Welcome to Things We Like, the section of CT Women where we share what we are reading and discussing every week. Here you’ll find links to essays, books, and social media feeds that we are enjoying.
“On Knowing (Yes, in the Biblical Sense),” Katherine Willis Pershey, The Christian Century
I was experiencing a first. It was the first time I had ever been fully naked, the first time I was stripped not only of clothing but also of conceit, of charm, of armor, of fear. And it was safe—I was safe—because I was in the arms of a husband who loved me.
In that moment of physical, spiritual, and emotional exposure, I caught a convincing glimpse of why one might argue that sex is best kept within the boundaries of marriage. I began to understand why God might even go so far as to issue a strongly worded edict prohibiting premarital and extramarital sex, backed by the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. It was only a fleeting glimpse, only a burgeoning understanding. I still wondered if the lingering shame I felt about my premarital sexual encounters had been instilled in me by a subculture that demands (especially from women) an arbitrarily defined purity.
And yet. The line in Sarah Bessey’s essay that struck the deepest chord for me was this: “It’s likely you would make different choices, if you knew then what you know now.” There it is again: knowledge. I know now, and am known now, in ways that my immature adolescent self could never have accessed or understood. I wish to take Bessey’s advice: “Don’t make it more than it is, and don’t make it less than it is.” But “it” is something, and it’s my responsibility to suss out precisely what that something is. I know now, and am known now, in marriage.
In a time when even many believers see Christian sexual ethics as outdated and repressive, Pershey makes a hesitant but hopeful case for saving sex for marriage, based on her experiences with premarital sex. The essay, culled from her new book on marriage, is striking as a cover story at the leading publication of mainline Protestants, who are (to speak in generalizations) eager to shed the odder aspects of Christian theology in favor of cultural acceptance. But what if the shame and emptiness many feel amid noncommitted, nonmarital sex is another indication that the traditonal teaching isn’t just true but also good for image bearers?
“Brangelina Matters,” Lili Loofbourow, The Week
...But we're in danger of missing a huge chunk of what drives the American psyche if we forget just how frivolous we are, if we forget to look at what Americans actually think about and watch in their spare time. And that isn't politics. It's The Bachelorette. It's Instagram. It's the Kardashians. This week, it's Brangelina and the peculiar wave of nostalgia their breakup inspired as we remember a time when we weren't quite this jaded. The Jolie-Pitt divorce has been hailed as the end of an era.
So it is: The end of their union marks the end of a style of celebrity fluent in rewriting the narrative, of spinning scandal into decency and a happy ending so convincing that people threw away their #TeamJen shirts. Sure, sure, this is a "real family." Yes, these are "real people." This story is no doubt "complicated." But secretly, we believe complexity is a con. Really, the end of Brangelina just confirms our suspicions: It's lies all the way down, just as we always feared.
Yes, there are a million and one more important things going on in the world than the end of the biggest celebrity couple, but the Brangelina breakup story reveals our own (somewhat defensible) thirst for frivolity and even helps to explain why Donald Trump is a presidential candidate. Just read it.
I had the privilege of sitting in on award-winning NPR journalist Krista Tippett’s live conversation with civil-rights legend Ruby Sales at the On Being Minneapolis studios this June. Here, Sales (one of 50 leaders spotlighted in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.) speaks of the crisis of white, rural Americans and the spiritual dynamics of the civil rights movement as well as Black Lives Matter.