Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Husband's Message

This morning after I read the news my hubby and I were talking about how it seems like in recent days there is more and more porn garbage and illicit sex scandals connected to so many crime or controversial stories in the news. Now, I don't honestly know if there really are more cases where this kind of element is present, or if it's just being reported more. In our world of global hyper-connectivity we know a lot more than we ever did before and news stories come at us from literally every corner of the world. So maybe it's not as much on the increase as it may appear, and maybe it's just a matter of hearing or reading about it more. Either way, its quite disheartening and makes me wonder if the whole world isn't quite delighted to wallow in the sewer.

The other thing I've noticed recently along the same track, is the social circles or networks of people online. What I mean by that is noting the activity of people you follow (or who follow you) on twitter and/or seeing what your FB friends are liking or commenting on, in the friend activity feed on FB. Now, I use tweetdeck to read my twitter feeds but if you go to twitter's web site and login from there, you have the option to peek into your friend's recent activity. For example, I can see that two of my twitter friends retweeted Phil Johnson and another friend recently began following Tim Challies. Likewise on FB if you have your friend's activity feed updating you can see pictures they've liked, updates they've commented on, etc. Normally I don't even bother with looking at any of that but something recently caught my attention that made me pay closer attention to it. What that something was, was seeing men (men who I know are married) either following on twitter or "liking" on FB either pictures of nearly nude women or accounts of women where pornography is their only purpose for being there.

The first few times I noticed it, it bothered me but I just sort of wrote it off as sinful things some men do and honestly just wanted to ignore it. But the more I noticed it happening the more I thought of the wives of these men. The more I see it the more angry it makes me, to be perfectly honest but there's not a lot I can do about it except unfriend or unfollow (which I have done) and then write this blog post.

I do want to say that the vast majority of men I follow or have as friends on FB never, ever, ever engage in this kind of activity online.  It never shows up in their public activity and I can only hope it doesn't take place privately either.  As I thought about this and the implications of it, I thought about the kind of message (without actually saying it) these men (both the ones who do this, and the ones who do not) are sending to their wives.

The ones who do not do this send this type of message:

"My beloved wife, I love you dearly and desire to honor and cherish you and have eyes only for you.  I am actively and cautiously protecting myself and you, and our marriage and family with guarded online activity. The integrity of our relationship matters more to me than anything else, and protecting your reputation by myself avoiding this kind of wickedness that is so pervasive in our culture today, is critical to me."

Now, most men don't actually go around saying that (although I'm sure some men do), but this is the unspoken message they send to their wives when they keep honor and integrity and purity of the marriage at the forefront. The wives of men like this know how much their marriage matters to their husbands because their husbands are honorable men who make good choices. They have good marriages, they have stability and trust and they're the kind of couples we all admire.

By stark and sad contrast this is the message sent by the men who do follow, friend and "like" the kind of wickeness I've described above:

Dear wife, I cannot be trusted.  Our marriage doesn't matter to me as much as my personal lust matters to me.  I don't care if it hurts your feelings that I don't only have eyes for you, and I don't care if people feel sorry for you because I cannot control myself when I see a picture of a mostly-nude woman. I know your friends and mine can see what I'm doing and I don't care.  It doesn't matter if you don't trust me because I come first.  I don't even think about what the kids might think or feel when they find out what kind of a man I am, all I care about is filling my mind with sexual images of other women.

I can't even imagine the kind of callous, evil man that would come right out and say that to his wife, but in essence that is exactly the message he sends her when he engages in this kind of activity. The wives of men like this have horrible marriages, doubts, fears, humiliation, anxiety, self-image issues, live their lives without trust, without stability, embarassment and shame that their husbands behave this way.  They may put on a good front and act like it doesn't bother them or that it's not a big deal, but it's a betrayal of the heart and unless you're hard as stone, betrayal deeply hurts just about everyone affected by it.

We live in a culture absolutely obsessed with sex.  The headlines are saturated with it, online and print ads constantly feature half-dressed or seductively posed women, links to trashy sites are everywhere you go, and everyone seems to be talking about it from first graders to pastors, school teachers to therapists.  If there was one thing I would like to be able to say to husbands about this, this would be it:

Cherish your wife, honor your vows and pro-actively protect yourself, her and your family from this putrid filth. Men, you have the ability within you to either emotionally destroy your wife and your family, or to honor them and make them love and admire you even more.  Ask yourself what kind of legacy you're leaving behind, right now, today. Will it be one of honor and integrity, or will it be one of shame, humiliation and embarassment?  It's entirely your call.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Great Big Thank You Post

As most who know me already know, we just returned home from a fantastic two week vacation in Florida.  The weird thing is, just typing that seems as surreal as the vacation itself was, but in a really awesome sort of surreal way.  Pretty much the whole way down there, the whole time there and the whole way back Kev and I were in "pinch me I'm dreaming" mode.  I have a lot of people to thank for this trip so here's my list:

First, I need to thank God.  Due completely to His blessings we were able to make this trip in the first place.  Not only did He provide the means, He gave us safe and enjoyable tavels, fabulous weather and experiences that we'll all cherish for a lifetime.

Next, are all my customers from Reflections at zazzle. Over the last couple of years (as blogging decreased and working hard on my shops increased) I've managed to create some really popular designs & products and my shops are a success.  I'm often in "pinch me" mode when it comes to this but I want to thank my customers who love my shops and have enabled us as a family to have this second income and do things like this.

I'd like to thank Steve and Cindy Camp (and their great kids Joe, Marshall, Caroline (and E, so great to meet you too!) and Jordan) who were not only wonderful hosts but made us feel at home, made us laugh, and made us wish we could stay forever. Hanging out at the Camp house, going to the beach, out to dinner, watching and listening to Cindy play her violin (and Steve and the kid's emergency side trip to the ice cream shop) was just so much fun!  I'd also like to thank Steve for his spot on sermon on Sunday while we visited The Cross Church, and the family at the church (Les, Samantha, Miss Joyce and Jerry, just to name a few - I'd name more but so many came up and introduced themselves I have forgotten all the names!) for making us feel so welcome.  If you're ever in Palm City Florida, please do go visit this church, you will be so blessed. Even if Steve is that guy who wears socks with his sandals. :o) (it's true, and I have pics to prove it).
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EDITED 08/24/12: Today, nearly 3 months later someone named "Anonymous" left this comment: 

"So, did you meet Casey Anthony while you were there? Is that who E is? Enquiring minds want to know..."

My reply:  No, I did not meet Casey while I was there but if I had, I wouldn't have blogged about it anyway, as I realize there are all kinds of gossip-mongers out there who apparently have nothing better to do than to sit in seriously uninformed judgement over a case they genuinely know VERY little about, contrary to what they think they know, via the moronic mainstream media).  For the record, "E" is a brilliantly talented young male, musical artist who was a joy to meet & converse with.  
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I'd like to thank all our friends and family who commented, liked and enjoyed the pics we posted along the way on FB.  It was a lot of fun to share those with all of you and your well wishes and excitement for us made it even more fun!

I want to thank our grand daughter Hailey for coming out to take care of our cats while we were gone.  Oh, and I want to thank her parents Jessica and Joost for driving her out to do that. :o)

I have to thank Len (my father-in-law) and Sue (his partner) for being fantastic hosts as always, taking us to the beach, the slough, and out to dinner at Parrot Key.  If you're ever in Fort Myers Beach, do not miss this place!  Fabulous food, incredible atmosphere and excellent service.

I need to thank my sister-in-law Kim for taking care of our insane beagle Tulip while we were away.  She's a tad neurotic (the dog, not Kim) but she did well under Kim's care, even if she did hate the city life and that whole harness/leash thing.  Kev and the kids skyped with her while we were in Ft. Myers and everyone enjoyed that.

There are so many more people I thought of to thank while we were driving home but now it all seems like a huge happy blur.  It was quite possibly the most busy, fun, whopping vacation I've ever had.  If I never get to do anything like that again, the memories will last a lifetime, for certain.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Savage Bigotry - Brutal Hypocrisy

The other morning I was sitting in a local McD's eating a sausage/egg biscuit while waiting for the van to be serviced before we leave for vacation.  Sitting behind me was a group of elderly men, ranging in ages from mid 70s to mid 80s. Since they were right behind me it was nearly impossible not to hear their conversation but I was ignoring them for the most part while I ate, sipped my coffee and read my email.  They were talking about something in the news (I missed that part, because I was ignoring them) and one of the older men at the table suddenly blurted out the F-bomb in a statement against the person the news report was about.

Now, we live in a day and age where anyone and everyone is using the F word, it seems.  From 6 yr old first graders on the playground, to female newscasters being caught on live tv (when they didn't realize the live camera was still on) to old men in McDonald's.  I suppose I should be used to hearing it but for reasons I can't really explain it just stopped me cold to hear this old man use this word.  Literally, I stopped mid-bite of my sandwich because I couldn't believe what I had just heard.  My immediate thought was reflecting on how in my own lifetime (and I'm only 47) gentlemen in our society used to have class, and would never use language like that in front of women and children.  Apparently, class has gone out the window and it's okay for anyone to use  filthy language in front of anyone else, anymore.  When I told Kevin about it later I told him I wanted to say something to that man.  I really wanted to stand up, turn around and say something along the lines of "excuse me sir, I find your use of such language offensive, disgusting, and it just killed my appetite, you should be ashamed of yourself".  Yes, that's what I really wanted to say. But I didn't.  I didn't say a word and I've been kicking myself ever since then.  I'm not even sure why it is exactly that I didn't say anything.  Maybe it's because I hate being the center of attention (and that certainly would have done it).  Maybe it's because I was afraid he'd cuss me out, or him and his breakfast pals would all laugh at me.  I don't like confrontation so instead of standing up and speaking out, I said nothing.  That was wrong of me to take that course of action.

I told that little story because it applies directly to what I really wanted to write about today, and that is bigotry and hypocrisy. As I'm sure you've already heard or read in your news feeds, a man by the name of Dan Savage (columnist and gay rights advocate) was recently invited to speak at a National High School Journalist Convention in Seattle, sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. In the course of that speech, Savage not only trashed the Bible (using vulgar language) and what it has to say about homosexuality but he mocked the Christian kids at the conference who stood up and walked out, as he began his few minutes of trashing the Bible and what Christianity teaches about sexuality.

Now let me make something perfectly clear here.  Dan Savage is more than within his rights to express his opinion that the Bible is wrong.  He's also within his rights to live his personal life in whatever way he chooses.  I think we'll all agree on that.  But here's where the wheels fall of the bus completely: Dan Savage engaged in the exact same type of bigotry that Christian "homophobes" are accused of all the time. What's more is, he also displayed a surreal level of pure hypocrisy with his conduct at this conference.

Think about it for just a moment as I turn the table and give you the reverse scenario.  Imagine if the speaker was a Christian.  Now imagine there were gay kids in the conference audience and the speaker singled them out and expressed his opinion that the one piece of literature they respect and admire and pattern their lives after was full of "bull****" and was wrong on that one aspect of teaching.  Then as the gay kids got up and walked out (rightfully so, I might add), imagine the Christian speaker laughing about it and then saying "oh, you can tell the gay kids in the hall to come back now, I'm done trashing their book" and then calling them pansy-asses.

We all know the mainstream media would have crucified this speaker and in very short order he'd be out of a career.  No one would have anything to do with such a loose canon.  We also all know that the gay community would be outraged, and RIGHTFULLY so.  To single out any ONE people group and mock them and antagonize them for what they believe is just wrong, no matter who YOU are or who THEY are.

To make it even more ironic and unbelievable that this ever even happened at all, is the fact that Dan Savage is the creator of the It Gets Better project - a campaign designed to give hope and encouragement to homosexual teens who face harassment and bullying.  Could there have been a more glaring example of exactly what bullying and harassment is?  Maybe if he said "don't insult people you filthy little worm" or if he said "never shove someone down" as he proceeded to shove them down.  Which technically, that's exactly what he did.

If you look up the textbook definition of bigot, you will see that it says it's a person who is zealous about their own beliefs to the point of intolerance and no respect for the opinions of others, if they disagree.  If you look up the word bully you'll see that it describes a person who uses various intimidation  tactics (from physical to verbal and anything else they can employ).  That intimidation can come in the form of verbal insults, mockery and public shaming in an effort to get the person to do/say/believe what you want them to do/say or believe.  If you also look up the word hypocrite you'll see that it means a person who does the very opposite of what they teach, preach or claim to believe.  Sadly for the teenagers present at the journalism conference, Dan Savage showed them all exactly what a bigot, a bully and a hyprocrit really looks like.

Here's the kicker though - he essentially got away with it.  Oh sure he issued an apology later, sort of.  You can read what he had to say here on that.  And some within the gay community DID in fact speak out and sort of rebuke Savage for his conduct (and good for them, I think most of us are well aware that this kind of vulgar, insulting attitude doesn't accurately represent the majority within the gay community), and the media did pick up on it because it is pretty in-your-face what he did, but you can be sure this dark little cloud will pass quickly and Savage will still be booked for speaking engagements all over the country.

In this day, in our culture there is a very clear, very MIXED message about bullying and bigotry.  On the one hand our young people are told to stand up against bullying and show tolerance and acceptance and respect for people no matter who they are or how they live.  This is a GREAT message and even more awesome, it encapsulates exactly the same thing the Bible teaches when it says "love thy neighbor".

On the other hand though, it seems like the sentiment to resist bullying and fight back against bigotry only applies to certain people in society.  Rather, it seems like it's bad to be a bully or a bigot unless you're dealing with Christians, then it's perfectly okay to mock, insult, intimidate, harass, deride, and show absolutely ZERO tolerance or respect for the Christian's views.  Further, by calling the Christian the bigot and the bully, you're excused for your own hypocritical, bigoted, bullying tactics.

I know I'm not the only one who sees this in our culture.  In fact, I've had this conversation numerous times with others who see it too, and cannot for the life of them figure out how we got here.  Maybe we got here because people like me who heard offensive things in McDonald's didn't stand up and say something.  Maybe we got here because too many of us DON'T say anything for so long, that by the time we do feel compelled to say something, it's too late and the twisted thinking has already taken a strong foothold in our culture.

However we got here, I stand and applaud the Christian kids who stood and walked out of Savage's speech.  I don't care WHO you are, you should never be subjected to insults or mockery for what you believe or who you are. Gay, Christian, Muslim, handicapped, over-weight, black, white, male, female... it doesn't matter, all people are made in the image of God and deserve at the very least civility and respect.  And those who do engage in such conduct of bullying and hypocrisy, should certainly never be in a position to influence young thinkers and set such a putrid example.

In conclusion, I'd like to make a confession. My confession is this: I'm not even close to perfect and sometimes I'm a real rotten example of the very things I say I believe and say that we should all do.  That doesn't mean I'm a hypocrite, it just means I'm weak and faulty and full of flaws.  I strive to be the kind of person the Bible calls me to be, and will continue to do so until the day I die.  I've done hypocritical things and I've said hypocritical things and I've been called on it, more than a few times.  I will admit that it's embarrassing and it's humiliating and I needed to be called on it because without that, there would never be repentance or a desire to try harder to live a good and godly life.