Fatherless boys and respect – what is the real issue?

Found on the Internet: “We need more boys to grow up with fathers – then they are much more likely to know how to treat a woman with respect.”

What is cause, and what is effect here?

Is it:

Men are respectful towards partners, and if women just stay with them, boys see respect and behave better?

OR

Women generally stay with respectful men and leave disrespectful ones, so the boys who from 2-parent homes are more likely to see respect modelled by respecful fathers?

I think the latter.

 

Good News Clubs and their critics: Introduction

If you ask me who, in my adult life, was my biggest role model, I will struggle to boil it down to one person. But I can boil it down to two in a heartbeat: Tania and Werner Schultz.

You won’t know them, but I will always remember this couple fondly. They showed me how to have a purpose, a mission. I discovered, with their help, that I have a gift for teaching and caring about children.

Tania and Werner were missionaries in inner city Pretoria (a South African city, in case my reader do not know). They organized Bible Clubs, based on CEF Good News Clubs. They motivated one of my team mates (he stayed there while I moved on) to start a hobby project to introduce boys in the bad neighbourhood to positive male role models, and to teach them to find their identity in building, not breaking. They started preschools and after-school day care centres. (Schools in South Africa have classes only until about 12h00 or 14h00, depending on the age group; while a working parent tend to work to about 17h00 or even later.) The goal was to give high quality care options to parents who are mostly rather poor. They even raised money to help poor parents afford day care for their children. They spent so much time listening to children and caring about them that on several occasions, the people from PEN (Pretoria Evangelisation and Nurture) was able to intervene in situations of child molestation, and even raise money to get psychological help for molested children.

Tania also taught the CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) TCE (Teaching Children Effectively) course. Their ministry had  a lot of CEF material for use at the weekly Bible Clubs.

I hear CEF is criticized wildly these days for allegedly not having the welfare of children at heart, for allegedly teaching “a dark message of shame and fear indoctrination“, for being full of “authoritarian themes“, for telling children they “deserve to … go to hell“, for the absence of  “salutary themes such as the Golden Rule“, for promoting “a negative self image“, etc. (The quoted words in this paragraph comes verbatim from the writings of such critics.)

If you take the word of the critics …ahem …uncritically, you will believe Good News Clubs are downright evil and bad for the welfare of children. But nobody I met ever cared more about the welfare of children than Tania and Werner Schultz, and they were trained at CEF and used Good News Club material among others.

However, when I read the Good News Club critics, I could not judge their words on the merits of Mrs. and Mr. Schultz. The complaints had to be taken on its own merit. As someone who used CEF material since 1994 and taught Good News Clubs for about 5 years in the first decade of this century, I have the knowledge to investigate the truth of the claims. I even still have some CEF lesson material.

The rest of this series of posts are based on what I concluded from looking at both the critics of Good News Clubs on one side, and my actual experiences and the lesson material on the other side. Stay tuned for an approach that looked at both sides, and finds something to defend in both CEF and their detractors. Expect my first post no earlier than Saturday.

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Next part:
>> Good news Clubs and their critics: Part 1

I wish Christians would stop calling homosexUALITY a sin

Kelvin is a respectable church-going single man. Kelvin appreciates church involvement more than most, because he would be even more lonely without it.
But Kelvin has a secret: He is attracted to men. No, Kelvin is not sexually active. But he knows that, were the church to know his attraction is to men, they would reject him. God, Kelvin knows, does not reject him. God loves him with his struggles and all, the same way God would love a straight man or woman, or a lesbian, with all of their struggles.
Kelvin believe God calls him to be involved at church, but the church is a lonely place. Kelvin would never be accepted there if they knew about his sexual attraction to men. The others members of his church continually talk how sinful homosexuality is, and how God hates it.
Somewhat ironically, there is an understanding community where Kelvin’s loneliness will be silenced, somewhat: A gay teen usually grows up with many peers not wanting to play with him, and often with his dad rejecting him. In the gay community peers will play with him and older men will give him attention…

Julie is a 14-year-old girl in Sunday School and realizes that she likes girls, not boys. She is ashamed of that – her church calls it sinful. It is hard enough to be a teenager already, without hearing she is (without ever having acted on her desires) more shameful than her peers.

The gathering of believers is supposed to be a family for the lonely, but Kelvin’s church, and Julie’s church, are not. Too many churches does not have room for the Kelvins and the Julies to be honest, to admit their circumstances and feelings. If they knew the truth about Kevin, he would be stripped of the church tasks he currently does well. If they knew the truth about Julie, she would be ostracised at an age where finding a way to fit in is the big identity struggle. Is this the reflection of a Christ who would not break a bruised reed, who gives life and hope, who calls us to give honour to all members?

The church’s actions needs to change, but so does it words. For a start, I suggest to never use the words “homosexuality is a sin”. What you are probably trying to say is that homosexual intercourse is a sin, so say that instead.
Why? What is the difference? The difference is that “homosexuality” is a part of a life outlook which most likely also have non-sexual components, like an interest and aptitude for things the culture associate with the opposite sex. But God-given gifts – even if we associate it with the other sex – is irrevocable. (Rom. 11:29)
Calling a certain act (homosexual intercourse) wrong is one thing. Calling someone’s way of being human, with its combination of good and bad qualities, sin in its entirety, is very different.
Even better than replacing “homosexuality is sin” with “gay intercourse is sin”, do not say it at all. The gay community already know what you think of their actions. “Love the sinner, hate the sin“, you say? Fine. Let us learn to love the sinner.
Maybe you know want to say now: “It is loving to point out that what someone does is wrong…” Depends. If he don’t know what he does is wrong, and you can get him to stop, it may be. But there is a gazillion other things that are also loving, like – for a start – having a friendly conversation with him, the same way you would with anyone else. Or inviting him to your home for dinner – not to lecture him, but the same way you invite any other friend. The other people you invite for dinner certainly have their own sinful desires too, and God does not see the sinful desires of the gay man or lesbian as any worse.
And when you hear anyone else say “homosexuality is a sin”, be quick to tell him that he should stop trash talking a gay person’s personhood, character and (even non-sexual) desires. Insist that the trash talker should at least limit his judgement to the sexual acts he regards (by his Bible understanding) as sinful. Straight people also have sinful sexual desires (and many of us act on it), but we never say “heterosexuality is a sin” when we hear of sinful heterosexual desires. We do not make people unwelcome in a faith community when we hear they are heterosexual, when we suspect they may have a propensity for illicit acts with the opposite sex.

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Note:
Please do not, from this article, try to deduct my opinion of gay intercourse. This piece is aimed at those making church a place where homosexuality cannot be admitted, not an opinion in the debate on whether the texts used to denounce gay acts apply to the gay community as it exists today.

Marriage, health and wealth – which is cause, which is effect?

Does anyone have data to say if this argument is the right way round?:

“Marriage is the greatest ‘program’ to end poverty, child abuse, child sexual abuse, school dropout, college failure, health problems, drug problems, depression, out-of-wedlock births to teenagers, reduce abortions, increase homeownership and savings…” – Ken Blackwell and Pat Fagan

They say that if people marry, they are less likely to encounters all these negative things. But is there anything to prove either that, or the opposite idea. The opposite will be:

“Child abusers, the kind of people who are school or college dropouts and/or won’t encourage their (future) children to stay in school, who are ill or prone to drug problems and depression, who have nothing to save, who will waste the money of a partner rather than manage it wisely, are less likely to find marriage partners, or stay married.”

In the first idea, marriage is the cause and safety, health and wealth the effect. The married could say singles have only themselves to blame for their bad luck – they could marry and have all the same good things married people do.

In the second one, safety, (physical and mental) health and wealth causes good marriage prospects. In the first picture, the woman in the poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood could simply marry instead of having her kids out of wedlock, and everything will be better. In the second, she may be worse of with her baby’s daddy, and it could be sensible to not marry him.

 

BDSM is not “safe:” The BDSM community in their own words

 

Kinksters who are honest admit that the BDSM scene has predators. Kitty Stryker say:

Basically, we [Kitty and Maggie Mayhem] realized that we have had very similar negative experiences in the BDSM scene. When we started talking about these abusive situations more, we realized this was more of a widespread problem. It wasn’t just us… abuse is generally never seriously confronted. For example, consent — especially in regards to kinky sex — is joked about and made a punch line. These jokes about safe-wording have a darker undercurrent since essentially we are laughing about the lack of consent. We like to talk about why this is problematic. And one of the main issues we’ve noticed is that many people don’t feel comfortable going to their community leader or dungeon monitors about their sexual assaults.

There’s this “victim blaming attitude” people like to take. Many people responded saying that maybe if I safe-worded, I wouldn’t have been abused. But there’s not always a definite time to safe-word sometimes, because such unexpected and out of the ordinary situations come up. And who really is going to safe-word in a culture where the person who safe-words is called a wimp? … And there’s this attitude that if you are a submissive who safe-words, you’re a difficult submissive.

…neglecting the possibility of rape and abuse is symptomatic of our unwillingness to talk about consent and the reality that it’s not always there.

Many of her commenters agree:

…abuse within BDSM is a problem …Sadly, if a Top or Dominant is popular, has money, throws a good party/event, etc., that Top/Dominant will be given a pass. Too many people are willing to offer the most ridiculous justifications as to why these individuals should not be banished from our community. – Guest

Continue reading

Why I don’t try to be good without Jesus

In a recent internet discussion, someone was blasting “Christianity” and wishing for Christians to deconvert. She mentioned, in her rant, a lot of ugly things “Christianity” does in her view. I answered that I dislike those things too. But Christianity is Christ-ianity, being like Christ and following him. The things she mention is not Christ-ian, as Jesus will never recommend them. (It is, methinks, shocking how un-Christian some church people are.)

She then answered, among other things, that she agrees with me about Jesus. But I could be Christ-like enough by just following the golden rule. If I don’t proclaim the sexist and otherwise ugly things some Christians are (in her opinion) known for, I could as well drop the label Christian and just be good, like Jesus was good.

Here was my answer: Continue reading

Why would anyone want to be a BDSM bottom partner? Reflections from someone who struggles with BDSM fantasies

This is the words from someone who calls herself Ro. B. Warning: Please be aware that talk of rape, bondage, etc. may be triggering for some survivors of sexual abuse. Instead of placing a piece this long in a quote block, I will make the quoted passage blue. Note how – and women who speak like this are the only ones who explain their interest in being a BDSM bottom to me in a rationally understandable way – her self image problems is the main reason why this feels right to her:

This is something, rather long, that I wrote for a website a while back that never got published. I thought it wasn’t doing any good sitting on my computer where only I can read it, so I wanted to share it with you sisters. This is a personal story, but I wanted to use the use the plural pronoun because I’ve felt alone in this for too long, but I see now that feeling is a lie. Thank you for sharing your heart with me, now I would like to share with you]

We are out there. We exist. We probably don’t know each other because we tend to keep our sin a secret, but we are out there. Some of us come from traumatic pasts, but not all of us. Some of us can’t trace our shameful desires back to a specific starting point, and that troubles us. A few of us feel like sullied outcasts, even among communities of other women, but here is a chance to be open.

We’ve read before that sex is supposed to be the closest thing to a perfect reflection of the intimacy God wants to have with us. It is meant to be a glimpse of His communion with us. It is a gift where two people can become as close as any two people can ever be, and yet God still wants to come closer.

We get that. But it’s scary, you know? It would make us vulnerable. And we know without a doubt that we are so unworthy of an intimacy like that.

And so we slink away, looking for gratification elsewhere. A gratification with very little intimacy, or even a perverted intimacy, because we know that we could never measure up to that perfect communion.

We already know that we are unworthy, and the enemy and the world and our minds like to remind us daily of our faults and our mistakes and our less-than statuses.

And so we look for a way to feel okay about being unworthy. We are upset and hurt and deeply aware of our own imperfections, and so we look for ways to turn those feelings into something pleasurable.

We can go on feeling unworthy because now we can get gratification from being told we are unworthy. We can imagine scenarios in which we are treated just as we think we deserve, and we force ourselves to find pleasure and release in those fantasies.

It’s not a satisfying pleasure, or a lasting release. In fact, it brings shame and guilt and fear afterwards, and so the cycle continues. And in the back of our minds we know, we really do, that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. But in the moment, oh in the moment we give in, because those feelings seem so real and the perfect communion that comes from the promise of grace seems so far out of our reach.

We look for pleasure in being treated like a slave because we forget that we have been set free. Oh, we were slaves once, but we don’t have to be anymore. We were prisoners once, but our chains have been broken. Why do we insist on returning to the very bondage from which we have been saved?

Because it’s so easy to be pulled away from the Truth that we are worthy, that we have been made pure, that we are cherished, the beloved children of God.

And sometimes, we’ve let our flesh form a habit so strong that it can be hard to break. Sometimes, even after a day full of truth and freedom, one small trigger can send us spiralling back toward slavery.

But we still love Jesus, and He has still redeemed us. The struggle seems never-ending, but His mercies are still new every morning, and He still calls us Beloved, even when every inch of our flesh fights against that grace. He is still patient, and He gently leads us to walk in His freedom… so it’s time to start walking together.

Goodness towards a woman like this is to support her struggle for freedom. It is downright cruel to encourage her participation in the slavery-type activities that feels right to her bad self image.

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Note about commenting: I close down comments here right from the start, as the writer of this did not give permission to publish comments on her reflection.