Steph Curry's Wife, Ayesha, Posts Controversial Tweet About Modesty

Steph Curry's Wife, Ayesha, Posts Controversial Tweet About Modesty

Named the 2015 NBA MVP, Steph Curry has unabashedly used his platform to share his Christian faith and draw others to God. This weekend, his wife, Ayesha Curry became a trending topic herself with what seemed like a harmless and common-sense tweet about modesty.

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An Interview with Moriah Peters | MariletteSanchez.com

An Interview with Moriah Peters | MariletteSanchez.com

I recently had the honor of interviewing the beautiful and talented musician, Moriah Peters. We talked purity, modesty, marriage, and listening to God’s voice. I was so blessed to find a kindred spirit in her, since we share a deep passion to inspire young people to be deeply committed to Jesus Christ. She released her first music video TODAY for her single “Brave.”  Be sure to check it out and share. 

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Russell Wilson and Ciara are Waiting for Marriage to Have Sex: God Asked Me to ‘Lead’ Her, He Says

Russell Wilson and Ciara are Waiting for Marriage to Have Sex: God Asked Me to ‘Lead’ Her, He Says

In a recent interview at The Rock church in San Diego, California, Wilson, NFL player for the Seattle Seahawks, opened up about his relationship with R&B singer Ciara. 

“She was on tour; she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror, I was sitting in the dressing room, she was getting ready to go…and she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her,’” Wilson recalled. “And I was like, ‘Really, right now?’…And he goes, ‘No, I want you and need you to lead her.’ So I told her right then and there, ‘What would you do if we took all of that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?’…And she was relieved.”

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Dear Friend Struggling with Homosexuality

Dear Friend Struggling with Homosexuality

Dear Friend,

I’m told you are a homosexual. Is it gay? Is it practicing homosexuality? Is it you’ve switched sides? I don’t even know how to say it.

First, I need to apologize. We, your brothers and sisters in Christ, have presented you with a religion with standards that we can’t possibly live up to. Instead of trying to fix you from the outside in, we should have been introducing you to a Person. 

To quote one of my favorite theological books, The Jesus Storybook Bible, “Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.”

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'Once Upon a Time' and the Pitfalls of Dating

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Earlier this month, the popular ABC series Once Upon a Time ended its third season with the protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) finally getting together with the once-villain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). I have to admit, since the show first introduced the character Hook, I rooted for these two characters to get together. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on why I enjoyed this pair so much. Was it the fact that he was a shameless womanizer and flirt who finally met the girl who resisted his charm? Was it that she was a typical modern jaded woman who slowly put down her walls down for her relentless pursuer? I’m sure those were factors.

Yet, looking back, I realized what made this budding romance so unique: Hook and Emma’s love story had elements of a courtship, not simply a dating relationship.

Most mainstream Hollywood movies and primetime television shows portray the common practices of casual, recreational dating. The music swells as the two individuals share their first kiss. The climax of the plot comes with the couple’s first sexual encounter, with little or no reasons for compatibility beyond romantic feelings and sexual tension. Watching those same movies as a married woman in my mid-twenties,I now find those love stories one-dimensional and lackluster. Filmmakers rarely show us the negative consequences of dating. Here are some pitfalls of casual dating, and how Hook and Emma avoided them. Hopefully, we can all glean some valuable relationship advice from these two.

(WARNING: The following will have plenty of spoilers. Be sure to get caught up on the series before reading on!)

1. Dating focuses on one-on-one interactions, stunting the get-to-know-you process.

In a dating relationship, it is all too easy to put up a façade. After all, it’s all about presenting the best version of yourself. On a typical date, a couple is completely absorbed in each other; rarely do they interact with each others’ families. Hook and Emma went on exactly zero dates–count ‘em, zero–yet somehow, they were successfully able to get to know each other. How? They learned each others’ character traits while spending time with their family and friends. By the Season 3 Finale, Hook has become a part of Emma’s trusted community: Emma allows Hook to babysit her son Henry, and in turn, Henry enjoys Hook’s company. Several times, Emma runs away from family discussions upset, and her parents allow Hook to run after her. Contrast this with Emma’s relationship during the year she was away from her parents (and away from their better judgment). SPOILER ALERT: It ended with an almost-engagement to a flying monkey.

In his book, Choosing God’s Best, psychoanalyst and Christian Author Dr. Don Raunikar writes of the benefits of including one’s community in the dating process: “What people are like within their own families before marriage can be a reliable indicator of how they will act after marriage[…] How people treat others is a good barometer of how they will treat you when the honeymoon is over.”

Keep in mind, Hook and Emma are not officially a couple when Hook starts spending time with her community. This makes it easier to be friends, without the potential temptations to be overly romantic and infatuated, which brings me to my next point.

2. Dating fuels intense romantic attraction at the beginning of the relationship at the expense of a stable foundation of a slowly built-up friendship.

Ask any long-time married couple what has kept their marriage strong and they’ll tell you: it’s not the big romantic gestures or the “butterflies.” It’s the friendship. It’s easy to overlook this important pillar of a successful relationship. But when infatuation and fleeting romantic feelings run their course, what remains is a friendship…or lack of one.

According to Dr. Raunikar, there are four levels of friendship involvement in the courtship process, each leading to the next:

1. Acquaintance

2. Casual friendship

3. Close friendship

4. Intimate friendship

As acquaintances, two individuals discover they have mutual interests. Soon, the relationship grows and they begin to build trust and understanding. Finally, they become friends.

“A solid friendship will be the springboard for beginning a healthy courtship,“ says Dr. Raunikar.

We witness Emma’s emotional wall finally crumble right before their first real kiss in the Season 3 Finale. (Sure, they kissed in Season 2, but Emma recoiled, claiming it was a “mistake” and a “one-time thing”). Hook had just revealed that he gave up his most prized possession, his pirate ship, in exchange for a rare chance to cross realms and get to Emma. According to the Bible, "Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). READ: friendship equals sacrifice. And our dear Hook clearly demonstrates his ultimate sacrifice for Emma.

I love how the producers withheld the big kiss until after a two-season long courtship. This brings me to my next and final point.

3. Dating encourages premature sexual interaction before trust and commitment are established.

Alas, in direct contrast to most movie and television couples, Hook and Emma have never gone further sexually than kissing (GASP!), yet their love story is so likeable.

In most mainstream films and television, the sexual encounter comes before the couple gets a chance to develop trust and establish a commitment to each other. Therefore, we viewers are supposed to come to the conclusion that a relationship is never official until two lovers seal the deal with sex.

In an earlier post I wrote:

Sex without love and commitment is like the life-sucking hell of chemotherapy. Dose after dose, one hookup after another, casual sex seems to be the best antidote for the unbearable cancer of loneliness. But under the surface, the chemo is indiscriminate: healthy cells are destroyed right alongside cancer cells. One’s ability to connect and relate well with others weakens with each “score” divorced from emotional intimacy and commitment. (Source)

Generally speaking, Dr. Raunikar explains, dating “disproportionately exalts physical and romantic attraction” and “emphasizes emotions, lust, and sexual desire–all of which demand a sexual response.“

Therefore, he says, it’s no surprise when singles fall prey to sexual intimacy without commitment. “One-on-one dating is designed specifically for sexuality and physical attraction.”

Hook and Emma have shown us that a simple kiss bears much more weight and significance (1) in the context of a relationship vouched for by one’s community and (2) with the foundation of an unyielding friendship.

For the benefit of those who may not follow Once Upon a Time (but more for the benefit of my fellow #TeamHookandEmma members), I’ll leave you with this gem: a fan-made montage of their love story.

QUESTION: Which aspect of the Hook and Emma courtship did you enjoy the most?

Resources:Choosing God’s Best by Dr. Don Raunikar

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Millenials and Marriage: Why We Can’t Get What We Want

By Amber Lapp

This is a guest post from Amber, my dear friend from college. She and her husband David are Research Fellows at the Institute for Family Studies, Affiliate Scholars at the Institute for American Values, and co-investigators of the Love and Marriage in Middle America Project, a qualitative research inquiry into how working-class young adults form relationships and families. Amber’s work has appeared in media outlets such as The Atlantic Online, First Things, and The Huffington Post. She is mommy to sweet toddler Daniel and newborn Peter. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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My husband David and I have spent the past three and a half years interviewing and writing about Millenials (18-33 year olds) and their experiences forming relationships and families. What we’ve heard has convinced us that while young adults are delaying marriage, they still value marriage. Despite spouting off excuses (fear of divorce and few positive marriage models; little trust in the opposite sex; job instability and lack of financial peace; changing norms when it comes to sex, cohabitation, and childbearing; an over-idealized notion of romantic love; and more), Millenials still have a deep desire for marriage.

A recent article at National Review Online tells us that Millenials are “connected to friends, family, and colleagues on the ‘new platforms of the digital era,’” yet are disconnected from “the core human institutions that have sustained the American experiment— work, marriage, and civil society.” Only about 44 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 are employed full-time. Only 26 percent are married, and almost half of children born to Millenials are born to unmarried women. Only 19 percent of Millenials say that “most people can be trusted.”

As a Millenial myself, these stats strike me as true, but tragic, something David and I wrote about at First Things last month. The good news, though, is that this is not the way Millenials want things to be. When it comes to marriage, young adults are not giving up. 80 percent of us still say that marriage is an “important” part of our life plan, according to the Knot Yet Report.

In one breath they might say, “Marriage is just a piece of paper.” But in the next, they say that it’s a piece of paper they want and that is important. David and I have made sense of this seeming contradiction by noting that it has a lot to do with the discrepancy between what young adults see as the ideal and what they see as reality. Ideally, they’d like to get married and create a stable family for their kids. But they feel that in reality this is hard to do, fewer and fewer people are doing it, and they are not sure how to do it themselves.

“Everybody wants that—it’s their dream,” 20-year-old Julie said of marriage when we interviewed her. Her friend Kelly agreed, tossing her blonde hair before wrinkling her pixie nose and asking, “But is it reality these days?”

Most of us struggle with the disconnect between what we want and what is realistic for us to attain. But with young adults and marriage, the gap seems glaringly impossible to bridge.

That’s why I’m so encouraged by initiatives like I Believe in Love (iBil), an online community of young adults dedicated to helping each other “write a different story about lasting love in America.”  Their “About Us” page explains that the site is “written by real people telling real stories about real love” who are seeking “to understand how to get to love, marriage and family life, and how it to keep it.”

We Millenials must resist the temptation to allow life’s experiences to make us jaded by love. Take Mary, an iBil contributor, as an example. Six days before her freshman year of college, her parents separated. By choosing to surrounding herself with “couples who are in it for the long run,” she was able to move past her skeptical feelings toward marriage, and beyond her thoughts that marriage was nothing but “a hopeless cause.”

Most Millenials may be disconnected from marriage, work, and civil society—but it’s also something that we, like Mary, must take ownership of through creative measures of our own.

QUESTION: Why is there such a big gap between the ideal and reality when it comes to young people and marriage? Let me know in the comments below.

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Why God Isn't Obligated To Fulfill Our Desires

By Tracy Pierson

This is a guest post by my good friend Tracy Pierson. She is a fellow full-time missionary with Cru, serving middle and high schools in Chattanooga, TN. She is also a very talented singer/ songwriter. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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I’m approaching my 30th birthday and I’m still single.

I was 27 on my first date, the age my mother was when she gave birth to her first child. I honestly enjoy being single, but my journey has also been painful.

I’ve watched friend after friend after friend after friend get married and start families. I’ve had to initiate a breakup because I was being led down a specific path of ministry—and he wasn’t. I’ve suffered through loneliness, questioned my beauty (inside and out), and doubted my sexuality and femininity.

Too many times, I’ve begged God to take away my desire to get married, but He hasn’t. I’ve read every book about being a “happy single girl” ever published (it’s a rather large section at Lifeway Christian bookstore). I’ve had people give me all sorts of advice when they have no clue what my life is like.

When I was in college, several of us were bemoaning our singleness—it was one of our favorite pastimes, right behind mocking our football team and descending like locusts on a Starbucks. In my deep theological wisdom, I cited one of the most misquoted scripture verses in our generation: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

My reasoning went like this:

  1. God gives you the desires of your heart.
  2. I want to get married. Therefore…
  3. God MUST send me a husband” (who played guitar and looked like Vin Diesel—we didn’t have Ryan Reynolds back then).

I’ll never forget what happened next. Like a toddler with a blow dart, my buddy Stephen lobbed the following sentence out into the universe. “You’re not guaranteed to get married.” I didn’t argue, nor did I punch him in the stomach. But I had never been so afraid.

Years later, I was driving home in the rain and I lamenting the fact that I was still UN-married. I started to wonder aloud, What if I never get married?  I heard God whisper back, What if you don’t?

Like during my college days, my immediate reaction was terror.

Quickly thereafter, God began to speak tenderly to me:

Tracy, what if you live your whole life with this longing on earth and you don’t get married? What if I’m the only husband you ever have? What if the only wedding dress you wear is when you attend the wedding feast of the Lamb? Will that be enough for you?

Suddenly, my desire to get married looked pathetically small and lackluster. I remembered the years of walking through the painful and joyful moments of my singleness with Him—seeing Him prove Himself to be working all things together for my good.

I was experiencing what my favorite Narnian, C.S. Lewis, had meant when he said:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased”

(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses).

Whether it’s to get married, have children, or to “get out of this town once and for all,” the pull of our desires can nearly tear us to bits. We simply cannot imagine anything stronger. We see the invitation of Jesus as a quid-pro-quo business deal: if we follow him, he’ll give us our Christmas list. He extends his nail-scarred hand—the proof of his love and our freedom—and we assume it’s so we can shake on our agreement. We even look at God—the infinite Creator of time and space—and wonder if what He has to offer could match what we can see and taste and touch.

Contrary to my 21-year-old self’s understanding of Psalm 37:4, that verse is not a formula on how to strong-arm God into bringing me what I want (even if it’s something noble and good). It’s a reminder that God will faithfully give of Himself if indeed it is a relationship with Him that I seek. 

QUESTION: Have you ever tried to twist God’s arm into fulfilling your desires? Let me know in the comments below.

My First Valentine

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to post this gem: an old letter I had written to my husband Moses on our first Valentine’s Day as a couple. Little know fact: technically, he was also my first Valentine.

February 2009

Dear Moses,

Once again, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness in answering a prayer that I have had for years, namely that He would lead me to a genuine and godly man who can be my spiritual leader. I know we definitely have our differences in personalities, tastes, and sometimes differing (though not contradicting) theological beliefs. But what can I say? God works in mysterious ways. I prayed for someone who would continually stretch me in my faith (and in all other aspects of life, for that matter), and only God’s providence could have predicted that this “someone” would come in the form of my complete opposite. It took me a long time to realize, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that our inexhaustible series of “debates” and “discussions”–far from tearing us apart as a couple–are the very means which bond us more closely as a single unit. What’s more, they are what bond us as a couple to our Savior.

Love,

Marilette

QUESTION:Who was your first Valentine? Let me know in the comments below.

Don Jon Reveals True Purpose of Sex

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UPDATE/ DISCLAIMER: It has come to my attention that some readers are interpreting my publication of this article as an all-out recommendation for everyone to watch the film. Make no mistake, this film is not for the weak-hearted. The filmmaker transports the viewer into the mind of a pornography addict, and forgive the gross understatement, it is NOT pretty. Watch at your own risk. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

In 1997, a company called “Cherry Blossoms” found success in the poverty-stricken Philippines (the country from which my parents immigrated). For a fee, Cherry Blossoms provided “matchmaking” services between older American males and young Filipino women. For some of these women, a rich American husband was the only way out of the densely populated and filthy squatters’ towns populated by makeshift houses made of scrap metal.

One customer wrote to a potential bride:

There are two young ladies…who have written that they would do ANYTHING for me…if only I gave them… the opportunity to come to the United States with me. Tell me, Vilma, how do you feel about that?…Would you do anything I ask?“ He describes a particular sexual activity, then writes, "My preference is [for a] partner [who] would be willing, able, and skillful enough to perform that activity for me, at any time.

Christian Author Gary Thomas mentions this story in his book Sacred Marriage, and likens it to "lifetime prostitution.” For these men, sex is something they expect to receive, not what they expect to give.

Ask anyone to describe the purpose of sex, and you’ll get varying answers. Is it individual pleasure? Connection to another person? I would argue that true sexual fulfillment comes from giving up of oneself in body, soul, spirit and will; not taking and using someone as an object of satisfaction.

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In the film Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, the protagonist Jon Martello (also played by Gordon-Levitt) attempts to satisfy himself not only with a series of one-night-stands each weekend, but more so with his pornography addiction.

In an interview with RogerEbert.com, Gordon-Levitt, who is also the screenwriter of the film, gives some insight on his character.

Everything in Jon’s life is…a one-way street. He is not connecting or engaging with anyone…He doesn’t listen; he just takes. At the beginning of the movie, he is finding that dissatisfying because there’s the sequence where he brings a young lady home from the bar and he is comparing her to this checklist that he has got of what he likes to see in a pornography video. Obviously, a real human being is not going to map onto that because there is a fundamental difference between a human being and an image on a screen.

What follows are “unrealistic expectations that…lead [him] to objectify people or to not connect.”

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When Jon meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), a “dime” on his buddies’ rating system, he expects to find a cure for his pornography addiction. He finds his viewings decrease, but somehow even real sex with “the most beautiful thing [he had] ever seen” doesn’t compare to the beloved women on his computer screen.

When an older woman and classmate Esther (Julianne Moore) befriends him, she offers him advice that takes him by surprise: “you have to lose yourself in another person. It’s a two-way thing.”

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Pastor Nate Larkin was married with three children when he became addicted to hardcore pornography. He shares his story with the Christian organization I Am Second.

“I think we’re all made for intimacy,” Larkin says. “But intimacy carries its risks. People can reject us. People can disappear. They can die. Pornography offers this artificial intimacy with no risks. Every day I said hello to the woman who wouldn’t laugh at me, or who found me attractive, engaging. And every day, I gave a piece of myself away. It left me emptier and hungrier every time.”  

Contrary to what most movies and pop songs purport, others do not exist to please me. Too often, we use each other as mere objects of satisfaction, instead of treating others as individuals made in the image of God. Each of us are human beings with intrinsic value, who deserve to be appreciated and accepted, apart from what pleasure we can bring to another person.

In The Gift of Sex, sexual therapists and authors Clifford and Joyce Penner (Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and R.N., M.N., Clinical Nurse Specialist) offer an alternative view to sex.

Lovemaking cannot be just physical…If there is to be a fulfilled relationship, there must be more to it than meeting physical needs. The total person–intellect, emotions, body, spirit and will–becomes involved in the process of giving ourselves to one another.

The Penners narrow down the root cause of sexual addictions like Jon and Nate’s to a lack of true intimacy: “Neither the Internet nor magazines demand a relationship. The images cooperate completely with the needs and fantasies of the addict, who never has to give of himself and his own needs.“

Although the average person may not struggle with pornography addictions like Jon or Nate did, many of us are still plagued with the temptation to use others as a means to satisfy ourselves, especially when it comes to sexual actions. Like Nate, we may avoid true connection in an attempt to experience “artificial intimacy with no risks.”

There is always a risk in putting yourself out there, always the possibility of not having our love reciprocated. But losing oneself in another person is the only way to connect and have a truly fulfilling sex life. We must be willing to lose ourselves in another person in the sexual experience, to be totally open and vulnerable.

As with most Christian principles, the biblical purpose of sex is paradoxical. If one pursues individual pleasure, he soon finds himself unsatisfied and lonely. Yet if he pursues a total connection of emotions, body, spirit, and will, he finds contentment.

The Penners summed it up perfectly: "Sex is not something we do to someone, neither is it something we do for someone. Rather, sex is a with experience.”

Resources:The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner

[All images from RogerEbert.com]

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Are Teens Growing Up Too Fast?

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Last month, Brooklyn middle-school girls were allegedly required to participate in a role play of a lesbian date, with one girl asking the other for a kiss. Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook held the “anti-bullying" workshop, led by Bard College students. The thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students were separated by gender, then were taught about homosexuality and gender identity.

According to Fox News, the young girls were told that it was perfectly normal for fourteen-year-old girls to have sex and there was nothing their parents could do to intervene.

“I am furious,” parent Mandy Coon told Fox News, whose daughter was in the class.

“I am her parent. Where does anyone get the right to tell her that it’s okay for her to have sex?” Coon says parents were given no advance warning about the presentation and were not given the opportunity to opt-out.  

Coon says her daughter was upset and confused. “She told me, ‘Mom, we all get teased and picked on enough – now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her.“

Superintendent Paul Finch told the Poughkeepsie Journal that the workshop focused on “improving culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions.”

Finch told the newspaper that New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act required the school to hold the workshops. The bill was passed by the New York State Assembly on May 17, 2010, the State Senate on June 22, 2010, signed by Governor David Paterson on September 8, and went into effect on July 1, 2012. Under the Act, schools are required to create a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.

You can find a copy of the exact bill HERE.

Soon after the Fox News article was posted, the Red Hook School District released an ”Important Facts” document refuting claims made by the article. The District insisted that “no female student was forced to engage in any lesbian kissing,” “male students were not told to carry condoms,” and “sexual activity between students was not condoned in any way.”

Whatever the content of the school workshops, as a parent and a youth minister to New York City middle and high school students, I’m haunted by the messages being taught to our youth.

Growing up, I remember shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, and Recess teaching me to play, have friendships and use my imagination. These days, Disney and Nickelodeon shows are no longer about having a carefree childhood. Modern television shows targeting elementary and middle-school pre-teens (Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana, Jamie Lynn SpearsZoey 101) are instead portraying first dates and first kisses. All the while, primetime shows like Gossip Girls showcase high school students "hooking-up” left and right, with no consequences.

Putting aside any LGBTQ agendas, I believe middle-schoolers should not be condoned–even encouraged–by the public education and the media to practice sexuality at such a young age. For goodness sake, many students in that age group have not even fully undergone puberty yet. Is it too much to ask to keep their innocence childhood intact for just a little bit longer?

Are public school educators and “children’s” media pressuring our children to grow up prematurely?

Let me know in the comments below.

3 Things I Learned From My Almost-Break-Up

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“I think I’m falling in love with someone else,” I told Moses, my then boyfriend, over the phone.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” he said with a trembling voice. Then he hung up.

It was one week before our first dating anniversary.

It had been a draining year for us. I was a full-time college student in Manhattan and worked 30+ hours per week. Moses was a first-year teacher in Queens, whose schedule was eaten up by never-ending lesson planning. We talked on the phone as often as we could, but we carved out very little time to see each other in person. The few times we did meet up lacked the depth, intensity and excitement of earlier days.

Hungry for companionship, I found myself confiding in another man. I knew it was wrong, but I was lonely, and I missed being needed. Upon hearing Moses say that he couldn’t talk to me, I braced myself for our inevitable break-up.

With swollen eyes, I woke up early the next morning to write an email.

Moses, I’ve made promises to be a committed and loyal girlfriend and I haven’t kept it. I have not given my best to you; I’ve only given you the leftovers. I’m sorry.

As I hit SEND, I realized that an email from Moses was already waiting in my inbox.

Marilette,

I didn’t expect to feel all the pain I felt last night. I felt that I was immune from it, but man, last night was tough. As much as I say I’m strong and secure and could be okay without a relationship, it is impossible for me to think like that anymore. I’m weak for you. I need you. And I want to be with you, struggling together, rejoicing together, honoring God together.

Babe, more and more, I realize that love is a climb, not a fall. I want to continue climbing with you. I wasn’t a good steward of this relationship, and ultimately, I’ve failed God in this. My personal failure has caused hurt and pain to myself, as well as to you. From this moment forward, I want to be a better boyfriend for you.

I know thoughts have entered your mind these past couple of days, thoughts of “What if things were like this? What if things were like that?” Babe, let me erase those thoughts from your mind. I want to be that person you always wanted. I may not be perfect, but when I say I am committed to you, I mean ‘committed.’

I learned three things about love from that whole ordeal:

1. True love is a risk.

Moses and I each had walls up that stunted the growth of our relationship. But behind every wall is a fear and lack of trust. It is not only selfish but stupid.

Emotional walls are paradoxical. “I fear heartache, so I put up a wall of protection. I have a wall, so I don’t fully trust. I don’t fully trust, so the relationship stagnates, or worse, implodes.” As the trite, yet true, saying goes, “relationships are built on trust.” And there is no trust without risk.

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says it best: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

2. True love forgives even in the harshest circumstances.

Never in a million years would I have expected myself to be on the giving end of infidelity. I know some of you will not justify my “emotional cheating” as such. I would disagree. While I was never involved physically with another man, my time, emotions, and attention were given to someone other than Moses. These were parts of myself that should have been reserved only for him. As a result of my careless actions, feelings of jealousy and a loss of self-confidence erupted in Moses.

Moses had two choices: become angry and resentful, resulting in our bitter split, or forgive, resulting in a strongerrelationship.

It took a lot of humility for Moses to recognize his own faults. It took maturity to refuse to dump all the blame on me, the unfaithful one.

But Moses’ decision to forgive not only saved our relationship, it allowed a newfound sense of trust in each other to blossom and gave our relationship a fresh start.

3. True love needs constant, laborious effort to survive.

Moses and I got a wake-up call that day that a relationship is never stagnant. It is either moving towards oneness, or drifting towards isolation (Source). Moses and I had always prided ourselves in not being one of those “clingy” couples. But those days of not prioritizing the other person and “doing our own thing” allowed an emotional and spiritual distance to creep into our relationship. Then, at the first sign of loneliness, I attempted to compensate with another person.

It took almost losing each other to push Moses and I to take our relationship seriously. Since that day, we’ve realized the amount of vulnerability and effort it requires to have a relationship not only survive, but thrive.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake or hardest life circumstance? Let me know in the comments below.

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Resources:The Four Lovesby C.S. Lewis

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The Virginity Plague

By Marilette Sanchez

[NOTE:This is a repost from October 2010.]

Depression. Suicide. Abuse. For those floundering helplessly in such ailments, helplines have been a quality resource for counsel. In recent weeks, eye-catching posters on outdoor boards, bus shelters and subway walls in major U.S. cities have directed seekers to a helpline for those with a rarely discussed condition: virginity. The signs ask “Still A Virgin?” then direct people to a toll-free number for help. Within the first five days of the ad’s appearance, the hotline received 70,000 callers. 

It was a hoax. In an unorthodox marketing move, Sony Pictures launched this billboard campaign to advertise The Virginity Hit, a movie about “four guys, one camera, and their hilarious experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage: losing your virginity” [TheVirginityHit.com].

“The Virgin Helpline” gives callers semi-humorous advice from Zack, a lead character in the film (played by Zack Pearlman). The caller is directed to customized advice according to his or her gender, relationship status, and length of time in a relationship.

For the male virgin who’s been dating a girl for over a year, Zack tells him to check whether he is in friend mode or has reached the point of wearing matching fanny packs. He advises, “You’ve waited long enough….Some people say wait for marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate, why take the chances? Close the deal with your lady.

To the female virgin who can’t get a boyfriend, Zack assures: “You know, you have all the power, when you want to lose it, any guy will take it. Really. We have no standards, you just have to readjust yours… The boy you like doesn’t like you? Who cares? Some guy will.

You’re a virgin who wants to stay a virgin? “HANG UP NOW. THIS IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES.

If you are ready to change your life, go ahead and start the journey to becoming a real man. If you work hard enough, you can achieve your full sexual potential and become a Jonathan.

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Jonathan, Jack Nicholson’s character in the film Carnal Knowledge (1971), saw life as nothing but a series of sexual conquests. When middle-aged Jonathan and his college roommate Sandy (Arthur Garfunkel) reminisced, Jonathan presented a slideshow of all of his lovers. He described each woman in increasingly degrading detail. Beside the tally of notches on his bedpost, Jonathan’s legacy included a failed marriage with a model whom he almost drove to suicide, a spurned best friend of 25 years, and impotence. In an attempt to solve the latter problem, he role-played with a prostitute, to whom he fed a script about worshipping men’s masculinity and “domineering” behavior, while rebuking women’s manipulative and castrating nature.

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You know you’ve arrived at true manhood when you are solitary, shriveled, solo.

Sex without love and commitment is like the life-sucking hell of chemotherapy. Dose after dose, one hookup after another, casual sex seems to be the best antidote for the unbearable cancer of loneliness. But under the surface, the chemo is indiscriminate: healthy cells are destroyed right alongside cancer cells. One’s ability to connect and relate well with others weakens with each “score” divorced from emotional intimacy and commitment. Jonathan’s sex obsession stripped him of his wife, his best friend, and even his ability to enjoy sex in a natural way.

We see the sexual credo opted by Zack and Jonathan everyday: at the local dog run.

Think about it: A female dog in heat doesn’t take her time to weigh her options for the most compatible dog. She does what she needs to do and moves on. Quick, painless, satisfying.

Sounds great if you want to be a dog, but isn’t the goal becoming a man?

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After Christofer Drew Ingle of Never Shout Never lost it, he didn’t feel more like a man. He chronicles his first time in the song “Losing it.” He realizes “you’ve got your whole life to do these things…I just lost it/ I knew I was only sixteen/ But I thought I loved her”.

On a Myspace blog post (which has since been removed), Ingle revealed the story behind the song. After nine months of falling deeply in love with a girl, Ingle lost his virginity to someone he was sure he would spend forever with. He soon heard rumors that his girlfriend had hooked up with his “pal.” After confronting her, she confirmed the gossip. She also told him that she’d slept with over ten other people during their relationship. “I was mortified and heartbroken for the longest time,” Ingle said.

Unsatisfied. Mortified. Heartbroken. Regret. How can these coexist with the “exhilarating…rite of passage”? Is virginity really the “disease” that needs a remedy (and a hotline)?

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When one carelessly shares sex with just anybody, he ends up robbing himself of the joy of being intertwined with someone on all levels: mind, body, and soul. Because sex is not simply a physical union, but a spiritual and emotional one as well. Unfortunately, for individuals who value their “first time,” The Virginity Hit’s ad campaign scorns the concept of waiting for the right time with the right person.

The next time you are tempted to rid yourself of the embarrassing and painful virginity disease, remember this advice from Zack and his hotline: “Press 4 if you want your virginity back––Matt, do you want to give them the bad news?––Uh sure, you cannot have your virginity back.”

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

'The Vow' Book Giveaway!

Curious about the true events behind the movie “The Vow”? Win a free copy of the book “The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie”.

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Here’s how it works. Do any or all of the following:

1. Comment under any article on MariletteSanchez.com.

(You MUST connect with Facebook or Twitter or enter a link to either one within the comment.)

2. Share any article on your Facebook Timeline and tag the site’s Facebook Fan Page.

OR

3. Tweet a link to any article and mention @marilette.

The more you share, the greater chance to win!

Comment or share as many times as you like. NO LIMITS. Contest ends February 29, 2013, 11:59pm. Winner will be contacted via Facebook message or Twitter direct message and announced on MariletteSanchez.com, Facebook Fan Page and Twitter on March 1, 2013.

3 Things 'Warm Bodies' Taught Me

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I went to see “Warm Bodies” because I’m a sucker for romance movies and most things in the supernatural or horror realm. I expected to spend half the time swooning over the ever-adorable Nicholas Hoult (which I did). But I left “Warm Bodies” reflecting on my life. The movie is smart—like really smart for a movie filled with characters who can’t really use their brains.

The film follows a zombie named R who just wants to connect to someone—anyone. After saving Julie from being attacked by his flesh-eating herd, they realize there’s a connection between them that just might save their lifeless world. Click after the cut to read three things “Warm Bodies” taught me.

1. Don’t Judge A Zombie By His Bite

If Julie killed R the moment she saw him, she wouldn’t know he was different from the other zombies. She wouldn’t know he felt a little guilty about eating human flesh. She wouldn’t know the both of them might have a chance at reviving their undead world. It always sounds cliché, but it wouldn’t be so cliché if everyone knew how to follow this advice. Every human being is fighting a hard battle. You may not see it and they may be doing something really annoying or frustrating at the moment, but they’re someone’s daughter or friend or brother or mother. Maybe they’re just really tired and don’t realize that they’re jamming their elbow into your chest while you’re on your crowded 8:00 a.m. subway commute. They’re also a human being. We’re on the same team. Cut them a little slack.

2. Humans Need Connection

Julie jump-starts R’s heart when he spots her and feels an instant connection. I haven’t read the book, but the movie makes it seem like love at first sight. After spending time with him, which of course turns into good old-fashioned teen romance, R becomes more and more human. He’s able to speak more words, move more freely and can even pass for human with a little TLC in the form of make-up. I heard about online dating companies bringing their websites to your phone via mobile apps. You now have the ability to pull up a map on the app and pins will drop where other users are in your vicinity. In about 10 minutes, you could be on your next date. Do we really need the device that connects humans the least to help us obtain a human connection? I’m no expert and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but something about this is a little scary in a where-does-it-end? way.

3. Get Off Your Cell Phone!

It’s hard to connect to anything or anybody when you’re dead—or rather, undead. R reminisces on a time before the virus outbreak when humans roamed the earth freely and human connectivity was easy. The movie then shows a flashback to the airport where every single person is looking down at their cell phone. Is that what we look like today? How awful. I’ve started to notice that texting or playing a game on your phone when you’re out to eat with friends and family is the new norm. It used to be something you did before you were scolded and told to put the phone away. But now it’s pretty much accepted. I even find myself doing it when my friends are all on their phones. Let’s all try something new—stay off your phone while spending quality time with friends or family. That game will always be there. That text most likely doesn’t need an immediate answer. You can always make a return phone call in an hour. “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t get me wrong, I really love my cell phone its conveniences, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

I hope this sparks conversation and reflection in your own life like “Warm Bodies” did in mine.

Also, a little plug for the movie: it’s in theaters now!

Happy Valentine's Day: Express Your Love With A GIF!

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In our internet crazed generation, nothing expresses our feelings better than a good GIF (whether or not you pronounce that with a hard or soft ‘g’). Insanely in love with your girlfriend? Overwhelmed by how much you appreciate your best friend? Wishing you could send kisses to your husband? There’s a GIF for that. And lucky for you, we’ve compiled some of our favorites that just wanna help you send some love to that special someone. Enjoy them after the cut!

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The Myth of "The One"

By Marilette Sanchez

I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a little girl, singing Disney princesses, romantic comedies, and pop love songs have all told me that I should never settle for anything less than “the one.” He would be my soulmate, my “other half.” He would read my mind and satisfy all my needs. Once he and I met, we would know right away that we were the only ones meant for each other. I would never be lonely again. It was a marvelous concept. But is it true?

The fact is 2 out of 3 second marriages and 3 out of 4 third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006).

That’s a lot of people with wrong feelings. What seems like everlasting love is usually short-lived infatuation and lust.

In He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Anna [Scarlett Johanson] is a single woman who is considering pursuing a married man [Bradley Cooper] after a “magical” encounter outside a grocery store. Anna seeks advice from her friend Mary [Drew Barrymore].

“What if you meet the love or your life, but you already married someone else?” Mary asks. “Are you supposed to let them pass you by?“  

We’re told to follow our feelings and we’re left with more divorce papers.

In the book, Sacred Marriage, Christian author Gary Thomas notes: "We have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. …What if God didn’t design marriage to be "easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?“

Valentine’s day weekend last year, The Vow was released. It was a romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams that was inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a newlywed couple who experienced a devastating car crash a mere 10 weeks after their wedding. Krickitt suffered a debilitating head injury in which her entire memory of her husband Kim was erased. Krickitt never recovered her memory of her courtship, engagement and wedding with Kim, but they remarried and eventually had two children. They recounted their love story in the book with the same name.

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I’m a huge fan of the movie, but as with any book-to-movie endeavor, plenty was lost in translation. The movie did not come close to portray the scope of Krickitt’s developmental loss. Weeks following the crash, Krickitt was like a tantrum-filled preschooler whom Kim had to coach back to physical and emotional health. Several months after the accident, Kim had been on leave from his college coaching job, medical bills were piling up, and Krickitt’s recovery seemed at a standstill, What’s worse, Krickitt began to resent Kim for his tough love as a coach. A sobering reality finally hit Kim.

“Very possibly, the woman I married no longer existed.” Kim had to make the conscious decision to uphold his commitment to Krickitt, even if she never remembered him.

When Krickitt lost her memory, she lost her feelings for Kim. She had to completely rediscover what it was about Kim that she had fallen in love with the first time.

“My love has grown in a different way–not that ‘fluffy romantic love,’ but more of a conscious choice. The fact was, I was married to this man. The feelings came later, and by God’s grace, I’ve grown to love him again,” Krickitt said.

The producers of the movie also exercised their creative license when they removed the couple’s devotion to God and their Christian faith. Unlike their movie counterparts, divorce was never an option for Kim and Krickitt.

Some well-meaning friends told him, “At some point you might just have to let this go.” Others pointed out that divorce would be the easiest way to release Kim from Krickitt’s mountain of medical bills. A social worker told him that when a married person has a debilitating head injury, the odds of divorce are around 80 to 90 percent.

“I had a simple answer for anyone who suggested divorce,” Kim said. “'No, it will never happen.’…I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved–the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need…I’m stuck with [her] for life. We will make it work. There is no other option.“

It’s a sobering moment when we realize that difficulties are not just the exception, but the norm in marriage. Kim and Krickitt are living testaments that it is possible to have a thriving marriage in the most crushing circumstances. Krickitt admitted that at her second wedding she experienced a deeper love than most wives experience in a lifetime. We need to stop viewing trials in our relationships as an unnecessary burden, or even a necessary evil, but as a stepping stone to a deeper love.

"Our unique experiences, as awful as they were at the time, have given us a stronger bond than we would have had without them.” Kim said. “We’re closer now; we’ve got a different bond, a more meaningful connection than before.”

Resources:

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

Marriage and the 50/50 Myth

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American Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a pop. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. It was the 2012 Olympics, and he had 200 meters to go in the first round of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries. He limped the rest of the way, and the U.S. team qualified for the finals. The cause of the pop? A broken femur. [Huffington]

It is easy to praise Mitchell for his perseverance in his sport. But when it comes to marriage, why is it so easy to quit? At the first sign of difficulty, quitting is the preferred, even the glorified answer. It’s because so many of us adopt the 50/50, “meet-me-halfway” myth into our relationships. Author Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, a non-profit offering resources to build strong marriages and families, gives some insight. In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Rainey suggests four reasons why the 50/50 plan is destined to fail.

1. “Acceptance is based on performance.” Without realizing it, many individuals put stipulations and prerequisites on their “love” of their spouse. In this video by FamilyLife, we realize that most of us are drawn to marriage not to love, honor, and cherish. Instead, we get married so we can finally have someone to love, honor and cherish us.

2. “Giving is based on merit.” With the 50/50 mindset, a husband would only lavish his wife with affection when he felt she had deserved it. In turn, a wife would praise her husband only when she felt he had deserved it.

3. “Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels.” It’s easy to sacrifice for someone to whom you feel romantically attached. But what happens when feelings fade (as they are bound to)? The 50/50 myth tells us “you owe it to yourself” to end the marriage, and find someone who will give you those romantic feelings once again.

4. “Rejection is based on focusing on weaknesses.” The “meet-me-halfway” approach to relationships leaves too much room to focus on how the other person is neglecting their “half.” Both spouses are always falling behind because each spouse defines the midpoint differently. “A person who says, ‘I’ll meet you halfway’ is a poor judge of distance,” says Dr. Michael Easley, Pastor of Fellowship Nashville Church.

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In the recently released movie, Love, Wedding, Marriage, Ava (Mandy Moore) is a marriage counselor who is devastated when her parents decide to get a divorce, caused by an affair. Ava immerses herself in reconciling her parents, as her own marriage with newlywed husband Charlie (Kellan Lutz) enters its own downward spiral. When Ava loses hope in her marriage, her father offers her a tidbit that he once learned from Charlie, a devoted vineyard-keeper.

“[Charlie] told me once that when the grapes are grown, the winemakers purposely stress them out by depriving them of water and giving them an overabundance of sunshine. This weeds out the weak ones and only the strongest and best survive. And those are the grapes that make the finest wine. Now, the greatest love survives the harshest conditions. And surviving that turmoil is what makes a marriage strong.”

Resources:Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis & Barbara Rainey

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

Not just for Beliebers: Justin's Emotional Acoustic Track "Nothing Like Us"

Listen here to Bieb’s new, emotional track written for his ex Selena Gomez.

According to Ryan Seacrest,  “[Justin] played the song back for [manager] Scooter [Braun] after he recorded it and Scooter said, ‘This is amazingly compelling and authentic and real and what you’re going through, we’ve got to put it on the acoustic album.’”

At first, Justin deemed it “too personal” to be released. A couple days later, he decided “it was so personal it should be on the album.”

Personally, I’m happy to have the soulful, authentic songwriter and performer Justin Bieber back. Don’t get me wrong, I have my own personal jam sessions to ”Boyfriend,“ ”Beauty and a Beat,“ and ”As Long As You Love Me. But I’ll take this boy with a lone instrument and his voice anyday (a la “Where Are You Now” piano version circa 2009). This is what pop music should be.

Nothing Like Us:

Lately I’ve been thinking

Thinking ‘bout what we had

I know it was hard

It was all that we knew

Have you been drinking?

To take all the pain away

I wish that I could give you what you deserve

Cuz nothing can ever, ever replace you

Nothing can make me feel like you do, yeah

You know there’s no one I can relate to

I know we won’t find a love that’s so true

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me

Together through the storm

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me together

I gave you everything, babe

Everything I had to give

Girl why would you push me away

Lost in confusion like an illusion

You know I’m used to making your day

But that is the past now

We didn’t last now

I guess that this is meant to be

Tell me was it worth it

We were so perfect

But baby I just want you to see

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me

Together through the storm

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me together

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me

Together through the storm

There’s nothing like us

There’s nothing like you and me together