Feb–Mar. ‘12 Issue
The Serpent of Porn Let’s Talk about Sex– From then to Now FEATURE:
Dating and ... Sex at In the Church
Sexting, Braining, Smushing & Tweeking (The “Birds and the Bees” for the Millenial Generation)
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Beloved Magazine takes readers through an enchanting and enlightening walk through love, romance, relationships, passion, sexuality and sensuality all from the Christ perspective. Geared towards mature audiences, married and single, this publication is about learning to love self and others through a whole and holistic intimate and embracing relationship with God - first.
Publisher E. Claudette Freeman
Editor-in-Chief Tymira Mack Associate Editor Carladean Ferguson Creative Director E. Chantaye Watson Graphic Design Jenette Sityar
Media/Publicity Cie Thomas Customer Service/Administrative Assistant Mary Brown Pecan Tree Publishing is a Emily C. Freeman Holdings, LLC company. ISSN 2159-3736 Online and ISSN 2159-3728. For advertising, marketing or submission information, please feel free to contact our offices at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 877-207-2442, fax: 877-842-3263; our visit the website at: www.pecantreemags.com.
Cynthia D. Stargell
Contents The Gospel and Sex Tim Keller
Let’s Talk about Sex – From Then to Now
Can We Be Real about Sex and the Contemporary Church
Rehab: The Chronicles Of Maggyjay Marked for Renovation
The Serpent of Porn
Taking Matters into My Own Hands
Dealing with the Aftermath of Sexual Sin
My Beloved Calls Adult Toys and Your Christian Sexual Experience
Rev. Dr. LaVonne Shaw
Run For Your Life
Celibacy For The Kingdom & The Fulfillment Of Human Sexuality
A, B, C’s & SEX E.d
Sexting, Braining, Smushing & Tweeking (The “Birds and the Bees” for the Millennial Generation)
Sensual Healing Sex: A Gift from God
By S. L. Wells
Excerpt: From Ashes to Beauty by Jeff Colón
By Dani LoveStrong
Margarette Jacob Steve Gallagher
I’m an unmarried, Christian, 48 God-loving woman and I absolutely love SEX! (And I’m not afraid to say it!)
Dating and Sex at 50…In the Church 75 By Cynthia D. Stargell
A Beat from My Heart Relationships -Sex and its Power
Love Never Fails Everybody’s NOT Doing It!
Tymira Williams Mack
The Gospel Tim Keller
hree different personal and cultural attitudes toward sex have been predominant through the centuries.
Sexual Realism: Sex as natural appetite. Many of the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed sex as similar to any other bodily activity, such as eating or sleeping. When you felt like doing it, you should do it—just be careful not to overdo it, as with all appetites. This modern view of sex has been called “realism.” Realists claim to be neutral about sex; they see it as just one human activity among many, but one that must be demystified. Their message, prominent in today’s 6 | BELOVED
public school sex education, is that we should understand the natural biological drive of sex, realize that if we are not careful sexual activity can have negative consequences, master it like any other skill, and be responsible.
Sexual Platonism: Sex as animal passion. One of the most influential branches of Hellenistic philosophy viewed the spirit as the highest good and the body as “lesser.” That is, the lower, physical, “animal” nature was seen as chaotic and dark, and the higher, more rational, “spiritual” nature was seen as civilized and noble. This led to viewing sex as a degrading, dirty thing, a necessary evil
and Sex for the propagation of the human race. Premarital sex was forbidden because sex in general was dirty and was allowable only for the higher good of having children and building up the family name. Unfortunately, this view took root in many places in the Christian church. Truly spiritual people should refrain from sex, sex is allowable only if you are trying to have children, sexual pleasure is not appropriate for high- minded people—these notions grew out of a kind of sexual platonism.
Sexual Romanticism: Sex as repressed creativity. While Hellenism located the source of evil in the physical, the Romanticists located it in the cul-
tural. They thought that human beings in their unspoiled original state were brimming with natural goodness and creativity; it was society that stifled it. Goodness would be achieved by liberating the basic, primal instincts, which were in themselves pure. Opposed to Romanticism was Victorianism, the assumption that goodness could be achieved only by suppressing the primal instincts, which in themselves were evil. While the first perspective sees sex as an inevitable biological drive and the second view sees it as a necessary evil, the last view sees sex as a critical way of self-expression, a way to “be yourself” or “find yourself.” For biological realists, all sex is right if it’s safe. For Platonists, the flesh BELOVED | 7
inhibits the spirit, so sex is naturally tainted in some way. For romantics, the quality of interpersonal love is the primary touchstone that makes sex right or wrong.
THE CHRISTIAN VIEW The Christian attitude toward sex is popularly thought to be the Platonist view, but most definitely it is not. It differs quite radically from each of these three prominent views. Contrary to the Platonist view, the Bible teaches that sex is very good (Gen. 1:31). God would not create and command something to be done in marriage (1 Cor. 7:3–5) that was not good. The Song of Solomon is filled with barefaced rejoicing in sexual pleasure. In fact, the Bible can be very uncomfortable for the prudish. Contrary to the realist “sex-as-appetite” view, the Bible teaches that sexual desires are broken and usually idolatrous. All by themselves, sexual appetites are not a safe guide, and we are instructed to flee our lusts (1 Cor. 6:18). Our sexual appetite does not operate the same as our other appetites. To illustrate this point, C. S. Lewis asks us to imagine a planet where people pay money to watch someone eat a mutton chop, where people ogle magazine pictures of food. If we landed on such a planet, we would think that the appetite of these people was seriously deranged. (1) Yet that is just how modern people approach sex. Contrary to the romantic view, the Bible teaches that love and sex are not primary for individual happiness. What the Bible says about sex and 8 | BELOVED
marriage “has a singularly foreign sound for those of us brought up on romantic notions of marriage and sex. We are struck by the stark realism of the Pauline recommendations in 1 Corinthians 7 . . . but [most of all by] the early church’s legitimization of singleness as a form of life [which] symbolized the necessity of the church to grow through witness and conversion.” (2) The Bible views sex not primarily as self-fulfillment but as a way to know Christ and build his kingdom. That view undercuts both the traditional society’s idolatry of sex-for-social-standing and the secular society’s idolatry of sex-forpersonal-fulfillment.
SEX IS A SACRAMENT Christian sexual ethics make little sense unless we first understand the lofty vision of sexuality in the Christian faith. Sex is sacred for three reasons.
Sex Procreates: The Politics of Sex Sex is sacred because, with God, it co-creates a new soul. Sex propagates the human race (Gen. 1:28). Its purpose is not merely for the building up of a family name. The purpose of sex is to create families of disciples, to establish new kingdom communities. And, ironically, the main way we learn this is through the Bible’s remarkable attitude toward singleness. Christianity, unlike most traditional religions or cultures, holds out singleness as a viable way of life. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul were single. Jesus spoke about those who remained unmarried in order to better serve the kingdom of
God (Matt. 19:12). Paul says singleness is often not abandoned this world. (Stanley Hauerwas, A better for ministering as a sign of the coming Community of Character: Toward a Constructive kingdom (1 Cor. 7:29–35). Christian Social Ethic) One of the few clear differences between ChrisSee, then, how different the Christian prohibitianity and Judaism is the former’s entertainment tion of extramarital sex is from the traditional of the idea of singleness as the paradigm way of one? In traditional cultures premarital sex was life for its followers. . . . Singleness was legitimate, taboo but so was singleness, because the famnot because sex was thought to be a particularly ily and the propagation of its economic and soquestionable activity, but because the mission of cial status were idols. The Christian prohibition the church was such that “between the times” the of premarital sex is clearly different in its inchurch required those who were capable of com- spiration, because singleness is now considered plete service to the Kingdom. . . . And we must a viable alternative. (5) In traditional societies remember that the “sacrifice” made by the single premarital sex was forbidden because it underis not that of “giving up sex,” but the much more mined the family. In Christianity it undermined significant sacrifice of giving up heirs. There can the kingdom. Why? First, sex outside of a marbe no more radical act than this, as it is the clear- riage covenant undermines the character quality est institutional expression that one’s future is not of faithfulness, which builds community. guaranteed by the family, but by the church. (3) The issue is not just whether X or Y form of sexTherefore, we are to choose between marriage ual activity is right or wrong, as if such activity and singleness not on the basis of whether we could be separated from a whole way of life. Rather want the personal happiness and status of a family but on the basis of which state makes us most useful in the kingdom of God. Both singleness and marriage are necessary symbolic institutions for the constitution of the church’s life as the historic institution that witnesses to God’s kingdom. Neither can be valid without the other. If singleness is a symbol of the church’s confidence in God’s power to affect lives for the growth of Odds of a child becoming a professional athlete: 1 in 16,000 the church, marriage and proOdds of a child being diagnosed with autism: 1 in 110 creation is the symbol of the church’s understanding that the struggle will be long and arduSome signs to look for: ous. For Christians do not place No words by No big smiles or other joyful No babbling by 16 months. expressions by 6 months. 12 months. their hope in their children, but To learn more of the signs of autism, visit autismspeaks.org rather their children are a sign © 2010 Autism Speaks Inc. “Autism Speaks” and “It’s Time To Listen” & design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved. of their hope . . . that God has TM
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such questions are but shorthand ways of asking what kind of people we should be to be capable of supporting the mission of the church. . . . Chastity, we forget, is not a state but a form of the virtue of faithfulness that is necessary for a role in the community. As such, it is as crucial to the married life as it is to the single life. (Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic)
Second, we abstain from extramarital sex in order to witness how God works in the gospel. God calls his people into an exclusive relationship, a marriage covenant, and to give him anything less in return is unfaithfulness. “By our faithfulness to one another, within a community that requires, finally, loyalty to God, we experience and witness to the first fruits of the new creation. Our commitment to exclusive relations witnesses to God’s pledge to his people, Israel and the church that, through his exclusive commitment to them . . . people will be brought into his kingdom.” (Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic) So although it is common to hear people say, “Sex is a private affair and no one’s business but my own,” it is not true. How we use sex has significant community and political ramifications.
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Further, sex is sacred because it is the analogy of the joyous self-giving and pleasure of love within the life of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in a relationship of glorious devotion to each other, pouring love and joy into one another continually (cf. John 1:18; 17:5, 21, 24-25). Sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son, as well as that between Christ and the believer (1 Cor. 11:3). Despite 1 Corinthians 7, which explodes the romanticist views of sex as strictly personal fulfillment, the Bible rather boldly and openly celebrates the delights of sex. Sex is supposed to be wonderful because it mirrors the joy of relationship in the Trinity and because it points to the eternal ecstasy of soul that we will have in heaven in our loving relationships with God and one another (Prov. 5:18–20; Deut. 24:5). The role of the woman throughout the Song [of Solomon] is truly astounding, especially in light of its ancient origins. It is the woman, not the
man, who is the dominant voice throughout the poems that make up the Song. She is the one who seeks, pursues, initiates. [In Song 5:10–16] she boldly exclaims her physical attraction. . . . Most English translations hesitate in this verse. The Hebrew is quite erotic, and most translators cannot bring themselves to bring out the obvious meaning. . . . This again is a prelude to their lovemaking. There is no shy, shamed, mechanical movement under the sheets. Rather, the two stand before each other, aroused, feeling no shame, but only joy in each other’s sexuality. (Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III, Intimate Allies: Rediscovering God’s Design for Marriage and Becoming Soul Mates for Life) Sex is, then, an important part of what Lewis calls the “great dance.” According to Lewis, all of God’s reality— from the stars and solar systems to the act of sexual intercourse—form an ongoing, dynamic dance, in which “plans without number interlock, and each movement becomes in its season the breaking into flower of the whole design to which all else had been directed.” (C. S. Lewis, Perelandra)
Sex Unifies: The Ceremony of Sex Third, sex is sacred because it constitutes a covenant renewal ceremony. The original purpose of sex was to “become one flesh,” meaning a complete personal union. Sex creates deep intimacy, oneness, and communion between two
people (Gen. 2:24; 4:14). In the Bible oneness is not simply a matter of emotion but is always the creation of a covenant. Romanticism considers emotional happiness to be the main condition for marriage; if there is interpersonal happiness, sex is warranted, and then comes marriage. But when love dies, it is also allowable to walk away from the marriage. In the biblical view, however, the main condition of marriage is a binding covenant. In the romantic view, sex is selfexpression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving. The Bible is full of covenant renewal ceremonies. When God enters into a personal relationship with someone, he is not so unrealistic as to think that mere emotion can serve as the basis for it. He knows that human emotions come and go and that there needs to be something binding to pro-vide consistency and endurance. So God requires a binding, public, legal covenant as the infrastructure for intimacy. It is far easier to be vulnerable to someone who has bindingly promised to be exclusively faithful to you than to someone who is under no obligation to stay with you for more than one night. Thus God demands covenants. But even that is not enough. He regularly gets his people together to reread the terms of the covenant, remember the history of his acts of grace in their lives, and recommit themselves through renewal of the covenant. The ultimate covenant renewal ceremony is the Lord’s BELOVED | 11
Supper. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper renews the covenant made at baptism; through the breaking of bread and the pouring out of wine it reenacts the selfless sacrifice of Jesus to us. In addition, in the receiving and eating of the sacrament it reenacts the giving of ourselves to Jesus. We reenact the total commitment and oneness we have in Christ as a way of renewing and deepening that oneness. In the same way, marriage is a covenant, one that creates a place of security for vulnerability. But though covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for covenant. The covenant will grow stale unless we continually revisit and reenact it. Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony for marriage, the physical reenactment of the inseparable oneness in all other areas—economic, legal, personal, psychological—created by the marriage covenant. Sex renews and revitalizes the marriage covenant.
SEX HAS BOUNDARIES It’s easy for modern people to find the Christian view of sex to be repressive. To say this, however, is to make some unfounded assumptions. The teachings of Sigmund Freud focused on the conflict between an internal “id,” the innate sex drive, and an external “superego,” the socially formed conscience developed by our culture and upbringing. But this is not science; rather, it is borrowed 12 | BELOVED
from romanticism. How does Freud know the conscience to be a totally external, social artifice, separate from an innate, internal basis? He doesn’t, of course, but by setting up the conscience as an external influence and the sexual instinct as an internal influence, he can call all sexual ethics “repressive” and “artificial.” In actuality, evidence exists to prove that the sexual appetite is shaped significantly by the external forces of media, peer pressure, and cultural values. Sex only works in the fullest way God intended for one man and one woman within the exclusive, permanent, legal commitment of marriage. Put another way: sex is a God-invented way to say to another person, “I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.” That cannot be said outside the permanent, exclusive covenantal commitment of marriage. The modern sexual revolution finds this rule so unrealistic as to be ludicrous, even harmful and psychologically unhealthy. Yet despite the incredulity of modern people, this has been the unquestioned, uniform view and law of not only one but all the Christian churches (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) and of Jewish, Muslim, and older pagan morality as well. Today’s young adults take for granted that normal people will have sex if they are in a ro-
mantic relationship. Even those who speak of themselves as “conservative” or “traditional” simply mean they will not sleep with a boyfriend or girlfriend until later in the relationship. The Christian ethic of abstinence outside of marriage is considered at best laughably unrealistic, and at worst pathological and abnormal. Christians who profess the biblical sex ethic can expect to be met with incredulity, sarcasm, or hostility. Basically, the mainstream view is that adultery is wrong because it hurts a spouse but that there’s nothing wrong with sex between two loving, consenting unmarried adults. And as Christian leaders, we are finding this view to be widespread inside the Christian community as well. How do we respond?
The Pervasive Understanding of the Bible It is rather typical to hear Christians say, “I know that the Ten Commandments forbid adultery, but the Bible doesn’t really forbid sex between two unmarried people.” The idea of premarital sex was so outrageous in ancient cultures, however, that it was simply assumed in many passages. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul wished more Christians would choose, as he has, a single life. He believed there were great advantages for singles in the work of the kingdom. “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about . . . how he can please his wife” (1 Cor. 7:32–33). He wished more people were like him (1 Cor. 7:7,
26, 32) and stated, “It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:8–9). In other words, Paul simply assumed that a single person would be celibate. If you cannot stay celibate, he said, you should get married. There is not even a hint that a single person should be having sex. The idea that Jesus Christ, as a first-century Jew, could have thought that sex between unmarried people was permissible is historically laughable.
The Meaning of Porneia Still, we can be sympathetic to Christians who find it hard to cite chapter and verse against premarital sex. One of the problems involves the difficulty of translating the word porneia or pornos. In the older King James Version this word was
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usually translated “fornication,” but that word is archaic. Modern translations have rendered the word as “sexual immorality.” But that is too vague a term, as can be seen from 1 Corinthians 6:9 (“Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers . . . will inherit the kingdom of God”) and Hebrews 13:4 (“Marriage should be honored . . . for God will judge the adulterer and all fornicators”). We see in these and many other such references that fornication means something more than just adultery. The authors are clearly thinking of different kinds of sins, or they wouldn’t be distinguishing between these groups of persons in the lists. Nearly all commentators tell us that pornoi has reference to those who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. The word moichoi “denotes those who are unfaithful to the vows of commitment expressed in marriage.” (10) So porneia refers to any sex other than sex with your
own spouse. In other words, while adultery is always fornication, fornication includes premarital sex as well as extramarital sex or adultery. The biblical condemnation of “fornication” or sex outside of marriage is comprehensive. (11) Paul’s epistles contain so many reminders to Christians to abstain from premarital sex that it is obvious his readers lived in a culture similar to our own.
The Unity in the Unities One of the ways some Christians try to mute the impact of biblical teaching is to point out that porneiais also translated (in some contexts) “harlotry” or “prostitution.” Therefore, it is occasionally maintained that “fornication” only means sex with prostitutes, not sex between two people who love one another. But Paul’s case study of sex with a prostitute in 1 Corinthians 6 is very instructive and disproves this reasoning: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh’ ” (1 Cor. 6:17). Clearly “one flesh” must mean something different here from mere physical insertion, or Paul would be reciting a mere tautology: “Don’t you know that when you have physical union with a prostitute you are having physical union with a prostitute?” So what does it mean? “‘One flesh’ . . . refers to the personal union of man 14 | BELOVED
with woman, woman with man, at all levels of their lives.” (12) To become “one flesh” means to become one new person— a new human unit. So when Paul used the word pornos about the case of sex with a prostitute, he cannot mean that one is automatically married in some kind of magical way. Rather, Paul is decrying the monstrosity of physical oneness without all the other kinds of oneness that every sex act should mirror. “Paul . . . here displays a psychological insight into human sexuality, which is altogether exceptional by first-century standards . . . he insists that it is an act which . . . engages and expresses the whole personality in such a way as to constitute an unique mode of selfdisclosure and self-commitment.” (13) In short, sex with a prostitute is wrong because every sex act is supposed to reflect an absolute and complete covenant unity. There must be no physical union unless there is also every other
kind—a legal, economic, personal, emotional, and spiritual union. There must not be one unity without all the rest. Likewise, C.S. Lewis likened sex without marriage to tasting without swallowing and digesting. (14)
A NEW SEXUAL ETHIC As we have seen, our character and witness are a very public matter. How we handle our sexual life can either affirm or contradict what we believe about God. God gave himself to us unconditionally in Christ, and he calls us to give ourselves unconditionally to him. God does not offer or ask for intimacy without complete whole-life commitment. If you demand intimacy yet keep control of your life, you are a living contradiction of both the way God relates to you and the way we are to relate to each other in the Christian community.
1. See C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book 3, chapter 5. 2. Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 189–90. 3. Ibid., 174, 190 4. Ibid., 191. 5. Unfortunately, many Christian churches continue to make single people feel like awkward outsiders and do not take 1 Corinthians 7 seriously, which seems to indicate that the average Christian church forbids premarital sex more out of a traditional or Platonic view of sex than out of a biblical worldview. 6. Hauerwas, Community of Character, 194–95. 7. Ibid., 190–91. 8. Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III, Intimate Allies: Rediscovering God’s Design for Marriage and Becoming Soul Mates for Life (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1999), 253–54. 9. C. S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York: Macmillan, 1968), 217.
REV. DR. TIM KELLER is the Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York, “one of Manhattan’s most vital congregations,” according to Christianity Today. He moved to the city with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons in June of 1989 to begin Redeemer. Prior to that, Tim was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and a Pastor in Virginia for nine years. Tim has led the PCA denominations church planting initiatives and remains committed to promoting and nurturing the growth of new churches in New York City and around the world.
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There is no spokesperson with a catchy phrase to remind the driver to slow down, stop eating, LIk_\Jgfb\jg\ijfe%Zfd
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quit messing with the radio or pay attention to the road.
There’s Only You. Speak Up.
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Let’s Talk about From Then to Now
“Let’s Talk About Sex” (lyrics) (Punch it, Hurb, Yo, I don’t think we should talk about this Come on, why not? People might misunderstand what we’re tryin’ to say, you know? No, but that’s a part of life) Come on [CHORUS] Let’s talk about sex, baby Let’s talk about you and me Let’s talk about all the good things And the bad things that may be Let’s talk about sex Let’s talk about sex Let’s talk about sex Let’s talk about sex
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Let’s talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd It keeps coming up anyhow Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows Many will know anything goes Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be How it was, and of course, how it should be Those who think it’s dirty have a choice Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it All right then, come on, Spin
The year was 1991. The album was Black’s Magic Spell. The group was three women: Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton and Deidra “DJ Spinderella” Roper. In just months of their smash single LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX dropping, radio stations and clubs around the world were spinning the song like crazy. From the United States to Germany the song was sparking questions about a potential new sexual revolution. The song touted freedom, responsibility and awareness from young listeners. For parents and many in church settings, it seemed inappropriate and undeserving of its Gold sales status in the U.S. and Austria. Since its release, the group did a follow up version to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS; while it was not as commercially successful it was as socially controversial as the original. Twenty years after Salt n Pepa’s controversial release a lot has changed with the group. DJ Spinderella left the group and opted for a successful career in radio. Pepa has lived a very public life chronicling her relationship with hip hop artist Treach and others. Salt and Pepa now make occasional appearances around the world as part of various tours. The group was part of a short-lived reality series. Yet, it was Cheryl “Salt” James’ transformation that would catch the attention of so many. After accepting Christ, she became a strong proponent for living pure and found herself in a position where she had to speak against some of the images the group and others in the industry were promoting. Salt’s splash into the Kingdom, from a music perspective, came when she performed on Kirk Franklin’s record-breaking single, STOMP. Wray, a wife and mother of two told Celebs Mirror, “There were times in my career I went a little further than I wanted because of ex-
pectations -doing certain things onstage when children were in the audience, wearing certain clothes, singing certain lyrics. As a woman, as a mom, one thing I’d never have sung was the line, ‘If I want to be a freak and sell it on the weekend/It’s none of your business’. That’s not a message I want to put out there.” With her husband Gavin Wray, daughters Corin and son Chapelle, she now lives as a totally changed person. It’s because she accepted Lord Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Looking back to their controversial hit song “Let’s Talk about Sex” Salt speaks openly about her views on the hit. In an interview highlighting Part One of the reality show Let’s Talk about SaltN-Pepa, she said, “My thing with the songs that we did is not that I wish I could go back and not have done those songs. Those songs were done at a time in my life where that was what I was expressing from the person I was then. Now, as a Christian, as a mom, as a wife, that’s not what I want to say. And so when I get on stage to perform certain songs, it does not feel that it works with what I’m thinking, where I am spiritually and what I have on my mind. No matter what anybody thinks about it, whether they think I’m crazy or over-doing it or I’m stupid or what, in my head, it’s just not what I want to say. I have a totally new song that I want to sing right now. It’s a me thing. But it’s not that I’m ashamed of Salt-N-Pepa. I love Salt-N-Pepa.” The messages you will find being very publicly displayed by Salt on social networks these days are messages of empowerment and encouragement. She provides a positive, life-affirming word to her friends/followers, etc regularly. As Salt said in a recent post, “Those who dare to stand up, dare to go against the grain, dare to move and shake up this world, will be criticized, be strong, you were not born to blend in, but to STAND OUT. Christ was crucified but what an impression He made.”
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Moving is the best medicine. Keeping active and losing weight are just two of the ways that you can fight osteoarthritis pain. In fact, for every pound you lose, that’s four pounds less pressure on each knee. For information on managing pain, go to fightarthritispain.org.
Odds of a child becoming a top fashion designer: 1 in 7,000 Odds of a child being diagnosed with autism: 1 in 110 Some signs to look for:
No big smiles or other joyful expressions by 6 months.
No babbling by 12 months.
No words by 16 months.
To learn more of the signs of autism, visit autismspeaks.org © 2010 Autism Speaks Inc. "Autism Speaks" and "It's Time To Listen" & design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved.
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Can We Be Real about Sex and the Contemporary Church Crystal Phipps
n his stand-up routine, Christian comedian, Broderick E. Rice tells the story of a Pastor who informs the congregation that he is going to preach The Word differently on a particular Sunday Morning. In the joke, the preacher says he will teach in a call and response fashion, so when he says a word he will ask someone from the congregation to stand up and sing a song that is fitting. He called out the first word “FAITH“ and someone stood up and sang “Faith That Can Conquer Anything” (by recording
artist Vanessa Bell Armstrong). Next, he calls out “THE BLOOD” and another member sprung up and began singing “I Know It Was the Blood,” a traditional hymn. Closing out his message the gospel preacher said “SEX” and instantly a hush came over the room. The fornicators looked down pretending not to hear the last word uttered from the Pastor’s lips; while the rest of the church couldn’t believe what the man of God had said. After what seemed like an eternity a 90-year old woman, on a walker, in the back of the church slowly
made her way to the front of the building. Amazed by what they saw, members of the congregation began whispering; apparently she didn’t hear what the Pastor said. Confused, the Pastor permitted the elderly woman to speak. With one hand on the walking aid, the old woman reared back and sang - “Precious Memories!” Funny but true many of God’s people shy away from admitting that they have or are presently having sex. Why is sex such a taboo topic within the Christian community? Are Christians BELOVED | 21
afraid of being identified as sinners or even worse fornicators, adulterers or homosexuals? Yet, women continue to give birth to out-of-wedlock babies, while HIV and STD cases are increasing among the parishioners. No one seems willing to acknowledge that a whole lot of sex is going on within the four walls of the church. The fact is Christians are having sex outside of the confines of marriage. While the inward man (spirit) is being transformed into a new creation the outward man (flesh) aggressively pulls Christians in the opposite direction. Fulfilling the lust of the flesh as described in 1 John 2:16 is named the victor in many of these tug of war battles. As social roles continue to change and Americans marry later in life today’s Christian is giving way to the fleshly desires that excite the mind and titillate the body. A recent study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy determined 88 percent of unmarried Christians’ ages 18 to 29 have had sex, despite the general push for abstinence in most Christian denominations. Additionally, the study found 64 percent of those surveyed have been sexually active in the last year, while 42 percent 22 | BELOVED
are in a current sexual relationship. The study published in the September/October issue of RELEVANT Magazine, a Catholic news magazine devoted a three-page spread to this controversial issue. A survey of Christians conducted in 2012 revealed that one-fourth of the respondents were sexually active and nearly half believed promiscuity is very widespread in the church.
related to sexual conduct in the church. Overshadowed by sexual immorality, the Church clearly has not done an adequate job convincing Christians that living a life free of pre-marital sex is the only alternative if they are single. According to C.B. McCloud, M.Div., Pastor of the Mount Carmel Deliverance Center Church of God in Christ in Upstate New York, the impact of carnality dictates the course of humanity. “The church is only impacted if ‘born again’ believers allow their carnal nature to control and direct their behaviors,” said McCloud. “Instead Christians should regulate their conduct by living and being guided by the Holy Spirit. We [the church] must remember this is a ‘choice’ decision for the believer. The unbeliever is already on a set course of living. The church is not dictated or guided by the World’s direction regarding sex and carnal lifestyle. The church’s role is to impact the culture and not the culture impact the church”. Nonetheless, many believers admit that sexual immorality is Yet, the entire sample claimed running rampant in the church to be born-again Christians. especially among the young Clearly, the church is not im- people. Abstinence and chastimune to the sexual escapades ty programs are not effectively of the World nor have some steering our young people away Christians completely bought from the enticing siren whispers into the entire Gospel message of sex. In spite of their parents’
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Fifty-two percent of American women have sex before turning 18, and 75 percent have sex before they get married. According to a 2002 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Seventeen magazine, more than a quarter of 15- to 17-year-old girls say that sexual intercourse is “almost always” or “most of the time” part of a “casual relationship.” Sexual activity has become a casual practice among many churchgoers. Christians are testing the sexual waters and discovering that they are not as deep as imagined. Instead premarital sex is a shallow cesspool of spiritual parasites that slowly gnaw away at their dignity and self esteem. Multiple sexual encounters do nothing but destroy the Christian’s soul, negatively impacting their ability to live a life free of guilt and shame. In her article, “The New Chastity” that appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, Carolyn See graphically describes the impact sexual promiscuity has on the body, “Despite the Pill, legalized abortion, and economic freedom, our own bodies are trying to tell us something: They don’t necessarily want to be tossed around like lost luggage on a round-the-world plane trip” said See. The guilt and shame associated with engaging in pre-marital sex leaves the believer feeling used and de-valued. In the
strong religious beliefs and attitudes toward sex, more and more teens are succumbing to their hormonal urges and plunging into sexual acts, head first… literally. Most teenagers are under the impression that engaging in oral sex is not considered a true sexual act presenting the illusion that their virginity remains intact. The harsh reality is that the seductive claws of pleasure slowly tear away at their innocence as the church idly sits by seemingly defenseless. “Preventing young people from obtaining birth control is not working, we must do more as a Church to get their attention,” said a college educator and licensed Minister of the Gospel (SE). Let’s face it asking young people to wait until they are married to have sex is like depriving them from food or water. The Church’s current approach is simply not powerful enough to penetrate the strong will and rebellious nature of today’s young people. The Church is competing with some very stiff competition. The suggestive lyrics of music, the skewed portrayals of love and romance in movies coupled with the sexually laced images appearing in magazines make it hard for even the most devout young Christian to resist. Competing with the likes of these worldly enticements along with the Internet is the perfect blend for spiritual disaster.
1980 Stevie Wonder hit, “Rocket Love” Wonder composed these lyrics about a tumultuous love affair , ”You took me riding in your rocket gave me a star but at a half a mile from heaven you dropped me back down to this cold, cold world” (Wonder). One minute the individual is soaring in ecstasy and in an instant the lover is falling back to a reality absent of love or respect; broken and in pieces from the unfulfilling, meaningless soul tie. “The flesh must be brought into subjection because unhealthy soul ties open doors to other negative things in our life,” said a Pentecostal Evangelist from New York (JW). Young people are not the only ones guilty of sexual in24 | BELOVED
discretions. Adults are equally at fault. Church leaders, single adults and married people are engaging in unhealthy and sinful sexual acts. In 1992, Christianity Today surveyed more than one thousand of its readers. Forty percent said they’d had premarital sex. Fourteen percent said they’d had an affair. Of those who had cheated on their spouses, 75 percent were Christians at the time of the affair. Week after week, religious leaders and trusted spiritual advisors’ reckless sexual behaviors are splattered across the headlines. A most disturbing story involves a Pastor who stops by a female’s house to pray for some unsettling things that he claims
have been revealed to him about the woman’s conduct. During the prayer he lifts up the young woman’s dress and proceeds to sexually assault her. The Church cannot expect young people to adhere to the Biblical principals regarding pre-marital sex if the adults refuse to. Far too many Christian leaders have taken a back seat to the immoral activity occurring in the House of God. Certain sins are right at home amidst the body of true believers because the Church refuses to address the mess in the house. “The ‘church’s’ silence gives consent and moral imbalance,” said McCloud. “Holiness is a standard God created and not manmade. We need to get back to a holy
standard of God in our living and society. To some degree the church has lightened its position and stand and taken on the world’s position of the issue(s).” This past September, Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church in South Carolina took a bold step and decided to tread in the enemy’s camp and reclaim sexual morality in the church. In a two-part series entitled “Sex in The Church,” Noble decided the church can no longer be silent about the topic of sex especially since the Bible has a lot to say about the subject. Of those Christians surveyed earlier this month over half believed that it is very easy for the church to hide behind homosexuality, HIV and STDs. The premise is simple don’t ask, don’t tell.” Since most of the congregation believes their spiritual leaders are true Christians why upset the apple cart with revealing their behavior outside of the church. “We [the church] are in denial. Hoping that we do not have to face it and that it will go away. Because if we identify it we are commanded by God’s word to deal with it,” said a Pentecostal Evangelist from New York (JW). Many Christians admit that
some of God’s people are walking in the flesh and appeasing every fleshly desire imaginable. However, the Bible is very clear when it comes to the topic of sex: it is forbidden outside of marriage and receives His blessing within the realms of marriage. After all, God created sex for procreation and the deep
passion and intimacy experienced only by a husband and wife. God never intended for the World to use sex for temporary pleasure. “God created sex only within the framework of ‘marriage’. The Bible simply states “marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled”. God’s people are to con-
duct themselves as the Bible instructs us. This of course is if the believers decide to follow the revealed plan of God and live accordingly,” said McCloud. Engaging in sex outside of marriage causes our walk with the Lord to be compromised. Forging unhealthy soul ties with individuals outside of the confines of marriage is likely to result in sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, guilt, shame and low self esteem. In some cases Christians rob themselves of a fulfilling relationship with both God and a mate because of the sexual indiscretions and unforgiveness. “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27, KJV). God has a master plan for each of His children. His sincere desire is that we prosper even as our soul prospers. Following God’s preset blueprint helps Christians to avoid the pitfalls of life brought on by following the lustful desires of the flesh. God wants His children to surrender their will completely to Him; mind, body and soul. The Church has a direct responsibility to facilitate this process by facing the music and stop dancing with the wolves around the issue of sexual immorality, HIV/STDS and homosexuality. BELOVED | 25
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he word rehab first occurred to me years ago one rainy Saturday morning. I was at a friend’s house deep in the Bible Belt sipping coffee and learning to knit while chatting about missions’ activities at church. I was content though clumsy with the tools of my new craft. That’s when it hit me: I am in Arkansas, far away from anything and anyone I’ve ever known, except for the one friend I followed here. Now, a little pixie of a woman has taken me under her wing without knowing a thing about me. She treated me like I could do nothing wrong, totally a God thing since I was straight out of the ‘hood of Indiscretions.’ OMG, this must be rehab! There had been a seismic shift in the supernatural and life in the aftermath was nothing like what I’d left behind in
Miami. Back where the immigration building sits next door to a strip club. Back where I once bought a wine cooler at the gas station just because I could. Okay I did that twice. Back where I found Jesus on Easter Sunday 1995 and embarked on an action-packed journey through Bible study boot camp and life in ministry. Back where I eventually “forgot” the address to the Lord’s house, straying in the pursuit of happiness like only Miami can offer. A decade after landing in South Florida from the Northeast, I was transitioning again, extracting myself from hundreds of thousands of people and goods and services of every kind. I now resided in a population of less than 70,000 which, at the time, was on its way to celebrating its first es-
calator in the new mall. Here, the conservatives fight tooth and nail to keep a dry county. Here, you need only drive a few minutes from town before you hit a dirt road. Here, I ride shotgun to dinner with hunting widows who seasonally lose their husbands to deer stands and duck calls in the woods. I learned that Bubba does exist and here in the Mid-South, no one else has an accent. I do. Don’t get it twisted: I’m not a city slicker missing the gilded glamour of the fast lane. I am actually in my element: the pace of life is slower and things are simpler here. I have people who go to the concerts I want to see. I enjoy two-lane highways into Memphis, Little Rock and Walnut Ridge while passing miles upon miles of rice and soy and cotton. There is an overall agriculture which
The Chronicles of Maggyjay Marked for Renovation BELOVED | 27
permeates the Natural State. It resonates with me in a way I have only ever found in literature and Hallmark movies. I can’t wait to go into the woods and shoot something! REHAB is a spiritual movement, much-needed renovation after a decade of excesses. I’m forever marked by things I was never supposed to know,
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things which had begun to metastasize into my beliefs. Whether an apple or a shot of dark rum, regardless of the bait, when you go off and tussle with temptation, the Garden is never the same again. At times I still crave the very toxins that landed me here in the first place: men, late nights, men, seedy acquaintances, men. However, try as I might to break out and look back, I’m held firmly into place, forward facing, until the trembling fit passes and I come back to my senses. It took me until this year to realize that I am living the life I always dreamed of and wrote about. There is much to be said for the so-called boring life where things are constant, moderate and safe. My new prayer is for a spouse since the Lord won’t agree to take away the juicy parts that are still alive and pulsating in me. Father, may I please have a cross between the gay-male-bestfriend type like Vaughn Lowery, the dancing dude in the Joe Boxer commercial and an independent, bear-your-butt-
in-war type like Brave Heart or Kunta Kinte? Please and thank you! Staring down the barrel of another anniversary in sensory detox, I marvel at what 2012 has shot out at me already. Pow, pow, pow...BANG! The supernatural is shifting again and seven years of spiritual pruning have yielded to this eighth year of some wild and new beginnings, fully locked and loaded. I have neither the good sense nor the inclination to evade the line of fire. I’m trained and prepared to venture beyond knitting needles and coffee but I think it best for Kunta Brave Heart to personally check me out of rehab. Since I’ve had a tendency toward taking detours, I’ll need some big, strong arms to help keep me on the straight and narrow!
Happy Anniversary to BELOVED magazine; wishing you many, many more issues to come!
MARGARETTE JACOB is a native of Boston who discovered writing and radio broadcasting early in life. She spent an even decade in Miami, now works for the government and is a caretaker in northeast Arkansas. She has done radio in three states and secretly programs a station in her head. Margarette strives to live, love and serve Christ with no hesitation. She likes road trips, marinated tomatoes and the color Cinnabar.
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The Serpent of Porn Steve Gallagher
olomon intimately understood how powerful sexual temptation can be for a young man. It was with him in mind that he wrote the fifth chapter of Proverbs. “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding… For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech.” Proverbs 5:1-3 30 | BELOVED
Those two sentences perfectly describe both the power of sexual temptation and its antidote. The wise king understood that, if a young man is to successfully withstand the charms of the temptress, he must be prepared ahead of time. Time spent in the Word everyday builds up a man’s immune system against the poison of pornography. The scriptures are simply the thinking and perspectives of the Lord. As a man continually immerses himself in the Bible, he will gradually take on God’s mindset toward life, people and, yes, even sexuality. A man who devotes daily time to the Word is given spiritual insight into the power of temptation and how it works. Notice again what Solomon says about sexual sin. He personifies it as an adulteress whose lips of honey represent promised fulfillment. The temptation seems irresistible because it is laced with deception—namely, that the act of sin will bring about tremendous pleasure and satisfaction. The tantalizing thought is presented and all thoughts of resistance are forgotten. The act of sexual sin looks absolutely intoxicating and therefore irresistible. The smooth oil represents the craftiness of the enemy… Fully camouflaged and extremely calculating, he presents the perfect illusion, timing each consecutive attack “to steal, and kill, and destroy’ God’s property.” The wise man, whose heart has been fortified with the Word of God, sees the devil behind that intoxicating temptation. In the Garden, Satan exposed himself as the “crafty” serpent he is. I imagine him being very much like a cobra. Known for the hideous hood it extends when preparing to attack, it actually spits into the eyes of its victim before striking. With its target blinded and helpless, the serpent could easily squirm away into the brush. But this viper is not content with escape; it enjoys killing. With bared fangs, it lunges, injecting its deadly poison into its victim’s body. This is a fitting picture of the man lured into viewing pornography. The temptation usually begins when he comes across a glimpse of flesh
and/or a sexually suggestive hyper-link. It is just enough venom to temporarily blind him to the impending danger. The initial presentation is stimulating, creating a sensual atmosphere which spiritually incapacitates him. Now the serpent moves in for the kill. That one glimpse of porn unleashes a poison that rockets into the man’s soul and instantly spreads throughout his being. Just like a snakebite victim, he enters a catatonic state of mind: a sexual trance where all reason seems to abandon him. Lust rushes through his body; his face flushes with excitement; his palms get sweaty. Solomon described this spiritual stupor this way: “With her many persuasions she entices him. With her flattering lips she seduces him. Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, until an arrow pierces through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life.” Proverbs 7:21-23 Conversely, the man who “receives with meekness the engrafted word,” discerns the source of temptation that comes his way. He understands that, behind the beautiful illusion of pleasure, there is a snake—coiled and ready to strike. He has been bitten by it before and has learned the hard way the price that is paid for every indulgence. He has the heart-knowledge (much different from head knowledge) to “be a doer of the Word” and turn away from the temptation. Continuing in Proverbs 5, Solomon went on to speak of the “aharit”—the end—of sexual sin: “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of hell.” This Hebraic term describes the inevitable consequences of all sin. He would later write, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its “aharit” is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12 Once a snake bites, its victim then becomes vulnerable to other predators. Some time ago, I watched a National Geographic BELOVED | 31
special that showed a lioness who had been bitten by a cobra. For days, she suffered under the effects of its venom. Weakened to the point of collapse, she faced great danger from a roving pack of ravenous hyenas. She was helpless to defend herself from their savage attacks. This is certainly true of the man who views pornography. Its poison, rather than dissipating after he has completed his act of lust, continues to contaminate his heart over the coming days. Its toxin remains in his system, altering his perspectives, polluting his mind, and spreading darkness over his soul. The lust it initially appealed to is now inflamed into burning desire. Rather than satisfying the man’s sexual passion, it only serves to further ignite it. Not only must the infected man deal with the after-effects of the bite, but now he is even more weakened spiritually against the enemies of his soul. He attempts to go about his daily routines, but lascivious memories continue to haunt him. These images are like Third World beggars crowding around him, clamoring for another handout. No matter how much you give them, they’re never satisfied. Indeed, every gift only emboldens them to demand more. No wonder Solomon warned: “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house, or you will give your vigor to others and your years to the cruel one.” Proverbs 5:8-9 The house of the adulteress—much like an Xrated website—is nothing more than a den of writhing vipers. It would be wise to avoid such a place! The poisoned victim’s only hope for free-
dom is to go “cold turkey.” Just as a heroin addict must lock himself up until the drug gradually works its way out of his body, so too it takes time for the venom of pornography to lose its power. Every tick of the clock could be harboring a voluptuous temptress, ready to lure him back into sin. And yet, every minute that passes without failure, delivers the man that much further out of her reach. When it comes to porn addiction, the longer he stays away, the better his chances of escaping her evil clutches for good. Just as the Word of God prepares a man to face temptation, it is also the only antidote for the man once he has been bitten by the serpent of lust. Regular doses of Scripture are the very thing he needs to be built up spiritually and thus counteract the effects of the poison of pornography. “Precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little…” Isaiah 28:10. In every word, verse and chapter he meditates upon serves to strengthen him. Christian men must do everything within their power to avoid the “house” of the adulteress. Two practical measures a man should take would be to use an Internet filter on his computer and controlling his television viewing. However, the fact remains that we live in a snake-infested world. In our day and age, it is almost inevitable that men will face this temptation at some point. The wise believer will prepare himself for that day with the Word of God. It is the only “Sword of the Spirit” that can sever the head of the serpent of porn.
STEVE GALLAGHER is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Pure Life Ministries. He is a prolific writer, having authored 12 books, including the best-selling At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry. He is also a regularly featured columnist in both print and web media. Steve holds an Associates of Arts degree from Sacramento City College and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral ministry from Master’s International School of Divinity. He is also a certified Biblical Counselor through the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC). His work is used with permission, to learn more about Steve and his work, or if you are struggling with pornography or any sexual sin, visit: www.purelifeministries.org. 32 | BELOVED
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Taking Matters into My Own Hands Geoffrey Mosongo
asturbation is one of the most debated, yet rarely resolved subjects in the church. The views and opinions about masturbation, its effects, and consequences (especially spiritual) have been swirling through the church since it first began. Many Christians have experimented with it, many practice it and many struggle with it as an addiction. For some, there are the additional struggles of pornography that often accompany habitual masturbation. A survey conducted by Jackinworld among their readers indicated that the average frequency of masturbation drops from 11 times per week at age 11, to 5 times per week above age 35. However, there are wide fluctuations in frequency from individual to individual. 84% of respondents indicated they started to masturbate at or before the age of 13. Interestingly enough, after masturbation, 89% admitted they felt happy and relaxed; 10% felt 34 | BELOVED
guilty; 1% felt nervous. Among the very religious readers who had visited the site for 2 months or less, the percentage who felt guilty was 19%. Another survey by Gossard Big M revealed 9 out of 10 women between age 18 and 30 play with themselves (masturbate); two-thirds of those do so three times a week. James Dobson of Focus on the Family once said that, “masturbation is not much of an issue with God. It does not cause disease. It does not produce babies, and Jesus did not mention it in the Bible. I’m not telling you to masturbate, and I hope you won’t feel the need for it.” Thus, though the scripture is silent on the issue of masturbation Christians are asked to judge for themselves before they involve in it. This is due to the fact that the Bible does not list each and every sin. Instead, it gives principles to live by, and may give listings of sins in general terms. It is God’s will that you should be
sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body [Or learn to live with his own wife; or learn to acquire a wife] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NIV) For many individuals, including Christians, sexual desires are most intense – biologically speaking – when they are young and not yet able to marry. However, the spiritual triumph to be gained is one of self-control and an inner purity that constantly prioritizes one’s intimate personal relationship with Jesus the Bridegroom of the church. Christians are taught that their bodies are temples of God, and are to be clean so that the Holy Ghost may dwell within them. Masturbation is a sinful habit that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. Although it is not physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme; it is a habit that is totally self-centered, secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore separates a person from God and defeats the gospel plan. Masturbation is not a good thing if it becomes a substitute for a real loving relationship, or if individuals become addicted to it. Its side effects include: lowered self-esteem, depression, reduced psychological and creative energy, lessened interest in interpersonal relationships, guilt and shame with fear of being found out. President Kimball of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once said that: “Masturbation … is not approved of the Lord nor of his church, regardless of what may be said by others whose ‘norms’ are lower.” This reinforces the stand of the Catholic Church which has maintained the view that masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder. The church says that the moral sense of the faithful has declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act.
Right from creation, God did not design sex to be a solitary experience. It is supposed to be shared with another, and only in marriage. It is clear that the Bible only offers two justifications for sexual behavior: procreation, God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground (Gen 1:28), and/or unity between a man and his wife, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Gen 2:24). All other manifestations of sexual behavior that appear in the Bible are condemned. While masturbation does not appear in the Bible, it seems to be condemned implicitly, since it does not fulfill either of God’s purposes for sex. Abstinence from sexual activity is not harmful to the body. In the male, semen may be occasionally released spontaneously in nocturnal emissions (wet dreams), or will be slowly absorbed into the blood stream. One cannot survive without food and water, but many men and women live healthy, fulfilled, single lives in Christ without expressing themselves sexually. Finally, Christians who are struggling with the issue of masturbation should always remember that Jesus offers forgiveness and loves them the way they are. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
References: http://www.scribd.com/doc/4000341/ A-Christian-View-of-Masturbation http://www.articlecity.com/articles/religion/ article_751.shtml http://ldolphin.org/Mast.shtml http://paracleteforum.org/archive/email/ behavior/masturbation1/dialog... BELOVED | 35
Dealing with the Aftermath of Sexual Sin Excerpt: From Ashes to Beauty by Jeff Colón
36 | BELOVED
t was May 4, 1991. The sky was painted a heavenly blue and accented with lazy white clouds. The early spring foliage was a rich green, and even the air seemed fresh and clean in New York City that morning. It was the beautiful, pristine kind of day couples dream about for their marriage ceremony. Rose, my wife to be, stood hand in hand with me at the altar. As we expressed our wedding vows to one another, I looked into her eyes and I could see the same bright hopefulness and expectation that every bride has on her wedding day. Her hopes were anchored in the belief that I would love and cherish her and meet her needs. She had expectations that I would provide and care for her, and give her a life of happiness with abundant blessings. Isn’t that what we all expect from our marriage? Isn’t our mate supposed to complete and fulfill us, and to make all of our dreams come true? Isn’t that how all of the storybook romances end, and shouldn’t we, too, expect to live happily ever after? Nevertheless, it only took a few weeks before our fairy tale crumbled as my twelve-year history of sexual sin and drug abuse resurfaced… Internet pornography and sexual sin has flourished in the Church in recent years, destroying innumerable marriages in the process. In an online poll of 10,000 Christians conducted by Focus on the Family several years ago, 47% stated that pornography had been a problem in their home. No doubt this onslaught of sexual sin has played a part in the fact that the divorce rate within Christian homes is hovering around 50% —about the same as the rest of our nation. Commenting on this phenomenon, Barna Project director Meg Flammang said: “We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but in the area of divorce rates they con-
tinue to be the same.”[i] Christians divorcing at the same rate as unbelievers? Is it possible that we can do no better than the unbelieving world in dealing with our problems? My own marriage could have easily become one of those statistics. Rose had every reason to divorce me, and she most certainly would have if God had not intervened and performed a miracle. That was over 15 years ago. Since then, I have been privileged to witness countless marriages lifted from the ash heap and transformed into beautiful representations of God’s love and forgiveness. That’s what can happen when both husband and wife live in repentance and appropriate God’s tremendous promises for their lives.
Building Blocks of Restoration In his book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, Steve Gallagher wrote, “The beatitudes contain all that is involved in the process of transformation. Those seven verses, Matthew 5:3-9, describe how a person is prepared for repentance, how it unfolds, and the life that accompanies it.”[ii] In the same way that those seven blessings provide a road to spiritual recovery for a life ruined by sin, so too they provide a blueprint for the restoration of a marriage devastated by sin. Let’s take a cursory look at how this process unfolds. Before this rebuilding process can begin, there must first be a solid foundation. Thus this building project must begin with poverty of spirit. God must bring both spouses to an end of their own resources, abilities and strengths in order to accomplish His work in their lives. It is as they stand emptyhanded at the foot of the Cross, that He is able to begin BELOVED | 37
the work of rebuilding their lives and marriage. The first place the Lord begins this marvelous restorative work is teaching each spouse how to focus on his or her own failures, rather than on those of their mate. This awareness of one’s sinfulness brings about a sense of godly sorrow: blessed are those who mourn. As each spouse acknowledges and repents over their own sin, they become compassionate toward their mate’s struggles. This new camaraderie further strengthens the foundation within the marital relationship. Sinful behavior, and the marital problems that result from it, are ultimately rooted in a lack of submission to God’s authority. But the repentance that comes about through Godly sorrow humbles the person into a state of meekness: a subjection of one’s will to the will of another. As both spouses begin to obey and to actually live God’s Word, a new atmosphere fills their home. Mutual support and camaraderie replace the selfishness, defensiveness and finger-pointing. Inevitably, meekness begets a hunger for righteousness. As the couple grows in their desire to please God, Christ is able to reign in the center of the marriage. This new mindset will cause the couple to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Couples will need to examine their priorities in life, including how they invest their time and resources. God can only bless a marriage that is in line with His desires. Ultimately, a marriage can only glorify God when both spouses hunger and thirst to be like Jesus. It is the merciful who are promised mercy from God. Most marital problems arise from a selfish preoccupation with one’s own rights and desires. However, the process of repentance found in the Beatitudes brings people into the love of God, and this is especially true in the marriage setting. Consequently, rather than each spouse settling into a selfish preoccupation with their own rights and desires, they both learn to consider the needs of the other. “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” said Jesus. (Acts 20:34) One of those blessings is 38 | BELOVED
that the more each mate shows mercy to the other, the more they are sure to receive in return. By this point in the process, another fruit of repentance, purity of heart, will emerge. Not only will the pure in heart see God, as the beatitude promises, but they will also enjoy freedom from controlling sin. The effects of habitual sin on the marriage are deep and pervasive. As both spouses proceed through the process of repentance, however, sinful attitudes are exposed in the Light. Issues that are buried deep within the heart come to the surface and are dealt with. Little by little their hearts will become purified and they will gain a greater sight of God. What is happening in their individual hearts will also be expressed in the marriage. Finally, as a couple allows the first six spiritual truths to be worked into them, this last beatitude simply arises as the culmination of all the others in God’s transforming process. The closer a person comes to Christ, the more he or she will become what Jesus called a peacemaker. Where once strife and disunity permeated the marriage, the couple is now able to reconcile differences and enjoy godly communication with each other. Harmony in the marital relationship is the crowning fruit of a life of repentance.
Following the Map Sometimes when we come to God for help, His answers are not what we want to hear. There were times the Pharisees were so frustrated with Jesus’ answers that they were ready to kill Him. It takes humility to hear and receive a “hard word.” Most couples who have come to Rose and me for counseling through the years have come expressly looking for solutions to their marital problems. Many times, however, what we tell them doesn’t sit well with them. Some couples are interested only in a temporal fix for their marriage while God is interested in building His kingdom. In order to overcome the issues and obstacles that lie ahead, you have to commit yourself to do-
ing things God’s way. Rose and I have been counseling for nearly 15 years and are still amazed at the level of resistance we face from Christians who claim to believe the Word of God. In spite of the fact that our counseling is all based in Scripture, it is amazing how often people respond with statements like, “God wouldn’t expect me to do that,” or “That’s not what Dr. So-and-So wrote in his book.” Still others protest, “You don’t understand what I have been through.” It grieves me to hear these kinds of responses, because I know these people are only evading and prolonging what God needs to do for them. Sometimes professing Christians look at the words of Jesus and conclude that they are either too hard to follow, or too simple to work. Nevertheless, they are the words of the One who spoke the universe into existence. He is the One who sustains all things by His Word; the One who is the wisdom of God; the One who is the way, the truth and the life; and the One who will bring all things into judgment. What could be more important than conforming our lives and marriages to His Word? Whose opinion can we regard above His? To put it bluntly, marriages fail because people are unwilling to conform their lives to God’s Word. I can tell you that if Rose was determined to take the easy route, we would have ended up in divorce court. There was even a time when I thought divorce was the preferable route. Restoring a marriage is difficult, and the work of restoration nearly always goes against the grain of our natural tendencies. Winning this battle requires people to consistently do things that are uncomfortable. Yet, if Rose and I had not followed the principles outlined in this book, we would not be
where we are today. When we were simply trying to obey the Lord, we had no idea how He would one day use us to help others. We only knew that we needed to be conformed into the likeness of Jesus. The marriages that we have seen make it through this process are the ones where the couples have embraced the Cross. Please, beloved reader, keep an open mind and a willing heart from the outset; God is calling you to something better than what you can imagine. Additional Resources: [i] Meg Flammang, Barna Project http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm [ii] Steve Gallagher At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry JEFF COLÓN is the President and a Board Director of Pure Life Ministries and is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He is also a certified biblical counselor through the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC) as well as a book and article author including From Ashes to Beauty, the Ministry’s signature book on marriage restoration. Jeff holds an MDiv and BA in Biblical Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity. He has been with the Ministry since January 1994. To learn more about the work of Pure Life Ministries, visit: www.purelifeministries.org. BELOVED | 39
My Beloved Calls Adult Toys and Your Christian Sexual Experience Rev. Dr. LaVonne Shaw
his column is being penned moments after completing a coaching session with a couple (Pastors) who counsel other married couples. One of the questions raised during the session – which is also a chapter addressed in my book Sex Between Our Sheets: What God Allows – “Why would a Christian couple need to use adult toys (or as we refer to them, ‘Marital Enrichment Tools.’)?” I began to share with them; Christian’s have high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and diabetes. Each of these ailments or the side effects of their prescribed medications can sometimes cause Christians to have erectile dysfunction. Yet in spite erectile dysfunction, Christian husbands still love their Christian wives and desire to please them sexually. This is one of the many reasons why our Marital Enrichment Ministry focused on openly and honestly providing married Christian couples with sex and intimacy counseling is so important. Christian couples need help in their bedrooms because “religious ignorance” has cast a dark shadow on passion, romance and intimacy, leaving the impression that sexual exploration among married couples is bad or wrong. Thus, many Christian couples who experience problems 40 | BELOVED
with intimacy chose to end their marriages in divorce, without even considering the option of going to the toy store. We encourage our couples to explore sex toy options together. Options may be explored from the privacy of your own home, by visiting our online store or reviewing catalogs such as ours, during your private date night. While perusing through the options, we highly encourage couples to choose together, selecting a tool that will NOT intimidate or replace him. Once selected, couples should always, always, always use their marital enrichment tools together! The decision to consider introducing marital enrichment tools into your relationship may be overwhelming. That’s where we can help. There are thousands of adult sex toys/marital enrichment tools and products to meet a couples needs. Couples can pick from hundreds of vibrators (not a bad word); including rabbit vibrators that offer unparalleled clitoral stimulation, specially designed G Spot vibrators to help your wives achieve an orgasm, multi-function vibrators that stimulate multiple areas, waterproof vibrators that couples can use in the shower and massagers that double as the strongest vibrators you’ve
ever tried. Additionally, there are dozens of dildos (anatomically correct replicas of the male genitalia which, unlike vibrators, do not move on their own), stimulators, nipple teasers, BenWa balls and kits to put smiles on her face! Of course, there are also numerous toys for husbands; starting with dozens of penile (also not a bad word) rings to enhance your sexual potential while teasing your wife’s clitoris with stimulators and mini vibrators. There are also remote controls you can operate discreetly in a pocket, while your wife enjoys the benefits. Lastly, there are themed kits and foreplay games for couples to try. There is sex furniture – such as sex swings and position aids – to assist couples in trying exotic moves straight from the Kama Sutra. There is even lingerie that you can use to dress up for each other. Marital Enrichment tools are available to aid in making your sex life more exciting and enriching. So now there are no more excuses. It’s time to experience a better, more erotic, more orgasmic sex life. We encourage you to discover new sexual pleasure by experimenting with these products while not compromising yourselves as a Christian couple!
The intimate subjects explored in this column are often those which many fellow Christians have been too embarrassed to seek answers for or too afraid to openly discuss. However, I am confident that through honest exploration, God will heal marriages, revive marriage beds and re-ignite spousal passions for each other. To learn more about our Marital Enrichment Ministry, to order a catalog of our enrichment tools/toys, or to ask questions we invite you to e-mail us at coach@ TheErogenousCoach.com.
- Dr. Lavonne REV. DR. LaVONNE SHAW is a Preacher, Erogenous Coach, Author and #1 International Webcast Personality. Passion is her Profession! Empowering Marriages is her Ministry! Tune into Dr. Shaw’s high-octane talk show “The Erogenous Coach” Mondays at 8:00 p.m. on SKYPE. (Skype/Conference Call In Phone: 712-432-0075, Access Code: 670015)
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huNGEr kEEps up oN currENt EVENts, too. 1 IN 6 AMErIcANs Now struGGlEs wIth huNGEr.
hunger is closer than you think. reach out to your local food bank for ways to do your part. Visit FeedingAmerica.org today. 7.0 in.
Take time to
be a dad today.
C a l l 8 7 7- 4 D A D 4 11 o r v i s i t w w w . f a t h e r h o o d . g o v
Physical Paula Belle–Wilkes God honors us with a body A sacred place Where the Holy Spirit lives Jesus sent Him to us To help us on our journey To all things God So why do we show no regard For our bodies where He resides? Would you like to live in an unhealthy place? A place where junk is deposited in every day? A dump site? Eat and drink more than God provides Than man Strengthen the home Exercise Where is your hospitality? Keep the home clean Caring for every area
Then make Him welcome By meeting His every need Stop joining your body with another Who God has not joined with you Violating When you give your body to another Without marriage You are separating yourself from God’s command Disobeying Connecting your spirit to another Without His blessing Your body is sacred Not just another property But one brought with a price Paid by Jesus Himself So take care of your body Making the Holy Spirit happy to be at home in you
Stop taking God’s home to unsavory places Where filth is performed Letting foul enter into your gates Would you want to be in a place that makes you Uncomfortable? Crying to leave but can’t? If the Holy Spirit truly live in you PAULA BELLE–WILKES is the author of Smoothies for the Soul, a book of 100 poems written in 100 days, expressing the experiences of her Christian walk. Originally from Nassau, Bahamas but now residing in Hollywood, Florida, Paula is the proud mother of four daughters and one grandson. BELOVED | 43
Band-aid bonding is when a woman is in an unbalanced or unhealthy relationship where she is the emotional adhesive trying to cover up or hold it together, by tending to her man’s wants, yet neglecting her own needs. What’s unfortunate is these relationships are never fair to neither the women nor the men involved. It is not a matter of finger-pointing or blaming anyone, it’s a simple fact that no one wins–the woman isn’t getting the true happiness that she silently craves–and the man isn’t seeing the true woman who he’s involved with. Dr. Grace Cornish-Livingstone
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Loving, Hurt! Dusty Takle
’ve always heard and maintained the philosophy that sometimes you’ve gotta play hurt. In other words, sometimes, you’ve got to play and give and serve even when you don’t feel like playing and giving and serving. But, quite frankly, we usually WANT to play even though we are hurt. Most athletes will continue to play their game hurt, because they are passionate about that game. So, it’s not really that much of a sacrifice. I mean, I’m no athlete, but I do have some
pretty awesome running apparel that I wear to carpool little people. The real sacrifice comes in loving hurt. My husband Kris is my safe place. He is the one who understands when I don’t feel like giving or serving. He’s the one who loves me no matter what. That being said, it’s pretty dang easy to bow out on serving him when I’m physically or mentally exhausted or hurting. Besides, he understands. BELOVED | 45
And, with my recent back injury, I was little good to anyone, and Kris served me without a single complaint. He’s good like that. He’s compassionate and understanding. He does, however, fail to understand how accessories really do make the wardrobe. ( I know, right?) But, it hit me a few days ago. Sometimes, you’ve got to love hurt. I’m not just talking about loving in spite of the proverbial headache. Well, I am, sort of. I am talking about stepping outside of yourself. Outside off your physical pain. Outside of your emotional pain. Outside of your exhaustion. Outside of your broken heart. Outside of your stuff. And, choosing to love hurt. I was really tired one night. (It’s okay. You can keep reading. This doesn’t get graphic. This is a family thing.) I had the worst headache of all the headaches in the world. (And, I never exag-
gerate.) I looked at my husband lying beside me and this little revelation hit me: love hurt. So, I rubbed his back…. And, we will just leave it at that, friends. At that moment, I sure would have loved to fall asleep watching House Hunters and nurse my headache. But, I knew I needed to choose him this time. I knew I needed to love hurt. You see, often, the person we love the most is the person we serve the least. For me, it was my physical pain keeping me from loving hurt. For you, it might be a different kind of hurt. Loving hurt for you may look like having to forgive while hurt. It might be loving even though your feelings are hurt. Loving even though you are disappointed. Loving even though you are mentally exhausted and feel like you just can’t take any more. Loving even though…. Because, when we do love hurt, that love never returns void. It is never without effect. Because, love never, ever fails.
And, that is one certainty I know with all of my heart.
us to make a choice. We can be afraid. Or we can be ready.
ready www.ready.gov 1-800-BE-ready 46 | BELOVED
DUSTY TAKLE lives in Oklahoma with her husband Kris, and her three kids: John Henry, Anna and Jett. She loves reading and writing and blogs at www.dustytakle.com about being a mom, loving her husband, lessons she learned from her Big Mama and God. She is currently writing a book.
Love Bytes Your desire for intimacy is not a curse. Your desire for independence is not a crime. But if either of the two is out of balance all kinds of problems can and will result. Dr. Ronn Elmore
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I’m an unmarried, Christian, God-loving woman and
I absolutely love SEX! (And I’m not afraid to say it!) Dani LoveStrong
PUBLISHER’S NOTE – The accompanying piece to this note is bold – some
may even consider it brash. It was a tough decision to run this piece, because it is not a popular SPOKEN OUT LOUD viewpoint. While PTP Magazines does not agree with the doctrinal understanding of the author, we do respect the knowledge that many in Christian-dom (male and female) share her viewpoints. And in fact, there were innumerable blog posts that support her understanding of expressing one’s sexual gifting outside of marriage. However, it is our belief, that the Word is the Word, and sex is designed to be enjoyed in a marriage relationship. Still, it is important to be completely transparent in the discussion on sex, including admitting that there are Christians who choose sex and intimacy as a part of their lives within their understanding of their relationship with Christ. Whether it is a purposed expression of a relationship as described here, or a behavior that one is struggling to overcome – we must be real in all possible truths. Tantric sex as mentioned here is not a common knowledge or practice in Christianity-it stems from an Eastern philosophy. It is our hope that even if you disagree with her, you consider her thoughts in your approach to ministering to others; and minister through new eyes of understanding and not condemnation. Having said this, thoughts and views expressed in this editorial are those of the author solely, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, views, opinions or doctrinal beliefs of Pecan Tree Publishing, its parent company, editors or staff. 48 | BELOVED
am a Christian woman and I don’t see a problem with sexual intimacy before marriage. It is because I know who I am, and because of my desire to be known fully by the man blessed to marry me that I don’t want to “go there” physically; meaning have intercourse with someone. I believe sex can be a distraction and can open us up to emotions that we may not be ready for or may not be for us to share with each other. I love God. It was God who made me a sexual and sensual woman. I happen to believe there is power in a man and woman connecting that way. So I don’t open Pandora’s Box frivolously. It is an energy not to be played with. Sex exists to tap into the power of God. In that life energy we create not only babies, but ANYTHING we want. It takes us higher. BUT if it’s not done right, it’s a loaded gun that can literally destroy us - our life, our emotions, our focus..... Let me clarify my first point - I am a Christian. I am a Christian because I accept Christ as the son of God. I accept Christ as God In physical form. BUT I am not religious. I don’t adopt all the “practices” of the earthly church. I am SPIRITUAL not RELIGIOUS. I am directly connected to the Father and I embrace my sexual energy. It is a gift and I love it. People always want to talk about sex with someone they are building with. To talk about it kills the natural flow of the energy. I say allow your chi’s to dance and allow yourselves to move within it together; always remaining mindfully responsible, respectful and aware. Know how far you want it to go and stay in the lines. Just ENJOY it. Sex is the desire, passion and connection man and woman share together, the physical part is merely “intercourse” you don’t have to have intercourse to make love. Fellas... You CAN make love to a woman’s mind and spirit. THAT’S intimacy. It’s powerful and no one else can ever duplicate what the two share with each other because each person has an energy (spirit) that is as unique to us as a fingerprint. What I am talking about is what others know as TANTRA. It is a sacred sex believed to be a holy meditation between three entities: 1. God 2. Man and 3. Woman. Tantric Sex is how I believe God created sex to be had. It is... In one word...AMAZING. Sex is designed to be enjoyed. It’s healthy, healing and holy! YES HOLY! It’s a form of worship when the Holy Spirit is in the mix. However, like anything in life it can make you sick if it ain’t right, and you aren’t selective and careful. We can’t just have it with any and everyone. We have to change the way we view sex in the American church. I don’t believe we understand God’s plan for it and what it’s to be used for. I believe that it’s being taught wrong and it is feared and shunned, instead of being looked at as a source of power. If we fully understood its purpose and how to engage in it, our lives would be so much better. BELOVED | 49
Both God and the devil use sex. Nothing in the world comes into existence without ORGASMIC sexual energy. Flowers, animals, people, organisms are all male and female. We all POLLINATE. Even the stars give birth. Thus the supernova! How do you feel when you are caught up in the Holy Spirit? It takes over your body. Brings you to your knees, it makes you cry, shout, it is electrifying. It is PRAISE. GLORY BE TO GOD! Makes you want to shout hallelujah! GOD uses sex to create, to manifest, to give life, to heal and praise. Satan (as he has done with everything else God created) has twisted it into a tool for destruction, death, lust, and evil. That is why we have to be careful who we mix and mingle with sexually. We must be careful whose energy we share. We MUST PRAY BEFORE WE LAY... PRAY BEFORE WE PLAY; because we are entering into the holy of holies when we enter into the temple of the Lord (which we all know is within us.) My gateway is my lady part. This is why the Bible talks so much about remaining sexually pure and not being sexually immoral. Not because it is forbidden, but because it can build up as well as destroy. It is POWERFUL. This is why God needed both Adam and Eve. TOGETHER, they are the image and likeness of God. God is not a one part being. He is Father, Son and Spirit. Sex is bigger than just taking your clothes off. IT IS YOUR POWER. When you aren’t careful and you share this energy with someone you shouldn’t, you give some of your God given power and authority away! That’s why you feel bad, emotionally drained and defeated after you are with someone who you shouldn’t have been with. Think about it like this... When you lay down with people it’s not just physical; you are also lying down with their spirits. These spirits are influenced and governed by either A) God or B) Lucifer. Which one of the two Spiritual fathers do you want in your bed and in your body? I am pretty sure I know your answer. I, for one, choose to have the Father of light and life over death and darkness - so I’ll take option A. all day, every day. DANI LOVESTRONG is a coach, writer, public speaker & advocate of all things revolving around the topic of manifesting healthy, genuine, mature and stable love in all areas of life. She believes that the essence of love is life energy and its eternal source is God himself. Dani LoveStrong believes in order to experience the wholeness of love in life one must first practice it within the self before it can be adequately given and received in external relationships. She is currently working on publishing her first book, and speaks to audiences of men and women at workshops and seminars. You can learn more about the author by visiting her official site, www.Danilovestrong.com. 50 | BELOVED
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5/6/11 10:59 AM
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE Geoffrey Mosongo
ex is God’s invention. He is the mastermind behind it—and His creation is worth far more to Him than it is to Christians. This beautiful expression of love was created out of His own heart, as a gift to be experienced between a husband and wife. It is only in marriage that this manifestation of intimacy can be fully enjoyed in the depth for which it was created. Fornication is a special sin in that it is really a sin against God’s temple, where the Holy Spirit dwells. Fornication includes all sexual sins; sins that are punishable by death such as adultery, male homosexuality, and bestiality (Leviticus 20), as well as those that are not punishable by death but are sins nonetheless such as behaving like a harlot. The Bible clearly implores Christians to keep themselves pure by shunning sexual immorality: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) Abstinence from sexual immorality is an important matter for today’s Christians. It is one of the lines of demarcation between those who sincerely walk with Christ and those that are only paying lip 52 | BELOVED
service to Him. A true Christian will not be involved in fornication as it is a grave matter with Christ. Indeed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the punishment of eternal fire for their fornication. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:6) Many Christians will devise justifications for continuing in sexual sin and ignoring the clear and repeated warnings of scripture. This is, however, a spiritually deadly error. God makes provisions for his people, if a man or woman feels they cannot contain their sexual desire it is better to marry, but only in the Lord. This is demonstrated by Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians where he says: “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-3, 8-9) According to Dr. Voddie Baucham, the 50 million dollar question that remains for every single Christian man and woman who is still committing the sin of fornication: “Will God cut them some slack on this sin and turn a blind eye to it due the laxness and permissiveness of society today – or does He mean exactly what He is saying in the Scripture verses?” For Christians, the answer to this question is evident. God means exactly what He is saying in His word, and He will not turn a blind eye to fornication nor excusing people’s desire to continue committing this willful sin. God uses some very intense language to describe what He thinks of fornication and the consequences if one does not confess, repent, and pull out of it within a reasonable period of time. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders” (1 Corinthians 6:9). “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; … For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5: 3-5) In his article, “Sex and the Single Christian,” author Mark S. Watson concludes that if a man can control himself before marriage with the woman he loves enough to marry; he is far more likely to remain faithful to his wife than a man who tries to deflower his fiancée before they marry. According to Watson, this is because he has already shown respect for his wife, the institution of marriage and has demonstrated self-control. Christians are always reminded that the Bible says that Jesus will be coming back for a bride that will be without spot or blemish. In order for that to happen, the Holy Spirit must move on the hearts and minds of mankind to encourage them to flee temptation and shun sin.
Reference: http://www.markswatson.com/sex.html http://www.bible-knowledge.com/the-sin-of-fornication/ www.bible.com BELOVED | 53
or there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this let him receive it” (Matthew 19:12). A eunuch is someone incapable of sexual relations. Thus, when Christ speaks of eunuchs from birth, he’s referring to people who are incapable of sexual union because of some birthdefect. When he speaks of those who have been made eunuchs by men, he’s probably referring to those sorry souls who have fallen under the blade of castration. But what is a eunuch for the kingdom? Place yourself in the shoes (or sandals) of one of the descendents of Abraham who was hearing Christ utter these words. You’ve known and understood from your youth that God’s promise to your father in the faith was to make him exceedingly fruitful, the father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:2-6). In fact, every time God established a covenant with his people, whether it was with Adam (Genesis 1:28), Noah (Genesis 9:1), Jacob (Genesis
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35:10-12), or Moses (Leviticus 26:9), God called them to be “fruitful and multiply.” God’s kingdom would be established by the multitude of Abraham’s descendents. Indeed, the messiah was to come from Abraham’s seed. Hence, those who couldn’t engage in sexual union (i.e., eunuchs) were seen as cursed by God, and even excluded from “the kingdom.” Yet Jesus is saying that some men and women who are perfectly capable of sexual union might actually choose to abstain for the whole duration of their lives - specifically for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. WHAT? Christ’s words mark a dramatic turning point in God’s revelation. Such a choice is almost too difficult for the sons and daughters of Abraham to comprehend. Indeed, many of Christ’s followers throughout history would also find the celibate vocation difficult to understand. Some, in fact, as Christ seemed to acknowledge, would not be able to “receive” it at all.
MARRIAGE, SEX, & CELIBACY ARE INTERRELATED John Paul II offers us a refreshing perspective on the meaning of celibacy for the kingdom in his series of general audiences known as the “theology of the body.” He demonstrates that, far from devaluing sexuality and marriage, true Christian celibacy actually points to their ultimate fulfillment. In fact, we simply can’t understand the Christian meaning of sex and marriage unless we understand the Christian meaning of celibacy. Marriage, sex, and the celibate vocation are much more interrelated than we might first think. They’re also interdependent. When each is given proper esteem and respect, the delicate balance among them is maintained. On the other hand, if any of the three (marriage, sex, or celi-
CELIBACY FOR THE KINGDOM & THE FULFILLMENT OF HUMAN SEXUALITY Christopher West
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bacy) is devalued, overvalued, or otherwise disrespected, the others inevitably suffer. It’s no coincidence, for example, that the sexual revolution brought both a dramatic rise in divorce and a dramatic decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Nor is it any coincidence that historical misinterpretations of the celibate vocation have led to a disparagement of sex and marriage. All such error stems from failure to deal with the tension of paradox. To say that celibacy demonstrates the fulfillment of sexuality is not a contradiction of terms. It’s a paradox. There’s something mentally torturous about reconciling the (seemingly) irreconcilable poles of paradox. So, to avoid the discomfort we focus on one aspect of a truth and end up denying others. But it’s precisely by pressing into the tension of paradox that we discover the fullness of truth. We must find our home in that tension. Only then can we properly understand the profound interrelationship among marriage, sex, and the celibate vocation. Let’s press in.
to Jesus with a scenario that they thought would corner him into denying the resurrection as well. A man had a wife and he died. One of his brothers married her to give his deceased brother offspring, but he died too. This happened again and again until seven brothers had all been married to the same woman in succession. The Sadducees then asked Christ whose wife she will be in the resurrection. Christ responded, “You are wrong because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage...” (v. 29-30). For many this teaching of Christ strikes a sour note. Why? Because we know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. If we did we would rejoice in these words. Christ’s statement is not a devaluation of marriage; rather, it points to the ultimate purpose and meaning of this wonderful sacrament. Marriage in this life is meant to foreshadow heaven where, for all eternity, we will celebrate the “marriage of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7), the marriage of Christ and the Church. This is the deepest desire of the human THE KINGDOM, THE heart plus to live in the eternal RESURRECTION, & MARRIAGE bliss of communion with God In chapter 22 of the Gospel of himself. As wonderful as marMatthew (see also Mark 12 and riage and marital intimacy can Luke 20), the Sadducees, a group be in this life, it’s only a sign, of Jews who didn’t believe in the a foretaste, and a sacrament of resurrection of the dead, came what’s to come. Earthly mar56 | BELOVED
riage is simply preparation for heavenly marriage. It’s the same with all the sacraments. They prepare us for heaven. There are no sacraments in heaven, not because they are simply done away with, but because they all will have come to fruition. Men and women will no longer need signs to point them to heaven when they’re in heaven. Think of it in terms of road signs. If you’re headed to Denver, you no longer need a sign to point you to Denver once you’ve arrived. Spouses sometimes wonder if this means they won’t be together in heaven. Of course they will, if they both accept Christ’s marriage proposal and live in fidelity to him in this life. In fact, every member of the human race who accepts the invitation to the heavenly wedding feast will be in the most intimate possible communion with everyone else. This is what we call the “communion of saints.” As the Catechism says, this “will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation. ...Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, ‘the holy city’ of God, ‘the Bride, and the wife of the Lamb.’” Using the spousal image as an analogy, we can say that God’s plan from all eternity is to “marry” us (see Hosea 2:19). And this eternal plan was foreshadowed and revealed “from the begin-
ning” by our creation as male and female and our call to become “one flesh.” The human body has a “nuptial meaning,” according to John Paul, because it proclaims and reveals God’s eternal plan of love - his plan for nuptial union between man and woman and, analogously speaking, between Christ and the Church. As St. Paul says quoting from Genesis, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31, 32). Christ left his Father in heaven. He left the home of his mother on earth + to give up his body for his Bride, so that we might become “one flesh” with him and be taken up into the life of the Trinity for all eternity. As John Paul says, this means that “marriage and procreation in itself did not determine definitively the original and fundamental meaning of being a body or of being, as a body, male and female. Marriage and procreation merely give a concrete reality to that meaning in the dimensions of history.” When the “dimensions of history” are fulfilled, so too will the “nuptial meaning of the body” be fulfilled not just in the union of one man and one woman, but in the communion of all men and women united by the vision of God face to face.
THE NUPTIAL MEANING OF CELIBACY Only by looking towards this heavenly reality can we properly understand the celibate vocation as Christ intends it. Christ doesn’t call some of his followers to embrace celibacy for celibacy’s sake, but “for the sake of the kingdom.” The kingdom is precisely the heavenly marriage. In short, those who choose celibacy are “skipping” the sacrament in anticipation of the real thing. Celibate men and women step beyond the dimensions of history - while still living within the dimensions of history - and dramatically declare to the world that the kingdom of God is here (Matthew 12:28). Christian celibacy, then, is not a rejection of sexuality and marriage. It’s a participation in the ultimate truth and meaning of sexuality and marriage.
Both vocations, in their own particular way, are a fulfillment of the call to “nuptial love” revealed through our bodies. As John Paul II says: “On the basis of the same nuptial meaning of being as a body, male or female, there can be formed the love that commits man to marriage for the whole duration of his life, but there can be formed also the love that commits man to a life of continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” We can’t escape the call of our sexuality. Every man is called to be both a husband and a father; every woman is called to be both a wife and a mother - either through marriage or through the celibate vocation. In a certain sense, celibate men become an “icon” of Christ; their bride is the Church. Celibate women become an “icon” of the Church; their bridegroom is Christ. And both bear many spiritual children. BELOVED | 57
Thus, the terms bridegroom and bride, father and mother, brother and sister are applicable to marriage and celibacy. Both vocations are indispensable in building the family of God. Each vocation complements the other and demonstrates the other’s meaning. Marriage reveals the nuptial character of celibacy, and celibacy reveals that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to prepare us for heaven.
CELIBACY: THE “HIGHER”CALLING? History has seen some grave distortions of St. Paul’s teaching that he who marries does “well,” but he who refrains does “better” (1 Corinthians 7:38). It’s led some to view marriage as a “second class” vocation for those who can’t “handle” celibacy. It’s also solidified people’s erroneous suspicions that sex is inherently tainted, and only those who abstain can be truly “holy.” Such errors led John Paul II to assert firmly: “The ‘superiority’ of continence to matrimony in the authentic Tradition of the Church never means disparagement of marriage or belittlement of its essential value. It does not mean any shift whatsoever in a Manichean 58 | BELOVED
direction.” (Manicheanism is an ancient heresy that views bodily things as evil, placing all emphasis on spiritual realities.) Celibacy is “better” or “higher” than marriage in the sense that heaven is better or higher than earth. Celibacy, unlike marriage, is not a sacrament of the heavenly marriage on earth. Celibacy is a sign of life beyond sacraments when we’ll be united with God directly through the “Marriage of the Lamb.” In fact, I think it’s somewhat unfortunate that we define this vocation based on what it has “given up” rather than defining it in terms of what it has embraced. It seems a lot of confusion could be avoided if we described the celibate vocation as the “heav-
enly marriage,” for instance. Of course, few who choose the celibate vocation would claim to experience “heaven on earth” every day of their lives. Celibates forego a great good, and that entails sacrifice. That en-
tails a fruitful suffering “for the sake of the kingdom.” Here it becomes clear that the Church does not hold the celibate vocation in such high regard because she believes sex is somehow tainted. She holds celibacy in such high regard precisely because she holds that which is sacrificed for the sake of God - genital sexual expression - in such high regard. If sex were something unclean and unholy, offering it as a gift to God would be an act of sacrilege (we all know that there’s no merit in fasting from sin for Lent, right?). But, since sex is one of the most precious treasures God has given humanity, making a gift of it back to God is one of the most genuine expressions of thanksgiving (eucharistia) for such a great gift. The other is receiving it from God’s hands and living it as the expression of the marital covenant. Everyone is called to a life of holiness by responding to the call to “nuptial love” stamped in his body. But not everyone is called in the same way. “Each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7). Each person should respond to the gift he’s been given. If one is called to celibacy, then
he shouldn’t choose marriage. If one is called to marriage, then he shouldn’t choose celibacy. Hence the important need to discern one’s vocation prayerfully.
CELIBACY: WITNESS TO FREEDOM The celibate vocation also provides a much needed witness in our sex-saturated world to the reality of human freedom. Christ’s own words, “some make themselves eunuchs,” demonstrate the voluntary character of this vocation. It’s not something forced on people by the Church. It’s a gift freely given by God and freely chosen by some of his followers. Why do people spay or neuter their pets? Because animals can’t say no to their urge to mate. Despite what the typical prime-time sitcom would have us believe, we can. Herein lies one of the key differences between animals and human beings - the gift and responsibility of freedom. We’re not bound by instinct. We can determine our own actions. We can say “yes” to a given behavior or we can say “no.” If we can’t say no, we’re not free. Society has much to say about “sexual freedom.” But sexual freedom, in the popular sense, means the license to have sex without ever having to say no. This is not sexual freedom. This is bondage to libido.
The man or woman who chooses to forego genital sexual expression “for the sake of the kingdom” demonstrates that he or she is not bound by an uncontrollable libido but is truly free - free to love God and love others in a dramatic and unreserved gift of self. And it should be added that this is a bodily, and in this sense sexual, gift of self. Angels can’t be celibates. They don’t have bodies. They’re not sexual beings. In fact, according to John Paul II, the very impetus of the celibate vocation, like that of Christian marriage, is a desire to live out the truth of sexuality, redeemed and purified in Christ. God gave us sexual desire “in the beginning,” according to John Paul, to be the very power to love in the image of God through the sincere gift of self. This is why he calls the sexual urge “a vector of aspiration along which [our] whole existence develops and perfects itself from within” (Love & Responsibility p. 46). According to Christian revelation, there are two ways of fulfilling this fundamental call to love: marriage or celibacy (see Familiaris Consortio n. 11). Of course, due to sin, the sexual urge doesn’t simply well up in us as the desire to make the sincere gift of self. Everyone - single, married, or consecrated celibate - must contend
with the manifold disorders and confusions of lust. But what hope we have when we realize, as John Paul stresses, that the heart is deeper than lust, and Christ “reactivate[s] that deeper heritage and give[s] it real power in man’s life.” This means through an ongoing conversion to Christ we can experience a “real and deep victory” over lust. If we open ourselves to the work of redemption, the Holy Spirit actually impregnates our sexual desire “with everything that is noble and beautiful,” with “the supreme value which is love.” Through this ongoing process of transformation we rediscover God’s original plan for sexual desire and are enabled to put that desire at the service of the marital or the celibate gift of self. Again and again it must be stressed: The celibate vocation is not a rejection of sexuality. Nor are consecrated celibates meant to condemn themselves to a life of isolation from the opposite sex. If some approach it this way, according to John Paul II, they’re not living in accord with Christ’s words. “Human life, by its nature, is ‘coeducative.’” By this the Holy Father means that the sexes need one another, and they need to learn to love one another rightly if human life is to maintain its proper dignity and balance. This is just as true for BELOVED | 59
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consecrated celibates as it is for married people. Men and women such as Francis and Clare of Assisi, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, and Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal all had healthy, holy, intimate, and celibate relationships with one another. Yes, it’s truly possible. And what a witness to freedom these saints are! If we think this is impossible if we immediately suspect “monkey business” going on in such relationships - then we can count ourselves among those whom John Paul II labels “the masters of suspicion.” The masters of suspicion do not believe in the gift and power of redemption. Since
bondage to lust is all they know in their own hearts, they project that on to everyone else. But as the Pope insists, “Man cannot stop at putting the heart in a state of continual and irreversible suspicion due to the manifestations of the lust of the flesh and libido.... Redemption is a truth, a reality, in the name of which man must feel called, and called with efficacy.” In fact, he says, “The meaning of life is the antithesis of the interpretation ‘of suspicion.’”
bacy is to blame for the various sexual problems of the clergy writ large in our newspapers. “Celibacy is simply unnatural,” they say. In some sense these people are right to say celibacy isn’t natural. As the saying goes, and as Christ reveals, it’s supernatural. It’s celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. By calling some to renounce the natural call to marriage, Christ established an entirely new way of life, and, by doing so, he demonstrated the power of the Cross to transform lives. For those who are “stuck” in CELIBACY IS a fallen view of the sexual urge SUPERNATURAL with no concept of the freedom It is precisely these “masters of to which we’re called in Christ, suspicion” who contend that celi- the idea of life-long celibacy is
A) Jumping Bean B) Jack’s Bounce C) Jumping Jacks D) None of the Above Even if you don’t know the answer, all you need to know is that any activity is a good activity. So play sports, run, dance, jump in place, ¡Lo que sea! whatever, just get up and play at least one hour a day! For fun activities and ways to stay healthy visit
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complete nonsense. But for those who have experienced the transformation of their sexual desires in Christ, the idea of making a complete gift of one’s sexuality to God not only becomes a possibility, it becomes very attractive. Celibacy is a grace, a gift. A minority of Christ’s followers are called to embrace this gift. But, to those who are given this gift, they’re also given the grace to be faithful to their vows, just as married people are given the grace to be faithful to their vows. In both vocations people can and do reject this grace and violate their vows. Certainly there’s a need in the typical Catholic diocese for greater openness about sexual woundedness and for development and promotion of ministries that bring Christ’s healing to those in need, including priests. But the solution to marital and celibate infidelity is not to concede to human weakness and redefine the nature of the commitments. The solution is to point to the Cross as the font of grace that it is, a font from which we can drink freely and receive real power to live and love as we’re called.
Furthermore, the statistical rates of sexual misconduct among celibate priests is no higher than that of married clergy in other Christian denominations. There is simply no evidence that having a married clergy would solve or even alleviate this problem. There’s also a dangerously misguided approach to marriage inherent in the idea that marriage is the solution to the sexual scandal of some priests. Marriage does not provide a “legitimate outlet” for disordered sexual desire. Married people, no less than celibates, must come to experience the redemption of their sexual desires in Christ. Only then can they love each other in God’s image. If a man were to enter marriage with deep-seated sexual disorders, he would be condemning his wife to a life of sexual objectification. Celibacy does not cause sexual disorder. Sin does. Simply getting married does not cure sexual disorder. Christ does. The only way the scandal of sexual sin (whether committed by priests or others) will end is if people experience the re-
demption of their sexuality in Christ.
IN CONCLUSION In a world that has lost sight of heaven, those who are “eunuchs for the kingdom” shine as a bright witness to us all of the ultimate destiny of human life. They witness to what Saint Augustine said so well: “You have made us for yourself, oh God, and our hearts are restless until we rest in you.” As we learn in John Paul II’s theology of the body, sexual desire and the nuptial meaning of the body are ultimately fulfilled in the eternal nuptials of heaven. From this perspective it becomes clear that all of the sexual confusion in our world is simply the human desire for heaven gone berserk. Only by “untwisting” this sexual confusion can we begin to understand God’s plan for nuptial union as a revelation and foreshadowing of the beatific vision. Only then can we see that celibacy for the kingdom, far from devaluing sexuality, anticipates and participates in its ultimate fulfillment.
CHRISTOPHER WEST is a research fellow and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute. He is also one of the most sought after speakers in the Church today, having delivered more than 1000 public lectures on 4 continents, in more than a dozen countries, and in over 200 American cities. His books “Good News about Sex & Marriage, Theology of the Body Explained, and Theology of the Body for Beginners” have become Catholic best sellers. His work contains several references to Catholic canons. BELOVED | 61
PASTOR JAMAL HARRISON BRYANT (speaking to women) – “If he can’t meet you where you are - leave him where he’s at!”
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A, B, C’s & E.d Telika Howard
t is believed that most young people hear about sex and in fact most have in depth sexual conversations, not from their parents, but from peers. Frighteningly it is also believed that supporting information is then gathered from TV and movies. This phenomenon has lead to a perpetual cycle of misinformed youth sharing and experiencing their first encounters with sex and sexuality from other misinformed youth or errant behavior scripted reality shows. KidsHealth.Org reports that, “Many parents have called their doctors expressing concern because their kids touch their genitals during diaper changes or their baby boys have frequent erections. They’re reassured that these behaviors are perfectly normal and told that even the youngest children naturally explore their bodies. And many kids, especially toddlers, enjoy being naked. How you react — your voice, the words you use, your facial expressions — is one of your child’s first lessons in sexuality. By not responding with anger, surprise, or disapproving words, you teach your child that this curiosity about his or her body is a normal part of life.” While Sesame Street and other highly-ac64 | BELOVED
claimed education shows are great in assisting children in learning educational and social skills, parents should begin providing that same type of information about sex and sexuality at home. Planned Parenthood counselors suggest that parents “keep our conversation age appropriate. If a five-year-old asks, “What is birth?” we might respond, “When a baby comes out of a mother’s body.” If a 10-year-old asks the same question, our answer would have more detail and might begin with, “After nine months of growing inside its mother’s uterus, a baby comes out through her vagina…Providing young people with information that is age-appropriate makes it easier for them to understand that sex is a natural part of human and emotional development. It also makes it easier to talk with them about the more complicated aspects of sexual intimacy as they get older. Don’t worry if you haven’t started talking with your children about sexuality yet. It’s never too late. Just don’t try to “catch up” all at once. The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.” It is also imperative that parents provide youth with age-appropriate basic anatomical informa-
tion about their bodies and always include Biblical understanding in the conversation. Parents should emphasize to their children that they are princes and princesses, not akin to fictional cartoon characters, but because their Father God is the King of Kings. And they should be taught that as the King of Kings, God knows what’s best for them; including His desire that they remain pure until He sends them a husband or wife. Family therapist Dr. Rob Jackson wrote in a Focus on the Family article that, “We want to teach a clear message about timing. The right time for sexual behaviors occurs when a man and woman are married. Our younger children only need to hear that God designed sex or sexual intercourse for husbands and wives. As our children mature they will need to learn that all sexual behaviors are more or less foreplay, leading to the act of intercourse, and that these behaviors are also designed for marriage. We can also point to various cultural messages about sexuality, and develop teachable moments.” South Florida mom Trecia Rolle Bursey suggests employing professional help or information in the conversation, especially with teenagers and those heading to college. She recommends two books to parents: NOT EVEN A HINT: GUARDING YOUR HEART AGAINST LUST by Joshua Harris and BACK TO THE GARDEN by Kay Arthur. Maryland based Youth Pastor, Russell St. Bernard, also uses two other Joshua Harris books in his teachings on the subject: I KISSED DATING GOODBYE and SEX IS NOT THE PROBLEM (LUST IS). Deb Wells, of Sacramento, California, says,” I’ve always kept it real with my daughter and explained to her that her “first time” should be with someone she knows and loves... we are
holding on to the hope that she will be married...(much prayer!) and will present that gift still wrapped up!” Parents should continuously have these conversations with their children; the older the children become, the more information parents should add. Parents should also be vigilant about the television shows and movies that their children view, making every effort to prevent them from watching things that promote the opposite of what God teaches. What if it’s too late and you realized that you’re teenaged children have received all their sexual education from inappropriate sources? It’s never too late. Carolyn Cook a Christian single mother of four teen daughters says that after she started going to church and rededicated her life to the Lord, she realized that she hadn’t taught them anything about sex. “I noticed my daughters wanting to date and becoming Facebook friends with every boy in town and I knew I had to start telling them that they didn’t want to live their lives the way I lived mine. I told them about my life and my regrets and how they still had a chance to stay pure and be respected.” Cook openly shared with her daughters that she fully believed life would have been less traumatic if she had not given herself to a man who did not treat her like the royalty that she was and who truly respected her enough to marry her. No matter what stage your children are in make talking about sex and their sexuality a priority. The key is to talk to them early and to teach them Biblical principles. Making sure that your children are valuable assets to God and that their bodies are precious will help them stay pure and happy in the future.
TELIKA HOWARD is a full time wife, mother of five, freelance writer and author. She has a degree in journalism and a passion for God, family and writing non-fiction and fiction. Visit her website at www.tfreelance.weebly.com BELOVED | 65
Sexting, Braining, Smushing & Tweeking
(The “Birds and the Bees” for the Millennial Generation) Tymira Mack
rain up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) While as well meaning parents we busy ourselves working diligently to provide our teens with all the popular “gear” craved by today’s millennial generation – designer clothes, I-Pads, X-Box 360’s cell phones and even vehicles – we’re failing to equip them with the gear most essential to their successful navigation thorough these challenging years….CANDID INFORMATION. Gone are the days when parents can take the naive position of putting off “Facts of Life” conversations with our 11 - 17 year olds simply because they’re honor roll students who are actively involved in the Church or engaged in other wholesome extracurricular activities. Gone also are the days when we can pacify our own innate fears about addressing these sensitive subjects by simply giving our teens the fifteen minute rated “K” (for kindergarten) version of the Birds and the Bees talk that many of our parents gave to us. So let’s all take our Holy Blinders off for just one second and Keep It Real. Think back to the method by which you REALLY learned about the Facts of Life. If you’re honest, you will admit that you obtained your basic facts of life info from R or Triple X Rated magazines or movies that you snuck and viewed with friends, or through over-exaggerated locker room conversations, or worse from personal experimentation. Ahhh, now we’re on the same page! So ask yourself, is this really how YOU want YOUR teens to learn about the Facts of Life, especially in the face of such startling statistics as: 4 6% of High School Students report having had sexual intercourse 14% of sexually active teens report having had 4 or more sex partners in their life 39% of teens report not using a condom the last time they had sex Each year approximately 19 million new Sexually Transmitted Diseases/ Infections occur; with almost half of them among youth age 15-24 P rimary and secondary syphilis rates among teens age 15-19 have increased annually 2004-2009 R ates of oropharyngeal cancers (which include tumors of the throat, tonsils, and base of the tongue) are rapidly increasing due to HPV infections spread through oral sex Not only should these statistics compel us to engage in candid Facts of Life conversations with our teens; but when coupled with the results of a national survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2001 and a 2008 survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, 66 | BELOVED
we should also understand the need to broaden these conversations to include information on recreational drug and alcohol use and sexting. These surveys found that: Teens who drink alcohol are seven times more likely to have sex than those who don’t As many as 75% of all teens’ first sexual intercourse involves alcohol T eens that drink or experiment with drugs are more likely to have several sexual partners 3 9% of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages 2 0% of teenagers have taken nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves and sent them to someone, or posted them online 3 6% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys admit that nude or semi-nude texted photos get shared with people other than the intended recipient Still not comfortable with the idea of exposing little Buffy or little Ray-Ray to the facts of life too soon? Not convinced that there’s even a sense of urgency? Or, think that those stats will never invade your well-insulated, middle-class, Christian home? Well newsflash, since they’ve been alive, all of our kids’ perceptions of the Facts of Life have be impacted daily by the myriad of negative messages that saturate every aspect of our mainstream media, music and entertainment industries. The importance and urgency of this issue is heightened by the fact that the mixed messages about “safe sex” and sexual promiscuity that these industries relentlessly “sell” have become extremely successful in lulling far too many of our naive teens into a false sense of security. The truth is, O ral sex IS sex; and CAN transmit such STD’s as HIV, Herpes, HPV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis STD’s CAN be contracted through heavy petting STD’s such as herpes and genital warts CAN be contracted while using condoms V irgins CAN acquire and transmit STD’s S exting CAN lead to such legal consequences as imprisonment or designation as a sex offender
As for these issues never invading your well insulated, middle-class, Christian home? Well, I’m sure that’s the same sentiment that my Christian mom felt before she learned that her well-educated, middle-class daughter had become pregnant, gotten an abortion, acquired 2 curable sexually transmitted diseases, experimented with marijuana and alcohol and acquired an incurable STD; all before the age of 22. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6) So parents, my message to you is simple: It’s time to talk sexting, braining, smushing & tweeking – a new version of the Birds and the Bees for the millennial generation. Resources: Centers for Disease Control, Youth risk behavior surveillance - United States, 2009 Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004 Kaiser Family Foundation HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet, February, 2006 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, Sex and Tech, 2008 TYMIRA WILLIAMS MACK is an Inspirational Speaker, author of The List: Every Girl Has a Story She Must Someday be Woman Enough to Tell and primary visionary behind the DIVA’s Keepin’ It Real Young Ladies Empowerment Conferences. Ty is best known for her wiliness to be completely transparent as she ministers to women and teens. She resides in South Florida with her husband and their three children. BELOVED | 67
Love Bytes “The moment we decide to throw more energy into fighting for our mate than with him, the crack of a fist on the enemy’s jaw splits the ears of angels.” Minister Beth Moore
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A Gift from God
S. L. Wells
od created sex. He purposely made it to be beautiful and enjoyable. It’s a gift from Him. Welcome to our anniversary issue. Now, “Let’s talk about sex”!
nal changes after birth and not being as tight. I don’t want sex with my husband to become unpleasant, is there something I can do?
may affect their spouse. There are options available to address your concern. First let me assure you that natural child birth usually does not cause your vagina to lose elasticity or to remain A: Thank you for your ques- in a dilated state permanentQ: I’m about to have my tion and know you are not ly. Although pregnancy causes first child and have heard a alone with this concern. Many vaginal changes they are usulot of bad things about sex women as they age and/or be- ally temporary and the vagina after child birth. I’ve heard come mothers are concerned typically returns to a normal many people talk about vagi- with vaginal changes and how it state as far as your muscles are BELOVED | 69
concerned, especially after your first child birthing experience. Hopefully that will put some of your fears to rest. A great option is to start doing pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises). There are numerous benefits to incorporating them into your lifestyle beyond the potential sexual benefits. This is the only free and readily available option that you can do privately. Another added bonus is that the exercises are something your husband can engage in as well, potentially allowing him stronger erections and/or to reach more than one climax. Kegel exercises improve muscle tone of the pelvic floor and can also prepare it for the physiological stresses of 3rd trimester pregnancy and vaginal child birth. It has also been proven effective in preventing prolapse (falling of pelvic organs). Identifying your Kegel muscles is simple. They are the muscles responsible for holding in urine or avoiding defecation. To perform Kegel exercises make sure your bladder is empty, then simply pretend to hold in your urine. If you are unsure if you are targeting the right muscles simply wait until the next time you have to urinate and then stop yourself in mid-stream; however, do not make a common practice of stopping urine mid-stream, as it can lead to infection. If you are still unsure whether you’re targeting the 70 | BELOVED
right muscles, ask your doctor to use a biofeedback device, electrical stimulation or TENS unit that will engage the muscles so you can know the correct muscles are at work. To begin a Kegel exercise routine, start out holding the contraction for 5 seconds, then release it and repeat that 5 times in a row. Perform Kegel exercises 3 times a day. After about one to two weeks increase the contraction to 10 seconds, repeat it 10 times in a row and continue to perform them 3 times a day. It may be beneficial to perform them while doing something you do daily (i.e. - driving, bathing, cooking, watching television, surfing the net, etc…). It usually takes a few weeks of consistently practicing Kegel exercises to see results. There are numerous products on the market stating claims to improve vaginal tightness, most are false. Other options include seeing your physician to perform electrical stimulation, progressive resistance vaginal exerciser devices and/or in severe cases surgery. There is a surgical procedure popularly known as vaginal rejuvenation, whereby a cosmetic surgeon can tighten the vagina to your desired specifications. There are some mat Pilates and/or belly dancing classes that have isolated movements that cause you to engage the pelvic floor muscles as well. Remember sex with your hus-
band is a gift from God even in the midst of physiological changes. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17(NIV) Q: My husband and I don’t want to have any more children so we want to explore birth control options; however we were taught since childhood the Bible says it’s wrong to use birth control. We are not sure if that’s correct and how to weigh our options? Please help. A: I am delighted to share with you on such an important and personal topic. First I will share health information on the various birth control options and then clarify what the Bible says about this issue. Let’s start with the oldest birth control method “withdrawal”. The withdrawal method (removal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation) is free, readily available with no side effects. Withdrawal is classified as a natural birth control method. There are other natural methods such as the rhythm method, cervical mucus method and the basal body temperature method. These methods are inexpensive and have no side effects; however they require diligence, discipline and self-control. Please keep in mind that natural birth control methods are the least
effective and reliable methods of birth control. They are not as effective as other birth control methods; however they are an option to discuss with your physician while considering whatâ€™s best for you and your family. There are barrier birth control methods such as the male or female condom, spermicide, diaphragm, cervical cap or contraceptive sponges. Condoms can be effective in preventing pregnancy, although 1 out of 50 couples who use condoms correctly still become pregnant. Side effects are uncommon; however condoms can trigger a latex allergy (i.e. - hives, runny
nose and difficulty breathing). Diaphragms can be effective if used with spermicide however 6 out of 100 women who use them correctly still become pregnant. Side effects are rare, but some may experience vaginal irritation, increased urinary tract infections, insertion difficulty and some may even be pushed out depending on penis size. Cervical caps are effective; however they are a bit little less effective for women who have given birth naturally. Roughly 29 out of 100 women who use it correctly will still become pregnant. Side effects may include pain during or following use, foul odor after re-
moval, abrasions to the penis or signs of toxic shock syndrome. Spermicide is not highly effective when used alone as a birth control method, usually 29 out of 100 women will still get pregnant. Possible side effects include vaginal irritation, burning, itching or rash. The last barrier method available is the contraceptive sponge. It has similar effectiveness to spermicide; with approximately about 32 out of 100 women becoming pregnant with correct use. Side effects include vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections. The primary considerations when determining whether barrier contraceptive methods would be a good fit for your lifestyle are frequent maintenance and time to apply/remove them. There are hormonal birth control methods. Some examples are birth control pills (various dosing options), patch (Ortho Evra), injection (Depo Provera), ring (Nuva Ring), implant (Implanon) or IUD (Mirena). Hormonal birth control methods tend to have higher effectiveness rates when used correctly, however their side effects are a little more prevalent. Side effects may include spotting, break-through bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, pain over injection site, ring slippage, skin discoloration or itching or rash near patch site, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Despite the temporary side effects many women opt for BELOVEDâ€‚ |â€‚ 71
hormonal methods due to the ease of use, reliability, variety of delivery and/or frequency of use options (i.e.-daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually). There are also hormonal options for men such as male birth control pills. There are more permanent birth control methods such as tubal ligation (female tube tying or cutting and burning) or vasectomy (male tube tying or cutting and sealing). These methods are called sterilization and are surgically performed. A vasectomy is cheaper, less invasive with a faster recovery time and usually done on an outpatient basis. A tubal ligation is considered major surgery for which the recovery time is longer and the procedure more expensive. There are permanent (cutting and sealing) or reversible methods (tube tying) of sterilization. Sterilization methods have the best effectiveness rates; however no birth control methods are 100% effective. There are rarely any side effects beyond the initial surgery. Many couples opt for sterilization due to its effectiveness and the typically maintenance free lifestyle it provides. Finally let’s clarify birth control Biblically. Birth control is a controversial topic within the Christian community. The Bible does not literally state birth control is sinful, nor does it imply it. Unfortunately some have pulled a few scriptures in the Old Tes72 | BELOVED
tament out of context to support their claim. If it was true, it would be a clear contradiction to scriptures within the Old and New Testament. There are 2 specific scriptures I’ve heard some use to speak against using birth control in marriage. Genesis 1:28a (NLT) “Then God blessed them and said “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it…” Genesis 38:9-10(NIV) “But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.” If you study the full story in Gen38, it’s really dealing with the spirit of deception and evil. The issue was not about condemning birth control but rather deceiving a spouse, dishonoring his father and brother and breaking the covenant. God is very clear about the sacredness of marriage, wisdom and providing. No person has the right to define the terms of your marital bed beyond what God has said in scripture concerning sexual immorality. Procreation is a part of the marriage bed, therefore the two of you should to seek God for wisdom and then come to an agreement about the use of contraception. Three or more people are truly a crowd, as you will see clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 7:2-6. “The marriage bed must be a place of mu-
tuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. (MSG)” God has given you both the free will to come to a mutual agreement within your marriage or household. “Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well.” Proverbs 5:15 (AMP) He desires us all to use wisdom in our decisions. That’s why I love this parable Jesus uses to teach the principle of wisdom best, which perfectly applies to this topic. “For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it?” Luke14:28(Amp) Counting the cost of procreation includes mentally, emotionally, physically and financially providing for more children. The Bible goes into further detail and strong instruction, about providing for your household. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1Timothy 5:8 (KJV) Parenting is a gift and God is not the author of confusion, he will not put more on us than we can bear nor tell us to expand our households in a foolish or imprudent way. Proverbs 31 also
Would you rather have $46,000 or a whooooole lotta take-out? Cook your own dinner instead of ordering in. $9 saved a day x 5 days a week x 10 years x 6% interest = $46,694. That could be money in your pocket. Small changes today. Big bucks tomorrow. Go to feedthepig.org for free savings tips.
demonstrates to us this principle by stating the virtuous woman expands prudently and carefully watches everything in her household. I encourage you and your husband not to allow anyone to pressure, condemn or make you feel bad about exploring birth control options. Remember the word of God says in Hebrews13:4a “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled:” I would like to leave you this parting scripture, which I hope
will help free us all from the bonds of human traditions that make the word of no effect in our lives: Romans 7:6 (Amp) “But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].” If you desire more information
on these subjects, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional Resources: For assistance in making contractive decisions, you may take an online contraceptive personality test available through www.familyplanning.org. For more in depth facts on medical birth control options, you may visit the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) and the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov).
S.L. WELLS is a dedicated, passionate health educator specializing in sexual health and stress management. She is the Producer of, “Come Away with Me” Christian relaxation music and the author of, “What Your Parents Don’t Know & Didn’t Tell You About Sex!” Her works have appeared in local and international publications, bringing educational enrichment to thousands. BELOVED | 73
“Nobody wants somebody who wants them for what they have or the position they’re in--you want somebody who wants you for you. In case it all goes crazy and it all turns to dust. I want somebody who loves me in the welfare line, eating gumbo, eating fish, black eyed peas and rice. I want somebody that loves me. God wants you to love him, not his cars, not his house, not his blessing--love him.” Bishop T.D. Jakes
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Dating and Sex at In the Church
Cynthia D. Stargell
he edges and streaks of gray are more prominent. Hair coloring works, but why is the gray too stubborn to keep itself under wraps? Knees now share their own testimony following a dance—whether a church step or a club one and memory is at best, good some days. The desire to be young teeters on the balance of having end of life care in place. Does a seasoned Christian have a different dating experience than those younger than themselves?
As Christians, can we really talk about sex after 50? Members of the 50 and older population are discussing real topics affecting them and one of them is Dating and Sex at 50…In the Church.
WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE? At the 50 year old milestone thoughts turn toward mortality. ‘I can still do this’ is a recurring sentiment, when in fact, the natural body BELOVED | 75
and mind says otherwise. With dating opportunities still in view, what’s going on out there? And more specifically, what’s going on with Christian dating after 50? P.B., 50, says, “I am going to be 51 in a hot minute. I have found that (speaking from my experience) men carrying a Bible are not that much different from men who don’t know what a Bible is. Bible thumpers will quote the scriptures but all in all, their agenda is the same. Remember this is my experience.” J.G., 50, shared, “I live in Tennessee where most men my age are married or have baby-momma-drama. There is no such thing as a “dating-scene” in or outside of the church. I did the Black-Singles online.....we met on a Sunday after church for dinner...he was parked in the “handicapped” space and his son joined us. I had more conversation with his son. My sister says my expectations are too high. .I say I can do bad all by myself. I’m blessed to be an empty nester at an early age; the result of being a teen-aged mother and a divorcee. So what are my options? My petition to the Lord in 2012 is a husband or a home. If I get the home, I’m done, cause I don’t want to have to relocate. In the interim I’m waiting for Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss’ line of “toys” to come out ‘cause the pillow just ain’t gettin’ it. This is my confession!” The case for finding suitable companionship after broken relationships, adult children, and attempts to lower preexisting standards is most assuredly, challenging, but some have found that Christian dating after 50 is a comfortable place to be. Listen to Mr. O.W., who is a hearty 62: 76 | BELOVED
I find that a good Christian friendship with Christ-like principles has been more effective for me. Many people looking for relationships are seeking them for personal reasons instead of looking to be good companions to each other. You don’t have to be in a relationship to enjoy each other and this has been learned by me from an early age from Christian parents and family. If you take the time to be a part of each other’s lives, when and if you enter into a serious relationship, it has a better chance at survival... In a friendship and loving it.”
TRUSTED BY GOD Does contemporary Christianity speak to the needs of the newly single? After all, certain activities, including sex, were a part of married life. What should you do? Watching world relationship behaviors become prominent in the church – is the 50 and older group more apt to lean on wisdom and discernment now, than in their younger days? P.B. says, “Oh yes. When I was younger, I was just flowing. But now…I am very discerning and so smart (lol)…I am a Christian for real. I strive to do God’s Will. So sex outside of marriage is a no-no for me. God is blessing me tremendously and I will not mess that up for a roll in the hay… settling [into celibacy] does not mean you will not be tempted, but you make a choice to be trusted by God no matter how tempting it is (like my former 6’3 Jamaican with gray eyes who walked up on me at a gas station recently. LOL)
DISAPPOINTING FACTORS Some have elected to stay out of the relationship circle altogether. Why? There are too
many resemblances to secular world relationships. When asked to share three to five things that proved to be disappointing in Christian dating, one individual shared: 1. I find many Christians think it is stupid to marry without having sex first. One person even asked me if I will buy a car without test driving it. This came from a Minister. 2. Having a girlfriend and still trying to get with me. 3. Spreading rumors. [He]”didn’t get any” so let me give her a bad reputation.
WHAT ABOUT THE COUGAR? Daydreams of youthful (or lustful) excitement are appearing to give way to actually making those dreams come true through May-December relationships. The cougar attraction is very real even in the church, because at the core of any relationship are the people involved. J.G., 50, notes: The “cougar” attraction is a reality. I work on a college campus, with students; adults and minors, for lack of a better description. And it doesn’t help that I look ten years younger than I am... On the other hand, the desire for sex has never been a problem for me. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal home and what nurture didn’t give me, GOD’s Grace has. I have a good understanding and conviction of the impact that sex outside of marriage can have
on the anointing on your life. But a sister wouldn’t mind a dinner or movie date every now and then.
ABUNDANT LIFE IN CHRIST The secret to a life of happiness for 50+ Christian singles is of course, to be happy with oneself. After years of seeking happiness for others, reaching 50 is a great time to thank God for the ability to reach such a milestone intact. Being 50 doesn’t mean one has to dry up like a prune, lifeless, without the desire to experience life and have fun. Quite the contrary. This could be the start of a new life in Christ. The experience of the past can attest that you can weather any storm—including the storm of loneliness. As Datingforseniorsover50.com suggests, start by getting involved with church groups and events, then perhaps you will decide if internet dating is for you. Finding others with similar interests makes for great shopping, exercise, or movie buddies, but the main focus is knowing that to live an abundant live no one is forced to cross the lines of living a holy and acceptable life as unto the Lord. Those that would suggest test drives and other means to obtain sex outside of marriage are not operating with God’s will in mind—even if they are over 50. Each individual will have to give an account of their deeds, whether good or bad, so think again before Dating and Sex at 50…In the Church.
CYNTHIA D. STARGELL is an Adjunct Professor of General Education Studies at Carver Bible College. She is a former Evening School Instructor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and a published author. She has traveled around the world on missions and serves faithfully as Minister of Music of Cathedral of Faith COGIC.
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But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. The Apostle Paul
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A Beat From My Heart
Relationships Sex and its Power Javatis Midgett
an the lack of sex ruin a marriage for men? This is a rhetorical question; nevertheless before I answer it, I want you to know that this piece focuses on men’s needs only. I do realize that sex is a two-way street and there are many things that affect sex; however read this for what it is, from the vantage point of a married man. In my opinion sex is a “dealmaker” and “breaker” for us (men)! Sex has the ability to give us strength and weaken us. I know there are many intricate
parts of a relationship; however sex seems to be a big one for us. Sure there are a few men who can go months without performing this beautiful act; however for the majority of us, this is a big “NO NO!” I remember listening to a radio show and a caller stated, “I haven’t had sex in over a year with my wife.” That’s insane! I couldn’t imagine going without sex for that long unless there were really severe medical problems that prevented it from happening and I mean really severe!
When women withhold sex from us, this causes our eyes to wander; all of sudden women we wouldn’t look at before start looking enticing; as the jargon goes, “nickels become dimes.” No woman wants her husband seeking attention elsewhere. And believe it or not, most of us prefer our wives’ attention opposed to that of strangers. There are women more than willing to feed us all the foods we want with all the wrong ingredients to keep us unhealthy in our marital relationship. BELOVED | 79
“WHEN I HAVE AN
ASTHMA ATTACK I FEEL LIKE A FISH
WITH NO WATER.” –JESSE, AGE 5
ATTACK ASTHMA. ACT NOW.
1- 866 - NO -ATTACKS
W W W. N O AT TA C K S . O R G CDDIS 10/01
However, most of us would much rather get our dinner from home because it’s got the best vitamin “V” that we can possibly find. Sex really completes us as men. There’s nothing more beautiful than making sweet love to the woman we feel in love with. Everything seems to be in perfect harmony when our wives meet us half way, if you know what I mean. Spine tingling sex
is an awesome feeling. It gives us the courage to take on three lions, two tigers, and a gorilla all at once. However without it, we begin to question ourselves. The courage we once had slowly fades; a lizard would be able take on most of us and send us running. Our minds begin to play tricks on us. We begin to lose focus at work and start devising harmful plans that can ruin our marriages’ forever.
Sex plays a huge role in our confidence. Check out these two passages from the book For Women Only: “In a very deep way, your man often feels isolated and burdened by secret feelings of inadequacy. Making love with you assures him that you find him desirable, salves a deep sense of loneliness, and gives him the strength and well-being necessary to face the world with confidence. And, of course, sex also makes him feel loved- in fact, he can’t feel completely loved without it.” “Your desire for him goes beyond making him feel wanted and loved… Your desire is a bedrock form of support that gives him power to face the rest of his daily life with a sense of confidence and well-being.” All I’m saying ladies is - give your man the sex he deserves. Don’t play games with the “VJ;” and don’t use your “VJ” as a carrot stick; this method is only good for short-term use. If you think this will work long-term, don’t be surprised if your husband becomes very unhealthy – physically and sexually.
JAVATIS MIDGETT works with Palm Beach County Fire and Rescue and is an avid blogger on matters relating to balance in every area of life. He is married and the father of two daughters. Visit his blog at www.balancej.wordpress.com
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Love Never Fails
Everybody’s NOT Doing It!
uring a recent conversation over dinner with a lifelong friend I recalled a statement that has remarkably remained ingrained in my psyche for nearly 30 years; “Everybody’s NOT doing it.” As my friend and I played catch-up between bites of flatbread and fish dip I couldn’t help but acknowledge the irony of that proverbial parental mantra of our youth. It really is true, everybody’s NOT doing it. Unfortunately, those who AREN’T are those who Biblically have the right to. Although we initially chuckled at the revelation, the table soon became eerily silent as we both began recounting in our minds numerous conversations with close married friends, family and coworkers who all confessed to having less than stellar sex lives with their spouses. Silently, I recalled the various excuses I’d heard (and even some I’d personally communicated): The kids. My job. Our busy schedules. Always fatigued. Weight gain. She wears sweat pants, granny panties & bandannas to bed. He prematurely ejaculates. A partner becomes bland. The sex has become predictable and routine. Over the years I’ve known hundreds of unmarried people (including myself), and even adulterers, who have seemingly not allowed any of those excuses to stunt their sexual libidos. Thus, I couldn’t help but wonder how we Christian’s have managed to get it all wrong? If in fact the marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4) and the Bible encourages married couples not to deprive each other of sexual relations in order to hinder Satan’s efforts toward tempBELOVED | 81
tation (1 Corinthians 7:5), then why are so many Christian’s still NOT doing it? Worse yet, why do our freak quotients rapidly spiral from a 10 during the first few years of marriage to barely a 3 after several years of marriage? Why do Christian wives begin to feel that sex is a necessary chore versus an enjoyable time of communion with their spouses? Why do Christian husbands believe that sex begins when they crawl into bed after the final whistle blows signaling the end of the ball game de jour? Why have mutual massage, foreplay, dirty talk, role play, fellatio and cunnelingus become forbidden activities in the marriage bed? Most importantly WHY, WHY, WHY have married Christians become complacent, even worse resigned, toward the fact that singles and non-Christians are having SEX and having it more often than married Christians? I honestly don’t have the perfect answer to any of these questions. The only thing that I know for sure is Christian couples and the Church NEED to start talking about sex more openly and honestly before the institution of marriage is completely destroyed.
INSTEAD OF JUST HANGING OUT ON SATURDAYS
I HELP KIDS HANG IN THERE
AT SCHOOL BECAUSE I DON’T JUST WEAR THE SHIRT, I LIVE IT.
GIVE. ADVOCATE. VOLUNTEER. LIVE UNITED
Michael Cleveland is part of United Way’s ongoing work to improve the education, income, and health of our communities. To find out how you can help create opportunities for a better life for all, visit LIVEUNITED.ORG.
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