VIDEO: Top 3 Questions of the Week

With the holiday coming up (tomorrow!) I knew I wouldn’t have much time to blog, and I still have some emails waiting to be answered in my inbox. Since Wednesday is my video day anyway, it worked out to answer some of the top questions right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

There were so many questions from the Facebook party last night and in my email inbox that I wanted to answer, but I narrowed it down to three:

1. How do we know if what we are doing is truly God’s direction? How do we know we aren’t just mimicking the others or copying what we read in a book? How do we discern God’s will?

2. How can a woman affirm and encourage the man in her life, and is it ever appropriate to be a man’s accountability partner?

3. How do you balance being content where God has you while also preparing for marriage?

Many of these questions have nooks and crannies I don’t have the time to get into in one video, and I hope to blog about those at some point. But for now, here’s 13 minutes of me talking to you instead of to Mr. M (he thanks you).

5 Ideas for Bible Study [When the Living Word Feels Dry]

Last night I hosted our first EVER Facebook party on the blog Facebook page – what a fantastic time! We had people from all over the United States, quite a few in Australia, and several in Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries across the world. During the party, I asked for feedback about future posts on the blog. One of the hot topics was “ideas for how to study the Bible”. I thought, “What a great thought!” So here we go! (And like the Facebook page to join us for future parties! We have a book giveaway and all sorts of fun!)

It’s easy to get in a rut when reading our Bibles. I know I’ve been there, and I fall back into that pit often enough. In the Religion program at Liberty University I have the opportunity to learn new study habits and acquire new resources, all of which inspire me to continue studying on my own time. But many of these resources are available to YOU as well!

Below are five ideas to aid you in your own study of the Bible, even when you’re in a dry spell.

1. Choose a place to start (and don’t bite off too much).

I have tried to read through the Bible at least five times. I have never been able to read straight through the old and new testaments consecutively – but I’ve managed to read all the books of the Bible individually! Don’t force yourself to do something in which you can’t maintain consistency. If reading through the Bible in a year doesn’t work for you, focus on one book at a time, get some commentaries to understand the context, and do a deeper study.

One of the flaws with the ‘read-through-in-a-year’, at least that I’ve encountered, is the pressing need to rush through the book. I like to sit down, read a little, mark it up, and truly understand what is happening in the passage. When I have to read my allotted chapter for the day, I don’t do as much study.

Should a Christian Woman “Put Herself Out There”?

I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder for a while, blinking at me. You’re bound to write me one day.

When I received four emails in two days from girls asking, “How do I meet men?” saying, “I haven’t even been asked out!” and wondering, “Is it wrong to go looking for guys to date?” I figured it was time to bite the bullet and dive in.

I was hesitant to write this because there will be trolls who show up – bitter, angry women who believe there really aren’t any good men left in the world – who will shun, shame and bash what I have to say here. That’s okay. I’m used to it. And I’m not going to let the bitterness of a few ruin hope for the many.

Truth is – I’ve been there. I mean, I grew up in northern Michigan, which is essentially like living on an island since there’s water on three sides and only one way out: Ohio. It was easy to think my options were limited, since dating one of my many guy friends was perilous business (the age-old ‘don’t want to ruin the friendship’ issue).

Like almost everything else I write about on this blog (kissing, dating standards, modesty, submission, men), there are two extreme camps on this issue. One implies women should spend life in their living rooms, skip college, and wait for a man who pursues them. The other vouches for ‘empowerment': citing ‘equality’ as reason enough for women to ask men out on a date the same way a man would ask a woman. Women are encouraged to pursue men and make their availability wantonly clear.

And there we are, God’s women, sitting in between these two camps: one piously citing faith in a very unseen suitor, the other out every evening with a different guy.

What’s a girl to do?

I grew up immersed in ‘purity culture’. I’ve read the books, heard the speakers, gone to the conventions, worn the ring – I know the system. Unlike other writers, I didn’t abandon ship, thanks to the grace of God. But this doesn’t mean purity ‘culture’ isn’t without its flaws. Anytime we try to take a grace-driven virtue and narrow it down to a list of rules, legalism will emerge. And where legalism lives, you’ll see some passionate people clinging to ideas that aren’t expressly biblical.

The First Step to Thanksgiving is to Notice

The project was in full, Type-A swing – the project I mentioned in Contentment Is not a State of Being.

‘Embrace Lynchburg’ is an effort on my part to ‘grow where I’ve been planted’… to accept the place God has me in a city that is constantly changing.

That epiphany – that contentment-choice – opened my eyes to notice.

I first realized a shift in my mentality as I stood streetside by our downtown bank. Mr. M was getting cash from the ATM and I was looking at the quiet Sunday intersection, overarched by gray November skies that blended into the fading facades of Greek revival buildings.

A leaf blew by my feet, and I noticed the brilliant red against the cobblestone.

The man who always sits at the corner of Main and 9th – he hums and rolls his eyes at you when you walk past. I noticed him this time, not in the ‘walk as fast as I can because I’m so uncomfortable’ kind of way.

I’d left my phone in the car. I’ve been leaving my phone more often these days. I read in the Wall Street Journal that this habit of taking pictures of every moment actually shortens our memory of those things – those baby pictures, the fall leaves on the mountain, that coffee date with a friend. When you take a picture, you don’t have to notice.

Video: Top 5 Questions of the Week

My hair looked good today, so I decided to make a video.

Just kidding! But seriously… that never happens. {#curlygirlprobs}

Last week’s video was well received, so here’s this week’s ‘top 5 questions’ received via email. I got quite a few questions this week so I’ll have a few left for next Wednesday as well – and you can always email me your own at!

This week’s questions are:

How can I express my love and affection in a relationship without crossing lines or physical standards?
How do you go from thinking of relationships or sex as ‘bad’ to seeing it in a good light? How do you get rid of guilt?
At what point is it acceptable to talk about marriage in a relationship?
I don’t feel attracted to a guy who is interested in me, but he’s a great, godly man. Should I date him?
Do you have any recommendations for books on biblical sexuality?

Thanks for following along with me, gals! The video is 14 minutes long, so get some popcorn and put your feet up. {I need to work on the whole ‘hold your tongue’ concept }

Marriage Is Consent: How Selfishness, not Purity, Perpetuates Rape Culture

One of my readers forwarded me an article entitled “Marriage is Not Consent: How Purity Culture Perpetuates Rape Culture”, written by another former disciple of the purity movement.

“Is this true?” My reader asked. “Is the church really responsible for rape culture?”

The article I’m addressing is actually a response to another article… which I suppose makes this a response-response article.

The author did make some decent points: she addressed the issue of guilt in Christian marriage – the idea that wives ‘owe’ their husbands sex in order to appease some animalistic demand. The blog she is refuting – the Forgiven Wife – seeks to offer advice and help to women who are struggling to give themselves sexually to their husbands. Samantha takes issue with this because of the guilt factor:

“The real issue is that there are married women out there who have sex with their husbands because they are told they have to. They are told that they can’t refuse because that makes them bad Christians. There are women who let their husbands take advantage of them over and over again. They were taught that ‘no’ isn’t an option. They were taught that ‘no’ is a sin.”

There is some truth to this. There are men in the world who do take advantage of their wives in marriage. There are men who are demanding and egocentric, who don’t love their wives the way God commanded. And there are churches who preach an absolute ‘submission’, outside of the realm of mutual respect and love, to the detriment of the women hearing their message.

But Samantha goes on to say:

“The woman behind Forgiven Wife, like many other women raised in purity culture, has been taught that she does not own her sexuality. It is owned first by god and second by her husband. It’s the same reason women are called to remain virgins until marriage. Because no one, not even the woman herself, is entitled to her sexuality until she’s married. Then, it becomes her husband’s property and she must use it to fulfill his desires. No one ever wants to equate religion with rape culture, but I’m going to do it because it needs to stop being ignored. Churches who preach purity culture absolutely perpetuate rape culture.”

And here is where our pathways diverge.

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