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Holy Tension – Justice & Mercy

Humans have a very difficult time reconciling Justice and Mercy. We tend to want mercy for ourselves when we have wronged others and justice for ourselves when we have been wronged by others. We possess a strong sense of both–two truths seemingly opposed to one another. Why? This is an essay I continue to update as I explore this tension.

Obviously, my strength lies not in illustrating, but I find visuals helpful.

I left white conservative evangelism over two years ago (3 months pre-covid) to take a longer-than-anticipated journey in the wilderness.

In my former corner of Christianity, sermons often pitted truth and love against each other using, what I believe to be, a misinterpretation of Eph 4:15. The question was always, “Do you err too much in truth or too much in love?”

I believe this to be a false dichotomy. Full truth and perfect love are never at odds with one another. The truth leads to love and love leads to truth. I tend to view full truth and perfect love as synonymous. (More on this later.)

However, I do see many tensions in Christianity difficult to resolve this side of heaven:

Justice and Mercy, Individual and Communal, Fate and Choice, Unity and Diversity, Different and Equal, License and Law, etc.

Today I want to focus on the tension between Justice and Mercy. Humans have a very difficult time reconciling the two. We tend to want mercy for ourselves when we have wronged others and justice for ourselves when we have been wronged by others. In court, after a person has been found guilty of a crime committed against another person, the defendant and their family almost always plead for a light sentence. Can we blame them? However, is a light sentence the just response to the person who has been wronged? Humans possess a strong sense of Justice and Mercy—two truths seemingly opposed to one another. Why?

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Sexual Healing in the Song of Songs

I wanted to share specific ways I found sexual healing in Scripture as a woman raised in a Christian culture that overwhelming focuses on male sexual desire.

When I originally envisioned starting a blog, sex was not high on the list of things on which I planned on writing. But here I am. Currently, I am working on a much longer article about a pivotal moment I experienced while studying the Song of Songs—I discovered that the word “desire” in Song of Songs 7:10 is the same Hebrew word used in the curse of Genesis 3:16 and also Genesis 4:7. Remarkably, these three verses are the only times this Hebrew word occurs in the Bible. In the process of working on that piece (which will deal with sex more indirectly), I realized I wanted to share how I experienced sexual healing in my marriage studying Scripture. It’s a key part of the journey I perplexing left out (and have since updated) when I originally penned my article Viagra, Vibrators, and Vulvas, Oh My! about being the higher-drive spouse. (Ironically, exploring Song of Songs with an ESV study guide also freed me from the chains of complementarianism, aka, “Christian” patriarchy, which I hope to write more about in my next post.)

So here’s a list of a few ways I benefited from studying the biblical Song using Jay Harvey’s ESV Knowing the Bible Song of Solomon study guide.

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Craft and Conversation Table

We live in a culture of loneliness, paradoxically plagued by oversharing in digital spaces and trivial conversation in our real relationships. The Craft and Conversation Table exists to provide space for women to safely share about life experiences and beliefs that are rarely shared with others openly and honestly.

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Viagra®, Vibrators, and Vulvas, Oh My!

The sexually higher-drive woman/lower-drive man dynamic in marriage is often painfully overlooked, especially in evangelical resources. To all the couples in this situation, know that you are seen and not alone.

My husband and I have joked for years that if we ever wrote a sex book, we would call it Viagra®, Vibrators, and Vulvas: The Christian Couple’s Guide When He’s Not Up To It. But that plan was always in the hypothetical future, some day when we’d “arrived” sexually, once the kids were out of the house, and we were old and didn’t care what anybody else thought about us anymore. We’re still enjoying the kids in the house, and I don’t think we’ll ever “arrive” sexually, but we’re approaching the other milestone quicker than I expected. The reality is, we’re not experienced enough to write that book, and it’s not a book I ever really want to write, but I sure do wish someone had written such a book for my younger self. These last few years have brought me to a place where I want to share our journey so that other couples with a higher-drive woman/lower-drive man dynamic in their relationship know that they are seen and not alone.

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“Married Sex” Lacks Strong Biblical Exegesis

Latest evangelical book relies on gender tropes, personal anecdotes, and debatable brain studies instead of God’s Word. A book review of Married Sex by Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta

Yet another Christian sex book is hurting many brothers and sisters in Christ. Shame on Zondervan for giving a celebrity pastor a platform to speak into a topic in which he is not professionally trained in order to make money. Gary Thomas shares on his blog that the reason he and Debra Fileta partnered to write a sex book was three-fold. One is “given the current sociological climate, my publisher (Zondervan) and I didn’t feel that the time was right for an older male to write a book on his own lecturing men and women about sex.” The second (unstated) reason is Zondervan also knows many Christian men will not read books written solely by a female author. Which leads to the third reason – because “Christian publishing is a business,” they decided to create a book that benefited from a “pastor who focuses on the spiritual side and a licensed counselor who focuses on the practical side.” Gary himself recognizes that he is not a licensed counselor, and that he was brought on board for his male authority and “spiritual” contributions. In his new book, he (ab)uses his spiritual authority to make bold claims about male and female sexuality based on his own opinions and life experiences, instead of the Bible.

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