Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Vicky Beeching means to me

Oh look, it's time for my annual blog post! Also, high time I moved that last one down a page, it was getting a little embarrassing stuck there as the first thing people see.

Plus, I have something new to comment on! But we'll get to that soon. First: Vicky Beeching, and what she means to me.

Part of me would like to say that she played a pivotal part in my conversion experience, but this story isn't quite that exciting. Her music, though, has been very popular in the church I have attended for the last four years - and I am pleased to say, continues to be. Many of her lyrics strike deep chords with me; one of her songs even played at our wedding, as we were signing the vows.

More recently, she has been vocal in her support of women bishops, and a subject I have visited a number of occasions here, that of same-sex marriage, and the acceptance of gay Christians within the church. before, one way or another. So, she doesn't know this (and why should she?) but Vicky Beeching is something of a role model to me as I find myself as a Christian woman.

And so I was probably a little more surprised that perhaps I should have been when she was interviewed for the Independent a few weeks ago.

I have debated homosexuality and Christianity at some length - not least with myself - and while some things are less clear-cut than others, one thing I am sure of is that a lot of the gay-hating I've read from (especially American) Christians is not very... well, Christian. Which sort of puts me on the side of gay Christians everywhere by default. The fact that this is now being levelled at one of my favourite Christian musicians and someone who, let's face it, seems like an awesome woman of God not to mention an all-round nice person (at least based on her twittering), just doesn't sit well with me.

But, while I congratulate Vicky (yes, we are on first name terms, at least for the duration of this post) for having the cojones to come out, her doing so did confuse me somewhat.

You see, when I first became a Christian four years ago, God very clearly challenged me about my sexuality, and how I was using and abusing it in various ways. And one of those ways - one which I have not mentioned in this blog up to now - is that for a couple of years prior to that time, I only dated women.

Ok, you at the back, stop looking at me like that. And no, I'm not jumping on Vicky's bandwagon to be an out lesbian Christian because it's cool now; if anything I may be doing the opposite, and this is what slightly bothers me.

God said to me I should not be dating women. Not only that, He gave me the strength to do so (or rather, not to do so), and later gave me a man to love instead.

So why, I ask myself, would He not have given Vicky the ability to turn away from women when she, by her own admission, begged Him to do so? Was I wrong to think God told me that? After all I had no real idea who this God person was at the time, whereas Vicky Beeching... well, she wrote The Wonder Of The Cross, for goodness sake. She is clearly a woman of God.

So then... why? Why do we both get completely opposing answers to very similar questions from the same God?

Well, we didn't. Not really. Truth be told, I'm still attracted to women. If I had to define myself by my sexuality, I would have to say I am bisexual - but I generally choose not to. I'm a married woman, and that is all anyone needs to know about my sexuality. And that leads me to why God told me what He told me; I had to stop dating women in order to date the man who would later become my husband. Maybe as a baby Christian I wrongly took that to mean the homosexuality/bisexuality was always naughty in His sight.

I still know it is wrong for me. I try not to think about women that way; they can tempt me in ways no man can. But I am, and intend to remain, faithful to my husband, because he is the one God planned for me to be with.

I really hope, now that I've got all that off my chest, it doesn't read as if to suggest that somehow Vicky is wrong and can still be 'cured', or to belittle her experience in some way - except in the sense that I hope once the dust settles she doesn't forever get labelled 'gay Christian musician' or something equally lame and can get on with life.

So, what does Vicky Beeching mean to me? Everything she ever did, and then some. That a Godly woman can - and should - be ballsy at times. That not everyone is the same, but everyone is loved. That I still have a lot to learn about God. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Masturbation and Sin

I started putting this together while Animal was driving us back from our holiday last week and I got into another twitter debate, this time over whether masturbation is sinful.

First, some background: when God picked me out of the crowd and asked me to follow Him 3 years ago, he challenged me very specifically on my attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and they have been evolving since then as I have prayed, studied and thought about various apsects of the subject. I don't claim to be an expert; just someone who has given a lot of thought to subjects like this and done her best to apply God's will in her life.

Before we begin, I am not writing an apologetic for masturbation; I don't seek to justify it or prove that it is OK. Please don't use my words to justify something to yourself if you think believe it is wrong. I believe sex and sexuality to be deeply personal matters - matters best kept between you, the person you choose to share them with, and God.

When masturbation is wrong

There are certainly circumstances in which masturbation is wrong:
  • If you believe masturbation to be sinful, then it probably is - for you.
  • If you are likely to be led into lustful thoughts by it, you should try to avoid it - lust is a sin.
  • If it becomes a compulsive or addictive behaviour pattern, this is unhealthy whether or not you consider it a sin; it is also more likely to lead you into lust or get in the way of your relationship with God.
If any of those apply to you, I urge you to try (or continue) to resist masturbation. The rest of this piece is not really for you.

You (girls especially) might like this article by Heather Lindsey which explains why she believes masturbation to be sinful, and gives some good advice on avoiding it.

However, if you are a Christian and do not fit into the categories above, or are undecided whether masturbation is right or not, I would like to offer you my perspective; a counter argument to 'masturbation is always sin', which I believe to be unBiblical and unhelpful.

Why do we do it?

OK, let's get right down to it. Sex is fun - God made it that way. Orgasms feel good - God made it that way. God made sex to be enjoyed, not just as a tool for procreation. God made me a sexual being - He made most of us that way, to varying degrees. And the vast majority of us begin to explore that as teenagers, through masturbation. It's a natural process of discovering what we like so that when the time comes to share our bodies with a partner, we can make the most of it.

Enjoying the gift of sex that God gave us - enjoying it fully with the person God has picked for us to spend our lives with - gives more glory to God. Nothing brings two people closer than the act of sex. Nothing. So why not enjoy it as much as possible? And how are we to do that if we don't know what we like?

Yes, ok, masturbation serves no useful purpose other than to make us feel good for a few minutes. Well so what? Neither does Red Dwarf or 'Walking on Sunshine' by Katrina and the Waves. That doesn't make it inherently wrong. For the Christian, I believe all things need a little thought and prayer, and to be done in a sensible, harmless way.

So that's what I think. What does God have to say on the matter?

What the Bible says

The Bible is quite clear that 'sexual immorality' is wrong; however it is far from clear exactly what consitutes sexual immorality. Pre-marital sex is almost universally accepted among Christians as being against God's wishes. A man sleeping with his stepmother is mentioned as a specific example of immorality. Adultery and looking at another with lust were said by Jesus to be equally sinful. There is no more specific advice on masturbation than that*.

Yes, our bodies are a temple, yes, we are called to self-control; as I have already said, if those things make you think you shouldn't be masturbating, then maybe God is calling you not to - perhaps he knows it will lead to an addictive behaviour or lustful thoughts. Listen to these thoughts.


But self-control does not necessarily mean never letting yourself do a thing. The Message puts it as being 'able to marshal our thoughts and energies wisely'. There is no prohibition on moderation.

Take alcohol. Jesus not only drank wine, he bottled his own. Yet drunkenness is right up there next to sexual immorality.

Wine, like masturbation, serves no useful purpose beyond its own enjoyment. Both can lead to sinful behaviour if over-indulged, but with self-control - knowing your limits and sticking to them - I see no Biblical prohibition.

Galatians includes self-control in the fruit of the Spirit; something which will grow out of our relationship with God, not something on which that relationship depends. Allow God to guide you, to give you self-control when needed and keep you from over-indulging.

A warning though: as both wine and masturbation are pleasurable, both can be addictive. Addictive behaviours can become idols in our lives, taking more importance than time with God; put your 'God-time' ahead of your 'me-time'.


The key, I believe, is lust. Now, I know men and women are wired differently this way, but speaking personally, I can masturbate just for it's own sake, without lustful thoughts bothering me. Men generally find this harder, and with the abundance of porn and increasingly sexy videos on MTV, it's all too easy to find some visual aid to speed the process along.

Don't. This is clearly lust, and clearly a sin.

(Pornography is a bigger issue, and one which I have blogged about plenty already. My defence of masturbation is based on not using porn in the process.) 

Lust for your partner

Thinking about your partner can complicate things. If you're married, fantasising about your spouse while you pleasure yourself is fine. Animal does this, and I'm fine with that. You can't lust after what is already yours.

If you're not married though, it's less simple. First, as the person is not 'yours' as your spouse is, by strict interpretation this is lust. Second, from a personal perspective, I had to cut back on masturbation when we were engaged, because it made me want sex with my husband-to-be all the more. (I was not a virgin, I knew what I was missing; this may well not happen to virgins. No promises though, just my experience to share.)

And yes, I did say back there that my husband still masturbates. This is not because I don't fulfill his desires! Girls, you know there are going to be a few days each month when you just don't want him touching you. Not that that has to be the only place for it in the marriage bed; masturbation can be part of fun, healthy sex between a married couple - the kind of sex that unites man and wife to the glory of God.

I certainly don't believe that sex is intended only for having babies; nor do I believe that the Bible sets out rules for what constitutes 'immoral' practices between man and wife. The only restrictions that exist between Animal and I are those that we have imposed on ourselves.

In conclusion...

Your sexual activities are your business - between you, your partner, and God. Nobody else has any place dictating to you what is right or wrong between two consenting adults.

As always, the comments are open for discussion. Keep it clean though, eh?

*Some may point to Onan, who was punished for 'spilling his semen on the ground'; in context, the punishment was for deliberately refusing to fulfil his cultural duty to continue his brother's line. Basically, he wasn't masturbating, he just pulled out early.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Big Gay Rant

I'm about to rant again, and if you've followed my recent flip-flopping about gay marriage, you might be surprised by what I say.

It started with a tweet - someone expressing the view that being homosexual is not a sin, as long as you are not having sex. This, I think, is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the Biblical instruction on the matter, so I took issue with someone making the blanket statement that 'homosexuals shall not enter the kingdom of heaven'. That is not what the Bible means. It shows no love or grace. It condemns the person, not the act. That isn't the God I know.

I won't get too far into the right or wrong of being a practicing homosexual today - although I do have a view on that - because I need, above all else, to vent this question:

What is the difference between a homosexual person choosing to be celibate and a straight person doing so?

One is not having sex with members of the same gender? It makes no sense, it is a stupid, irrelevant and just plain wrong argument. I had a period of celibacy, I didn't sleep with men or women. Who I chose to have sex with before then had no bearing on the fact that I chose to be celibate. That would be stupid.

(On a side note, I find it slightly amusing that anti-gay Chistians quote the same verses from Leviticus to make their point that anti-Christian atheists use to make Christianity look hopelessly irrelevant.)

And don't get me started on stupid judgmental statements like 'you can't be a Christian and a homosexual at the same time'. (Oh look, somebody just did. Oh well...) That's fifty shades of ridiculous. I mean, why can't you? Because it's a sin? You can't be a sinner and a Christian at the same time? Well, that's, let's see, roughly 100% of the world's Christians screwed then.

Even if we agree that homosexuality is a sin, that's all it is - a sin like any other. God has no scale of sins; gay sex, unmarried sex, prostitution, extortion, bullying, rampant judgmentalism.... They're all just as naughty in His sight.

So, get over yourselves, stop acting so high and mighty, let Christ decide who can or can't be a Christian, and get on with showing some love to the people you come into contact with.

God knows, some of you people are almost enough to put me off Christianity.

(For the interested, clicking the sexuality tag below will bring up my thought process on the subject of gay marriage.)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Almost ready to get off the fence

I've been following the whole equal marriage debate lately because, well, because it matters to me, but I'm still unsure where, as a Christian, I should fall on the matter. But I think I'm coming to a conclusion, having wavered for a long time.

I still have a couple of questions; I'm not entirely clear, despite the best efforts of others to put me straight (no pun intended), why civil partnerships are not good enough.

I do have reservations about the redefining of marriage; is this the first step towards legalising polygamy? Or, if Lord Tebbit is to be believed, incest? It's a valid concern, I think, although in honesty Tebbit all but persuaded me to vote in favour of equal marriage just because he was so fricking ham-fisted in his arguments. Moreover, how 'equal' is equal marriage if you still have to preface it with 'gay' or 'lesbian'? (And why do some people still refer to 'my lesbian partner'? I can see you're both girls, just call her your girlfriend, or partner, or whatever. And yes, I see that is an argument for being able to use the word 'wife', just don't call her your 'lesbian wife'.)

Anyway, Tebbit-factor aside, here is my latest reasoning:

I am pro-marriage and not anti-gay; that should make the call obvious.
I do believe that homosexual activity is against God's wishes; for that reason my issue has always been with the idea of churches being made to offer marriage to all orientations. This appears to have been addressed, so my main argument against it no longer stands.
My religious views, for want of a better expression, still stand, but if people want to get married other than in a church, my religious views don't really matter. I never intentionally hold non-believers to Biblical standards, and on sooooo many levels it's not my place to judge anyone!

I'm pro-marriage, and I have gay (non-Christian) friends - why would I want to deny them marriage (if that's what they want - my friends would have been quite happy with a civil partnership, hence my confusion).

So, yes, Ithink I've come round to a position of gay marriage outside the church is ok.
Inside the church is a different matter, of course; but again, we are all different, all called differently by God and all relate to him differently. That is a different argument, which I don't need to get involved in at the moment (thankfully!)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

War! (Huuah) What is it good for?

This is what I've been up to during my recent bloggy absence. It's not turned out anything like I expected, mainly because I dropped a whole load of stuff while I was putting it together. It's a big subject, you see.

Yes, this is my attempt to tackle the rather tired argument that religion just causes wars - or at least that religion is the cause of more or bloodier wars than anything else.

First lets clarify a couple of things: first, I don't like to consider myself religious, and I don't consider true Christianity to be a 'religion' in the sense that word is generally used, but that's for another post.

This is an argument that has been levelled against Christianity and other religions though, so my thoughts probably also apply to both.

At the most obvious level, of course religion causes wars. As messed up as people can be sometimes, we still rarely tend to fight over things we agree about. Political and ideological differences are bound to be pretty high on the list of things that nations and groups of people fight over, not least because these are the things people tend to be the most passionate about.

I started looking up some figures, but it soon became apparent that there was no easy way to establish how many people were killed in 'religious' and 'non-religious' wars because, statistics being what they are, the figures can show exactly what the person presenting them wants them to show.

Similarly, atheists will gladly point to Hitler's Catholic parentage and declare WWII a religious war; while the Jewish Holocaust had religious connotations, it could be argued that this was a war against the Jewish race, or the start of an attempt to wipe out all religion... in any event, suggesting that Hitler was acting out of Christian faith is both unfounded and, frankly, more than a little ridiculous.

Many wars are like this; some have religion or religious groups involved, but whether religion is the primary cause depends on your point of view.

Yes, there were the Crusades, which plainly were (ostensiby) religious wars. I would suggest, however, that you would have to be daft to ignore God on the basis of some ill-advised wars a few centuries ago.

But that's not God's fault, that's people. Even if you accept that many wars are fought in the name of religion, the fact remains that God doesn't want us to go round gratuitously killing and maiming each other. That is human nature, not God's nature. People are basically messed up, and even if you take religion out of the equation entirely, they will still go about being mean to each other and starting fights.

Religion doesn't kill people. People kill people.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Music Monday: Girl Power

There seems to have been a wave of anti-sexism on twitter today as the No More Page 3 campaign gains momentum, and that kind of reminded of Girl Power - which apparently wasn't invented by the Spice Girls after all. So here's some 90s pop cheese for you to listen to while you go and add your voice to the Page 3 backlash :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013


I've said it a before, but here it is again: I need to change. I know what I need to change from - some of my internet habits - but I don't know exactly what I need to change to.

However, I am put in mind of a quote Animal read to me recently: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

There's the rub, right? I've been following Christ for a couple of years now, and been really passionate about learning more about him, about God and about the Bible. Now, I think, that initial passion has passed - not to say I'm not still as captivated by Him as I was to start with, but my focus has changed. Everybody knows I'm a Christian, and that I will wax philosophical on the subject for hours given the chance, but that's not achieving anything. I need to do something real. I need to leave the stream of warm impermanence and go do something else. Something that will matter. Something that will make a difference. Which brings us back to changing my internet habits.

For a long time I've been an internet chatter. Chat sites, instant messengers, all sorts over the years. It wasn't always wholesome - which is why I blog anonymously - but more recently I've been using that platform to big up married sex, and even once or twice had some interesting theological and philosophical conversations. Unfortunately the theological discussions tend to start at about midnight, and as much as I enjoy them, the other parties (usually muslims or militant atheists) don't seem interested in emailing me and allowing me to answer fully and thoughtfully.

All of which is to say, that when Microsoft shut down live messenger in a couple of months, I won't be rushing to skype. I need to move on from that kind of stuff, it's just a hangover from who I used to be. The intelligent, thoughtful conversations being as rare as they are, there's nothing to lose except exercising my acid tongue on the few perverts who haven't yet blocked me for being 'boring' (ie not wanting to see them masturbating), and I'm sure I will find more constructive ways to use the time I save by not chatting (or fighting off pervs). I guess you'll have to watch this space to find out what they turn out to be.

In the meantime, anyone who wants to debate religion with me - or carry on any other internet conversations we had, for those few normal people out there - after March 15th, I'll be here or twittering as @SlimSadiee. Mormons, Muslims and militant atheists equally welcome.