Saturday, May 25, 2013

You are Always a Teacup

Recently, Elizabeth Smart took part in a forum on sex trafficking.  For those of you who don’t remember, at age 14 she was kidnapped.  Held captive for 9 months; she endured emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  Following her rescue, she has become an advocate for educating our children about the dangers of sexual crime and violence. 

At this particular forum, Elizabeth discussed how growing up she was taught about sexual purity, and the impact that had on her views of self-worth following her assault. 

Elizabeth was taught that your sexual purity was like a piece of gum- you wanted your spouse to have a fresh piece for your wedding day.  If you sinned sexually, you became a gross already-been-chewed piece of gum.  She shares her mind-set:

I thought "Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away." And that's how easy is is to feel like you no longer have wroth, you no longer have value.

She continues to explain how this view prevented her from seeking help or trying to escape from her captors.  Why would it even be worth screaming out?  Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued?  You life still has no value.

I have heard the chewing gum example, as well as several other similar visuals to describe purity.  And, today I sit and wonder...  is there a better way?

I believe that teaching our children the importance of sexual purity is good; living lives of sexual purity is admirable.  So, how can we do that, without tying our sexual purity with our inherent value?

Depending on what statistics you read, anywhere from 15-25% of women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.  How do we teach the value of sexual purity without these women feeling like they've become chewed up pieces of gum?

And again, depending on what statistics you go with- approximately 70% of teens become sexually active by the age of 19.  How do we teach the value of purity, without also teaching them that they are worthless? 

I'd like to go to an object lesson that I heard in high school...  I read it first in a book by Dannah Gresh (though I am not she is the one who originated the idea... and it has been awhile since I read this book, so I might not have it exactly right- And the Bride Wore White).  It talks about how we can view our purity in two ways- either as a teacup or as a disposable cup.

Teacups are precious, delicate and valuable.  You treat them with care and gentleness.  We can view our purity the same way.  A treasure; something with value.

A disposable cup is cheap; meant to be used and then tossed out.  We can also view our purity this way; worthless & easily thrown away.

I get this example; I understand it.  But I believe, if handled incorrectly, it can be dangerous.

This visual tiptoes very closely to saying "if you have sinned or been abused sexually, you become a cheap disposable cup." You become worth-less.  You become that chewed up piece of gum.

Here is where we need to be careful:

You are ALWAYS a teacup.  You are precious and valuable, because you are a child of God.  You are worthwhile because God says you are.  He says that He knit you together, and that He knows the number of hairs on your head.  You are a teacup in His sight and NOTHING can take that away.

Do we always act like teacups?  Certainly not.  There are times when we forget that we are valuable to God.  There are times when we act as though we are worthless...  Does this make us disposable?  No.

You are always a teacup.

Are we always treated like teacups?  Absolutely not.  We can be abused or used and tossed aside.  But just because we are treated as though worthless, does not make it so.

You are always a teacup.

We need to teach our children that, no matter what, we are valuable to God.  No matter what has been done to us, or we do to ourselves, we are still precious and loved.  God still loves us.  God still has plans for us.  God will still bless us.

And if we are always teacups?  It gives us room to receive grace.  If I sin sexually and become a disposable cup?  I'm done.  Who cares if I mess up in the future?  I'm already ruined...  But.  If I am always a teacup?  I might fall short sometimes, but I am still valuable.  I can repent and ask God to help me turn away from my past, and move forward.

Hoping & praying all of you know that you are infinitely love by your creator.  That you are precious in His sight.  And that through Him, you are always valued.

With love to all teacups,