Thursday, March 6, 2014

More than just a bike ride

Just about every morning in September, we would grab our bikes from the garage and ride down our favorite bike trail. She always pedaled faster than me- not because she was competitive- but because she was so excited to be outside, in nature. I didn't mind because I admired the way she appreciated every part of our bike ride. With one hand she controlled her bike and with the other hand, she reached out for the branches and leaves to feel them. She never looked straight ahead or at the ground as she was riding, but instead, she curiously scanned her surroundings. She was always in child-like awe of the trees, the sky, the river running alongside the trail and the deer that would camouflage themselves so subtly with the tall golden grass. We would always stop for a break, to sit near the river. I took pictures of the scenery and scrolled down my facebook while she waited to catch a glimpse of jumping salmon swimming against the current.

To many, this may all seem ordinary. It was only 8 months earlier that few friends and I taught her how to ride a bike. She wasn't a little girl. She was a woman, in her mid twenties. How could she not know how to ride a bike?
Well, she comes from a South-Asian country where the liberty of a women is not the same as it is here in North America. Only men rode bikes where she grew up. She explained "Even if I did ride a bike, where would I go? Women cannot go anywhere alone."
It was her dream to ride a bike. When she came to Canada, that dream came true.

Our bike rides are so much for than just bike rides. I realized that bike rides for her meant freedom. For me, it has become more than just good exercise and a nice instagram picture. I have come to appreciate this little freedom that I have taken for granted for years. Beyond that, she has taught me to put my phone down and look up at the sky, the river and the animals on the trail. 

This freedom, as women, to bike (alone) and to survey nature is a gift from God. 

Me on my phone and her enjoying the scenery

Sky gazing while sitting outside

catching a glimpse of the salmon as they jumped up

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'"- Acts 17:24-28

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"But, isn't sex against God?"

When I tell people about what field I want to get into I get quite a few different reactions. Most of them are ones of surprise, shock, and confusion...masked in politeness that sounds like "oh... yeah... that's a really needed thing these days". 

I am studying to be a marriage and family therapist. Here's the unique part about it: I'm Christian and I want the focus of my work to be with sexual issues. When I tell some of my friends about wanting to be a sex therapist (or something along those lines), I get confused reactions. One friend recently said to me "'t it against God?" I responded with "He invented it!".

Whether it's Christians or non-Christians, many would probably not put God and sex in the same sentence. Sex is not bad; it's good. God created sex for a specific context though; marriage. Wait- before you blow me off and not read the rest of this because I mentioned celibacy...just give it a chance. By understanding God's purpose for sex and the context it is to be practiced in, we can understand so much about family, gender, sexual orientation and more. I want to be able to learn about, teach and defend God's view of a healthy sexuality in a theologically rich manner.

How can we as Christian not want to get into this realm? There are some things that may be disturbing to listen to, like sexual offenses, bestiality and getting sexually turned on by poop (this is actually happens!). Sorry, just grossed some of you guys out. Anyway, this stuff happens and as a Christian, I'd like to delve into this area because God is not as distant from it as the world thinks He is.

Upon my research for an essay about intersex (formerly known as hermaphrodites), I came across the book Controversies in body theology. I only read the chapter that pertained to my research, titled "This body trans/forming me: Indecencies in transgender/intersex bodies, body facism and the doctrine of the incarnation". It enraged me because it twists the teachings of the Bible in the attempt to show how the doctrine of the incarnation addresses transexuality. The author says "For all its drama against certain matters related to the discourse on body/ies and sexuality, the Church's pre-eminent dogma deal with trans/formation of the divine into a human body. Therefore, it makes Jesus a glorified transgender person!" We don't have to make Jesus transgendered to make Him relate to those who deal with sexual issues! This is ridiculous and unnecessary!

We don't have to twist the scripture to make God out to be someone who can relate to those who are suffering with sexual issues... He already does! In talking about Jesus, the author of Hebrews (4:15-16) says "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

May God send people to the dark areas that are complex and disturbing. He can handle them. He has the grace and power needed to help people who deal with sexual issues and bring them through it. It isn't only the great need that exists in helping those with sexual issues but it's also these kinds of lies that make me want to get into this area. I'd like to contribute a sound theological teaching that addresses the issues of sexuality. We never know what our future will look like, but if this passion of mine aligns to what God has in store for me then let it be done!