Eulogy of a Mother


cari and dadShe was nervous to meet me. I thought it was quite amusing, it was like she was coming to meet the parents, meeting my Dad’s college age son. Cari and her late husband had never had any children, so meeting me was intimidating to Cari.

We me at a restaurant halfway between my dad’s house and hers, we had lunch, my dad and I ordered Red Ales.

I don’t’ remember much else. She was very pleasant, funny and for some reason I thought she looked a little bit like Hillary Clinton.

My dad and I had more or less “been on our own,” for the last several years. My stepmother (a woman I was convinced never liked me) had divorced my sophomore year in high school—a huge relief for me. My dad, that year had moved into a small apartment a little ways down the parkway from where we used to live, so I could still walk to visit most of my friends when I was down visiting him.

I tell you all of this because a few years after I met Cari, my dad and her got married. I was so happy for them. Cari told me how honored she was to become part of our family, and how she wanted to take my dad’s last name, because it was so special to her to become part of our family. She thanked me.

She got a son for the first time in her life… and I, another mother.

I won’t try to make it better than it is, divorce sucks, especially for the kids, but sometimes having two families was such a huge blessing, it’s hard to describe. Not everyone has the privilege of having even one loving family, but ever since they got married, I have had two.

Cari and my dad met online, and so they were quite a distance apart; he lived in Binghamton, she lived in Dalton, Pensylvania. After the passing of my Grandma Brown early in the spring before I moved to Denver, both my Dad and I received a generous inheritance. Mine went to pay for seminary and part of my dad’s went to a fun little sports car that he used to bomb down the back roads between Cari’s place and his. Just before they got married, the little town of Vestal experienced tremendous flooding (along with all of New England) and before my dad could retrieve our fun little car, mandatory flood evacuations forced him to take what he had managed to retrieve and leave to Cari’s house. The brand new car and many, many of his belongings soaked under first rains and river water, and then backed-up sewage for more than a week.

Luckily, my dad had already begun the process of moving into Cari’s beautiful house in Dalton, so not all of his things were destroyed. The insurance company totaled my dad’s car and Cari and he decided to put the money into a driveway at their little house, which, being in the small town, only had street parking on the hill. When my dad and I would get teary eyed about the car, Cari would remark about how nice their beautiful driveway was!

They got married that fall and honeymooned in Prince Edward Island.

The cancer had first struck before they got married, she did her first round of treatments and was pronounced that her cancer was in remission. It almost seemed like that first round had nearly killed her, she went from a dress size 14 to a 4.

But, for a time, we all had peace.

I get a little garbled in my brain about the order of events and timing of things because Cari was such a go-getter that even in the midst of cancer treatments she’d wear out my dad and me. She was always planting and gardening their beautiful early 1900s house, taking us out to dinner, traveling and insisting on these big meals when I’d come to visit.

They were some of my first family to come and visit me in Colorado. I recommended a restaurant for us, Merle’s in downtown Littleton.

“Oh! They have fish Tacos! I love fish tacos. And then I can have them for breakfast tomorrow morning!” My roommate and I burst out laughing.

“Cari, you’re going to have fish tacos for breakfast?” I said.

“I love fish tacos, they’re delicious for breakfast!” She said smiling.

Cari was my biggest fan. My brakes went out on my car early on in my time in Denver and she insisted my dad send me a check. When I’d come to visit they’d both buy foods for me, whatever I was eating at the time, even before I got to their house. She’d always try to offer me more food, ask if I needed anything, “You know if you need anything, always just ask.” She’d always check to make sure I had enough money and food before I left. When they had come to visit me in Colorado, she fall in love with my little Saturn. “I can see why you like this car, I’ve been telling your dad, isn’t Nate’s car getting old, why don’t you buy him a new one?”

I remarked on the phone to my dad a few months back that Cari is the perfect Jewish mother, she over heard and said she was proud of that!

Danette and I met, I think, the same year they were married, and so I somehow convinced her to take this whirlwind road trip with me to meet all of my family in New York and New England. Cari loved her. A year later I was nervous that having our wedding in Colorado would limit some of my family and friends from attending, especially Cari. I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being able to come. The cancer had come back, and she started another round of chemo. Her beautiful hair that had just started to come back, was falling out again. My dad shaved her head while we were visiting.

Out came the rocking wigs again!

She was all a frenzy of the upcoming wedding plans. My dad and her organized all of the invitations and the rehearsal dinner and chipped in everywhere they could.

Part way through the summer, just a few months before the wedding Danette and I heard the great news that Cari should be able to make it out. There was going to be a break in her treatment.

And so many of you met her. This wonderful, fiery woman, with a limp and a cane from all her battle scars with cancer, head held high, and proud. The rehersal dinner was awesome, I hate to think of how much it cost the both of them, but Cari and my dad wouldn’t have it any other way. We had the most wonderful wedding because of them and the support from Jack and Shirley—Danette’s dad and his girlfriend. The Brown family grew from three to our little group of four.

Cari got a break in her chemo because she got into a clinical trial and they had to quit chemo to see if it would work.

A few months later, the clinical trial proved to be completely ineffective–and so would everything else, but Cari decided to take one more swing at the evil that invaded her body. She went down fighting, to be sure.

We visited in January, the Colorado Brown and the Pennsylvania Browns.

I could say a few months later, again, but in reality it’s been a few minutes. All of it has. A few minutes later, the got the doctors to admit a time frame.

Probably not another year. Fucking cancer.

Not another year, and we’ve only just begun! We’ve only just become a family.

I called from work about three weeks ago. My dad’s e-mail said he had called in hospice.

“Hi Cari, I love you.”

“I Love you to, sweety.”

I’m trying to keep my crying quite so she doesn’t hear me.

“I’m having trouble with my words,” she said. She repeated herself three more times. My dad had warned me that she was having a hard time with nouns. In typical Cari fashion, a few days before he said that she was trying to tell him what she wanted him to do and gave up partway through saying, “Go do something while I figure out what I wanted to tell you!”

“I hear your family is coming to visit,” I managed.

“They’re coming for lunch,” she said. She said how confused she’s been with all the people standing over her and checking on her at home. “Well, I need to go honey. You take good care of Danette, ok? You take good care of her,” she repeated.

“I will Cari, I will. I love you.”

“You take good care of each other. We’ll see you soon.

“Goodbye, Cari. I love you.”

 * * *

Dear Cari,

Thank you. You’ve taken such good care of us. I know we all planned man, many years of fun together. I know you wanted to travel, and come and visit again soon. I would have liked to see all the dresses you were going to sew since your cancer forced you into early retirement. I know you’re proud of all of us and love us, and we’re proud of you too. I’ve never met someone so brave and so strong and yet so thoughtful of everyone around you. We’ll take good care of Dad, I promise. I can’t believe I came to have a mother and lose her so quickly, but it has been the highest privilege. We’ll be sad, but at the same time I know how happy you’d be to be with all of us.

I will miss you always.

Love,

Nate

Cari asked that in lieu of flowers,
donations be made to The American Cancer Society,
or The Griffen Pond Animal Shelter,
967 Griffin Pond Rd,
S Abington Twp, PA 18411.
A Christian memorial service for her will be held next
Saturday, Aug. 2,
at Neil Regan Funeral Home,
1900 Pittston Ave., Scranton, at 11:30.
Interment and lunch to follow.

Antimatter: An Analogy for God and Holiness


Atomic

Atomic (Photo credit: sushiraider)

Have you ever heard of antimatter? It has all of the characteristics of matter, it takes up space, it’s made out of the same kinds of particles—except all of it is completely opposite matter. So there are antineutrons antielectrons and positrons that make up antimatter molecules. When antimatter contacts matter there is a complete conversion of matter into energy (a really efficient explosion) that releases purely radiation. Some scientists have posited that the big bang resulted from the collision of antimatter and matter and that there was just a little bit more matter than antimatter… yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. Where did they both come from before they collided?

Here’s the cool thing, there could be entire stars and solar systems made up of antimatter because it’s just matter that’s completely opposite what we’re familiar with.

Actually, it’s opposite what you’re made out of, so I’d keep my distance if I were you.

We can actually create antimatter here on earth.

And if you’re worried about the sounds of that then you’re not the only one. Some people thought the large hadron collider might create a black hole here on our planet. Don’t worry, it’s successfully run from 2010 to 2012 and no black holes yet.

So we can make antimatter. You know what’s even more impressive? We’ve managed to figure out a way to store it (in very small amounts). So once you manage to produce some antimatter from atom smashing you can store it using a vacuum and magnets to keep it from touching anything. So far, storing it is difficult and short-termed, but that should improve.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because this can be a very helpful analogy to understanding God and us—or more specifically—God and sin.

To understand the phrase God’s holiness it might be helpful to understand what it means for God to be holy and for us to not be holy. And from that why we need to be reconciled with God.

So it might be helpful to think of God as matter and us as antimatter. He’s a holy perfect God that cannot be in contact with sin and since God is infinite (there’s a lot of him) and we’re finite (there’s not much of us) when we collide with God we explode and he’s all that’s left.

Traditionally commentators have looked at God’s warning to Adam that if he eats of the fruit of the tree he “will surely die” as meaning a spiritual death because he doesn’t actually die that day.[1] So it must have been a spiritual death. Or some others suggest that the verse simple suggests that “in that day” means in that age or era, so Adam’s death some 930 years later is not at odds with what God has said.

Most options require a lot of back flips and reliance on other than apparent understandings of that verse.

The Hebrew is very clear. It’s emphatic.

“You do this, and this will happen.”

But it doesn’t.

Adam doesn’t die. Neither does Eve.

They were supposed to die.

What happens right after God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin?

He kills some animals.[2]

Something dies.

But it’s not Adam and Eve.

For the rest of history of the Old Testament things—innocent things—had to die to make up for our sin. It’s as if in the very moment Adam and Eve sinned they became antimatter in a universe of matter. They should have exploded. They should have ceased to exist. But God in fear of the destruction of his precious creatures, who he had poured his very self into, bent time and space and put them in a magnetically-controlled vacuum-sealed jar separate from him. He had to remove himself in some ways from his creatures so that they wouldn’t die instantly on contact with him.

There’s a strange story of a man who touched God. He reached out his hand and touched the arc of the Covenant and was killed instantly.[3] I don’t understand this passage, but it might help to use that analogy of antimatter, because every other time they Israelites moved the Arc (when they followed God’s directions) they had to have the arc on long poles and none of them were actually ever supposed to touch it.

Like antimatter and matter, the arc of the covenant had to be suspended between people; separate, untouched.

The word reconciliation is used a lot in church, but not often explained well. Reconciliation is making things fit together. Reconciling us (sinners) to God (perfect holiness) demands something to be done to make us fit together.

God has to make antimatter fit back together with matter.

For us to be in perfect union with him we have to be able to make contact with him, and when we sinned contact with him meant our destruction–perfect and complete annihilation

Death spiritually and physically.

Praise be to the one who made the irreconcilable, reconcilable.


[1] Genesis 2:17.

[2] Read Genesis 3.

[3] Actually this story appears twice in the Old Testament, see 1 Chronicles 15 and 2 Samuel 6.

God/King/President


With the approaching elections I’m hearing more about God as king and not an elected official then I ever have before. The observation I’ve heard repeated recently is that we as American’s struggle with understanding God as king more than we would, say, if we lived in England. We’re all about freedom, and we overthrew our king.

(Insert rant about how frustrating it is that Christian leaders prefer to harp on culture rather than find things that are positive and relate them to the Christian faith.)

And so we continue to have these discussions about how we want to be self-governed, self-directed and self-empowered individuals not under God’s authority.

Bad, bad, bad.

You’re all bad Christians.

And they’re right. We do struggle with power and authority and surrendering it to God. This is especially prevalent in Matthew’s Gospel. Everyone leaves everything, follows “immediately” and “surrenders all to Jesus” as the old Hymn goes.

Great study. Worth Repeating. Worth reminding ourselves that we need to give everything over to God. It’s all his. We’re all his. He needs to be first.

And then we move on.

And that’s where my frustration with devotionals and sermons grow from. We’ve all heard that drum beaten before (at least if you’ve been in Christian circles for a year or listened to KLove for more than 10 minutes).

We have got to go deeper.

Because Christian culture tends to categorize that desire for ruling and power as a result of the fall–and it’s not. God created Humans in his own image and set them as his representatives and caretakers on Earth (Gen. 1:27, 2:16).

God not only created man for authority, but gave him authority, power, control.

So where are the sermons on what our authority is as Christians?

And not just over one another in the work place, where are the sermons and discussions on authority over all of creation—our cats, our dogs, over creation and whether we pillage the earth’s resources for our own benefit like tyrants or rule over it justly and with great concern?

And who is asking the questions about why God gave us authority anyway? And if he did give us authority over his creation, why are we not affirming that God given desire? Because then the question becomes “How do you use it?” rather then the denial of power and authority (that it’s “bad” and a result of the fall).

And that has got to be the question because people in authority—which we all are—who are unaware or refuse to acknowledge their power and authority will still have it and use it, but not necessarily in helpful ways.

Which would you prefer, the authority who gives careful thought to his use of power, or the one denies they have any power?

And why the negativity toward those who want to be self governing? Government is installed and encouraged by God after the fall, not before.

And why the disparagement of humans before their creator? A king with absolute control is usually called a tyrant. Aren’t human’s more of subservient partners with God as rulers over this earth rather than drones?

And why is the electoral form of government so inferior to a kingship in being able to understand our God? Don’t we have to choose him daily as our commander and chief? And don’t we continue to elect and choose to do things that are harmful to us? And shouldn’t we commend that desire for honorable and just leaders? Would it be better to have a king who is in authority simply because he is born into it? Does that help us understand God better? Isn’t He king because he is virtuous and not because he was born into it?

And “king” falls short of an adequate descriptor for God anyway. Why is it so relished with favor? God’s not of a certain bloodline who inherits his kingdom from his father before him. “King” was just a useful term in Biblical times to help communicate that God was a ruler over land and people. By analogy “President” may be just as helpful.

They all fall short. He’s the creator father king lamb of sacrifice redeemer of all things who works with and through people to whom he gave power and authority.

We need to be partner-servants who recognize our power, authority and resources for God and his kingdom. If we continue to ignore the fact that we have those things then we will continue to cause harm to this world and that which is under our care. I wonder if the real area we’re falling short in is not misunderstanding who God is but it’s misunderstanding who we are; ones with authority and power.  We can’t surrender something we don’t have.

Why Unity Won’t Cut It


Love ? I love love love you.

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I recently wrote my reflections I had recently during a run on the condition of the church. As someone who has spent years of study and in internships to become a leader and speaker in the church, people’s perception of the church is of great concern to me. In fact, I wish we had more generous churches who were environmentally friendly, experts at overcoming poverty and injustice run by pastors who were authentic and not trying to be cool, but I also wish for people to not be so judgmental about other Christians–so it’s easy to see that I can be part of the problem too. I had suggested that we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves, because it’s not our job to monitor other people–at least not until we’ve taken a good look at ourselves. The way Jesus put it was that we cannot help someone get a bit of saw dust out of their eye when we have log in our own eye (Mt. 7, Lk. 6).

Perhaps then we’d have a more unified church and a more cohesive, inviting community the represents God’s love to the world. A message of introspection and checking our own hearts first would help solve a lot of our issues. The Westboro community looking at themselves to see if they are really loving everyone as Jesus commands instead of taking up hate signs upon the instruction of their leader. World hunger and easily preventable disease would be reduced if church people really looked at their hearts and asked how much their hearts were swayed by their money and their own comfort. Politics and our economy in this country (as Andy Stanley has suggested) would be different if we realized that it’s not a lack of money problem that we have–it’s a spending problem. And as much as we eagerly point our fingers at Washington and corporations we should look at our own spending and realize how much we share in the blame.

And if we could just get the church to stand together and stop bickering with each other than we could really direct change in our country and around the world.

I have heard so many speeches at Christian conferences about how we need unity in the church, but I have concerns about teaming together under the banner of unity.

Not that we shouldn’t strive for unity, but that when we are striving for unity our goal quickly distracts us from from our real mission–because when unity becomes our focus, we can become distracted from being love to all people.

And what if we became a unified church? How quickly would an age-old problem of “us verses them” seep into our thinking? “We the unified, mighty church of God?” Rather, if we focused each on our hearts and concern to love all people, unity would be a natural byproduct of our hearts and there would be little room for the “us verses them” mentality because our first priority would be loving everybody and when you are trying to love everybody it’s hard for anyone to become an outsider or enemy.

But maybe I have too simplistic of a solution to the problem.

  • Kevin DeYoung of the Gospel Coalition listed 10 steps for unity in the RCA. He agrees that unity should not be the goal (#9) but suggest truth not love as the answer. I wonder who has the perfect interpretation of the Truth that will unite denominations/churches….
  • For a much more scripture filled article on the need of unity see CARM’s article, “The Need for Unity in the Church.”

Enemies of the Church


Streetlight

Streetlight (Photo credit: Dorron)

“What would you have me do?” I asked God in my head as my feet pounded the blacktop under the dull orange streetlights on a late night run.

“I would have you learn to love my people again. You’ve become bitter and angry with them. You don’t love my bride,” came the reply.

“Yeah?” I chuckled, “Have you seen them recently? They’re terrible.” Just as quickly as the thought crossed my mind I flashed back to earlier that day. I had been sitting around a table with some guys waiting for our lunch to be brought out and one of the guys started in on a long tirade of “You know what the problem with the church is?” It was the first time I realized that I really hated that attitude. It’s not helpful. You know what I’d call it if the church only had one problem?

I’d call it awesome.

We’d be doing really well.

But walking around proclaiming, “You know what the problem with the church is? It’s [fill in whatever you like]” isn’t helpful because (as it turns out) we all need the gospel. The people on the street corner looking for the next hit and the church next door with whatever “problem” you want to assign them—all need the gospel. And you know what the good news of the gospel is?

It’s love.

“For God so loved….”

We could really stop there. I mean that’s all that matters. All of the rest of the gospel message hangs on that one thing: God loved. God loves. God will love.

How much did God love? He loved so much that he gave his only son. Why’d he have to do that? Because he created this amazing creation and then entrusted it to human beings to rule as his physical presence—image bearers—of God to his creation. Then they took those keys to the kingdom and handed them over to God’s enemy and said, “Here, you can have these. This kingdom is yours.” And then bad things happened to all of God’s creation and humans could no longer be a part of God’s kingdom and needed be brought back. God did the heavy lifting so we could again be apart of his kingdom instead of the kingdom of evil; the kingdom of love instead of the kingdom of destruction and hate.

Unfortunately it’s much easier to unite people under a common enemy then anything else.

So we need a common enemy.

But who? Rob Bell? Pentecostals? Assemblies of God? Maybe become nondenominational? Better yet—house church verses the mega church! Or CO2’s—join the Church of Two! It’s like an infomercial for shamwow over ordinary washcloths, “Do you know what the problem with your old washcloth is? It’s not good at reaching out to those on the fringes of society!”

Except making enemies of other churches or other Christians doesn’t seem… well… Christian.

Except for maybe the Westborough Baptist church (they really deserve to be hated, right?).

Maybe we should look outside the church for a common enemy to unify us. Democrats? Pro Choicers? Maybe just people with tattoos… especially if they dance and smoke too.

Except the single occasion in the Bible over which most people struggle with Jesus “not sinning” is the one occasion when he seems ready to beat the snot out of people in the temple. He runs around throwing things and wiping people all because they sold animals at the temple? No, that was actually a wonderful and helpful business. (Have you ever tried leading a cow, sheep or goat very far? It’s not easy. Much easier to sell yours and buy a new one once you get to the temple.) Was it because they were charging too much for the animals and therefore cheating the worshippers? Possibly, but the text doesn’t say.

No, he blows up because they’re selling these animals in the court of the gentiles. It’s supposed to be a place of prayer for all people and it’s full of people bartering on prices, sheep and goats bleating, pigeons cooing and the smells animal dung and straw.

Not exactly a place to pray.

So here’s Israel, “displayer of God’s splendor” and “the light to the nations,” ignoring, discouraging and casting off the gentiles in God’s very own house. Jesus is outraged because the church people are united together against the “outsiders.”

“You know what the problem with Israel is…?”

So who are we supposed to hate to unify the church? Not our neighbors, we’re supposed to love them. And our enemies. We’re supposed to love them too.

So, we’re just supposed to love everyone?

Everybody?

Huh.

“Thank God it’s not my job to make that happen” I chuckled to myself as I rounded another corned of my evening run. “Good luck with that one, God!”

No, my responsibility is of myself first. Am I loving everybody?

I have to look at myself first.

And you should probably do the same.

Marriage Superior to Singleness?


If this idea isn’t overtly taught from the pulpits of our churches, magazines and relationship books, then it is often at least implicitly taught. I think the most common mutation or strain of this idea right now if the “godly” notion that marriage is designed to build your character and develop you into the person God wants you to be in a way that being single won’t.

It’s unbelievable and I’m sick of it.

There are so many problems with this idea. For starters, there are plenty of people who are married that don’t grow or mature. So, that’s a problem. And it’s a problem for both the married and the unmarried. Maybe marriage makes it a little harder to ignore issues you need to work through, but I don’t think it forces you to grow and mature.

It might just force your spouse to hate you.

Next, Jesus was single. If you want to declare that his character or holiness was underdeveloped because he was never married, then I’ll let you take the up with him.

Next, Paul. He was single too. Possibly—although unlikely—he was married, but all the evidence supports him being single. And he wrote a lot of the New Testament. More than Jesus did, actually.

Next, scripture is very clear (see Paul’s letters) that singleness is at least equal (if not superior) to being married.

Additionally, and perhaps finally, the people who are married who tell me this don’t always have the right to speak of character development in single people.

Let me explain.

If you get married in your early twenties you’ll never know the character development that occurs when you’re still single and 25. Or in your late twenties. Or into your thirties.

And they’ll never know what it’s like to live in religious culture that sees singleness as an imperfection, an incompleteness—that somehow you’re missing your “other half” or that you’re only “half of what you could be.”*

They will not know what it’s like to maintain purity and holiness for years longer than they imagined they’d have to wait for that special someone.

They’ll never know what it’s like to get a job offer or acceptance to a school far away from home and only have themselves (and God) to decide whether or not to go. And then only have themselves for support when they do go, alone.

They’ll never know what it’s like to have to depend on only themselves when they’re sick and need food from the grocery store.

Or medicine.

They’ll never know the perseverance or strength it takes to both go to school and figure out how to pay for their schooling, rent, books and food without the help of someone else to make the income.

Or to balance all of that with doing the laundry, cooking food, taking the car to the shop and cleaning the dishes.

I’m concerned that we are doing an unspeakable disservice to the single community by adding to their anxiety and struggles this idea that marriage is superior in developing their holiness, character or whatever else, than being single.

I think they’re just different.

But at the same time, I should mention that I’m still single.

And so was Jesus.

That is why I am convinced that what we really need is for people to rally around singles and encourage them to be the content and complete people  they really are.

Additionally, we need to encourage people, while they are still singe (to quote Andy Stanley) to “work on becoming the person you’re looking for is looking for,” because they are completely capable of growing and maturing through their relationship with God and their peers.

Marriage is better than singleness”? I think I can stamp that one as another lie I’ve been sold. And it’s especially upsetting that this lie is so heavily pandered in Christian circles.

______________________

*I particularly detest this line from a song originally written and sung by Dave Barnes and then covered (ripped off?) by Blake Shelton. I like the song, but I am discouraged by the notion here and elsewhere that you can’t make it as well as a single person.

True Love Waits – Purity


Gummy candy

Image via Wikipedia

(Lies I’ve Been S/Told series)

There’s an organization within Christianity dedicated to encouraging purity among students. The only problem I’m beginning to worry about is the notion that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage to “save yourself” for your future spouse—hence the name “true love waits.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I myself have worn a ring that expresses this sentiment for some ten years (it has inspired many amusing conversations) but in recent years the motivation behind it has begun to fall a little flat in my mind.

I mean, how do you know you’re going to get married?

Not to be pessimistic, but you don’t know that you will get married. I could be killed in a car accident on my way home tonight from Starbuck’s and never get married. It’s a real possibility.  And what then? Was my “waiting” in vain? Was it useless?

Or what about the fact that I’m twenty five and there’s no one on the horizon? The idea of “waiting” is suddenly a little hallow.

I was in a friend’s dorm room with a couple of female friends and they were talking about waiting to have sex and one of them said, “I dunno, if I haven’t gotten married by the time I’m twenty five, I might just say ‘forget it, I’m going to have sex.’” They laughed and all agreed, by twenty five, if they weren’t married, they were going to have sex.

It was mostly in jest, and they were all about 20, so 25 seemed a long way off, but I think it illustrates the problem: Waiting for some abstract future that may or may not happen only motivates for a short time.

So what do you do when you’re 25 and still single? I don’t think the 15 year old me would have so readily signed up for that. And after awhile the fact that you’ve been walking down a tunnel with no light at the end of it for such a long time can get exhausting.

We need long term reasons to remain sexually pure.

Like that fact that it’s not worth the heart break and added complexity that being physical adds to any relationship. Did you know that a woman’s brain begins to release oxytocin (the same chemical released by the brain after childbirth to bond mother and child) after being held for only twenty seconds? I even saw this in a Men’s Health article about how to get a girl. They were saying how those long hugs help her bond to you—chemically. Scary? I think so.

It’s very easy to see from there how girls (especially) stay in unhealthy physical relationships with men who treat them poorly.

And bonding happens in guys over physical too, it’s just much slower (and a different chemical).

How about the fact that it’s really a commitment to God? That kind of a reason lasts far past the “was it worth the wait?” questions that inevitably arise. And it’s not because God is down on sex, but that he loves everyone and doesn’t want them to be hurt or hurting, and out of that concern encourages sexual purity. So great a concern that it’s commended to not have even a “hint of sexually immorality” or “lust in your heart after a woman,” which Jesus equates as being just as bad as adultery. That’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

How about the fact that you can’t ever go back and undo something you did? The adage, “Once you taste the candy, you can’t go back” is probably especially true here. I mean, maybe it would be fun and worth it to have a romantic interlude for a summer with a girl and cherish it as a fond memory, but what if it’s not? And why risk bringing even more baggage into a relationship with the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with? I’ve got enough stuff to work through, why would I want to add to it? And what if ten years from now I realize I’ve regretted that decision I made that night (or those nights) and there’s nothing I can do about it? I can’t go back and take it back.

I find those more compelling reasons to not have casual sex in my mid twenties than the idea of waiting. Yes, I think it would be wonderful to marry someone who didn’t have sex with anyone before me, but it doesn’t have to be because she was waiting for me.

So I wish some of these things were the main reasons pushed to students to “wait.” I mean, even if the “true love waits” motivation holds when you’re young, it starts to get neutralized when you’re with the person you “know” you’re going to marry. Or you’re getting older. Or….

That’s why this one fell in the category of a “lie” I’ve been sold. It’s half true, at best inferred from scripture, but it’s shallow packaging with thin advertising at best.

And I want to call it out.