Sex Matters, But Marriage Matters More

older couple's hands

We are witnessing the deconstruction of marriage. But, how did it happen and why? Can we place the blame on those who advocate same-sex “marriage”? Are they the only ones chipping away at the institution of marriage?

Long before society began to tolerate the “marriage” of two men or two women, it accepted cohabitation, adultery, and no-fault divorce. It accepted the lie that we are, first and foremost, sexual beings who have the “right” to love, be loved, and have our needs met. Society, however, would not be left in such darkness if we in the Church had trusted the Light and resisted the sexualization of marriage.

What does this mean? In 1961, Mary Calderone, the co-founder of SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and former medical director of Planned Parenthood, lectured on the role of churches in sex education to 500 delegates from 38 Protestant denominations. Calderone worked her way into churches and homes because she feared that parents did a poor job of teaching their children about “sexuality.” She wanted parents to teach children the “yeses” of sex instead of so many “thou shalt nots.” She wanted boundaries and inhibitions removed. Calderone wanted children to experience the “wow” factor of sex. There were those in the Church who embraced this thinking. It was their hope that talking about sex with children beginning at an early age would help boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives who would experience the “wow” factor of sex.

And so, for half a century and from kindergarten on, children hear: “God created sex to be beautiful within marriage.” “Sex in marriage is the best thing ever.” “Sex is worth waiting for.” “Sex within marriage is when we are the closest to God.” “Sex is so amazing, my dear child, that we are going to talk about it a lot.”

Because sin permeates all relationships, including marriage, is it possible that years of fantasizing on the ecstasy of sex might have an impact on a husband and wife? Might sexual expectations be so high that when marriage is put to the everyday challenges of real life, husbands and wives are disappointed? Might they be so disappointed that they are tempted to believe that sex with someone else might be better, maybe even with someone of the same gender who might better understand their partner’s needs?
Has marriage been sexualized?

Consider the husband and wife who desire to bring new life into the world, but are barren. Rebecca Mayes writes, “One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the ‘success’ of your marital relations (more modernly called your ‘sex life’) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re ‘doing it’ right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution has changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our ‘gift of sexuality’ and teach children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this ‘gift.’ But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?” (He Remembers the Barren, 6-15-2014)

Sex matters, but marriage matters more. Some pastors take care during pre-marital instruction not to overemphasize sexuality because they believe that it could threaten the hierarchy of values in marriage and assume too predominant a place in terms of producing a well-grounded and joyful marriage. The “wow” factor of sex can be wonderful, but it is the friendship, trusted companionship, communication, and agape love of a husband and wife that carries them through good times and bad, sickness and health. With an identity that is primarily “sexual,” we are limited in the ways we can serve others. Not so with our holy identity; for indeed, when we see ourselves as “uncommon” and set apart for use not just by anyone but by God, our opportunities to serve are multiplied.

Instead of detailed sex talk, parents do better—with the support of the Church—to help boys understand the vocation of manhood and girls to understand the vocation of womanhood. Boys need to know how they, as the stewards and defenders of life, should regard women, most especially their someday wives. Girls need to know how they, as the co-stewards and nurturers of life, should regard men, most especially their someday husbands. Parents go a long way in preparing sons and daughters for marriage by mentoring respect, patience, selflessness, and forgiveness. Parents also do well in preparing young men and women for the realities of married life. Because of the Fall, marriage is hard work. It requires appreciation of our differences as male and female, the commitment to work together, trust, friendship, and more agape than eros love. Marriage can be a beautiful relationship, not just because of the sexual union, but sometimes even in spite of it.

It is God’s design that the marital union of man and woman become the nest for new life; the foundation for home and family. Sin has distorted God’s perfect design but, even in disappointment and difficulty, a faithful marriage is the bedrock of a finely-tuned and healthy society. Marriage is the amazing teamwork of male and female; indeed, the two eyes of the human race. Both eyes are needed for a proper perspective on all matters of life.  Biblical marriage is the only pairing that allows a man formed from the dust of the ground to welcome the help of a woman made from his rib. The world is better for it.

Intimacy in marriage is not all about the sexual act. It is the most perfect trust, companionship and loving faithfulness this side of heaven. It is the unity of two spirits in this life—male and female, each encouraging the other to journey well to a sure and certain destination.

Linda Bartlett strives to help mentor
biblical womanhood through Titus 2 for Life .
She is the author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon.com)
Visit: Our Identity Matters
Photo credit: dreamstime.com

A Letter to Parents

  jesus walking with child

What follows are excerpts from a letter written by a Lutheran pastor to the parents of his confirmation students ~

This summer I read a new book by a Missouri Synod author.  Linda Bartlett has written a most helpful volume called The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity. This book discusses the origins of the modern notions of “sex education,” the consequences of those notions being taught in the public schools since the 1960s, and a plea to Christian parents and churches not to repeat the secular “sex ed” model among children and teenagers in the local congregation.

On the basis of what I have learned, I make the following request. I encourage you to opt [your child] out of sex education.

I make this request of you knowing that some may be concerned that their child will “stand out” from their peers by not attending the sex ed class. I understand. Permit me to suggest you look at things this way.

On the day your child is confirmed, I will ask this question: “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” (Lutheran Service Book 273) Being hassled for not attending the sex ed class may be seen in terms of the “suffer all” wording from the Rite of Confirmation. Long before we suffer death for being Christians in these United States of America, there will be all kinds of smaller “sufferings” that we may endure for the sake of our faith and convictions. Not attending the sex ed class may be one of them. But we take heart in the words of St. Paul:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Photo source: http://www.daydreamsaboutgod.wordpress.com
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon.com)

The Order of Purity

My book cover

There is hope. There is always hope.

Many parents, grandparents, pastors and teachers mourn the sexualization of children. They ask: Why? How did this come to be? In what ways have we failed Jesus’ little ones? Were we deceived? If so, by whom? Did we put our trust in something other than God’s Word?

These questions and others are being discussed this fall in various locations across the Midwest. Together with pastors who have read and affirm my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I am engaging Christians who grieve the loss of childhood innocence and want to do something about it. Most hopeful is the vocal and discerningly wise response of a younger generation of parents and pastors. Soon, I hope to make public some of those responses.

For now, however, let me encourage all moms and dads who want to guard the physical and spiritual health of sons and daughters; who want to guard a son’s right to childhood, right to boyhood, and right to godly manhood; who want to guard a daughter’s right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood. Be not ashamed to instruct your child in purity for it is the Word of God. Sex education, in or out of the Church, builds on a secular humanist foundation; therefore, it will always lean the wrong way. Instruction in purity is rooted in Christ Himself; therefore, it will serve well in this life and into the next. Sex education too easily shapes a sexual identity. Instruction in purity reminds the baptized of their holy identity.

Sex education helps children focus more on the “yeses” of sex and less on the “shalt nots.” Sex education dangles the carrot of glorious marital sex before children beginning at a young age, but then instructs young people to delay marriage until graduating from college, securing a good job and paying off some debt. Instruction in purity understands that we no longer live in the Garden of Eden. For this reason, it neither arouses love before its time nor does it place obstacles in the way of youthful marriage and the faithful growing of family.

True to God’s Word, there is an order for instruction in purity. When a Christian mother by the name of Laeta asked how she could raise her daughter to purity, the Church father Jerome answered: First teach the rules of life from Proverbs, the patience and virtue of Job, the epistles, and the prophets. Only then, and at a more mature age, is there wisdom in directing a young woman to read about marriage and the spiritual bride in Song of Songs. *

There is hope. There is always hope in God’s design and order for life.

*With appreciation to Christopher W. Mitchell,
Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, p. 278

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon.com)

Barrenness and Mistaken Sexual Identity

The following was written by Rebecca Mayes and posted on He Remembers the Barren.  Thank you Rebecca.

One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the “success” of your marital relations (more modernly called your “sex life”) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re “doing it” right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our gift of sexuality and teach the children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this gift. But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?

Linda's bookLinda Bartlett, former national president of Lutherans for Life, has just published The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, which exposes the myths that our generation, as well as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, have been taught to believe about what children should know to be prepared for marriage, the marital act, and procreation.

Bartlett begins by giving the necessary history of how the Church,  during the mid-20th century, put too much trust in “experts” instead of the inspired Word of God and willingly traded in our biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, procreation, parenting, and purity for a more “scientific” approach to teaching children about the intimacies of marriage. Falsified, inaccurate, and even perverted studies on the “sexuality” of the human male and female conducted by Alfred Kinsey were presented to universities, medical associations, and church bodies as facts which could not be ignored by enlightened academics. Christianized versions of the sexual revolution’s message were then (and still are) passed down to schools and parents to share with children.

Are just what are some of these myths?

  • Children are sexual from birth.
  • Children should be taught about sex, and with the proper terminologies, beginning in early elementary school.
  • If children are not taught about sex early on, their naiveté could make them prey to sexual predators.
  • Parents aren’t trained to properly teach their children about sex. The schools are the best environments for this to take place.
  • Boys and girls should be taught about puberty and sexuality while in the same classroom, since there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Sex education will help prevent unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, and abortions.

The Church was naive in its promotion of sex education in the parochial schools, Bartlett points out, but not malicious. We were deceived into believing that we are “sexual from birth,” and this brainwashing had the complete opposite effect on our Church members as what was intended. It cleared the way for the acceptance of fornication, homosexuality, birth control, and even abortion as a normal part of life for those who are simply expressing their sexuality – being who they thought they were created to be.

But that’s not how we were created, Bartlett reminds us. The solution to the mess we are in now is our Baptism. This is where we received our true identities as children of the Heavenly Father, not sexual beings created to express our sexuality, but holy beings, created to live holy (not sexual) lives. “It is important,” Bartlett says, “for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that,” (pg. 108).

Because Bartlett presents such shocking evidence of our deception, she presents her case in the form of a patient dialogue between herself and her readers, including over 100 questions and then answering almost every objection one could think of to the notion that there is anything wrong with the way the Church has been educating her children. Her love and concern for her Church family flow through each section as she gently reminds us all that, “Even well-intentioned sex education in the Church leans the wrong way if built on the wrong foundation,” (pg. 129).

If you have children, if you teach children, if you are related to children, or if you once were a child, this book is for you.

by Rebecca Mayes
He Remembers the Barren

Wrong Identity, Wrong Practice

cropped-jesus-loves-all-the-children.jpg

The mistaken identity of “children are sexual from birth” opened the door to promiscuity, sodomy, same-sex “marriage,” human trafficking, pornography, pedophilia, cohabitation, adultery, and yes, even euthanasia.  (What good are we if we’ve lost our “sexual identity”?)

But God does not identify us by our sexuality.  He calls us by name!  He makes us His heirs–adopted sons and daughters–through Jesus Christ.  Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are not common to be used by anyone, but uncommon to be used by God for His special and holy purpose.

We are who God says we are!  What a difference it makes when we see ourselves and our children the way God sees us.

Identity matters.

It matters for the young and the old.  The single and married.  Those seeking acceptance and love.  Those struggling with sexual temptation.  People in every circumstance of life.

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
(Photo credit: Jesus Images.com)

Children in the Garment of Baptism

infant baptism

Perhaps we have let the world define us.  Perhaps we have believed the lie that we are “sexual from birth”.  Deceived by the lie, perhaps we have compromised our faith.  Do we ask, “What does it matter now?”  Or do we stop to remember our Baptism?

Martin Luther wrote,

Let everybody regard his Baptism as the daily garment which he is to wear all the time.  Every day he should be found in faith and amid its fruits, every day he should be suppressing the old man and growing up in the new.  If we wish to be Christians, we must practice the work that makes us Christians.  But if anybody falls away from his Baptism let him return to it.  As Christ, the mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to return to Him even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts remain.  As we have once obtained forgiveness of sins in Baptism, so forgiveness remains day by day as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old Adam about our necks. (Large Catechism, 84-86)

It is important that parents view their children in the garment of their Baptism.  Sending a child to sex education to help them become “more comfortable with their sexuality” — in public school or Christian classroom — does not tighten the weave of their Baptismal garment but, instead, loosens the threads one by one.  Identified as a “sexual being” and more at ease with all things sexual,  a child is ill-equipped to do battle with the “old Adam” hanging about his neck.

Dear Lord Jesus, help our sons and daughters to see themselves as their Father in heaven sees them.  Clothed in holy garments, may they live as holy people clinging to Your Word of life.  Amen.

Linda Bartlett is the author of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon)

 

 

Think You Are Gay? Jesus Says: Come!

crown of thorns with cross

Jesus Christ welcomes sinners.  He wants us to acknowledge and repent of our sins, but He does not identify us by our sinful desires and inclinations.

It is for this reason that I, a confessional Lutheran, am appreciative of the documentary produced by Blackstone Films to help the Catholic Church share its view on homosexuality.  The film is entitled The Third WayMercatorNet notes that even though it is “not perfect” and features “stereotypical religious” settings, the film is powerfully compelling because of the “authentic, convincing and coherent” voices of seven men and women who live with same-sex attraction.  These men and women  do not deny their personality nor do they argue that same-sex attraction must lead to same-sex lifestyle and same-sex “marriage”.  They confess that homosexuality is a sin even as they confess the struggle to live self-controlled and pure lives.  In the struggle, however, comes joy.  Joy comes when we relinquish our own identity and, in Jesus Christ, see ourselves the way God sees us.

The Word tells us to remember Whose we are and to live accordingly.  In Baptism, Jesus assures our true identity as sons and daughters of God through His sacrificial and redemptive work.  What does this mean?  It means that we are daily called to resist the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  It means that we are not common for use by anyone, but uncommon for use in the hands of the holy God.

I am especially appreciative of The Third Way because, for many years, I have been moved by the stories of men and women who were caught in a lifestyle shaped by the lie of a homosexual identity.  Their life experiences and encouragement of the Holy Spirit motivate me to speak Truth on their behalf.  Forgiven of every sin, the repentant sinner stands at the foot of the Cross where we hear Jesus say: Come!  Deny yourself!  Take up your cross and follow Me!  Lose your life and in Me you will find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25).

Please.  Take the time to watch this film.  Its message is for all who are deceived by mistaken identity.

Linda Bartlett is the author of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon)