Our God of Premarital Sex

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Holy cow! In response to yesterday’s “The Question of Premarital Sex Rears Its Ugly Head!”, many of you really stepped up with the Top Notch Quality Sex Advice!

“Top Notch Quality Sex Advice.” I wonder if a business called that would fly?

I would love to run that business. I could totally see myself being worth the cost of my services.

“I do recommend that you Scotch-Gard your couch,” I might say.

“Really? That’s what you’re going to wear? Are you purposefully trying to work your color-blind dork appeal?”

“Don’t start with Chinese food unless you’re good with chopsticks. If you use a fork, you’ll look lame—and fumbling around with chopsticks sends the message that you’re bad with your hands. Go with ‘gourmet’ pizza. Classy, yet fun. Like a top hat on a monkey.”

I might also say:

Your sexuality is at the defining core of virtually every aspect of your identity.

As a baby you humped your crib. You were flirting before you could talk. Sex is who you are. You were born to love—to be needed, and to need. Your unceasing drive toward emotional and physical affirmation isn’t something you do. It’s not a quality you possesses. It’s the truth that possesses you. It’s what defines you. It’s who you are.

And guess who knows it? Guess who has made it their business to ensure that not for a moment of your life are you ever free to discover, on your own, the true nature of your sexuality?

Media.

You have never not had infused into your mind and soul ideas and ideals of who and how you should be, designed and delivered into the core of your conscious and subconscious mind by the awesome, infinite power of media, which cares about nothing so much as it does that you accept its ideas and ideals about you as your own. And you did exactly that; you accepted as your own the media’s vastly authoritative prescriptions and descriptions of who you are, and how you should be. You did it because you had no choice but to.

From the start of your life, media was there. You never formed an idea of yourself divorced of the impression of yourself you got through constantly comparing yourself to the people you saw on television, in the movies, in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards, on the radio, on stage. You invested in those people and the characters they played; they meant something deeply real to you. You obsessively studied them for clues as to how you should walk, talk, live, act, interact, be. They were as you hoped to one day be.

As a kid I positively thrilled to the preternatural dignity of Ron Ely in the old Tarzan TV show. I was fascinated by the imperturbable Illya Kuryakin of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I wanted to be Kwai Chang Caine of Kung-Fu.

Batman. The Marlboro Man. James Bond. Clint Eastwood. Charles Bronson. The Fonz. The guys in the car ads. The athletes on the front of the Wheaties boxes.

Emma Peel in her sleek black outfits.

Rachel Welsh in One Million Years B.C.

Ursula Andress, emerging from the sea.

We lived with these sorts of images, these ideals, these models. They have always been there, informing and inspiring us, showing and (in their way) teaching us how to navigate through the social seas in which we all swim.

I’m a man. I understand that my role in life is to be strong, knowing, calm, wise, cool, indomitable, iconoclastic, sexually magnetic.

I’m a woman. I understand that my role in life is to be sexy, coy, cute, fun, nurturing, supportive, accommodating of my man’s needs.

There’s no question but that (thank God) those are gender descriptives born of an increasingly bygone era. But we also live in a culture more sexualized than it’s ever been. It must be that: what’s at first outrageous must always morph into the norm–from which then springs a new outrageous.

When I was a kid, the cutting-edge of licentiousness was topless women in Playboy.

Sitting at my dining room table just now, I’m seconds away from more pornographic movies than I could watch in a lifetime. Nowadays standard porn include lots of choking, slapping, and spitting on women.

Anyone who is questioning whether or not they should have premarital sex would do well to turn inward, to God. Not as a means of discovering who they are, but of discovering who they were, back before anyone but God got to them.

*****

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Argy-bargy

    Oh, my John. I couldn't have said this better myself. In fact, I haven't. Which is why I'm quoting it:

    "Your unceasing drive toward emotional and physical affirmation isn’t something you do. It’s not a quality you possesses. It’s the truth that possesses you. It’s what defines you. It’s who you are….Anyone who is questioning whether or not they should have premarital sex would do well to turn inward, to God. Not as a means of discovering who they are, but of discovering who they were, back before anyone but God got to them."

    Thank you for this. Precious letters crystallizing the words written in our souls.

  • JAy.

    We can't only blame the media, though. Peer pressure is an ugly motivator as well. And do not think that peer pressure means that your peers are encouraging a particular attitude or action. Even being around those who practice something without necessarily endorsing it can have a huge impact.

    I am a personal example of this. My friends in college did nothing to encourage me to lose my virginity. But being surrounded by people who were sexually active definitely had an impact on my personal view of sexuality.

    Right on with your conclusion, though, John. God has to be the central focus of our decision making. Getting away from, while not ensuring ruin, certainly prevents the possibility of perfection.

    • Robert Meek

      Well, I agree about God being our central focus, and that for most of us we give it more lip service than reality, I might add.

      However, I do not agree that …..OOPS. I thought you typed "We can only blame the media"….. so I was going off in the same direction you did!

      Hmm. Maybe I need another cup of coffee, eh?

  • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

    Emma Peel in the Avengers – my female archetype since 1st grade. Oooo, and Ann whats-her-name in "Honey West". Was that a beauty mark on her face or a third eye staring at me, beckoning me to come hither?

    But I digress…

    Deep inside, I feel that God is probably about as good a guide for me sexually as my mom was. I once asked her what kind of birth control she and my dad used – yep, some chutzpah, huh? – and she just blushed. It was none of my damn business, obviously. Which explains why, until I was in my late teens, I was pretty sure that, mathematically speaking (# of times parents have had sex) = (number of children they have).

    And that's one of the points I think you sort of make here, John – sexuality, sex, love – is Everybody's Business.

    That means we need to talk about this stuff frankly, openly and be there for our loved ones when they have questions, issues, needs. We need to provide understanding and not be judgmental or afraid of talking about sex. It's got to be natural, not uncomfortable or right off the bat we send a hugely mixed and messed-up message that there's something fundamentally nasty about sex which, ironically, makes it nasty.

    Abstinence clubs are fine until a kid loses their virginity – then where are they? In some sort of hell if all they've been told is "don't do it". That's just not sufficient. This is a package deal (no pun intended).

    I'm not sure how I did it, but my 13 year old son is comfortable talking about sex with me, asking questions – even making some pretty funny jokes here and there. Woo-hoo! And that's given me the opportunity to have some serious conversations with him that delve into health, biology, psychology, philosophy, religion, love and all those "big questions". And his level of self-respect has arisen as a result – it is empowering to have these frank, honest discussions – to understand that he's not alone on his journey through pubescence and beyond.

    Sex is an avenue to understanding one's corporeal self in the same way that God is an avenue to understanding one's soul. We are sexual beings.

    • Mindy

      It's cool, isn't it, Don, when your kid is comfortable talking to you about these tough questions? Kudos, Dad – that speaks volumes for your relationship with your son. I'd wager good money that he will grow up to be a sensitive, confident, thoughtful man.

      • Don Whitt

        Thanks so very much , Mindy. I'm really lucky.

  • Gina Powers

    And THANK YOU, Mr. Shore, for actually making me have to work the Grey matter on a Tuesday….;). In all seriousness……I don't disagree at all with this, and great job (again!). On the black & white side of thing…..straight up, I have NO problem with premarital sex, as long as nobody is being abused/hurt, etc. We're sexual animals, hard-wired for physical contact (as you previous pointed out), and trying to deny ourselves this beautiful aspect of human existence likely hurts more than "keeping a lid on it" helps anything. But yeah, I agree with you–ultimately, you look to your relationship with God for the answers. I just disagree with those (and I'm not accusing you of this, no worries!) who seek to put a chastity belt on the whole issue of premarital sex, period. Who do we think GAVE us sex in the first place? ;)

    (My apologies for a pretty pedestrian comment; I'm still wrangling with stomach flu….ugh.).

    • Robert Meek

      "Who do we think GAVE us sex in the first place?"

      Oy vey! Now for the (much respected, however) Roman Catholics, I must say you just opened up a proverbial "can of worms" as their dictates are that it is for "procreation" only, in marriage, etc….

      They point to in Genesis, "…multiply, and replenish…" comment.

      Notice how NO ONE focuses on that key word REPLENISH as in "do it again" as in it was done before?

      Also, given our overpopulation of the planet, I think it's safe we more than accomplished that as a race.

      Just my useless unsolicited 2 cents worth. Oh, wait, make that 1.5 cents worth, since it costs more than a penny to make a penny, these days.

  • The Original Writer

    Great, so now only am I not confused on the issue of the bibilical sex ethic, but I'm also incapable of forming any sort of thought about sex that the media hasn't directly spoon fed me. ಠ_ಠ

    Yes, yes, I'll talk here – I am the original writer of the e-mail in the original post. Half of you won't believe me and that's fine; in fact, it might be better for my health, considering the stumbleupon results gave that last post some 7000+ hits… yikes!

    Anyway, I won't answer any questions about who I am or anything and I really am just popping in to say this:

    I originally wrote because I wanted clarity. I wrote because I wanted a sense of peace and resolution. What I got instead was the most jumbled, incoherent, unsourced, disunified list of conflicting opinions I may have ever read.

    Now, obviously, there's not much any one person can do about that since this is the internet and all. So I don't say that to shame anyone in particular or point the finger.

    But, as I wrote John last night, these opinions basically leave me with 2 options:

    1) Go ahead and do it.

    2) Keep refraining.

    1 runs the risk of leaving me in a state that I can't revert to, should those who gave me the advice to pursue 1 be wrong.

    2 just seems unfeasible. I honestly won't be able to get married until, at best, 30 or so, if I'm so "lucky" (I say "lucky" because it's hard for me to comprehend wanting to be with only one person… when really.. the selection I've seen so far in my life has been quite disappointing).

    Moreover, the marriage issue is a combination of personal and external issues, money not being the least of my problems. (And believe me, if you're middle-aged with a job, you have no idea how bad it is out there for the younger people). And then of course I'm probably not going to look or feel as good at 30 as I do now. What a waste!

    So what am I to do?

    Furthermore, John wrote,

    "Anyone who is questioning whether or not they should have premarital sex would do well to turn inward, to God."

    If option 1 is right, than I've been lied to by my church and family for my entire life. If 2 is right, it honestly makes me think God simply doesn't care about me on an individual level (well, lots of things in the world make me think that, this being the least among them. Think starvation, genocide, etc…).

    Am I supposed to believe that God talks to me? Because so far he hasn't. I've asked for answers for years and all I get is this twisted garbled mess of confusion. The way I understand it, confusion should be the last thing in the believer's heart and mind.

    I wrote because I wanted answers.

    I'm beginning to think Christianity doesn't have any.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      For the record, I linked to the wrong post in my little blurb about StumbleUpon bringing 7,000+ viewers to this blog. SU isn't bringing viewers to the (other) post about premarital sex. It's bringing them to this one:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/08/18/evangelicals-and-

      • The Original Writer

        That actually makes me feel a lot better. *phew!*

        When the masses pry into the personal, it can get scary… You understand.

    • Gina Powers

      Dear Original Poster: I'm sorry you have not found a satisfactory answer amongst the many well-intended comments on this issue. Please know that God DOES in fact talk to you and give a flying rat's butt about you on an individual level. I'm thinking the older I get that we're lucky that the Bible ISN'T a big book of rules and answers, and that God gives us the brainpower and personalities to figure out the answers on our own sometimes. I think he often just steps back and lets us figure out what is best for us as individuals. Damn, just imagine if the Bible WERE a big list of rules and regulations and black-and-white notions–Christianity would definitely suck!!

      Speaking as an (albeit, very liberal) spouse of a clergy person–and from what I've learned from my own experience–going with what is best for YOU is a GOOD thing (yes, with the caveat as long as nobody is discernably hurt or abused by your actions…..i.e., leading a girl on just to get her in the sack, emotional manipulation, etc)…which, if you're an emotionally healthy person, they likely won't be. Christians REALLY need to quit putting God in a box as far as his/her responses to the potholes that life can often toss human beings into. How can WE know for certain what God is thinking? He's infinite; we're finite. Ain't gonna happen. The best we can do is muddle through and make our choices and accept that we won't always be right and we won't always be wrong all the time. And if we DO make mistakes–God forgives us every time we ask (and probably even when we don't!).

      And FWIW–those of us on the outside who get to observe as our fellow humans, with all of their flaws, scars, imperfections, evolve–would do well to remember that we will ALL make mistakes or take unorthodox roads that don't make sense to others EVERY…SINGLE….DAY……and remember to offer the same compassion to others as they stumble that Christ offers ALL of us.

      (Damn, that was a tome….oopps…;))

    • Argy-bargy

      Please don't conclude that Christianity doesn't have any answers. You may conclude that the Christianity that you have been exposed to, experienced to this point, or felt was part of your life haven't given you the answers, but it doesn't mean Christianity doesn't, unless you feel your particular form of Christianity is the only one.

      I think you're right about the jumbled answers. I'll speak a bit more bluntly about this, because I've been in a similarly confused situation about Christianity and similarly haven't gotten any clear answers to date, but: This is who we are. We are individuals, each of whom is trying to understand Christianity and apply it to our lives–our existence. You can probably tell by this that I'm a bit of a Christian Existentialist, but I was raised in a devout Catholic household, fell away from the faith, found it again through United Methodism, and now have fallen away again.

      If you are looking for a black and white answer given by a rigorously defined set of beliefs that cannot be questioned, I think sexuality is only one of the areas of life you're going to find trouble with coming to terms with. You've accepted that you are being told what Christianity is and what it not only teaches, but what it mandates from its believers.

      I think that is a tremendous mistake, if I read your original letter correctly, and your posting now. Your confusion, and your feeling that you aren't being shown answers despite fervent prayers, suggests that there is something else that you need to do first. Perhaps you need to examine for yourself, using your own conscience and your own mind, what makes the most sense. What does your conscience, your mind, your body, and your spirit all tell you together?

      And, by the way, I understand how tough it is for younger people. It certainly doesn't get any easier in your 40s with a job, and a mortgage, and an ex-wife, and kids entering puberty. This is a journey, me bucko, there's only one destination, as far as I know.

      • The Original Writer

        > What does your conscience, your mind, your body, and your spirit all tell you together?

        Why should any of these be an authority on anything? Why should I trust any of these? I'm not trying to play devil's advocate, but… what's the verse… Jeremiah something or other, "The heart is deceitful above all things." I've never once trusted my heart for anything. I always try to be empirical, logical, reasonable about things.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Matthew Tweedell? Is that you?

          • The Original Writer

            Who?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Ha ha! right, I reject the authority of the mind for the sake of reason, and of the body for the sake of empiricism…. No but devil's advocate I actually AM trying to play. :twisted:

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            Argy-Bargy said "What does your conscience, your mind, your body, and your spirit all tell you together?"

            Original Writer replied: "Why should any of these be an authority on anything? Why should I trust any of these?"

            Well then, OW, on the epistemologically bright side, you could go ahead and have sex right now and not really know for certain it was you who was having it! Woot!!!

        • Argy-bargy

          Because they were made by God? That He wants us to operate our hearts in the right way?

          It is our heart that draws us together. It is our heart that causes us to care for others. It is our heart that yearns for God. Our heart wants to love and be loved.

          Read the rest of that part of Jeremiah:

          9 The heart is deceitful above all things

          and beyond cure.

          Who can understand it?

          10 "I the LORD search the heart

          and examine the mind,

          to reward a man according to his conduct,

          according to what his deeds deserve."

          • The Original Writer

            Not sure how the rest of the verse bolsters what you said… In fact… it makes me think of God as vindictive, ready to pounce on us and punish us for every random wayward thought…

            And come on… How does God ever give people what they deserve? I mean… geez, look around you. You don't have to go far to see the mess we're all in.

            *sigh* I just don't know anything anymore.

          • Argy-bargy

            Well…maybe we deserve what we get. :-)

            Actually, what I mean is the heart wants what the heart wants. But God made us that way. He gave us the capacity to love and be loved (most of us anyhow). I don't ascribe only (or even primarily) a biblical view. I guess my point is that yes, if you're going to look for someone (in this context, church or scripture) to tell you what to do, thinking that's what God wants from you, then you're also ignoring the other parts he gave you. A strictly literal view of the bible is that God is vindictive. He's loving until we cross the line, then the thunderbolt comes from the blue. Do you want to live your life doing what the church or the bible or your peers tell you? Then go ahead, but the contradictions abound.

            If I am stranded on a desert island, without a bible to refer to, could I live a moral life? Could I, through the spirit moving in me, discern what God wants in my life? I have to believe that a loving God will try and lead me to the right choice, but let me make the choice on my own– because that's the only thing I'm truly capable of doing anyway.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Excellent last sentence. That is why, by the way, it's self-evident that liberty is a right inalienable from personhood.

          • Mindy

            Argy, this is awesome. Thanks for some lovely, meaningful words.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Good. Knowing nothing is the beginning of knowing anything.

            Now that you don't know anything, you already know something—something pretty important at that.

        • Robert Meek

          What Jeremiah was (A) in the Old Testament, which means (B) he had no awareness of the guidance of the Holy Spirit because Christ had not yet come and been risen, so (C) he was talking about humanity's heart in its natural state.

          We are talking about listening when you submit to the Lord and let Him guide you.

          There's a world of difference.

          And FYI, that's a lot more likely to get you a real answer than listening to the babble from diverse groups of Christianity and various ministers.

          Regarding the latter, the same holds what I have often said about psychiatric diagnoses. You can take the same person to 5 different psychiatrists/psychologists, and get 5 different diagnoses! They're merely labels, in that particular case.

          What matters is what works for that patient.

          The same holds for you and the Lord. Yes, listen to Him. He will not let you be misguided if you submit to waiting on Him for His answer.

      • Jeanine

        Did you make this term up or is this a for real World View?

        "Christian Existentialist"

        It helps me alot to understand how you are thinking.

        • Argy-bargy

          No, I certainly didn't make it up. It isn't a "religion" or a uniform set of beliefs, tenets, or complete philosophy. It's a way of trying to make sense of all this crazy, wonderful business. You could start here, I guess:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_existentia

          I would say that I'm closer to that right now in my spiritual development, but I'm still feeling my way through a lot. Some things I believe in. Many things I don't. I'm unsure about the rest right now and it's the largest category by far.

          • Jeanine

            Oh, ok. I read Practice in Christianity when I was in college, but honestly, my old mind cannot really remember much of its contents.

            Do you mind if I ask what parts you believe and what parts you don't?

          • Jeanine

            I read through the material on the link, and this is an interesting statement:

            'Existentially speaking, the Bible doesn't become an authority in a person's life until they authorize the Bible to be their personal authority.'

            I think I differ from this statement in that I don't think the Bible is my authority – I think that Christ is my authority. He is my king. The scriptures are the means by which I can come to know him since I was not alive during his time on the earth. That is why I think He gave us the scriptures; because they are all about Him and His Truth. And I think He sent us the Holy Spirit so we could correctly understand them.

            (By the way, lest anyone jump all over me with my last statement – I am not claiming to have some complete, all encompassing understanding of every single scripture. I will probably die not knowing more than a bit of it. But I do trust what I know).

            And then there is prayer and worship, which we haven't talked about.

          • Jeanine

            Also, does a Christian Existentialist believe in the diety of Christ and the atoning work of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?

            It sounds like not, but I am not sure. What do you think about it?

          • DR

            Jeanine,

            These are all comments in the forms of questions. Seriously. You're asking leading questions to simply express your point of view that Christians who are OK with premarital sex aren't led by the Holy Spirit and are not "true" Christians according to the Word of God. You're playing games here and it's important to let you know that it's not working.

          • Jeanine

            @A-b

            I am playing no game. You say you are leaning towards this 'Christian' Existentialist view. Adding the name Christian means that you are associating yourself with Christ.

            I am asking plainly who do you think Christ is?

            (DR you are opposed to me when I tell you what I think and you are opposed to me when I ask others what they think. If you are not interested in hearing my point of view or discussing it with me then why do you keep commenting? Just act like I'm not here and let me dialogue with people who are commenting on my posts based on their own interest level).

          • Argy-bargy

            I don't know if Jesus died as a mystical, spiritual atonement for our sins. I lean towards "no." I believe it far more likely that he died to show us a different way. That we must be ready to die like he did for each other. And in a spiritual sense, by loving each other that much, we "cheat" death. If he died for us, and we should be prepared to do that for each other, why is it so hard to do so much that doesn't even require that sacrifice? Death has no power over us. Death is a despair he didn't want us ever to experience again.

            I also cannot say that I believe Jesus to BE God. He may have been some sort of manifestation of God, but only the Father is God. At this stage in my thinking, I'm not sure I'm a Trinitarian, but beyond that, I can't say.

          • Jeanine

            @ A-b

            'Death has no power over us.'

            Why do you think that? And by cheat death, do you mean that by dying for somebody else, you are cheating death of its intended victim?

          • Argy-bargy

            It could meant that, but I think what is more likely, it means that death is not the most powerful thing. Love is. By understanding that and living that, we do what God wants us to do, as if He's saying, "You think you'll cheat death? You won't. You'll still have death in your life. But do you really want a life without love? No? Then live your life with love. And be prepared to show what that really means, if you really mean it."

          • Jeanine

            I think so too. Love beats death for sure.

            So, let's discuss love for a minute – because I wrestle with this a lot. For example, here is a scenario (bare with me, it may sound pretty pathetic):

            I needed a new dishwasher.

            The earthquakes hit in Haiti.

            My church takes up a donation for Haiti and give what I think is a big chunk. I pray for the people of Haiti and cry as i watch their devastation.

            So, then I decide to get my new dishwasher because I am tired of doing dishes for my large family by hand.

            But my conscience tells me, hey, those people are suffering and here you are buying a dishwasher.

            So I donate the money I was going to spend on the dishwasher to Haiti.

            A month later, I go buy a new dishwasher.

            So, do I sell all I have and send it to Haiti?

            How will I take care of my kids then – I should be doing that too. There are lots of other needs that I like to be involved with as well. How do I sort out what to do in love?

            Is what I do for others love and what I don't do a lack of love? Where is that love line?

            I could replay this same question with things like forgiveness, and spending time and effort, etc. I'm just using money to frame the question. I am aware that love is more than money

          • Jeanine

            Reading back over this; I think what I am trying to say is that loving God and your brother like Jesus taught is a much taller order than keeping the ten commandments.

          • Argy-bargy

            No argument there!

          • Jeanine

            I don't know if you have ever heard of Ravi Zacharias. He is a Christian Apologist. I listen to him alot. You might find him compelling based on your own line of thinking that you have shared with me. Here is a youtube clip.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weNB_qSOWNw&fe

            He also has a daily podcast on his website in case he interests you.

            http://www.rzim.org/

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        There is such wisdom in this reply! I should have just said "ditto".

    • Mel

      I'm just wondering if you got a chance to read my comment addressed to you in the other blog? I was trying to be as helpful as I possibly could, and I'm just wondering if you got anything out of it. In case you didn't get a chance to read it, or it was overshadowed by all the comments that were associated with other things I said, I'm going to re-post it here. Please let me know what you think.

      PLEASE wait until marriage to have sex. Take out, for now, whether or not it is morally wrong. Your wife will appreciate the fact that you waited. Too many people today give into temptation, and then regret it after. I want you to know that there are a lot of Christian women out there who are also waiting. Like “A”, I have a large group of friends who have chosen to wait for sex until they are married. I cannot make it clear enough how important it is. I am waiting until I get married to have sex, and I can’t even imagine the hurt I would feel if my husband didn’t do the same for me. You really won’t regret waiting. I can say this because although I haven’t married yet, and therefore have not had sex, my best friend has. She waited until she was married and she said that it was the most amazing thing ever. She said that it wouldn’t have been the same if her, or or her husband had had sex before. She said that it was something special that they could share together…only them with each other. Seriously, I can’t express it properly in text, but hearing her talk about, seeing the look in her eyes, the whole experience I just….wow, I could never question that waiting is the best choice again. Regarding your comment about you feeling like you’re missing out because all of your non-Christian friend are having sex and loving it, please read Psalm 37. I know that some people don’t like when you say to read a passage from the Bible but then don’t put it there, only put the verse…but really this whole chapter would be helpful, and it’s too long to type. Just a sneak peak though for their sake…”Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” That last verse (Delight yourself….) is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible. I know that you said you have been to True Love Waits seminars, but I also would like to suggest that you read “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy. It isn’t like the seminars, but it has the same message. It is a really inspirational book, and it talks about sexual immorality in part of it. It makes the point really clear that the absolute BEST sex is that which takes place in marriage, that which waits for marriage.

      I really hope that this can help you in some way. That verse is something that I cling to whenever I feel like I'm missing out on something because I'm a Christian. Also, the book is really helpful. I wish you all the best.

      • The Original Writer

        Sorry to burst your bubble Mel, but I did read your comment and didn't really appreciate it. It is exactly the same kind of indoctrination I was trying to at least be able to objectively examine, if not criticize, in the first place.

        You quote a verse in 1 Corinthians in your posts I think where it talks about not even a hint of sexual immorality. Well, the Greek word is pornea, and it just so happens that sexual immorality might not be the best translation for it. One other commenter brought this up, but never put in any links to any sort of research or anything (which I would love to see).

        Furthermore… society and Christianity are colluding to trump nature… Abstinence is just not feasible for many these days.

        And then to act like marriage is some kind of safety zone… I've seen numerous couples around my age get married right out of high school so they could boink in moral harmoniousness, only to get divorced a few years later because one partner is unfaithful… Perhaps these kids shouldn't be committing so readily? Maybe if marriage wasn't so, ah, incentivized, as it were, we wouldn't be running into these problems.

        And quite frankly, just on a personal level, a woman at 35 is not going to be as hot as a woman at 24. Seriously, why do I have to forgo that? And don't kid me about being some 35 year old dude snagging a young girl.

        Also, you can't seriously talk about being married and starting a family at middle age. Not that I want a family. At least… not yet. Not any time soon.

        I mean, I look in the bible and I see a very different sex ethic from what the mainline American church is preaching. How many wives did David have? Heck, look at Solomon… dude had 700+ wives (and the term wife is used loosely). Were these guys immoral?

        Granted, I am not saying I want 700 wives (It will be a miracle if I could put up with just one in my life), but still… I think perhaps Joshua Harris needs a good punch to the teeth.

        • Ace

          "And quite frankly, just on a personal level, a woman at 35 is not going to be as hot as a woman at 24"

          1. That's not necessarily true. I'll leave it to your male elders to explain that one to you.

          2. If youth and shallow appearance are the entire sum of your sexual attraction to any woman, you probably shouldn't be trying to have a relationship with anyone.

          If you just want sex with no strings attached… well there is no such thing, I don't care what people tell you, there are always potential consequences. No free lunches, and all that.

          I'm going to throw my vote in for you should wait, not strictly until you get married, but at least until you grow up a bit.

          • The Original Writer

            > If youth and shallow appearance are the entire sum of your sexual attraction to any woman, you probably shouldn’t be trying to have a relationship with anyone.

            No no no no no don't misunderstand me… This is not my problem. Believe me, I've had plenty of opportunities to have very good looking girls, and things like personality, intelligence, character (or rather, lack of the three thereof) have kept me away. But with that said, physicality is such a touchy thing to comment on, isn't it? It always bristles someone the wrong way.

            I am a firm believer that sexual attraction should be present in, at the very least, marriage.

          • Ace

            Well it sure sounded like you were just interested in "banging a hot chick" as the vernacular goes, from what you wrote. My apologies if that's not what you meant.

            That said – if you are only interested in someone who has the personality, intelligence and character you are looking for, ONLY if she ranks a "10" or whatever on your "hotness scale" though, you're going to be looking for a very, very long time.

          • The Original Writer

            So, in other words, make concessions and learn to live with disappointment. No woman can really be smart/personable/pretty/pure.

            Great advice. No wonder I want more variety than what the prospect of Christian purity offers.

          • Mel

            Don't pretend you care if a woman is "smart/personable/pretty/PURE" if you aren't willing to wait for her, then why d you care so much that she waits for you??

          • Ace

            Women can be any or all or none of those things, but if you are looking for a very specific definition of perfection, I'm just saying statistically you are unlikely to find a large list of exact traits represented perfectly in any one individual person.

            Good luck looking for that perfect angel, but yes – you should probably learn to compromise on some things (apperance especially).

          • The Original Writer

            @Mel,

            This is the whole point of this line of questioning. Currently I do care. Maybe I wouldn't care if I just got it over with. I wouldn't be judgmental and I could get a smart/pretty/personable/maybe-not-so-pure girl (of which there are maaaany many more) and not feel bad about it. In all likelihood, if I keep waiting, I'll get stuck with someone in the end who hasn't waited for me. Essentially, I don't want to marry into resentment out of desperation.

            @Ace,

            Statistically, people marry those who are rated similarly attractive. I don't need someone who looks like Kiera Knightley, but I do need attraction.

          • Ace

            Statistically, most marriages end in divorce.

            It's also a statistical fact that youthful looks fade over time. Yes, you should marry somebody you can stand to look at but if that's all your relationship is based on – eye candy – it won't last long.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            But what if a week after you got married a tragic accident left her permanently disfigured? Would you file for divorce? If you would, you didn't really love her, but if you wouldn't, sexual attraction wasn't what really mattered. (As I wrote below) what matters is love. Sexual attraction is just there to draw you in in the first place so that you might fall in love and love doing so.

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            @Matthew, that doesn't obviate chemistry as an important aspect of a relationship. Sexual chemistry is not some ruse to get us to mate. It's substantial and palpable and crucial for long term success, IMHO. It's another big piece of the partnering puzzle. And it can be kindled and celebrated.

            There are those who believe that sex is something that comes and goes over time and, if you're "in it for the long haul;" then you need to forget about the chemistry component. I think that's cynical, lazy and self-serving. It's really a way to state that, in fact, sex and sexual chemistry isn't that important to you and probably never was.

            This is where sexual experience is an advantage – establishing what IS important to you sexually (besides abstinence) and sticking up for your sexual being. I'm not certain you can do that if you've got little or no sexual experience beyond that level of intimacy you can have and still qualify as a virgin.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, I am certain that you can establish your sexual being before marriage without being sexually active, and I'm well aware due to the existance of several counter-examples that long-term sexual chemistry is not crucial to long-term success. But I'm not saying that sexual chemistry isn't important, am I? Yet chemistry is the material aspect. I speak now of spirits sometime embodied in it. Yet in the previous post, I essentially implied that being sex-crazed apes would be a lot more mature of us than being as we are now.

          • Mindy

            Don, will you marry me? ;->

            Yeah, yeah, I know – your wife would appreciate it, and all that.

            Darn it, is all I have to say.

          • Mindy

            - *wouldn’t* appreciate it!! Good grief . . .

            I proofread all day; one would think I would do a better job with my own posts . . .

        • Mel

          I wasn't asking how you felt about all the other stuff on that blog. I was asking about the specific paragraph which I copied an pasted here. The verse that said to delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart…that wasn't helpful at all? What about the book I suggested? Have you read it before? If not I really suggest you do.

          "I did read your comment and didn’t really appreciate it."–It's one thing if it didn't help you…but you didn't appreciate it? You didn't appreciate the fact that another Christian took the time to search for a verse that she thought would help you in your situation? You didn't appreciate that what I said came from a place of compassion? You didn't appreciate the fact that I was just trying to be helpful? If that's the case, I'll be sure not to comment on something you say again.

          • The Original Writer

            Yes, and I answered you. I said your post sounded like the same kind of indoctrination I've encountered my entire life which I've found unhelpful and untrue and which no one else really follows, which thus prompted my line of questioning, not least of which was, "is it really wrong in the first place?" And, forgive me for being frank, but it all seems to come from a place of inexperience… In other words, why should I believe you? Because you have so much life experience?

            You basically say yes, premarital sex is evil and give anecdotal evidence about your friend who is in love for why it's so great to wait, and then basically told me to read my bible some more (okay, you gave specifics about chapters and how I shouldn't be envying evil men… which yeah, but is it really evil??).

            Sorry if I sound dismissive. It's just… delight yourself in the Lord? Really? When was the last time God spoke to me? Try never. What does it even mean to delight yourself in the Lord? Do I just sit here in the quite and get goofily giggly while I meditate or something? Try asking when the last time was that I felt God actually gave a damn about anything in my life. I honestly can't remember a time. I always feel like I'm on my own, like God's hung me out to dry despite repeated pleas to not be on my own.

            Quite frankly, I'm on an atheistic border right now. Richard Dawkins says in his book The God Delusion, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

            Now, even if I'm not ready to completely agree with it, I can at least see his point. Unless, Mel, you are willing to address what all this feels like… do you even know what it feels like to be dealing with all this on top of external life problems? No inner peace. No external peace…

            And lastly, I never want to touch that book. If it's as sickening as the true love waits stuff, count me out!

            Sorry if all this came off as harsh. I don't know any other way to put it.

          • Mel

            You ask why you should believe me? Well why should you believe anybody on this blog? Why did you bother asking people if you don't even care what they're going to say? And you sarcastically asked if you should believe me because I have so much life experience, but what I got from the beginning of the other blog, you aren't that much older than me. I know what you're going through because I've gone through most of it, I'm simply letting you know what helped me out of it. And you should "believe" me because I'm in your situation, and I have still chosen to remain a virgin. Of course I know what it feels like to be dealing with this on top of other problems. I don't know anybody who's ONLY problem is this. There's so much crap in this world, of course I have other things to deal with. And wow…ya those true love waits seminars are really sickening (eye roll). How could somebody want to start treating their future husband/wife with respect before they meet them? How could somebody want to make their husband/wife feel like they were worth waiting for? If you are seriously almost willing to drop Christianity and become an atheist just because you want to have sex, then there are some more serious issues at hand. Why don't you talk to your pastor about it instead of a bunch of random strangers off the internet?

          • The Original Writer

            "Well why should you believe anybody on this blog?"

            Yeah, well, I've been asking that myself lately. Read my other comments and you'll see you are not the only one who has received my fair share of doubt and criticism.

            "And wow…ya those true love waits seminars are really sickening (eye roll)"

            They're sickening because they sell a lie. Like I said in my original letter, 95% of people don't wait. In other words, in waiting, I feel like I'm going to end up with the short end of the straw. Maybe that sounds selfish to you, but I don't want that to happen. I'm also seriously judgmental and have broken off wonderful relationships because I am waiting and the girl had not. I don't want to be that judgmental but I don't know how not to be unless I'm on the same level!

            If they wanted to be truthful, they should say True Love Waits 5% of the Time. And even then, half of you will get divorced… So maybe True Love Waits 2.5% of the time.

            "f you are seriously almost willing to drop Christianity and become an atheist just because you want to have sex, then there are some more serious issues at hand."

            This is hardly THE reason, but one among a panacea…

            "Why don’t you talk to your pastor about it instead of a bunch of random strangers off the internet?"

            Don't have one.

          • The Original Writer

            Panacea? What was I thinking?? I didn't mean that. I meant Plethora, possibly… but I was thinking pan as in many… gah I can't think of the right word. "Many" is the sentiment. lol.

          • The Original Writer

            I've tried. I have a hard time integrating for interpersonal and theological reasons… I still go, but… I just don't fit in. I go, listen, leave, that's it.

            And that's not self-pity. It's just… gah, if I write any more I'll be able to be identified by those who know me… I'm not trying to be a cop-out here, but you have to trust me… It's not as simple as opening a door and saying "Here I am, church!" let alone finding a church that isn't one gigantic social club/clique to start out with…

          • Argy-bargy

            Maybe you are attending…here.

            "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20.

          • Susan

            @ Argy Bargy:

            I love that! Very cool perspective.

          • Mindy

            I was going to say the same thing, Susan. Cool, A-B. And perhaps far more productive than sitting in a church, because a dialogue is taking place, rather than a one-way preaching-to.

          • Argy-bargy

            Which makes John the pastor! Haha! Deal with it, dude! Lead your flock! :-D

          • Mel

            Do you attend a church? If not, why don’t you try that first. No wonder you’re having such a hard time if you don’t have a community of people going through the same thing. Once you join a church, then you can talk to that pastor about your problems. I’m sure he/she could help you much more than any of us could.

        • Mindy

          I’m not EVEN commenting on the “hot” thing.

          As for when you decide to parent, you’ll know when/if it’s time. I didn’t become a mom for the first time til I was 36, and so far, I’ve survived. Not elderly, but no spring chicken, either. And without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done in life.

          You didn’t get a “right” answer because there isn’t one – in Christianity or anywhere else. You have to trust your own heart. You have to know what matters to YOU. You have to not be afraid to take healthy risks. You have to trust the person with whom you become intimate.

          Sometimes, you can think something to death. Don’t do this without thinking it through, yes – but trust yourself.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      It doesn't seem to me that for you this really has much to do with God then, but with a personal choice you've got to make, as you choose to forego pursuing marriage at this time. Yes, it's a choice: money’s got anything to do with it, unless you're planning on having kids already; and it's your standards that leave you disappointed with the selection, though perhaps you wouldn't have to be if you were more actively fishing the sea for your true love; and if you're going downhill before your 30, absent a legitimate medical problem, that's your choice too. But it’s not really about you. You are nothing but dust to dust. It's about love. God is love. Were you to have the world but have not love, in truth nothing you’d remain. Just because you don't hear Him doesn't mean He isn't calling out to you. Perhaps you cannot hear Him over the "garbled mess of confusion" in your heart, which society and its media have placed there. You can tune it out the second you recognize how utterly meaningless it is and turn your mind to God and who you are in Him, like John advised. This reminds me of the great Hassidic Rabbi Zusya, who is said to have been fearful of the judgment as he lay dying. His students, gathered near him, asked, "Why are you afraid, teacher? You've kept the law in everything you do, shown great compassion towards all creatures, and left behind many disciples. Some say you are as righteous as Moses!" The ailing Rabbi replied, "When I am judged, God will not ask me why I was not more like Moses; God will ask me why I was not more like Zusya."

      • Argy-bargy

        I love that quote, Matthew!

        • Don Whitt

          Brilliant. Rabbis get all the good lines!

      • The Original Writer

        I… have no idea what to do with this…

        First, the choice part.

        All I have to say is, Yeah you try graduating in the middle of a recession where every politician is lying through their teeth. Deal with debt you can’t put off, deal with being unable to support yourself because no one will take you seriously enough to hire you, deal with legitimate medical problems which have eaten away years of your life and then tell me how much choice is worth (yes, I really have had medical problems like that… I… just don’t wish to discuss them on a forum like this because they are quite personal.) Then come back and tell me about choice.

        Choice… ha! So much is beyond our control. Choice is largely a facsimile – an illusion of choice. Just go to the supermarket to see what I mean and peruse the soda aisle. You have 8 major beverage companies and I can all but guarantee you that no matter what choice you make you will end up consuming HFCS.

        Furthermore, it’s not even all my choice to put off marriage. Think I can convince a girl to marry me when I don’t have my life together? I mean, what about her choice in the matter?

        Secondly,

        Part of me is beginning to understand that personality really isn’t anything other than a construct. It’s this sort of vague cloud of perceptions, ideas, memories, experiences… all of which don’t really mean anything… It’s like Hitch says “You’ is a very fluid concept right now. You bought the shoes. You look great in the shoes. That’s the you I’m talking about.”

        Personality is nebulous. God judged the nebula of self? What does it even mean to have God ask “why were you not more like Zusya?” Wouldn’t the situation be, well, absurd, if the same question were posed to say, Hitler?

        I mean, there’s a pretty big assumption in that question, and that is you’re assuming the foundation of the being is good to start out with! It seems pretty clear to me that this isn’t the case. I mean, doesn’t the bible basically call mankind evil and pretty much every turn?

        • Ace

          As a young person who graduated college right at the beginning of this recession and took a little over 14 months to find real employment while living in my mother's spare guest room –

          Please stop whining.

          Seriously.

          Blah blah economy sucks

          Blah blah politicians suck

          Blah blah corn syrup sucks

          You know what? We are ALL living in the same world you are, but most of us aren't rolling around in manufactured adolescent existential angst.

          You sound like Arnold Rimmer from "Red Dwarf" – everything in your life is somebody or someone else's fault, there's no such thing as "choice" and everything just happens to poor little you.

          You may not be able to control the external events around you but you can choose how you react to them and what you do in response to them. If no one takes you seriously (employers or women), maybe it's because you don't present yourself in a manner that can be taken seriously.

          • Ace

            "somebody or someone else’s fault"

            Somebody or some*thing* else's fault.

            Sorry, can't type today.

          • The Original Writer

            You honestly have no perspective and no empathy, Ace.

            The situation in the world is like this for recent Grads. Stand on a firing line. Someone is going to point a gun at you. Now you can move before he shoots, but the stipulation is you're going to get shot.

            So either take the bullet in the belly or the brain.

            And you have the audacity to criticize me for saying, "I'm bleeding!"

            I have 2000 bucks in the bank right now and no job. Guess what. That's going to last me 6 months. Let's see you last 6 months on 2000 bucks. I bet you couldn't do it these days. I bet you spend 2000 bucks a week and barely think about it, meanwhile I'm the whiner for agonizing over every cent.

            I'm hauling ass every single day of my life to get by. I'm not asking for handouts. I work hard and I try my best. But yeah:

            There are no jobs to begin with, and no one hires me because of my age.

            Bush? Obama? Different sides of the same coin. Oh well, at least I could probably join the military and die in some God forsaken hole in the desert. To, you know, protect your job and your cheap oil and expand the American Empire.

            And yeah, industrial food pretty much is poison, but you miss the point which is to show the artificiality of choice. People like to think they're in control yet in reality there is very little within their sphere of influence. That's all I'm saying. If I'm a whiner for saying that, so be it.

          • Mindy

            OW, I feel for you. I got my graduate degree in '08 and landed a job immediately. I lost that job 10 months later when the recession sucked the foundation money out of the non-profit that had created the position I filled.

            No one will hire me due to my age, either – but I'm on the other end from you, and have two kids to support. I am fortunate to have an ex who loves his kids and has never missed a child support payment, but it sure as hell hasn't been easy. I've had to declare bankruptcy, and we gave up our house for a small apt.

            But we are happier now. Downsizing is not the worst thing that can happen. You'll find your path. I know the concept of hauling ass every day – even on the days I'm paralyzed out of fear and frustration, I'm hauling ass inside my own head in an effort to figure something out.

            I'm blessed because I have love in my life – not a partner or spouse, but amazing children, a strong family of origin who have helped when I've been desperate, and a circle of friends that I couldn't manage without. Obviously, that has helped – but having to depend on others can take a toll on one's pride, and it is not the way I want to live.

            Out of these frustrating, sometimes agonizing times, I would love to see more and more of us return to entrepreneurial roots, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time. Many entities in our capitalist culture have become too big for their britches – and for the good of us all. We are all extremely interdependent – which is fine when everything is working, but does, as you suggest, mightily restrict our choices in our everyday lives.

            But there ARE options. Take one day each week and explore volunteer opportunities. I know that sounds counter-productive, but I swear, when we most need help ourselves, helping others can create unexpected breakthroughs. Closely observe the community around you – what are the needs? Where can you contribute the most?

            Our city has a really cool organization called Gateway Greening, a non-profit that works with schools on gardening projects, parks and with various urban neighborhoods on setting up and maintaining community vegetable gardens. Through their programs, people who previously hadn't a clue where french fries come from are harvesting their own potatoes. They employ residents of halfway houses. They teach ways to take back some of the basic choices we don't think we have.

            There are tutoring programs and mentoring programs and through those, you can discover your own gifts, get out of your own head, and find perspective. You meet folks who have it a whole lot worse than you do, to be sure, but you also meet the other volunteers, the donors – the people in your community who care enough to get involved and who own businesses and have networks that might ultimately lead you to a job.

            Please, OW, don't give up. You sound so frustrated, so angry – and I know EXACTLY what that feels like. And every time it gets the best of me, I do something for someone else, and whether it is karma, God or just the change of scenery, I wind up receiving much more than I gave in the first place.

          • Ace

            I have more perspective that you think, and plenty of sympathy for people who are willing to at least try to take a hand in their own fate rather than simply cry on the floor and be a victim of circumstances.

            "no one hires me because of my age."

            Yea, tell that to my 56 year old mother who got laid off in June but can't afford to retire, and *truly* can't get hired because of her age (or afford to retire yet).

            She doesn't complain that the world is designed to screw her over though.

            As for the soda pop aisle – you do have a choice, don't buy any of it and go boil a pot of tea or coffee or something instead. You don't have to drink sugary crap unless you want to.

            "If I’m a whiner for saying that, so be it"

            Well, if that's your attitude toward life, as you say – "so be it".

          • The Original Writer

            If open eyes lead my to cynicism, I'd rather that than blissful ignorance.

          • Argy-bargy

            Small consolation, but good for you!

          • The Original Writer

            *me… not my.

          • Diana A.

            $2000 dollars in the bank! Lucky you!

            I have less than a dollar. I've been out of a job since February. I'm having "issues" with the Unemployment Insurance, so I'm not getting any of that either. In short, sweetie, you're not the only one with problems–though I understand how it might feel like you are. Still, the self-pity isn't helping you. And I can say that because I've wallowed in that particular pool many a time myself. Do yourself a favor. Jump out, dry off, and do something positive to improve your life even if it seems dumb and futile. Sometimes, it only takes one positive action to turn your life around.

          • The Original Writer

            OMFG!

            For the last time, people, it's not self pity! I'm certainly not wallowing! Like I said, I haul ass every single day. I work hard, I try hard. I'm not on unemployment, even though I have been unemployed and living off savings since December. I even built a business that failed (due to lack of liquid capital) during this time because I needed to do something, anything.

            I just don't fool myself into thinking things are gonna magically get better, or that Barack Obama is going to swoop in from the sky and pay my electrical bills. In fact, when you look at all the metrics, things are probably going to get worse first, and anyone who says different is lying through their teeth or is too stupid to understand how the economy works (and in either case, should not be listened to or followed).

            I don't understand how honest assessment of my situation = wallowing self pity in people's minds. The second you say you don't like something, that it's holding you back in life, people ASSume you're crying about it (possibly because it's easier to dismiss something as whining than it is to wrap your tiny little heads around the true complexity of the situation, one which, need I remind you, you probably have no real intimate knowledge of).

            Seriously, the next person who tells me I'm wallowing in self-pity should hang themselves with a barbed wire noose from the tallest tree they can find. GAAAAAAWWWDDD!!! >_<

          • Argy-bargy

            Hmm…so you feel sorry for yourself because we accuse you of self pity? :-D

          • The Original Writer

            DIAF ARGY!!! ^_^ lol

          • Argy-bargy

            Thank you for taking the joke, well….Couldn't resist.

            Look, take it from a guy who's a world class self-pitier (spelling?), and please take this in the spirit that it is given: You do come across as somewhat self pitying. As I retorted to someone once who accused me of feeling sorry for myself, "Well, at least someone is!"

            This is important, and why I'm not trying to pass judgment: self pity is okay to a point, because it does reveal two important things: (1) You could be engaged in a valuable self-reflection and self-awareness others all too rarely avoid (this gets to your blissful ignorance statement before), and (2) you recognize some fundamental unfairness which is eating at you. So, an appropriate period of self-pity might lead you to a valuable insight. Or it might not.

            Now, my problem has always been when and how to break out of it. The wallowing. I'm like a pig in slop that way.

            Only you can decide at what point you're just stuck in your own head. But that is the inevitable end result of the wallowing, and the beginnings of resentment, anger, and even self-loathing. For me, it has led me to tremendously bad consequences, which I will not get into.

            If I may draw from something I've found from another tradition, please see the following: http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/daily/l/aa102297.h

            Maybe you're familiar with it. It's too long to quote here, but is often referred to as the Acceptance passage.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          About trying to graduate in the middle of a recession and so on: already tried, had it all planned out so I'd graduate in the middle of a recession—long story short: didn't work out. But yeah, 6 months on 2000 bucks is tough. But hey, if you hook up with someone, then you'll have 4000! Anyway, there ARE jobs to be had if you've got a degree and just need something to fill your short-term cash-flow needs. For example, many communities are in need of substitute teachers (and preferentially employ those with whatever sort of bachelor's degree to those who haven't gone to college).

          Hitler made choices that reduced the potential of what he could be. God gave Hitler an *ability* to do a lot more good and a hell of a lot less evil. Who Hitler chose to become was not the Hitler that God had created in His image but a Hitler infused with a thousand evil spirits which will be cast into eternal fire on Judgment Day and sealed up in the Abyss. If only he could have been more like Hitler, the child of God that he once was, that he should have been. But life circumstances changed him, and he never took the time to clear that garbled mess of confusion in his heart. I don't think he even realized as he committed suicide what a horrendous perversion of his own nature he had become. Certainly the nature of man is inclined towards sin, but that does not make man evil; choosing to give into it does. And what is so bad about sin is that although the nature of a man/woman is such as to be tempted with it, it isn't in fact in the best interests of that nature ultimately.

          But such is Hitler's fate. You're right, in a sense, about the illusion of choice. But every major beverage company has diet beverages too. You at least imagine that you're making a choice, even if the outcome is that our destiny will be what it will? I mean, we make our destiny, my friend, but as we do so we necessarily put off recognition of the fact that, at the same time (and what is time, after all?) our destiny is making us!

          You don't "convince" someone to marry you. It just sort of works out. Love is not a thing such as is subject to reason. I think every guy in a successful marriage knows full well that he doesn't deserve the woman (or man) that he's been blessed with. Don't you believe in love? There's no reason my wife should have wanted to be with me. I really can't see it, but I know she feels exactly the same about me! I don't understand why, for example, she never thought she'd have a husband as sexy as me, when compared to me she's freaking hot. And I basically had nothing to offer in the beginning but a few good laughs (she actually thinks my stupid jokes are funny) and shoulder to lean on. But hell, we made it work. We chose to, and we did. Faith CAN move mountains, pal: you just have to apply it. Destiny awaits you on the other side.

          (And some day I'll learn better how to practice what I preach.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            * ^Can^ you at least imagine…

    • Robert Meek

      Christianity does not have the answers.

      God does.

      Look, listen in the stillness of the Spirit, and you will be guided to what He wants for your life.

      Whatever that be.

      Just another unsolicited opinion by me. :)

      • donna

        well said Robert!

    • Jeanine

      @ Original Writer

      I wrote because I wanted answers.

      I’m beginning to think Christianity doesn’t have any.

      I want to suggest that you step back and think about something that may not have been offered here yet. The problem you are really struggling with here is time. You feel like time is slipping away; and if God isn't real you have wasted your life. But if you go ahead and have sex, and God is real, then you could be in big trouble or at least suffer loss of some sort. It is not that you don't want to do what your parents and the church have taught you is 'right', but you are loosing TIME……….

      To me, this is one of the most precious gifts that Christ has given me. TIME.

      Before I knew Christ I used to sweat, and yearn, and cry, and wish, and try to make things happen, because after all – this is my life; this is the only one I get and I don't want to miss a thing. Right? I used to struggle with His commandments and say to myself, why does God want to ruin my fun? I don't mean any harm, I'm not hurting anyone, why does he care then?

      When Christ breathed life into my dead soul, my eyes were opened to see that TIME is not all there is. His kingdom is eternal. It has no end. The Bible also talks about the fact that I will always be human and I will one day have another body – a perfect one. We will be in this corrupted, disease ridden body for 0-110 years tops. We will have our incorruptable body forever. Jesus encourages us to live for Him now and we will not be disappointed for all of eternity.

      No doubt, this might seem pretty darn risky to somebody who doesn't know Jesus personally. But Jesus promised that those who honestly are seeking Him – will find him!

      Luke 11:9 says "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

      If you are in ernest about knowing the true answer then go to God in prayer and remind Him of this verse. Ask God to show you who Christ is and what he desires for your life. Tell Him you are not interested in what 'Christianity' has to say; you want to know what Christ wants. Let him know that you are really tired of sitting on this fence, between the world and what your parents taught you about the Bible; wondering what side to jump down on.

      Christ is the only one who can release you from this burden of indecision – by showing you the glory of who He is. Once you know He is real, alive and can deliver on every promise – waiting becomes risk free because eternity is planted in your heart.

      • Susan

        @Jeanine:

        "Tell Him you are not interested in what ‘Christianity’ has to say; you want to know what Christ wants."

        That's such a profound statement. Really like that… a lot!

      • DR

        What a lovely reply.

      • MW

        @Jeanine:

        What a thoughtful answer to this young man. Jeanine, I have read several of your replys on this blog, and I can say that you are a wise woman with a firm foundation, which is Christ.

        "God is Love" (1 John 4:8)

        Immanuel: God with us.

        Jesus Christ = Immanuel

        (Love with us). Follow Him!

        Also, I would say to this youngman: Sex without love is meaningless lust and purely selfish. Find someone, or better yet ask God to send you someone you can really love, on a spiritual level. You can then ask if you should wait or not, and it will be a decision the two of you will make.

      • http://none Don Rappe

        I just want to chime in here that I like Jeanine's comment also.

      • donna

        Me too!

      • DR

        Jeanine, a serious question.

        Do you believe that Christians who are ok with premarital christians are truly saved? Yes or no?

    • DR

      Sometimes good communication only seeks to clarify the problem! Which sucks. But I'm glad you wrote and I'm also glad for the ensuing comments because they rightfully place the subject of sex before marriage into the realm it appropriately belongs which is "What kind of pleasure that I was wired to experience can I experience with someone without hurting them and myself?"

      A lot of women might tell you that they can separate sex from love. I've instinctively known that I can't, so I've refrained from going "all the way". Which in a few scenarios has been really weird and I'm sure is really weird for someone reading. And as I get older, that might change (so far it hasn't). There is peace, freedom and security in that decision for me which also tells me that God is Present.

      The point is that I know myself. I know what I can do and what I can't and I communicate it right out of the gate. And that works for me which leads to my TMI confession that there is an option #3. And that's to choose the type of sexual experiences that you want to have that are more boundaried than your average bear. There are a lot of ways to be physical that don't involve the penis in the vagina occurring (if those are the body parts we're referring to). And I'm sure a lot of people will say "that's sex!" And they'd be right. But the point is that *I* have decided what that line from intimacy to vulnerability is for me and where I let someone cross it and when I don't.

      For you, sex may not equal love. But it might equal something else, perhaps it's tied to an emotional and/or spiritual state that leaves you in a state of peace and joy. The decisions about what you do and what you don't do, if they are related to how you want to love, respect and honor a woman in your life? Those are the right decisions.

      Sometimes I think Christians try to define "the character of God" or "what God thinks" because we're simply scared that we're going to do something that He doesn't approve of. That hurts Him. When perhaps He is just entirely devoted to and focused upon us being as joyful, peaceful and full of life in ways we've never imagined. And "sin" are the things we do and the states of being we are in that limit us from experiencing that.

      No one knows that that is for you.

    • Sarah

      Hi Original Writer! I wanted to reply to your post and offer a little encouragement.

      I too was raised in church, and was taught that sex is a bad word. I developed a negative viewpoint on it simply because it was NEVER discussed in ANY context, besides my mother admonishing me and my sister to stay virgins until we were married.

      Naturally this caused a few problems, because when I hit puberty at 14, I felt more alone and confused than any time in my life. I didn't know what was happening, or if it would ever stop. Suddenly instead of turning away from kissing scenes on movies, I was watching raptly, fascinated and guilty at the same time.

      I grew up, reading books and listening to friends with more "experience" along the way. Pretty soon I became a pariah at school because I was still a virgin but I wasn't unhappy with my "untouched" status.

      Enter Ex-fiance. 9 years older and a man who'd been around the block a few times before finding Jesus and becoming a Christian. I was 18 and naive beyond belief; he was 27 and world-wise. Physicality ensued, and while I can say that yes, I'm still virgin, I can't say that I've never experienced anything physical. Now it's that much harder to avoid sex and everything associated with it, because I know exactly what I'm missing.

      I'm single. I'm in love with Jesus. I'm still a virgin at 23, and some days I feel like shooting myself because it would be easier than dealing with the raw physical NEED that shows up so unexpectedly. Other days I think that surely my virginity isn't that important-after all-it's just a little bit of skin, right? It's a physiological thing that can also be broken accidentally in various ways, so what makes it so precious anyway?

      I've prayed and pleaded with God to just amputate my desire for sex, and He hasn't done it yet. And I'm glad He hasn't. But I'm also glad that I'm still a virgin.

      Sex involves a lot more than mechanics-it involves a bond between two souls. Some people scoff, and that's ok, but I'm telling the truth. Sex forms a soul tie, whether it's made with a one night stand or a committed relationship, whether it's "good" or "bad", whatever-your soul is linked with that person's.

      You want sex? Ok then, make a decision and stick to it. One sin isn't bigger than any other, so you're not going to be graded on some scale according to the severity of the sin you committed. Premarital sex isn't any worse than a white lie, or murder. It isn't any better either.

      I'm not trying to preach at you, please don't think that. I'm just saying that as a 20-something, I GET IT. I really do! You can't drive down 75 without seeing billboards for Twin Peaks restaurants and stores selling kinky clothes. And yes, it's a LOT harder for guys! You're more visual, and God knows we women give you enough to stare at. I can't imagine how hard it is for you, and personally I don't know if I could stand it.

      I'm sorry for what you're going through, and I understand the struggle. Hopefully you'll find some peace about this, and I'll be praying for you.

      Sarah

      • Matthew Tweedell

        I'm pretty certain that premarital sex is indeed better than murder. I'm not sure where evangelical Christians these days get the idea that all sin falls equally short of the mark, that all transgressions trespass equally far off of the straight and narrow Way, that every blemish is equally ugly in God's sight, equally hard to conceal, every deficiency—equally debilitating, equally hard to be overcome. If it just doesn't seem fair to us, perhaps we should remember that all men being created equal is not a teaching of the Bible—it's a highly practical and prudent political philosophy. It is true that the Bible says that whoever breaks a single point of the law is guilty of breaking the whole of it—that he’s a lawbreaker. But let us not forget that various degrees of guilt can be experienced—there are various levels of lawbreakers, from parking violations to America's most wanted, to the unforgivable sin.

      • The Original Writer

        Hrm… See, this post is even kind of more discouraging to me. It's like the technical virgin post… and you describe in your response exactly what's out there on the playing field: girls who have been around the block and yet who back up and hide because they're ashamed and want to be presentable for some theoretical future prince charming. Great. What might be worse is that I'm judging you right now for what you may or may not have done. Does that make me a huge jerk? Possibly. Do I even care anymore?

        For the record… just… don't even try to comprehend the visual stuff. That's pretty much a Dr. Dobson line and I'm all but numb to visuals these days (most guys are numb at some level, and this is something the Dobson crowd hasn't hit on yet). You can only see so much before you just simply don't care anymore, especially because you see it and you know you're never ever going to get a girl that pretty. I'm not even necessarily talking about porn; just the visual culture we live in.

        Best analogy I can think of; It's like starving in front of a buffet that's behind a glass window. You can only salivate for so long. No wonder so many of us smash windows.

        • Emily

          I think John should have you as a guest blogger. Your style of writing is so effective and articulate, and totally geared towards us wayward 20-somethings. Thanks for being honest, and just awesome.

          • The Original Writer

            Aw, thanks Emily. But Honestly… I'd be afraid to publicly associate myself with this all… I mean… Anonymity brings honesty because, well, there is less shame in handling topics like this. I mean, geez, people already probably think I'm some kind of horndog and honestly, I'm not. I'm just a normal guy who wants a normal life. But still, people talk. People stigmatize… which is a little ironic considering what I just wrote in response to Sarah, but I think there's a difference… I don't think less of Sarah as a human… but would I want to date someone like her? Especially when I know there are "more pure" alternatives out there, somewhere?

            Does that make sense? Or do I just really look like a gigantic jerk now?

            What I mean to say is, dating someone like that would make me say, "What am I waiting for?" unless I weren't waiting. And that's very tough for me to process.

          • Emily

            For what it's worth, I don't think you're a jerk. I think you're being real.

            I wish I had anything as insightful and wise to say as many of the posters on here, but I don't. I'm young, and of the live and learn mindset. I've been with probably more than my fair share of men, but I'm cool with it. Every single one of them was under my own terms, so I don't have many regrets.

            I'm with my fiance now, and as silly and trivial as it sounds, I don't have any questions about some place I didn't look. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is the one for me because, well, I've had plenty to compare him to.

            This is addressed toward the thought that sex will be magical, because it is shared with just that one person: I still feel that way with my fiance. It didn't matter that we'd both been with a number of people before. Our connection was and is still magical.

            Oh, and THANK YOU for mentioning the whole marriage safety-zone thing. I have way too many friends who got married young, and are now getting divorced. I thank my lucky stars every day that I didn't marry the first man I ever seriously dated. Or the second or the third! As a girl, I like knowing that my fiance wants to marry me because he wants to be with me forever, not because he wants to get laid.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            The thing that we more morally conservative types can't get is why? Why date if it's gonna be a dead end? God only knows how many problems dead-end relationships cause in the world. Especially if there are children; so why sex? Why get sexual if it isn't likely the relationship is really going somewhere? Doesn't that just cause more emotional entanglement for most people? I mean, sure, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. But what kind of love is a love that fails? That's no true love at all. So in those hollow things I see time spent to no good end, at cost to greater things, drama unnecessarily unfolding, intruding on our lives and perhaps on the lives of others around us, and a bittersweet entanglement of pleasure and pain is what really remains. Is it worth it? I know not why. For every day spent going down a dead end is one less day with the love of your life, and at the end of life's journey, what might you be willing to give for just one more day, in youth, in love, together. Yes, in love—true love—together forever you will be, but as Mr. Whitt pointed out, chemistry, as material bodies collide, is important as well.

          • DR

            It’s deeply sad that Christians have not created a safe environment where you can talk about one of the most normal, essential parts of life without feeling like you have to hide.

            Seriously. We’ve failed you. We’ve failed one another by allowing sex to be such a shameful, dirty thing that you have to be afraid of or concerned about wanting to have.

            Christian marriages have an equal divorce rate as non-Christians. You’re quite wise to be candid about all of this and I know you’ll find a community of people who can talk about it openly. You’re great to open yourself up to the conversation to begin with.

          • The Original Writer

            You know, for the longest time I had thought similarly, but I decided I didn't want to blame other people for what wasn't quite right in my life. I mean, no one owes me any kind of outlet for this sort of thing. No one owes me anything.

            All said, I'm more worried now what family and friends and the general public would think of me if they knew this were me commenting… I don't think I would hear the end of it… That said, I'll keep on responding to things, as long as I have thoughts and as long as the other commenters have patience.

          • Diana A.

            I think you’re being too hard on yourself. You seem quite normal to me.

    • John Parton

      I think you are right…Christianity doesn't have the answer

    • Jessica

      Original writer, I wish that when I was younger and searching for answers on sexuality someone had told me what a gift it would be for my husband and myself to wait for him. I lost my virginity when I was twelve years old. My mom thought she had plenty of time to talk to me and I thought I was so cool for having done it. I was a stupid child and didn't know the consequences of what I was doing. I will teach my daughters that sexuality is an awesome thing and that mutually consensual sex between two people can be incredible and loving and all the things that young people dream of. I will also teach them that it is one thing in this life that is worth waiting for.

      • Mindy

        My heart goes out to you, Jessica – FAR too much emotional baggage for a 12-yr.-old. Reinforces my belief that all the talking I've done with my own 12-yr.-old daughter over the past few years was the right thing to do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Diana A.

      “Keep refraining…just seems unfeasible. I honestly won’t be able to get married until, at best, 30 or so, if I’m so “lucky” (I say “lucky” because it’s hard for me to comprehend wanting to be with only one person… when really.. the selection I’ve seen so far in my life has been quite disappointing). ”

      Okay, here’s your answer. You have no business having sex with anybody whom you regard as being too “disappointing” to marry. Therefore, refrain from having sex until you find someone whom you actually want to marry. Because if you have sex with somebody you regard as being too “disappointing” to marry, you’re using that person and that’s wrong.

  • Kim

    Here's my piece of advice: stop asking for advice. If you're old enough to consider having sex, whether you're a Christian or not, you're old enough to do it without bellyaching about what your church or parents told you. Don't hang your angst out there…decide. God has answers. You need to go straight to the source. Will you go to hell for having sex before marriage? No. The bible doesn't say that. Will you feel guilty, disappointed, confused? Possibly. God hates promiscuity and abuse. He doesn't hate love. Decide where your true convictions lie.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Kim: It's funny how much your advice resembles what I wrote to him personally last night in an email, which was this:

      The bottom line is this: There are no "Christian" sexual ethics that are any different from anyone else's. What you have is a moral obligation not hurt anyone, to not be an asshole, to not take advantage of a girl by promising or implying a level of emotional affection for her that you don't have in order to sleep with her.

      If you love someone—if you're sure you'd like to marry and spend the rest of your life with her, and she feels the same way about you, and you've talked about that, and that's all on the table, and this is really a girl you love—then I personally

      don't have a problem with you being as physically intimate as they two of you are comfortable being.

      There's no mystery here. Don't be a dick. Don't use anyone. Don't hurt anyone's feelings. Don't go into sex knowing you don't have any real interest in the girl beyond having sex with her. Don't take advantage. Don't lie.

      Don't be an asshole. All solid ethical structures–"Biblical" or not—come down to that. Again, no mystery.

      • Gina Powers

        THAT. Pefect…..and in fewer sentences than my previous big dose of alphabet stew…thanks John!!

      • The Original Writer

        Sorry John… I'm looking in my inbox right now… I don't see that e-mail. Are you sure you sent it?

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Positive. One of the last things I did last night before I went to bed. It's in my Sent folder as sent.

          • The Original Writer

            Ah, spam got it. I'll read it now.

      • The Original Writer

        See though… Classic example. I'm my Christian life, I once heard the "Golden rules" of Jesus and Confucius compared.

        Jesus said "Do unto others what you would have them do to you…"

        Confucius said, "Do not do to other what you wouldn't want them to do to you."

        One is active and one is passive. The implications of that are huge. I think you are taking a passive stance here (and I realize this is an e-mail so maybe you didn't intend to but let's run with it for a second).

        By simply saying "Don't hurt others" you lessen the power of Jesus' message. It now stands at exactly the same level as every other ethical system on the planet. And I'm not sure if that should be… If truth is truth, it's exclusive by nature, excluding that which isn't true.

        And clearly, Jesus did things that were hurtful (even physically hurtful) to some groups and individuals. Heck, God smites with abandon throughout the whole bible.

        Understand, I'm not trying to read too much into it, but… I'm not sure if I believe you to be correct in your summary and thus your conclusions… Which, yes, is exactly what I say to those who would advocate total abstinence as well…

        • The Original Writer

          *In my Christian life.

          Sorry for the typo…

        • Argy-bargy

          OK, let's run with it. What if I don't want you to do to me that you would want me to do to you? :-)

          Oh, and the juxtaposition between Confucianism and Christianity is one, but what all the others? This is a pretty good article about the issue. It's not so clearl cut as making that distinction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule

          Also, Jesus said "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:17.

          There is a range of difference between Jesus' two pronouncements.

          • Jeanine

            'as I have loved you'

            Again, to me this is an extremely TALL order! I believe that Christ died for my sins; (which many others here do too) therefore, he is commanding me to die to myself for others. That is Christ's kind of love. Not just being nice and friendly, right?

            Everyone here who has accepted Christ as their Savior, and is saying that premarital sex is ok as long as it is done in love; is this what you mean? As long as OW is planning to put this woman's needs ahead of all of his own needs, then premarital sex is ok?

            You see, I think this command to love one another has been made into such a friendly easy thing in our day. When in fact, I think dying to your own desires for another person is so incredibly foreign to our nature, or at least incredibly difficult, that I cannot even do it unless I am walking closely with Christ.

            I think parenting gives us a rude awakening to this notion of love as does maybe caring for a sick parent or grandparent. But stretch this concept out to a person that you have made no commitment to and have no family ties to? I really wonder if it is possible to show them this kind of love.

            What happenes if he doesn't feel anything toward her and she does toward him. Is he prepared to love her, and spend his life with her to put her needs above his? I doubt it. I think this 'as long as it is done in love' thing falls apart under Christ's definition of love.

          • Argy-bargy

            Well, first I was trying to clarify something the TOW was maintaining. It was a discreet issue as to the differences between the 'positive' and 'negative' versions of the Golden Rule.

            Second, I don't think it is crystal clear how to apply the Golden Rule to realm of sexual ethics, much less pre-marital sex. We can differ on that, and that's the point, many moral, ethical people do differ on how to approach that.

            However, I think selflessness, a key component of the love that Jesus was speaking about, would not mandate doing something that someone else wants necessarily. I wouldn't do anything for my children that they asked for, just because I love them and want to make them happy. I wouldn't have sex with someone just because they asked me. (Although, I don't have that happen very often!)

            Doing something in love in that situation might dictate a different outcome. A greater love for my children tells me that they don't need some of the things they ask for, and in fact, may hurt them by spoiling them, for instance. Having sex with someone might hurt them (or me) if one person develops feelings the other can't reciprocate.

            To say that having sex before marriage presupposes there is no commitment, that is logically fallacious, unless you know what sort of commitment they have for each other even without a marriage bond.

            Hard and fast rules are good to have, if that's the only rule that you had to deal with, but sometimes it conflicts with another, competing rule. Some things are pretty clear cut: don't kill. Good in most situations. Should I kill to protect my kids? Would that be justified by the greater evil of my kids being killed?

            As I've said before, I don't think God wants us to blindly follow rules. Jesus had a tremendous problem with the Pharisees who were good at following religious rules, and yet were hypocrites in other respects. God, I believe, hates hypocrisy.

          • Jeanine

            I am reading a great book right now – Bonhoeffer; Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Have you read it?

            I am not finished with it yet, but it is about Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German Pastor during the holocaust). He plotted to assasinate Adolph Hitler and was captured and hung three days before the Nazi surrender.

            The book is all about the struggle he had in his heart and theology about the command 'thou shalt not kill' and the incredible evil he saw taking place before his eyes. To kill Hitler would be evil, but to allow the extermination of the Jews would also be evil. It is a very interesting book – exploring legalism in the real world.

          • Argy-bargy

            Bonhoeffer is an excellent example. What torment he must have felt! However one comes out on the issue, you can’t help but feel such empathy for his tortured conscience.

            The doctor who witnessed his execution later wrote: “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

          • Mel

            Well said Jeanine!

        • Argy-bargy

          Not to mention that Jesus' words are translated into a more passive form in some translations….

      • Kim

        John, I swear you're my long lost 4th brother…with the effed up parents and everything! Welcome to the family! We're SO on the same plane of thought! I love it!!! :)

      • Matthew Tweedell

        While that's a simplification of Jesus’ primary ethic, I'm not sure there's much difference between the intent of that saying and the one of Confucius'. If you don't do what you wouldn't want done to you, what do you do? If you wouldn't want for people to walk past you as you sat starving in the cold, then don't do that; it's the same as if you would want them to help you, so that's what you ought to do.

        Yet what Jesus says is: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

        From this, I conclude the following: Do unto your neighbors—that is, whomever you find yourself near to in any given moment—as they would have you do unto them, so long as it does not compromise your primary obligation, which is to your Lord, whom you love even as you love your neighbor just as you’re to love yourself.

        Or, you know, what John said.

      • John Parton

        Very well put…I agree completely

  • http://christineoh.blogspot.com Christine

    Wonderful blog post…thanks John!

    I was thinking of this topic a lot recently. Esp because I (try haha) to mentor a lot of college girls at my church, and I intentionally try to bring this up so we can discuss about it..especially since naturally girls feel more guilty talking about sex. (this is another topic in itself i think haha)

    I questioned as well..what really is the benefit of waiting for sex till marriage? I've read through Song of Songs, and it constantly talks about how we shouldnt "awaken love until its ready." It also talks about that we should be a "garden locked up", "a fountain sealed"…and how the Man admires a woman that waits.

    I try to see this not as a set of laws and rules and not having sex before marriage "just because the bible says so" but to really understand more from our Father's heart. I think he's trying to teach us…me for sure.. something here. There's something that will grow when we learn to wait for the right timing. This benefit isnt for God..its for me..for us. I'm growing in character, patience, and learning to trust in Him. I'm able to really be thoughtful of my actions before I do, so I can also understand my motive..which is usually a lot of times, selfish.

    It's not a lot but that was my two cents.

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    John, Why'd you change the title? I liked it. It was so enigmatic, so provocative…

    Totally off topic: do you think Christians have any obligation to "get along" with each other despite our differences?

    Anyone?

    This is an academic question, not a suggestion.

    (Though I've been having this discussion elsewhere Original's conclusion after comments from the other post lead me to ask.)

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      This is the most I've EVER changed titles to a piece. I don't know which of the earlier ones you're asking about, but I had to lose "The God of Premarital Sex" because … well, if you think about it, you'll find it can be read in two ways. But maybe that's not the title you preferred….

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        That, the first title, is the one I was thinking about and the fact it could be read both ways…

        hmmm but not what you wanted…

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          The "Our" (instead of "The") is what makes the difference….

    • Matthew Tweedell

      First, I thought, well, if we're to love our neighbors, I guess we've got to get along. But then I thought, but people in love don't always get along perfectly. What's important is that our love for each other is stronger than any of the crap that makes people not "get along". So my answer is, we've got to try. Love conquers all, but that never means that earthly life is by any means ideal. So we don't have to get along, but we do have to try; and we have to keep trying as best we can, from each according to his ability, to each according to the will of God.

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        Thanks for a response, Matthew. It is totally off topic on this thread, but I do think it's one that bears discussion….

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    Original Writer, I have a question for you.

    When you sent the request for advice, what were your thoughts about the kind of answer you wanted to receive? What did you want to hear?

    I suspect you can probably answer that question, and that answer, my friend, is the one you need to examine.

    You can spend your whole life letting other people answer some of life's most important questions for you, or you can sit quietly, meditatively, prayerfully with those questions and come up with your own answers.

    Ultimately, the decision about what constitutes the right thing and the wrong thing, for each of us, is personal and private. We each have our own doubts and fears and wants and desires, our relationship with God is our own and no one else's.

    I've never heard the voice of God speak clearly in words that I can hear or read…although I believe I've seen God working in others through the words that they've written. To me the voice of God is that conviction I have when I think of an answer or an action and my heart just sings within me. It feels right. It doesn't bring anxiety or fear with it – it brings peace and the sensation that I am OK with God and with myself.

    The answer lies within you.

    • The Original Writer

      >When you sent the request for advice, what were your thoughts about the kind of answer you wanted to receive? What did you want to hear?

      I honestly didn't know. All I knew is that I'm pretty much at the end of my rope with no hope in sight. I wanted to know if it would be okay to just drop. Does that make sense? I mean, you try to hang in there for as long as you can but… man, life just doesn't work out the way you'd hope, ever. Disappointments about and disillusion sets in. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that whoever I marry one day will probably have been with other men, and probably more than one. And that just… That crushes me and it's alien to me. But at the very least I wanted to know if it didn't have to be alien, and if not, maybe I could eventually come around and not be so crushed. This is something I've thought about and examined for a very long time.

      >Ultimately, the decision about what constitutes the right thing and the wrong thing, for each of us, is personal and private

      No! It's not! What we do affects others. We're not living in isolation. We live in community. What we do affects more than just ourselves!

      >To me the voice of God is that conviction I have when I think of an answer or an action and my heart just sings within me. It feels right. It doesn’t bring anxiety or fear with it – it brings peace and the sensation that I am OK with God and with myself.

      I've never ever experienced this in my entire lifetime. Moreover, I hardly see how feelings can be a justification for anything. Sometimes doing the right thing makes you feel miserable; makes you feel like puking your guts out. Just look at Jesus in Gethsemane. Hematidrosis. That's what we're talking about here.

      >The answer lies within you.

      New age BS. Sorry.

      • Don Whitt

        Oh-Dub,

        My oldest sister used to do this thing to gain control in family situations. She'd say, "I'm bored, let's do something". We'd all start proposing things to do. Every suggestion would be met with her making some sort of, "No, that's not what I want to do" statement. She'd get lots of attention, lots of control and let everyone know how disappointing their lame-ass suggestions were. It was deliciously brilliant.

        Sound familiar? If not, please re-read the thread.

        And look very closely at the passive-aggressive mechanism you've created for helping keep people at arm's length (and all of them so disappointing) so it's easier for you to remain a virgin. It's probably not the long term strategy you're looking for.

        • Don Whitt

          Just a theory…

          • The Original Writer

            Thanks for that Deedoubleyou. Blast! Foiled again!! You got it! You unraveled the secret machinations which took me forever to plot! Please enjoy the subsequent explanatory evil monologue:

            Step one: I would secretly infiltrate a close knit online community, posing as one of their own.

            Step two: I would anonymously e-mail the community leader with a seemingly heartfelt question that all but demanded to be addressed.

            Step three: Said hot topic post would then shake up said online community and result in tons of comments.

            Step four: REVEL IN ANONYMOUS INTERNET ATTENTION.

            Tell me your address and I'll mail you a prize for being so astutely cleverly astutely clever. I cannot guarantee it won't be a flaming bag of dog poop.

            Seriously, dude? You might as well come straight out and call me a sociopath. Or an internet sociopath (an e-sociopath? iSocio… forget it).

            No, I think the answer isn't as black and white as you propose here. I do think I raise valid issues here, including with the responses (many of which are purely anecdotal… It's the funniest thing, you know. Nothing will bewilder more than a comment from a single mother telling you with a straight face how awesome premarital sex is whilst she is simultaneously raising a child out of wedlock). So no, considering the calibre of some of the answers… Sue me for not being convinced either way.

            And that's not to insult all the commenters at all. Some have given me a lot to think about. And think about it I will. I will be churning over all this in the weeks to come.

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            Oh-Dub,

            Attention getting is incredibly social and very common and usually not sociopathic. This stuff is never black and white and rarely as dramatic as proposed, but I think everyone gets that you’re frustrated and understands why. I’m just getting the feeling that you’re starting to enjoy all that. Also natural, also not sociopathic, just immature.

          • The Original Writer

            Right. Immature attention getting.

            Thanks, but I'll have to bid you good day at this point.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Of course you do, dear. You were busted. Troll harder.

          • Don Whitt

            Saw right through you, didn’t I?

          • The Original Writer

            I disagree with your conclusion. I’m just obstinate.

          • The Original Writer

            Don't know what to say other than I'm not trolling.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        Sorry, but I beg to differ. You're asking other people to tell you what to do and where to find the answers.

        As you get older you will find that you DO have the answers, you just didn't look hard enough.

        When you do something that isn't right for you, it feels wrong. And so then you know the answer to THAT question. When you do something that's right for you, it not only feels right but the consequences of it are generally positive and affirming. Big decisions have bigger consequences and its more important to weigh the matter heavily, but I've found that there were some big decisions I was wrong about that ultimately led me to know myself better and make better choices afterward.

        The answer IS within you. Its not new-age BS. Its called "spending enough time with yourself and your thoughts to know who you are and what you want in life, and not letting other people direct your path." Really and truly. Maybe you can't see that now, but I'm pretty sure when you're my age you will understand what I'm saying. Things look different on this side of life.

        • The Original Writer

          Theoretical here: The Obsessive Compulsive Liar says it feels really good to lie. Lying is an integral part of his being. He cannot help but lie. (Note how this fits all your criteria in that 1)it doesn’t feel wrong to him, 2)it is an affirming experience). Does that mean it’s correct for this person to behave in this way?

          Certainly not, because in society there is a consensus on lying that tells us it’s wrong. The only way this man can learn that he is wrong is to interact with others who tell him so, and help him to change his thinking, should he hope to be a functioning member of society.

          As a human being I am a limited collection of thoughts and experiences, albeit ones that are very similar to what those who have gone before me have experienced. The questions I have are precisely because I do not already contain the answers, and it is not beyond reason to believe that I can learn from my older forbears who are essentially my genetic clones. Because of my limitations that is precisely why I must ask questions. Otherwise, I risk stumbling around in the dark perpetually.

          Furthermore, I’m not even fixed in my being, given that as I go through time, my collection of thoughts and experiences will change, thus changing my personality. In other words, being is malleable. Scientifically, this concept is related to something called neuroplasticity.

          This simple fact is why wikipedia has now blown encyclopedia brittanica out of the water: Distributed knowledge is always greater than individual knowledge.

          Given how wrong everyone has been in the whole of human history, I’d say your philosophy is willfully turning away from the inconvenient fact that real knowledge and understanding is hard to arrive at; sometimes taking centuries to truly grasp a concept. There simply are too many things outside of us that it actually becomes either arrogant or blind to believe the answers are contained within.

          In other words, what you are saying is simply Oprah-type pop-psychology. It’s not thought-through, it’s not examined. It just sounds good and convenient and self-affirming, when in actuality it’s either compoundingly stupid or infinitely arrogant.

          • Mindy

            When an obsessive-compulsive liar lies, he creates a victim of his dishonesty every time. It may not be a big deal – it could be about something tiny and inconsequential – but in every instance, someone is misled, which could lead to grave consequences. Even if it doesn't, someone has intentionally been given wrong information. So it isn't the same thing.

          • Susan

            @ Mindy,

            I think what he's trying to convey is that one cannot count on emotions as the sole source in making all decisions. (This makes me happy so it must be right /This makes me feel guilty, so it must be wrong.)

            Think of all the dysfunctional thoughts out there, maybe some you’ve had yourself…

            For example – think of our homosexual friends who’ve felt like they were worthless, were shamed into feeling like they were freaks, felt guilty because they wanted love – their feelings were based on a flawed belief system.

            Because of some fundamentalist principles from my childhood, I used to “feel” guilt about things that were not sin.

            So, we’re back to the area of gray again. Life just isn’t black and white (although b/c of my background…sometimes I “feel” like it is, but I have to refocus…)

            Make sense?

            If not, Tildeb can help with this one!

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            I get that. I'd have to say that over the years I've learned to listen to that little niggling voice, and when it makes dissonance, I have to examine why. I'll eventually either reach a conclusion that yes, this is right for me now, at this time in my life, or no, this is not what I should be doing and I'll think some more about why not. I'll pray about it and pray about it some more. I might bounce it off some trusted friends. (I certainly don't think I'd ask the interwebz, but some people are ok doing that)

            There are certainly some moral absolutes, but I think I was speaking to those areas in life where there are not. Should I drink coffee? Is it bad for me? Should I let my children watch television? How much? Should I exercise today or meditate? This guy asked me on a date and he was nice but I'm not into him – should I go out with him again? Should I wear white before Memorial Day? Do those pants look right on me? Is this blouse too low cut for work? Even sex falls into those categories, which I will qualify with IN MY OPINION and IN MY EXPERIENCE.

            Since I've not walked a mile in OW's shoes, I suppose I shouldn't project what I think he will understand when he reaches the median point of his projected years on earth, but at the same time, I'm offended that he should discount the experience of someone likely twice his age, proferred in good faith. Just because it's not his experience doesn't make it any less valid for me.

          • Susan

            Oh gosh, I wasn't trying to dismiss you or your opinions, Barnmaven! Was just trying to express what I *thought* he was trying to convey, at least in part.

          • The Original Writer

            @Mindy – Susan hit the nail on the head in regards to emotional "authority." We're not talking about the consequences of an action here, as Barnmaven never seemed to take into account consequences in her original philosophy. I'm in agreement with you; lying does have consequences… But if we're applying Barnmaven's philosophy as stated in her comment above, it doesn't matter (again, this is why the philosophy is inconsistent with reality IMO). Personally, I find it a glaring and potentially disastrous omission.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Well, I wouldn't classify myself as arrogant or stupid, really, but you're certainly welcome to your opinion.

            I won't bother with you any longer, but I also won't stoop to name-calling. Apparently that's the last resort for many people. I wish you well in your search for truth.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            One more thought. I do lead an examined life. The entire gist of my existence the last year has been exactly that.

            I don't think you have to denigrate another person's experience just because you don't wish to believe it.

          • Susan

            Don't know anyone here who would describe you in any type of derogotary fashion! At all!

            I'm not at all sure why this person is here. If I'd asked for advice, but wasn't getting what I needed to help me contend with a difficult decision, I wouldn't criticise people who took the time to respond, and I wouldn't hang around for days to pass judgement and act like an indignant, self-absorbed, condescending jack-ass.

            :-)

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Why, thank you Susan.

          • The Original Writer

            I'm sorry… I just have a real hard time accepting incomplete thinking. I think I illustrated quite well how Barnmaven's thinking is incomplete; Susan seemed to comprehend how I was saying that emotions are not a valid indicator of the worthiness of actions in life.

            Given that, the philosophy can truly only be one of two things – willfully stupid in that it ignores its own implosive contradictions and relevant externalities, or surpassingly arrogant in that the person must truly believe themselves to be the one true bearer of truth, and that that ultimate truth is contained within their being. There simply is no middle ground here.

            That said, I just honestly don't think Barnmaven has thought this quite through. I wasn't trying to say that *she* was arrogant or stupid, but that now, seeing the philosophy plainly dissected, she would be one or the other (or possibly an even more repulsive combination of the two) if she continued with her belief. I will say once again for clarity, I never called Barnmaven stupid or arrogant; those criticisms were saved for the philosophy itself (and those who wished to continue to follow it, after having seen it thus de-legitimized).

            But of course, I will admit, deprogramming oneself is no easy task. We cling to our assumptions and beliefs because they make us feel secure. They affirm us, perhaps when it's best we not be affirmed… In fact, they can lead us down roads that are downright harmful when we are better not affirmed.

            Furthermore, older, in my mind, doesn't ever equal wiser (especially given the state of the world and how the baby boom generation has positively screwed over my generation with debt, environmental disasters, governmental disasters, wars, etc). I rarely consider the advice of a baby-boomer worthwhile, given everything I've previously mentioned. If this kind of criticism makes me an "indignant, self-absorbed jack-ass," I simply remember what corners the criticism is coming from and weight it out accordingly, realizing not everyone is capable of handling or qualified to comment within the course of critical discourse.

          • Susan

            @ Ow

            "deprogramming oneself is no easy task. We cling to our assumptions and beliefs because they make us feel secure. They affirm us, perhaps when it’s best we not be affirmed… In fact, they can lead us down roads that are downright harmful…"

            So true and well-said.

            I expressed that you were coming across as an “indignant, self-absorbed jack-ass” based on the overall tone and manner in which many of your posts have been written. Perhaps I was being too indignant.

            There is wisdom to be gained from people no matter how old they are.

            And, I'm not sure why you assumed I'm a baby boomer. I'm no spring chicken of course, but I'm Gen Y.

          • Argy-bargy

            I concur with Susan, "so true and well-said."

            But, wow, dude. Nothing like sweeping generalizations and inherent bias to change things for me. I am a baby-boomer, I don't believe, along with those of my generation, can en masse accused of having "positively screwed over my generation with debt, environmental disasters, governmental disasters, wars, etc" and highly resent that.

            I HAD thought you were a relatively thoughtful young man, struggling with legitimate concerns and frustrations. Well, I still believe that. But we are betrayed by our words. In my experience, that sort of world-view betrays deeper biases and inflexibility. It doesn't take away from the validity of your concerns and struggles.

            But, I'm not really interested in discussing things any longer with you. I wish you good luck. Given my shortened time span on this earth, I'm not inclined to waste more time of it in these discussions with you. I wish you peace.

          • Susan

            I don't know what I was thinking – synapses not shooting properly, I WISH I were Gen Y, but I am Gen X.

            Argy-Bargy – nothing wrong with Baby boomers. I love 'em!

            Don't know where that train of thought was coming from and doubt he intended to be so dismissive. As I recall, he approached Sir John Shore for advice – and he's less of a spring chicken than I am!

          • Jeanine

            @ A-b

            “debt, environmental disasters, governmental disasters, wars, etc”

            That is why I believe in Satan and evil (from our discussion earlier). I think he sells us these tidy little lies, we believe them and it leads to ruin.

          • Argy-bargy

            I understand. My opinion differs. I don't believe we need Satan to explain these things…we're quite capable of lying to ourselves and each other and causing these things quite on our own. My point above was simply that it's a bit bigoted to to pin the responsibilities on any one age group or other demographic one has resentments toward.

          • Argy-bargy

            Well, I do think many in their 20s are doing tremendous things to change the flow. So are those in their 80s and every age in between. I just don't see that it's helpful to single out groups as being less virtuous than others. In fact, those who don't harbor that discriminatory thinking do far more good than not. We all have to combat the natural human tendency to group people together because of a superficial similarity and not bother to look further than that. Maybe it worked better for our simian ancestors' smaller groups, but I'd like to think we have progressed a bit more since those times.

          • Jeanine

            Point well taken.

          • The Original Writer

            @AG,

            No worries, dude. I have my research. Boomers truly are the world's most damaging and selfish generation but if you don't want to believe that, I can't make you. All I can do is present the evidence for why I believe this to be true:

            Baby Boomers have saddled my generation with over 13 trillion in debt. My generation barely has had any time to spend anything. This is all directly attributable to boomer-based spending.

            Many Boomers cling desperately to their positions they normally would have vacated because they lost their retirement savings in the housing bubble (a boomer driven speculative nightmare). So instead of making room for the younger generation, they clog up the system. And then they have the audacity to look down on us when we can't get ahead in life.

            Some Boomers are starting to retire. Yet, despite being the richest generation who ever lived, they will demand more in taxes on the younger generations than previous. When social security was started, there were numerous taxpayers to pay for each retiree. Now, there are less than 4 per Boomer. This means higher taxes saddling the younger generation, despite Boomers already being the richest generation of people who have lived in the history of humanity; and many of them don't feel this is wrong. They "deserve" their benefits.

            This is a reflection of how boomers truly are the most selfish generation ever raised. Being the children of post-war parents, they were given everything by parents who wanted them to experience the world they didn't. From that grew a consumption mindset that brought about the rollercoaster economies of the 80's and 90's.

            (No wonder they're now making a sequel to Wall Street; we can't get rid of you guys if we wanted to!)

            And on top of that, look at the wars you've started, the unsustainable inflation of the American military empire abroad, the environmental disasters which lay directly at your feet… Even your modes of consumption are despicable; creating wage-slaves abroad by supporting inhumane industries in China and other third world countries.

            No wonder America is collapsing. No wonder our infrastructure is literally crumbling. You were given everything by your parents and rode that out; and now since there's no one to take care of you, you're shoveling all your responsibilities onto the younger generations.

            We have more debt than you ever had. Now we have less opportunity than was afforded you. And yet your newspapers constantly feature stories about how irresponsible we are and how we are just big adolescent children.

            And don't even get me started on the impending derivative bubble.

            Here's an excellent article on this: http://rebekahmonson.com/2010/09/02/twentysomethi

            Boomers, by and large, are not good people. They are self-absorbed consumers (which, ironically, is exactly the same criticism that originally spawned in the halls of the NYTimes against millenials), which even you echo here today. You say we're not doing anything to change this? You try changing things when you carry $100,000 of unstoppable student debt (owed to boomer-run banks, which paid boomer-run schools) hanging over your head and see how you do. You try changing things without capital.

            Hell, your generation HAS capital and yet you obstinately refuse to change anything still!!

            Oh, but it was all my choice, right? I didn't have to get educated. I could have been, you know, a barista or a soldier or something. Because apparently that's all the prospects I have in this world (prospects which, oh-ho big suprise! support long-term boomer interests).

            The best thing for the world right now would be for the boomers to either die or get out of the way. All the boomers clogging up the industries, all the boomers lying to us in Washington, all the boomers propping up this sham economy and sending the likes of me to war to be some meaty dehumanized bullet catcher.

            And instead of proving me wrong when I bring this up, you get reflexively defensive. Everything I've said here can be backed up with data. You think I'm being ideologically inflexible and I'm saying, "No! No! This is a real problem!"

            But isn't that just like a boomer to be defensively dismissive of something they don't want to hear.

          • The Original Writer

            I meant @A-B… gahh, the G in there stood out more than the B in my brain…

          • Mindy

            @ OW – The problem with statistics is that they do not reflect actual human beings. They reflect – in this example – economical and political trends.

            I am, technically, a Boomer, born in the last quarter of the last year of the '50s. I have never felt a part of that generation, but technically, I am.

            And yet I am as socially liberal and NOT selfish – by just about any standard against which you might measure me – and anti-war and all that as they come.

            My take on it is that all that crap that has been rendered against "your" generation has been rendered against mine and all those between us as well – by the few and the wealthy of the Boomer generation. Those whose greed for money and power was never checked; they are the ones who have turned this country into a mangled, horrible mess.

            The problem with the balance of the Boomers, and many of my "right after the Boomers" generation and on down, is not selfishness and greed, but complacency. We let it happen. We are all complicit, OW – and now we have to fix it.

            You may not be wrong, but you are also not right to write off an entire generation as if we all banded together and decided to screw you over. The minority did, yes – they paid no attention to the long-term consequences of their selfish and greedy policies and decisions. But it was the result of a political cycle a very long time in the making, and it was the minority of people in that age group, not most of us. No more than the rabid tea partiers are representative of Americans as a whole.

          • Argy-bargy

            It's okay, Mindy. It's not like he's bitter or anything. After all, he couldn't possibly be a bigot.

          • Susan

            @ Mindy,

            I'm afraid this has gotten buried amongst the posts, but I wanted to share this with you. Not sure why. I guess b/c of our shared passion. I don't know if Mel has read it, but I thought you might appreciate it and have some good info to add.

            Posted by Susan on September 16, 2010 at 6:49 pm

          • Susan

            @ Mindy –

            Sorry – not sure why that link didn't work. Am trying again.

            There are a lot of good comments on that page, I wish there wasn't so much nesting…

            Anyway…let's see if all links will post…

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/09/13/the-question-of-p

            Posted by Susan on September 16, 2010 at 6:49 pm

          • The Original Writer

            @ A-B

            Oh I'm bitter and then some. I will admit that.

            But if valid criticism make me a bigot, well… call me a bigot all you like, but it does a disservice to you in that it will make your criticism of real bigots all that much less effective in the future. Again, you resort to ad hominem instead of addressing the (admittedly scathing) criticisms (possibly because deep down you are realizing that the actions of your generation are quite indefensible, so what other defense do you have but to call me a bigot?).

            Quite frankly, I think you might be perfectly representative of your generation, a generation who simply doesn't care what mine thinks or what mine is going through. So when I raise my voice, I get belittled and insulted and dismissed.

            But you know what? I'm used to that. I can handle that. I don't have a crisis when it happens because I experience it every single day from someone of your generation. People like me scare your generation because they're afraid I'm going to steal their jobs and their benefits and their influential power roles and social security checks; that I can perform their jobs better than they ever could hope to themselves. And you know what? They're right.

            And when you get this kind of criticism back in one passing comment which is then justified in subsequent posts with evidence, you freak out, call me a bigot, and under the pretense of being deeply insulted dismiss yourself from the conversation, thus effectively preventing yourself from actually having to think about these issues, protecting the self-affirming illusion you maintain.

            Hypocrisy, self deception, ad hominem attacks, protectionism… yup, all par for the course on the Boomer front.

            Prove me wrong, A-B.

            And don't dare pretend like you're above it all. Here and now, A-B. Prove me wrong.

            @Mindy

            I appreciate and agree with most of your post.

            But I'd have to disagree on the minority thing. It's a majority thing, as major trends do not emerge from a minority. You may not consider yourself a member of that group (whether you are in fact or aren't, I can't say, being that I don't have any way to objectively see this. I'll simply take you at your word for this and say you aren't, at least in spirit, even though that runs the risk of degenerating in to a "no true Scotsman" type of argument) but that does not change the fact that what I said is true for a majority of the Baby Boomer generation.

          • Mindy

            OW, you can think what you like. I can just as easily find "data" that will tell me how spoiled and incompetent your generation is, because your parents didn't let you learn to think for yourselves as they helicoptered around your lives. But I won't, because that would serve absolutely no purpose.

            I hope that somehow, you can become part of your own solution. I posted the other day with thoughts that I'd hoped were positive, suggestions that you might examine in order to pull yourself out of your unhappy place – and you didn't respond, so I have no idea if you saw it, or if it mattered. I understand your anger and frustration, but you are venting about your entire existence here in a place that was, not so long ago, dedicated to being all about sex. Oh well.

            I am going to put on my sneakers and hop on my bike. I'm going to ride to the park and work at the Balloon Glow, because I found an opportunity to earn $125 tonight. It will be a beautiful evening, I'll be out amongst happy people, and tomorrow, I'll buy groceries. Peace, OW. I hope you find it.

          • The Original Writer

            You're right. I am venting and this all was off topic.

            Also, I did read your response and am considering it. You're referring to the one mostly about volunteering, right?

            Idk… I didn't respond because, well, it's just not that feasible at the moment… I don't have the money for gas to go anywhere to volunteer, and I have volunteered for years previously, but found it to do little for me (yes, yes I know you're not supposed to look at what it can do for you; and at the time I wasn't… but if we're talking about what we get out of experiences, I'm going to have to go with little-to-nothing).

            And as I've grown up I've begun to question whether volunteering at things like this actually do society any good, or if they make people less responsible for themselves, perpetuating their circumstances by making it easy for them to not have to change things. More often than not, it's just a way for organizations to gain free labor. In other words, when you subsidize something, you get more of it. I.e., Subsidize food for the poor and you get more poor because some will simply see it as free food. I was talking with someone the other day who purposely doesn't work so they can take up unemployment. Why work if they don't have to?

            Idk anymore. Those were the thoughts running in my head in terms of my response to your response. I just don't know.

          • Jeanine

            No doubt, the world was screwed up long before the baby boomers arrived, and I haven’t seen many of the twenty somethings changing the flow of it.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Sorry, OW, but when a 21 year old kid who's not even got a real job implies that there is no wisdom gained in life by an almost 45-year old mother of two with plenty of miles of life behind her, I have to laugh.

            You have no idea. At more than twice your age, I've been an adult supporting myself financially for more years than you've been alive. I've spent many years in therapy, many years in various kinds of churches, many years in a successful career, and what I believe today is not what I believed 20 years ago and it will not be what I believe 20 years from now. I'm old enough to know I don't know everything, and that time will reveal much more to me.

            I've grown life inside me and given birth, I'm totally responsible for two small lives and as a single mother for every financial gain or hardship of my family.

            I have given more than a few moments' thought to what I believe, and whether or not I explain it well to you — I only believe that my faith and my understanding of God will continue to grow. Certainly it is incomplete, but not because you arrogantly point out that it is. Arrogantly, I say, because you have not even begun to experience life. It is through the experience of life's joys and sorrows, hardships and triumphs, that we grow in understanding of ourselves, of others, and of God. God isn't found by reading philosophies and dissertations and arguments. God is a living entity, not bound by page or by any small word which you or I might write or say aloud.

            What I wrote is not even close to the sum of my faith and my belief, but as you have cast the words back of everyone here who has attempted to share their experience with you, trying to discuss it any further would be fruitless. You don't want advice, clearly all you want to do is have a fight. People reached back, believing that you were genuinely reaching out. They shared their experience and wisdom, and you essentially told each and every one of us that you are smarter than us, that we are wrong, and we should just shut our arrogant, stupid mouths.

            Maybe you're just too angry to listen.

            Regardless, you are a child of God and because He loves you, so does every one of us here. I hope that you find the answers you seek and I hope that you can someday look back on a life well-lived and know that you are a sum of your experience; that the arrogance of youth will give way to the softening of age.

          • The Original Writer

            LoL Barnmaven, when did you decide I was 21? Ahahahahahahahahhaa. Your whole assumption is wrong wrong wrong m'dear! XD. True, I might wish to be younger if only to be able to do it all over again, but that does not change that fact that I am nowhere near 21. (Where did you even get that from?? Hahahahha!! I wish. I truly do!)

            And as far as not having lived… I take it you assumed that since I was supposedly only 21 in your mind, you imagined that I had only ever been in school, poking my nose between the pages of books, and that this makes me arrogant because I have not experienced life.

            Hardly.

            Wrong assumptions stacked on more wrong assumptions.

            I won't give out any details here, because someone I know may recognize me, but Barnmaven…

            Have you ever held dead children in your hands? Have you ever been chased by men with rifles? Have you ever watched thousands die around you as you feared for your own life?

            No? Well I've experienced all those things. Not all at once, and not in the same places, but I have lived through everything I mention here.

            Don't tell me I haven't lived. Don't you dare tell me that for a second.

            Truth be told, my experiences have told me that life is pointless and that God simply doesn't care, even if He's there at all. I don't feel God, I don't feel the supposed love of God, and I don't see it in the world around me, even though I try to follow the right way, even if I don't always know what that is. My inside is full of gut-wrenching confusion, cynicism, even nihilism. I have seen the truth and it doesn't.make.sense.

            And you have the audacity to say the answer is simply inside me. *Poof!* See! It's there!

            For the longest time when I would get up in the morning my brain would tell me to end myself. Is that the answer, Barnie? Is it? Do you even know what it's like to live with that?

            So you're older. You've made babies. You work a job. I won't disparage those things. But it's not hard to age. It's not hard to create children. It's also not hard to get any old job (at least not before this recession). Those actions provide for you and yours (again, nothing wrong with that). But please don't pretend like they afford you any specially earned kind of wisdom. Billions of people (many of that number being astoundingly clueless) have gone before, aged, worked, and made babies, to no real fanfare, despite some romanticizing the notions of it all.

            In fact, when you claim those things as the reason why I should listen to you, I hear something along the lines of this: http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l4h0km6DDO1qaft

            I pushed back in this thread with criticisms, hoping for answers that were more in-depth and better reasoned. What I saw were a bunch of posts crying that I was being mean. True, I was harsh, I still am, and I'll try to control that from here out, but I haven't said anything that wasn't truthful and that wasn't thought through to the best of my ability. I'm not sure everyone here can say the same.

          • Jeanine

            Have you ever read the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom? Go check out her life story and that of her family.

            This woman walked as closely with God as if He were holding her hand; and she triumnphed over every wicked thing this world could throw at her.

            Was it some earthly triumph of fame or riches or easiness or luxury. No, I think you will see that her circumstances were always quite rotten.

            But this woman lived a victorious life, she was a light in a completely dark place for others to see by, she was magestic in heart and strong in love, and she no doubt will recieve her full reward when she stands before the Father.

            Her life was well lived and spent for all the right things. I just adore her witness and testimony to goodness and to God. If I could have one ounce of her faithfulness and lovely character I would be well pleased.

            Set your heart on that which is good. Look to something other than yourself. Live out the passion that you have but live it for good. Use that passion and anger to rebel against this fallen ugly world, replacing it with strength of heart and character and real love. That is when you will feel God's presence and He will be closer to you than any other human being on earth. Pour yourself out and He will fill you with every good thing. If you are full of hate and bitterness, there is no room for Him to add unto you.

            Too many look at this world as if there is nothing that can be done. Well, give God some credit, and let him use your life for something lasting.

            2 Chron 16:9

            For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

          • Jeanine

            @ OW

            ‘Oh I’m bitter and then some. I will admit that.’

            You are very angry with a generation of people over something you have not received as if you have some right or entitlement to happiness. But with all due respect, our Constitution guarantees the right to ‘pursue’ happiness – it does not promise that it will be handed to you on a silver platter.

            I am remembering the early apostles and church leaders who were martyred and burned at the stake – fed to lions so we could share in the message of the Gospel.

            I am thinking of the Pilgrims and Puritans, etc. who gave up every comfort, and many of them their lives, to pursue a better life for future generations.

            I am thinking of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War; where people gave everything in order that future generations could live in freedom in a country never before imagined.

            I am thinking of the WW1 and WW2 veterans who spent their 20 something years in foxholes in foreign lands fighting battles while their wives and kids struggled at home.

            I am remembering my grandparents who came through the Great Depression and worked in mines and steel mills, and factories in tough conditions prior to unions in order to support their families.

            I am thinking of generations of family farmers and fisherman.

            Every generation has their hardships. A quick study of history will let you know that no person has a world full of opportunity – they only have the circumstances they are given.

            The Baby Boomers are a unique bunch. They have had wars and struggles, but they have also had great prosperity. I also think they had great creativity as well. Apple and HP and IBM. Rockets to the Moon! The increase in knowledge and science and medicine that we have benefited from thanks to them is amazing. Man, I am just thrilled that Pixar exists! (Not sure if they are Baby Boomers, but I do love Pixar!)

            Were politicians and CEO’s greedy? Sure, but lots of the regular people were just out working hard and being innovative and creative in ways other generations couldn’t touch because they were too preoccupied with war.

            I don’t know. The fact is, you are dealing with a broken world just like the rest of us. The problem is you have some picture in your head about how things ought to be.

            Search your heart and find the ‘talent’ that God has given you; put it to use. Forget about the $ aspect and just sink your heart into soemthing you were made to do. Trust God to bless it. Take your eyes off the ‘American Dream’ – that is an earthly thing which will soon pass away. I think that dream is a myth anyways. Put your eyes on the dream of who you are; what you stand for; and what strength of character you want to take into eternity with you. Build on that and everything else will fall into place.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            @OW. Now I get it.

            You're special.

            We're wrong. Possibly even evil.

            You're wonderful.

            We're stupid.

            You know everything.

            Your pain eclipses the pain of all others.

            Good luck with everything.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “Again, you resort to ad hominem instead of addressing the (admittedly scathing) criticisms (possibly because deep down you are realizing that the actions of your generation are quite indefensible, so what other defense do you have but to call me a bigot?).”

            Perhaps the actions of your race are quite indefensible. All things considered, no one probably should take anything you might have to say as worthwhile.

            “Truth be told, my experiences have told me that life is pointless and that God simply doesn’t care, even if He’s there at all. I don’t feel God, I don’t feel the supposed love of God, and I don’t see it in the world around me….”

            Do you know what love is? Has anyone ever shown you some sort of loving kindness, something beyond that which is required of them? Haven't you ever seen what is good in the world?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            A well examined life would not lead one to rely on things feeling right. Rather it leads things to feel right when that's how they actually are. I have a feeling you put the cart before the horse—or jackass in this case. :)

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Thanks for calling me names. You're a sparkling example of maturity. So far today, on one thread I've been called arrogant, stupid, and now a jackass. Awesome.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            WTF? I was talking about OW—well, not exactly: I was referring to how SUSAN referred to OW. And then she smiled, as did she. Thanks for setting a sparkling example of your maturity with your sarcasm, imperceptive presumptions, and hypocritical thanking of Susan's doing the very thing that you thought made me immature!

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            Oy. Sorry, I misread. I'm frankly still feeling a little out of sorts over the "stupid" and "arrogant" comments from Oh-Dub.

            I think to put the keyboard down and walk away from the internet for a few days.

          • Susan

            WTF back atcha MT.

            I thought it was rude how OW responded to Barnmaven's advice. Advice he asked for, and she didn't have to offer. He's behaved this way to several people who were trying to help him.

            I did not call him names, I said he was acting in a manner that was very unappreciative, like a jack-ass and condescending. Barnmaven didn't do anything to deserve that.

            For whatever reason, I feel protective of this place and the people here. I wanted Barnmaven to know she was appreciated. The Smiley – that was for her and for being kind.

            Now, all that said, I do not want to be hypocritical or immature and I thank you for pointing that out in me. Unfortunately, I'm not exactly sure to what you are attributing those traits. And, while I feel dense for asking that you clarify and will no doubt feel even more so after you tell me, because I'll think "duh" I feel like it is the right thing for me to do. How else am I gonna learn.

            So, MT, do you mind elaborating for me.

            Thanks.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Sure thing, Susan. You expressed to Barnmaven the opinion that OW was acting somewhat like a jackass. So, in responding to the same comment by Barnmaven, I poked a bit of fun at that, enhancing the worn cliche of "the cart before the horse" with a bit of mild humor. I also thereby indicated just who the horse is—that is, I'm not saying Barnmaven should change the way she approaches things, but that the way she expressed herself, which OW had challenged, I thought might not have been the best advice exactly to have him follow. Also, I thought I might diffuse some of the harsh tone the discussion was taking, which apparently backfired as you guys were already more on edge than I thought, by making light of an offensive term you used, and at least to point to its almost comically offensive nature in such contexts—at which I apparently succeeded. But now I need to explain that I do not call names any more than you (no, adding "like" doesn't lighten the effect more than making it into a pun), so what’s the matter and how’s this not hypocrisy from your end? I point this out only now though; before, I didn’t say you were immature or hypocritical; I was addressing Barnmaven, although it's possible that you misunderstood as I mistakenly put "as did she" where I meant to say "as did I". I apologize for any confusion.

          • Susan

            @Matthew

            I reacted (both times) without enough consideration.

            The way I read your comment was that I was being a an immature, hypocritical, jackass and what in the world was she doing thanking someone like me?

            You are absolutely right that the addition of "like a self-absorbed…) doesn't make it less harsh – and claiming otherwise was, well, kinda immature.

            My apologies for the melodrama.

            Thanks for taking the time to explain. It's very easy to slip into behaving in a manner that we condemn. God knows when to teach me a lesson in humility.

            Again, your words are much appreciated.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No one would lie if it were not for the illusion that it would be good for them. If they really analyzed their self, their life, and their meaninglessness, they could see that all that is ultimately of use to their being is what is true, but that also sometimes it's better to say nothing than to say the truth. Either way, falsehood has serves no ultimate purpose—any good feeling it brings is only due to the illusion that it has some sort of purpose unto itself when really it is but words devoid of reality. The ego gets in the way of seeing the reality of its own arbitrariness—as you mentioned above in quoting hitch regarding the word "you"—as a subjective construct without any certain objective content, or any certain permanence. Lies are defeated by truths, but Truth endures forever. You say that the only way he can learn that to lie is wrong is to interact with others; yet the only reason he would lie is in the interaction with "others". Unto himself, he should find that if he lies to himself, he perverts his nature—does himself harm—for the beloved of the mind is Truth, as truths help us—allow us even—to get by in life—to survive. And tearing down the wall of the ego, which soon enough will no longer survive no matter what we do, the seed of our own flesh and moreover of the spirit within us will endure—and we in it—so long as Truth and Love shall reign in us. And I assure you, in my sincere hope and reasoned faith that they ever shall triumph over lies and fears: outside of the self, there is no time such that God does not reign over all.

            What is my point? Nonetheless, God tells the compulsive liar he is wrong if he just tunes in to the right station of his being; when others tell it to him, it is as the body of our Lord has countless tongues, as the Word of the Lord descends in the tongues of angels—some only within, others all around. The liar need only knock and it shall be opened unto him—if he should sincerely persist, for not always is the door opened when first we knock. Life experience tells me so, but I am thinking of a tale by the Sufi sage Rumi that goes something like this: A man comes to the door and knocks. "Who is it?" cries the Voice. "It is I," the man replies. "Go away," says the Voice. The man stands there for a moment, stunned, confused, despaired; he leaves. He searches the world (that is to say, his ever-changing experience of being) for understanding, and years later he returns to stand before that very door. He knocks. "Who is it?" says the Voice. "It is you, o Beloved." The door opens. "Come in! I'm so delighted. There is simply no room here for more than one 'I'."

          • The Original Writer

            I am trying to read this and having a very hard time.

            You write in gigantic blocks of text, which are just very hard to follow on a computer screen.

            See, when I break up my paragraphs and sentences like this, you have an easier time following them.

            Also, you use a lot of confusing terms and confusing sentence structures… I'm not trying to criticize you, but man… is this ever a doozy to follow…

            ,,….

            Nope… just read it very closely. I have no idea what you're saying or what the point is. Something about two I's… idk. Honestly… No clue. You've completely lost me.

          • Ace

            The term you are looking for is "TL;DR", or affectionately known as "a galloping teal deer of a post there, buddy!"

            :P

            (aka "too long; didn't read")

          • The Original Writer

            Teal deer… I like it.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Your very first comment on this post was 2632 characters (spaces included). That comment of mine was 2641. I wasn't aware that the character limit was 2640.

            As for confusing terms, I'm not sure what you mean. Perhaps ego, subjective, objective, and Sufi could be mildly technical, but the rest are fairly everyday concepts. My average word length over the characters is actually marginally shorter than yours.

            The structure of my sentences generally parses unambiguously, and this I use to allow that I say things precisely with shorter words.

            I try to keep such comments condensed, using conservative paragraphing. Otherwise, especially when we're getting deep into nesting like this, it's just a waste of space.

            Allow me though to try to help you by supplying a more liberally paragraphed version for you:

            No one would lie if it were not for the illusion that it would be good for them. If they really analyzed their self, their life, and their meaninglessness, they could see that all that is ultimately of use to their being is what is true, but that also sometimes it’s better to say nothing than to say the truth. Either way, falsehood serves no ultimate purpose—any good feeling it brings is only due to the illusion that it has some sort of purpose unto itself when really it is but words devoid of reality.

            Yet the ego gets in the way of seeing the reality of its own arbitrariness—as you mentioned above in quoting Hitch regarding the word “you”—as a subjective construct without any certain objective content, or any certain permanence.

            Lies are defeated by truths, but Truth endures forever. You say that the only way he can learn that to lie is wrong is to interact with others; yet the only reason he would lie is in the interaction with “others”. Unto himself, he should find that if he lies to himself, he perverts his nature—does himself harm—for the beloved of the mind is Truth, as truths help us—allow us even—to get by in life—to survive. And tearing down the wall of the ego, which soon enough will no longer survive no matter what we do, the seed of our own flesh and moreover of the spirit within us will endure—and we in it—so long as Truth and Love shall reign in us. And I assure you, in my sincere hope and reasoned faith that they ever shall triumph over lies and fears: outside of the self, there is no time such that God does not reign over all.

            What is my point? Nonetheless, God tells the compulsive liar he is wrong if he just tunes in to the right station of his being; when others tell it to him, it is as the body of our Lord has countless tongues, as the Word of the Lord descends in the tongues of angels—some only within, others all around.

            The liar need only knock and it shall be opened unto him—if he should sincerely persist, for not always is the door opened when first we knock. Life experience tells me so, but I am thinking of a tale by the Sufi sage Rumi that goes something like this:

            A man comes to the door and knocks.

            “Who is it?” cries the Voice.

            “It is I,” the man replies.

            “Go away,” says the Voice.

            The man stands there for a moment, stunned, confused, despaired; he leaves. He searches the world (that is to say, his ever-changing experience of being) for understanding, and years later he returns to stand before that very door.

            He knocks.

            “Who is it?” says the Voice.

            “It is you, o Beloved.”

            The door opens.

            “Come in! I’m so delighted. There is simply no room here for more than one ‘I’.”

  • Patrice Wassmann

    What a wonderful essay!

  • Ron

    I will be stealing "Classy, yet fun. Like a top hat on a monkey." Giving you full credit, natch, but that's too good not to enter my daily lexicon.

  • http://teasuki.blogspot.com Stephanie

    Thank you. Thank you.

    Yes, thank you. =)

  • Freda

    Oh John, you are such a precious person and it just glows in your writing.

  • Cat

    This is beautiful (and funny, but mostly beautiful). Thanks John.

  • 2-personal

    @ Original Writer,

    I have no idea if you are still reading this or not, given that you seem to have been disappointed so far. No direct "yes, go ahead, it's OK," was given. No "Stop! Now! Don't even think about it! Sinner!" answer was given either.

    I won't give you a yes or no either. But what I will give you, based on female experience, is a suggestion. If you do decide to have sex, please make sure your partner feels the same way you do about it. You cannot make sure of this by simply asking her! Plenty of women (myself included) have said, at one point or another, "Yeah, I know you're not sure what you want, this isn't a permanent commitment for me either!" But when we say this, what we are thinking is, "If I mimic back exactly what he says, showing him how alike we are, then he will love me as much as I love him because he'll understand the connection!" It's a lie, and it's usually not too hard to figure out if you get to know her on a spiritual level first. Can you share Scripture with her? Can you pray with her? Can you talk about the cosmos and what God's plan might be? Those things are more on the spiritual wavelength. There's a spiritual connection beyond physical, and beyond emotional. You'll know it when you find it. And you'll both know what to do from there. And if you make mistakes along the way? Confess, seek God's grace, and try to learn from the experience.

  • textjunkie

    Dude, just have sex already. It feels like it's the most important thing in the world when you're 22, but seriously, it isn't. It's not the end of the world if it goes badly.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    OW: In your last comment (up the thread somewhere), you wrote, " … but that does not change that fact that I am nowhere near 21."

    Do you forget I have your original email to me?

    • DR

      Wow.

      Someone called him a troll. Maybe they were right. Have we been fooled? Is this a conspiracy? Is the second shooter the Original Writer? Did anyone really land on the moon?

      Am I even writing this?

    • The Original Writer

      I said twenty-something to you, I believe, John.

      I am not 21.

      Okay, maybe some people feel anything in your twenties is close to 21, but I certainly don't. I am in my twenties. I am not 21. That's all I'm saying.

      • The Original Writer

        And I said not even close to 21 because I didn’t want to get the eye-roll and be like, “Oh you’re 22.” Which I’m not.

        I’m saying nothing further about my age. Twenty-something should be sufficient.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          If you lie in the small things, you lie in the big things.

          • The Original Writer

            @DR,

            I'm sure you're aware that 29 is a vastly different age from 20 or 21. I realize that it may be all the same to some of the oldies here, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's a matter of perspective.

            @Mindy

            Thanks.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Listen.

            I don't know what your deal is, your age is, nor do I care to be honest with you. And you're not going to like me saying this, which is fine too. But in all of this conversation I've read? All I see is a young boy with a rather gigantic chip on his shoulder who is working his way back to feeling miserable despite each encouraging or constructive comment.

            And we all do it. We all work our way back to feelings that are familiar and it seems like you're primarily investing in feeling like shit about your life, about God, about not having sex, about relationships. There are a ton of really great things about all of the above if you were intentional in what you focus on – you seem to be marinating in self-pity and a low grade despair and that makes you powerless. And that renders God powerless if you're not going to step up and be willing to face your *self* . Seriously. Life is at it's best when it's not in sole pursuit of what it is we are entitled to feel or get.

          • Susan

            DR -

            That last line. I want to steal it. You condensed so much truth into one sentence.

            Highly nutritious, low in fat and less than 25 words.

          • The Original Writer

            I… don't understand. Are you telling me God is powerless to work without my complicity?

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            If you refuse to let Him? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Do you think He is going to do it without your consent?

            Despair is giving in the towel. Giving up. And the heart of the stubborn never finds rest. If you really aren't pursuing *rest* in Him which means a true pursuit away from misery, He will let you stay there. It's absolutely in your control, the Grace to say "Hey wait a minute – I don't have to stay here" is there at any second for the taking.

            This is largely up to you, my friend. That's why I don't really care about your age, we're all facing this. You've had an amazingly shitty deal if everything you've said is true. And if it isn't true, then you're pretty miserable for making it up. I don't take any of it lightly, but to have sex or not have sex is a symptom of a much deeper issue in your life and it's in a place where you will literally have to walk alone to find it, name it and face it. And it sucks, it's being a true pilgrim. We seek what we find. I have no idea what you are truly seeking and no one else here does either.

            As for what you've seen, the shock of trauma is so intense – sometimes we can only face it in small bits at a time. But that doesn't make your role in facing it, getting up and getting moving any less essential.

          • Argy-bargy

            DR, this was beautifully put, and I agree with you. And whatever my personal beef was OW, I wish him the very best and blessings.

          • The Original Writer

            " If you really aren’t pursuing *rest* in Him which means a true pursuit away from misery,"

            Okay. So. What do I have to do? That may sound like a stupid question, but I don't know how to approach that concept.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            @OW: Okay. So. What do I have to do? That may sound like a stupid question, but I don’t know how to approach that concept.>>

            It's not a stupid question at all, it is a profound question that courageous people ask.

            I can only tell you what this looked like for me (because I've been there). And perhaps it's not your story. Mine doesn't have to be yours. But for me, what I realized is that I'd defaulted into despair. That I'd never recover from my past. I'd never find love. No one would ever love me and want to be with me if it meant we didn't "do it". I'd never (fill in the blanks here). I'd simply decided that life and God were disappointing because none of it had worked out according to my own terms.

            I'd not been loved according to my own terms/expectations. I'd not been forgiven. And certainly, God had not delivered according to my terms. I believed all that was true and I wasn't terribly open to believing anything else, but at the same time demanded answers for why God hadn't provided what I truly needed on my own terms. So I was that person sitting by the side of the pool and when the angel stirred it, wouldn't work to jump in. And that's when God asked. "Do you want to get well?" the answer was no. No I don't, because living in despair is easy. It really is, it's really easy particularly in the Christian community when we have all of our beliefs and the language to connect with one another set like a can of instant coffee.

            What it really took for me was grief. Real grief. Facing what I'd lost, and who. Even God, I was exactly where you were, I thought it was all bullshit. So I said goodbye, even to the idea of having a particular life I'd wanted, others had and for some reason just never happened for me. And it SUCKED, it was so painful. I was so angry, but underneath it I was so devastated. There was such finality to it.

            And as I did, I realized all of the behaviors I'd adopted to not face it. I'd not actually *practiced* grief before, I just kept living in the false hope that it would all work out the way I wanted it too. And I only paid attention to the people and the belief and the God I invented in my mind to still hope for it. Which made me pretty lazy and sheltered and afraid of anyone who would challenge it and rattle my cage. I started really listening because I wasn't afraid of *hearing* anymore.

            The only analogy I can offer is that it felt like being burned. I had to grow new skin and it was on it's own timeline. But the life I have now, the courage I have now, the strength I have now, the convictions I have now and the faith I have now? I wouldn't trade it for the world.

            So I believe you when you say you believe it's all bullshit (or words to that effect). And you know what? It might be, you might have grown up in a christian home or adopted a version of faith that you needed to cling to in order to avoid facing what you've lost and believe you can't live without. We all have it. And loss is the human condition. And I can't promise you if you'll find real faith in Jesus on the other side if any of this resonates. But I strongly suspect you will because you won't need any contrived version of Him anymore than honestly, so many people cling to (I think you're smart enough to sense that).

            In all of this, I see a young man who is desperately seeking. If I'm right, you don't need to ask how to do it. You're already on your way. When we're lost, we go as far as we can to find our way home. Then He comes and takes us the rest of the way. I don't know much, but I do know that.

          • The Original Writer

            I… are you just telling me to pull myself up by my bootstraps?

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            OW, you asked a question and I answered it. If you got "pulling yourself up from your boot straps" from my response, then I'm not sure what to say. Healing and growth are a complicated, personal business and God certainly knows more of what you need than anyone else. If you're truly seeking peace and rest, you'll find it.

            Be well.

            DR

          • Susan

            @ DR

            What is so wonderful about the phenomenon of blogging is that people share their experiences in a profound and authentic manner – doing so with the intent to help a specific person (usually, or it seems so to me) yet the experiences shared can touch others who read it.

            Your experience and your words resonate with me, DR, and I'm in the process of facing the fire and growing new skin, as you so beautifully put. It is hard work. It takes time. It takes courage.

            For me, I cannot simply have faith in God/Jesus, because my views of Him, of Christianity are dysfunctional at best and deeply ingrained. This is of course, related to childhood-the relationships and experiences- that shaped my beliefs.

            Healing, at least my healing, requires casting off those beliefs that are indeed just as a part of me as my skin. Facing the fact that my parents will NEVER give me what I so need (and needed) was a breakthrough. Understanding that they did the best they could, no longer blaming them and realizing that I am responsible now for my peace has been a miracle. The religion of my childhood and the image of my parents that I've superimposed on to God – dealing with that and the underlying beliefs about myself – well, its a process I'm still in and it is….hard. I've had to basically stirp myself of all religiosity and start from a new, extremely miniscule place of faith. In myself, my therapist and the mystery of God. Lots of two steps forward, one step back…

            So, your words are not in vain. I find comfort and hope in them, which leads me to believe others will as well.

            Thank you for sharing.

          • Mindy

            DR, I agree with Susan – your words about healing, about grief and false hope and moving forward, have meant a great deal to me as well. You've commented along those lines more than once, and one of them literally knocked the wind out of me.

            The words of a blogger – and the conversations that follow – are thrown into the cyber-wind to be caught by those who need them, who relate to them, who are inspired by them. The words can incite hope, laughter, anger, frustration – depending upon who is reading and what they need to receive.

            I have thought about this particular conversation, hoping that OW has gained something from each encounter, even the ones he that have seemed to frustrate him the most. I've hoped that Matthew will hear what others have said to him about the difficulty of understanding the points he tries to make. I've thought about my own writing, and how I can better make myself understood in the future. I've thought about what it was that caused me to appear hypocritical last night – and after reflection, I can see that Matthew was frustrated because I called him on attributing something to me that I did not mean, while at the same time, because I misunderstood his meaning, I did the same thing. It was entirely unintentional, based not in malice or selfishness, from which hypocrisy derives, but from a lack of clarity. We each read the other through the lens our own perspective, and misconstrued each other in the process.

            The thing about blogged conversations, though, is that our not having the immediate feedback of facial expressions and body language leaves us not knowing how what we have said is received unless someone responds. Once a response is left, we know if our words conveyed our intended meaning. If so, great. If not, we can clarify. I believe Matthew would be wise to remember that, and instead of name-calling and making accusations, ask for clarification before devolving into a rant.

            Suffice it to say that I choose to respond to content that matters to me. I am not obligated to respond to anything, especially when unfounded and unwarranted accusations are tossed about.

            But I digress. DR, though, has shared openly – and it has helped even those for whom it wasn't specifically intended. Thank you for that!

          • The Original Writer

            Idk, maybe I'm getting caught up with the analogy of the well… What I think you're trying to say (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that at some point it felt like you were refusing God's healing in your life, that it had been there all along, yet it was easier for you to stay put in misery, but once you realized that, you jumped in and went through a grieving process, as it were.

            But for me… I don't even see healing as an option. Where you were next to a well, I am (to be slightly melodramatic here) crawling in a desert with vultures picking at my bones.

            In all seriousness, most every day at some point I honestly think God must hate me, especially given his track record in my life; that I'm his unwanted bastard child, dreamt up for his cosmic amusement. I always feel like I'm under his thumb, slowly having the life pressed out of me. I pray for help and relief, but none ever comes. I pray and work for things to change, but man… they just seem to go from bad to worse, piling on more stress and brokenness.

            And then at the end of it all I have the fear of dying, and what if I didn't get it right? What if I missed something? Do I get to burn perpetually then? So what? I get a shit life and then a shit afterlife? Some loving God. I guarantee this is happening to people around the globe every day – like starving "pagan" children. Boy do they get a raw deal.

            But all said, I'm tired of always losing. I'm tired of trying and having nothing to show for it. Is God just slowly trying to kill me? Because I can totally speed up that process for the asshole. But I'd sooner not believe at all.

            You say I don't need to ask, that I'm already on my way… idk… all I want is the truth. If God is real, I want to know it. If he isn't, I want to know that. If he's loving or if he's cruel and capricious, I want to know that.

            I'm sorry, I have no idea what I'm even asking anymore.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            For the record: Hypocrisy does derive from lack of clarity, which does derive from selfishness. Of course hypocrites do not realize (unless it's pointed out)—and all the less do they intend—their malice. But the father of lies encourages improper application of the construct of ego, and that we call selfishness. (If not for the concept of “self”, you would not be hypocritical: we do this in defense of self and self-illusion rather than in Truth.) Lack of clarity to see the self and other for what they really are results in illusions' giving rise to all sorts of hypocrisy.

            DR, I want to thank you for your excellent work in reaching out to O-dub: Your recent comments have been straight from the heart and to the soul—the work of the Spirit I see here!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Dear Matthew,

            Why are you talking to such a jerk like me? While I appreciate the attempt at being gracious, it's diminished by your justification of calling others hypocrites. I'm done watching you take others to task but not yourself with the same ruthlessness.

            I'm officially out. I don't understand you, you seem unwilling to really examine yourself, take the feedback you've been given and just change. This most recent exchange has make me very uncomfortable and I'm just going to take a pass on any further dialogue with you. The attack – then compliment – then attack thing feels a little bullshitty to me (always a lady!). I don't care if you agree.

            Maybe others will connect with you better, I hope so. I've tried, but I'm not one who sticks around when I'm disrespected, or when others are. I don't care about your intent. I'll let God worry about that.

            Later gator.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            @OW,

            At the risk of sounding trite, do yourself a favour: this week go out and find a community choir (everybody can sing) or band (if you play an instrument) or both and reconnect with where you live. You will meet many people, some of whom are in your position, older, younger, each with stories that will put what you're going through in perspective. It will take time, allow you to step up and perform, build confidence, and make lasting connections. Screw the money thing: keep hustling and things will work out because they always do. You need to go through all the shit today to become the person you will be tomorrow – but you must direct what you will become because what you are now is not what you want to be for life. When life starts crowding you out, expand; it will work out for you.

            Do you need god? I don't think so; I think you need to become part of something bigger – a member of a larger community who all share the same goal (an integral part of a performance and all the nerves that go with it, plus the payout that comes after) – that will give you tangible results.

            Unless your life could use less music….

          • Mindy

            You're welcome. I hope in some small way it helped you.

          • The Original Writer

            =)

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            OW, your last comment brought tears to my eyes, only because I understand exactly what you're saying. It's the hidden language of despair that only those of us who have given ourselves over to it without knowing we have speak. And it happens unconsciously after a lot of trauma and disappointment, no one in their right minds wants to be miserable.

            We all want relief. We all want to feel ok. It's isolating, terrifying and to throw a sudden doubt that a loving God exists in the midst of it or that we'll burn in hell as a result of it somehow is even more paralyzing.

            Here is what I am absolutely certain about regarding Love which for me is the very presence of God. That is has surrounded you, it knows exactly why you are facing what you face. That it is not at all intimidated or helpless. And that it is moving as fast as it possibly can to deliver you from where you are. We need to start facing what tells us He does not exist, but we also need a lot of help and support in doing that.

            The pain of what you're experiencing could possibly be the underbelly of some very important gifts you have. You might be experiencing a kind of purification that feels almost impossible to understand, but in reading what you've offered here I have absolutely no doubts that you are well on your way to experiencing some pretty powerful Good in a way that will unburden you and actually free you to contribute in ways that will bring you so much joy.

            Sometimes pain is in our lives is like salt water. It burns our eyes, it's horribly-tasting and we can't survive on it. There's nothing we long for more than salt water. But it's there because it's purpose is needed to open up that well of fresh water, slowly eroding all that we've built up and leaned upon, what we don't even realize is blocking us.

            Our role is to try to believe that at some point way beyond where we are and what we feel, that it's doing its job. That there is a purpose for it. And that is so tough to hang on to when it seems like it's taking forever.

            For me, pursuing therapy was huge. There was a vulnerability to getting help that was very important to a road to humility that allowed me to really hear and see the Grace that was around me. Mindy has given you some powerful advice in that. Don't wait. Don't think. Try it. And let us know what happens! And if you don't, that's OK too. Love is so incredibly creative that it will simply find another way to put what you need in your innermost being. It will keep doing that over and over again.

          • berkshire

            You sound very depressed–in the clinical sense. I think Mindy was right to suggest the possibility of PTSD based on what you wrote, but I would definitely say you are depressed, as well. I don't say that lightly–I work in the mental health profession, and am a therapist. What you say, and the feelings you express here are very familiar to me in my work, and have been familiar to me personally, as well.

            I won't join the debate about whether faith or therapy heals more–they both can heal, and it doesn't have to be an exclusive thing. I think you should find a therapist, and possibly consider medication, if only for the short term, to give you some "scaffolding" as you do the mental and spiritual work you need to do. Depression, of the kind I'm talking about, is a physiological matter. If you had cancer, you'd treat it with medication. This is no different. Now, there are newer therapies out there that don't involve medication, and show real promise, but they are harder to come by unless you live near a big city with some teaching hospitals. Also, some of the newer non-pharmaceutical treatments aren't covered by insurance. BUT, if you aren't in favor of medication for whatever reason, you might look into rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation), it's FDA approved, painless, and effective for many folks with treatment resistant depression.

            However, unless you have sought treatment, you won't know if yours is "treatment resistent". You might be one of the lucky folks whose depression responds well to medication—and there are an almost alarming number of medications to choose from, if one doesn't work.

            Please do this for yourself, and the people who love you–this is not a game, this is your life. It matters. You matter. If I knew which part of the world you were in, I'd try to find you a clinic that can provide you free or very affordable care, but I don't know where you are. I can say that you can use Google–put in your zip code and the search terms "mental health clinics" or similar terms and find someone. There is no shame in it, but there is hope, if you can bring yourself to do this. Ask a friend to go with you, if you need to. Ask a trusted friend to help you make the phone calls to various clinics, until you find one you can afford. They are out there.

            I wish you peace, and I wish you luck, but mostly I wish you the courage and clarity to recognize that you must seek help, and put yourself back in the driver's seat.

          • Mindy

            I agree, berkshire. I, too, have been diagnosed with depression and have been on medication for a long time. It did, literally, save my life. I was resistant to the idea of medication for a long, long time, until I learned that mine truly is physiological and hereditary, and it made the difference that allowed me to find the therapy that works for me. Take care of yourself, OW, by investigating these options and finding the one that works for you.

            And the last paragraph from berkshire – ditto. :)

          • Mindy

            I have gone around and around (in my head) about OW – ignore the troll, feel sorry for him, continue engaging him in conversation, banish him from my thoughts because why bother? – or pity him as an angry man with a chip the size of Delaware on his shoulder who is not ready to do the work required to lose said chip.

            I wind up there – with a caveat. I’m going to assume that he is exactly who and what he presents himself to be, because at, say, 28, he is definitely going to consider 21 a lifetime ago. Or at least a quarter of a lifetime ago. From our middle-aged perch at the top of the hill (I refuse to go over it yet), anywhere in our twenties seems much the same in hindsight. But when I really think about who I was at 21 and who I was at 28 – I realize, whoa, VASTLY different people. My entire life crashed, fell apart, almost ended and was put tenuously back in one piece during that seven-year span of my own life, so I get how far away one could seem from the other.

            OW’s been in combat, I presume, from some of his references. He’s empty inside, consumed by anger at all that is out of his control. He’s tried to disengage from the anger and find something better – through work, volunteerism and love/sex. He’s not ready for any of it. He’s not ready to let any of that make a positive difference in his life. He is consumed by rage and anger and there is no room for anything good, so when he tries to fit it into his life, he fails. But I give him credit for trying, even if he wasn’t ready to gain from his efforts.

            For instance, volunteering means nothing to him, because he’s got no room right now for what it might mean – he can only see the potential negatives. He latches on to one story of a loser who prefers unemployment to working, so decides that all volunteerism probably does nothing but enable losers to remain losers. Sure, that happens. But deep down inside most human beings, even those who have been beaten down by life, remains a spark of pride. I believe that – not because I am a Pollyana, but because bbbbI’ve seen it again and again. Volunteering by teaching adults to read does not ensure that they remain dependent on the system, it gives them an incredibly important tool to improve their own lives. Some will use it well, so won’t – but without it, they’d likely all fail.

            OW is not in the right headspace to embrace the success stories, though. He’s going to see the failures as proof-positive that volunteering is a waste of time. And because he’s so hurt and therefore so angry, he is going to see it not only as a waste of time, but as further proof that volunteering in general is BAD. Don’t do it.

            Don’t fall in love, because you’ll just get screwed over. You won’t find the perfect woman, so it’s a bloody waste of time. But don’t save yourself for marriage, either, because if you do that, you’ll be stuck having boring sex with a kind, loving woman who isn’t hot enough. Or a hot babe who’s a mindless bimbo. Perfection will elude you. The rest of us would say that’s simply because it doesn’t exist, but OW will say that the only reason perfection eludes HIM is because that is just how effed-up this life/world/generation/economy has become.

            He tried to be an entrepreneur and failed. Which wouldn’t hajve happened if everyone who’s gone before him hadn’t ruined the economy. Probably true, actually – but because he is so angry, he can’t see the political and economic realities, he can only blame every person over the age of 50. All of us, we suck. Well, yeah, some of us do suck. And some of his generation suck. And every one in between. And some of us didn’t pay attention like we should have, and engage in activism against the corporatization of our country like perhaps we should have – because we were busy getting married and working and raising kids and volunteering . . . . you know. We’ve all been complicit in what this world has come to – because we’ve all consumed far more than our earthly share, right along with the greedy, selfish folk. We’ve enjoyed the conveniences of plastic and we’ve driven our cars when we could’ve walked and on and on and on. We’ve lived in a culture of our own creation. And if I let myself view only the negatives, I can work myself into a completely pissed-off, hopeless sort of mindset, just like OW.

            Fortunately, I have the mental/emotional tools not to do that – but rather to channel all those frustrations and do my own small part to improve it all.

            So. There’s OW. What to do? Here’s my theory, the caveat I mentioned.

            OW, you are in the throes of PTSD. You have been emotionally damaged by circumstances completely out of your control, and you need to find help so that you can find your way back from the hate and the fear and the self-loathing and the debilitating anger and the utter hopelessness that you feel.

            You came here to ask for help, and you have pushed back, emphatically, at every offering of help placed before you. I get that. You CAN’T accept help – not like this. You can’t see the good in what nameless, faceless strangers have to offer – because too many nameless, faceless strangers have been in control of your life for too long and pushed you into unenviable places and situations in which you saw and felt intense and life-altering trauma that none of us can erase from your memory and your heart.

            You’ve tried, on your own, to repair your own circumstances and those efforts have failed. You are unemployed, alone, on the verge of bankruptcy and underneath it all, emotionally broken.

            I promise you, OW, that if you will get help for the emotionally broken part of your soul, the rest will begin to fall into place. You cannot do it on your own, no matter how stoic and strong you try to be. You need a good therapist, experienced in PTSD. Whether you were in the military or you held a dead child and saw people die in some other circumstances – those experiences damaged you in a way that you cannot repair on your own. The fact that you were damaged by it, that it didn’t roll off your emotional self as just another experience in life, shows that inside you somewhere beats the heart of a kind and compassionate soul, one that cannot integrate those experiences into his life of “normal.”

            If you’ve been in therapy already, I’m here to tell you that you need to try again with a different therapist. You don’t always connect with the one who can help you on the first try – or even, necessarily, the second or third. Don’t give up. If you haven’t been in therapy, get thee to a therapist who specializes in PTSD, and do it NOW. Seriously.

            You are an intelligent man. You are seeking help – a very good sign. You haven’t found what you need here, but you WILL find what you need, if you don’t give up. Please don’t. I believe that inside you beats the heart of a man who wants to take part in improving the world – that’s why you are so damned unhappy wallowing in all the ugly parts.

            And, no disrespect intended to those who have suggested it – church and Bible study are not going to help you right now. They might, eventually. But you need specific help with a specific, intensely debilitating emotional illness, caused by trauma that damaged you through NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN. You are damaged now – and you need someone to help you find your way back. You CAN find your way back. You CAN find healing, and when you do, you will see veil of hopelessness and anger lifted. I promise, OW. I – and I imagine others here are, too – am living proof that you can get better.

            I wish you the best. I will keep you in my thoughts and my agnostic prayers and hope that you take that first step in the right direction, find help, and trust that if you do the work, with the therapist, you will once again see the world in the light.

          • Susan

            @ Mindy

            Beautiful. Your heart. Your wisdom. Your insight. Your compassion. You.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            This was a very beautiful comment. I hope it's not wasted on a guy who is just invested in talking about his life instead of really getting his shit together. Because in the end, that's what we all have to do. Face what we didn't get, what we aren't getting, what we're afraid of, what we've lost and choose to have the kind of life we want despite all of it. That is the human normalizer.

          • Mindy

            @Susan – thank you. You made my day.

            @ DR – It wasn't wasted. He said thanks, and that was enough. He needs to know that help is out there and hopefully one of the things he is learning here, from everyone against whom he is pushing so hard, is that what he is feeling is not normal. He needs to understand that the intensity of his negative feelings are the result of something bigger than just a bad economy and bad luck in love.

            He can't find the positives until he deals with the trauma that causes him to see everything through such an negative lens, and he can't do it without therapeutic help. I hope he seeks that out. He has taken a tentative step down that road by coming here, but he's not ready to hear what is being offered, because we are offering advice without seeing the world through that negative lens. WE know there is life on the other side – he can't see it yet.

            My stupidly (sometimes) optimistic mind tells me that he will find the path toward healing. Maybe we are just a step along the way, or maybe we are the kick in the pants he needed. Time will tell.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            It's not stupid at all, you've a beautiful heart and anyone would be lucky to have you. I have a bullshit detector that's generally very accurate, but I hope I'm wrong!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            *have you in their corner.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            IF he can afford therapy right now.

            It’s also not an option for all sorts of traumatized peoples throughout much of the world today.

            "…you need someone to help you find your way back."

            Jesus is someone to help you find the Way, and I will speak further down as to how all one really needs is faith, and hope, and these come together with it when you find Love.

            "The rest of us would say that’s simply because it doesn’t exist."

            I would disagree actually. I would say perfection exists, but is not a subjective standard. But as we doubtless would disagree on any precise objective standard for who his perfect spouse might be (just on the points you mention, we each likely have our own concepts of sexiness, supportiveness, etc.), so we cannot know who the perfect spouse might be. But if he claimed to have found the perfect spouse, I would believe him, as I could find no valid reason to disagree (unless it is an inconsistency within his own description of perfection). In fact, I am highly inclined to believe that whatever happens in the world is the right thing—the perfect thing, all things considered (which I am in most cases incapable of doing)—to have occurred. Because who am I to define what is ultimately good? I'll just believe in an omnipotent God who is good. We could say rather that he is bad if you want, but then when you think it all through it would turn out that what feels "good" is typically "bad" in that case—all we've really done is reverse the definitions of the words. And that's fine—there just man-made words after all—but I see no reason to do so as they've been received into language and are understood by others as they are. We do generally fail to realize perfection, but that doesn't mean it wasn't really there all along.

            "because we’ve all consumed far more than our earthly share"

            I think that might be an undue generalization. And there is nothing inherently wrong with plastics and automobiles. But, actually, not everyone in the world *has* driven their cars when they could have walked.

            I'm tired of this theology that's found even among non-Christians such as yourself (well, you'd probably just refer to it as worldview rather than theology) that encourages us to think ourselves by nature impossibly far removed from perfection. That discourages us from even trying. Not everyone has sinned equally; not everyone even sinned at all: Jesus Christ is there to show us the way man *should* be. And He is not just ideal; He is real.

            "You cannot do it on your own, no matter how stoic and strong you try to be."

            Really? Because that's how it was done in the aftermath of WWII. My grandfather has only in the past few years begun to say much about his experiences then. Mostly, as regards his time in the army, he's spoken of events *after* the fall of the Third Reich, but he had landed on Normandy as part of the D-day invasion as was in Europe that whole time. What he's spoken more about is that, after he returned, he was unemployed and drank a bit much until he almost had a fatal car accident with two passengers. He decided from that point he'd better pull his life together, and he finished college on the GI bill, got a job with the Department of Defense through connections from his time with the Officse of Strategic Services during the war (just as the DoD was emerging to counter the Soviet threat), found himself a bride, and eventually started a family in suburbs with two kids and a dog and basically all the rest of the American dream as it stood in those days.

            I'd reckon that why he drank and why he only this past decade, yet still so little, speaks regarding his experiences in the war (though his memory is quite fine on other details from as much as 80 years ago), as well as other indications (such as that if you'd disturb him while sleeping, shortly after the war, he'd startle quite violently), is that he was severely traumatized by it. I'm sure millions of other soldiers were too. But there was no such thing as PTSD in those days, and most of them turned out to have overall happy lives nevertheless.

            It's like DR said.

            In fact, my grandfather's high spirits amaze me. He's also had two wives now pass away with him. The fact that he speaks of the world and of life as predominantly good things, just with a lot of f'ed-up problems in them—that he's neither lost his sense of humor about things nor become cynical about them—is a testimony to the endurance of the human spirit, Mindy—that we CAN do it on our own, if we just rally enough faith in ourselves. My grandfather may have been damaged once, but I see no damaged man there now; so even if he couldn't repair himself on his own as you suggest, God provided all that was needed for healing. We are made whole in Jesus Christ (though you and my grandfather both, not being particularly religiously inclined, might not recognize this—still that's the way it is).

          • Mindy

            Matthew, your grandfather sounds like an amazing man. Many of those WWII vets amaze me with their fortitude and strength. Yet many of them are the ones who parented the selfish, greedy, lost members of the Boomer generation, and many of them victimized their own families in ways that never came to light til decades later, or never at all, because of the demons they brought home from war and were never encouraged to face and deal with.

            I am a strong believer in therapy – and I will tell you that there are options for those who cannot afford it.

            OW has talked about wanting to end it all. He can call a suicide hotline and be referred to service providers. If he is a veteran, he can receive counseling for PTSD through the VA, altho' admittedly, the associated bureaucracy can be daunting. But they are working much harder now to help young veterans deal with the trauma of war.

            He can call his city, county or state mental health agency and inquire about services he can affordably access. When he is ready to seek help, help is there.

            I stand my statement that religion isn't enough – for him. Religion, as comforting as it may be, and a religious community, as supportive as it may be, cannot treat mental and emotional illnesses, regardless of what you may have been taught. A church may ultimately be a wonderful place for OW to find strength, friendship, support and community once he is on his way to healing, but it cannot heal him. Sorry – I just don't buy that. Been down that road. Doesn't work.

            His faith may well be what has kept him alive to this point. He talks about it being tenuous at best, but not completely gone. And it may well be what allows him to put his life back together down the road.

            But he needs help beyond the reaches of religion – and I say that out of compassion and hope, not out of judgment.

            This is my opinion only, but it remains my strongly held opinion, based on experience and the culmination of all that he has written here thus far.

          • Mindy

            Matthew, I'm sorry, but you and I will have to "agree to disagree" here. You can call it semantics – "religion" vs. "religious practices" – and I will allow that those two things are not the same, yes.

            But this man has stated clearly that he has had a crisis of faith, that his religion isn't working for him, in addition to all the anger, resentment, frustration, suicidal ideations, and general hopelessness expressed in his many comments here.

            That being the case, telling him that he will find all he needs in religion would be irresponsible at best, cruel at worst – basically saying that the crisis of faith has caused his misery, or that if he'd just "fix" his crisis of faith, the rest would all just go away.

            Nope, Matthew, that is not how it works. Not for actual, real, mental illness. If OW is, indeed, suffering from PTSD, or even your run-of-the-mill chemically-imbalanced depression, magnified by situational depression, he needs more help than religion.

            He will have to do a lot of hard, painful therapeutic work. He will have to engage in his own healing – with the support and assistance of a professional. And his own faith may ultimately be a part of that healing process, but he needs more than that.

            And please do not attribute to me comments that I did not make. I never said (as you quote me below) that is it utterly impossible to heal without therapy. I believe effective therapy exacerbates healing, definitely. I believe that IN THIS INSTANCE, this particular person will not likely heal without therapeutic intervention. I am basing that only on what and how he has written here. He has responded to each and every person who has reached out to him with anger, but each time sharing more bits of information about himself, each one more desperate and hopeless than the last.

            Some people in crisis can be helped through "only" religion, sure. Depends on the crisis, depends on the problem behind it. PTSD is not one of those problems. It is significant and serious and needs professional attention. If DR is correct and he is just an angry whining man, then maybe if he re-finds his faith, he'll be fine. But if I am right (and I realize I may not be), then I stand by what I said.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I did not quote you, Mindy. I paraphrased, "You cannot do it on your own, no matter how stoic and strong you try to be. You need a good therapist, experienced in PTSD. …[T]hose experiences damaged you in a way that you cannot repair on your own."

            Let's do the math: (cannot on own) x 2 + (need therapist) = (utterly impossible) – therapist.

            Even now as you simultaneously maintain that I was incorrect in my conclusion about what you’re saying, you say, "If OW is, indeed, suffering from PTSD, or even your run-of-the-mill chemically-imbalanced depression, magnified by situational depression, he needs more help than religion."

            You hypocrite, you are the one who’s quoting things I never said! Did I ever say "'only' religion"?

            Of course, you don't care what I have to say; otherwise, why would you say "Nope, Matthew," when you aren't even referring to any point of disagreement?

            But that's because you want to attribute to me yet again what I do not say: "[I]f he’d just 'fix' his crisis of faith, the rest would all just go away."

          • Mindy

            "You hypocrite?!" Wow. Apparently, I struck a nerve? I haven't been a called a name in a while . . . .

            I was basing my comments on this: "Nothing is beyond the scope of religion."

            TO ME, that says that anything can be accomplished through religion, without the help of anything else. If that is not what you meant, I stand corrected. But my comment was based on that understanding.

            And I also got the feeling that you were speaking more generally than I was, so I was not, in fact, being hypocritical, Matthew. I agreed that sometimes, people can be helped by religion without additional therapy, but that IN THIS CASE, I believe he needs therapy to heal. Not all people, just this one.

            Honestly, Matthew, like several other posters have commented over the last couple of weeks, your comments are sometimes very difficult to parse for meaning. You have a very philosophical way of writing, and I often find myself thinking I'm agreeing with you, only to be completely befuddled by the following sentence, ultimately unsure of exactly what you meant. Frankly, had you not directed your comment specifically at me, I'd not have responded at all, for that reason.

            I think you have some fascinating ideas, but I get lost in the minutiae when I'm reading you. I do care what you have to say. I think. I just sometimes don't "get" what you have to say.

            Apparently, I read your comment all wrong and responded accordingly. My bad.

          • DR

            @Matthew: Jesus Christ. Dude. This is the kind of thing that makes me think you have Asperger Syndrome and I'm being absolutely straight up about that with you. You see how you turn almost every single comment string into an argument? Calling Mindy a hypocrite?

            Someone needs to tell you this directly but it's this kind of thing that makes an awfully unpleasant presence on this forum. I now generally avoid the threads you are in because I just don't want to have you take everything to such a personal level. I'd not say anything if it were just me, but almost every frequent poster has had this experience with you, has said something and you just blow them (us) off.

            And frankly, you really put John into a terribly difficult position as you do it. People have gently been suggesting this to you since I've been here and you're just not getting the hint, so now I'm telling you directly.

            I'm sure you're going to poke holes in this and tell me how wrong I am with a massive block of text, which will absolutely prove the point.

          • Mindy

            DR, thanks. I'm sitting here wondering if I am way off base, if I really did totally miss something, or say something outrageous. I probably *did* read Matthew's response incorrectly, because, honestly, I just skimmed it. I can't make sense of him about half the time, and I'm never sure if it's his writing or me just being dense – but as you said, I don't seem to the be the only one who misses the point.

            I was not in any way trying to dismiss either Matthew or the fact that religion can be helpful, but as I've now said about 5 times, IN THIS PARTICULAR, SPECIFIC SITUATION – that of Original Writer's misery, to be completely clear, I really do believe therapy is an absolute must.

            I'll admit, the whole hypocrite thing kinda took the wind out of my sails. I have pretty thick skin most of the time, but that one stung.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            @Mindy:

            There is no easy way to say this, but as smart as Matthew is I suspect that he doesn't really care if people can't understand his comments and/or experience him as being a difficult presence. He's gotten this feedback consistently for months, even from John who's being SO cool about the bickering that goes on here when he's trying to communicate some really important stuff.

            I think it's rude when any of us add our own personal agendas to it (myself included, I'm a jerk with the more Conservative types here) and won't edit our style when we're asked. And Matthew just hasn't demonstrated any willingness to do so, so I'm only left with the belief that he can't. He seems like a fairly good guy when he's not losing his sh!& in these threads.

            I'm almost positive that it will once again, my problem for pointing it out. But someone has to, right? But for whatever it is worth, you've been gentle and lovely to OW making some very important points about therapy. That this noise got injected in is unfortunate, but perhaps we all need to consider not biting the hook.

            Alright, I'm off to my evening! xoxo

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @DR

            You see how you turn almost every single comment string into an argument? Calling OW a liar? Oh, wait; you didn't use the noun form so it's not a "name", regardless that it was a baseless ad hominem, while Mindy WAS hypocritical, as are you now of course (and that's not even considering your own self-deluded lies to boot).

          • Mel

            @ Mindy, his comment calling you a hypocrite was totally unnecessary. I agree with what you said. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you made your point clear that sometimes, faith is all someone needs. But sometimes, in this case for instance, people need more. People need therapy from people who have studied their particular kind of problem. I agree with you. You weren't missing anything, unless all of us are missing it too. You're definitely not alone in this.

          • Mindy

            Much appreciated, Mel. I made an effort to re-explain my comment to Matthew, took the onus for misunderstanding his comment and basing my response on my own misunderstood version, and still he's sticking with his position that I am hypocritical. OK.

            Anyway, thanks, and yes, you understood exactly what I was trying to say. Nothing more, nothing less.

            As for Matthew, I will refrain from responding any further.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Mindy

            I'm going to try responding as though DR hadn't just thrown this conversation way off course.

            What good work is not religion (whether practitioners recognize it or not)? Do you know what religion is that is pure and acceptable to God, what the true practice of submission to the will God encompasses?

            Or let’s put it this way: what better religious observances/performances could you recommend to us than to recognize Truth and to turn to our brother/sister in Love, to make men/women whole?

            Do you think it impossible for therapists to be religious and for religions to build clinics and provide therapy service, and be successful at treatment? And is such treatment not the very work of God?

            I don't mean all the questioning to come across sounding like it's the Inquisition; I don't expect you to answer each one or any in particular; I'm just trying to lead you through my way of thinking about this, as I sense it might be helpful in clearing up any difficulties resulting from philosophical differences (by which I mean differences of approach, by which I mean asking different questions).

          • Mindy

            One more thing, Matthew, before I let this conversation, such as it is, go.

            You got angry with me and accused me of attributing something to you that you did not say. I paraphrased and said " 'only' religion."

            That was because you said this: "Jesus is someone to help you find the Way, and I will speak further down as to how ALL ONE REALLY NEEDS IS FAITH, AND HOPE, AND THESE COME TOGETHER WITH IT WHEN YOU FIND LOVE."

            Forgive me for misinterpreting.

            And as to your statement about PTSD not existing until recently, that is patently absurd. It has existed as long as humanity has existed – it has only been given a diagnostic name in the last couple of decades. Soldiers in every war suffer from it – but the Vietnam, Persian Gulf and Iraq and Afghanistan wars have caused an exponentially higher number of cases of this condition, for a variety of reasons.

          • Mindy

            Matthew, I'm sorry, but I'm moving on from this. The goal of my original post was to offer MY version of solace, support and suggestions to a person who, to me, appears to be suffering deeply.

            I am a skeptic, I don't believe that religion belongs in psychological or psychiatric therapy, and I have no interest in debating the validity of that point with you. That was not the purpose behind posting my thoughts for OW, and at this point, all this has done is completely dilute the message I tried to send to him. I am grateful he'd already read it before this all happened.

            You are turning around after attacking me and trying to have a reasonable conversation, and I'm just not up for it – sorry.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Mel, Mindy, the hypocrisy, as you well know and as I'm not going to allow you to try to play off as anything else, is in the claim that I misquoted her, which is inaccurate, while she DID put words in my mouth that didn't follow from what I said, in contexts that had nothing to do with the actual claim (again misquoted) that she says she might have misunderstood (although I disagree about that, as her stated conclusion of its meaning is as was intended) and that she was basing that response on. That accusation too was “unnecessary”. But of course, this comment, along with yours, is ultimately unnecessary as well—as is my life, and yours. So stop pretending that you can know therapy is necessary; I've known lots of people to do without. But, let’s be clear, for—what is it?—the fourth(?) or so time, he should certainly seek it out if Mindy is anywhere near right about him.

            Mindy, you know darn well that unicorns do not exist. That doesn't mean there isn't some breed of horse with a spot in the middle of its forehead that future generations might decide to call a unicorn. What exists at a given moment in time is what has been given conception. Was it not obvious that I was saying that those same symptoms were there without label and without treatment? Otherwise how could I associate it with the claim that treatment wasn't absolutely necessary for recovery? Your misinterpretations are "patently absurd"!

            Yes, apparently you even thought I was angry. No, not particularly. It is now that I’m angered.

            You're no freaking skeptic! You simply refuse to consider matters of serious import. It's easier for you just to jump to conclusions! I'm five times skeptic you'll ever be!

            You had the impetus to take an authoritative tone, as part of an effort to quell an argument simply too inconvenient to be worth consideration, but now you're the victim here!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            There is nothing beyond the reaches of religion. Or perhaps you confuse that with religious establishments?

            Thank you, Mindy, for pointing to some of the resources by which he can find that help which God has made available for him.

          • Susan

            MT:

            I find both Mindy's and DR's post to be full of truth and wisdom. The messages, IMHO, are not necessarily contradictory.

            A therapist cannot "fix" someone; they don't do the work that is required for an individual to face facts and get their shit together. The onus is ALWAYS on the individual. A therapist can only facilitate the process. So, if therapy can lead to quicker, sustainable results, better self-awareness and heightened insight, why not consider the option if individual efforts are fruitless?

            Also, there are good therapists w/reasonable fees or who are willing to work w/in a client's constraints.

          • Susan

            @MT

            My bad. Misread your comment.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            @ Matthew:

            Hey I'm an asshole sometimes, no doubt about it. And as a result, I don't debate with those who I choose to be an asshole to.

            Regardless, I'm actually having a pretty cool conversation with OW below. He chose to actually stay in it which is completely admirable. While you once again, are in another Internet battle and others are telling you that they don't understand your point of view and calling people names because they deserve it (of course not giving others that same latitude).

            Here's the real issue. You can point the finger at me all you want, but if I'm a jerk for telling you the truth and asking you to start paying some real attention to how you're making people feel? Then I'm a jerk, I don't care. Because the most consistent feedback you've received is now you talk at people with massive walls of text, that you lose your temper easily and make things personal and you've not seemed to edit either one bit. Which communicates that you don't care.

            Now go ahead and have the last word. I don't need it as much as you do (seriously). But if you have the courage to receive the tough talk you so frequently offer, you'll start paying attention to the *pattern* of feedback you are getting – including from the actual blog owner – and not turn it around on everyone else. If it were just me? I'd probably blow it off, who cares. But it's become a significant pattern. Up to you to accept that and do something about it or not, I'm not your mother. But there are some gentle people here who want you to change your communication – I'm not one of them. But being kind doesn't always mean one is gentle. I mean all of this for you to start paying some attention. And I don't think you will, but the optimist in me is hopeful.

            I'll get back to dealing with my own stuff now. But if you think I'm out of line, then actually ask people here. Perhaps I am and they'll correct me.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I didn’t mean to imply that Mindy’s and DR’s comments were contradictory. I meant that what DR said is applicable regardless of whether therapy is involved, which, by the away, I am all in favor of. It was I however who moved to contradict Mindy’s point that it’s utterly impossible to heal without it. So what do you contradict from what I’ve said exactly? The question you asked merely presupposes a point of view that I do not hold. If he needs it—and if he still wishes ever that it would all just end, then he probably does—I hope he will seek it out and have faith he then will find what he needs.

      • Jeanine

        If Mindy is right about your military background, I have a suggestion.

        I for one know what Jesus can do for a person through Bible Study and fellowship with other Christians. She may not think it will help, but I have experienced and seen way too many other people transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. When your own heart is in it, he can orchestrate the people and the circumstances to meet you where you are.

        An excellent ministry for soldiers is Dave Roever Ministries. He has a ranch called Eagles Summit Ranch where he does intensive work with hurting men and women. His website is here:

        http://www.daveroever.org/esr/index.php

        The website is sort of cheesy, but there is nothing cheesy about the work this man is doing for Christ. He is a Vietnam vet whose entire body was burned during the war and he remains terribly disfigured. His story alone will open up your heart to a new perspective, he is a very special man. He has lots of rescources, and travels the nations speaking and ministering to soldiers. I know he is in and out of the Middle East regularly with our troops.

        Get one of his resources, or check his calander and head out to hear him speak. If you are beyond frustration, call the ranch and see what they can do for you. Maybe you could get out there for one of their retreats. His heart is to help wounded warriers – wounded in body and/or spirit. I know Jesus uses this ministry, because the testimonies of the soldiers are incredible.

        You can go for counseling, but Jesus is the ultimate counselor. Get in the presence of one of His servants who has been where you are now, and let them help to bring you through it.

        Best wishes.

  • Argy-bargy

    *crickets*

  • Frank Kenner

    "I’m a woman. I understand that my role in life is to be sexy, coy, cute, fun, nurturing, supportive, accommodating of my man’s needs.

    There’s no question but that (thank God) those are gender descriptives born of an increasingly bygone era."

    Thank God? But that description sounds very similar to how women are instructed to be in Titus.

    Titus 2:4-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

    • Kara

      You'll be really happy to learn, then, that Titus was very probably not written by Paul at all, and stuck in later by people who really didn't like women!

      (Ditto First and Second Timothy.)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pa

  • The Original Writer

    @DR,

    Thanks for bearing with me in all this. And thanks to everyone else, too. I know I haven't been easy to deal with all the time. Many of your words have been incredibly kind and helpful.

    I just want to say, you're right, DR… It all happened unconsciously… It was like one day I woke up and went, "Oh…" There was a line of demarkation where before there wasn't and I knew things had changed, but I didn't know how to undo them; I still don't know how. I just hope you're right about the rest of it, because I don't see it, I don't feel it… I just feel like God's left me to rot and I don't understand why. I don't want that to be the case.

    And I don't want to belabor the point, but DR, you say you are absolutely certain about Love and God, and then a few things about it. For me, I'm anything but certain and I can't even begin to grasp how a person can be certain about something they can't see or hear, or touch… but I hope you're right. And I hope that one day I can be certain, too. I don't know how or even if I'll end up there, but man… wouldn't that be nice for a change.