Is Fifty Shades of Grey Stirring Our Desire?

Have you ever been to a movie and watched the sexual tension of two people coming together and suddenly feel tension in your own body, your own genital region responding and heat traveling up your spine…what was that you were experiencing in that moment??

You were experiencing the affect of another’s longing.

Is this bad? Is this good? Well, I believe it’s something that’s real and needs to be noticed

Our physical bodies respond to images that we see. Erotic sexual scenes awaken and stir our bodies. For centuries in the church we have been reading erotic poetry–Song of Songs. Yes, I do mean erotic poetry that stirs and awakens the senses. While there has been an ongoing debate about it being allegory (descriptive of God’s love for the church–though “the church” did not exist at the time of it being written) or love poetry (about longing between a man and a woman), scholars classify it as erotic poetry.

And this begs the question,

Is God for or against sexual arousal through what we read?

Pause and breath…

Remember scripture is the divinely inspired Word of God and this book, at the core, is evoking images that are deeply intimate and sexual in nature:

“All I want is to sit in his shade, to taste and savor his delicious love. He took me home with him for a festive meal, but his eyes feasted on me!” S of S 2:3

In reviewing the craze about the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey and how this series is not-so-secretively making its way into bedrooms, I think it’s important to notice how our bodies respond to images in our imagination from what we read as well as what we see.

How does sexual energy fuel our imagination?

This CNBC piece reveals women experiencing swept-back-into-the-bedroom-kind-of-awakening libido in response to these book series. Let it be known right here and right now, that I am most definitely all for a little bodice ripping sex that engages both husband and wife! But this article also raises concerns over whether this type of sexual arousal is healthy for us, as a society. What might this be saying about the state of our relationships if we resort to the fantasy of women being used and sexually dominated by men as the source of arousal?

Where is this domination style sexual energy coming from? Is it rooted in the desire to connect with another OR to consume another human being?

Okay keep breathing…

Sexual union at the core is meant to be a place of

  • mutual surrender–not dominance by one…
AND
  • honoring the body of another–not violating it…

God is creative, imaginative and wild AND the Creator of sex! Too often, I believe, we think it’s spiritual to “shut down” our minds from even engaging in the imaginative art of love making. YES, blindfolds, lingerie, props and toys can enhance creativity, play and imagination as we enter the union of sex IF our desire is rooted in a source that is not about self-absorbed consumption.

The series IS stirring up longing, but maybe that is only because we have not taken the time to be connected to our own creativity in the bedroom…

What are we really longing for?

~ b

Pornography and the Roots of Desire

In my day a pornographic magazine stuffed under the jacket was a dead giveaway of teenage curiosity about sex. Today electronics are everywhere, in our homes, cars, back pockets and they are getting smaller and easier to hide. So how do we protect our children when we live in a world that is saturated in sex?

A couple weeks ago in the class that I taught a class to parents, counselors and teen advocates, Talking To Your Teen About Sex, we talked about the roots of desire — that our perception of desire is that it’s bad. But actually, I can’t believe that. The roots of desire are just a part of how we are designed AND our Creator intended us to experience desire.

The real choice is what does desire produce – seeds of life or seeds that choke out life?

For me, part of my desire is to create resources around sexuality and spirituality. Each day a portion of my work is scanning the internet, researching current tends and how they are impacting adults and teens. Daily, I engage with my desire and intentionally have to notice when even my well-intended desire can begin to consume me rather than being apart of my life-giving purpose.

Seeds of life or seeds that choke life?

I’m going to make a bold statement. Are you ready? Here it goes: There is not a teenager alive who isn’t curious and desiring to learn about sexuality!

So then, how do we help empower our teens to live with desire as part of their life? Something that holds the tension of potential for building good or creating destructive patterns?

Parents, we want to nurture our teens’ capacity to notice desire in everyday life. After we do that, we want to encourage our teens to learn how to take actions that create deeper strength in them — not actions that lead towards giving into every desire that presents itself.  Desire is not the enemy, but rather, desire is apart of being alive and learning to name this desire with our teens is so crucial. This naming of desire can be everything from food, clothes, travel or how one spends their time — noticing and naming where one’s desire is rooted, is apart of helping our teens find a language that translates into their desires around sexuality.

Yesterday, I happened upon this article When Children See Internet Pornography and realized that THIS is a great resource. It even includes some apps for electronics that help parents as they actively engage with their teens while learning the balance of equipping and empowering their teens.

Parents, you will have a series of “sex talks” with your children and the goal is not to shut down the dialogue, but rather to open it up and keep engaged with our teenagers and their own thoughts and perspective. Pornography is impacting our teenagers because they desire to learn about sexuality.

The deeper question how IS porn impacting our relationship with one another?

What desire is it revealing?

Does it create an opportunity or a wall?

Anyone else been following all the hype about the new book, 50 Shades of Grey? I’m going to blog about that next time!

Until then,

~ b

Let’s Play a Game: Real or Not Real

Let’s play a game. Are you ready? Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called Real or Not Real.   I’ll say a statement and you tell me if it’s real or not real. Here we go:

“Something is wrong with me if I think about sex a lot.”

Not Real. The human brain is designed to think about reproduction. In fact one of the main functions of the hypothalamus is to make sure that we eat, drink and reproduce. So your brain literally craves to be near another.

“I crave attention and I love being touched.” 

Real. Skin to skin touch is something that we were designed to experience. Think about the first man and woman; it was God who brought them together, introduced them and (believe it or not) was a part of their first union. Craving being touched requires acknowledging and learning what “good touch” is and how we can both give and receive  this.

“My sexual drive is uncontrollable.”

Not Real. Just as no one stuffs food into my mouth and makes me eat, my body’s physical functions are something that I have control over. What often happens is we learn patterns of thinking and acting where we respond without questioning their source.

“Teenagers make riskier sexual behavioral decisions.”

Real (read all about it here)Let’s face it, teenager’s brains are “under construction”. This development is a part of their growing into adulthood. Logic and reason, housed in the frontal lobe region of the brain, is developed by making risky decisions. This physical drive is pulling them towards something wonderful–another human being. But, I believe teens need help to understand their body’s drive and can then be empowered to see what the real risks are.

“Teenagers will have sex, there is nothing we can do to stop it.”

Real or Not Real?

Okay I have to admit, I have nabbed this game from the recent book series, Hunger Games. My husband and I are still pretty obsessed. You must have read it? Our teenagers sure have…!

I will not give anything away for those who have yet to read the books or see the movie, but all the Capital’s cultural brainwashing about each district and individual’s true identity got me to thinking…

What robs our teenagers of their truest identity?

How can our teens return to the deepest core of who they are?

There is only one way…

Love.

comes to them…

actively seeks them out…

speaks the truth…

risks everything to remind them…

calls them to remember what is true…

We are…made in the image of God and this includes our sexuality.

To re-member this truth, requires that together we remind teens of what is real, and help them see what is not real.

After all parents love their kids.

Real or Not Real?

I’ll let you answer that one.

 

~ b.

What is Autoerotic Asphyxiation?

Tragedy comes in many forms.

As parents, our worst nightmare is for tragedy to touch our children, our precious sons and daughters.

Distressingly, these past few weeks, tragedy has struck close to home and left many with, what I would consider, confusion around a young man’s tragic death by autoerotic asphyxiation. You can click on this news article to know about the recent tragedy of which I am speaking.

No one wants to talk about this dangerous form of erotic behavior that often leads to tragic senseless death and especially how it is impacting teenagers. It’s no wonder, in an event like this, it can be hard to know what to say.

But, answering the questions and continuing the conversation is so very important.

Autoerotic asphyxiation is when there is a “high happening in the brain by the deprivation of oxygen. Lowered inhibitions accompany the individual experiencing this lack of oxygen right before they lose consciousness during masturbation. This is one form of “pleasure” that teenagers and adults are experimenting with–in total secrecy. Here is anarticle from a medical source that I would recommend reading if you or your teenager is desiring more information during about autoerotic asphyxiation.

Why would someone choose this form of masturbation?

Many liken this type of brain “high” to be similar to the “high” you get from playing hard and being out of breath, an extensive run that leaves you breathless or those places of laughing yourself to the point of exhaustion. So, it’s hard to say why some would choose this form of masturbation; no one totally knows, but it is chosen by some.

While we as parents really don’t want to believe this could ever be possible with our teenagers, I think the real root of the issue is the shame that surrounds masturbation…especially in Christian environments.

Where do our teenagers go to ask questions? About masturbation? About sex?

What are our teens to do with their physical desire that is rising within their bodies?

Where are they learning about what pleasure really is?

Growing up, I wasn’t really taught about the wonder and beauty of my body. Shame and secrecy were my “go to” coping mechanism with anything that was sexually related. I didn’t have information about my body that was helpful or informative. I especially did not have information about how my body was created AND that the Creator had designed my sexuality as good.

As I write this, my heart goes out to this family that has lost their son and the ways in which they will forever have questions about his death.

My prayer for them is that what robbed this young man of breath, will not be held in silence and shame. But instead that the church would dare to wonder about how they can be a part of educating and finding a language around sexuality that is relevant to us as parents and to our teens.

Does tragedy change us?

What do we do with the pain and the questions?

What if we in the Christian community, learn how to talk about sexuality and things like masturbation without shame?

Could one man’s death be a beacon of light pulled from the darkness?

Might we be reminded that our sexuality is meant to actually connect us to our Creator?

I write this for this man’s parents, family and friends who are seeking to remember him and his life. Though I did not know this young man, I will remember him. And I will pray that his life will scream into the silence that the church has held on this very difficult topic.

Peace, may you rest in peace.

~ b.

Is Foreplay Really Necessary?

Is foreplay important?

First of all, I love this question. My immediate question for you is: where are you having this discussion? As you are getting ready to have sex?

Foreplay matters

For many men, once the train has left the station, it’s hard to switch tracks. The best discussions about sexual desires and suggestions need to happen somewhere outside the bedroom.

So next time the opportunity arises to discuss the importance of foreplay, it might be helpful to use word pictures. Word pictures are a great way to communication with men. Choosing the time to have a conversation and figuring out what language partners with your husband’s interests is also helpful.

Let me show you what I mean: I live in a cold climate… a very cold climate. When the thermometer is hovering near the mark of zero degrees, I know that in order for my car to function properly I need to warm it up. The oil has to warm up, move from being heavy to thin in order to move freely and efficiently through the engine block. Sure, I can jump in and take off right away, but I also run the risk of damaging the engine.

What does foreplay have to teach us about one another?

It requires taking time, noticing each other, slowing down this very quick act of grasping pleasure, and extending an invitation for pleasure to teach us about the other.

Women on average need 20 minutes for the blood flow to reach their genitals fully, not to mention the time it takes to silence the many pathways the brain is running. The secrets of the female orgasm are vast and mysterious. Women take longer to orgasm, but wise is the one who learns that the process of foreplay is not a loss of time, but rather an addition to the gift of oneness that sex is meant to create.

Am I wearing lust?

The power rests where?

His voice was loud, his manner was harsh and his words were stinging, “When you wear that short skirt you cause men to sin and fall into the traps of lust.”

Really? I have that much power?

So if I wear my shirt buttoned up to my neck, expose no skin and ration my eyes to the ground then I have the capacity to keep a man from falling into the traps of lust?  This is a load of power as women and also it makes me wonder how do we actually view men?

Are men incapable of making decisions of what they will choose to think?  A short skirt, revealed cleavage, a bit of flesh has this kind of power to totally render a man into the depths of mindlessness….yes I think it can, but only when men are trapped, held in bondage by an identity that is not real.

MEN – often trapped behind the cultural norm believe that consuming a woman visually is “normal” BUT men are not meant to be trapped by beauty, rather in communion with beauty.

If men believe that what is outside of them has more power than who they were created to be from the inside, then they are surrendering and often unknowingly

abdicating their deepest identity….

running from their own capacity…

hiding behind bars…

Genesis 1:26 says that we are made in the image of God and the God I know does not abdicate identity, but rather continually calls me to wrestle anything within that hides, mars or stains that image.

It is not in the absence of wrestling, but actually in the presence of that wrestling that God shows up and invites us to experience something more than the “traps of lust.”

WOMEN – if we truly believe we hold this kind of  power over men we can use it in manipulative ways:

luring them in…

ignoring their capacity…

dumbing them down…

I wish it was not so, but I have to admit that I have fallen into this trap and used this power over men at times – YUCK!

I have also felt the sticky looks of lust coming to consume me and wanted to turn from men, blaming them instead of standing in the image of God that is within me to turn that lust away.

STORY – Shopping at my local grocery store there is a clerk that I watch as he literally consumes women with what feels to me like lust.  His eyes run up and down each woman’s body as they go through the checkout, never resting upon their face and meeting their gaze. Appearing innocent, he holds the receipt in a way that requires women reaching over and offering him a view of flesh.

I hated his line, I loathed this action and I continually avoided him. My view of him was nothing more than the lust that seemed to consume the air between us.

One day he randomly “took over” my carefully chosen line and reached his hand out for my basket – so gently I heard within, “Can you risk seeing MY image in him?”

I held his gaze, looked deep into his eyes, kept talking to him and calling his eyes to mine, daring to believe there was something deeper, something more. As he handed me my receipt, he looked me square in the eyes and I thanked him.

When I returned to my car, I began to shake and wondered what had just happened?

Why did this hit me this way?

Why did I even care?

Genesis says that humankind –  man and woman – are made in the image of God, and this young man has somehow forgotten his deepest identity and instead has traded it for one that is trapping him. Maybe nothing else will change, but for a moment I laid down my anger,  stood up in my truest identity and together we held the bonds of lust away from us both.

Now I look for his line, I seek him out, I want to stand face-to-face, not away from.

WOMEN – does it matter what we wear, how we dress? Yes, but what matters most is the motivation of how we wear something.

MEN- do women cause you to fall into the trap of lust? No, I believe in the strength that you have been given and I want to stand with you as you wrestle.

Seeing beyond...

You were made to see beauty, without the bars of lust!

Sitting on the Edge

I remember as a child often hearing these words, “Becky, be careful you are too close to the edge.” Now I don’t know how often those words were delivered out loud, but it often replays in my mind when I am getting ready to

make a decision…

let go of what is safe…

answer a question…

Okay here lies the real reason for this post – I love questions. I love hearing them, discussing them, letting them roll around in my head, watching them shake loose and offer people challenge, freedom, hope…

I love asking them, gathering thoughts, scriptures and letting it all be stirred together. Some how the thought of offering an “answer” seems daunting and a bit overwhelming because someone has trusted you enough to ask. And for this moment you hold their exposed thought, they are inviting you to their edge of something

change?

fear?

freedom?

While I don’t fully understand the rush of compassion that swooshes in and calls me to this sacred space of holding another’s question, I know the risky experience of asking questions and the potential of being

disappointed…

not heard…

and worst of all being misunderstood…

These all matter....

These questions are from my last conference in the fall. I carry them everywhere with me, in fact they are in my computer case as a daily reminder that I have not answered….yet…

At dinner the other night a friend, who knows I am carrying them, challenged me with a question…

“Becky, I want the words of what you do have inside so that I can wrestle with them.”

So I realize that in a way I have been holding something back, not allowing myself to step near the edge of writing out answers that could be

misunderstood…

judged…

or

misquoted…

Yes I found my own edge – fear.

Questions are the sacred place that we meet, it is not meant to be the place of separation and holding back, but instead together we are meant to “stand too close to the edge” so that together we can see more.

Looking at these questions is sacred, wrestling with them can be dangerous. So if anyone is out there and really wants to know, I am going to tackle  two questions a week(from the last conference) by literally drawing them out of the pile, letting the questions be the guide.

Join me if you want because I believe all voices matter.

Me…I will be on the edge, sitting next to my fear…looking out and waiting….

Sitting on the edge...

Book in Print

Had a call this morning from the publishing house, that Holy Sexuality Beginning with Questions is now at the printers. After a month of unexpected set-backs I experienced three random emotions simultaneously:

JOY….

RELIEF…

TERROR…

I think all three of these are appropriate, but it is their interchange that I find interesting. The compulsion to jump with joy can be dangerous when terror makes one want to flee – all at the same moment – potentially I could physically injure myself.

So I am going to remind myself these next seven days, as I wait to receive the first printed copy, to honor the extremes and allow them to tutor me. To pause at the threshold, “to be comfortable with uncertainty today requires courage.”

Humbled by all the experiences that have ushered this moment present. I want the emotions to recognize that I choose to frolic within gratitude as I hold them.

Will let you know when it is in stock and available for purchase.

Could make for some great  Christmas dinner conversations…

 

 

 

Sex is Good

Sex feels good!

The physicalness of sex is expressed in movies, books and internet – displayed as a powerful force pulling us toward another. Is IT (the sexual force) more than physical? Does the “sexual tension” of wanting to respond to another have something to teach us about who we are?

The chemicals in our brain that respond to physical attraction are real and reveal the interweaving engagement of mind/body.  It is the force of this chemical attraction that challenges each of us to engage with God’s design in an active and informed way.

Genesis 1:26 states that humankind is made in the image of God and specifically calls us to, “…rule over…every creeping thing that creeps on earth.” God’s view of us as men and women, is that we are capable of ruling the earth and all that is within it. We have been given an authority and are designed to do this. Might God also have given us the capacity to wrestle with our own sexual energy? How would God want us to acknowledge both the dangers and power of what is created within us?

I once saw a one-armed tiger tamer masterfully display his “rule over” a 300 pound beast as he guided him to perform exercises. Curious how he had lost his arm, he revealed it was his loss of focus in ruling the beast that resulted in the lion attacking and mauling him.

To deny the engagement of mind/body in our sexuality is to deny the power of that which “creeps on earth” and abdicate our God-given authority to rule. It is when our focus is turned from the Creator that the “created” consumes us.

What might the engagement have to teach us?

Happy Mornings

One of the most beautiful things about sleep is that it refreshes and renews the body. Like high octane fuel for a race car, sleep provides the fuel of energy to our bodies by allowing blood to course freely in and through every part of our body without restrictions of clothes, posture or tension.

The penis is packed with blood vessels and it is common for men to wake with an erection, if they are experiencing healthy blood flow throughout the rest of their body. This does not mean that they woke thinking about sex, yet from a place of relaxation and rest they “wake” and become aware of their body.

I have found it common that both men and women misunderstand this natural part of the male anatomy and it can often lead to shame. There is a beauty in recognizing that part of how men’s physical health is observed is through how they have an erection. One of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction is stress and is something that men need to pay attention to and work with a doctor, if it persists.

Designed by God’s hand, and from within the truest essence of our identity, this strong and gentle reminder can free us to “see with new eyes” the wonder of the male body.