Monthly Archives: April 2011

How Young is too Young to be Sexy?

Does anyone else remember Z Cavaricci in the late 1980s?  Cavaricci’s were popular for the conspicuous white tag with its name smack dab in the middle of the fly of it’s popular jeans.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, the trend nowadays is to wear the label on your backside, instead of your fly

And, the trend isn’t just for adults, it’s also being marketed toward young children.

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I had planned for Holy Week to be the theme for Pop Parables this week.

But, I can’t let this one go.  Besides, it’s about sex {appeal}. 

And, we all know how much I love to talk about sex on Pop Parables.

This op-ed piece on CNN.com entitled “Parents, Don’t Dress Your Girls Like Tramps“ kept popping up on my Facebook newsfeed today. 

Apparently, it hit a nerve with not just a few of my Facebook friends, but also at least 3,734 (and counting!) commenters on the article by ESPN columnist LZ Granderson.

The gist of the article is that retailers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, target young girls with products and clothing that are highly sexualized, such as sweatpants with words on the toosh. 

Other “sexual” products include halter tops, push up bras, and thong underwear.

But, who is to be blamed for this trend?

Granderson says the only ones to blame are the parents allowing their children to dress this way, saying No successful retailer would consider introducing an item like a padded bikini top for kindergarteners if they didn’t think people would buy it.

Granderson’s greatest concern is that In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.

Visual Rolodex

Is there ANY age at which being sexy is appropriate outside of the marriage covenant?

I have to say my answer is definitively NO, and especially NO to children dressing provocatively.

Since I believe that God created sexuality for the marriage covenant, I do not think that a woman should appear sexy in public. 

It’s my opinion that women should dress modestly, being careful not to be too revealing or sexual in their attire.

The reason for this is simply because men are visual.  This is no secret.  I could quote study upon study that has proven this to be true, but if you’re a guy you already know this is true.  And, if you’re a girl, you can ask the next guy you come into contact with.  I don’t think any man would deny this to be true.

A woman’s appearance can easily lead to a man becoming sexually aroused, even if he does not desire that.   

In her book For Women Only , Shaunti Feldhahn explains how the many images a man comes across in a day are entered into his visual memory

The result is a mental rolodex of images,  which can come to mind at any moment, voluntarily or involuntarily, and often lead to sexual temptation.

These images can even come to mind {involuntarily} during sexual intercourse with his wife.

A woman who dresses provocatively can fuel the fire of lust, spoken of in Matthew 5:28, 

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  

I’m not excluding men from any responsibility for visual purity. 

Men are to be held accountable for the ways in which they lust after a woman, even a woman who is dressed modestly.

Women can also be tempted by a man dressing provocatively. 

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This topic is actually highly relative to the discussion of masturbation and pornography that began here

Don’t worry, that discussion will soon be making it’s way to Pop Parables and I look forward to reading what you all have to say.

For now, chime in on these thoughts:

Do you agree or disagree with me that women should dress modestly in public?

What defines dressing modestly for a woman?

What responsibility does a man have in this context? 

Suprise! It’s Palm Sunday!

Hollywood Crush

Last Friday I was able to catch a few minutes of The Nate Berkus Show

I looooooove Nate!  His design sensibilities are practical AND beautiful

Plus, it’s undeniable: Nate is easy on the eyes

Friday’s show featured a couple who will soon welcome quadruplets into their home.

Unlike most multiples in our world today, this family was completely caught off guard by naturally conceiving four baby boys with no fertility treatments whatsoever. 

I’m sure that Daddy is awfully proud of himself right now. 

Of course, Nate offered his services in decorating the nursery.

He also brought in a financial advisor to help the couple figure out some monetary preparations.

As they were speaking about the months ahead with great anticipation, they were told to begin thinking about their 5 year financial plan.

Now, because of my Mommy Fail tendencies, I can barely think of what to feed the boys for lunch, yet alone what’s happening 5 years down the road.

That tells you what kinda thinking I’ve put into the 5 year financial plan.  {EEK!}

SURPRISE

The idea of a FIVE YEAR PLAN just kept popping back into my head over the weekend.

When I got to church on Sunday, I was jolted by the news that it was Palm Sunday.

Yep.

This was a surprise to me.

Surprise on the level of someone jumping out of  cake.

I was so shocked that I half expected the rest of the congregation to gasp in astonishment.

I guess the construction paper palm branch Lukas brought home from Awana wasn’t enough of an indicator.

Maybe if he had excitedly waved it in my face shouting HOSANNA, I might have gotten the point.

But, alas, he did not.

And, suddenly, I felt as if my heart wasn’t prepared for Holy Week.

A little panic set in.

Shouldn’t I have decorated the house? 

Made some plans? 

Played Veggie Tales: An Easter Carol for the boys enough times to have the songs memorized?

What have I been doing all these weeks and months when I could have been preparing our family to celebrate the Resurrection?

AGGGGGHHHHHHHH 

Holy Week

Growing up in a nontraditional church environment, there wasn’t any value placed on tradition or rituals, such as Lent.

In fact, I don’t think I even knew what Lent was until high school when some of my friends proudly announced their chosen Lenten sacrifice: things like “secular music”, “talking to boys” or “junk food”. 

I thought it was all a bunch of nonsense, and considered myself so far removed from faith by works that I saw no purpose in such sacrifices.

But, now that I’m older, a tad wiser, and have experienced many different ways of worshipping God, I have grown to see the value in traditions, such as Lent.

It’s still hard for me to completely embrace ritual or even written prayers

But, the idea of preparing my heart for celebration of the Resurrection seems appropriate, and in my case a necessity so that Holy Week doesn’t sneak up on me again next year!

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I can say with certainty that my life didn’t sneak up on God.

He didn’t turn the calendar from November 1979′s picture of cute kitties in a coruncopia to December 1979′s picture of puppies in a stocking and suddenly remember, “Doh!  Only 23 days til Keri’s born!”

Nope, in praise to God, David says (Psalm 139:16),

16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
         And in Your book were all written
         The days that were ordained for me,
         When as yet there was not one of them.

He knew everything that would come my way. 

In fact, He specifically planned things for me to accomplish through Him.

10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

It’s just one of the many, many reasons why I can praise Him in the hard times, the good times, and everything in between.

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This week my last minute attempt to prepare my heart for the climactic celebration of Resurrection Sunday will include a few Holy Week themed posts that, believe it or not, will include pop culture references.

I hope you’ll join me!

How do you prepare your heart to celebrate His Resurrection?

In what areas of your life have you seen His workmanship at work?

Pop Tops, Volume 1

Introducing a new feature on Pop Parables,  Pop Tops: a collection of links I’ve come across on the interwebs, in the Twittersphere, my inbox, or the best place of them all: YOU!

These are links that I either don’t have the time to post about or wouldn’t be able to turn into a full post

Instead of letting them float away like Piglet with a balloon bouquet, I’ve captured them here for your perusal.

I won’t say with what regularity I’ll be posting Pop Tops, because, let’s face it, there isn’t much regularity in my life.  (Other than the kind of regularity you think of whenever you hear the word regular.) 

Without further adieu, I give you the premiere of Pop Tops!  (massive hand clapping heard in the audience)

To Tithe or Not to Tithe

My hilarious blogging bud Moe Vivas of Beta Christian first told me about this titillating tithing tale (quick say it ten times fast!).

A recent study conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals found that only 42% of its leaders agree that the Bible requires tithing, while 58% percent do not agree.  I wonder how the 58% expect to get paid??? 

Read more about the story here or see the NAE version here.

Question:  Do you tithe from the gross or the net?  I’ve always wondered about this one.

I’d love to hear from you non-Evangelicals on this one: does your church believe in tithing and to what degree?

Soul Surfer

Currently sitting at #4 at the box office, Soul Surfer is the inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton.

There are some fairly big names in this film included Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and Carrie Underwood in her acting debut.  My bff Cindy says the film does a great job of portraying faith without being preachy or cheesy, and that it’s SOOOOO GOOD.  You heard it here first folks, now go see it!

Go here to see the trailer.

In this article, Hamilton herself explains how she fought to keep her Christian faith in the film.  I found this quote particularly interesting:

Battles over how to portray religious themes in movies are becoming more common, as Hollywood becomes more open to addressing faith and marketing movies to religious audiences but worries about alienating nonreligious audiences or viewers from other traditions.

Have you seen any movies that portray an accurate picture of Christianity?  What is it, in your opinion, that makes Hollywood squirm about Christianity as opposed to other faiths?

Carrie Underwood

Speaking of Carrie Underwood, in this article, she attributes her massive success to her Christian faith and also explains why she wanted to be a part of Soul Surfer.

Today, I heard her amazing rendition of “How Great Thou Art” on the radio.  If you need something to get you in the proper contemplative worship mood for Lent and Easter, watch her sing this traditional hymn here.

What’s your favorite old hymn?

Distorting Love

 This article is a great tie in to my sex series.

The authors, Jake and Melissa Kircher, explore how social media, technology, and culture have influenced our view of love and sexuality

Here’s a quote from the article:

Social media, online dating, chat rooms and pornography also muddle things by creating new avenues for sexuality that move sexual experiences from the physical realm to the metaphysical. This becomes a huge gray area as this generation grapples with how to find balance and healthiness in the midst of an onslaught of opportunity for all kinds of new sexual experiences.

In Eccliastes 1:9 we read that there is nothing new under the sunDo you agree that technology has brought about new sexual experiences?

David Bazan

When my bro first introduced me to Bazan via his version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, I was kinda turned off by his use of the term recovering Evagelical.  Nonetheless, I think he has some useful and thought provoking things to say. 

He’ll be in concert on July 16 at the Showbox SoDo (yep, same place I saw the amazing NeedtoBreathe); go here to get tickets.

Here’s a description of his work on from the Showbox page:

Charting Bazan’s increasingly skeptical struggle with the precepts of the evangelical Christian world in which he was raised, the album covers some pretty serious ground.

Do you consider yourself a recovering Evagelical and what does that term mean to you?

Redeeming Ruth: The Biblical Video Game

This one I found in my inbox courtesy of my blog reading, deal finding, super fabulous sis in law, Nicole.  

Although it was just an April Fool’s joke courtesy of the Mars Hill Church blog, I don’t think it’s too far gone to consider that someone either already has or will soon be developing “Christian video games”. 

Gaming for Jesus: just another use of the God card or a legitimate way to learn more about the Bible?

Double Jeopardy

My blogging bud Tony Alicea wrote a great pop parable based on the Ashely Judd/Tommy Lee Jones film Double Jeopardy on his blog Expect the Exceptional

He challenges the readers to consider how we live out our faith, saying

You may have heard that being justified by Christ is “just as if i’d” never sinned. We might believe that but do we live like it?

Be sure to read the full post here.

I told Tony that I struggle with self-condemnation, which keeps me from fully embracing the beauty of the cross.  What keeps you from walking out your justification?

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I’d love to feature more bloggers in Pop Tops

If you come across or write a faith based post about pop culture, please be sure to alert me on Twitter!

Subscribe to my RSS feed to be sure you don’t miss another exciting edition of Pop Tops

Or, follow me on Twitter or Facebook

Better, yet, sign up to get Pop Parables in your inbox by entering your email addy in that nifty box on the right that says Subscribe via Email.  Oooh la la!

Does God Really say that Sex is only for Marriage?

You want the short answer or the long answer?

Short Answer

In my estimation and understanding of the Bible, YES!!!

Long Answer

In his book Sex God, Rob Bell explains that in the ancient world, after the vows had been exchanged, the physical act of consummating the relationship was what sealed the deal

So, the bride and groom would say their vows, then retreat to the bridal chamber.

The wedding guests would wait for the deed to be done, probably enjoy a little happy hour of sliders and cocktails, and I’m sure make jokes with lots of sexual inuendos at the expense of the bride and groom.

Then, bride and groom would return, the DJ would annonce them husband and wife, and they would party with the guests.

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As a modern woman, I have to say I’m grateful we don’t expect the immediate consummation of the marriage before the celebration.  

How awkward to run upstairs to your hotel room, have sex, then return to the wedding reception to party the night away? 

And, all of the most important people in your life are just standing there, thinking the same thing, “Oh my goodness.  They just had sex.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?

Good thing this tradition has been reduced to ”You may now kiss the bride“. 

But, God sees the tradition of consummating the marriage through sexual union as truth.

The Biblical Evidence

As we study the Scriptures, we see again and again that marriage and sex are one in the same.

The first reference to this is seen in Genesis 2:24

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Since Adam and Eve were the only humans at this time, there was no governing body of marriage. 

They didn’t have to go down to City Hall and get a marriage license. 

Nor did they catch the next flight to Vegas to have Elvis marry them. 

God sees their sexual union as their marriage. 

They go from man and woman to husband and wife once they “become one flesh“. 

Does it get any more rudimentary than that?

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In I Corinthians, we see that Paul admonishes the Corinthians to be married to avoid sexual immorality.  In fact, he references this same passage in Genesis when he says (6:16)

16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

Paul furthers the discussion in chapter 7 where he encourages sexuality within marriage:

1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

What I appreciate most about this passage is the mutual relationship: that a man should fulfill this relationship to his wife, and a wife to her husband.  (We’ll get to more about that in the post about marital sex).

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In Hebrews 13:4 we see further evidence of God’s design for sex within marriage,

4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

I interpret this verse to mean that anyone, other than your spouse, with whom you have sex is defiling the marriage bed.  So, if you’re not married, you’re defiling the marriage bed that is to come! 

Real Sex

There are actually a plethora of other verses in the Bible that speak to this subject, but I think you get the point. 

I really appreciate how Lauren Winner addresses this subject in her book Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity

What sits at the center of Christian sexual ethics is not a negative view of sex; the Christian vision of marriage is not, at its most concise, merely “no sex before marriage”.  Rather, the heart of the Christian story about sex is a vigorously positive statement: sex was created for marriage. 

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Didn’t get enough of the sex in this post?  Check out these pop parables:

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 What do you think has made the Christian view of sex so negative as opposed to vigorously positive?

Got any other Biblical references for sex as created for marriage?  The obscure ones earn you brownie points and a virtual fist bump.

 

Pop Parables Movie Night: Love and Other Drugs

In my former life as a non-blogger, I never would have watched this film.

The trailer (Warning: the trailer is rated “R”) makes it obvious that there is a lot nudity, gratuitous sex, and vulgarity

But, when I saw the title I knew it would be an easy tie-in to my ongoing and seemingly unending sex series. (I’m thinking of changing this from a series to a TAB on my blog-I don’t think I’ll ever be done talking about it.)

So, this week we used our free Redbox rental code (you can get one every first Monday of the month by signing up here) to rent Love and Other Drugs.

Synopsis from Redbox:

Academy Award® Nominees Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway co-star in “the smartest, sexiest and downright best screen-melting romance of the year” (Parade ). Hathaway delivers an unforgettable performance as the free-spirited Maggie, who meets her match in a charming Viagra salesman named Jamie (Gyllenhaal). Maggie and Jamie leap into a no-strings-attached affair, but no matter how hard they try to keep things “casual,” they can’t help falling under the influence of the ultimate drug…love! Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material.

Romdramedy

Love and Other Drugs doesn’t fit quite fit into the rom-com genre.

It more appropriately garners this label: the romdramedy

It’s romantic.

It’s comedic.

It’s got drama.

The romdramedy.

 Some of my favorite films that fall into the romdramedy category are Notting Hill, As Good As It Gets, and most recently, The Switch (also surprisingly well done, starring Jennifer Anniston and Jason Bateman). 

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Mike and I fast forwarded through the numerous sex scenes, and you likely will want to do the same if you choose to watch this film.  Also, beware that the f-bomb is dropped constantly, and is probably the most used word in the script. 

All that aside, I found the love story of Maggie and Jamie likable and revealing of deeper truths than are often explored in the genre. 

While the ending is predictable, the story line takes the scenic route to get there.  And, I enjoyed the scenery

This coming from a girl who generally doesn’t like rom-coms, but, of course this one is different anyway because it’s a romdramedy.

And, Mike and I both agreed that it was MUCH better than we anticipated, and we had no viewer’s remorse over this film.

Hooked 

Early on in the film, Maggie sets up the entire premise of the movie, when she says this to Jamie

This isn’t about connection for you.  This isn’t even about sex for you. This is about an hour or two of finding relief from the pain of being you.  And, that’s fine with me see because all’s I want’s the exact same thing.

By the end of the film, we discover that none of these things are actually true for Jamie.

It isn’t just about sex.

There is something good about Jamie.

And, he actually does need connection, maybe even wants connection.

And, Maggie wants connection too, even though she has been wounded by past relationships.

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I just finished reading a little book called Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our ChildrenWhile this book is defnitively”secular”, the scientific evidence convincingly offers proof of God’s perfect design for sex within the covenant of marriage. 

So much of the neuroscientific research presented in Hooked was seen on screen in the film. 

Take this for starters, about oxytocin, the neurochemical present during sex that is primarily active in women:

Oxytocin, however, is values-neutral.  Must like dopamine, it is an involuntary process that cannot distinguish between a one-night stand and a lifelong soul mate.  Oxytocin can cause a woman to bond to a man even during what was expected to be a short-term sexual relationship.  She may know he is not the man she would want to marry but intimate sexual involvement causes her to be so attached to him she can’t make herself separate.  This can lead to a woman being taken off-guard by a desire to stay with a man would otherwise find undesirable…

What is even more amazing is the way in which the release of this neurochemical creates a desire for more sex:

Oxytocin is released in the female as this behavior [sex] persists, bonding her to her sexual partner and creating  a greater desire to repeat the activity with him.  When a male engages in sex, vasopressin is released, bonding him to his partner and also stimulating the desire for more sex….In short, engaging in sex creates a chain reaction of brain activities that lead to the desire for more sex and greater levels of attachment between two people.

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If you believe that God is the Creator of the universe, the Creator of mankind, you can see that He purposely designed these chemicals to react in this manner.

But, did He really say that sex is to be reserved for the covenant of marriage?  Did He?  Or is that just some Puritanical nonsense we’ve drummed up and can’t let go of?

Save your answer to those questions for my next post!

Your Thoughts

The big question this film seeks to answer: is it possible to have empty, meaningless sex or does any and all sex mean something?

Does sexuality have any connection to spirituality?

What’s your response?