Monday Meal Plan : Blizzard Dolley edition

I was on such a roll for a while with these meal plans! Ugh. Oh well, back on the proverbial horse I suppose. Today is technically Tuesday but my work Monday (we had a snow day and a suggested/mandatory stay-indoors-do-not-drive-anywhere day yesterday because of high wind speeds, powder, and otherwise obscene blizzard traffic, as in white-out driving conditions at a moments’ notice); so I hold that I am still posting this in a timely manner for “Monday Meal Plan.”

On another note, we’ve got a busy week planned for the Dachtler household as Dylan works, I’ve got a couple of presentations, and it’s my birthday tomorrow! Yay! I know that some people say the shine wears off a bit after so many years, but I still get that anticipatory glee the night before and the morning of. Secretly, or not so secretly, I hope that never wears off.

Monday Meal Plan : 2.18-2.24

2.18 Monday (No school)
Snow day! We ate raspberry cream cheese strudels with coffee and hot chocolate for breakfast and then ventured over to Terry & Sheila’s for the rest of the day.
2.19 Tuesday (NS for Ada)
Breakfast: Leftover strudel & donuts, grapefruit & oranges (I love citrus season!)
Lunch: Ada w/Terry
Dinner: Beef stew a la Dylan w/buttery biscuits
2.20 Wednesday Happy birthday to me! (NS for Ada)
Breakfast: Puffed pancakes : Because it’s my birthday!
Lunch: Sack lunches @ work w/Ada
Dinner: @ Texas Roadhouse : Because I’ve been craving steak something fierce.
*Extra*
Cranberry-orange almond granola bars
2.21Thursday* (NS for Ada)
Breakfast: Leftover biscuits/toast & butter w/oranges
Lunch: Ada w/Terry
Dinner: Spaghetti w/garlic toasts
*Extra*
Breakfast granola…I think I’m gonna change up the flavor profile this time around. Any suggestions?
Begin prepping the sourdough for baking
2.22 Friday*
Breakfast: Cereal & milk
Tea Time: Ada w/ Terry
Dinner: Pizza night!
*Extra*
Prepare the final rise for the sourdough
Coconut oatmeal cookies
2.23 Saturday*
Breakfast: Breakfast sandwiches on sourdough
Lunch: Goat cheese & veggie quiche
Tea: Cookies & assam w/milk & sugar
Dinner: Crockpot tomato basil parmesan soup w/sourdough grilled cheese
*Extra*
Make another pot of Curried coconut chicken soup
Finish off the sourdough loaves
2.24 Sunday*
Breakfast: Cereal w/milk
Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s

Wordless Wednesday: Why hello there Blizzard Cooper!

Watching big sister play outside.

Watching big sister play outside.

Enjoying the nice weather.

Enjoying the nice weather.

Re: To women, young ladies, and girls

I should start off by saying that this blog is for me, my family, my friends, but mostly for me. It’s a running record of thoughts, of growth, and of copious amounts of adorable pictures of my girls. It’s a place where I can unleash the thoughts burbling around in my head, help me stay on track, give an illusion of organization amidst the chaos of our life. This blog is not meant to attract a group or person or persons or anyone for that matter. It’s meant for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like readers…it gives me an imaginary pat-on-the-back, ego-boost feeling that there are other people like me out there. It’s nice to build a small blogging community of people that you can share ideas with, learn from and teach, and all that stuff. It’s nice. But at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter.

And I guess I’m telling you all this because I got a WordPress notification the other day that someone had commented on one of my posts. Not a regular reader, just somebody who stumbled across a post from earlier this year, I’ve posted it as follows:

jack on February 11, 2013 at 12:39 am said:

Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose.

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

If you’re lost, he was commenting on a post that I entitled “To Women, Young Ladies, and Girls.” You can read it here. I suggest you do, it is good stuff. But to sum it up if you don’t want to take the time, it’s basically a gathering of pieces that question why a woman’s worth and even more importantly, her faith is measured so heavily, if not solely, on her virginity. So much emphasis and focus put on a woman’s abstinence from sexual activity, consensual or not (the “or not” part being another discussion in itself entirely and certainly not any less of one that needs to be explored) and not on the fact that she has been cleansed in Christ’s redeeming power and love. I posted it because I have two daughters, I am a woman, a wife, an ex-girlfriend, I have female friends, colleagues, nieces, cousins, aunts, sisters-in-law, sisters-in-Christ, and even more succinctly, because I am simply a member of humanity. This issue needs to be discussed. Needs to be challenged and brought into the twenty-first century.

And normally, I wouldn’t respond to a comment like that. Normally I would just delete “Jack’s” comment and be on with my day. But for whatever reason, I think it needs an answer. A rebuttal, if not to simply keep the conversation at the forefront so it doesn’t remain shoved in the back behind gay rights or abortion.

I’m not looking for a fight. I never am when I post such material. I’m looking for thoughts, well thought out, well versed and supported in a manner that would fly in a high school debate setting. I’m looking to grow. Myself. Personally. I want to grow and become a better player in humanity, in our world, to beautify all the ugly that we so often just shrug at with a “what can I do?” attitude. I’m tired of that. I’m no activist. Not really a leader, more of a jaded idealist who fully believes that if we all tried to make just one thing a little better real change could come about in a monumental fashion. Me? I’ll start by responding to this one comment.

Jack, 

 I don’t know how you stumbled across my little piece of the blogosphere. I can’t imagine what tags or categories you were browsing to wind up here. Were you looking for a cookie recipe? I have a lot.

I found your comment interesting in which you exemplified the reason behind my posting such an article. Not only did you only focus on you, as a man (I presume), but as a man who sees and values a woman’s worth as if they’re “marriageable.” No comment on a woman’s faith or spirituality, no comment on whether or not God has forgiven her and made her anew in His likeness, but a rather simple statement, a simple judgment that speaks volumes. A woman who has had a sexual experience (of any kind I’m assuming) would never be worthy of a man such as yourself.

Maybe that’s too sweeping. Maybe that statement is unfair. Let’s go back to your comment and break it down.

 Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

I don’t think that any of the authors argued that women shouldn’t care about how men in their life feel about their sexual experiences but rather that women are judged by society in all avenues—beauty, weight, wealth, etc., and that we, as people, men and women with or without sexual experiences, should focus on how God sees us. That we should trust and believe that our worth is deeply and firmly rooted in his unending love for us and that through accepting his grace we are cleansed of the old, a life paid so many years ago to give sinners (men AND women) the ability “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, NIV). Without that ultimate sacrifice of death on a cross, murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves, the lazy, the greedy, Pharisees, men and women old and young, would not be able to join in relationship with God. We all would be without grace. Without life.

Granted, it’s quite obvious I’m coming from a Christian background which is why those articles ring so true in relevance for me. If you are not, you’ll simply have to bear with me. Hopefully some of what I say will make sense even if you do not prescribe to the same faith system as me.

Simply put, men and women shouldn’t give a shit about what other people think. Rather they should focus their energy, their worth, and their soul on God’s truths. That “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

No one ever said that sexual sin is not serious. Sexual sin is indeed a sin. The Apostle Paul summed it up for us when he said, “When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 21-24). After accepting Christ’s grace and love, we choose a new life, we choose to try and strive for a godly life and godly virtues. But remember we “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and not one of us will achieve a life of sinlessness. That’s not even a word it’s so unreal. (Read: unachievable, unattainable, impossible)

No one is encouraging young women and men to go and have sexual relationships as they please, but women are reacting to the double standard that is so firmly cemented across cultures that a woman’s value and worth is based solely on her virginity. A virginity that is trumped as the ultimate way for a woman to prove her faith. A virginity that doesn’t take into account the atrocities that are committed in the name of God, Satan, and man everyday. A woman’s virginity is what makes them godly, proves they love God. That kind of thinking, theology, practice within the church and amongst believers is deeply flawed, rooted in sexist, repressive beliefs that limit the amazing wonder and power of a God of everything. Put simply again, That.IS.wrong. Messed up. Dare I say, unbiblical?

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose. 

Your comment suggests that all women who would identify with what these bloggers write have chosen to be sexually promiscuous. What about the women and girls who have been made to feel they are worthless and abused from trusted family members or friends? What about women and girls that have been violated by others they’ve never met? What about women who aren’t sexually promiscuous but stand in solidarity that this sweeping belief in the Christian circle focuses not on a woman’s worth as a person but as a commodity, a symbol, and forgets the soul of that person—forgets the sanctity of their life?

Too many risks, nothing to do with forgiveness, you’re just not interested…why are you making so many excuses for yourself? It’s your life, your choice how you live it. It’s how you live your life that tells the story of who you are. Are you willing to put yourself out there and take chances, accept grace and the possible condemnation of a world full of imperfect people, in order to reach a few more with the incredible, healing power of a no-strings-attached, forever-loving relationship with Christ? (It seems as though you are more content to judge them back into their closet of shame and unwilling to let him realize themselves fully as the women that God created them to be. Thank God for all of us sinners that you are not St. Peter’s boss. Because I think women who are brave enough to share these paths, the journeys that have brought them from wherever they started to the life that they currently live in Christ should be lauded. Not for their former sins, the sins that were cleansed and forgotten in grace by God, sins that apparently you are not man enough to overcome, but for their bravery to show their weaknesses. To ask for accountability and to edify the church community by strengthening it through wisdom and maturation, who grows by being stagnant and unchallenged?

Besides, no one is asking you to marry them.

They wouldn’t want to marry, nor should they, someone who didn’t believe that marriage is a union in which forgiveness and grace needs to reign in order to bloom. I don’t know everything about marriage but I’m fairly certain that without those two components there would be no love. So instead of staring down women’s perceived sexual impurity, perhaps you should take a peek at the haughtiness in your own heart lest you find yourself judged (Matthew 7:4, Luke 6:42, Psalm 101:5, Proverbs 18:12, Proverbs 21:4).

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

I don’t want to imagine my husband with a dozen previous lovers either. I’m sure no woman or man would. There’s a reason that sexual relationships were created to exist within the safe confines of marriage, I’m not refuting that and neither are the women who wrote the aggrieved article. What they are refuting is that the church is telling women and girls that their worth, their spirituality is based on “their ability to remain pure,” which inadvertently discounts sexual violence and other such instances that occur within our broken, sinful world.

Sex is awesome. Sex is beautiful. If sex wasn’t so good, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but since it is, I think it’s important that men and women are able to have respectful dialogue concerning it and how our culture of sexualization has overtaken the mainstream and also how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters within the church concerning it as we perpetuate it (purposeful or not).

Do yourself a favor (and women) and listen to Apostle Paul since you seem to be above the fray when it comes to all of us sex crazed women, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).

Sincerely,

Katie

Freaking proud wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, feminist, Christian, jaded ideologist, teacher, mentor, baker, artist, reader, sinner redeemed in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-being grace of God, and unashamed sexual being 

Monday Meal Plan : Blizzard Cooper edition

Today I woke up to a bonafide grownup snow day! Well, partially, 2 hours late anyway. Blizzard Cooper has wrecked a bit more havoc than I originally thought it might. It has bestowed us with a mere 4+ inches of snow but due to the winds, has created low-to-no visibility that closed interstates and highways, gave us a surprise overnight guest (thanks for staying Lee), and gave us an extra day of family time to our weekend. And luckily for me, I have an awesome husband who will shovel and snow blow our sidewalks and driveway without a second thought and then head over to his parents to do the same.

Also, you may notice that we’re having a whirlwind of countries this week on our Eat the World adventure. It’s mostly due to the fact that we missed Bosnia & Herzegovina last week and I don’t want to fall behind again. We’re not really rigid with this idea but it’s nice to keep going with the flow of momentum. Also, we’re having my co-workers over for our Bhutanese meal on Saturday night, it’ll be a series of mini parties leading up to Ada’s big birthday party in March.

And if that’s not enough, this week is Ada’s 5th birthday! “Three more sleeps” in Ada language. Ufta. Five? I’m totally unprepared.

Monday Meal Plan : 2.11-2.16

2.11 Monday* 

Breakfast: Leftover pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup

Lunch: The ultimate creamy mushrooms w/fried eggs over toasted sourdough

Tea: Cookies & assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Red lentil soup w/lemon & skinny green bean fries

*Extra*

Buttery pigeon pea dahl for my potluck tomorrow–you know you work in an office full of women when you have potluck themes based on Pinterest.

Roasted red pepper Parmesan cream cheese for Dylan and the girls’ bagels

2.12 Tuesday

Dinner: Eat the World 21: Bosnia & Herzegovina
2.13 Wednesday  

Dinner: Eat the World 22: Botswana
*Extra*

Miss Ada has requested a mint-chocolate-chip-Tinkerbell-ice-cream-cake. I’m thinking that this looks like a good fit? We’ll see, I think I’ll use it as a base recipe and go from there. Maybe I’ll even attempt that edible glitter I’ve seen floating around Pinterest. I think the main issue is that I’ve never made an ice cream cake before, but anything for the birthday girl, right? 

2.14 Thursday ADA’S FIVE TODAY!

Dinner: The birthday girl is still undecided as of today’s blog deadline but has narrowed it down to two options. We will either be feasting on chicken nuggets and French fries (being an unfun mom, I insisted that they would be homemade and not of the McD’s variety) or a meal out at her “favorite and bestest place to eat,” the Flying J. Yes, it is a gas station diner. Yes, I am proud. 😉

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies w/toast

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Tonight we will be taking a break from our Friday night pizzas in order to roast the giant ham that I’m slowly defrosting in my refrigerator. I am drooling thinking about the burnt bits. Nom nom nom. And I’ll be making this delectable looking side dish, Roasted Parmesan onions to go alongside….oooh…and maybe some roasted broccoli bites too.

2.16 Saturday

Breakfast: Creamy, cheesy grits with crisped ham 
Lunch: Leftovers/sandwiches  
Tea: Leftover ice cream cake

Dinner: Eat the World 23: Bhutan

2.17 Sunday

Breakfast: Toast & jam w/coffee & juice
Lunch: @ Terry & Sheila’s
Tea: Salted peanuts w/assam, milk & sugar 

Dinner: Crockpot tomato basil Parmesan soup w/sourdough

Enjoy the snow and be safe! (Also, family and friends, please keep your eyes a’peeled for a pony-tastic party invite in honor a little miss someone’s 5th birthday!)

Revisiting Childhood

I was looking through old photos on our computer, trying to wrap my head around the fact that Ada is going to be five next week and came across a folder full of pictures that she took last summer. Some of them are blurry, over-saturated, movement filled snippets and others are amazingly accurate and clear.

As a parent it’s hard to remember to think about what our kids’ point of view is. Sometimes I forget entirely (<–mother of the year award here!) and find myself grumbling over the next bit of spilt milk here and forget to pay attention to the extraordinary imaginations that my kids are emitting. Carelessly, yes, but at least enthusiastically enjoying themselves and thus being the cause of the spilled milk. I truly couldn’t be more blessed that such a root cause exists. *grumble*grumble*

Anyway, I wanted to share some of these pictures with you. I think it’s interesting (probably only because I’m her mom) to think about what she actually sees and how she sees it throughout her day. Do we really look that blurry? Do we speak in wah-wah tones like all the adults in Peanuts cartoons? Who knows.

Wordless Wednesday: So this happened yesterday

Someone got a visit from the tooth fairy!

Someone got a visit from the tooth fairy!

Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

Monday Meal Plan

First off, a funny video to brighten a dreary, cold Monday: 

Monday Meal Plan : 2.4-2.10

2.4 Monday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @Terry & Sheila’s house

*Extra*

Pumpkin Butter for T-Rex. Shhhhhh…it’s a secret.

Freezer biscuits. I pinned this a la Pinterest a while ago because as much as I love a can of Pillsbury’s, I can’t get over the weird chemically aftertaste I experience when I haven’t eaten them for a while. If this is as easy as it seems, it would be an easy way to always have biscuits on hand that are homemade and “fresh” tasting.

Easy 5-Ingredient Fudgy Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt. While adding a third “extra” may sound overly ambitious, I have been hankering for cookies for quite some time. And these sound simple and crave satisfying enough to achieve. It’s okay, you can call me “Super Mom” today.

2.5 Tuesday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s house
2.6 Wednesday  

Dinner: Eat the World 21: Bosnia Herzegovina
*Extra*

Sesame noodles w/cilantro & scallions.

Cilantro Thai “grilled” chicken. I think these will be easy meals for Dylan to have this weekend for work, plus I’ve got a ridiculous amount of cilantro.

2.7 Thursday* 

Dinner: Mitti Handi Dahl w/basmati and chapatti (Because my kids are still obsessed with this book they got from the library.)

*Extra*

Mix up and freeze two scone batches. Maybe I’ll get fancy and try a new flavor combination? Peachy cinnamon sounds exciting, and I’ll definitely throw in some savory for soup this weekend.

2.8 Friday*

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies w/scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Do the initial feeding steps of Bruce in prep for baking.

Martha Stewart’s zucchini and cranberry muffins. Perfect additions to tea time and as snacks for Dylan’s lunches.

2.9 Saturday*

Breakfast: Easy Raspberry strudel w/coffee & tea
Lunch: Crockpot tomato basil parmesan soup w/scones
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Leftovers or sandwiches or maybe even a blue box meal with frozen peas. Yessiree, you can still call me “Super Mom” today. 😉
*Extra*

Put sourdough loaves on the porch to rise (yes, I do use my front porch as an extended fridge/freezer in the winter thankyouverymuch. North Dakota does have some perks now and then.)

Espresso dark chocolate coconut cookies. In case one batch of cookies isn’t enough for the week because, you know, that would be tragic to be cookie-less lest a craving strike.

2.10 Sunday*

Breakfast: Sweet zucchini pancakes
Lunch: Crockpot teriyaki chicken over basmati w/edamame
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Pasta w/tomato blue cheese sauce. The girls and I heart blue cheese. Heart it.

*Extra*

Freezer cinnamon rolls. This doesn’t exactly link up to a specific recipe but rather the method. It’s the same idea as the biscuits from earlier this week and I think that it should work great. Again, I know freezer rolls go on sale consistently, but they still have that weird taste to me. Plus, I can customize the ones that I make and freeze at home. Win-win.

Finish off sourdough loaves.

Next week is Ada’s 5th birthday. That’s unreal. I think I may say that every year around her birthday, but truthfully, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly this adventure has gone. It’s the days where I’m crabby, irritated, and impatient with my girls, my husband, my life, that I need to be reminded that somebody’s birthday is just around the corner. That  somebody is getting older quicker than I can keep up.

Picture dump in 5…

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To women, young ladies, and girls

I have been reading Rachel Held Evans’ blog on and off for a year or so now and just recently began following her more closely after she posted this blog about doubt within the Christian’s life. It resonated for many, many reasons, and I have yet to be disappointed in her thought-provoking questions posed throughout her writing.

A few days ago I opened her blog to read the following article. Whatever presumptions you may have after reading the title, please push past them and read through the entire piece. I am not saying that I necessarily agree with everything that she says in this article or in her blog, but I am saying that she’s asking questions that need to be asked. That need to be addressed if the body of Christ wants to continue to share a meaningful and sincere relationship with humanity as a whole. But that last statement, is for another time and another post.

NOTE: I also would encourage you to click on the links included in her blog post as they are also thought-provoking and sincere pieces wrote from fellow female Christians. Ms. Evans certainly is not the only, the first or the last to raise these questions concerning the emphasis placed on virginity in the modern church. 

Do Christians idolize virginity?

Several recent posts from some of favorite bloggers raise this question in powerful ways. I thought today would be a good day to share them, as we continue our series on Sexuality & The Church.

The first is from Elizabeth Esther, who writes:

“It took me a long time to realize I idolized virginity. I kept saying I was just promoting virtue and chastity and purity! Nothing wrong with pushing purity, right? Nothing wrong with Being Good!

Like other Christians, I talked about the “sacrifice” of abstinence. There were princess-themed books about saving our first kiss. Some of us wore purity rings and made pledges to our Daddies not to have sex until we’re married. Ultimately, we implied that a woman’s inherent worth and dignity could be measured by whether or not a man has touched her.

I understand why we do this. Christians are alarmed by what we see as a sexually permissive society. America no longer seems to share our values. This scares us. The less sacred sex seems to the broader culture, the more sacred we insist on making it among fellow Christians.

The intention might be good but over-emphasizing the specialness of virginity has unintended, harmful consequences.

We start by making ridiculous promises to our daughters. We tell them that “sexual purity” is a guarantor of a more intimate married sex life. We tell them that if they “lose” their purity, they will never really get it back. Oh, yes. They can be forgiven. But. You know. They’re damaged goods.

Christians say that the world objectifies women through immodest dress and a permissive sexual ethic. However, by idolizing sexual purity and preoccupying ourselves with female modesty and an emphasis on hyper-purity, Christians actually engage in reverse objectivization. 

Yes, we Christians say, we believe in the inherent dignity of all human life. But we especially believe in it if that human life is virginal, wears a purity ring and bleeds on her wedding night.

This is harmful and, dare I say, idolatrous.Read the full post.The second comes from the always-brilliant Sarah Bessey, who wrote a post for A Deeper Story entitled “I Am Damaged Goods”:

Over the years the messages melded together into the common refrain: “Sarah, your virginity was a gift and you gave it away. You threw away your virtue for a moment of pleasure. You have twisted God’s ideal of sex and love and marriage. You will never be free of your former partners, the boys of your past will haunt your marriage like soul-ties. Your virginity belonged to your future husband. You stole from him. If – if! – you ever get married, you’ll have tremendous baggage to overcome in your marriage, you’ve ruined everything. No one honourable or godly wants to marry you. You are damaged goods, Sarah.”

If true love waits, I heard, then I have been disqualified from true love.

In the face of our sexually-dysfunctional culture, the Church longs to stand as an outpost of God’s ways of love and marriage, purity and wholeness.

And yet we twist that until we treat someone like me – and, according to this research, 80% of you are like me –  as if our value and worth was tied up in our virginity.

We, the majority non-virgins in the myopic purity conversations,  feel like the dirty little secret, the not-as-goods, the easily judged example.  In this clouded swirl of shame, our sexual choices are the barometer of our righteousness and worth. We can’t let any one know, so we keep it quiet, lest any one discover we were not virgins on some mythic wedding night. We don’t want to be the object of disgust or pity or gossip or judgment. And in the silence, our shame – and the lies of the enemy – grow.She concludes:

No matter what that preacher said that day, no matter how many purity balls are thrown with sparkling upper-middle-class extravagance, no matter the purity rings and the purity pledges, no matter the judgemental Gospel-negating rhetoric used with the best of intentions, no matter the “how close is too close?” serious conversations of boundary-marking young Christians, no matter the circumstances of your story, you are not disqualified from life or from joy or from marriage or from your calling or from a healthy and wonderful lifetime of sex because you had – and, heaven forbid, enjoyed – sex before you were married.

Darling, young one burning with shame and hiding in the silence, listen now: Don’t believe that lie. You never were, you never will be, damaged goods.A-freakin’-men is all I have to say to that. You really must read the entire post.

Similarly, Carolyn Custis James recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled “Why Virginity is Not the Gospel,” to which Dianna Anderson added a helpful critique.

I wrote about my experience with “True Love Waits” in A Year of Biblical Womanhood. As you will notice, this is the context in which the infamous v-word appears!

I signed my first abstinence pledge when I was just fifteen. I’d been invited by some friends to a fall youth rally at the First Baptist Church, and in the fellowship hall one night, the youth leader passed around neon blue and pink postcards that included a form letter to God promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. We had only a few minutes to add our signatures, and all my friends were signing theirs, so I used the back of my metal chair to scribble my name across the dotted line before marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and my vagina onto a giant corkboard for all to see. The youth leader said he planned to hang the corkboard in the hallway outside the sanctuary so that parents could marvel at the seventy-five abstinence pledges he’d collected that night. It was a pretty cheap way to treat both our bodies and God, come to think of it. Studies suggest that only about 12 percent of us kept our promise.I have a feeling this is going to be a hot topic in the months and years to come, and we will be discussing it at length as part of series, though later in the year.

What do you think? Does the Christian culture idolize virginity? How should our narratives surrounding sex, virginity, and purity change, particularly as they concern women?