities for vice just laying out there.  When he joined the NFL at the end of his Sophomore year a child got thrown into a candy shop and asked to be responsible.  I said it then, and I’ll say it again, he should have stayed in college another year.

So while there is no excuse for what Johnny Stupid is doing now, my heart bleeds for him, because he’s got a hundred times the pressure on him that I’ve got on me and at the same age, and not gonna lie, sometimes the stress in my life makes me want to snap and lose it, I can’t imagine what it’s like living the life he does, with all the extra responsibilities on shoulders that are only six days younger than mine.  I mean I feel I did good when I get the dishes washed every two days, I can’t imagine doing two-a-days to earn my pay and then having more money than sense to go squander.

So we shouldn’t be heaping condemnation on the poor wayward Texas boy, he needs prayers, because only Jesus can save us, and Johnny is about to turn into Johnny Tragedy if he doesn’t hit his knees and sober up and stay out of trouble.

#prayforJohnny