Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let's Talk About Why It's So Creepy to Talk About Sex

On Monday, during my routine stops between FB and twitter, I spotted a link to a post by Matt Walsh entitled "Married men: your porn habit is an adultery habit".  I knew as soon as I read the title, exactly what it was going to say.  What I didn't know what how well it was going to be said.  If you have not had the opportunity yet, I would strongly encourage you to read it.  From where I sit, Matt nails it straight to the wall.

However, this is really more about it being the post I did NOT want to write.  For many reasons.  First, it requires a LOT of thorough research and proper link-backs to write a blog post worth reading.  I used to do that every single day and to be honest with you, my life is a lot easier not doing that anymore. I design all day long and it's a peaceful, solitary, rewarding thing.  Blogging takes a lot more time and mental dedication.   Second, it's a subject that makes me want just go all old-school and slap the living snot out everyone guilty and/or by association, condoning and supporting of the sexual exploitation of women (and children).  Now, that's not very nice or Christ-like, is it precious?  No, it's not but it's the button this subject pushes.  Third, it's a subject (you know, the S word?) that I don't want to talk about because a.) I'm old and stuck in my ways, b.) I'm a female Christian blogger and we don't talk about that stuff (right?) and c.) sex is dirty and makes you go blind.  Anyway, that's what someone's grandma once told them and since grandma's know everything, it must be true.

As today progressed though, I couldn't stop thinking about a couple of different things associated with Walsh's post.  I'm going to ignore the secondary thing for now, but I want to focus on the first thing that stood out for me.

First though, before I begin on this point I want to make it perfectly clear that the very issue of pornography is so unbelievably prevalent in modern society that it seems like you cannot avoid it no matter how careful and guarded you are. IT. IS. EVERYWHERE.  From news, to music vids, tv, movies, gaming, social media, etc.  It's literally, everywhere.  If you're among the blessed who haven't seen it, heard about it, read about it or who's kids are asking about it, you're wrapped in a glorious bubble that might be sparing you from the filth but is also essentially sticking your head in the sand.  Dangerous ground friends, especially if you have kids growing up in our digital world where this trash is around every stinking corner.  I find it disturbingly alarming how frequent my husband and I have conversations these days about the seeming increase in porn, child rape (I don't call it child porn because that's not what it is, as "porn" is legal between consenting adults and child rape is, well, child rape by evil, wicked people, period), overt sexual exploitation of younger and younger boys and girls and how the they're are connected, and the direction our culture is headed.  It's horrifying, and maddening, and enraging but it's where we are in society.  I'm not even entirely sure how we got here (I do have a theory but that's a different subject all together) but we are here and now as parents and Christians and responsible, law abiding citizens of this rock we call Earth, we have to do whatever we can to protect, speak out, stand up, and TAKE a stand for what's good and right and all that awesome stuff.  All that being said, I make no claims about being any kind of professional, scholar or anything else along those lines.  I'm just a mom, that pays attention to what's going on, and these are my observations from where I sit.

Okay then, the #1 thing that stood out to me from Walsh's article: How to Deal With It.  I must warn you, I'm a Christian so this comes from a Christian, Biblical worldview. It is also my opinion only, and I realize I could be way off the mark but I don't think I am.  Your mileage may vary, as your convictions, traditions and education may vary wildly from my own.

In his article, Walsh linked to this study on the Psychology Today website written by Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D. entitled "Is Porn Really Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?" After a brief skim of his bio, I already like this guy.  Why?  Because perspective is everything (while still subjective of course, but it most definitely gives you a broader view) and because he and his wife have seven daughters and one son.  My own husband Kevin and I, have six daughters and one son.  When you're giving 150% raising responsible, respectable, compassionate human beings, it matters what you see, what you see happening around you and how you prepare them to enter into adulthood equipped to be awesome and wonderful.  Of course all parents make mistakes and have blind spots but you goal is still the same.  In any event, this man writes in his article something that my own hubby and I have talked about.  

In his article linked he says "The problem is individuals, couples, and our society does not know how to deal with porn yet. It has entered our lives and our homes like a tsunami and we are ill-prepared to talk about it in a meaningful way."

The statement that we are ill-prepared to talk about it is what really stood out to me and begs the question WHY?  I believe I have the answer to that, but those who reject the words of God in Scripture will totally blow this out of the water no matter how much sense it makes, and trust me, IT'S THE ONLY THING that does make sense. To me, anyway.

It absolutely goes against our God-created nature to talk about it with or in front of anyone, that is not the person we share that ONE act of intimacy with.  It isn't because someone's freaky, misguided grandma made up some story about going blind, or because we're ashamed of  how much we like physical intimacy or anything else like that.  It is simply because sex was designed by God to be the ultimate, intimate, uber-personal, special, protected,  private expression of love and commitment and one-ness between a husband and a wife.  It was designed, by God, to be private and shared between husband and wife, alone.  Those couples who have this kind of God-designed marital relationship know exactly what I'm talking about.  They know that they can talk about things between the two of them, and feel completely uninhibited.  They can tell each other what they like, what they don't like, their fears, their hopes, and more. These are people who, engaged in the most intimate form of expression of love toward their spouse, are not afraid to be themselves, no matter what kind of weird sounds that might include, or giggling, or anything else associated with what the physical act of intimacy inspires.  During this time of supreme intimacy, they expose their true selves to their spouse and that's the most brutally honest expression of personal trust and vulnerability rolled into one.  In short, it's sort of a magical, fantastic thing that no one else on the planet has except these two people, together. And no one else should ever know about, because it's the magic glue that holds these two people together.

Even kids, no matter what age they are when we attempt to have "the talk" with them feel uncomfortable and awkward about it.  Why is that?  Why are these very small or young people who have essentially zero life/societal influence feeling creepy when mom or dad has "the talk" with them about the birds and the bees?  Isn't it obvious?  It's an ultimately personal thing that feels so, so, so awkward being discussed with anyone what isn't actually the person you're being intimate with.  Of course as kids, they don't realize this yet, they just know, inwardly, somewhere deep down inside, it's not a subject they're comfortable with because it's so innately private and personal.  It was exactly designed this way, by God.  You don't even have to know that, or believe it, but it's the truth and almost all people are to some degree become uncomfortable by public discussion (or display) of such personal things.  Even the non-believers in this world will jokingly make the "get a room" comment when they see a couple displaying affection in a public place.  Why do they say that? Simple, because sex is supposed to be private.

We (society) can ignore this all we want, but the fact of the matter is, sex was never intended to be discussed at length (in news articles, blogs, church groups, etc.) or put on public display by moronic pop stars or the porn industry.  Sinful culture has corrupted it, made it public consumption and no matter if you reject it's original purpose, reject God and reject propriety, there is still something deep inside of most people (who have not seared their own hearts) that tells them it's a hush-hush thing.  That "thing" is the truth about what sexual intimacy was designed for.  Sadly and ironically, now we (as a culture) have to discuss it and do so in a meaningful way, because so many have taken what God intended for good, and turned it into a cheap, disposable, unimportant commodity to be traded on the open market.  Somehow, God willing, we have to elevate it once again to that beautiful, wonderful, magical, silly, hilarious, private, intimate expression of oneness between husband and wife that no one else on the planet gets to know about but is that sacred thing we only reveal our true selves to, with the one person we've vowed to remain with until death do us part.

Frankly, I do not believe things will get better, but instead they will get worse.  I do believe some God fearing couples and parents will take a strong, pro-active stand for themselves and their kids (and thankfully, produce awesome young adults who in turn, take a strong stand against sexual deviancy), but the more our culture slips gleefully into depravity and away from God, the more depraved things we'll all see. It's already quite evident in 2013, if you just read the news from around the world.

Bottom line is simply this: you cannot change the wicked, evil world.  You can however change you, influence those under your care and stand for what is good, pure, lovely and right.  You can do that, and if you do, you'll inspire others to do the same.  You'll also be a lifeline for those who are struggling with this wickedness and you may even be operative in changing or saving someone's life for the glory of God.

Individual people can make a difference, and they're doing it all the time.  Don't let the headlines fool you into thinking otherwise.  

(I'll be honest in closing and admit that I am reluctant to post this because I know there are all kinds of people with all kinds of different opinions that will vehemently disagree with me, and possibly be very nasty about it. It's happened before, and I don't look forward to it in the least.  I will go ahead and post it though, because I want to encourage other moms and dads and younger folks that might be reading. This subject is not going to go away, so we have to equip ourselves on how to best deal with it.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gary Ridgeway - The Green River Killer: Because I Was There

Yesterday I read a post on FB that said this: "Ten years ago today, Green River Killer Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 murders. We found our coverage from that day, and from a 1984 story on the killing spree. What message would you send to Gary Ridgway?" - KIRO 7 Eyewitness News

As I read that, I was first transported back to when the story broke, far and removed from the Pacific Northwest (Bremerton, specifically) where I grew up (now living in Ontario Canada), and then secondly transported back to the time in my mid teens when I lived there, played there, partied there and had friends there.

Over the years I've come to realize that not everyone knows who Gary Ridgway is.  Not everyone has heard of the Green River killer, although at the time he was actively murdering girls in my area, I would have just naturally assumed everyone knew who he was.  Since he dominated the local news almost every night (and since I was young and didn't really understand how things worked) I assumed everyone was hearing about it, everyone knew, and everyone cared.  Again, I was young and I assumed quite wrongly.

By now though, pretty much everyone has heard of The Green River Killer.  There have been countless articles, essays, research papers, books, websites and even movies that have documented who he was (and is) and what he did.

I remember the first thing I did when I heard the story that the Green River Killer had been finally caught, was scour the news articles for what kind of vehicle he drove.  In fact I remember saying to my husband how creepy it might be if he turned out to be the "creepy truck guy".The reason for that was, during the early 80's while I was the same age as many of his victims and living in the same general area, there was a lot of rumor about a "creepy looking older guy" in a dark colored truck, driving slowly past girls walking home from the movies, home from wherever.  It wasn't just rumor, as myself and my friends actually saw this creepy guy more than a few times ourselves.  At first we just joked about it but the more we saw him (maybe 4-5 times) the more we wondered why he was creeping around and never actually talked to anyone.  None of us ever knew anyone that had actually talked to Creepy Truck guy, as he eventually came to be known.  Oddly enough, he disappeared as suddenly as he first appeared. That would have been sometime in 1982 or early 1983.  I never heard any of my friends mention him after that time. If questioned, I'm fairly certainly I wouldn't be able to identify him as he always seemed to be in the shadows with either a ball cap on, or dark glasses.  Just part of the reason we all called him "creepy".

As it turns out, the actual Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, drove a 1977 black Ford F-150, which has been connected to some of his victims.  Needless to say when I read that in the news reports that were coming out in the early days of Gary Ridgway's arrest and investigation, my blood literally ran cold.  Was he ever actually in Kitsap County trolling for victims? I honestly don't know.  He's never admitted to it (as far as I know) and there's never been any connection to him and a missing/dead girl from my county (as far as I know) but the simple fact that a creepy looking older guy was seen in a dark colored truck was pretty much enough for me to believe it was entirely possible it could have been him.  I can almost guarantee there are other women in my age range who remember "Creepy Truck guy" from back in those days, that always wondered who he really was.  Maybe they asked themselves the same questions I did, such as: did he ever get on the Seattle/Bremerton ferry and just cruise around looking for someone in a new area?  Did he ever hurt anyone from our area, that was never identified?  I pray this is not the case, but anyone who grew up in Bremerton/Port Orchard/Silverdale back in the day, knows how common it was to hop on the boat and head over to Seattle.  Folks in Seattle did the exact same thing, pretty much every day of the week.  

When my oldest daughter was born in 1983, there was still a lot of talk among myself and my friends about who he really was.  He was a cop, a former cop, a private investigator, maybe even an investigative reporter or some sort of professional that had first hand, intimate knowledge with how crimes are investigated.  We reasoned, that was the only way he had been able to get away with it for so long.  Everyone spent time speculating on who the Green River Killer was and most of us were wrong.  Unless they were speculating that he was a creepy loser working at a truck painting place (I can almost guarantee you, no one guessed that) they were dead wrong.  As it turned out, that's what he did for a living.  He had no working knowledge of law enforcement or criminal investigation at all.  He just managed to slip through the cracks in a perfectly diabolical way that so many other monsters do.  For a time.

Another part of the reason I was so curious as to what kind of vehicle Ridgway drove, was because of a couple of books I had read sometime during the time he was active in his murder spree. Because I have always been fascinated by true crime, the criminal mind, why they do what they do and how law enforcement catches them, I've always leaned toward reading true crime books.  I cannot recall the name of one of them I had read during that time, but the other was The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. It was a true crime book about another local monster by the name of Ted Bundy. Both books were about him, and in one of them there were pictures of his victims.  In the collage of pictures in one of those books was a picture of a girl I was sure I knew, sure I went to elementary school with.  As it turned out, it wasn't the same girl I thought it was but the uncanny resemblance sure made me wonder if he'd ever simply got on the ferry and made the trip over to my town just like so many people did all the time.  Even before he was finally arrested and the pieces of his evil puzzle were put together, I recall the account of the older sister of a friend telling us how one day at the track behind the high school while the girls were doing cheerleading practice, they noticed a really handsome guy, arm in a cast, smiling, leaning against his VW bug that was parked not too far from the track.  The high school girls felt kind of creeped out that he just stood there for a while, smiling and watching them. That would have been in 1973 or 1974 and it wasn't discovered until later, that the fake cast and the VW bug is exactly what Bundy drove and used to lure some of his victims.  I'll never forget learning that for the first time, years after hearing about the creepy handsome guy in a cast near the high school.  I think I read that paragraph 10 times before I had to put the book down and wonder if Bundy was actually trolling around my little town during those years.  I'd like to believe that it was just a coincidence, and that he never came to my town.  Handsome young men driving VW bugs was a pretty common sight back in that day, so it could have been a completely innocent coincidence, for sure.  

All of that was a very long time ago.  Bundy is gone, Ridgway is locked up for the rest of his life and neither of them can hurt anyone else ever again.  So what message would I send Ridgway today, KIRO 7 asks?  It's almost like asking what message you would send to a stinking pile of manure. Even that sort of feels like an insult to manure.

But because I am a Christian and I know Christ forgives even the most wretched, wicked, vile sinners, I know that if Ridgway sought Him out and genuinely repented of his sins against God and man, he would be forgiven.  It wouldn't remove what he did, it wouldn't remove the consequence of his actions, and it wouldn't bring those poor girls back and reunite them with their families but it would reconcile his soul to God.  On the flip side, if Ridgway chooses not to repent of what he's done, he will be judged by the Highest Judge of all, with holy and righteous judgement and the sentence will not be a cushy life in jail, but eternal damnation, fully aware every moment for the rest of eternity what it's like to sin against God and man. As horrific as it was whatever Ridgway put his victims through, his pain and suffering will be much worse, and will never end. Ever.  I know most people would say they hope Ridgway never repents and never seeks forgiveness because God's righteous, eternal judgement is what they'd like to see him suffer.  I can completely understand that.

Even as a Christian who believes in forgiveness and second chances, when genuine monsters walk and live and work among us, we tend to feel an urgency for God's justice, swift and immediate to wipe them out and keep the rest of us safe.