Is It Wrong to Stone an Adulterous Wife?

“The Bible says it; that settles it.”

How many times have I heard that statement, or variations on it? It’s used as justification for almost any unpopular or unpleasant stance in Christianity.

“The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination. I don’t hate them. I just can’t accept their sin.”

“The Bible says women are to submit to their husbands and be silent in the church. I’m not a misogynist. It’s just the way God set things up.”

“The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If you don’t accept him, you’re going to hell.”

“The Bible says that a parent who loves a child will beat that child to save his soul. I don’t want to whip my children, but the Bible commands it. I would be a horrible parent if I didn’t obey.”

It’s almost as if Christians think that by pulling out this excuse, they can distance themselves from their own actions and words.

Sometimes I counter with other words that have been attributed to Jesus or God.

“Be submissive to the wife; her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the wild beast in him and changes it to a lamb.” (The Life of St. Issa)

“The kingdom of heaven is within you and all around you. Cut a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me.” (The Gospel of Thomas)

“There is no such thing as sin.” (The Gospel of Mary)

“I tell you that the son of man is within you all! Seek him inside; those who search diligently and earnestly shall surely find him.” (The Gospel of Mary)

Those who are familiar with the Bible quickly recognize that my quotes aren’t in the “Bible” as we know it.  And, of course, people react negatively to them when I refer to them, complaining that those aren’t known words of Jesus. And we get down to the real heart of the issue.

Why do we accept the Bible as it is presented to us today?

The 66 books contained in today’s popular Scripture are far from the only books that claim to be gospels or holy texts of Christianity. In fact, there are enough texts that aren’t included to create a whole new Bible! I’ve got the collection sitting on my coffee table.

Historically, the Canon has varied considerably since the first century. The Catholic Canon cannot be traced any earlier than 393 (almost four centuries after Jesus). The Protestant Canon, which further rejects the Apocrypha, is even more recent. And no matter which version of the Canon we’re talking about (for there are many), the inescable fact is that it was chosen by a committee of men who had never even met Jesus.

People try to argue that the non-Canonical books were rejected as frauds which were most likely written by unqualified people. But the true authorship of the Canonical books is equally questionable. We don’t even have a reasonable guess as to who wrote Hebrews, and the four gospels are neither the oldest nor the most credible in authorship. The Gospel of Matthew wasn’t even attributed to Matthew until well into the first century.

Sometimes Canon apologists abandon the fruitless age/authorship line and try to argue that the non-Canonical books were rejected because they contain unorthodox teachings—that for whatever truth they may possess, it’s tainted with errors and lies and is filled with misogyny or questionable morals.

They’re right.

But the Canon that the church accepts contains passages that command the stoning of rape victims and people who break the Sabbath. The Canon that the church accepts contains passages where God commanded the slaughter of infants. The Canon that the church accepts contains passages that blame women for the entire fall and demands that they redeem themselves through the pain of childbirth.

Authorship and credibility has always been a crapshoot. At least before the Canon was set, Christians were forced to use their brains in determining what to accept and reject.

“But once you start questioning the inerrancy of the Bible, then how do you know which parts to accept?”

I don’t—if by “accept” you mean “don’t question.”

So where am I going with this? Before I finish out my rampage against the Bible, let’s take a tiny little tangent—a story.

Once upon a time there was a man who wanted to see what humans were capable of doing. He came up with a way to test their abilities by setting up a teacher/student scenario, assigning one volunteer as the teacher and one as the student. Teachers were responsible for giving their students a simple test. If the students failed the test, the teachers were told to hurt the students to help them learn from their mistakes faster. It started out with mild pain, but with each mistake, the pain was supposed to get worse.

As the teaching commenced and the punishments rose in intensity, the people who had agreed to help the man with his teaching started to think that maybe the whole thing wasn’t working out so well. They felt like they were hurting the students too much and they asked if they should stop. But the man told them to continue. This work was important.

So they continued.

They continued even after the student had stopped trying to respond to the questions.

They continued even when they thought they had killed the student.

This man wasn’t really interested in how pain affected learning. He was interested in obedience. In fact, the “students” were really actors and the pain wasn’t real—but it was to the teachers who thought they had killed their students.

His experiments became famous. You can watch a sample of them below.

Milgrim Shock Experiment

His results became famous—when ordered by an authority figure to do something, even something atrocious, the majority of people will obey without question.

Obedience.

“Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Doing exactly what the Lord commands. Doing it happily. Action is the key. Do it immediately. And joy you will receive. Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.”

The Bible says it; that settles it.

People do some pretty atrocious things within fundamentalism. I have a four-page document of links to stories of abuse, violence, and hatred in the name of God from IFB churches alone. That’s not even counting the number of scandals in other denominations or the things that get covered up.

When confronted with these acts, many try to excuse their behavior saying, “I just did what I thought was right.”

But the problem is that they didn’t think.

They obeyed.

They obeyed the faulty interpretation of a two-thousand year old book that is controversial in its authenticity at best. Very often, they overrode their own conscience in order to obey a command from someone they had never met.

The Bible should be questioned.  Every fucking word should be questionable, especially if you are trying to distance yourself with a phrase like “God said it; that settles it.”

What are you willing to obey? Are you going to gouge out your eyes or cut off your hand if you’re tempted to sin? Are you going to stone a girl who gets married without being a virgin? Are you going to demand we execute every man, woman, and child in the countries we’re at war with? Are you going to force women to wear veiland cover their heads? Are you going to burn alive your pastor’s daughter if she becomes a prostitute? 

Just because the Bible said it doesn’t make it okay. We are each responsible for our own choices. While claiming the Bible as authority might save someone the grueling labor of figuring out what they actually believe is moral, it doesn’t divert culpability. God is not the invisible white lab coat who is going to accept responsibility for the things someone does in obedience to him.

Obedience is not an excuse.

The Dystopian Girl’s Guide to Forbidden Romance

As I’ve mentioned before, I love dystopian fiction, especially the young adult novels that have swept the scene in the last few years. But I have one pet peeve that really, really irks me—the ignorance and stupidity in portraying romance within a purity culture.

kiss

I love falling in love with a character.

I love those butterflies I get when a romantic scene arises.

I want to hate but begrudgingly love the heart-wrenching suspense of whether the protagonist will end up with her love interest.

But all of that is ruined so easily when the purity construct is thoughtlessly abandoned as soon as the first kiss happens.

As the protagonist of a dystopian plot, the main character is presumably smarter than the other people around her—or at least she’s more aware. She has to be in order to carry the plot of rebellion forward. So why is it that when a boy comes on the scene, she suddenly loses any and all sense of discretion, caution, or intelligence?

If part of the dystopian atmosphere involves a purity culture that punishes physical contact between the sexes, then it’s basic common sense that out in public is NOT the place for two people to explore their feelings for each other. When you live in an environment where violating purity standards could lead to the ruination of your reputation (at the very least) or expulsion, physical punishment, or execution, you don’t really forget about that threat. Whenever I read about a character who just throws herself at a pair of deep blue eyes right out where others can see her, my suspension of disbelief is shattered immediately, especially if she’s already actively fighting against the authorities as it is. No matter how strong the urge to kiss someone is, it’s rarely strong enough to override the need for self-preservation.

The Scarlet Letter--a mild example of what purity culture does to women who violate standards.

The Scarlet Letter–a mild example of what purity culture does to women who violate standards.

Having lived in a dystopian environment, I feel I actually have reasonable experience to speak on this subject. Whether you are writing a dystopian novel yourself or living a dystopian life, there are some basic things you need to know about romantic contact.

I’m not foreign to the hormonal drives of youth, and I’m well aware of the titillating allure of forbidden touch. It’s intoxicating and wonderful. In fact, I indulged in it quite a bit when I was at Bob Jones University. With chaperones patrolling every public area to ensure that at least six inches were between male and female students and brainwashed bojes (spies) ready to tattle on you at every turn, it wasn’t easy. But I never got caught. Why?

I used my brain.

Granted, as far as plot development goes, it may be important for a character to get caught, but it doesn’t have to happen in an irritatingly stupid way. There are some brilliant ways to arrange for clandestine meetings. By following a few tips, you can provide the utmost protection possible and, if discovery has to happen, at least comfort yourself that the discovery was inevitable rather than due to oversight. That little difference may not seem so important in the grand scheme of having actually gotten caught, it makes a big difference in the odds of survival.

First, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t think about locking even a pinky with someone without first ascertaining where danger lies. If people are present, determine what they can see. This requires stepping outside of your own perspective, which is harder than you might think. I often saw couples sitting together at the university library tables, their legs tangled underneath the tabletop. Perhaps they thought they were being discreet since they themselves couldn’t see their legs, but for anyone entering the library, it was laughably obvious. If need be, actually do a test yourself if you can do so without arousing suspicion. Take  a stroll around the area in question and note which spots are sheltered and which ones aren’t.

footsie

If people aren’t present, figure out how likely someone is to enter and, again, what they would be able to see. This is where dystopian novels make their biggest mistake. Just because no one happens to be with the couple doesn’t mean that it’s a safe place. If there are wide open spaces, windows, doorways without doors, or any other type of quirk about the location that would put you in a compromising position if a passerby happened to pass by—you can’t let your guard down.

Remember, you can never know where someone else might be innocently headed. Don't assume the world stops because you are overcome with passion . . . unless you're Adelice from Crewel and can pause time.

Remember, you can never know where someone else might be innocently headed. Don’t assume the world stops because you are overcome with passion . . . unless you’re Adelice from Crewel and can pause time.

If, after analyzing the environment, you find it suitable enough to risk some sort of affectionate exchange, you still need to identify which kinds of affection are feasible. A deserted stairwell might be appropriate for a stolen kiss, but it doesn’t make a great place to have a picnic. A draped coat might allow for two people to hold hands, but it’s not going to protect them from scrutiny if they lock lips.

A good rule of thumb for intimate exchanges is that the more intimate the exchange, the greater the risk; the greater the risk, the greater the need for protection. If you’re just interested in some light flirting or mildly serious kissing (and don’t underestimate the power of such touches in a purity culture), look for places where you will hear people coming before they can see you as well as places where you can assume less incriminating stances if need be. One of my and my partner’s favorite places was a particular hallway where we could pretend to be heading to or from a class if someone came clomping down the stairs.

However, if you want to do more intimate things, you need to find places where you are less likely to be stumbled upon. These would be places where passersby are completely unlikely and the only people who would catch you are the ones deliberately looking for you. Of course, in this instance, you can’t exactly finagle your way out of anything if you do happen to get caught, but at least you need to be under suspicion in the first place. This would be the equivalent to sneaking off campus if you happen to attend a dystopian-esque university like the one I attended (we had some lovely Sunday afternoons hiding in deserted parking lots) . . . or sneaking to a rented room, as the characters in 1984 did.

1984 lovers in bed

The lovers indulging in behaviors illegal for Anti-Sex League members, from 1984, the film.

I will caution you though—this isn’t something you would want to do with just any attractive person who walks by (another pet peeve of the dystopian young adult novel, the character who falls into the arms of every boy in the book). These rendezvous are the ones that should be reserved for some serious lovers because . . . well, if you’re going to risk everything for the chance of lying entwined in someone’s arms, wouldn’t you want to know that the risk was worth something greater than what you can get by just masturbating?

Lastly, just remember that no matter how smart you are, when you’re rebelling against a system, sooner or later that rebellion will be unearthed. In a purity culture, romance is never just romance, it’s always rebellion. So whether you rebel over a lover or over a principle, you better be willing to pay the price. In a true dystopian environment, your bridges burn as you cross them.

From the Handmaid's Tale film . . . the arrest.

From the Handmaid’s Tale film . . . the arrest.

Tales from the Lesloom Episode Four: Labels and Love

If you’re following The Adventures of the Lesbian Futon, you’ll remember that last week, Emma had her first kiss and was beginning to understand that she wasn’t like all the other girls in her class, who had begun to have crushes on boys. Join me this week as Emma navigates this new love of hers.

If you’re new to the Tales of the Lesloom, find out how it all began here!

Episode 4

Emma and Rebecca didn’t really notice a change in their friendship after that night—at least not right away. When they woke up in the morning, they each gave each other a shy look and a small smile. It was tense, but it was an amicable intensity.

When Rebecca’s mom came to pick her up, Emma offered an awkward hug goodbye.

“See ya,” Rebecca mumbled as they released each other. Trotting out the door, she jumped in the car and gave a final wave from the window.

Emma felt a tiny little jump in her stomach as she watched her friend’s car disappear. The world seemed to be sparkling with happiness. The colors were brighter, the song of the birds louder. Emma herself felt like she was walking on clouds.

She spent the weekend daydreaming about the future she hadn’t really dared hope for before—a future where she and Rebecca grow up, growing closer to each other rather than apart, making a home together, living out their dreams together.

Come Monday, even school didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Emma danced around the futon as she got ready, singing to herself.

“I get to see her today!” she cooed to her little wooden friend, falling back against the mattress, the pillows popping with the force of her faux faint. “I think I’m worried . . . or maybe excited. My stomach is all jumpy!” She gripped her middle and rolled into a ball.

Maybe both, the futon offered with a laugh, pushing slightly against her limp form. It took a little more coaxing than usual to get her ready and on her way on time, but somehow it managed to get the love-sick teen heading towards the bus at a quick trot with a few minutes to spare.

The poor futon had to wait all day in torturous apprehension for what its sweet friend might encounter that Monday, but thankfully, we don’t have to wait with it. Abandoning the futon to its worried daydreams and imperfect predictions, we follow Emma to school . . .

Emma didn’t feel nearly so alone as she walked to her locker, and it added an extra bounce to her step. When she saw Janie, the friend she’d bailed on that weekend, instead of shrinking back from the interaction, she waved enthusiastically. She barely remembered to keep pretending that she had been sick during their short conversation, but Janie seemed more relieved than anything that Emma was so . . . there really wasn’t a correct word for what Emma seemed to be.

Emma jogged over to Rebecca as soon as she saw her arrive at her locker. The reunion wasn’t quite as romantic as Emma had imagined, but then again, it would be hard for them to have the kind of movie-moment Emma had conjured up in her mind. Emma gave Rebecca a goofy grin, bouncing on the balls of her feet in an effort to restrain herself from hugging her.

“Wow,” Rebecca laughed. “Did you have coffee or something?”

“No!” Emma lowered her feet firmly to the floor. “I’m just really happy. It’s nice . . .” she cocked her head, biting her lower lip, “you know, having someone who understands.”

She didn’t see the initial look of pained confusion that fleeted over Rebecca’s face. She only saw the warm and very genuine smile that followed. “You can always tell me anything, you know.”

Rebecca meant what she said with all her heart, and Emma clung to the words of hope with her own desperate need. “Yeah, I guess you figure it all out on your own anyway.”

They laughed, the last little bits of visible awkwardness melting away.

“We better get to class.” Rebecca motioned towards their room.

Emma nodded, falling into step beside her friend. As they walked, their hands brushed lightly against each other, sending a chill up Emma’s arm and setting the butterflies in her stomach into full flight. Rebecca suddenly threw her arm over Emma’s shoulder, hugging her neck as they entered the classroom.

The day went by like any normal school day, but every time Emma caught Rebecca’s eye, she felt that they were sharing a secret language that the others couldn’t enter into. Every touch, no matter how innocuous it would have seemed last week, now felt laden with meaning. When Emma finally came home from school and related her day to the futon, they both sighed—one out of sheer happiness, the other out of relief. The futon didn’t admit to Emma that it had actually worried that Rebecca would withdraw from her.

“I think I’m in love with a girl,” Emma finally whispered, as much to herself as to the futon. “Is this what the crushes they’re always talking about feel like?”

The futon, having never experienced first love itself, shrugged. Probably, it said, but it secretly thought that Emma might be experiencing a deeper feeling than the other girls had known up to that point. Forbidden crushes are always a little bit stronger than general puppy love.

“What does it mean?” Emma asked.

You’re lesbian, the futon tried to explain. But it’s hard enough to understand the language of furniture as it is, and Emma had never heard that term before.

“Do you think there’s something wrong with me?”

No! the futon chuckled. There’s nothing wrong with you! There are many people who feel the same way. The futon knew that it wasn’t enough for it to whisper that to Emma, but it wasn’t quite sure how to help her see that she was normal. Suddenly, thought of a solution. You could look it up!

“I could look it up,” Emma mused to herself as if she had come up with the idea. Grabbing her laptop, she opened up a web browser. It didn’t take too long for her to discover a site that answered all of her questions. Together, she and the futon sat there and read what it meant for her to be attracted to girls instead of boys.

Emma hadn’t thought her heart could get any fuller than it already was. It was wonderful enough to have a friend who understood how she felt, but finding out that other people felt that way too and that there were words to describe that—even websites dedicated to helping teens like her—it was almost too much for her to handle. The only  thing that kept her grounded was the slight fear over how others might react, for in her reading she also discovered that not everyone was so kind to people like this. But that fear was far easier to bear than the one that she’d been carrying before—the one that feared her difference and feared understanding why she was different. Armed with self-knowledge and young love, she felt she could face anything her classmates might say about her.

Ch-ch-ch-children! Grow One of Your Own! The scam of Biblical parenting.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents’ philosophy towards raising kids. Like most IFB parents, they believed in the popular “spare the rod, spoil the child” myth that they think comes from Proverbs.

Technically the "spare the rod" phrase isn't even in the Bible. But beyond that, there's enough empirical evidence to show that spanking has more detrimental effects than positive ones.

Technically the “spare the rod” phrase isn’t even in the Bible. But beyond that, there’s enough empirical evidence to show that spanking has more detrimental effects than positive ones.

In and of itself, that idea is problematic, especially when that “rod” is taken literally to mean an instrument with which to beat someone (i.e. a belt, cooking spoon, wooden paddle, etc.) However, it’s not that philosophy that has been bothering me lately, even though it certainly bothers me at other times. It was one they extracted from another verse in Proverbs 22:6.

“Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

My dad had a favorite illustration he would use in his sermons to convey how he thought this verse was to be used. It was the idea that children were like plants. If you want a plant to grow a certain way, you put constraints on it and prune it. Otherwise it will just grow any which way it wants.

The problem is that children aren’t like plants—at least not the way he viewed plants (For the record, I have a much different view of plants, but for the sake of this post, I won’t get into that.)

In his mind, a plant might be “living” in so far as it grew, but it wasn’t a conscious being. It didn’t feel pain. It had no hopes, desires, dreams, plans, or personality. Thus, cutting it or manipulating it to grow the way he wanted was about as offensive as molding clay.

Children are not like plants.

They do have personalities, dreams, hopes, sometimes even plans.

And they definitely feel pain.

To assume that growing a plant is the same as growing a child is grossly problematic. For one, plant growth is physical. It’s an awesome ability to be able to grow new shoots after being cut down, but you can’t cut a child’s arm and have it regrow in a better shape. Children don’t just grow physically, and obviously this illustration wasn’t talking about the physical growth of a child. It was about the mental growth.

One of the most important psychological developments for a child is the development of a sense of self—a sense of being a separate being from others. With that sense of self should come a growing sense of autonomy and an ability to think and reason for oneself.

But fundamentalism doesn’t acknowledge that aspect of growth in children and acts in a way that actively tries to stifle the natural development of the child’s psyche. Like so many of my friends who survived living in the IFB, I remember all too well the lessons and songs about obedience. Children were to obey right away, without question. Anything else was rebellion, and rebellion, I also remember being taught, was “as the sin of witchcraft,” which was a stoning offense in Bible times (both rebellion and witchcraft).

From a very young age, therefore, I was led to believe that questioning my parents’ reason for any rule was a dangerous place to go. As I got older and started to develop my own tastes, that presented unique problems. They thought rock, country, pop, rap, CCM, jazz, and any other music genre you can think of were all bad. They thought movie theaters and playing cards were sinful. They thought drinking alcohol was wrong. They thought wearing “tight” (aka didn’t fall off my hips without a belt) jeans and shirts was morally reprehensible. They thought shorts and bathing suits and tank tops were indecent.

And I discovered that I liked Shania Twain, didn’t think there was any logical reason why playing cards and theaters should be off-limits, wanted to wear clothes that fit and that expressed my unique style, and didn’t want to have to leave my cousin’s wedding reception early because people around me had wine in their hands.

I was doing what any normal teenager would do—developing my own ideas for myself. And they were hardly radical ideas to the rest of the world.

But in my family, I was “rebelling.”

There’s actually a psychological term for what I was doing—individuation. It’s a healthy and necessary step in the psychological development of a person.

In fact, as far as I know, every teen in the IFB goes through a “rebellious” phase—some sooner than later. Some are easier to “break” than others (yes, the goal is to “break the will” of the child—their own words)—but every child “rebels” within this paradigm.

So I had a strict upbringing. Who cares, right? It’s no big deal. What is so dangerous about this teaching that children, like plants, can be manipulated into absolute obedience?

The danger is this: Physical growth isn’t enough. Children need to stimulate their mind in order to develop their brains so they can function as adults. By making individuation a sin, my father automatically made growing up an act of rebellion.

I recognize that he is, to some extent, the victim of this teaching too. He didn’t come up with it on his own. It was taught to him, maybe by his parents (ironically, I don’t know what their parenting philosophy was), probably more so by his college and seminary training. And for that, I do not hold him responsible.

However, I do hold him responsible for perpetuating that teaching onto his own family and the church that he pastors.

Shortly before I left, my dad said, “I’m sorry I raised a daughter like you.” I suppose it must have been terribly disappointing to realize that his parenting method didn’t work as well as his gardening methods. Unfortunately for him, children aren’t chia pets.

Chia-Pet-Bunny

Romancing the Self: Rekindling the Love that I Forgot to Kindle

It’s women’s history month! What better way to celebrate than by talking about self-love?

Back when I posted my upcoming topics on Facebook (yes, I’m on there with a wee baby page that desperately needs more likes), I was following a whim. Rather than fret all week about which topic to cover next time, I decided to talk about something that I was currently doing. It seemed like a good idea. It was fun and lighthearted but an important concept, nonetheless.

Plus it was relatively easy . . . or so I thought it would be at the time . . . and I could use an easy topic while I was going through my post-Emilie-Autumn-concert high/minor obsession (okay major obsession).

So I patted myself on the back for thinking of ahead and let myself fall back into following as much of Emilie and her inmates as I could on the Internet. In the process, I stumbled across one of the inmate’s blog post about writing love letters to yourself and, from there, the Contessa’s post about dating yourself.

Oy!

Talk about synchronicity!

Yes, I suppose this could just be a topic trend right now, so all you logic monsters (ahem, my partner) can just relax. But I’m allowing myself to find a deeper meaning in the repetition because even though the idea of courting myself has floated around in my mind for a little over a year now, I haven’t been practicing it.

I thought I had started the practice last year, when on International Women’s Day, I bought myself my first “gift.”

Not that I’ve never gotten myself something before, but this was the first one that felt like I was getting myself something that I would normally expect another person to give to me—a rose. I was driving by a florist’s shop, already heady with the energy of the full moon and the excitement of celebrating women, when I suddenly decided that I wanted a rose for that day.

Part of me scoffed at the idea. You can’t buy yourself flowers! It’s like making yourself a birthday cake or giving yourself a Valentine’s Day gift!

But I really wanted that flower.

So I made a u-turn and went back to the florist. I took my time selecting the flower that I wanted, thinking about how each shape and color made me feel, until I felt certain that a pale lavender rose seemed to fit the occasion just perfectly.

405

I was giddy by the time I left the shop. I don’t even remember what I did to celebrate the rest of the day even though it was an all-day celebration. All I remember is buying myself that rose and feeling so fucking special because of it!

And I decided that this whole romance thing would need to be part of my life—I was finally to the place where I treasured myself enough to want to do it!

But…

Then a year passed before I thought about romancing myself again.

Sure, I had alone time and self-care times, even times of honoring the scared feminine within me (remember the yoni party!).

But it wasn’t a romantic encounter in any way.

Then last Friday, I was stressed. My partner and I had been almost too busy to even say hi to each other, and I was lonely. I knew I needed to unwind, and I was disappointed over every new occasion that seemed to get in the way of that.

Then it occurred to me: Take yourself on a date! You were supposed to be doing that anyway!

At first it felt kind of pathetic, planning a romantic evening when I had nothing else to do—almost as if I were crying for attention. But it wasn’t about that at all. I even got offers from friends that day to go out, but I turned them down because I actually wanted to have this evening with myself.

The evening really couldn’t have been more cozy. I cooked myself a gourmet meal, broke open an expensive bottle of wine, lit some candles and incense, dimmed the overhead lights, and picked out a favorite movie. The food was delicious, but I think eating it would have been special even if it tasted like crap. There was something about knowing that I was doing all of this for me that made it all feel magical (especially when you consider that I rarely even cook if I’m not expecting anyone else to eat with me). The night continued with my homemade spa–even more candles and a vanilla bath. There was no time limit, no expectations, just me and me doing whatever we wanted.

Okay, so enough about my night. Anymore from here will either get inappropriately awkward or boring (if it’s not boring already). The point is that I reminded myself of how precious it is to woo myself. Of course I like it when someone else does it to me, but I’d forgotten how special I could make myself feel. And in a way, this whole self-date thing is almost more important than dates with my partner because it is the foundation of my being able to appreciate and accept my partner’s love. Loving myself enough to say, “You deserve this. I want to give it to you,” adds a deeper dimension to my relationship with my partner. There’s very little from the Bible that I hold onto in my current beliefs, but the whole “love your neighbor as yourself” bit is still one of my favorite mottos because it reminds me that all love stems from self-love.

"I will never leave you nor forsake you." I always get a little bit ecstatic when I find a way of blasphemously turning a phrase once associated with God onto myself somehow.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I always get a little bit ecstatic when I find a way of blasphemously turning a phrase once associated with God onto myself.

I’m a complex being. I’ve learned that sometimes I need to be mothered, sometimes I need to be coached/pushed, and—sometimes, I just need to be seduced by myself.

So this March, like last March, I’m proposing a courtship to myself, and this time, I don’t intend on letting myself down. I think I might even work on starting to write myself a love letter, like Veronica instructs. But even if I can’t bring myself to do that right away, I can plan in a date night with myself from time to time to keep the romance alive. Love takes work, and that includes self-love.