Lust

For a while I’ve been at a loss for what to say on this matter because I’m still formulating my ideas about it. My feelings are subject to change, anyhow.

I had a discussion with a friend about Christians going to the beach a few days ago. I never thought that the beach would ever be a non-Christian venue, but people in general will find the worst in a lot of things. The problem arose when we went onto swimming attire. If I’m honest, even if I wasn’t a Christian I wouldn’t wear a bikini because to me it’s just underwear and I’m a self-conscious person. I thought that swimming costumes would be fine, not just for me but also for any of my Christian male companions that I am with. I said Christian because men in the world don’t worry about this problem as much as church men do (I really do believe we need to reassess how we talk about sex and purity in church. There’s something oppressive about it. People shouldn’t be agonizing or lamenting to themselves whenever they see a woman in short skirt, but anyway…).

My friend (a man) asked me if a swimming costume is a suitable outfit for a Christian woman to wear. I was shocked. I didn’t lose my temper as I would have in the past, but I thought the question was bizarre. One of the main things people like to do at the beach is splash about in the water, but in my friend’s world, the water would be off limits. I respected the fact that he made it clear that men also shouldn’t be in the water, seeing as though swimming trunks are made from even less material than a bathing suit, but I still found it hard to see his angle. Should Christians not go to the swimming pool, then? Because it’ll be hard to find a male only/women only public bath.

This is why I’m becoming increasingly paranoid about males. How lustful are they that they can’t bear to see a woman in a swimming costume? I just don’t know what is inappropriate for me to wear anymore and it’s tiring, because every man likes something different. I may wear something that fits one man’s “standards” but it will induce lusting in another man. What would I do then? What’s the point of dressing for male tastes? And why should I feel the need to?

It’s frustrating because I feel as though men get pampered a lot with this issue. There’s so much pressure for women to dress modestly or “virtuously” and it can be suffocating at times. Sadly, its not just a church issue. In the world, a woman will be called a slut if she dresses a certain way, and people are of the assumption that if you want to be respected as a woman you mustn’t dress like a “hoe” (ugh). How laughable is that? Sorry, hun, but if you can only respect a woman because she dresses in the way that YOU want then you didn’t respect women in the first place. Having respect for women shouldn’t come with a condition. A lot of church men have the same opinion, they simply pretty it up in Holy Jargon. But really, if God doesn’t have a condition for valuing women, then why should mortal men?

I suppose I’m just tired of people judging women by how they dress. You do know that it’s possible to do the same for men? Trousers swinging by their knees, flashy watches and low baseball caps are usually indicators of a particular nasty stereotype of men that I don’t actually think is fair, but it exists and for some reason people don’t give it as much attention as all these women dressing “slutty”.

There needs to be a better dialogue on this matter. Because I struggle with lust sometimes. Loads of women struggle with lust, but when are these issues addressed? Most people think that lusting is only a man’s problem. How wrong they are.

(To be Continued….)

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Facebook Object Lessons

I have suffered from a particular problem as I’ve limped along the cracked path of my spiritual walk for a long time. It’s something that has hindered me from progressing and getting closer to God. I speak of my habit of comparing myself to other Christians. I do this a lot. I’m a self-depreciating person; in most things I do, whether in regards to my writing, or singing or just overall “personality”, I can’t see the good in them. I’m well aware that there are better people than me and a lot of the time I wonder if I’m good enough to even bother pursuing the these things that I enjoy. When it comes to Christianity, where my salvation is at stake, this habit of mine is multiplied. It’s just so easy to look at someone and say “yes, she’s made it. She’ll definitely be in Heaven”, and then look at my life and feel completely wretched.

I didn’t realise how bad I was at this until I went to a prayer and fasting day at the Barnett church with some people from my church a few years ago. My prayer ministries leader gave a testimony and in this testimony she told everyone that every morning at 4 a.m. she gets up and prays for hours. I looked around the room and everyone just seemed to be of one accord, as if they all did similar things at home. I didn’t stay for the rest of the testimony; I went into a back room and started to cry (I was also in a very bad place mentally and such a testimony was the last thing I wanted to hear).

I prayed about this problem and asked others to pray for me as well. Funnily enough, the medium that has assuaged some of my hard feelings has been Facebook. It wasn’t this way at first, but after a nice discussion with two of my friends on Twitter (for shame; I’m on almost every social network), I realised something about Christians, especially young Christians.

I wrote a blog post ages ago about Facebook Preachers, but this was manly in regards to men who use Facebook as a way to draw in Christian women. But now, as I befriend more and more Christians on Facebook, I see this mentality of “preaching” on a wider scale. I’ve started to realise how superficial we all are, how we as Christians wear a mask of piety to show other Christians how well we’re doing. Facebook has become the biggest channel to do such a thing. A person could be listening to Lady Gaga all throughout the week and still post Youtube videos of Give me Jesus, giving everyone the impression that hymns are all they listen to. Shock photos of animal mutilation and corrupt abattoir footage is a way some Adventists “preach” to their church mates whilst simultaneously showing everyone what a great vegan they are and statuses broadcast how many prayers/devotions one gets through in a 24 hour period.

I know people who mainly use their Facebook for religious and witnessing purposes, so it’s understandable if their main output is religious material, but the majority of people don’t do this, yet they will throw religious matter at everyone and claim that it’s for religious purposes, even though all their Facebook friends are in the church anyway.

So who are these activities prepared for? Who are they trying to impress?

I’ve learned to be discerning. It’s actually quite easy to separate the statues/videos/messages that are there for encouragement and those whose sole purpose is to perpetuate an image of Godliness (even if the person responsible is unaware of what their inner motives are. The subconscious is a terrifying thing).  For example, this:

GUYS I’VE JUST HAD AN AMAZING DEVOTION THIS MORNING. 2 HOURS YES! MERCY! THIS DEVOTION TOPS THE ONE I HAD YESTERDAY WHICH WAS ONLY 1 HOUR!!!!!!!!!!

Compared to this:

Wow! In my devotion this morning, I was able to see Proverbs chapter 31 in a whole new light. Have any of you ever considered that this chapter is also speaking about a church? The woman of virtue is also a church that obeys God’s commandments, as we’ve seen that a “woman” in prophecy usually refers to churches. Thoughts?

There’s just a difference. The first one isn’t encouraging at all! What was this fictitious person hoping that others would say to their caps-lock? What more is there for anyone to add or discuss? It may help some people, but to me such things add nothing to my life and I just scroll past them.

I’ve started to understand now, that I really can’t pay too much attention to the outward displays of piety that others project. It’s just too easy to be spiritual online, when no one knows what you’re doing when you log off (or switch windows); I’m beginning to realise now that I’m not the only worrier; I’ve decided to take the above displays of Christendom as a sign of insecurity: the longing to show the truly spiritual ones that they can reserve another seat on the glory train for someone else.

It took my dad years to shake me out of this negative mindset, but it was something as trivial as Facebook that helped me make the first steps towards the door.

The Great Husband War

For the first time (in my memory), my church did an entire afternoon programme focusing on singleness. Four people from the congregation sat on a panel and were asked questions about their life as a single person in the church. We then had a bigger discussion, in which people spoke about their experiences of trying to find a mate in church.

Whenever courtship and dating or topics surrounding it are discussed in church, it usually leads onto the same thing: the male: female ratio in our churches. There are roughly ten women to one man in church, and this leads to a lot of problems. Heartbreak is a major one. There are a small group of women who are evidently bitter that they’ve never been able to find a husband, even though they’ve been in the church for over ten years. It’s an inevitable problem: if there are so many women and so few men, the majority of the women are going to be left out. I suppose the realisation of this also worried me a little the other day. It has crossed my thoughts in the past that there may not be anyone there for me, even if I wanted there to be.

This struggle to find someone before all the eggs start vanishing can lead onto desperation, where a woman becomes infatuated with the first person who shows her attention (my friend mentioned this during the discussion in a not-so PC way and it caused a bit of upset).

There’s another problem that arises out of this imbalance, something much more sinister (in my opinion). Whenever what I’m about to say is mentioned, a lot of the men get upset, but I think this is because they don’t want to realise the truth. I speak of this “Sweet Shop” mentality that a lot of the “lucky few” have when it comes to women. They know they’re in a privileged position; they know there are women looking for a mate and they know they have plenty to choose from, so they exploit the system, damaging the outlook women have on men. I don’t know of any woman in church who hasn’t felt manipulated by a brother; he gives her all the attention and speaks to her about things that are inappropriate for friends and she finds out that she was one of many.

Amongst the youth, I’ve noticed guys do this a lot. Because everyone wants to be in a relationship, young men keep talking to young women about relationships in general and it gives the wrong impression. Nowadays I’m so weary whenever I meet a guy for the first time because they only ever want to talk about relationships. What do I want in a husband? What kind of family do I want? How do I feel when men do this or that? When this first happened to me, I generally thought the man in question was interested in me, before I happened to see on Facebook that he was with someone. Well that was good news.

Some of these guys lead women on unintentionally, but others are well aware of what they are doing; it’s fairly simple to guess how such questions will come across to the opposite sex. My friend’s mum warned me of these guys; she said that some of them do it because they want a general idea of what women want/like, and they’re simply phishing for information until they meet the woman they “really” want to be with.

This is a real shame, you know. Imagine how it looks. There are women, young and old, thinking: “if even the men in church are like this, is there any hope? Because they’re no different from the wastes out in the world.”

I’ll close with a quote from my girl Ellen:

To trifle with hearts is a crime of no small magnitude in the sight of a holy God. And yet some will show preference for young ladies and call out their affections, and then go their way and forget all about the words they have spoken and their effect. A new face attracts them, and they repeat the same words, devote to another the same attentions.

This disposition will reveal itself in the married life. The marriage relation does not always make the fickle mind firm, the wavering steadfast and true to principle. They tire of constancy, and unholy thoughts will manifest themselves in unholy actions. How essential it is, then, that the youth so gird up the loins of their mind and guard their conduct that Satan cannot beguile them from the path of uprightness.

The Adventist Home, pg 57

Just a little something to chew on. I really need to be wiser, before I get manipulated again. The person I spoke about the other day has really shown me that I need to slow down.

And think. I keep saying this but it’s true: God will provide (and gosh I’m so young, why am I worrying about this anyway???).

I don’t plan to join the Husband War any time soon—or ever.

Wales and the Man-Hating Thing.

So, this time last week I was in beautiful Wales. It was raining rather heavily by Friday, but there was still a serene enough atmosphere for the day to be enjoyable. I was at Camp Meeting, a religious conference that happens every year. I was able to meet lots of new people and saw friends who I haven’t seen for months. We stayed in a deluxe caravan which meant that many wanderers passed through our dwellings to eat and relax in a comfortable place. I was with five other girls, two of which I hadn’t met before the trip but I’ve since become friends with them.

On the Saturday night I had a chat with someone who told me that I “have a dislike for men when it comes to relationships”. At the time I laughed it off, but last night and today I’ve really been thinking about what he said. This blog has always documented my loop-the-loop of feelings regarding men, misogyny in church and a dislike for a certain type of man. I used to dislike men because all the men in church I met seemed to not take these issues seriously, but I never thought I still emanated a vibe of “misandry”. I find this a little worrying, if I’m honest, only because I’m currently in a “it’s complicated” state with the person who said this to me, and I wonder if this is one of the things that is holding him back from me.

I always knew that amongst some of my friends I’m just a Feminist Ranter, but those are my friends. Now it seems that potential love interests will see me the same way. I’m not sure how I feel about that. A while ago I made a post that I’m stepping out of the relationship boardroom, mainly because I was fed up with all the requirements given to women about how they should behave if they want a man and also because the relationship topic is constantly being talked about these days to the point of tedium. Since then, this particular person has come along, even though I wasn’t looking for anyone, and even though we’re definitely just friends, this situation and his subsequent comments have made me view my personal romantic life in a different light. It’s one thing to be single by choice, but another to be single because people are weary of you…

But then again, if church men are weary of me because of my views (which believe it or not are no where near as extreme as they once were), then maybe it’s best that I seek the Kingdom first before trying to get involved with anyone. Maybe it’s a good thing that I am single. I wouldn’t want to change who I am or not care about women as much as I do because it somehow makes some men feel uncomfortable. I’m grateful that this man made no indication that I need to change who I am (I take that as a good sign of his character), but what he said has made me think. I’m starting to learn a bit more about how others see me. I just don’t know if this will have an impact on who I am.

The mind wanders…

 

The Value of a Female Virgin

I used to be really proud to be a virgin, and most of the time I’m happy that I’m yet to succumb to external pressures, whether it be kissing, touching or other sexual things. I never really questioned why I felt proud, or why I, as a woman, was made to feel as though it was something I should wear like a badge of honour.

I still think it’s a good thing to save yourself for someone special and to make the commitment to only ever be with that person; to be in a courtship and exercise the art of self-control; to keep promises. But the double standard in our churches in regards to male/female virginity has really started to grate on me. Always, a woman’s virginity is valued more than a man’s. Society in general has an issue with female sexuality, hence the slut-shaming that women face when they admit to liking sex, and the appraisal men receive upon acting in the same way. But the church has this thing of thinking women are “precious” and “sacred” and it’s more damaging than men will understand.

If we were to look at countries where war rape is rife, we would see that it’s not just the rapists that are at fault, but the men in the victimised communities as well. These communities place such a value on women’s sexuality, branding them as “their women”, that when the rape takes place it not only shatters their morale but bruises their manhood: another man has tampered with their goods. And in this battle of the egos, the woman becomes collateral damage. In this same way, by owning the sex lives women in church, the church brothers leave them open to attack from people from outside; profane men who are craving the appeal of a virgin, and would like nothing more than to “show her a few things”.

This is also detrimental to our young men. When sexual purity is taught in church, if it’s implied that a woman’s virginity is more important, we’re going to implant a warped view of sex to the men.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately, mainly because I’m starting to see women my age feel doubly guilty when they do “impure” things. This battle to be the Ultimate Proverbs 31 Woman, to be strong even when we ourselves are struggling with our own lusts and sexual sins. The thought hit me this  week because there has been a bit of talk recently about the church men going through hell during summer when most women begin to dress in less clothing than they usually would. I’ve been talking to a few female friends about this issue and none of them can actually understand what the big deal is; women have always had to repress their sexual feelings because they’ve always had to be more chaste than men. So we either struggle in secret or don’t struggle at all. It makes me wonder whether these viewpoints further establish the notion that a woman’s body is a bad thing. A weapon that has been the downfall of men and it needs to be kept in check. This may be one of the reasons why people are more concerned when a woman loses her virginity; she used her sinful body to lure a man into a trap.

Who knows? I’m sure there are many reasons why this viewpoint exists. But I’m weary of letting people know I haven’t done anything before. It may attract the wrong crowd.

The Right Way to Pray

Is there such a thing?

I actually wanted to talk about Independent Women, but something happened today that really put me in a sour mood for a good few hours…

I was asked to do the closing prayer at Sabbath School today. I actually hate praying in public: the words never come out; I get tongue-tied and I forget most of what I have to say. A few months ago I had been asked to do the pastoral prayer and I was dreading it until my Sabbath School leader suggested I write it down, so that I cover all the bases and don’t forget anything. Since then, this has been my way of doing public prayers before the church. I pray before I write the actual prayer and pray after, I pray throughout for inspiration. It has never been a problem before and it alleviates some of the stress on my part.

Today, I did my closing prayer and a few minutes afterwards a visitor from the Netherlands asked me to see him outside. Then he pretty much berated me for reading the prayer! He told me that I must never do that, and that God would give me the words to say. He said that prayer should always just come from the heart and not be prepared beforehand. I calmly told him that I heard a seminar once where it was argued that preparing prayers were not unBiblical, because in the same way one would prepare a sermon to speak before the church (and a sermon is also something that “comes from the heart”, with God leading it), one could also prepare a prayer. Which was true, I can’t remember the exact seminar, but I know it exists because that particular message was relayed to me.

As soon as I had said this, he looked embarrassed for telling me off; shuffled away and said “Oh sorry, I’m from the Netherlands so I don’t really know.”

You “don’t really know?” And what’s coming from the Netherlands got to do with it?

Huh?

This is why we should be cautious of people who say their opinions on religious matters with such conviction. If I hadn’t had the seminar to back me up, he would have made me feel really stupid and I would have had a completely negative outlook of my prayer life. All it took was a couple words from me for him to admit he didn’t really know what he was talking about. If only Jim Jones and David Koresh had had the same challengers. Yes, I am taking it a step further than what really happened, but when it comes to religion people are easily swayed, which is something I’ve seen a lot of recently in my own church. One person comes along, with no credentials, says something slightly “grey” with enough confidence, and then everyone starts to get confused.

Beware of such people!

Anyway, I felt really cheesed off after this man spoke to me and I have to admit I treated the Sabbath in a terrible way; I even went off to the cemetery to sulk! God forgive me.

Is there a “right” way to pray? Or are we too used to praying traditions?

The mind wanders…

 

Naked

One day, I wanted to feel strong
so I stood by the mirror
in the nude
and thought about Eve.

As I basked in my reflection
I forgot that
a naked woman is sin:
a salacious role play
between Him and Her
becomes too clear in the mind
of the one who beholds.

I need to remember
that my body is a weapon
made to mortally wound the minds of men
and force them to lose control.
So the sensitivities of my brothers-in-Christ
must be at the forefront of my mind
whenever I get ready for church.

A woman should remember
that her nakedness will only be valued
when she is lying beneath the man she vowed
to be her wedded owner.

The Only Time I Feel Really Ashamed to be A Christian

Well, not the only time.

And also, I don’t think I’ll ever be ashamed to be a Christian. I’ll never be ashamed to follow Christ, but there are times when I feel uncomfortable that there are true fruit bats out there, claiming the same name as me.

I could talk about the American Christian Right, and how, because of that country’s influence, people the world over have used Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush to speak for the rest of us, just so they can laugh and mock Christians and continue their campaign to get religion abolished from the world.

But I won’t. My discomfort is felt on a more local level. There’s a particular topic that comes up from time to time, especially on Sabbath afternoons, during lunchtimes, when we’re discussing politics and religion and the Bible, that makes me cringe. Sometimes the topic comes up during a sermon even, or Sabbath School, or Wednesday night Prayer Meetings.

I speak of homosexuality.

It’s an odd thing, because those Christians from denominations who claim to only follow the New Testament will quote Leviticus, which is in the Old Testament, to explain why homosexuality is wrong. Then you have the other Christians who see God as only loving. They will quote “God is Love”, “God so loved the world…” which are all true quotes—because God is love—but then they forget that God is also a God of standard, of justice, and there are some things that displease him. They forget that God is soon coming to judge us all, and to destroy the world with fire. As an Adventist, I suppose it’s easier for me to quote from the Old Testament because the Seventh-day Adventist church practices from the Old Testament. As in, we don’t eat pork, shell fish or mackerel. And all the other texts, such as keeping slaves and stoning wrongdoers are not followed because Jesus said those laws were done away with*. The text about not wearing cotton and wool was more to do with the spread of leprosy than it being an actual sin**. So yes, it makes more sense for Adventists to quote from Leviticus, because we still follow those laws from Leviticus that weren’t nailed to the Cross.

But there’s a sense of oneupmanship about this, a vibe that I feel from certain Adventists, that makes me cringe.

No matter what we Christians say about sin (“oh all sin is the same!”) there are some sins that we think are worse than others. I witnessed a great example of this a couple years ago: during the sermon, a pastor confessed, with great flippancy, that he had a temporary ban from driving for using his mobile phone in the car. The congregation tutted and shook their heads, giggling slightly, and that was it. He broke the law! Knowingly! Can you imagine the reaction if he’d said

“Good morning church. Yeah, tough week. I’ve been sleeping on the sofa because I punched my wife in the face.”

It would illicit a different reaction, I’m sure. Even me, when I hear about child sex abuse cases and paedophiles, I just get so angry. At this moment in time, I feel that I would never be able to forgive a paedophile, because what they do is awful. When I hear about adulterers, I get angry also. But lying or stealing, whilst bad, doesn’t conjure the same feelings in my heart. I suppose that’s how some Christians feel about homosexuality. Especially Christians from cultures that shun gay people. They can’t explain it, but the thought of gay marriage, gay adoption and even civil partnerships get’s them angrier than all other sins. I was at a Youth Day of Fellowship a few months ago, listened to a great sermon, which was interrupted by a PSA about gay people. The preacher was doing so well, then he started talking about promiscutiy, then that led onto a little rant about gay people, about homosexuals not knowing the “right way to enter” and I grimaced. What was worse, people were laughing with him. Why? He was being mean, so why was his homophobia so acceptable?

A part of me can understand the hand-wringing that people get into when it comes to sexual matters. Even in wider society people act … odd about it. We concern ourselves far too much with other consenting adults’ sexual activities. Like, when we hear that someone is into kinky stuff, or strange festishes, we shun them. I know for a fact that there are some people who would be horrified to know that their family doctor engaged in hardcore S&M. It’s sad, but true. I think that these issues are most prevalent in church. During the Dark Ages, the church tried it’s best to suppress other people’s sexual appetite and we still see this today. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve never agreed with the forced celibacy of priests in the Catholic church. It just seems oppressive and unhealthy to me.

I understand that we as Christians should call sin by its right name, as it were. If the Bible says homosexuality is a sin then fine, direct people to the Bible and gently let them know. Then let it go. I just hate the jokes, the cruelty, the nasty remarks about gay people, especially because I have gay friends that I would love to take to church with me because I think they would really enjoy it, but I’m just so scared about what they might hear. And that’s awful—it’s shameful, even. God is for everyone, but some of His people are turning others away from Him.

I just wish that people had the same dislike for this sin that they did for their own. Then maybe they would feel remorse for their homophobia.

(*John 8
**Leviticus 13
I mentioned these texts because they, along with the food laws, are usually quoted in defence of why we shouldn’t follow anything in Leviticus. Hope it helps.) 

Patriarchy, the Church and My Hatred of Men.

I was just on Tumblr when I came across this quote:

“The thing about patriarchy is that individual men, gay and straight, are often really wonderful people who you love deeply, but they have internalized some really poisonous sh*t. So every once in a while they say or do something that really shakes you because you’re no longer totally certain they see you as a human being, and you feel totally disempowered to explain that to them.”

Source

I reblogged it because it completely explains the feelings I’ve been harbouring about men for a long time. I’ve gone through many phases, thinking at one point that I actually hated men. When I think about what women are going through at this moment in time, what’s happened to women in my own family, what’s happened to me on occasion, I feel sick and angry. This anger begins to form against men in general. I’ve been praying about it, but I think this is something that will take some time.

It’s within the confines of a church setting that I see male ignorance and privilege at an astounding level. I was dubbed the “feminist ranter” so often that I couldn’t be bothered to get annoyed anymore. Thinking logically about it, if the men in church really understood what it’s like to be a woman, then they would be ranting too, because Satan’s influence over certain men has made them all look bad. I feel sad that the only men in my life [excluding my Dada] who really and truly get angry over misogyny, male dominance and patriarchy are not in the church. I speak of my friend Tim in particular, smartest person I know, who is just so clued up about these things and the compassion he feels towards women puts a lot of church guys to shame.

I wonder, do church men feel threatened when a woman talks about independence? Or when she expresses anti-misogynist sentiment? Do they think she’s trying to usurp his divine appointment of head of the family?

Then I think about all the times I’ve heard the “male-edited” edition of Ephesians 5. Yeah, let’s skip 5:21:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

And let’s erase 5: 25-28:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

And let’s concentrate on this little gem, right in the middle:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Because that’s all that matters, I’m sure.

Church men have the luxury to be ignorant about the abuse women have suffered under the system of patriarchy, because they are of a privileged position. I’ve used this analogy before, but I’ll use it again: their ignorance is similar to the ignorance of the Royal Family. Why would the Royals care about what a single mother living hand-to-mouth on a Peckham estate is going through? How could they possibly know what it feels like to worry about bills or debt? They’re too busy cutting ribbons and posing with Usain Bolt. Likewise, I can’t expect these men to really be clued up about misogyny and the disastrous effects male dominance has had over the world. They’re men; they’re not going through it. No where in the world are men dominated, oppressed, sexualised or subjugated by women. It’s always the other way around.

Yes, I know I’m being general. I’ve made a lot of generalisations, but this is what resonated with me when I read the above quote: the individual men in my life are wonderful people, but as a collective there’s an attitude that emerges that makes me really fearful about my relationships with men—romantic or platonic.  My parents’ divorce isn’t the only thing that puts me off marriage; it’s my misgivings about religion and female oppression. My closest female friend believes that I will never marry a church man because he would make me feel imprisoned.

I would like to think the men in church care about us women, but I fear their concern is only surface-level, and that that’s all it will ever be.

(And honestly, I love you guys—almost all of my closest church friends are men—but these things have been burdening my heart for a long time.)

xXx

Father

I grew accustomed to yelling when I was young
years of hunching over in a ball
in the corner of my room
meant that my back ached a lot,
but it was necessary to avoid
the screams of mother as she
pleaded with you to love her.

I knew what it felt like to be beaten
the sensation of blood running down my back
became lodged in flesh memory.
Crimson beads blossoming in flesh trenches
are so dangerous and eerie, yet an imperative aspect
of being your daughter.

I see red when the nurse comes to my room,
when they ask me to talk about my childhood
and tell them about my Father,
the man who loved the church and hated his family.
I no longer talk about God.
The juxtaposition between Heavenly Father and Earthly one
was a paradox too bizarre to comprehend.
So I stare into nothingness
with memories of epic hypocrisy
and the image of my Father,
the Pastor.

(I’ve just come back from ARME Bible Camp and one of the sermons I listened to was about Christian hypocrisy and the damage it does to people. I’m going to write a blog post about it soon.)