Sex: Let’s Talk About It, America, and Use Common Sense

Sex: Let’s Talk About It, America, and Use Common Sense

I watched a lot of female mice being raped during my senior year of college. Yes, you read that right. I was part of an insanely hilarious group of psychology students whom embarked on a research project to compare human sexual behavior to sexual behavior in mice. Our hypothesis was that the male mice would do anything they needed to do to get laid, and that the male mice would fall asleep directly after sex. Observing hours upon hours of mice, the data that we collected proved our hypothesis to be TRUE.

Just like mice, humans are biologically predisposed to have sex. The desire is arguably stronger with men because biologically they are wired to spread their seed to ensure survival of the human race. Their urges are natural and based on hormones that are out of their control. Based on years of conversations with male friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is very difficult for the male to use their brain to keep their desires at bay. They have it kind of rough because of their biological predisposition.

Watching these male mice chase the female mice around incessantly until they captured one and mated with them, even though the female tried to get away, showed me up close this natural need that is so very powerful. In contrast to mice, humans can exercise self-control even through major difficulty. However, humans are also humans, and failing our best intentions is inevitable at times, especially during teenage years when hormones are raging.

Purity culture intends to arm young women and boys with a spiritual defense during times of sexual temptation. However, it turns sex and natural urges into something to feel ashamed of. Masturbation is a sin among many religions, and pre-marital sex is stressed as a HUGE sin, beating gossip, greed, and lying. Purity culture tries to enforce abstinence through a promise made to God-that the teen will stay a virgin until married.

I made a purity promise in youth group when I was 12 years old. Being an overly sensitive young girl that both loved and feared her God, it was an easy promise to make. I was positive I could honor this pact. Psychologically, I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t. Biologically, I was unaware at the changes my body would undergo in the next few years. I hadn’t fallen in love yet. I hadn’t wanted to express my love yet. I knew nothing. I was 12. I did know sin, I did know fear, and I did know that my God would be so angry if I broke my promise and it would potentially ruin my relationship with my God.

Just like most humans, I was unable to keep this promise. I lost my virginity to my first love, at 18, and instead of it being a beautiful experience, it ended with a major cognitive and spiritual breakdown. I thought God didn’t love me anymore and it was the onset of my downward spiral, that lasted a decade. Most importantly, I was unsafe. I wasn’t armed with birth control or a condom. Being in possession of either would’ve been in direct defiance of the promise I intended to keep. Purity culture had failed me. Luckily, I didn’t end up pregnant or with an STD.

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The religious right is hell bent on trying to legislate purity. Recently, in the name of religious liberty, the President signed an executive order rolling back employer-mandated birth control. Constantly efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are thrown into the spotlight as being a Christian mission. Sexual education in public schools are discouraged and disguised as corrupting the youth with filth and perversion. Franklin Graham recently posted on Facebook about how dangerous sex-ed is and gave a call to Christians to run for their school boards to stop the filth. Here is his post:

“Parents beware and listen up—here’s an example of how dangerous our public schools have become for our children. This Oklahoma middle school was teaching 7th and 8th graders topics in their sex education class including mutual masturbation, oral, vaginal and anal sex as the “4 types” of sex. It disturbed one 12-year-old student so much that she was in tears and asked to be taken out of the class. Another student said, “Mom, it’s like instead of telling us how not to do it, it’s like they gave us a road map.” This curriculum tried to make it more elementary by having kids fill in the blanks and referring to “underwear zones.” This is all part of an agenda to pervert the minds and steal the innocence of children—it’s wrong, and it’s evil. Parents, be on guard. Get informed about what the schools are teaching your children. Get involved and let the school and the school board know this isn’t going to happen on your watch. I urge Christians across the country to run for your local and state school boards where you can help put a stop to initiatives like this. Let me know in the comments below if this kind of garbage is being taught in your community’s schools.”

All of these efforts by the religious right to legislate sex are completely futile and will increase abortions. Sex whether marital or pre-marital has and will be going on as long as humans exist. Abortions will always go on, legal or not. Why wouldn’t we want to arm our children with knowledge, STD defenses, and pregnancy barriers? Instead send them out on the whim they can stay abstinent? That isn’t realistic whatsoever, I couldn’t do it, and I guarantee most of the religious right couldn’t do it. The youth needs education. They need to be taught personal responsibility. Research shows that increasing access to birth control, and increasing sexual education programs DECREASE unwanted pregnancies, which DECREASE abortions.

No one loves abortion. Women’s rights activists are not out on the front line trying to persuade women to get abortions. Being pro-choice isn’t synonymous with being pro-abortion. Most of us are abortion reductionists. We want to reduce abortions, and the actions taken by the religious right are doing the opposite.

I encourage parents, Christians and Non-Christians to have honest and open conversations about sex with their children. We, as a society cannot hide from it, nor do we need to shame it. It’s a natural process, that is both pleasurable and life enhancing. Teens shouldn’t be taught to be ashamed of themselves for having lustful thoughts or sexual urges, because neither can be stopped. It’s like telling your kid to be ashamed for being hungry or thirsty. Sexual repression, in my opinion based on observations, can manifest itself through extra-marital affairs later in life, perversion, and also contributes to rape and sexual assault. Just look at the rape and molestation of young boys in the Catholic religion by priests, whom are extremely sexually repressed.

Consent needs to be taught. Respect needs to be taught. Being responsible with birth control and condoms need to be taught. Mutual pleasure needs to be taught. Boys need to know that sex isn’t just for them. Boys need to know they aren’t monsters and women need to know they aren’t sluts. Abstinence should be taught as an excellent option, however, not used as a tool teaching God’s wrath if we fail.

Let’s just be smart America, and use our common sense. We are after all, no different than mice. We just have tools at our disposal that can help us succeed and overcome our biological and psychological urges in a way that benefits everyone. May we contribute to policies and programs that will reduce abortions not increase them.

 

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Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Love is My Religion: This Year I Have Been a Hypocrite.

Confession: I am a hypocrite. This year specifically I have violated my first and foremost belief, one that I have been preaching my entire life:

To love my neighbor as myself.

I’ve spent a lifetime pushing back against Christianity. I’ve fought to expose the blatant hypocrisy and incongruence to Jesus’ core values. My life has been lived out in the open, no secrets, all sins laid bare. I’ve drank and abused alcohol, smoked cigarettes, lived with boyfriends, bartended, advocated for medical marijuana, have been divorced, advocated for choice, allied with LGBTQ, the list goes on and on in the ways I have lived on display to the church, being everything it’s against.

Since I was a child, I’ve always fought for the underdog. It’s been so easy to preach “love your enemies” and “love your neighbor”  in church culture when my focus was on the underdogs, LGBTQ, the addicted, the sinners, etc. It has been where I naturally have fit in, among the misfits, because I was one. I am one. I was trying to be understood and loved anyway, even through my misfitery. I spent my life in one mess after the next, never being able to rise because I never felt loved, just as I was, sins and all, heretic and all, wayward and all.

Whenever I was confronted by a Christian “in love” for my sinful ways, I would preach Matthew 7:1-5, call them out on ways they’re sinning, and be on my way to crash and burn again. As I look back at my series of life monstrosities, I can only wonder if I, perhaps, was a test for the church. Living authentically was my only sin, however. I was purely acting and living from exactly who I was at that moment with my current, available resources, and lack of self love.

However, living authentically has a price. I paid the cost by being a focus. As long as Kimberly was such a “lost one”, no one had any need to look in the mirror. The church could focus on me, because I was willing to just be myself, train wreck and all. The more stones that were cast, the deeper I dug in my hole of self-destruction. I didn’t know how to love myself. The church did not teach me how. Other misfits taught me how. It wasn’t until this election, when I finally saw the church’s sins laid bare, that I finally could rise. Just like they were focused on me in my mess, I was too focused on the church for redemption.

And just like them, I have cast more stones than a gravel truck this year.

Currently, this political climate is causing so much upheaval in all of our lives. People on both sides of the aisle have been exposed to the “real” versions of friends and family we once thought we knew so well. We’ve been surprised, hurt, angry, bewildered, confused, and exhausted. This strange reality we have all been forced to comprehend and endure has not been easy. I know I’ve failed. I’ve failed by hurting back. I’ve failed by laying the church out flat. I’ve failed by being passive aggressive. I’ve failed by ghosting, unfriending, unfollowing, and limiting contact. It isn’t just me that is failing, it’s most of us, on both sides.

The election of Donald Trump by 80% of evangelicals stung some of us. Deep. Just like I didn’t have the moral high ground back during my many episodes of self-destructive crisis’, they don’t have the moral high ground now. None of us have ever had any moral high ground. None of us ever will, which was the point Jesus tried to make. None of us are perfect. All of us are guilty. All of us forgiven. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, everyone is redeemed from law. An adulteress doesn’t deserve stoning anymore than an LGBTQ deserves bigotry. None of us can cast stones. The law has been winning over love for generations.

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This year gave me the opportunity to finally show that my “watered down gospel” is the way. And yet, I’ve been so angry, I’ve been judging left and right, because how dare they support the immorality displayed by this president? How dare the church that now lives in a glass house, still continue to cast stones at others, and still cling on to the most immoral person I’ve ever witnessed? The church didn’t love me at my worst. Yet, the church loves this president, a man who in word and deed is in direct opposition to any value Jesus Christ ever spoke.

It’s been the biggest test of my life, this year, to love my enemies. A test I have overwhelmingly flopped, not once, but daily, sometimes hourly, for almost a year. I’m not proud of the way I’ve handled it, however, I also have grace for myself for my mistakes, and I now see a better way. We need to try and love them anyway. This year has been a time of breakdown. Foundations have crumbled. Lies exposed. Hypocrisy in the spotlight. However, no longer do we need to feel like we are the immoral ones begging for redemption. This year proves without a doubt that none of us are behaving from Love. But with breakdown, comes a time to rebuild a new foundation, and destroy what never was meant to stand anyway…RELIGIOUS LAW.

I’m willing to try. With that being said, I need to treat myself from Love, showing myself unconditional love, grace, and acceptance for my daily failure. If I would’ve known how to do that years ago, perhaps I never would’ve hit rock bottom. I only knew the love that wasn’t shown. I only knew judgement. I only knew not measuring up. It took this election for me to realize that I wasn’t so stained after all. We can’t love others until we truly love ourselves. We cannot love ourselves until we know what love is. It’s a cycle that is never-ending. People need to know what love is. It isn’t controlling someone, it isn’t damning someone, it isn’t judging, it isn’t insisting on our own way. It is patience. It is kindness. People can only be who they are with their current level of experience, knowledge, and worldview.

We can only be ourselves, and that just has to be enough. It just must be. It is the way Jesus taught us to love one another. The church has failed in that regard. Now, the resistance is failing.

I will continue to love the underdog because I’ve been one. I will continue to speak out and fight for the oppressed, and pray that the church sees it’s hypocrisy. I can try my best to speak from understanding and confidence instead of hurt, anger, and frustration. I no longer need to feel that way, as I believe whole-heartedly in my inherent values. Nothing and no one can press those down anymore.

May everyone in this nation look deep inside of their heart, and see their lack of love and hypocrisy. Only then can this nation begin to heal. I see mine. Love is my religion, and I have been a hypocrite, and I most likely will fail again, perhaps with this very blog post,  but at least I see it, and am willing to try.

May we all just try.

 

Onward Christian Soldiers: The Culture War I Grew Up in Fighting for “Jesus”

Onward Christian Soldiers: The Culture War I Grew Up in Fighting for “Jesus”

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive”

C.S. Lewis

I grew up in a fanatical world of Christianity that set me on course to be part of a movement, a culture war,  to take the country back for Christ. This meant voting Republican, being anti-LGBTQ, pro-life, pro-war, pro-gun, pro-prayer in schools, anti-evolution, anti-feminist, and anti-science. I want to express that there are so many innocent players in this movement, as they are indoctrinated with this ideology. The innocent believe they are doing the right thing for Jesus, their savior, and feel such responsibility for this country to come back to Christ because to them, the threat of eternal hellfire is very real and not up for any debate whatsoever. What better and unsuspecting people are there to manipulate than those that were primed since children to live under the threat of eternal torture?

The “powers that be” know exactly what they’re doing to get this group on the side of furthering oppression. As we can see it is working here in America. I feel sorry for them. I used to be one, but somehow I was sensitive enough to see inconsistencies with what I learned about Jesus. There seemed to be two very different, very opposite versions…

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It was my junior year of high school in my advanced biology class, and we were discussing the AIDS crisis. My teacher asked the class what some solutions could be, to reduce the effects of this epidemic. He was most likely hoping we would say things like; increase scientific research, STD education, or free, accessible condoms. Little did he know he had an arrogant Christian soldier in his class… me. I raised my hand, he called on me, and I said something along the lines of, “We should just put all of the gays on an island, and then they will die off, and there won’t be anymore AIDS.”

This horror actually came out of my mouth.

Also, that same year I wrote an essay in English class about how awful and sinful gays and lesbians were. I read this essay years later and I was saddened beyond words that I had ever written something so wrong and hateful. I shudder to think of my teacher’s reaction when he read my paper. This was the same hippie, liberal teacher who first taught me to think for myself and put important books in our hands like “1984” by George Orwell. I hope he said a prayer for me when he read my essay. I am pretty sure my biology teacher did after my island comment, as he was a great man, a very loving man.

I wasn’t born with hate or bigotry in my heart. I was the bright, adorable, little girl in our tiny, modest, country Baptist church that my grandfather was the pastor of. I was a social butterfly and loved everyone in that building. My mother would laugh when I would often invite the entire congregation over for dessert after Sunday night service, even though we only had two pieces left of the delicious apple crisp or coffee cake that she made. Slowly over the years, however, my inherent love and compassion was chipped away, inadvertently and subtly.

I was taught that there were two sides. Ours and theirs. The “true believers” and the “world”. The world included anyone not subscribing to our sect of Christianity (KJV only, literal truth, no questions allowed). This secular world included Methodists, Catholics, democrats, LGBTQ, Lutherans, Progressive Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, feminists, pretty much everyone else. Everyone was wrong but us, and other churches adhering to our rigid interpretation. I learned that America was a Christian nation, and the secular world was an enemy to America because they wanted to remove Jesus from our country. The secular world was an enemy of Jesus. The only thing to do was convert others, and if we couldn’t, then dismiss them. Be of the world but not in the world.

Constantly, I questioned all of this. I never understood it, and thought it was really silly that there were so many churches in my town but only certain ones were okay. Others weren’t going to heaven? Others were deceiving their flock, and they were headed to hell? Still though, this anti-LGBTQ doctrine had taken hold.

It isn’t surprising to me that this culture war is being fought with such fervency. It isn’t surprising to me that  fundamental Christians and evangelical Christians are doubling down in their support of Trump. No matter how destructive his policies are to other human beings, and no matter how immoral his character is, he is still on the side of the religious right working to take back the country for Christ. They truly think they’re doing the right thing.

But it’s their version of Christ. 

We need to be concerned at the rise of  Christian Fascism. Already we are seeing policies such as the trans military ban, that are one step away from “putting the gays on an island.” The LGBTQ community is being tossed into the limelight as the ultimate sacrifice for this culture war that must be won for Christ, along with black Americans, immigrants, refugees, the poor, women, and the sick. Even the children are being sacrificed for this culture war, as the GOP chose not to renew the low-income health insurance program (CHIP) and is set to expire at the end of this month, leaving 9 million children at risk of losing their insurance.

Those of us that are speaking out, whistle-blowing this damaging movement that we used to be part of, are making them extremely uncomfortable. We are causing distress and discomfort. The only choice they have is to put us on prayer chains, gossip (praying together) and hope that soon we will see the light of their lord and return apologetically like the prodigal son.

This prodigal daughter is not returning. In doing so, I would have to forfeit my first and foremost belief, to love my neighbors as myself, and treat others like I would want to be treated. This is the Gospel I also learned about in this community and from my grandfather. This is the Jesus I also learned about in this community and from my grandfather. I cannot abandon it, nor am I ashamed to speak it. I am thankful I was brought out of that world, only to return to that little girl that loves everyone. But my fate is that I will forever be damned to hell in the light of their lord, yet forever trying to help people that are hurting.

I will suffer for it though.

I will suffer being on prayer chains, and gossip circles.

I will suffer knowing how badly I have hurt the collective by refusing to conform.

I will suffer because it isn’t about me. It isn’t about them, or maybe it is. Who knows how many of the people inside of that building are living with secrecy and unnecessary shame.

It will always be about fighting for, standing up for, and kneeling with, the least of these.

Leaving Las Vegas: Returning with Hope and Promise of a Better World

Leaving Las Vegas: Returning with Hope and Promise of a Better World

Like many of you, my heart is boiling with fire raging blood in response to the tragic events in Las Vegas. The very last thing any of us needed right now was to mourn another senseless, possibly preventable, mass shooting, the worst America has seen. We are still mourning the refugee ban 10 months ago, and every other subsequent nightmare since, that is everyday, all day, sometimes every hour. Writers, journalists, news anchors, comedians, celebrities, politicians, activists, and other people that have careers surrounding the non-stop news, have no choice but to endure it, and then lend our voice to try and light a fire under the dormancy of concern.

It seems we are making noise in echoless rooms.

It seems that we are in hell with no reason to have hope at all.

Yesterday, after all day of grasping for answers, and trying my best to maintain my overwhelming grief, sadness, and frustration, my perspective changed because I absolutely had no choice but to change it. I cannot continue day after day beating my head against brick walls trying to open people’s eyes. Yet, that is what I am called to do. It’s who I am, through and through, without facade, and without a stage. I am supposed to talk. I am a boat rocker, a belief challenger, and a voice that is called to raise others with the same calling. So I must find a way to endure this. It is hope I am trying to speak and share, and I can’t do that as long as I am living in mind/spirit in this current reality of Hades.

Therefore, I am leaving hell, not physically, but spiritually.

We can choose to leave this behind. We can still act here in word and deed. We can still help others, voice our concerns, and give rise to the truth, but we can do that from a place in ourselves that is free. A place free from fear, worry, anxiety, or anger. We can choose to rest our spirit in the kingdom/queendom of heaven that is within us. We must not allow the darkness of this world to dim that light which is within us. Yesterday, I felt the darkness that was trying to take over. This evil I felt was hopelessness.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt dread.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt rage.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt terrified.

Today, I refuse it.

Today, I refuse anything that doesn’t belong in the age to come. I may not be able to do that physically, but I can in my mind. I can choose to believe that love, restoration, and peace will win. I believe that. I don’t have any explanation or logical reasons to believe it. I do though. I always have. The world tried to take that hope and belief away from me through religion, conspiracy theories, political divide, social injustice, other sad news, and experiences.

I refuse to be removed from the place I know exists. Perhaps only in our minds right now. But we are not alone in this. There are other dreamers, far more than we think, who can and will join us, and the world will be as one. All believers must do their best to live from this utopia/better world we know is coming. Thrust your thoughts ahead along with the prophet Isaiah, who’s vision was the same as ours:

He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:4

This gorgeous passage was the very first thing that popped into my head yesterday morning and learning of the massacre in Las Vegas. I posted it on social media, and throughout the day I saw this verse so many other times, being shared far and wide. By the dreamers. We are connected to something, larger than ourselves, and we are echoing each other and sharing the message we all carry. This verse came into our heads during this tragedy for a reason. We didn’t act alone, we acted together, perhaps from a future place.

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Trust in it. Act from it. Help from it. Speak from it. Keep believing and give the enemy no reason to remove you. How much more powerful are we together, dwelling in the age to come, rather than alone suffering in this hell that is not permanent or lasting?

May we all dwell in hope and may we leave this hell behind.

May we create our vision that we imagine.

Today.