Can Christians be nudists?

Can  Christians  Be  Nudists?

Dear Bronwyn,

My husband and I enjoy being nude in a controlled non-sexual environment, (swimming nude, visiting nude, sharing a meal nude, walking on wooded trails nude.) This is not something we share with our Christian friends and church members, since it seems that when people think of adults being in a social group nude, they assume that it is sexually oriented.  That assumption is not always true, as my husband and I can attest.

My question is this: Must we give up our occasional nude lifestyle if we are  members of a church and participate in church activities?  Is it biblically based sinning?  We have studied and searched the bible for an answer.  Culturally this would not be acceptable however, my question is, are we sinning in the eyes of God?

– Bare Necessities

Dear BN,

I don’t believe you are sinning.

God created us naked, and the shame that fell on Adam and Eve in the garden had more to do with their sin than their skin being exposed. God clothed them then, just as he would later clothe us in Christ’s righteousness.

Having said that: I do believe that in a sin-soaked world, dressing is the norm. However, we are still naked at times. The question is: when and with whom is it okay to be naked? As you have guessed, I think it depends on context.

I think nakedness with our spouses is biblically celebrated. The things we cover for the rest of the world, we reveal to our spouses: exposing ourselves (in body and soul) to our spouses is a deep expression of intimacy. Being modest (with our bodies and souls) before that protects intimacy. So by all means: be nude with your spouse.

But what then of being nude elsewhere? And how will that change when you have children?

I personally think it is risky to be naked in public spaces. In many places, public nudity is against the law: in which case, for you to be naked there would be sinning. The problem there would be the violation of the law, not the nudity per se.

If it were a nude beach – that’s a question of your and your husband’s discretion. I personally would feel very uncomfortable with that (so for me – maybe it would be a sin because it would go against my conscience? (Romans 14:23) – but I don’t believe that’s something we can call sin for other believers, because the bible doesn’t call nudity sin.

I wonder how you will feel about nudity if/when you have children. My husband and I are comfortable with our children seeing us bathe and dress, and we hope to have healthy and shame-free conversations about our bodies (and theirs)… we are comfortable with dressing-room-nudity, and our kids are welcome there.

However, kids are little sponges and they act out on their home expectations in social situations. Teaching children about what is public and what is private is a tricky thing, and I reckon if you chose to pursue more lifestyle nudity with kids around – you would have your work cut out for you. Also, I might add as a mom who has been naked around her kids – I also want to add that I really have come to appreciate the protection afforded by clothing – because children can scratch, pull, bite and put sticky fingers on all sorts of places… just sayin’. It physically hurts to have children around you sometimes, and more than once I’ve been painfully punished by a child’s rogue snagged fingernail on my freshly-showered skin. Yikes. But those are practical, not ethical, concerns.

In short: I don’t believe it’s a sin – but even coming to that position – I can still see why you haven’t told your friends and, perhaps, why it may not be a good idea to tell them in the future. As you rightly say: nudity is often correlated with sexual activity, and while that isn’t always the case – sometimes it is, and the highly sexualized world we live in does us no favors to put sex and sexuality in its proper place. Telling others about your marital nude lifestyle might be misunderstood, and worse yet – might cause others to stumble (and by that I don’t mean “it might cause others to disapprove”, I mean “others, seeing your behavior but not understanding the sacredness of the context in which you practice it, might decide that if you’ve said nudity is okay, it must be okay – and then they practice it in in a way which does violate marital intimacy or sexual holiness”)

So: maybe they don’t need to know. Because telling them wouldn’t necessarily build them up, help them, strengthen community etc… it might just be confusing.

But when you and your hubby kick back to unwind after a long day: why not do it nude? There’s something very precious about being able to recapture the “naked and not ashamed” status of the first couple from the very beginning.

Best wishes,

Bronwyn

 

The One Thing Marriage Does That Living Together Doesn’t

Marriage living together

I confess I like watching movies as much as anyone. I love a snappy dialog, a twist at the end, new characters to love (or to hate), and I love that I can enjoy all this without having to commit to anything for longer than two entertaining hours. I like to think that I can just walk away after those two hours: entertained but unaffected. But the truth is, more and more I’m realizing how much of my education has come from the lingering lessons learned in front of a screen.

Movies taught me that you know a woman is pregnant when she inexplicably feels nauseous. Also, you know the baby’s coming when she finds herself in an unexpected and embarrassingly timed pool of water. Three babies later, I now know that Real Life happens differently.

More subtly, movies taught me that the order in which men and women develop their relationships is this: friendship (optional) – flirtation – sex – dating – exclusively dating – living together…. and then a long time later (usually when kids are in view), marriage. I hadn’t realized how deeply entrenched this cultural “wisdom” was until several years after I got married and I was sorting through all sorts of questions about God’s view of sex, the place of dating in our culture, and the bigger question (which was earnestly put to me by one of my college students): “Why shouldn’t my boyfriend and I live together? And what if we don’t have sex? What about that?”

I stumbled for an answer. I found articles in favor of marrying young, articles citing that couples who cohabited before marriage were more likely to divorce, and others claiming the opposite. However, those arguments seemed to be saying: your decisions are a gamble. The odds may never be in your favor, but popular wisdom still would send you to the cohabitation arena. “It’s all risk”, says our culture. “Maybe you’ll break up, but then again – if you marry, maybe you’ll divorce.” So why not gamble, and just hope for the best?

Except for this one thing. This one thing that marriage does and living together doesn’t. Marriage makes you FAMILY.

A committed, cohabiting couple can pool their assets and their ambitions. They can affirm their commitment, they can have children, they can have happy homes. They can have sex, they can travel. But cohabiting couples are, at best, committed companions. They are not family.

The vows said in marriage create a covenant between a couple: they are life-and-death commitments of self and service. The words “I now pronounce you husband and wife” solemnly declared by the officiator are not just public niceties and a cue for the congregation to clap; they are declarative, status-changing words. Just as God’s words “let there be light” made a real, creative change in the status quo and brought something to be where there was nothing before; so the words “I pronounce you man and wife” declare a real, substantive change in the couple’s status quo. That declaration, which is bound in earth and thus bound in heaven, brings something to be where there was nothing before: a family is born. They may have loved each other before, they may have been committed before, but marriage makes them relatives for the very first time.

A few days before our wedding, I shared a teary breakfast with my dad. There was something about the gravitas of being “given away” in marriage, in taking my husband’s name and forfeiting my dad’s, that made this truth “click” for me. I tearfully thanked my dad for his years of protection and care, I thanked him for trusting my choice in a man he did not, in truth, know very well yet. My primary family connection was to change that week: a new family was to be created, one that had not existed before. I had always thought that “leaving and cleaving” was just part of the poetry of weddings, but as I looked at my dad over my tear-soaked scone, I knew there was more to it than that. My dad was tearful too, but he affirmed his joy at being able to give me away with his blessing.

Perhaps, then, I should say that there is not one thing, but TWO things that marriage does that living together doesn’t. A marriage makes you family, and a marriage is blessed. My dad’s blessing was a portrait of a greater blessing that was to come as my husband and I stood before our friends and family that Saturday. We promised our “I do’s”, and we heard the minister’s declaration. But quietly, quietly behind that – there was the voice of the Author of Marriage, saying “It is I who have joined you together. Be blessed, new little family. Be blessed.”

This article first appeared at Start Marriage Right, where I am a regular contributor. I have a new post up this week:  A Newlywed’s Guide to In-Laws and The Holidays

How To Host A Life-Changing Garage Sale

How to host a

There are a handful of items in my house which I found at garage sales: awesome things I picked up for an absolute bargain and which get daily use. I love finding treasures at garage sales. In the past, however, I have not loved throwing garage sales: they seemed like a lot of lonely work for relatively little reward, and I still landed up having to drive the “left overs” to the thrift store afterwards. It felt like a lose-lose situation for me, and a win only for the buyers.

However, in the last year we have held two garage sales which have been win-win situations for everyone. Here’s what made the difference. (And here’s the link to the “If you give a mouse a cookie” version of how we got started on this in the first place. It’s fun. You should read it :-))

Do it TOGETHER

In short: holding a garage sale became worth it when we teamed up with others to make it a community fund-raising event. Rather than doing all the work solo, a few friends agreed we would all like to declutter our houses and pool our things. That way, we could have enough things to make it a worthwhile event for shoppers, and we also had company along the way.

It took three of us. We picked a Saturday, and started to spread the word, giving people 3-4 weeks to start setting aside things they wanted to get rid of.

  • Win: an opportunity to spend time with friends.
  • Win: clear out some clutter.

Do it for CHARITY

One of the hardest things about holding garage sales before was the feeling that we were putting in all this work, and then selling items which had cost a pretty penny before for just a handful of grubby pennies now. If time is money, it felt like we were paying for those items twice.

The easiest way to overcome this was to do it all for charity. That way, all items we were getting rid of felt like a gift freely given. And every cent made at the garage sale felt like money freely donated to a good cause. (Also, shoppers were more generous when they knew where the money was going! It was amazing!)

We chose two worthwhile organizations: Courage Worldwide (who provide safe houses for girls rescued out of sex slavery here in the US), and International Justice Mission (who work to bring justice to oppressed people worldwide: addressing slavery, trafficking, police brutality etc by supporting and equipping local authorities to work on enforcing their own laws. They are combatting the Locust Effect., protecting the poor from violence). Last year, we supported Food for the Hungry, a fantastic community development and hunger relief program.

I made a rustic poster explaining where the money would be going, and we had some pamphlets available for shoppers to tell them about Courage and IJM: you know, raising both funds and awareness. 

  • Win: being able to do some good in the world.

Do it WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR HOUSE

The advent of the internet made this possible to organize after hours and from home.

Getting the word out: I made a simple ad with the date and address, and posted it on Facebook a few weeks before. I asked friends to share it.We put an ad for it in our church bulletin. We invited people to bring their donations to my house any time the week before the event, and stashed them in the garage (more about that later).

Then, on the week of the event, I posted an ad for the event on Craigslist, which has a category for garage sales, as well as in a few neighborhood Facebook groups which buy-and-sell kids stuff and house wares.

TIP: when posting ads on craigslist for garage sales, list the items you have in as much detail as possible, as there are many people looking for particular items. We specifically mentioned some of the items we knew people regularly looked for (radio flyer tricycles, specific appliances, specific furniture items). I also took photos of a few items to put on the ad.

  • Win: do it all wearing pajamas
  • Win: Social Media really can get the word out better than posters can

Arranging to have it cleaned up: I also called the Salvation Army several weeks in advance, and scheduled a pick-up for all the items remaining from the garage sale. This was a deal-breaker for me: I could not have cleared out the remaining items by myself – so if Salvation Army hadn’t been able to come, I might have called around to find a charity which solicited donations.

  • Win: we got to do a second round of donating… to another worthwhile cause!

CREATE A SPACE to stash the goods (Logistics)

We decided to park our car outside for the week, and I cleared a large space on the garage floor. This year, I got a bit more organized and put painters tape on the floor, demarcating different areas for clothes, toys, books, sports goods etc, so that as donations came in, people could put them in the appropriate areas.

I’ll be honest: for a week, my garage looked like a zoo. But, the clutter wasn’t in my house… so that made a difference.

  • Win: a reason to clear out my garage. And, a working space which didn’t cramp our lifestyle while we were arranging.

Getting ready

Before the day, we also:

1) got some petty cash from the bank. I turned $50 into quarters, $1 and $5 bills. We needed the change for the early-bird bargain hunters.

2) arranged a place to keep the money on the day. Last year, I borrowed a cash box from our church, and we had a table set out where people could pay. This year, a crafty friend made us two adorable aprons out of repurposed jeans, and we used the pockets.   Look how cute my husband and I look in the aprons:

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3) We also borrowed a couple of fold-up tables (because items at eye-height are easier to buy than items on the ground), and pulled out a couple of camping tarps to lay toys and clothing items on.

4) We kept the boxes and bags which people had brought donations in to one side, and offered them to shoppers on the morning.

Have a WORK PARTY the night before

I had 5 friends stop over the day before. We used the trusty roll of tape and used a sharpie to price items (and priced them cheaply – better 25c for our cause than nothing, right?)

  • Win: a few hours to chat and work alongside friends. It felt good!

Sell, sell, sell!!

On the morning of the sale, we had 2-3 friends come 2 hours early to help us set out the tables and move everything from the garage out on to the tables. We had hardly begun moving stuff out when the early bird shoppers arrived. (Our start time was 9am. The first shopper arrived at 7:25!! I told them, as I had said in our Craigslist ad, that they were welcome to shop early – but that before 9am everything sold had a $30 surcharge. For charity, of course. They all went away and came back later.)

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It was a fun morning! We had a HUGE amount of people, and we raised a ton of money (last year, $900, this year – $1300!) We chose not to haggle over price too much, but rather to see each purchase as a donation, and to thank them for it accordingly.

Win: All the shoppers got a bargain, and they felt that they were doing good in the world too!

All in all, it was a little more effort than doing a garage sale by myself, but it was so worth it: we connected with friends, we got to support justice in the world, we built community and enlisted our family’s help in doing so (both our kids, and our church)… and at the end of it all, we had a cleaner house and a big fat check to send off to change lives.

Win win, right?

 

 

Pick of the Clicks 10/25/2014

Happy Weekend, everyone. It’s raining in California this morning, and after MONTHS of drought – I could not be more grateful. So, in a very celebratory mood, here are this week’s pick of the clicks. Enjoy :-)

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Caryn Rivadeneira knocked it out the park at Hermeneutics this week with her article School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback. Caryn is all for school, and all for prayer, but she makes a really compelling case as to why theologically she is not joining the ranks of those rallying for school prayer to be reintroduced.

Micha Boyett’s piece Elders and Deacons and Me, written in the days before she is to be ordained as an elder, is a beautiful and worthy reflection (as most all of the essays at Deeper Story are – you should read some more while you’re over there.)

I forgot to post this last week – SUCH a fascinating, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny read from Patricia Marx at the New Yorker with Pets Allowed, in which she did some research about just how far she could go taking exotic pets out and about in New York by claiming they were necessary as “emotional support animals”…. 100% pure delight and distraction.

This, from the Business Insider: an Illustrated Guide to a PhD is just exactly right.

I loved this from D.L. Mayfield: When I go out, I want to out like Elijah – a gentle reflection on how some things have changed, and some have stayed just the same in her faith and calling over the years. I was first introduced to DL Mayfield last year some time when I started reading about ‘downward mobility': that intentional choice to swim against the American-Dream-stream, and what life as a cultural salmon looks like for the sake of the Kingdom. She’s a fabulous writer, and she has an incredible story.

For fun this week: 27 Sure Signs You Grew Up Evangelical. Hahahaha. Even though I wasn’t an American church kid, this still rang true for me. Psalty the singing song book was my BFF.

Ed Cyzewski’s post You’re an Amazing Writer and I Hate You had such an amazingly clickable title I both admired and envied him for it. If you’ve ever done that – read this. So good.

I was over at the Laundry Moms this week for the first time with My Son’s Love Language is Mac ‘n Cheese. Did you see it?

Top of my blog this week: On being LGBT, Christian, and Coming Out.

And now, DRUM ROLL, the winner of this week’s giveaway: a copy of Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s new book Growing Up Social (Read the review here!) – Ricardo Almeida. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Ricardo.

Don’t miss a single post – email subscribe (just to your right! in the side bar!), or follow along on Facebook.

Please also note that being listed in the Pick of the Clicks doesn’t mean a 100% endorsement of the views therein. Inclusion here means I thought it worthwhile and thought-provoking reading. 

 

Photo credit: Winter Rain by Yen Nguyen (Flickr Creative Commons)

On Being LGBT, Christian, and Coming Out

LGBT2

Today’s question from a reader took me by surprise when I first read it. I suppose I was surprised because I don’t consider myself as someone who really “takes sides” on questions of sexuality and faith: if anything, I have written about why I won’t take a stand on gay marriage.

However, the topic keeps coming up. On the blog, I’ve been asked questions about being friends with someone who is transgender. I also wrote about our response to the World Vision controversy last year (here with a Screwtape letter, and here with a parable of a gay samaritan).  I’ve linked to articles in Pick of the Clicks discussing some of the issues at hand, and had books pressed into my hands by friends since then. So I suppose I am willing to talk about it, even though it’s not a soapbox issue for me. Having said that – I’m answering today’s letter as a friend, not as an expert, and my goal – as always – is to aim for the grace and truth blend which is found so beautifully in Jesus.

Dear Bronwyn,

I’m finally doing it: I’m finally coming out as bisexual. My spouse knows, but I’m ready to be authentic with everyone else. This poses a bit of a problem: as a Christian, I don’t think this is wrong, but I have plenty of Christian family/best friends who do. I know it’ll be hard for them. I’m ready for there to be misunderstandings and awkward questions. (Even gay people have a hard time with, “How can you be bi if you’re committed to one person? Doesn’t that make you straight/gay?”) But I want to minimize the pain for both of us, anticipate their questions with grace, and find some way to make this as easy as possible on everyone.

And, if I’m honest, I feel terribly vulnerable. I would really just like to know they still love me. I don’t know if that’s even appropriate to ask when you drop a bomb like this on someone.
I know you don’t necessarily agree with LGBT, though I’ve loved your posts on the subject. I was wondering: if your child, cousin, or best friend came out as bi to you, how could they best do it in a way that respects you and doesn’t get your guard up? What are things you would want to know or that it would help you to hear? What if this person lived far away and couldn’t do it in person?

Fearfully brave

Dear Fearfully Brave,

I’ve recently read a few books dealing with LGBT issues. My book club read Two Boys Kissing, a YA novel I would never otherwise have picked up. After that, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, a book which I didn’t know had gay themes until I was well into the story. So that made for two novels I would not ordinarily have read – and I”ll admit, despite being very well written stories, they were uncomfortable for me to read.

Still, reading uncomfortable things is something I am increasingly becoming comfortable with, as I am discovering that reading is not just about enjoying stories, but also about learning to hear the voices of the human condition.  As such, reading those two books were very important for empathy-building for me, because as someone who has a public Christian profile, I am one of the last people on earth likely to be expected to really hear the deep hurts and desires which someone struggling with their sexuality. It’s a bit of a catch 22, really: evangelical Christians are presumed to have little empathy, and so we are not entrusted with people’s deepest heart issues. But without hearing the real struggles of real people, how can we build empathy? I am grateful to literature for sharing some of that inner monologue with me where others have been unable to.

And it’s working, I might add. It’s working in that I feel my empathy and compassion growing, my love expanding for the wounded and vulnerable and confused. I’m realizing nobody chooses to struggle with this because they want to be ornery or sinful. Rather, they struggle – and dealing with others’ discomfort and disapproval is a large part of the pain that comes with choosing to come out.

So what would I say to you? I would say: say what you’ve written to me. That you’re still married. That you still believe. That you’re wrestling. That you want them to know because you love and respect them enough to want to be more fully known by them. Tell them you don’t need them to agree, or to endorse you, or even to understand – but that you would love them to let you know they still love you, if they are able to do that.

Some of the questions that would come to mind might be: what does this mean for your marriage? What will this change in terms of how you live your life? What will this change in our relationship? Also, is there anything you want me to do or to say? I think your willingness to answer questions as best you can communicates a great deal. The fact that you are married (and happily so!) to a Christian of the opposite sex goes a long way towards assuring a conservative Christian that you are (relatively) safe: a fact which is not insignificant in our concerns for our loved ones who are charting unknown territory.

Another question which might present itself from your immediate family is the question of causation: whose fault is this? will people blame us? and what caused it? There is still much disagreement on whether sexuality is biological or environmental, and those who were part of both our situational nurture and our genetic nature will feel some sense of responsibility in answering for the information. (Aside: I am currently reading Nicolosi’s book A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, which is a fascinating and surprisingly compassionate read. Its Amazon reviews are all either 5-star or 1-star… which tells you a lot about the presuppositions of the readers). So, perhaps you might want to address the fact that no matter how it came to be that you find yourself identifying as bisexual – you’re not blaming them.

It is, as you suggest, likely that some family members may need some time to process, and even to grieve, your news. You can do nothing else but give them that space. I hope, though, that in time they will be able to see where you are coming from and affirm their love for you and welcome to you.

I daresay a letter might be easier, given the distance. The letter might be hard to write, and harder still will be calling them after a while to ask if they’ve read it. There are a 1000 hard ways to do this, and not a single right, easy way.

I, for one, would want to welcome you with open arms. Not because I think homosexuality as a lifestyle is okay (I think the Bible is clear that this is a temptation which we are called to bring under Christ’s clear rule about the way in which we govern our sexual relationships)… but because the Bible is also really clear that the ground at the foot of the cross is level, and we are not to throw stones or pass judgment on those for whom Christ died. We are the church, you and I.

I”ll be praying for you as you share your news.

Bronwyn

Growing Up Social {And a GIVEAWAY!}

GrowingUpSocial

Dealing with screens ranks way up there with potty training and discipline as the Top Parenting Challenges we are facing, and so when I was offered an advance copy of Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s new book Growing Up Social (raising relational kids in a screen-driven world) – I jumped at the chance.

But then, once I got the book – I didn’t want to read it, and it languished at my bedside for several weeks.

Why? Because I was afraid of what it would say. My husband and I already battle personal fights with screens (as do many others, as evidenced by this post about smartphones in marriage being the most popular one on my blog ever), and resisting the urge to check my screen while driving remains a battle. We already have had to password protect our devices so that our children don’t steal them, the toddlers already would mimic typing on a computer or talking on a phone  – so I resisted reading the book because I was waiting for a hammer of judgment to come smashing down on my already guilt-laden conscience about this issue.

Which is, of course, exactly why I needed to read it anyway.

Chapman and Pellicane’s treatment of the topic was grace filled and refreshingly un-judgy. Compassionate, resourceful, eye-opening: they trace the challenges of raising kids in a world where screens abound. While they do touch on some of the direct dangers of too-much-screen time (the commonly touted wisdom of increased exposure to violence, a sedentary lifestyle etc), the strength of this book lies in how they reveal all the good we and our children are missing if we while away hours in front of a screen. Necessary life skills such as learning how to appreciate others, to manage anger, to apologize, show affection and to pay attention (both to people and the world) are all skills forged in the field of relational-time: creative play time, the sports field and conversation – and it is exactly those times which are forfeited when we allow screens to buffer our families.

I may have spent the first two chapters on my guard, waiting to be told off for being a bad parent, but as I was reading I soon dropped my defenses and began to read in earnest – highlighting sentences here and there, circling practical tips of ways to engage my family on certain issues. And yes, I realized (once again) that I need to revisit my own attitudes towards screens – for relational behavior is ultimately caught more than it is taught.

I feel I should add that this is not a book with Luddite sensibilities. Chapman and Pelican are not anti-technology, or even anti social-media. However, they are cautious about allowing these things a proper place in our lives. As they wisely state at the opening of the book: the question is whether technology is brining your family closer together, or whether it is driving your family further apart? 

Friends: it’s a good book. And more than that – it’s a NEEDED book because this is the world we live in. We all want to win at parenting. We want children who know how to navigate life, love well, and thrive relationally. If they are to do that, screens and social media need to have a healthy place in their lives, and this book is a really helpful resource in thinking the issue through.

I have one copy of Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s book to give away. Enter to win below. Entries close Friday 10/24/2014 at midnight PST, and the winner will be announced in this weekend’s Pick of the Clicks.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pick of the Clicks 10/18/2014

Pick of the Clicks

I think this week may be the best pick of the clicks week EVER. OH. MY. WORD. Enjoy:

Drake Baer’s article for the Business Insider, Harvard says the best thinkers have these 7 ‘Thinking Dispositions’, made for fascinating reading. To make the point, he asks just two questions: can you play the piano? and do you play the piano? Sooooo interesting.

Lindsey Ellison’s essay on the #1 Secret on How To Engage A Narcissist is a quick and TOTALLY eye-opening read. We all know someone like this, or someone in a relationship that looks like this – and this is a must read if we are ever prone to give our thoughts/opinions/encouragements on relationships!

Likewise, Christy Sim’s piece on How to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence is incredibly tactful and practical. It’s an essay worth bookmarking.

Jessica Kelley’s essay Can Christians Support Brittany Maynard’s Decision?  is truly excellent. In it, she shares her thoughts on Kara Tippett’s open letter to Brittany Maynard, the 29-year old terminally ill woman who (may) end her life on November 1st. Coming from the perspective of a Christian mom who cared for and buried her terminally ill preschooler, Jessica’s thoughts are nuanced, respectful, clear and incredibly thought-provoking.

The Rise of Bibilical Counseling by Kathryn Joyce is a lengthy but significant read about how the church handles psychological and psychiatric struggles. I remember reading “Competent To Counsel” nearly 20 years ago, and feeling swayed that there was no ailment which a clear and consistent application of Scripture could not handle. My views have changed since then: I have seen mental illness and depression close up, and while I still am very much in support of counseling (and Christian counseling), I also think that mental illness and depression are scary realities and we can’t spiritualize our way out of that aspect of our fallen world. It is a really thorough, balanced read.

Fabienne Harford’s article on Sex and the Single Woman is a magnificent read  (Thanks, Dorothy Greco, for the recommendation). I don’t know that I have come across a more truthful and hopeful piece on the topic, and even as a married woman – I learned so much from this.

Michael Horton’s essay What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t The Point is so very, very good. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was so good I read it twice, and I have it open on my browser because I intend to read it twice more before closing it.

Sara Hagerty’s post over at Amy Julia Becker’s lovely blog What I Learned When My Children Fell Apart In Front Of Me is poignant and wise reflection on adoption, suffering, and grace. She writes:

Pain is an invitation and loss isn’t a curse when it peels back the layers over the heart to reveal the hunger buried underneath — inherent in every human, no matter the circumstances — for a personal, intimate brush with God.

This made me snicker: I am that crayon-smuggler.

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Links from me:

What women want over at Ungrind this week, a little reflection on God’s kindness caused by my daughter’s incessant nagging to get her ears pierced.

Also, at RELEVANT magazine this week: 9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible. This essay at RELEVANT was adapted from a post long-ago on this blog (you can find the original here) – crazy that it was read by just 200-300 people on my blog, and has been read by hundreds of thousands now at RELEVANT. Just goes to show that the size of a blog doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the quality of its content :-)

Top of my blog this week: That time my pot got me in trouble. Don’t be deceived by the title – this post was actually one of my more serious reflections on culture, faith, and the words we use to talk about them :-)

Thanks for reading my little blog :-) And happy clicking!