Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's Talk about Sex ... and Religion

Part of the work Elizabeth Smart has been doing since she returned home from her abduction is to spread the message that we need to teach our children about sex differently. We need to step away from the teaching that sex is bad and dirty, and that you're worthless if you're not a virgin on your wedding night. She has encouraged parents to teach children that they are of infinite worth and that they are loved, regardless of their circumstances. After she was raped, she wondered if anyone could ever love her again, and she doesn't want anyone to have to experience those feelings of self-loathing.

I appreciate her message a lot.

But now I'm concerned.

With Josh Duggar's past being brought to light and his molestation of several young girls, including his sisters, the media is having a field day, saying that teaching purity is obviously the wrong way to go. Heck, the Duggars preach purity, and their son is a molester. Therefore, preaching purity isn't the answer.

Other media outlets have suggested that parents shouldn't try to force their children to accept their own religious beliefs about sex. One comment I read tonight that really got my goat says that parents need to understand the difference between what is really important and what is just a religious belief.

You know me - I like to rant when things get my goat. Here we go.

Okay, yes, the Duggars preach purity, and their son molested. This doesn't mean the Duggars aren't speaking the truth - this means that their son chose his own way. Good grief - should we always test the truth of a principle by seeing how well the child of the preacher is living it? That's no barometer at all. We have free will, and we can't force our children to accept our beliefs. That's a choice they make for themselves. They taught it, he chose something different. That doesn't make it false.* Look at Alma the Younger - he did everything he could to contradict what his father was teaching. That was his choice - it didn't make the teaching incorrect.

I also don't think Elizabeth Smart meant for her message to be taken as, we shouldn't preach purity at all. She's asking us to teach about worth and value and unconditional love. She never once said that purity shouldn't be taught, and yet, she's being quoted in all these articles that are calling for more sexual freedom for our children, that they no longer be constrained by religious boundaries. I can't pretend to speak for her, but I think that's a misuse of her message.

As far as deciding the difference between what's really important and what's just a religious belief ...

It won't come as a shock to any of you here that I'm a religious person. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ with all my heart, and I strive to develop a closer relationship with my Father and with my Savior every day. I'm certainly not perfect - the mistakes I make are quite baffling - but I'm trying. This is important to me - it's very important. Each person's perception of importance is different, and it's up to them. You can't tell me religion isn't important just because it's not important to you, just the same as I can't belittle something you care deeply about just because I don't understand it.

I am religious. That's the path I've chosen. And because that path brings me happiness, I teach my children those principles. They know, however, that they have free agency, and they can and will choose their own directions. I've told them that I know what makes me happy, and they'll need to decide what makes them happy. This is not something I'm forcing on them - this is something I've given them the opportunity to learn.

And do I preach purity? You bet your darned knitted booties I do. There's a confidence that comes from choosing virtue. There's a peace, a security, a focus, a goal. I would like my children to have those blessings, and so I've taught them that course of action.

But that's not all.

I've taught them about the amazing thing our Savior did for us when He atoned - He made it possible for us to look at our lives, evaluate our choices, and to determine if we're happy with them. If we've done something we wish we hadn't, He gives us every tool we need to set it right. He is the only true do-over. And if something happens they regret, He can and will erase the sting because He loves us with a pure love. 

We live in an age where sex is becoming more and more open every day. In this age, parents are losing their voices in how they raise their children. In this age, religion is being seen as a side note, a garnish on the plate instead of the main course. We can't wonder at how our society seems to be degenerating. The proof is right there.

So, to sum up my feelings ...

Yes, purity should be taught. It should be taught at every opportunity. But it should go hand in hand with lessons of worth, value, the preciousness of a soul, and the power of the Atonement not only to cleanse us of things we wish we could change, but to cleanse the pain of things that happened against our will.

And I will continue to teach my children all my religious beliefs, every single one of them, with full knowledge that they may choose differently someday. That's part of the plan - Christ valiantly defended our right to choose, just as you have the right to agree with or disagree with this blog post as you feel you should.

*I'm not going to get into a long discussion about whether or not counseling was received (I haven't seen a conclusive statement about that - just conjecture) or if the family handled it like they should have. I don't have enough information to make a comment about it. I only bring it up to drive home the point that Josh had his free agency, and his decision to molest does not make teaching the principle of purity wrong.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Share Your Strength!

I'm a strong woman ambassador for Sweet Salt Clothing, meaning that I've been asked to share the source of my strength and invite you to do the same.

If you visit this link and tell Sweet Salt the story behind your strength, you could be entered to win a great prize from Sweet Salt Clothing. We are all strong, amazing women - every one of us! Come join the strong woman movement and let's celebrate who we are and why!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Novel by Marlene Bateman!

Marlene Bateman fans, rejoice - she has a new book out! Everyone else, here's your chance to meet and fall in love with a new-to-you author!

Here's the back cover blurb for Crooked House:

Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson and it’s up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who. Erica is no stranger to murder and mystery, which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, turns to her when unaccountable and potentially fatal “accidents” threaten her roommate’s life.

Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly as it becomes clear someone is trying to kill Liz.  As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, money, greed, and deception. Although the police and friends sometimes find Erica’s OCD annoying, its those very traits that help her sift through evidence and see clues that others miss. Erica must draw upon her all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective.

With a dash of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. As with all Erica Coleman mysteries, ten delicious recipes are included. 

And here is an excerpt from the book! 

“I’m scared.”
Erica’s heart turned over when she heard the quaver in her young friend’s voice on the phone.
Then Megan asked, “Can you come?”
 “Of course.” Erica’s reply was automatic. She would do anything she could to help. Although she often received emotionally-laden phone calls in her job as a private investigator, there was a difference when the call came from the teen-aged daughter of her best friend. The very fact that Megan—who was usually so calm and composed—sounded frightened out of her wits, put Erica on high alert.
“I think someone’s trying to kill my roommate, Liz,” Megan said.
“What makes you think that?”  Erica asked. “Has someone threatened her?”
“No, but Liz has had a couple of serious accidents lately—at least she says they’re accidents, but either one of them could have killed her.”
Erica made an effort to reel in her skepticism. “Tell me about them.”
“First, someone tampered with her car. The brakes went out and Liz ended up driving across someone’s yard and hitting a tree. Fortunately, she was okay. The second one happened downtown. Liz was on the sidewalk waiting for the bus when someone shoved her. She fell into the road. A truck was coming and if a guy hadn’t pulled her back, Liz could have been killed.”
Still, they could have been accidents, Erica thought, at least until the third one occurred—this time at Crooked House.

You can purchase this book at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Seagull, as well as the Deseret Book and Seagull stores and other retailers.

Author Biography
Marlene Bateman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan.  Her hobbies include gardening, camping, reading, and enjoying her four cats and three dogs. 

Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murderthe first in a mystery series that features Erica Coleman, a quirky private eye with OCD.  The next book in that line (they do not have to be read in order) is A Death in the Family.

Marlene has also written a number of LDS non-fiction books under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan. Those books include:  Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which is a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences from the lives of early Latter-day Saints, Heroes of Faith, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines.  Marlene also wrote three books about documented accounts in early LDS Church history when a person either saw or heard an angel; Visits From Beyond the Veil, And There Were Angels Among Them, By the Ministering of Angels. You can visit her website here.



Saturday, April 11, 2015