Healthy Sexuality Part I: Right Thinking about Sex

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What is our agenda as we deal with our teenagers and sexuality? We want to be realistic about who they are, about the world they live in, about the contradictory voices they hear . . . But we especially want to be sure that our realism reflects the hope of the gospel.” (Paul David Tripp, Christian counselor)

 

Realistic about who they are.” The pre-teen and teen years can be a confusing time, with the changes in their bodies and their emotions, an awakening romantic interest in the opposite sex, and emerging feelings of sexual arousal.

 

The world they live in” sexualizes them from childhood and tells them that they are free to do whatever they want. It doesn’t tell them what the consequences of acting on this freedom could well be. Or what is right and wrong.

 

In this context, how can they develop a sense of “healthy” sexuality so that they can flourish in their relationships as teens and believe in their hearts that sex should – and can – be saved for marriage? First, we have to help them to think about sex, and to think rightly about sex:

 

Sex is good – a gift of God, intended for the closest possible union of two individuals, for enjoyment, and for the creation of new life. On the seventh day of creation, after God had created male and female, he “saw all that he had made, and it was ‘very good’” (Genesis 1:31). The emerging sexual feelings and the attraction of teen boys and girls for each other is good, built into them by God. They can thank him for them.

 

Sex has boundaries. When God brought Eve to Adam, Adam was ecstatic with joy and desire, because Eve was “taken from” him – “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” This is why, the Bible tells us, a man and a woman long for reunion with their ‘sexual other’. So “a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Sexual intimacy is only for marriage.

 

But males and females need each other, even in the teen years! Socially, helping each other, because they are different — complementary to each other. God created Eve because “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Male and female each supply strengths lacking in the other.

 

The way our bodies work confirms what the Bible tells us. Jesus and the Apostle Paul both quote the Genesis “one flesh” passage about sex bonding two people together (Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16). Science says the same thing: when two people have sexual intercourse, or even touch each other intimately, their brains release chemicals that bond them together, and create trust. This is good if they are married but emotionally devastating for one or both when a temporary relationship ends.

 

The gospel provides hope. In the Bible teens can find what is right in relationships, how to avoid the pitfalls, how the Holy Spirit helps, and forgiveness and restoration when they have gone astray.

 

 

November 7, 2014 - 7:14 am

Judy herwig - It was good to see this info in this format. Easy to read and absorb yet thorough. Thanks Barbara, i will share this with my son as he soon has to have that “father talk” with his son.

November 21, 2014 - 9:01 am

Barbara - Thanks, Judy. I will pray that that “father talk” goes well!

    

Autumn reflections (Part 3)

 

An autumn day road trip…

…sharing our 29th anniversary with our son and daughter-in-law

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…sipping maple infused cream atop hot chocolate

…slicing through the fluffiest frittata ever

…savoring the sugary goodness of maple butter on warm homemade biscuits

…aroma of maple baked beans

…scent of sweet pine fills my being

…hiking through freshly fallen leaves still damp from yesterday’s rain

…gingerly side-stepping partially covered roots on a rustic wooded trail

…finding a fine walking stick the size of Moses’ rod

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…steadied by my son’s arm as we descend a hilly path

…awestruck at the stunning beauty created by God’s paintbrush on low mountains

…imagining a tea party aboard a vintage train car or sleeping in a renovated caboose

…warming our insides with Chinese tea and maple-flavoured shortbreads

…strolling through a tree-lined park bursting with fall colour…

I LOVE autumn!! This year the leaves have been particularly vibrant and the warmer weather is prolonging the season. Every turn in the road yields an even better vista than the last. I find myself continually praising God for such an array of splendor. I begin singing,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You[i]

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Praise is but one form of raising our voice and spirit in prayer to our Heavenly Father.

“To linger in His presence, to shut out the noise of the city and, in quietness, give Him the praise He deserves.”[ii]

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Recently we hosted a prayer morning during our women’s group. We were asked, “What does prayer mean to you?” As I’ve reflected on this, I realize prayer is such an integral part of my life that I cannot imagine doing life without it. For me, it is a very personal way to commune with God about anything, anytime, anywhere. I pray while I’m driving, when I’m in a checkout line, just before bed, and while I’m out walking. Prayer makes my most disliked chore of ironing more purposeful. I pray in the shower and while doing dishes. I believe this is what the apostle Paul meant when he said,

“Pray without ceasing.” (ESV) “Never stop praying.” (NLT) “Pray at all times.” (GNT) “Pray constantly.” (HCSB) “Pray continually.” (NIV)

Over the past few years I have been more self-disciplined about making my prayer life more continuous during my daily activities. It is an amazing privilege to come before God with praise and concerns and be assured He is listening and available to answer.

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An area of prayer where I need to exercise more self-discipline is intercession. This type of prayer is “the act of interceding or offering petitionary prayer to God on behalf of others.”[iii] It requires me to be more deliberate and actually plan time to bring the needs of others before the Lord.

Philip Yancey says, “When I pray for another person, I am praying for God to open my eyes so that I can see that person as God does, and then enter into the stream of love that God already directs toward that person.”[iv]

One woman shared at our prayer day that she has a bulletin board in her room where she posts people’s prayer requests. Another idea is using Post-it® notes on places you frequently visit such as the fridge or mirror.

My project this week? Find a meaningful way to remember those who need me to pray for them and then be more consistent in intercessory prayer.

Until next time,

Kathy

October 19, 2014 - 12:11 pm

Anne@DesignDreams - Beautiful photos, beautiful sentiment – have a wonderful day!

xox

October 20, 2014 - 6:24 pm

kathy@takesix - Thanks Anne!

    

Our Sex Propaganda Machine

How did sex come to be a “given” in dating relationships? I remember one evening at university when half the girls in my dorm gathered in D’s room to try to talk her out of having sex with her boyfriend. She had announced that she was planning to do it, because he wanted it and she felt she owed it to him. We tried to convince her not to, that she would be making a huge mistake.

Some say the development of “the pill” was responsible for the sexual revolution – a girl could now have sex without getting pregnant. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you do it.

There are many reasons why our teens are saying “Yes” to sex instead of “No”, and probably most teens couldn’t really tell you why – because they don’t think about it, they just go along with the crowd. Is anyone – anyone who cares about them, that is – helping them to really think about sex? To see the sex propaganda machine of our culture for what it is?

This propaganda machine tells teens that sex is normal and inevitable, even that it is unhealthy not to have sex, to repress a natural drive. It tells them that the only cautions to be observed are that both parties should want to and that they should always use “protection”. Otherwise, they should try out everything to see what they like, what feels good.

Planned Parenthood is a part of this machine: Thirty years ago they issued a declaration that “children from the age of 10 should have full access, with guaranteed privacy and confidentiality [“Your parents don’t need to know”], to fertility regulation [contraceptives], information [how to be sexual, how to be “safe”], and services [abortion, testing for STIs].” Sex education in the schools is another part. Health care professionals as well: A professor of pediatrics in Toronto tells family doctors that they should all begin talking to their 10, 11, and 12 year-old female patients about using contraceptives and condoms. When the 11-year-old daughter of a Christian friend of mine went for her annual check-up, my friend was not allowed in on the consultation. Her daughter told her afterwards that the pediatrician had said, “You’re at the age now when you should be on the pill.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “See that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

My friend’s daughter said “No.”

 

October 17, 2014 - 1:36 am

Heidi - I feel so torn about this issue. In my former life, I was a middle school and high school health teacher, and now as a parent of a 9-year-old, there are just so many considerations. I believe the Bible gives specific parameters for healthy sexual relationships. I think our culture has an incredibly unhealthy take on sexuality and its role, especially in the lives of young people. But I also believe the church contributes their own set of problems on the issue. The church (at least the US church, in my opinion) wraps sex, God, and politics so tightly together that it turns into its own perversion and power grab. Additionally, sexuality is often presented as one dimensional in religious circles – as in, don’t do it. I really think we’re getting it all wrong – the church, secular culture – all of us.

November 19, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Barbara Kohl - I totally agree with you, Heidi, on both counts. And as Christians we need to work toward getting it right in the church and not be afraid to speak into the culture.

    

Autumn Reflections (Part 2)

 

autumn_02Discipline is a word that often carries negative images. No one really enjoys discipline, but it is necessary for achieving the self-control that I wrote about last time. At the root of the word “discipline” is the model of raising a child. It involves instruction, training, correction, nurturing, and chastening. A responsible parent cares enough for their children to encompass all of these elements in preparing them to face whatever life brings their way.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

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As I watched the NHL game opener Wednesday evening I thought about the essential discipline that took place leading up to that day following the summer break. Training is hard, often discouraging, painful, and it requires a coaching staff that is dedicated to putting the players through what is necessary for the desired objective.

Self-control is acquired through discipline. A child who receives inadequate discipline lacks control over his anger or frustration. She learns how to make wise choices through the consistent guidance of her parents. There must, however, be a willingness of heart and mind to follow and obey. For many people, discipline is rejected.

A wise man once said, “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)

Author Ann Voskamp writes, “Daily discipline is the door to full freedom.”[i]

Being self-disciplined is a further extension of receiving discipline from others. To me, it means that I am learning and growing through the influence of others to the point where I am increasingly able to be in control of myself. It allows me to make room for the freedom I desire. I am more prepared for the unexpected or a new challenge. I am better able to discern between what is really important and that which can be delayed. What presents itself as the most pressing thing in the moment may not be the most needed.

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Spiritual self-discipline raises the bar even higher. As a Christian, my relationship with the Lord and its effect on my daily life is my greatest goal. Without it I lack purpose and significance.

  • I learn to love others based on how deeply I love God.
  • My concern for the needs of others flows from experiencing God’s continual provision first-hand.
  • The degree to which I am humble before God determines how well I am able to exercise meekness towards others.
  • Finding contentment and rest in God’s will for me enables me to help others discover peace in their circumstances.

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There are many spiritual disciplines such as meditation, confession, worship and praise, rest, study, fasting, and prayer. For a more in-depth exploration I recommend Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. I wrote briefly last week about rest and in the next few posts I will share my thoughts about others.

For now, I simply want to reflect on the wonderful experience I enjoyed at our church’s ladies retreat last weekend. My primary focus in going was to work on building meaningful relationships and to find times of rest, two things I mentioned in last week’s post. I was able to do both by intentionally sitting at a different table each mealtime, initiating conversations that turned into treasured times of sharing, taking a leisurely walk on the beach, and spending quiet moments in prayer with my precious sisters. Those who know me well understand much of this was outside my comfort zone, but what joy I found in exercising these valuable disciplines!

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More about prayer later!

Until next time,

Kathy

 

 

 

    

Stef’s Kitchen Creations ~ Glazed Apple Cake

 

October is here which means we’ve had our annual family trip to the orchards in the beautiful Nova Scotia valley. I found the apples were excellent this year. My son eats more apples a day than I can count and I love trying new recipes. When the apples get tiresome I use the rest to make batches of applesauce for eating and baking. I like to substitute applesauce for oil when I can. It keeps recipes moist and is healthier than the oil most recipes call for.

 

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INGREDIENTS:

4 cups coarsely chopped apples
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup oil (I used ¼ cup oil and ¼ cup applesauce)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine apples and sugar. Set aside and let stand. Beat eggs. Add oil vanilla and oil. Mix flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in alternately with apple sugar mixture just until mixed. Stir in walnuts if using. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13” pan. Bake at 350 45 minutes or until done. Let stand in pan to cool. Ice with glaze below.

GLAZE:

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup evaporated or whole milk

Melt margarine in saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil and pour over cooled cake.