Do cultural norms overpower sexual attraction?

Sexual attraction is surely one of the strongest forces intrinsic to humans, but is it possible that the external force of cultural trends can suppress, or even eliminate it?

This is one of the tangents my year 12 class and I found ourselves on today during a discussion about themes of identity and family in a play we have recently seen.

We noted that, with the exception of a minority that feeds the pages of New Idea magazine, sexual attraction between consenting, adult family members, in Australia, is rare. We could be led to believe that this is because it is fundamentally immoral, but historically and cross-culturally this is not seen to be the case.

Marriage of first cousins is, in fact (and unbeknownst to me until today) legal in Australia, the UK and 19 states of America. It is however, highly stigmatized. My class and I noted that this cultural stigma is so powerful that if we were to meet and be attracted to someone, and later find out that they were actually our cousin, the attraction would immediately subside.

I found it interesting to read that the “practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky)” and I wondered where this ‘ickiness’ comes from.

Of course genetic concerns regarding procreation play a role in the social stigma, but I found it interesting to consider the idea that a person’s sexual attractions can be curbed or influenced by the trends of their culture.

 

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So… I wrote a book.

UntitledSome of you have been faithful followers of my blog for a couple of years now, and you may have noticed that my posts have become a bit less frequent over the last year.

It’s because I was writing a book.

It has been my absolute privilege to have co-authored the book PURE LOVE – Pursuing Purity in a Sex-Obsessed World with my senior pastor, Timon Bengtson.

We are so excited to be able to present the Christian community with this resource that takes an honest, biblical look at many aspects of our sexuality and that calls Christians to a radical standard of purity.

As a high school teacher I am so passionate about helping to inspire and equip the next generations to live out their calling to not only glorify God with their bodies, but also to be freed from the enslavement of sexual sin to discover the joy-filled life that God has for them.12071576_10153360242288143_1168645822_n

If you live in Australia and would like me to personally post you a (signed or unsigned) copy of the book, I can do so for AU$20.30.

If you live overseas and would like a copy, you can purchase it on Amazon or Book Depository or download it from Kindle.

Would love to hear from any of you who would like to read it or have already read it!

God bless you as you seek to exalt Him in all areas of your lives.

Love Sarah

Life Begins at … Singleness

1079363_26838634Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty: Life is pretty tough until you grow up and meet your prince charming and live happily ever after.

With a steady diet of classic fantasies, is it any wonder that countless girls grow up believing that life begins with the meeting of that perfect man?

While the Disney princesses may not have been forefront in my mind, it’s certainly the attitude I tended to have during my teen years. Romance, love and marriage were going to be a given for me. If I’d known I was going to be 28 and still single, I’d have died (in a teenage drama type way.)

I lead a fabulously rich single life, and I wouldn’t take any of it back, but isn’t it a shame that it took me until my mid 20s to decide (and yes, it largely had to be a decision) that life didn’t start at marriage?

Before that, my mind was far too consumed with how and where and when I was going to meet that perfect person. I felt like I couldn’t possibly know where my life was headed until I met them. I felt a bit like I was in a holding pattern.

Eventually I woke up to the reality that life begins at singleness. I wasn’t supposed to be hanging around waiting; God had a plan for me.

His plan means my life is going somewhere whether there’s a man involved or not. And it’s a great life.

‘Never Been Kissed’ and making wise choices about sexuality.

Free-Vector-Graphic-Art-Kiss1Drew Barrymore’s film, ‘Never Been Kissed,’ came out in 1999, my first year of high school. That movie was one of the big hits amongst teenage girls that year.

I remember my girlfriends and I being enthralled by the love story, and even re-winding and re-playing the scene when the heroine finally gets kissed.

Years later, however, I was horrified when I watched it for the first time as an adult, and as a teacher.

The main plot line involves a reporter going undercover as a student in a high school and ending up with a crush on her English teacher. He clearly reciprocates and makes a poor effort at concealing his feelings for her, until the end when he finally finds out that she is, in fact, an adult.

Now, I am sickened by the way in which the young teacher was mesmerized by his student. It makes me wonder how I could watch it, so unfazed, as a teenager.

It reminds me of a statement I heard recently: ‘There are legal ages for sex for a reason.’ Adolescent brains aren’t developed enough to deal with many aspects of their sexuality.

As a teenager, I somehow missed the inappropriateness of the film’s central love affair. Something that probably should have bothered me seemed romantic. As an adult, it all looks quite different.

It is important that we, as adults, protect our teenagers from making poor choices, until they are old enough to choose wisely.

Paying it Forward

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Several years ago I really wrestled with having some friends who were able to offer me so much more than I could offer them. They were a young couple who had an abundance of gifts and abilities. The wife used to get me hugely discounted designer clothes, and sew up couture items for me. She’d do my waxing at cost price and buy my hair products from the wholesaler. When I moved out of home, she went through her kitchen and stocked me up with utensils, appliances and a fry pan. I was always welcome in their home, and the husband did electrical work for me, fixed my car, and installed my CD player.

I was overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity and I was discouraged as I looked at my own skills: Teaching. Writing. Reading. What could I possibly do for them? This never bothered them, they just appreciated my friendship, but it bothered me, until I spoke to dad.

He reflected on a couple who was able to help him when he was younger. He was never able to repay them, but, down the track, he was in a position to help others when they had need. Effectively, he paid it forward.

In recent years, I have had many opportunities to help others in various ways. When they say they ‘owe me,’ I remember the friends who did so much for me, and I tell them they owe me nothing; that one day they can pay it forward.

How do You Know … if You’re in a Relationship?

handheld-relationship_2349450Seriously? Really? How is it possible not to know?

I know this is what most of you are thinking, but you may be surprised. Surprised by how many couples go through a confusing, un-defined stage in which their ‘relationship’ somewhat resembles a sailboat being skippered by a hare and a tortoise.

There is one saving grace in all this: Facebook. We all know ‘it’s not official until it’s on Facebook,’ but sadly some couples didn’t even know it was official until their other half put it on Facebook.

Do you really want this stale, blinking social media site (that we all simultaneously love and loathe) dictating the course of your relationships?

Of course not!

There is one simple answer to this problem. Call me old-fashioned, but it really works in clearing up muddy relational waters. Guys, you have to ask her.

Like, properly ask her. Not down on one knee for goodness sake, save that for later, but make it very clear that you would like her to be your girlfriend. Not as a statement; as a question.

Since you may only get one shot at it, make it a good question. Not ‘so, should we make it official?’ or ‘should we put it on Facebook?’ but an actual classy ‘you’ version of ‘will you be my girlfriend?’

You may get away with casually moseying into a relationship without having to go to all this effort, but chances are she’ll remember that you never really asked her out. Or even worse, she may not realize that she’s your girlfriend at all!

See also: How do you know… if it’s a date?

The Lighter side of Singleness

I am so blessed to have an array of fabulous single friends to do life with. On occasion we get a laugh out of sharing memes which celebrate the awesome side of singleness, and make us laugh at the depressing side. I hope you all get a kick out of these.
P.S. If you’re NOT single, PLEASE tread carefully before sending these to a single person!! It’s kinda like being black… there are certain things you can only say to each other!

single-friendship-ecard-someecardsI have a couple of friends I’d like to send this one to… let’s just say, I haven’t yet!

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housewife*

facebook_-1636470038I love this one ONLY because I don’t like cats and have no intentions of becoming the ‘crazy cat lady’ that friends like to tease me about.
If you do, however, fall into the ‘crazy cat lady’ basket, I hold no animosity towards you or your cats.

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married-single-fun-party-weekend-ecards-someecardsAhh the married people who constantly remind you how fortunate you are to be single… bless them.

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facebook_-3881639111This theory gets 100x more disturbing when you’re a school teacher…

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facebook_-514669080This is one of my favourites. I know all you parents love having your kids. But I really love not having them!

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begin-awkward-friendship-ecard-someecards*

what-do-smart-girls-getA lovely (or perhaps not so lovely depending on my mood) male friend sent this one to me. Well at least he think’s I’m smart.

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MjAxMi01YmFmMGUzMDM4ZjU1NTAy_516f0d83937efYou know, believe it or not, despite the ups and downs and difficulties of being single, sometimes this one really does ring true.

Being single isn’t always easy, but it’s a unique, blessed and precious stage of life. If you’re living it, have a laugh and enjoy it while you can, because chances are, one day someone will come along who will interfere with it!

How do you know… if it’s a date?

Photo Credit: april-mo. flickr

I’ve pondered this one. My girlfriends have pondered it. My guy friends have pondered it. And no one seems to have a definitive answer.

Sure, it’s usually not a life or death question, but I have known of a woman who almost choked on her meal when it became abundantly clear to her that she didn’t know the answer to this question in relation to the man sitting across from her.

I have a feeling that the Yanks (is that still a politically okay term to use?) may have this one fairly down pat… in fact, so might every other country… but for us Aussies, it seems to be a vague free-for-all in which everyone has their own opinion and people go out on one-on-one-catch-up-non-date-thingies at their own peril, unsure of whether or not their own personal anatomy-of-a-date matches up with their partner’s (or non partner maybe, because really we don’t know.)

Of course we’re not complete imbeciles. If they make a move, it’s (probably) a date, if they arrive on your doorstep with flowers, it’s (probably) a date, if they talk about another person that they’re interested in, it’s (probably) not a date. But as for everything in between? Well you never can tell.

So, for the Aussies: What constitutes a date for you?

And for the non-Aussies out there: What are the ‘rules’ in your country?

Please comment, it just may save a life.