marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gospel Doctrine or Cultural Myth: Don’t Talk About Sexual Things; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer - Part One

Think back to your experience growing up in your family.

Was sex or intimacy discussed amongst family members? Clearly talked about at the dinner table? Discussed in Family Home Evenings?

Did anyone ever talk about it? 

Or was it suppressed with a ‘never you mind’ or a ‘you’re not old enough yet’, or an eye-roll, or talked about reluctantly or in whispers and with some uncomfortable hemming and hawing? 

Was the tone a formal ‘let’s get this unpleasantness over with’, or was it more like a matter-of-fact conversation? Was sexuality treated as something “too sacred” or “too dirty or evil” to ever talk about? Was the impression left that if something is sacred or filthy, it’s better to not mention it all to protect your “innocence”?

This exercise is not meant to point fingers at our parents – chances are, they never or rarely talked about it either, and didn’t have a good model of how to teach sexuality effectively. Their responses to you were a reflection of what was taught to them. 

Parents are always braving new territory. Not only are they raising children, but often doing it in different circumstances than their parents did.

In addition, for most parents (when it comes to teaching or talking about sexuality), their only model was their parents. When things go wrong, or the kids have questions about sex, or it’s time to give the kids “the talk”, the only file we as parents have to draw from is what our folks modeled for us.

Do you ever find yourself asking…what could my parents have done better? What could I do better now that I’m a parent?

Dr. Joe Beam in a recent podcast interviewed a married couple whose lives had been caught up in sexual abuse and profane erotica from a very young age, and whose marriage suffered as a result. They worked together as husband and wife to successfully overcome these challenges and shared their experiences with Dr. Beam. When asked what would you advise parents to teach their children, they said:

 “…one thing that I would say, not so much to the teenagers but the parents of those teenagers, is just simply have the conversation. Be willing to talk about it.
 (My wife’s) upbringing was that sex wasn’t even mentioned. My upbringing – the only thing I ever heard was ‘Don’t do it’.

And so there wasn’t really any education; there wasn’t any comfort level of ‘ask Mom or Dad a question about it.” That didn’t happen….
We want to be that safe place (for our kids). We want to give the truth to them instead of them hearing (about sex) from friends. So, have the conversation…”[i]

Who’s Teaching the Children? 

I’ve seen a lot of online discussion and even criticism lately regarding how lessons about the law of chastity are taught in church by Young Men and Young Women leaders. For the sake of those children without a strong home support system, these leaders will continue doing so as part of their uncompensated callings, and they should. They will always do their very best to help those in their charge, whatever that ‘best’ looks like.

Who then really holds the responsibility of preparing the children to safely ford their way through the complex maze of sexuality in the world and in the gospel? Parents, I point the finger back at you. How are you addressing the teaching of sexuality and anatomy to your children?

Does the thought make you uncomfortable? I don’t believe it has to. In addition, comfortable or not, that responsibility doesn’t belong to schools, and I haven’t found anywhere that says the responsibility primarily belongs to Church leaders and teachers.

The Lord placed that responsibility squarely on the parents.[ii]
So how are we teaching our children about sex? Are we as parents setting what you would consider to be a positive example?

In our marriage, is sex something that strengthens our eternal bond, or is it pushing us apart and too painful to talk about? 

Are we hiding the existence of sex from our kids? 

Are we opening our mouths on a regular basis, teaching our kids about their bodies and how special and sacred they are, and how to protect them, no matter what their age?

Direct teaching and indirect modeling both have to be there for learning to be most effective. If they’re not, what needs to change in your family?

Next week, we’ll talk about the teaching that took place in our family when our children were young.

[i] Rusty. "Husband" with Dr. Joe Beam. How Porn Affects Husband and Wife. The Joe Beam Show. 24 May 2016. 31 May 2016.

[ii] D&C 68: 25-28; see also Gospel Principles Manual, Lesson 39

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Eight Facts About The Clitoris

 WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married readers only. Those who are currently unmarried are advised to keep to the standards of the Church and refrain from reading the married sexual instruction that follows.

I found this very helpful article written by Kyle Towers and Dr. Sadie Allison that I wanted to share for my professional quote this week. This article was too big to post on the LDS Marriage Bed Facebook page, so I’m posting it here on my blog.

It has been edited for an LDS audience, but if you want to read the original article, you can find the link below. Although, I also give my caveat that their version I found to be a bit profane.

“The clitoris is every woman’s — and smart lover’s — best friend. Yet proper education on its capabilities has eluded humanity until recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 that the anatomy of the clitoris was properly mapped out.

Predominantly male scientists have long dismissed its existence, even removing it from anatomy diagrams. Which really makes you wonder… Why?

...Hopefully the following facts about this God-given organ, which solely exists for pleasure, will inspire married lovers to make it a focal point of foreplay.

1.  The Clitoris Has Two To Three Times More Nerve Endings Than The Penis

While this helps give pleasure to a wife during foreplay and sexual activity, it also might be why your clitoris is often too sensitive for direct contact. 

So be sure to inform your husband about how to touch or indirectly touch your clitoris, accordingly. This may require some experimentation and clear communication. Trial and error is part of the process, and you have all eternity to perfect it.

2.  Just Like Your Love For Each Other, It Never Stops Growing

Your clitoris can grow to be 2.5 times larger than it was when you were a teen.

3.  All Penises Started Out As A Clitoris

When we were ... embryos, we all had a vulva (what is commonly thought of as the vagina, but includes all the parts of a woman’s genitals). The embryos which had Y chromosomes and therefore became male, morphed their clitoris into a penis, and their outer labia into a pair of testicles.

4. Can a woman have an 'erection'? Yes, actually...she can.

Because the penis was formed out of a clitoris, both are made up of the same spongy tissue, which expands when aroused. So women, in a sense, can also have erections when aroused.

5. Clitorises Come In A Variety Of Different Colors

In fact, no two vulvas are alike. Which is kind of special in itself if you think about it. Each new bride has her own special vulva that she can share with her husband that is unique to what any other husband gets. 

This makes it extra sacred in my book.

6. A Clitoris Can Be The Same Size As Some Men’s Erect Penises

That’s right! The visible part of your clitoris is only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s actually 3-5 inches long, mostly positioned on the inside along the vaginal canal, and makes multiple forms of orgasm possible. This includes C-spot, G-Spot, A-Spot and even anal orgasm – which leads to the next advantage a woman has over men in having a clitoris.

7. Unlike Most Penises, a Woman's Clitoris Is Not A “One Hit Wonder”

The clitoris is capable of having multiple orgasms, because after an orgasm it retains most of its blood.

You may find that you need a little time to recover, because it becomes very sensitive directly after. But it bounces back, ready to orgasm again (and again, and again…) quite quickly.

8. Use It Or Lose It!

Didn’t you know? A clitoral orgasm a day, keeps the doctor away.

It’s incredibly rare, but there is a medical condition known as clitoral atrophy, which occurs when the clitoris doesn’t receive enough blood flow. This can cause the clitoris to retract into the body, or even result in the clitoral hood fusing to cover the clitoris head and shaft.

No, you don't have to use it literally every day, but do use it regularly, to keep it (and your marriage) healthy.”

~ by Kyle Towers and Dr. Sadie Allison (May 01, 2016) As edited by LDS Sex Coach Sam Zaragoza (8 Jaw Dropping Facts About The Clitoris)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

CTC Night - At Home: Peek A Boo

Happy Continue-The-Courtship Night all you married lovers out there.

Here is another fun one for those of us who are stuck at home, have small children, can't find a sitter, sitter backed out last minute, on a tight budget, or just house bound by the weather.

Depending on how big your bedroom is, you may want to use the whole house for this, but first - put the kids to bed early. It's just you two for at least 2 hours, and then you can let them out again.

Right now is just mama and papa time, or as I like to call it " Boyfriend and Girlfriend" time.

Tonight: Play hide and seek! Ladies get to hide first. When you find  your spouse, you get a kiss. Then switch.

For a little twist, get some Nerf guns, let her go hide, and play a Nerf version of paint ball. First person to hit the other gets a kiss, or gets to have the loser perform some other sexually  intimate reward, or gets to pick the next date! How about a bubble bath?

Happy Dating!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Filters - Keeping out the evils that affect our marriages and lives

Today I’d like to talk to you about being pure in heart, and what that means for us on a day-to-day basis. My wife and I like to talk a lot about the ‘why’ of living the gospel, because finding out why you’re doing it, is what really puts the fun and the fire into living the gospel every day.

We decided one quiet Sunday morning to do some scripture study, and we looked up a Conference talk from 1973 by Gordon Hinckley, called ‘Opposing Evil’.

He talked about a young man he’d met with, who had been living in immorality, but now had serious questions about where his life was going.

He asked the young man how this change of heart had come about. The young man showed him a ring, that had belonged to his grandfather. That ring had come to his father, who had given it to him. One night, a friend of his remarked, ‘Whom will you give it to? I guess you’re the last one.’

He saw in that moment that he was on a road that was going nowhere. In his own words, he said ‘I was walking down a blind alley, where there is neither hope, nor light, nor future.’ And so the young man came to then-Elder Hinckley for help.

Gordon B. Hinckley then talks about the experiences this young man had had…the onslaught of immorality growing in the world around him in the mid-60s and early 70s, which we know from history and our own experiences were very turbulent times. There were references to evil in the theatre ads, in the newspaper, and in the mail around him as he thought about that young man. Today, we could include the Internet as well, as our computers often bring us the horrors, the violence and the immorality of the world on a daily basis, even in our social media. There’s no escaping it.

Decades before President Hinckley blessed us with the inspired words of The Proclamation to the World on the Family, he spoke even back then about evil finding its ways into our legislation and our courtrooms, and we’re living the results of that in even greater measure today than back then.

While we were reading through his talk, we came to his suggestions for combating the forces in the world. We read this paragraph, which said,

“It is a matter of more than passing interest that the Lord, as he spoke to the multitude on the Mount, included this marvelous declaration: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

In that moment, both my wife and I realized that this promise from the Lord included more than the choice opportunity of being worthy to stand in the presence of God and seeing God’s face – something we all would desire, but for most of us, an event that feels far out of reach.

This promise also includes a blessing that we can claim right now – the blessing of being able to ‘see’ as God sees.

It’s like the filter for the air conditioner in a home. Air conditioning is vital to life here in a hot area like Texas in the summer. It’s vital that it functions well. If you remember, this spring was particularly heavy with allergens. I get horrible hay fever, so I feel it more than others. My eyes start burning, my face starts itching, my vision gets blurry. Every nerve ending is irritated, and my life becomes unbearable. Admittedly, I’m less easy to live with at times like this, at work or home.

This spring, we looked around our home, and we began to notice all the dust bunnies coming from our vents, covering our ceiling fans and our furniture and floor, and drifting through the air.

Recently, we had installed an air filter into our air conditioner – an expensive and heavy air filter designed to filter out the tiniest of allergens. We assumed it would last us for months. When we checked the air filter, we saw that it was already super-saturated with dust particles and allergens, so much so that it was not containing them anymore, and coming around the sides of the filter. As hard as it was being hit with undesirable particles, it could no longer contain all of them, and particles were getting through into our air.

What we came to realize was that we had to change our filter more often. As soon as we changed our air filter, I began to feel relief. Our home became a more breathable place. The irritations that were overwhelming my ability to focus on being more Christlike in my behavior went away or became more manageable, and I could interact more easily.

So what does all this have to do with being pure in heart?

Being pure in heart is like a having a home. The spiritual air filters on that home need to be maintained frequently in order to keep our views of ourselves and our surroundings pure and just.

So what’s getting through our filters?

What would a person who is exposed to heavy doses of sensational news articles see through their filter? They would ‘see’ violence and corruption and people who can’t be trusted, on a daily basis, instead of ‘seeing God’ in other people. They’re seeing the world’s perspectives, which may be correct, or may not.

What would a person who is exposed to profane erotic materials on a regular basis ‘see’? They would see lust and sexuality in everyone and everything, even in their young children. We all know tragic examples of this, sometimes in our own families. They’re seeing people as objects, instead of seeing them as children of God, and are comfortable treating them as such.

Without changing the spiritual filter in our lives, we only see what the world is constantly flowing through – the idea that people are objects to be used, that people are angry and hateful, or that people want to take advantage of us and deceive us for their ends, people who will never trust you, or that you’re unlovable or unforgivable.

Without changing the filter, we start seeing other people this way. We start seeing our spouses and children this way, then our Church leaders and fellow Saints. This leads to discontent, mistrust, contention, broken vows, broken homes, broken lives, apostasy, and worse.

On the other hand, those who make the effort to keep that filter through which they see the world clean, who willfully keep themselves ‘pure’ in their hearts, will ‘see God’ in everyone and everything. They will understand that when they are serving each other, they are only serving God.

They will understand the parable of the sheep and the goats that Christ gave, when he replied to the people who asked when they had served Him, and He told them that ‘…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ They will see the child of God in each person they encounter, and treat them as such, without hesitation or resentment of any kind.

We can’t assume that, just because we’ve been baptized, or that we’ve been a member of the Church for years, or even all our lives, that that filter is permanently clean. You can’t repent once and think you’re done. You can’t read the Book of Mormon once all the way through and think your testimony will last you a lifetime.  

Maintaining that ‘eternal perspective’ (like the air conditioner) is something we have to deliberately do monthly, weekly, daily, even hourly or moment to moment in more taxing times. Additionally, the daily and weekly filters have to be maintained before other filters will work optimally as well.

Let me illustrate by giving you a recommended spiritual maintenance schedule.

For filtering the largest worldly influence particles, moment to moment and sometimes hourly, we need to use prayer and repentance. Alma emphasized the importance of this filter when he said to Zeezrom and the other people of Ammonihah, ‘…humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear...’.

When we allow our filter to become saturated with the dirt, filth and lies of the world and we are breathing in a temporal perspective, temptations become increasingly hard to bear, and we are easily overcome. If we fail at this level of filtration, our worthiness can be affected, and the other finer filters I’m about to discuss will lose their effectiveness. The other finer filters are not strong enough to keep the largest particles at bay.

Our daily filter is our scripture study, both alone and with others. Scriptures are a way of putting on the mind and will of God, and helps filter out worldly perspectives and godless belief systems.

Studying any topic, combined with the scriptures, gives us greater insights into what is being taught to us as ‘truth’. Combining prayer and scriptures with others is a powerful way of receiving direction and revelation in our lives, whether it be family scripture study, or seminary or institute classes. I always compare my textbooks to the scriptures. Often, the textbooks are written purely from a professor’s perspective, and one professor may teach one thing and another may teach something completely different on the same topic, and both claim to be truth. Without the scriptures, I would find myself lost in a sea of ideas. I often feel bad for other students who don’t have the gospel’s filters, and have to rely on whatever ideas are given to them as reality.

If we’re not reading scriptures, our ability to receive revelation can become twisted or misled. We can be easily pulled off course by one idea or another from TV, movies or other media or cultural expectations, and lose our bearings very quickly.

All entertainment are morality plays, constructed from the belief systems of the writer, director or producer of the entertainment. Many of which can be subtle and not easily seen without the filter of scriptures and the words of the living prophets. The other finer filters become less effective; because the Lord cannot bring to our minds ideas we have never read or studied.

After the filters of prayer, ongoing repentance and regular scripture study during the week, taking the sacrament every week is our next layer of filtration. It renews our baptismal covenant and allows the Spirit of the Lord to flow pure and clean revelation in our lives, for ourselves and our loved ones.

If we take the sacrament unworthily, because we haven’t been maintaining the other filters, our spiritual progression becomes clogged – hindering the Spirit’s flow of inspiration and guidance in our lives and any benefit that could have come from that.

Sacrament Meeting is the most important meeting, to renew this important spiritual filter. If we ignore it, or don’t utilize this important filter, there will be an undesirable result.

As Elder Oaks said in last Conference, “If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward ‘stony ground’. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule.”

When I was on my mission, those missionaries who struggled the most in working with nonmembers or other missionaries who challenged their testimonies were those who didn’t maintain the filters of prayer, repentance, scripture study, and sacrament before or during their mission. The successful missionary is the one who maintains their spiritual filters day by day, over years of preparation.

And what about temple attendance, for those of us who have current temple recommends? Temple attendance can be a powerful fine filtration, that filters out the smallest particles of the world’s influence. But if your other filters are not working, your temple experience is tainted instead and not nearly what it should be.

You instead see the people and activities in the temple through a worldly filter. I’ve seen people attend the temple the first time, and they are either immediately solidified into firm activity. I’ve also seen people attend the temple and immediately go inactive, expressing fear or mistrust.

Why did this happen? I’ve wondered about this for years, and now I believe I understand. Those who did not have a good experience of the temple were not keeping their filters maintained. They were allowing temporal perspective to build up and build up until they were not ready for the temple, and their experience was colored as a result.

Without the larger particle filters doing their job, the finer more delicate filters had rocks thrown at it that punched through. The temple is not a catch-all filter and can quickly be overwhelmed by a worldly perspective if the other filters are not being updated regularly.

This is why it’s so important to prepare to attend such a sacred place as the temple. The Lord cannot give his greatest knowledge and blessings to those who are not prepared. Not that he doesn’t want to, but that a clogged filter won’t allow the pure air of the gospel to flow through.

Without a pure heart, we cannot ‘see God’, even if He was standing right in front of us. We would see Him, and the others around us in the temple, as the world sees Him, and us. Lustful, deceitful, malicious…whatever our filters are letting through.

Keeping these filters clean also affects our service in the Church. Do we feel peace or resentment when asked to serve as a home or visiting teacher? Do we willingly give service when asked? Do we even notice when service is needed? Effective service in the Church and in our homes and communities is a result of properly maintained spiritual filters. Trying to give service without them appears instead difficult and painful.

Family Home Evening is a weekly gauge of how well our family’s spiritual filters are working. If we’re contentious with each other, or angry or resistant to spiritual things, are we saying prayers? Are we reading scriptures? Are we repenting often? Are we taking the Sacrament worthily? Are we attending the temple regularly? These are questions to ask ourselves when the gauge tells us something’s wrong.

In closing, I’d like to offer up a little piece of the fictional story of Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. Jean Valjean was a convict who was imprisoned for many years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family.

After being steeped for decades in prison culture, he saw himself through the temporal filter of being a criminal, and others treated him as such. One day he came to a church, where a priest took him in and offered him shelter and food.

True to his own filter, he stole the priest’s silverware to sell for money. He was caught by the local police and brought back. The police were also living from a worldly filter of ‘once a criminal, always a criminal’. When the priest saw what he had done, he relied on a different filter – a clean, gospel-based one. He was able to see Valjean as a child of God, and see what he could become.

Instead of accusing Valjean as the others did, the priest instead told the police that he had given the silverware to Valjean, and admonished him that he had forgotten the silver candlesticks. The priest thanked the policemen, and asked them to let him go.

Valjean was struck with amazement that he wasn’t going to go back to jail, or that anyone would see him as anything other how he saw himself. The priest handed him the candlesticks, and told him that from this day forward, his soul belonged to God. He gave that perspective to Valjean. Valjean became a changed man forever, taking on the filter that the priest gave to him, and he was able to see others as children of God as well, and  found ways to help others in tragic circumstances, just as the priest had helped him.

In the words of President Hinckley, ‘We cannot hope to influence others in the direction of virtue unless we live lives of virtue. The example of our living will carry a greater influence than will all the preaching in which we might indulge. We cannot expect to lift others unless we stand on higher ground ourselves.”

We need to take responsibility for our lives, and change our filters regularly. Don’t take for granted that the filters of prayer, repentance, scripture study, sacrament, and Temple attendance are free, and easily accessible.  

Don’t think that you’ve done it once, and your spiritual air conditioner will work well forever. They clog fast.

Compared to the rest of the house, those little filters don’t seem like much, but they affect everything else in such tremendous ways. Those filters are the basic principles of the gospel, through which the fruits of the gospel come.

Maintain those filters regularly, so that our hearts will breathe free and clean and pure, so that we can ‘see God’ in the world, and in each other.