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The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

30 Jan

The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

Enjoy your parties this weekend, guys and gals, but don’t be naive.  There is still a lost world out there that needs Jesus.  

Are We Godly Because of What we Do or Because of What we Don’t Do?

1 Jan

First of all, let me get this out of the way and answer my own question that we are godly only because of Christ’s righteousness imputed unto us as hopeless sinners.  Just in case anyone thought I was about to get into a discussion of “works salvation.”  That issue was settled on the cross and needs no further discussion from me.

But the further discussion concerns what a godly life in Christ looks like to others from the outside.  A friend posed this question on her Facebook page yesterday.  She narrowed it down to asking how godliness might look in a woman (not excluding men, but just wanting to know how she should aim her efforts as a woman).

There were many thoughtful answers and . . . as thoughtful answers will do, they made me think overnight.  

Some of the answers could be easily categorized into active vs. passive categories.  Things godly women do vs. things godly women do not do.

In particular, there were some general answers that can be both active and passive (wisdom, humility, handling disappointment).

There were answers that were primarily passive (knowing when to remain silent, not judging others–that second one was mine but I later changed my vote. And, in my favor, I did mention exercising empathy in place of judgment).

The qualities that must, by nature, be active were love for others (love for self and taking care of self was mentioned with this one) and compassion (my favorite, and the one to which I eventually changed my vote).    

Thinking this through, I became convicted that we, too often, in our eagerness to cultivate godly traits, scare ourselves away from many of the active traits because they run the risk of misfiring and embarrassing us publicly.  When we act or speak, we open a thousand possibilities for what we could do or what we could say.  And, if we are of the mindset that only one action or one set of words would perfectly fit the framework in which we find ourselves, we can see that the odds of our finding that one action or that one phrase out of thousands are pretty slim.  

The odds, of course, increase when we are filled with the Holy Spirit but how many women often find themselves at places in their lives where they say, “I am totally filled with the Holy Spirit at this moment!”???  Even if that were the case, women (and men) are full of such self-doubt (and healthy humility) that we don’t often speak of ourselves that way.  

So . . . we enter into that area that is so familiar to so many of us.  The area of doing or saying nothing lest we do or say the wrong thing (or lest a person/persons whose opinion we highly value might think we did or said the wrong thing).  We immobilize ourselves, by fear of embarrassment and by fear of man, into doing nothing.

The Bible clearly says that the fear of man brings a snare.  Even if we are in the situation of trying to maintain a flawless reputation for godliness with our best friend/friends.

I am going to suggest that, often, an action or set of words empowered by the Holy Spirit may come out in many different ways and still have exactly the result toward which God is leading!

If I sit with a suffering fellow saint and speak words to her, they won’t be the same words as another believer would use, or even the same words that I would use earlier or later in my life.  But they will be used of the Holy Spirit to perfectly minister in that situation. He can change the imperfect offering of my words, my time, my attention (and maybe a hot meal) to perfectly minister to another soul.  

The same thing happens when I witness to an unbeliever.  If I were to wait until my life were perfectly “squared away” (a subjective judgment anyway), I would never witness to anyone.  Remember that in the First Century the world was turned upside down by believers who started witnessing the minute they were saved.  And most of them were saved out of paganism.  

The Samaritan woman led her whole town to Christ before she even had a chance to get with her common law husband and straighten their relationship out to line it up with God’s Word . . . 

It is a simplistic saying, but God really does write straight with crooked pencils.

I just know that will encourage someone somewhere.  Please don’t be immobilized into inactivity by the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing this new year.   

Happy New Year! 

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What is a Vapid Narcissist?

26 Sep

What is a Vapid Narcissist?

I have been dialoging with a precious friend who is doing this year what I did last year–losing 100 pounds.

She wrote something fascinating in her blog this week, something timely that gave me pause to think.

She has been focusing on the idolatrous affair our society can have with food. And, looking ahead to when she has finished her weight loss, she asks, “What next?”

She wisely does not want to switch from one idolatry to another, so she wants to avoid switching her worship from food to clothes or makeup or just the satisfaction of seeing a small body in the mirror.

She used the phrase “vapid narcissist” to describe what she most of all does not wish to become.

That phrase both startled me and pleased me. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

You see, when you grow up in certain sectors of our society, that is the first thing you think of when you think of having a small, visually lovely body: “How many ways can I misuse my newfound freedom from obesity?”

And, while I agree with John Calvin when he said that the human heart is an idol factory, I have come to the point where my greatest fear is no longer how I will misuse my thinness. My greatest fear is misrepresenting God’s grace in all of this. And I struggle with that constantly because there is so much I don’t know, both about God and about this world He has made and how His principles interact with it.

Lately I cling to the verse that says He has freely given us all things to enjoy. In fact, if He leaves something open in His Word and does not address it one way or the other, I have been consciously trying to not argue from silence. If He does not forbid someone from doing something, neither do I. I leave that as a matter for each man’s conscience. It is not as easy to do as it sounds.

For example, the enclosed link would sum up about everything I believe about narcissism (a secular term, thus a secular article).

I don’t believe anymore (as I did while I was being raised by one of the most frugal mothers on earth) that owning and wearing pretty clothes automatically indicates that someone is vain.

With God, it is so much more complicated than that, since God looks on the heart. Some of us can be totally given over to nice clothes (or nice makeup or nice jewelry) to the point we don’t even see Him or His work in our lives. Yet someone else can have just as many nice things to put on, yet without the slightest tint of idolatry.

Vapidness means emptiness. Narcissism means putting myself at the center of everything as though other human beings were mere things to operate for my convenience.

So what is it when a group of ladies, out with their husbands, converges on the ladies’ room for giggling conversations, while adjusting their lovely dresses over their trim figures? Is it empty and selfish when they emerge from that ladies’ room and bask in the appreciative looks of their own husbands?

Ya know, I don’t think it is.

If I am dressed up and fellowshipping with my similarly dressed up girlfriends, then enjoying the healthy appreciation of my husband’s eyes, that may very well be one way of seeing how God has richly given me all things to enjoy.

Narcissists separate themselves from others, feeling special. If I am giggling with my girlfriends, enjoying how lovely we all look, then that is not narcissism.

If I am flirting with the husband God has given me, that is not emptiness.

I only point this out because we can tend to act as though God is the big spoilsport in the sky. We can unconsciously kill every buzz life gives us, lest God see us having a good time and move in to squash us like a bug. Only, that would not be a loving God. That would be a monster.

Oh, yes, we certainly need to avoid becoming a vapid narcissist when we lose weight, or at any other time. But we need to make sure we define the term accurately, too.

For some of us who have been raised with values that tend toward Puritanism, those definitions can make all the difference.

Not to discredit the accomplishments of the Puritans, but no age was a golden age.

In every age, the idea is to walk closely with the Lord and feel His pleasure in our relationship with Him.

The Father really is as good as Jesus said He is!!!

When Marriage Becomes Idolatry . . .

21 Sep

“And the prince and the princess entered the castle together as husband and wife and lived happily ever after, surrounded by their moat and their seven wonderful children . . .”

Isn’t that how the fairy tale ending usually plays out?  

Or, of more relevance to those of us raised on the beautiful love stories of the golden age of Hollywood, isn’t that how the movie usually ends?  Except the prince and the princess are usually commoners in the movies . . .

Regardless of the social status of the central characters, both fairy tales and Hollywood’s best movies convey the same idea– that marriage is a state in which two people spend the rest of their lives gazing into each other’s eyes, oblivious to the rest of the world out there, except for those gorgeous children who come along to complete the couple’s family circle.  

And this idea is one that I have long sought to balance in the thinking of the younger women with whom I have been privileged to have a friendship.  

It is a short step from loving someone with all my heart to idolatry.  And it is a short step from love to obsession, if love is anchored by Hollywood’s standards instead of by the Word of God.

God gave us the Great Commission to reach a hurting world for Christ.  That alone should tell us that we Christians were not created to spend a lifetime gazing into someone’s eyes.  There are times that is lovely and appropriate, but not an entire lifetime.  And it hurts my heart when I see younger girlfriends who seem to judge the health of their marriages by whether their spouses make them the center of their lives.  

Ummm, it’s Christ who is supposed to be the center of our lives as Christians, both as Christian men and as Christian women.  When we derail that truth, we go over the line into idolatry.  Or worse, into obsession with another human being, making him the center of our life and trying to force him to make us the center of his life.  

Not healthy.  Not tenable.  Life won’t work that way for long.  It isn’t meant to work that way.

I once heard the definition that a healthy Christian marriage is not two people gazing at each other, but two people, shoulder to shoulder, gazing outward at the world and the place in it where God has called them to serve together. 

Yet I still hear of situations where wives (most commonly wives, although husbands probably do this, too, and I just don’t hear about it as much) have absolute meltdowns over the fact that their husbands don’t do everything with them when not at work.  For those who work together, say in the ministry or in a family run business, the wife can end up totally doubting her husband’s love if he is not at her side 24/7.  

That may have worked in Eden before the Fall but it is not the way marriages work today.  If we put a stranglehold on a relationship we, umm, strangle the life and joy out of that relationship.  

The answer for a wife demanding that her husband put her at the center of his life is not more time and attention.  She needs to be drawn to the Word of God and challenged to put the Lord at the center of her life, as her husband needs to do. God has given us sufficient grace to live in relationship to Him and in relationship to each other without getting out of balance and into idolatry.  

He has a plan for each of our lives and that plan continues even if our spouse should die.  

The primary relationship is with Him, now and forevermore.  We need to be looking at Him,  as first in our lives, to stay on track with what He has called us to do.  

It is in that primary relationship that we find the reason He created us.  Our marriage is part of that reason, but it is not, nor will it ever be, the central reason of our existence.  In marriage, we help each other fulfill God’s plan for us as individuals, and as a team.  

And that is a very great grace.      

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Hunger is Not an Emergency!

11 Jul

Hunger is Not an Emergency!

A friend at Weight Watchers came up with the above motto or borrowed it from somewhere.

I just love that. Reminds me that I can always wait another half hour before eating, even when I feel hunger pangs . . .

Yesterday I took my son to get his TB test checked before he had had his breakfast. After we had had his check, just before the doctor’s office opened at 9, I took him through the drive through at Chick-Fil-A next door. A typical young man of 21, he wanted a couple of chicken biscuits and an orange juice.

Time was, I would have joined him in something high fat and delicious.

As it was, I remembered that I had a packet of nuts and apple slices–one of those Nut-rition products that are pretty good!–in my desk at work, so I waited till I got there, then had a lower calorie snack.

That seems to be the key for me–waiting a bit longer to eat when I feel hungry and substituting something a bit lower cal for most of the foods that we Americans typically grab!

I will always be a foodie, but I am learning that I can eat a granola bar mid-morning and something with nuts mid-afternoon without blowing my daily Weight Watchers points.

Yes, I do believe I can do this for a lifetime!

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Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

28 Jun

Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

I got my new base ID today and, with it, a new picture of me, replete in a new red dress. The ID I turned in had my picture 110 pounds ago, in a red jumper that was precisely 10 sizes bigger than the dress I wore today. In essence, I lost 110 pounds in the course of a 20 minute photography session!

I was thinking about the fact that there are no shortcuts to weight loss. And wondering why God designed the universe that way.

Weight loss (and weight maintenance in a healthy state) are decisions we make one mouthful at a time. And daily when we decide whether we can find a half hour to work out before we flip on the television or the Netflix stream on our computer.

With very rare exceptions, most of us carry weight that is mathematically related to the quality of what we eat, how much of it we eat, and how much we exercise.

I have learned to shudder when I see most snack foods–full of sugar and salt for cheap flavoring, full of preservatives so that they will last on a shelf for years, full of . . . zero nutritional value.

Never say never . . . but I want to make my consumption of processed foods a rare thing. It grieves my heart that they are the cheapest foods in the stores, even in the convenience stores where they are marked up pretty high. Teens and poorer people without cars often buy their food in convenience stores. Teens and poorer people without cars often don’t have access to education about the nutritional value of various foods (or, in the case of teens, they may hear nutritional information but choose to not process it!!!). And those poor brains, when all they get for nourishment is potato chips and Coke!!!

I am hopefully not becoming a food snob, but I want to be a voice of reason in a crazy world of idolatry.

You see, I think the reason God made it so that we have to partner with Him to lose weight, one small decision at a time, is because we would otherwise make an idol of our food, rather than worship the giver of that food.

We still can and do. I read in the paper today that 41% of Americans regard themselves as overweight or obese when . . . it is actually 68.8% who are! Seven out of ten. No wonder the American Medical Association just gave in and declared obesity to be a disease. There is no fighting a statistic like that. We love our food in this country!

I have spent years at weights far higher than what my body was built to carry. I could do it again. I am not home free till I go to be with Jesus someday, to that world where temptations, sin, and idolatry no longer exist.

In the meantime, I struggle, one mouthful at a time, one decision to work out at a time.

But that is good, for the struggle directs me to the foot of the Cross, where I see Christ, who triumphed in my struggles for me.

I truly believe that, if we could eat anything we wanted and never gain weight or if we could will ourselves to lose 110 pounds and have it come off in a week, we would be neckdeep in food idolatry. I believe the struggle helps free us from the idolatry.

Food is a wonderful gift and, in one way, I will always be a foodie! I love cooking and trying new recipes and trying new herbs and spices and trying new combinations of things . . .

I just know that I can’t eat high density calories every day of my life. Either I eat them in smaller portions or I choose to eat something else instead.

And God is faithful, oh so faithful.

I am so totally ordinary, if I can do it, anyone can.

Keeping our Spouses Off Balance

10 Jun

At the end of this month, I will complete my 55th journey around the sun.

I have learned a few things, but I have seen a lot more things that I don’t understand.

I am so glad I have a sovereign Lord who understands them all. I can rest, uncomprehending, in His arms!

I tend to collect friends. I mean, I make and keep them for life.

And as I learn about their lives and families, I see a pattern far too often.

It is the marriage in which one or more of the partners constantly strives to keep the other off balance.

I think I understand a few things about the dynamics of such a marriage, but if I am right, the concept is not flattering to the people involved.

I think some people, often female people, can’t give up the idea of being pursued by someone, even after they have him.

They have enjoyed courtship and the deep sense of longing their man conveyed at that time. So they go ahead and create drama that leads him to believe he is in danger of losing his woman’s love or that he has to work to get back in her good graces.

Problem is, when God created Christian marital love to reflect Christ’s love for the church, the picture didn’t quite work that way. Instead of being thrilled by a man pursuing me, my marriage is supposed to mature me to the place where I am thrilled to be part of that man’s team, striving together for the common goal of reflecting Christ and His love to a fallen, broken world.

Working together, you see. Putting my energy into being on a team instead of putting it into running ahead of someone with hopes he will chase me.

Men may not play the “keep the marriage off balance with drama” game as often, but I have heard of many men withdrawing, often into depression, and keeping the marriage off-balance that way, with their silence.

I have finally understood how this works, after seeing many, many marriages break up over a partner’s depression, often the man’s.

I optimistically thought that a marriage would provide a safe place to be depressed, without realizing that depressed men are in no position to feel safe.

I thought the gratitude of being in a loving relationship would be a natural antidote to depression, without realizing that depressed people can’t feel gratitude or count their blessings. That is part of why depression is so disabling.

Depressed people are stuck people. Without the grace of God, they can’t get unstuck. They need a power outside of themselves, greater than themselves.

Truly God sanctifies Christian marriage and uses it, just not always in the ways we think He will.

But, back to our drama queen wives and our depressed husbands, we all need more of Jesus and less of ourselves.

And we all need to try to work with God in His pattern for sanctified marriage, doing our level best to lay aside game playing.

He will carry the burden of the work. He always does. His yoke is easy on us because He carries the heavy end!

And we proceed in balance, heavenly balance, not in cheap, momentary thrills and adrenaline surges cooked up by our own deceitful hearts.

For the biggest thrill turns out to be walking, in balance, with Him!

on His end!

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Building a Diet on Fruits and Vegetables

30 May

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When I lived in London, I had a friend named Liz who went on all fruit diet for a while. She was very petite and had gotten a tiny, tiny paunch, which haunted her. While eating only fruits, Liz dropped about 20 pounds in a month. She actually had to add foods back into her diet eventually, to keep from fading away.

Liz proved the wisdom of the Weight Watchers decision several years ago to count all fruits and most vegetables as zero points. It’s not that they don’t have calories. It is just that they have so much fiber that it is nearly impossible to eat so many of them that your weight would be affected. Meanwhile, you are filling a spot in your tummy that used to be reserved for cakes, pies, and cookies!

I remember that often when people lecture me about juicing (I don’t do it–why throw all that good fiber away? I would rather make a smoothie out of the entire fruit), or giving up fruit sugar (why is the person giving me that lecture about fruit sugar usually eating a Twinkie as she does???). I know everyone has her pet theories and practices and it is a free country, but I usually let those folks talk on without paying much attention to them. I love my Weight Watchers program and it works marvelously for me! A weight loss of 110 pounds in about 13 months says it all.

I truly believe I do well to spend my food dollars more on fresh fruit than on fresh meat. Oh, I eat meat–I have been a vegetarian off-and-on but I do currently eat meat–but I eat far more fruits and veggies. I think balance is key. Meat to me is a flavoring for other things.

Would love to hear what works for all of you. Feel free to comment, down below.

Vampires and the Cleveland Horrors . . .

10 May

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight.  I had to say their names.  Their names are their identities.  These incredibly brave young women never left their names nor their identities behind, despite a decade of horrors in a torture chamber after they were kidnapped in Cleveland and forced to live out the fantasy of a madman in their community, who seems to believe he had taken three common law wives.

I have to use their names.  I can’t just say “the victims of the Cleveland kidnapping horror.”

This is not going to be another post that blames pop culture for crimes that are committed in the same timeframe.  But I do want to look at some places where we have been and wonder aloud where we are going.

There are some things that we just don’t do, because they are insensitive.  They are not wrong, maybe, in some eras, but in others they stand out like a sore thumb.  My fellow conservatives don’t always get this, but it is true.

One example is that I doubt we will ever see a high school production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” again.  I haven’t seen one advertised in over a decade, so the show has obviously already fallen out of favor, but after this last week, I think it is gone forever.  

Remember the premise?  Seven good-looking, strong, athletic young men in the Wild West, all brothers, find there is a woman shortage when it is time for them to marry.  So . . .  they find a town with seven beautiful, marriageable young women and they kidnap them to be their wives.  

The women subsequently fall in love with their husbands, so the play markets the idea that “all is well that ends well” but . . . you can’t escape the fact that those marriages were begun with a crime, whether it was labeled that way in the Wild West or not!

An influence from my early lifetime that I am, ironically, exploring right now (as long as I can bear it), because I want to write on the influence of vampires on our culture, starting with the mild, never-shown-onscreen vampire antics of the 1960’s and prior to that, is the soap opera “Dark Shadows” which was all the rage with preteen and teen girls in 1966 and 1967.  

I am watching Season Two of “Dark Shadows” on Netflix right now.  It is total irony that the episode I saw last night involved Barnabas Collins, the gentle Englishman vampire, being impeccably polite to the father and boyfriend of Maggie Evans, whom he has kidnapped and is imprisoning in the old Collins mansion, not more than a hundred yards from the new Collins mansion where everyone is frantically searching for Maggie.  

Get it?  Man wants wife (in this case, he wants to take Maggie’s name and identity, too, and turn her into a reincarnation of his wife Josette from the 18th century).  Man kidnaps woman to be wife.  Man holds commonlaw wife nearby in the same neighborhood where she grew up.  Man is so impeccably polite that he gets away with this long term.

Newsflash which most of us already realize:  (not to make us suspicious of all politeness, because there truly are a lot of charming people on this planet who are just naturally nice) abusers don’t generally run around looking odd and saying malevolent things.  They fit in .  That is how they get away with it.  Often they are the most charming person in the room.

In my day, we would run home after school (in 3rd grade) and sneak down to my friend Agnes’s basement where her mother did not carefully monitor what was on television.  Agnes and I would watch “Dark Shadows” five nights a week after school.  We were raised on the idea of a vampire who was ever so nice, at least whenever he was not controlling Maggie Evans (and all the horrific stuff took place offscreen and was only implied).  In fact, many teen girls, a bit older than us, were in love with Jonathan Frid, the actor who played Barnabas.  He had a huge fan club.   

See what that can do to an impressionable young mind?  Create the idea that a person can be 80% wonderful and can be forgiven for the 20% stuff that happens in private.  Even when that 20% is horrific.  Even when it is a crime like kidnapping.  And a moral outrage like erasing someone’s name and identity and forcing her to take a name and identity chosen for her by another.  

Teaching young girls that extreme control tactics are a synonym for love. 

Where have we heard this before?  We have a culture saturated in it now.  We only have to turn to about 25% of our young ladies to find girls willing to believe that someone who scrutinizes their every move and tries to force them to change into his ideal woman is someone who truly loves them! 

This is a very prevalent and dangerous belief.  However, I think when we get beyond the extremes of controlling behavior, we find it is something we all share in common as a human race. 

I believe that control issues are the basis of almost every other sin we commit on this planet.  

God is sovereign, we are not, we try to be sovereign in the lives of fellow humans.  We try to control them.  

It is a very great sin and one we all commit at some point in our lives.

It is one I hope to explore a lot more in upcoming months.

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Interesting that the News Services Now Go With Whatever Gender a Person Calls Himself!

28 Feb

Interesting that the News Services Now Go With Whatever Gender a Person Calls Himself!

And the wider issue is that this child is not the only child who needs appropriate schooling in that school.

We have truly become a nation of individuals who don’t care whether others lose their rights when we claim ours.

By claiming a right to the girls’ bathroom at an age where he either can’t yet have sexual reassignment surgery or it isn’t happening for some reason . . . this child is claiming the right to not only use a toilet in a private stall but also to use gym showers with girls as his body develops into an adolescent male’s body.

In a world where 20% of our girls are sexually molested, most before adulthood, I don’t suggest forcing a girl to change her clothes next to a person with male equipment.

Does she not have the right to avoid trauma, too?

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Women’s Thursday: A Majority of the Human Race is Never Born

28 Feb

A Majority of the Human Race is Never Born

 

Writing about abortion, I have been running into statistics like those expressed in this chart about the miscarriage rate.  As you can see, it is estimated that 75% of pregnancies spontaneously abort before the mother knows she is pregnant.

Beyond that, be careful with interpretation.  The next statistic means that 10% of the 25% of pregnancies that survive the first few days will then go on to spontaneously abort in the next period.  Then 5% of the pregnancies that have survived the first two periods will spontaneously abort in the next one . . . and so on.

If we read that incorrectly and assume that 10% of the original pregnancies will spontaneously abort in the next period, then 5% of the original pregnancies in the next period after that, we end up with a chart that seems to imply that almost 100% of all pregnancies spontaneously abort.  Added to our 20-25% intentional abortion rate, that would make a birth rate of, say, 0%!!!

Now, for those of us who regard a fertilized egg as possessing an eternal soul from the moment of conception, there is a staggering thought here.

Take just a moment to contemplate that far more than half of the human race never gets to the birth process.

We pretty universally agree that those who have a soul and never reach the age of accountability go to heaven automatically.

So over half the human race will be in heaven without having ever taken one breath on this planet.  Without having made a choice to follow the God of the Bible.  In fact, He chose for them.

Now, I want us to dare consider another thought.  In the matter of election that can be so controversial, is it possible that God chose for the rest of us, too?

I know some Arminian folks are aghast at this idea.  Choice is very important to them.  They call it “free will.”

But is it as important to God as it sometimes is to us?  We love our choices, but does He see them the same way we do?

Especially the choice to be saved.

We willingly acknowledge that He knows who will be saved in the end.

Could He also have chosen them, chosen for them to come to the part of their life where they get saved?

It’s just a thought . . .

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Women’s Thursday: One Voice in the Abortion Debate

21 Feb

Women’s Thursday: One Voice in the Abortion Debate

I disagree with this blogger on many different levels  She gives me the opportunity to address them.

First of all, most people who are against abortion are not also against contraceptives.  The people who are against both are usually traditional Catholics.  They are only a small percentage of Catholics, let alone of the pro-life movement!

Secondly, one bit of data usually not included in comparisons of countries where abortion is legal and those where it is illegal is the status of doctors conducting abortions in both places.  They are usually the same bunch, with one bringing women in the front doors of their clinics and the other bringing them in the back doors of their clinics.   That was also the difference that occurred in the U.S. in  January of 1973, when abortion became legal.  A totally new group of doctors did not get trained in the procedure from one day to the next.  The ones who were already providing it just became legal.

That is key because when a country makes abortion legal, the blood of those unborn babies accrues on that nation’s conscience.  When abortion is illegal, individual doctors and mothers incur the guilt for a baby’s death.  That may seem a fine point now, but that only proves how far downward our thinking has spiraled since 1973.  I don’t want anybody’s blood guilt spread over our entire nation.  If someone chooses to murder a child in the womb, let those people bear their own guilt.

So I do not concur when the post says that countries that make abortion illegal punish women who want abortions by making them seek them illegally.  In light of responsibility for blood guilt, I can’t buy that line.  For when abortion is legal, I am punished by living in a society where we collectively bear the blood guilt of every woman who aborts and every doctor who provides an abortion.  Why should I be punished with that?  Given the choice between “punishing” a woman by making her find an illegal abortion and punishing our entire society with blood guilt, I choose the former.

Thirdly, the post advances the shaky argument that a woman’s body naturally expels more fertilized eggs than are expelled via birth control; this event is referred to as a natural abortion.  Well, so what?  If God causes a fertilized egg to pass out of a woman’s body, then that is God’s decision.  I am not worried about those cases.  My objective is not to maximize the number of fertilized eggs coming to the birth process, but to suggest that people don’t have the right to play God and to cause the death of a fertilized egg, whether by a birth control method that works after fertilization or by abortion.

Fourthly, however, I do agree that those who are prolife must be consistently so and must advocate for ways in which poor women can be helped to raise the children they bear.  Those ways do not necessarily have to be funded by the government, however.

And fifthly, one final word about the post is that statistics should often be questioned.  The Western European abortion rate is said to be 12 per 1000 women, while the Eastern European abortion rate is 43 per 1000 women.  Yet we know that in the U.S., a western nation, we abort between 20% and 25% of all pregnancies.  If that were consistent with Western Europe, then we would be talking about an abortion rate in Eastern Europe that is almost 100%.  I believe the discrepancy exists because all women are included in the statistic, not just all women who get pregnant in a given year.  That would be a more meaningful statistic.

There is much to be said on the abortion issue; my initial two posts have merely scratched the surface.  But when we say it, we need to use meaningful words and concepts.

Link

Women’s Thursday: Putting a Tenuous Toe in the Water on the Subject of Abortion

14 Feb

Putting a Tenuous Toe in the Water on the Subject of Abortion

This link is interesting to me.  I have some pretty fundamental differences with some stands Tony Campolo has taken in the past.  But that doesn’t mean I think he should shut up and never write anything again.  In blogging, there is no concept of secondary and tertiary separation, as there is in fundamentalist pulpits!

I do like the idea presented by both men here that we can’t just make it our project to dissuade women from abortion, then leave them on their own to pick up the pieces of their lives.  I think we have to be willing to use our own time, talent, and treasure to help them after their babies are born.

When we homeschooled, we collected gifts at Christmas for “Baby Jesus” in our homeschool support group.  Baby clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. to be presented to our local crisis pregnancy center.  The thought of it makes me cry even now, as Joey and I would drive a car full of packages over after our Christmas party.  Our saying was, “Since Baby Jesus isn’t here right now, let’s give to another baby in His Name.”  Such a blessing to be involved.

I do agree that the majority of abortions seem to be caused by hopelessness in women, particularly financial hopelessness.

However, I also see that many abortions don’t particularly appear to be a woman’s “choice” (as prochoice people constantly say they are).  When a young woman is being coerced by her parents or by the baby’s father to abort the child, that is no choice for her.  Just sayin’.

And there is the guilty secret, hardly ever addressed, that many, many pregnancies (and subsequent abortions) in minors involve a man who is not, himself, a minor.  How very cold of him to encourage or even offer to pay for the operation that destroys the evidence of his crime, eh?  Because sex with an underage person is still a crime.

Where is the mercy for the woman who wants to keep her baby but is being told by her parents or by her boyfriend that she will be abandoned if she chooses to give birth to the child?

And where is the mercy for the underage girl, abused by an adult and then pressured to abort an innocent child to hide the guilt of that adult?

Real people have to live with the consequences of these abortions, too.  And mental scars are no less real . . .

Link

Women in Combat

25 Jan

Picture 017Women in Combat

Ya’ll knew I was gonna do this. After 27 years of service as a naval officer, and as a self-respecting blogger (most days), I have to do this.

I love the anecdotal story at the end of the above article in which the woman being interviewed spoke of finding a hidden insurgent and calling her male colleagues in to help her with the capture.

Thing is, my stories are anecdotal, too. When I came in, I went through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida for my career path, although I was not going to be a pilot or a navigator. And there were three separate standards for women in that strenuous program: 1) we did not have to take the boxing block (our entertainment before we were allowed liberty was the “smokers” or boxing matches that our battalion would conduct against our sister battalion) 2) we did not have to scale the low wall on the obstacle course but just had to run up and tap it 3) we did not have to scale the high wall on the obstacle course but just had to run up and tap it. The first wall required a pull up with the upper arm muscles–it may have been eight feet tall. The second one required a pull up with a rope–it may have been twelve feet tall.

Various studies over the years confirmed the wisdom of the obstacle course exemptions. They showed how young women could ruin their shoulders for life by utilizing muscles in ways they were not equipped (or trained) to exercise them. In other words, we aren’t built the same as men and, if we are going to take on some of the same tasks, we need a long curve of prior physical training in that task before we take it on. Some women will never make it in those tasks. I am probably one of those women.

That said, I do applaud the opening of the combat door to women as inevitable. Some women are strong enough physically to handle all the same aspects of combat that men handle. Some women will handle those better than some men. C’est la vie.

I look back and smile as I remember some of the things I did in AOCS that I have never done before nor since. Kind of seems like someone else’s life in many ways. But I smile because I did them and no one can ever take that part away from me.

I parasailed behind a truck (because there were sharks in the bay that day so we could not do it behind a boat). I was lifted from the bay another day onto a helicopter (“remember, guys, let the lead hit the water before you touch it or you will be electrocuted with the charge the helicopter has built up!”). I went in the Helodunker which was a simulated helicopter cockpit, submerged upside down underwater in a pool. We were plunged into the pool, blindfolded and belted into our seats, rolled inverted, and then had to escape the cockpit after counting to ten once the machine stopped moving.

I learned to run like the wind, although I am the anti-athlete, so that the DI’s would not yell at me. I would say I tried to escape being singled out for DI attention, but as one of only four women in my class (two of the others dropped out as we went along; the third one was held back into the next class), it was impossible to avoid being singled out for extra PT. The best I could do was not be yelled at every moment of the entire training day!!!

The way I have always described it was that the DI’s seemed to really bend over backwards to get the women to drop the first six or seven weeks of the fourteen week program. But after that, I sensed a change. Although they still yelled at me, they did it with a sense of humor behind it. We never dared look DI’s in the eyes (it was against the rules), but if I had dared, I think I would have seen a glimmer of amusement there as they trashtalked me. By the end of the course, they would openly say humorous things when they were gigging us and not punish us for laughing a little bit under our breath.

I remember our beach run, near the end of our course, with Gunnery Sergeant Clark, USMC, leading the charge. He was about six foot six and had a huge stride. He ran that beach at around a seven minute mile for about three miles. And I, who have struggled in the best years of my youth since then to ever make an eight minute mile, kept up somehow. My male classmates were dropping out, crying and throwing up, and . . . I just didn’t want the hassle of him yelling at me so I gutted it out.

At the end, Gunney Clark turned to me in astonishment. “Gardner, you’re still with me?????”

“Yes, Gunnery Sergeant Clark, United States Marine Corps, I am still with you,” I gasped.

I swear, with my peripheral vision, I saw something that was almost a smile cross his face.

(Photographs are of:  1) Gunnery Sergeant Clark, of the famed beach run, with me 2) Gunnery Sergeant Walker, my class’s DI, doing the first salute ceremony with me after my commissioning)

Women’s Thursday: Do Discontent People Remain Discontent After Marriage?

10 Jan

Ephesians 5:33, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.”

The above verse references the “reverence” a wife is commanded to have for her husband.  That word better translates nowadays as “respect.”  We “reverence” God; we “respect” our husband.

Except when we don’t . . . Right?

I have been married to Noel for 23 years and I must say that I myself have committed the category of behavior that I am about to address.

Why is it that we can spend so much time and effort making our husband jump through hoops to try to earn our approval (that respect that he so craves as a man)?

Why do we so often act as though respect is being rationed and is in short supply?

Do we Christian women not see that God has things for us to do as a team, as a couple centered on Him instead of on our individual goals?  Ministry things, even if we are not in formal ministry.

It makes my heart sad to recall the times I broke the team unity in order to flatter myself by getting my husband to chase all over creation trying to please me.  Sometimes I have even moved the goalposts after he ran it in for a touchdown <smile>.  It makes my heart sad to see some of my Christian sisters doing things like this, too.

Our Christian husbands want to please us.  They want the feedback that they have succeeded in that mission.

And sometimes we keep them chasing themselves in circles for hours, or all day, without giving them the slightest expression of approval for who they are and what they have done.

I believe that we lack an attitude of gratitude when we do that.  Gratitude to God for what He has done in bringing about our marriage.

God has given us our husband and He has divinely suited each man and woman who are married so that they can grow together and bring out the best in each other.

Can we believe that?  Can we live in it?  Can we stop playing games with each other, cut to the chase, and start ministering to others as a team?

I have read Christian authors who say that people ungrateful in their marriages are often people who were ungrateful as singles before that.

Put another way, a discontent woman praying for a mate and telling God she won’t be fulfilled until He lets her get married will often be a discontent wife after she says “I do.”  It will turn out that marriage wasn’t the issue at all.  It was her relationship with God.

Basically, this woman has a complaint with God no matter what He does.

And, considering that God Himself is the One who principally satisfies us, using other people in roles in our life, but never as substitutes for Himself, it says a lot if we go through life complaining, discontent, and ungrateful.

It says that we find God to not be enough.

It is something to think about, ladies.  If God sent my husband and if I spend my days posturing as though my husband can never please me, then what am I saying about God?

And about my understanding that a human can never fulfill all my needs anyway?

I am learning more every day about being on the team with Noel and holding him up with my respect.  I pray you will be able to do the same in your marriage.

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