Monday, April 28, 2014

when I was one of the X-Men

{photo via pinterest}
we were given lessons in how to touch. I wouldn't think it was real unless I had experienced it myself, first hand, sitting shoulder to shoulder and toe to back with my peers. there were big smiles as they demonstrated on the stage, one boy and one girl.

always from the side. never from the front. girls have breasts. don't cause a brother to stumble. arms around the shoulder, quick squeeze. 

we called it "nacho"-ing, a playful turn of phrase coined from the lauding of the "non-committal side hug." we were being taught how to stay pure. we were being taught how to protect our brothers from stumbling, from being ruled by that strange thing behind the zipper of their jeans. we were proud of ourselves.

my body was dangerous. I had to be careful. we all knew that. we were dangerous beings, with our shapely hips and our growing breasts that might press into a boy's chest and send impure thoughts racing though him like poison.

I was one of the X-Men. my name was Rogue. to touch me was to die.

because I was a girl. and girls were poison, except to our one-day husbands.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. it didn't protect me. it did the exact opposite. 

it taught me that I was dangerous. it taught me that my body was a cactus. all I could do was hurt, all I could was destroy. it taught me to hate me.

this same dangerous theology creeps through the ranks of the youth groups and the purity conventions. raps and songs and t-shirts and seminars abound. we grip the hearts of those girls, sitting shoulder to shoulder and toe to back with their peers, and whisper, you are in charge of his mind. you are in charge of protection. you are the problem. 


who put us in charge of stripping them down until they keep their arms crossed across their chests and their heads down with shoulders bent to hide that they are women, God-made and Heaven-adored? where is the mandate to shake the least of these, the little ones, until all their worth comes dropping out the bottom like gold doubloons down the storm-drain?

we are resisting innocence in our chase for purity. we are hanging stones instead of breaking them to gravel.

I remember the first time I hugged the man that would become my husband. I mean, really hugged him. I had just returned from a summer in South America, long weeks of sleepless nights and experiences that filled me with wonder. and there was my boyfriend, standing on the curb beside my parents' van, smiling. I didn't think. I hugged him, hard. from the front. and I can promise  you this :: the thoughts in our head were not about breasts or penises or sex or impurity or stumbling blocks.

we were embracing.
that was all.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I didn't grow up in the church, so the whole purity conference/instruction thing is new to me. But I definitely see your perspective. I think both boys & girls should be taught self-control without making either gender become the bad guy. We are responsible for our own actions and choices, and it is too heavy a burden to place on a young woman to say that she controls the thoughts of another. In fact, that might even be a straight up lie. Thank you for putting these words out there! We need these words today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, it IS a straight-up lie. we are given our own hearts, our own minds, and we are not the governor of another. we are in charge of ourselves, and to say that it is the fault of a woman for what a man thinks is downright DEADLY. where do you think rape culture comes from? honestly, I think it stems from this ideology right here.

      so glad for your feedback and for your gorgeous heart.

      Delete
  2. I have started this post several times, only to delete my words. So I will just say...great post! May we love each other fully & with authenticity. Glad I stopped here from Playdates With God this morning. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for your visiting here, dearheart. full and authentic lives, brimming with love. oh yes.

      Delete
  3. This is so good. I'm so thankful you are sharing your story. The purity culture is damaging and shaming, and that is so completely wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that thing of SHAME is the opposite of Christ Jesus. so glad for your witness, loved one.

      Delete
  4. Stamping down on both girls and boys, making girls in charge of both gender's purity, making puberty scary and dirty. Not giving people accurate information about sex, desire, pregnancy, and healthy function is deadly. And then kids get married with no practical information about sex....just as my mom's generation did in the 1940s! Then magically, both are supposed to have a healthy sex life and bear lots of kids. Sigh. Have we really stayed that stuck?! I am so sad to read that this approach is still around and popular.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Powerful words, my friend. I see the courage it took to write this, and the passion behind it. You are a brave, beautiful soul.

    We diminish our complexity when we water down identity into simplistic terms. The Church has done a great disservice to a generation. In the protection of the act of sex, we have merely drawn arrows pointing to it and all the while, distorted its significance and place in the wide landscape of identity.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is my 2nd try, so if you get two similar posts here, feel free to pick the better-written one and delete the other :)

    Thank you for your honesty and openness here. I had such a strange experience as a teenager with one foot in two worlds. By the time I met Jesus, I was already a teenager, growing up in a very non-pure home where they could not care less if I was sleeping around at 16. I learned about purity at church. But I was still this sort of black sheep there, but this weird goody girl at school. It was a bizarre place to be. I couldn't understand why moms didn't like me or didn't want me dating their sons. I thought (and was let believe) that in my own seductiveness and stumbling that I drug down a couple… no wait, three… good God-fearing boys with me. I spoiled them because of what I was and was not allowed to do with my body. It hurts my heart to think about the emotional wounds I went through because of these types of teachings and I hope to do it differently someday with my own kids. I hope I can teach them that our bodies are not sinful or shameful and that it is an amazing, beautiful thing to be wholly loved by someone.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The message of woman as weapon is spread throughout our culture. I was raised in a household of mixed faith (Christian/Muslim). I received the same message and we only went to church on Easter Sunday. We didn't attend mosque. The message was transmitted in books and movies and old school beliefs about know it all fast girls and it started with blaming and shaming Eve. We've go to do better by our children by promoting a healthy God-inspired teachings on sexuality.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And those of us that felt like Mystique. Innocense taken before purity was preached. Leaping from not understanding enough to feeling our very very skin defies us. Blaming ourselves for being what hurt us. Blue in the pew. But wait if God loves us how is this true? If He made me, why would He have made me blue? If I'm already blue then I can never be white. His Son died to make everyone white, as long as they believe. I believe. I've believed. I'm still blue in the pew.... I learn to camouflage. It gets old. I get angry. I get tired. God says "rest a while" "listen to Me, just me for a while"..." I made you, just as you are. You have powers but they weren't meant as they've been explained, not as you're using them." "I know your hurt. I know the world accepted you when My people ridiculed you." " I know in your disguises you hurt people." "I love you, I forgive you, I forgave you. If you can forgive yourself, you can begin to forgive anything." "Can you learn to be blue again? You are most beautiful, most precious, most powerful, when you're blue... I'll show you what I mean. I'm showing others. You're not alone anymore... You see them, you hear them? Their truth, My truth in them... Its their power. Its strange & incredible. I'll be with you. Listen to Me. Just Me."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Rachel, we are 'neighbors' at Jennifer Lee's link up today. Wow, this gave me something to think about. My own children are grown and married so Youth Group involvement is not on my radar anymore. However, I'm very involved in our church ministries and connected to our youth pastors. I think I may pass this article on to them.
    You sure nailed it on the head, this false idea that females are responsible for make behaviour, "you are in charge of his mind. you are in charge of protection. you are the problem.."
    I can see how that could go dangerously awry.
    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The best way to teach purity is to teach our kids to respect themselves. It doesn't sound like this was the lesson being taught here. So sorry for the painful outcome from that teaching, Rachel. This is certainly food for thought for ministry leaders. Bless you, you dangerous one :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. being called "dangerous one" might be the greatest compliment I've ever been given.

      Delete

I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon