S.E.X…. Yikes! What do I Tell My Kids?

S.e.x. is just one of those awkward topics. Not that it should be, or has to be. But it is. However, like anything else that is awkward, if you push past the initial ‘did you really say that out loud’ feeling, it’s not that bad.

Having five children, now ages 10 through 17, we’ve been around that bend a few times. In fact, for those of you who are truly skittish about the topic, you may want to avoid a casual dinner at the Metzger’s house. You may lose your appetite if the ‘taboo topic’ surfaces. It isn’t an everyday occurrence,  but it happens, now and then. Just often enough to horrify those who think such conversations should be left for the week before the wedding.

So what should we tell our kids, and when? What is appropriate? What should they find out the week before the wedding? Or, more accurately, what should we pretend they don’t know by age twelve, of fourteen or eighteen?

Whether it’s bathroom talk, or exploring, in some secret place, children know far more than many parents think they do. The only thing that’s worse than no information, is wrong information with no healthy teaching. And that is what silence affords countless kids in today’s world. Particularly those in Christian cultures, especially those in private schools and ‘closed culture’ circles.

Think back to your experience. How old were you when you first knew about sex. Not necessarily ‘what’ it is, but about it. The intrigue. The fascination with the difference between male and female. The way a woman’s tummy gets big and round and then, miraculously, smaller right after the stork drops off a baby. And then there are animals, doing ‘it’ shamelessly in public–how old before you figured that one out?

My point is that kids know things. Some adults pretend they don’t in order to avoid the awkward truth about s.e.x. and ‘that’ talk. Realistically, if we figured anything out before age sixteen, our kids will likely know as much at age ten or twelve, as we knew at sixteen. And if they don’t learn it from us first, they will likely have a warped view of it.

If ever there was a time and an era when kids need to hear the truth about sex, and long before they get married, it is now. It isn’t possible to take the family to the grocery store, let alone the mall, without being confronted by it, so we might as well push past the discomfort and give our kids the truth–God’s pure, unadulterated truth–and equip them for life in an over-sexualized world. If we think it was bad when we were young–for those of us over thirty-five–it has not gotten better.

We owe it to our children to teach them well. It will help them protect themselves from abuse, and will give them good reason to wait for marriage to enjoy sex within the confines of God’s plan.

And, yes, I do believe this is still the best option in the twenty-first century. And do-able, if we equip our families.  Old fashioned? Not in my opinion–or God’s. But, either way, the alternative is not a risk I am willing to take. I will endure the awkward moments to equip my family the best I know how, so they can make wise choices and, by the grace of God, manage well the wonder of their sexuality.

S.E.X…. What do you tell your kids? The truth. They deserve it! They’ll figure it out either way, one way or another. The advantage to you telling them is that it wins trust and equips them for life if you tell them.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Spiritual Abuse Part 15: Men of God, Rise Up! You Are Created For Relationship

When the man in my story longed for companionship, he had legitimate relational needs that were unfulfilled. And those needs went beyond a sex drive. His wife, having divorced him, was married to another man, leaving him to live a lonely life for many years in the Mennonite culture, with no one to understand or support him.

Going to church leadership and vulnerably sharing with them, only to be told that he should ‘become a eunuch’ so that he wouldn’t have to deal with ‘that’ aspect of loss, was a slap in the face of his manhood. It was particularly offensive, from an inconsistency perspective, because the bishop had carefully covered his son’s tracks, when his son was caught sexually violating other children and youth in the church, myself included. And I’m not talking ‘petty abuse’—if there is such a thing—like being a kid and grabbing a girl. It was rape and extreme violations in at least one case, to which there was a child witness, making it two victims in one offence. The bishop, knowing what his son had done, didn’t advise him to have surgery and become a eunuch.  He hid the abuse, while exploiting others and giving this messed up advice to sincere seekers.

After creating Adam, God said that man was ‘very good’, that meant everything about him was good, even his sex drive. Everything except the ‘alone’ part. That, God said, is not good. Adam was in perfect relationship with his Creator, living in ideal circumstances, and still God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is compatible with him.” (Genesis 2:18)

After Adam named the animals, received instructions on tending the garden, and God had called him into spiritual battle, then, and only then, God set out to correct what was not good. He put Adam down for a nap, excised a rib, and created Eve.

In relationships a man’s natural instinct is to protect and provide physically. Back in the day, men would tenaciously protect their lovers, their children and their belongings. If anyone trespassed on their turf, threatened a man’s wife or daughter, the guns, swords or fists came out. (We even see this in Peter, with Jesus, when Peter cuts the ear off of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave.)

Am I saying it should still be this way? No. Not mostly. But I am saying we have all but taken the man out of men and then asked them to do relationships well, without doing the part they were originally designed to do.

It is not possible for a man to be oppressed, and completely controlled by a religious system (or other system—ie; the government) and expect him to do well in relationships.

To reclaim what was lost, we must first understand what was lost, and then return to God’s original intent.

When the fall took place, and sin entered the world, Satan set out to destroy all that was good. God placed in Adam a warrior heart, to protect from evil. Satan took that and made him a murderer (Cain, for example), teaching man to protect himself, his material things, and his agenda, rather than fighting for his wife and children, spiritually, and protecting them from evil in every way. Satan lied to man, misguiding him and stealing his original authority.

God commanded Adam to tend the Garden and gave him dominion over the earth—in essence God  said, ‘Your needs are met, you are rich, let the earth serve you’. But Satan deceived man into believing that if he serves the earth, he will have his needs met, and he will become wealthy.  Satan lied to man, causing him to look to himself for provision, rather than to God, leaving no time for relationship.

And then, when Eve came along, the most beautiful creature Adam had ever seen, there was perfect relationship. Adam made Eve personal, naming her, and calling out of her true greatness. ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I will call her ‘woman’, because she was taken out of man.’ Adam embraced Eve at a heart level. “She is part of me, we are equal, we are one,” is what he really said when he named her.

There in the Garden the man and his wife were in a state of complete undress, and not ashamed. Unbroken trust. Unconditional acceptance. A love that knew not competition, no threat of abandonment, no fear of loss or rejection.

But Satan could not leave it at that. By shifting man’s focus from being a spiritual protector, provider and the one who ‘calls forth greatness’ in his world, and causing him to focus on survival, the enemy made man a slave in every area of life. He stripped man of his God-given identity, replacing it with a substitute that would only serve to distract him and make him feel inadequate.

It is not possible to be stripped of identity and walk in confident relationship. When a man discovers who he is in God’s eyes, his identity as a leader and a warrior is restored. He walks in authority, leading others into truth and revealing the heart of God, rather than retreating in apathy, or demanding control.  He begins to see the gifts and talents God has given his wife, and he encourages her in her dreams, viewing her as a helper and a partner in a bigger vision. He no longer uses her for his own gratification, whether in bed, at the table or to keep his house and laundry in order, while neglecting her heart. He values her for who she is, rather than taking her for granted for what she does.

Jesus came to earth—God in human form, the Spirit of God dwelling in a body of flesh—to be the perfect example of what manhood is. It is rowing against the tide, swimming upstream, being a revolutionary, a rebel by religion’s standards. Because that’s who Jesus was. He refused to bow to a this-world system. He was a man among men. The kind we, as women, still long to be led by. If you are not already that man, you have the potential to become that man.

Men, God invites you to return to your original calling, as protector, provider, the one who affirms and empowers those he leads; Calling out wholeness where there is shame, calling out confidence where there is fear, and taking authority over the evil that threatens your wife and family. They feel abandoned when you retreat. They feel insecure when you see only their failures. They feel lost when you are not there to lead by example, with love and prayer. They feel unprotected when they are spiritually abused by the church and you don’t stand up to fight for them, for their hearts and souls.  God is calling you….

Will you rise up and allow your manhood to be redefined and restored by God, and embrace relationships once again?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 1: Who is God…. Really?

Spiritual abuse strips men and women of dignity. It takes away one of the first things God gave humanity after He gave us life–the right to choose our path, without intimidation or manipulation. All of this is done in the name of God, often by men and women who sincerely believe they are doing God’s work, and freely use Him to endorse their behaviour. What does God really think about spiritual abuse?

***

In a time when the secular world says He doesn’t exist…. when some churches say He does, but, alas, His Word is outdated…. while yet others are very certain that His Word isn’t outdated at all, but requires enforced adherence to their particular interpretation…  a time when many in the church suffer spiritual abuse…  and it seems only a few churches stand firm on God’s Word and live the life and love of Jesus in the world around…

How does one determine: Who is God really? What is He like? What does He want from us? What does He want to give?  In this first blog post I will spend a bit of time establishing answers to some of these questions, based on God’s Word, so that, in future posts when we look at stories of abuse, we have a frame of reference to go back to, establishing how God thinks and how we know that He does not endorse Spiritual Abuse.

What I share in this series is only a small glimpse of the bigger picture. Answers are pulled out of the Bible and accompanied by bits of stories, from time to time—either mine or what has been shared with me by someone else. I encourage you, the reader, to think critically as you read. Be like the church in Berea and take everything I say, line it up with Scripture, and see if what I say is true. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself!

If what I share from the Bible could be interpreted differently, all I ask is that you try to see the heart behind what I share. If I would use anything I share in an attempt to manipulate, guilt trip, or otherwise control the mind of my reader, I would be guilty of the very thing I am speaking about here. That is not my intent.

Who is God and What is He Like?

God is our Creator, the Maker of the Universe. (Genesis 1) Remove that core detail and He is no longer God—He has nothing of substance to connect Himself to us. If He is not our Creator, then He is, at best, merely a babysitter—hired by whom, I don’t know—who has the responsibility of keeping this world spinning. Literally. If He is not our Creator, His interest in us, and ours in Him, holds little meaning, little substance.

Back in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God said, “Let’s make man in our image!” And He did. Then He breathed into mankind His very own breath Genesis 2:7—the first known case of resuscitation, though nothing artificial about it—and said, “My creation is very good!”

God, the Creator Artist/Sculptor, stepped back, looked at His work and said, “I like it! It is all I imagined it to be! They are beautiful!” or something like that. (Use your imagination here.)

God proceeded to give some basic instructions and guidelines, as any good parent would and gave the lovely newlyweds free reign of the Garden. (Genesis 2:15-17)

Notice that God did not manipulate. He simply said, “Here’s the do’s and don’ts. If you break the rules, this is what it will cost you. That is the nature of God. He gives us freedom to choose our path, our beliefs, and our consequences.

From the beginning this freedom was His plan for leadership. If His intent was for mankind to manipulate, coerce or control other mankind, He would have set that as His example. He didn’t. He invited Adam and Eve into relationship with Him, gave a few basic guidelines that would protect them from hurt and destruction, and then sent the two young horticulturists off to play and enjoy the garden.

What Does God Want From Us and What does He want to Give?

If the Genesis account of Creation is real, and I believe it is (See ‘NOTE’ below), then, as our Creator, God is powerfully connected to us and the one thing He wants from us is relationship.

When God breathed into man the breath of life, He placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11b), and gave us His spiritual DNA—He made us His children.  Immediately man became a living soul—an eternal being—set apart from all of Creation as the image-bearer of the Creator. Just as most children long to know their biological parents, that DNA is what makes us spiritual beings who long for a spiritual connection with someone or something. Every religion that exists is birthed out of that inner longing to know God and be known by Him. Even atheism is ultimately rooted in a longing for deeper meaning, even if only to be our own god and the ultimate authority in their own lives. This still comes full circle to the need for validation and identity that is there because of the emptiness we feel apart from God.

In that moment we, as human beings, were perfectly connected to the Greatest Being that ever was and ever will be. And in that moment we were defined forever by infinite Love. (This identity is a critical detail when it comes to working through any kind of abuse—whether spiritual, emotional, physical, psychological or sexual. If we don’t have a deeper identity than life experience, if there is nothing else to fall back on, then we are of all creatures most pathetic and hopeless. Then, indeed, we are the sum total of what life does to us and there is no higher purpose to our existence or our pain.) This connection and unbroken relationship is God’s ultimate desire from us. It is what He created us for—relationship.

What He gave us in the Garden of Eden, life in its purest form, is what He longs to give us still. Because of the fall of man, and therefore the awareness of good and evil that introduced sin into the world, we have lost the unbroken relationship with God.

That is where Jesus comes in. God loved us so much that He chose to come to earth in human form, indwelling the body of Jesus Christ, and lived among us. (Emmanuel, God with us.) Through Jesus, He offers restoration of all that was lost, and authority over the destruction left in the wake of sin. In Jesus everything is redeemed, if only we offer it to Him as our gift of love and trust, expecting Him to keep His end of the promise.

Even in the coming of Jesus, God made one thing very clear—that He wants relationship. Contrary to the example of many spiritual leaders, who seem eager to condemn or judge—while claiming to be like God—even Jesus, who was God and would have had both right and authority to do so, did not choose judgement or condemnation. (John 3:17)

Everything that Jesus did, brought hope, healing, life and restoration, during His time on earth. The only harshness, if there was any at all, was reserved for those who exercised religious control, contrary to God’s plan and example. (In other words, those who were spiritually abusive, Matthew 23:12-14.) Only then do we hear anything that resembles judgement or harshness.

And that one thing should tell us exactly where God stands on the issue of Spiritual Abuse. He doesn’t like it.

To summarize, God is our Creator, who made us in His image, with His spiritual DNA, so that when people see us they see a reflection of who God is. The instructions He gives are to protect us from sin and death, because He has our best interest at heart. He loves us and wants to bless and prosper us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He longs for intimate relationship with us—it is what He created us for—and He offers us life with purpose and meaning, in exchange for our sin and brokenness, when we offer these to Him by faith through Jesus.

A sweet deal, if you ask me. God always gives something better than what we offer Him. Always. That is His character. Through Jesus’ life mission, God showed us that He is a servant first and foremost. If leaders function at any other level than that of servanthood, they are not in keeping with God’s call on their lives. It’s as simple as that.

In the next several posts I will share stories from my own experience that contrast the difference between God-like leadership, and man’s desire for control. Both take place within the Mennonite church, back in early 1988, shortly after I accepted Jesus as my Saviour.

(NOTE: Because the topic of God as Creator and 6-day Creation is such a controversial one, even in the church, I feel that including it in this post without explanation could serve as a distraction from the main topic. For this reason I am sharing my personal views here, so you better understand my frame of reference. I am a literal 6-day Creationist. Unapologetically so. I love science and have no difficulty reconciling God, Creation and Science. They are not at odds, as secular scientists would try to make us believe. (I worked for almost a year with Dr. Emil Silvestru, and learned much from him, as a recognized scientist and creationist, and am currently reading book 4 of 14 books by Dr. Ravi  Zacharias–including ‘Has Christianity Failed You?’–all of which I highly recommend.) If you are an old earth Creationist, or an evolution-based Christian, please don’t take offence. I am not here to argue with you or debate the topic publicly, because this blog is about spiritual abuse. However, I am not trying to avoid challenge on that topic , so I welcome emails. (info-insert ‘at’ symbol-faithgirlsunleashed.com) I refer to Creation/Evolution here to establish my view of God, based on my frame of reference, which comes from what I read in my Bible—an authority I accept on all matters—and what I see in nature. What I read in Genesis establishes much of what I believe about God throughout Scripture. If you don’t agree, hear me out as we move through the topic of Spiritual Abuse, and form your own opinions… or keep the views you have. No harm done. I am not trying to sell a viewpoint here. I won’t judge you, and hopefully we can extend grace, and agree to disagree, as brothers and sisters in Christ.)

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to First Post In This Series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/