Let’s Talk About Porn

A friend and reader asked if she could submit her story and contribution to our month of sexuality anonymously. Her marriage recently ended after a decades long struggle with porn addiction. As I prepare this entry to go live, I am praying that it goes where it needs to go, that God uses her painful story to free others who feel alone in this struggle.

Let’s talk about porn.

If I’d read that sentence a few years ago, I’d have shied away. I won’t blame you if you do, but I no longer have that luxury.

Several months ago, three police officers came to my door twenty minutes before the kids were due home from school. They were there to arrest my husband. Even after he was sitting in jail, it still took a few days for my honest, no-games-playing husband of twenty-one years to admit to taking part in a several-month “relationship” with someone in a sex chat room who said she was fourteen. She wasn’t; but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

That was the culmination of an eight-year sex chat room addiction. Other truths rolled out, depending on what I had evidence for, including many online flirtations as himself, using his own name (you’re anonymous in the chat rooms), but at least these seemed to be with adult women. It turns out he’d been addicted to online porn since there was such a thing. It started out with images and videos, but the more he saw, the more immune he’d get to it, and the more danger, the more transgression he needed to get the same old thrill, so he got into graphic sexual conversations with strangers.

All while refusing to have any kind of regular sex life with me.

 

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We’d done so many things right. We were together for two years before we married. I was an “everything but penetration” kind of gal, and although we didn’t have sex with each other until we were married, we had a good time. Both our parents were still married. We valued our families of origin, and enjoyed spending time with them. We became very involved in every church we belonged to. We supported each other’s gifts and talents. We were both attractive, interesting, passionate people who always had more to talk about than our kids.

But sex had never gone particularly well. It was fine, but eventually the bedroom became a place of anger, shame, and heavy stress. Continue reading

Bodily Consent and the Image of God (And A Free Book Giveaway)

My friend Abby is bright, intelligent and amazing, I secretly think there may be two of her… She’s a High School English teacher and mother of two who has in dominating online media with her TedX Talk and articles for Huffington Post.

Her passion for healthy sexuality and consent based parenting is contagious. Today she is not only sharing a piece of that but giving away three copies of her book, Consent Based Parenting (which is on .99, come on!)

When it comes to bodies, and what we teach about them, our house has one rule that trumps everything else. Everyone is in charge of their own bodies. The exceptions are few and far between. If someone is making choices that will cause them harm, then we intervene. Otherwise the rule stands.

Everyone is in charge of their own bodies.

This is not always the easiest way to parent. Because everyone is in charge of their own body, I do not always get to choose what my kids wear, even to church. I sometimes cringe when my wild girls in their rain boots and rainbow tights sit next to their perfectly coiffed peers. Would it kill them to want to wear shoes and hair bows that coordinate with tasteful dresses? It has been difficult to explain to long-distance relatives why my girls are not necessarily going to “Come give aunt-Pheobe a HUG!!” But the rule stands. Everyone is in charge of their own body. If my kid doesn’t want to hug you, I am not going to make her. Period.

We have this rule, that everyone is in charge of their own body, because we want to be as clear as possible with our four and five year old girls about their own bodies and what is and is not expected from them.

The unspoken expectations on women’s bodies can be overwhelming and confusing. Look good, not too good. Be assertive, but not bitchy. Don’t be a prude, but never put yourself in a compromising position. Do flirt, but not too much. There is no way to win. This game is set up for my girls to lose.

The game is set up, really for everyone to lose. If our bodies are seen as pieces in some kind of power game where the object is for each person is only playing for themselves, then someone is going to get hurt. It is guaranteed. I don’t think that is what God intended. In fact, I am sure of it.

God calls us to mutual submission, and you can’t have mutual submission if someone isn’t in charge of themselves. Submission is something you choose. Not because you owe it to someone else, and certainly not because someone is forcing something on you.

In order for us to interact with each other as sexual, bodily beings, we must recognize the image of God in each person, and respect them accordingly. This starts from the beginning. It starts with our kids first interactions with their bodies and the world. It starts with teaching our kids that they are in the image of God in word and deed. I show my kids that they are made in the image of God by allowing them as much autonomy as I can. And, I want to teach them that everyone else is made in the image of God as well. If mommy is made in the image of God, then that means you can’t hit her just because you are mad, or hang on her when she is tired and hurting. If your sister is made in the image of God, you can’t force her to play with you just because you are bored. You can’t hit your friends, and if they don’t want a hug you need to respect them.

My kids are far from dating age, but as a high school teacher, it is very clear to me that those days are coming. Before we start talking about sexual feelings, and restraint, and making responsible decisions in very heated situations, I want them to have a strong sense of respect and autonomy. I want them to be comfortable and in control of their own bodies. I want them to be able to recognize their feelings and decide whether or not to act on those feelings. I want their choices to be THEIR choices.
I hope that my girls are comfortable in their bodies. And I hope that comfort comes from respecting the image of God in themselves. I can model this for them by respecting the image of God in them. For my house, that means everyone is in charge of their own body.


Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.43.11 PMAbby lives in the city of Atlanta with her husband and two feisty girls. She has been teaching English for the last ten years and blogging for the last five. She swears a lot for a teacher and mother, but she just likes all the words. She is currently working on a manuscript about her first year of teaching in an inner-city school. She is also working on teaching her four-year-old how to feed herself. She blogs about education, mothering and spirituality at Accidental Devotional.

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On Shaving And Valentines Day

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I received a text from my friend the other day, I am going to let her remain anonymous.

She asked me how the new sexuality series is going and told me how excited she was about the idea.

“I’m really tired of people thinking that marriage is where sex goes to die” she wrote me. She wrote about how she thinks our culture and society does a terrible job at portraying sex in marriage and then she added a quote … “Societies become the stories that they tell.”

In our societies we often perpetrate the idea that sex is only good before your wedding day, or right at the beginning or definitely before kids.

“It’s been told to us so thoroughly that we don’t even question it or realize that we have agreed with it.”

And she is absolutely right.

She texted me again last night: “Hey remember what I always told you about valentines day?”

Yup, I did. “Always shave your legs on valentines day.”

And then it all clicked, she was right, I stopped doing it after we got married, not because I think Kel particularly cares but because I didn’t think it mattered.

But I feel sexier with smooth legs, and painted nails for that matter. Continue reading

The Story Behind The Sticker

I can’t count the number of times I have been stuck in traffic or on the freeway behind a vehicle sporting a “my kid is…” bumper sticker. I’m bet you’ve lost track as well.

You know the sort of sticker I’m talking about right? They say something like “my kid is on the honor roll at such and such school” or “my kid could beat up your honor roll student.” (to which I reply “good for your perfect kid” and “I think I’ll give you a wide berth because you scare me.”)

I always assumed that the award winning kids behind the stickers were the real life equivalent of Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame, rule abiding know it alls and teacher’s pets. The sort of kids you brag about and drive the other moms nuts with.

The Perfect kids.

Then my husband Kel texted me a grainy video which prompted me to burst into tears.

Earlier in the day my phone lit up with the name of my daughter Noelle’s school for the second day in a row. The first time was due to a pants malfunction on superhero day, bummer, a pain, but manageable. 

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The bad pants debacle

I have only one reaction when I see that my children’s schools are calling midday. Oh Expletive %#*@… Continue reading

More Like Me February Kickoff- Let’s Talk About Sex(uality) Baby #1

and i'm yours(To Join the More Like Me Facebook Community, Click Here!)

So as we kick off this month on sexuality, I want to say something right off the bat: WE are doing this together and I AM not an expert. Every one of these monthly topics was chosen because I need it too, I need to unlearn some lies and grow into the truth.

And this month has me nervous, because sexuality is so deep and nuanced and full of passion, it can bring up deep pain when misused through abuse and also release us to be wild and free and fully alive.

So here we go, a month of learning about Sexuality. It is February 1st and my prayer is that neither you nor I will be the same when the calendar reads February 29. It is a leap year guys, I checked.

Overview
Sexuality is not just who we are in bed, it is a foundational part of who we are that is not to be ignored. It is spiritual, physical and psychological. There is not an aspect of our lives which in which it does not hold sway. This is not to say that one gender is above another. On the contrary this series will be written from an Egalitarian perspective as I believe that “Masculinity and femininity are fluid, relative, and difficult to pin down. And, contrary to what many of these leaders seem to be suggesting, one is not preferable to the other, in the Church or in worship.” ~Rachel Held Evans

Be Vulnerable
(deep breath because… it’s getting real) I am not the most sexually confident person you know online, or in real life. I am a little bit uptight and I have, in my marriage and in general, had a hard time being comfortable with my sexuality. I have struggled transitioning sex from the taboo, True Love Waits thing it was in my adolescence, to the “all good to go” thing it is supposed to be now that I am married. This is why this topic landed on my list of “more like me” in the first place. I want too… de-prude-ify myself a bit, have a healthier marriage, more confidence and a better ability to relax and understand what I was created for. Continue reading