my response to “We All Have Sexual Baggage”

Yesterday, Relevant Magazine contributor Natalie Floyd shared an article called “We All Have Sexual Baggage.” The article addresses an idea that many young Christians have grown up being taught: that having pre-marital sex leaves you as a permanently damaged commodity less worthy and capable of a happy marriage. Although I do agree that pre-marital sex is detrimental to our relationship with Christ and our livelihood, I don’t believe that that abstaining or engaging will either leave us as either perfectly pure and whole OR destroyed and desolate. Sex is bad for us if done at the wrong time, but so are so many other things. Many sins that we commit are as simple as doing the right thing at the wrong time.

In the article, Floyd said many great things, but one in particular that I believe is so important. She states, “The truth is, we’ve all got something in our hearts that probably needs to be addressed. We all have an issue, a hang up or an expectation that could stifle our personal growth or prevent us from entering into a relationship like marriage as a healthy and whole person.” I love this quote because she is correct. She goes on to share that there are many physical virgins who haven’t had intercourse but who have other sexual issues that can be real problems in marriage. Some people may not have as many sexual issues but possess many other issues that can prevent us from enjoying and growing in marriage the way that God desires. I believe that there must be more attention on these issues so that future heartache is avoided. After all, I’m sure that Christian marriages fall apart over more than sexual baggage. There are personality conflicts, money issues, a lack of respect or love shown, infidelity and so many more issues that should be addressed on the heart level. 

More than anything, I am thankful that Floyd’s article shared the fact that there is grace for times when we fall. There are so many people who live in the prison of their own guilt. They hold on to their sins, refusing to hand them over to a sovereign who paid the price for them over 2000 years ago. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  The world and long-time Christians alike need to understand that there is love, grace, forgiveness and hope for those who feel burdened down by their own life’s baggage. Jesus is the one who lightens our load, removes our burdens and sets us on the path to “go and sin no more.” So if you find yourself in that place, please remember that you are never too broken or too damaged simply because God restores. He is well qualified in redemption, restoration and doing a new thing. 🙂 

If you get a moment, please check out Floyd’s article and share your thoughts on it in the Comments section below.

His Passion and Purity part 2

For this post, Brittany and I have decided to split chapters 2-5. She’s taking 2 and 3 and I have 4-5.

MY Affections

In Chapter 4, Elisabeth Elliot really starts to dig in. Like I said in the initial post, Elisabeth has a way of speaking to matters of the heart effectively and aligning scripture properly. The title of this chapter is “Unruly Affections” and I think a quote that encapsulates this chapter most appropriately is: “As I grew into womanhood and began to learn what was in my heart I saw very clearly that, of all difficult things to rule, none were more so than my will and affections. They were unruly in the extreme….”

I think her admission is not only brave, but profound. Humans are naturally prideful people. None of us are born with a taste for humble pie. We are taught that the things we desire and want in life are good and shouldn’t be scrutinized or judged. Elliot’s admission shows that there is something awry in her desires. I agree. I can honestly admit that my desires and dreams are more rampant that ever. Things I want to do, people to meet, goals, love, blah blah blah. It can feel absolutely consuming at times. Buddhists believe that ALL desire is bad, and one must divorce oneself from Desire completely to have peace and achieve Nirvana (“a state beyond sorrows; a state of freedom from cyclic existence”) I can see how that could appealing, but ultimately it feels too easy. I’m sure it is monstrously difficult to live an ascetic lifestyle at first, but humans are very adaptable beings. The whole thing feels cowardly. “Feeling weighed down by desire? Throw it all away and be a sage!” God has made all things good, but sin taints and ruins. God is calling us to pull these unruly affections in rein, not simply because it’s responsible, but because it brings Him glory as well. It will not be easy:

Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child, involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required.

One thing that love does it toil for the object of its devotion. How can we say we love God and not toil to bring these things into submission?

His Control

One of the chief aims of this book is showing readers how to submit their love lives to Christ. God is always in the business of redemption: people, cultures, errethang. It’s always cool to pronounce belief in God, but action follows right belief. In the book Blue Like Jazz (an absolute must read by the way) Donald Miller says “but the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.” People think it might be absurd to think that the God of Eternity and Infinity is concerned about something as trivial as our love lives. Elisabeth remarked much later in the book “Was He interested in the plight of two college kids?” I know so. God made us all with intrinsic value and worth, and any good father is concerned about the affairs of his children, for nothing is trivial. God desires intimacy with us. God not only wants us, He also wants our desires. Since he loves us, and since love isn’t soft and passive, he wants the absolute best for us and purifies us. His love toils. The book mentions how God sifts the hearts of men. My partner Brittany mentions that this is significant. She gives a baking example to explain.

Well, I think it was significant because of the way sifting works with flour. It separates the fine and course particles. When God sifts our hearts, He’s able to see what’s really there. He sifts hearts to see the real intentions and attitudes it holds and to see where He is in it.

He sifted Abraham’s heart through Issac. Jesus sifted the heart of the young ruler through his possessions. The thing(s) we hold most dear can often became the thing through which God sifts our deceptive hearts; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Our abstinence doesn’t make us pure, our unyielding devotion to God does.

His Passion and Purity

This post is a guest post written by my partner for this series Jovontae. To read my post, visit his blog here.

Love and relationships is a topic that can appeal to any and everyone. There are many perspectives and ways of looking at this topic. Going even deeper, one’s worldview also influences the way one looks at love and relationships.

DISCLAIMER: I am a male. I am a virgin. I’ve never been in an official relationship. I am unabashedly christian. I believe that it is difficult, if not incomplete, to discuss and dissect love without God. So, this is the platform which I’ll be basing my stance.

There are a MYRIAD of books in christian culture that discuss this topic. Some are old, some are new. Some are old school, some are hip and trendy. Some from written from a male’s perspective, other from women. You get the idea right? From laypeople, ordained ministers to Doctors, there are hundreds of view to gather information on this topic from. There is but one book that I’ll be discussing: Passion and Purity. Mention this book in most christian circles and you’re guaranteed to elicit some response. It’s that famous.

Passion and Purity is a book written by speaker and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot. The book is half expository half auto-biography. In addition to giving insight and advice from a biblical perspective, she also recalls the process of courting and eventually marrying her college sweetheart Jim Elliot, to flesh out the things she’s explaining.

Some say the book is archaic, that it is too outdated for today’s progressive world. While I understand, I believe this book can be just as effective to a reader as when it first came out. She has a way of speaking to matters of the heart very accurately and bringing scripture to the picture. It’s a rare ability. Another complaint is that it’s just for women. I actually laugh at this postulation. While it is written by a woman, who’s describing her experience, and using stories of women who write to her, I still believe that men can, and should, read this. The example of her ex-husband Jim alone is worth reading about. I’ll be briefly explaining the first chapter.

The first chapter sets up the tone of the book. You learn about Elisabeth in college years. She describes her looks in a very quaint manner. My partner on this Blog series, Brittany, says this is key. Women are expected to care tremendously about their looks. You’ll see that, while she does mention her looks (“like most girls, I wished I were pretty, but it seemed futile to tamper much with what I had been given…) the emphasis is placed on her character and her dynamic relationship with God; which in of itself is counter-cultural. From there she describes the current state of society (“We have Sex and the Single Girl now. We have freedom. We can, in fact, ‘have it all and not get hooked.’ Women can be predators if they want to, as well as men.”). She touches on societal pressures on men: (“Men aren’t men unless they’ve proved it by seducing as many women as possible – or as many men, for we now may choose according to our ‘sexual preference’.”). To be honest my favorite quote from this chapter: “In forfeiting the sanctity by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot do well without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.” 

The last statement is a bold one. We live in a pretty hedonistic, do-as-thou-pleases society. We should never judge another on the things they decide to enjoy. Sex is good! Why not right? That’s the thing about pleasure: it is always fleeting. We’re always going to and fro to the next big thing, but it will always elude us. She says that “There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized” I can’t tell you how many “oh, that’s interesting” looks I’ve gotten whenever I mention I’m a virgin. It’s cool (to an extent) for girls to be chaste, but men are validated by their sexual prowess. Since I have none, either I’m gay, scared, or medically impaired. Neither is true. I love God. I realize that some things in life have to be sacred in order to truly enjoy them. Unpopular? Yes. Necessary? I think so. Man has a natural fascination with Mystery. If we eliminate that and make plain what is sacred, all we have left is morbidity and boring, sanitized living. Pleasure and things like that exist to lift up higher to the One from which they come from. (see Anna Stesia by Prince)

Once we see this, we are well on our way to finding the fulfillment these lonely hearts yearn for.

Introducing Passion and Purity: A Blog Series…

Good afternoon friends,

I want to take a moment to share something very exciting that has been in the works for a little while. I love to read and while going through some of my old books, I recently rediscovered the classic Christian book “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot. I read the book for the first time about four years ago and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t understand it fully. I picked the book up about a month ago during a trip to a friend’s wedding and I was blown away by Elisabeth Elliot’s character, faith and dedication to not only her own purity, but that of her would-be husband, Jim. I decided then that the lessons in the book should be shared with as many people as possible.

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Just when I started to talk about it, one of my great Twitter followers @JaeDooks mentioned that he had read the book as well. After this, I knew that a series must happen! I’ve yet to see topics like purity, love and being obedient to God be explored from both a male and female perspective so I’m very excited to be teaming up with him on this project. Our first posts will be up on Wednesday, July 17th. My thoughts will be on Jovontae’s blog and his will be on mine. So that you don’t miss any of the action, be sure to follow both blogs by e-mail.

I hope that you’ll join us.

Brittany

I am convinced …

I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory “making out” and “sleeping around,” we forfeit something we cannot do well without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.

A stirring quote by Elisbeth Elliot from her book, “Passion and Purity.”

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