[unmentionables 9.0] what is love?

…baby don’t hurrt meee. Don’t hurt meee. No ‘mo.

Obviously that’s where we were all going with that.

“Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All we need is love!” I can literally think of a dozen songs that “proclaim” the meaning of love.

Let me tell you what else proclaims the meaning of love:

His love is unwavering…

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (Ps. 13:5)

He knows us better than we know ourselves. He meets us where we are, sees the black in our hearts, and loves us anyway…

“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” (Ps. 31:7)

His love is endless and timeless…

“Your love, Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens…” (Ps. 36:5)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (1 Chron. 16:34)

His love provides tireless strength and protection…

“I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of You love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (Ps. 59:16)

Biblical love can only be described as this:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corin. 13:4-7)

There are many different kinds of love. One of the most important, however, is loving our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbor who has different colored skin, our neighbor who has a different set of beliefs, our neighbor who does things we don’t agree with…there are no footnotes about exceptions to this law. Love your neighbor. All of your neighbors…no matter what or who they are. Love them.

Love each other.

I found this dialogue image recently and wanted to share it. You don’t have to agree with what someone does, but God still wants us to love them. For once, let’s stop trying to throw stones at each other.

new

This is not a political statement. This is a statement of love. That’s all we need. The Beatles had it right, after all.

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 8.0] the one where I need a thesaurus.

“Flee from sexual immorality…” (1 Corin. 6:18 NIV)

Flee…why would Paul use the word “flee”?

I’ve been thinking about that since reading last week’s guest post. I started wondering what other Bible translations said, so I checked it out:

“Flee fornication.” ASV and KJV

“Avoid sexual immorality!” CEB

“Run from sexual sin!” NLT

I especially love the ones with exclamation marks. Don’t dilly-dally, run! Flee!

What does it mean to “flee”? Run away, escape, elude, evade, leave, retreat, scram, etc. So the opposite would be to stay, stand, wait, etc.

Paul isn’t telling us “hey, just try and avoid” sexual immorality! He’s telling us to flee! He’s saying it’s a trap we have to escape from. It’s something we have to quickly avoid. I’ve seen so many people get caught in the trap. It’s so easy to get lured into the realm of sexual immorality, especially in the last few years. Pop culture has made sex the norm. If you aren’t having sex before you’re married, you’re a rare breed in our world.

So, instead we stay. We get lured in and find that it’s easier not to run, but rather to stand still. We wait. Not the good, holy kind of waiting where we wait on God or wait for marriage…we wait until…what?

[next up: what is love?]

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 7.0] a guesty guest.

We’re doing something a little different this week! Presto-chango. This week we have a guest post. This post was written by a girl who’s also been helping me write others in this series. I hope you enjoy her story and her voice:

Let’s take a minute to talk about SEX. (I said that in slow motion.)

*CROWD GASP!!*

“She said the “s-word!” Jesus never would have said the “s-word!” ”

False. You can find the s-word all up in the Bible. Oh, yes. All up in the Word of God. God-breathed truth, the same place you’ll find the story of the Holy Ghost falling down at Pentecost. The same place you’ll read about Jesus’ very own death and resurrection. It’s everywhere. This is not a subject God intended for us to overlook.

So! Let’s inhale deeply, now say it with me: Sssseeeeeeexxxx.

What does the Bible say about sex?

Let’s hone in on something I’m sure you’ve already been told in some form or fashion.

“Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually sins against himself.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

“Okay, we get it. Sex is bad. Stay away. Bad things will happen. God doesn’t like it.”

Well, first of all, let me make this clear: Sex is not bad. Brace yourself for this one.

God invented sex.

Oh, yeah. He definitely did. God designed sex to be embraced within the sacred bond and commitment of marriage. It’s actually a very beautiful thing.

Mkay, so, if God invented sex, and it’s so beautiful, why does it say so many times in the Bible to flee from it?

I think part of the reason we are so easily won over by sexual temptation is because we don’t understand why it is that God puts so much emphasis on fleeing from sexual acts outside of marriage. We see it as just another rule we have to follow, and human nature tells us that rules can be bent or broken. When we think about the consequences of sinning, we think that what we will have to face is mere guilt in displeasing God. Still, we know in our hearts that God will forgive us, because he loves us like crazy – even if we don’t realize this until after the act. It’s this specific formula we go through in our minds when dealing with sin.

I’m here to tell you that God has a reason for everything. He doesn’t make up silly rules just to be in control. He knows what he’s doing, I promise you.

The reason God is so serious about this, is because he knows just how much this sin will hurt you. The body is a beautiful, sacred temple. It’s not like any regular object. Sex is two bodies coming together, becoming one in spirit. Each time you commit a sexual act, you are giving a piece of yourself to that person. That’s why God intended it for marriage, so you give yourself to one person who is yours forever. Because sex is an incredibly powerful movement.

Can you imagine the condition of your heart and spirit after giving a piece of yourself to even just one person? I’m going to be real with you. From personal experience, I can tell you that it hurts like crazy. I found myself giving pieces away to any old Joe, and in return, receiving feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. I have felt as though I didn’t deserve to be thought of at all by God, or anyone. I decided I was filthy. And I owned it.

That’s why Satan is so persistent in tempting you with sexual sin. Dude, he hates you and me. But you know who he’s really trying to get at? Our very own Heavenly Father. He knows how these things will hurt us, and he knows how God’s heart breaks when he sees his creation – his children – hurting.

I urge you: keep yourself holy. Flee from sexual immorality. This isn’t just a rule you need to follow. This is a rule God designed to protect us. He knows the turmoil we will go through.

I want to talk a moment with those of you who have already given a piece, or maybe many pieces of yourself away. Listen to me. You are not damaged goods. God wants you to know that. You were more precious than rubies before you ever thought about sex, and you are more precious than rubies even now. You are not filthy. You are beautiful and clean, white as snow because of what Jesus did for us. We are worthy to God.

He loves us like crazy.

{I love being reminded of how much He loves us. Sometimes we forget that. How could we possibly forget?? But we do. It’s important to remember that after we sin, our slates are wiped clean when we confess and repent. When God forgives us, we’re made whole again. I think our culture tells us that it’s okay to do whatever because God loves us. That doesn’t make it ok. We’re still hurting Him. But the beauty is that He forgives us and we’re able to move forward. What an awesome truth. -Caitlyn}

[unmentionables 6.0] a deadly sin.

“Lust” is one of those words that feels strange coming out of my mouth. Lust is almost always painted in a negative light. It’s an intense desire…a craving. You can lust after something or someone, you can lust for knowledge or power, you can lust after someone else’s chocolate bar…is just one of those words. Lust is something that every religion has something to say about. It’s in the Bible. It’s considered to be one of the seven deadly sins. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you Google “lust”, you’ll find the word mostly used in a sexual, physical context. Lust vs. Love, poems about lust, lust and desire…the list goes on and on. It seems to be something everyone faces. Right?

Right.

Lust isn’t some low-brow emotion that only non-Christians feel. Lust is something that is spoken about in a lot of churches with a “we don’t experience that” attitude, but that’s a lie of the devil. Thinking that we, as Christians, are above feeling lust in a physical or emotional context is one of the world’s great lies.

Lust in this context automatically makes me think of the ever popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. I know a lot of people who have read this series and I also know a lot of people who don’t have a clue what these books are really about. Romance novels have been around for the last 50 years or so, but never has a romantic fantasy book taken off in such a way as this particular series. Why? What’s so different about it?

This series has permeated our culture in many ways. In our sex-saturated world that’s obsessed with sexual fantasies, these books found a hook. The song “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull has lyrics that say, “She read books, especially about red rooms and tie ups/I got her hooked, Cause she seen me in a suit with the red tie tied up.” Those lyrics are a direct reference to this popular book series.

I’m a curious person. I love reading. I like being able to participate in conversations. Naturally, I started reading this series to see what all the hype was about. I didn’t even make it halfway through the first book before I called Amazon and asked for a refund for the Kindle copy I had purchased. (Read the synopsis here.)

When I decided to read it, and I’ll admit that I knew what the basic premise was, I thought of all the girls I knew that raved about it and never thought it would be as toxic as it was. My first thoughts about the character Anastasia is that she has a pretty messed up notion of what love is. When I read the synopsis for the other books in the series, I realized that her idea of love continues and the storyline ends “happily.”

This is incredibly disheartening. The character finds worth in a rich, handsome man wanting her. She finds worth in the idea that her love can change his twisted ways. That’s not love. This series is all about lust and becoming slaves to lustful desires. This is not the life that God intended for His children. We are worth more – deserve more.

I’m not saying we’re supposed to feel guilty about every little sexual thought.In a lot of ways, we’re teaching kids to be afraid of sex, then they get curious and it all hits the fan. Conversations are key. Safe places are so important for this particular topic of conversation. Someone has to tell young, teenage girls that love is more than sex. Someone has to teach girls what God says about them. Otherwise, they’re going to get swept up in this toxic culture and fight battles the rest of their lives.

Capturing thoughts. That’s what we should be focusing on. 2 Corinthians 10:6 talks about capturing our thoughts and making them obey Christ. I’m so visual that when I read that verse I imagine grabbing a strand of thought (very Harry Potter-esque), twisting it around, and forcing it to go the other direction. We have complete control over our thoughts. (“The Fantasy Fallacy” by Shannon Ethridge is an amazing book that talks a lot about the different kinds of sexual thoughts. You should check it out if you find this topic as interesting as I do.)

We have complete control over our thoughts.

We have complete control over our thoughts.

That’s so important for us to remember. It’s so easy for us to blame the devil for “putting” a thought into our heads, but we forget that we’re capable of shutting those thoughts down. Galatians 5:16 says that when we walk with the Spirit, we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh. Meaning, we won’t give the sinful body the sinful satisfaction it craves.

I haven’t even scratched the surface with this topic. Again, if you want to read more about the different kinds of sexual thoughts you should read “The Fantasy Fallacy” by Shannon Ethridge. I can’t rave enough about it.

Advice from an [unmentionables] collaborator: “Don’t hide from or try to avoid temptations that occur with dating. The more one denies it, the more likely that person will be taken by it by surprise and fall into it when the temptation is at its peak.”

[next up: a guest post!]

*Disclaimer: This is not intended to review the “Fifty Shades” series or judge those who have read it. I’m not the judgement type. This is merely my thought process.

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM

[unmentionables 5.0] making the most of your single status.

I remember being in a relationship and changing my relationship status on Facebook from “single” to “in a relationship.” I felt so empowered. I felt special. Now, looking back…I feel silly. Our relationship statuses have become so incredibly important. They’ve started to define us. When I first got to college, everyone wanted to talk about relationships and dating. When it would get around to me, I would just simply say I’d had one boyfriend. People would go ballistic.

“How is that possible?…How have you only dated one guy?…Why wouldn’t you want to date?”

A high school girl told me a couple of years ago that she wanted to have had at least 2 boyfriends before she graduated because she didn’t want people to judge her when she went to college. She didn’t want people to think she was weird or that something was wrong with her. That broke my heart.

I understand what she said about feeling judged, though. I still get that sometimes from people that claim to be my friends. After a while, I started to buy into the lie that I was missing out on something because I wasn’t out dating every weekend or hitting up the bars to meet guys. I spent a large part of my time single being sad. During that sadness, I also felt a lot of regret for ending the relationship. All of a sudden I was boyfriend-less! I had to change my relationship status back! I felt like I wasn’t special anymore. No one was calling me. No one was texting me “Good morning.”

[I’m judging myself a little bit as I write how I felt during that time. I was probably the most annoying friend in the world during this time of the world’s greatest pity party.]

Then, I snapped out of it. (In case you haven’t noticed, I do a lot of snapping out of things.) I don’t remember what happened, but there was this part of me that remembered how loved I was. I remembered how much God desired me. Guys are great, but no desire compares to the desire that our Father and Great Love has for each and every one of us. I love this quote by Louie Giglio, “God calls each and every star by name. It’s not likely He has forgotten yours.”

So, how do we snap out of our single sob story and into making the most of our single status?

One [unmentionables] friend says, “As a woman it’s hard to wait around for the right man to pursue me. I want to chase after them to speed the process and because so many boys don’t seem up for the challenge. But I know trusting God’s timing means waiting for the right MAN (not boy) who pursues me the way Christ pursued us. I feel like I am not ready for Mr. Right to come along just yet…there’s lots of work I still need to do while I’m single!”

Right on! We can choose to be miserable during our time of singleness and worry what other people think, or we can really utilize this time for God’s glory.

She also says, “Relationships take up a lot of time and focus. While you’re single use that time to bring other girls closer to Christ before it’s gone! Talking with other girls about the struggle of waiting for Mr. Right opens so many connections to deep, Christ-centered relationships. You are sure to receive a blessing while being a blessing.”

The communication door has to stay open between young and old regarding relationships. If we rely on our own, young-person knowledge and add in what our culture tells us about relationships – we’ll go down a slippery slope. I can’t tell you how much I rely on my older friends who have had more life experiences than I have. And in the other direction, I have former students from my youth intern days that still call and text me asking questions and seeking advice. It’s so hard for young girls to admit they aren’t ready for a relationship. Sometimes that thought actually seems silly. It’s all part of the whole growing up thing, I suppose.

When I was a youth intern, that summer we talked a lot about pouring into others and what it means for someone to pour into you. I have no doubt that God honors the bond between Christians who pour into each other. That’s at the center of a Christ-centered time of singleness.

We aren’t meant to do life alone, after all.

[next up: a deadly sin.]

Advice from an [unmentionables] friend:

“I would tell younger girls to wait patiently. Unfortunately, I realize that this may be an impractical way to approach a girl, especially the ones that are resistant to that idea. All I can do is to share my wisdom with them, pray for them and with them, and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and be with them when others won’t be when she needs to make important decisions.”

Screen Shot 2012-07-16 at 9.41.56 PM