Unified in Our Brokenness

MBA

This morning, I spent some time with a group of women who are leaders of women’s ministries, women’s discipleship, and other women’s organizations.   In January 2016, Authentic Intimacy will be holding a 1 day conference for women, related to what godly sexual intimacy looks like…. for married, and single, women.  This meeting was an informational meeting for women’s ministry & organization leaders to have a better understanding about Authentic Intimacy as a ministry, and ask questions about the conference.

In our group, we had a woman who was a missionary to Africa.   There were two women who work with pregnancy crisis centers in our area.  There was a woman who leads discipleship among women and speaks on Indian Reservations.  There were women who had their own experiences of sexual brokenness and those who are helping people heal their own.  It was a precious group of women, coming together because we see a need in our community & we want to support this conference.

What was interesting to me about this meeting is how united we are in our brokenness.  As the missionary shared the brokenness of the women in Africa, I could see those same stories in the faces of women that I personally know.  I know women who have been raped, and someone tried to blame them… being accused of doing something to encourage it.  Women who were sexually abused by their husband, doing their “wifely duty” against their will.  As I listened to the crisis pregnancy volunteers, I could see the faces of girls who were afraid to tell their parents they were pregnant.

I listened to story after story of dysfunction in relationships because the subject of sex has been too taboo to approach in homes and in the church.  Last year I served on a team of women who were responding to the Fifty Shades of Gray books, and many of the women shared that their Pastors and the Pastors wives didn’t think  it was “an issue in our church”.    We can’t stand in a place where simply saying “don’t do it” is the only correct response to sex, the only message we give our kids.

We need to be not only discussing what healthy Christians sexuality is NOT, but also what it IS.  We have children from broken homes getting married, who have no idea what a Christian marriage looks like.  They don’t have a resource of friends to speak to that can advise them of what healthy single life looks like either.

The enemy shames our women by mocking their choice of purity, making them embarrassed over the decision.  The world (including Christians) shames the ones who have not maintained their virginity.  We spend so much time telling girls to wait, that they are intimidated when they get married, and many are dealing with guilt because their purity has become an idol to them.  They are finding shame in even having sex with their husbands.  They have guilt over their past, uncomfortable with their present.

Yet, we brush it under the rug.  Because it’s not “an issue in our church”.  The church is more than the four walls we meet in each Sunday.  The body of believers is our church, and what affects others should affect us.

In her book For the Love, Jen Hatmaker states that if something we believe is not true for the single mom in impoverished Haiti… then it is not true.    Which means that if it is true for the single mom in impoverished Haiti, then it is true for us too.  Sex trafficking, rape, sexual abuse, marital sexual abuse, etc… it is true for women all over the globe, which makes it “an issue in our church”.

Church, let’s minister to the least of these….  because we are united in our brokenness.

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#Write31Days – Post 3 – Tackling the Taboo

25questions5For too long we have avoided really talking about sex in the church.  And, I’m not talking about the youth group.  I am talking about a Sunday morning sermon (or series) that really dives into the topic.  It’s taboo. 

Some churches may find it to be inappropriate to talk about.  Or, that the people in their church do not need to address the subject.  They may even feel like it isn’t that big of a problem in the first place to spend time on the question.

Then we wonder why we have more people (not just teens) having sex without marriage.  We stand firm and address the topic of abortion, without ever addressing the subject that brings a person to the abortion clinic in the first place.  Sex.

In a time when we have children growing up in single parent homes…

In a time when films and television have stopped implying and now show sex scenes…

When songs on the radio have explicit lyrics and music videos are graphic…

When you can’t even pass through the check out line at the grocery store without knowing about other people’s sex lives…

In a time when we have immediate access to any type of pornography, at the click of a button…

IS IT NO WONDER THAT OUR COMMUNITY IS CONFUSED!

As a child of divorce, my mother has been single the majority of my life.  My grand parents were separated.  I literally had no example of what a solid Christian Marriage looked like.  I had no concept of what a healthy sex life looked like in the confines of that marriage.  It’s something that has had a direct impact on my own marriage.  I am navigating unfamiliar waters.  What I learned about marriage, was what I saw on TV from the old generation shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Cosby Show.  Ask yourself, for kids today… what do the TV shows and movies they watch tell them about the reality of a healthy sex life in the confines of marriage?   Because, I can assure you if they are not seeing it modeled in their home… movies and TV become their reference material.

In addition we spend so much time telling teens not to, shaming sex before marriage… that when they enter into marriage they have no clue what is permissible within their marriage.  We have presented a polarization of sex to our kids and young adults that is hard to navigate.  There is so much sexual dysfunction in our world, and in the church, that we don’t know where to even begin.  If our Pastors are not answering the questions, we turn to ….  ?

Authentic Intimacy  is a ministry that has answered the call.  With their previous publication they have stepped right into the ring with the subject others are trying avoid.  This week their newest book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, releases and I’ve had the opportunity to get a sneak peak.

To book covers questions like:

Can I Be Single and Sexual?

Is It Wrong to Like Sex?

Why do Guys Care So Much About Sex?

How Do I Get Past My Shame?

It also addresses porn, masturbation, homosexuality, trust after betrayal, and so much more.  These are the questions that Dr. Juli Slattery gets asked the most often by women all over the world.  They are questions we all have or have had.

For those of us who are parents, this gives an insight into the questions that are rolling around the minds of our teens and young adults.  Questions they may be afraid to ask us, or we may be afaid to bring up.

With so much sexual dysfunction in the world, we can’t ignore the topic anymore.  We need to break down the walls, stop avoiding the subject, and really dig into what healthy sexuality is from a biblical perspective.

Today, author Dr. Juli’s podcast Java with Juli  has a great introduction to the what and why behind the book, and some other incentives you will not want to miss out on, just click the link below:

25 Questions Book with Dr. Juli Slattery

Authentic Intimacy will also be in Port Saint Lucie Florida, January 30th for a special one day conference!   Just click on the photo for more information!!!

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#25QuestionsBook – Chapter 3

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October 6th, Dr. Juli Slattery’s newest book 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex and Intimacy will be available for sale.

We all have questions, especially Christians on what is and isn’t ok or permissible.  The church as a whole hasn’t done the best job in answering those questions.  Talking sex in the sanctuary is still taboo in many churches.

That doesn’t stop the questions from entering our minds.  The internet makes a tempting place then to look for the answers.  But, what does God’s Word say on the subject.  Dr. Juli Slattery dives right into the top 25 questions she gets asked and answers them from a biblical standpoint.

This book is written for the single and the married woman alike.  A safe place to get sound counsel on those questions you may just be afraid to ask.

I’ll be sharing more about this book in the coming days!

25 Questions About Sex – A Long Overdue Book.

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I am really, really excited about this book.

The subject of sex is still pretty taboo in most churches.  Sure, it might be addressed by the youth Pastor… who reminds our kids NOT to do it yet.  It may even be addressed occasionally during a Women’s Conference or brunch,  where we are reminded we shouldn’t use it as a weapon.  Or, we may be instructed on how to get our grove back after kids.

But, is that really all we need to know?

NO!

There is so very much more, but we might be afraid to ask our Pastors.

They may be intimidated (or embarrassed) to bring it up on their own.

This leaves women (who make up 55-65% of our church bodies) in the dark about what a healthy sexual relationship is like, within the confines of a godly marriage.

Dr. Juli Slattery is going to dig right into 25 Questions that may be hard to ask, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about them.

I am excited to be a part of a team of women who are going to be exploring this book, sharing our thoughts about it, and launching this book into the hands of women across the globe.

So, check back in soon… as we start this journey together.

“Our sexual questions shouldn’t be relegated to dark rooms and lonely nights. They need to be spoken and explored, holding up the Word of God as the standard of truth.”

#25QuestionsBook

BOOK REVIEW: More than just THE TALK, by Jonathan McKee

Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review the book “More Than Just The Talk” by Jonathan McKee.  While Family Christian sent me the book for the purpose of the review, the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

thetalkFor a Christian book, More Than Just the Talk, is pretty raw.  It was not what I was expecting, at all.  At the same time, it was exactly what I needed. I am a mother of three daughters, one of which is sixteen… and has a boyfriend.  A great kid.  Who despite how much we love him, still wonders when we will “trust him” and “trust them” to be alone together.

I say, when they are married.  My husband, he claims never. HA.

This book is so entirely relevant not just to my sixteen year old… but to my twelve year old… and to my eight year old.  All of which are exposed to the sexually charged media of the world we live in.

It’s time to be real, parents, the influence the world has our kids … even from those who sit in our church pews … is a struggle we not only need to fight against, but a fight that has to start sooner.  We can not afford to give up.  This is a real battle, that will not be easy to win.  Some of us won’t.  Thank God for grace.

Recently I was in a discussion regarding 1 Corinthians 7.  In this letter, Paul basically says it is best to be unmarried (to remain fully focused on God and His calling), if you can’t avoid temptation to get married, and if you get married to stay committed to that person for ever.  Pretty straight forward, but we have to understand WHY Paul wrote this letter.  The Church at Corinth, was in the midst of a city full of sexual sin.  The Church at Corinth, was itself spiritually immature.  This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in, in the United States.  We are country, much like Corinth, that is a hub of various cultures and religious beliefs.  With many different views as to what is and isn’t moral, pure, and good.   We are influenced by those around us, because the further we draw away from the New Testament days, the less mature we are as a body of believers.  We no longer have that same fervor that the early Christians… those taught by Christ and his immediate disciples had.  That fervor gets watered down each generation.

Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, could easily be a letter written to every church in the United States.  This is what our youth today face. They face music, television and movies that are sexually charged.  We have phones with apps that can allow us to secretly view materials and participate in conversations, and many parents are blissfully unaware.

And, as author Johnathan McKee points out in the book, we are not alone.  This temptation and these materials are making their way in to the hands, minds and hearts of Mennonite and Amish communities.  It’s flooding in from everywhere, and even the “good kids” are getting exposure to it when they are at a friend’s home.  Even when that friend is another Christian.

Many parents are familiar with giving “The Talk” about sex.    It might be very technical about how the body works, coupled with scripture and religious views.  Some may delve in a bit deeper talking about the consequences (physical and emotional).  Some parents may be stricter teaching abstinence only, where as others will support abstaining coupled with information should the child choose not to.  It is a subject talked about at church, school and also home.  Usually, but not always.  In fact there is still some uncomfortably in talking with our own kids, about such a big topic.

If you are hoping this book is going to make you more comfortable talking to your kids, let me forewarn you…. it won’t.  In fact you are probably going to find yourself a little comfortable reading it, let alone thinking about talking to your kids about it.  However, with that uncomfortably … you will also find yourself feeling a sense of urgency to act.  You are going to realize that you need to do more than just talk about it, but actually take some steps.

Investigate what your kids are reading, what music they are listening to, and watch television shows they are watching.  Understand the way teens are looking at sex, and justifying what is and isn’t ok.  Be honest with yourself about not only what they are being exposed to at school… but what is seeping into the home (what channels are you subscribing to, that show late night content that is pornographic).   Take a moment to really understand that those lyrics you think you kids don’t understand the context, they know more than you think.

When your 8 year old asks you, “Mommy… what is 50 Shades of Grey about?”  …. when you don’t own the books, didn’t watch the movie, and don’t talk about in your home.  That tells you, this stuff is everywhere.  They are seeing it & learning about it, somewhere.  Someone is talking to them.  The radio?  Their teachers?  Their fellow students?

There is a lot of influence and we need to be prepared and proactive with our children.  More Then Just the Talk is not a comfortable read, but a necessary one.   Whether you are a public schooling mom, or a Pastor’s wife…. your kids are exposed, they are in need of real … straight forward … and sometimes explicit truth.

First, More Than Just the Talk, exposes that the content of “the talk” has changed.  We are also given tools on how to talk about it with our kids, with chapters specific to sons and daughters.  Each have their own approach, own needs.  However, I wouldn’t advise skipping one of those chapters.  Even if you only have daughters, you need to read the chapter on sons.  Your daughters will one day have boyfriends, and the sons chapter gives you some perspective, and you may… at some point… find yourself having a conversation with him.  This chapter will be beneficial.  The book also helps us navigate through the tough and uncomfortable questions they will surprise us with.  Because, right now, statistics show us that Google is where they are getting most of their information.

I don’t know about you, but I am not ok with that as their primary source of information.

What I also appreciate about the book, McKee recognizes that some of us will be reading this book after the fact.   There will be some of us that have a child that has had a sexual experience to some degree. Instead of shaming, the book helps us point our kids back onto the path.  We help them to realize that their past mistakes don’t negate a positive future.  New choices can be made, new standards put in place.  They can be forgiven and not defined by who they were at that time.  I also appreciate the book addresses children who have been victimized, where they had no control over the decision to become sexually active.  They are not forgotten, and they too are not defined by their past.  There is hope for all of them, for all of us.

More Than Just the Talk, as uncomfortable as it may make you, needs to be in your arsenal.  Use it, don’t just shelve it.  Read through the difficult parts.  Decided, under prayerful consideration, how and when you will begin these conversations with your kids.  Don’t assume it won’t apply to you, your kids, because of your conservative beliefs.

“More Than The Talk” is a powerful tool, that we can use to shape and redirect the path our children are taking.  It opens our eyes, and calls us to action.

#FCBlogger

EVERYONE LOVES A GIVEAWAY! Read on…

Today, we are going to begin a very special social media give away!  And it is simple, and easy to play.  You will have 3 chances to win!

Step 1:  Follow Me on Social Media:  Facebook Group, Instagram and Twitter.

Facebook Group:  Gena McCown – Valued More than Rubies and Pearls

Instagram:  gmc3mompsl

Twitter:  GMC3Mama

Step 2:  Try to Guess Which Item I Spy!  — Now pay attention, this is important… I have selected a different item for each mode of social media.   You can choose to select 1 item and enter it as your submission on all 3 social media sites – OR- select a different answer for each of the 3 sites.  Your choice.  Leave your choice in the “comment” section on Facebook/Istagram, and REPLY/RETWEET on twitter.

For example:  If we were doing a Halloween Ispy game… I would pick the Pumpkin for Twitter, the Black Cat for Instagram and the Candy Corn for my Facebook group as the winning token.  If you were on twitter and said “candy corn” – you wouldn’t win.  But if you were on facebook and said “candy corn” you would.

ISPYGAME

Step 3:  Wait!     The game starts on Monday and will close on Wednesday at Midnight.  Winners will be announced Thursday afternoon.

SO, WHAT IS THE PRIZE?????

To win… you must be the FIRST PERSON to correctly guess the pre-selected item, and you may only win ONCE.

One winner from Istagram, Twitter and Facebook will receive a free E-Book of “Pulling Back the Shades”.  Winners will be announced then contacted with their redemption code & instructions.

book_headerEBOOK… Courtesy of Moody Publishers, Inc….

@AuthenticIntimacy #AuthenticIntimacy #PullingBackTheShades #DanaGresh #DrJuliSlattery