Archive for the ‘ Women ’ Category

Hormones Make Me Feel Bad

A friend used to say he could predict when I was getting my period based on my mood. If I suddenly became upset about something, perhaps even cried, he’d rub my back and say “aw, you’re just PMSing”. Like Clair Huxtable, I want to snap back, “a woman is entitled to have a mood, any mood at all, be it a happy one, sad, or angry, and they can have it at any time at all and for absolutely no reason, understand?”

Today I totally blew up. Frustrated from a day of work, bad transportation, poor relationship issues, while undergoing yet another battle with my faith, I lost my cool when I got home. Yes, I cried, too. I yelled! I punched things. A few hours later, I got my period. Suddenly, that makes me feel like all those feelings and struggles are invalidated.

Yet, perhaps it is that hormones allow me to express it the way I really feel it instead of being an exaggeration or excuse. My theory is that all the non-PMS times of the month I am emotionally controlled yet suppressed. It’s minimized emotions. But when the period comes, I express my emotions to their degree.

“And if it wasn’t for Aunt Flow, there would be no uncles!”

My Opinion on Christian Premarital Sex

A few years ago, I posted a question in an online discussion group that my friend and I created which was exclusive to our Christian undergraduate peers. The question was whether or not premarital sex as a Christian is really a sin and against the Christian lifestyle. Knowing what I had been taught all my life (that sex before marriage is wrong) I had asked for specific Scriptural references. Several friends/members of the group jumped into the discussion to all point out the value of purity, sexual morality, and the special union two people share when they enter into a sexual relationship. Yet no one cited Scripture. I was no dummy–I knew what Christians thought of the subject, but I had wanted to know where they had gotten that idea! In my own studies, I had found nothing that explicitly said where it was absolutely wrong and forbidden.

My inquiry was ignited by a friend, who after spending time in Korea she learned that the Christians there (young and old) do not  have an issue with sex before marriage if the adult couple are in a committed relationship. This gave her (and me) a whole new perspective. I had never considered the possibility that it is even OK in Christian principle. I had just never questioned what had been told of me my whole life. This made me want to think more deeply on the issue rather than dismissing it as heretical. What basis do they have to believe that it’s OK? What basis do I have to believe that it’s not?

Supporting Arguments for Premarital Sex

I asked a family member what she thought. I just don’t know what to think! I said. She very wisely stated an answer that didn’t give an opinion one way or another, but guided me by pointing out that a lot of the Bible, as we know, was written to a culture in a specific era. She pointed out that where we see a lot of verbiage on the subject is in Paul’s letters to the churches, who usually writes concerning a specific issue among church people, not necessarily meant to be taken literally for all readers*. It seems that the issue concerning premarital sex is not mentioned in the Bible directly so that it could be left interpreted and appropriately applied among cultures, time, and individuals.

Not Commandments But Good Advice

When doing a more in-depth study (hermeneutical?) of the Biblical culture, it’s easy to understand why sex before marriage would be a very bad idea. Women were often stoned or outcasted for adultery and promiscuity. A woman was not considered pure unless she were a virgin and was utterly unfit to be a bride if she were not. In fact, to prove the bride’s stature and worth, part of the traditional marriage ceremony was to consummate the marriage in a tent and then show the guests the blood on the sheets to affirm that she is in fact not an adulteress nor promiscuous. Yet this is in lieu of a patriarchal, male-dominating, female subordinating culture in an era that offered no contraceptives–and Paul is merely adding good advice by instating to both men and women to not give in to these desires before marriage.

It’s Meant to Be Interpretable

So does this translate directly into our 21st century Western/globalized world? To answer that question we need to find out what exactly is meant when the Scripture speaks of (or implies) sex, just as we have to for everything else. Does Paul say in 1 Corinthians that we shouldn’t eat meat if it is a weakness for others? Not exactly. The message here is actually that we don’t want to turn others away from the faith with offensive behavior. So then, what is really meant in Scripture regarding sex?

I’ve read the Scriptures which talk about sexual immorality many times but no where is it explicitly said that premarital sex is wrong or that we should only have one sexual partner in our entire lives. Even monogamy is a question with some parts of the Old Testament. Yes, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that it is better not to marry, but that marriage is better than burning with passion yet I am not convinced that not following Paul’s advice is a sin. He only says it is better. But again, we must look at the context. Is it better because of the culture they were living in at the time? Is it better for me? In fact, this passage seems to suggest that it is a choice made by the individual and perhaps it is a case-by-case decision. It can be better for some, not for all.

Define, define, define. That was drilled into my brain as a communication student in college in every single class. Everything I said, every term I used, needed to be defined or have an appositive. I learned to critique rhetoric by analyzing their terminology and definitions. Without a definition, even for a word that we may all know, it may not be received the same way it was meant. What does the Bible mean by “sexual immorality”, “purity”, “passion”, and “marriage”? Because these terms are not fully defined it leaves the reader with no option but to look at context and infer. Was this deliberate or just because the authors of these Scriptures assumed everyone would know what they meant? If it was the latter, then what about the translators who toil over every word to be sure that it is best translated into the most equivalent word that conveys the meaning closest to the original intent? Wouldn’t they have done a better job at making it more clear? It seems as though the authors left some of these things without explicit definitions with wisdom knowing that it’s better to leave it with more interpretability so that it could cross over to future believers of other worlds.

Culture Changes Meaning

Also, I just find it strange that the language that is used to describe women whenever the topic is about sex or marriage the Bible always refers to women as virgins yet when it talks about men, it uses the words “husband” or “man”. Could there be a double standard? Could it just so indicate the heavy cultural boundaries of that era, as I such described earlier? In this same chapter, Paul writes that if the man’s passions are too strong then he should just marry the virgin. Oh if only it were that easy these days! The modern world is so full of options and alternative lifestyles that women and men are in no rush to marry.

If I were living in the Biblical times, I would hope to get married so that I would have property and basically someone to take care of me, and basically so that I wouldn’t be outcasted or homeless. That of course isn’t the way things are these days (and we certainly don’t consider our independence a sin). There wasn’t any dating in the Bible (arranged marriages, usually) but if there were, they would be very short and public courtships, not as drawn-out and intimate as they are today. I read an article about a writer, a Mormon woman, who in had lived most of her adult life a virgin, yet at age 35 she was considered “un-datable”. She wrote, “I’m unwilling to believe that’s what God wants for anyone”, and I agree.

Culture, like time, is not static. It must change. Not everything is universal or timeless. Premarital sex, I think, is an example of standards and how things may vary. It may vary among time, culture, community, individual, or lifetime. My support for premarital sex is not to say that we should to do away with all and any standards regarding sex; simply, just in regards to the inference that Western Christians gleam from strict, antediluvian, patriarchal, and culturally relevant advice from an apostle.

Anyway, if I am completely wrong in my opinion of premarital sex, then this wouldn’t be the only thing I’ve gotten wrong in theology (after all, I only got a B in Intro to Theology!). Thankfully Christianity isn’t about being perfect but about grace.

*i.e. women instructed not to speak in church does not equal all women everywhere cannot utter a word in church, only that those who do not understand the teachings should not interrupt with stupid questions or disrupt with chatter. (Women in those days were not educated and were illiterate, so could not understand the teachings in the temples as well as the men who also probably spoke in a different vernacular that was probably used in the church).

Biblical Equality for Men and Women

Around 1880, Katherine Bushnell, an M.D. and a Greek and Hebrew scholar received a call from God to preach abroad. But she refused over her concern that the Bible did not approve of women preaching. Her concern which conflicted with her call, compelled her to research–where she eventually found that the Christian women’s status in the church today was influenced or changed by the Jewish rabbinical teaching and Biblical translation. The Jewish oral law prohibited women to publicly prophesy. This sex bias influenced translators, which in turn, influenced contemporary Christian teaching. This story of Bushnell should push all Christians into the question of hermeneutics and Biblical interpretation.

Instigated by college class discussions, I have collected a number of questions on the subject. Thankfully I am not alone in this, and questioners before me have already found answers that aid me in my adjustment of theology and practices thereof. As Christians, we must be faithful to Scripture, God’s Word. Without the Scripture, we will more inevitably live under the curse (Gen. 3:14-19), yet with it we have truths of the Kingdom. God’s original created order was pure equality between men, women, and all the things of the earth, which was distorted after the Fall (Genesis chapter 3). Yet we need to be careful in our pursuit of the Kingdom. In our pursuit we need to be careful of pride; those who seek power are as spiritually in danger as those who are keeping others from having the power.


Below is a summary of Scriptures that show men and women’s equality in Creation, Redemption, Community, and Family, taken from the Christians for Biblical Equality’s statement of Biblical truths.

Creation

  •  Men and women have equal relationship and responsibility over the rearing of children and dominion over the created order (Gen. 1:26-27).
  • The rulership of Adam (men) over Eve (women) is a direct result from the Fall and is not a part of God’s original created order (Gen. 3:16).
Redemption
  •      Christ came to redeem women as well as men without racial, social, or gender distinctive (Jn. 1:12-13; Rom. 8:14-17; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26-28).
Community

  • The Holy Spirit during the Pentecost came on men and women alike and does not distribute gifts with preference to gender (Acts 2:1-21; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 14:31).
  • Men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister to the whole Church, under Christ’s authority (Acts 1:14, 18:26, 21:9; Rom16:1-7, 12-13, 15; Phil. 3:2-3; col. 4:15; Mk. 15:40-41, 16:1-7; Lk. 8:1-3; Jn. 20:17-18; Old Testament: Judges 4:4-14, 5:7; 2 Chron. 34:22-28; Prov. 31:30-31; Micah 6:4).
  • Leadership is the empowerment of others for service, not the exercise of power over them (Matt. 20: 25-28; 23:8; Mk. 10:42-45; Jn. 13:13-17; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 5:2-3).
Family
  •  Wives and husbands are bound together in a relationship of mutual submission and responsibility (1 Cor. 7:3-5; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; Gen. 21:12). The husband’s function as “head” means a self-giving love and service as likewise the wife is to her husband (Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7).
  •  Both mothers and fathers are to have leadership in nurturing, training, disciplining, and teaching of their children (Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:3; Deut. 6:6-9, 21; 18-21, 27: 16; Prov. 1:8, 6:20; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:5; Luke 2:51).





No Health Insurance for Victims of Domestic Violence OR Sexual Assault OR Stalking???

by Sporadicwriter

By the provision and grace of God, I now am able to receive my own health insurance coverage! Yet there are so many different others who are not as fortunate as I. Pilfering through the entries, you will notice that Contrariwise has already made a post on the new healthcare reform policy titled, “Healthcare And Illegal Aliens.”


Upon my weekly reading of news on MSN.com today, I found an article about health insurance policies for domestic violence victims. As I have had prior experience in the field of domestic violence and am also passionate about women’s health (specifically Breast Cancer Awareness), I became understandably drawn to this article.


I have never been aware of the existence of discrimination against domestic violence victims by health insurance companies. Although, it makes sense now that I think about it. They rack up the premiums for even the simplest things, why wouldn’t they do so with individuals who have severe and life-threatening injuries inflicted upon them resulting in ER hospitalization? To require high premiums is understandable, but to DENY insurance to anyone receiving these often life-threatening injuries lacks too much compassion, particularly for an agency dedicated to the wellness of individuals in our society.


People with all different types of cancer and terminal illnesses can receive insurance aid. Granted, their premiums are racked up to the highest extent, but they receive it. Why can’t someone who has been beaten and hospitalized in the ER?


I also disagree with the practices that have occurred in years past, and am glad to see them MOSTLY behind us. The article states that the only ways in which insurance companies are able to discover the occurrence of domestic violence and sexual assault upon its potential subscribers is to research themselves. They research into the different diagnoses, staff comments, victim statements, police reports, etc. Even in years past and gone from memory, this article indicates an unforgivable memory on the part of the insurance companies.


Thankfully, most states have already banned this practice according to association membership. However, there are still about five states that continue this practice. One of them is my dear South Dakota, in which I have made partnerships again sexual violence, and another is the capital of the United States of America, Washington DC. How can we have or become aware of change, if our capital itself refuses to look the widespread effects of this plague on our society?


I do not remember the percentage, but domestic violence injuries are among the most commonly treated within the ER. There are now even specific questions asked during intake screenings to account for the sexual assault forensic tests necessary for prosecution. So, why is it that 10% of the United States of America ignores the impact of these situations upon society? Why is it that we are once again blaming the victims for what happened to them?


The article says that the evidence and information regarding its effects on the victim and on society are there. Health insurance companies who are blind to it must be simply ignoring them. Is this true? What can we really do to bring awareness of the need for change to these companies when they are purposefully ignoring those most deeply in need of their services?


This article, although not surprising to me as one who has had to deal with willful ignorance toward domestic violence, outrages and upsets me. Are women so debased within our minds that we choose to ignore their cries? Deep down in our hearts, do we really care what happens to a such a significant part of our population, to our life-givers?


Women are people too. They deserve equal treatment. Throughout history, the Woman has survived through various trials and sufferings at the hand of the greater society. She has been brutalized and victimized by the man she loved and thought loved her. We, as professionals dedicated to the welfare and well-being of each individual in society, should look upon her and provide for her needs on a holistic level (healthcare, emotional support, pharmaceutical aid, financial support, public aid, etc.) rather than blame her for being a victim and for doing what is best for her to stay alive. Only she knows and we cannot judge that for ourselves, for we can never have all the facts.


According to Obama, his new healthcare reform will incorporation the support of healthcare to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Therefore, as federal law, all health insurance companies will be required to provide insurance to victims of domestic violence past, present and future. There is no indication of stipulations regarding premiums as this is and will always remain at the liberty of the insurance companies. It might be wracked up as high as even a terminal illness, but that can be worked out in lobbying afterwards. The key point Obama has made is that victims, whether of forced migration or torture in other forms (such as domestic violence), all have the right and privilege to health coverage. To do any less, is inhumane.
Go Obama!


The moral of the story: Health Insurance for Victims of Domestic Violence!!

Taiwanese Drama & Social Commentary

by Sporadicwriter

I just completed watching a Taiwanese drama series that was, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the strong independent women category of dramas within Taiwanese modern culture. Never previously have I seen the main female character depicted with strength, power and independence in such a positive light.


“My Queen” is a drama about an independent, driven and ambitious 32.5 yr old woman who has always been at the top of her class and career status only to be lacking in love and relationships. In the last episode, she has waited 2yrs for her boyfriend’s return from medical training overseas. At this time, she is already 35, the age limit for a healthy pregnancy in childbirth (according to the drama series). It is at this time that the boyfriend proposes. Now, typically when your serious boyfriend of two years proposes, wouldn’t you be the most overjoyed and immediately say yes? But no, she smartly says that she will accept the ring but must think more about considering the proposal. Quite a surprising twist in the plot. Understanding, the boyfriend later says that its not bad to be single.


In this category of Taiwanese dramas, there has been a rise in the independence and strength of female characters. For all prior independent woman dramas that I have watched, the woman has always ended up marrying a man to provide her that protection and strength that is such a theme in Taiwanese and Chinese love stories. Yet this is the first time I have ever seen a drama so completely encompassed in the journey of exploration and identity discovery of life as a woman in modern day Taiwan. China and Taiwan have long desired to assimilate the ways of the United States. I believe one such thing that was brought over was the increasing career-mindedness of women in the USA.


I, as a Westerner, am amazed and impressed with the progressive thought behind this drama because I know that it has received disapproval for the ending. Many women in the Chinese and Taiwanese cultures still struggle with the idea of balancing one’s independence and career with the traditional roles imposed upon us as child-bearers and homemakers. Many have tried to become the “Supermom,” as it were, in order to achieve the perfect balance between tradition and modernization. And yet, to some extent…that can never be possible. This drama show a different perspective, not of balance but accepting who you are regardless of how others see you.


I like how this drama series demonstrates that struggle, presenting the pressures of a traditional, close-knit Taiwanese village as the main character initially fights to become that “Supermom” identity and later realizes that she does not have to conform. It is society’s realization that women do not have to be mothers and wives any longer, that they do not need to be restricted to serving their husbands. A new age has come, the age where a woman can and will rise in the ranks of men and achieve equally or better.


In Chinese history, few have achieved such greatness. Those than have are labelled with the “Dragon” pronoun. It is also interesting to note that when addressing a man, the “dragon” is a label of respect and reverence. Yet when addressing a woman, it denotes something out of place, warped and twisted, something distrustful and wicked.


Madame Chiang – for her political ambition, the Dragon Lady Who Bridged the East and West
Empress Dowager Cixi – for securing her position as ruler, the Dragon Empress
Emperor/Empress Wu Zetian (my FAV) – for being the first and only female emperor, Dragon Emperor