Monday, November 30, 2015

Netflix, Jessica Jones, and the Female Character Conundrum

I anticipate getting in trouble for this post . . .

I love Netflix.  And I love superheroes.  When I first got the news that Marvel was going to be releasing some Netflix-exclusive series featuring some of their characters, I got really excited.  

And then it came - Daredevil, in all of it's glory.  I absolutely loved the series.  I watched the whole thing in about three days, which is hard to do with four kids running around and working eleven hours a day.  In fact, just before the release of Daredevil, I had done a broadcast of Raging Sanity Radio (Raging Sanity Radio on Facebook) talking about the sexualization of culture and media.  Imagine how delighted I was to be able to watch the series that, although rated TV-MA, was largely lacking in sexual content.  Needless to say, when I saw that Jessica Jones was getting ready to drop, I was expecting the sexual content to be similar.

I was wrong.

Now, I'm not the morality police (for the purposes of this article); I recognize that people have the right to create anything they want to.  I enjoy my religious freedom in this great country of ours, and I recognize that it's hard for me to have religious freedom and then preach that we have to subdue the liberties of others.  That being said, however, I was still disappointed with the amount of sexual content in Jessica Jones.  

I also recognize that the two series have been written by two different sets of people, and that the relationship between Jessica Jones and Luke Cage is central to their stories in the Marvel Universe.  I get all of that.  I'm still disappointed.  Here's why:

One of the most common complaints among feminist media watchdogs is how sexualized women are in all forms of media: print, advertising, television, film, even video games.  To that point, it seems like something that would raise a red flag, having a female superhero whose sexual exploits receive a decent amount of screentime (in typical Netflix fashion, which is all of the intense grunting and motion with a reduced amount of skin) after having had a male superhero series where there is little to no sexual content, especially not involving the main character. I'm confused.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that women don't have sex drives or anything along those lines.  My confusion stems from the fact that strong female characters, which Jessica Jones definitely is, are often portrayed as extremely sexually active, almost like it's a requirement for a strong female character to have to get some.  And they don't just do it to Jessica - all 3 of the main female characters have been subjected to the same treatment.

Furthermore, it seems that there exist some differing opinions among feminists when it comes to the portrayal of women in media: while there are those who would say that women are overly sexualized in media, there are also those who have an issue with repressing women and their sexuality, and feel that media is a means for demonstrating how sexual women can and should be.

Listen: there are a lot of things that I really like about the series; the music, the lighting, the blue/gray motif (it really is a beautiful show to watch, aesthetically).  I'm just asking the question in case nobody else has: did she have to be made into a sex symbol, and was it done just because she's a strong female character?

If you know the answer to this question, you let me know (

Here's a link to download the radio broadcast that I mentioned at the beginning of the post (I apologize in advance for the commercials):

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's The Second Look That Gets You (a message for men)

I get it: 

You’re a guy.  You like women.  It’s natural, and it almost goes without saying. 

You notice women.  It’s hardwired into your physiology.  You can’t help it. Your wife just doesn’t get it . . . and so on, and so forth.

I understand.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to say that I understand better than you think I do.  Those of you who know me personally would probably say I’m pretty tame in terms of keeping my eyes and hands where they’re supposed to be at all times.  The truth is, however, that I’m more like you than you know, and for that reason, I’m here to help.

(momentary awkward silence)

So, what are we actually talking about, here?  We’re talking about the tendency of men to let their eyes wander, and how that tendency leads to other, less savory tendencies. 

Now, women are beautiful, and God made them that way.  We, as men, are generally a sight-oriented group, so we notice the beauty in the women God made.  It’s the way the system was designed to work. 

So, where do we go wrong?  How do we end up taking normal physical desires and turning them into something ungodly?  Usually, it’s the second look.

I was invited to teach at a youth conference several years back, and while I was there, I had the opportunity to do a question and answer with the youth on a panel with the other speakers from the conference.  I remember we had to “encourage” them with some examples so that they would know that no question was off limits, and after mentioning masturbation, one of the young men boldly yelled out, “So, what’s actually wrong with it?”

I applaud that young man for the courage it took to ask that question in front of a room full of his peers, and it kind of reflects the attitude that most of us either have now or have had at some point: What is wrong with “it?”  And “it” isn’t just masturbation; it can be hook-ups, porn, prostitution, or anything else along those lines. 

Being as I was the foremost expert in the room (as a many-times-relapsed recovering masturbation and porn addict), my response was simple (paraphrased here): “Jesus said that if you even look at a woman with lust in your heart, you’ve committed adultery with that person.  Last I checked, it’s pretty hard to masturbate without lusting after something.”

And that was pretty much the end of that . . .

All of the things that qualify as “it” involve a lust that starts in the heart, and lust after anything, not just women, starts with longing for something.  Now, does that mean that desire is bad?  No, and I would be remiss not to recognize that we are all built with certain desires, that they are hardwired into our nature.  We also deal with some desires that result from our upbringing.  Some examples:

·         Children who relocate a lot often become adults to crave stability
·         Children who are abused often become adults who crave affection (in a “take it from whomever I can get it” kind of way)
·         Children who grow up sheltered often become adults to crave new thrills (that “I’ve got a lot of catching up to do” kind of freedom)

None of these desires are bad in and of themselves, but they can become desires that control us. 

I’m going to tell you this, in case you did not know: your desires should never control YOU.  You wanna know what it’s called when a desires control you?  Addiction . . .

And that is ultimately the point of this article: the second look, the second thought, they all tend toward addiction.  Now, you might say, “Is it possible to be addicted to desire?” or, “What the hell is wrong with being addicted to women or sex?”  Ask a sex addict, and they’ll tell you.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, a great portion of our society is addicted to sex and sensuality.  You may not be a fully-diagnosed sex addict, but there are a few questions whose answers can be pretty revealing, like:

·         How many days can you go without sex before you start blowing up on people?
·         How many times a day do you look at porn?
·         How long can you go without masturbating?
·         How long can you stay exclusive in a sexual relationship before you get bored? Can you even do that?
·         How far does the porn you watch deviate from reality?  That is, does it represent what sex in a normal relationship look like? (don’t worry – the “porn and sexual perversion” articles are coming eventually)
·         Do you make your wife act out and dress up as things that she’s not comfortable with just so you can get off?

Based on the answers to those questions, it probably became apparent to some of you that your sexual desires are controlling you, not the other way around (here’s a hint: if you have any doubt, then this probably includes you).

So, what?  What are we supposed to do with this information?  Well, the answer to that question really is different for each person, but it starts with this: stop letting your desires control you.  The best way to start curbing those desires?  Stop taking the second look.

You see a woman whose body is bangin’?  Acknowledge it, and then move on.   You see something that makes you want to beat it?  Find something else to think about.  You want to turn your wife into something else?  Try acknowledging and appreciating what she is. 

Ultimately, lust and desire for sex and women is just materialism of a different kind.  You know what the cure for materialism is?  Appreciating what you have.  What does that look like:

·         If you’re single and don’t have anyone to have sex with, thank God that you don’t have to look after the emotional well-being of another person and are free to live an unfettered life.
·         If you’re married, appreciate that you have someone to get naked and have sex with.  And, if you both agree and consent, try something new every once in a while (ask her; you might be surprised what she says . . .)
·         If you’re a porn addict, learn to appreciate women for the complex creatures that they are, and stop looking to women who don’t care about you to fulfill your emotional needs.  You may “love” them, but they certainly don’t love you back. 
·         If you’re addicted to masturbation, be thankful that your sex drive is functioning, then stop focusing on the things that make you want to (second look, right?)  Find an outlet for all that energy, and get ready to feel free from your desires.  When you are able to fulfill yourself emotionally through other things, you will find that this desire will wane.

I’m going to say this again: I speak from more experience than I really care to talk about or remember.  In telling you these things, I’m telling you the truth, and I’m telling you what works.  We’re by no means done, but we’re at least getting started in the right direction.

So get ready for a life change for the better, as you stop letting lust and sex run your life, and you start living a life that pleases God, who gave you your body and your desires in the first place.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sex Is Not The Problem In Your Marriage!

Seriously!  I'm not joking . . .

Let me preface with this: the thing I have a hard time with when it comes to writing on sex-related topics is that so many sex issues start with really deep roots; in other words, a lot of the issues we deal with in life that are sex-related are rooted in other things.  Those roots can vary greatly between individuals, so it makes it hard to cover all of the bases on each topic in just one post.

For that reason, at least at the onset of this blog, we're covering a variety of different topics on a very high level, giving us the opportunity to expose different issues that are common among all of us, even if we don't cover all of the underlying roots that can cause each issue.  As time goes on, we'll get into more depth on each topic, but for now, we're going to cover as much ground as possible, as quickly as possible.  Then, once we've got a general idea of what the terrain looks like, we'll go back over it with a fine-toothed comb.  

Sound like a plan?  Good.


Maybe a better way to say it is this: sex in and of itself is generally never the root issue in a marriage.  If sex itself is the only issue in your marriage, just get in bed together naked and spoon; your bodies will take over from there . . .

On the other hand, sex is very often the first thing that is affected when other issues come up in our marriages: money, fidelity, work schedules, kids, and everything else we deal with as married couples can effect our sex lives.  Absolutely.  

Now, here's the funny thing: you could probably ask most husbands, and a lot of them would probably say that their biggest complaint about their marriage is that they feel the sex is lacking (of those who have complaints, that is), while the issues for wives can vary greatly: "He's never home," or "I'm never sure what he's doing," or "I wish he'd talk to me the way he talks to such-and-such," or "He'd rather be with the boys than with me," and so on.  This contrast makes it sound like the priorities for husbands and wives are completely different, which is both true and not true.  Here's why:
  • Married men need sex more than anything else that comes from their spouse.  Yes, sex is a deep physiological and psychological need, but does it mean that other things aren't important?  Absolutely not!  Proverbs 21:9 says "Better to dwell on a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (NKJV).  Men value things like a peaceful household, as well.
  • Women, in general, tend to be more emotionally driven than physiologically driven, and therefore need things like affection and conversation.  Does that mean they don't like or value sex?  Absolutely not!  Proverbs 9:13-18 describes a married woman trying to seduce other men while her husband is away.  Obviously, women enjoy sex too.
Since we can establish that sex matters to both parties in the marriage (again, based on our very high-level overview), the obvious question we ask is, "Why isn't there more sex?"  Well, the answers are myriad, but the good new is that you can usually find the answer for your marriage by 1) paying attention, and 2) asking questions.

  • Men, your wife may not want to have sex as often as you because it seems like the only time you say nice things about her is during sex, or because every time you touch it has to become an excursion to the bedroom, or because you don't spend time with her unless you want to something.
  • Women, your husband may keep his distance because every conversation with you turns into an argument, or because you focus way more on the kids than you do on him, or because you don't take his take his sexual needs seriously, and he therefore feels you don't value him (here's a hint, ladies: guys raised by single mothers tend to be affected by the same things that women are because their mother was the only emotional example they had.  That's not a knock against single moms; it's just a product of the situation.  There will be a whole article on guys raised by single moms at some point in the future).
The good news is that most of us can figure out what the problem(s) in our own marriage are if we 1) observe our own behavior, and 2) ask our spouse for their input (and respond affirmatively to the issues they see).  That will give us all a starting place for resolving the issues in our marriages that affect our sex lives.

And again, this is all very, very high-level.  We haven't even gotten to love languages, emotional needs for men and women, roles in marriage, or anything else that most people find too awkward to discuss.  But we'll get there.  So strap in: it's gonna be an interesting (and very fulfilling) ride . . .

Saturday, May 24, 2014


It's sad, really . . .

I just got caught up on the shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus that happened tonight.  I'm saddened, really.  Just saddened. My prayers are with the victims families.

As I was reading through the thread for #YesAllWomen on Twitter, it was refreshing to hear a united voice against violence toward women.  Violence toward women has no place in American society, and it's an abomination in God's eyes.

One thing that troubled me, though, was that some of the tweets indicated that such violence against women is not only tolerated by God and Christianity, but that the putting-under of women is somehow sanctioned by the Bible.

Let me take this opportunity to clarify a few things:

  • God loves women, and expects men to do the same
    • "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for her . . ." Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV)
    • Nowhere in the Bible does it say that men are empowered to lord over women (that scripture everyone quotes says "own husbands", not "all men," and is still misunderstood in context).  In fact, men are to love and cherish women as much as they love and cherish themselves.
  • God tells men to honor women
    • "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them in understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel (in other words, do whatever you can for them because you honor them), and has being heirs together (not one more than the other) of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
    • God says specifically that mistreating a woman is grounds for you being cut off from Him.  
  • God is not afraid of women being in charge and being honored
    • A few examples:
      • Deborah (Judges 4 and 5) - was leader of Israel and responsible for victory against overwhelming odds
      • Esther (book of Esther) - was responsible for saving the Jewish people from a legally-sanctioned one-day massacre
      • Rahab (Joshua 2) - prostitute that helped the Israelites take the city of Jericho
    • This isn't meant to be a theological article, so I'll just say this: scriptures that are interpreted as demeaning women in the church ignore multiple biblical examples to the contrary.
That being said, please know this: if any Christian tells you that you sinned by being raped, they do not speak for God.  If you have been told that you are somehow of lesser value than a man, you've been lied to.  If anyone tells you that a woman's job is to be seen and not heard, they're misinformed.  This is not what God says, and it is not how the vast majority (and I do mean the vast majority) of Christian churches operate.  

Ladies, God loves you, and he values you and treasures you.  Don't let anyone try and tell you otherwise.  

As for the Christian church, our doors are always open.  Come as you are.

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    It Starts With Self-Awareness . . .

    Sexual sin can be a funny thing: 

    As Christians, it's something that we are warned about from the moment we turn 13, and yet it ends up being a pitfall that many of us fall into.  The reasons are numerous: accessibility, willfulness, ignorance, you name it. 

    The hard part is that, for all of the warning that we receive in our youth, what seems to be sorely lacking is practical wisdom on 1) staying out of the trap when it rears its ugly head, and 2) how to overcome sexual sin should it ever become part of our lives.  I don't know about you, but that is information that would have really come in handy when sexual sin first entered my life. 

    And to be clear, I'm not blaming anyone for the sexual sin in my life; I'm simply stating that sometimes we need more of a tool than just "stay away from it," something like "this is what it sexual sin looks like" or "this is what sexual temptation may present itself as."

    Now, there are a lot of different ways that sexual temptation presents itself, and there are a lot of different ways that sexual sin can enter our lives.  Avoiding it, however, starts with self-awareness.

    "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet.' But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead." - Romans 7:7-8 (NKJV)

    So, in case you haven't figure this out, sexual temptation will present itself to most of us at some point in our lives, if it hasn't already.  The reason why self-awareness is a key component to fighting sexual sin is because to be self-aware is to know that 1) evil desires will try to arise in us because we're human, and we are naturally tempted to do what we've been told not to, and 2) there are times in our lives when we are more susceptible to fall in sin than others (Matthew 26:36-46 describes how the disciples were unable to maintain a watchful, prayerful eye because they were tired).  

    Now, in my life, I've overcome pornography and masturbation (I know, too much information), but I still have to think of myself as a recovering addict because I see in myself the tendency to still fall into sin if I'm in the wrong circumstance (i.e. my wife and I have a fight, or I've had a hard day or week at the office, and other situations that cause a lot of stress or fatigue).  I've watched myself stumble again and again because I wasn't self-aware enough to realize that 1) I kept stumbling in the same situations, and 2) there was still part of me that wanted to sin, which was a big problem.  It took me becoming self-aware of that fact that I hadn't completely broken the habit, and that I still wanted to sin, to realize that there were certain situations I needed to avoid, and certain stimuli that I needed to eliminate from my life in order to get rid of the sin and the desire.  

    Now, the things that cause us to stumble are varied, but common among all people (1 Corinthians 10:13; in other words, there's at least one other person in the world who is tempted or who stumbles the same way you do).  Some people they can't hang out with the opposite sex one-on-one because they always end up in the sack.  Some people can't watch shows that have nudity in them because it makes them want to look at porn.  Some people can't be alone with their phone or computer because the first thing they're going to do is look at porn.  Some people have to be diligent about going straight home after they work, lest they find themselves with a prostitute in their car.  If we really examine ourselves closely, we can usually pinpoint the circumstances under which we are most tempted or most often stumble.  

    And that's the key: we have to identify the things that cause us to stumble (or, for those of us who have been blessed to have never stumbled, the things that cause us the most temptation).  We also have to know ourselves well enough to know when we're at our weakest, whether we're exhausted, angry, depressed, or whatever other mood we may be in that causes us not to be in the right state of mind to resist.  

    Here's the thing: this article only scratches the surface of resisting sexual sin, or eliminating it from your life if it's already there.  It's going to take a long time for us to cover all of it.  But there is something we can do that is a big step in the right direction, and that's be aware of the things that tempt us the most, and the times when we are most easily tempted.  Identifying and eliminating these situations will take us a long way in our fight against sexual sin.  

    God bless you as you continue to to fight the good fight.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    This Is The Part I Hate . . .

    Have you ever dreaded doing something?

    Let me be a little more specific: have you ever known with all your heart that God has called you to do something and allowed you to go through the appropriate experiences to do it, and then, having arrived at the point of commencement, been afraid to launch?  That describes exactly how I feel in starting Christian Sex Blog.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not necessarily doing anything that hasn't been done before.  Sex has definitely come closer to the forefront as a topic that Christian leaders in the American Church are willing to address: we've heard more about churches addressing sex and sexuality in the last decade than we ever did in the preceding forty years.  That's a good thing.  We as the Church of Jesus Christ have to be able to address issues with that carry such grand social implications, especially considering how "important" sex is to American society.  We have to be willing to address this topic with full conviction that God's Holy Spirit will give us the words we need to be able to shine a light of divine revelation on something that affects every American over the age of eight.  The fact that we are now addressing the topic of sex in this way is what some would call "progress."

    That being said, I find that certain pieces of the puzzle still need to be addressed: are we going deep enough?  Are we really touching as much of the subject as we can?  Let me ask it this way: are we doing enough to touch all of the different spiritual issues that are tied to different kinds of sexual sin?  Are we giving enough practical instruction on how teens can be in relationships that don't involve sexual intercourse?  Do we even have the right perspective on teens and dating?  Are we teaching men how to properly care for their wives sexually?  These are the just a few of the many questions that stir deep inside of me, and that is why I started Christian Sex Blog.  I feel that there are certain parts of the puzzle that we haven't quite fit into place for enough people yet, and I feel that God has given me (through my varied triumphs and defeats) the tools to help shine some light that will help a lot of people. 

    Now, I don't want you to think of this as a lecture hall; I have always believed that ideas are best learned when the studen is able to interact with the teacher.  I also feel that the teacher can often learn a lot from those that he seeks to teach.  I want this to be a place where we can educate about sex and sexuality, and we can feel comfortable tackling the really deep issues that men and women face when it comes to sex and sexuality. 

    As we go forward from this point, we need to remember that God designed us as beautifully complex creatures, formed in His image and likeness.  The human soul and the human psyche are topics that people can spend a lifetime studying and still not fully understand.  That being said, please keep an open mind.  If you feel that more information is needed or that something was not addressed appropriately, please let me know.  We'll talk through it to see if 1) you can better understand, or 2) I was approaching the subject with incomplete information and needed to correct something I was saying.  This blog is a labor of love, and I don't want it to be about me pontificating in order to show my vast knowledge; I want it to be about helping people understand themselves, why God made them the way He did, and how we, as spiritual creatures in earthly bodies, can better understand the mysteries of sex and sexuality, both of which are gifts from God. 

    God bless you as we embark on this journey together.