Thursday, October 26, 2006

Life's Not Like That

Since my return from Cairo, I've begun to see things a little differently. Life's not as black and white as I thought. Yes, the character of God is absolutely good, but how that reflects onto our idea of what right and wrong is, is not as simple as a couple of do's and don'ts.

In Cairo I met several ladies from Eritrea who had fled their country to avoid the draft. In Eritrea, the government takes both men and women at the age of 17 and puts them in the army for 7 years. During that time the officers often ask for sexual favors from the women. If the women refuse their officers put them into the most dangerous areas of warfare. The ladies that I spoke to in Cairo had hid and lied to their government in order to get out of their country. They have come to the conclusion that the government's laws may be broken. Now that these ladies live peacefully in Cairo they are looking for unlawful ways of escaping Cairo and going to England or the states.

Can I tell these ladies that disobeying the government is evil? It's not that simple.

While I was in Cairo my mother and I spoke for a Sudanese women's conference. The Sudanese are taking refuge there because of the Muslim conflicts in Darfur. These ladies have learned the evils of survival. They have learned that if they don't take as much as they can for themselves, they won't live. Even when we gave them gifts and took them out for dinner, they complained about the quality and argued with each other to get the best.

Can I condone their behavior so quickly, when in Darfur selfishness is the only way to survive?

I recently learned that a friend of mine is pregnant out of wedlock. At first I blamed her parent's divorce and her tendency to think more with her emotions than with her mind. I looked down my nose at her and wondered if I ought to be the one to tell her how stupid she'd been.

What was I thinking?

At a closer look I discovered that she's still attending church and is quickly planning a wedding. She knows what she did wasn't good. She doesn't need anyone to tell her that, especially not me. She doesn't need to hear the statistics of how many relationships fail when couples sleeps together before marriage. She doesn't need fundamentalist bible-bashers to show her verses. She's looking forward not back, and with God's guidance, trying to put her next step in the right place.

Sometimes, we think we know the way things ought to be, but God usually has something else in mind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Way He Stands

I was eating lentils at my grandparents house the other day. My grandma was searching through her health books for a new cure for her bronchitis and my grandpa was sorting vitamins into his weekly vitamin box.

At a pause in my grandma's searching she turned to my grandpa and asked him something in Spanish. My grandpa, setting down his pills, rested one hand on the kitchen counter, the other he put in the pocket of his army-green cargo pants. He crossed one leg and answered my grandma in a matter-of-fact tone.

I don't know what they said, but I'm certain that my grandpa was knowledgeable about whatever question he was answering. I could tell by the way he stood. Normally he wobbles around the house, stooped, eyes on the next place his foot will land. The kitchen is my grandma's domain, and he is the humble servant. But everything changed at that moment. I saw the traces of a once strong, certain, and capable man. He is that same man still.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Why Aren't the Girls Picked

I've noticed many single Christian girls ask themselves, "Why aren't I picked?" "Why don't I have a boyfriend?" "Is there something wrong with me?" "Am I not dating material?" So I've thought about their questions and come up with some possible answers.

I went to Russia last summer on a missions trip and noticed something peculiar. At every city and house church there were far more women than there were men. Everyone who attends Biola knows the guys to girl ratio is definitely to the guys' advantage. Can this be true everywhere? Are there just more Christian girls than there are guys? I think its safe to say there are more women in the physical church than there are men, unless you attend a trucker and construction worker church.

With these assumptions, a Christian woman's prospects within the church are limited. So the fact that she is not dating may have nothing to do with her likability, but the mere numbers. There just aren't enough men to go around — to be perfectly blunt.

However, it's still easy for a Christian woman to wonder, "Well why don't they pick me? What do the other girls have that I don't."

Let's say there are four women in a church and two men. (These numbers do not represent actual ratios.) I'll give them names to make this easier: Anna, Betty, Carrie, and Diana. Each of the girls are at different levels in their spiritual walks. Some are really following after the Lord, others are not so much. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being a really committed Christian, here are their levels: Anna 5, Betty 3, Carrie 2, Diana 1. For the sake of argument let's also rate them according to worldy beauty. The media has defined beauty in a particular way. Those women who conform most to that image are considered more beautiful. Again I'll use a scale of 1-5, 5 being gorgeous. Anna 5:4, Betty 3:2, Carrie 2:3, Diana 1:4. The first number represents their level of spirituality, the second number represents their worldly beauty.

Now let's look at the two guys: Eric 2:4 and Frank 4:2. Again the first numbers represent spirituality and the second represent beauty.

If we accept the traditional way of dating the guys are the ones who are chosing their mates. Ideally the guys ought to pick the girls whose numbers best match their own, but because guys have more to choose from they may decide to pick someone better than themselves. Eric is not very devoted to God, but he's pretty cute. Thus he may think he deserves a cute girl. Anna and Dianna are both pretty good looking. Dianna is hotter, but maybe he thinks Anna is funner to be around, so he chooses Anna. Now Anna has a choice to make. She knows Eric is not very devoted to God, but she also knows she may not get picked by someone else. Anna will either decide to marry someone who will bring her down spiritually or not marry Eric at all. If Anna decides not to marry Eric she may not marry at all. There aren't very many guys around who match her numbers. It's very difficult for women to live alone. Many would rather marry someone who's not so good than not marry at all. So let's say that Anna accepts Eric.

Now it's Frank's turn to choose. He's pretty devoted to God and not so hot. He has Betty, Carrie, and Dianna to choose from. Because he's devoted to God he recognizes that Dianna is not a strong Christian even though she's hot. Betty is more devoted to God than Carrie, but Carrie's cuter. Let's say that Carrie likes the same sports he does so he decides to go with Carrie. She has never met a nicer guy in her life and even though she thinks he not hot, she learns to think he's cute because he's nice.

Wedding bells are ringing and Dianna and Betty are wondering what is wrong with them. They were not chosen. Why? It's not because they weren't good looking or not devoted Christians. Dianna was the hottest one out there. Betty is a good Christian. So why weren't they picked? Because there were only two guys and the numbers didn't match up. There wasn't another 1:4 for Dianna or a 3:2 for Betty. Dianna's level of Christianity is weak so she'll probably marry an unbeliever. Dianna may think she's too ugly to get a husband so she'll become a missionary in Africa. But there was nothing wrong with these girls.

P.S. There are many hypothetical assumptions that I've made in the above example. This is a general theory and doesn't necessarily apply to everyone.