What’s in a Name?

You may or may not have noticed, but my blog has recently changed names. I’ve actually never liked what it originally was: just my full name, Susannah Ailene Martin. Initially, I named it after myself for marketing purposes. I was creating a brand (or something like that). But then, I read all these wonderful blogs with inventive, funny, or creative name. Then there was mine. Just my name. Yay.

So I changed it. Now it is “Susannah Contra Mundum.” If you haven’t gone to google it yet, that means simply “Susannah Against the World” in Latin. The story of the name actually tracks back to a man from early Christian history named Athanasius*. He was a staunch opponent of a rather nasty, and unfortunately popular, heresy called Arianism, which essentially said that Jesus was just a creation, the best one mind you, but not one with God. When asked why he wouldn’t give in when it seemed like the whole world opposed him, Athanasius famously replied, “Then it is Athanasius against the world.”

I read the story of Athanasius in one of the essays in the giant C.S. Lewis book I finished over the summer, and it struck me: I can relate to him. Maybe I’m wrong, but it certainly feels like the world is against me and anyone who commits to the traditional morals of Christianity. It’s not popular to oppose gay marriage or abortion. Most people will look at you funny these days if you’re almost 20 years old like me and still a virgin. But I want to follow Christ and his teachings. I believe Jesus Christ is my eternal savior, that he bore my sins (along with the rest of the world’s) and died for me. The least I can do is follow the simple commands he left us in the Bible.

It’s never easy going against the world, but I’m willing to do it. And I hope there are a few of you out there who are willing to go along with me. I’ll mess up, sure. But I’m leaving this name on this site as a sort of promise. Feel free to call me out on it if you ever sense me wavering. I’ll count it as a favor.

* Other than the Athanasius connection, I also like the symmetry of giving this blog a similar name to my other one, Me Against the Page, which is my sorely neglected writing blog. It has it’s own What’s in a Name post which you can read.

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Why You Should Have a Prayer List

praying-hands-A few weeks ago, I added another piece of paper to my already very busy cork board in my room. It was a simple piece of notebook paper with the words “Prayer List” written at the top (well actually, mine says Prayer Lisf, because my fingers did something stupid, and I’m too lazy to fix it). The reason I added this list is that a friend was going through a tough time, and I told her that I was praying for her.

But I wasn’t.

I prayed for her once and then forgot about it. The next time I ran into her, I suddenly remembered about my pledge to pray for her and I felt guilty. But what was I supposed to do? I have a life, too. It’s not like it’s easy to remember all of the things that go wrong in my own life, much less other people’s. Then I shook my head. I was making up excuses. I realized that if I wanted to be a better, and more honest, friend, I needed to come up with a way to remember prayer requests. So I made a list.

My prayer list is very simple. I have two columns, one labeled “Name” and the other labeled “Need.” This way, I can keep track of who I’m praying for and why I’m praying for them. Then, I put it on the board that I look at every day, multiple times a day (yeah, I’m a little obsessive about school). Now, I can’t help but remember who I need to pray for. I would suggest this for anyone who feels like they need to work on their praying.

In addition to helping me remember to pray, I found that the prayer list helped out in two other ways. First, it made me more conscious of the people I’m praying for. When you know someone is going through something, but they are all cheery and normal when you talk to them, it’s easy to forget that anything is wrong. But now that I am always seeing my list and praying for them, I make sure to check up on them; to get updates for my list. Now, it’s easier to keep up with my friends and make sure they’re alright, and to be there for them if they aren’t.

The second area the list assisted me in is just remembering to pray. I’ll be honest; I don’t pray nearly as often as I probably should. However, I can’t help but see the list on my cork board, so it’s not hard to remember to pray. Although I originally made the list just to keep tabs on my friends’ prayer requests, it has actually reminded me to talk to God about things that are important to me too.

What about you? Do you ever forget to pray for someone when they asked? How do you keep tabs on your friends’ requests?

What’s My Gift?

We’ve been talking a lot about using our gifts in my evangelism class at Liberty, and it made me think, “How are you supposed to know what your gift is?” Now, I know what mine is. Or at the very least, I know what my primary one is. I write… Clearly. But there was a time when I didn’t know what it was, so I want to share my theory of gifts with you.

Let me start off by giving you a little scenario. It’s 3 am. You fell asleep four hours ago, and you have to get up in four more hours. Now you’re awake. You’re groggy and tired, but your mind won’t let you fall back to sleep. You’re thinking about something. You want to do something, just to get that thing out of your head.

What is it?

For me, it’s writing. I could literally write all day, every day. I can’t get the stuff in my head on paper fast enough. I just have to do it. That’s my gift. That’s my calling. What’s yours? What could you do any time of the day? I’m not just talking about things that would be appropriate for the time of the day. I’m talking about a compulsion to go out and get something done even if it’s midnight.

Is it singing? I have a friend that could sing the spots off of a Dalmatian. She’s doing it All. The. Time. It’s what I believe she was meant to do. Or maybe it’s art. My little sister makes the most amazing paintings and drawings. Case in point:

Source: Christina Martin Art & Design Facebook page

Source: Christina Martin Art & Design Facebook page

Maybe you’re a writer like me. Maybe the ideas come so hard and fast you don’t have time to catch your breath, much less write it all down.

It doesn’t have to be a talent, either. It could be an idea or a concept. Maybe it’s the needy that keep you up at night. Maybe your heart bleeds for starving children in Africa. You could have a message that the world desperately needs to hear. Heck, it could even be politics. I don’t know your heart.

The point is that whatever that thing is, the thing that won’t let you sleep, the thing that fills you with joy just to think about doing it, do it! And do it for the glory of God. Gifts are no good if you don’t use them.

P.S. If you liked that painting, go check out more of my little sister’s stuff by clicking here.

…And God is God

I usually try to distance myself from arguments concerning gay marriage. I mean this literally. As long as gays are not bothering me and they aren’t trying to force something on me, I don’t care what they do with each other. However, after having my Facebook news stream assaulted by pro-gay-rights advocates, they are starting to bother me. Therefore, this post shall sum up, in a nutshell, my views on gay marriage.

First, I want to stress that I will mainly talk about gay marriage from a Biblical perspective. I don’t want to mention the Constitutionality of the issue. I don’t believe in the first place that courts should have the right to regulate marriage. I want to explain why Christians should not back gay marriage. It shocks me that Christians can even consider supporting gay marriage. Homosexuality in general goes against the Bible in every way.

Let me begin there with a simple question. Did you know that many people are unaware that homosexuality is a sin? A recent survey from Nashville based LifeWay Research asked people if they believed that homosexual behavior is a sin. An astonishing 45% said no. 37% said that is was, and 17% said that they just didn’t know. Perhaps these numbers are not quite as astonishing as they look, given the decline in moral values this country has been going through. However, no matter what the public may think, the Bible is very clear on this issue.

The Bible states many times throughout the New and Old Testament that being gay is an immoral and unnatural sin. Don’t believe me. Look it up for yourself. Leviticus 18:22 calls it an “abomination.” In Roman 1:26-27, Paul warns that men and women who give up “natural relations” will receive “due penalty.” 1 Corinthians 6:9 also mentions homosexuality. It is very clear to me and hopefully to anyone who wishes to study the Bible on this issue that God deems homosexuality as aberrant and wicked.

My next point is on the subject of marriage. Many do not think that it matters one way or the other whether gays or lesbians marry or not. However, Christians should know that marriage is sacred as stated in Hebrews 13:4. Although the Bible never directly addresses the concept of gay marriage, it does make it very clear that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Verses such as Ephesians 5:23-33 always speak of a man and his wife, not a man and his partner. If anyone were to upset that dynamic, his or her actions would be considered sinful. On a more logical basis, I believe that if God had intended for gays and lesbians to marry, then He would have given Adam a choice. Instead, he gave him Eve, a woman. If God had meant for gays to marry, He would have made it so that a man and a man could procreate, but they can’t and neither can a woman and a woman. Men and women were made purposefully to complement and to need each other.

One defense I’ve heard for gay marriage is that it is wrong to not allow them the same rights. However, homosexuals do actually have the same rights under a civil union, which is not marriage. They are not harmed in any way by not being married. I have personally been told that not letting them marry is discrimination. How can it be discrimination if they have the exact same rights as a married couple? Many have likened the fight for gay marriage to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. However, the movements are very different. I disagree with gay marriage on religious principle, not because they are any particular race. There was no logical, or more importantly, Biblical reason for denying that blacks could marry each other or whites. In fact the Bible supports interracial marriages. For example, Moses married a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. If I had been alive in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled that blacks could marry whites, I would have cheered.

I have also heard that it is detrimental to the feelings of gays and lesbians that can’t marry. They say that “love is love,” and no one should stand in the way. The best response I’ve heard to this came from one of my friends. He said, “And God is God.” This means that feelings are not important if God deems an action a sin.

One gay-rights advocate told me that I shouldn’t care whether they sinned or not, because it wasn’t my sin. My response was, “Are you kidding me?” If we say that it doesn’t matter if other people sin, it’s just like saying it’s okay for other people to sin. If it was okay to sin, then there would be no reason to outlaw murder. Sinning is wrong. If we accepted that sinning was okay, then we could theoretically be perfect, and the Bible states that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” If we were perfect, then we would never have needed Jesus to save us and that he did not need to die on the cross. Saying that sinning is fine is the same as saying that Christ’s death was in vain.

I’d like to end this monologue on a thoughtful note. I believe that we should be careful to be respectful when discussing this topic with someone who does not believe the same as we do (if you agree with me). Although the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, it also teaches us that we have to love our neighbors. This topic and others like it can bring out strong feelings that are hard to suppress. We must learn to make our point without name-calling or being rude. As I recently learned, the best way to argue is to pick a topic you feel strongly about and argue as if you didn’t. This means staying professional and cordial on the outside no matter how worked up you get on the inside.