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loose ends.

8 Oct

Around the time I gave up Facebook, things got a little crazy.  That’s not what this is about.  What this is about is typing up the loose ends.  There are a few subjects that I wrote about the week of and then never followed up on.  So, without further adieu…

Quitting Facebook: I thought that quitting Facebook would be difficult.  Not because I’m hooked on technology, but because I’m all about people and Facebook is a way of keeping up with said people.  I’m probably the only person that actually looks at all of the pictures from your trip to Spain last month.  I want to know what’s going on in your life and unlike the majority of Facebook-ers who are passively perusing your Facebook pages because it’s easier than verbal communication, for me it’s just more fuel for the face-to-face conversations.  So what I missed, if I missed anything, was knowing the little details people put up on their Facebooks.  But when it was all said and done– I didn’t miss it.

Sex Offender: Following writing a letter to a registered sex offender (here and here and here), I wanted more.  I contacted OASIS, the organization that I originally spoke to about sexual assault.  They have a 24-hour crisis line that they use volunteers for.  Anyone can call in– victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, children, people with questions, friend and family of people affected by any of these issues… etc.  OASIS was having a weekend-long session, teaching people about sexual assault and domestic violence and how to effectively handle situations that deal with both.

It was HEAVY.

Something that still weighs on my heart is the lack of support out there for people that struggle with those urges/act on them.  There are resources, websites, shelters, support groups…  all available for the victims/survivors.  But for those people that struggle with those thoughts and those urges and who eventually act on them and even for the people that don’t act on them…  there’s nothing.  There’s NOTHING.

That bothers me.

We have books for people that are bad with money or who covet it.  Therapists for people who don’t love themselves/make themselves throw up/don’t let themselves eat/cut their arms with razors.  Substance abuse problems?– there are programs specifically for you.  Into porn?– that one’s a popular outreach these days.  Prone to punching your wife?  Into the thrill you feel when she says no?…  sorry.  Nothing we can do.

That bothers me.

Why do Christians pick and choose who deserves our love?  our help?  our forgiveness?  our Lord?

(More on this later, maybe.)

Death Row: I wrote a letter to a woman on death row.  It was different from the letter I wrote to a registered sex offender, because there was no hiding the fact that I knew what she had done.  She knew why I was writing her.  I was writing her a letter in prison, after all.  It was also different, in that it wasn’t anonymous.  Part of the reason my letter to the sex offender was anonymous were for the obvious precautionary reasons.  But more than that, I didn’t want it to be a source of anything but encouragement.  I didn’t know what this particular person’s hangups were, what they struggle with, what a letter of encouragement from a woman [their age that they could easily see a picture of on Facebook] would do.  I wanted this letter to be different.  I wanted to be a name; to be a specific person that cares about this particular woman.

I wrote a letter to a woman that I was able to Google and, with a few clicks, learn the details of her story.  Convicted of a crime she committed when she was too young to drink, this woman succumbed to the pressures of finding something to belong to and killed two people in a gang-initiation.  My heart broke for her because I can relate to those feelings.  Oh, can I relate to those feelings.  I can understand that pressure.  I can understand wanting to belong.

Fear often drives us to act out of desperation.*

I haven’t heard back from her yet.  I don’t know if I will.  I think I may, but it’s already been several weeks.  Even if I don’t, the letter I wrote her could not have been much more divinely-inspired than it was.  I don’t need a response to know that it contained the words God wanted  her to hear.

*It’s an easy response to say that a lot of trouble would be saved if we would just find ourselves in God.  Sometimes** the easy responses are the correct responses.

**More on how most responses come too easily for me later.

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the [lack of] christian response to sexual predators.

29 Jul

While Google-ing the term “sexual assault”, I found numerous websites with definitions, statistics, how to determine if you were sexually assaulted, help for victims of sexual assault, and coalitions against sexual assault.  When I searched “sexual assault + Christianity” I found forums for survivors of sexual assault, news articles about Christian leaders that sexually assaulted an individual, and counseling services that promote that they help people find “restoration, truth and wholeness from child abuse, domestic violence, spiritual abuse, and sexual abuse.”  Never once did those broad searches offer support for predators or even something so simple as:  “God still loves you.  God always loves you.  YES, you.”*

The Christian community is quick to embrace alcoholics and drug addicts and proud people and any other acceptable form of sin, perhaps because those are things most all of us have openly and admittedly participated in.  It’s almost a badge of honor in a Christian’s life to be able to say, “I fell away from God…  I got drunk by 5pm/shot heroin to numb the pain/think I’m better than you.”  (Kudos to anyone who leaves behind a life of sin.)  But what about the sinners with the sins we’re not so willing to embrace?  “I’ve fallen away from God…  I masturbate to porn for up to five hours a day/act upon sexual fantasies about someone of the same gender/really think I have a special relationship with the six-year-old I regularly molest/like the feeling of power I get when she says no.”

We were never told to choose who gets to be loved by God; we were simply told that He loves.  We were never told to choose who we love; we were simply told to love.  We were never told to choose who gets to be forgiven by God; we were simply told that He forgives.

*  There are websites like that.  A couple of my favorites:  XXXchurch and The Strip Church.

sexual assault.

29 Jul

Sexual assault is exactly what it sounds like:  an assault of a sexual nature on another person. Though what offenses are included under the umbrella name of “sexual assault” differs state-by-state, sexual assault can include rape, child sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, and hate crimes.*  1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.  60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Think 60% is low?  Something to consider:  That number has increased by 1/3rd since 1993.  Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.**

What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place, which vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes.  For instance, under North Carolina law (the state in which I reside) the term “rape” only refers to penile penetration of the vagina.  All other forms of unwanted penetration are referred to as a sexual offense.  This means a lot of things, but one of the things this means is that the 3% of men who have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, a statistic that makes up 10% of all rape victims, weren’t “raped”, per se– just offended.

(I’m offended.)

* Click any of the types of sexual assault to learn more at the website for the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network).

**  It took me about an hour to research and write this blog.  It’ll take you at least two minutes to read it.  Ten minutes if you click on all the links.  Between the time you and I both spent on this blog post, 36 people were sexually assaulted.