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Key Issues and Direction of Future Posts

              Social media and the news pulls us in all directions. There seems to be an endless number of issues and it is a full time job just keeping up with issues without time spent changing them. I have several friends overwhelmed in complete distress over what to focus on. I always remind them the news is not to be our guideline for the issues we choose to respond to. Though it can give a pulse on what is going in the world they can easily take a statistical anomaly and make it appear to be a daily issue.

This distracts the Christian from responding to what they should. The Christian is called to take care of, those directly around them. The people they can directly impact. “give a cup of cold water to a little one” I attempt as often as possible to make my postings relevant to conversations I am having with those I am interacting with daily.

              I see five major issues affecting the church at large and my friends that I directly impact. Though I only wish to speak to four of these. They are “Calling and the will of God”, friendship, sexuality, dating, and social justice. Admittedly dating can be categorized under friendship, however, due to how much damage that it causes behind the curtain I believe it deserves its own section. The issue of social justice and political involvement is one I have an interest in but am behind on current trends and have not place to speak on it.

              Every young person, and by that I mean under 40, that I have talked to has struggled with understanding what they should do with their lives as well as how their lives are to impact the kingdom of God. When we understand the calling of God as it relates to every part of our life from how we dress, to food choices etc. it creates freedom, not stress, in serving Him.

              Social media primarily has affected friendships. Both in how it can undermine true community and how it encourages poor character such as petty-ness. I believe, outside of Christ himself, building solid friendship is the root solution to all other issues. Friendship supports all aspects of our life, calling, sexuality, dating, and our involvement in social justice.

              Sexuality has run rampant in culture and the church seems to still be undecided on how to respond. They oscillate between ‘sexuality as a single person’ and a near monastic lifestyle that encourages no thoughts of sex to complete freedom in marriage. Neither of these extremes are beneficial.

              Finally, I only know a handful of people undamaged by terrible dating choices. The amount of time lost to nights sobbing, stressing, playing games, or just wandering through romantic feelings lost is astounding. I wonder how much more we could do for the kingdom if we just fixed how we find a spouse.

              This is a brief summary of the issues I will be writing on over the next several months. What specific sub topics would you like to hear more about?

Reflecting God

Previously I talked about understanding loving God as obedience and enjoying life. I would like to summarize these with the proposition that the life worth living is the one that reflects the character and nature of God. If we know who God is, then we can live the life we want to.
Rather than try and urge people to just obey God in order to love him, if we focus on reflecting his nature, we include both direct obedience following his created order. We need to have a mindset that seeks to follow his design in creation. If we are only seeking to follow law, then what are we to do with the myriads of grey areas we run into on a daily basis?
For example, if I am to reflect the nature of God in my finances, I am going to give money to those in need, I will avoid debt, I will not stress over finances, and I will save for a rainy day. Giving money reflects God’s love and care for those in need. Avoiding debt follows God’s wisdom of not being bound to another human being. Not stressing shows faith in God’s providence and mimics the faith in God’s plan that Christ had. Saving for a rainy day comes from an understanding that God has made us finite and we have no idea of what will come tomorrow.
Reflecting God’s character, at least for me, helps to reduce the stress of individual decision. My goal is not to make the exact right decision every moment of my life. My goal is to as a whole act out God’s character and nature as much as possible. So where it comes to things that are not moral, I think of the organization and order in God’s creation.
Part of enjoying God’s creation is enjoying it on his terms, even when the sinful way is temporarily more pleasurable. Part of our faith needs to be in the goodness of God as expressed through his order.
For example, Scripture makes it clear that all forms of sexuality are to be saved for marriage. There are however no prescribed rules of physicality in dating. We have not rule of whether holding hands, kissing, cuddling, groping etc. are okay or not. God designed it so that sex means marriage. If you have sex, you are married. If we understand God’s nature as a holy devoted God to his people, and his view on marriage, then it is very simple to reflect God’s complete devotion to covenants by keeping ourselves from all forms of sexuality before marriage.
Though the Church continually rallies “no sex” there is a long list of un-Christ-like behavior between holding hands and sex. So, enjoy life through following God’s character, even if it means forgoing pleasure in the moment.

Evolution of the Swimsuit and Man’s Responsible Mind

                Jessica Rey’s fairly recent video on the evolution of the swimsuit has been creating a small stir on the internet. She argues in her video that contrary to the position that bikinis empower women, they actually give them power to shut down a man’s ability to conceptually relate. The answer to this negative power is showing off ones dignity through modesty.

                I find her argumentation lacking. Although it may have only been because of time constraint, her arguments lack the depth needed for the topic. First, read this post by Rachel Held Evanst. In it she does help to broaden the discussion beyond just men’s brains and a cursory reference to modesty.          

Rachel points out that the article done by Dr. Fiske of Princeton University has several issues. She includes that the there was only a small sample pool, only headless pictures of women, and that the subjects used already had a sexist view. I would also like to add the critique of a control group. According to the book Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers, there is problem with studying the affects of porn and objectification because it is difficult to find a control group that has not had a great exposure to pornography. I would like to know the porn addiction history of the men in the study by Dr. Fiske.

I would surmise that individuals who have not been exposed to pornography, or any form of advertisement, would be less likely to objectify women. Almost all advertisements and pop culture objectifies women’s bodies and trains men to do the same. This is a culturally trained pattern that men must actively fight against in order to responsible for their own thoughts.

                                Men are responsible to keep their thoughts captive, but we cannot expect them to do this on their own. Should women cover everything up? That would depend upon your culture and I will leave that discussion for someone else. What is necessary is that we equip men to be able to deal with culture and its training to sexualize woman’s bodies.

                From car commercials, to advertisements for watches to television series, women’s bodies are portrayed as sexual, completely clothed or not. In most advertisements it goes beyond how much skin is showing and into the body language of the female. She is postured so as to accentuate curves and present herself as a target.

                Are female bodies innately sexual? I don’t think so. But our society is making it that way. As is evidence by some cultures that find the ankle to be the most sexual part of the female body, what is sexual and what is not is simply what we are trained to think. Currently we are training men to think of every part of a female as sexual.

                As we seek to train men to control their thoughts, we also must train them to think counter culturally. They must learn to think of the female body as a person, not an object of value that helps to sell cars, watches, boats and deodorant. The battle of men and women to control their minds is constant. Understanding what culture is teaching us, and then learning what Scripture teaches us is another very useful skill for the battle.