Monday, June 29, 2009

Sexting and the Teenage Girl, Part 2

We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend like these things are not a reality for many of the kids in our churches. Whether they are exposed to it regularly, tempted by it, or actively engaging in it, sexual immorality is not foreign to many teenagers. And in today’s culture it is even more prominent, and in some cases, celebrated. Ministering to young women will require an understanding of what they are up against on a daily basis, and will also require the biblical tools to fight sin. We must partner with them in the fight against sin, and the quest towards biblical womanhood. It is crucial that we help the young women in our congregations combat the lie that their bodies are their own, and their own to flaunt for anyone who would have them. God does not say this. Their bodies are to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, not the object of a hormonal boy’s gawks. Partnering with parents will be key as we seek to protect and lead the next generation of women to live in purity and holiness.

Mothers have a primary responsibility to shepherd their daughters in the ways of the Lord. Often this will mean protecting them at all costs from their own sinfulness, and the sin around them. No teenage daughter should have uncontrolled access to social networking, technology, or media. Allowing them this freedom will only open a door to an independence that they are often not ready for. If your daughter sends multiple text messages a day and you have no idea who the recipients are, then I encourage you to ask her who she is texting and ask her to show you the messages. Parents have an obligation to protect their daughters from predatory men, and this means boys who will use them for their sexuality. Teach your daughters what purity is at a very young age, and raise her to view her body as reserved only for her husband.

Growing up in today’s culture is not easy. Billboards and store displays scream that if I do not take it all off, I am not beautiful, or desirable. This is a lie. Beauty and desirability are not defined by how much we take off. Rather, in God’s eyes, purity until marriage is of the most value. Dear younger sister in the Lord, do not believe the lies around you that beckon you to give in. Believe the Bible, and believe your parents and your pastors, whom God has given you to protect you physically and spiritually.

We live in a fallen world. Unfortunately these horrible things are results of living in this Genesis 3 world. Some would argue that these acts of immorality are perpetuated by social media. And I don’t necessarily think that is true. I think social media serves a purpose but, like all good things, can be used for sinful purposes as well. The rise of sexting and other forms of pornographic leanings among teenagers is a call to be especially vigilant. It means we need to work desperately hard to protect our girls not only from the people around them, but from their own sinful hearts as well. We cannot pretend like it isn’t happening. But we can show them that Jesus is better than any temporary pleasure an explicit message can bring.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sexting and the Teenage Girl, Part 1

In the chapter “Raunch Culture Rip-Off,” written in Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, Carolyn McCulley assesses the devastating effects of feminism, and particularly third-wave feminism, on this generation of young women. Raised in a culture that preaches female empowerment, these young women now see their bodies as tools and assets to be used in their quest for power. But they don’t necessarily see it that way all of time. Mostly, young girls who are flaunting themselves are doing so because they can and want to. Pornography, which was once a tenet of the feminists (and Christians) fight, now is not simply an exploitation of women at the hands of men. Girls are proud producers of it too.

Her book crossed my mind again this week as I read a sobering article in USA Today about “sexting” among teenagers. “Sexting” is the act of sending sexually explicit pictures through text messaging. While this article is not the first I have read regarding this recent phenomenon, it reminded me of the need to think biblically about what this, and other forms of social media, means for our teenagers. Sadly, this article probably won’t be the last I read on the subject either.

According to the article:

A new survey on kids in cyberspace finds that one in five teens have "sexted" — sent or received sexually suggestive, nude or nearly nude photos through cellphone text messages or e-mail.

Most teens who sexted sent the photos to girlfriends or boyfriends, but 11% sent them to strangers, according to the study made public today by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications. Of teens who sext, 80% are under 18, the survey found.

Initially, when I first began hearing about sexting, my first reaction was “that is terrible, but I can’t imagine that any of the youth in our youth group would be impacted by this.” Unfortunately, the sheer fact that many of them are either in public or private schools exposes them to the myriad of sexual experimentation that permeates so much of young adults’ lives.

As women how do we minister to girls who are exposed to, and tempted by, the lie of third-wave feminism? And as mothers, how do you protect your daughter from her own inclination towards sin, and from the evil that is seeking to lure her in? And as teenage girls, how do you learn to be “innocent in evil,” even when everyone around you is running straight towards sexual sin? And I will answer these questions tomorrow. So stay tuned!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One Month of Marriage

Today marks one month of marriage for Daniel and me. Everyone told me that things would fly by once we got married.

They weren't lying.

It feels like we just got married yesterday, but in some ways it feels like so much longer. Primarily because our relationship has grown tremendously just in the 30 days that we have been married. He is there when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. He is there for every bad and good day. And just the sheer "togetherness" aspect of our relationship has made me love him more, and know him better. So as we celebrate our one month anniversary I thought I would share with you 5 reasons why I am thankful for my husband.

  1. He loves Jesus and challenges me to love Jesus more.

  2. He randomly does things to serve me when I am tired because he loves me (even though he jokes that "it is his duty!")

  3. He consistently leads us in family worship and takes our spiritual health seriously.

  4. He loves the Church and leads us well in loving our local church.

  5. He makes me laugh, even though I pretend like I don't want to!

There are so many more reasons why I am thankful to be married to this man. God has provided for me beyond what I could have imagined and hoped for.

I thank God for you, Daniel. You truly are a gift to me. Happy One Month Anniversary, Babe!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Recovering Feminist Gets Hitched

It’s hard to know where to begin after being away from blogging for nearly two months, and away from significant amounts of blogging for even longer. But it would be impossible to re-enter the blogging world without a recap of where I have been. I got engaged on Christmas Eve, started a new job in March, and then got married on May 25 (just a few weeks ago). Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind the last few months. So that is where I have been. Wrapped up in a lot of planning and change—good change though. All this time I have longed to continue writing, I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and put my thoughts together.

But I am back.

Before I assume my regular blogging, though, I thought that I would recap a few things that I have learned in this prolonged absence.

  1. Marriage is a good thing. Though I have only been married for almost a month, I have learned a lot about myself in this time. I am sure more education is coming, too. In light of all the truths that marriage is so much better than dating, and it is, I think the thing that has struck me most is that marriage is the greatest mirror into my soul that I will ever have. Suddenly I can’t sulk all day about something trivial. There is another person who loves me, and cares about the outcome of my faith, who wants to help me through it. And sometimes I don’t want the help. I just want to be a baby. And marriage is a great reminder of how very self-focused I am in these moments.

  2. Change is a good thing. A year ago I was serving in a church and ministry that I was accustomed to, my life was planned out for me—by me, and all of my time was my own. But then I met a wonderful man named Daniel Reissig, and it all changed. I got a new job and then joined Daniel at his church, where he is the youth pastor. And I did not always respond well to the sudden changes. But God showed me, through this change, that I do not own my life. All of my plans were comfortable to me. I was able to be in control when I planned my steps. Change is a humbling thing, because it reminds us that we are not the rulers of our own personal universe. God is. I needed that.

  3. Fellowship is a good thing. In the midst of a new job, new church, and constant planning of a wedding and preparation for marriage, I was not able to spend quality time with other people that I love (besides Daniel, of course). This left a tremendous impression on me. I missed the girls who drew me out of my sin. I missed the families I used to babysit for and see regularly. We are not meant to walk through this journey alone. The busyness of it all made me intensely grateful for the people God has placed in my life. And when I was able to spend an entire weekend with all of them as I joined in marriage to the man who is now my husband I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude to God for giving me such a wonderful life. The wedding weekend was a foretaste of the joys we will have when one day we are all together in glory, praising Jesus forever.

So those are a few things I have learned in these last few months. If anyone is still out there reading, I am grateful that you have stuck with me. And if you aren’t still reading, I can’t blame you! Who wants to read a blog that is never updated! Either way, I am back and blogging and looking forward to walking this Pilgrim road with you.

(Above is a picture of Daniel and me from our wedding day. It was taken by Denny Burk, his daughter was in our wedding.)