I am now a syndicated writer over at The Relationship Blogger. Here is my first article, “How Purity Culture Reinforces Rape Culture through Victim Blaming”
If you were raised in purity culture like me, you may have run into some different sexual dysfunctions. Hopefully this podcast will give you some things to think about in facing those and comfort in knowing you aren’t alone and your worth is not found in your sexuality.
If you like this content, please consider buying my book, The Scarlet Virgins.
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Hey guys! This is a podcast episode that has been adapted from my article “How To Get Used To Sex When You’ve Been Raised To Be Ashamed”
If you’ve been raised in purity culture and have trouble owning your own sexuality, this is the episode for you.
Since the recent death of Hugh Hefner, I’ve read a lot of articles about his legacy, the immorality in his life, and what kind of person he really was. The Christian and secular blogging worlds are abuzz immortalizing the man for his legacy, no matter whether they perceive it as good or bad.
I’ve seen people mourning, I’ve seen people intentionally abstaining from mourning, and I have seen people speculating about Mr. Hefner’s eternal fate. In the comments of one article, people were discussing whether or not he is in heaven after everything he did to further sexual immorality in our society.
What I’ve seen and read has left me with several thoughts that, at the prompting of my husband, I am electing to share.
My first reaction was a small, quiet part of me that drew me to think of the power of God’s love in all of this.
While people are busy pointing out how powerful the actions of this man were, I can only think that in truth, the “power” Hefner had is just a grain of sand in a moment in time compared to the power of the love of God. Despite all that Hefner did in his life and all the people who were led astray by his work, Jesus’ sacrifice and love would have (and maybe did) save him and forgive all of his horrible deeds.
Not only that, but His love has the power to save every man and woman who strayed from the fold on account of Hefner as well. It is just mind-blowing to me. What is also mind-blowing to me is how offensive those thoughts seem to be to many. It seems that many only want the Gospel to apply to them, not people who are “really bad.”
To a degree, I get that. Normally I would be stewing over such an awful man as well, especially because the pornography industry hurts and scares me so much as a concept. I had a friend who was in the adult entertainment industry at one point and the stories she told were heart-wrenching. But I recognize that there is a toxicity in this way of thinking that can easily trap us in self-righteousness and a desire to carry out revenge or justice that isn’t ours to handle. We want to control the outcome of other people’s afterlife, but it isn’t our place to do so, and in the process, we often condemn ourselves unknowingly.
I have seen some people being angry at the possibility of Hefner being able to go to heaven if he repented at the last minute. They say he didn’t deserve to have the option to be saved because of all the pain he caused others. This led me to think of the story in the bible of the servants getting the same wage paid to them for working when each started at different hours in the day.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:1-16 NIV
None of us deserve to be saved, so why do we have the audacity to try to tell God how he should govern us and who he should save? He saw Hefner’s heart and judged it appropriately, we can be sure of that. If we were alive in David’s time, I am sure many would be lobbying for him to go to hell as well. However, he is a perfect example of the fact that God’s love can redeem anyone, even an adulterous murderer.
Instead if focusing so heavily on the depravity of one fallen man who has already been judged, maybe we should focus on our own sin and let the Law convict us so that the Gospel can lead us closer to Him. We cannot change whether or not Mr. Hefner was saved or not, but we can decide whether or not we will be recalcitrant ourselves on the day of judgment. Instead of giving ourselves over to anger, let’s be in awe of God’s love. How amazing is it that God’s love is so powerful that it covers someone who spent his whole life dedicated to promoting sexual immorality? Such is the strength and might of our Lord.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
This episode of The Scarlet Virgins Podcast is on sexual suppression after growing up in purity culture and how it has had an impact on myself and my peers.
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If you like this content, please consider buying my book, The Scarlet Virgins.
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Email me: Rebecca@newcrunchymom.com
One of my nonreligious friends asked me a question this past week to answer on my YouTube channel. I originally planned on recording a video answer and publishing this post, but I have unexpectedly fallen ill this week (as I type this I have about a hundred degree fever). So for now, I will only be publishing this as written content, my apologies to everyone who enjoys my videos and was looking forward to this one.
Here is the question:
“If a person lives a great life, gives love to his friends, family and random strangers. If he upholds his beliefs and lives by example…
.. but he isn’t religious,
Does he get into heaven?”
There are so many things I want to say in response to this but first I’d like to say how grieved I am that Christianity is seen as a set of rules and regulations by the general population. I say this because of my background in legalism, I know that the Church has failed so many with this and I feel like this question shows that.
To begin answering this question, I must unpack a few things. First, what do we mean when we talk about heaven?
When I was growing up, I was led to believe that heaven was a super special place where everyone was floating around on clouds with angel wings. There was no pain or suffering there. I think the popular consensus of heaven is that it is the nice place where nice people go in the afterlife. This is in direct contrast to the scary place known as Hell, Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, or whatever you would like to call the place where bad people go.
This view of heaven and hell is actually not biblically accurate. Heaven is a place where a believer’s soul goes when they are separated from their body to be with the Lord when they die (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). Heaven is not the end all be all for a follower of Christ however. We believe that heaven is merely a stopping point as we await the resurrection of our physical bodies (made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection). After our physical bodies are resurrected, we believe that we will dwell in a New Heaven and a New Earth, ruled by Jesus Christ as King (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, John 5:29).
With this understanding in place, we can return to the question of what type of person partakes in this sort of eternal existence.
The answer to this is simple and makes perfect sense when you understand the underlying reality that the afterlife is spent either in communion with Christ (as expressed above) or separated from Him. People who have sworn allegiance to Christ in life (as codified in Baptism and expressed by faith) will abide with Him and serve Him. People who have rejected Christ and His rule as Lord of Creation will be refused admittance on those grounds.
It may seem a bit exclusionary, but that is, in some ways, the point. What King would want people in His Kingdom who do not care about Him or His sacrifice, much less believe in His existence?
Digging in further, the question of whether “goodness” alone can get you into heaven can be answered this way:
The world’s definition of good is largely subjective. I mean really, what counts as a good person? All have lied, stolen, lusted, hated, etc, often by their own admission. In addition to that, the bible says point-blank that no one is “good” (in themselves). Romans 3:10a NIV tells us,
“ As it is written:
‘There is no one righteous, not even one….'”
Scripture again reiterates that no one is good and that all have fallen short in Romans 2:22-24 NIV:
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Again, perpetual existence in resurrected paradise is not dependent upon us or our ability to be good because we are imperfect, even if we try to be “good.”
Scripture tells us Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life:
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6 NIV
I particularly like how Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV explains things:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I feel like this sums it up well: We cannot by our own reason or strength save ourselves, Salvation is a priceless gift from God. At the same time, good works are part of the Christian life because God prepares us to do them. Believing that Christ has done everything on our behalf, and that we had to be saved by Him precisely because our good works are not sufficient, is the crux of the Gospel itself.
This video, though lengthy, is really great on explaining how the Gospel actually works!
It is true that Christians have “rules” on living our lives because there are certain things God asks of us. Our dedication and obedience to Jesus is out of thankfulness, genuine authenticity. and appreciation for what He sacrificed for us.
As someone who grew up Christian, I see other generational Christians like myself lacking this enthusiastic part of our faith because we grew up with obligatory rules rather than the Gospel. It is going through the motions rather than really having an authentic relationship with our Creator, and I don’t mean the Jesus is my boyfriend type (that is a post for another day).
To answer the question: Good works or being good won’t buy a ticket to heaven because being saved has nothing to do with what we do and everything to do with what Jesus has done. He alone is unblemished and stands before God on our behalf as an intercessor. Being found by God “in Him,” as Scripture puts it, is the only way to spend eternity in “heaven” (i.e. as a resurrected citizen of His Kingdom) with Him.
We’ve all watched friends go through hard times. As early as preteen years I began struggling alongside friends who found themselves in a dark spiral of depression. While this didn’t always lead to suicidal ideation and attempts, there were plenty of nights that it led to staying up to see someone through the night.
I never thought much if it, though obviously it did impact me. I just thought this was what people did for their friends who had a harder time with mental health as they grew up.
That assumption was challenged when on one particular day, after having arrived to work with bloodshot eyes, I was asked if I was okay. I replied that a friend had gone through a rough night and I stayed up to help. The woman speaking with me went on a tirade about how people “like that” are users and I shouldn’t allow them to waste my time. I was shocked at the callousness and carelessness this woman displayed.
Having gone through that experience and my own struggles with suicide, I find much of the issue to be misunderstood. While I see the need for venting in those who help out during these times, I also see the need for sensitivity as so many suicidal folks feel that they are a burden anyway.
With that in mind, it is true that being on-call to comfort someone who has found themselves in a pit of despair can be taxing. Self-care is extremely important for anyone working to support someone through their mental health journey. I’m quite fond of the analogy of a plane crash where, in order to help others, you must first put on your own oxygen mask. This concept underlies all of my self-care tips for those who find themselves on the end of working diligently to prevent a suicide attempt.
Here are 10 tips I have for self-care during these times based on my own experience. If you’d like to watch this content rather than read, the video can be found here:
1. Get sleep
As I mentioned, many of the times I’ve been there for friends who were suicidal, it has been at night. I think that is because that is when we often feel the loneliest and most helpless.
It may not be feasible for you to sleep during the night if you are being there for someone, but do make sure that at some point you get some sleep. Take a nap during the day and maybe go to bed a little early so that if they call or message you, you’ve gotten a bit of sleep first.
2. Delegate where possible
You can only go so many nights without sleep before you cannot really help anymore because you can’t think straight. As someone who has both struggled with and has helped someone else struggling, I know that folks who are on the edge don’t just trust anyone, which makes delegating help hard.
3. Call for backup
If the situation appears to have escalated beyond your capacity to help, call the authorities immediately. Try to ascertain the individual’s location as soon as possible and have someone out of earshot call and explain the situation.
Yes, you may lose the person as a friend because of the breach in trust, but you cannot allow that to manipulate you out if doing what is right by trying to save their life.
4. Remember to eat
I know this may seem simple, but if you are like me and lose your appetite when you get stressed, it is a really important point. On the other hand, stress eating can be just as bad.
During this time of turmoil, you want to nourish your body so that you can continue to be healthy and help where you can. Try to eat good ratios of fat, protein, and carbs so you don’t make yourself sick from not eating or from eating junk.
5. Remember to drink
This is the same principle as #4, your body is made up of a large percentage of water and you need to replenish it continuously to avoid dehydration. Energy drinks may help you stay up but they aren’t ideal.
Try to drink water with lemon in it instead of something sugary or caffeinated. This should allow your circadian rhythm to recover quickly once your friend is stabilized and you have the opportunity to sleep at ease.
I know that prayer can seem like “doing nothing” and it can also be difficult to talk to God during a time where you feel like the world is dark, but I believe it is imperative to give our worries to Him. It is an active thing to pray and it can help us heal from the trauma of trying to help someone who does not want to live.
7. Write in a journal or color
Journaling or coloring can be a way to expressive and let go of some of the anxious energy that often comes with challenging times. It can help you unleash some of the emotions you may bottle up while you are in crisis mode.
8. Get counseling for yourself
I’ve mentioned this a lot, but I am a huge fan of counseling. It can be life-changing, especially when you have an amazing and compassionate counselor.
I once made friends with a counselor at my local library in the past year. We had a wonderful discussion about how folks who do counseling for a living or find themselves in a position of being there for someone who is mentally unstable really need counseling for themselves as well. There is no describing the kind of trauma that comes with being in that position and the degree to which self-care like this is discussed is very minimal at best.
9. Don’t blame yourself – no matter the outcome
There can be a certain amount of survivor’s guilt that comes with a loved one being successful in a suicide attempt. You may ask yourself if you didn’t do enough or say the right things, but ultimately it is the choice of that person.
Even in circumstances where the person survives or gets help, your relationship may be fundamentally changed for the worse. No matter the outcome, know that it is not your fault and that you did the best you could.
10. Don’t live your life in fear
After a particularly awful successful attempt of someone I knew that happened close to home, it was difficult for me to deal with the mildest mopey behaviors in people around me. I felt abandoned, lost, and scared to get attached to anyone for fear it would “get” them next. That’s no way to live.
We aren’t promised specific people or a certain number of days here on earth, so we must work to love the people we have while we have the time. Don’t allow fear to drive, but rather love. Live life to the fullest, tell people that you love them, and find your worth and identity not in what you have lost, but what Christ has gained for you.
I received an advance copy of Rebecca Lindenbach’s “Why I Didn’t Rebel” and let me just say, I loved it!
Why I Didn’t Rebel is a must-read message of hope and healing for both Christian parents and adolescents. Through anecdotal stories and empirical evidence, Rebecca makes a compelling case for what causes rebellion and how it can be prevented.
I’ve been asked to do live devotionals in a Facebook group called Black Coffee Prayer Room! If you’d like to join us in the group, you can request with this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/304061590067552/
This specific devotional is on Love and War.