Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wedding Vows

My husband and I bought a new VHS player recently, so we now have the capability of watching our wedding video again. We watched it, and the rehearsal dinner footage, the other night. It brought back
 many wonderful memories- I had mono at the time, and our families and friends stepped in and did my jobs at the end, helping and supporting and laughing and loving.  I loved everything from the simply but beautifully decorated church (my, but artistic friends are grand!) to the music- we had a lovely organist, a former colleague of mine, and a full choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus as our recessional. It was an unequivocally happy day, and I'll cherish those memories forever.

I have to say, though, that there are definitely some things I'd do differently. For one thing, of course, I'd have skipped the whole "who gives this woman" bit. The property transfer makes me very uncomfortable. I'd adjust the wedding sermonette, for sure. I'd ask for less ” we present our daughter as a pure bride” and more ” we celebrate the mutual commitment of sacrificial love made here today.”

Another thing I'd do differently: the wedding vows. We used the very traditional ones (with the "plight thee my troth" and everything!) and I, yes I, promised to love, honor, and obey. I told my husband I'd no intention of obeying, but still..... anyway, I've been thinking, and I think if I had it to do over again I'd say something like this:

I, Mary, take you, Nathan, to be my husband. I will be loyal to you, faithful to you, and a true friend and lover in sickness and in health, in poverty or wealth, when life is rosy and easy, and when the way looks dark and hard. No matter what happens, I will honor you and cherish you. I promise to encourage you when you are right, and confront you when you are wrong. I will always have your back, and I will let no other friendship come between us. You are my primary family now, and I will face everything the world throws at us by your side. I will take care of you, and allow you to take care of me. I will support you as you have supported me, and I will rejoice with you in your successes and weep with you in your losses. For as many years as God gives us, I will be with you, and I will love you- fiercely, gently, freely, and passionately. When we disagree, I will fight for what I believe in, but I will try to remember who I love and what is important as I do. 'Till death do us part, my darling.

Parenting on the Playground

Have you ever been with your kids at the park, the pool, etc and a strange kid comes up and takes one of their toys to play with? What do you do? Do you tell your child to share, thus validating the rudeness of the other child? Do you take the toy away from the little interloper, gently explaining the rudeness of grabbing a stranger's things without asking? Do you try to gather more information- find out whether the other child had a parent around, what their situation is, what could be motivating the toy takeover, etc.? When should your child's need to learn to share supersede their need to learn polite behavior and the boundaries of personal property?

 This one is a bit sticky for me. As mommies, we want our kids to get along- to be socially accepted in their circle of friends, and not regarded as an undisciplined, selfish rugrat. We don't want our child to be the one that takes away from other kids or the one who obviously has no clue what sharing is. But I don't think it's right to ask our kids to surrender their property to any stranger that takes it in the name of sharing. If they are hosting a birthday party or a play date, then yes, their duties as host mandate their giving their guests some toy choosing privileges. (Though it's also important that they be able to keep some toys from public purview) If they are a guest themselves, and the host wants a toy, they should recognize the right of ownership and graciously defer to the toy's owner. Those are easy-it's what to do with the stranger on the playground or the fellow playgroup guest that is more complex. My first thought: our kids watch how we treat others, not just them, and they can see if there are double standards for what we teach them is polite and what we allow in their playmates. Would I let my child run up and grab a toy without first politely asking to join the game or asking for a turn with the toy? Would I let my child throw a fit if the request for voluntary sharing was refused? Um, no. :) So why should I teach them that that's ok in other kids; that they cannot themselves be rude but they must still defer to those who are? Also, I don't want to teach my kids that their property rights don't matter, or that they have to share with anyone who asks. I still find myself doing it without even thinking sometimes, though- telling my kid to share with a complete stranger who grabbed their toy at the pool, for example. Then I stop, and tell my child- ” hey- if you want to play with that other child, fine. Share sweetly. If you don't, then politely ask for your toy back. If the child refuses to return it, come get me, your mom. Bringing a toy to a public place does not make it public property, though if you do bring it here you may have to deal with kids who have no concept of personal property. :)

 I wonder why we, as mommies, are so conditioned to advocate niceness at the expense of other virtues in our children, and to make them ” get along” with other kids no matter the truth of the situation? Having the negotiation skills to compromise and avoid conflict is a good thing, but having the ability to insist on fair play and not tolerate invasion of personal boundaries of self or property (or the self or property of others) is good too. I sometimes think: I'm raising my kids in a world where civil liberties are not a given, and need protecting; how can I expect them to stand up for honor and justice when I teach them to always yield to another in the name of avoiding conflict and being nice, regardless of the right or wrong or rudeness involved? Now, to balance that- sometimes my children will come in contact with other children who may have no clue how to behave properly, but who may need my child to overlook that misbehavior in order to show the love of Jesus to that other child, to witness to that other child, or to help a child who is in need of something they can give.

Here's my take- I want to teach my children Honor and Justice and Mercy; to be givers, not takers, and to understand and respect boundaries, both their own and those of others. My kids do not have to share with strangers if they don't want to. Their toys are their own, and the decision to share them should be theirs as well. I will encourage my children to learn to look beyond the surface of the situation, and evaluate the other child. Do they have toys of their own to play with? Do they seem otherwise kind and respectful of other property, like the playground equipment? They may be simply ignorant of the protocol for toy borrowing. They may just need a friend. If this is the case, I'd encourage my child to invite them into their play, though I would not require it. If, on the other hand, the other child has other play options but insists on grabbing from others instead of playing with what is available, I would not encourage my child to share with them, and if the other child refused a polite request to return the toy in question I would step in. If the other child grabbed a toy out of my child's hands, I would have them ask for it back, and then gently but firmly take it back if their request was refused. I'd step in then, too, if I needed to. I don't think that allowing another child to come up and grab something my child is holding with impunity sets a good precedent for personal boundaries.

 I do not, however, want my children to be selfish. Honor knows no improper self-interest. If they are playing with a toy at a playdate, for example, and another child wants it, negotiating a system of turn-taking is entirely appropriate, as is simply saying that no, I'm playing now, but I'd be glad to give it to you when I'm done. I also want my children to stand up for the weak, the small, or those being taken advantage of. I will never punish my children for coming to the rescue of another child. I want my children to have a keen sense of justice, and to care more for justice being done than for whether or not they get to keep a certain toy. (Yeah.... we're not there yet. Mr. 6-yr-old shows glimmers, but we're not there yet.  =) )

I don't want my children to blindly either share or keep their toys close to home- I want them to make informed decisions based on what is just and appropriate and kind in a situation, and then be able to defend those decisions. I want them to be free to share with another child, even one who is being rude and mean, in order to show love to them; but, I want that to be an intentional choice and not a default setting. My children must be able to defend their liberties and rights and those of others if we are to keep our American freedoms for the next generation; they must know that to defend their rights and those of others is honorable and good. They must also know that they are here to serve a loving God, and to show love, grace, and wisdom to those He puts in their path. I want my children to know liberty and responsibility, grace, mercy, and the rule of law, to be both warriors and lovers, fighters and peacemakers.

With children, dear, very fallible children, ranging from 6 years to 6 months, my husband and I are very far from achieving those goals with them. Very, very far. =) But these are our goals, and the more I can keep them in mind the better I like my day-to-day parenting.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Funny Stuff


Yep, pretty much. =)

Which Manifesto Represents Your Womanhood?

In all probability, if you are an evangelical christian woman in certain circles, you've heard of the True Woman conferences, Revive Our Hearts ministries, and the True Woman Manifesto. I attended a True Woman conference once, and found it- well, not stuff I should charitably say in public. Not that there is no good in it, but the bad hogties the good in such a way that I could not recommend it as generally helpful. =)
The True Woman Manifesto is a statement of what the leadership of the True Woman conferences believe to be an outline of christian womanhood. Some of it is good- like the importance of having a relationship with Jesus. But the following statements bug me to no end, as I consider them blatantly contrary to the intent of scripture and to the heart of God for His daughters. (read the full manifesto here)

We are called as women to affirm and encour­age men as they seek to express godly mas­culin­ity, and to honor and sup­port God-​​ordained male lead­er­ship in the home and in the church.

When we respond humbly to male lead­er­ship in our homes and churches, we demon­strate a noble sub­mis­sion to author­ity that reflects Christ’s sub­mis­sion to God His Father.

Self­ish insis­tence on per­sonal rights is con­trary to the spirit of Christ who hum­bled Him­self, took on the form of a ser­vant, and laid down His life for us.

God’s plan for gen­der is wider than mar­riage; all women, whether mar­ried or sin­gle, are to model fem­i­nin­ity in their var­i­ous rela­tion­ships, by exhibit­ing a dis­tinc­tive mod­esty, respon­sive­ness, and gen­tle­ness of spirit.

Mature Chris­t­ian women have a respon­si­bil­ity to leave a legacy of faith, by dis­ci­pling younger women in the Word and ways of God and mod­el­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion lives of fruit­ful femininity.

For one thing, I do not think that predominately or exclusively male leadership in the home, the church, or the world is God's design. I do not believe in a hierarchal Trinity, nor do I believe that any woman should submit to a man as she submits to God. Personal rights and boundaries are not automatically selfish- they are healthy. Should women be feminine? You betcha. =) But that doesn't mean being submissive, modest, "responsive", etc. and a "meek and quiet spirit" is equally advisable for BOTH genders. The writers of this manifesto do not believe in birth control, hence the "fruitful femininity" bit- I won't even dignify that one with a response. =) Rummaging around on the interwebs, however, I stumbled on an excellent replacement for the more offensive passages in the True Woman Manifesto. It's called- and I love this so much- the "Unladylike Manifesto." Here it is: (

Unla­dy­like Manifesto
  • We believe that male and female are cre­ated to col­lab­o­rate, co-​​lead and co-​​exist in a mutu­al­ity of sub­mis­sion to one another. (Gen 2:18 – 23,Galatians 3:28)
  • We believe that gift­ing is appointed accord­ing to the will of the Holy Spirit and that call­ing is deter­mined by gift­ing, not gen­der. (1 Corinthi­ans 12, John 20:1 – 20)
  • We believe that the power of the Gospel restores men and women in right rela­tion­ship to one another to live, serve and lead side by side rather than in patri­ar­chal hier­ar­chy. (Gala­tians 3:28, John 4:7 – 39)

  • We believe that the voice, influ­ence and author­ity of women is meant to be fully unleashed in accor­dance to the full per­son­hood that women pos­sess. Male head­ship is a myth. (Joel 2:28 – 29, 1 Peter 2:9 – 10)
  • We believe in the mutual sub­mis­sion and part­ner­ship of mar­riage where nei­ther has author­ity over another by virtue of gen­der. We reject the headship/​submission model as a bib­li­cal truth and instead embrace the lib­erty and wis­dom of def­er­ence to the other. (Eph­esian 1:22, Eph­esians 5: 15 – 33, 1 Peter 5:5)
  • We believe that the lead­er­ship of women is needed in full part­ner­ship with the lead­er­ship of men in all are­nas of cul­ture and church. Women were not cre­ated to fol­low any­more than men were cre­ated to lead. (Num­bers 12:15, Judges 4 & 5, 2 Kings 22:13 – 14, Acts 2, Romans 16:3 – 4, 7)
  • We believe that Jesus mod­eled a rad­i­cal agenda of respect­ing women’s full per­son­hood in how he treated them as noted in the Gospels. Jesus went against cul­tural and reli­gious norms in his treat­ment of women. (Luke 13:10 – 17, John 4, Luke 8:1 – 3, etc.….)
  • We believe that men and women of faith ought to resist the injus­tice of inequal­ity wher­ever it is found, includ­ing the halls of the church. Jus­tice is a king­dom of God value and is the lan­guage of love. (Hosea 2:19, Amos 5:15, 24, Micah 6:8)
So this is my man­i­festo, my unla­dy­like dec­la­ra­tion that true wom­an­hood is lib­er­ated per­son­hood. The king­dom of God does not per­pet­u­ate the injus­tice of inequal­ity among women. The king­dom of God frees women from sex­ism, even within the house of faith. Because being human is true womanhood

I know which one represents my womanhood best- that would be the second one, folks. =) 
How about you?

Adult Daughters and Authority, Part 3- resources

Here are some posts from other blogs that I find excellent, informative, and speak well to the subject of women and authority: 

Some excellent thoughts on the dangers of parent-controlled relationships

An overview of egalitarianism, an alternative to the patriarchy that is so closely tied to un-Christlike views on women and authority....

Some biblical examples of women in spiritual leadership.....

Adult Daughters and Authority, Part 2

To borrow briefly from part 1:

"Daughters should be under their fathers' authority until marriage."
 "Daughters should realize that their father has insights into potential suitors that they do not have, and they should therefore avoid any romantic relationships that do not have their fathers' blessing."  

I've heard these, and variations of these, for as long as I can remember. I have many friends and relatives that believe them still, and I consider the ideas of absolute parental authority and parental authority in romantic relationships in particular to be some of the most insidious lies I have encountered. I see no support for them in scripture, and no way to support them logically or morally.

Besides the issue of whether or not obedience to parents from adult children is a biblical mandate, there are several other deceptions involved here. One is the idea that a daughter cannot judge for herself whether a man would be a suitable mate for her, and another (closely related) is the idea that a father will automatically be able to judge the motives of members of his own gender better than his daughter can judge the motives of those not of her own gender.

So- can a man judge other men better than a woman? The answer to this question depends a great deal on a person's view of gender, gender norms, and gender differences. If you believe that men and women are from different planets, metaphorically speaking, and that all men are/want/desire/struggle with x, while all women are/want/desire/struggle with y, then it makes perfect sense. If you believe that, while there may well be psychological as well as physical differences between the sexes, neither all women nor all men fit into a neat, tidy gender-specific box, then it is nonsensical. People are judged most accurately when they are judged as people, not as pink or blue cookie cutters. Not all men are alike, and there is no guarantee that a man will be able to see the heart of another man, simply because they share a gender. Personalities, giftings, callings, backgrounds, experiences, families, and all of the other things that make us who we are are generally NOT gender-specific, and those things reveal a person's character far better than any gender-based analysis. Also, the rigid gender roles leave out entirely hermaphrodites, homosexuals, and anyone else who does not fit within the "hetero macho male" or "hetero girly female" boxes. It is folly to assume that only men struggle with lust, emotional un-involvement, or insensitivity, or that only women struggle with self-acceptance, fear, or a lack of theological discernment, for example. Are there differences between the sexes? Sure. But this does not mean that men are more logical, that women are emotionally driven, that men are more sexual, that women long for security, that men feel stifled without an outside-the-home job, or that women are more fulfilled as homemakers.  It also does not mean that a man, by the virtue of his being so, has any more insight into another man than would a woman.

 Also, there is the idea that parents know better than an adult daughter what will make her happy and/or what is best for her, and the idea that fathers in particular are responsible to protect their adult daughters from poor decision-making. 
Are parents, fathers or mothers, responsible to protect their children from themselves? Assuming a fully-functional adult child, I again find no support for this idea, logically or biblically. Removing autonomy and the consequences of decisions will make a daughter or son unable to be independent, for if a person is used to being told what to do and sloughing off responsibility on authorities they will have no idea how to weigh possible consequences and live with the results of their decisions, or how to make a decision based solely on their own opinions and discernment without having the support of directives from above. Wrestling with hard decisions, learning our own strengths and weaknesses, and struggling towards the destiny to which we feel called are important parts of the growing-up process, and a parent who robs their child of these experiences can cripple them. Autonomous decision-making is also an important part of our relationship to Christ- how can we give Him glory with the choices we make if the choices are not ours to make? How can we hear His voice for ourselves if we have no practice doing so? (Also- while I won't take the time now to discuss it in detail, there is an insidious rumor going around Christendom that women are more easily deceived/ more needful of direction and oversight than are men. This is a lie, and a very damaging one. Neither scripture nor history supports it. )

Do parents sometimes have wisdom and insights that their child may not, due to their (we hope) more advanced maturity and knowledge? Of course. And a wise person will get council from their parents if they feel that the relationship warrants it and the parents share enough of a similar paradigm to make their advice apropos. But.... they will not always be right, and they will not always know best. Parents are fallible, flawed humans, as are their children. Parents have blind spots and weaknesses and biases too! Can God speak through parents? Of course. He can also speak through billboards, friends, music, sermons, movies, nature, evil dictators, tv commercials, political satire, cartoons, facebook, books, etc- God can reveal truth through anything and anyone. But this does NOT mean that an adult child should trust their parents' opinion of God's will more than their own. Any child of God who has accepted the gospel of Christ can hear His voice! Can God reveal His will through parents? Sure. But who bears the responsibility of determining what is the right choice and dividing flawed advice from good? The child- the one who has to live with that job,that spouse, etc. Another point here- not every decision is right or wrong- some are right or left. In the latter case, parents' opinions should weigh even less- if the choice is to be based on the likes, dislikes, personality, etc. that God gives all of us, it should again be the child who must live with the consequences who must make the choices. A person's personal preferences are important, and it is completely right and proper for them to take center stage in decision-making as long as there is no sin involved, no dishonorable behavior, no harming of oneself or others, etc.

A decision about marriage, specifically, is an important and very personal one. It will affect a person for the rest of their lives. So, according to my reading of scripture, the only decision makers here should be two spouses. It is up to them to do right, choose wisely, and live with the results of their decision. And should they choose foolishly, there is forgiveness and grace in Christ, always, and an equal share of opportunities for love and service whether you are divorced, married, or single.

Biblical Womanhood

From an excellent blog post on biblical womanhood:

‎(They) "have constructed an artificial realm of womanhood (i.e. home economics), and failed to dig deeper into the real unique things women offer. A man can iron, sew, cook, entertain just as well as a woman, so making women Masters of Home Economics pretends that this is a “woman’s realm” when in reality it’s a human realm. Further it actually robs men from the work (both satisfying and grueling) of caring for hearth and home. If a wife prefers to be the home economics master, well and good, but let’s not assume that this means she is

more feminine
more godly
more biblically feminine
more ezer.

She is not. Femininity, godliness and helper are more demanding than home economics. You can do home economics well, and still be unfeminine and ungodly (i.e. frigid or invulnerable or calculating or controlling or demanding et cetera)."

Good stuff. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Adult Daughters and Authority, Part 1

"Daughters should be under their fathers' authority until marriage." "Daughters should realize that their father has insights into potential suitors that they do not have, and they should therefore avoid any romantic relationships that do not have their fathers' blessing. " I've heard these, and variations of these, for as long as I can remember. I have many friends and relatives that believe them still, and I consider the ideas of absolute parental authority and parental authority in romantic relationships in particular to be some of the most insidious lies I have encountered. I see no support for them in scripture, and no way to support them logically or morally.

What exactly am I talking about? First, the concept of parental authority. Proponents of the above ideas believe that even legal adults are accountable to their parents for their actions until married, (though some limit this to daughters only) that God "speaks through authorities", which includes parents, and that "authority" works like an umbrella- stay under your "authorities" and God blesses you; stray from their counsel and you will "not have God's best." "Authorities" in this context can mean boss, pastor, etc, but most often means parents, as their "authority" is considered to take precedence over the others.

So- logically and biblically, does this view of authority hold water? One could certainly say that there is precedent for parents controlling adult children or selecting mates for them, but there is equal precedent for polygamy and slavery, so I don't think that precedent alone proves the heart of God for His people. =) Children are treated as property of their parents in the Levitical law, but again I'm assuming that does not mean that we should live that way; else it would be a sin to be intimate with your wife on her period or to eat pork. From where I'm coming from, there is a big difference between descriptive biblical precedent here, meaning x happened a certain way in the bible, and prescriptive biblical precedent, meaning x is commanded to all believers for all time. For example- the great commission ("Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples etc.") is prescriptive. Tithing exactly as Abraham did would be a good example of  descriptive being taken as a prescriptive.  I'm not saying that descriptive examples should never be followed- just that the fact that it happened a certain way in scripture does not mean that that is God's intent for us; this is true particularly when we are dealing with what people did apart from divine commands, I think. The exception would be the life of Jesus- though He was human while He was here, He was not a fallible human, at least to those of us who believe in His divinity. His example is safe to follow- we are, after all, basing our entire faith on being His followers.

But back to authority- what does the bible prescriptively say about children's responsibility to their parents? Eph. 6:1 says "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." It is important to note that "Children - τέκνα  tekna This word usually signifies those who are young; but it is used here, evidently, to denote those who were under the care and government of their parents, or those who were not of age." (Barnes)  This is referring to literal children, not adult offspring who are able to be independent. The next verse says we are to honor our parents, (age limit not specified here) which here means to revere and value them. However, there is a huge difference between honor and obey! You can honor a person while disobeying them, and you can obey a person without honoring them. Col. 3:20 says basically the same thing- children, obey your parents. I do think it interesting that these commands are never to fathers alone, but equally to both parents. So- are children required to obey parents, as long as parents do not ask them to sin? (the "in the Lord" bit) Yes. Are adults? NO. I can find no prescription for it. Supporting your parents when they are old? Yes. Obeying them? No.

I personally believe that Jesus did not sin. Yet, when he was 12 and a man in his culture, he left his parents' caravan to spend time in the temple. Was this independence wrong? I think not. Also consider- where in scripture does God speak through parents? When the angel came to Mary, did the angel first go to her parents? Did she or Joseph ever consult their parents' advice about what to do with her pregnancy? If they did, it isn't mentioned. When God spoke to Samuel did he speak through an "authority"? Now- of course parents do have a degree of responsibility for their children. But that responsibility is to train them and teach them so that when they are old, they will not forsake their training, from which I infer that doing as you've been taught as an adult is a choice, not something within legitimate parental control.

Logically, how much sense does it make for a parent to exercise control over adult children in this culture? Who must live with the decisions made and their consequences, the adult child or their parent? Which would make the adult child more capable, responsible, and productive? A freedom to make their own choices, hear God for themselves, and live with their mistakes, or the bondage of having to live with career, education, marriage, etc. choices that were not their own and the ability to shove off the (very important, if they are ever to hear God for themselves and be able to function without a parent at their side) difficult decisions on an "authority"?

Closely related to this subject, though too long to fully address in this post, :) is the idea that adult Christians need this hierarchal relational structure, like the submission of adult children to parents or adult wives to their husbands. Contrast this with what Jesus taught about oneness in Christ and our spiritual equality before God. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus say that we need a mediator between ourselves and Himself, or that we need someone to interpret His voice for us. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Jesus lists Himself as the only mediator between God and Man. According to my reading of scripture and my experience as a follower of Christ, anyone who tries to control another fully-functioning adult and interpret God's will for them is in effect putting themselves in the place of God, which is entirely too close to idolatry for comfort.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I love this. Rehearsal police, indeed....

Virginity vs. Purity

Are virginity and purity synonymous? Are they even remotely related?
I say no, and here's why.....

Virginity is the state of having never had sex- or in females, it is sometimes used to refer to an intact hymen. Virginity is something that can be taken from you by force, through rape, molestation, etc. Virginity is something that cannot (without pretty heinous surgery) be replaced- once lost, it's lost forever. It is impossible to be a virgin and also a healthy married person. It is possible to lose one's virginity without ever lusting after a member of the opposite sex, and without, in my opinion, being sexually immoral.

Purity, on the other hand, is first a heart condition, though it is also manifested in actions and restraint of actions. Purity is not something that, once lost, is lost forever. Purity, in the biblical sense, is the state of abstaining from sexual immorality. Purity can be lost through lustful thoughts first, and also through sexual acts which, while they do not technically compromise virginity, are essentially unloving and detrimental if they are entered into without loving commitment. Purity can be restored by ceasing detrimental behavior, controlling our fantasies, and renewing loving, appropriate relationships with God and others. If a person is not engaging in sexual immorality, then they are pure, regardless of their past. God desires for us to be loving and unselfish in our interactions with others, and casual sex is incompatible with that, in my opinion. God does not hold us accountable for the actions of others or for circumstances beyond our control, and He is not a vindictive, punitive boogeyman who keeps a record of our failures to hold them against us long after we've repented of them!

It is possible to be a technical virgin and to be impure, and it is possible to be pure and not a virgin. Is a widow or widower less pure because they have previously enjoyed a marital relationship? I say no. Is a man or woman less pure because they engaged in sexual immorality in the past, but repented of it and left that behavior? I say no. Is a person who has been raped impure? Most certainly not!

Also- marriage has a pretty drastic effect on virginity; it affects purity not at all. You can be pure as a married person by being faithful to your spouse and by limiting your lusty fun, mental or otherwise, to them, or you can be impure as a married person by fantasizing about encounters with folks to whom you are not married (or by inappropriate sexual interactions with those folks of course ;) )

Why, I ask, is there such an emphasis on virginity in conservative christian circles? Not only does virginity have nothing to do with purity, but such an emphasis is harmful, I think. It can lead to young people feeling that if they lose their virginity, they are "damaged goods" or "less than" or "impure". It can also lead them to A. Devalue themselves and disrespect themselves because they see themselves as broken or B. Throw in the towel on purity altogether because they believe that their one chance at purity went the way of their virginity, so why bother? And don't even get me started on the gendered double standards for "purity"... =)

Why not just emphasize purity of thought and deed and loving, unselfish relationships for/between both genders? Why not focus on seeing others as valuable people instead of sex objects, and recognizing the importance of treating ourselves and others with respect and integrity rather than getting hung up on body parts and the use they've seen?

Another related idea that bugs me to no end- the idea of "saving your virginity for your future spouse." First, neither your virginity or your purity belong to anyone except for yourself and God. They are not the property of your parent or future spouse any more than you are. Also, not everyone will marry, and it would be foolish to save one of life's great experiences for a person who may or may not exist. By that logic, once you are fairly sure you won't marry, it would be fine to have sex willy-nilly since you wouldn't then be harming your future (non-existent) spouse.

Purity is NOT synonymous with what is known as "purity culture", and in fact, I think that "purity culture" is nothing but harmful and damaging. A quick definition of purity culture, for those unfamiliar with it, from Libby Anne at LoveJoyFeminism:

"What I call the “purity culture” encompasses the emphasis on virginity before marriage and on maintaining emotional purity that pervades fundamentalism and evangelicalism, made visible in purity balls, purity rings, purity pledges, and modesty teachings. These teachings are not limited to fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and can be seen in the culture at large with the slut/virgin dichotomy and the prevalence of abstinence only sex education in public schools. In its most extreme, the purity culture involves giving up dating for a return to parent-guided courtship, and even arranged marriages."

Egalitarian Marriage Rocks!

I love being married- to my best friend, Nathan, specifically. I love sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal at 10pm, laughing so hard milk runs out my nose. I love sleepy snuggles in between nighttime baby feedings. I love long philosophical, theological, or political discussions that go on for hours. I love cooking together, shopping together, and eating together. I love going on road trips together and all the lively conversation that ensues. I love being able to trust absolutely in the loyalty and constancy of my mate. I love parenting together. I love listening to my mate read aloud to wide-eyed little boys until they're falling asleep. I love playing music together and arranging songs together. I enjoy teaching my mate my areas of expertise, and I enjoy learning from him of his. I love being in church together, and working in ministry together. I love that I can't remember a day that hasn't included laughter, kisses and I love yous. I love how easily he makes me laugh. I love his kind, helpful love, his witty reparte, his jokes, his hugs. I love that I never have to go outside my marriage for some good, intelligent conversation and honest evaluation of ideas. I love that my husband knows me, understands me, and, well- gets me. Really, my marriage is one of most wonderful things in my life, and I am so thankful for it!

 I've heard people say, with skepticism in their voice, that our choice to live out an egalitarian marriage instead of the submission/headship model will stunt our personal and relational growth, or keep us from being all that we can be as a family. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth- the more we have moved into the "mutual submission" territory, the happier, freer, and more selfless our relationship has become. Vive la liberte!

Why have I never heard of this woman?

Thanks to my bro-in-law for this- very cool.

Stuff My Kids Say

"Guess: what does a child mean when they ask for a spook-nooker, a spuk-nikker, or a spooker? Answer- a snickers bar. =)"

Best Maternity Shirt Ever!!

"A maternity shirt that reads "if you didn't put it here, don't touch it"- I love it. =)"

If you are into classical music and you haven't seen this, it's worth a giggle.

PDQ Bach is the Weird Al Yankovic of Classical Music. The alter ego of Peter Schickele, PDQ Bach is a fictional character who is used for spoofing Classical Music in a way that is intelligent, witty, and lots of fun.

Set Theory what? Awesome... =)

And also from

75 Signs You Might be a Theory Geek

  1. you whistle in style brisé.
  2. your favorite pickup line is, "What's your favorite augmented sixth chord?"
  3. your second favorite pickup line is, "Would you like to raise my leading tone?"
  4. you have ever played the how-many-episodes-is-too-many-episodes fugue game.
  5. you have a poster of Allen Forte in your room.
  6. you know who Allen Forte is.
  7. you dream in four parts.
  8. your biological clock follows a non-retrogradable isorhythm.
  9. you can improvise 16th-century counterpoint with no trouble, but you frequently forget how to tie your shoes.
  10. you will look at a piece by Bach and say, "You know, I think he could have gotten a better effect this way . . ."
  11. you expected something quite different out of The Matrix.
  12. you can answer your phone with a tonal or a real answer.
  13. you like to tease your friends and loved ones with deceptive cadences.
  14. you know how large a major 23rd is without having to count.
  15. you only drink fifths, and then you laugh at the pun.
  16. you feel the need to end Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony with a picardy third.
  17. your favorite characteristic of Brahms's music is the subcutaneous motivic play.
  18. instead of counting sheep, you count sequences.
  19. you find free counterpoint too liberal.
  20. Moussorgsky's "Hopak" gives you nightmares.
  21. you wonder what a Danish sixth would sound like.
  22. you long for the good old days of movable G-clefs.
  23. the Corelli Clash gives you goosebumps. Every time.
  24. you can hear an enharmonic modulation coming a mile away.
  25. you can hear Berg's lover's dog coming a mile away.
  26. you have had to be forced to stop labeling motives.
  27. you confuse fishsticks with ground bass.
  28. you found No. 27 funny.
  29. you have ever quoted Walter Piston.
  30. you like to march to the rhythm of L'histoire du soldat.
  31. your license plate says: PNTONL.
  32. you have ever defended yourself with, "But Gesualdo did it!"
  33. you have ever tried to do a Schenkerian analysis on "Three Blind Mice."
  34. you have ever tried to do a Schenkerian analysis on 4'33''.
  35. you have ever had a gebrauchsmusik party.
  36. you have ever tried to hop onto the omnibus.
  37. you like to wake up to a Petrushkated version of "Reveille."
  38. you lament the decline of serialism.
  39. you know what the ninth overtone of the harmonic series is off the top of your head.
  40. you keep the writings of Boethius on the coffee table.
  41. you have ever dressed up as counterpoint for Halloween.
  42. you have ever written a musical palindrome and given it a witty title.
  43. you can name ten of Palestrina's contemporaries.
  44. you have ever found a typographical error in a score by Ives, Nancarrow, or Babbitt.
  45. you have ever heard a wrong note in a performance of a composition by Ives, Nancarrow, or Babbitt.
  46. you already sensed that if this list had been written by Bartók, this would be the funniest item.
  47. you enjoy the tang of a tritone whenever you can.
  48. you've let the rule of the octave determine how you go from one event of the day to the next.
  49. you have ever played through your music as if the fingering markings were figured bass symbols.
  50. you suspiciously check all the music you play for dangling sevenths.
  51. you have devised your own tuning method.
  52. you keep a notebook of useful diminutions.
  53. you have composed variations on a theme by Anton Webern.
  54. you know the difference between a Courante and a Corrente.
  55. you have trained your dog to jump through a flaming circle of fifths.
  56. you have ever used the word fortspinnung in polite conversation.
  57. you feel cheated by evaded cadences.
  58. you organize phone numbers based on their prime form.
  59. you find it amusing to refer to you ear-training course sections as your "pitch classes."
  60. every now and again you like to kick back and play a tune in hypophrygian mode.
  61. you wonder why there aren't more types of seventh chords.
  62. you wish you had twelve fingers.
  63. you like polytonal music because, hey, the more keys the merrier.
  64. you abbreviate your shopping list using figured bass symbols.
  65. you always make sure to invert your counterpoint, just in case.
  66. you have ever told a joke with a punchline of: because it was polyphonic!
  67. you have ever named a pet, instrument, boat, gun or child after Zarlino.
  68. you have an <0 1 4> tattoo.
  69. your lips may say, "perfect fourth," but in your heart it will always be "diatessaron."
  70. you have ever said, "Yes, didn't Scriabin use that sonority in . . ."
  71. you know dirty acronyms for the order of sharps.
  72. you can name relatives of the "Grandmother Chord."
  73. you're still wondering why I haven't included the "must-resolve-the- dominant-seventh-before-going-to-bed" indicator.
  74. you can not only identify any one of Bach's 371 Harmonized Chorales by ear, but you also know what page it is on in the Riemenschneider edition and how many suspensions it has in the first four bars.
  75. you got more than half of the jokes on this list.

by Jonathan Howard Katz, IU Class of 2001

A Quote!

From "The God Who Is There", by F Schaeffer, a bit that I particularly like...
"In our modern forms of specialized education there is a tendency to lose the whole in the parts, and in this sense we can say that our generation produces few truly educated men. True education means to think by association across the various disciplines, and not just being highly qualified in one field, as a technician might be. I suppose no discipline has tended to think more in fragmented fashion than the orthodox or evangelical theology of today......The orthodox christian has paid a very heavy price, both in the defense and communication of the gospel, for his failure to think and act as an educated man..." Of course, I'd apply that to men and women alike....=)

On Gender and Giftings

I was thinking about gender roles as they relate to gifts and callings, and I thought about the following conversation that I heard recently:
(Older relative to young woman) : you know, dear, with your analytical mind you should have gone into law instead of music; you should be your brother's legal assistant or office administrator or researcher! 
(Young woman) offense, but if I did go into law it wood not be with the expectation of playing second fiddle to anyone, least of all my little brother! 

I don't think that the young woman meant that she was too egotistical to work for anyone, but that she wouldn't put limitations on where she would go with her career before she had even begun it. Why wouldn't she be a lawyer herself? Why wouldn't she have her own law office, instead of working for her brother in his? 

Hello. My name is Mary, and I'm a feminist. =) Here's the thing- While I will fight patriarchal or rigid gender roles, I certainly think that there are differences between men and women, and not just the really obvious and really fun ones. What I will say is that they don't, or at least don't have to, determine behavior, at least not to the oversimplified, socially-constructed extent that some people think. =) Also, and this is important- just because something is statistically probable among a group does NOT mean that it is true in every case. (and also- what's a hermaphrodite to do? If gender roles were such a God thing then He wouldn't have made some people without gender. God does not create rules and roles that are physically impossible for some people to follow and then punish any one who doesn't follow them.) Again- while there are obvious physiological and perhaps also psychological differences between the sexes, this does not translate to the "women are more emotional" or "women are more nurturing" or "men are better in high stress situations" schtick. There are also enormous differences between individuals, and certain things that we are pre-disposed to- I think that it is no more ok to say that I can be all emotional and crazy all the time just because I'm a woman than it is to say that because of my personality (INTJ to use a popular system of determination) it is ok for me to be critical, reclusive, emotionally stunted, or overly perfectionistic.

SO- I'd be in favor of ditching gender roles as much as possible. They're pretty ridiculous, for the most part. Sure, my husband can beat me in manual labor and aimed peeing, and I can birth and breastfeed, but that really has nothing to do with our actual jobs. (government bean counter/tech expert and pianist/teacher/composer) I also think it's offensive to assume that a woman would automatically go into a career expecting to play a supporting role just because of her gender. Seriously. Or to assume that I can't be called to preach or called to leadership because I'm female. It's almost as if some people think that a vagina is nothing more than the magical place that all the logic, power, and testicular fortitude leaks out.

I don't believe God gives gifts and talents based on gender. Really. And so I don't think that gender should be the determining factor in our career choices. I think that a full-time, part-time or home-with-kids job is acceptable for either gender, and that each person and each family should choose their life path with ministry, family, and personal desires in mind. 

I love Bach!

One of my favorite stress relievers is just sitting down, turning on the Mass in B Minor or one of my favorite keyboard works and just getting lost in the order and beauty of it. I love that, while remaining in such narrow parameters of style, Bach's music has such variety! I never tire of it. It calms my mind and nourishes my soul. =)

Does God really qualify the called?

"God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."

I've heard this saying many times from people who are very mediocre in their area of ministry and who, instead of either studying and practicing their way to a degree of skill or admitting to their own pride that this was simply not their area of giftedness, use this to say that God doesn't care if you are good- He makes you good. Laziness and/or hubris, in my opinion. Name one great musician, preacher, missionary, etc who did not work, practice, and develop their gifting along with being honest about what that gifting actually was.

I think that are two things at play here.

One, this is just another instance of the church's falling into a cultural weakness- namely, the idea that equal opportunity isn't enough- equal results should be the norm. The idea, too, that everyone is a winner and it is anethema to come out and gently tell someone that they really are very bad at something. It's sad, I think- encouraging people in areas where they want to be gifted, but are not, destroys their incentive to discover their real area of giftedness. In so doing, it can destroy their potential as well. I really do think that everyone has something to contribute to the body of Christ, and I love to see people discovering their true gifts and callings and operating in them! It is true, of course, that giftedness comes in differing degrees as well as in differing areas, but I really don't see a downside to honesty here. I also think it's pretty awful to pass your own inadequacies off on God to magically fix. (of course God can also call us to step out of our comfort zone and fill an immediate need, even in an area where we lack skill, but this to me is a world away from the sort of life calling/ministry/gifting/talent/career I'm talking about here)

Two, I think it also has to do with the idea that "everyone is called to ministry" means "everyone is called to an official role in the church." We are all called to interpersonal ministry in our daily lives, of course, but our "Area of Ministry" may mean preaching, teaching, music, bookkeeping or it may mean running a successful business and employing the needy, or it might mean being a kick-ass architect and designing things that reflect the creativity of the Creator, or being a clean cop who puts his/her life on the line to protect the innocent, etc. Not everyone is qualified/called to be the preacher/teacher/missionary/worship leader, and that's ok. In fact, I seem to remember Paul having a good deal to say on the beauty of diversity in the body of Christ....

Basically, I think that the the first reason that so many people seem to insist on official church ministry, even though they are mediocre in it at best, is that our culture decries honesty in personal evaluation. The second is that other ministries tend to be devalued. Being a worship leader is no more spiritual than being a gifted history professor, or artist, or adminstrator, or molecular biologist, or janitor, or nanny, or mathematician...etc, etc. Some giftings can be put to use in a typical church service; some can't. If we are really being the church, all the time, then should it matter?