Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Beyond being "nice girls"

Today, while I was looking for movies to use in Abstinence class, I found a documentary on my free OnDemand menu about the evolution and use of the word "slut." According to Merriam-Webster, the first meaning of the word is "a slovenly woman." The second definition is "a promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute." According to wikipedia.org, Chaucer used the word "sluttish" to refer to a sloppy man, but when the word "slut" appeared a few years later, it was almost always in reference to a woman.

Watching this documentary, I starting thinking about teaching abstience to teenagers. In my opinion, it is so much more complicated than saying "God made your body for your spouse. Pray for God to make you strong enough to not have sex." First of all, it seems to me that it is absolutely imperative that kids have a sense of self-worth. They need to really believe and feel that God made them special and beautiful, so that they aren't as suceptible to the validation addiction. I was 21 before I really believed that I only needed to be beautiful if the eyes of God, myself, and my future husband. For a lot of kids, its too late by that time. What with our "sex sells" culture, and social sabotage in the form of words like "slut," its amazing any of us survive adolescence with our virginity.

Urban Dictionary is a website where people can submit their own definitions of words. The most popular definition of the word "slut" according to this page, is "a woman with a man's morals." How's that for an example of the sexual double standard? I can't speak for the boys, but it is so confusing to be a girl what with being caught between two impossible standards: there's the one that says, "be a nice girl and keep your knees together, or you'll be called a slut," and the one that says, "the perfect girlfriend is fun and beautiful and sexy, and if you aren't that, you'll sit at home with your parents every weekend."

I have been teaching an abstinence-only sexuality curriculum (from 1997) at the Generation Station, and I my beliefs are firmly rooted in my belief that God created sex to be shared in marriage. I was also a psychology student, and totally believe in women being educated about their bodies and taking control of their sexuality. So I'm struggling with how to mix that all together without totally confusing kids. Then again, maybe the best thing I can do is help them to wrestle with all of this. Lets be honest, I'm only a few years ahead of them, and seeing as I am not married, abstinence is still very much a part of my life, so really we'd be wrestling with it together.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This is not an impossible problem

This morning, in Bible study, we also got onto the subject of giving to others. Bud told a story about a guy who was climbing a mountain in an asian country, and he got sick and had to turn back. He was nursed back to health in this little village and noticed that the girls had no place to meet for school. So he went home and sold everything he had and lived in his car until he raised enough money to build a school for girls in that village, and now he has an organization that raises money to build more schools for girls.

Another woman told us that when her husband died, she used his life insurance money to buy a house, and with what was left over, she and her family built a school in Haiti. This was not the most extensive policy I'm sure, and she was able to buy a house for herself and build a school for kids in Haiti.

Then, I got a letter from the child I sponsor through Compassion. She wrote to thank me for the money she got for Christmas (they divide all the extra Christmas donations equally among each child, so even though I didn't make an extra donation, she got something). She was given 23,800 Ugandan Shillings, which bought her:
-1 dress for 15,000
-Sandals for 17,000
-Socks for 1,000
-Undies for 2,000
-2 kg of rice for 2,000
-1 kg sugar for 1,600
-soda for 500

I just did the currency conversion. 23,800 Ugandan Shillings is equal to $13.08. That child's whole Christmas cost $13. God, why are we not doing more? We could be making a kid's Christmas for a lousy $13. You can feed a povery-stricken person in Africa for $30 a month.

In February, I didn't make my Compassion payment on time, because I overspent and then my cell phone bill was $40 for txting Australia. For less than that, I could have bought a 20 hour international calling card, or fed another African child for a month. According to the CIA website, there are 295,734,134 people living in America. If half those people gave $30 a month to a cause that fought hunger and poverty, that would amount to 4,436,012,010 a month. I think we can spare $30. That's a cell phone bill. Or a trip to Walmart. Or a date at the movies. I think we can spare that.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


In the board game Life, there are three things that everyone has to do: pick a career, buy a house, and get married. Since presumably one might not get around to it, they put in stop signs, so that everyone had to stop and take care of business. Imagine if marriage wasn't manditory, and then you landed (unmarried) on the "Twins!" spot. Hasboro scandal! In life as a person of faith, most of us know that repentence and forgiveness are things offered to us, but a lot of times we don't get around to it until something causes us to stop.

Ash Wednesday is a big red stop sign in the Christian year. It marks the beginning of Lent, which is the time set aside to look over our lives and straighten out our paths. Otherwise we may go on and on without stopping to see how we've strayed away from what God wants for us. We might go on fudging our way through faith struggles and broken relationships.

I spend so much time planning ahead and evaluating the past - especially now with my ministry - that half the time I have to remind myself what day/month it is. The other stop sign in my year is the rose candle we light on the third week of Advent. But at that point Advent is almost over. The great thing about Lent is that in giving something up, I have a constant reminder of what season it is, and of the fact that I am supposed to be seeking God daily. I gave up meat this year. And I love meat. I went to a chinese buffet tonight and I couldn't eat the chicken and broccoli It actually hasn't been too bad so far, but of course its only been 3 days. The point is that every time I think about a McDonalds cheeseburger or a double decker taco from Taco Bell.... give me a moment to drool..... I will be reminded that so many people around the world live on rice, and beans if they're lucky. I will be reminded that what I need comes from God and I am called to give up all the stupid unneeded things that clutter my mind and my apartment and my office and my heart.