Sandra Fluke does not speak for all women

Recently, Georgetown grad student Sandra Fluke grabbed America’s attention by insisting that contraceptives be covered by the insurance policies of all privately owned businesses and universities. Since then I’ve repeatedly found myself raising an eyebrow at my countrymen’s behavior.

Allow me to state up front that not all of my disappointment lies on Ms. Fluke’s shoulders. It is also on the men of seemingly mature age, who have used their public forums to call Ms. Fluke cruel and unnecessary names. It is both embarrassing and tragic when folks such as Rush Limbaugh use their wide-reaching platforms not to engage in dialogue, but to obnoxiously demean those with whom they disagree.

Back to Ms. Fluke, who initiated this firestorm. According to her March 13 op-ed for CNN, what she wants is this:

To be clear, through programs such as Medicaid, the government already does and should fund contraception coverage for the poorest women in our country.

But, despite the misinformation being spread, the regulation under discussion has absolutely nothing to do with government funding: It is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities that are financed by individual workers, students and their families — not taxpayers.

I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance.

Here we have a woman using her First Amendment right of free speech in the attempt to disable the freedom of others. While it may not be her intention, she is essentially lobbying for the dismissal of certain religious freedoms that are entitled to Americans–ironically–also through the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I fail to see how forcing religious institutions and business owners to supply contraception–which their faith may deem immoral–is not a violation of the First Amendment.

Ms. Fluke sounds off as though the lack of coverage on contraception is a matter of life or death.  Last time I checked, sex was still a voluntary activity that can be done with or without birth control. Perhaps if private insurers should be required to cover contraception to women partaking in sexual relations, they should also be made to insure vibrators for the sexual gratification of any single ladies they also insure.

It is my belief that if a woman is mature enough to engage in sexual activity, she should also be mature enough to accept her personal responsibility in acquiring whatever protection she deems appropriate. Perhaps that involves budgeting it in, or asking her partner to share the financial cost of their mutual pleasure.

Ultimately, if the lack of coverage on contraceptives is going to be a deal breaker for you, it may be something to take up with the folks who write your private university or work place’s insurance policies. Maybe consider taking your academic endeavors to a non-religious university.

And while I would never dream of telling a girlfriend that sexual pleasure is not her God-given right, I might suggest that arming herself against pregnancy or STDs isn’t.

Not to mention, sometimes the best things in life are not always free.

When should I have my coming out party?

Indeed, something I never thought would occur within me has begun to take root, and it makes me feel a little something like this:

Perhaps it’s a long time coming.  Maybe Winston Churchill was right when he said, “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

Never one to partake in right-of-center politics,most of my days have been spent further to the left end of the spectrum, much like the majority of my family.  Recent years, however, have left me feeling disenchanted with our political system, as well  as many of the politicians running it.  Or trying to run it.  Seems to me the folks over in DC are more into tail-chasing and semantics than anything else.

Maybe it’s the bold disposition maintained by some of our American journalists who hold court further to the right.  I try to imagine where Donald Woods, my South African journalistic hero, would lie within our American standards, and I feel that he may have been considered in some respects a Libertarian.

Who knows?  Ultimately, I doubt the solutions to our country’s problems lie within a single party’s realm of reason.  Perhaps, though, we would all do well to hear the other side out.

Ash Wednesday? Already?!

So, Lent is here.  Yeah, I knew that was going to happen.  On Monday, I told myself, “Hey, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday!  It’s Lent time!”
Imagine my surprise when Tuesday arrives, and it actually clicks in my brain.
Tomorrow is Lent?!  Aw man!  Just hook up the intravenous Mountain Dew drip now, because someone forgot to do her indulging until Tuesday afternoon…
In all seriousness, though, Lent is such a beautiful time of year.  In the 40 days leading up to Easter, it’s a designated time within which to join fellow Christians in doing a bit of self-reflection and sacrifice.  It’s an opportunity to consider Christ’s life, His sacrifice and devotion to us, and how He did the unfathomable.
All.  For.  Us.
My initial plan was to give up pop (that’s soda, to you West Coasters) for Lent.  Then I changed my mind.  While I still plan on reducing my penchant for the carbonated, it seems too superficial and unimportant to me to give up during this particular season.
In its place will be the deliberate ignoring of the hit counter on this blog.
Sure, I write because I love to write.  I’d even go so far as to say that I need to write.  But I also have the insatiable need to know if anyone actually reads any of it, which is not what this should be about.
Galations 5:25-26  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 
I don’t want to get caught up in anything other than writing what God puts on my heart.  So for Lent, there will be no looking at the traffic stats at Room for Patience.  There will be no obsessive comparing of my somewhat sloppy layout to those refined and established layouts of veteran bloggers.
Just internet fellowship, and the postings of my theological and intellectual curiosities pertaining to the Faith.

Christianity ≠ Being Cool?

A few weeks ago I asked my sister-in-law, who is a 13 year-old Christian, what sort of issues she and her Christ-following peers are facing these days.  What concerns are on the minds of young Christians?
One of the things she wanted advice on was how to be considered cool amongst her friends while maintaining her faith.
Truthfully, at times it feels like Christians of all ages are waiting for the answer to this one…
It may be difficult to admit, but it’s not always easy to live an openly convicted life to Christ, and still be considered cool with our non-Christian peers.  It’s something we all occasionally deal with. I can remember this particular desire often leaving me feeling disengaged from certain friends.  A spectator along for the ride, who made sure not to do anything questionable myself, while the Christian in my head would question if I should even be there at all.
Regardless of who we are, we all have a target audience whose attention and approval we’d like to have.
Perhaps the answer is that we need to not be bothered by it.
We have to deal with our convictions to Christ, first.  Whatever comes after that, just be who you are.  God gave us interests, talents and personalities that will draw us to the people who are supposed to be in our lives.
He doesn’t make mistakes, and if we follow what He’s put in our hearts, we should be just fine.

Matthew 10:32  Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Holy Mary.

Luke 1:26-35 God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 
 
It never ceases to bewilder me how so many Protestants overlook, dismiss, or are even disgusted by the inclusion of Mary in our Christian faith.
Why is this?

I realize that not every Protestant detests Mary.  Still, I find the fact that so many of us don’t think of her at all is just as painful.

I’m reminded back to my days of after-school Bible study, and our student leader, Randy.  He was a rather loud boy, whose intentions were usually of a good nature.  This day, however, a bunch of us walked in on his confrontation with a fellow Bible studier, who also happened to be Catholic.  Randy was discounting her beliefs, wildly declaring her a Mary worshiper.  With Randy leaving her with no room to speak, she burst into tears, instead.

Those of us watching sat there in confusion.  At the time, I had little to no idea the details of Catholicism, or that Mary was especially respected within the denomination.  Whatever Randy thought he knew must have stemmed not out of knowledge, or fellowship between between denominations, but was born out of assumptions and a lack of education.

By taking the time to apologize to our friend, Randy came to know that both his assumptions and his outburst were wrong.  Out of the confusion and hurt, however, came my first acknowledgment of who Mary really is.

Mary was chosen by God to carry our Lord and Savior in her womb.
No lottery or stroke of whimsy could ever determine such an amazing responsibility. The single fact that God chose her should be enough for us to respect and remember this woman.
Thought to be only a young teenage girl upon Gabriel’s visit, she did not say no to God, but embraced His will as her own.  Risking her future marriage, her reputation, her life.  Dedicating the rest of her life to bringing up and protecting this child who would become our Saving Grace.
Accompanying Jesus in his ministry, never doubting His true identity, when even Jesus’ own brothers declared him to be out of his mind (Mark 3:21). 
Jesus, in His last moments of life on Earth, adopting his beloved mother unto His trustworthy disciple, John.  (John 19:26-27).
She was a woman who followed God’s plan for her willingly.  No matter what.

Talking about Christ

I was in high school the last time I blatantly tried to reach out to a hurting loved one with Scripture.  In the middle of my new-found zeal for Christ, I would leave decorated Post-It notes, or cards with relevant verses for my loved one to find.  I figured, “Hey, this is what would comfort me.  So I’ll do it for you.”
What I received back was nothing short of confusing anger, coupled with the demand to just knock it off already.
Bewilderment was the word, indeed.
A little more than ten years later, and it’s only recently that I’ve come to see why my loved one may have been so very upset with me.
She thought I was preaching at her.  To her, this was me saying that she was miserable because she was possibly doing something wrong, and that the Bible may be able to fix her.  While there may have been other accusations or assumptions made about my intentions, this is the conclusion that seems most plausible to the situation.
In my previous post, I wrote about not knowing how it is I should be approaching loved ones struggling without Christ in their lives.  How am I suppose to tell them, “Good news, guys!  He’s right here!  And He just wants to love you, and be loved in return!!!”
Just…  How?!

Thankfully, God is pretty good with His timing, and getting us in the right place.  Wednesday morning found me sitting down at my computer, perusing my blogroll; these thoughts still strongly pressed in my head.
Eventually, I happened upon Jennifer’s post, Gracious Evangelism.  In it, Jennifer writes about her struggle with witnessing to people, and even hooked her readers up with a video, featuring Jonalyn and Dale Fincher–a hip, married couple who thrive off of Christ and spreading His Love for everyone to hear.
The Finchers shared their stories of meeting people where they are in life, loving them for the human beings they are, and the importance of stepping into their shoes.
Some of my favorites things they shared…
Allow others to remain unconvinced.
I want them to choose Jesus.We want them to bring everyhing they’ve got: Their minds, their emotions, their wills, their bodies.  I don’t want anybody to be convinced by some flimsy argument that I have, and I don’t wan them to just pray a prayer because I’m asking them to.  I want them to choose Jesus because that’s what they really want.
We don’t need to inform people.  We need to do better loving them.
Perhaps my favorite part involved Jonalyn sharing about her time abroad, two girlfriends she made there, and where those two friendships are today.
Regardless of how comfortable you are with sharing your faith with others, I would definitely recommend watching their video.  The message goes far beyond witnessing.  Breaking it up into pieces suited my schedule just fine, and it was interesting enough that I kept finding pockets of time to return to it throughout the day.

Family separated by Faith…

Today I acknowledged the existence of something I was never even looking for.
I saw God reflected through the unabashed love of my children.  His pure, perfect love, emulating via their hugs and smiles.  His enthusiasm for life evident in their tiny, clapping hands.
Then, alongside this beautiful truth came the ugly realization.  If God can thrive inside of us, then, if we let him, Satan can too.
Sadder yet, is that I can also see the loathsome devil working inside people I love.
An abusive childhood–decades gone–haunting, hurting, and embittering the strong woman who left it behind.
An unfaithful husband being served divorce papers in front of the co-workers who he informed that the divorce happened last year.
A young man teeming with amazing talent, potential, lack of self-esteem, and cynicism.
And there’s me.  The one who can see all of this, but does not know what she will do about it.
How do I tell them that God loves them?  How do I blurt out the hopeful phrase, that ironically, seems to cause more tension than comfort?  More doubt than reassurance?  More anger than calm.
How do I help them to get the devil off their back (and mine)?
Showing your faithfully-distanced loved ones God sure can be tricky.  At the moment I can see no other way to handle it, other than to keep holding Christ’s hand while attempting to walk the straight-and-narrow.  To keep the prayers coming.  To keep the potential for dialogue going.