Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart

Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart

“Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart” is a book written bravely making it unlike any other true-love-waits book I ever read. 

Heather Arnel Paulsen goes straight for the issues of the heart, surpassing 20th century churches’ slacking culture. While most youth group focuses only on teaching singles the importance of remaining physically pure as an act of obedience to the Lord, Heather presents the best preventive measure: EMOTIONAL PURITY. 

The book starts with the story of Tracy and Mike, two Christian young adults who are both growing in the Lord. One could say that they are both financially, spiritually, and emotionally ready to enter in a relationship, or so it seems. 

In her second chapter “Avoiding Early Intimacy”, Paulsen shares how emotional intimacy eventually leads to physical intimacy and how uncommitted but emotionally awakened relationships causes bad consequences.

In a world where waiting, being emotionally unavailable, and not participating in casual dating even in the Christian scene, is boring and sometimes considered being “legalistic”; Heather challenges the young people to rebel against the world’s standard of dating. 

The book is not only about romantic relationships; it touches paternal relationships in the chapter “Finding Good Guidance”. Heather stresses how godly parents’ advice play a vital role in creating healthy friendships with the opposite sex or in entering a romantic relationship. 

She also takes the famous “guard your heart” up another level involving emotional purity. Though many may see the steps she encourages young people to take as “too much”, she sets an example in her book where you can never take too much steps to glorify the Lord in matters of the heart. 

In the following chapters, Heather describes how a woman’s heart work and how to protect it (Chapter 4 “Guarding Your Heart”). She also touches our generation’s tainted view on friendship on the chapter “Defining A friendship”. 

A lot of people (even women!) would define the relationship as “Friends only” or use the “You’re-like-a-brother/sister-in-the-Lord-to-me” as a way to guard their hearts but would continue to act differently and end up having more casualties. 

Heather also includes practical advices on the chapter “Dating Done Differently”. She shared a Godly approach to dating, where accountability, blessing of mentors, and parents are present. 

Other chapters include: Protecting Your Relationships, Learning True Contentment, Trusting God, Creating Safe Ideals, Watching Your Feelings, Understanding Expectations, Following God’s Plan, Seeing Christ’s Design, Preparing for Marriage, Continuing My Journey, and Enjoying Your Single Years. 

Emotional Purity is not a step-by-step book on how to find your future mate. Above all else, Heather points us to find our desires and satisfaction on our Lord, Jesus alone. With the use of creative story telling and powerful use of scriptures, Emotional Purity is not for the faint-hearted. With Heather, there is no sugar coating. 

If you’re one who desires to break free from the world’s standard of dating and friendship-coated romance, if you are tired of having your heart broken again and again, if you wish to be called boring, out-of-date, legalistic, rather than being called disobedient by the One who matters, this book is for you.

Fangs In My Heart [Part 2]

Fangs In My Heart [Part 2]

…continued from Fangs In My Heart [Part 1]

Why The Fangs are Worse than They Seem

 Many people have been praising Stephenie Meyers for keeping the books clean. In his write-up on Twilight, Plugged In’s Steven Isaac mentioned that Meyer felt some pressure to put in a sex scene especially since sex is so rampant in our society today. She chose not to because she wanted to create a romance where holding hands was enough. Donna Freitas, a Wall Street journalist and avid fan of Twilight, says that the books have caused every girl to swoon because of the breathless “anticipation” that Meyer builds the romance upon.

Twilight fans are saying that the series taught them valuable lessons about abstinence, respecting themselves, and not settling for anything less. Mothers are thrilled because their children have finally grasped what they have been trying to teach them for years. After so much optimistic reviews about how Edward and Bella decided to wait to have sex until marriage, the book must then teach several principles on purity, right?

This is where the most dangerous part comes in.

While Edward and Bella’s romance seems innocent and pure on the surface, reading between the lines and the kinds of emotions it stirs in the hearts of the girls and boys who read it, Edward and Bella’s romance is as filthy as the dirtiest rag can get. JB said, “Although a great read, I can’t go on with the rest of the series and maintain a purity of mind and stand on the values I believe.”

 At first, Bella and Edward’s romance may sound like a tale after the sentiments of the conservative, Victorian days. After a second read, however, when you pay attention to both the literal and figurative context of the book’s sentences, you come to realize that Twilight is not a sweet, innocent, romantic tale, but a dirty lust—er, love—story.

Jamie Lamb writes: “Edward and Bella’s relationship is not a healthy one, even though it may seem like it. It is not healthy for one person to constantly be battling himself to keep from killing another no matter how sexy you make the whole thing.” Lamb was referring to the physical intimacy Bella was constantly demanding from Edward. Several times, Bella would try seducing her vampire boyfriend to have sex with her. Each time, Edward would refuse. Positive on his part? Not at all. His reason for waiting to have sex until after marriage was born out of the fear that he could kill her (being a vampire and thus notably stronger than humans) and not out of the desire to remain pure until marriage.

In the third book of the Twilight Saga, Bella decides to throw away her mortality and become a vampire. Edward tries to dissuade her first because he does not want Bella to be a vampire but later agrees to deliver the fatal bite if she marries him first. Bella agrees to everything—only if they have sex first. Bella’s reason: vampires don’t feel anything and she wants to experience the pleasure in physical intimacy before becoming a vampire. Don’t worry. Edward is adamant about not committing premarital sex. At first.

Later, at the end of Eclipse, he sorta caves in because Bella is trying to please everybody about their upcoming wedding, so he thinks they might just as well go and have sex. But Bella stops him and tells him that they will wait until marriage. So far so good, we might think.

Not really. During the times when the werewolves and the vampires aren’t fighting, and Bella isn’t quarreling with her dad or Edward, they spend a lot of time necking, hugging, and kissing (plus, Edward watches Bella sleep in the night, and later on, when they get to know each other more, they cuddle together under the blanket, though fully clothed). There’s too much passion and intimacy, too much seduction, even if they’ve got their clothes on. They speak of waiting, and Twilight fans find the “forbidden passion” (as they term it) incredibly romantic. Several expressed excitement before Breaking Dawn came out, hoping it had a sex scene. One girl even said, “I’m looking forward to Bella and Edward getting married so they can have sex.”

In Breaking Dawn, the fourth and last book of the Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer throws caution to the wind. Gone is her desire to keep romance at a hand-holding level. In the first few chapters, Edward and Bella spend their honeymoon on Esme Island, and the readers take a peek at their physical intimacy, narrated in a somewhat graphic way.

The Big Deal About Emotional Purity

The effect of Twilight is greater on girls than it is on boys because of the effect reading has on girls. In her book Emotional Purity, Heather Paulsen Patenaude talks about how emotions largely affect a girl and how a girl becomes emotionally involved when it comes to romance. If guys struggle with the things they see, like pornography in magazines or videos, girls struggle with what could be termed as “emotional pornography” in books.

If a guy or girl is not careful about his/her thought and emotional life, reading books and watching movies with subtle hints and references to physical intimacy and sex, could cause their thoughts to stray elsewhere. Girls relate a lot to books like Twilight because they share the same need as Bella: the need to be loved. Reading books like Twilight, however, isn’t going to solve the hunger for love that girls have. Instead, it could cause them to lust, have inappropriate thoughts towards the opposite sex, or even to fantasize that they are in Bella’s place, and Edward is cuddling or kissing them.

“Whoa, whoa!” you might be thinking. “I’m just reading for fun. That sounds way serious!” It may sound like that, but I think it is a lot better to stay on the “safe” side where we choose what we to read or watch. We might say that we have no problem reading or watching things as graphic as Twilight, but our hearts and emotions are fickle and deceptive.

Just as a vampire’s fangs can strip a human of mortality, so do emotional fangs in our hearts strip us of purity. As Christians, we should know better than to think ourselves “immune” to worldly pleasures.

“I will set no wicked thing before my eyes,” the Psalmist David prayed. This a prayer we all need to say from time to time. Whether it is a book, a movie, a text message from someone—anything that stirs our emotions or misguides us is something we need to be careful of.

I have read Twilight, but I have never watched any among the Twilight film. I do not plan to. If the books make me uncomfortable enough, and I can imagine what is happening, what more the films, where I can see every sensual move, hear every seductive line? I pray that you would reconsider watching the movies if you have not yet seen it, or reading the books if you have not yet done so.

I’m not asking you to ditch Twilight just because I said so. I’m asking you to ask yourself: “Does it protect or hurt my purity?”

*****

Post by Alyssa Chua, TLW Volunteer. Alyssa is a Sojourner and Explorer. When she is not chasing stardust in distant lands, she is curled up in a quiet corner, reading a book or attempting to write one, Root beer and coffee are bare necessities. To read more of her ramblings, visit http://peraldaiel.blogspot.com.


Fangs In My Heart [Part 1]

Fangs In My Heart [Part 1]

To read or not to read, to watch or not to watch—those are the questions.

The last installment of the Twilight movie series will be coming out today, and many of the fans are more than excited to see if Breaking Dawn Part Two will match their expectations, Christian youth included.

One of the most controversial topics among Christian circles today, particularly among teenagers, is the question of what books Christians can read and what movies they can watch. With the sudden rise of the fantasy and science fiction novels genres, bookstores and cinemas are crowded with new novels and movies that depict exciting tales about magic, wizards, vampires, and the like.

Recently, one of the more popular fantasy books, turned into movies as well, is a four-part, bestselling series by Stephenie Meyer, entitled Twilight, that has girls “oohing” and “aahing” and wishing for their very own vampire or werewolf hottie.

The Twilight Saga sounds like any ordinary boy-meets-girl kind of story. Bella, the main character, is a teenaged girl who has just moved into her father’s town (her parents are divorced). She starts school, meets a handsome guy named Edward Cullen, and falls head-over-heels in love with him. The things is, Edward is no ordinary guy. He’s a vampire. (And he sparkles.) In addition to that odd little mixture, there is Jacob Black, Bella’s best friend. And he’s no ordinary guy, either. He’s a werewolf sporting a six-pack who is allergic to shirts.

Those details alone are enough to get the controversy going among Christian circles. Books, blogs, articles all address the issue of whether or not Twilight should be read by Christians. It’s a heated discussion topic which continues to remain heated and continues to be discussed even months after the books and movies have come out.

What’s So Bad About Falling in Love with a Vampire?

One of the biggest debates concerning Twilight lies in the fact that the book is about vampires and werewolves. Prior to the 19th century, vampires were described in books and manuscripts as “bloated, red-faced, flabby” creatures of folklore (Evans). Hardly boyfriend material.

People argue that times have changed, and vampires have changed too. When Dracula came to the scene in the 19th century, author Bram Stoker transformed the vampire mindset from a horrible monster-creature into a “monster with sex appeal—sleek and suave.” Suddenly, vampires were no longer scary, dangerous creatures, but were now “cool and sexy” (Evans). And Edward Cullen, with his sparkling skin and determination not to harm Bella, even if he is obsessed with her scent, is considered to be a gentleman.

Many people—Christian authors, including—have attempted to link Twilight to the Bible. Stacey Lingle, writer for Christianity Today magazine, says that Edward and Bella’s relationship exemplifies the kind of love that the Bible describes. They face temptations, such as the temptation to bring their relationship to a physical, more intimate level, but Edward tells Bella that they need to wait until after they get married. Sounds positive, right?

Several teen girls websites are asking their readers to speak out concerning Twilight. Virtuous Reality, created by Jamie Lamb, invites its readers to share their thoughts concerning Stephenie Meyer’s series. Emily a respondent argues that reading Twilight is just the same as listening to music, and that God does not listen to all music anyway, so He will not forbid His people to listen to any kind of music. She concludes by saying, “I personally think God is very fond of Stephenie Meyer and her books.”

A close friend of my younger sister loves the series because Stephenie Meyer wrote very vividly, making her feel as if she were in the book herself. Others say that Edward Cullen has caused them to fall in love with Jesus Christ more.

“Edward is the perfect gentleman,” Anjelica writes, “most girls, including myself, adore this fictional character because [he’s] like that Prince Charming we’ve always dreamed about in the movies. Sometimes, though, I feel guilty, and sort of cheated, because I know that the ‘Edward’ character doesn’t really exist. As in no man can really live up to those expectations. That’s where Jesus comes in. This book made me realize that only Jesus can satisfy my heart and love me unconditionally forever and ever.”

Chrissa, another respondent thinks otherwise. She believes Twlight distracts people away from Jesus because they become so obsessed with Edward Cullen.

What if the book teaches other lessons worth embracing and following? Can we read it then? What if the romance between Edward and Bella actually supports the idea (sexual abstinence until marriage) behind True Love Waits? Please share your thoughts with us below.

To be continued…. Fangs In My Heart Part 2

*****

Post by Alyssa Chua, TLW Volunteer. Alyssa is a Sojourner and Explorer. When she is not chasing stardust in distant lands, she is curled up in a quiet corner, reading a book or attempting to write one, Root beer and coffee are bare necessities. To read more of her ramblings, visit http://peraldaiel.blogspot.com.


Kylie Bisutti talks about True Beauty

Kylie Bisutti talks about True Beauty

 

 

“It was always my dream to become a super model and to be a Victoria’s Secret model was my ultimate goal in life,” says 21-year old Kylie Bisutti who beat 10,000 other girls in Victoria’s Secret 2009 Model Search.

Beauty and fame is the dream of many girls today yet despite having this, Kylie found something amiss in her life. Posing for magazines in lingerie and attending glamorous parties suddenly didn’t seem satisfying anymore. What made Kylie change her mind?

“I started my modeling career at the very young age of 14. It was always my dream to become a super model and to be a Victoria’s Secret model was my ultimate goal in life. I felt like I was born to walk the runway and at the age of 19 I achieved that goal. I walked in my first Victoria’s Secret runway show, beating out 10,000 other girls to win the prize of their newest runway angel.”

“From there I started doing shoots for their catalogue and was on the cover of multiple magazines, including men’s magazines. I hosted parties, dazzled red carpets, and got more attention than a girl could ever imagine (and I loved every minute of it). I selfishly desired the attention that I was getting and I gave in to worldly ways… UNTIL I had a very gracious and convicting AWAKENING!”

The Lord knocked me off my feet and showed me where to find true happiness and self worth. How to be truly beautiful (which has NOTHING to do with external beauty) and most importantly how to truly live a life for Him and His glory and not my own. As I studied the Word more, I desired to be more Christ-like in the way that I was living. I wanted to be a better example to young women. I wanted to be the wife that God made me to be and the one my husband deserved. (we were recently married before the whole Victoria’s Secret thing happened) I wanted to be honoring to the Lord in all things.

So, I stopped modeling lingerie, and skimpy bathing suits. I told myself I would never be on a men’s magazine again, and I decided to be more modest in the way that I dressed. I don’t want to be known as a sex symbol or lingerie model. I desire to be known as a woman who fears the Lord and that is why the LIVE 31 movement is so important to me. I pray that many women will be touched by this movement like I was and pursue to live it out. Christ has totally reshaped and molded my desires. He used my sins and worldly ways to change me and show me the truth and the right way to be respectful to my husband. I now desire to show my husband respect in every aspect: the way I dress, act, what jobs I will take on, how I talk, etc. I now try and share my faith in any area that I can. I sometimes pray for others, or just simply tell my story.

I now work with a brand that markets clothing as well as lingerie and I only model their clothing line, so this is a great avenue to witness to the other models when they ask why I do not wear lingerie. Christ also led my husband and I to a great church that has helped me so much. It is a lot easier to stay grounded when you are plugged into a church and fellowship with other believers. I also stay committed to reading the bible. I’m so grateful for Christ’s mercy and grace and I am so passionate about now being a positive Godly role model, who lives for and fears the Lord.”

To all girls out there,  no matter how hard we hold on to youthful beauty, we will age and our skin will sag. Remember that inner beauty found in Christ alone is what is truly beautiful. May your desires to be beautiful be patterned in this wonderful proverb:

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
-Proverbs 31:30