Tuesday, October 31, 2006
vote Dolce & Anna HERE and tell your friends, blog the vote and help these young women make a real difference and draw attention to such a great cause. DON'T FORGET TO VOTE EVERY DAY UNTIL NOV. 3rd!
UPDATE: they're ahead - keep voting!!
When the GodMen band seized the stage again, they tore into an anthem called “Grow A Pair!”: “We’ve been beaten down/ Feminized by the culture crowd,” they sang. “No more nice guy, timid and ashamed/ We’ve had enough, cowboy up/ In the power of Jesus name/ Welcome to the battle/ A million men have got your back/ Jump up in the saddle/ Grab a sword, don’t be scared/ Be a man, grow a pair!” Said Tholstrup, as he surveyed the crowd: “If 200 men are feeling this, other men are feeling it too.” Which ought to provide enough testosterone for plenty of GodMen gatherings to come.hugo writes:
If there's one thing I loathe above all else it's the appropriation of the language of the oppressed by the oppressors themselves; all the Godmen are adding to this tired mix is the apparent imprimatur of our Savior Himself. According to the Godmen, Jesus didn't come to build a "peaceable Kingdom". He came, it seems, to restore traditional gender roles and act as a Savior to that most noxious of cultural archetypes, the "hen-pecked husband" in danger of drowning in feminist rhetoric.read the whole post here: Cowboy Up for Christ: the Godmen, muscular Christianity, porn, and saddle imagery
Scripture calls us to war. But it is not a war to be fought by men only, and it is a war to be fought with prayers, not swords. And war is, in the end, only a metaphor for the intense struggle we all fight on behalf of peace. Paul, in Ephesians 6:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Paul's audience would have known better than any modern one what a shield and a helmet looked and felt like. And the shields and helmets and swords Paul speaks of are entirely spiritual, to be used in congruence with a gospel of peace. Paul and Jesus take classic symbols of masculine aggression and artfully turn them into tools for building a peaceful, just world. For Paul and Christ, means and ends are radically, divinely congruent: peace is built peacefully with the shield of faith and a sword of the Spirit. To mistake the physical sword for the spiritual one is an old and tragic mistake, one that Christians have been making since, oh, the early fourth century.
I find that pretty well every time I try to beat my addictions or my habits or my struggles on my own, I lose. Then I beat myself up, and then I give up.
When I take the risk of letting someone else, maybe you, become part of the story, I still often lose battles. But then I see that you’re “going for it” too, and your honesty and determination creates hope in me. So that instead of beating ourselves up, there’s the possibility of building each other up, and giving each other the gift of hope. And carrying on.
Being alone is the first thing in the bible that God ever said was not good. For Adam, God wasn’t enough! He needed someone like him. Another person to be with and work with.
We can’t do this alone.
I need to know that you’re going for it. Because then I can too.
read the rest here - God's Not Enough
Monday, October 30, 2006
The way I see it, a mystic takes a peek at God and then does her best to show the rest of us what she saw. She'll use image-language, not discourse. Giving an image is the giving of gold, the biggest things she's got... Hurling and wielding the best stuff she can imagine, ...she agrees to the quiet morning hour in front of God in exchange for a bit of revelation. She doesn't ditch tradition as much as take it for its word and peer inside its cavernous shell. There must still be something worth saying, worth pointing to.i have no idea who jessie harriman (this was all i could find by googling the name) is or where this quote was lifted from. i am reading "God Laughs & Plays" by David James Duncan and he quotes it on page 4. i just LOVE this concept. it is truly who i long to be. giving gold, getting a glimpse and finding the things worth pointing to. (i did remove a line from the quote - but it was already where the ellipses existed as i wasn't sure what 'the way of wakefullness' signified and couldn't find anything online regarding it)Jessie Harriman van Eerden
UPDATE: I was contacted by the author of the quote and she is published in Best American Spiritual Writing 2006:
Harriman, Jessie van Ferden. “This Soul Has Six Wings.” Best American Spiritual Writing 2006. Ed. Philip Zaleski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
i awoke this morning to the bbc news and heard the report of this article where a muslim cleric in austrailia uttered this:
Australia's most senior Muslim cleric has prompted an uproar by saying that some women are attracting sexual assault by the way they dress.i see very little difference (other than the degree to which we are to be "covered") between this and the christian fundamentalist belief that women are responsible by their dress for men's inability to control their thoughts and themselves sexually.
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat".
i was raised with this. i know that i have 100 lbs. on my body of extra weight because i still believe to some extent that this is true. i somehow was responsible for the rape in my childhood and i must protect myself from it ever happening again.
how and when did we begin to blame others for our own personal responsibility. i'm sure this has it's roots in victorian and puritan thought. it needs to be purged if we are ever going to get to the place where women and men can dwell together in unity.
by blaming someone else for my inability to control myself i am never going to be stronger than i am today.
i am raising a son and daughter in a world where it will be very hard for them to keep their self whole. but it is their responsibility to build those muscles mentally (just as it is for me) that prepares each of them to navigate our culture without being diluted by it or sequestering ourselves in fear.
this is a learning curve for me. i want to wrap them in gauze and lock them away. but i can't do it. there are billboards on every highway in america that promote strip clubs. lewd, nasty, larger than life images set amid the countryside that call to our hearts and minds to escape and come away. i'd love a couple pair of blinders, but i don't have them for myself, and can't install them on their heads either. they are each told that their thought life is their own.
if they begin now to 'take every thought captive' they will be building muscles they will need later in life to navigate adolescence and adulthood.
i also teach them to dress modestly. but not for the reason that they will stumble others. it is for themselves. knowing that they are responsible for their own bodies and how they present them to the world helps them understand that they are navigating culture too.
when we try to use external controls for internal change we will never receive the empowerment and healing we so long for. a head scarf or even a one piece bathing suit will never give my son the self control he needs to live a life of wholeness. if he (or me) needs others to comply to his/my sense of morality to succeed we fail before we even begin.
guarding our own hearts and taking our own thoughts captive is truly the only way we will ever be able to bring healing and wholeness to our sexuality, and have the respect we need for the sexuality of others.
UPDATE: ze frank has some thoughts on this subject here (not for the faint at heart)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
according to this post this woman was tattooed as a child to keep her from being kidnapped and taken as a concubine by nearby tribes. protecting our daughters comes at a high price sometimes.
our urban abbess rachelle mee-chapman has a powerful post up today on the huff-po. i'm so proud of you rachelle for telling your story so beautifully. it's amazing to me how similar our young lives were. you are fearless!
The first time we see Jesus and his disciples - together, in one place at one time - is at the wedding in Cana. They are sitting down to a meal; a wedding banquet; a lavish feast that may have lasted for days. Mary slips by his table only to tell him the groom is about to run out of wine. She then goes to the serving girls and instructs them to do whatever her Son suggests. So Jesus tells the servants, hey - take some of those water urns over there, and ladle all that washing water into the wine pitchers, and take them to the Best Man.coming to this story this morning reduced me to a puddle of tears. it touched a soft place in my soul. getting ready to preach on the 12th has made me feel like i've got a pitcher of wash water. who am i? what have i to offer? i can't stomach the "3 pt. sermon and the what the greek words mean" kind of teaching, so i'm stuck with my story. the possibility that i'll have quite a few scholars in the audience has not escaped me. it has become very real, and quite intimidating as of late. my wash water that not too long ago looked crystal clear and refreshing now has things floating in it and is kind of murky.
Then he returns to his table, to his friends, to the party, and sits back down.
The servants did exactly as they were told and, lo and behold, the water not only become wine, but the best wine of the day. And you know what blows me away about all this?
The serving girls.
You see, they were the ones who scooped the wash-water out of those big urns. They knew it was just that - wash-water. And yet they carried it, held it in their hands, bore it across the patio to the best man. They had no earthly reason to trust Jesus - remember, this was the first miracle he had performed. Yet they bore those pitchers of water anyway, despite the risk of the best man and the groom becoming angry, despite the humiliation that would surely follow, despite the utter foolishness of their actions. And somewhere, somehow, in those steps between the whispered voice of Jesus and the laughter of the bride and groom that water became wine and the miracle - the first miracle that Jesus performed in his earthly life - the first time the glory of the Christ was revealed on earth - happened because a group of serving girls at a wedding in the back-waters of the world did exactly what Jesus asked them to. Fearlessly, selflessly, gently and humbly, they ladled out the water and began to walk and the miracle of the water and the wine was in that walk.
And we don't even know their names.
fear is getting the better of me lately. it's almost debilitating at times. i am tempted to change my topic, throw away my months (lifetime?) of prep and start over. hide behind 3 pts. and verses. but i'm intentionally leading with weakness, talking about my frailty and sharing my story. i am so tempted to come with power, shiny, bright knowledge meant to impress. i know that is not what i am supposed to do though deep down in my heart, but the temptation is so real. protection sometimes feels like a better option.
walking the line between not sharing parts of myself that are unhealed and still tender, and speaking my truth into the room and standing on the authority i have earned in living through this life of mine is like a tightrope. having the faith of the servant girls and carrying my pitcher, knowing that it is mine and no one can take it away from me.
this community truly is a safe place. i have seen that there are many here who are allowed to be their unique selves without being forced to fit a mold. i know i can be my unique self here too - i just need to trust myself more i think. trust that what i've been given has value and worth. that is a muscle in my person that doesn't have a lot of use yet. that's really the biggest part of this opportunity i have been given. to break through my own fear and just do it.
so thank you jack (i'm assuming that's what rhymes with kerouac), you have helped me today to unlock a big door that was blocking me from walking across the room. god bless you and your work at the mission.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
bono has begun a well intentioned stab at taking a bite out of the consumer driven corporate world and raising awareness with his (RED) campaign. it's important and worthwhile, but mike & robert think we can do better - let's take out the middle man. why put the $ into the pockets of the corporate world?
here's their idea:
I’ve come to the conclusion that I love this program. And I hate it. Let me try to explain why.
The love part is easy. I love it because it will provide funds for saving lives. What’s not to love about that?
Here’s the part with which I’m having trouble. I hate it because it’s a sad commentary, a mirror if you will, reflecting the reality of our culture back to us. The currency of the Kingdom is love. The currency of this material, self-centered culture is “stuff.” Bono is brilliant as he has realized this, and knows we will not give out of love. HIV/AIDS is killing people in numbers too horrible to give voice to. And while this troubles us, it apparently doesn’t trouble us enough to give out of love. The brilliance of Product (Red) is that it will get the money out of us anyway. No love? Fine, then we’ll appeal to your need for the other currency, for stuff. Want a new Gap shirt, and a trendy one at that? Great. Here you go, and by the way, a couple of bucks will go to life-saving drugs.
In short, I long for a world that operates on Kingdom currency. It’s coming… just not fast enough. In the meantime, I will grit my teeth, smile, and promote the Product (RED) campaign. Heck, I’ll probably end up wearing a red t-shirt. Hypocritical? Maybe. Paradoxical? Definitely.
Now for the challenge. Robert and I have been discussing for some time the need for us to start another campaign to raise some funds here at WorD.
We’ve been looking at the (RED) iPod specifically. When you spend $200 US on the iPod, Apple will contribute $10 to the Global Fund. (Robert has changed his mind about Christmas, BTW, so don’t bother emailing his wife.)
I don’t have a clue what the profit margins are like on the iPod, but $10 doesn’t strike me as a lot of money. Let’s be realistic. It’s not. Here’s the choice: You can lay out $200, get a new iPod, and contribute $10 to a good cause. Or, you can just contribute the $10. We believe we can get 1000 people to donate $10 each. We’d like $10 from everyone in the developed world, but we’ll settle for you, and everyone you know. And when we’re done, we’ll pass the money--all of it--along to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Donate $10.00 CDN Here
...there will be a gnashing and burning place for those who write malware. i hope it is hot, lonely and full of creepy crawly things that torture their souls. they are evil incarnate and i'm so glad that they will have to stand before god one day and give answer to their choices. argh!
...spyware doctor is THE BEST investment you can make for your computer. period. we had 6 different antivirus companies (two of the biggies - norton & zone alarm) and NONE of them could get at the rook kit and kernals that spyware doctor easily removed. two computer licenses for less than $50.00 for a year of support is priceless in my book. if you are having computer problems this will fix them for you. as my good friend told me 'you want to keep paying these companies each year to stay on top of malware and viruses - it will only get worse if they don't have the resources to do so.' i think he's right.
...we have begun a creative outlet with another couple that we are all holding thumbs for, praying it could become a virtual reality. it's been a lot of fun breathing life into something that could really have wings and it uses each of our talents and gifts so well. the only downfall is that it has been hard to concentrate on preparing for my teaching times because this has captured all of my imagination and energy...
...3 day weekends are gifts from god. i think we should all have them every 4 weeks. the world would be a much nicer place to live in if we did.
...turning on the heat and making a big pot of soup on a cold day is heaven. it's toasty warm and smells so very good.
...we're doing research for a good printer and computer screen. nothing high end as we have limited resources - any suggestions??
...i heart 'the last kiss' soundtrack - especially soul patrol's chocolate and josh radin's star mile - listening to them when i walk makes me feel like i have a soundtrack for my life.
...my daughter pink (10) is beginning to have hormones and i'm not sure this house is big enough for the two of us... poor kid. she doesn't have the words to give voice to the unrest she is feeling. this is new ground for me. i so don't want to fill in the blanks for her. anyone else navigated this well?? help???
...i luff new slippers too. but throwing away my old ones feels sad somehow and i just can't part with them. they are too worn to donate, no one would want them...
...i have spent far too much time today reading blogs...
...bye for now
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
“Growing up I was taught that it was always the women’s fault. When someone was molested, raped, or whatever… she must have done something to provoke they guy into doing it. The idea that a man would have the ability to control himself was alien. At church this kind of attitude was reinforced by hearing guys say they couldn’t worship if a women at church looked “too hot” or something similarly stupid. When I got to college, I was told that and off the shoulder sweater that showed a bit of my one shoulder should not be worn as it turned on some of the other students. Again the idea was reinforced that men could not control themselves and it was my fault..
In college, the topics of sex, masturbation, and pornography was talked about openly but very little if any was talked about healthy interaction between men and women. Even if it was, it was undermined by the rules against how women should dress or rules against sweat pants just in case a guy got aroused (I am serious). Instead of talking about it, they just created rules against everything.”
what do you think?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
he quotes a friend, and didn't name the source, but i thought the quote was worth keeping here (if you know who said it originally please feel free to post in the comments and i'll gladly correct it)
i don't want to miss anything. i want to enlarge my focus and see what it is that i have been missing.
ps - jen and matt - it was so nice to be able to drop your names - brian sends his love!
-the weekend was amazing, my birthday was honored by those who love me and i love and my kids made me such beautiful gifts. liam made wonderful birthday crepes on saturday and we spent much time being together and celebrating. my father even remembered to call me! yipee!
-i got one of the best presents of all as the women from our new community have asked me to speak at our retreat at the end of november. i am honored and very excited.
-the godfather is slipping into our community to teach at chapel today and i am so excited to finally get a chance to meet him.
-i have amazing friends here, afar and in blogdom who i am so grateful for.
-we got some really amazing financial news on the homefront today and funds have been released that we thought we had no hope of recovering. we're both breathing a huge sigh of relief.
-i am doing really good work with my new counselor and making connections that are bringing so much light and life.
-through the wonderful influence of a good friend we get to volunteer at the national youth workers convention in cincinatti next month, something we really thought we'd have to set aside this year. it's always the highlight of our year and we can't wait to sink back into that culture. it's cheered my liam greatly to know he hasn't lost this connection even though he isn't 'doing' youth ministry at the present time.
so many random thoughts, i'll try to put fingers to keys to give these swirling thoughts i'm having some sense and life soon. hope you're having a great day!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
i think any light that can be shed on this is important - and if the mainstream media is starting to speak of sexual addiction i think that can only be a good thing.
here's the link:
Glenn Beck - CNN - Porn: America's Addiction
Monday, October 16, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
one day at a time linked together can truly make a difference. so just for today i am choosing to continue a constant contact with god, refrain from self stimulation and not withdraw into the world of craziness chocolate and added sugar brings to my life. just for today.
looking back at who i was seven years ago today i can hardly recognize myself. it seems like another life time ago.
Friday, October 13, 2006
what a baby i was yesterday. much of it was real and important - but the drama that it escalated into was so unnecessary.
i'm feeling much better today. and i think i owe you an explanation. maybe by typing it out i'll have a better handle on why it got so bad. venting last night to hope helped a lot too.
as liam left for work yesterday morning he mentioned that he was taking his group clamming today. i thought 'oh nice, hope it stops raining...' until he left. then i realized 'hey, you have one social activity planned this month and you chose to place it directly on my birthday. wow. that hurts.'
liam is one of the most unintentional people i know. his a.d.h.d and personality are such that he is really a kind person, rarely motivated by trying to ever hurt me or anyone else, but the hurt that comes from little intention can wound me deeply.
yesteray was that kind of a day. when he came home for lunch i had worked myself up into a lot of pain and frustration, and even anger at myself for feeling that way. i wanted to honor my pain, and not attack him but be able to tell him of it without loosing myself along the way.
my love language is time - but it is a small branch of that which speaks deeply to my soul. being chosen, planned for and having time carved out for is what really nurtures me. not presents, not money, not big events even. just time. can you see the rub? it is his weakest impulse. he arrived home and i was in the bedroom with the little heater on reading. it was a blustery day here on the east coast, the damp and rainy outside looked very like my damp and rainy insides.
as he approached me he knew i was emotional. his back went up and when i explained i was upset he heard angry. so many times things are lost in translation. if he could have just owned this, or sat with my emotion it would have been such a different day. but he has a knee jerk reaction. i call it teflon-ing. if i took his inventory (which i do on occasion...) this would be a the top of the list. it is the immediate response he has that says 'nope, none of this is my responsibility, i am not to blame.'
i know it comes from the home he was raised in - i know it stems from being first born in a rage filled home. but the part of this that touches the 'not being heard' place of my own childhood meets it like a warm weather front colliding in the sky with the cold, cold north wind. they feed each other and we escalate something small and wounded into something major, loud and intense.
hours were spent yesterday trying to unravel the good from the bad, the pain from the emotion, the truth from the lies. hours. it was exhausting. i feel so badly for the young couple in the flat on the first floor. they are getting a masters in marriage while they finish up their masters in ministry here... but we faced it together - like looking into a wind tunnel, sorting through the debris left after the storm and picking up the pieces together.
marriage is still the hardest thing i've ever done. i know it would be easier to withdraw, to disengage, to not care and pretend. but i just can't do it.
we're better now, better than even before. it's worth it, and we're worth it, and pink and buck are worth it. but it's work. a lot of real, hard work.
and so far today i have had some wonderful surprises and gifts along the way. while writing this i was asked by our church to speak at our women's retreat at the end of november. me. i'm just tickled. it really was the best present i could have received. beautiful.
so, yes, i did cry, gnash my teeth and feel some deep, deep emotions yesterday. i don't think they were wasted and i know we learned from them. thanks for listening.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Five Things Feminism has Done for Me:
1. the closest i ever got to feminism in my childhood was watching 'suffering till suffrage' on schoolhouse rock or the 'sister suffragette' song mrs. banks sings in mary poppins while they yell 'votes for women'. i was raised in middle america in very conservative christian background that grew out of a culture of playboy and pornography. the images from my childhood either made women meat or had them cooking meat. there was no in-between. the pendulum went from one extreme to the other. I was raised in the town where Hugh Hefner had his Playboy Resort. I can remember going out to dinner and having it served by women forced to wear stilettos, bunny ears and a cotton tail on their ass. i was probably six.
by seven we were in church and at camp and women were silent with their heads covered. my formation of all that is female was distorted and warped from a very early age. the amazing women on sesame street and the bionic woman were probably the only role models i was ever given that weren't these two extremes - but they still were caricatures of what a woman truly is.
2. in fourth grade ms. able came to our school from atlanta georgia. MS. in our little k-8 school she made quite a few waves. my mother had to demonize her quickly so she didn't have any influence over me at all. i think she was the embodiment of everything my mother wanted to be and she hated her for it. somehow though i was the little girl who got invited to sleep overs regularly at her home to play with her daughter (who went to the school in town, but we were in the same grade). ms. able fascinated me. i would love to reconnect with her someday.
in her own way she showed me that women could crack a mold (although looking back she wasn't much of a bra-burner herself - but my mother would say the word 'feminist' like she had something icky in her mouth when describing her.) and be something outside of what the church kept telling me i had to be.
3. my next brush would have been in high school where three of my teachers were lesbians. they were never out or vocal about their lifestyle. it was just 'known' and 'whispered' among the students. one was a speech teacher and two were gym teachers. i was a jock. one was my basketball coach and one was my volleyball coach. they were partners. i hated one and loved the other. i thought them brave, sad, but brave. i didn't think i could have ever endured such mocking jokes and hurtful things said about me. i don't know that they would have considered themselves feminists, but looking back i would say that they did not allow others to define their female-ness. they were probably just as confused as i was, (am) but being adults they were more formed in their lifestyles. i admired their courage.
it was also at this time that heart & fleetwood mac were prominent in the music industry and in my life. they cracked the box for me in some areas and began to chip away at what i had been told was true of women. they were strong voices and while it was only singing along their words started to become my own.
4. from high school i went to four years of bible college at the silent and head covered school - so women, especially the wives of the faculty were mostly bubble heads. some were amazing women, but none of them were living up to their full potential. it must mean something that i noticed this while still there. i'm trying for all i'm worth to think of any media that could have influenced me to think more highly of women, but i think back in the 80's women were still pretty stereo-typed into lame roles and sex objects.
5. motherhood and having a daughter has probably been the best thing that could ever have happened to me. wanting so much more for her than i was ever allowed. it forced me to begin to kick at the darkness and see what was outside of this box i had trapped myself in. pregnancy & breastfeeding put me in touch with my own body in a way that i had never been before. it made me present somehow in my own skin. watching her grow has made me ferociously guard her from ever limiting herself, or allowing anyone else limit her from fulfilling her dreams. my theology has gone though major transformations too because of this.
and here i sit, i didn't shave my armpits all summer because it put me in touch with a part of myself i had never allowed to exist before. it sounds so strange but it was one of the most empowering things i've ever allowed myself to do. and i want to erase it. delete it. but i will own it here. i have gotten the book 'women who run with wolves' recently and looked through it - haven't read it yet - but long to. i want to run with wolves, but i am so afraid. sore afraid.
so it's a pretty weak list. i love people like arianna huffington and her 'becoming fearless' mission - i want to be fearless. i long to live fully woman, fully human, fully alive. i know that so many women have paved this road in front of me, for all of them i am truly grateful. i say your names with honor and gratitude. feminism is no longer a dirty word in my vocabulary. i will one day be able to own it for myself.
i hate valentines day, christmas morning, anniversaries and birthdays. i love to watch other people open up their gifts and celebrate with them, but just leave me out. i'm so done.
I wanted to follow up with a post tying up some loose ends surrounding my story. I wanted to emphasize that i really am a fairly average, normal man who had basically a good upbringing and no bizarre occurrences to place me in a *twilight zone* category. I am pretty much like all of you reading here, at a basic level. I have really come to more totally comprehend Paul's statement that no temptation happens to any of us which is special or unique, we ALL face the same array of trapdoors. This really helps to make it so we can all relate to one another in our common struggles,though the specifics may widely vary.
I believe my family background played a significant role in my issues. My dad's mother was an alcoholic and very much like an agoraphobic. She liked boys more than girls and treated me as her favorite, being extremely over-protective and sought ways to have me rely on her for protection and emotional needs. My mom was raised by her aunt and uncle, her mother choosing not to raise her, her father an alcoholic and she was molested by her uncle at a young age. Her family was emotionally distant let alone the trust issues she faced because of her uncle.
I have a very hard time recalling things about my dad. i can remember snapshots but that's about it. I was always surrounded by women after he died, most all my teachers in school were women. My most significant male role model I found was my theater teacher in high school with whom i became very close, only to have him die of cancer a year after i graduated. The counselor i spoke of before, we were in process of deepening our sessions together, I had even gone to one of his Masters classes and shared my story with class, more dealing with my fears and relational struggles than anything to do with sexual addiction. Soon after he was killed in a car accident.
Even though all of these men dying were entirely unrelated i think inwardly i felt as though i was bad luck or something. My mom told me once a while after my dad had died i was sitting at the kitchen table and said to her.... *so are you going to leave us soon too?*
I think i turned to sexual release and the immediate gratification it supplied as a means to block out and suppress emotional pain. I think some of my struggle also has to do with a struggle in relating emotionally to my mom seeing how she was dealing internally with pain from her own molestation. Affection and emotional intimacy were very strained due to these factors and i also had no male role model to guide me into dealing with my questions/wondering as to how to deal with what happened once i became a growing maturing boy. I wanted to share also that i have dealt with all this as a single man. I was engaged for a short time, it too was a relationship fraught with emotional distance and tension. I often felt more like a lil boy as opposed to a grown man in dealing with the needs faced as an engaged couple.
I was and have been fully functioning during all this as well. I had friends, I got very involved in theater, was able to relate well socially and was never an outcast in that way. I was able to achieve a perfect gpa in jr college as well as go on and participate in preaching and teaching and doing many leadership activities within the church while having all of these things go on. I was not trying to lead a double-life in anyway, I knew i had issues i struggled with yet i always sought to turn myself best as i could to God and Christ and be as strong a christian as i knew how. Again, not sure just how to label the disconnect fully. I sincerely hope many who read here will find something that resonates within themselves to allow God to bring healing and wholeness. i know He is using the opportunity to openly share myself for just that purpose. Rich blessings and growing peace be yours!!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
oh well - just wanted to say the mass posts are because of the labels. have a great day!
image by jeff kubina
my friend hope at a song not scored for breathing has been given an assignment for a lay ministry class she's taking. she's been asked to bring in an object that is a 'symbol of self'. i have pondered this a lot as she is very special to me. you see hope is my go to woman. when i am struggling with my path she is the one i call for help.
she listens, laughs, shares my life and speaks truth deeply into places i sometimes don't want to look at. i don't know how many times i have told her 'i hate you' - she knows i only half mean it. miles and miles of trans canada highway seperate us, i don't know if we'll ever have the chance to meet this side of heaven - but this i know - she is a true friend. a soul mate - a kindred spirit like i have never had before. she gets me and understands me, calls me on my shit and loves me still. i have thought much about what i think her symbol might be.
something else you might not know about hope is that she struggles for every breath she takes. her voice is soft and quiet on the phone. she doesn't have the luxury of working lungs and energy. i knew that this symbol must have something to do with breath - with breathing, with oxygen and yet be lifegiving.
she does. i know i've never seen her do it in person, but she floats. she is a bubble to me - no, not always. but there are times when she catches the breath of the spirit and she floats and flies like these bubbles. they are childlike, fragile and beautiful. free, majestic and fun. just like her. hope floats.
so dear friend hope, you are bubbles to me. no, not fluffy, shallow bubbles - but the strong ones that the wind takes higher and higher still. i pray breath and wind and power to you dear friend. thank you for being all of those things for me. i love you.
here are the most beautiful bubbles on the web:
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
joe's part two:
I never really had a problem with porn per se such as magazines or movies. For me it was more a mental/imaginative thing as well as oral/sounds. I pretty much kept things under wraps all through Bible College, had a few dates but again didnt know how to have a regular relationship with normal romantic approaches. A counselor i began seeing said he thought my biggest fear was of women and being rejected by them.
The *bait* of fantasy is that you NEVER have to be rejected cuz you CONTROL the entire scenario. Shortly after graduating Bible College I saw an ad in the back of the paper for massage. It was outcall. I called and made the appt. The girl arrived and proceeded to give me a massage with oil i had NEVER been touched that way by a female and it made my insides as well as my brain feel like the 4th of july. I wanted more of that feeling, just like a drug high. I soon called an escort service as well as began to go to massage parlors, all so i could re-experience that sensation of being *touched* by a female.
Most of the times with escorts i ended up having them leave with not doing too much, my guilt overcame the pleasure rush i had wanted to have. To show my naivete i even said to one escort *guess i can't call you to just see you and go out again can I???* I was seeking something physically that could only be experienced spiritually, that genuine intimacy and love only God can provide. I think I do fit the definition in a small way of being psychotic because i DID try and repeat the same thing over and over seeking a different result.
I made a decision to go to seminary, far away from where i lived, hoping for a fresh start. Things went very well and i really enjoyed it. I began to go on interviews to be a youth minister and was hired by a small church. I would go down on friday and spend the weekend coming back to seminary on monday. I really liked the congregation and the sr minister as well as the kids in the youth group. I ran into a problem of feeling in over my head though and let my insecurities over feeling inadequate and stuff to rampage thru my mind.
As i sat in my room on a saturday waiting for sunday to come, I called a phone sex line in california i had called while living there. Before i knew it several hours had gone by and I had made a LOT of calls to that line!!!! This was also on a night before i was to preach the next day.
In a few weeks I was told by the sr minister they had recieved the phone bill and checked out the number. i was asked to resign. I had been there a lil over 2 months. The dean of the seminary had me meet before a group of faculty and i was given probation as well as told to enter counseling, he said that such an occurrence was death to anyone seeking to be in ministry. I entered counseling, really had a hard time still uncovering the emotional core behind my addiction/compulsion.
I later that summer recieved a chance to work as a counselor at a group home for abused kids. I worked all through the summer, it was a intensive job emotionally, had to restrain kids all the time, as well as deal with their struggles and pain emotionally/relationally. Once again as a means to escape my stress and feelings of inadequacy, i called that same phone sex line in california. They recieved the bill and i was fired. One thing that struck me odd though was when the group homes director fired me, he asked if i was planning to hurt myself, intimating suicide, i said no... and he just left not saying anything else. I soon dropped out of seminary and moved back to california feeling like i had totally disgraced my church home, the seminary my family not to mention God!!!!
More to follow soon, One thing i want to add, my guilt and shame were even more deepened because in Bible College i had roomed with an atheist, and he had told my head resident, who was doing his masters thesis on atheism. that i was the best example of a christian that he had seen. This is what eats at me even now still as i share my story.... how could I commit such sin having been a christian for so long and a very committed one let alone one seeking to be a minister???? Thank you bobbie for letting me share. Thank you all for reading and any comments/thoughts/wisdom you might have.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
today i awoke to an email from one such person. he spoke of his desire to share his story, but because of his situation felt unable to bare his soul in his community. he asked if i would be willing to give voice to his story here on my blog. i happily agreed. this is the first of as many posts as he needs to get his story out. his name has been changed to protect his anonymity, you can call him joe.
I am a 45 year old man, ordained minister, Bible college graduate and seminary student. I have had a long running struggle with sexual addiction. My father died when i was 8 and i think i filled an emotional void by turning to sexual fantasy and self-gratification as a means to mask or avoid emotional pain, even at a young age. I had a few experiences where i was sexually abused by older kids in my neighborhood, basically by them making me masturbate them, i still consider it abuse. I went through a difficult time in jr. high, severe acne left me physically unattractive to girls and an object of ridicule and rejection so i turned even more to fantasy and self-gratification to experience a feeling of sexual pleasure and escape pain. I think this caused an emotional disconnect between my head and heart as i grew older and outgrew the acne actual interaction with girls in any romantic sense was too risky and i stayed focused on fantasy. I became a christian at 16 and pretty much repressed and bottled up any notions of dating or romance. As i went on to jr. college and Bible college i still was avoiding any close relationships with girls afraid of being rejected. I just wanted to lay groundwork for the underlying factors which affected my struggle.
Bobbie has been very gracious in allowing me to share myself via her blog. Some may know me who read this and I hope you appreciate my seeking to be incognito in regards to this subject matter. i will share more as bobbie allows. I find bobbie's writing to be a tremendous inspiration and blessing used by God!!!! Her courage is my chief reason for sharing my own story on here via her blog. may God use it to help heal and give hope to any with similar struggles.
thanks joe! if you have any comments or questions for joe you can leave them here or email me and i'll pass them on to him.
off to the beach today to enjoy one last day of warmth and sunshine (just in case we don't get anymore!) :) happy thanksgiving all!
stand firm on your shaky legs
and mark out a straight smooth path for your feet,
so that those who follow you, though weak and lame,
shall not fall and hurt themselves but become strong.
what a great recovery verse! thanks sarah louise!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Daily News: Women Warned to Stop Drinking Colas to Avoid Brittle Bones
Friday, October 06, 2006
i have separated these because this second half was influenced by an article i read this morning in the new york times and i had developed the thoughts in part one over the past couple of days and didn't want them influenced by this. i almost tossed them out because this article, it raised so much emotion within me. i think it's important to note some of that here.
New York Times: Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers
as stated in part one i have personal experience in the evangelical mainstream and have seen first hand a lot of what is referenced in the article. much of it now makes me squirm. the very things highlighted as crucial by those interviewed here are the very things i find so damaging and i think might be the very cause of the exodus they seem unable to explain.
i know, who am i to argue with the powers that be? voices like josh mcdowell and ron luce - they are heavy hitters with huge platforms. but i fear that much of what they have built is the cause of a lot of those who truly want a personal relationship with god becoming frustrated and becoming the be-leavers. those who still hold faith, but can't participate in the formal incarnation most churches hold to.
i see that the same tactics that are being used to influence voters are being used to influence church-goers and youth. so much of this message is based in fear.
hear the verbs in these sentences:
"evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves."
"Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults."
"We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we’re losing.” (Ron Luce)
"The board of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing 60 denominations and dozens of ministries, passed a resolution this year deploring “the epidemic of young people leaving the evangelical church.”
do you you hear the fear?
ron luce compares himself and his draw to paul mccartney in the article (yes i know editing can do strange things, but the fact is he mentioned paul mccartney. does it seem as lame as john lennon comparing himself to jesus?) he is competing with a world and an enemy he can never beat. he was never meant to beat.
the article goes on to talk of fighting the great beast of materialism and the worldly culture - like changing the t-shirts on america's youth will somehow change their destinies and futures.
when did we take the bait church? when did we loose our way? the battle is within - not without. the armor of god is for your very souls - not to wage war against the world.
the inner battle is where we belong. not fighting against pop-culture and the media. they are not our enemies. taking every thought captive - now there is our work. that is what we're supposed to be teaching our youth.
how have we become the people who scare the hell out of everyone instead of show the love of christ? we have so lost our way. fear not. fear not. fear not.
we still don't get it.
i remember being at the national youth workers convention about four years ago and a wonderful old black preacher man was there. he talked about the stump from isaiah 11 - the nation of isreal being hacked down to the root because what had been allowed to grow was so ugly and distorted it couldn't be recognized anymore. oh do we need to pay attention here. this looks NOTHING like jesus people.
50 years? i have no idea what the next 50 years will hold. my own children will be having babies by then - god i hope we're on a better track by then than we are now.
love not fear. please. love.
the president of youth specialties, mark oestreicher (marko) has kindly tagged me (after i suggested some female perspectives) to write on the future of youth ministry. christianity today just published a 'future of the church' in the next 50 years and wrote a short article about where church youth experts believe we're headed.
the article wasn't as satisfying in it's breadth as marko hoped so he has tagged a huge variety of voices to give their input. as the wife of a youth pastor and one who has a great love for tweens and teens and participated in youth ministry for the past 20 years, i have my own share of thoughts on this matter. i have purposefully not read any other perspectives except marko's post and the CT article yet, so i am able to bring my own insights to the table here.
standing apart from youth ministry for this past 12 months has given me a lot of perspective. things have crystallized for me that once were curiosities or wonders. questions and difficulties that were raised in me while ministering are now finding answers and clarity.
i observed that during our time in paid ministry over the last 10 years that many parents and church leaders, usually the ones with the bible training and a lot of the power in the church, really want their children programmed with all of the right information to get them through the next 10-15 years of their lives without loosing their faith or their way. it is motivated by well meaning, loving people - but i feel it is misguided at best.
information will never transform anyone.
the push to indoctrinate the youth of the church, while successful in the two to four years you have their attention, cannot create the permanent lasting change the parents and church leaders hope to maintain in their children's lives.
because much of this indoctrination they hope to instill in the youth is so lifeless they must dress it up in rock-star clothes and hype it up with great displays of emotion and crusade-like events, hoping that in and amongst all of the window-dressings the truth of god will be consumed like the crushed up pill in the spoonful of honey.
somehow we have lost our way. jesus didn't come to earth in 2006 for a reason. in my opinion he came at the least opportune time for relay of information and message. i would have thought that god had more brains than that. cnn, mtv, satellites, dvd's - all of these things could be used to convey the powerful message he wanted his church and the world to hear. but he didn't. and he didn't because it's not supposed to be translated that way.
it's organic, it's viral. it's supposed to be about relationships. it's supposed to be spread like the cold my son brings home at the beginning of every new school year.
human contact is where it's supposed to happen. the man, who started this whole thing, said before he died 'numbers dilute giftedness'. yac had his finger on the next 50 years 10 years before anybody was really paying attention. bigger is not better. stronger is not more powerful. power is not in the glitz, the glamour and the games.
i think the best thing that is ever going to happen to youth ministry (and the body of christ) is the bankrupting of these great, grand edifices and campuses that are popping up all over north america called 'church'. when the economy drops out and people cannot sustain the big show anymore we will have to be reduced back to the basics. we will have real need, and be forced to face community with our hands empty and have nothing to offer except a shoulder to cry on and the love of jesus.
indoctrination won't help that freshman in college get through their first philosophy class at university. all that was poured into them will go up in a puff of smoke. it will evaporate. it also won't get them out of bed on sunday morning after that big party in the dorm on saturday night. the church in their college town just doesn't feel like the one 'back home' so they don't go.
we have spent so much time teaching out children to fall in love with church that we've forgotten to teach them that god loves them and invites them into relationship no matter what - no matter where.
i played a lot of team sports in high school. i was even all-state and the captain of my volleyball team my senior year. it takes a lot to maintain a love for volleyball when you're 40 years old and have two little kids.
i watch those raised to run or swim, or even play golf or tennis with a lot of envy. i never built those muscles. they are still running, and swimming and playing tennis - they can pick up and do those things any time they want to. they are able to maintain their relationship with their sport alone.
i think teaching youth to fall in love with the team sport of youth group is just as dangerous. yes we are meant to be in community - we are meant to be members of things larger than ourselves - but if we can teach youth that their relationship with god is their's and their's alone they can take that with them wherever life leads them.
they don't need the hype of a convention, the altar call with all of the tears or the activity of the group to keep them connected.
because our spiritual journey is a personal relationship with god we are meant to walk much of it alone. giving teenagers tools for this kind of life will take them far further into the future than any indoctrination ever could.
spiritual disciplines more developed than 'read your bible and pray more' would give them the ability to weather the storms of life far into their adult years. simplicity, silence, solitude, contemplation, contentment - i know it wouldn't blow the doors off the church or increase the numbers at youth group but what would it look like if we truly gave the those hungry teens in our communities the ability to commune with god? where would it lead them? where would it lead the church?
i don't know what the next 50 years will hold for youth ministry or the church, but i do know that if this happened maybe the church might not look any different, but the world surely would.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
"God and sin cannot live peaceably side by side. After considering things as they truly are, I felt a desire to live without self-will. God gives light to the soul, it no longer desires to live with that part of it that continues to block the light. The soul desires to offer itself entirely to God so that it can no longer live except in the manner willed by his tender love. In this manner, it will begin to produce works that are pure, full, and sincere. These are the works that are pleasing to God."
i wish i knew when it started. i think it's roots are fairly new and probably cropped up in the 70's. if anyone has any more information on this i would be very interested. but i can't trace where it really came from. was there pop psychology out there that used the term and it found it's way into the church, or did it begin there? i see no evidence of it's roots in scripture. none. no accountable relationships were modeled, no verses to support it. none. how did this concept root it's way into what we today believe is the solution to solve sexual temptation and habitual sin?
i know that some might think that accountability crept into the church through 12 step groups, and it might have - but it could have only happened through a misread of the 12 & 12 - there is really no place in recovery for accountability either. and yet pairs and groups of individuals scattered across north american churches (possibly globally, but i have no experience of this) sincerely hope to bring light and life into the dark corners of the soul through accountability.
i think there is a flaw, actually a couple of flaws, that end up doing more harm and perpetuate the sin cycle far more than even 'going it alone' might.
accountability partners or teams set up a well intentioned group of people - sometimes all struggling with the same issues, sometimes it is a mentor/mentee type of relationship. either way unless they are extraordinary people there is a level of false intimacy established even before any words are spoken. we all long for those people in our lives who can 'know us' and love us still. the relationship begins with great intentions and usually with a first layer of self revelation. this forges the commitment between the parties involved. an "i'll show you mine, if you show me yours" kind of sharing.
unfortunately what happens afterward is that expectations of further intimacy cannot be met, distance happens and people fail. the wounding that occurs is so great it convinces the person who bared their soul that they are unworthy of love and truly being known in community and drives them farther into isolation and their addictions.
this might not always be the case - there truly might be some groups that start with this intention and actually go deeper, get stronger and find healing. but i don't believe that it's because it has it's roots in accountability. i think that intimacy and healing happen in spite of that.
accountability by it's very nature is a law based system. it says 'this is the bar, you will reach it, and if you don't you will have to answer to 'the group'. at it's core it is a power based structure. we are confusing true friendship based in love with an imposed construct based in law. i believe that there are some true friendships that do occur that are labelled accountability groups - and there is the rub - distinguishing the difference to those on the outside is impossible. one based in love, one based in law - only the healing tells the difference.
those who are habitually struggling will rarely come to a monthly (or weekly) appointment to disappoint those in the group over and over again. the thumb of the law will sit squarely between their shoulders and drive their face into their shame. with all of their heart they long to move past this - to be free, to stop disappointing those they love and want to please more than anything. but they must continually come to the meeting - and they are given a choice - be vulnerable and disappoint those who they long to please or live the lie. the failed accountability partner begins to separate body from soul and revert to facing their failure alone. possibly showing up physically still to keep the commitment, but emotionally distant and very isolated.
the false intimacy that comes from the structure of the accountability group works against it's own goal. it's so very close to what we all want that it masquerades long enough to convince us that we're the broken reason that it doesn't work, not that it's broken and it doesn't work. the wounds this creates when the wheels fall off are deeper than we know because we are convinced that community will never really work for us and we withdraw.
accountability says i have the power to overcome this. and if i don't, the power of the whole will help me.
the first step says:
and that our lives had become unmanageable.
powerless and unmanageable. can you hear the bar clang as it drops to the floor? there is an admission that happens here that rarely makes it's way into accountability groups. this is why people get healthy in 12 step groups. every week, if not daily they admit, over and over that they have tried everything and cannot do it, they are powerless. like the prodigal they come to the end of themselves.
steps two and three is where the decision happens - i can't, god can, so i will let him. i know it sounds too simplistic to work, but it's not. it is the humbling of hearts that can truly break the power of addiction not the legalism of accountability. one brings continual shame, the other grace and light.
an addict is always one who wants to buck against the restraints. YOU WILL NOT TELL ME WHAT TO DO! i will decide. me. now. me. accountability, no matter how well intentioned, is really just another restraint. and eventually when the white knuckle addict who has shown some hope of recovery hits a crisis former behavior will raise it's ugly head and the addict will fail. the dog will return to it's vomit. and then the accountability group itself becomes the enemy that must be resisted. addicts have an inherent ability to blame. it is YOUR fault - not mine. YOU didn't meet my expectations and therefore i hold no responsibility for my actions - i couldn't help myself.
many para-church organizations have made great strides in trying to reach out to the sexual addict. ministries like xxxchurch.com and their internet accountability program x3watch are valiant attempts at helping the struggling. but i think they are band-aids on gaping wounds. another truth about the addict is that they have no sense of delayed gratification. the NOW is far more real than the possible future. in their time of need they will not care who they hurt, who sees or who they'll have to apologize to later. they've done it before, they can do it again. i have needs NOW. it's what puts the needle in the arm of the heroine addict. NOW.
an internet filter cannot be installed in the brain. that is where the real problems take place. most addicts have filled their heads with so many images they wouldn't have to watch or look at another image for the rest of their lives. they are seared on the backs of their eyeballs and replay themselves every time they try to pray or sleep. filters are a stop-gap. a band-aid. an addict will have their fix with or witout a filter. accountability is legalism. at it's roots it is inherently flawed.
external pressure for an internal change will never create the kind of healing that can take place when the addict finally decides for themselves that they want wholeness more than they want their addictions. outside pressure will never truly affect permanent, lasting change.
this is why it is confession, not accountability that is the key to healing. i quoted this verse at the end of my post dirty little secrets:
pray for each other
and you will be healed.
healed. healed. how do we miss this? people are important - confessing in community is where healing happens. we need these strong, lasting relationships if we are ever going to find the healing that god is waiting for us to have.
this is why step four and five are so crucial- the cause of sexual addiction isn't an overwhelming need for sex. it's a need for soothing, a need for control, a need for distraction from the overwhelming problems of life. this is the chosen outlet - other things could be substituted, but this one meets a need because of where the addict was broken.
step 4 - we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
step 5 - we admitted to god, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
it removes the shame in our past that drives us to our addictions. this is why healing happens.
isn't this what we all long for ? to know and be known and loved because of it.
i posted this quote by henri nouwen back in february, but i think it fits here so well:
We like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, "Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else's business." But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal. What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.
Jesus says, "No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house" (Matthew 5:14-15). The most inner light is a light for the world. Let's not have "double lives"; let us allow what we live in private to be known in public.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I stumbled on your site through a Google search for the serenity prayer. Your site truly speaks to me and has a strong and beautiful voice. Thank you for putting all this out here for strangers to enjoy. I'm sure it's not easy.helping someone know they aren't alone in the struggle - it's worth every word.
I can relate to so very many things you discuss. I feel hope in knowing I'm not as crazy or lost as I feel some days.
Thank you. A sincere thank you.
if you live in arizona, florida, pennsylvania or ohio PLEASE register right now before you miss the deadline on october 8th!!
Monday, October 02, 2006
willow's yummiest natural cold remedy
Boil a big pot of purified water.thank you willow! it smells amazing - can't wait to taste it!
Turn heat down to low when it boils.
Add fresh organic ginger, sliced thinly. Use about 2" of ginger root.
Scrub 1 each organic lemon and lime. Slice thin (including rind) into the water.
Add a small amount of organic cayenne - just a dash.
Add some honey to taste.
Let it simmer on lowest heat for a couple hours.
Keep it on the stove all day & have a cup whenever possible.
The Hudood Ordinances are a set of laws that were introduced by Presidential decree in 1979 under the then President General Zia Ul Haq. These laws were intended "to bring in conformity with the injunctions of Islam" certain aspects of the criminal justice system and make certain offences punishable by hadd, which is defined as "punishment ordained by the Holy Quran or Sunnah ." The quotations are from the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979, Ordinance No. VII of 1979, 9 February 1979, preamble and sec. 2(b), respectively. Hereinafter: Zina Ordinance. . The laws introduced under the Hudood Ordinances cover the offences of Zina (various forms of unlawful sexual intercourse) Qazf (wrongful accusation of Zina crimes), and offences Against Property and Prohibition. An offence of Zina occurs, under the Ordinance, whenever " a man and a woman… wilfully have sexual intercourse without being validly married to each other." Section 4 of the Zina Ordinance.
Offences of rape are called Zina bil Jabr (literally meaning 'forced adultery' in the Arabic original) as they have occurred without the consent of the victim. Significantly, however, the Zina Ordinance excludes marital rape from the definition of that offence.
According to The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours a woman is subjected to gang rape. While these figures are derived from reported incidents in 2002, the frequency of rapes is in reality much higher. The combination of social taboos, discriminatory laws and victimization at the hands of the police are key reasons why many rapes remain unreported.
The following account is not a true story in the sense that we do not know a girl named Priya with a sister named Leila, who underwent everything that is told here. Nor are the localities real. Nevertheless, everything recounted here did actually happen to women, girls and men in Pakistan. The story combines several true incidents, to elucidate the plight of Pakistani women and girls under the Hudood Ordinances.
Priya - victim of rape and of discriminatory laws, Prisoner of ConscienceAs illustrated in this account, the Zina Ordinance places a heavy, indeed almost impossible, burden of proof on women and girls who fall victim to rape. Once they complain, those women and girls are themselves exposed to charges of Zina - having admitted to the fact of "penetration" outside of wedlock, which is a crime under the Ordinance. In such a situation, the victims are in fact more likely to be convicted than the perpetrators.
Priya is a 13 year old girl who lives in Roshan Colony in Karachi. She has grown up in a small one bedroom shack with her five brothers and sisters while her eldest sister is married and lives in the neighbouring colony. Priya is fortunate that she is able to attend the girl's government school and does not have to work like her older sisters or brothers do. With the exception of her younger brother Suhail who attends a nearby boys' government school, the home is empty when Priya returns from school as both her parents and her older siblings are away at work till 5 or 6 pm.
One day as Priya as is on her way home to meet her brother after school she is abducted by her neighbour who drags her indoors and rapes her, though she struggles to fight back she falls unconscious. Meanwhile Suhail who is waiting for her to come home begins to worry. He wanders around the neighbourhood in the hope of finding her and then stumbles across her bruised and unconscious body in an alley behind their house.
Later that evening Priya's father and brother go to the police station to file a First Information Report (which is required for a criminal investigation to begin) on the rape of Priya. Meanwhile, Priya's mother and older sister take her to a hospital to be examined by a doctor. The medical reports confirm that she has been sexually assaulted and the case is brought in front of the magistrate.
While Priya was able to fully describe her attacker and could give details of his name and where he lived, she had no other proof of rape other than the medical examination and her own testimony. Since the crime of Zina bil jabr in her case was liable to a hadd punishment, her own testimony was not admissible as evidence - under section 8 of the Zina Ordinance, proof of Zina-bil-jabr liable to hadd is only attained either by the perpetrator's confession or by the testimony of four men. The testimony of her brother appeared to have been changed from what he originally accounted to the police.
Priya's neighbour Aslam denied the charges of rape or having had any sexual relationship with her, and twisted the story saying that he often caught her staring at him but was never inclined to act indecently. He portrayed himself as a respectable, pious man and the young girl as having unsound character. Without his confession or four male eye witnesses Priya was unable to prove that the act of penetration had been non-consensual.
Having attained puberty a few months earlier, Priya was for legal purposes (under Section 2(a) of the Zina Ordinance) considered to be an adult despite the fact that she was only 13 years old. Since the medical examination was proof that penetration did occur and the judge did not see there to be any clear evidence proving her perpetrator was the accused Under section 10 of the Zina Ordinance, if the judge felt there was proof linking the accused to the crime he could have been convicted of Zina bil Jabr liable to tazir, which is a lesser punishment and is applied to cases where evidence falls short of hadd requirements but still proves the accused perpetrated the crime. This only applies if the court does not feel that the complainant was filing a false accusation. , the legal table turned against Priya: Because any sexual relationship by a sane "adult" out of wedlock is considered a crime under the Zina Ordinance, she herself was now charged with Zina under that Ordinance and put in detention to await her trial. Meanwhile Priya's father who had filed the rape complaint with the police was facing charges for Qazf- the wrongful accusation of rape- and was detained while Aslam, the perpetrator, was allowed to go free as there was no sufficient evidence to prove that he had been a party to the sexual offence concerning Priya.
While her mother tried to find a way of appealing the detention of her husband and daughter, the eldest daughter Leila went with one of her brothers to the police station to ensure the case was kept open and to obtain a copy of the testimony submitted by the police officer to the court. At the police station Leila was asked to enter a separate room to discuss the case of her sister and the testimony that had been recorded by the police. She appeared from the room thirty minutes later shaking and in tears and begged her brother to leave immediately- she had been raped by two police officers and threatened not to pry any further into her sister's case or else they would bring charges of Zina against her. Being happily married, the charges of Zina had vast implications for Leila as the maximum punishment for adultery is death by stoning.
Desperate to get home Leila rushed through the streets offering her brother little explanation for her shaken behaviour. Her brother returned to his house to find his mother crying with despair over the detention of her daughter and husband. In addition to an emotional burden she now faced undetermined time without the main bread earner of the family which had grave implications for her ability to provide for her family in his absence.
The next morning Leila came to the house in tears saying that her husband had divorced her after she told him of the incidents at the police station. He had said he did not want to be with a woman who had been "spoilt" by others and pronounced the divorce out loud 3 times and swore to file the papers to be rid of her.
Over a year later, Priya still remained in prison awaiting her trial for Zina while her father also remained in detention and has to this day not been seen by a magistrate. Leila has been approached by a family for her hand in marriage and is looking at being remarried. Having a heavy financial burden her mother urges her to remarry as at least she will be provided for and she will lessen the burden on her mother. Overlooking the fact that she has not received any written confirmation of her divorce she agrees to marry again. Two months after her new marriage both Leila and her husband find themselves being arrested under Zina charges that have been brought forward by her ex-husband who claims her never divorced her. Since the pronouncement of the divorce was verbal, and was only heard by herself and her ex-husband, and since he had neglected to file the divorce papers, in the eyes of the state they appear to be married, making her new marriage void and the sexual relations she has had with her new husband illicit.
While it is legal for a husband to divorce his wife by pronouncing it out loud, he is then required to file the papers that take three months to process making this divorce legal. As there is no provision for a maximum period during which the husband must file the papers, many divorces remain legally un-recognised and the lack of a formal mechanism to help the woman ensure these papers go through, means that they are left at the mercy of their ex-husband and may face charges of Zina when attempting to remarry.
The Constitution of Pakistan clearly states in article 25:
"(1) All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law
(2) There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone"
Nevertheless, discriminatory laws like the Zina Ordinance remain in place and women continue to hesitate reporting incidents of sexual violence out of fear of possible repercussions.
According to the National Commission on the Status of Women, an independent statutory body, 88% of the women currently in jail in Pakistan have either been convicted or are awaiting trial for Zina. While the death penalty does exist for adultery, this sentence is rarely ever carried out. Most times if it is passed by a judge it is overturned in an appeal.
This was true for the case of Zafran Bibi who according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in April 2000. She maintained that she had been raped by her brother –in-law while her husband was in prison, and was acquitted on appeal once her husband confirmed that he was indeed the father of the child that she gave birth to earlier that year.
However, the presence of these ordinances in the law-books means that the punishments could be carried out and therefore cannot be overlooked. Many women languish in jail for years before they are released. Even after release women remain victims to their past and most have never received justice.
Secular political parties, human rights groups and women's groups continue to oppose the Hudood Ordinances and the National Commission on Women has recommended in September that the Ordinances be repealed.
Amnesty International continues to express concern over the presence of these laws as they are not in accordance with international legal standards for fair trial and pre-trial safeguards, as well as being blatantly discriminatory of women and girls. Additionally, Amnesty International is opposed to the use of all forms of punishment which are cruel, inhuman and degrading, such as the death penalty and corporal punishment, under any circumstances, including for crimes such as rape.
AI, therefore continues to call for the repeal of the Zina laws and ending practices that are discriminatory toward women and girls, in accordance with international human rights standards These standards are to be found, among other international treaties and declarations, in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Pakistan is not a state party); the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Pakistan is a state party); the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Pakistan is a state party). :
· Make all rape and other sexual attacks, including of spouses, a crime;
· Exercise due diligence in promoting and protecting all human rights of women, including the right to full equality in law and in practice;
· In particular, abolish all legal provisions that discriminate against women, whether explicitly or implicitly, including the inadmissibility of evidence by women, and especially by rape victims, as well as any excessive burden of proof for rape and other forms of sexual attacks or exploitation;
· Ensure, in law and in practice, that all girls, namely females under the age of 18, are protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse;
· Ensure, in law and in practice, that detainees are either tried promptly or else are released pending their trial;
· Ensure that all trial procedures are in accordance with international standards of fair trial;
· Abolish the death penalty;
· Abolish all forms of corporal punishment.
OH THIS MAKES ME SICK AND ANGRY!
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