Let’s Talk about Sex

It’s been three days since we’ve been home from The Idea Camp and my head is finally coming up from the water. In our two days in Vegas, I came away with so much more than I thought I would. In fact, the way the conference is set up lends itself to a much more interpersonal and in-depth learning environment than many other conferences. I was going through my notes to try to summarize for you all that I have, but it’s just too much! What I did find is that I jotted down a lot of quotes, so I will leave them for you. Forgive me for not knowing who said some of these things. But I know the people who made these statements all have a heart for Jesus’ truth and love to reclaim all that has gone wrong in this world as it relates to human sexuality. So here it goes:

On Sex and the Marriage Bed (all by Angus Nelson):

It’s important to talk about sex with your spouse and diffuse any unrealistic expectations.”

“We make relationships about us. The reason why the marriage bed is the heart of God is because it’s not about me.”

“What an exchange, if two people can serve each other in safety, love and selflessness.”

“Tell your man everything you respect about him and honor him. When you disrespect the man, you neuter the man.” (insert scissor motion here)

On Beauty for Ashes: Relational Healing for the Church (all by Dawn Carter):

“Dealt with is not the same as healing from.”

“The power of story: mirroring that which should have been as God intended.”

“Understand the role of your authority as a child of God in the Spiritual realm.”

From Charles Lee:

On implementing great ideas: “Friendship is not enough, you need the right people on the team.”

On sexual abuse and sin: “The Church has gotten good at confronting people, but not in walking with them.”

From David Trotter:

“If you are thinking about having an affair, keep in mind you will lose things you never knew you had.”

From Chris Clapp Logan and Ryan Russell:

“Things parents may not be aware of when their kids get on-line:

  1. They assume their kids are good and wont’ get into anything they shouldn’t
  2. Their kids are searching for love and affirmation
  3. Their kids have become callous to sex

“Know your kids friends online as you would off-line.” ~ Chris Clapp Logan

“True recovery is found in Luke 5 because sometimes it takes the power of God through community to bring about healing.” Nicole Wick

On Human Trafficking:

“Instead of being a temple builder, be a well digger.” ~ Mel McGowan

“The whole Church must participate, it takes the entire body of Christ.”

On Jesus and Justice (Bethany Hoang and Gary Haugen):

“At the end of the day, it’s about spiritual formation. The work of justice is given to us to shape us into becoming more like Jesus.”

“When you do the right thing, for the right reason, God has your back.”

“Prayer is the filter for our work, it shapes it and punctuates the day.” (regarding their 8:30 and 11am prayer times as a team)

On practical insight to discouragement in the work of justice (by Gary Haugen):

“Jesus asked us to be His disciples in fallen world. He doesn’t take us out of it, He leaves us in it.” Expect the world around you to be fallen… because it is.

“Spend time in prayer, do your work in community and be intentional about finding the joy.  Joy is the oxygen that makes obedience possible.”

On practical 1st steps to enter into the work of human trafficking (by Bethany Hoang):

“It really is one step at a time. Pick a target country or city. Focus your passion into that particular place. Have prayer time with a few others. Read a newsletter. Get close to the victims.”

On Restoring America’s Sex Trafficked Women by Annie Lobert:

“The world throws us away, the Church needs to love them through the pain, expecting them to fall.”

“Grace is more powerful than we realize.”

“90% of prostitutes are trafficked by a pimp.”

On Trafficking and Orphan Care:

“The church is the hope for the orphan crisis Every person has to play and every church has to engage in this crisis.” ~ Chris Marlow

On Sexual Orientation:

“The authenticity of friendship is that the outcome is secondary.” ~ Andrew Marin

“We have to pause and listen to the human story. We have to let love work its way through incarnation.” ~ Greg Russinger

Sexual orientation is not about an issue, it’s about people.” ~ Charles Lee

On sex and the family (Jud and Lori Wilhite):

“We are missionaries in a foreign world. Our hand is to the plow. We don’t expect our culture to think the same as us and yet we still engage and don’t separate ourselves from our culture.”

“Talking to your kids about sex is not a purity message, it’s a gospel message.”

On One in Six Women (Crystal Renaud):

According to Crystal’s research, 1 out of 6 women are consumers of the sex industry. This number is fast growing.  This ranges from erotica, films that are becoming more “relational” to attract women, and phone sex. Regarding the healing process, Crystal uses the acronym, “SCARS.”

  • Surrender – not just the behavior, but surrender your woundedness to Christ and to the process of recovery.
  • Confession – (James 5:15), Admitting the struggle
  • Accountability – Partnership on a daily basis. Know what your triggers are and tell someone.
  • Responsibility – Say you are sorry and repent to those you have hurt.
  • Sharing – God never wastes an experience we’ve had.

So there you have it… some snippets of what’s been swimming in my head all week-long. I pray it is encouraging, I pray that it will be useful as I continue to share it with those around me.

Camp Notes

Safety.

A word that was used in every session I attended at day 1 of the Idea Camp.

The unusual thing about The Idea Camp is, rather that filling the schedule with well-known key-note speakers, there are workshops and sessions with people who have experience, maybe some expertise and a story. They are people who have walked through the fires of sexual abuse, failed marriages, adultery, exploitation, prostitution, pornography and addiction. The workshops are interactive and every one in attendance is invited to contribute. Everyone has a story.

Let’s just say, it was really heavy.

The word safety was used when talking about the marriage bed. Guarding it. Contending for it. Making it the the place of holiness it was designed to be. It was also mentioned as the necessity to healing from abuse. It was brought to the forefront of the restoration process from sin and it is required for intimacy.

If you want to have a rockin’ sex life with your spouse, you need to feel safe with him or her. Talking about things is not always easy, but if you feel safe you can have these conversations.

Victims of abuse have lost their sense of safety. They feel abandoned, isolated and unworthy. Unless they find a person or a place of safety, they are not able to open the Pandora’s Box of hurt, loss and shame they may be pressing down.

Those that find themselves lost in affairs need to experience the safety that comes with grace in order to be restored after repenting from their sin.

Last night, Nicole Wick shared that true healing happens in community. Referencing Luke 5 where we find a paralytic who can’t come to Jesus on his own. His friends know the only way he can be healed is by Jesus. So when they can’t get through the crowds, they climb up on the roof, carrying their friend on a stretcher and they lower him down, right in front of Jesus.

My mom is paralyzed and I know if I were to grab a few friends, put her on a stretcher and climb up on a roof top only to lower her down in the middle of a crowd, she would be completely freaked out to the point of not willing to go through with it. She would not feel safe. She would feel vulnerable and more out of control than she already feels. We don’t read anything indicating this man was reluctant, fearful or hesitant. He must have known he was in good hands. He was willing to take the risks associated with putting his life and his care in the hands of these friends.

If you find yourself lost in the pain of abuse or in debilitating damage of your sin, do you have a trust worthy friend who you feel safe with? One who will take you to Jesus when you don’t think you can get there?

How are we doing with cultivating shelter for those who are in need of it?

What will it take for you to feel safe enough to talk to your spouse about what

your needs are to get to place of greater intimacy?

In any case, it’s worth the battle. Let’s do this.

You can follow the idea camp’s live stream by clicking here.

Why Vegas?

Today and tomorrow, the Idea Camp is taking place in Henderson, Nevada. I want to tell you why I think it’s important. For two days, there will be voices from all across the spectrum, different philosophies and even different theology, engaging in a dialogue on sex and the Church. Various topics such as it relates to pornography, sexual addictions, homosexuality, gender issues and family issues.

It grieves me that many churches have decided not to send teams because of the location, because they aren’t ready to deal with the subject or even perhaps because they think they don’t need to.

Over the last few years in ministry, I have sat with women as they rage and cry over how pornography is stealing their husband from them. Over the brokenness that comes with adultery. With mother’s who discovered pornography on their son’s computers. With women who can’t stop sleeping with men in order to fill the emptiness in their souls. I’ve listened to women grieve over the ending of their marriages. To daughters rejoice over God’s redeeming work in the lives of their fathers. To wives lament over their husbands who won’t step up and BE a man by leading their families benevolently and courageously. I have helped young men find mentors who will understand their struggle with homosexuality. Walking alongside those who have sinned and those who have been sinned against.

The unfortunate truth is many who find themselves in these delicate situations often feel shut out from the Church. Sometimes it’s a classic case of our adversary using our flesh to condemn us. And other times it’s out inner pharisee rearing its ugly head when we see people struggling in an area where we don’t. Or dare I say, an area WE don’t want to admit there is a tension. We either sense being judged or left out. As though the ones who have it all together don’t know what to do with us. Their friends may turn their backs on them because suddenly things are messy. We hesitate to look in the mirror because we are afraid of what we may see.

Yet the Church needs to respond because these are the challenges that seek to destroy life’s most important relationships. I’m thankful our church is committed to this. The Church exists to shepherd its people to the transforming power of the Gospel. The power of the Gospel to restore what has been broken. These are the moments in a person’s life when the resurrection comes to life in full color. It becomes real and tangible in a way only God can do and it can bring a person to the thin place between the human and the divine. When we give access to the darkest parts of our hearts, where shame, condemnation and death is lurking, Jesus overcomes. This is what Jesus does. This is the Well (John 4).

It begins with a conversation. We need to leave space for truth. No matter how uncomfortable it is. We need to live with the messy for a while and watch and listen to God as He brings about the cleansing.

I don’t know how to do this well. So, I’m going to Vegas to learn.

On a side note, I’m looking forward to meeting some friends I’ve made on-line. Sarah Markley and Dan King and of course my “real” friend Charles.

Are you going too? Tell us why?

The Church and Slavery

This week, the Idea Camp bloggers are writing about slavery. You can’t have a discussion on sexual issues facing the church today without going there. The blogs have been informative, stirring and provoking. I encourage you to read them and educate yourself on this very real issue that is taking place in our own back yards.

In conversations I’ve been a part of with several church leaders locally, the question that remains at the forefront is:

“What can the church be doing?”

According to the A21 Campaign,

“The average age that people are trafficked into forced prostitution is only 12-14 years old, and we have a responsibility to ensure that this upcoming generation does not fall victim or add to the future demand for trafficked victims. Through education and awareness, we have the ability to help prevent human trafficking and inspire young people to be a part of a cause that is worth fighting for.”

Education.

Awareness.

Prevention.

Supply and demand are key words to this conversation concerning the church. If the demand is not there, the supply becomes limited.

The Church is what Jesus had in mind to bring hope to a lost a dying world. It was designed to be the refuge where people should come to seek transformation through discipleship and love when they are struggling with the propensity to add to the demand. The Church is where young girls should be taught how not to lose sight of their worth as women who are made in the image of Christ so they do not fall prey to human trafficking. The Church is where we should be reminded of how all of us were bought with a price by the blood of Jesus and with this blessing comes great responsibility.

I’m looking forward to hearing from others on this issue at the Idea Camp in hopes that the Church will be more likely to take its place in this fight to end slavery.

A Few Resources :

Take a look at this series from Oakland Local.

Watch the video at the end of this previous post

Washington Times

ABC News

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

This is Part 3 of a series for Gender Week for the Idea Camp. Please see the previous posts for Parts 1 and 2. This week, the Idea Camp bloggers are writing about Gender. What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

Since the fall of man, the lens through which men and women are viewed has been skewed, to say the least. Prior to sacrificing and covering their shame, God warns them there would now be enmity between man and woman. Furthermore, her desire would now be to control her husband and he would desire to rule over her. (Genesis 3) This relational strife pitted between man and woman would be something to contend with for generations to come.

For years and years, men and women all over the world have struggled with shame, condemnation, oppression, depression, abuse, adultery, divorce, substance abuse, murder, suicide and many other maladies in part due to animosity between one another. Relationships have been destroyed, visions and dreams have been crushed, limits and glass ceilings have been put into place and broken through either appropriately or inappropriately, but none the less, we can all agree it has been difficult.

In Jesus, we have a Savior who has come to restore and redeem His Kingdom so men and women can view themselves and one another through the lens of Jesus and God the Creator of mankind. The way it was intended to be. Because of Him and the Spirit which gives us power, we have the ability to seek Truth, to understand God and each other.

A few years ago, I wanted to teach a class on Biblical womanhood. I searched through dozens of books and curriculum to find something I believed was truthful, biblical and within the scope of reality for the women in my church. I wanted them to see the truth of who God made them to be in a very tangible, attainable and applicable way. Every thing I found either viewed women solely through Genesis 3, put them in a cute little box making every woman feel like they needed to be cut out of the same mold, and basically didn’t leave much room for any diversity in lifestyle, personality, or calling. According to what was out there, we were either deceived, insubordinate, needing to understand more what it means to be gentle and quiet or we had to learn to put everything aside so the man if our life (assuming there was or would be one) could become the man God intended him to be.

This was difficult because we have many women in our community who are married, divorced, single, young, and older. We live in Los Angeles, so many work out of necessity or because they are called to careers in which God is moving greatly through them. So, I put aside every other book and decided to go with what always works… the Bible and wrote a case study called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Field Guide for Women in the 21st Century.

If you read the stories of women in the Bible, you will find women who were imperfect, broken, noble, benevolent, giving, deceitful, naughty, and good. And those are just the ones God chose to use to advance His Kingdom.

Beginning with Eve ~ We see a woman God intended to complete her counterpart and work alongside him to fulfill God’s purpose for filling, ruling and subduing the earth.

Sarah ~ A woman who had to learn the hard way not to take matters into her own hands but to trust God… no matter how long it takes for Him to answer our prayers.

Rahab ~ Even a prostitute can be used to bring about His purposes before she even shuts down her business.

Ruth and Naomi ~ The value of friendship, loyalty and redemption for those who wait upon the Lord.

Deborah ~ When leaders aren’t leading and doing what they are supposed to do, God does indeed raise  up a woman to judge, make decisions and inspire the people to do what they are called to do.

Huldah ~ A prophetess in the time of King Josiah who warned of impending disaster and spoke on behalf of God regarding the Book of the Law.

Mary ~ God used a woman to bring about His Son. She was the first to hear of Him and the last to be there at the foot of the cross when He gave His life.

The Bleeding Woman ~ We need to reach for Jesus in our most desperate moments so we can see, He is all we need.

The Woman caught in adultery ~ There is no one who is without sin and when we look to Jesus, we can actually go and sin no more.

The Woman at the well ~ In our most sinful and broken places in life, Jesus knows all and loves us still and can restore women and use them to bring an entire community to Him.

Mary Magdalene ~ An outcast in society, overcome by 7 demons before she met Jesus and she was the first person He chose to reveal His resurrection to and the first person commanded by Him to”Go and tell…” (John 20).

Priscilla ~ Alongside her husband Aquilla demonstrates how a woman can gently instruct a man bringing truth and perspective that in turn benefits the body of Christ. (Acts 18).

Phoebe ~ A vital part of Paul’s ministry in Cencherea was Phoebe, a servant or deconess, whom he commends to the people of Rome to receive in a manner worthy of the saints. Many suggest she delivered the book of Romans and from her we learn that God entrusts His word to women.

The one thing all these women had in common was that in their defining moments, they responded to God first and as a result it effected the relationships and communities around them. They are but a few examples of how God uses the broken yet beautiful parts of us to bring healing, restoration and redemption to this Kingdom.  If we carefully study these God given examples, we know we can fix our eyes on Jesus and in response be women {and men} the way God intended us to be.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~ Psalm 139:14

How do you see your unique contribution as a man or a woman to God’s Kingdom?

Oh, Eve

This is part 2 in a blogging series on Gender for the Idea Camp.
For part 1, click here.

Dustin L. Boutwell, http://www.westendgallery.net

Enter Genesis Chapter 3. The Fall of Man and the hinge on which many arguments surround gender issues hang on.

It goes something like this: Satan tempted Eve with the same thing he tempts us with today.

More.

More of what doesn’t belong to us. More knowledge. More power. More credibility. More fame. She forgets what she’s been taught, she forgets the very Word of God and succumbs to his scheme. She is deceived. Not only does Eve fall, she brings her husband down with her and yet he should have been the very person to protect her, hold her accountable and remind her who she is and who God is.

Because of this great fall, chaos, confusion, difficulty, pain and enmity have plagued relationships, society and the world.

“Naked and unashamed” became “covered up and full of shame”

Yet God is faithful. He never has and never will allow anyone or anything thwart His plans for humanity.  It doesn’t come easily. God replaces their garments of fig leaves with a garment of sacrifice. A foreshadowing of what is to come in Jesus. He gives them a new calling, a new direction and sends them out of the garden to work, struggle and survive. But not without a promise of His faithfulness. Not without the promise of His sovereignty. Not without the promise of a future redemption.

Jesus.

Because of Jesus, we have been redeemed. Although due to present day context, we aren’t going to walk around naked, we can be unashamed. We can take hold of our uniqueness and be the woman God intended us to be.

The word redeemed by definition is “cleared by payment” or “to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom” or in theological terms, “to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.”

Because of Jesus, we have been cleared from the curse bestowed on Eve.

We have been released from the captivity of sin caused by the fall.

We have been restored to be the women who God intended us to be.

We have been delivered.

Today, many women struggle to walk in redemption and not in the fall. Though the effects of the fall are very real and still exist, we walk with our heads low as though we have a scarlet letter on our foreheads. We need to remember that Genesis begins in chapter one and not chapter three and yet we are still often confused.

What does it look like to you to walk in redemption?

On Being a Woman

This week, I’m joining the Idea Camp bloggers as they prepare for a conference on the topic of sex on September 27-28 in Las Vegas. For the weeks leading up to the event, each week is dedicated to an aspect on this discussion. From the website, here is what the conference is all about:

In a culture formed and broken by tainted views of human sexuality, what should followers of Christ embody?

Join us for a fresh, honest and transformative conversation with leading thinkers on topics including sexual identity, orientation, abuse, gender perceptions, porn, marriage, family, prostitution, and slavery.

The issues related to human sexuality are too often misunderstood, ignored, or avoided in far too many churches. The Idea Camp will facilitate a safe and transparent environment of learning, sharing of insights from the respective fields of focus, and practical insights and examples of holistic care.

The focus topic of the week is gender perceptions, so I would like to take the next few days to dialogue (hopefully with you) on what it means to be a woman.

Depending on where you go and who you ask you will get scores of different answers to that question. What does it mean to be a woman? How do you define womanhood?

In American culture, a woman can be whoever she wants to be. She can be a leader, a politician, she can be a mother, she can be a wife, and she can choose to be a mother even if she chooses not to be a wife. She can be a pastor, she can be a firefighter, she can be a law enforcement officer, and she can serve in the military. Unlike half a century ago, a woman can be virtually anything a man can be.

But does that make her who she is?

What distinguishes her from her counterpart?

God created man and woman equally. He loves women as much as He loves men and both enjoy the highest value of all His creation.

Yet she was made for a different reason. Man was missing something. It was not good for man to be alone. Creation was incomplete.

There needed to be a partner, a helper, a co-heir, a collaborator with man, so together, in their uniqueness, they could steward the land, be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 2)

So after she was created, what does it say about her?

“This is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.”

The intent was that she would work with man, not against man.

“They were naked and unashamed.”

In her created and intended origin, she was so free and secure in who she was that she was actually naked and unashamed.

She didn’t worry about what she looked like or what people thought of her.

She was unashamed of her purpose.

Unashamed to be alongside man.

Unashamed of being a helper.

Unashamed of working the land.

Unashamed to fill the earth and subdue it.

Unashamed that she was created in His image, in His likeness. (Genesis 1)

But because of Chapter 3, we have come far from this original plan. We’ll get to that tomorrow.

What do you think it means to be a woman?