Ask Jonathots… June 30th, 2016

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When should children be told about sex? What do you think is the right age for a woman or a man to first have sex? Do you think couples should wait until they’re married? In other words, what constitutes a healthy attitude about sex?

Normally it would be difficult to answer three questions.

But let’s be candid–sex is about choice. The more choice you can involve in your sexual experience, the better off you are. Unfortunately, the present system, which is overly promiscuous in its entertainment and puritan in its educational approach, actually fails to teach the joy of choice.

For example, because children are not monitored well or instructed about their bodies, they often have their first sexual encounter by “playing doctor” or being abused by a relative.

Likewise, high school, which is really just a glorified bar scene, with people looking for ways to hook up and have an affair, leaves most students pressured to do things they have not selected.

So by the time people enter the adult world, they are either so confused or over-sexed that they don’t feel the compulsion for romantic encounters with their mate.

So in one way we revere sexuality, focusing on childish concepts by giggling and pointing, and on the other side we fail to realize the deep emotional and even physical pleasures of the experience because we were not taught how to make intelligent decisions.

I believe that children should be told about sexuality just as soon as their friends start tattling about it. I think the discussion should fall into three categories:

A. This is how your body works.

B. This is what you want to get off of the experience.

C. Therefore, these are the choices available.

As to your second question, it is rather doubtful that people will wait until they get married to have sex. That would be the ultimate choice made by a very mature individual who had selected a profile of virginity for his or her own advantage.

In other words, you will not hold back the burst dam of hormones simply by quoting scriptures or signing a pledge card. In that case people stumble into having “accidental” sex, which can be interpreted to mean more than it actually should.

Concerning a right age for having sex, we are all over the spectrum on this issue.

For instance, we have decided that a person is old enough to drive at sixteen, to vote at eighteen, and to drink at twenty-one. But the likelihood that they will involve themselves in sex before sixteen is very high.

So which one is actually more involved? Driving at fourteen, voting at fourteen, drinking at fourteen or having sex at fourteen?

When I raised my sons, I assumed that they were going to be pushed into sexual awareness by about fourteen or fifteen years of age. That does not mean this is the ideal age to have sex–but it does mean that every parent should be aware when the pressure mounts.

To have a healthy sexual attitude at any age, three things need to be in place:

  1. Wisdom about your own body
  2. Wisdom about your own choices
  3. Wisdom about all consequences

If those are in order, the door is opened for people to choose their romantic encounters, instead of being coerced into them by peer pressure, church regulation or just too much chance.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 26th, 2015

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man,

I do need another choice.

Something between independent and dependent is what I’m looking for. I don’t know about you. Independent sounds stupid. What’s the whole purpose of a relationship then? It also makes me sound bratty.

Dependent, on the other hand… Well, I don’t even know where to start with that.

It just seems to me that what we end up needing makes us needy and then eventually frustrates us because we don’t ever seem to get as much as we need.

 

Dear Woman,

Do you think it’s any different for me? If I don’t act independent, all my friends say I’m pussy whipped. Yet if I become dependent, hang around more often or become interested in something that is deemed “feminine,” my masculinity is in question.

 

Dear Man,

So do you think this is normal?

 

Dear Woman,

Well, if it is normal, it’s pretty unpleasant. You see, I don’t even know if I can use the word “unpleasant.” It challenges my macho. But if I acted macho you’d cry.

 

Dear Man,

Do you think I like to cry? I just started crying when I was a little kid.

 

Dear Woman,

So did I. But somewhere along the line, an adult picked me up and said, “You’re a big boy, now. Be tough. Don’t cry.”

But my eyes still water if I shut my thumb in the door.

 

Dear Man,

So you’re saying you want to cry and you don’t?

 

Dear Woman,

I’m saying I don’t know. There’s so much expected of me that I can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is programmed. For instance, since we’re being honest, I don’t like spiders either.

 

Dear Man,

So why didn’t you say something?

 

Dear Woman,

Because you’re scared of them and it’s my job to come to the rescue and… I don’t know. Slay the damn thing.

 

Dear Man,

Aren’t there guys who don’t mind killing spiders?

 

Dear Woman,

I don’t know because we wouldn’t be allowed to say. I just think that some guys get used to doing it with their hands and other guys grab a tissue, wishing they can use their foot. It just sucks.

 

Dear Man,

So for me, when I’m too independent you look weak. When I’m too dependent, I feel weak.

 

Dear Woman,

And when you’re too independent, I feel like I should be supportive, but I feel left out. And when you’re too dependent, I wonder if I have enough energy, courage and faith to carry the both of us.

 

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Ask Jonathots… August 27th, 2015

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My friend Rob is the smartest man in our workplace. He happens to be quite overweight. Recently I found myself in a discussion about who would get an upcoming promotion. I said that Rob would probably get the job, and was surprised when another man in the room said he wouldn’t because of his weight. I told the guy he was not only wrong, but also bigoted. He argued with me, and said that you can’t be bigoted against people who are overweight because it’s a condition they choose. I completely disagreed. What do you think?

It is a difficult path to negotiate when you start insisting that one group of people was born with a certain predilection, but this other group over there has made a choice instead of finding themselves genetically wired.

So to be honest with you, I prefer, for the sake of sanity and the purposes of having more personal control in my life, to choose to believe that even though there are certain features that may come with our human package, that we don’t necessarily need to use them.

Otherwise, we’re going to begin to contend that each and every weakness or strength in the human body is beyond our control and that we’re destined to become something rather than having the free will to guide our own direction.

That said, let me tell you that obesity is close to my heart. Literally.

I was born at 12 1/2 pounds, so I have a very strong case for believing that I was put together to be a fat man.

It doesn’t help me.

I don’t improve my life or increase my longevity by insisting that I’m cursed with an oddity which, as it turns out, could also be lethal.

So you have to make up your mind. Are we at the mercy of our genetics and destined to be a certain way from our birth? Or can we be born again and find a path divergent from the genetic pool?

It isn’t split down the middle, it’s one way or another.

So the truth of the matter is that since obesity is such an obvious visual impairment, the bigotry against it will never go away. Someone can be gay and not visually appear to be a part of the homosexual community.

Not true with fat.

So since human beings look on the outward appearance instead of the heart, it will be impossible to avoid the bigotry, but not impossible to dodge the people who are bigoted.

With that in mind, here’s what I suggest for your friend, Rob. Without mentioning the name of the acquaintance who said he was not going to get the promotion, ask Rob what he, himself, thinks about his chances and if they are hindered by his size.

He knows your heart; he knows you’re not bigoted.

But the question will get Rob thinking, which is what Rob needs to do.

Obesity has three terrible aspects to its pain:

  1. You can’t ever act or not look fat.
  2. There are so many stigmas put upon the fat person that whether you like it or not, they will be placed upon you.
  3. Obesity always leads to some sort of health issue, which might not have come to play without it.

So it is your job to both communicate love to Rob, but also make him aware that there’s a portion of society which is silently killing off his possibilities through its prejudice. He is strong enough to handle it–and you never know what will be a wake-up call to someone.

I do not believe we are born any particular way.

We have free will  and choice.

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Triumphant … May 4, 2013

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lutheran church

Triumphant.

Let us all rejoice.

Triumphant.

Make a righteous choice.

Triumphant.

Speak with one strong voice.

Triumphant.

Share the hopeful Word.

Triumphant.

Let our praise be heard.

Triumphant.

Love one another.

Triumphant.

Sister and brother.

Triumphant.

The kingdom is near.

Triumphant.

Reject the death of fear.

Triumphant.

Gather–be as one.

Triumphant.

Father, Spirit, Son.

Triumphant.

Practice what we preach.

Triumphant.

Apply what we teach.

Triumphant.

Ready to receive.

Triumphant.

Desire to believe.

Triumphant.

More than just a place.

Triumphant.

Comfort the human race.

Triumphant.

Now is the season.

Triumphant.

Love is the reason.

Triumphant.

Using what we know.

Triumphant.

Come and watch us grow.

Yes, triumphant.

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Truly, triumphant.

The door is open for you to find yourself.

(This weekend I will be at Triumphant Lutheran in San Antonio, Texas. May we gently add to the verse.)

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Happy Feathers Day … June 15, 2012

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No, it’s not a misprint. The word IS feathers.

For after all, there has to be something more involved in fatherhood than just being present for conception and providing room and board for your chickadees. Actually, the job is to encourage the foundation and growth of good human beings. So every year when this Father’s Day holiday comes along, I like to take a look at where my family is in the context of what I deem to be important, and what I believe to be universally applicable.

Your children can be like “feathers in your cap.” They are a confirmation of your efforts, and proof-positive that you actually showed up for the job, punched the clock and did an excellent day’s work before heading home.

I’m going to give you a list of ten things that I ask about my children each year, to evaluate how many feathers I feel I can put in my own cap concerning my humble efforts with my offspring. They are more or less questions which I carefully evaluate to note progress, or on occasion, some back-sliding.

1. Do my children respect other people’s rights to privacy and choice? (Prejudice is not part of DNA. It is force-fed to children who have no other information but what they hear.)

2. Does my offspring honor excellence and challenge mediocrity? (Making excuses for poor work is the first step to lying, which is the path to all iniquity.)

3. Can they laugh at themselves? (We are living in a generation that can mock but has little ability to be meek about their own weaknesses.)

4. Do they watch AND pray? (It’s what Jesus told us to do. Don’t just piously recite prayers, but also watch and be attentive to your own life and how to make things better.)

5. Do my children believe in the family of man? (There’s a great danger in our times of becoming overly focused on our immediate genealogy, ignoring the greater fellowship in the world around us.)

6. Do they receive the truth? (The truth is always a shock if you don’t constantly remind yourself that your opinion probably needs additional input.)

7. Do they enjoy the world but also recognize when it has gone crazy and make a stand? (It’s very important to be congenial, but not a pushover when things have gone awry and principles need to be honored.)

8. Can they make a stand for what they hold true? (Often peacefulness and cowardice can be the same action if we are willing to sacrifice the power of what is proving to work in our lives.)

9. Do they know that the kingdom of God is within them? (All religion is an attempt to break down our personal responsibility to a few exercises of worship instead of using our lives as a vehicle for creating peace.)

10. Are they creative? (The true test of creativity is to have the sensibility to stop and listen when frustration is trying to make you repeat bad habits.)

So there you go. Those are the ten “feathers in my cap,” available to me if I discover each and every year that my children have continued to pursue the good path on which I tried to place them. Of course, along the way, they pick up excellent ideas of their own. That’s how the generations move forward instead of backwards.

Honestly, each and every year, the tally is a little different. Each and every child scores uniquely. I don’t judge them by this test, but rather, evaluate whether our particular rendition of humanity is blessing the planet or merely inhabiting it.

But always keep in mind, if some of these ideas were never transfused into your children when they were growing up, you still have the power–through repentance–to set a new example, even at a distance. I want my children to see that Dad wasn’t always right, but that Dad is still moving to find out what is.

So–Happy Feathers Day! Because the feather we can stick in our cap is knowing that we have unleashed on the world folks who have come through our household who are not lethal to others … and might just be ready to offer abundant life.

   

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