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On Thursday, April 29, 2021, The Telegraph published results of a study of students at British universities.

The trends in the findings were present before coronavirus, although the survey, “Sex and Relationships Among Students”, was conducted last summer by the HEPI (Higher Education Policy Unit).

Ultimately:

they don’t want to have sex particularly – nearly six in ten (58 per cent) say making friends at university is more important than finding a sexual partner.

Here’s the story via Twitter:

Hmm:

I can well imagine welcome weeks led to encounters.

Nick Hillman, who is the director of HEPI, which conducted the survey, said that we have misconceptions about the number of sexual encounters women have. A retired psychiatrist said that sex on campus appeared to be a Boomer thing:

I heartily disagree with the assertion in the article that the British are somehow abnormal for leaving home to attend university. That is also widely done in the United States. It is a good thing for those who did not attend public (boarding) school. It teaches independence in a controlled environment.

The mandatory university lectures on what one can and cannot do in a one-to-one encounter are good, but they might also make one sex afraid of the other. Dr Nicholson, the retired psychiatrist, said that (emphases mine):

sexual mores have shifted, she says, and men are scared about getting consent wrong. At some universities, it’s compulsory to attend training around consent and coercion

“In the old days, you knew the rules,” says Nicholson. “It was the man’s responsibility to make the first move.

“For girls, it was how much flirting you could do without ending up in bed. And for boys, how little flirting you could get away with before ending up in bed. Boys in our generation weren’t shocked if you said no. But they did know on first dates you could be as optimistic as you liked but you weren’t getting anywhere.”

True.

These days, sexting seems to be a thing, with 40% of students polled admitting to sending intimate photos of themselves to someone they fancy.

By and large, however, a media lecturer said that most students are worried about money and getting ahead in life:

If students have any free time, says the lecturer, many spend it earning cash rather than having sex.

Her students – undergraduates and postgraduates – tend to be more worried about homesickness, juggling jobs and study, or whether they are going to have a successful career. “Sex is just not top of their radar.”

Furthermore, some things just do not change over the generations, including the reluctance between parents and children to discuss sexual intimacy. Dr Nicholson said:

“ … you don’t want the previous generation telling you what the moral code is. That’s very much for your own peer group to work out.”

For parents, it’s hard to know whether to be relieved that one’s young adult children are not having sex at university, or worried that they’re not having enough fun, or that no intimate relationships could mean they are lonely.

The truth is, ask parents today about their student children’s sex lives and most don’t have a clue. Some report that their kids are approaching sex with gusto, others say their children are more worried about debt, career, and the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

“I can honestly say that I have never worried that the pandemic, for instance, has scuppered my son’s chances of getting laid or put the kibosh on his prospective promiscuity,” says Rebecca*, a mother of a second-year undergraduate at the University of Birmingham.

“I don’t think young women need men and sex in that way,” says Tess, mother of a second-year student. “They are a lot less needy of male approval to get their self-esteem as they were in the past. Then, having a boyfriend, being thought ‘hot’ was really important. These young women are much better educated and empowered now. If my daughter meets someone she likes, then fine, but she’s not worried about it.”

And finally, some students will find comfort in this research. It will put to rest their FOMO (fear of missing out):

I don’t know what to think about this report. My friends and I enjoyed dating and parties at university. It was a good opportunity to find out more about the opposite sex in a relatively safe environment. Better there than outside in the big, bad world where anything can happen, sometimes adversely.

Perhaps I’m showing my age.

Maybe I can just squeak by with this, as a local eatery near us is advertising Valentine’s Day dinner specials through the weekend.

I saw Jamie Glazov’s Front Page article about Valentine’s Day on February 15: ‘Hating Valentine’s: Why Islamists and the Radical Left loathe the Day of Love’.

Glazov starts by giving a near-comprehensive review of penalties for and protests against celebrating Valentine’s Day in Muslim countries. I’ll let you read that in your own time.

The more puzzling aspect, which he explains nicely, is why the notionally tolerant Left don’t like February 14. Aren’t they the ones in favour of love?

Glazov tells us (emphases mine):

As an individual who spent more than a decade in academia, I was privileged to witness this war against Valentine’s Day up close and personal. Feminist icons like Jane Fonda, meanwhile, help lead the assault on Valentine’s Day in society at large. As David Horowitz has documented, Fonda has led the campaign to transform this special day into “V-Day” (“Violence against Women Day”) — which is, when it all comes down to it, a day of hate, featuring a mass indictment of men.

Why, oh why, oh why?

Because:

Islam and the radical Left both revile the notion of private love, a non-tangible and divine entity that draws individuals to each other and, therefore, distracts them from submitting themselves to a secular deity.

Valentine’s Day is a day of two people celebrating their love and devotion to each other — not to a collective or to a government regime. Therefore, opponents want it stopped.

Incidentally, I wrote about the St Valentines various and the traditions behind the day. The following post from 2015 discusses the different St Valentines, all of whom brought two people together in the name of love:

A bit of history about Valentine’s Day

The next post, from 2016, describes ancient traditions surrounding Valentine’s Day and the meaning of ‘x’, symbolic of the cross of St Andrew:

More history about Valentine’s Day

From its post-Lupercalian origin, Valentine’s Day has been about two people and their fidelity to each other.

This brings us neatly back to the present day and the totalitarian resistance — whether religious or socio-political — to the Day of Love.

Glazov explains:

The highest objective of both Islam and the radical Left is clear: to shatter the sacred intimacy that a man and a woman can share with one another, for such a bond is inaccessible to the order. History, therefore, demonstrates how Islam, like Communism, wages a ferocious war on any kind of private and unregulated love. In the case of Islam, the reality is epitomized in its monstrous structures of gender apartheid and the terror that keeps it in place. Indeed, female sexuality and freedom are demonized and, therefore, forced veiling, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other misogynist monstrosities become mandatory parts of the sadistic paradigm.

Totalitarian regimes are similar:

In Stalinist Russia, sexual pleasure was portrayed as unsocialist and counter-revolutionary. More recent Communist societies have also waged war on sexuality — a war that Islam, as we know, wages with similar ferocity. These totalist structures cannot survive in environments filled with self-interested, pleasure-seeking individuals who prioritize devotion to other individual human beings over the collective and the state. Because the leftist believer viscerally hates the notion and reality of personal love and “the couple,” he champions the enforcement of totalitarian puritanism by the despotic regimes he worships.

Some may say that the earliest Communists promoted promiscuity — and abortion. Yes, they did, but note that a) promiscuity violates tender, loving fidelity between two people and b) abortion prevents the fruit of that beautiful union.

Glazov goes on to discuss famous dystopian novels, each of which involves a totalitarian state that forbids love between two adults. HG Wells’s novels described the totalitarian atmosphere. A Russian literary editor and novelist, Yevgeny Zamyatin, who had edited translations of Wells’s works in Russian, was inspired to take the concepts further in his 1924 novel We, which the early Soviet government banned. Zamyatin’s novel describes a couple who experience devotion to each other. Because this is illegal, the protagonist D-503 must undergo the Great Operation, which deadens the parts of the brain dedicated to passion, imagination and, by extension, love. D-503’s lover O-90 gives birth to his child. O-90 cannot bear to give their child up to the state, so D-503 manages to get her and their child smuggled out of the state to safety.

We inspired other dystopian works, the most famous of which are Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. Those also contain story lines of forbidden love.

Totalitarianism encourages promiscuity, but not faithful love. Religious totalitarianism values sexual segregation, but not mutual devotion:

And that is why love presents such a threat to the totalitarian order: it dares to serve itself. It is a force more powerful than the all-pervading fear that a totalitarian order needs to impose in order to survive. Leftist and Muslim social engineers, therefore, in their twisted and human-hating imaginations, believe that the road toward earthly redemption (under a classless society or Sharia) stands a chance only if private love and affection is purged from the human condition.

However, as we know, that is impossible. We are hard-wired to be like Adam and Eve. God created them so they could be loving, supportive companions who could create a family.

This brings us to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Those of us who are old enough to remember recall slogans of ‘free love’ and so on. Various sexual positions, some of them non-procreational, were vaunted. If couples weren’t engaging in these, they were not ‘doing it right’. The Joy of Sex was a newlywed’s go-to book in the 1970s. Swingers’ clubs were popular amongst small segments of the middle class.

And, yes, there were swingers living near my home in the 1970s. My parents and I knew two. This middle-aged couple — second marriage for both, grown children — tried to recruit my parents. Mum and Dad were appalled. My mother tried to engage the couple in a philosophical discussion about the nature of love and marriage. Their response was, ‘Who needs it?’ Not surprisingly, they divorced and moved away within the year. If I remember rightly, the woman started cavorting with a fellow swinger and left her husband. He was very angry with her and changed his tune. ‘What happened to her fidelity to me?’ he asked my parents. Lesson learned? For him, yes. For her, it came afterwards when her swinger boyfriend dumped her. That was the last we heard of or about them.

The sexual revolution — still continuing today, with teenagers engaging in oral or copulative sex as if it were nothing — is something sensible people must resist. Sex education in schools is not designed to tell children about the birds and the bees in a biological way. It is intended to subvert the sanctity of married life and bringing children into the world.

During this same era, Bill Ayers — a longtime educator who goes on public speaking tours across America — was a radical who escaped a prison sentence on a technicality. You can read more about him here:

Obama friend Bill Ayers’s magnum opus: Prairie Fire

Obama friend Bill Ayers’s commitment to radicalism … and state education

He was one of the leaders of the Weather Underground, a group of violent radicals. Glazov tells us:

as Peter Collier and David Horowitz demonstrate in Destructive Generation, the Weather Underground not only waged war against American society through violence and mayhem, but also waged war on private love within its own ranks. Bill Ayers, one of the leading terrorists in the group, argued in a speech defending the campaign:

Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective.

That was at the time of the ‘free love’ sexual revolution in the late 1960s.

Similarly, promiscuity was the order of the day in communes, also popular then, whether large or small. Invariably, even though they started out with an egalitarian programme, all of them ended up with an alpha male leader who seduced the women in the group, creating a harem. Other men ended up being marginalised. Couples were fractured. People got hurt emotionally. Some required deep therapy to bring them back to a trusting, loving state of mind.

Although I digress somewhat, these vignettes from half a century ago tell us that we should be wary of deviating from a biblical norm when it comes to love.

Now to the present day. A bewildering series of protests have been taking place over the past few months. The most bemusing involve feminists veiling themselves as if they were Muslim. Why?

Glazov explains that totalitarian regimes rely on clothing that conceals one’s sexuality. Historically:

As sociologist Paul Hollander has documented in his classic Political Pilgrims, fellow travelers were especially enthralled with the desexualized dress that the Maoist regime imposed on its citizens. This at once satisfied the leftist’s desire for enforced sameness and the imperative of erasing attractions between private citizens. As I have demonstrated in United in Hate, the Maoists’ unisex clothing finds its parallel in fundamentalist Islam’s mandate for shapeless coverings to be worn by both males and females. The collective “uniform” symbolizes submission to a higher entity and frustrates individual expression, mutual physical attraction, and private connection and affection. And so, once again, the Western leftist remains not only uncritical, but completely supportive of — and enthralled in — this form of totalitarian puritanism.

With regard to today’s female protesters:

This is precisely why leftist feminists today do not condemn the forced veiling of women in the Islamic world; because they support everything that forced veiling engenders.

As Glazov points out, even European law enforcement officers have been advising women to cover up so they won’t be targets of immigrant Muslim men.

Before I conclude, it is essential at this point to offer documented proof that, 40 years ago, Muslim women — except for those out in the sticks — wore normal Western clothing. I wrote about this in 2015 with loads of links to photographs:

From the modern to the mediaeval in 40 years

Today, I saw two more items relating to Muslim women’s attire during that time. Rare Historical Photos has a good piece, ‘Women protesting forced hijab days after the Iranian Revolution, 1979’. Here’s an unrelated tweet from someone too young, perhaps, to know what I remember from my youth:

Glazov concludes that:

Valentine’s Day is a “shameful day” for the Muslim world and for the radical Left. It is shameful because private love is considered obscene, since it threatens the highest of values: the need for a totalitarian order to attract the complete and undivided attention, allegiance and veneration of every citizen. Love serves as the most lethal threat to the tyrants seeking to build Sharia and a classless utopia on earth, and so these tyrants yearn for the annihilation of every ingredient in man that smacks of anything that it means to be human …

This day reminds us that we have a weapon, the most powerful arsenal on the face of the earth, in front of which despots and terrorists quiver and shake, and sprint from in horror into the shadows of darkness, desperately avoiding its piercing light.

That arsenal is love

Love will prevail.

Long Live Valentine’s Day.

With work schedules and business trips such as they are, some readers might be celebrating a Valentine’s weekend. I wish you a very happy time. May it be love-filled today and always.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis - closeup detail of a HibiscusCAUTION: This post contains adult content.

It was tempting to blog on this the day I read it in the Guardian, June 3, 2013. However, seasoned newshounds often discover that there is often an addendum to a breaking story. Michael Douglas’s interview(s) with the Guardian were no different.

The actor, as many know, is currently recovering from cancer. The Guardian journalist who interviewed him, Xan Brooks, wondered what caused it (emphases mine):

The throat cancer, I assume, was first seeded during those wild middle years, when he drank like a fish and smoked like the devil. Looking back, knowing what he knows now, does he feel he overloaded his system?

“No,” he says. “No. Because, without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”

From what? For a moment I think that I may have misheard.

“From cunnilingus. I mean, I did worry if the stress caused by my son’s incarceration didn’t help trigger it. But yeah, it’s a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer.” He shrugs. “And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it.”

On June 4, an article from Yahoo!UK appeared which stated Douglas took issue with the quote.

Before I get to the article, the first thought that popped into my mind when reading the Guardian interview was, ‘What will his wife and ex-wife think?’ (One of them responded — another Guardian article.)

The interview did not mention a timeline or any further comment. All I could think was, ‘Hmm, someone is sure to let them know’. I was not alone in that respect; read the comments and innuendo from Yahoo! readers — not nice at all. Gentlemen, if this ever happens to you, be careful with how you phrase it, especially if you are married.

The Yahoo! article stated in part:

Michael Douglas has denied that he said his throat cancer was caused by oral sex.

The actor’s representative Allen Burry told the Associated Press that Douglas was talking about the causes of the type of cancer he had, but not the cause of his cancer specifically.

Douglas was said to have made the remarks during an interview with The Guardian’s film writer Xan Brooks.

“In a discussion with the newspaper,” said Burry, “they talked about the causes of oral cancer, one of which was oral sex, which is noted and has been known for a while now.”

In response, however, The Guardian has said that it stands by the quote, and that the actor was not misrepresented in any way

Brooks and Douglas, the Guardian says, were the only people present for the interview. The newspaper, the article added, made the audio public. A transcript reveals the quote was the same as you read above.

When doctors first widely recommended pap — or cervical — smears sometime in the 1960s, they were for all women of childbearing age.  They still are, of course.

The difference today, however, is that there has been a rhetorical shift — a connection between sexual activity and HPV — which was not present before. I knew an older nun who died of cervical cancer in the 1980s. Believe me, she was one of the holiest people I knew. Gynecologists often advised women who had not yet borne children that their risk for the cancer was higher than it was for mothers.

Another difference we have seen along with this transfer of blame to oral sex and HPV over the past few years is the increase in sexual activity outside of intercourse. You know, people get bored with intercourse, so they mix it up a bit. Younger women who are unsure whether to go full-on with a man opt for oral sex instead. I won’t go into detail, but there’s a mutual pleasure aspect to be had there. The guy does his bit, too.

I can assure you that oral sex didn’t become an alternative among nice gels (‘girls’) until the late 1960s. Many women over the age of 50 are probably of two minds in their enjoyment of it, even when they’re on the receiving end. It is something a number of them engaged in during courtship and quickly put aside after their honeymoons. Their mothers definitely didn’t do it unless they were of a more bohemian nature, and that in itself contradicts the ‘nice gel’ definition. Their grandmothers would never have thought of such an activity which, to them, would have been more suited to a bordello.

Yet today, young women think of it — on their dates or from their dates to them — as little more than a goodnight kiss after an evening out.

It is not yet clear what is going on with the sudden development of HPV-16 and cunnilingus, however, another Douglas-related Guardian article states:

Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, confirmed that the last decade has seen a dramatic rise in this form of cancer, particularly among younger sufferers. Recent studies of 1,316 patients with oral cancer found that 57% of them were HPV-16 positive.

It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the HPV type 16 is the causative agent in oropharyngeal cancer,” said Kumar, who also testified to increased recovery rates among this kind of cancer sufferer. This would help explain why Douglas was given an 80% chance of survival, despite the advanced stage of his illness.

But Kumar expressed scepticism that Douglas’s cancer was caused solely by HPV, and surprise at Douglas’s assertion that cunnilingus could also help cure the condition. “Maybe he thinks that more exposure to the virus will boost his immune system. But medically, that just doesn’t make sense.”

The reason I am unsure about any of this — accept, but verify, preferably over time — is that it could be the same diffy science going on here that has been going on with tobacco and now food and drink. Yes, some of these physicians do know what they are talking about but some are also reading from ‘studies’, and we know what they have been like over the years.

In a third Guardian Douglas-related article, we find out more about the oral sex connection. I could be mistaken (and so could the experts!), but it appears to be HPV-16:

The world of sexually transmitted infections is being turned upside down by the growing popularity of oral sex. All kinds of infections usually considered in terms of genitals are increasingly colonising the mouth. Herpes, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and, yes, the human papillomavirus – which is implicated in cervical cancer and can cause genital warts – can be transmitted through oral sex.

Evidence of the link between HPV and oral cancer has been building for several decades. While head and neck cancers have been declining since the 1970s along with smoking rates, scientists have noticed an increase in a particular type of oral cancer. Known as “oral squamous cell carcinoma”, it is linked to the same strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer.

Prof Andrew Grulich, who heads the HIV epidemiology and prevention program run by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, says that the majority of cancers in the back of the throat, the oropharynx in technical terms, are now caused by this virus. “Twenty years ago it was thought to be about 20% and now, depending on where you are, it seems to be 60-70%,” he says. This type of cancer is associated with having a larger number of sexual partners, and more oral sex, he says. “In terms of increased oral sex there’s solid data that an increasing proportion of people report oral sex than 20 to 30 years ago, especially for younger people.”

Older people who have oral sex are not immune. In 2010 a Taiwanese study noted the cases of two middle-aged couples, oral sex veterans with a history of more than 20 years of oral sex, where the wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer and the husband was diagnosed with oral cancer within a short period of time.

But it is not a simple case of “catching” cancer from cunnilingus. The human papilloma virus is so ubiquitous it has been found in the mouths of newborn babies. And while many sexually active adults carry the virus, very few will develop cancer.

So, how can you protect yourself?

A fourth Douglas-related Guardian article — they really got a lot of mileage out of this story (be sure to read all of this one, however) — says in part:

HPV and you

There are more than 100 variants of HPV, otherwise known as the human papilloma virus, and they appear in different parts of the body and manifest in different ways – some, for example, can cause warts (including genital warts), while in most cases most appear symptomless.

Some are spread simply by skin-to-skin contact, while others are typically spread during sex. It’s these latter types that are typically found in the mouth, suggesting that when HPV is found in the mouth, it’s probably got there as a result of oral sex. HPV can also be spread to the relevant areas through vaginal and anal sex ...

HPV and cancer

Around 15 types of HPV are linked to increased cancer risk, and it’s been associated with oral cancers, cervical and vaginal cancers, as well as anal and penile cancers.

HPV increases cancer risk, but can’t be explictly said to have caused any particular cancers (though some variants are HPV-related and others not): just because someone with cancer also has HPV doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t have got it anyway.

It’s also a long-term risk factor: over years and decades the risk is increased, rather than overnight.

Men vs women

Overall, HPV-related oral cancers are most common in heterosexual men in their 40s and 50s, leading the NHS guide to conclude that:

This indicates that performing cunnilingus (oral sex on a woman) is more risky that performing fellatio (oral sex on a man). This seems counterintuitive, but the concentration of HPV in the thinner moist skin of the vulva is mugh higher than the amounts of virus shed from the thicker dry skin of the penis, and this affects how easy it is to pass the virus on.

There are times when I cannot help but think that we weren’t intended for these sexual gymnastics even when we can perform them. There generally seems to be some disease associated with going outside the monogamous marital norm of traditional sexual intercourse.

I shall be following this more closely in future but can only advise one thing:

Mind how you go. Be careful.

Pastor Timothy V Shockley Sr of the Midwestern Bible Institute has a site with good advice about the Christian life.

I wanted to share two of his recent posts with you. The first is entitled ‘Sex is not love’, particularly pertinent since most of us have grown up with an onslaught, if not overdose, of what used to be known as ‘free love’ 40-odd years ago.

Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

How often do we encounter this scenario in books or on film: A man meets a woman and they hit it off “well. The next thing we know, they are in bed together. This is our “tip off” that they are “in love.” They must be in love; they’re having sex, aren’t they? It may be an adulterous relationship with one or both of them married to someone else, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they are in love. They go to bed, have their fling, get up the next morning, and everything is fine.

That’s the picture the world paints. What these books and films rarely if ever reveal is the negative side to these kinds of encounters. In real life, sexual liaisons of this type produce in most people feelings of guilt, shame, and a sense of being dirty, not to mention a deep absence of fulfillment. It may be “fun” for a moment, but it leaves them feeling empty, and often they don’t know why.

The idea of sex as love is one of the biggest lies with which the world has perverted God’s original design for sexual expression, enjoyment, and fulfillment. Love—true love—is spiritual in nature. Sex is not. Sex is 100 percent physical and chemical. That is why we run into problems whenever we try to equate love with sex. Love is a spiritual union between two people—a joining of spirit to spirit. Sex is a physical coupling of two people—a joining of flesh to flesh. In its proper use, sex is a beautiful and fulfilling physical expression of the spiritual joining that is true love. Understanding this distinction will help us guard against falling prey to a lot of the weird ideas floating around out there that try to convince us that sex is (or can be) some fantastic kind of “spiritual bonding” or getting in touch with the spiritual realities of life. It is nothing of the sort. Sex is an exhilarating physical experience, but in and of itself there is nothing spiritual about it. Sexual activity never bonds us spirit to spirit with another person. Nowhere does the Bible teach that a sexual experience will cause us to see God or be brought close to Him. Sex is a product of the human part of our makeup and has nothing to do with our spirit.

Tomorrow: ‘A Happy Marriage Is No Accident’

A few days ago I ran across this item on the FamilyGP site in the UK highlighting a recent survey done by the Children’s Society.

The article says, in part:

Children aged between eight and 15 were quizzed about the ‘essentials’ of life for someone their age.

A list of the ten ‘must-have’ possessions was then drawn up – including iPod, pocket money, family holidays, a satellite TV, garden and “the right kind of clothes”.

After surveying 5,500 boys and girls, researchers found that those children lacking two or more of the items were “significantly more likely to be unhappy” than those given everything they wanted.

And those without five or more of the ‘must-haves’ were five times more likely to have “low levels of wellbeing”.

It is the first time children themselves have been polled about what they see as deprivation.

The mind boggles. Let us hope that this definition of ‘deprivation’ does not become a legitimate measure of ‘poverty’. Most kids in the UK, even those living under the poverty level, have access to a TV, a telephone, a council flat, hot water and heat — as well as the latest trainers and, often as not, some sort of electronic gadget.

Another recent survey in the December issue of Tatler, the British high-society magazine, profiled 250 students from public (private boarding) schools.  Not available online, it can be found on pages 125-130 of the print copy.  It’s a fascinating read.

I’ll largely skip the sections on what I considered to be commonplace in the US when I was growing up — e.g. alcohol consumption, drug experimentation — and give you a few excerpts about the sexual aspect of the lives these students lead.

Before I get to the findings, though, this post is not a comment on class as much as it is on today’s mentality, no doubt fostered by parents and other authority figures who still follow — and promulgate — the 1960s maxim, ‘If it feels good, do it’.  We know now that such ideology comes to us courtesy of the Frankfurt School, whose influence helped give rise to youthful rebellions around Europe and the US in 1968.

Having said that, there is an element of ‘class’ to this.  Those who have studied class behaviour — among them Vance Packard, Paul Fussell and Jilly Cooper — have noted that the upper and lower strata of society adopt the same mores and attitudes. The more middle classes concern themselves with propriety, reputation and closer family cohesion.  Yet, the extreme mores of the upper and lower classes eventually trickle down to most of the population: ‘Everyone’s doing it’.

Without further ado, this is what Tatler found among the nearly 250 students they interviewed:

– ‘Nearly half had had their stomachs pumped, or knew someone who had’ (p. 125)

– Eighty-eight per cent approve of homosexuality (p. 125)

– Two-thirds have had a same-sex encounter (p. 125)

– Over 75% said they had hoped to have children someday, yet ‘over 50% had taken the morning-after pill or knew someone who had’.  Furthermore, nearly a third had ‘had an abortion or knew someone else who had’. (p. 125)

– Nearly two-thirds were sexually active and more than a third of them were under the age of consent (p. 125)

– Eighteen per cent have had more than four sexual partners.  An additional five per cent have had more than 10.  (p.125)

– Everyone received a monthly allowance, yet 31% admitted to shoplifting. (p. 128)

So, these will be our national — perhaps international — leaders of tomorrow.

Additionally — sad though it is — these are likely to be our social attitudes of tomorrow.

The more of the omissions I see from the standard three-year Lectionary, the more I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during these committee meetings of clergy deciding what would go in and what would stay out.

Although many denominationally-minded Christians deride Evangelicalism, the more orthodox independent churches really do preach the Bible and all of it.  So, for them, today’s selection is probably a passage with which they are familiar.

For the rest of us, however, it’s part of the Forbidden Bible Verses, which, as we read them, we discover how essential they are to our understanding of Scripture.

Today’s reading comes from the ESV (English Standard Version) with exegetical commentary from Matthew Henry.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

A Life Pleasing to God

 1Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

 9Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

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Regular readers of this Saturday night – Sunday column will recognise that holiness and self-control have been a recurring theme throughout this year.  Most recently, Forbidden Bible Verses has featured the letters of St Peter on this subject: 1 Peter 1:10-16, 1 Peter 2:11-18, 1 Peter 3:1-7 and 2 Peter 1:1-12.  And if you have been reading the weekday posts regularly, you’ll find that many — if not all — of the biblically-oriented ones recently have contained verses from St Paul’s letters.  These are not dried-up verses from history but are still relevant to us today.  So, those churchgoers who hear these preached on a Sunday are indeed fortunate.

Paul loved all his converts but saw that the Thessalonians were exemplary in their Christianity.  They were not legalists; rather, the fruit of their faith through God’s grace existed in them to such an extent that they were even known in other regions for their holiness.  Paul recognises this in verse 1.  However, he doesn’t simply say, ‘Okay, you’ve learned the lessons from the disciples and me — well done.’  No, he encourages them to please God even further ‘through the instructions’ he and the disciples gave ‘through the Lord Jesus’ (verse 2).  Therefore, he is saying, ‘Although we’re telling you how to become holy, we’re only messengers for Christ.  It is He who told us what to do.’

Paul mentions sanctification in verse 3.  Sanctification, sometimes called ‘conversion’ by Catholics and Anglo-Catholics, is a lifetime process.  We will leave this mortal coil without ever having achieved it, because of our innate depravity as humans.  However, that should not stop us from praying for continuous grace and an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to bear more godly fruit as faithful Christians.

It is difficult, because we often look back over past sins and transgressions thinking, ‘How could I have done that?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t I do such-and-such?  That was a sin of omission’.  Yet, Matthew Henry counsels us against too much introspection, especially for perfectionists (emphases mine):

The very best of us should forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before.

We can do this by regular prayer, even short spontaneous ones. The father of the mute boy whom Jesus healed in Mark 9 prayed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” We, too, in the course of our daily lives can pray for added grace, discernment and a better use of the Holy Spirit’s gifts: ‘Lord, help me to be holy!’  Just a simple prayer with regular Bible reading and study will help us greatly over time.

There is no magic formula or silver bullet for holiness.  We are all at different stages of our sanctification.  Some of us were born with patience, others must try a bit harder.  Some have better resistance to sin than others.  Some indulge less in food and drink than others.  Some people work on toning down a lust for possessions; others are not as affected. Some struggle with sexual sins, others do not. So, the stages of holiness and sanctification are no doubt largely individual. This is why holiness is not a matter of ticking boxes and fulfilment of laws as laid down by legalistically-minded churches which lay down a lot of ‘musts’ and ‘must-nots’, from attire to food to entertainment.

However, Paul’s immediate focus in this passage is combatting sexual immorality in order to be pleasing to God: ‘in holiness and honor’.  Yesterday’s post covered two of the Ten Commandments — those relating to adultery and coveting someone else’s spouse.  Admonitions against sexual sin occur throughout the New Testament, including warnings from Jesus of judgment for those who commit them.  Sexual sin is a great obstacle to holiness and one of the Devil’s best tricks.  Many people rationlise sexual sin, and it is an easy habit to get into.

Matthew Henry describes the sins of which Paul speaks:

That you should abstain from fornication (v. 3), by which we are to understand all uncleanness whatsoever, either in a married or unmarried state. Adultery is of course included, though fornication is particularly mentioned. And other sorts of uncleanness are also forbidden, of which it is a shame even to speak, though they are done by too many in secret. All that is contrary to chastity in heart, speech, and behaviour, is contrary to the command of God in the decalogue, and contrary to that holiness which the gospel requires.

Paul instructs the Thessalonians against beastliness — sexual activity borne of sheer lust — which many pagans (the Gentiles referred to here) engaged in readily.  Not too different from some unbelievers today, then. He reminds them that sexual sin is often a transgression against one’s neighbour.  Furthermore, he has warned them about the dangers of engaging in serious sin.  God knows everything that happens and anyone engaging in such sins will be called to account (verse 6).  For more of Paul’s references to this subject, read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 1 Corinthians 6:9-201 Corinthians 7:1-16 and Ephesians 5:1-21.

Henry explains the gravity of sexual sin:

Every one should be careful in this matter, as he values his own honour and will not be contemptible on this account, that his inferior appetites and passions gain not the ascendant, tyrannizing over his reason and conscience, and enslaving the superior faculties of his soul. What can be more dishonourable than for a rational soul to be enslaved by bodily affections and brutal appetites?

Not only are fornication and other acts of uncleanness sins against his own body who commits them (1 Co. 6:18), not only are they very injurious to the sinner himself both in soul and body, but sometimes they are very injurious, and no less than defrauding, acts of injustice to others, particularly to those who are joined together in the marriage covenant and to their posterity. And, as this sin is of such a heinous nature, so it follows that God will be the avenger of it. Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, Heb. 13:4. This the apostle had forewarned and testified by his gospel, which, as it contained exceedingly great and precious promises, so also it revealed from heaven the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness among men, Rom. 1:18.

In verse 7, St Paul reiterates the call to holiness.  In the next verse, he says that anyone who ignores this call is ultimately disregarding God, as it is His command from Leviticus 11:44, which Peter also referred to in 1 Peter 1:16:

For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.

Paul adds that the Lord has given us help in the form of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to use His gifts to the fullest extent possible during our lives.

In verse 9, Paul commends the Thessalonians for their abundance of brotherly Christian love, to which we all aspire and they had the grace to put into practice.  He mentions that their reputation is known throughout all of Macedonia (verse 10), yet, he asks them not to rest on their laurels but to increase that love, making it even more abundant. Here, Matthew Henry distinguishes God’s grace working through the Thessalonians from what we might consider today a manmade humanistic virtue:

It was not so much their own virtue as God’s grace; yet he takes notice of the evidence they gave of the grace of God in them … Whoever does that which is good is taught of God to do it, and God must have the glory. All who are savingly taught of God are taught this lesson, to love one another. This is the livery of Christ’s family. Note also, The teaching of the Spirit exceeds the teaching of men; and, as no man should teach contrary to what God teaches, so none can teach so effectually as he teaches; and men’s teaching is fain and useless unless God teach also.

In verses 11 and 12, St Paul teaches something which we hear very little of today in our increasingly interventionist and ‘hand-out’ society.  He tells the Thessalonians to live quiet lives and mind their own business.  Now, this was something I and, no doubt, many of you were taught, too.  But, today we have the State encouraging us to turn in a neighbour for various petty crimes.  Or the health pages of the newspaper or television documentaries advise us to get more involved in each other’s lives through ‘nudging’ and peer pressure.  But Paul advises differently.  The Thessalonians are to work further on their own holiness, which can only be done through quiet reflection and an unceasing dependence on God’s grace.  Today, that is considered ‘selfish’, which is no doubt how many Christians come to be so-called.

Furthermore, Paul instructs the Thessalonians to be ‘dependent on no one’ (verse 12).  If your money is your own through your own work, you will never be ashamed to walk out of your house and greet the world.  Of course, today, many believe it is their ‘entitlement’ to live off the State not just for a year or two but for a lifetime.  And the rest of us are conditioned to be ‘compassionate’ about this state of affairs.

I shall leave the closing words to Matthew Henry on these controversial verses:

The exhortation is enforced with a double argument; namely, (1.) So we shall live creditably. Thus we shall walk honestly, or decently and creditably, towards those that are without, v. 12. This will be to act as becomes the gospel, and will gain a good report from those that are strangers, yea, enemies to it. Note, It is a great ornament to religion when the professors of it are of meek and quiet spirits, diligent to do their own business, and not busy-bodies in other men’s matters. (2.) We shall live comfortably, and have lack of nothing, v. 12. People often by their slothfulness bring themselves into narrow circumstances, and reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants, when such as are diligent in their own business live comfortably and have lack of nothing. They are not burdensome to their friends, nor scandalous to strangers. They earn their own bread, and have the greatest pleasure in so doing.

A lesson for us all these days.

If you are reading this post on May 21, 2011, the world may end within the next 24 hours … or not.  Evangelist (and ex-Calvinist) Harold Camping’s acolytes are out in force with final warnings from their pastor’s predictions.  As I write, this is the latest news from Yahoo! News:

All over New York, preachers armed with T-shirts, brochures, books and posters are preaching the end of the world. Using a complex numerical calculation from the Bible, there are even advertisements on the New York city subway warning of the “great earthquake” that accompanies the advent of Judgement Day.

From what I have read, Mr Camping has been mistaken before.  If he’s correct this time, then he truly is blessed with the gift of prophecy.  But, as the Bible tells us, no man will know when the world will end.

With that, we move on to another hot news topic this week, that of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn — DSKwho, by the time you read this, will have been released from Riker’s Island Prison on bail:

A judge in New York set bail at $1m and imposed an insurance bond of $5m.

Strauss-Kahn will be placed under 24-hour home detention with electronic tagging – conditions he had already agreed to …

He is spending one more night at the notorious Rikers Island prison, where he has been on suicide watch, before being released from custody after paperwork is signed.

His lawyers welcomed the decision to grant bail, saying they were “very relieved” and expect to return to court on June 6, when their client will formally answer charges …

Strauss-Kahn’s wife and daughter were in court for the hearing.

The family have a home in Manhattan.  Yesterday’s (Friday’s) RMC Grandes Gueules (‘Big Mouths’) programme discussed the role of the wronged wife — Anne Sinclair — in this drama.  One chap said that she was following in the footsteps of mythology from time immemorial.  The panel agreed that she is valiantly taking up her responsibilities as a dutiful wife by supporting her husband.  Her support can only help him should the case come to trial: the public perception, the press coverage, the opinion of the jury.

Of course, we still have the role of money and power in all this.  The all-male RMC panel considered whether power gives some men the impression that they can betray their wives, then buy their way out of trouble.  Another man rang in to say that marital infidelity happens every day in France — to the poor as well as the rich.  And, it is on this note that we come to the delicate subject of marital fidelity and sexual continence.

I have posted an image of DSK’s prisoner movement slip (click to enlarge, courtesy of ExtremeCentre.org) not for sensationalist purposes but as a warning of what can happen in the worst case scenario.

About a year ago, I had a conversation with someone from another Latin country in Europe about sexual incontinence.  He told me that his local Catholic priests counsel men about concupiscence — on which much has been written in a theological context — and say, ‘Okay, it happens.  Don’t worry about it — it’s natural.’ (It should be noted that their laissez-faire outlook is not part of Roman Catholic doctrine.) This attitude is rather widespread throughout the Latin countries of Europe.  In fact, since the DSK debacle broke, the French have not hesitated to criticise what they see as the ‘Anglo-Saxon prudery’ of the United States and the United Kingdom. (Never mind all the sexual activity that actually going on in these countries!) The Latin attitude to marital infidelity, on the other hand, is much more ‘mature’ and ‘realistic’ — two fine words in which to dress up sin.

However, the difference in interpretation may be one of the clearest demarcations of attitudes between Northern and Southern Europe — Reformation countries versus Roman Catholic countries. And, once we move into the former British colonies — especially the United States, based on Protestant biblical principles — the attitude towards this subject as well as to equality under the law, reflects this quite clearly.  This is true even though the American interpretation of law is now considered humanist.  It did have its origins with the Puritans and the deists among the Founding Fathers, all of whom knew their Scripture.

Before starting, I have known a handful of women personally — in the US and France — affected by marital infidelity.  The Frenchwoman said some years ago, ‘I know it goes on in my country all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me.  I thought that my husband and I were different, that we loved each other.  I have raised four children and been faithful to him.  Now he does this to me?’

Yet, sometimes the wife plays away or a single woman cannot control her sexual appetites, so this post is for women as well as men.

What is sexual incontinence?

The King James Bible Page defines sexual incontinency — or incontinence — as follows (emphases mine):

INCON’TINENCY, n. L. incontinentia. See Continence.

1. Want of restraint of the passions or appetites; free or uncontrolled indulgence of the passions or appetites, as of anger.

2. Want of restraint of the sexual appetite; free or illegal indulgence of lust; lewdness; used of either sex, but appropriately of the male sex. Incontinence in men is the same as unchastity in women.

3. Among physicians, the inability of any of the animal organs to restrain discharges of their contents, so that the discharges are involuntary; Also, the involuntary discharge itself; as an incontinence of urine in diabetes.

incontinent

INCON’TINENT, a. L. incontinens. Not restraining the passions or appetites, particularly the sexual appetite; indulging lust without restraint or in violation of law; unchaste; lewd.

1. Unable to restrain discharges.

In the sense of immediate or immediately,obs.

INCON’TINENT, n. One who is unchaste.

incontinently

INCON’TINENTLY, adv. Without due restraint of the passions or appetites; unchastely.

1. Immediately.

What the Ten Commandments say

It’s worth remembering that although Christians are no longer bound to the 613 tenets of Mosaic Law in the Old Testament, we are still obliged to obey the Ten Commandments, as Jesus Himself instructed us.  The Gospel of Matthew contains two references for our purposes:

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40)

and

16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

18“Which ones?” the man inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Matt. 19:16-19)

Please note that the exposition of the Ten Commandments differ from faith to faith, even within Christianity, although the content is the same. The Wikipedia link has a table halfway through which gives a breakdown.  As all good film buffs will know, God revealed them to Moses (Exodus 20:2-17; they are repeated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21).

Today we are interested in ‘You shall not commit adultery’ and ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife’.

Other passages in the Old Testament reinforce this message, one of them being:

But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (Proverbs 6:32)

What the New Testament says

In the Gospel of St Mark, we read Jesus’s words:

20And he said,  “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  (Mark 7:20-23)

St Paul advised the Ephesians:

 3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not become partners with them;  (Ephesians 5:3-7)

And to the Corinthians he wrote:

1Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again,so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

 6Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

 8To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.  (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

And to the Hebrews:

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  (Hebrews 13:4)

Man’s love for woman is as Christ’s for His Church

What we don’t understand enough of today is the marital relationship being modeled on Christ’s relationship with His Church, His Bride.  This is something which must be stressed again in premarital courses which churches provide.  It may still occur in some, but it has been devalued or ignored in others.  Yet, this is an essential part of Christian marriage.

I never understood this properly until a few years ago, even though I have been married much longer than that!  As Christ honours His Bride — the Church — and does nothing to harm Her, so a husband must honour his wife and cherish her.  So, a man is not to abuse his wife, cheat on her or neglect her.

Conversely, a woman’s role — like that of the Church — is to honour and obey her husband.  The Church is (supposed to be!) obedient to Christ through the faithful preaching of the Bible, notably the Gospel and the Epistles, not altering or reinterpreting them, but representing them as the truth by which we must live as Christians.

St Paul wrote to the Ephesians — commonly read at weddings but rarely explained in the sermon:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands,as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Similarly, St Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3, part of my Forbidden Bible Verses series:

1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

 7Likewise,  husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Although St Peter referred to the Old Testament stories in Genesis, the message is the same of mutual respect and emulating the prophets as being godly.  As I mentioned in that particular post:

Husbands receive only one verse of instruction towards their wives (verse 7). They are to approach their wives intelligently and honour them by bearing in mind the differences betweem the sexes (e.g. physical strength, business acumen, lack of income).  Yet, they are told to bear in mind that women, as well as men, are heirs to God’s kingdom and have a mediator in Christ Jesus.  The last phrase ‘that your prayers be not hindered’ is … that good and gracious living bring forth prayers worthy of God.  Too much marital strife hinders our focus on Him and His divine grace.

Tomorrow, in Forbidden Bible Verses we shall explore another passage relating to personal holiness, 1 Thessalonians 4, which includes these verses:

3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.  (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

So, if you are planning on getting married, are having problems in this area of your life or know of someone who is — man or woman — I hope that this gives you relevant points on which to reflect.

Tuesday: Reflections on marriage

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