18 Nov

#MeToo and Shades of Gray..

I’ve been down with the bug that’s going around as has hubby so I’m way behind in many things around here. After I write this I will be prepping the latest in the series on ROMANS. AND… I have a special houseguest coming for the week so when able, I’ve been trying to tidy up the place and get ready for winter. As a result, I will be taking next week off, just too much going on! In December I’ll be resuming the Romans study with “Chapter by Chapter” study. I honestly AM trying to be more consistent in writing. In the meantime…

Today I did one of those Facebook “most words” things and realized how I’ve been more involved with the current political climate. In the past when I’ve done this my loved ones and my faith have been those BIG BOLD words but not this year. An issue that I haven’t yet talked about is the huge uptick in women coming out about the humiliation of various forms of sexual harassment to outright forcible rape. What seems apparent to me is the varying degrees of these claims and what it means not just to these women but to the men involved and the much bigger issue of the prevalence of it in our culture. And it disturbs me. It used to be worthy of expulsion to commit such acts and now well, it seems you can even be a president or maybe a senator! Have we become that uncaring?

A lot of what I’m going to say is personal opinion based on my experiences as a counselor as well as being female and a victim of many forms of abuse. First, I’d like to offer a few of my personal definitions for the varying degrees this abuse might take. While abuse is abuse, I am of the thought that some is more serious and harmful than others. I know there are some women out there who may disagree with me and that’s ok. Keep in mind I don’t think a single bit of it is ok! IT IS NEVER OK and NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT!!!

First, there is harassment. This is strictly verbal by the perpetrator. Innuendo, out of line comments on anatomy( not to be confused with “I like your new hairstyle” etc), cat/wolf whistles, and stuff like that. You may be “sexually harassed” if something a colleague or other acquaintance says things that make you feel uncomfortable. This can happen on the job, in school, and yes, even in church! Best defense is a good offense-TELL SOMEONE as soon as possible.

The next is sexual assault. This IS a crime and should be reported immediately to someone in law enforcement and/or a rape crisis hotline!
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape
fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forced performing of sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body. While touching may not be involved, someone performing an act in front of you is also assault.

The last is rape. Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Keep in mind that this includes what is often termed “date rape”.

Now that I’ve defined these terms, let’s talk about how we got here. Throughout history, especially ancient history, we gals were often considered valuable only as a means to end. Often more property than person. And yep, a “lesser” human being. This wasn’t always the way it was and definitely not what I believe God had in mind. Consider that woman was created to be a helper (Genesis 2:18 ) In Hebrew the term is עֵזֶֶר ˓êzer, ay’-zer;to aid:— help. Derived from another Hebrew word עָזַר ˓âzar, aw-zar’; to surround, i.e. protect or aid:— help, succor. OK you got the idea. And then came the fall! It seems that after that women started to be less regarded as helpers and more subject to the menfolk. ( see Gen. 3:16).

Sexual assault was also told of in scripture…
The gruesome story of how a woman traveler was sexually assaulted and murdered in the town of Gibeah is no doubt a typical example of what was going on during the time of the judges. (Judges 19:1–30). If you read on from there, you see the outcome. Consider also the rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon found in 2 Samuel 13:1–19 …. this is not only forcible assault, it’s incest. Other victims include Jacob’s daughter Dinah ( Gen. 34:2), and some may even say that Bathsheba was “ordered” to submit to David. Being summoned by your king can be pretty intimidating!!

On the other end, we must also mention that Potiphar’s wife wrongfully accused Joseph of assault which got him in prison. And therein lies an issue that can complicate the entire discussion!

In today’s political climate, many women feel that legislators are still trying to control our bodies. Some states are trying to criminalize legitimate forms of birth control under the guise of the “pro-life” movement. While I hate the NEED for abortion, there are reasons for the medical procedure (think rape, incest especially). Many states don’t allow needed education for our teens to learn not just how to prevent pregnancy, but also how to behave with and toward the opposite sex. Our culture, in general is highly sexualized especially in advertising. Body shaming is out there and too many young women think if they’re not a size 2 that they aren’t going to be “wanted” unless they acquiesce to the unwanted attention of co-workers or fellow students. While it is cheered when young men “get there”, women are maligned for the same behavior. It’s all part of the bigger issue!

Getting down to brass tacks, the multitude of revelations of sexual abuse have brought the issue to the forefront. And yes there ARE degrees of this kind of abuse. It’s one thing to have one accuser and a disgusting act photographed, no matter the reason. BUT when there are more than one, A pattern is developed. Many of these men are the same that seem to want to rule over women and indeed common belief says that men who abuse are all about power and not sex at all. Yes, I know men can be vulnerable also, but in recent months it’s women who are coming forward, raising their voices to make us all aware that it is more common than just political candidates and movie stars. Just think – how many have suffered that don’t garner headlines? (Just search on “#MeToo on Twitter)

I am one of the #MeToo folks. I’ve been harassed, assaulted and worse! Strangers aren’t the only offenders. Our husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, fathers may also victimize. Our bosses, teachers, superiors and co-workers too! So, ladies, speak up, speak out, stand tall! Talk about it with someone!! Let’s stop it!

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

06 Nov

Counting the Cost of Freedom…

Living here in the United States is a blessing. Living in the freedom provided by God through Jesus Christ even more so!

I was in the process of researching for one of many other things on my mind this day when I learned of the latest mass MURDER in a small town near San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know about you but I’m somewhere between complete outrage and total numbness. Wasn’t it less than a month ago that 50+ people died when another human, for reasons not yet determined, took his private arsenal to a hotel room and killed people???

Earlier this week, right here in my neck of the woods, a self-described supporter of ISIS ( a supposedly ‘religion oriented” terror group), rented a truck and mowed down a crowd of people enjoying the afternoon on a bike path. The victims of today’s shooting spree were in CHURCH!

As I have written before, I’m not against owning guns. Our Bill of Rights says that is one of the many freedoms we have. per a few different interpretations. However others may disagree. That is neither here nor there in this discussion. I get that in many parts of the U.S. a gun may be necessary for protection. This is especially so in a small town like Sutherland Springs, TX. Rural areas, including much of the Midwest are also likely to need a form of protection as properties are often very far apart. Farms need to protect themselves and their livestock from wild critters whether they have four legs or two. (I just finished re-reading “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote where an entire family was murdered by two small time ex-cons in very rural Kansas)

All that being said, over the history of the country, our governing leaders have provided conditions to protect us from ourselves while still able to exercise the freedoms we have. Keeping in mind that our governing document, The Constitution, was written before television, the internet, social media etc. so forth and so on. As technology and innovation brought us the current marvels, so too did our elected government create legislation to regulate these things as well as commerce, the food we eat, and how we travel. These acts are/were created to keep us safe from dangerous things. We need a license to drive a car, just as a doctor needs one to practice medicine. There are laws about the criteria needed to sell beef, chicken, and other livestock. Regulations about what a business can and can’t do and yes, different states have different laws about the types of guns allowed and who and what it takes to get that freedom. Sadly, abuse of these laws as well as any kind of common sense safety-minded regulation has gone by the wayside.

Personally, I blame our Congress who has chosen to serve the gun lobby instead of the people they were elected to protect. The lobby-aka the NRA and gun manufacturers- make sure to contribute to politicians who are more concerned about keeping their jobs than actually doing what they were hired for. What’s really sad to me is so called “Christian leaders” support this dereliction of duty. These have chosen a Master other than Jesus to serve and THAT is sin in my book. It’s in THE BOOK as well. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ) He also warned us about those who profess to be believers and followers of Jesus in word but not in deed. In Matthew 7:15–23 Jesus warned us about false prophets ( think Falwell, Franklin Graham, Huckabee, etc) who are more interested in schmoozing with political leaders than they are in preaching God’s Word. In my view they are just as bad, if not worse than the hypocritical leaders in Jesus day. They, more than any other, were singled out by Jesus! No less than 18 verses (NIV ) in the Gospels he points to them as part of Israel’s biggest problem! (Chart Bible Search for hypocrite)

I’ll be honest… I’m not sure exactly what to do. Unlike the leaders of Jesus’ day, we choose our leaders by voting. This coming Tuesday many states are holding an election of some kind whether its for a federal position (Senate) or other legislative or executive office. Whether state, county or local-get out and vote for someone who is willing to be courageous enough, who has enough moral and personal integrity to say NO to all the lobbyists and to perhaps even take a chance on being replaced and turning their back on the mammon that it seems is inherent in government “service”. If you don’t have an election (and even if you do) call your Congress person and Senators in Washington and tell them you’re tired of the insanity which is senseless mass murder.

Again, I’m not calling for banning guns. But how about FEDERAL extensive background checks, fixing the loopholes in gun sales by private sellers and gun shows. RESPONSIBE and SENSIBLE universal federal regulations for EVERY gun owner. And maybe – even limiting the number and type of guns one person can own. These are just suggestions. Other countries do it and it seems to work. I don’t want my America to be known as “The MURDER CAPITOL of the world”.

As I leave you with these thoughts, here is a very old song that still has much meaning. I know, my age is showing 😉.Hope you’ll take the time to digest the thoughts in this post and the words and music here.

16 Oct

Technical Difficulties-Please Stand By

Ever have one of those times, whether its a day, a week, a year— A time when you’re on a roll, a gasket gets blown or a gear slips? In my case it was a computer issue where I couldn’t get from my desktop onto my website to upload anything. Then, of course, being the secret obsessive-compulsive gal that I am- I harassed my provider with screenshots and other uh, frustrations.

Finally, it got figured out and after all that aggravation and behavior unbecoming a disciple of Jesus… it was remedied. And the really sad part is that there was such a simple and easy workaround.

You see, one of my lesser pursuits is that I’m an “Insider” and often use pre-release software and one of these caused my favored browser to not want to talk to the control panel for Abiding Ways.

I know you’ve heard at least a few times that, yes, bad things DO happen to good people. Well, our TV also went out just yesterday , the pup needed a bath, and because of my frenetic obsession, housework went by the wayside. I guess you could say it’s been a rough couple of weeks around here.

However, there IS an upside…in fact a few that happened as a result of what, on the surface, are negatives.

As a result of the internet glitch, I re-discovered an old favorite browser! So, after the work of getting it set up, I am once again able to share my wisdom and joy which is all from our God!  With the TV out, I’ve started my 2018 planning, praying and “hope to do”‘s and it felt so good! More time for priorities, and also taking care of business, which for me is also satisfying and brings great joy! More time to pray, read, and yes-write and prayerfully teach, too (Romans will return starting this Thursday, Lord willing!).

Most of all, I’ve had more time to just contemplate and meditate on this season of life. I’ll be “medicare eligible” on my next birthday and sometimes it seems like I still have so much more I want to get to before it’s time to go home and stand before Jesus.

For me, more and more, the urgency of sharing with my few readers and trying to take the step by step path the Lord leads is readily apparent during times such as this. Earlier this week I was reading one of my email devotionals and came away realizing that all I can do is what I can do with what I’ve got. Rather humbling for sure! I freely confess to hopes of a huge blog following and recognition. Then it came to me that I’m right where God wants me. And it’s not for me to question the “why” of it. Every once in awhile I get that delicious “AHA!” moment when something Jesus said to the apostles comes back to me for personal application.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 )

… and like it Luke 9:46-48 talks about an argument among the disciples as to who would be the greatest! After he had demonstrated the “least among us” Jesus said “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest!” So, personal application for me is this: do what I can with what I got, when I can and to God’s glory without regard for stats…(I AM consciously working on more consistency in posting, tho!)  who knows, I may be sharing for just that one little child!

I will be posting the next segment on the journey of Paul’s letter to the Romans on Thursday. Hope you’ll come and check it out.