I am against abortion.

I believe life begins at conception, although there is enough of a gray area that I will not tell another woman not to use hormonal contraception, even though it works by preventing implantation.

I believe that ending a pregnancy once is has begun is killing a child. No two ways about it.

Today I saw a picture of a woman holding a coat hanger in front of her belly button, with the words “Never go back”. The person who made this image is threatening that babies will be killed, and if the cannot legally kill babies in hospitals, here’s the murder weapon. That is so painful to me, it turns my stomach.

Adoption is always an option. Babies who are given to adoptive parents as soon as they are born NEVER have to spend time in foster care, because many families want to adopt a newborn.

I care about every life. I care about the mother who medically cannot carry the baby to term because she will die before the baby can survive outside of her. In that case, one life must be ended to save another, lest by inaction they both die. She shouldn’t have to have a coat hanger abortion, because a doctor should save her life.

I care about the woman who chooses to abort under a lot of pressure from many sides, because she lives in a country where it could cost her job and then thousands of dollars just to carry the child to term (I’m looking at you, United States). She shouldn’t have to have a coat hanger abortion, because paid maternity leave and free healthcare should be available to her.

I care about the teenager who was raped and ended up pregnant. While I cannot imagine the pain she must feel, I also care about the baby growing inside of her. She shouldn’t have to have a coat hanger abortion, because her community should support her with love and with proper counselling, and as soon as the baby is born, adoptive parents should be there to provide a stable, safe, loving home for the child.

I care about the woman with no sex ed and no access to contraception (I’m still looking at you, United States. Some parts, anyway), who did not realize that she could get pregnant that way. She shouldn’t have to have a coat hanger abortion, because both of those things should have been provided in the first place.

So tell me, who is it that has to have a coat hanger abortion?

Advertisements

When I heard about this group that was coming to YC last fall (2014), I was skeptical. They’re such a girly-girl group, I expected music full of fluff and no substance. But I kept an open mind, and snagged a spot right front-and-center by the stage – because if nothing else, their set promised to be entertaining. Boy was I surprised. They were entertaining, yes, and utterly covered in glitter, but they are a really good, wholesome group if you like girls singing upbeat pop. They only have one album, ten songs, all on their Vevo channel, but every song is insanely catchy and they’ve all got a great message.

Sure, they’ve got some fluffy, typical girly songs – like Count Your Rainbows. But they also have tearjerkers like Daddy’s Girl – gets me every time! There’s songs that are great when you’re feeling down and out, like In The Eyes. Or, if you prefer songs you can sing to God, instead of about Him, you can listen to one of my personal favourites Live For You. The one that really struck me, though, was 1 Girl Nation which is SO Christian, and so positive even from a secular mindset. It’s all about girls sticking together even though they’re different, rather than being catty and petty to one another. Like, wow, am I right?

So… I bought the CD. I even got it signed. One of the band members recognized me from being front and centre. Or maybe it was my TARDIS hat she recognized. Either way it was cool. I played their songs on my radio show as often as I could, though not as often as I like because of CRTC rules and stuff. (But let me tell you, it’s odd announcing “And next up is 1 Girl Nation, by 1 Girl Nation, from their CD 1 Girl Nation.”) And, I think you all should go have a listen to some of them songs up there and have a look through the others.

There’s a big fuss lately about high school dress codes being sexist and oppressive to women, and then there’s the whole #freethenipple thing. And of course there’s the other side, about how dress codes should be even stricter and why women should absolutely, definitely cover up. I’d like to find  happy medium.

First of all, it’s weird as anything that female nipples are censored and male nipples aren’t. But, that’s the society we live in and I’m gonna go along with that. If there’s a day when women walk around topless in the summer the same as men, I won’t be scandalized, but I doubt I’m gonna do it myself because that’s just the culture I was raised in, that says, “Ladies have breasts and they should be covered.” And I agree, because even as a straight woman when I see a cleavage being shown off my eyes naturally and unintentionally follow it. I, personally, do not want that kind of attention. So I have nothing against the normalization of the bare female chest, but I’m not going to contribute to it.

On the other hand I’m all for public breastfeeding. It’s healthy, natural, and let’s be honest here, if you’re sexualizing a boob that’s being used to feed a baby, YOU are the problem. A mother and baby should be able to do their thing and be undisturbed whether the milk comes from a bottle or a breast.

The other big thing causing an uproar are high school dress codes, which unfortunately have two types of crusaders against them: people who are genuinely concerned that girls are being treated unfairly by the dress code as compared to the boys in their schools; and girls who just want to get away with wearing some frankly inappropriate clothes. I’ve seen the school dress codes where boys get a sentence and girls get a page. I’ve read about entire groups of girls wearing crop top to schools to prove a point. I’ve heard stories of a restrictive dress code being introduced a month before prom, when most girls already had their dresses. I know of lots of girls who would get sent home for a barely-above-the-knee skirt because “it distracts the boys” when he boys themselves are wearing above-the-knee shorts. Now that’s sexist.

My stance is this: dress codes are important to maintain a semi-professional environment, but should be enforced equally for girls and boys. If knees can’t be shown in this particular school, then neither boys nor girls should show their knees. If girls must cover their shoulders, then so should the boys. Or you could take a page out of my high school’s book and have a simple dress code that goes roughly, “Remember the 3 B’s: we don’t want to see your bellies, boobs, or butts, or the underthings that cover ’em.” There was a longer one in the student handbook that also covers things like clothing with offensive slogans or that promotes drugs or alcohol. And because it was simple, clear, and unambiguous, we never had a problem with it. Never to my knowledge was a girl told to cover up her bra straps (honestly who can tell the difference between a bra strap or an undershirt’s spaghetti strap?), but one time a guy was told to change his shirt when it had an image of a woman in a bikini on it. (Similar to this, but it only showed her from about her shoulder to her knees.)

The point is, school dress codes should be about dressing appropriately and being respectful to your fellow students and your teachers. It should have nothing to do with distracting the boys – can you say sexist? Or how about Dear girl, boys’ education is clearly more important than yours so please make sacrifices when they don’t even want to ignore their hormones and focus. It should also have nothing to do with protecting a teenager from sexual looks, because that’s only the school’s job insofar as teaching boys to be decent human beings. (Here in Canada there’s a gradual system for age of consent, like until you’re 18 there are limits on what you can give consent for, but it is technically legal for teens as young as 12 to have sex with, say, someone their own age. I’m not saying it’s good or right, but it is legal and therefore not a public school’s job to police.)

Anyway, I guess my point is: all things in moderation, including modesty and feminism.

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

Edit: After I made this post, it came to light that Josh Duggar had not, in fact, changed his heart and gotten free from his sinful past. I am extremely disappointed in him. However, it is still no reason to be anything but sympathetic to his wife, parents, siblings, children, etc. Everything else in this post still stands, however, insofar as it applies to people and Christianity in general.

Original Post: I don’t watch 19 Kids and Counting for various reasons, but as a Christian I’m gonna put my two cents worth out there. A man did something awful when he was 14. Twelve years later, people – mainly non-Christians, but definitely some believers too – are using that as a reason to tear him and his parents down.

First of all, how many perfect fourteen-year-olds do you know? For that matter, how many perfect adults? Sure, he in particular messed up REALLY BAD, but from what I can tell his behaviour was properly dealt with and punished. No parent can entirely prevent their children from sinning, but they CAN treat the aftermath appropriately. Lots and lots of people are really, really stupid when they’re 14. Then they learn from their mistakes and they grow up! It’s life, that’s how it works!

Secondly, anyone who thinks everyone who is a Christian must have always lived a spotless life is dead wrong. I’ve had no less than two pastors who used drugs as a teenager, and turned their life around. People change, especially when they have God in their hearts. If we as believers are portraying the image that we’re absolutely spotless in our own power, then we’re doing a terrible job of sharing the Gospel. No wonder people call us hypocrites! They think our message is “to follow God, you must never have sinned”. And with that, we alienate 100% of the population.

Which brings me to my final point. Forgiveness. It’s at the very core of Christianity. We don’t have to offer lambs and bulls and turtledoves as sacrifices – payments – for our sins anymore, because Jesus’ death has covered all that. We can accept the blood of the new covenant, the promise between God and humankind, and we can be forgiven. If God can forgive Suzy-from-the-suburbs’ gossip and lies, then He can forgive Josh Duggar’s sins too, because His blood is enough for all of humanity’s sins, forever.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

The Teenage Phenomenon

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Non-fiction
Tags: , , , , ,

When you think of the “modern teenager”, not a lot of positive images come to mind. Things like juvenile delinquency, self-harm, smoking, alcohol, drug use, and distrust and disrespect for authority. Now think of an “average teenage girl”. Shallow, covered in makeup, and caring way more about clothes than any kind of intellectual topic. Just the fact that shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Jersey Shore” exist says something about the perceived average teenager. The sad part is that stereotypes are based in reality. Even sadder is that often, it doesn’t stop at twenty.

I’m by no means saying that all teenagers are like this – that’d be pretty hypocritical of me, wouldn’t it? – but the truly average teenager displays at least a couple of these traits. I think the problem stems from teenagers being physically mature and really ready to take care of themselves, but not given even an opportunity to take on the responsibility of adulthood. The teenage phenomenon is when people are in a state of being responsible to no one, sometimes including themselves, where they care mostly about their social life and their own pleasure. This is currently a normal part of life, but it hasn’t always been, and it can be dangerous when people remain in that state for too long. When adults who are still in that state influence actual teens, then you get in serious trouble.

The whole idea of a teenager in its current form, a person between childhood and adulthood, is a concept less than a century old. My great-grandmother was married by the time she was my age, and my grandmother was supporting herself by teaching primary school. Historically, people were children until they were adults. From before the middle ages right up until the Victorian era, people could be, and often were, married off or otherwise forced to grow up well before they were fifteen. After WWI, people in general were wealthier than they were before, allowing the freedom to wait until later to become adults (but as mentioned before, many still made the transition to adulthood early.) This was accompanied by less strict ideas of how one should behave. As people remained on their parents’ dime with more freedom and no strings to hold them down, they paid less attention to what they should be doing, and more attention to what felt good. Thus, the teenage phenomenon was born. Still, most people settled down relatively quickly, and nice, tidy, nuclear families were still the norm. People went through the teenage phase and then swiftly grew up. The sixties saw a shift, though, with hippies and the whole idea of “free love”.  It wasn’t so completely abnormal any more to be adolescent for a long time. Through the seventies, eighties, nineties, and early two thousands, it became more and more acceptable to remain in the teenage state for a long time.

Here is where the teenage phenomenon can get dangerous. A person who remains in that state of no-strings-attached fun times can get into major trouble when they chase after more and more “fun”. When a person is only responsible to his or her self, they can hop from relationship to relationship or go through a string of marry-divorce-repeat and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s destroying the sanctity of marriage as much as gay marriage is, for sure. This is dangerous in several ways: teens find a way to get into trouble on their own, adults still experiencing the teenage phenomenon get into even bigger trouble, and the largest group of adult teens (celebrities) influence actual teens to be just like them.

Let’s say, on another angle, there’s a certain girl who is physically mature at 14. In medieval times, she would have gotten married and that would have been it. Nowadays, she is expected to wait ten more years before getting married. She doesn’t want to wait that long, and others stuck in the teen phase tell her it’s perfectly OK not to. So she goes ahead and gets a boyfriend and ends up pregnant at sixteen. Whoah, big mistake, right? Going to ruin her life, right? Back not so long ago, within the last half century, she would have married the boyfriend and started a family and lived a happy enough life. My point in saying all this is that as the expected teenage years stretch out, you get people ready to make adult decisions but not allowed to take the responsibility and deal with the consequences. They make the decisions any way, and the consequences are handled quite a bit by other people. They expect that pattern to continue even until they really should be dealing with it themselves.

A lot of teenagers go through the teenage phenomenon, and they make mistakes, learn lessons, and grow out of it. But, could the amount of mistakes made be reduced with a bit more responsibility? If that girl actually had to stay with the first guy she had sex with, would she reconsider the tiny dress? If that guy had to earn enough money to eat, would he have smoked that first cigarette? We may never know.

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak

Author’s note: This post has been in draft form since April 8, 2013. I was 16 at the time of writing. It was never published because I wasn’t sure if what I was saying was truth or just what I was feeling. After rediscovering it and reading it over I have decided to publish it unedited, because it’s the truth the way I see it, just as much as anything else on this blog.

Justice & Mercy

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Christianity, Non-fiction
Tags: , , ,

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post on this blog. Years. But it’s only been because I haven’t had much to say. For the last few months, I’ve been using my radio show, Joyful Noise, as a public platform for the kinds of things I used to say on here. But, the topic on my mind today has too many words and not enough songs to make a good radio show.

A long time ago in a Facebook discussion, I mentioned why I’m a Christian. There’s two main reasons: I was raised to believe, and I want to believe. It occurred to me last night that I want to follow God because of two things: His justice and His mercy. They’re almost like opposites: justice is giving to each person exactly what they deserve, while mercy is being kind to someone who deserves punishment.

I love God because He is just. He knows a person’s heart, so He knows their intent, and He knows exactly what they did. There’s no he-said-she-said, subjective jury, or benefit of the doubt with God. He can choose exactly the right punishment for every crime. I love that because it means there are eternal repercussions for earthly wrongdoing. Earthly consequences are great and all, but there’s all kinds of people who do terrible things their whole lives, and because it’s technically legal they feel no remorse, and they die rich and happy. But God knows everything you’ve done and everything you will choose do, and He makes sure that in the end every villain will get their comeuppance.

Unfortunately, though, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Seriously, when was the last time you met a perfect person? Never, that’s when. You’ve done bad things too, and if you tell me you haven’t, you’re lying and there’s a bad thing right there! So does that mean God is going to punish you and there’s no escaping it?

Nope.

God is merciful, because we are His creation and He loves all of us. Mercy means He isn’t going to punish someone who is truly sorry. He forgives you when you ask. This is available to anyone, at any time, since Jesus died on the cross to take our punishment for us. I mean, it’s not going to take away those earthly consequences, because that’s between you and other humans. But, you don’t have to feel guilty in God’s eyes, or afraid of Him. If you say to God, “I’ve done something wrong, I wish I hadn’t, and I’m not going to do it again,” you can accept the forgiveness He offers, and your spiritual record is wiped clean.

Justice for the guilty, mercy for the repentant, and love for all humankind. That’s the God I want to serve, and that’s the God in the Bible.

Thanks for reading,
~Another Jesus Freak

P.S. See also the song Justice And Mercy by Flyleaf.

Pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world can be summed up in two words: misplaced love. You’ve got your obvious love of money, power, control, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That’s the kind of love that causes thievery and wars and oppression and a variety of other unsavory topics. Everyone’s heard that the love of money is the root of all evil. Well, it is. But there’s also love poorly placed within humanity.

There are four kinds of love. In English, we just call it all “love”. But in ancient Greek, they had words that distinguished between the four. I’m no scholar in the ancient terms, but those are the words I’m going to use in this post just to tell them all apart.

Agape is the most pure of the four loves. It refers to a spiritual love, an unconditional love that does not require anything in return. This is the kind of love that happens between God and humans, and the kind of love that people show when they are doing something for someone who can never repay them.

Then there is storge. While the internet varies on the technical definition of this term, I’m going to use it here to signify the love felt between parents and their offspring. It is the closest thing to agape that usually falls under our definition of love.

Next is philos, which literally means brotherly love. Think of words like bibliophile, a lover of books, or Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It is between siblings, of course, but also between platonic friends and it refers to the love of all humankind when seen as a family.

Then we come to the one that causes all the trouble. Eros love. The word reminds me of “error” and “errant”, like this kind of love means you’re messing up. It can mean that, but it doesn’t have to. All types of romantic love fall under eros, from infatuation and lust right up to long-term marriage.

Eros love gets people in trouble with sin because it’s designed to be between a husband and wife. Under those circumstances and under control, it’s a beautiful thing! The problem is, people feel a little bit of attraction for someone, and they recognize that eros love and want to take it all the way. Eros taken to the extreme causes sex before marriage, teen pregnancy, rampant STDs, love affairs, and even rape. It’s when people get infatuated and don’t control themselves because, as they say, “It’s love!”

Another problem is that people mistake philos and other kinds of love for eros. Mistaking philos for eros is what makes it super awkward for a guy and a girl to be alone in a room together. It’s also what makes a girl say, “I’m really close to my best friend, we’re closer than sisters. I think I should ask her on a date.” She’s mistaking the philos love she feels for her friend for the eros love meant for her husband. Confusing agape, storge, and philos  with eros cause all sorts of messed up stuff like rape and child molestation.

Basically, society as a whole thinks that to love someone means to love them in an eros way. People who crave attention often get it in the form of eros love by being promiscuous. Two people who are best friends, no matter what gender, are deluded into thinking that their philos love for each other is eros, and they act on that. (Fan fiction writers, specifically slash shippers, I’m looking at you.) An adult who wishes to mentor children, even in a group setting, must have a background check done to make sure they will not turn their agape love for these kids into eros. It’s so messed up that we have to do that.

Look, I’m not proposing a solution to any of this state that the world is in right now. I’m just saying, here’s where I think the root of the problem lies. Maybe trying to work at the root will help fix the foliage.

Thanks for reading!
~AnotherJesusFreak