Agree or Disagree: Christians idolize virginity. Culture disrespects it


If you have been around the church for any length of time, you have heard the discussion about “saving yourself for marriage”

There have been some very impassioned and some might say, insistent pleas for this. There have been abstinence pledges signed,purity rings worn. A very strong and clear stance on saving yourself for marriage.

While many feel this is good, and biblical, there was an interesting question brought forth mainly through this blog http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/christians-idolize-virginity.

Let’s picture the scenario. Perhaps you have been here.

Group of people surrounding each other after a church message. Sharing with joy and gratitude that they have accepted God’s plan for marriage. They have waited and felt blessed. 

Except there is one, maybe two that as the conversation goes on feels less and less like the rest of the group. They haven’t waited. They made a decision for whatever personal reason that is to have it. They are concerned that if they open up, they would feel condemned and judged. They hear the messages. They hear the lingo. They know where they stand.

I think when you read the blog from Rachel and the links that follow, you will get a great perspective. However, I would like to paint another scenario.

Another group of people. They are gathering around after a party weekend. They are bragging about their sexual escapades of the weekend. Who they were with and how they felt. 

In the same group, there is a couple that for personal reasons that do not have to be connected with a religion, simply do not live that way. Maybe they do or do not practice a faith, but they have decided that they will wait for a deep commitment before they go there. But as this conversation goes on, they get more and more uncomfortable. They decide not to open up. Why? They know the lingo. They know the message. They see and feel that they will get judged for waiting.

So, I also ask, does our culture actually disrespect the idea of virginity? You will note that in Rachel’s blog those that have not waited feel disqualified from the conversation of “purity”. But there may be some that feel that their choice of abstaining  has as well.

What do you think

Agree or Disagree: It is possible to completely end homelessness.


I’m sure  in certain areas of your own city downtown and surrounding area, there likely is an area some would recommend that you avoid.

You know the ones. They have a reputation. A group appearing to be an unseemly sort. Unkept. Unclean. Unwashed.

In some cities, they have been pushed away. In an attempt to clean up an area, there have been “revitalization projects”. To attract new businesses and new ideas, there has been an attempt to change the culture of the Unkept, Unclean, and Unwashed. However, while the “revitalization projects”go into full swing, it seems that the Unkept, Unclean and Unwashed have been done with.

The only thing is, they just went to a different area.

In Calgary, where I live, there’s a project  that the Calgary Homeless Foundation has been in the midst. It’s the 10 year plan to end homelessness.

It started in 2008, and it is expected to end in 2018. They have 3 phases. The first phase is from 2008-2010 in which the plan was to develop a better understanding. The second phase of the plan in which we are currently in from 2011-2014 is to build a homeless-serving systems to end homeless. They have identified 4 key strategies. They are prevention and rehousing, housing, data and research, and the non-profit sector. And the plan for 2015-2018 is to develop a sustainable plan and transition into community leadership.

Now how the project is going, the success of this idea might be debated by some. You can have a look at this http://calgaryhomeless.com/assets/10-Year-Plan/10-year-plan-FINALweb.pdf to see their ideas. I would say that I think it has been understated the tremendous amount of time and effort many in the front line of homeless shelters have given. Whether they be case workers, front line workers or the countless volunteers that have given their time, I think they should be thanked much more than they are.

Last Monday, I happened to attend a panel discussion that was put on by the Centre for Christian Thought. There were opening remarks from Deputy Mayor Gail Macleod. The discussion lead to three factors to look at homelessness. Dr, John Rook the CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation discussed homelessness as a social problem. John Bodman, who was homeless for years, looked at it from a personal problem. And Bishop Fred Henry looked at the spiritual problem of homelessness.

There was some very important issues discussed. Dignity. Addiction. Mental Illness The impact on smoking laws and recycling. Our responsibility to the homeless. And they are key issues to what we are dealing with. 

But there is so much more.

The more I think about it, it seems to me that it comes down to how we look at that group of the Unwashed, Unclean and Unkept. Because very clearly, there are many ways to look at this. Some of you may respond with some of these questions like.

How can you live in a city like Calgary and not have a job?

Why should I give any of my spare change to a homeless person? It’s going to go to booze and drugs anyway.

Where is your family? Don’t you have any education?

And some might respond with questions like these.

“Did you know he was a smart guy? He has a business. He put his trust in someone and they took off with everything.

Did you know that there is a huge population of working poor? Did you also know that if you don’t have a fixed address, you can’t have a job?

And one I deal with on a regular basis.

It is very tough as an adult learner to get the education that some desire. Yes, there is Continuing Education classes you can take. However, in many disciplines it is simply not possible to take courses part time. Some of the programs are designed in a way where it can only be taken full time. In some cases, it includes a practicum. Which might be unpaid. And if you are an adult that is established, this can be very discouraging. 

What about funding for education? Great question. It is somewhat limited depending on what you are taking. There is government funding for one year Certificates, but not for any higher forms of education. And you and I both know who a company will hire.

The point being is that I think there are very important questions that have been asked. And there are some real frustrations in dealing  with this as well. And they are all fair.

But, if you think it is even possible to end homelessness, then I think it’s going to take a culture shift. And a shift in our mindset

But, what do you think?

Agree or Disagree: Those who Smoke or Overeat should be penalized


Are you one that smokes? Or would you consider yourself an overeater?

The experts are having a discussion on how to approach your behaviour again.

The discussion, according to this article below from the Vancouver Province, is asking an interesting question.  http://www.theprovince.com/health/Should+smokers+overeaters+penalized+experts/7882867/story.html

The question that the article is asking is this. Quoted from the article,

“Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die prematurely from their unhealthy habits?”

Some have pointed to the high cost on the health care system. Others have pointed out that calorie and tobacco measures have been a burden on poor people.

What do you think? Is there anything that can be done? Or is it a personal responsibility issue?

Agree or Disagree: Society discourages you to be a Good Samaritan


I have happened to notice there has been a few incidents in the news that has reminded me of this story.

 

A few weeks ago in Edmonton, there was an incident on the LRT where a man was beaten to death by another passenger.  This was not a late night incident, but in the middle of the day in front of other passengers

 

There was also a story in the Calgary Herald about several youth attacking someone on the C-train. Again not at night, but in the middle of the day.

 

It would be really easy to ask why people are not quickly responding. In the case of Edmonton, there was some who did. But in the other sense, the problem is you don’t know what someone is carrying a weapon or something else.

 

There have also been cases where people have been taken advantage of for being a Good Samaritan.For example,  cases of giving money to someone who is pretending to be poor. Or other similar scams.

 

You probably are aware of the story of the Good Samaritan. If not, you can reads it in the book of Luke Chapter 10 Verses 25-37

 

Agree or Disagree: Gender Roles have caused an unreasonable expectations on relationships.


If you remember a while ago, I mentioned someone named Sarah Moon. She has been reviewing some dating books on Twitter. Her Twitter is @SarahNMoon. She is very passionate and cares very much about how this topic has impacted relationships.

There are some in Christian circles that believe that the man is the leader of the house. And that the woman has been made as the “helpmate”.  Books have been written on this. Influential speakers like John Piper and Mark Driscoll and even Joshua Harris have mentioned this. This argument would be supported by many woman as well.

So, I have asked her to write a guest post on this topic.  I think, and hope you might find her perspective interesting. You can also like her on Facebook as well under Sarah Moon.

Thank you Sarah.

When my last boyfriend and I started getting more serious about our relationship and were wondering “Where do we go from here?” we decided to seek some counsel from books. So I went to the Christian bookstore on my Christian college’s campus and picked up Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.

Now, my ex and I had both grown up in fundamentalist-learning churches, so we’d heard the basics about gender roles before. But never had we heard about gender roles with an emphasis as strong as what we found in that book. So, thinking that we had been doing everything wrong for our entire relationship, we attempted to follow the rules that this book put forth.

He would be the strong, masculine leader.

I would be the vulnerable, feminine, helper.

Instead of being ourselves, instead of continuing the journey we’d already started toward learning who the other person was, we both tried to see the other (and ourselves) as Man or Woman, as defined by Joshua Harris.

Do gender roles cause unrealistic expectations in relationships? Though I can’t speak for everyone, based on my own relationships, I’d have to say that yes, yes they do.

Usually, dating is a period of time where two people get to know each other. But when one worships gender roles, there’s this idea that you can already know someone of the opposite sex just by knowing what a Man or a Woman is.

The idea is that all men are alike, all women are alike, but all men are completely different from all women. When I tried to model my relationship based on this, I had to throw out the things I already knew about my ex boyfriend that didn’t line up what Christian dating books told me about Men. I would just assume those “non-manly” characteristics were clever lies that he was using to get in my pants.

I became mistrustful of him when he was just being himself in ways that didn’t like up with “manliness.” At the same time, I became upset and disappointed when he didn’t live up to the “knight in shining armor” standard that I read men were supposed to me. I got to the point where I couldn’t see him or treat him like a human.

At the same time, I couldn’t see or treat myself as a human either. I tried to be submissive, to “guard my heart” instead of continuing the openness and honesty that had once marked our relationship. I tried to be quiet and gentle. But I was trying to be someone I could not be. I was trying to make my partner someone he could not be.

He wasn’t ready to “spiritually lead” another grown adult and I wasn’t about to follow the “spiritual leadership” of someone my own age who didn’t know anything more about our religion than I did. He wasn’t able to provide monetarily for a whole family by himself, and I wasn’t about to give up my career goals to “let him” do that. But we struggled, we tried for over a year.

That relationship ended for unrelated reasons, and I was left to evaluate everything that went wrong. In my next relationship (with a former Southern Baptist) it took a few weeks to work out the practical aspects of an egalitarian relationship, but it was worth it.

Instead of getting to know the definition of Man, I got to know a man. A human man who had his own talents, abilities, hopes, dreams, thoughts, personalities that were not inextricable tied to his gender or sex.

Instead of getting to know the definition of Woman, he got to know me. And I got to know me better too.

I think that getting to know a gender role keeps us from getting to know each other as people. Yes, I believe it sets up unrealistic expectations, unnecessary pressure, and often disappointment.

Agree or Disagree: You would be with someone who was previously unfaithful


Agree or Disagree: You would be with someone who was previously unfaithful

This link gives some interesting information on infidelity and unfaithfulness in a relationship.

It is estimated by some research that approximately 60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage. And although this statistic comes from the United States, I don’t suspect it to be hugely different for us in Canada.

 

Research shows that 2 to 3% percent of all children are the product of infidelity.

 

This same sight also states that Men are more likely to cheat than woman. But it would seem that as women become more financially independent, women are starting to act more like men with respect to infidelity.

 

There also seems to be more options for this to occur. And also on many levels. Emotionally, psychically.

 

Many people find a more suitable mate after they are married.

 

In reading all this, there is a possibility that someone you have met or are meeting might have a history. No, it will not be the first thing you know. You probably never will know. But, people talk, particularly in the same social groups. This is how reputations are developed.

 

So, let’s say you are in  a relationship or considering a relationship with someone. You have been made aware of a possibility of someone being unfaithful to their partner. Would you consider continuing this relationship?

 

Agree or Disagree: It is better to marry, than to burn with passion.


For many people, the Bible has some important standards when it comes to relationships. Some would say that the Apostle Paul had much to say on this.

This verse comes from 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 and Verse 9.

But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

What do you think?

Agree or Disagree: Roe Vs Wade was good for women.


Agree or Disagree: Roe Vs Wade was good for women.

This was an interesting article and perspective from a group called Red Letter Christians.

You might know that today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. Obviously, this decision was a major decision on so many levels, from many different perspectives.

What do you think?

Agree or Disagree: Dating Books have created unrealistic expectations for relationships.


 

In 1997, a 23 year old man named Joshua Harris wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. It has sold well over a million copies. And it greatly impacted many people.

 

The concept of the book is this. Harris believed that people put up a facade in order to be what other people want. That “facade” can be maintained throughout the date. Therefore, Harris encouraged more group dates, feeling that that would tell more about something then it would be if they were alone. He also proposed something called courtship which he argued that this model is closer to the Biblical idea for Christians to follow.

 

The book truly seemed to make a positive impact on a lot of Christians. They took his words to heart. Pastors also took his words to heart. They would have either changed, or approached dating with his, and many others at the time, idea. The intent of the Christian would be to honour God. Many strongly believe that the idea of sex, and some even touching, is meant for the confines of holy matrimony.

 

But yet, as this book was being digested and read, something else happened. It happened slowly and it seemed like years later, we have really seen what has occurred. 

 

A distance developed. Somehow, for many people, it actually became tougher to date. Intentions were questioned.  For example, it might have seemed something like this:

 

 Christian Boy: Would you like to go out for a coffee?

 Christian Girl: Why, have you prayed about it?

Christian Boy: Um…. Um…. Bye….

 

Slowly, the average age of people actually getting married increased. Slowly, the divorce rate has been raised amongst those who are Christians. Statistics report it is actually higher than the secular folks that they did not want to be about.

 

It was a coldness that even Harris noticed in his own church. In 2005 the 31 year old senior pastor of his church spoke a sermon that it is ok for men and women to be friends and go out for coffee.

 

So, as much as Harris slightly noticed it, many have been angered by not only this book, but other similar books on dating from a Christian perspective. Some have felt they have created some unreal expectations. Further, it has missed the human element as well. Here are some of the top selling Christian dating books that I have discussed and/or read”

 

 

Captivating

Wild At Heart

Dateable: Are you?

Boundaries in Dating

Sex. God.

 This is books that come from a Christian perspective. There are many ” Non-Christian” dating books that have done this as well. Books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus and She’s Not That Into You have made huge impacts. And let’s not forget magazines like Cosmopolitan, GQ, and Revolve! 

I’m not endorsing one book over another. There is probably some good and some bad from each one. And perhaps the question may be too general. But how have the dating book a impacted our view on relationships?