Sabbath is a choice.

My first encounter with ‘mindfulness’ was several years ago when I found myself living in France under stressful circumstances. Not only was I adjusting to life en français and a new job teaching English at a French secondary school, but an ongoing situation in the UK was taking up a lot of my time and emotional energy. This draining situation affected my spiritual life too: I couldn’t pray and for various reasons I didn’t get to church much. Worse, I had no outlet for my increasing frustration. The ‘noise’ of all this became acute: at night it felt like the walls were closing in on me, like I needed to burst out of them and run screaming for the hills. Like I needed to plunge into the ocean and wash it all away.

I confided some of my personal situation to a friend who advised me to use the mindfulness techniques that had helped her through situations of severe clinical anxiety. ‘Imagine your thoughts are like leaves floating in a stream. Don’t try to block them, just notice them approaching and then watch them go past.’

tabitha

Although my mind was too chaotic at the time to make much sense of this, I did find that attempting to ‘live in the moment’ (which is essentially what ‘mindfulness’ boils down to) was helpful. If I was lucky I could catch the breeze and fly, be involved in my task, and simply forget the meta-narrative, the constant voices in my brain that were attempting to catch me and drag me downwards. Far from thinking less, it allowed me to think more, that is, to think more freely. To imagine, as well as to ‘experience’ and ‘just be’.

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Sexual Tension

I remember a well-known youth leader and speaker at a big Christian conference I attended as a young person comparing sexual temptation to wanting to eat a ‘big chocolate cake’.

“You go into the kitchen. There’s the cake, oozing chocolatey goodness. You know you aren’t supposed to eat the cake. But it looks so good….what if I just dipped my finger into the icing? No-one would even know, right? What if I just sliced a tiny bit off the back where no-one would see…”

The story ended with the cake gone, your fingers and mouth covered in chocolate and an overwhelming sense of regret and shame.

You can never get that cake back now. It’s gone forever.

You get the picture. It’s the good old slippery slope argument.

No, you can't have it AND eat it!

No, you can’t have it AND eat it!

Without perhaps fully realising it, this youth leader had bought into the idea of sex – of bodies, especially female ones – as consumable goods. I heard another story in which a white rose was passed around the youth group. As it went from hand to hand, it inevitably got  broken. The speaker held it up at the end: ‘who would want this now?’ he asked. The rose had been passed around and lost its value. It was now worthless, crumpled, dirty. The warning was there, I think, probably more for the girls than the boys.

Sex makes you dirty. It makes you unloveable. It makes you unmarriageable. It makes you irredeemable.

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Some Honest Questions for a Professing ‘Anti Gay’ Christian

This is a response to Michael Brown’s article on the Christian Post website, entitled ‘Some Honest Questions for Professing “Gay Christians”

For readers who would prefer a shorter (and much more gracious) answer to Dr Brown, please see this response by John Smid, a former ‘ex gay’ leader.

 

Dear Dr Brown,

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of you before someone I know on Facebook linked your article to their timeline. I am aware that a large geographical and cultural difference separates us, you being an American professor with a radio show (Line of Fire – great title!) and 22 books to your name, and I perhaps a slightly less eminent grad student living in the UK. No, I don’t have a radio show, and although there are some books in my head, they are not on paper yet.

But I thought you might be interested to know that I am a “Gay Christian” (love what you did with the quotation marks there,  it adds a bit of mystery – are you questioning my sexuality or my faith? Or perhaps you are just preempting what I suspect you believe is the answer to the question you ask in the latest of your 22 books ‘Can you be Gay and Christian?’).

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. You asked some questions, and I’d like to think you actually wanted some answers, so here I am hoping to furnish you with some. But I hope you’ll forgive me if I ask you  a few questions myself. I know that answering a question with a question is not the done thing, but here we are, and I really just want to make sure you know that I ask these questions in the love of God and the fear of God, being jealous for your wellbeing in the Lord.

Sorry if my tone is a little acerbic, please believe that there is not an ounce of hate in my heart. No, not even one. Just quite a lot of ounces of frustration. Enough to make a five tier rainbow sparkly gay wedding cake.

 

lezzy cake

Make cake, not war.

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