Jenster's Musings

Friday, October 12, 2007

God and Sex

Did that get your attention?? I have a lot to say on both subjects and this post may end up rambling, so bear with me.

Our church - Christ's Church of the Valley or CCV - is very different. It is a non-denominational Bible church that looks a bit like a movie theater on the outside; has a minister who has been known to wear Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt while he preaches; and has a rock band, cement floors, and three big screens on the inside. There's not much in the way of ritual or tradition and we hardly sing hymns, mostly singing contemporary Christian worship and praise songs.

I may not be a Bible scholar, but I know a thing or two about what Jesus had in mind for His church and in the 16 months we've been attending here I've yet to see something that contradicts His ideas. If I have any complaint about the church at all it's that we don't sing traditional hymns more regularly. I'd like a nice balance between contemporary and traditional music. That, however, is my personal preference and doesn't make a flip of difference in my worship.

This church is obviously not for everyone. Some people are wired for the traditions and the rituals. It's not a question of which church is right and which church is wrong. It's a matter of which church am I going to get the most from. For my family it's this progressive, edgy church.

I have been told - in very subtle, indirect ways - that because this is a "new" church (meaning not a traditional denomination) it can't be pleasing to God. I don't beg to differ, I just do. I don't believe there's a denomination or church or person on the planet that has figured everything out. It's not God's word (the Bible) that's infallible. It's man's interpretations and that's why there are so many denominations. And because of that I believe that every church has a flaw in it somewhere.

So while CCV has its own flaws, here's what it does well. It (the people of CCV - which are truly the church) loves the less than lovable in big and real ways. There's a song by Todd Agnew called "My Jesus" and every time I hear it I think to myself that's one thing we got right.

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reached for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beal St. to the stained glass crowd
But I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I grew up going to church; lived a happy, normal, middle class life; never got into any trouble; had great, loving parents, etc. And a lot of our congregation has a similar background. We also have a lot of people who have backgrounds that would make your hair stand on end. So many of them had tried other churches at one time or another and they were made to feel less than worthy to be there. HELLO! It's church!! And who did Jesus hang out with? The dredges of society.

I'm not saying CCV has a monopoly in this market because I know we don't. I know a lot of traditional churches that look beyond the surface or the less than pleasant aspects of people and welcomes them with opened arms. But there are still a lot of churches out there (or people in those churches) who disdain anyone who doesn't meet their ideas of "good church-going folk".

What does all this have to do with sex, you may be asking. I'm getting to that. CCV is starting a three week series next week called "Our Rotten Sex Life" and the first message is entitled "The Greatest Sex You'll Ever Have".

This is the huge banner hanging on the side of our building, right next to a major freeway.

Part of me is a little hesitant to bring all this up, having people know that I go to the sex church (as I heard it referred to in the grocery store the other day). But the thing is, sex is from God. He invented it and He wants husbands and wives to enjoy it. A lot. I have no doubt there are those who saw that banner and thought "that crazy church is blazing a path to hell", but the truth is this subject matter is biblical.

My parents will be visiting the first Sunday of the series, but I won't let that stop me from taking copious and detailed notes.

And this is where it all turns personal. All of you who know me in the real world may not want to read further. It could be too much information. I've gone back and forth about whether I should write this for everyone to see or not, but the reality of it is this is my life. And I won't be writing anything that won't be in my book for all to read - if it gets published.

So here we go. *deep breath*

Todd and I were in our early 20's when we got married. And in the way of most all young couples things were great.

In our mid to late 20's we had children. Those of you who have ever had small children know where I'm going with this. Who has the time or energy for sex??

Somewhere around 34 I hit my stride you could say. Todd was one happy, if not exhausted, man. I've heard of women peaking in their 30's, but a peak suggests a downward descent and things were pretty even until half way through my 39th year. April 27th, 2005, to be exact. The day of my diagnosis.

Nothing works like a cold shower better than a diagnosis of some mortal illness. As you can imagine - or some of you may know first hand - sex is the last thing on your mind at a time like that.

Then there are the physical issues that come with surgery and chemotherapy. And did you know with certain chemos - maybe even all of them - you are advised against sex for so many days after treatment because the poison can leach to the partner? Yeah. So there's a little education for you today.

Sometimes, as in my case, there are more surgeries to be had after treatment. Everything heals, but things are never the same. I have no ovaries to make estrogen, which, in turn, depresses the sex drive. I also have very little to no feeling from just a few inches below my collar bone to an inch or so below my belly button. If I may be so bold, and I don't know why I should stop now, that's quite the bummer. While a man goes from 0 to 60 in under 10 seconds, us women usually need to be primed and warmed up. No feeling in the "primer parts" makes warming up a little slower than it used to.

(Was that too much? Did you really need to know that?? I realize it's too late to take it back, but I'm just wondering if I've sent any of you running away screaming.)

There's also the matter of body image. I know you all are probably sick of hearing me gripe about my weight, but there's that. And the fact that my girls aren't really my girls, but my tummy just come to live in a different place.

I'm going to be 42 in a month. Before this aspect went south I used to think how lucky we were to be so fulfilled in that area. I also figured if I was 39 and Todd was 40 we still had a lot of good years left. I even thought about how much fun our 25th anniversary trip to Scotland was going to be - you know, sex in a castle and all that. But instead of tapering off slowly it was like hitting a brick wall.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you know I've had one medical issue after another until very recently. I'm thanking God because I'm not having any of those issues anymore. Not to any extent, anyway. So I'm anxious to hear what Brian has to say on the issue of sex. And while I know for a certainty things will never be the way they had been, I'm still hoping for a great trip to Scotland!

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