Wednesday, 27 March 2013


So a couple of weeks ago some friends and I watched a movie called Rock of Ages. I walked out after a bit because I got sick of being told that being in a boy band is a worse lifestyle than being a stripper. The fabulous 80's soundtrack couldn't hide the fact that women were being naked naked naked and that if you had a problem with this then you're an uptight, sexually repressed religious nut bag who - like all women - just needs a good time in bed and then you'll calm down and stop screaming hysterically about things like feminism and equality and rights...

In case you're reading this and you don't know me. Hello.
I'm 29, I have a gorgeous husband-man and we made a baby. Sex is involved in that.
Just sayin'. In case the rant that's coming up conjures images of neck high ankle low floral frocks and hair under headscarves and picketing funerals and shouting at people and hating everything and being terrified of anything secular because it's OF THE DEVIL and wanting everyone to be miserable like me.
That's not me.
I follow a God who is a lot more controversial, sexual, and imaginative than we will ever be.
Just sayin'.

So. My point is this. We can't dabble, people.
Just for a second, let's suspend our stupidity. Sex and the sex industry pretend to be two different things but they're not - 'i'm a good Christian man and i'd never pay for sex or watch porn but this movie is just good fun and those women may well linger at the back of my mind for days, to be owned and recalled when i'm in bed with my wife/ by myself...that's ok. I don't pay for sex. That's sinful.'

'And sex trafficking? The repeated rape and torture of women and children? That's terrible. 

Oh, it's awful that these things happen in those countries with their barbaric cultures but it's so good that we're sorted over here in England, there's no need for feminism anymore over here. We know how to do family. We know how to do sex. I pity those countries in Eastern Europe with their terrible sex industry problems.'

Just to rewind a little bit, we sent our troops into Eastern Europe and they got bored of watching people slaughter each other so they required entertainment. Brothels. Sex is comforting, and that's legitimate and i'm sure that our guys saw some horrific things and i'm sure that warm arms and a fuzzy beer filter helped. In the short term. Momentarily took away the pain of being amongst so much pain (100 people killed everyday in Sarajevo, for months and months, FYI) so the sex industry boomed. Where do you get enough girls to satisfy and please that many men?
You think little girls who have been loved and cherished grow up thinking 'when i'm big I want to spend my days and nights gyrating for drunk, faceless, often cruel men? I want HIV please, and oh if i'm lucky I could get pregnant and have a forced abortion. And I want to give all the money I earn with my body to yet another man. It would be really great if he could be violent as well. That's the dream'.

Not a lot of girls want that. And yet girls are fast becoming the number one biggest, and most lucrative, criminal export ahead of weapons and drugs. So where do you get the girls? Easy. You steal them.

So we sent our bored men to eastern Europe and they paid for sex with stolen girls and then the brothels stayed, and the demand is still there but it's on our soil so the cargo gets posted here. And our men are still up for paying for it, and our women are up for facilitating this trade, and our media sells sex so really are they going to do anything about it?

It's not like this is happening to our daughters.
They were daughters in Ukraine. But to us they're flesh. Naked.

Nobody chases a 13 year old orphan girl across the world to claim her back. Not the orphanage who took the bribe. Not the police who visit the brothels. Not Liam Neeson. Another Hollywood lie, thanks for that.
Sorry. She's giving herself over and over and over until she's useless and dead.

So maybe it's not their culture that's to blame. Maybe our culture isn't innocent in this.
Maybe all our 'no big deals' tumble and spin and accumulate and then we don't see when it is suddenly a huge deal.
Maybe we're the problem.
Maybe when our churches sit by and say NOTHING to the media when they imply that only slutty women get raped and it's their fault anyway because they were wearing provocative clothing.
Maybe it's when we take our church traditions from theologians who believed women weren't made in the image of God ('oh but he had such a revelation of Grace').
Maybe its when we judge women for not being beautiful enough -too fat too thin - and then slap her into the dirt if she decides to celebrate her beauty in a dress that shows a little leg. We cannot seem to stop contradicting ourselves.
Maybe it's because we tolerate everything apart from intolerance and so nobody stands up and starts screaming in the streets when a van carrying Chinese children to their next brothel in Crowborough gets into an accident and the confused, bemused, police find 11 year old sex workers inside.
Maybe we're so busy lining our nests with cool prints and big tellies and good food that honestly, fighting rape isn't a priority for us.
Maybe we are the ones that are sick.
We are the market. We're the culture that buys the sex. We've gone wrong somewhere.

So yeah, I stopped watching the movie when it started making prostitution look glamorous. Because to me that's just one more no big deal that is actually, definitely, a big deal. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

I do


So today is Ukrainian lady's day - lots of ladies are walking around holding single roses and looking rather excited. It's a day (I think) where the country honors women and all they are, apparently with flowers and stuff like that. It's nice to bust out a stereotype every now and again.

My husband spoilt me rotten and couldn't wait to give me my present, and it's a wonderful present so i'm a very happy wifey this morning. (When it comes to romantic gestures and gifts, John's ethos has always been go big or go home. We'd been dating for two weeks when he brought me an ipod. At three weeks he proposed.)

One of the things we did when we got hitched was say vows to each other - statements of intent, declarations of adoration, promises before God.
Today is a day that's all about ladies and there's a tiny lady snoozing in the room above me, snuffling into mr.soft and singing in her sleep. So i'm going to write her some statements of intent, declarations of adoration, promises before God.
I love you.
I loved you when you were hidden in me, wriggly and safe.
I loved you as you were grafted into my heart. Permanently there.

I will speak to you truth – insights and wisdoms to light your way.
You are beautiful.
I will never offer you mediocre life. I will never teach you that to be a woman is to compromise your fire, your wit or your will. I will always, always dance with you.

If you want kisses, I do too.

I will never stop learning.
I will never stop asking for help.

I will grow as you grow.

I promise to defend you against lies, against robbery, against stupidity.
I promise to endeavour to build a home that resists evil.

I promise to love your Daddy forever, to show you with every embrace what kindness looks like. What it looks like to respect.
How dignity behaves.
How to respond to love.

I promise to trust him. Because he is a Daddy you can trust. I do so want you to know what it feels like to trust a worthy man, so you can walk away from the unworthy ones.

Whatever you do, I will accept you.
Whatever choices you make, I will be your mum.
I will always pray over you. And I will always pray for you. I will spend the rest of my life learning how to pray for you.

I promise to speak you into confidence
I promise to wave you off onto adventures
I promise to have fun with you
I promise to fight for your education, to ensure that your mind is set free. That you may soar.

I promise that if you need a cuddle, I will rock you to sleep.
I promise to believe the best of you, I promise to be shamelessly biased and uncompromisingly fair.
I promise to try to hold on to God's patience so that I can be patient with you.
I promise to create things for you,
and when you're bigger I promise to show you how to dream up your own creations. I will be nearby with plasters and soap.

I promise to be proud of you for every attempt you make,
I promise to boast of the things you tried, to cherish every gift and to celebrate every triumph more than my own. 

Because it’s his will. I will spend my whole life trying to be a mum who loves you in the name of the Father. 

So, my little woman so full of everything that is so beautifully human, made in the image of our beautiful God, these are my vows. These are my prayers.

That you would grow to be yourself. Amen.