Monday, August 24, 2015

Tinder .... The Mystery Ingredient

I am not married so this could be a train wreck. Here goes nothing…


Saint Pope John Paul II is one of my favorite homies! He has inspired me in more ways than one to understand more about sharing the truth, authentic love, chastity, and sex. How could that be the case? A celibate man, who was by all accounts of the world, out of touch with anything relating to marriage… False. He was a genius and had many insightful things to say about the way of intimacy.

I want to bring up a quality that I feel like often gets overlooked, or misunderstood, in terms of relationships: tenderness. Does anyone know how to specifically define that word?
The best I could come up with was the scene from Tangled of Rapunzel’s mom brushing out all of her flowing, long, golden locks. Meaning: tenderness is simply when someone is gentle with another person.That’s it. I, myself, did not even know how limiting that definition is.

Saint Pope John Paul II says, “Tenderness is found in the tendency to make one’s own feelings and mental states of another person.” So, in relationships that are based on love, it is an unsurprising adjustment to move from the self to focus on the other, feeling closely involved with the inner life of the beloved.

The action of tenderness naturally seeks outward expression. In marriage, your spouse essentially becomes a part of you so much that they are another “I” as you are united together in the bond. So you want to communicate this sense of closeness… “I feel the need to let the other “I” know that I take on his/her feelings and his/her state of mind to heart, to make this other human being feel that I am sharing it all, that I am feeling what they feel." Hence we persons show our affection by holding hands, a kiss, drawing someone into our arms etc.
Even with the lens of just how beautiful dating and marriage can be, the devil is at play trying to distort the way the world views both. We all can recognize the ways our culture has fallen into use of the other, even mutual use. I don’t need to go into specifics, yet we need to see the effects of expressing this tenderness too soon.  If tenderness is premature in a relationship, it can stop authentic love from growing.

Once I dated a man in which we thought we had a good friendship foundation, only to escalate quickly towards the physical expressions of tenderness. This actually hurt us more than anything because it became the center of the relationship. Our relationship fizzled out fast and today we no longer talk at all.  We created the illusion of love, a love which in reality does not exist. Our relationship crumbled by the roadblocks we ourselves put up. Often young people think the way I thought, that this physical expression of tenderness will lead to authentic love. It is a clever trap set.

If we are to grant a man or woman the ‘right to tenderness’ (to show or receive it) we must also demand a greater sense of responsibility. AKA marriage, not casual sex in or out of dating relationships. In truth, expressions of tenderness should always be accompanied by an even greater sense of responsibility for the other person.

Circling back around to marriage, tenderness should involve a participation in emotion and commitment to love. This is what brings the couple to feel the closeness of communication. Saint Pope John Paul II expands on his earlier definition of tenderness here saying, “It is the ability to feel with and for the other person.” It creates a feeling of not being alone, a feeling that his/her life is equally the content of another very dear person’s life. 

My stepdad and mom, Richie and Marge, are a great example of this in my life. For the most part, they do everything together, even grocery shopping is done as a team. It is so adorable I have to fight the urge to vomit. In the midst of the challenges and joys of their marriage, I can clearly see the tenderness they express towards one another. Sometimes things are tense, as with any marriage. I can tell when my mom is hurt by something, so too does Richie feel the pain. On the same token, when a joyous occasion burst forth in our lives they both act like IT. IS. THE. BEST. THING. EVER. They are always leading the family as a team. I think the tenderness they cultivate in authentically loving the other is wonderful glue.  

Curious how this show of love, through tenderness, specifically affects women?

Women not only expect this type of tenderness from their husbands, but they actually have a special right to it in marriage. Husbands must enter deeply into the emotional lives of their wives for 3 reasons:

1.      Honestly, a woman’s emotional level is deeper than a man’s so they simply have a greater need for tenderness. It is also helpful to note that men may never understand this need fully, similar to how women may not get why men ‘always think about sex.’ It is not that women need their man to fix everything magically, we know you aren't superman. We just would like you to listen.

2.      Woman naturally gives herself to man. In a sense, a woman feels the transition from single life to married life in an acute way. She might notice or feel the break from her family to enter married life in a deeper way, especially if she has a close-knit family. While there is excitement in a new life with her husband, she might feel the loss of leaving all she has ever known in her family’s way of life to create a new life with her man.

  3.      Women have to go through more in life. Ya know… the important, difficult stuff like pregnancy, childbirth, and possibly leaving a job. Some women feel very alone in these experiences so have a special need for tenderness from their husbands as they go through them.

Men have a unique challenge to be tender with their beloved. You are not doing marriage right if all you do is financially provide for your family, or fix up the house. Men are called to enter deeply into the emotional lives of their wives. You must begin to feel with and for her.

Don’t forget about the art of tenderness between the two of you.
                          As Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”    

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sexting: Don't Sho Yo 'Nae Nae'

I love Elite Daily’s site and often read up on the voice of “Generation Y.” I, recently, ran across an article filled with questionable info about sexting. In the article they discuss 6 ways sexting can keep your long- term relationship strong. Apparently a major 88% of people have engaged in sexting at least once, but I am not shocked by this. To me, this means a whopping 88% of people have scars from love gone wrong. They are desperate to be accepted, they don’t know the depth of their worth, and they are infinitely loved by the Beloved. 

Honestly, this might be TMI, and mom if you are reading this then just skip down a few paragraphs… I bought into the lie of sexting in the past and am not proud of it, and it took me some time to figure out why it is wrong. I have never been the person to just lie down and take ‘no’ for an answer, so when someone said I can’t sext, I reacted by thinking they don’t know what they are talking about. No one explained the reasons behind how sexting is contrary to the dignity of the human person.  

Sexting is an attractive activity, same as any sin. What I didn’t realize was by engaging in sexting I was pulling someone further away from God. Sexting gives evidence to a lack of self- control for both people involved, and I was forgetting the infinite worth of another, then ultimately letting go of my own dignity in the process. Sounds romantic right?!

Let me explain why the author’s 6 reasons to sext are, in fact, not good.

1.      Sharing secrets builds trust.

They say: “Trusting your guy with the most private things you like to do, in private and with your privates, will strengthen your bond.”

Saint Pope John Paul II talks about the feminine genius saying, “Women are called to become masters of their own mystery.” Women are not called to reveal everything right off the bat, but to unveil themselves to their husband in marriage. This includes a natural physical and emotional progression through a dating relationship on into marriage. Meaning saving sex for marriage requires the purity of our mind and words as well.  

Good communication is key for a marriage to work well. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual trains must all be in a line at the same speed, so to speak. Trusting your guy with these fantasies or desires outside of marriage puts your emotional connection ahead of your physical and spiritual connection. If you do trust him by sharing your desires, the article makes a good point of the risk you face of them sharing these images or sexts with their friends or the public. Do you really want to take that chance with the precious gift of your own sexuality? Sharing these things does not strengthen your bond in a healthy way, but a co-dependent way. As in you need to take take take from the other, instead of recognizing the self-gift that you are worth waiting to discover by that future spouse one day.

 In marriage, you will need to discuss your sexual needs and desires, but not by way of objectifying the person through sexting. The discussion should be done in a loving open conversation about how to best [in a pure way, ordered toward God’s plan] pleasure your spouse through the sexual act. This is a good and normal thing to do periodically in marriage.   

2.      Sexy thoughts build tension (the good kind).

This is true. Yet, in the context of attempting to wait to have sex till marriage and/or living out the married vocation, building this tension outside of immediate foreplay can be a very dangerous thing. When we constantly think sexy thoughts, this means we are constantly building up lustful thoughts. We become enslaved to that desire of sexual pleasure to be met, all the time.  Human persons are not made for slavery, but for true freedom, which comes from self-control obtained by not objectifying another.

Personally, I know saving sex for marriage is difficult, and I have fallen to temptation a few times. Each time, sexy thoughts have helped in my demise. Thinking about sexual things did not build tension in a good way, but in a way that caused an animalistic reaction, a loss of morals to the bad side of passion.

Sometimes we can’t help a sexual thought coming into our brain, and that is normal. The best thing to do is to allow them to be a passing thought, not dwelling in the fantasy or desire. I mentally give the person or sexual feeling back to God, and strive to think of how they are a child of God worthy of a pure love, even in my mind.

3.      Men are fragile and weak.

False. Basically this section is stating that men need women to sext them to gain confidence in the relationship and that the woman is being satisfied sexually. If a man needs this verbal affirmation of sexting from the woman that they are dating or are married to, they have not fully grasped what true authentic manhood is all about, and you should not waste your time on them. They have reduced you solely to what you can do to pleasure them in the relationship, not focusing on how best to love you. Sexting is selfish in nature.

Sex and sexting should not be the meter of confidence in a relationship as successful. Your confidence in the person you are dating or married to should come from how they treat you, how they treat others in their life, and are they going after the Lord’s heart by growing in holiness and virtue.

True men, comfortable in their own masculinity, will not degrade a woman they are interested in perusing or are married to- to a mere moment of bodily pleasure. They know the power of masculinity and use it for the good. They should have a standard of their own in regards to purity and hold their relationships to it.    
4.      Dopamine is addictive.

They said, “While sending a naughty text to someone, you might experience a rush of excitement that can actually improve your chances of bonding! The brain doesn’t differentiate between love and excitement at first, and that confusion can be incredibly sexy.”

Dopamine is the pleasure chemical and yes two people will be more bonded if they sext about their desires, whether in marriage or outside of it … and YES it is confusing. This confusion between the feelings and true authentic love is not a sexy thing, just a stressful thing. We cannot base our love on these feelings from dopamine. Love is more than the feelings; it is about doing what is best for someone.

I think sexting can be addictive. It is one of those things that when you start, it can be difficult to stop. When we rely too much on the feelings, then they fade, what will be left outside of the physical aspect of the relationship? I don’t want to train someone to use me in that way and neither should you.

5.      Fun is king.

Everyone wants to have fun in life, living it to the fullest. Why does society seem to think that being pure has to make you boring, or that the only way to have fun is to be sexual with someone? In case no one told you, you can have fun in a relationship and not be sexual. Remaining pure in your relationships is challenging sure, but that doesn't mean you are automatically boring. It simply allows for more creativity in how you date. Also, chastity gives way for a great foundation of friendship to be formed for when the feelings come and go.

6.      Sexting prevents cheating!

REALLY? When you are far away from the BF/GF and you are building that tension, then you see someone else sexually attractive while away, what do you think might happen? That tension will want release and if someone else offers, it would be tricky to say no. Sexting can lead to cheating.  

With that being said, I don’t think it is wise to build that tension through sexting and not be able to act on it. Reasons for that are hopefully clear, in terms of outside of marriage, but even in marriage it is not the best scenario. This sexual tension naturally comes about through foreplay so expressing the desire in a sext without immediately being able to act on it can just leave us with lustful thoughts about our spouse aka sin.

Sexting holds us back from trying to live a life following Christ. I know how appealing it can be, but I also know the joy and freedom that comes from purity of thoughts and words. Trust in the plan that God has for you, that you are loved and worth the pure abundant love of another.